Category Archives: Consumerism

Climate Change Round-up

I suppose it is a good sign that I’m having a hard time keeping up with all of the recent media coverage of climate change. I would like to point out though that while the coverage is now consistent via the web I’m not seeing it nearly as much on the television. I don’t watch much but when I do flip on the TV and CNN I’m much more likely to see discussion of stupid, irrelevant celebrity gossip than I am discussion of climate change. That’s just plain fucked up. Until the corporate media stop the daily bullshit coverage of Anna Nicole’s baby’s daddy and replace it with daily discussion of peak oil, climate change, and sustainable development they are as much a part of the problem as they have always been.

Summary of the latest installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report: Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability [PDF – 547KB]

Billions face climate change risk:

Billions face climate change risk

The impact of climate change has been a major source of dispute
Billions of people face shortages of food and water and increased risk of flooding, experts at a major climate change conference have warned.

Damage already done for some natural wonders

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — While governments grapple with the politics of global warming, some of the world’s greatest treasures already are being damaged and threatened with destruction.

Conservationists have drawn up priorities for action to salvage some of nature’s wonders that are feeling the heat of climate change — from the Himalayan glaciers to the Amazon rain forests and the unique ecosystem of the Mexican desert.

Many of the regions at risk were singled out in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an authoritative body of 2,500 scientists. The report is undergoing governmental review at a five-day conference in Brussels.

On Thursday, diplomats and scientists were negotiating the text of a 21-page summary of the full 1,572-page scientific report. It projects specific consequences for each degree of rising global temperatures, which the IPCC agrees is largely caused by human activity.

On the sidelines of the conference, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature issued a list of 10 regions suffering irreversible damage from climate change. The group also listed where it has projects to limit further damage or help people adapt to new conditions.

“What we are talking about are the faces of the impacts of climate change,” said Lara Hansen, WWF’s chief scientist on climate issues.

The WWF is among the largest of many nongovernment organizations to take up the challenge of climate change.

The Nature Conservancy, based in Arlington, Virginia, is another. It has projects to protect coral reefs off Florida, in the coral triangle of Indonesia and in Papua New Guinea. It also is trying to preserve native alpine meadows in China and conserve vegetation in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

Though climate change has been discussed for decades, Hansen said the effects were now becoming visible. “It’s only in the past decade that we can go outside and see for ourselves what’s happening,” she told The Associated Press.

Some damage is reversible, Hansen said. Although melted glaciers cannot be restored, some coral reefs can recover.

But as natural landmarks deteriorate, she said more attention will have to be paid to adapting to change, not only trying to prevent it, and not enough experts are being trained to help people acclimatize.

“There’s a massive void ahead of us in getting new people,” she said.

U.N.: Warming ruining society, nature:

Top climate experts warned on Friday that global warming will cause faster and wider damage than previously forecast, ranging from hunger in Africa and Asia to extinctions and rising ocean levels.

Study: Climate change could bring new U.S. Dust Bowl

Changing climate will mean increasing drought in the southwestern United States, where water already is in short supply, according to a new study.

“The bottom line message for the average person and also for the states and federal government is that they’d better start planning for a Southwest region in which the water resources are increasingly stretched,” said Richard Seager of Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

Seager is lead author of the study published online Thursday by the journal Science.

Researchers studied 19 computer models of the climate, using data dating back to 1860 and projecting into the future. The same models were used in preparing the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The consensus of the models was that climate in the southwestern United States and parts of northern Mexico began a transition to drier conditions late in the 20th century and is continuing the trend in this century, as climate change alters the movement of storms and moisture in the atmosphere.

The reduction in rainfall could reach levels of the 1930s Dust Bowl that ranged throughout the Midwestern United States, Seager said in a telephone interview.

Arctic lost part of its perennial sea ice in 2005: NASA

Global warming may already be having an effect on the Arctic which in 2005 only replaced a little of the thick sea ice it loses and usually replenishes annually, a NASA study said Tuesday.

