February 2021 Newsletter
Hope and Progress on Climate Action
And Hard Work Ahead
The mission of Elders Climate Action Massachusetts is to mobilize elders and society to address the climate crisis – while there is still time to protect the well-being of our grandchildren and future generations. And recent developments give us hope.

Finally, we’re beginning to see bold new action on climate change! Here in Massachusetts, the state legislature has passed a landmark climate bill (S9: Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy). And at the national level, the Biden administration is moving fast on sweeping climate initiatives. (See articles below with more details.)

But while we celebrate this hope and progress, we recognize that the hardest climate work lies ahead. ECA Massachusetts resolves to continue taking strong pro-climate action. Join us at our next chapter meeting at noon on Tuesday, February 9, via Zoom. (See Save the Date below.) There’s a role for you, and we need your help! Read more below to learn how you can engage with this exciting and important work. 

In this Issue
  • Save the Date
  • Massachusetts Climate Bill Passed Again
  • A Climate Administration in the White House
  • Invitation to Zoominar "Can We Stop Climate Change?"
  • ECA Massachusetts January Highlights
  • What We're Reading - The Overstory: A Novel and Underland: A Deep Time Journey

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, Noon - 2:00 PM EST, Zoom (join at 11:45 if you want to spend some time socializing!), https://us02web.zoom.us/j/735454252?pwd=QkZMcnA4YVVkcGRDM29PcEN4VnhIUT09
ECA Massachusetts Monthly Chapter Meeting. This month we feature speakers from other ECA chapters around the country. We also expect to have some exciting legislative updates about the climate bill, S9: An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy. We look forward to seeing you at the meeting!
Massachusetts Climate Bill Passed Again!
Back on Governor's Desk
By Roger Luckmann
On January 28, as their first legislative act of the 2021-22 session, the Legislature sent their “next generation roadmap” climate bill back to Governor Baker without making any changes to the bill he had pocket vetoed at the end of the last session. Given a veto statement that includes much support for elements in the bill as well as much criticism, it is certain that Baker will return the bill to the Legislature with a slate of amendments. The stage will then be set for some tough negotiations that could end in compromise, or possibly in a blanket override vote that keeps the bill entirely intact.
The Baker veto statement cites two major disagreements that likely will be framed in amendments. The bill calls for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to be reduced by 50% of the 1990 level or more by 2030. This is significantly more than the 45% reduction that Baker supports in his draft 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) and would come at a cost of $6 billion over 10 years according to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Theoharides. She cites high costs to incentivize thousands of additional residents to purchase electric vehicles or heat pumps for home heating and to procure an additional 2000 megawatts of primarily solar and wind energy generation capacity.
A second concern is the bill’s requirement that a stretch energy building code be developed and adopted by the state. Baker cites concerns of real estate developers that the code could discourage much-needed housing construction in the state.
Climate activists and champions in the Legislature are already pushing back against Baker’s concerns, suggesting $6 billion over 10 years may be a reasonable price to pay for significant climate progress and citing studies showing that stretch energy housing codes do not have to slow housing development. The deadline for Baker to sign, veto, or return the bill with amendments is February 7.
We Finally Have a Climate Administration
in the White House!
By Michael Sales

