Posted on Feb 04, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter February 4th, 2020
Volunteer Opportunities
Meal Packing
"The Rise Against Hunger": Saturday March 28th at the Masonic Hall (details still TBD) with the Needham High School Interact Club.
In the Community
Circle of Hope
Circle of Hope is looking for coats for all ages. There will soon be a coat sorting event (date TBD) where volunteers can help prepare the donated coats for distribution to shelters.
Needham Free Public Library and the Boston Bruins Pajama Drive to Benefit Children in the Department of Children and Families System and Cradles to Crayons
The goal is 12,000 pairs of pjs. We're helping by encouraging our members to donate new pajamas for children of all ages or to donate funds for this purpose, multiplying the impact of the Club's $500 donation, which was used to purchase 84 pairs of pajamas. Pajamas can be dropped off at our club meetings.
Meeting: Dr. John Keller, Citizens' Climate Lobby: "How we can stabilize the climate and improve the Human Condition"
Susan Peghiny, Assistant Governor of Rotary District 7910, introduced meterologist, Dr. John Keller (photo below). John represented the Boston Metrowest Chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL). CCL is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on developing the political will and organization to enact national policies to address climate change. The focus of CCL's advocacy is "The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019" (HR 763), which is a bill in the US House of Representatives that proposes a fee on carbon at the point of extraction with the revenue raised redistributed to households in the form of a flat, monthly dividend per household. The dividend is intended to offset the impact of higher fuel prices from the carbon fee.
Rotarian Marshall Saunders founded CCL in 2007 after seeing Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth". He realized that his prior advocacy on behalf of people living in poverty could be wiped out by the effects of climate change: "There was a real danger of all our good works going for naught." Lots of the respectful, non-partisan culture of CCL can be attributed to him. When asked the question: "What should we do?", Marshall responded "What's needed is thousands of ordinary people organized, lobbying their members of Congress with one voice, one message, and lobbying in a relentless and unstoppable, yet friendly and respectful way."
Dr. Keller started off with the good news: the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty (< $2/day) has declined from about a third to about a tenth in the twenty-five years from 1990 to 2015. But economic growth is linked to consumption of energy, and 85% of the world's energy comes from burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a byproduct of fossil fuel consumption, and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily rising from 270 parts per million (ppm) in 1750 to 410 ppm currently, and -depending on the path chosen by global leaders- could increase to 660 ppm by 2100 on our current path, to 540 ppm based on current international climate change agreements, and to 420 ppm, if all nations follow the Paris Accords. At 660 ppm the global climate would heat up to +4 degrees centigrade; at 540 ppm it would heat up to +3 degrees and at 420 ppm +1.5 degree. (Please see the graph below.) Dr. Keller noted that a 3 degree cooling resulted in an Ice Age, and a 4 degree increase in temperature could result in a 2 to 6 foot rise in sea level, while increasing the intensity of storms.
Here's the problem, the science of climate change is accepted, but the policy solution is not. Pollution is an externality to the cost of production: the private cost of production can be passed on to the consumer in the price, but the "external" cost of pollution is passed on to society. As a consequence, private cost is lower than societal cost, a market failure that can be addressed by government taxation or regulation. Carbon emissions were once free, and an effective policy solution will impose a price on those emissions throughout the world. CCL's preferred policy to fight climate change is a bill in Congress called HR 763. HR 763 would place a carbon fee of $15/metric ton on fossil fuel production, rising $10/year until emissions drop by 90%. The economic impact of the carbon fee on less affluent households would be ameliorated by dividending back the revenue raised on a flat basis per household. Studies estimate that about 60% of households would take in more from the dividend than they'd pay in higher prices. Imported energy, not subject to the domestic carbon fee, would be subject to a "border adjustment" reimposing the carbon fee.
CCL has 568 local chapters globally with 535 organized by congressional district in the US. There are five levers of political will that CCL uses to draw citizens into the political process and to provide training and support to ensure that their contribution is constructive:1) lobbying Congress, 2) media relations, 3) grassroots outreach, 4) grass tops engagement, and 5) group development and organizing. "Laser talks" on the CCL website offer intriguing examples of the organization's support of their volunteers. A laser talk is a powerful statement on a specific topic, including: climate science, policy design and impact and politics. CCL trainers offer webinars on climate advocacy twice a month. If you're ready to take action on climate change, the CCL website offers information on how to get started as a new CCL member or as a financial contributor (