Scientists from the US space agency used satellite images to analyze six annual cycles of Arctic sea ice from 2000 to 2006.

Sea ice is essential to maintaining and stabilizing the Arctic’s ice cover during its warmer summer months.

But “recent studies indicate Arctic perennial ice is declining seven to 10 percent each decade,” said Ron Kwok from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Our study gives the first reliable estimates of how perennial ice replenishment varies each year at the end of the summer.

“The amount of first-year ice that survives the summer directly influences how thick the ice cover will be at the start of the next melt season.”

The team observed that only 4.0 percent, about 2.5 million square kilometers (965,000 square miles) of thin ice survived the 2005 summer melt to replenish the perennial cover.

It was the weakest ice cover since 2000, and so there was 14 percent less permanent ice cover in January 2006 than in the corresponding period the year before.

“The winters and summers before fall 2005 were unusually warm,” Kwok said. “The low replenishment seen in 2005 is potentially a cumulative effect of these trends.

“If the correlations between replenishment area and numbers of freezing and melting temperature days hold long-term, it is expected the perennial ice coverage will continue to decline.”

Records dating back to 1958 have shown a gradual warming of Arctic temperatures which speeded up in the 1980s.

“Our study suggests that on average the area of seasonal ice that survives the summer may no longer be large enough to sustain a stable, perennial ice cover, especially in the face of accelerating climate warming and Arctic sea ice thinning,” Kwok added.

Scientists say Antarctic ice sheet is thinning

A Texas-sized piece of the Antarctic ice sheet is thinning, possibly due to global warming, and could cause the world’s oceans to rise significantly, polar ice experts said on Wednesday.

They said “surprisingly rapid changes” were occurring in Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea Embayment, which faces the southern Pacific Ocean, but that more study was needed to know how fast it was melting and how much it could cause the sea level to rise.

The warning came in a joint statement issued at the end of a conference of U.S. and European polar ice experts at the University of Texas in Austin.

The scientists blamed the melting ice on changing winds around Antarctica that they said were causing warmer waters to flow beneath ice shelves.

The wind change, they said, appeared to be the result of several factors, including global warming, ozone depletion in the atmosphere and natural variability.

The thinning in the two-mile-(3.2-km)- thick ice shelf is being observed mostly from satellites, but it is not known how much ice has been lost because data is difficult to obtain on the remote ice shelves, they said.

Study is focusing on the Amundsen Sea Embayment because it has been melting quickly and holds enough water to raise world sea levels six meters, or close to 20 feet, the scientists said.

Antarctic Glaciers’ Sloughing Of Ice Has Scientists at a Loss

Some of the largest glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are moving in unusual ways and are losing increased amounts of ice to the sea, researchers said yesterday.


Complicating the situation for those studying Antarctica, some parts of the continent are gaining ice depth through snowfall while temperatures on the tip of the Antarctic peninsula, the continent’s closest point to South America, are rising faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. The surprisingly fast-moving glaciers are largely on the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Wingham, of University College London, and Andrew Shepherd of the University of Edinburgh said satellite radar readings show that overall, each year the ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica amounts to about 10 percent of the rise in the global sea level, which totals about one-tenth of an inch per year. The net loss of Antarctic ice is estimated to be 25 billion metric tons a year, despite the growth of the ice sheet in East Antarctica.

Because such a large percentage of the world’s ice is found in those two locations, scientists are carefully watching for signs of increased ice loss. If that process accelerates, researchers say, it could result in a substantial, and highly disruptive, increase in sea levels worldwide.

In Greenland, glaciers appear to be moving more quickly to sea because melting ice has allowed the sheet to slide more easily over the rock and dirt below. In Antarctica, the loss is believed to be associated with the breaking off into seawater of ice deep under the ice sheet with little-understood internal dynamics that put increased pressure on the massive ice streams.

Southern Ocean current faces slowdown threat

The impact of global warming on the vast Southern Ocean around Antarctica is starting to pose a threat to ocean currents that distribute heat around the world, Australian scientists say, citing new deep-water data.

