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Climate Week 2017

The Climate Group's ninth annual Climate Week NYC (link leaves NYSDEC) is being held September 18-24, 2016. There are a wide variety of events (link leaves NYSDEC) occurring in NYC throughout the week. Follow NYSDEC on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about climate change and climate action throughout the week.

Call to Action

Take simple steps in your everyday life, like getting energy efficient, switching to renewable energy, driving less (or driving electric), buying local (and buying less), and recycling, to bring down your carbon footprint. Many of these measures have the added benefit of saving you money.

Also important are the steps you take to be informed, to support leaders and organizations who are taking action using the best available science, and to keep yourself and your family prepared and safe in the face of weather emergencies and climate-related health concerns.

What can I do?

The following links leave DEC's website.

Small actions turn into big impacts when more people do them more often, so we encourage you and you colleagues to find at least one small change you can make for Climate Week. Post your action online using #CWNYC to show how easy it!

  • Share a ride - Find one or two trips you make regularly that you can turn into a shared ride or a bus ride.
  • Change five lightbulbs - ENERGY STAR certified bulbs use about 75% less energy, last more than 10 times longer, and generate 75% less heat than standard bulbs.
  • Eat less meat - One or two vegetarian days per week can help decrease greenhouse gas emissions, which are higher for producing meat than plants.
  • Use your drapes - Keep them drawn on hot days and open on cold days to minimize how much energy you need for heating or cooling.
  • Walk or bike - See if you can turn shorter trips into zero-emission trips by walking or biking.
  • Turn off the lights - Leaving the room? Flip that switch.
  • Decrease food waste - Make a weekly food plan so you only buy what you'll use, and start composting scraps and leftovers. Food waste creates methane in the landfill.
  • Switch to green electricity - The NYS Power to Choose web site lists sources for wind, hydro, or solar powered electricity in your area.
  • Program your thermostat - About 2% of your energy bill can be saved for each 1° F of change, maintained for at least eight hours.
  • Plan your errands - Take a look at the things that need to get done this week, and turn multiple trips into one to use less gas.
  • Stop idling - Waiting in car line? Idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine.
  • Eat local - Buy local food, which didn't travel as far by truck to get to you. Find seasonal recipes and head to the farmer's market or the food co-op.

Other Resources

The UC Berkeley CoolClimate Calculator provides an estimate of your family's carbon footprint, with suggestions on making it smaller.

National Wildlife Federation offers "Top Ten Tips to Tackle Climate Change" on their EcoSchools site.

NASA's Climate Kids page gives kids the information and tools they need to understand climate change and resource conservation, and take action to make a difference.

More Information on Climate

For more than a century, physicists have known that certain gases in the atmosphere absorb heat, making the planet's overall temperature higher than it would be if these gases were not present. This is called the "greenhouse effect".

Chart, Globally Averaged Greenhouse Gas Concentrations

These greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere (chiefly CO2 by volume, with contributions from many other gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and HFCs) allow short-wave radiation (like sunlight) to pass through and warm the Earth, but prevent long-wave radiation (heat) from escaping back out to space. Heat trapped by this greenhouse effect raises the temperature of air, land and water.

Earth's weather is driven by heat energy. As trapped heat builds up in the land, oceans and lower atmosphere, the predictable weather patterns that we call "climate" change.

Other Resources

The following links leave DEC's website.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of human-induced climate change, mostly recently in its Fifth Assessment (AR5).

Climate.gov is a source of scientific data and information about climate impacts and solutions, promoting public understanding of climate science and helping people make decisions on how to adapt and prepare for climate-related risks.

NASA conducts research on climate science using space-based observations, including solar activity, sea level rise, the temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans, the state of the ozone layer, air pollution, and changes in sea ice and land ice.

Climate Change Impacts in New York State

Impacts of climate change are already occurring, and we are gaining more and more information about projected impacts going into the future.

According to New York's ClimAid analysis, heat waves are predicted to increase, and New York has already experienced a significant warming trend across the state. Heat-related health impacts are projected to increase. Winter snow cover is decreasing and spring is a week or so earlier on average than a few decades ago. In many areas of New York, blooming dates have advanced by as much as eight days. Intense precipitation events (heavy downpours) are occurring more often, leading to more frequent and intense flooding that threatens public safety and damages developed areas, roadways, and other infrastructure, as well as natural systems and protective barriers. As climate continues to change, we may experience more frequent and more severe droughts between these extreme precipitation events. Ranges of plants and animals will shift, changing New York's suite of native species as well as agricultural products.

Finally, sea levels are already rising and will continue to rise for several centuries. Medium projections for increases in sea level for Montauk Point, New York City, and the Troy Dam are 14 to 16 inches by the 2050s and 32 to 36 inches by 2100. High projections are approximately six feet by 2100. Sea-level rise increases the risks from flooding and storm surge as it puts more infrastructure - and people - in hazard-prone areas.

New York is working to estimate likely risks and help communities and businesses adapt to a changing climate.

Other Resources

The following links leave DEC's website.

Guy holding up sign that reads, Climate Chagne is a Health Crisis

New York's ClimAID report and updates provide information on climate change impacts and adaptation in New York State. Observed climate trends and future climate projections were developed, and climate risks, vulnerabilities, and adaptation strategies identified.

The National Climate Assessment, prepared by a team of more than 300 experts as part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, summarizes the impacts of climate change across the United States, now and in the future.

Scenic Hudson's Sea Level Rise Mapper is a tool for communities and stakeholders throughout the Hudson Valley to create visualizations of future scenarios of sea level rise.

NOAA Digital Coast is focused on helping communities address coastal issues, including climate adaptation and resilience, through a wide array of mapping tools, data, and other resources.

Climate change is one of the most serious public health threats facing the nation, but few people are aware of how it can affect them. Natural Resources Defense Council has information about ways that climate change threatens health.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sources and Targets

The State Energy Plan commits New York, by 2030, to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, 50% of energy generation from renewable energy sources, and 23% decrease in energy consumption in buildings from 2012 levels. The state sponsors and participates in a wide array of energy and climate programs in an effort to achieve these reductions.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) (beginning in 2009) is the first mandatory market-based emissions trading program in the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions, and the first anywhere to use the cap-and-invest model for stimulating the clean energy market. New York and the eight other participating Northeastern and Middle Atlantic states are lowering CO2 emissions from electric power generation while providing savings for electricity customers, and investing in renewable energy.

Other Resources

Chart, u.s. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks by economic sector

The following links leave DEC's website.

The NYS Energy Plan is a roadmap to build a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system in New York, implementing the Governor's Reforming the Energy Vision policy.

New York is part of the family of U.S. states mandating the sale of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and is working to get more electric vehicles on the road through programs like Charge NY.

New York is also promoting clean, renewable energy through NY-Sun and other programs.

The non-profit Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative corporation (RGGI, Inc.) was created to develop and implement the RGGI program, and provides emissions tracking data and analysis.