January 16, 2015

by Dr. Anne Waple, Vice President, Second Nature

Normally, being at the top of the list is a good thing, but when it comes to ranking the Earth's annual temperature, we'd prefer to see ourselves somewhere lower on that particular chart. NOAA and NASA scientists announced on January 16th 2015, that 2014 was the warmest year on record for the globe since records began in 1880.

Of course, this is notable for many reasons:

Firstly this demonstrates the continuation of a trend - all of the top ten warm years have occurred since 1998, and nine of the top ten have happened since 2002.

The most recent decade is the also the warmest decade on average.

Every year since 1997 has been above the 20th Century average. And globally, there has been no month that has been below the long-term average in twenty-nine years. Yep, twenty-nine years. That means almost half of the global population has never experienced a month where the global temperatures were below average.

However, perhaps the most notable point about this year's record is that in no month during 2014 were there El Nino Conditions. This is the first time since 1990 that we have had a record warm year without El Nino conditions occuring for at least part of the year. Typically El Nino conditions will elevate global termperature, but this year, the Earth's warmth had no such push. So 2014 clearly demonstrates the influence of the ongoing and underlying trend towards globally warmer temperatures as a result of increasing greenhouse gases. 

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January 6, 2015
Posted in: ACUPCC

by Rachael Moreland, Second Nature Intern

The year 2015 brings waves of New Year’s resolutions from people who seek improvement. And among them, Second Nature signatories will share their efforts toward improving campus sustainability. Every other year, signatories submit a Progress Report on advancement towards their Climate Action Plan goals. Although the deadline to submit Progress Reports isn’t until January 15, a handful of schools already shared their accomplishments. I would like to highlight a few submissions that particularly captured our attention.

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December 11, 2014
Posted in: Video Series

Starting in January 2015, Second Nature will be rolling out a new video series titled Sustainability Sit-Downs. The series, which consists of twelve interviews, features sustainability leaders from higher education, as well as non-profit and private sector organizations that work closely with colleges and universities.

Interviewees sat down with Second Nature during the 2014 Climate Leadership Summit, hosted from October 1-3, 2014 in downtown Boston, MA. Participants shared their thoughts and experiences regarding topics such as:

  • Higher Education’s role in creating a sustainable society, and the biggest sustainability challenges it faces
  • Sustainability progress in the field
  • The arc of their own careers and involvement in the field
  • Future hopes and advice for students

Videos will be released once per week starting January 21, and will be available on Second Nature’s YouTube Channel

Thank you to all of the people who gave their time to sit down with us and talk sustainability. Below, in alphabetical order, are our featured speakers:

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December 11, 2014
Posted in: ACUPCC, Resources

As we head into the new year, we would like to remind you of a few important activities related to your American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) implementation:

  1. The annual reporting deadline for the ACUPCC is January 15, 2015: Please check your reporting status by visiting the ACUPCC Reporting System and entering your institution's name in the field provided. If you have any reports past due (shown in red), please submit them or contact the ACUPCC Support Team to discuss how to get your institution back on track.
  2. Implementation Profile Update: Please make sure that your institution's Implementation Profile is up to date. For instructions on how to update your institution's Implementation Profile, you can watch this video. The Implementation Profile is a short online form that provides us with information about your institution, including contact details for communications directed to Presidents and Implementation Liaisons. If you are not the correct point of contact, please let us know.
  3. Reporting Extensions: If you are unable to meet the January 15, 2015 reporting deadline, a request for an extension may be submitted. In order to avoid a “Not in Good Standing” reporting status, signatories should apply for an extension as soon as they become aware that they will be unable make the deadline.
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November 21, 2014
Posted in: Why We Work

by Amanda Carpenter, Program Associate, Second Nature

My passion for sustainability started, oddly enough, with a fascination with the weather. As a kid, hearing the severe weather warning tone on the television was as close to Christmas as I could get in the late spring. The warning would go off announcing the advent of a severe storm or flash flood warning, and I would be glued to the TV hoping that the announcement would mean that something cool was about to happen.

One such occasion interrupted a family barbecue on the last day of May. The forecast that morning had said that there was a high likelihood that there would be severe thunderstorms in the late afternoon, and you could definitely feel it stepping outside. The air was hot and humid, sitting heavily as the fog rolled in that early evening, and draining the motivation out of everything it touched. Around 4PM the severe weather warning started across the TV screen accompanied by a warning I had never heard before: Tornado Warning for Eastern New York.

