Co2nsequences: February 2023 Newsletter


Message from the Chair

February commenced with President Biden's resoundingly successful State of the Union address, during which he highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis and the bold advances of his administration. “The climate crisis doesn’t care if you’re in a red or blue state. It’s an existential threat,” Biden stated. “I’m proud of how America at last is stepping up to the challenge. The Inflation Reduction Act is also the most significant investment ever in climate change — ever,” Biden emphasized. “Lowering utility bills, creating American jobs, leading the world to a clean energy future.”

Since the Inflation Reduction Act was passed in August, companies have announced more than 100,000 new climate-related jobs.  Battery manufacturing, electric vehicle production, and other clean energy facilities are ramping up in key states, and billions of dollars are being allocated to programs to address environmental justice across the U.S. The International Energy Agency  (IEA) recently announced that low-emissions sources will account for nearly all global electricity growth in the next three years. Though this progress certainly underscores the reassuring prospect of a fossil-free future, many hurdles remain unscaled for the energy sector’s total transformation as the country and planet continue to face environmental calamity.

On Feb.3rd, the people of East Palestine, Ohio, suffered immediate and long-term consequences from the Norfolk Southern train derailment, which spewed toxic chemicals such as vinyl chloride into the air and, ultimately, into the groundwater and soil. Much blame for the catastrophe was pointed at roll-backs implemented by the Trump administration in railroad safety regulations. Federal and EPA representatives have assessed the site, and deployed additional resources to the area (see White House fact sheet). The EPA has now ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up and pay for damages. Sadly, railroad executives have sacrificed safety over profits for centuries at great cost to human health and the environment. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is calling on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to reinstate railway safety regulations from the Obama administration and to address the wider implications of these regulations.

We must stay engaged on all fronts to encourage and press our representatives to take decisive action on behalf of the environment and climate. Your voice matters. Your vote matters.  

Dana Freling,

Chair, DA Environment & Climate Crisis Council


Six states have elections scheduled for 2023:




New Jersey



It’s good practice to register every year to vote, so request your absentee ballot today from! For more information about specific races, check 2023 State Voting Information and 2023 Election Dates.     

First up: Wisconsin!  WI will be choosing a state Supreme Court judge in April, and by electing the liberal progressive, the Court majority will flip from 4-3 "conservative" to 4-3 "liberal." (The position is "nonpartisan," so we are not using Party names.)


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Climate Change, Heatwaves, and Low-Income Populations: A Deadly Combination



As a result of human-induced climate change, areas throughout the world are experiencing longer and more intense heat waves. A “heatwave” is when the ambient temperature reaches a certain threshold for two or more days.

Heatwaves affect many areas of the world, but they are most dangerous in places where the people and infrastructure are not accustomed to or prepared for them. In parts of Europe, for example, intense heat waves in 2022 drastically affected individuals, businesses, and society. European countries are particularly vulnerable because buildings and homes often lack cooling technology, the population is generally older and thus more susceptible to heat-related illness, and crops grown in the region have difficulty withstanding such high temperatures.

Increased heat and humidity don’t affect all people equally. Older people, pregnant people, and children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses because of their physiology. These groups have higher sweating thresholds, making it more difficult for their bodies to cool down quickly. People with chronic conditions, those who work outside, and athletes are also more susceptible. Living environment and socioeconomic status play a role in vulnerability. Poorer people, minorities, and people living in urban areas are disproportionately affected by hotter temperatures.

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The Emergence of Circular Carbon


Our goal for many years now has been to stop the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, especially the most abundant one, carbon dioxide (CO2), from destroying our climate’s equilibrium. Decarbonization is the word of the day. Every industry is seeking ways to achieve its ends without emitting CO2. Yet, in our efforts to eliminate it, we often forget that carbon is essential to life and essential to the planet’s energy balance. The question, therefore, is not simply to decarbonize but to manage carbon, to keep it where it ought to be.

