NextGen Climate in New Hampshire


This weekend while at Pumpkinfest in Keene, New Hampshire I stumbled upon a bright orange tent with a sign right in the middle of the table that read “I’m a New Hampshire climate change voter”. Naturally, I went over to the table to inquire about who they are and what they do.  NextGen Climate, founded in 2013, is a “non-partisan organization focused on bringing climate change to the forefront of American Politics” and “holding eleced officials accountable”. It is comprised of the efforts of seven states; Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan. (NextGen Climate)

The photo below shows members of NextGen Climate NH doing their part this weekend at Pumpkinfest.

Nextgen Climate NH


Recently in our Global Environmental Challenges and Governance class we have talked about the different structures and forms that climate governance  and climate action may take place; international/transnational/national, public/private, Top-Down/Bottom-Up/Mixed-Track, etc.. It was extremely interesting for me to see an example of real local bottom-up action taking place.

For more information on NextGen Climate, please visit their website and consider committing to become a climate voter, helping to achieve their goal of 50,000 committed voters for the 2014 elections. Watch this video of president Tom Steyer speak about the upcoming November elections.

Meeting in the middle of Top-Down and Bottom-Up

In the conclusion of The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement, Daniel Bodansky states, “The challenge now is to retain sufficient flexibility to achieve strong participation while also raising ambition—both in terms of legal form and, more importantly, in the collective level of effort” (Bodansky 11) in regards to achieving the best possible post 2020 agreements. Bodansky believes the effectiveness of the outcome will be dependent on stringency, participation, and compliance, (Bodansky) however, this view leaves out other essential themes; accountability, ambition, transparency, and flexibility. The greatest outcome possible will require all of the above. This could be achieved by a “mixed track” approach, meeting exactly in the middle of “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches.

Daniel Bodansky lists different options for a Durban Platform outcome, each with aspects that may work and others that raise questions. (Bodansky) The outcome of the Durban Platform needs to dive in to a transparent-stringent-internationally-legally-binding approach that must become the norm through raising national accountability and action transparency.

Legally-binding agreements must be set, focusing heavily on the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) of different countries; specific emissions reductions strategies and plans need to be set for each country/region. (Bodansky) Although the bottom-up approach may seem “the easiest to achieve politically” (Bodansky 8), it lacks ambition because individual bodies are setting their own actions based on preferences. In order to promote more ambitious action plans, others need to be involved in helping set agreements. If there were a way to physically take every country, in dialogue with each other, and have them set agreements for each one but converse collectively on them, this would be the most ideal situation.

This would require keying in on the CBDRRC aspects in order to promote the most equitable yet stringent plans. (Bodansky) “Countries will be more willing to negotiate commitments if the terms of engagement ensure that both they and their counterparts are negotiating within tracts appropriate to their respective circumstances” (Bodansky 10). The fact that dialogue would be cohesively international, would ensure this and furthermore, would hopefully, raise accountability and increase compliance.

Additionally, mandatory language such as “shall” rather than hortatory language, “should”, needs to be precedent. Plans need to be joint and certain from the beginning, but also allow room for alteration and change in the future, again through open dialogue. (Bodansky)

Picture the practice of any team sport, the coach asks, “Do we want to run today?”. The accountable athlete, who always wants to better themselves, will say yes and the complacent   athlete who does not often push themselves, will say no… In the end, it’s a trick question anyway, and the coach expects everyone to say yes. When you have a cohesive accountable team working towards specific goals, everyone knows to say “yes” because it’s what they have to do to achieve their goals. The unified and liable team, it the team that make it to the play offs.

This is what must happen in climate governance. Communication needs to be open, cooperative, and decisive. Somewhere between the bottom-up and top-down approaches, internationally we must come together to create justifiable expectations. The same way that each individually teammate, plays an essential role in getting to that play-off game. In order to have the best outcome of the Durban Platform, the utmost cooperation and accountability must be present.

