Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Climate’

A Bear Adrift

41CFkTe7CPL.jpgSnugs the Snow Bear by Suzy Davies
Illustrated by Peter Hall
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

A sweet children’s book (for ages 4 and up), with a lot of animal characters, nice people, and of course the star of the show, Snugs, the snow bear. Snugs is not necessarily a polar bear, though he is off-white and lives in Greenland.

Snugs is set adrift when the ice he is on has melted, and goes towards Iceland. On the way he is discovered by a boat (ship Prince Eleanore) and the crew and passengers help him out. It is here that he meets Carla and James, and their grandmother (Mrs. Merryweather) who live in the Isle of Wight (England).

Snugs the Snow Bear combines some beautiful events (the Northern Lights, and visiting sites in Iceland) with the realities of global warming and its effect upon humans, animals, climate and the earth in general.

At first, I was taken slightly aback by the animals (some magical moose, etc.) and people (including Captain LightOwler and Rosanne) being able to talk to one another, and understand each other, but after awhile that concern faded into the background and fit with them all having to live on the same planet.

Killing Clean Energy

Dear Gabriel,

Take Action: Don’t let ALEC kill clean energy.

CoalPlantBlue_150With national climate and energy policy stalled in Washington, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have adopted state renewable portfolio standards(RPSs). These energy standards have helped more than double America’s non-hydro renewable energy capacity over the last five years, making renewables by far the fastest growing energy sector in the country.

But, the dirty energy lobby is waging an all-out assault on the clean energy revolution — and they’re working through the notorious American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to push model legislation to gut state renewable energy standards.

Take Action: Tell ALEC to abandon this misguided crusade and stand with the vast majority of Americans who support renewable energy.

The 21st century is fast becoming the clean energy century, and thanks largely to enlightened leadership at the state level, clean, renewable energy is booming here in the U.S. — a fact that should be universally celebrated.

Because of your state’s renewable energy standard, an estimated 214,331,876 MWh of clean, renewable energy were generated in California last year — the equivalent of taking 48 coal plants offline for the year.

But with companies like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil sitting on ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force, they are trying to kill clean energy in America.

Take Action: Tell ALEC drop its backward, fossil fuel-funded assault on America’s booming clean energy industry.

Thank you for all you do,

Heather Shelby
Action Network Coordinator
Environmental Defense Fund

Nature Spring & Climate

Dear Gabriel,

Check out our We Love Nature page to learn about animals at risk from climate change. It’s March and spring is in the air. Days are longer. Birds are migrating north to fill our yard with their cheerful trills. And out of our windows, we watch nature come back to life.

Here at EDF, we’ve decided to spend March celebrating all that nature gives us — and all that we’re fighting to protect. Will you join us?

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Kick off our “We Love Nature” month with us! Start by checking out our Warming and Wildlife slideshow. We all know climate change has put polar bears at risk — but it’s also threatening the rest of these beautiful, unique creatures.

As I read about the struggles of the Arctic fox, the sea turtle, and even the flamingo, I was reminded why I come to work at EDF every day — and why incredible supporters like you stand with us.

I hope you’ll click through to view our Warming and Wildlife slideshow. If you enjoy the show, please share it with your friends as well, and stay tuned for more nature love throughout the month!

Thank you for your activism and support,

Heather Shelby
Action Network Coordinator
Environmental Defense Fund

Cubs Swimming To Death

Dear Gabriel,

A few days ago, my colleague Heather sent you an online-photo gallery in honor of International Polar Bear Day, Wednesday, February 27th. One of the photos really broke my heart. It was this one here: a mother swimming with her cubs. It broke my heart because so many polar bear cubs die in long distance swims like this one — as many as 45% in one observational study.

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This photo was a vivid example to me of the real impact of climate change.

Please make an emergency donation of $15 or more today to support our work to save these threatened Polar Bears.

