Deep Dialogues and Expert Series

Deep Dialog—May 20, 2024 – The role of blue carbon

What role can blue carbon, blue tech, and the blue economy play in mitigating and adapting to climate change?

Dr. Jennifer Bender of the Marine Studies Consortium addressed the role of oceans and new ocean technology. Dr. Bender is a Boston-based environmental scientist actively involved in bridging gaps between scientists, policy makers, the public and other stakeholders. Jennifer has a PhD in Geography and Environmental Science, a certificate in Strategic Foresight, and a Master’s in Administrative Sciences. She is a professor and Program Director at the School for the Environment at University of Massachusetts. She serves as the Executive Director of the Marine Studies Consortium, which offers courses in marine and aquatic sciences and other topics. She is an active advisor to Sea-Ahead, a support system for start-ups in the blue-economy, and a consultant to a variety of organizations. The video of Dr. Bender’s presentation is here.

Deep Dialogue—4/29/24—The Social Cost of Carbon and Massachusetts Climate Policy

What is meant by the social cost of carbon?  Why is it needed and how is it calculated.  How has it been used in the U.S. in establishing federal policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?  How is it being used in Massachusetts to support our emissions targets?  What are the limitations of the social cost of carbon and are there alternative approaches that could be used?

Tony Rogers, Roy Harvey, and Roger Luckmann – climate activists and members of the ECA Mass research team explored this important but often overlooked topic at our April Deep Dialogue.  The video from the event is here and the slides for the presentation are here.

Expert Series—4/23/24—Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS), or Carbon Capture for short, has the potential to be a significant player in addressing climate change. In this talk, Howard Herzog, senior research engineer for the MIT Energy Initiative, first presented the fundamentals of how a CCS system works He then gave a brief history of CCS and looked at the different roles it can play as we move forward to address climate change. These roles include decarbonizing power and industrial plants, producing low-carbon hydrogen, and removing CO2 from the atmosphere (i.e., Carbon Removal). He then described the universe of Carbon Removal and highlighted some of the challenges it faces and conclude by discussing some of the current and proposed policies to incentivize carbon capture and carbon removal.

Howard Herzog is a Senior Research Engineer in the MIT Energy Initiative. Since 1989, he has been on the MIT research staff, where he works on research involving energy and the environment, with an emphasis on greenhouse gas mitigation technologies. He was awarded the 2010 Greenman Award by the IEAGHG “in recognition of contributions made to the development of greenhouse gas control technologies”.

The slides for the presentation are here and the video is here.

Deep Dialogue – 3/25/24 – Sand Wars in Cranberry Country

Meg Sheehan and Katherine Harrelson of the Community Land and Water Coalition (CLWC), a grassroots network of groups and individuals working to protect, preserve and steward the land and water resources of Southeastern Massachusetts, led this important and disturbing presentation on misuse of critical land in Southeastern Massachusetts.


CLWC conducts outreach, education, research and advocacy on state and local issues
impacting our communities and the environment. Southeastern Massachusetts is the location of the globally rare Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens, home to at least 220 listed plant and animal species. It is the ancestral home of the Wampanoag people who still live here. Seven towns in the region overlie the federally designated Plymouth Carver Sole-Source Aquifer. About 200,000 people rely on the Aquifer for drinking water.
                  

The region is one of the fastest growing in the state, with significant Environmental Justice communities. Industrial scale mining for globally rare silica sand has been ravaging the region for decades. As the scarcity increases, the mining has accelerated and is impacting every corner of the region. Industrial scale ground mounted solar, floating solar and dual use solar projects are also ravaging forests, farmland, changing the region’s rural character and permanently destroying our shared environmental and cultural heritage.

We are documenting the mining operations and our activities on our YouTube Channel and website. You can make a difference by signing our petition to Governor Healey for a moratorium on sand mining in Southeastern Massachusetts!

Find out more on CLWC’s website: www.communitylandandwater.org. Read our new report Sand Wars: An investigation into the money, politics and corruption behind sand mining and its silent environmental crisis in Southeastern Massachusetts and view the 10 and 5 minute videos: www.sandwarssoutheasternma.org

Meg Sheehan is a public interest environmental lawyer with roots in Plymouth MA. She is coordinator for Community Land and Water Coalition, a project of Save the Pine Barrens based in Southeastern Massachusetts. The Coalition’s mission is to protect, preserve and steward the land and water resources of the region.

She served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Environmental Protection Division and as a Staff Attorney at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Colgate University and J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Katherine Harrelson is an Environmental Analyst with Community Land and Water Coalition. Prior to working for CLWC, she worked for 18 years as an environmental technician and geologist, during which time she conducted extensive environmental monitoring of groundwater, surface water, soil vapor, ambient air and wastewater at remediation sites for GM, Dow, DuPont and Rohm & Haas, and at superfund sites, landfills, power plants and oil refineries.

The video of this important presentation is here.

Deep Dialogue—2/26/2024

Organizing Environmentalists to Vote in November

There are less than 9 months left until the November election. With many primaries and run-off elections on the calendar, it is not too early to start contacting voters; and ECA-MA, as well as our national organization, will be working closely with the Environmental Voter Project to remind environmental voters how important their votes are.

