November 2011

Who Speaks for the Climate? November 1, 2011 : 12:04 PM

Professor Max Boykoff has a very interesting new book out entitled Who Speaks for the Climate? Making Sense of Media Reporting on Climate Change. He writes:

"These considerations of "who speaks for the climate" via mass media may be as important as formal climate governance architectures themselves to the long-term success or failure of efforts to take carbon out of the atmosphere or keep it out. We ignore or dismiss the influence of media representations-cultural politics more broadly-in shaping climate science and governance at our peril. The many "actors" in this theatre of cultural politics-from climate scientists to business industry interests and [NGO] (pro)activists to artists, union workers, farmers, teachers, television and movie stars-are ultimately all members of a public citizenry. In short, a more informed public and more wisely supported links between science, policy and media are in our collective self-interest."

This is an important book for those trying to understand the conversation of democracy. You can purchase it by clicking here.


Governor Roberts' Memoir November 4, 2011 : 12:13 PM

My good friend, Governor Barbara Roberts, wrote a wonderful new autobiography about her life in politics and role as a wife, mother of an autistic child and advocate.

As one of our country's first female Governors, Barbara is a role model and inspiration to so many. I share her passion for service and admire the foresight she demonstrated while in office. As Barbara writes in her book:

"One hundred fifty years from now, as future generations look back on our journey, how ill they see us?…Will they speak of our courage, our creativity, our care and stewardship of the future? Or will they see us as short-sighted, self centered, greedy, timid?" I then delivered the line I would use year after year: "For each generation has but one chance to be judged by future generations, and this is our time."

You can buy this wonderful book by clicking here.


More Flooding November 4, 2011 : 6:50 PM

Around the world, countries are experiencing massive floods. Joe Romm reports:

“The Thai floods have gotten more attention, because of their epic nature — and global economic impact on rice prices (see below). So let’s start with El Salvador and Central America:”

“I want to tell the world that El Salvador is going through one of the most dramatic disasters in its history,” President Mauricio Funes said on national radio and television Wednesday night, as he appealed for international aid. A week oftorrential rains across Central America have triggered extreme floods and landslides that have killed 105 people, according to media reports. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have declared states of emergency due to the disaster. El Salvador and Guatemalahave seen the worst flooding, with 34 and 38 people killed, respectively. Another 18 have died in Honduras, 13 in Nicaragua, and 5 in Costa Rica. Therains were due to a large area of low pressure that was moistened by the landfall of Tropical Depression 12-E near the Mexico/Guatemala border last week.”

“Contributing to the record-intensity rains were ocean temperatures off the coast of El Salvador that were 0.5 – 1°C above average during the first half of October, allowing more water vapor than usual to evaporate into the air. Over the past ten days, rainfall amounts of over a meter (39.4″) have fallen over a large area of southwest El Salvador (Figure 2.) At Huizucar, an astonishing 1.513 meters (4.96 feet) of rain fell in the past ten days.”

And according to AFP:

“Officials have blamed the effects of global warming for the spate of deadly rains andflooding.”


The Climate Vulnerability Index November 5, 2011 : 7:45 PM

CNN reports:

“Some of the world's fastest growing population centers in Asia and Africa are at greatest risk from the impact of climate change, according to a new report.”

“The Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), published by UK-based risk analysis and mapping company Maplecroft, examined the climate risks and adaptive capacity of 193 nations factoring in population concentration, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflict.”

“A total of 30 countries were classified as being at "extreme risk" with Haiti, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Madagascar making up the top five most in peril, while Vietnam, Indonesia and India all ranked inside the top 30.”


History is Made in Australia November 7, 2011 : 9:00 PM

This is a historic moment. Australia's Parliament has put the nation's first carbon price into law. With this vote, the world has turned a pivotal corner in the collective effort to solve the climate crisis. This success is the result of the tireless work of an unprecedented coalition that came together to support the legislation, the leadership of Prime Minister Gillard, and the courage of legislators to take a vote that helps to safeguard the future of all Australians.

I have spent enough time in Australia to know that their spirit of independence as a people cannot be underestimated. As the world’s leading coal exporter, there’s no doubt that opposition to this legislation was fierce. But through determination and commitment, the voice of the people of Australia has rung out loud and clear.

Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we do everything we can to ensure that this legislation is successful.


Thousands Surround White House November 9, 2011 : 1:20 PM

Thousands of protestors surrounded the White House last weekend demanding Barack Obama block the tars sands pipeline because of its implications for worsening the climate crisis:

“Thousands of protesters gathered in Lafayette Square across from the White House on Sunday to oppose a plan for a transnational oil pipeline they fear could harm the environment.”

“At one point, the crowd linked hands to surround the White House, keeping up pressure on President Barack Obama as his administration decides whether to approve the massive Keystone XL project.”

“Demonstrators chanted "yes we can, stop the pipeline," while other protesters carried a plastic tube simulating the pipeline that would run 1,700 miles through six states. The protest drew support from actor Mark Ruffalo, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner John Adams and NASA scientist James Hansen, each of whom spoke to the crowd.”

“The proposed pipeline by developer TransCanada Corp. would carry oil derived from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. Opponents say it would bring "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to extract and could cause an ecological disaster in case of a spill. They are calling on Obama to block the $7 billion project, which is currently being reviewed by the State Department."

"Obama missed most of the protest while he played golf at Fort Belvoir in Virginia during the afternoon."

"Dan Quigley, a freshman at St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont, traveled by bus with about 40 students to attend the protest. The 19-year-old said the pipeline could have an adverse effect on greenhouse gases and pose a hazard to water supplies.”

As I have written before, the tar sands are the dirtiest source of liquid fuel on the planet. President Obama should listen to the voices of those outside the White House and block this dirty energy pipeline.