At an alarming rate, global warming is melting the Arctic sea ice that polar bears depend on to hunt for food … threatening this noble Arctic creature with extinction.

Here are the sobering facts:

According to experts, two-thirds of the world’s polar bear populations could be lost by mid-century as sea ice continues to retreat.

Less Arctic sea ice forced 40% more Alaskan polar bear moms to den on land — away from food sources.

As sea ice disappears, bear mortality rises. In the Beaufort Sea region about 1/3 fewer polar bear cubs are surviving their first year of life.

The last ten years (2004 to 2013) have seen the ten lowest January sea ice extents (total area covered by sea ice) on the record.

Gabriel, we we urgently need your help to continue the fight to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change and save irreplaceable wildlife and their habitats.

Donate as little as $15 today to support our work will help make sure that our beloved wildlife can continue to be found in the wild, and NOT just in nature photographs.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Emily Stevenson
Manager, Online Membership
Environmental Defense Fund

Here Comes the Sun

Be part of the solution.
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Creating a better world with the 2 most abundant resources on earth: solar power and people power.

Vote Solar works at the federal, state and local level to implement the policies and programs that build robust solar markets — and pave the way for a transition to a renewable energy economy.

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Vote Solar is a national nonprofit organization working to bring solar into the mainstream with grassroots action and technical expertise.

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America’s energy problems — from economic crisis to global climate change — will only be solved by a national transition to renewables. Clean, homegrown, reliable solar energy is ready to play a large part of the solution. It is the fastest growing energy source in the world, but we have still just scratched the surface of solar’s vast energy potential. In order to bring the technology to scale, we need to bring down costs. Vote Solar works to build the economies of scale necessary to bring solar into the mainstream.

The Vote Solar Initiative on Facebook
The Vote Solar Initiative Web Site

A Kaleidoscope of Species

Dear Friend,

Hawaiʻi’s famous coral reefs are known to contain a kaleidoscope of colorful species like the tinker’s butterflyfish, dragon eel, and harlequin shrimp. Unfortunately, if we don’t act soon, Hawaiʻi could lose these vibrant sea creatures and the reef ecosystems that depend on them.

Voice your support for protecting Hawaiʻi’s corals now.

The multi-million dollar exotic fish collection industry is capturing hundreds of thousands of bright coral reef fish and fragile invertebrates—many that play a vital role in protecting these corals—from Hawaiʻi’s reefs each year.

Alarmingly, the state is ignoring its own laws that mandate an environmental review before issuing permits for this potentially devastating practice. What’s worse, the state has absolutely NO limit on the number of these tropical marine creatures that can be captured for private profit.

Demand that the State of Hawaiʻi examine the cumulative damage to reef ecosystems before granting permits that allow unlimited removal of marine wildlife.

Coral reefs across the world are already at risk of ecological collapse—faced with serious threats from climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution. And, studies have determined that herbivorous fish and invertebrates on coral reefs—the primary targets of the commercial aquarium industry—are extremely important to reef health.

Earthjustice attorneys recently filed suit to require the state to comply with the environmental review procedures that are mandated by the Hawaiʻi Environmental Policy Act. But we need your support to put additional pressure on the state.

Scuba divers and snorkelers have indeed witnessed a disconcerting trend in recent years on their local reefs. One of our clients, a Hawaiʻi resident who has completed more than 10,000 scuba dives, has observed that particular species targeted by the tropical fish collection trade have completely vanished from certain reef areas. These devastating changes are taking place in areas that are open to commercial marine wildlife collection.

Our tenacious team of attorneys is fighting in court to demand that Hawaiʻi conduct an official environmental review of the effects of commercial aquarium collection on the reefs, and to stop all collecting while the study is being done. Please support our efforts to safeguard our nation’s coral reefs by sending a letter today!

Thanks for standing up for coral reefs and all of the marine wildlife that depend on them.

