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Tuesday Video

TV sucks - agreed?  That’s why we don’t have it and we don’t want it (though we do miss Mariners games).  News is non longer news instead it’s mind-numbing propaganda and honestly, when’s the last time you were educated in front of that box?  When it comes to visual stimulation, we’ll keep falling down the rabbit hole that is YouTube, and we’ll keep bringing you videos ala our Tuesday Video section.  Which is how we came across these vidoes.

This week we’re featuring videos that news or network stations in America would NEVER think about running.   The show is called The Agenda with Steve Paikin, and it’s a popular current-affairs program on public television in Ontario.  Recently Paikin ran a five-hour string of shows devoted to some of the prime facets of the climate challenge.  Below are those vidoes - two before the jump and three after the jump:

Tuesday Video - short but sweet

“Our results show that the ice loss, which has been well documented over southern portions of Greenland, is now spreading up the northwest coast.” - Shfaqat Abbas Khan, lead author of the study that will appear in the journal Geophysical Research Letters

Today’s video is our shortest Tuesday Video to date - but scray nonetheless.  What you will see below is the rate of ice loss in Greenland from 2003 to 2009 - the slowest melting ice is in turquoise and the fastest in black.  Scientists have been concerned for sometime about the loss of glaciers in southern Greenland, but new data shows that loss spreading to the nortwest parts of Greenland.  Accroding to a recent study conducted by scientists at the Denmark Technical Institute’s National Space Institute and the University of Colorado at Boulder using gravity-measuring GRACE satellites and a network of GPS sensors, scientists have shown that the loss of ice in northwest Greenland has caused the earth’s crust to rise by 1.5 inches from 2005 to 2009. According to the scientists, the uplift of the earth’s crust is directly related to the loss of ice pressing on Greenland’s bedrock and indicates that some large glaciers in northwest Greenland are warming and sliding more rapidly to the sea. 

What does this mean you ask?  Well, there’s enough ice on Greenland to fill the United States like a pool 2,940 feet at its deepest.  Check it out.

Video is below, and more news on sea level rise can be found after the jump.

Another Green Monday

On Saturday evening, from 8:30 to 9:30, many people in Spokane joined Mayor Mary Verner, the City of Spokane and millions worldwide to turn out their lights for one hour for a display of international cooperation towards climate change solutions and conservation.  Near the entrance of City Hall in downtown Spokane, 40 or so people gathered to discuss this issue and more.  By 9:45, those still around probably wondered what the hell just happened.

If you read the Spokesman story or the nearly 100 comments following it, you get the sense that ONE rowdy environmental protester caused a whole lot of commotion - enough so to bring police and “high drama” on an otherwise pretty peaceful Saturday night.  Or you might think that a group of “counter-protesters” nearly “came to blows” with global warming deniers or that they came packing a heavy artillery of laser pointers to blind the opposition.

Let us be the voice of reason in all of this and tell you the only thing blinding on Saturday evening was anger, stupidity and the lack of critical thinking.

We know so because we were there, on the sensible side, and this is what we’ll remember.

Sure, there were instances that we’re sure neither side is particularly proud of, but there was one instance that we ARE proud of.  During a particularly heated portion of the evening, shortly after 8:30 as Mike Fagan stood atop a UN flag and began reading aloud a prepared speech about UN conspiracies and sustainability being a farce, one of the full-on leather clad Tea Party protesters got awfully defensive about the ONE laser pointer that a certain someone on our side had. That Tea Party protester then preceded to use a wooden poster holder to strike the man who “most aggressively confronted” him in the face, drawing blood.  In response, he did not return physical violence just verbal aggression.  Given the situation, we can’t imagine many people taking that road. 

Meanwhile, upwards to 20 people repeatedly interrupted Mike Fagan’s slandering speech against the Mayor, not just one “environmental protester”. 

There are stories to last a while from Saturday night, from Tea Party protesters running the gamut of issues from abortion to obesity and gun control to freedom to the repeated and completely inaccurate claim that the city’s Sustainability Action Plan is costing the city money.  Which is inaccurate because the sustainability action plan was never budgeted, however the Tea Party folks were sticking to their guns that Mayor Verner lied to us on this one, with Fagan claiming that it was costing taxpayers “millions of dollars.” But you know what - rarely did the issue of climate change and energy conservation come up.   Isn’t that why we were there?

