As the President travels to Arizona today, I wanted to offer my thoughts and prayers for those who were injured or killed in the senseless violence that took place on Saturday in Tucson. May God bless the victims of this tragedy and their families. And may God Bless America as we begin the process of healing in the aftermath of the tragedy.
NASA confirmed today what many scientists and people around the world already suspected, 2010 was one of the warmest years on record. They said,
"Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York."
"The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie. In the new analysis, the next warmest years are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2009, which are statistically tied for third warmest year. The GISS records begin in 1880."
"'If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long,' said James Hansen, the director of GISS".
"The analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements. "
The Empire State Building is well on its way to becoming a green landmark:
“Amid a more general makeover, the owners of the Empire State Building have spent the last couple of years burnishing the 80-year-old landmark’s green bona fides as well — chiefly though a series of efficiency upgrades and other energy retrofits.”
“On Thursday, the building’s caretakers announced another milestone: it has become the largest commercial purchaser of renewable power in the state.”
In a report on flooding in Australia and Brazil, ABC News makes the link between these natural disasters and the climate crisis.
As the earth warms, scientists tell us that we will see more and more extreme weather conditions. Each of these occurrences further underscore why we need to take immediate action to solve the climate crisis.
Even in Texas where fossil fuels are part of the culture, wind energy is taking off:
“Electricity from wind farms in Texas climbed to 7.8 percent of the power consumed in the state last year, up from 6.2 percent in 2009, the state grid operator said in a report.”
“Texas leads the nation in installed wind capacity which grew to 9,528 megawatts at the end of 2010, up 612 MW from the previous year, ERCOT said.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is suing to protect Polar Bear habitats from harmful fossil fuel exploration:
“An environmental group on Thursday gave formal notice that it intends to sue the federal government for what conservationists consider a failure to protect critical habitat for polar bears from harmful oil and gas development.”
“The Center for Biological Diversity sent the required notice to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.”
“The Interior Department designated more than 187,000 square miles in and near the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as polar bear critical habitat, said the group's Alaska representative, attorney Rebecca Noblin.”
“But its agencies also have reaffirmed a Bush-era plan that authorized oil leasing in the newly designated polar bear critical habitat in the Chukchi Sea, and are considering a proposal to allow Shell Oil to drill next summer in polar bear critical habitat in the Beaufort Sea.”
No surprise, but illuminating none the less.
One of the right’s biggest funders, who has made billions from fossil fuels, David Koch refuses to acknowledge the existence of climate change:
"FANG: Why does Americans for Prosperity focus so much on the science of climate change? I’m just curious why they spread so much information that denies the existence of climate, of global warming?"
"KOCH: Well… I think it’s uh, regulating CO2 excessively is going to put — uh really damage the economy."
"FANG: Do you believe in climate change yourself, Mr. Koch?"
"KOCH: Climate does fluctuate. It goes from hot to cold. We have ice ages."
"FANG: But do you believe carbon pollution affects climate change? [Koch shrugs]"
A great article from Newsweek on the consequences of the climate crisis:
“Estimates of lost world product due to climate change are moderate because the poor have so little to lose. More than a billion people, maybe 2 billion, are estimated to live on less than the equivalent of $2 per day. If a billion of those poorest people lost half their income, it would be an overwhelming tragedy, a true catastrophe, worse than all the earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, landslides, and fires of the past decade happening every year. But those billion people together would lose only $365 billion per year. That is less than 1 percent of world income! They have so little to begin with that what they can lose doesn't amount to much of a statistic. But they can lose tragically.”
With Senate's failure to act to solve the climate crisis, states have now taken the lead:
“States are acting individually and collectively:”
“Massachusetts announced last month that it will cut greenhouse gas emissions 25%, from 1990 levels, by 2020. "It's very doable," says Richard Sullivan, the state's secretary of energy and environmental affairs. "When you focus on energy efficiency, you can go a long way."
“This year, the state will help fund ultra-efficient retrofits for some homes and give them a miles-per-gallon type efficiency label. It's working to allow auto insurers to base their rates partly on a car's annual mileage.”
“Three regional groups, representing at least 22 U.S. states, agreed last year to work together on "cap and trade" programs. These programs cap total emissions but allow businesses that pollute a lot to buy emissions credits from those that pollute less.”
“The regional groups include the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, signed by 10 governors, and the Western Climate Initiative, in which California, New Mexico, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are slated next January to begin their own "cap and trade" program.”
This work is both necessary and a huge step forward. But until we act together, both as a nation and as a planet, we will never get the climate crisis under control.