Sincerely,

Caroline Ishida
Associate Attorney
Earthjustice, Mid-Pacific Office

Hurricanes & Global Warming

We Are Not Powerless to Confront Climate Change
by Amy Goodman
From Nation of Change
1 November 2012

Millions of victims of Superstorm Sandy remain without power, but they are not powerless to do something about climate change. The media consistently fail to make the link between extreme weather and global warming. Through this catastrophe, people are increasingly realizing that our climate has changed, and the consequences are dire.

One meteorologist who defies the norm is Dr. Jeff Masters, who founded the weather blog Weather Underground. As Sandy bore down on the East Coast, I asked Masters what impact climate change was having on hurricanes. He said: “Whenever you add more heat to the oceans, you’ve got more energy for destruction. Hurricanes … pull heat out of the ocean, convert it to the kinetic energy of their winds.”

Masters’ blog became so popular, it was purchased by The Weather Channel. As Sandy moved up the coast, Masters continued with our interview: “When you do heat the oceans up more, you extend the length of hurricane season. And there’s been ample evidence over the last decade or so that hurricane season is getting longer—starts earlier, ends later. You’re more likely to have this sort of situation where a late-October storm meets up with a regular winter low-pressure system and gives us this ridiculous combination of a nor’easter and a hurricane that comes ashore, bringing all kinds of destructive effects.”

Mitt Romney must rue that line in his Republican National Convention speech, days after Hurricane Isaac narrowly missed hitting Tampa, Fla., and the convention, when he quipped: “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” Romney drew a big laugh from those gathered to nominate him. No one is laughing now. Sandy’s U.S. death toll has reached 50, with 8 million without power. Initial estimates put the cost of the damage at tens of billions of dollars.

Romney’s latest position on climate change is no surprise, since it conforms with his consistent pivot to the right, away from his previously held views. As recently as 2007, he told CNBC’s “Kudlow and Company,” “But no question about one thing—it’s getting warmer, and [there are] a lot of good reasons for us to use less energy, to use it more efficiently and to develop sources here in this country that could allow us to be more independent of foreign sources.”

We also should not let President Barack Obama off the hook. Recall the presidential debates, where he continually boasted of his fossil-fuel credentials. “Oil production is up, natural gas production is up,” he said at Hofstra, during the second debate. “I’m all for pipelines. I’m all for oil production.” In none of the three presidential debates was climate change mentioned, even once, not by the major-party presidential candidates and not by the moderators.

Masters partially attributes the lack of discussion to the power of the fossil-fuel lobby: “You’re talking about the oil and gas industry … about the entire basis of the industrialized economy. With these sorts of storms, people are going to wise up at some point and say: ‘Hey, what’s going on? Maybe we shouldn’t mess with the very forces that enable us to live on the planet Earth.’ … We’ve got to get self-preservation in our minds pretty soon, or this is just the start of things, Here we are in the year 2012; what’s going to be happening in 2030 if we’re already seeing storms like this?”

Read entire Op-Ed at Nation of Change

Climate Displacing Thousands

From Nation of Change and New America Media
by Andrew Lam
16 August 2012

The Rising Tide – Environmental Refugees

The modern world has long thought of refugees in strictly political terms, victims in a world riven by competing ideologies. But as climate change continues unabated, there is a growing population of displaced men, women and children whose homes have been rendered unlivable thanks to a wide spectrum of environmental disasters.

Despite their numbers, and their need, most nations refuse to recognize their status.

The 1951 U.N. Convention relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as a person with a genuine fear of being persecuted for membership in a particular social group or class. The environmental refugee – not necessarily persecuted, yet necessarily forced to flee – falls outside this definition.

Not Recognized, Not Counted

Where the forest used to be, torrential rains bring barren hills of mud down on villages. Crops wither in the parched earth. Animals die. Melting glaciers and a rising sea swallow islands and low-lying nations, flooding rice fields with salt water. Factories spew toxic chemicals into rivers and oceans, killing fish and the livelihood of generations.

