Sep 6: Sustainability Salon on Climate Change

With the NYC climate rally coming up on September 21st, we're going to talk about climate happenings here in Pittsburgh, across the country, and around the world.  The 32nd Sustainability Salon will take place on Saturday, September 6th (3-10 p.m.).  We'll cover science, local and national policy, and individual action.  The next Salon will be on October 18th, in conjunction with the annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour.

What's going on with climate change deniers, and how can they be convinced?  Recent news articles have reported on a "warming hiatus," claiming that there has been little or no warming of the planet for the past 15 years, contradicting predictions of the climate models.  Dr. Neil Donahue examines the details of climate models, how they construct predictions about global warming, and whether the warming hiatus is real or imagined.  The link between climate and our energy choices becomes clear as each piece of the climate model is examined for its effects on global temperature trends.  This understanding is especially timely as Iceland experiences the eruption of the massive Bardarbunga volcano.  Neil (your Salon co-host) teaches in the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Engineering & Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.  He was founding director of the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, and now directs the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research and serves as a National Academies Science & Engineering Ambassador.

What is Pittsburgh doing?  We'll hear from Dr. Aurora Sharrard, the Vice President of Innovation for the Green Building Alliance.  In 2008, she became the original convener of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, which works collaboratively in the Pittsburgh region to reduce greenhouse gases through measurable actions.  Following the adoption of two Pittsburgh Climate Action Plans and a the adoption and an update of the Pittsburgh Greenhouse Gas Inventory, GBA transitioned the PCI convener role to the City of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania Environmental Council.  GBA remains a strong PCI Partner through its Pittsburgh 2030 District program, which Aurora co-founded.  (Photo:  Mark Dixon)

What can individual citizens do?  
Ray Roberts leads the new Pittsburgh chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, a nationwide network engaging and empowering people in efforts to make real, effective change in public policy to mitigate climate change.  Their main aim has been to pass a revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend program -- which will naturally incentivize reductions in fossil fuel consumption while encouraging development of renewable sources and energy efficiency -- and putting money in most people's pockets.

We'll also have Barb Grover, president of the Sierra Club's Allegheny Group, to talk about the upcoming People's Climate March and rally in New York City, and gather more participants for the Pittsburgh contingent, and fill us in on what will be happening here at home that day.  Jonathan Gray, Pittsburgh Climate Defender organizer for PennEnvironment and an activist in the labor, economic justice, and social justice movements. will talk about ongoing local volunteer opportunities.

For Salons in general:
3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3pm.  We'll aim to introduce speakers beginning around 4pm after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.   Please email me with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your EventBrite invitation (if you're not already on my list, please email me to be added!).  Please RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and these events have been so successful that we need to begin limiting attendance.  So RSVP early if you can, to ensure your participation!  The free virtual "tickets" on Eventbrite may run out (you don't need to print any tickets, by the way, just be on the list).  Also, weather and such can be unpredictable and it's good to know who to contact if there's a change -- and I'll send directions and/or a trail map if you need 'em on Friday or Saturday.  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line, as I receive a ridiculous amount of email every day.  And if you're new, please let me know how you heard about the Salons!

Bring food and/or drink to share if you can, along with musical instruments if you play.  Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events) for updates.  And if you aren't yet on my list, if you're interested in Sustainability Salons (and our occasional house concert, simply contact me and I'll put you on my email list.  

Note once again that I'll be sending out directions and such, and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks by the morning of the salon if not before.  So if you don't have it yet, please be patient! One of these days I'll streamline this process a bit, but for now it takes a while to to dot all my i's and cross all my t's.  (All the extraneous requests for the address don't help;  I have lots of other stuff I send out with it, but don't like to let them go unanswered so it adds hours to my prep time.  If you RSVP properly (see above), you should get the info by the morning of the salon!)
For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included environmental artenvironmental education (Part I & Part II)community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (led by filmmakers) over the winter with Living DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfood, and more food.

Quite a few people have asked me what sorts of food to bring -- and my answer, as always, is whatever inspires you;  I believe in the "luck" part of potlucks.  Tasty noshings for the afternoon, hearty main dishes or scrumptious salads and sides for dinner, baked goods from biscuits and breads to brownies or baklava -- and/or beverages of any kind:  wine, beer, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever (I've got the kombucha covered, though it's always fun to compare).  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, don't forget the evening sing -- we typically run the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time is had by all.  Bring instruments if you play, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations will continue through the evening, as well. 

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