Managing carbon entails understanding its role in both the natural and industrial worlds. Carbon cycles through many parts of these worlds by coupling and decoupling with other elements. In the natural world, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and through photosynthesis, they transform it into plant matter. From there, it cycles through the soil or is eaten by animals, etc. There is an enormous potential to absorb carbon into soils and vegetation, through appropriate “carbon farming” practices and by planting forests. Peatlands are great stores of carbon, and we can leave them undisturbed. Helping ocean kelp forests survive allows them to continue to store carbon as well.

In the industrial world, people have dug up and drilled up hydrocarbons such as coal, oil, and natural gas and burned it, releasing now over 37 billion tons of CO2 every year. The first task for carbon management is to defossilize industry, and to leave the carbon in the ground. Carbon reduction includes all the ways we stop using these hydrocarbons, such as substituting renewable energy for conventional power plants, substituting electric vehicles for internal combustion engine vehicles, or substituting heat pumps for gas or fuel boilers. The accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere and in the ocean, however, is such that it will not be sufficient to replace the burning of hydrocarbons with renewable energy. Still, we need to remove carbon dioxide as well.

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) uses negative emissions technologies (NETs) to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and stash it away for long periods of time. It can be pumped into depleted oil wells or salt caverns indefinitely. This is what is meant by carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) entails pumping carbon dioxide into oil wells to squeeze out much more oil. The oil and gas industry now pumps 70 to 80 million tons yearly for this purpose, part of which remains underground.

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Co₂nsequences: ECCC January 2023 Newsletter


Message from the Chair

Happy 2023….and a renewed chance to move that needle on climate and environmental justice. Since the official launch of Democrats Abroad ECCC one year ago, we have accomplished a lot, both within our organization with your support and through the Biden administration with the help of Congress. Federal funds are now being allocated to local governments and to states and tribes to help with electrification, weatherization, and renewable energy infrastructure.  

Though much was accomplished in 2022 legislatively in favor of climate change mitigation and our transition toward a fossil fuel-free economy, continued progress will be difficult with a GOP-controlled House. We will continue our fight to stop fossil fuel subsidies and new fossil fuel infrastructure, to push for biodiversity protection, a Windfall Profits Tax, and recognition of the Climate Emergency. Our recourse lies in federal agencies, state legislatures, local initiatives, and executive emergency powers. Environmental activists around the country are calling for the President to use his executive powers to declare a Climate Emergency.

Please sign our Democrats Abroad Petition to the White House to declare a Climate Emergency!

We will continue organizing globally to ensure that climate voters like you are informed and have a voice in this existential issue of our time in 2023, 2024, and beyond. Thank you all for your engagement, support, and inspiration this first year of our Council!

Dana Freling  

Chair, DA Environment & Climate Crisis Council



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Wind Turbine Blades


Undoubtedly, wind turbines are an essential key to our fossil fuel-free future. Nonetheless, there are a number of challenges to solve in achieving their sustainability, making wind turbine blades a unique example of the good, bad, and nerdy. To make solar, wind, and other renewable power sources fully sustainable, you have to consider every phase, from siting to production to end-of-life disposal. About 85% of a modern wind turbine’s component materials (steel, copper wire, electronics, and gearing) are recyclable or reusable. Its blades – usually three 50- to 80-m-long blades made of fiberglass and carbon girders bonded between painted fiberglass shells and protected by an epoxy resin – are the rub. This combination of different materials and the blades’ strength makes their separation for the recovery of workable glass fibers physically and chemically challenging. The blades’ weight and length also make transporting them complicated.

 Why not cut the blades into pieces on-site, you might ask? Although feasible, this doesn’t solve all the transportation and recycling problems and calls for enormous – and expensive – vehicle-mounted wire saws or diamond-wire saws similar to those used in quarries. The vast majority of blades reaching the end of use are consequently either stored in various places or taken to landfills (although they account for only a tiny fraction of U.S. municipal solid waste).