Melting ice-sheets and glaciers in Antarctica are releasing fresh water, interfering with the formation of dense “bottom water,” which sinks 4-5 kilometers to the ocean floor and helps drive the world’s ocean circulation system.

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2006 Set to be 6th Warmest Worldwide

Via Common Dreams/Reuters, 2006 Set to be 6th Warmest Worldwide: UK Report:

This year is set to be the sixth warmest worldwide since records began, stoked by global warming linked to human activities, the British Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia said on Thursday.

As England basks in unseasonably warm December weather two weeks before the end of the year, the Met Office said data from January to November made 2006 the warmest on record for central England.

“Worldwide, the provisional figures for 2006 using data from January to November, place the year as the sixth warmest year” since records began in the 1850s, the report said.

The previous warmest years were 1998 and 2005, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO was due to release its own 2006 figures later on Thursday.

“The top 10 warmest years have all occurred in the last 12 years,” it said, adding that 2006 could have been warmer but for La Nina, a cooling of parts of the Pacific Ocean.

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Of politics and a warming planet

Regarding the recent U.S. elections Ted Glick writes that it was Not the Revolution, But an Opening:

Fundamental, revolutionary, political and social change is clearly needed in the USA and the world. Corporate domination of the economic and political system and mass culture is a huge threat to the possibilities for a decent and sustainable future for humankind and for all forms of life on the earth.

King Coal and Big Oil continue to use their power and vast wealth to keep us locked into a reliance on earth-heating fossil fuels that, if not quickly reversed, will lead to a steady escalation of catastrophic climate events and a breakdown of an already-stressed ecosystem.

The dominance of the Pentagon and corporate-supporting, militaristic approaches to problems, the immense amounts of money wasted in weapons production, robs the masses of people of badly-needed resources for housing, health care, education and economic development. It also generates armed resistance, including the terrorism of the stateless that, in a nuclear age, is indeed terrifying.

Yeah, a very small opening and frankly I’m not too hopeful that this new congress will do squat because there’s not much new about it. I’d agree that fundamental, revolutionary political and social change are needed.

Randolph Schmid writing for the AP reports on news that will surprise no one: Signs of warming continue in the Arctic:

Signs of warming continue in the Arctic with a decline in sea ice, an increase in shrubs growing on the tundra and rising concerns about the Greenland ice sheet.

“There have been regional warming periods before. Now we’re seeing Arctic-wide changes,” James Overland, an oceanographer at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, said Thursday.

For the past five years, it was at least 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above average over the Arctic over the entire year, he said.

The new “State of the Arctic” analysis, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also reports an increase in northward movement of warmer water through the Bering Strait in 2001-2004. This may have contributed to a continuing reduction of sea ice.

During that time, there were record lows in sea ice coverage in the region, Overland said. This year there was more normal coverage in the Bering area but a record low on the Atlantic side of the Arctic.

In the past when such a shift occurred, there would have been no net loss of ice overall, just a change in where there was a smaller amount. Now, however, there is both the shift and an overall net loss of ice, he said.

Indeed, the report said Arctic sea ice coverage this past March was the lowest in winter since measurements by satellite began in the early 1970s.

Jacqueline A. Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said the sea ice decline is now being observed in both winter and summer.

Yet another pile of reasons to put George Bush and his cronies in jail. Will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court does with this: High court to hear global warming case:

The Supreme Court hears arguments this week in a case that could determine whether the Bush administration must change course in how it deals with the threat of global warming.

A dozen states as well as environmental groups and large cities are trying to convince the court that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate, as a matter of public health, the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from vehicles.

Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels are burned. It is the principal “greenhouse” gas that many scientists believe is flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, leading to a warming of the earth and widespread ecological changes.

The Bush administration intends to argue before the court on Wednesday that the EPA lacks the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The agency contends that even if it did have such authority, it would have discretion under the law on how to address the problem without imposing emissions controls.

More concerning the Supreme Court and climate change from this article by Greg Stohr: Nobel Laureates Back Case Pushing Bush to Act on Global Warming:

Environmentalists concerned about global warming want the U.S. Supreme Court to turn up the heat on President George W. Bush.

