Posts Tagged 'climate change'

Welcome aboard, Mr. President

During the first four years of President Barack Obama’s presidency, he said very little about climate change, much to the dismay of most liberals.

While I’ve long known he accepts that climate change is real and based on science, taking this public step matters.

In three paragraphs about halfway through his second inaugural address Monday, he put it out there clearly and decisively.

Here’s the part of his speech Monday that dealt with climate change, thanks to the Washington Post for posting the transcript:

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.

We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet… .”

He has tied the need for addressing climate change to future generations much in the way others have tied their concern for the debt and deficits to future generations.

If one is good for the future, why not the other? Because truly, debts and deficits won’t matter much of we destroy the only planet we have upon which to live.

Welcome aboard, Mr. President.

– Linda J.

 

How hot is it?

The language is a little salty, so proceed forewarned, but the message is dead on.

According to grist.org and ThinkProgress.org, Australia has added two temperature zones — at the top of the range.

It used to top out at 118. It now tops out at 129.

That’s significant. They didn’t add a degree or two, they added 11 degrees.

Here’s the “good” news:
“… the country does still have one thing going for it — its officials actually recognize the existence and impact of climate change,” said Grist’s Jess Zimmerman.

Can I have a woo hoo or an amen? It’s refreshing to read about officials who get that climate change is real and more importantly aren’t afraid to talk about it!

Nothing that drastic has happened here — yet, but the signs are there. We are certainly planting earlier and harvesting our garden later. How about you?

Also, the U.S. department of Agriculture last fall updated it’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map, adjusting Kentucky’s planting recommendations for the first time in a long time.

Even more recently, the National Weather Service said Lexington in 2012 experienced its second hottest year on record. It was the warmest year ever for Louisville and Bowling Green.

Given enough time and continued inaction, we will see permanent, if different, extremes  here, too.

Now, excuse me, please, while like Mr. Zimmerman, I go weep in a corner, thinking of the new normal for Australia’s people and koala bears.

– Linda J.

 

Welcome aboard!

The Associated  Press is reporting that 4 out of 5 people now recognize the reality of climate change.

Notice I didn’t say “believe” in climate change. That’s because I won’t use that word with fact-based, scientific data.

Back to the AP story:

“Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they thought temperatures were rising and 80 percent called it a serious problem. That’s up slightly from 2009, when 75 percent thought global warming was occurring and just 73 percent thought it was a serious problem. …The biggest change in the polling is among people who trust scientists only a little or not at all. About 1 in 3 of the people surveyed fell into that category.

Within that highly skeptical group, 61 percent now say temperatures have been rising over the past 100 years. That’s a substantial increase from 2009, when the AP-GfK poll found that only 47 percent of those with little or no trust in scientists believed the world was getting warmer.”

Apparently, while some in this group won’t trust scientists, they do trust their own eyes:

One gentleman from Houston, said you can’t help but notice it.

“We use to have mild temperatures in the fall going into winter months. Now, we have summer temperatures going into winter,” Coffey said. “The whole Earth is getting warmer and when it gets warmer, the ice cap is going to melt and the ocean is going to rise.”

He also said that’s what he thinks is causing recent extreme weather.”

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 points.

I say, welcome aboard, glad you all have joined the side of common sense.

– Linda J.

 

 

Now is the time to act in NY and NJ

OK, now that the election is over, can we please have an adult conversation about climate change?

Pretty please?

Climate change is real, it is not a hoax. The world is changing dramatically. Just ask folks in NY and NJ who never expected to have water in their homes, businesses and subways to the extent it happened. The water surged at the level it did because of rising sea levels.

Some are trying to get around the issue of how to deal with it by saying basically let’s not talk about why it happened, let’s just do something. But I don’t think that works.

As I tell my daughter, actions have consequences. They can be good consequences, or bad or somewhere in between. But every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Remember that from Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of motion in middle school science? How can you solve problems if you don’t know why something happened?

To President Barack Obama: congratulations on winning a second term. I was very pleased to hear you mention the climate in your speech (very) early this morning. It’s a start.

Now, it is time for you to take the lead on climate change,  something you failed to discuss during the campaign. I get it; you were being pilloried by the right for everything else, why give the climate deniers and Obama-haters one more sound bite?