Source: Associated Press


So Easy a Kid Could Do It November 12, 2011 : 4:24 PM

An interesting program in Florida:

"Schoolchildren across Florida will soon be managing mini solar-energy power plants this fall designed to ease utility costs, educate kids and supply campuses with power during natural disasters."

"The $10 million stimulus-funded project is sponsored by theFlorida Solar Energy Center with the hope of creating jobs in the energy sector while firing up young children about renewable energy."

"Every single day that the sun is shining you are generating electricity," said Susan Schleith, energy education coordinator for the center. "You are a little mini-power plant right there on that school."

"Nearly 100 schools across the state, including 15 in Central Florida, were awarded $90,000 systems that are capable of powering a home for a month."

Source: Orlando Sentinel


Science Must Lead the Way November 13, 2011 : 3:33 PM

Charles Bayless, a utility executive from West Virginia speaks out in support of the scientific consensus of man-made global warming:

"The scientific community is absolutely clear," he said, listing some of the scientific bodies that affirm it, including NASA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration."

"The debate is in some of the popular press but it is not in the scientific community," he said.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Source: The State Journal


Breaking the Cycle November 16, 2011 : 11:26 AM

A call from the UN's climate chief:

“United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres called for more engagement from businesses that promote low-carbon strategies to help governments worldwidespeed up the shift to a green economy.”

“Almost 200 nations will meet in Durban, South Africa, from Nov. 28 until Dec. 9 to discuss climate-protection rules for the period after 2012, when the current emission-reduction targets for developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol expire. Ironing out a global agreement is a step-by-step approach, meaning the slow pace of international policy will continue, Figueres said.”

“The willingness of governments to move forward is severely handicapped unless business provides the impetus,” she told an eco-innovation summit hosted by the Lisbon Council non- profit policy group in Brussels yesterday. “I stand before you with a clear request: help us break the vicious cycle, help us convert it into a virtuous cycle that can empower new growth, create jobs in new sectors, help alleviate poverty and stabilize climate at the same time.”

Source: Bloomberg


How Do We Know Humans Are Causing Climate Change? November 17, 2011 : 12:42 PM

An explanation from the Climate Reality blog:

“When I talk with people who are skeptical about climate change science, I’m often asked: “I know global warming is happening, but how do we know humans are causing the change?”

“Broadly, this question requires a two-part explanation:”

"1. We know that carbon dioxide is the reason the Earth is warming."

"2. We know that humans are sending huge amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere."

“More than a century ago, scientists figured out that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap heat. Since then, we’ve identified many lines of evidence that confirm our planet is warming because of carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect it produces. Plus, we have evidence that warming can’t be attributed to other factors, like the sun. Solar activity has actually decreased in recent decades.”


Locked Into Climate Change November 18, 2011 : 4:44 PM

Time Magazine's Ecocentric Blog notes:

“Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, put it this way: "As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the lock-in of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals." There's a price to delaying action on climate and energy policy—which is exactly what we're doing. The longer we delay, the worse it will get—and the harder it will be to save ourselves.”


AP Reports "Science Panel: Get ready for extreme weather" November 21, 2011 : 7:27 PM

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a fascinating new report on the linkages between the climate crisis and extreme weather. As described by Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press:

"Think of the Texas drought, floods in Thailand and Russia's devastating heat waves as coming attractions in a warming world. That's the warning from top international climate scientists and disaster experts after meeting in Africa."

"The panel said the world needs to get ready for more dangerous and "unprecedented extreme weather" caused by global warming. These experts fear that without preparedness, crazy weather extremes may overwhelm some locations, making some places unlivable."

"The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a special report on global warming and extreme weather Friday after meeting in Kampala, Uganda. This is the first time the group of scientists has focused on the dangers of extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods, droughts and storms. Those are more dangerous than gradual increases in the world's average temperature."

"For example, the report predicts that heat waves that are now once-in-a-generation events will become hotter and happen once every five years by mid-century and every other year by the end of the century. And in some places, such as most of Latin America, Africa and a good chunk of Asia, they will likely become yearly bakings."

"And the very heavy rainstorms that usually happen once every 20 years will happen far more frequently, the report said. In most areas of the U.S. and Canada, they are likely to occur three times as often by the turn of the century, if fossil fuel use continues at current levels. In Southeast Asia, where flooding has been dramatic, it is likely to happen about four times as often as now, the report predicts."

"One scientist points to this year's drought and string of 100 degree days in Texas and Oklahoma, which set an all-time record for hottest month for any U.S. state this summer."

"I think of it as a wake-up call," said one of the study's authors, David Easterling, head of global climate applications for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The likelihood of that occurring in the future is going to be much greater."

"The report said world leaders have to prepare better for weather extremes."


New York Underwater November 23, 2011 : 1:47 PM

A new study points to some incredibly frighten potential impacts of the climate crisis:

“Irene-like storms of the future would put a third of New York City streets under water and flood many of the tunnels leading into Manhattan in under an hour because of climate change, a new state government report has warned.”

“Sea level rise due to climate change would leave lower Manhattan dangerously exposed to flood surges during major storms, the report, which looks at the impact of climate change across the entire state of New York, warns.”

"The risks and the impacts are huge," said Art deGaetano, a climate scientist at Cornell University and lead author of the ClimAID study. "Clearly areas of the city that are currently inhabited will be uninhabitable with the rising of the sea."

Source: The Guardian


Every Major Scientific Body November 30, 2011 : 6:20 PM

Every National Academy of Science has confirmed the existence of climate change:

“As part of its most comprehensive study of climate change to date, the National Research Council today issued three reports emphasizing why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. The reports by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as America's Climate Choices.”

"These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong," said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond."

It’s time for deniers to drop their phony excuses and get to work finding a solution to the climate crisis.