My List of Eight for 2024

A list of important ideas concerning our climate for this new year
Published on
January 19, 2024
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I follow the news on climate from many different sources because so much is going on which either affects the climate or is affected by the climate and there is a lot to think about. So please consider the following eight topics as a kind of ‘cliff notes’ version of important ideas for 2024. 
Let’s start with recycling and the fact only 23% of disposable plastic bottles are being recycled nationwide. Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour. That’s enough to circle around the Earth 4 times! We’ve got to reduce plastics waste and improve our recycling, including modernizing the bottle return laws in Massachusetts and including other beverage bottles like juice and nips would help.
As a farmer who appreciates the outdoors, maybe consider your next celebratory event in a more environmentally sustainable way. Research shows the average American wedding emits 125,660 pounds of CO2. Plan a backyard or park setting for your wedding and make it sustainable with reusable cups and plates and the composting of unused leftovers. And if you want to plan an environmentally friendly wedding here are some possible ideas from a wedding planning site The Knot,
Also, for a farmer crop loss and resulting financial pressures due to climate induced drought and storms are a factor in the disturbing amount of mental health concerns among agricultural communities. No shame in seeking help when needed, including for farmers and other rural folk.
And in the suburbs, we should reconsider lawns and the landscape equipment being used. Lawn care emits nearly 27 million tons of pollutants a year, according to estimates. Just one gas powered leaf blower used for just one hour generates the same volume of emissions as a gasoline powered car driving 1,100 miles. Yikes ! Why are we still using them when there are other options? 
We live on the coast so, especially this month, we know coastal flooding and sea levels have risen along due to 90% of the heat unleashed by burning fossil fuels, deforestations and other human activities being absorbed by the oceans. That heat is the engine that spins up hurricanes and storms bigger and faster developing than ever during the human era.

My plants on Maple Crest Farm love bees. There are more than 20,000 species of wild bees in the world. They don’t all produce honey, but they are indispensable pollinators of plants, flowers, and crops. We need to support bees with pollinator friendly planting around our homes. An ACES Ally, Pollinator PowerWorks, supports gardens in the Newburyport area so are definitely helping our bees and other pollinators.
We all know that wildfires from Hawaii to California have been bad. But we can’t think of them as ‘way out west’ as scientists in Australia found that each year between 2010 and 2019, every person worldwide on average was exposed to almost ten days of wildfire smoke.
Not wanting to leave our readers with just the bad news, it’s important to note that there are solutions being actively worked on. For instance, more bees are being supported by ACES' Pollinator PowerWorks gardens in Newburyport, by all those folks in our region who have or are switching to hybrid or all electric cars, or putting solar power on their roofs, or opting into green energy sources, and by efforts in the Massachusetts legislature to improve our bottle return laws. John Elwell is a Retired High School Principal, Maple Crest Farmer, and ACES Board Member who may be reached at .
It’s a lot to take in but if we all work together, we can begin to push back on climate change. So please consider signing up for ACES' months newsletter at and please consider joining our community of environmentally minded neighbors. Let's make next year’s list a little bit more benign and let us know your thoughts on your ideas to make this a reality at


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