In horse racing, “Front running” is a term that describes a competitor who leads at the starting gate. As promised in the ambitious plans Biden laid out during his campaign, this appears to be the approach that the Biden team is taking toward the national and planetary climate crises that have been festering during four years of virtually complete inaction.  
Many thanks and kudos to Dave Roberts of Volts.wtf for providing an overview of the new administration’s many ambitious plans that are being set in motion by executive action, legislative proposals and rhetorical commitments. This article presents a slightly edited version of the summary in Roberts’ January 29 Volts newsletter, with some additional commentary. [Newsletter editor's note: Read Michael's complete article, with the details about President Biden's recent climate actions, by clicking the blue button below. We also will post Michael's article and other updates soon at our website.]
Given the denial and overt hostility to science characterizing the last four years, it is not an overstatement to call Biden’s climate initiatives breathtaking. Bill McKibben called the first day of the Biden administration “the most remarkable day in the history of America’s official response to the climate crisis, at least since that June afternoon in 1988, when NASA’s James Hansen told a congressional committee that the planet had begun to heat.” 
Biden’s approach to the climate may also be extremely good politics. With only 51% in his column, Biden was elected by a thin majority of the popular vote. The Democrats control the House of Representatives by only ten votes, and Biden's party is dependent upon the Vice-President for its majority in the Senate. Without some stunning successes in his first two years in office, the Biden climate agenda is likely to be tabled and defeated beginning in 2023.  
Aware of the statistics and the press of time, the President and his administration seem to be committed to running hard and fast on the climate (and other matters) and never looking back. This strategy could mobilize millions of voters and potential voters in the 18–29-year-old demographic, where Biden scored big in 2020. Furthermore, the explicit focus on jobs and environmental justice could further cement the support of union families and racial minorities for Democratic standard bearers in the upcoming mid-term elections.  
Front running is risky at the track and in politics. The front runner is the first to encounter obstacles, and the rest of the pack is eager to take advantage of mistakes.  
That said, Secretariate never gave up the lead and maybe Biden won’t either. 
Biden's Climate Plan and Team
Check the featured post at our website, https://ecamass.org/the-biden-administrations-plan-and-team-to-address-the-climate-crisis/, for periodic updates about Biden's climate plan and profiles of key members of his climate team.
Invitation to 3-Session Zoominar
"Can We Stop Climate Change?"
By Seth Evans
All ECA members are invited to participate in a 3-meeting webinar on climate change, entitled “Can We Stop Climate Change?"
A main focus of Elders Climate Action Massachusetts has always been education. With the Biden administration and a Democratic Congress taking control, and positive policy developments here in Massachusetts, we are now seeing bold new plans to combat climate change. It’s important that those of us who are concerned about the issue are well-informed so we can make positive contributions in the numerous discussions that will ensue. Many scientists are saying we have less than 10 years for significant systemic changes to be made.
To that end, ECA Massachusetts member Tony Lee, along with other ECA members, developed this three-session Zoominar. Sessions, which last 90 minutes each, usually take place on consecutive weeks on a weekday evening. Dates will soon be announced for zoominars beginning in March, April and May.
The first of the three sessions covers the basic science and problems caused by climate change. Members of ECA may already know a lot of this, but we will be introducing some new facts as well. The second session is mostly about potential solutions such as renewable energy sources, and will include working with the En-ROADS Climate Solutions Simulator, which is a useful tool for guiding policy decisions. The last session is focused on what you will do in response.
The course is designed for people who are interested in:
●    Learning more about climate change;
●    Becoming more effective in communicating with others; and
●    Actively mitigating the impact on our planet and ourselves.
The course is not designed for climate deniers.
Also, as people take the course, they qualify to become co-facilitators in future courses. This way, we hope to expand the number of offerings quickly, both throughout the population of Massachusetts elders, as well as to the general population. So even if your knowledge is strong, but you wish to play a larger role in speaking out to others about the climate crisis, we welcome you!
Please let Seth Evans or Tony Lee know if you are interested so that they can reserve a spot for you! And please feel free to contact either of them with any questions.
ECA Massachusetts January Highlights
January 12 -

ECA Massachusetts is continuing our efforts to explore aligning our actions, alliances, and advocacy more closely with the principles of Environmental Justice. Our January ECA Massachusetts chapter meeting featured ACE: Alternatives for Community and Environment, the first environmental justice non-profit organization in Massachusetts. ACE has defended the rights of Roxbury residents for over 25 years and works with community organizers locally, statewide and nationally. ACE Executive Director Dwaign Tyndal, and other ACE leaders, Latoya Evans and Mela Bush-Miles, joined us on Zoom to tell us more about their environmental justice campaigns, including initiatives on public transportation, energy-efficient housing and air quality.

After the meeting, Dwaign sent us the the good news that ACE supporters were successful in saving a crucial part of Roxbury's green space by stopping the city's plan to cut down 124 big trees on Melnea Cass Boulevard. See the announcement at the ACE Facebook page.

Our popular first-Tuesday-of-the-month chapter meetings are easy to attend wherever you live - via Zoom - with timely topics, interesting speakers, and opportunities to network with other elders who want to learn more about climate change and take action. We hope you'll join us at the next chapter meeting on Tuesday, February 9! (See Save the Date, above.)
Northeast Electric Grid Connections
January 25 -

Part 4 - A Decade of Change

In support of our mission to combat climate change, the ECA Massachusetts chapter has been presenting an educational series by our Research Team aimed at Massachusetts climate activists who want to understand and participate in the state's planning to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We had a large turnout via Zoom for the January 25 presentation, Part 4 in the series - 70 ECA Massachusetts members and other climate allies! Presenters from our Research Team included Jim Campen, Arnie Epstein, Paul Reisberg, Roger Luckmann, and Betty Krikorian. The illustrated presentation covered the Baker administration's 2050 Roadmap and 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan and the climate bill, A Next-Generation Roadmap For Massachusetts Climate Policy (now S.9), and details about transportation, buildings, the electricity sector, and sequestration, with time for a lively discussion.