The justices, taking their first plunge into the debate over emissions that scientists blame for increasing the Earth’s temperature, hear arguments Nov. 29 in a case brought by conservation groups and 12 states. Their goal is to force Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency to regulate so-called greenhouse- gas emissions from new cars and trucks.

Bush argues that the government needs more scientific evidence before it acts against such emissions. A victory for environmentalists in the case, which may scramble the court’s usual ideological lineup, would “light a fire” under the administration, says Carol Browner, who headed the EPA under President Bill Clinton.

“They will have no choice but to get going,” says Browner, who — along with a group of scientists that includes two Nobel laureates — is supporting the states and environmental groups.

That might add new burdens on automakers, including Detroit- based General Motors Corp. and Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co., and may also lead to tougher rules for coal-fired power plants.

Shortly after Bush took office in 2001, he rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases on the grounds that the agreement would cost jobs and hurt the U.S. economy. In 2003, the EPA declined to regulate carbon emissions, citing “substantial scientific uncertainty” about the effects of climate change and the most efficient means to deal with it.

George Monbiot: Drastic Action on Climate Change is Needed Now – and Here’s the Plan:

The government must go further, and much faster, in its response to the moral question of the 21st century

It is a testament to the power of money that Nicholas Stern’s report should have swung the argument for drastic action, even before anyone has finished reading it. He appears to have demonstrated what many of us suspected: that it would cost much less to prevent runaway climate change than to seek to live with it. Useful as this finding is, I hope it doesn’t mean that the debate will now concentrate on money. The principal costs of climate change will be measured in lives, not pounds. As Stern reminded us yesterday, there would be a moral imperative to seek to prevent mass death even if the economic case did not stack up.

But at least almost everyone now agrees that we must act, if not at the necessary speed. If we’re to have a high chance of preventing global temperatures from rising by 2C (3.6F) above preindustrial levels, we need, in the rich nations, a 90% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030. The greater part of the cut has to be made at the beginning of this period. To see why, picture two graphs with time on the horizontal axis and the rate of emissions plotted vertically. On one graph the line falls like a ski jump: a steep drop followed by a shallow tail. On the other it falls like the trajectory of a bullet. The area under each line represents the total volume of greenhouse gases produced in that period. They fall to the same point by the same date, but far more gases have been produced in the second case, making runaway climate change more likely.

So how do we do it without bringing civilisation crashing down? Here is a plan for drastic but affordable action that the government could take. It goes much further than the proposals discussed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown yesterday, for the reason that this is what the science demands.

1. Set a target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions based on the latest science. The government is using outdated figures, aiming for a 60% reduction by 2050. Even the annual 3% cut proposed in the early day motion calling for a new climate change bill does not go far enough. Timescale: immediately.

2. Use that target to set an annual carbon cap, which falls on the ski-jump trajectory. Then use the cap to set a personal carbon ration. Every citizen is given a free annual quota of carbon dioxide. He or she spends it by buying gas and electricity, petrol and train and plane tickets. If they run out, they must buy the rest from someone who has used less than his or her quota. This accounts for about 40% of the carbon dioxide we produce. The remainder is auctioned off to companies. It’s a simpler and fairer approach than either green taxation or the EU’s emissions trading scheme, and it also provides people with a powerful incentive to demand low-carbon technologies. Timescale: a full scheme in place by January 2009.

3. Introduce a new set of building regulations, with three objectives. A. Imposing strict energy-efficiency requirements on all major refurbishments (costing £3,000 or more). Timescale: in force by June 2007. B. Obliging landlords to bring their houses up to high energy-efficiency standards before they can rent them out. Timescale: to cover all new rentals from January 2008. C. Ensuring that all new homes in the UK are built to the German Passivhaus standard (which requires no heating system). Timescale: in force by 2012.

