"China will surpass the United States in 2009, nearly a decade ahead of previous predictions, as the biggest emitter of the main gas linked to global warming, the International Energy Agency has concluded in a report to be released Tuesday."
"The good news is we know what to do. The good news is, we have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming. We have all the technologies we need, more are being developed, and as they become available and become more affordable when produced in scale, they will make it easier to respond. But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait" -Al Gore
It keeps getting better and better.
Because of the recent shake-up in the House of Representatives, Norm Dicks (D-Wa.) is now the likely head of an important Appropriations Subcommittee that controls funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior. This is great news for everyone who is concerned about global warming.
Six months ago, on May 10, 2006, Norm Dicks introduced a resolution to the House Appropriations Committee which recognizes the problem of global warming and the need for the U.S. to establish mandatory limits to curb the production of green house gases.
The language of the resolution is similar to a resolution passed last year in the Senate by a 54-43 vote. The Senate resolution, introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), called for enacting “mandatory market-based limits and incentives to slow, stop, and reverse” global warming pollution.
It is time to keep up the momentum. Please contact incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and request she make a national plan to cap global warming emissions a top-tier priority. Here is the link to her contact page.
"This next American era will not be one dominated by these two exhausted ideologies of the past, but will be a battle for the mastery of a new, as yet unarticulated 21st century governing approach suited to the challenges we face today and built around the media and people of our time. The core direction of this battle is not the left-right one fought at the end of the last century, but will be more about forward and backward." -diary post on Daily Kos by Simon Rosenberg
Lost in all of the post election excitement is the fate of Richard Pombo, who until Tuesday, was the untouchable chairman of the House Resources Committee. Pambo, a six term Republican representative from California’s 11th District, was defeated by Jerry McNerney, a wind power consultant.
To put it fairly, Pombo was no friend to the environment. Salon describes his relationship in this way:
The Salon article goes on to wonder out loud if this is a turning point for the environmental movement. A sign its once waning influence is on the rise. Well, after 12 years of outright Republican hostility towards the earth, a stronger environmental voice in our public discourse certainly would be a positive change.
My hope is this change in leadership is a sign that people are ready to return to an environmental policy guided by strong science rather than cronyism and outright corruption. It is time all stake holders get an opportunity to shape public policy, not just they few who would personally benefit.
Check out this hydrogen powered hybrid Prius whose fuel is produced through electrolysis by a wind turbine. This results in a truly carbon-neutral car, and combats one of the obstacles to the much-hyped hydrogen economy, the fact that today most hydrogen is produced by burning fossil fuels.
"The President has in fact, contrary to stereotype, been actively engaged in trying to fight climate change and will continue to do so." -Tony Snow, explaining how Mr. Bush has been a leader in the fight against climate change
The times they are a-changing and none too soon I might add. Another movie about global warming is being released through Regal Cinemas. The Great Warming is not about convincing a skeptical public that global warming is real. We are way past that hurdle.
Instead, this movie focuses on what is happening to the planet right now–melting glaciers and rising seas are the falling dominoes which bring about more severe weather, droughts, disease and famine.
Most importantly, The Great Warming highlights what people are doing right now to turn things around. Here is a review of the movie from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. These are two of my favorite paragraphs from this article:
The movie makes a big point of showing us how the Evangelical Christian movement is leaping on the global-warming bandwagon with the concept of "Creation Care," and predicts the Republican Party won’t be able to duck the matter much longer.
Indeed, "The Great Warming" ends with a very stern warning, suggesting, in so many words, that the current leaders who, in the face of all this evidence, do nothing about the problem run the risk of going down in history next to Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot.
Here is a link to the trailer on YouTube. Watch it and then reach out to someone who is your ideological opposite and take them to see this move.
Christmas time is about hope and giving. This holiday season, there is no creature on earth who could use more help from its human neighbors then the polar bear. According to the World Wildlife Federation:
If you would like to make a difference this Christmas, please visit the WWF website and consider sponsoring one of these amazing animals.
"Unless we stop dumping 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every 24 hours, which we are doing right now … the continued acceleration of this pollution would destroy the future of human civilization" – Al Gore
It is time for the United States to get serious about curbing emissions and embracing science based federal legislation so all of us can avoid the most serious consequences of global warming.
Both the Safe Climate Act (H.R. 5642) and the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 3698) are such bills. The goal of both pieces of proposed legislation is to gradually reduce global warming emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has an action center where you can send an email to your legislator’s office urging them to co-sponsor these two sensible measures. Here is the link to the website. If you prefer to call, this is the number for the Capitol switchboard (202)-224-3121.
"For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us." –Astronaut Donald Williams
The Center for American Progress has written a terrific piece summarizing a recent study co-authored by Tufts University and Friends of the Earth which analyzed over 100 academic articles on climate change and demonstrates that a 2°C (or 3.6°F) temperature increase will cost the global economy over 20 trillion dollars. The whole article needs to be read in its entirety, but I want to highlight what I consider to be the most important paragraphs:
The United States generates 25 percent of global warming emissions and is therefore in a unique position to utilize existing technology to save trillions of dollars and begin curbing the effects of global warming. Scientists currently predict nearing a two degree global temperature increase within the next 25 years, which could lead to decreased crop yields, water shortages, and diminished economic growth in developing countries.