So people flee. Many become internally displaced, others cross any and all borders in order to survive.

Experts at last year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimated their numbers would reach 50 million by 2020, due to factors such as agricultural disruption, deforestation, coastal flooding, shoreline erosion, industrial accidents and pollution. Others say the figure will triple to 150 million by 2050.

Today, it is believed that the population of environmentally displaced has already far outstripped the number of political refugees worldwide, which according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) is currently at around 10.2 million.

In 1999 the International Red Cross reported some 25 million people displaced by environmental disasters. In 2009 the UNHCR estimated that number to be 36 million, 20 million of whom were listed as victims of climate change-related issues.

More accurate statistics, however, are hard to come by.

Because the term “environmental refugee” has not been officially recognized, many countries have not bothered to count them, especially if the population is internally displaced. Other countries consider them migrants, and often undocumented immigrants, and therefore beyond the protection granted refugees.

Another factor obscuring the true scope of the population is the fact that their numbers can rise quite suddenly — such as after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, or Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, which in a matter of hours displaced more than 3 million people.

A “Hidden Crisis” No More

Two decades ago, noted ecologist Norman Myers predicted that humanity was slowly heading toward a “hidden crisis” in which ecosystems would fail to sustain their inhabitants, forcing people off the land to seek shelter elsewhere. With hurricanes Katrina and Rita, that crisis became painfully obvious.

Along with images of hundreds of thousands of displaced Americans scurrying across the richest nation on Earth searching for new homes came an awareness that no matter how wealthy or powerful, no country is impervious to the threat of climate related catastrophe.

Indeed, being displaced by natural disasters may very well become the central epic of the 21st century. Kiribati, the Maldives and Tuvalu are disappearing as we speak, as the sea level continues to rise. The World Bank estimates that with a 1 meter rise in sea level Bangladesh — with a population of 140 million — would lose 17.5 percent of its land mass and along with it river bank erosion, salinity intrusion, flood, damage to infrastructures, crop failure, destruction of fisheries, and loss of biodiversity.

Those that have already fled the country to neighboring India – largely because of flooding — face lives of immense misery and discrimination.

China, in particular, is a hot spot of environmental disasters as it buckles under unsustainable development, giving rise to rapid air pollution and toxic rivers. Alongside desertification, these man-made catastrophes have already left millions displaced.

John Liu, director of the Environmental Education Media Project, spent 25 years in China and witnessed the disasters there. He offered the world this unapologetic, four- alarm warning some years ago: “Every ecosystem on the planet is under threat of catastrophic collapse, and if we don’t begin to acknowledge and solve them, then we will go down.”

Growing Numbers, Fewer Alternatives

When President Obama granted temporary protected status (TPS) to undocumented Haitians living in the United States in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, it was a step in the right direction. After all, repatriating them back to an impoverished nation devastated by one of the worst-ever recorded disasters would be immoral at best, and at worst, a crime against humanity.

Sadly, such actions are rare and when they do come, they manage to address barely a fraction of the pressing legal and humanitarian needs of the growing population. What solutions do exist, experts agree, must recognize that the needs of environmental refugees are one and the same as those of our planet.

Read complete article at Nation of Change.

Climate Change Science

From Nation of Change and IPS News
by Stephen Leahy
5 May 2012

Standing Up for the Planet and the Future

There’s been a general perception that climate change is a future problem but with all the extreme weather disasters and weather records the public is being to realise that climate change is here, says Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org, a U.S.-based environmental group.

“Recent opinion surveys show the more than 60 percent of the U.S. public are connecting extreme weather to climate change,” Henn told IPS.

The U.S. public is not wrong, say scientists.

“All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be,” Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, told IPS previously.

Last year the U.S. endured 14 separate billion-dollar-plus weather disasters including flooding, hurricanes and tornados.

This year, most of the U.S. and Canada experienced summer in winter with record-shattering heat waves in March. More than 15,000 temperature records were broken in the U.S. which had its first billion-dollar weather disaster of the year. In most places, the spring month of April was colder than March.