4. Ban the sale of incandescent lightbulbs, patio heaters, garden floodlights and other wasteful and unnecessary technologies. Introduce a stiff “feebate” system for all electronic goods sold in the UK, with the least efficient taxed heavily and the most efficient receiving tax discounts. Every year the standards in each category rise. Timescale: fully implemented by November 2007.

5. Redeploy money now earmarked for new nuclear missiles towards a massive investment in energy generation and distribution. Two schemes in particular require government support to make them commercially viable: very large wind farms, many miles offshore, connected to the grid with high-voltage direct-current cables; and a hydrogen pipeline network to take over from the natural gas grid as the primary means of delivering fuel for home heating. Timescale: both programmes commence at the end of 2007 and are completed by 2018.

6. Promote the development of a new national coach network. City-centre coach stations are shut down and moved to motorway junctions. Urban public transport networks are extended to meet them. The coaches travel on dedicated lanes and never leave the motorways. Journeys by public transport then become as fast as journeys by car, while saving 90% of emissions. It is self-financing, through the sale of the land now used for coach stations. Timescale: commences in 2008; completed by 2020.

7. Oblige all chains of filling stations to supply leasable electric car batteries. This provides electric cars with unlimited mileage: as the battery runs down, you pull into a forecourt; a crane lifts it out and drops in a fresh one. The batteries are charged overnight with surplus electricity from offshore wind farms. Timescale: fully operational by 2011.

8. Abandon the road-building and road-widening programme, and spend the money on tackling climate change. The government has earmarked £11.4bn for road expansion. It claims to be allocating just £545m a year to “spending policies that tackle climate change”. Timescale: immediately.

9. Freeze and then reduce UK airport capacity. While capacity remains high there will be constant upward pressure on any scheme the government introduces to limit flights. We need a freeze on all new airport construction and the introduction of a national quota for landing slots, to be reduced by 90% by 2030. Timescale: immediately.

10. Legislate for the closure of all out-of-town superstores, and their replacement with a warehouse and delivery system. Shops use a staggering amount of energy (six times as much electricity per square metre as factories, for example), and major reductions are hard to achieve: Tesco’s “state of the art” energy-saving store at Diss in Norfolk has managed to cut its energy use by only 20%. Warehouses containing the same quantity of goods use roughly 5% of the energy. Out-of-town shops are also hardwired to the car – delivery vehicles use 70% less fuel. Timescale: fully implemented by 2012.

These timescales might seem extraordinarily ambitious. They are, by contrast to the current glacial pace of change. But when the US entered the second world war it turned the economy around on a sixpence. Carmakers began producing aircraft and missiles within a year, and amphibious vehicles in 90 days, from a standing start. And that was 65 years ago. If we want this to happen, we can make it happen. It will require more economic intervention than we are used to, and some pretty brutal emergency planning policies (with little time or scope for objections). But if you believe that these are worse than mass death then there is something wrong with your value system.

Climate change is not just a moral question: it is the moral question of the 21st century. There is one position even more morally culpable than denial. That is to accept that it’s happening and that its results will be catastrophic, but to fail to take the measures needed to prevent it.

Regarding the recent climate talks, we have a long way to go and… it does not look good. Slow Talks Could Leave Climate Deal in ‘Tatters’

A new global agreement to tackle climate change may be scuppered by cumbersome international bodies and a lack of political will, David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, fears.

He warned that politics was now lagging dangerously behind the science on global warming and feared that negotiations on a new deal might drag on so long that there would be a “gap” in 2012 when the Kyoto protocol’s first stage runs out.

To ensure deeper cuts in carbon emissions from then, he said, agreement in principle would be needed by the end of next year. “If we have a gap in 2012, we would have a very serious problem. The whole system would be in tatters,” he said.

Mr Miliband was speaking yesterday after returning from a United Nations conference in Kenya involving 189 countries, which ended without a major breakthrough but agreed to keep talking about a “son of Kyoto” treaty.

In an interview with The Independent, he said: “The political institutions and their speed are out of sync with the scientific needs of the issue. There was real progress on important issues in Nairobi but the gap between the science and the politics remains large, with industrialised and developing countries divided by priorities and divided among themselves.”