For our part, there were some 20 books laid out on the curb for anyone to read - books like Peak Everything from Richard Heinberg to A People’s History of the United States from Howard Zinn.  We were ready to educate and ready to think critically.  But most importantly, we were there to simply support the Mayor who wants a future for Spokane, a future that begins with common sense.  We were there because we like Spokane enough that we want to sustain the reasons that keep us here - simply put the quality of life and the natural environment.  What’s so wrong with that?  We heard repeatedly that sustainability infringes on freedom - however, the idea of enduring and remaining diverse sounds pretty free to us.  Maybe the other side was confused, maybe the expectation to achieve many things with one word got the best of them.

At the end of the evening we walked away feeling proud to support a great cause peacefully and respectively and encouraged by the youth turnout who simply want common sense to prevail.  And as one commenter put it, “we hold our heads high and wait for small changes to amount to great ones.”

Remember the lights go out today

By the time most of you read this, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and maybe even China and India will have gone dark for Earth Hour 2010.  And when it’s all said and done over 4,000 cities and towns in over 90 countries world wide will turn out their lights for a global statement of concern about climate change, and to demonstrate commitment to finding solutions.

That includes landmarks like the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, Niagara Falls and the Willis Tower.  Will it include you?  There is still time to make your Earth Hour plans.  So don’t forget, tonight (Saturday), at 8:30 p.m. local time, turn out your lights and join the Earth Hour party. And if you want to join the global community and see what others are up to - download the free Earth Hour app for your BlackBerry HERE. 

Earth Hour is a call to action from the World Wildlife Fund. Whether you’re an individual, a business, an organization or a government - take tonight as an opportunity to make a point about your commitment to working on ways to address climate change. Spokane needs to be dark tonight.  You can sign up to join the City Of Spokane in participating in Earth Hour HERE.

URGENT: Support for Earth Hour and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner

As most of you know,  tomorrow is Earth Hour, where millions worldwide will turn off their lights for one hour for a global statement of concern about climate change.  With Spokane taking part via a City of Spokane proclamation from Mayor Mary Verner and a pledge to turn the lights out on City Hall for one hour - from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. 

Well, some local tea party folks called the Spokane Patriots are planning their own demonstration - they’re going to shine spot lights and flash lights on City Hall to protest Mayor Verner’s proclamation that the city take part in Earth Hour.  According to the Patriots, “The fact that the Mayor will be using city resources to perpetuate the falsehood of “global climate change” to advance her sustainability agenda is an outright lie and a slap in the face to the citizens of Spokane.” 

This is a total joke - and Earth Day Spokane Molly Callen has taken it upon herself to organize a rally for those who want climate change solutions, a more sustainable Spokane, and commons sense to prevail.  Join us and take part in an Earth Hour Rally for Mayor Verner and Climate Change Awareness tomorrow evening (Sat, March 27) at 8 p.m. in Riverfront Park - Post Street near the Gondolas.  Event details can be found on Facebook:

We need to show up with a positive message in support of Mayor Verner’s effort to raise awareness about environmental issues in our city. Bring yourself and a banner or sign if you want. Grab some books off your shelf with helpful information regarding climate change. Grab a candle. And come meet us for some peaceful opposition. Local media are likely to be there and we must attend in order to let both sides be heard.

Climate Skepticism Grows as Emissions Fall

The Greenland ice sheet, shown above, is reportedly losing 200 million cubic meters of ice a year.

WASHINGTON, DC — Following a scandal over stolen emails and the discovery of errors in a prominent research report, the number of Americans in doubt over climate change has grown, particularly along ideological lines.

A Gallup poll published last week found that overall, more Americans feel the media exaggerates the seriousness of climate change today than they did two years ago. Women, liberals and young adults are more likely to believe the effects of climate change are already happening. Story here.

Is your opinion about climate change different than the view you held a few years ago?


Friday Quotes from two of the best

Today we bring you quotes from two of the most important people in the climate change movement - Al Gore and Bill McKibben - two people we very much look up to, and two names we love seeing in bylines.  Recently, The Goracle and McKibben penned pieces that appeared in The New York Times and all over the wire, respectively. 

