January 7, 2014
Posted in: News

By Dr. Anne Waple, Director of Communication and Science at Second Nature

If you're among the 200 million Americans who have been experiencing our recent, let's just say, chilly conditions, then you might be wondering if global warming has suddenly come to a screeching halt. Well, it turns out that far from being an indicator of a slow-down in global climate change, it's one more piece of evidence for increasing climate instability as a result of human-induced warming.

Linked to a decrease in sea ice extent and increased warming in the Arctic, the recent intrusion of very cold air into the continental U.S. is a result of the polar vortex weakening and allowing Arctic air to flow south. The polar vortex is the circulation pattern that typically fences cold air into the Arctic.  Below are several excellent descriptions of this phenomenon and its link to a warming planet.

While this recent event is not record-breaking for most of us and will be thankfully short-lived, it has caused significant impacts across much of the country, closing schools and businesses, shutting down transportation, interrupting power for some residents, and prompting emergency declarations in several cities and communities. 

A Few Explanations from Weather and Climate Experts:

Andrew Freedman at Climate Central

Union of Concerned Scientists

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December 17, 2013

ACUPCC Signatory, University of California Irvine, has earned California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental & Economic Leadership Award for its Smart Labs program. UC Irvine is committed to Governor Brown's plan to reduce California's carbon footprint and to the University of California's commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, as recently announced by UC's new President, Janet Napolitano. Through UC Irvine’s “deep energy efficiency” program (their term for energy efficiency retrofit projects with associated significant energy savings) they are determined to demonstrate that efficiency can provide a major fraction of needed carbon abatement -- feasibly, quickly, and cost-effectively. The Irvine campus is now 

approaching a 50 percent overall reduction in energy intensity achieved through a comprehensive program of deep energy efficiency, as a result of their “Smart Labs” program. Only a few years ago, no one believed that efficiency improvements and retrofits would yield a major percentage of needed carbon abatement, because the efficiency gains of new technologies - particularly sensors, digital controls, and software – were underestimated. All of those are key elements in UCI's comprehensive “Smart Labs” retrofit program. 

Learn more about the award

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December 17, 2013

Plains, Trains, and Sustainability: Regional Collaborations with UMACS and NWF Campus Ecology


By Axum Teferra, Kresge Membership and Engagement Fellow




This year, Second Nature partnered with the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS) and National Wildlife Federation- Campus Ecology (NWF) for Second Nature’s first Midwest Regional Collaborative Symposium.The event took place from November 7th-9th, 2013 at Luther Collegein Decorah, Iowa, and integrated an ACUPCC (American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment) Pre-Conference for both signatory and non-signatory institutions.

Second Nature staff members chose to ride the rails from Massachusetts to Iowa in order to minimize the group’s carbon footprint. This 32-hour train ride took the team through many states and landscapes, ending at Luther College in Decorah, the Iowa town nestled in a 470 million year-old crater.  

View of wind turbine adjacent to the Luther College campus in Decorah, Iowa

Second Nature Staff

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November 18, 2013
Posted in: ACUPCC, Climate Action, News

On Wednesday November 13th, the President Napolitano of the University of California, seal of the University of Californiaannounced her intent to bring the University to net energy neutrality by 2025. This bold plan builds on the reduction in carbon emissions that all campuses of the UC system have made as signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and demonstrates the true transformation that can result from higher education leadership. At Second Nature, we are looking forward to continuing to work with the campuses of the University and President Napolitano’s chancellors and staff as they implement this inspiring initiative. The full text of President Napolitano’s remarks can be found here: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/30336

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November 6, 2013

by Ashka Naik, Director of ACUPCC Initiatives, Second Nature


As of November 2013, 616 signatory institutions have submitted 1998 GHG Inventories in total.

616 institutions have submitted at least one GHG report.  492 institutions have submitted at least two GHG reports, with which we have datasets to analyze trends of emission within the ACUPCC network.

Figure 1: The following figure highlights the breakdown of how many GHG reports have been submitted by signatory institutions.

The 492 institutions that have submitted at least two GHG reports present the following trends on their GHG emissions.

