Waco Friends of Peace/Climate meet monthly, the third Tuesday of the month, 6 pm, at Poppo Rollo's Pizza
Westbank Meeting Room, 703 N. Valley Mills Dr., Waco, 76710. Free presentation and pizza/salad buffet.

Monday, March 18, 2019

EVERY VOICE NEEDED: Next Step at Waco City Council March 19

Date:  Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Time:  5:45pm assemble, 6:00pm session begins.
Venue:  Waco City Council Business Meeting
Address:  Bosque Theater, Waco Convention Center, 100 Washington Avenue, Waco 76701
Logistics:  Abundant parking in the lot behind the Hilton and beside the              Convention Center.  Enter the rear of the Convention Center.  The Bosque Theater auditorium is visible as soon as you enter the building.  A table is present near the entrance doors of the  Bosque.  Fill out a request to speak form, and note that you do not have to be a Waco citizen to speak.  Then you may enter the theater.  After a usually short business session, public comment is allowed.
Rationale:   The Sustainability Board on Feb. 7 approved a letter which contains most of "Go Renewable Waco" recommendations for decarbonization of the City.  Our information now is that  "renewable energy" is on the Council agenda for Feb. 19, presumably at the Working Session at 3pm.  I will attend this Session and be able to evaluate exactly the response to the Sustainability Board recommendations.  Regardless, this is the perfect time for Waco FOP/C to have many members speak in support of decarbonization,  This will be a first and I think that Councilpersons hearing from many citizens will be powerful. 
Speaking:  We encourage all members and supporters to speak.  However, if you are not comfortable speaking, your attendance and moral support is also vital.  Students are especially welcome to participate.
Notes for speakers:

  • After the business, the mayor will call out names from the paper slips we filled out.
  • Speakers will proceed to the front of the auditorium and use the podium.  
  • Be sure to speak close to the microphone so everything said may be heard.  
  • It is absolutely fine to write down your statement and read it, especially given the short  time of 3 minutes.
  • A yellow light warns of time almost up, and a red light  indicates end of 3 minutes.  Times are enforced.  
  • Please rehearse your statement so that it is 3 minutes or less.
  • CRUCIAL:  please stay on the topic of decarbonization of Waco, the climate change emergency, the switch to renewable energy.  Important points may include:  the fact that anthropogenic climate change is a global emergency, the science says we must reach net zero emissions by 2050,  personal experiences, experience with solar and wind power,  concern for the future of our children, the fact that the technology to decarbonize DOES exist today, the City must act as slashing emissions is said to be mankind's greatest challenge. 
Questions:  If anyone has questions about this event of needs help with their statement, feel free to contact me:  anorthc@aol.com
Dinner:   Per our custom, dinner will be provided at a nearby restaurant after the session. Vegan available.
RSVP:  So that I may judge participation, please RSVP me if you plan to speak:  anorthc@aol.com
Summary:  Speaking from 1 to 3 minutes, with adequate time in advance to prepare, should not be threatening to most members.  But the presence of a series of speakers, all committed to climate change action, should be a powerful statement to the Council at this critical moment.  So PLEASE JOIN US.  


 

Waco Friends of Peace/Climate in solidarity with the Youth Climate Strike Houston, March 15, 2019

The action was organized by youth and held on the grounds of the Houston City Hall, skyscrapers in the background.  Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee inspired the crowd, emphasizing the power of each individual to fight climate change.  Alan Northcutt spoke about our experience in Waco, with progress, through persistence, in decarbonization at the city and county level.

The Waco contingent was 6, our signs indicating our endorsement and support of the Houston activists.  Chants were a major focus of the rally, with “When the climate you need is under attack, what do you do Stand up, fight back” a favorite.

 All ages were represented, from a 4 year old to seniors.  Several political candidates spoke, emphasizing their commitment to climate action.  Activists included an anarchist, an anti-Trump person, a Women’s March group, and an anti-capitalist. The theme was “climate change strikes hard, we strike harder,” by the Houston Youth Climate Council.

