October 2011

Want to know where your Representative stands? October 3, 2011 : 6:27 PM

Henry Waxman recently “unveiled a new, searchable database of anti-environment votes by the 112th Congress. The database details the 125 votes taken to date by the House that undermine the protection of the environment.”

According to his office “The database offers details on each vote, including the bill or amendment number and sponsoring member, a brief summary of the bill or amendment, the vote outcome, and additional relevant information. The votes are searchable by bill number, topic, affected agency, and affected statute.”

You can search this new site by clicking here.


Great New Book: "On Earth As In Heaven" October 4, 2011 : 2:40 PM

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, in addition to being the spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians, is the world’s Green Patriarch. He new book On Earth As In Heaven: Ecological Vision and Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the third and final volume of his selected writings and showcases his statements on environmental degradation, global warming, and climate change.

For example on page 141 he writes:

"We have repeatedly stated that the crisis that we are facing in our world is not primarily ecological. It is a crisis concerning the way we envisage or imagine the world. We are treating our planet in an inhuman, godless manner precisely because we fail to see it as a gift inherited from above; it is our obligation to receive, respect, and in turn hand on this gift to future generations. Therefore, before we can effectively deal with problems of our environment, we must change the way we perceive the world. Otherwise, we are simply dealing with symptoms, not with their causes. We require a new worldview if we are to desire 'a new earth' (Rev. 21.1)."

This is a must read for religious scholars and anyone seeking a deeper understand of the issues we face today. You can purchase the book by clicking here.


Congratulations Architecture of Humanity and Worldchanging October 6, 2011 : 5:43 PM

I recently I received news that Architecture for Humanity acquired the website Worldchanging. This is big news for both organizations. As the press release announced

“Architecture for Humanity is honored to announce the acquisition of Worldchanging, a leader in solutions-based journalism, and to merge its assets with the Open Architecture Network to create a robust and informed network to bring solutions to global challenges to life.”

“It’s an exciting match, since design increasingly includes discussions of policy and planning, communication, social justice and science; issues that once fell outside the traditional bounds of architecture are now at the heart of professional practice. Bringing these two worlds together is a logical next step in sustainable development.”


The Impact on Animals October 7, 2011 : 2:53 PM

A Brown University study examines whether animals will be able to adapt and migrate as the climate warms:

"Species' ability to overcome adversity goes beyond Darwin's survival of the fittest. Climate change has made sure of that. In a new study based on simulations examining species and their projected range, researchers at Brown University argue that whether an animal can make it to a final, climate-friendly destination isn't a simple matter of being able to travel a long way. It's the extent to which the creatures can withstand rapid fluctuations in climate along the way that will determine whether they complete the journey."

"In a paper in Ecology Letters, Regan Early and Dov Sax examined the projected "climate paths" of 15 amphibians in the western United States to the year 2100. Using well-known climate forecasting models to extrapolate decades-long changes for specific locations, the researchers determined that more than half of the species would become extinct or endangered. The reason, they find, is that the climate undergoes swings in temperature that can trap species at different points in their travels. It's the severity or duration of those climate swings, coupled with the given creature's persistence, that determines their fate."

This echoes the findings of a study conducted at University of York in the United Kingdom. Researchers there found: Source: AAAS

"The distributions of many terrestrial organisms are currently shifting in latitude or elevation in response to changing climate. Using a meta-analysis, we estimated that the distributions of species have recently shifted to higher elevations at a median rate of 11.0 meters per decade, and to higher latitudes at a median rate of16.9 kilometers per decade. These rates are approximately two and three times faster than previously reported."

Source: AAAS


Companies Working to Solve the Climate Crisis October 7, 2011 : 5:26 PM

The Climate Reality blog points to companies that have discovered solving the climate crisis makes good business sense:

"Over the past several years, electric utilities, automobile manufacturers, investors and other businesses have started to recognize that climate change is real and that humans are contributing to it. These companies also realize that they can be part of the solution — and that it makes business sense to do so."

"To this end, a number of forward-thinking companies formed “Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy” or BICEP nearly three years ago. Members include Nike, Starbucks, Levi Strauss & Co., Timberland, Target, Best Buy and other major brands."

"These companies know that climate change threatens their supply chains, and therefore increases risk and uncertainty. For example, 95% of Levi products are made from cotton, which is sensitive to extreme heat and both too much and too little water. Aspen Skiing Co. will feel the impacts of climate change directly; a lack of snow affects the entire $66 billion-per-year industry that depends on skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts for financial survival."


Yellowstone's Hottest Decade on Record October 9, 2011 : 7:34 PM

This could have a devastating impact on one of the most beautiful areas of our country:

"The last decade was the greater Yellowstone region’s hottest on record, according to a study released Tuesday by a pair of environment-oriented nonprofits."

"The study’s findings show that temperatures over the past 10 years were 1.4 degrees above the region’s 20th century average. Summers, in particular, averaged 2.3 degrees higher than summers in the past century."


Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street October 12, 2011 : 5:07 PM

For the past several weeks I have watched and read news about the Occupy Wall Street protests with both interest and admiration. I thought The New York Times hit the nail on the head in an editorial Sunday:

“The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.”