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Peak Oil and Climate Change Round-up

From the NewScientist we read the news that Carbon emissions rising faster than ever:

Far from slowing down, global carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than before, said a gathering of scientists in Beijing on Friday.

Between 2000 and 2005, emissions grew four times faster than in the preceding 10 years, according to researchers at the Global Carbon Project, a consortium of international researchers. Global growth rates were 0.8% from 1990 to 1999. From 2000 to 2005, they reached 3.2%.

What can be said? I’ll try to be positive. Each and every day presents opportunities in the form of choices that we can make to reduce the amount of carbon we contribute. There is no doubt that time is running out or already has. The time to act is NOW.

Jim Kunstler over at Clusterfuck Nation has a great post on the scope and meaning of real Energy Independence.

There’s also this story out of London regarding Labour Party leader Michael Mearcher who suggests that England needs to be on war footing against global warming:

This is the one overriding overall political issue which challenges the future of the human species on this planet.

I could not agree more. I tend to not think about organizing our human activities on a “war” footing but I understand the meaning. This needs to be the TOP priority in all our human endeavors. Each and every one of us should wake up everyday thinking about what we can do to stop global warming. The human race must by unified in it’s pursuit of this one primary goal.

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Time travel and climate change

In reply to my last post Kyle asked:

Denny, you and I and many others know that there is nothing natural about the rate and the way in which the Earth is warming…. especially when the catastrophic affects are so scary. I was wondering how you go about convincing others who believe the warming of the Earth is a natural part of the Earth’s “cycles.” I only say this because there is a NASA quote in your piece that reads, “Earth’s temperature could be reaching it’s highest level in a million years”….therefore, it would be easy for someone to say….so the Earth got just as hot (or hotter) a million years ago. I’m just curious because whenever I get into this with someone, it always comes up….and I don’t have an answer.

My reply to this specifically is that yes there natural cycles but a) the current warming is not one of them and b) just because there are natural warming and cooling cycles over the course of millions of years it’s not likely that such cycles would be easy to survive, even for humans. People want to discount human caused climate change because people, especially those in western, “civilized”, nations don’t want to face the change it might require to their lifestyle. At least, that’s my take and I think there’s a good bit of truth to it. Does it really matter if the earth has been this hot before? No. What matters, at least from a very selfish human perspective, is will humans survive? We seem to think that we are special because of our ability to create technology but it is a mistake to assume that technology will save us.

The fact that the earth was warmer a million years ago should offer no comfort at all. With the exception of a small handful of scientists the vast majority of us have no clue at what this really means in terms of a livable planet. Not a damn clue. As an example, how does a warmer earth effect insect populations which in turn effect agricultural systems? That’s just one small consideration and it’s not small at all… the implications on human food supply are quite large. Add to that the effects of other variables that are likely to be changing such as weather patterns and it’s not hard to see that we will likely be facing a food crisis never seen before. The effects of a significantly warmer earth are mind boggling.

Some still seem to think we are capable of rational thought though I’m starting to question that… we’re certainly capable of rationalizing. The question regarding a warmer climate is what does it mean for our survival? That really is the question. Really. Will we survive. We’re not talking about the far distant future. We are talking about 30 – 100 years. Our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes. Strange and sad that such an important question is so quickly glossed over by most people. It’s easier to lie to ourselves and our children than face the inconvenient truth. Al Gore could not have picked a better title for his movie. Actually, the truth will prove to be far, far worse than inconvenient.

Something I’ve found at least somewhat effective in communicating the importance and the immediacy of climate change is time travel. Yes, time travel. You didn’t know you could did you. No, I’m not crazy. I’m talking about our ability to think, to envision. Try this easy exercise with yourself, friend, family member or co-worker. Just sit for a minute and really allow yourself to think about today and the effects we’ve seen from climate change already. Retreating glaciers, melting ice caps… the list is long and is being reported in new studies every month. Now, we’re ready for the time travel. Ask yourself, what will it look like in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? Ponder that future and how the climate of that time may be affecting the planet. Now imagine yourself, in that future looking back to 2006. What would that future self ask? I think the people of the future will look back and wonder why? Why did people not act? They will wonder why we ignored the evidence, the symptoms. They will condemn not our ignorance (because we are not ignorant) but our stupidity.