  • 286 (58%) of the 492 signatory institutions show a reduction totaling 2,898,816 metric tons of CO2e. 
  • 198 (40%) of the 492 signatory institutions show an increase of 1,196,815 metric tons of CO2e. 
  • 8 of the 492 signatory institutions show no change in their emissions.
  • The cumulative emissions reduction from these 492 signatory institutions is 1,702,001 metric tons of CO2e.
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November 5, 2013

“The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be”:

Collaborative Leadership, Higher Education, and Climate Destabilization

Dr. Peter Bardaglio


 By Peter W. Bardaglio, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, Second Nature


Icebergs in Iceland: an endangered species?



“The future ain’t what it used to be,” Yogi Berra once declared.[i] He wasn’t talking about climate change, but he could’ve been. Eight out of the nine hottest years on record worldwide, including last year, have occurred since 2000. The rate of the Arctic summer melt is accelerating at an astonishing pace and the latest reports now predict that we could have ice free summers in the Arctic as early as 2015. Scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii announced this past May that for the first time in human history the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed 400 ppm. The last time carbon dioxide levels were this high was probably in the Pliocene epoch, over three million years ago. To top it off, a paper just published in Nature predicts that by mid-century over half the planet will be experiencing average temperatures equivalent to the hottest days recorded since 1860.[ii]

As bad as this news is, and it’s bad, there is some really good news on the clean energy front.

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November 4, 2013

By Sarah Brylinsky, Director of Climate Resilience & Educational Programs

Join Second Nature at the 14th National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) Conference "Building Climate Solutions", in Washington D.C., January 28th-30th.

Visit the conference website to register or find out more about this unique and action-oriented event, and be sure to join us for a symposium and breakout workshop to develop an action-plan for supporting resilience efforts in higher education.

Preparing Campuses and Communities for a Changing Climate
2014 NCSE Workshop, Second Nature

Higher education has already taken a successful leadership role in climate mitigation through the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), with nearly 700 campus committed to achieving climate neutrality (not net carbon emissions).

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November 4, 2013

By Sarah Brylinsky, Director of Climate Resilience & Educational Programs

Second Nature will be presenting at the Boston Ecodistricts Summit.  Our panel will discuss the role of higher education in creating resilient communities through living laboratory development.  Hope to see you there!

Universities as Living Laboratories for District Transformation
Tuesday November 12, 2013 | 1:30 to 3:00 PM EST

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October 4, 2013

by Timonthy White, Chancellor, California State University System and Chair of the ACUPCC Steering Committee

The ACUPCC is entering its 7th year in full force. Today, this network—comprised of 673 colleges and universities—represents 6,413,193 students. And as it grows, these institutions continue making remarkable progress towards addressing sustainability and climate issues on their campuses across the country, both in institutional operations and curriculum development. To date:

  • Collectively, ACUPCC signatories report an annual cumulative reduction of 328,698 metric tons of CO2e emissions. In addition to producing a combined 444,300,134 kWh of renewable energy annual, which is the equivalent of powering 46,928 American households every year.
  • Three signatories—College of the Atlantic (ME), Colby College (ME), and Green Mountain College (VT)—have achieved carbon neutrality, and 44 more have set a target date within the next ten years .
  • More than 180 signatories have established programs to encourage student climate and/or sustainability research, 82 signatories have included sustainability learning outcomes in institutional General Education Requirements, and 108 signatories offer professional development to all faculty in sustainability education.
  • Collectively, 144 signatories have secured funding from outside sources totaling over $309 million, and 209 signatories reported savings from implemented CAP projects totaling $144.5 million.

For more details on progress made by the ACUPCC, read the latest Progress Summary of June 2013.

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October 1, 2013

Sarah Brylinsky

By Sarah Brylinsky, Director of Climate Resilience & Educational Programs

Join us at the following sessions during AASHE 2013 in Nashville TN, October 6th-9th!  Second Nature will be presenting on topics important to you, including ACUPCC implementation, student leadership, climate resilience, and power-purchasing agreements on campus.  The Second Nature staff would love to meet you if you are attending - be sure to say hello at our sessions and networking events!

Click here to see the AASHE schedule


Climate Resilience Sessions

Roadmap to Resilience: Assessing Tools and Strategies for Climate Preparedness on Campus
Panel Discussion Room #101C, Tuesday, October 8th, 1:30pm ­ 2:30pm
Sarah Brylinsky, Director of Climate Resilience & Educational Programs, Anne Waple, Program Manager, Second Nature

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