Congratulations to the Houston youth activists for this inspirational rally at this crucial moment in human history. And this rally was one of hundreds in the US and worldwide on the 15th day of action.  All recognized the recent IPCC warning that we must reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to avoid catastrophe.

Many thanks to Travis for negotiating downtown Houston in his large truck & procuring a parking space.  Also thanks to Ana, Kira & friend, and grandmother for their dedication.









Monday, March 04, 2019

GO RENEWABLE WACO STATUS

As everyone knows, the Sustainable Resource Practices Advisory Board voted approval of a letter of recommendations on decarbonization that is to be forwarded to the full City Council.  The letter contained most of our proposals, with some weakening of language and removal of timelines.  To our knowledge, the letter has NOT been sent to the City Council as of this writing.  We are now attempting to determine the status of the letter.  We may have to insist that is does get sent.  Once that has been established, we will notify all members and supporters by email of the next step, which will probably include contacting one's City Councilperson.  Please be sure to read and act on upcoming emails.  Thank you.


To subscribe to FOP/Climate email list: anorthc@aol.com

Sunday, March 03, 2019

PRESENTATION: "McLennan County & the Future of Energy

Date:  Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Venue:  McLennan County Commissioners' Court Meeting, Commissioners' Courtroom, 1st Floor, West Wing, McLennan County Courthouse, 501 Washington Avenue, City of Waco, Texas.
Time:  session starts at 9:00am.  Presentation is midway through the agenda.
Attire:  Professional attire is expected.  Tank tops, shorts, hats, and bare feet are not allowed.


Following our success in helping to initiate the process of decarbonization by the City of Waco, Alan Northcutt was invited to speak on this subject at the County Commissioners' Court meeting.  The PowerPoint presentation will be 15 minutes in length.  Although it will be similar to his prior talks to the City of Waco, he has modified it to apply more directly to McLennan County.  Since some agricultural space is present within the County limits, he will address land use briefly, including no-till farming, cover crops, and crop rotation.
 
Alan recognizes that 9:00am is a difficult time for our members and supporters to attend.  Although this event does not have the urgency of our Sustainability Board interactions, a nice group of supporters would be a positive signal to the Commissioners and would be greatly appreciated.  If the County should also begin to take small steps toward a clean, renewable economy now, this would be a fantastic occurrence.
 

To subscribe to FOP/Climate email list: anorthc@aol.com

Friday, March 01, 2019

Alan Northcutt February 23rd Column In Waco Tribune Herald

The following is the unedited column as submitted to the Waco Tribune Herald that was published on February 23rd:


GO RENEWABLE WACO & CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRESS


The Waco Tribune-Herald in recent weeks reported on the Go Renewable Waco (GRW) campaign, a citizen-led effort that ultimately resulted in passage of recommendations by the City of Waco Sustainable Resource Practices Advisory Board (Sustainability Board) designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and combat anthropogenic climate change.  Although the Trib reports were excellent, they raise multiple important questions.  

Why is a campaign to cut City emissions necessary?   Since climate scientists are in near unanimous agreement that anthropogenic climate change is a global emergency, and since no significant mitigating action is taking place at the federal level, many cities and states have worked diligently to reduce their emissions.  Worldwide, 70% of GHG emissions derive from cities. 

What is Go Renewable Waco?  GRW is a grassroots citizen movement, initiated by the Waco Friends of Peace/Climate, designed to persuade the City of Waco to join some 100 U.S. cities that have pledged to go 100% renewable in energy use by 2050. A petition requesting that the City make this pledge kicked off the campaign.  

Is there support for the pledge in Waco?  Absolutely.  The petition garnered an amazing 1187 signatures of Waco area adults and endorsement by 14 local churches and other civic organizations.   In addition, city-wide support was documented by a 2018 Yale University poll that found a majority of Wacoans request more action by City officials to combat global warming.  
      
But how widespread is support for 100% renewable energy?  Support is pervasive:  13 states, 155 major corporations including Mars, Inc., 100 universities, 57 countries, and the prestigious U.S. Conference of Mayors champion this goal.