The Earth’s temperature has already increased 1.5°F degrees over the last century, leading to rising sea levels, a decrease in snow coverage, the retreat of glaciers and sea ice, and an increase of droughts. Yet the Bush administration actively denies the problem, even stripping the 2005 energy bill of language affirming the science of climate change.
States are stepping up to the plate in the face of government inaction. Twenty-two states have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards that require electric utilities to generate a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources. And in September, California became the first state to adopt a mandatory 25 percent cut in emissions causing global warming by 2020.
Businesses have also been acting on the knowledge that the Tufts University study confirms: inaction will likely be far more costly than the price of reducing emissions now. Insurance industry experts calculate that their losses for hurricanes alone will increase by 45 percent if global warming persists. Industry giants like DuPont and BP have been able to significantly cut their emissions within ten years, and numerous studies predict that this trend will create many new industries and jobs.
The Environmental Defense Action Fund has put together a website which encourages citizens to find out where their elected federal Representatives stand on global warming. Politicians need to learn that climate change matters to everyone, especially with the people who politicians are most interested in–voters.
"It would be nice if we could produce our way out of this problem, but it’s just not possible. We only have 3% of the world’s oil reserves. We could start drilling in ANWR today, and at its peak, which would be more than a decade from now, it would give us enough oil to take care of our transportation needs for about a month. As a result, every single hour we spend $18 million on foreign oil…Budding democracies, despotic regimes, or havens of terror—they get our money because we need their oil."— Senator Barack Obama
Global warming, a diplomatic strategy dictated by a dependence on foreign oil, and a desperate need for the creation of high paying jobs—when so many problems point to the same cause, namely our country’s failed energy policy, it is time to revalue and change course. Washington state will soon have such an opportunity. A yes vote for I-937 is an endorsement of a forward thinking energy policy that puts people and the environment first.
Here is the problem: Washington State is growing and needs more power. We have the choice to continue down the old path of burning more coal and damming more rivers or we can start to take seriously proven alternative energy sources. I-937 will require that 15% of our energy comes from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar by 2020. This is an easy to reach target. I-937 also ensures that utilities help their customers save money through energy conservation. Here are some other points to consider, provided by the Yes on I-937 fact sheet:
We need to adopt a pro-knowledge mind-set, which Alvin Toffler defines as "a ravenous hunger for the latest information, new ideas, skills." Toffler argues that knowledge is the most important resource. Advancing knowledge allows us to do more with less and provides the opportunity to shift power away from bulk producers of resources or increases our ability to create substitutes for these imported goods altogether.
It is time to invest in our own infrastructure and the talents of our people. Let’s start with a yes for I-937 on November 7th.
Update: Here is some additional information from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their new analysis shows that by 2025, Washington customers would save four dollars a month off their average electric bill. According to their research, the initiative would create over 1,000 new jobs, spur over $138 million in additional state income, and reduce as much emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide as taking 750,000 cars off the road. Through utility conservation requirements, the law would also save enough energy to meet the needs of 720,000 homes.
"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." –bumper sticker
Starbucks may be the most famous, but REI and Sub Pop are two companies which also reflect the Seattle mind-set. Founded in 1938, REI is a consumer cooperative which sells high quality outdoor equipment, clothing, and footwear. Seattlites are know to have a certain style of casual dress–if you flip through an REI catalog you would get a good idea of what that might look like.
Back in 1989, Sub Pop was a scrappy little independent record label that released Bleach by some punks from Aberdeen who called themselves Nirvana. Today, Sub Pop is home to The Shins and Postal Service. All of which goes to show that styles may change but substance always has staying power. If you are are music lover, you owe it to yourself to explore the Sub Pop catalog.
Now, REI and Sub Pop have stepped up to prove creativity and a can do attitude are powerful tools in the fight against global warming. It’s a smart approach.
According to the book Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want, innovation is process driven and can be broken down into five steps. First, a project should start by trying to tackle an important problem. Interesting is not enough. Second, after each step in the development process the end product should be evaluated in terms of actual value provided to the consumer. Third, every project needs a champion, a true believer who will fight to the death to make the best product possible. How to form the best development team round out the last two steps. Essentially, project teams should be created that are up to the task. Talent should be chosen based on the project needs not dictated by department distinctions. These teams should be flexible and able to generate new ideas on the fly.
Starting in January, REI Adventures will purchase renewable energy credits to offset the greenhouse gas generated by the air, water and ground travel associated with all of its travel adventure packages. In order to become carbon neutral, REI Adventures expects to purchase more than 52,000 green tags in the coming year, offsetting more than 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide. REI Adventures offers vacation packages to every corner of the globe. You can experience a wildlife safari in Tanzania, hike and cycle through Laos and Cambodia, or explore Antarctica on a small ship adventure. Now travelers can explore the wonders around the world without the environmental guilt.
Sub Pop Records has also taken the plunge and purchased enough green tags to offset all of the company’s energy use. The Seattle label was the first Green-e certified record company in the United States.
REI and Sub Pop are both innovators who are tackling a huge problem and in the process giving the people what they want. Thank you for championing such an important cause. This type of forward-thinking corporate leadership will reinforce Seattle’s authority as a leader in the struggle against climate change.
Starbucks was the first to create a recycled paper cup that met the stringent guidelines for food service by the FDA. Now, let’s see what Starbucks can do to keep up the momentum and turn itself into a carbon neutral corporation.
Here is track twelve for the playlist: One Chance by Modest Mouse.