When international leaders meet in Paris at the end of this month to discuss a universal agreement on climate, a Juneau group will be raising awareness about the talks, and about climate change, by way of a film series and community potluck.
“The movie series is an opportunity for people to explore the issue of climate change, to get some new ideas, and see that there are other folks who are interested too,” said Danielle Redmond, coordinator of AlaskaCAN (Alaska Climate Action Network), the Juneau group sponsoring the series.
“We want a way for people to get engaged and get connected with other people in the community and to start thinking about solutions, and what they can do.”
Three films will show throughout the month, coinciding with the lead up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, which happens Nov. 30 through Dec. 11.
“We are pivotal in solving the problem,” said Elaine Schroeder, one of the series’ organizers. “And we can do something about it.” She said there are many ways Alaskans can contribute to solutions.
“I think the big ones are flying less, driving less, riding a bicycle, heating your homes to maybe about 67 degrees rather than 69 degrees, and wearing a sweater,” Schroeder said. “By becoming aware of your own carbon expense account, you are embodying what needs to be done, and you are living a life of coherence where what you say is mirrored by what you do.”
Juneau efforts that have been suggested include improving CBJ’s transit system, using hybrid buses, and building a light rail system from downtown to Auke Bay.
Roman Motyka, Juneau professor emeritus of geology and geophysics with the University of Alaska, suggested ways Alaskans can reduce their use of fossil fuels.
“I drive a car, but I try to minimize the use of that vehicle. Heating our homes is another big factor. A lot of us use oil,” he said. “What I’ve done in my house is to retrofit it to make it more energy efficient. That’s probably the best thing people can do, that and to be conscious of our energy use anywhere and everywhere.”
Motyka, who studies glaciers, also talked about sea level rise.
“One of the biggest contributors is the mere heating of the ocean,” he said. “Heat expands water, which causes sea level to rise, but a bigger contribution is now coming from the melting of mountain glaciers, and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.”
But Juneau won’t likely see much sea level rise over the next few decades, he said.
“What happens when you melt off ice is that it allows the Earth’s crust to rebound upward,” Motyka said. “When we had the huge ice mass in Glacier Bay and across the Juneau Ice Field and elsewhere over here, it actually depressed the crust. So, the local sea level was lower then and actually flooded shorelines all around Juneau. You can see the record of that.”
“Because sea level rise is countered by glacial rebound in Southeast Alaska, Juneau is less vulnerable than other parts of the state,” Motyka said.
Motyka recommended going out to the visitor’s center at the Mendenhall Glacier for informational displays, knowledgeable naturalists, and a close-up view of the glacier and its retreat over the years.
“The City and Borough of Juneau has so much potential,” Redmond said. “We have a sustainability coalition who has done a report that looks at the local effects of climate change and possible solutions.”
The technology for sustainable energy exists, added Schroeder. “Germany is in the forefront of that, and Alaska could also be in the forefront. … Just changing light bulbs isn’t gong to solve the problem.”
According to the “Renewable Energy Atlas of Alaska” produced by the state’s Alaska Energy Authority, alternative energy efforts are growing across the state. Some examples:
• Kodiak installed the state’s first megawatt-scale wind turbines and generates about 18 percent of that community’s electricity.
• Geothermal systems, surfacing as hot springs, can be tapped for energy, and hydrokinetic devices can convert tidal and river energy into electrical power.
• Solar energy in Alaska has potential for off-grid power generation and low-use application.
• Alaska’s biomass fuels — wood, sawmill wastes, fish byproducts, and municipal waste — can be converted to compost or used for energy too.
In 2010, the Sealaska Corporation installed the state’s first large-scale pellet boiler at their headquarters in Juneau, replacing more than 30,000 gallons of fuel oil per year, and contributing to savings for the organization.
CBJ has researched alternatives to its current practice of shipping processed waste bio-solids south to an Oregon landfill — which could include composting, methane extraction, or incineration.
Alaskan Brewing Company’s Coastal CODE program donates one percent of the proceeds from its Icy Strait IPA to fund projects that promote ocean and coastline sustainability, such as beach cleanups and water habitat restoration
AlaskaCAN coordinator Redmond said the main thing to remember is that it’s not too late to create change.
“We’ve just been in this continuous grind of like, ‘Oh it’s inevitable, we can’t change,’” Redmond said. “The biggest piece that we need to move is getting over that hump of ‘Oh we can’t do anything, it’s too late anyway.’ No, it’s not too late, we need to get on it and do it.”
CLIMATE ACTION FILM SERIES AND POTLUCK
“This Changes Everything” will show on Saturday Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. Based on Naomi Klein’s book of the same title, the film follows the work of activists around the world, highlighting the economic systems that have impacted climate change.
“The Yes Men Are Revolting” will show on Monday Nov. 16 at 7 p.m., and Saturday Nov. 21 at 4:30 p.m. This film follows two comic activists who staged media hoaxes and focused on corporate practices as contributors to global warming.
“Merchants of Doubt” will show on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 4:30 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. This satirical documentary takes an inquisitive look into the international spin around climate change.
All films, hosted by the Alaska Climate Change Network, will show at the Gold Town Theater, downtown. Tickets are $10 at the door, or online at www.alaskaclimateaction.org.
A community potluck will be held on Saturday, Dec.12 (location TBA) to coincide with the international People’s Last Word event in Paris.
For more information about the film series and potluck, go to www.alaskaclimateaction.org.
THINGS YOU DIDN’T THINK YOU COULD RECYCLE IN JUNEAU
Recycling resources in Juneau can be found on the CBJ website at: http://www.juneau.org/pubworks/r-rec.php — including where to dispose of hazardous waste, batteries, cell phones, cars, plastic, cans, cardboard, etc. CBJ Waste Management lends recycling containers for cans and plastic bottles for events.
Following are some additional tips for recycling in Juneau:
• Plastic six-pack rings: Take to Juneau Wholesale. Call 789-5919
• Plastic bags: Take clean bags to St. Vincent de Paul or Salvation Army for reuse. A&P and Fred Meyer have collection bins
• Cell phones: AWARE shelter collects old cell phones for soldiers. Call 586-6623 or go to www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com
• Eyeglasses: Juneau Lion’s Club and private optometrists accept used eyeglasses. Email email@example.com
• Fishing line: Western Auto Sporting Goods accepts used fishing line (monofilament)
• Hangers: Can be given to dry cleaners
• Non-ferrous metals, such as brass, copper, aluminum, and radiators: Collected by Auke Bay Cans, 789-9407
• Printer toner and cartridges: Collected by BEP, which also refills and rebuilds, 789-2230
• Shipping materials like bubble wrap, peanuts, large boxes: Can be recycled at Taku Graphics 780-6310, or Annie Kaill’s store downtown (bubble wrap only), 586-2880.
• Remove your family from junk mail lists https://juneau.catalogchoice.org