First, The Goracle wrote an op-ed piece about the debate over the validity of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - a panel he is part of and who he shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with -, about the ridiculous debate about climate change in light of the recent harsh winter weather, and about partisan politics getting in the way of necessary legislation:

“The pathway to success is still open, though it tracks the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing. It begins with a choice by the United States to pass a law establishing a cost for global warming pollution. The House of Representatives has already passed legislation, with some Republican support, to take the first halting steps for pricing greenhouse gas emissions.” - Al Gore

Second, Bill McKibben wrote an editorial that appeared in several major newspapers titled, “The O.J. tactic: Climate change skeptics sound like Simpson’s lawyers: If the winter glove won’t fit, you must acquit”. It too tackled the climategate scandal and the recent noise form denyers trying to use the harsh winter as ammunition to their argument. 

“In the long run, the climate-deniers will be a footnote to history. But by delaying action, they will have helped prevent us from taking the steps we need to take while there’s still time. If we’re going to make real change while it matters, it’s important to remember that their skepticism isn’t the root of the problem. It simply plays on our deep-seated resistance to change.” - Bill McKibben

Where art thou Martin Luther

Religion is something we try to avoid here at DTE - kind of like that old saying about what not to talk about at the dinner table.  Which is funny because religion’s other dinner-talk taboo half, politics, is something we dabble in daily.  We’re just better versed in talking politics. When it comes to religion, that’s an arena we just don’t want to spare in.  Or better yet, we’ll leave it to the expert (our DTE collegue Craig Goodwin and his wonderful blog Year of Plenty).

That said, there was a fascinating article by Anthony B. Robinson that appeared recently on Crosscut.  In it, he looked at the idea of carbon offsets and other offset programs and compared them to that of Catholics buying indulgences.  Here is an excerpt - read the entire article HERE:

One thing that does strike me as right about the carbon offsets idea is that it recognizes that all of us are implicated, that none of us (to use religious language) is without sin. All of us participate to some degree in increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. We all have an impact.

At their best religions remind us that we too have a part in the evils we deplore and that it is not enough, dangerous in fact, to only blame others. John Calvin, another of the Protestant reformers, famously taught that confession of sin always begins with the house and people of God. Take a look in the mirror. He who is without sin throw the first stone.

At their worst religions neatly (too neatly) divide people into categories of pure and impure, righteous and unrighteous, saved and unsaved. Such easy divides tend to encourage self-deception on the part of those who see themselves as the righteous while sowing the seeds of judgment and division.

So, in a sense, carbon offsets remind us that none are righteous, not completely. I have my air travel problem. You have your own issues. Making a donation to the Canadian site, or another, may help balance things out. We’re in this together and we need one another if we’re going to make progress on a common challenge.

Tuesday Video

It’s Bill Gates’ world, we’re just living in it (with apologies to Steve Jobs, President Obama, and The Goracle).

But seriously - the man is as unique of a leader as the world has ever seen.  And make no mistake about it, he is a leader.  His philanthropy alone would be enough to set him apart from other forward-thinking mega-rich figures, but it’s his energy and passion for finding solutions and his tireless devotion to the causes that are most important to the world that leave us bowing at the alter of Gates. 

With that being said, we were pleased when his recent speech at the TED Conference was made available online.  For usually the TED Conference speeches aren’t made available for sometime after the event.  And seriously, is there any better way to kill a few hours online that pouring over speechs from TED - they should teach these in college classes. 

We digress.

Gates’ went away from his philanthropic focus last week and addressed climate change and energy: “Energy and climate are extremely important to these people,” he said to an audience that included the founders of Google and The Goracle. “The climate getting worse means many years that crops won’t grow from too much rain or not enough, leading to starvation and certainly unrest.”  The HuffPo reported, “Gates said the deadline for the world to cut all of its carbon emissions is 2050. He suggested that researchers spend the next 20 years inventing and perfecting clean-energy technologies, and then the next 20 years implementing them.  The world’s energy portfolio should not include coal or natural gas, he said, and must include carbon capture and storage technology as well as nuclear, wind and both solar photovoltaics and solar thermal power.”