We cannot time travel to the future but we can attempt to wonder what it will look like and we can create a vision that is at least somewhat likely. We cannot know exactly how the climate will look in 2036 but it seems worth the effort to ponder it. Is it the world we want for today’s children? I find that folks that will take a few minutes to really ponder the future might be more inclined to deal with their own contributions to climate change today.

I’ve heard more than a few people say… “If only I had know I would have done something.” Well, we do know. We know right now at this moment. We are not ignorant and there is no excuse. We can face the future we are creating today and we can have power over it.

One last thing. If we want to change our future we have to do it now with direct action. Individually and collectively we must take responsibility. This is not about waiting for the government to fix things. We do not need the government to force us to do what we need to do. To say that unless the government makes laws to enforce broad behavior change is lazy and it is shirking OUR responsibility. Governments have failed on this and in particular, the U.S. government, bought and paid for by the energy industry has failed. No, we cannot wait for the government. We can do this ourselves. We must lead in the way we live our lives every day. As individuals and in our communities we can create the change that needs to happen.

Turn off the devices that you don’t need. Ride a bike. Carpool. Grow your own food. If you absolutely must drive accelerate slowly, coast to stops, keep it at 60 mph on the highway. Conserve in every way possible in every aspect of your life. Do it yourself and do it with others in your community. Share. Cooperate. We can do this.

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Climate change and global consumption

Been far too long since I put up a post regarding the impending doom that is climate change. Actually, impending is the wrong word because that implies that it has yet to arrive. No, it’s already here. Climate change and its effects are right now, not the future. Of course climate change is a direct result of our rapid over consumption of natural resources. We’ll start with the BBC which reports on Global ecosystems collapse:

Current global consumption levels could result in a large-scale ecosystem collapse by the middle of the century, environmental group WWF has warned.

The group’s biannual Living Planet Report said the natural world was being degraded “at a rate unprecedented in human history”.

Terrestrial species had declined by 31% between 1970-2003, the findings showed.

It warned that if demand continued at the current rate, two planets would be needed to meet global demand by 2050.

The biodiversity loss was a result of resources being consumed faster than the planet could replace them, the authors said.

The Guardian reports on NASA scientests warning that Earth’s temperature is dangerously high:

Earth’s temperature could be reaching its highest level in a million years, American scientists said yesterday.

Researchers at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said a further one degree celsius rise in the global temperature could be critical to the planet, and there was already a threat of extreme weather resulting from El Niño.

The scientists said that in the 30 years to the end of 2005, temperatures increased at the rate of 0. 2 degrees per decade, a rate they described as “remarkably rapid”.

Comparison of the current global temperature with estimates of historical temperatures – based on a study of ocean sediment – showed the current temperature was now within 1C of the maximum temperature of the past million years.

Dr James Hansen, who led the study, said further global warming of just 1C could lead to big changes to the planet.

“If warming is kept less than that, effects of global warming may be relatively manageable,” he said.

“But if further global warming reaches two or three degrees celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet [to] the one we know.

“The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3m years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today.”

Also from NASA, we have only a decade left to act in time:

‘We have a very brief window of opportunity,’ NASA scientist says

A leading U.S. climate researcher says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe.

NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check and limit the increase in global temperatures to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

“I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change … no longer than a decade, at the most,” Hansen said Wednesday at the Climate Change Research Conference in California’s state capital.

If the world continues with a “business as usual” scenario, Hansen said temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degrees F) and “we will be producing a different planet.”

On that warmer planet, ice sheets would melt quickly, causing a rise in sea levels that would put most of Manhattan under water. The world would see more prolonged droughts and heat waves, powerful hurricanes in new areas and the likely extinction of 50 percent of species.

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