You can view the videos and slides for Part 4, as well as the first 3 presentations in the series (Part 1, Getting to and beyond Net Zero - a Massachusetts Approach, Part 2, Getting Rid of Fossil Fuels in Transportation and Buildings, and Part 3, Achieving 100% Clean Electricity in Massachusetts), at the featured post on our website, Getting to Net Negative - A Massachusetts Approach, https://ecamass.org/getting-to-net-negative-a-massachusetts-approach/.

We're looking forward to the final installment of the series, Part 5 - Beyond Energy Emissions, on Monday, February 22, 4-5:30 pm EST via Zoom (see Save the Date, above).
What We're Reading
The Overstory: A Novel
By Richard Powers (W.W. Norton & Co., hardcover 2018; paperback 2019)
The Overstory is the most transformative or life changing book I’ve read in the last 10 years. Almost everyone I know who has read the book describes it in similar terms. At over 500 pages, the book, while beautifully written, is neither a fast read nor an easy read. It lures you in slowly, fictional character by character, until you have learned the stories of how nine individuals have come to their activism in defense of trees and forests. As their stories unfold, they become both more dramatic and intersecting. In other words, you begin to see the common roots and branches of their activism. The interconnectedness of their stories -- the overstory, if you will -- is paralleled by the science we are taught throughout about the plant world -- i.e., how forests are composed of trees that are interconnected through structures and biochemical processes to protect the entire ecosystem. As explained by one of the protagonists, a wildlife biologist (whose studies have gone heretofore unheeded by colleagues), trees are like people -- at their best -- in that they communicate, provide resources and services, and help defend their neighbors.

So what makes this book transformative? For one, you will never look at a tree the same way. Equally affecting is the way the author humanizes each of the protagonists. Not all of them have happy endings, but in each case, one is left feeling buoyed by their evolving understanding of the natural world and the activism that it engenders. For climate activists, The Overstory also brings a reminder that our struggle has a rich history, and that our struggle is just.

-- Seth Evans

Underland: A Deep Time Journey
By Robert Macfarlane (W.W. Norton & Co., hardcover 2019; paperback 2020)

An enchanting author, Robert MacFarlane has written several books about nature, environment and the fascination and fear of extreme landscapes. I highly recommend them. His most recent book, Underland: A Deep Time Journey, is a unique chance to experience MacFarlane’s poetic writing. He writes of underground adventures, his beautiful prose expressing deep concerns about darkness, human beings and our relationship with nature. It is a book that offers a new perspective on the human impact on our planet.

MacFarlane explores the caves and tunnels of England, the frozen landscape of Greenland and the deep places in Finland where nuclear waste will now be stored. Throughout his journeys he explores our place in the natural world and describes the Anthropocene, a time now that humans are having a definitive mark on the strata record. Are we being good ancestors? What is alive within us? What are we leaving behind? With the 6th extinction, the shrinking of biodiversity, and increases in plastic, lead and uranium that we have left behind, humans can now ask ourselves: What is the risk factor of our capitalist view of nature as inert, as we plunder the planet for our own good?

He quotes a dazzling range of poets and novelists and great galaxies of writers on geology, archaeology, mythology, morphology and glaciology, as well as on nuclear science, “dark matter” physics and art history. In Greenland, after watching an incredible iceberg (“ice city”) calving he writes…
           “out of the water where the city has fallen there up-surges, rising - or so it seems from where we are standing - right to the summit of the calving face itself, a black shining pyramid, sharp at its prow, thrusting and glistening, made of a substance that has to be ice but looks like no ice we have seen before, something that resembles what I imagine meteorite metal to be, something that has come from so deep down in time that it has lost all color and we are dancing and swearing and shouting, appalled and thrilled to have seen this repulsive, exquisite thing rise up that should never have surfaced, this star-dropped berg-serge that has taken three minutes and 100,000 years to conclude.”

Ultimately, who gets to live is the question of the climate crisis.

-- Tina Grosowsky

Do you have a book review suggestion? Send your ideas to Newsletter Editor Diane Rapaport. And if you're looking for more good climate-related books, check out these recommendations from Yale Climate Connections.
This Newsletter is Published for Members and Friends of the
Elders Climate Action - Massachusetts Chapter
ECA Massachusetts is a chapter of the national Elders Climate Action. We are a movement of elders committed to making our voices heard... to change our nation's policies while there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate. Visit the ECA Massachusetts website, event calendar, and Facebook page to learn more about our chapter's activities and climate news. JOIN ECA MASSACHUSETTS AND STAY CONNECTED! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and for more active participation, sign up to receive Action Alerts and meeting announcements. Fill out our subscription form.