Au revoir global warming

If you follow us closely you know that one thing we pride ourselves in is not buying in to what consumer culture and the capitalist mindset has tried to cram down our throats the last decade, this notion that anyone can substitute acts of personal consumption for organized political resistance.  We understand that our personal choices of conservation do little in terms of a bigger picture, which is why we spend more time telling you to contact your representatives and fight for change and spend less time telling you to swap out your light bulbs. 

However, a recent peer-reviewed study that appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says otherwise.  And while we plan on sticking to our way of doing things, the findings are interesting to note.  According to Robert McClure of Investigate West, “it turns out that U.S. consumers could, by taking a series of 17 actions that the authors of the peer-reviewed paper say would result in ‘little or no reduction in household well-being,’ reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by about 7.5 percent - that’s equivalent to the total emissions of France.  Read McClure’s full post HERE and read the findings from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences HERE. 

Photo(s) of the day

Here are the world’s top 7 disappearing glaciers:

7) The Matterhorn - (Photo: c. 1960 & today, Getty Images)

6) Alaska (Photo: Muir Glacier, 1941) and Photo: Muir Glacier, 2004)

5) Himalays (Photo: NASA)

University of Idaho showing the rest of the Inland Northwest how it’s done

Let’s take a trip down the Palouse to check in with the most progressive university in our region (come on local schools, that ought to light a fire).

It seems like we’re always talking (link to U of I stories) about new and exciting environmental stories coming from our neighbors to the south, and today is no dissapointment.

U of I taking care of e-waste
From iPods to cell phones to DVD players, we’re always upgrading. But at what cost? Our electronic waste is a growing environmental and public health concern, and figuring out what to do with it is a problem many local governments, businesses, and universities are dealing with. The University of Idaho has a plan. They have taken a proactive approach to this issue, “developing its own processes for proper disposal that ensure public safety, consumer health and fiscal responsibility,” according to a recent press release. “All e-waste from the university’s main campus will be sent to a vendor, who will recycle the materials and certify that they are handled in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible. While the new standards require a modest disposal fee, they allow the university to comply with regulations and manage their own e-waste in a safe and efficient manner. According to the guidelines, “if a unit has a plug, battery, or microchip, it will be considered e-waste.” This will enable the university to meet e-waste disposal needs for years to come.” Read more about this HERE.

Climate Action Plan at U of I
Great news out of the Moscow campus where they announced last week that the University’s Sustainability Center, “has released a Climate Action Plan, the first step in a long-term, comprehensive strategy to make the University of Idaho a zero-emissions campus by 2030.” In an earlier release, University president M. Duane Nellis said, “It is up to our generation to initiate the social, economic and environmental efforts needed now to reduce the effects of climate change and mitigate its future impact.” According to the most recent press release, “To comply with ACUPCC, the university’s Energy/Greenhouse Gas working group set 2030 as the target date for climate neutrality, with the following intermediate goals: 25 percent reduction in emissions by 2012, 50 percent reduction by 2016, and 82 percent reduction by 2023. The Climate Action Plan lays out a framework for achieving these goals.” Read more HERE. 


The Climate Killers

Sounds like a horrible Nicolas Cage movie doesn’t it?

But it’s in fact the brilliant, funny, and very sad cover story of a recent Rolling Stone issue where they look at the “17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming.”  From Warren Buffett (a sometime key advisor to Obama) to a Democratic Senator from Louisiana and every fat-pocketed big oil exec in between - to yep, you guessed it Senator James Inhofe - Rolling Stone looks at why these people can’t afford for the world to know the truth.  And why they can’t afford to accept reality.

As entertaining as it was on its own merit - the cover story really got interesting when the aforementioned Senator Inhofe took exception to NOT being named the top killer - this despite the list NOT being ranked.  Here’s Rolling Stone’s comment: [Rolling Stone should note that, strictly speaking, our package wasn’t a ranking — although Warren Buffett does appear on the first page, while Inhofe rears his ugly mug a few pages later.]
And here is what the man Rolling Stone called “God’s Denier” had to say for himself: “I should have been number one.  I guess Buffett has a lot more money so he went first.”  He wasn’t done there, he took his “pity party” as Rolling Stone said to the Tulsa World: “My first response was I should have been No. 1, not No. 7. I am serious about that,” he said. “I have spent now literally years on this thing, and it has been a long, involved thing.”


