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Joining the climate movement is simple! (1) Sign up for Greenovate's newsletter to stay informed. (2) Share your ideas for making Boston greener. (3) Give your time to volunteer-dependent city and state activities to get further involved. (4) See our facts section for more.

The Howard Ulfelder, MD, Healing Garden at Massachusetts General Hospital
The Howard Ulfelder, MD, Healing Garden at Massachusetts General Hospital

The Howard Ulfelder, MD, Healing Garden, a green roof on Massachusetts General Hospital, is refreshing for both the patients and the environment. Photo: MGH Photography.

Take a picture with the PaparOzzie!
Meet Ozzie
A curious ostrich who refuses to stick his head in the sand...

Climate science can be difficult to understand, and it may often seem like a scary or uncertain problem. It has been said that situations, like these, cause ostriches to stick their heads in the sand. Although this behavior is actually a myth and ostriches don’t really do this, we as human beings, sometimes act this way when we confront something scary or uncertain... like climate change.

In a way, Ozzie represents the uncertainty we may all feel about climate change. However, he also keeps his head above ground by being open-minded, making observations about the world around him, asking questions, looking at scientific evidence, and trying to find solutions.  Follow Ozzie on his climate change journey and check out his posters around Boston!

Finally, take a picture with the PaparOzzie app to be entered to win a miniature stuffed Ozzie!

What are people in Boston doing to fight climate change?
Boston is truly a climate leader when it comes to adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. Bike paths and abundant Hubway stations make cycling convenient. Forested park systems absorb carbon dioxide and reduce the urban heat island effect. State incentives make it affordable to install solar arrays and switch to electric vehicles. Green roofs are popping up all over Boston, reducing buildings’ electricity needs. Learn more in our facts section!
  • Green roofs can greatly improve storm water management by absorbing up to 60% of rainfall, reducing the amount of runoff. Green roofs such as the roof garden at Cambridge Center can absorb tens of thousands of gallons of rainwater annually.
  • Dark-colored roofs can radiate heat and contribute to the urban heat island effect. Sixteen percent of roofs at Boston University are covered in white membranes, which reflect heat. The Center for Student Services features a 6,000 square foot green roof.
  • Plants on a green roof can remove particulate matter from the air along with greenhouse gases such as CO2. The Higher Ground Rooftop Farm in the Seaport District grows greens, herbs, tomatoes, and other crops in an urban setting.
    Higher Ground Farm
    Higher Ground Farm
    Photo: Dave Ludgin, Higher Ground Farm
  • Electric vehicles reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions while saving on fuel costs. With help from the Mass. Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (Mass EVIP), EVs are getting more affordable and the number of recharging stations around Boston is growing.
    An electric car connected to a charging station
    An electric car connected to a charging station
  • In addition to contributing to climate change, vehicle emissions concentrated in tunnels can be a ventilation nightmare. On MBTA's Silver Line, hybrid buses minimize fumes by running entirely on electricity while in underground tunnels.
    MBTA has several hybrid buses in its fleet
    MBTA has several hybrid buses in its fleet
    MBTA
  • A greater number of available charging stations will encourage the purchase of electric vehicles. In 2011, the Lenox Hotel became the first private company in Boston to install a curbside recharging station.
    Lenox Hotel has a recharging station
    Lenox Hotel has a recharging station
    Lenox Hotel
  • About 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Electric cars like the Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf produce at least 50% lower emissions than gasoline-powered cars, reducing overall emissions from transportation.
    Electric cars: Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf
    Electric cars: Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf
  • Exhaust from internal combustion-driven vehicles adds to greenhouse gases and can have harmful health effects. Electric cars greatly reduce this exhaust and the associated gases and health risks.
    No gasoline here! The plug in an electric car.
    No gasoline here! The plug in an electric car.
  • Climate change is altering the timing of seasonal changes, putting pressure on flowering plants and their pollinators. Green spaces provide habitat for bees and other beneficial species that may be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
    Bee in Boston Public Garden
    Bee in Boston Public Garden
  • As climate changes and sea level rises, sections of the Charles River near Boston Harbor will flood more frequently during big storms. Placing parks instead of buildings at the water’s edge minimizes flooding damage and helps reduce water pollution.
    North Point Park, Cambridge
    North Point Park, Cambridge
  • A big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is electricity for heating and cooling buildings. Green roofs insulate in winter and cool in summer, reducing energy use. Norman B. Leventhal Park is a giant green roof atop an underground parking garage.
    Norman B. Leventhal Park, Boston
    Norman B. Leventhal Park, Boston
    Photo: Friends of Post Office Square
  • Parks and forested areas like those in the Emerald Necklace make communities more resilient to effects of climate change. For example, intense storms are projected to become more frequent, but parks reduce those storms’ impacts by soaking up rainwater.
    Emerald Necklace park system map
    Emerald Necklace park system map
  • Buildings and paved surfaces accumulate heat, intensifying local effects of climate change. Green spaces like those of the Emerald Necklace park system retain less heat. The trees also remove over 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year!
    Arnold Arboretum, part of the Emerald Necklace
    Arnold Arboretum, part of the Emerald Necklace
  • Boston’s Climate Action Plan includes increasing bicycle commutes in Boston by 10% by the year 2020. Boston already has plenty of bike lanes, like this one along the Charles River, but plans on building even more.
  • Riding a bike 10 miles per day instead of driving reduces individuals’ CO2 emissions by 1 ton per year. This volume of CO2 is roughly the size of 2 TD Gardens.
  • In the United States, transportation accounts for about 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Although this sector includes ships, aircraft, trains, trucks, and other vehicles, cars are the largest source of greenhouse gases.
    Cars in traffic
    Cars in traffic
  • Solar cells are made of materials that absorb the sun’s light and convert it into an electrical current.
    Rooftop Solar Panels
    Rooftop Solar Panels
  • Other types of renewable energy technologies are wind turbines and hydroelectric dams, which convert wind and water motion into electricity.
    Renewable Energy
    Renewable Energy
  • Renewable Energy Technologies have improved dramatically over the years. Researchers continue to increase the efficiency, durability, and cost-effectiveness of solar, wind, water, and tidal sources of energy.
    Solar at Night
    Solar at Night
Green Roofs Around Boston

