EARTH DAY 2020

by Kathy Panko Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd, and 2020 marks the 50th anniversary. The theme this year is climate action, which represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the support systems that make our world habitable. The first Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis – oil spills, smog, and polluted rivers.  Earth Day is now credited with launching the modern environmental movement.  In honor of the 50th anniversary, and considering the current coronavirus pandemic, we’re taking a fresh look at the 5 R’s of zero waste:  Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot – with emphasis on REFUSE. REFUSE:  Refuse what you do not need.  Our lives are full of stuff we don’t need, and each thing has an environmental cost. The first step to minimizing waste output is to prevent the waste from entering your home in the first

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PBC Green Schools

PBC Green Schools

PALM BEACH COUNTY GREEN SCHOOLS RECOGNITION PROGRAM by Kathy Panko   The Environmental Issues Group of the LWVPBC is proud to support The Green Schools Recognition Program (GSRP), a program conducted by Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, in collaboration with the school districts of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. The GSRP encourages both public and private schools to develop a culture focused on environmental stewardship and sustainability.   The program recognizes K-12 schools that use ongoing “green” programs, projects and practices to instill a culture of environmental sustainability in classrooms, on school grounds, and throughout the school communities. Each year, the program provides recognition, incentives and special awards to acknowledge exceptional green efforts. The GSRP was established in 2008 and last year recognized over 125 schools.   The program selects schools that have made strides in: School grounds enhancement Improving school sustainability through the conservation of energy,

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Fighting Pollution and Climate Change

FIGHTING POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE by Richard W. Emory, Jr.   The Environmental Issues Group held its first meeting of the new year on January 4, 2020. Richard Emory, an EIG member and author of the recently published book, Fighting Pollution and Climate Change: An EPA Veteran’s Guide How to Join in Saving Our Life on Planet Earth, introduced his book to the group and briefly reviewed his EPA career.   As a long-time pollution fighter, Richard served from 1980 to 2011 in the Headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.  He worked internationally from 1994 to 2011, providing foreign assistance to other countries. He was educated at Yale University and Harvard Law School.   Inside the EPA, scientists clearly saw climate change as a potentially horrific problem. Since 2017, U.S. tools of pollution control have been disassembled or left unused. However, climate change is on the

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Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

  Palm Beach County and seven of its southeastern coastal cities have agreed to join forces in a year-long, comprehensive review of climate change impacts. The study will assess how sea-level rise, extreme temperatures, and strong storms will impact 300,000 residents in southeastern Palm Beach County now and in the future.   Palm Beach County will formally collaborate on this enterprise with Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Highland Beach, Lake Worth Beach, Lantana, and Ocean Ridge. The joint venture was approved by county commissioners on December 17, 2019, and has an anticipated completion date of March 2021. The goal is to establish a scientifically sound and systematic assessment of our vulnerability to multiple climate hazards.   The collaboration will allow the municipalities to pool resources. The group has won nearly $150,000 in grants from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and, together, the municipalities are pitching in $322,000.   The

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October Cool Topic Report

October Cool Topic Report

The Environmental Issues Group, held Cool Topics on a Hot Issue: Climate Change, on October 5, 2019. The goal was to raise awareness and provide education regarding climate change. Three expert speakers addressed the audience. James M. Sullivan, Ph.D. Executive Director, FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Governor’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force Jim presented “The Relationship Between Global Warming, HABs, and the Environment.”  He focused on the scientific aspect of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and the toxins they produce. There are many different types of harmful algae – not just red tide and blue-green algae. They all produce different toxins with different effects. These toxins are harmful to humans, devastating to marine life, and destructive to the economy. Worldwide, HABs are increasing in type, frequency, duration and severity in diverse geographical locations – and it is forecast to get worse. Florida is one of the most impacted states in the U.S.