Friday Quote

“Men anpil, chay pa lou” - a Haitian proverb which translates as “Many hands lighten the load.”

Today’s quote has little environmental meaning as our Friday Quotes tend to.  Though it has universal meaning that can be applied to an array of situations. And obviously it has great meaning now given the incredible relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts going on in Haiti.  We were reminded of this quote by former President Bill Clinton via a guest article he penned for the recent issue of Newsweek - the same issue that current President Barack Obama wrote the cover story for

It’s been just under ten days since the massive earthquake devastated the island nation, and as predicted, the main stream media and the general public are starting to lose interest having become distracted by what’s on the Facebook pages of the daughters of Massachusetts’ newest celebrity Senator Scott Brown.  *As a side note, isn’t it amusing how Fox News and the radical right are quite fine with celebrating the celebrity of Scott Brown when for two solid years they have been relentless with their disdain of Barack Obama’s celebrity?

We digress. 

The reason we chose this week’s Friday quote was for another article that appeared in this week’s wonderful Newsweek - written by David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and president of Garten Rothkopf, an international consultancy.  (Rothkopf also served as U.S. deputy undersecretary of commerce for international trade during the Clinton administration.) 
Rothkopf wrote a piece titled, “Averting Disaster” in which he reminded us to think about the earthquake in Haiti as part of something bigger, part of a string of nearly annual megadisasters.  “Before Haiti, an estimated 70,000 people perished in 2008’s earthquake in Sichuan, China. Before that almost 150,000 died when the cyclone Nargis struck Burma. In 2005, the death toll from an earthquake in the mountains of Kashmir approached 90,000. The year before, in the greatest such recent disaster, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed perhaps 230,000,” he wrote.  So what can our many hands do to lighten the burden of these disasters?  Rothkopf closes his piece by saying we can be proactive, as an international community, with our involvement in the developing world: “Current trends—from rising seas and the changing severe weather patterns associated with global warming to the rapid, often poorly planned urbanization of the developing world—mean megadisasters will only become more likely. Wouldn’t it be fitting—and a sign that we appreciated the true costs of what has happened in tragic Haiti—if the rebuilding there became a case study in how the international community can work together to develop new standards, new designs, and a genuine commitment to reducing the risk of such calamities in the future? A reborn Port-au-Prince could be a showcase for ideas about affordable, durable housing, for enhanced regional cooperation—and for how we can apply lessons that have been learned at an unfathomably great cost.”

10 Startling Global Warming Facts from 2009

Some of you may be saying, “oh great, another list from 2009…”.  And that’s what we thought when it was sent our way too - but there’s a lot of interesting information to look at here.  Especially given the contentious way the climate change debate progressed or regressed towards the end of the year.  What follows (after the jump) is a list from the Environmental Defense Fund of, “the 10 most startling global warming facts we learned in 2009.”  And either before or after you read through the list, have a read through an excerpt from NASA scientist James Hansen’s newest book, “Storms of My Grandchildren.” The excerpt appaeread semi-recently in The Nation magazine and was titled simply enough, “How to Solve the Climate Problem.”  Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

Our goal is a global phaseout of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions. We have shown, quantitatively, that the only practical way to achieve an acceptable carbon dioxide level is to disallow the use of coal and unconventional fossil fuels (such as tar sands and oil shale) unless the resulting carbon is captured and stored. We realize that remaining, readily available pools of oil and gas will be used during the transition to a post-fossil-fuel world. But a rising carbon price surely will make it economically senseless to go after every last drop of oil and gas—even though use of those fuels with carbon capture and storage may be technically feasible and permissible.

Global phaseout of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions is a stringent requirement. Proposed government policies, consisting of an improved Kyoto Protocol approach with more ambitious targets, do not have a prayer of achieving that result. Our governments are deceiving us, and perhaps conveniently deceiving themselves, when they say that it is possible to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 with such an approach.

Another Green Monday

Welcome to the real-life Avatar. Or as we like to call it: Alberta.