 

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October 24, 2014

by Kate Gordon, Executive Director, Risky Business Project

I grew up in and around universities. As the child of a law professor, I spent time in Buffalo, NY, Madison, WI, and Palo Alto, CA, often doing my homework at the back of lecture halls and empty classrooms. Ultimately I ended up at Wesleyan for my B.A., and then at UC Berkeley for joint degrees in law and city planning, paving the way for my current work on energy and climate policy.

Even with all this exposure to academia, I only fully grasped the role that universities can play in fighting climate change a few weeks ago, when I was lucky enough to spend a day at the annual conference of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment. I was there to talk about the Risky Business Project, an initiative co-chaired by former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and long-time investor and climate activist Tom Steyer. The project takes a classic business risk assessment approach to climate change and identifies specific risks facing each region of the U.S. in three major sectors: energy demand, coastal infrastructure, and commodity agriculture. Our research also identified significant impacts on mortality rates and labor productivity from global temperature increases.

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October 23, 2014

by Timothy Carter, President, Second Nature

One month ago I began a new chapter in my career, accepting the challenging and thrilling opportunity to join Second Nature as its third president. As someone working on environmental issues in higher education for the past 13 years, I have been aware of the rich legacy and commitment of the organization to lead and accelerate bold commitments to sustainability in higher education that transform society.

The network generated by the ACUPCC is arguably the strongest collection of presidential leadership in higher education relating to sustainability anywhere in the world. Since 2007, these leaders gather regularly at the Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership to hear from expert speakers, share experiences with each other, and discuss the sustainability issues that are most pressing on their campuses. This conference has ranged in scope, size, and focus throughout the years but every Summit has had at its core a commitment to serve the members of the network in the best ways possible. On October 1-3, 2014 we held the seventh of these summits in Boston, and we are incredibly grateful for the time the more than 300 participants took to meaningfully engage with content and each other.

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August 21, 2014
Posted in: Why We Work

by Karolina Kenney, Summer Intern, Second Nature

(This post is part of a series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

When it comes to the environment, my life has been made up of singular moments of clarity where I have realized where I fit in the world of sustainability. Throughout my whole life, I have run into views towards nature that have baffled me, but learning how to battle those who “don’t care” or “don’t have the time” for the environment is what has fueled my fervor for creating a stable future.

When I was little growing up in Boulder, CO I was surrounded by nature and a community that was very environmentally conscious. So much so, that my dream job when I was in elementary school was not to be a princess, but a “Skip” bus driver and the anthem of my childhood was called “When I Grow Up” by Leftover Salmon. Here is a taste of the lyrics:

“When I grow up I want to work at Alfalfa’s. Where the cheese is dairy free. A birkenstocks, spandex, necktie, patchouli grocery store. I’ll have a job, picking through the produce – no pesticides for me! I’ll be a working modern income socially conscience Boulder hippie,” 

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August 21, 2014
Posted in: Why We Work

by Peter Janetos, Summer Intern, Second Nature

(This post is part of a series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

Having a father who was knowledgeable about sustainability and global climate change never really mattered to me until later in life. It wasn’t until early high school when global warming and serious environmental impacts really got my attention. I took a class my senior year of high school called Environmental Systems; in retrospect probably the most important class I took in high school, and really opened my eyes to global climate change. After the school day was over my head would be buzzing with questions off of topics we discussed in class, and who better to ask than my own father. My questions would deviate off onto other questions and before I could blink we would be having a full-blown conversation starting with GHG emissions ending with politics and our ailing economy. This continued well into college.

Majoring in “the hard sciences” never appealed to me but nonetheless the issues of global climate catastrophes lingered in the back of my mind. I decided to major in Communication because I thought I’d be good at it, with a minor in Kinesiology because it only made sense to me that I take some type of sports related classes. As I went through the first half of my college career, questions would still keep popping into my head about not only climate change but life choices, patterns I never noticed before, people, jobs, my future, and I knew just who to ask. I’m fortunate to have the smartest man I know be my own father and that is really something I shouldn’t be taking for granted but at the same time I do because I’ve grown such accustomed to his knowledge and help.

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August 6, 2014

After being the first President to sign the ACUPCC while at College of the Atlantic, Chairing on Second Nature's Board of Directors, and serving two years as President of Second Nature, David Hales officially retires from Second Nature today. 

David has overseen many positive changes while at Second Nature and for the ACUPCC during his service. He is clearly among the most dedicated to the mission of creating a sustainable society by transforming higher education - from implementing climate leadership on his own campus to leading the national organization that supports the ACUPCC network. 

David's letter to the network is copied below.

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