How did the GRW campaign interact with the City?  Over a period of one year, the campaign held a dozen presentations and discussions with City groups of various size, emphasizing the urgency of mitigating climate change, and its benefits. Ultimately, Sustainability Board member and attorney Sarah Brockhaus and I submitted a resolution to the Board, providing justification for the renewable energy pledge and steps for implementation.

Exactly what was approved by the Sustainability Board?  After considerable debate, the Board approved the following recommendations to the City Council, derived from the GRW campaign’s steps for implementation (without the timelines):  conduct efficiency audits of municipal facilities, evaluate strengthening efficiency standards for new construction, consider transition of power purchase agreements  to 100% renewable energy, consider encouraging businesses and residents to purchase renewable energy, evaluate possible city rooftop solar and encourage same for business and residential consumers, replace retiring municipal fleet vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids when these meet City needs, encourage sustainable practices by citizens and businesses, and consider installation of rapid charging EV stations.

Were these recommendations sufficient?  Although the GRW campaign greatly appreciates the effort of the Sustainability Board to initiate climate change mitigation, we believe that our climate crisis demands more robust action:  when one’s home is on fire, one does not “consider” using a fire hose. The IPCC has reported that if the world does not slash GHG emissions 45% in only 11 years, climate catastrophe will ensue.  Since transportation and power generation are the #1 and #2 sources of U.S. emissions, we recommend immediate action in these sectors.  As City fleet vehicles are retired, they should be replaced with electric vehicles, including cars, buses, and garbage trucks.  Although initial cost may be higher, the lifetime cost of EVs is frequently lower, due to reduced maintenance and fuel costs.  With only 11 years to halve emissions, we believe the City must begin negotiation now for 100% renewable power purchase agreements in 2022.  In addition, the City should immediately obtain proposals for rooftop solar installations on City structures, recognizing that after 8 to 10 years, these photovoltaic systems provide free electricity. 
       
Is action by the City alone adequate?  Absolutely not.  A zero-carbon economy will require community response in all sectors, including transportation, power, industry, agriculture, cooking, cooling and heating.  And all GHGs must be eliminated, including CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and certain refrigerants.  

What can businesses do?  Waco businesses can also act on the major sources of GHGs by obtaining electricity from all- renewable providers, installing rooftop photovoltaic systems, transitioning all vehicles to EVs, and installing 110 or 220V. power outlets for employee/customer EV charging. 

What about schools?  Schools can execute the same actions as businesses.  As a bonus, the installation of rooftop solar can provide an educational benefit for students interested in environmental science or engineering.  The evolution of busses to electricity power will remove GHGs which endanger the student’s biosphere, while it removes the toxic pollution of diesel powertrains which endanger their heart and lungs. 

What role do individual citizens play?  Some of the most important actions individuals may take include obtaining power from renewable utilities, installing rooftop solar, driving EVs, and decreasing meat and dairy intake.

All sectors wish to help, but isn’t a green economy just too expensive?  Although the renewable revolution may seem costly at first glance, several factors should be kept in mind:
  •  The hidden costs of fossil fuels are typified by burning coal, which includes illness, premature death, and healthcare expenses, totalling $187 billion per year, or 9.3 cents per kWh. (Ann NY Acad Science) 
  • Electricity from renewables will soon be consistently cheaper than from most fossil fuels.” (International Renewable Energy Agency, 2017)
  • Consistently, economic models have shown that the cost to prevent dangerous climate change is a fraction of the cost to pay for the damages of uncontrolled climate change.  
  •  Finally, as parents, we contentedly save thousands of dollars, a decade in advance, to ensure a quality education for our children.  Will we not invest in solar panels and affordable EVs to help preserve a livable planet in which these children may pursue that education?

 Alan D. Northcutt, M.D., is a Waco physician and Director of the Waco Friends of Peace/Climate.     
 

To subscribe to FOP/Climate email list: anorthc@aol.com

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Waco Trib Editorial 2/13/2019: Renewables push for municipal operations benefits from hard facts, leadership vision

Advocates seeking to shift city of Waco municipal operations to 100 percent renewable energy in the near future may voice frustration at the pace of change, but last week’s meeting of the Sustainable Resources Practices Advisory Board should hearten all, given the discouraging tone of January’s meeting. The worthy topic of renewable energy last month became entangled amid discussions of protocol and propriety involving a formal board recommendation to the Waco City Council.