The cosmic open pit mines up north produce vast quantities of oil from their tar sands. In fact, they’ve made Canada the top foreign supplier to America, and the second-largest storehouse in the world, next to Saudia Arabia. Reserves in Alberta alone hold 173 billion barrels, 96 percent of Canada’s oil exports. In the nearby town of Fort McMurray, their population has doubled the last decade with many workers living in temporary camps. A friend of DTE, who made the 900 mile trek north from Spokane (roughly equidistant to San Francisco) described it as a “Wild West boomtown like ‘Deadwood,’” ridden with lawlessness that comes along with opportunity.

That opportunity comes at a profound ecological cost. Two years ago, The Seattle Times had an excellent feature called “Canada’s oil-sands boom creates vast riches and a dirty footprint,” which explained how the oil is low quality, and the process (watch here) of extracting from Alberta’s oil sands to meet refineries needs produces as much carbon dioxide as 6 million cars annually. (Three times conventional drilling.) Those emission numbers still belie the full damage when you imagine what the toxicity of open pit mining itself has done to the ecosystem where green wilderness has turned to bubbling black goop.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper described it as “an enterprise of epic proportions, akin to the building of the pyramids or China’s Great Wall. Only bigger.”

There’s no reverse to the damage caused. Ruthless extractions on this scale—-like the mountaintop coal removal which we’ll be posting on later in this week—-make the blue natives in James Cameron’s hit film, who believe “all energy is only borrowed,” seem even more quaint.

After the jump are some stories you might’ve missed…

Running out of time in 2009

Before we put this decade in the rear-view mirror, we have a few stories that have been stockpiling up the last few weeks - stories that just won’t cut it in 2010.  Not because they won’t be relevant, it’s just that they have that certain, end-of-year type of feel to them.  So before you cue Auld Lang Syne - enjoy these.

Our favorite local writer Tim Connor took on partisan politics in wake of the Copenhagen climate talks, and whether he meant to or not, he ended up writing a brilliant piece on attitudes towards climate change.  “Either Republicans have supernatural powers of scientific criticism or we are arguably witnessing the most important and destructive exercise of delusional thinking in human history,” Connor wrote in his piece titled, When the Penguins Vote Republican.  And while this particular piece is a gold-mine of intelligent perspectives on partisan politics and the scary result that we’ve seen from that this year, this excerpt was our favorite part:
What’s missing is not necessarily the urgency to address global warming. As exemplified by Bill McKibben and the worldwide 350 campaign, there is a planetary public uprising underway to push the world’s governments into making the changes necessary to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. What is missing is any sanity in the character and machinery of U.S. governance. I don’t mean to excuse China and India, whose willingness to develop their economies without a reliance on fossil fuels is vital. But, really, this is about us. The American Century was built upon a fossil fuel binge Not that the odds of a solution are great even with American leadership, but without it the science indicates that global warming is swiftly headed toward a tipping point that would end the natural world as we’ve known it.
Read the entire article HERE. 

We’ll take an incomplete… it’s better than failing.  The San Franciso Chronicle did a nice year-in-review look at the United States’ energy policy and came to the solution that the only grade to give would be incomplete based on the fact that the climate bill didn’t get pushed through this year.  “Everything in the long term depends on getting a climate bill through,” said Daniel Kammen, a professor in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley.  “Until then, the best grade you can give is incomplete. There’s been more progress than a lot of people expected.”  Read more HERE. 

The Climate Carol…

Good morning, Netizens…

Strictly in the Spirit of the impending Christmas Season, once again I present cartoonist David Horsey’s Climate Carol, an irreverent play on that old favorite, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.

Now I have read the portions of several recent message threads about global warming, and while I am aware that there are many opinions of global warming, both pro and con, at the same time I have to admit Horsey’s cartoon is pointed and quite funny.

Your opinions, however, may differ. By all means feel free to contribute a Christmas Carol of your own.


Mudder Nature in Denmark…

Good morning, Netizens…

Cartoonist David Horsey once again takes on the Global Climate debate by depicting Mother Nature departing the climate conference in Copenhagen.

My initial reaction to this cartoon is what is Mother Nature doing riding in what appears to be a limousine? Then the next question is, if she wouldn’t be riding in a limousine, just how would she be getting around? A horse-drawn carriage? A Model-T Ford? How about a 1949 Dodge Pickup Truck with a boom box stereo?

As for Mother Nature’s recommendation we might want to find a new planet, when do we leave?

Hoo boy! Now there is the question of the day. It becomes a question of not if but when.