Various companies have taken up the challenge:

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Mastering Methane: The Fastest Battle in the Climate War

The trajectory towards a 100% renewable energy future has been thwarted by the vested interests in the old, entrenched energy and industrial system and veiled in cloaks of climate denialism and technological nihilism. Our progress, therefore, towards achieving a peaceful coexistence with our planet falters. We feel helpless when confronted with the full power of Mother Nature’s revenge as the climate crisis burns, blows, floods, and roasts us with increasing intensity. The cloak of denial and ignorance falls off as more people wake up to the real urgency we are facing. Seven percent emissions reductions every year to avoid the worst is a daunting challenge. Is there any way to buy a little time while we revamp our energy system? Are there any shortcuts or quick reductions we can grasp that are win-win and won’t arouse political backfire from the fossil fuels industries?

Methane emissions reductions may well be that strategy. Methane is our second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2). While less abundant, it has a far greater Global Warming Potential (GWP) than CO2, more than eighty times more potent over a twenty-year period. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that half of the 1.0° C net rise in global average temperature since the dawn of the industrial era is due to methane increases. Also, methane is short-lived in the atmosphere, lasting only about ten years. Efforts to stop it from entering the atmosphere, therefore, coupled with its natural degradation, could afford a powerful lever to slow global warming.


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Co₂nsequences: ECCC December Newsletter

Co₂nsequences: ECCC December Newsletter


Message from the Chair

Wishing all of you a holiday season filled with gratitude and love…for one another and for the beautiful planet on which we reside.

As we assess the tectonic year of 2022, we observe both tragedy and progress apportioned to our world and country. Record-breaking climate events have littered the planet, from the cataclysmic floods covering 1/3 of Pakistan to severe heat waves, fires, and droughts across China, Europe, and Africa, and extreme hurricanes/typhoons in the U.S. and parts of Asia. And sadly, little was achieved at COP27 to help us limit temperature rise to the 1.5C goal.

On the promising side, consensus for a fund for Loss & Damage was reached last minute at COP27 in Egypt, and a Biodiversity Fund was established at COP15 in Montreal. In the U.S., the Biden administration passed the Inflation Reduction Act, with $370 billion earmarked for climate change mitigation, ratified the Kigali Amendment, moved to electrify the postal service fleet, and established the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights.

American publicly and privately subsidized research has born exciting breakthroughs in fusion technology, which promise to help decarbonize energy in decades to come, advancements in green hydrogen, with hopes of decarbonizing air travel, and progress in renewable energy storage.

In the U.S. midterms, Democrats actually grew the Senate majority with the final runoff victory of Rev. Warnock in Georgia. We defied historical trends by only narrowly losing the house and achieved trifecta victories in several key states. 

We also celebrate this month’s landmark biodiversity agreement in Montreal, ’30 by 30’, promising to protect the globe’s frail remaining ecosystems, which is key to stopping climate change. Neither the climate crisis nor biodiversity loss will be successfully resolved unless tackled in tandem. The threat of mass extinction of plant and animal species led 195 nations to agree to protect and restore at least 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030. Rich nations shall pay roughly $30 billion annually by 2030 through a fund created under the Global Environment Facility.

As we close the circle on 2022 and mobilize for another round of political and environmental engagement, remember that healing and regenerating our planet starts with each of us. Please care for yourself as you help care for this planet.

Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season,

Dana Freling
Chair, DA Environment & Climate Crisis Council



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December 2022 Climate Cafe


The ECCC had a lively discussion on the arts and climate activism in our December Climate Cafe. The most effective way to move our fellow humans is often through art and narrative, not just words and shouting. Let's explore how music, prose, film, graphic art, etc., can expose the human condition and change hearts and actions.


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Youth v. Gov Voices

Watch our panel discussion on the multi-award-winning documentary, Youth v Gov, now streaming on Netflix. We welcome filmmaker Christi Cooper, who paints a remarkable portrait of the young Americans suing the government to protect their constitutional rights to a stable climate, Philip Gregory, acting as co-lead counsel on the case, and Nathan Baring, one of the brave youth plaintiffs. YOUTH v GOV is the story of the Juliana v. The United States of America constitutional lawsuit and the 21 American youths, ages 14 to 25, who are taking on the world’s most powerful government. Since 2015, the legal non-profit, Our Children’s Trust, has been representing these youth in their landmark case against the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal safety, and property through their willful actions in creating the climate crisis they will inherit.



Watch on Netflix