But you have an opportunity, here, Mr. President. Hurricane Sandy’s overwhelming destruction should be used as an opening to re-make New York and New Jersey better, stronger and green. Use your powerful voice and speaking ability to rally the nation and use federal money to make it happen. If countries in Europe can put up gates to keep the water out, so can we.

And, please sir, don’t wait years like it’s taken in New Orleans. Grist.org published a story today about a Katrina-ravaged neighborhood that has been re-built into the largest solar project in Louisiana. That’s great, but Katrina hit in 2005.

Let’s not wait seven years to launch a new way forward in New York and New Jersey. Now is the time to act.

 

 

 

NYT op-ed nails it: Wolves matter in more ways than you might think

A New York Times op-ed on Sept. 28 lays out in very clear terms why wolves are an important and necessary part of our world and of their habitats and why the lifting of the endangered species protections could spell their doom in Wyoming.

And with a headline like this — ‘Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf’ — the piece, by author Mary Ellen Hannibal, should be the most-read online item this week.

It turns out, no surprise here, that wolves aren’t the worst of the food chain, valued only for their hides. They are an integral part of maintaining the ecosystem.

Since wolves were returned to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s (they were wiped out in the early part of the 20th century), “scientists have noted an unexpected improvement in many of the park’s degraded stream areas.”

Animals behave differently when wolves are around, and that helps the vegetation and waterways. With predators around, for example, elk don’t have time to browse vegetation down to the ground, so the plants can reproduce, and the vegetation in turn stabilizes stream banks.

This is a good line: “The wolf is connected to the elk is connected to the aspen is connected to the beaver.”

That sounds fun, but it’s very serious.

The extinction of top predators, like the endangered wolf, will have repercussions far beyond the loss of one species. Their place in the planet’s ecosystem matters.

– Linda J.

 

Leave the believing for faith and religion, not science

Do you “believe” in the science that led to the cure for polio?

How about modern medical treatments of everything from acne to zoster (shingles)?

Do you “believe” in the science behind the technology that created the World Wide Web , and the computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, or whatever you are using to read this?

Do you “believe” in the science that led us to drive cars vs. horse carriages, to cross the country or the world in an airplane, or the science behind the development of heating and air conditioning?

If you “believe” in these things, how can you not “believe” in climate change?

And why would you need to “believe” in technology or medical breakthroughs or humans traveling to the moon?

Belief is for things that facts, study and science can’t explain: say, religions.

Belief as explained by Webster’s New World College Dictionary: “1 the state of believing; conviction or acceptance that certain things are true or real 2 faith, esp religious faith 3 trust or confidence 4 anything believed or accepted as true; esp. , a creed, doctrine or tenet 5 an opinion; expectation; judgment.”

Science, by Webster’s (online): “1 the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding 2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study <the science of theology> b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge <have it down to a science>3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : natural science 4: a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws <cooking is both a science and an art>”

Need more?

Climate Change 101

Nearly 100 peer-reviewed papers

NASA’s Climate Change: Evidence

State of the Climate Report 2011

Note the peer-reviewed links. That’s important, they are annotated and documented, i.e., not made up.

I would be happy to read any current (within the last three years) peer-reviewed study or studies documenting how climate change is not happening to support the climate-change deniers’ “belief”. Any takers?

– Linda J.

Time to speak out

I’ve bitten my tongue for far too long. I’ve let climate-change deniers have their say to avoid stepping on various toes and I can’t do it any longer.

Climate change is real. Period.

There, I said it.

It took a vacation to “my” Colorado mountains for a family reunion to open my eyes to how bad things really are.

If you don’t believe me or the consensus of real scientists who deal in facts, I have a challenge for you: Take a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and go up to about 9,000 feet. Take in the wonder that is around you for a while and then start looking at things in detail. You will start to notice dead and dying lodge-pole pines; in some places whole mountainsides wiped out.

You will see burn piles where last winter, after snow fell, rangers burned 5,000 piles of beetle-infested and dead trees, according to rangers I spoke with. The burn marks were evident at that altitude and they’ve already started building piles to burn this winter (when snow’s on the ground so as to not spread fire).