“At this point, protest is the message: income inequality is grinding down that middle class, increasing the ranks of the poor, and threatening to create a permanent underclass of able, willing but jobless people. On one level, the protesters, most of them young, are giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity.”

From the economy to the climate crisis our leaders have pursued solutions that are not solving our problems, instead they propose policies that accomplish little. With democracy in crisis a true grassroots movement pointing out the flaws in our system is the first step in the right direction. Count me among those supporting and cheering on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

You can support the protests by clicking here.


Australia Takes a Major Step Toward Establishing National Legislation on Climate Change October 13, 2011 : 7:54 AM

According to the Los Angeles Times:

"The Australian government's goal of implementing a carbon tax passed its toughest test today as the lower house of Parliament overwhelmingly approved a package of bills that institutes a phased-in carbon tax, to be followed by a carbon-trading system."

"The 18 bills now go to the Senate, where the law is all but assured of passage in mid-November."

"According to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the system will reduce Australia's carbon emissions by 159 million tons by 2020. Australia is the largest per-capita carbon polluter, with an economy deeply dependent on coal."

"The first phase of the law will tax carbon at $22.90 a ton beginning in the middle of next year. The surcharge will rise modestly until mid-2015, when the carbon-trading system will take effect. Other bills call for a national emissions caps, exempting farming and other agricultural sectors."

"The tax will not extend to the price of gas for consumers, although rail, shipping and large trucking businesses will pay the tax indirectly on fuels such as diesel."

This vote is a tremendous accomplishment. I applaud Prime Minister Gillard for her leadership, as well as all of those who have worked for many years to enact legislation in Australia. I look forward to Senate consideration in November.


An Open Letter to Climate Deniers October 14, 2011 : 12:18 PM

From CEO Pacific Institute of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick:

“OK, you have fought hard to deny or challenge the realities of climate change, perhaps because you are afraid of the policies that might have to be put in place; or are afraid of the possibilities of increased government intervention; or you don’t think it will be that bad; or you think it will be too expensive to do anything about; or you don’t understand the science; or you don’t trust scientists, including, by the way, every national academy of sciences and every professional scientific organization in the geosciences (see the list attached to this Congressional testimony); or whatever.”

“You may not think the expected consequences of climate change are bad enough to do anything, despite what researchers have been telling us for years about higher temperatures, worsening frequency and intensity of storms and droughts, rising sea levels, altered water quality and availability, growing health risks from pests and heat, and much more.”

“Fine. But you are dragging the rest of us, who still believe in science and think that things can and should be done quickly, down into what increasingly seems like a future hell. You need to get on board. Why? Here is the final straw.”

Read the entire letter by clicking here.


Koch Brother funded Study Confirms Climate Data October 25, 2011 : 5:14 PM

Climate skeptics were hoping this study would debunk data proving the existence of the climate crisis -- instead it reaffirmed the science:

"Back in 2010, Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist and self-proclaimed climate skeptic, decided to launch the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project to review the temperature data that underpinned global-warming claims. Remember, this was not long after the Climategate affair had erupted, at a time when skeptics were griping that climatologists had based their claims on faulty temperature data."

"Muller’s stated aims were simple. He and his team would scour and re-analyze the climate data, putting all their calculations and methods online. Skeptics cheered the effort. “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong,” wrote Anthony Watts, a blogger who has criticized the quality of the weather stations in the United States that provide temperature data. The Charles G. Koch Foundation even gave Muller’s project $150,000 — and the Koch brothers, recall, are hardly fans of mainstream climate science."

"So what are the end results? Muller’s team appears to have confirmed the basic tenets of climate science."

With the evidence reconfirmed (again), I would hope that skeptics would rethink their position and join me in pushing our government, and governments around the world, to take steps to solve the climate crisis.

Source: Washington Post's WonkBlog


Censoring climate science does not make sense October 27, 2011 : 7:05 PM

Censoring science for political reasons, simply limits public knowledge, not the impact of the climate crisis. Fast Company reports:

“Scientists associated with a major study of environmental changes in the low-lying coastal region around Galveston, Texas, have withdrawn their names from the final report after high-level officials appointed by Governor Rick Perry removed references to sea level rise and climate change from the document.””

“According to an article in Mother Jones, the scientists had already tried to make their work more palatable to a wide audience by minimizing references to human impacts on climate, limiting most of their analyses to historical rates of local shoreline submergence, sediment deposition by rivers, land subsidence, and the like. Nonetheless, their findings were still unacceptable to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in keeping with the Perry administration's claims that human-driven climate change is a hoax.”

“The report in question was intended to help Texas cope with serious problems that affect the entire Gulf Coast. It was based upon a peer-reviewed paper that appeared in a major journal in 2008. That paper even contained information that might appeal to those who deny human impacts on climate, including cases in the geologic past when purely natural climatic changes caused coastal flooding, and evidence that today's rapid advance of the sea in the Galveston estuary is not only due to sea level rise but also to land subsidence. Then again, that rapid coastal subsidence is largely due to oil, gas, and water extraction--and admitting that also runs afoul of the Perry administration's story lines.”