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September Environmental Issues Meeting

September Environmental Issues Meeting

Speaker: Megan Houston Director, Office of Resilience Palm Beach County Megan Houston, Director, Office of Resilience, spoke to the LWV, Environmental Issues Group, on September 14, 2019. The Office of Resilience (OOR) works to ensure that Palm Beach County remains a great place to live, work, and play while addressing the effects of climate change. It is increasingly important to adapt to climate change, mitigate impacts, and develop sustainability. Megan and her staff of two study sea-level rise projections and provides guidance to county planners, along with compiling and advising departments on sustainability measures. The OOR is responsible for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation includes: planning for sea-level rise, increasing county operations resiliency, planning for stormwater management needs and changes. Mitigation includes: measuring greenhouse gases, promoting electric vehicles, and assessing renewable energy opportunities. The OOR also focuses on resilience and sustainability in county capital projects, including the Palm Beach

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Youth Climate Strike on September 20th

By Nikki Descoteaux & Mary Mertz, co-chairs of the Environmental Issue Group The young people of the United States are joining with other action groups in the September 20th worldwide strike to call for immediate and strong action on climate change. This coincides with the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City. It is also only two weeks after our encounter with Hurricane Dorian. The Environmental Issues Group of the LWVPBC provides the following information for LWVPBC members who want to be involved as individuals or organize groups to attend. There are two nearby options for this action: City Place, 700 Rosemary Avenue in West Palm Beach at 5 p.m.; and 10 a.m. at Fort Lauderdale City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Fort Lauderdale. There is also a 10 a.m. event at Miami Beach City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Drive. For background information, we suggest the following sites:

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Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority Tour

Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority Tour

The LWV participated in a tour of the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) on July 9th. The SWA was formed in 1975 by the Florida State Legislature. They provide solid waste disposal and recycling services to the county’s 1.4 million residents. Each person produces approximately 12 pounds of waste daily. That equates to nearly 17 million pounds of waste managed by the SWA each day.   The tour began at the Education Center where recycling skills were tested with an interactive learning tool. We toured Renewable Energy Facility 2, where 93% of our garbage is burned and turned into electricity. A rolling tour took us to Renewable Energy Facility 1, two sanitary landfills, the Home Chemical and Recycle Center and the southern entrance to the Greenway Trail System. The tour ended at the Recovered Materials Processing Facility, which sorts 100,000 tons of recycling each year.   The SWA

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We Need You!

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS   Refuse!  Reuse!  Reduce!  Recycle! We need YOU to set an example for your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. We need YOU to become more environmentally friendly. Preserve the planet for our children and future generations. We need YOU to take proactive steps toward cleaner living habits to protect the environment. Remember the 4 Rs:  Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle. Let’s break them down. REFUSE: Say ‘NO’ to single-use plastic. Refusing will help you eliminate a lot of waste right from the start. It’s simply about saying ‘NO’ and looking into reusable alternatives. Refuse single-use items, like plastic grocery bags, disposable coffee cups, plastic utensils, and straws. We are all conditioned to say ‘yes’ when something is free. Learn to refuse! Accept the things you really need and refuse the rest. REUSE: Take your own reusable grocery bags to the supermarket. Take your own mug or

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Friends of Palm Beach

by Kathy Panko Diane Buhler, Founder/President, Friends of Palm Beach, spoke to the LWV, Environmental Issues Group, on April 13, 2019. Diane lectures and attends events to educate the community on the ocean’s plight and how everyone has the power to combat single-use plastics. Friends of Palm Beach is a non-profit organization that removes trash from local private resident beaches through monthly volunteer events and weekday cleaning. The daily crew consists of clients of The Lord’s Place, an organization that helps the homeless; Vita Nova, an organization that helps young adults transition from foster care to independence; and Goodwill’s Back to a Future program. Through this transitional work program, these individuals find their way back to independence and a new life. Combining the beach trash problem and the desire to end homelessness, they are changing lives and beaches one bucketful at a time. Friends of Palm Beach incorporated in 2013. Since

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