By sharp contrast, the advisory board last week unanimously approved a letter assembled by City Manager Wiley Stem III urging the council to consider 100 percent renewables in upcoming contract negotiations for energy purchase (even if, yes, without hard and fast timelines). It proposes that Stem’s office designate city staffers to collaborate with the advisory board to evaluate building energy audits, new construction requirements, power purchase agreements, transportation and more.

And if this decided change of heart isn’t enough, Councilman Jim Holmes rates praise for reminding city administrators and fellow council members of the need to more concertedly consider renewable energy in the future. This “tangential observation” arose during last week’s otherwise routine council discussion of the city’s contract with an energy-consulting and management services firm over competitive procurement of electricity and natural gas.

Holmes, describing himself a “big fan of renewable energy,” indicated he was fine with the consultant under discussion, “but as we talk about renewable energy and as it enters the community conversation, I just want us to be armed with facts.” He asked that the city “get me personally and the council more informed with facts as they have to do with conversion to renewable energy, conversion costs, market availability, scalability, timing and all that. I just want to be armed with better data than what’s out there right now as it has to do with the city of Waco.”

Yes, renewables figure into the broader, admittedly controversial question of climate change. While some political orthodoxy counts heavily on climate-change denial, at least as caused by man, can we really afford to take the chance most climatology scientists are wrong if our children and grandchildren are at risk? Is their wellbeing not worth some insurance in the form of renewables as a worthy environmental goal, even if the bridge to greater use of renewables is paved with fossil fuels?

During his presentation for board members, environmental warrior Alan Northcutt warned against myopic ideology in this realm: “Our main point is that this recommendation should be based on the science. What needs to be done is for the city ultimately to go 100 percent renewable. We cannot continue to use fossil fuels indefinitely.” In their own way, councilmen Holmes and John Kinnaird and even City Manager Wiley Stem III suggest the very same reliance on facts, if only to better scale challenges, hurdles and doubts down the winding road to environmental purity.


To subscribe to FOP/Climate email list: anorthc@aol.com


Monday, February 11, 2019

Waco Tribune-Herald Article About February 7th SRPAB Meeting


Sustainability board stops short of call for renewable commitment, to continue talks




After months of debating whether to call on the Waco City Council to commit to using 100 percent renewable energy sources for municipal purposes in the coming years, a city advisory board unanimously approved a letter Thursday that stops short of that goal.

The letter, assembled by City Manager Wily Stem III, who sits on the board, urges the city to consider 100 percent renewables in upcoming contract negotiations for its energy purchase contract. It also recommends that Stem’s office designate city staffers to work with the Sustainable Resources Practices Advisory Board to evaluate building energy audits, new construction requirements, power purchase agreements, transportation and more.

“We have a place to start,” board Chairwoman Janet Wallace said.

Alan Northcutt, a local physician and environmental advocate, said he is disappointed by the letter. It does not go far enough toward a commitment to renewable energy and has “no teeth,” Northcutt said.

Northcutt and board member Sarah Brockhaus kicked off the board’s consideration of renewable energy when they presented a proposal in December to urge the city to commit to renewable sources.

“Our main point is that this recommendation should be based on the science,” he said during Thursday’s meeting. “What needs to be done is for the city ultimately to go 100 percent renewable. We cannot continue to use fossil fuels indefinitely.”

Brockhaus, who represents Baylor University on the board, said she reluctantly supported the letter that was adopted. A timeline for the city’s objectives should have been included, she said.

Brockhaus also pushed for continued discussion on the original proposal, which includes a draft resolution on renewable energy for the council.

Other board members said they agree the letter should only be the first step toward a resolution for the council to consider. The board will meet again in April.

During a city council meeting Tuesday, Councilman Jim Holmes requested city staff prepare a presentation on the viability of renewable energy sources. Councilman John Kinnaird, who serves as the council’s liaison to the sustainability board, supported Holmes’ request and also asked for a summary of all of the city’s ongoing sustainability efforts.