The four red and white smokestacks that loom over the western edge of Queens are a familiar sight to New Yorkers, but a plan to convert the Ravenswood Generating station to 100% renewables could mean that their days of spewing smoke are coming to an end.
Ravenswood currently supplies about 20% of NYC’s electricity by burning natural gas and oil, running four large generator, the largest of which is nicknamed Big Allis. As Solar One got to see on a field trip there many years ago, the amount of fuel required to keep the turbines spinning at Ravenswood is awe-inspriing…and terrifying. It also contributes to some of the worst air quality in town; child asthma rates in the three NYCHA housing developments that surround the plant are significantly higher than in the rest of Queens.
Its emissions are also at odds with New York’s ambitious climate goals, which is why the current owner, Rise, Light and Power, is working on a plan to convert to zero-emissions, 100% renewable generation.
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At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency did not have the authority to mandate emissions from power plants in West Virginia v. EPA. This decision has been widely seen as a blow to the country’s ability to meet its climate goals, which would also give other countries an excuse not to meet their own.
But now some states are responding by introducing climate amendments to their constitutions, enshrining the right to a clean and healthy environment in their own Bills of Rights.
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The U.S. Senate’s passage this past Sunday of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the single most important act by the U.S. Government ever to combat climate change. While the total package is $740 billion, approximately $375 billion will go to efforts to fight climate change, and experts believe it will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 emission levels by 2030.
We at Solar One applaud our Senator, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Congress, and President Biden for this historic legislation; this truly represents a down payment on a livable planet that we will leave to our children and grandchildren. We also applaud the activists, advocates and policy staff who worked tirelessly, both in the streets and behind the scenes, to bring us this victory, and our City and State leaders who helped create the blueprint for the best ideas that were included in the IRA.
There is so much work still to be done and not much time. We will continue to do our part to deploy renewable energy to every corner of every community in New York City through our Here Comes Solar program. We will help train the green workforce necessary to rise to this existential challenge through our stellar and ever growing Green Workforce program. And we will educate the next generation to become the climate leaders and environmental stewards through our award-winning Green Design Lab K-12 program. Our Solar One program participants gain the skills, knowledge, and vision to take action against the impacts of climate change. It’s these passionate allies we will rely on to save the Earth.
We could not be prouder to help fight the good fight and we are grateful for this historic investment. Today the future is looking brighter.
Atlantic hurricane season is upon us, and the forecast is for storm activity 65% above normal. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center’s 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast predicts 14 to 21 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, with six to 10 of those possibly becoming hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, and three to six possibly becoming major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. It’s also a La Niña year, the weather pattern that contributed to the 2010-2012 hurricane season that produced Irene and Sandy (map shows Sandy hitting the East Coast on October 29, 2012).
It should come as no surprise that climate change plays a role in weather patterns, including hurricanes. And while there doesn’t seem to be much evidence as yet that excessive emissions and global warming are causing more frequent storms, there is research suggesting that these are factors in storm intensity and therefore destructiveness.
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Climate chaos, soaring inflation, drought, war- if you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve seen the dire predictions of a looming food crisis. And even more people will need food in the years to come. In fact, a new study from Stanford University’s Carnegie Institute estimates that the global food supply will need to double by 2050 in order to feed everyone adequately.
At the same time, we can’t meet this need by simply doubling the amount of land we use to grow crops. Deforestation and habitat destruction are among the forces driving climate change in the first place. But according to the Carnegie Institute study, we don’t have to. We can use the farmland and technology we already have to raise crop production yields to levels that will be sufficient to meet our future needs.
One of the most powerful tools we have to do that is sustainable irrigation.
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This spring, NYC has already experienced a few days of unseasonably hot temperatures- and we should all expect many more to come over the next few months, both in New York and across the US.
Climate scientists at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released their latest forecast on May 19th, and it shows a strong likelihood of above-average temperatures in the Mountain and Southwestern regions and the Northeast, which could also experience above average rainfall in June, July and August, thanks to La Niña, the global phenomenon that can cause extra storms during hurricane season.
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