Green roofs are an easy, economical, climate-friendly addition to any building.  They capture carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, reduce runoff by absorbing rainfall, and beautify any landscape. This map marks just a few of the wicked smaht green roofs around Boston. See our facts section for more resources on green roofs.

Boston
Information Information Information Information
So, climate change is real. What does it mean for Boston?
Boston Skyline
Boston Skyline
  • Warmer, more acidic ocean water could mean a change in Boston’s fishing industry.
  • Rising sea levels and more intense, frequent rainstorms may cause increased flooding on Boston’s shores.
  • When summers are hot, so are cities. Hotter summers will increase the urban heat island effect in Boston.
  • A changing climate could alter the growing season of local foods.
Climate Change is Happening.

...And that means changes in Boston and New England overall. We have observed and can expect warmer average temperatures, shifting ranges of species, heavier precipitation in the winter, more heat waves in the summer, and rising sea levels. Luckily, Massachusetts is already working on adapting to these changes and helping to slow climate change itself. Browse some of the changes that the Northeast may face!

  • Sea walls like this prevent giant storm waves from splashing onto land. Cities can also use sandbags, sand dunes, or parks to protect their shores from sea level rise.
  • Local organizations like The Boston Harbor Association are already thinking about sea level rise. This map depicts which places in Boston would flood after a storm surge with 2-7 feet of additional sea level rise.
  • Boston's Long Wharf has already experienced unprecedented flooding.
  • Combined with drought, extended hot summer weather can damage trees in and around Boston that rely on milder summer conditions.
  • Heat waves are a public health issue. Hot days can reduce air quality and cause heat stroke and exhaustion in vulnerable populations.
  • Hotter summer weather may increase our use of electricity for cooling. Overuse of electricity could stress our energy infrastructure and release even more greenhouse gases!
  • Intense winter storms affect us all. What costs are associated with winter storms?
  • Because precipitation is more likely, warmer winters will mean rain in Boston. This will be an economic challenge for winter ski and recreation resorts in New England.
  • Some parts of the globe may likely experience decreased precipitation, but not Boston! Boston’s heavy storms will likely occur more in the winter than in the summer season.
  • Bostonians may need to take greater precaution against diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes in the spring, summer, and fall.
    People in the park
    People in the park
  • Greater numbers of mosquitoes may stick around longer in Massachusetts.
    Mosquito
    Mosquito
  • Hemlock woolly adelgids are invasive pests that destroy Hemlock forests.
    Dead hemlock trees
    Dead hemlock trees

Get The Facts

What are some immediate ways I can take action?

Here are some fast and simple actions you can take to help shape Boston’s climate future!