Works Cited

Bodansky, Daniel and O’Connor, Sandra Day. “The Durban Platform: Issues and Options for a 2015 Agreement.” December 2012. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Web.


New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers

flags by bonnie

The New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG-ECP) (Bulkely 59) has been holding annual conferences encouraging cooperation in reducing greenhouse gases since 1997, with the exception of four skipped years. (New England Govenors…Annual Conference) In 2000, the group created an action plan, the New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers Action Plan, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and a 75-85% reduction of 2001 levels as a long term goal; the Action Plan was enforced on August 28, 2001. (New England Governors…Action Plan) The group involves the interests of six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) and five provinces from Canada (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec). (New England Govenors…Annual Conference) The conferences are held in place regarding five major themes; “developing networks and relationships, taking collective action, engaging in regional projects and endorsing projects by others, undertaking research, increasing public awareness and shared interests” (New England Govenors…Annual Conference).

The NEG-ECP adopted the Climate Change Action Plan in 2001, the Mercury Action Plan in 1998, the Acid Rain Action Plan in 1998, and the Transportation Air Quality Action Plan in 2008 and through implementation of these plans, it has achieved reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. They also have implemented two regional agreements; the Mystic Covenant, a pledge to strengthen and promote trade relations, and the International Emergency Management Assistance Memorandum of Understanding. Alongside all of these accomplishments, NEG-ECP also has sponsored international forums on energy and the environment, published energy inventories, established agreements for international assistance in Emergency Management and Preparedness, and examined issues associated with changing demographics and its effect on the economy. (New England Governors… Annual Conference)

The states and provinces of this network are truly affective in reaching its goals and objectives as clearly stated above. “The NEG/ECP Conference has successfully undertaken initiatives in the areas of trade, energy, economic development, environment, oceans, forestry, agriculture, fisheries, transportation, information technology and tourism” (New England Governors…Action Plan).


Works Cited

Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. “Chapter 3 Between Global And Local; Governing Climate Change Transnationally.” Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. N. pag. Print.

“New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan 2001.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.

“New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers’ Annual Conference (NEG/ECP).” New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers’ (NEG/ECP) Annual Conference. Council of Atlantic Premiers, 2011. Web. 01 Oct. 2014. Web design by: immediacy


Rash Realism


Recently, there has been an increasing trend of further interest and action towards mitigating the present matters of global climate change (Held) leaving hope of cooperation in contrast to the realist view. The realist view acknowledges global challenges but believes that these state issues are direct causes of other states and that these issues should be solved through self-help and military power (Bova 238-239). Realist thinkers often perceive the notion of cooperation to resolve issues is foolish and naïve. (Bova 249-250) The question then becomes, have the past and present helped to indorse realistic thoughts or is there hope that global collaboration is possible in the future? To me, the answer to such questions is that realists should contemplate the “self-help” idea, asking themselves if that is really enough to combat adequate enough responses to present threats. (Bova 239)

In the past, yes maybe this view would make more sense in a time before conferences of the parties were a thing and where there were less regulations or targets for emissions reductions in place. Hell, even at a time when the notion of attempting emissions reductions through the Kyoto Protocol was on the rise, realism may be justified. There were large emitters of green house gases that would not sign the protocol and many developing countries with fewer emissions were not required to reduce. In situations like this, where all nations are not held accountable, it is reasonable that some may see the idea of “self-help” as the best or only option. Furthermore, in times of war or dispute between other nations, it is practical to not see global cooperation as a possibility.

But it is not the past, it is the present and with this we must look today to the inspiring and remarkable efforts that are rising from the developing nations, stepping up to be “climate leaders”. Numerous developing countries around the world are commencing and transforming from no involvement in the climate change problem to actually initiating their own actions; cap and trade systems, targets/goals, emissions reductions regulations, etc… This is happening in different parts of the world, regardless of whether they are huge top-ten emitters of greenhouses gases or not. (Held) These examples of more and more nations stepping up to the plate, looking to further address the problem is reason enough to me, for realists to recognize the escalating potential of collaboration.

