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Green vacation rentals help fight against climate change

Climate Change

Source: The Weather Channel
Back to Green Home Page
Just like the futility of putting lipstick on a pig, one can’t "greenwash" the threat that current and future climate change presents to our beloved Cape & Islands.

The Good News

Take heart! As the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason says:

  1. It's real
  2. It's us
  3. Scientists agree
  4. It's bad
  5. There's hope!

Let’s start with steps you can take. The key is reducing our dependence on CO2 producing fuels, such as oil and gas. For example, we can:

  • Install LED light bulbs to draw less electricity. Massachusetts’ “Mass Save” program will do an energy audit of your home and install LED lights, all for free.
  • Use renewable energy in our homes.
  • Use ENERGY STAR appliances.

    These three, plus electric vehicle charging, are being added to all of our listings as “green amenities.” Read more about these amenities. We are fully aware that these steps bear a cost, and we realize they are simply not practical for many of our homes.

But, one can also, at no cost:

  • Urge our government leaders to take bold action to mitigate climate change. (WeNeedaVacation.com has never in our 21 years taken a political stance on any national issue until now. We realize and accept that some may disagree with us and even resent our position. But, this is a mark of how seriously we consider the climate change threat, and we have to be true to ourselves.)
  • Engage others in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. We hope our green initiative causes collective action that actually makes a difference.
  • Provide bicycles for your guests in lieu of driving cars.
  • Encourage eco-tourism.
  • Urge your energy provider to purchase more of their electricity from non-carbon sources (solar, wind, hydro).
  • Buy local produce, supporting your area’s farmers. It also greatly cuts down on fuel delivery costs. The shorter the supply chains, the less carbon used.
  • Talk to neighbors about all joining together.
  • Encourage local officials to decarbonize.
  • Join one of the many organizations on the Cape & Islands devoted to preserving our environment. We list a few below.

You’re not alone! Besides your WeNeedaVacation.com family’s efforts, many local organizations are working to preserve our Cape & Islands environment. They would appreciate any support you can give them. Some examples follow:

  • 350.org has chapters on Cape Cod and the Vineyard. For potential impacts of climate change on our region, click here. The umbrella organization, 350.org, has been a strong supporter of action to mitigate climate change since its founding in 2008.
  • The Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative ("the 5 C's") is a 501c3 non-profit corporation founded in 2017. Their membership is made up of organizations on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard that have committed to reducing their carbon footprints and assisting others in doing so. Their website has excellent and ever-growing educational materials. This is a great example of people and groups working together, the credo of our green initiatives.
  • CARE for the Cape & Islands: seeks to encourage, support, and create opportunities for visitors to donate their “time, talent, and treasure” to help preserve and protect the very things they travel here to see and enjoy: exquisite natural beauty, plant and wildlife habitats, and Cape & Islands culture and history.
  • The Faith Communities Environmental Network is a Multi-Faith Initiative on the Cape and Islands established in 2017. Their mission is: working together to connect faith & ecology and to protect our Earth Home. It is a member of the 5 C's.
  • Association to Preserve Cape Cod’s mission is to preserve, protect, and enhance the natural resources of Cape Cod.
  • Cape Cod Buy Fresh Buy Local. Buying local reduces the carbon footprint of delivering goods.
  • Know of others? Let us know.

Of course, the whole world shares this concern as evidenced by near-unanimous (195 of 196 countries) support of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016. Unfortunately, President Trump has indicated that the US will pull out in 2020, leaving us as the only unsupportive country.

But, while the federal government is not on board, many states, cities, businesses and citizen groups are doing great things to fight this threat. A terrific book on these positive actions is Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens can Save the Planet, by Michael Bloomberg (former NY governor/billionaire businessman) and Carl Pope, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club. A couple of key quotes from it are: “We need an optimistic conversation about climate change – with hope, not fear.” And “Each part of the problem of climate change has a solution that can make our society healthier and stronger.” This video summarizes their focus.

Private investors, such as Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Mission Innovation have promised billions of dollars for research into science and technology to combat climate change and global warming.

The World Bank has pledged $200 Billion over 5 years to countries to fight and mitigate.

These positive efforts and countless others like them give us hope!

The Science

This is a very complex subject with a great deal of misinformation out there, so we will try to clarify fact from fiction below.

We at WeNeedaVacation.com are not scientists, but when 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree on the magnitude of this problem, who are we to question?

How does this potentially impact us? The Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative reports “Human-induced changes in global climate will accelerate sea level rise to rates that Cape Cod has not experienced for thousands of years, and we do not know how the systems that exist today will respond. Other climate-related changes as well – temperature, precipitation, storm frequency and intensity, for example – will have as yet undetermined impacts on the Cape’s ecosystems and, as a result, on human health and welfare. (Dr. Graham Giese, Center for Coastal Studies). There is a very high confidence (>90% chance) that sea level will rise between 8 inches and 6.6 feet by 2100. This is higher and will be faster than any increases during the past 2000 years. Sea levels have risen 1 foot since 1900 in the Northeast. This rate exceeds the global average of 8 inches and the rate in the Northeast is expected to continue to exceed the global average (National Climate Assessment 2014).”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued the grim report last fall that the world’s warming is happening faster than ever before predicted and that mankind has 12 years to make substantial changes to ward off damaging and irreversible impact. The goal is to hold the rise in world temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Why? The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm (4 inches) lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. This table helps to clarify what these numbers mean. The projected time period is the year 2100:

Temp increase Sea level rise in feet
1.5°C / 2.7°F 3’
2.0°C / 3.6°F 3.3’

The report goes on to say that coral reefs, habitat for over 1 million species, would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2°C. It would also significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Climate refugees would flee for safer lands, increasing an already highly-stressed immigration situation world-wide. Insects and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half of their habitat at 2°C compared with 1.5°C. Insects are, of course, critical for crop pollination. This chart from The Guardian says it best:

The impact spreads far beyond sea level rise. It also causes intensified weather patterns all over the world, harm to agricultural production and resulting higher prices, increases in all of our insurance premiums to cover the risks of these intense weather events, huge displacement of peoples in low lying regions leading to millions of climate refugees, and so on and so on.

From the latest IPCC report it will take extraordinary effort by nations, regions and individuals to hold the temperature increase to 1.5°C, so future generations wouldn’t experience greater than a 3’ rise in sea levels.

Let’s work together along with many others to do what we can to mitigate this existential issue!