Commentary

Pivoting Towards a Healthy Planet

The positives of 2024
Published on
January 26, 2024
Contributors
Allies and Partners
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of educational columns about fostering environmental stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES — The Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards

Given the evidence of wildfires in Hawaii and California, hurricanes in Florida, and recent storm surge right here in Hampton, NH, it’s easy to be fatalistic about the state of our planet. Yet as we pivot from 2023 into 2024, environmentalists’ overall assessment about climate and th environment may be shifting in a more positive direction.

Globally, COP28 marked the first time almost every nation committed to phasing our fossil fuel use, the primary driver of global warming and climate change. According to the Yale University “Climate Connections,” 2023 represented something of a turning point in CO2 emissions with Europe and the US emitting less than before. China emitted a bit more, but showed some improvement. Every region of the world is seeing more solar, wind and hydropower along with less coal and oil usage.
 
American farmers are looking forward to Inflation Reduction Act incentives to help them move towards climate friendly agriculture. “Regenerative agriculture” reduces fertilizer use and stores carbon in farmland while replenishing its fertility. These new farming techniques and tools can save money, save water, and save soils while feeding the world.
  
In New England new transmission lines for clean hydroelectric power from Quebec were approved to flow through NH to a new Londonderry substation, providing much needed new grid capacity for New England. That added capacity will allow more EV chargers to be installed along main travel routes throughout our region and beyond.
 
At the state level Melissa Hoffer was appointed to a new cabinet level position by Governor Healey.  While in the Attorney General’s office, Ms. Hoffer led the successful Massachusetts law suit against Exxon Mobile, truly a David vs Goliath endeavor. In the spirit of a true environmentalist, Hoffer spends her spare time raising a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats at her farm.
 
In our corner of the state, Salem will see the building of an offshore wind power ‘port,’ hosting facilities to build our clean energy future. And our state and federal legislators, like Congresswoman Lori Trahan and State Senator Bruce Tarr, have individually focused on cleaning up Merrimack River CSOs and helping forestall beach erosion. ACES is grateful for their efforts.
 
Walking around locally, one can see new solar roofs, heat pumps, and new EVs. Even PBS “This Old House” featured a Newburyport residence, which included a driveway EV charging station for the homeowners. And MassSave, which is especially active in Newburyport, continues to offer incentives to insulate houses and install heat pumps.
 

There is still lots to be done. We need to reduce single use plastics from polluting our roadside, beaches and waterways. Hopefully, the upcoming review of the bottle deposit laws by the Massachusetts Legislature will change to deal with plastic juice bottles and nips, that proliferate everywhere. An expansive coalition of environmental groups from all over the state, Plastic Free

Mass, of which ACES is an active member, was at the State House this past Monday meeting with legislators to emphasize our need to phase out single use plastics especially in bottles. It’s now well studied that plastic micro fragments are being ingested by all of us in our bottled water. We need to ween ourselves from the deceptive but harmful convenience of single use plastic bottles.
 
Overall, 2023 represented a year for positive climate actions around the world and it’s starting to make a difference. Let’s hope 2024 is the pivot year that upcoming generations will note in their history books. Meanwhile, think about making a small donation to ACES to continue the good fight for a better environment on our website www.aces-alliance.org and drop us a note and tell us how you might like to help at acesnewburyport@gmail.com

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