Get connected:  Sign up for Greenovate’s newsletter for up-to-date information, programs, and even financial incentives that help Bostonians address climate change.

Join the conversation: Greenovate’s discussion boards and Facebook page invite you to share your ideas for making Boston greener. Great climate conversations are happening on other Facebook pages too, including Climate Nexus, I Heart Climate Scientists, and Earth-The Operators’ Manual.

Take a step: Many sites such as Greenovate and Earth-The Operators’ Manual suggest personal actions for reducing your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. On this site, look under "How else can I take action?" for our suggestions.

Get involved: Give your time to state and city programs that rely on volunteers to help make Boston more sustainable.

How else can I take action?

Reducing our energy use is the best way to reduce our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and minimize the impacts of climate change. We can all be climate leaders by choosing our purchases, activities, and elected officials carefully! To start, Greenovate Boston has a comprehensive array of resources for climate-friendly (and budget-friendly) living.

The following resources show actions we can take in our homes, our transportation, and our communities.

Homes

Transportation

Communities

How are humans affecting the climate?

When scientists discuss climate and human activity, they are usually referring to what happens when people burn fossil fuels for transportation, electricity, and industrial uses. They provide the energy that we use to warm our houses, turn on light bulbs, make cars go, etc. It takes millions of years for the carbon from ancient organisms to become fossil fuels, but burning them gives off carbon dioxide, water, and other by-products and greenhouse gases in seconds. 

What is the evidence that humans affect the climate?

Scientists agree about human-caused climate change because it is the best way to make sense of the evidence and observations made over the last century. Thousands of independent scientists have considered other explanations such as solar output or volcanic eruptions for the increase in global temperatures, but these theories do not account for all the evidence collected.

Scientists have additionally observed changes in the past century—such as higher amounts of CO2 in the air, rising sea levels, quickly melting glaciers, and higher average surface temperatures on Earth.

Indeed, the Earth goes through natural cycles. Ocean currents, such as El Niño or La Niña, volcanic eruptions and changes in radiation from the sun can affect the Earth’s weather patterns for a given amount of time, generally within the span of a few years. But the sustained, nearly century-long patterns of higher carbon dioxide count in the atmosphere, surface temperature, sea levels, and glacier melt have pointed to something tied inextricably to our burning of fossil fuels over the last 150 years.

Who are climate scientists?

Climate scientists can have a wide range of specialties in fields such as earth sciences, chemistry, biology, physics, or computer science. Their studies are not limited to the small scale of weather, which describes local conditions over the short time span of a few days. Climate scientists think big, studying complex systems over long time spans of at least 30 years, and in some cases hundreds or thousands of years.

Climate science is challenging to study because it is measured all over the globe, over long periods of time, and is affected by many factors. Scientists investigate aspects of oceanography, geology, paleontology, and chemistry. For example, they might look at the rings of trees or ancient ice cores to find clues about our past climate. They also study human-recorded weather data over long periods of time. Analyzing these clues, scientists can create models to make mathematical predictions about what may happen in the future.

What causes climate change?

Many different factors cause climate to shift. Changes in ocean circulation, life on Earth, gases in the atmosphere, changes in the sun’s radiation, and geological activity such as volcanic eruptions and plate tectonic movement can all affect the climate. Some of these changes occur naturally and happen over hundreds, thousands, or millions of years, while others are caused by human activity and occur over centuries or decades.

When did human-caused climate change begin?

Human beings began using fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases a few centuries ago, and scientists were able to make the first climate change predictions all the way back in the 19th century. However, it has been in the last 50 years that carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has risen most severely. Like the glass in a greenhouse, carbon dioxide (along with water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide) allows light from the Sun to reach Earth while preventing the Earth’s heat from radiating back out into space. Without these greenhouse gases, our planet would be cold and unlivable. While changes in atmospheric gases occur naturally over long periods of time, scientists are concerned that the recent increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could have unpredictable effects.

Where is climate change happening?

Climate change is a global problem, but different places will experience different outcomes of climate change. While sea level rise, changes in precipitation, and warmer seasons are in Boston's future, much of the American southwest, for instance, will experience more problems with drought and water scarcity.

Ask us a question!

Have a burning question about our methods, climate change, or this project in general? Ask us a question and we'll do our best to respond promptly!

Ask us a question!

Have a burning question about our methods, climate change, or this project in general? Ask us a question and we'll do our best to respond promptly!

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