We must look forward from the past and focus attention to the present and the future of such issues. Every man for himself has been a start to assessing the worldwide subject of climate change, but it is just that; worldwide and universal. To me, this means that everyone must assess together, that cooperation as the main focus, is the only way. We are all human beings alike, regardless. Realists know that there is a problem and they know that it needs to be addressed. It is “naïve” of them to not give hope to our world working together, not the other way around.


Works cited

**Arguments and ideas are supported by “Editors’ Introduction: Climate Governance in the Developing World.”

Held, David, Charles Roger, and Eva-Maria Nag, eds. “Editors’ Introduction: Climate Governance in the Developing World.” Climate Governance in the Developing World. Malden: Polity Press, 2013. 1-25. Print.

Russell Bova, How the World Works: A Brief Survey of International Relations (New York, NY: Longman Publishing, 2011)

We want real green, not camouflage!


As a recent vegetarian of about two months ago, reading Diet for a Hot Planet by Anna Lappé has helped to solidify my decision in becoming a vegetarian and has all around helped me to dig deeper in thought about the food I consume. Anna Lappé touches upon several aspects of the food industry as a whole with the intent that the reader may not know that the food industry in its entirety has a larger effect on global warming than the entire transportation industry combined. She brings to the attention of the reader everything that goes into producing food; manufacturing of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals, distribution of these chemicals, equipment and machinery used in on the farms, the multitude of feed crops for industrial scale farming that is needed to feed cattle and poultry, the transportation of feed crops, the transportation of meat and produce from country to country, etc.. Within her book, she also discusses several other issues with the food industry.

One thing in particular that I found most attention-grabbing in Lappé’s work was her “How to” section on deciphering whether or not large scale corporations are advertising their recent “green” initiatives for publicity and popularity or out of a sincere effort to reduce their carbon emissions. The following is a brief overview of what she has to say on this matter and questions to consider.

  1. Are claims relevant? It is easy to take credit for something that does not require any effort such as claiming to be “CFC free” when CFC’s have already been phased out or claiming to be “GMO free” when ingredients may not even be available in modified forms.
  2. Are claims vague? Terms such as “all-natural”, “chemical-free”, “eco”, and “green” have no true official definition.
  3. Are claims a decoy? Companies are filled with hidden trade-offs. Example: Processed foods companies claiming to contain only organic ingredients while they are produced in toxic plastics.
  4. What tense are commitments made in? Many companies use forward-looking language such as “may”, “might”, “intend”, or “expect” that actually take them off the hook of having to follow through with their promises.
  5. Is the commitment generous or a gimmick? Companies that say they donate percentages of their profits have “total giving limits” in the fine print. Consumers may think that some of their purchase is helping a cause elsewhere, when the total giving limit has already been met and none of your purchase goes to the cause.
  6. Does the context trump the commitment? Coca-Cola uses about 2.5 liters of water to produce 1 liter of beverage but they state they are “working to get that number down”. Even with a 25% reduction, they are still wasting to produce. The bigger issue here, millions of people in our world lack access to safe drinking water.

See also,, and for more information on corporate industry greenwashing.

Lappé, Anna. Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2010. Print.

