If your home is heated by natural gas or oil (like most in Quincy), there’s no getting around it: You’re burning a lot of carbon each winter. And probably a lot of money, too: The price of gas and oil heat is expected to jump 30% or more this winter. But a heat pump can efficiently heat your home — even on the coldest New England winter day — without burning fossil fuels.
What is a heat pump? It’s essentially an air conditioner that can also run in reverse. In summer, like an air conditioner or refrigerator, it removes heat from your home. And in winter, as long as there is some heat energy in the air — and there’s always some, until we reach absolute zero, a.k.a. negative 273º Celsius — the outdoor condenser pulls whatever heat it can find out of the atmosphere and uses a special refrigerant to send that warmth inside to the blower unit.
Global warming is increasingly contributing to the frequency and intensity of weather events, resulting in significant consequences for the U.S. Rising seas and rain events that can last for days are causing flood events threatening quality of life. Roads are washed away and infrastructure, utilities, and emergency services are all at risk from these worsening weather events. Reliable infrastructure is essential to the economic prosperity, sustainability, and security of communities across the United States.
Last month the First Street Foundation released its third national risk assessment, Infrastructure on the Brink, in which flood risk vulnerability is measured by city and county. In-depth information for Massachusetts’ at-risk neighborhoods by zip code, city, and county can be found at FloodFactor.com.
In March 2020, in the name of health and safety, my family temporarily retired our reusable grocery bags. Quincy had passed a plastic bag ban three months prior, but then we were back to single-use plastic. In August of 2020, after the CDC confirmed that surface transmission of COVID was not a threat, the state brought back local bans on single-use plastic bags and allowed for reusable plastic bags again.
We were ready, reusable bags in hand. We were ready to go back to focusing on saving the planet, reducing our carbon footprint, reducing our reliance on plastic. And we hoped that our local supermarkets, big box stores, and pharmacies would start again to encourage reusable bags. We hoped we wouldn’t have to see the flimsy plastic bags of the “before times.” Yet that hasn’t been entirely the case.
Some of the roads in Quincy look different lately – they are decked out with green paint and green posts. What’s going on? The answer is that Quincy streets are slowly becoming more complete. A “Complete Street” is one that provides safe and accessible options for all travel modes – foot, bicycle, public transit, and vehicles – to people of all ages and abilities. If a street has bike lanes like the ones newly installed in Quincy, biking is the fun choice to get where you’re going – as well as the environmentally friendly one!
In 2018 Quincy adopted a new Complete Streets policy, and in 2019 the Commonwealth awarded Quincy over $300,000 of Complete Streets Grant Funding. The locations redesigned with that funding include:
The QCAN political committee has gotten off to a strong start in 2021. We’ve outlined our goals, including:
- Try to meet with every Quincy elected official or environmental policymaker and begin a dialogue about collaborating on our shared goals.
- Alert our network to important climate legislation and the opportunities to contact legislators to ask them to act in favor of our climate.
- Hold community forums to highlight opportunities for positive mitigations for the environment.
- Be a resource to the community, leaders, and other environmental groups.
A forest ecologist who grew up in the logging area of British Columbia, Dr. Suzanne Simard has found that forest trees share carbon and nutrients, and even communicate, via a network of underground fungi. In Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest – an extension of her well-loved TED talk – Simard chronicles her journey of discovery, where she begins to see trees as interdependent, cooperative creatures rather than solely a source of timber and pulp.
QYouth Climate Movement, QCAN’s youth chapter, has been working to bring more vegetarian and vegan lunch options into QPS schools. More than a third of the world’s greenhouse gases come from food production, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Beef has by far the largest carbon footprint, followed by lamb, mutton, and dairy. Scientists say that a shift in our diets is necessary if we hope to keep global warming under 1.5ºC.