Who did I get this from?

  • Two different park rangers at two different locations, one as worried as I, the other slightly more optimistic.
  • A wildlife biologist who lives there (extended family member to fully disclose).
  • I also observed the destruction myself.

One of the rangers told me he started a talk at one of the campgrounds two years ago detailing how climate change is affecting the park.

Today, groups are studying a little mammal, a cousin to the rabbit, called the pika. It’s the park’s canary-in-the-coal-mine, if you will, a term I used with the ranger. Groups are studying its changing migration patterns and watching the little guys for signs of extinction. It will go first, the ranger said.

There wasn’t enough cold last year to kill the beetles that are eating the trees from the inside out. Some always survive and kill a few trees. But the trees need at least a week of below 20 degree weather in winter to kill off the bulk of the beetles. That didn’t happen.

Can I say that again? There weren’t 7 consecutive days of high temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit in that part of the Colorado mountains last winter. That’s stunning. I remember that kind of cold in Denver, much less the mountains.

Then there are the fires raging all across the parched west, including the one west of Fort Collins, about 50 miles or so as the crow flies from the northern edge of the park. All those dead trees are tinder for a spark; fuel for fires started by nature or humans and quickly spread by winds that won’t quit.

Or check out Africa, where parched is taking on a whole new meaning. Or the arctic, where polar bears can’t find enough ice to survive.

How much observable data do you need?

Study what’s really happening, then come back and tell me climate change isn’t real with a straight face.

And just for fun, watch this clip of physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Real Time with Bill Maher cleaning the clock of climate denier and former GM chairman Bob Lutz using changing migration patterns as his example.

Closer to home, Kentucky didn’t have much of a winter last year. School actually got out on time, which didn’t happened in three prior years that I’ve paid attention because of a school-age child. And many of the “snow days” in those years weren’t because of snow, they were because of ice. We get ice because it doesn’t get and stay cold enough to snow.

We might have an extreme winter this year, Colorado might have little winter again, or the reverse might be true or some combination of severe storms, or drought, too much cold or not enough. Remember the deadly and destructive March 2 tornadoes? Awful early in the year, don’t you think?

That’s what climate change is: Long-term it means the planet is warming, but short-term, it means changing weather patterns, and more extreme and severe weather (droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.).

There’s no more “normal.”

We better get used to it since politically no one seems willing to stand up to the deniers.

Worth reading: ’7 billion: What to expect when you are expanding’

As the world’s population expands — a United Nations report says we will reach 7 billion people on Monday — Grist.org has been exploring issues of population growth and the environment with a series titled, 7 billion: What to Expect When You are Expanding.

I recommend some not-so-light reading for the weekend.

They are tackling some heavy topics, from Three’s a crowd: Is it unethical to have more than two children  and We can feed 10 billion of us, study finds — but it won’t  be easy to An indigenous take on family planning and population and much more.

So in between the parties this weekend and the kids’ trick-or-treating, check it out. It’s food for thought, and discussion.

– Linda J.

Don’t be a communist, use as much electricity as you can!

In response to Earth Hour, the Saturday night event featured on this blog Tuesday that encourages everyone to turn out lights for an hour to bring attention to climate change, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is encouraging everyone to turn all their lights on for an hour.

No kidding.

The institute sent out an email linking to a blog that celebrates “news, politics, current events, pop culture, and asian women,” which suggests that we need to show we’re not like North Korea, described as a “environmentalists wackos utopia,” and pictured above.

Here’s the link: http://storminsmorningjava.blogspot.com/2009/03/north-korea-celebrates-earth-hour-2009.html

A supermodel and Belfrey by candlelight?

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen and the Belfry Middle School National Junior Honor Society are among those planning to turn out lights for an hour Saturday night as part of the World Wildlife Federation's Earth Hour. The event, now in its third year, is designed to get people thinking about climate change.

Bundchen is in Los Angeles and Belfrey Middle School is in Pike County, Kentucky. The Web site promoting the event has a video of Bundchen and other celebrities, but not the school kids. Go figure.

To find out what other Kentucky groups and businesses will be dark Saturday night, and to sign up yourself, go to www.myearthhour.org.

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