Acid precipitation research at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest


In 1955 the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire was established to investigate the surrounding watershed ecosystem. In 1963 the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study (HBES) was started by a collaboration of colleagues, later that year they discovered acid rain. Although this area is far removed from urban areas, it’s rain recorded pH measurements that were less than 4, while ordinary rain in this setting is typically expected to be measured around a 5.6. (Oreskes)

Acidic substances such as lemon juice have low pH values and more basic substances have higher pH values; the scale ranges from 0 being the most acidic to 14 being the most basic and 7 being a neutral value. Prior to the 1963 HBES, acidic precipitation brought on by volcanoes and natural phenomena and in areas with high industrial pollution had already been discovered, but anthropogenicly induced acid rain in rural areas had not. In this case, acid rain can be defined as “precipitation that has a pH lower than 5.6 because of human influences such as the burning of fossil fuels.” (Welman)

pH scale

In Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes, she addresses the uncertainties that arose in the debate over the researching and policy making process during President Ronald Reagan’s administration. She mentions the Acid Rain Peer Review Panel (ARPRP) that pushed for legislation on policy making that would set limits on nitrous oxide emissions and the opposing parties such as Bill Nierenberg, Fred Singer, and the Reagan Administration who significantly changed the panel’s final report without their knowing. (Oreskes) However, what I found most intriguing about the entire acid rain story is that it was discovered in New Hampshire, the state I grew up in. This persuaded me to look into what is currently going on at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest located just two hours North of where I live.

Once a week technicians carefully go out into the woods and collect precipitation samples that accumulate over a seven-day period. The samples are brought back to the lab, measured, and stored in a long-term database. Precipitation is collected though several funnel-shaped tools that open into a storage bottle with an overflow valve and an anti-precipitation design. Once in the lab, the samples are tested for nitrates, Carbon, Nitrogen, conductivity, and pH. Acid precipitation patterns and trends are then examined as well as its effects on animals, plants, trees, soils, streams, and the entire ecosystem as a whole. It has indeed proven to alter soils, cause stress on vegetation, and impair streams and lakes in the North East in recent decades. (Welman)

For more information on any aspects of the HBEF or the HBES, including acid precipitation research, please visit

Works Cited:
Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010. Print.
Welman, Adam, and Marianne Krasny. “Acid Rain Research at the HBEF.” N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. <>.

Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?

In The Discovery of Global Warming, Spencer R. Weart tells the story of the few dedicated scientists who first detected and questioned a change in climate through to the growing public awareness of warming in recent decades. Several major contributors are mentioned from Stewart Callendar, John Tyndall, and Thomas Chamberlin who first got the ball rolling, to major figures in more recent society such as James Hansen. Weart sets a heavy focus on the difficulties that arose at each step along the way; the lack of research funding, the miscommunication among scientists in early decades, the uncertainty of General Circulation Models (GCMs), ect.

With all of this information given, what I found most interesting about Weart’s work was his minimal but strikingly beneficial use of climate metaphors. The following metaphor sparked my interest, “If an inspector tells you that he has found termites in your house, and some day your roof will fall in, you would be a fool not to act at once” (Weart viii). This is way of saying the evidence is there that our climate is changing but the majority of people today are fools for not acting quickly.

Metaphors in scientific writing and news stories may often be avoided because they might create a lack of rationality. However, after further exploring some well-known climate metaphors it became clear to me that they have the potential to be an extremely powerful and fascinating form of communication. The following are two metaphors that I came across that really impressed me.

“The world we know is like the Titanic. It is grand, chic, high-powered, and it slips effortless through a frigid sea of icebergs. It does not have enough lifeboats… If we do not change course, disaster, perhaps catastrophe, is almost inevitable” John Brandenburg, Dead Mars, Dying Earth

“The currents of change are so powerful that some have long since taken their oars out of the water, having decided that it is better to surrender, enjoy the ride, and hope for the best—even as those currents sweep us along faster and faster toward the rapids ahead that are roaring so deafeningly we can hardly hear ourselves. “Rapids?” they shout above the din. “What rapids? Don’t be ridiculous; there are no rapids. Everything is fine!” There is anger in the shouting, and some who are intimidated by the anger learn never to mention the topic that triggers it. They are browbeaten into keeping the peace by avoiding any mention of the forbidden subject.” – Al Gore, Six Drivers of the Future

Check out the link below to see other popular climate metaphors and discussions regarding this indirect form of communication.

Best Metaphors for the Climate Crisis