We were joined by Shannon Seigal, Organizing Director at Environmental Voter Project. The Environmental Voter Project, a national nonpartisan nonprofit based in Boston, identifies millions of non-voting environmentalists and turns them into consistent voters. EVP estimates that over 8 million environmentalists did not vote in the 2020 presidential election and over 13 million skipped the 2022 midterms. EVP accurately identifies these non-voting environmentalists and efficiently converts them into a critical mass of consistent voters that will soon be too big for politicians to ignore.

The video from Shannon’s presentation is here and the slides are here.

Deep Dialogue – 1/22/24 – Preserving Forever Wild Lands

We were joined by Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of the Northeast Wilderness Trust, a land trust that focuses on permanent protection of forest and wild lands in the northeast region. Jon discussed the critical role that forever-wild forests, wetlands, and intact ecosystems play in addressing the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, with an emphasis on long-term climate benefits of rewilding permanently protected lands. Jon showed examples of completed land protection projects in the region and discuss the opportunities for additional creation of wilderness areas in accordance with the recently released Wildlands in New England report. The presentation explained how everyone can get involved in this regional effort to protect the wild Earth, while also protecting the climate.

The video from the Deep Dialogue is here.

Deep Dialogue – 11/27/23
After Death Care and Carbon Recycling

If you live your life as an activist concerned about the climate emergency and what sort of world we are leaving for our children and grandchildren, then considering how we leave the Earth seems to be an important consideration. The most common ways to handle one’s dead body are burial in a graveyard or cremation. Cemetery burial is a form of landfilling, and as currently practiced using embalming fluids, cement vaults, and various metals and plastics, the process leaves behind a mini toxic waste dump. Cremation is typically done by high-temperature fossil fuel burning which creates significant air pollution.
Our speakers were:

  • Glen Ayers, Soil Scientist and retired Public Health Professional, Advocate
    of protecting groundwater and recycling human nutrients
  • State Representative Natalie Higgins, Sponsors of
    H.2193, An Act Expanding After Death Care Options
  • Laura Cassidy from Recompose, the first operating Natural Organic
    Reduction facility in the country (Seattle, WA)

This Deep Dialogue introduced our community to familiar concepts such as green burial, and less known options such as conservation burial, alkaline hydrolysis, and natural organic reduction (human composting). We discussed the opportunity for advocacy to promote alternatives to landfilling and cremation through the passage of proposed legislation to legalize additional options with a lower carbon footprint so that our passing will enhance the Earth instead of increasing the cumulative burden.

Glen Ayers presentation for is here. The video of the Deep Dialogue is here.

Deep Dialogue – 10/30/23
Reducing Food Waste

Wasting food has an astonishingly massive greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. In the U.S., 35 percent of food goes uneaten along the supply chain, generating the same amount of GHG as 58 million passenger vehicles driven for one year. This is due to the methane produced from food decaying in landfills, the resources it takes to grow, transport, cool, and cook food, and the conversion of native ecosystems to agriculture. 

Fortunately, it is a solvable problem that offers some low-hanging fruit for GHG reductions. We consumers are the largest total generators of food waste, but it’s not always easy for us to change wasteful behaviors. New practices are needed that can enable consumers to actively reduce their food waste at home by making it obvious, affordable, and convenient.

This deep dialogue addresses not only what individuals can do in their households, but also what municipalities, states, and the food industry can do to reduce food on larger scales.

Speakers:

  • Minnie Ringland from ReFED, a national organization focused on eliminating food waste, will elaborate on the connection between food wasted and climate change. Minnie’s slides are here.
  • Liz Miller from Lovin’ Spoonfuls will discuss food recovery efforts in MA and advocacy to increase them. Liz’s sldes are here.
  • Anya Pforzheimer from Watertown DPW will discuss Watertown’s municipal composting program. Anya’s slides are here.

The video for this Deep Dialogue is here.

Deep Dialogue – 8/28/23
Reducing Meat Consumption

We presented information about the climate harms caused by consuming animal products, specifically beef and dairy, and how we can mitigate some of those harms, short of eliminating meat consumption completely.

Professor Marianne Krasny, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell, and author of In This Together: Connecting with your Community to Combat the Climate Crisis. Marianne presented her own research and experience about how to promote dietary change within communities and social networks.

Sabine Von Mering (Ph.D) presented the arguments for reducing animal product consumption. Sabine is a  Public Voices Fellow on the Climate Crisis with The OpEd Project, in partnership with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a climate activist with 350 Mass, and the Director of the Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis University.

Presentations were followed by a lively Q and A, and discussion. The video of presentation and Q and A are here.

Expert Series – 8/15/23
Residential Heat Pump Retrofits

with Senator Brownsberger

Senator Brownsberger shared his latest findings and conclusions from his intensive investigation into the real-world needs and challenges for implementing heat pumps at a sufficient scale to meet the Commonwealth’s carbon reduction goals.

Will Brownsberger is the State Senator for the Suffolk and Middlesex District representing Allston, Brighton, Watertown, Belmont, Fenway, and West Cambridge, and is President Pro Tempore of the Senate as a member of the Senate President’s leadership team. He did a deep energy retrofit of his home and last year did a full conversion of its heating system to electric heat pumps. Senator Brownsberger maintains an extensive guide to his findings and analysis of heat pump here.

The presentation is insightful.  Senator Brownsberger is candid about our current progress and the challenges we face.  Participants shared their thoughts and asked tough questions which the Senator responded to frankly and honestly.

The video of the presentation is here and Senator Brownsberger’s presentation is here.

All Videos