“What kind of future are we leaving for our children if we keep putting more carbon into the atmosphere?” asks Nix.

As a former scientist who used to work for the oil industry in Canada’s tar sands, he has a pretty good idea of what’s coming unless fossil fuels are phased out. Catastrophic consequences including everything from droughts, floods, forest fires, food shortages, to increases in tropical diseases and political chaos.

“Politicians are not leading. Corporations are only interested in quick profits. They are the real radicals in our society,” says Nix. This is a reference to a high-level Canadian official who accused environmentalists of having a “radical ideological agenda” in an open letter.

“There is no one left to protect the future for our children but the public,” says Nix.

Every day, six long trains each carrying up to 10,000 tonnes of coal from the U.S. and British Columbia (BC) travel the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail line to the Westshore Coal Terminal at Delta, BC just north of the U.S. border. It is the busiest coal export port in North America.

The climate-heating carbon in the coal exported every year is equivalent to the annual emissions for the entire province of BC of 4.5 million people and many energy-intense industries like aluminium smelting and mining, says Nix.

“We have to stop burning coal. Leading scientists like James Hansen have made that clear,” he said.

Nix and other members of British Columbians for Climate Action have asked to meet with government officials to work out a plan to phase out coal exports. Their requests have been ignored. Now they have asked U.S. billionaire Warren Buffet to take action. His company Berkshire Hathaway Inc owns BNSF, one of the largest freight networks in North America.

Buffet has previously cancelled plans to build new coal-fired plants in the U.S. In a letter to Buffet, British Columbians for Climate Action write, “…when it comes to climate change it appears that other people are doing all the suffering while you profit from the very causes of the problem.”

On Saturday, 23-year-old Brandon Cormier wants to inform her local residents in the small Canadian town of Orangeville, Ontario about one of the sources of the climate change problem, Canada’s huge tar sands operation that boils oil out sands under its northern forests.

Cormier is organizing a demo-fest event as part of International Stop the Tar Sands Day*, which is also May 5.

“I am hoping to make local people more aware of climate change, and that the tar sands are a big contributor,” says Cormier, who has never done anything like this.

International Stop the Tar Sands Day has been held annually since 2010 with events in 50 cities around the world last year. It involves playful demonstration-festivals involving music, dancing, costumes, handing out flowers and postcards as part of an awareness-raising effort.

The tar sands operations in the province of Alberta supply the US with more than 2.4 million barrels of heavy oil a day. Considered “dirty oil” because requires large amounts of natural gas and clean water to extract it from the ground, it is under growing international pressure as a major source of carbon emissions and over destruction of thousands of kilometers of forests and wetlands.

“Not many people I know want to help me with this. They think that it is silly being so far away (from Alberta)….But I won’t let that discourage me. It’s everyone’s planet.”

Read entire report at Nation of Change.

Environmental Warrior

From Nation of Change and Yes! Magazine
by Madeline Ostrander

The Biggest Fight of Our Time

As one of the best-known writers on the world’s most dire environmental problem, climate change, Bill McKibben has long walked the razor’s edge between hope and fear. In 2010, he published Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, a sobering account of what climate change has already unleashed—the ways in which the places we live, the water, weather, seasons, ecosystems, and oceans are changing irrevocably. McKibben also founded 350.org, one of history’s largest and most ambitious political movements, uniting people around the world to fight climate change.

In this interview, YES! got personal with McKibben: Where does he find hope? What role does faith play for McKibben, a longtime Methodist Sunday school teacher? How does small-town Vermont, where the writer now lives, shape his ideas and activism? And what’s the best advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of what McKibben calls “the biggest fight of our time”—the fight to save the planet?

Madeline Ostrander interviewed Bill McKibben for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions for a just and sustainable world. Madeline is senior editor at YES!

Go to Nation of Change or Yes! Magazine to watch video.

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