Gregoire: Protests, what protests?

Gov. Chris Gregoire said today she’s checked out some energy-efficient cars while at the climate sumitt in Denmark, talked up Washington state with “green” manufacurers, had meetings with other governors and provincial premiers and spent time assuring delegates from around the world that things are happening in the United States to address climate change.

She got a chance to watch reports of the maiden flight of the Boeing 787 on Danish television, and  while she didn’t understand what the newscaster was saying, the video looked good. 

But she hasn’t seen any of the protests, which is part of the coverage  many Americans are getting seeing from the UN Climate Summit in Copenagen.

“It’s sad that’s the representations we’re left with. I have not seen any of the disruptions,” Gregoire said in a telephone press conference.

Although she’s been told Danish security is respectful of free speech rights, she described their reaction to protests as anything but: They’ll round up 700 protesters, let 699 go the next day and just cite one.

“Nothing gets started. They take immediate action,” she said.

It’s best out west

Don’t let anybody tell you any different - the westside is the best side. 
It happens daily - news gets sent to us that makes us both happy and proud to live in the west.  Yeah sure, we can fall into the same pitfalls as everywhere America, but for our money - the smartest and most progressive people and ideas come from the west.  Here’s what we mean.

Seattle is one Smart City.  In a recent list of the world’s smartest cities done by NewGeography.com, Seattle came in sixth - and tops of  American cities on the list.  So you say so what, this is the end of the year and the decade and lists are everywhere.  True.  But what NewGeography is considering with their list, is how cities will look in the future.  Who is set up to survive the major changes we’re going through in the world right now?  Who has progress in their future.  That’s what NG is considering, and for that, take a bow Seattle.  You too Portland, you were honorable mention.  Read more HERE. 

World’s largest wind farm blowing into Oregon.  An 845-megawatt wind farm project salted for Oregon has received a majority of needed permits, and construction is set to begin next year.  The estimated $2 billion project will stretch 30 square miles across Gilliam and Morrow counties in north-central Oregon, near Arlington, and will use 338 of GE’s newest 2.5-megawatt turbines.  And how’s this for a shot in the arm for the economy and jobs - according to a release, the project will create $16 million in annual economic benefit for Oregon, and will employ 400 workers during construction — work that includes building 85 miles of road and 90 miles of connections to the power grid — and another 35 workers during operation of the wind farm.  Read more HERE. 

Here’s a guy who gets it.  University of Washington climate scientist David Battisti sees the climate change talks in Copenhagen a little different than your average environmentalist, activist, or even scientist.  It’s mostly politics, not science, he says.  Battisti is an expert on climate change and his research and findings on how global warming will effect us is wildly read and published.  However he’s moved on.  Almost accepting that there’s little we can do, he’s preparing for a warmer planet.  He’s being proactive when most people are still arguing on whether or not global warming is real.  Here’s what Battisti does now - as brilliantly reported recently in the Seattle Times -  “Battisti is just as likely to be meeting with Mexican wheat breeders as puzzling over prehistoric storm-track dynamics. He’s collaborating on a seed bank for Indian farmers whose crops are threatened by rising temperatures. He joined forces with economists to predict what global warming will mean for rice fields in southern China.”  Battisti’s work is the future - he’s what scientists, activists, and politicians should have been doing 30 years ago.  He’s ahead of the curve, and we’ll be better off becaues of it.  Read more HERE.   

Good afternoon from Copenhagen

Game off…. Game on.  The big news out of Copenhagen this morning was that talks had been suspended after developing countries withdrew their co-operation - but the stoppage didn’t last long.  According to the BBC, the countries that had suspended co-operation are those which make up the G77-China bloc of 130 nations - ranging from wealthy countries such as South Korea, to some of the poorest states in the world. The boycott was a result of developing countries’ demand that rich countries offer deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.  According to MSNBC news, “the developing countries want to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which imposed penalties on rich nations if they did not comply with its strict emissions limits but made no such binding demands on developing nations.”  Read NPR’s report HERE. 

Copenhagen makes 2009 “the most important year in human history.”  If that’s the case, then we are entering the most crucial week.  That’s what Geoffrey Lean writes in his first-week recap of the Copenhagen climate talks.  And as we agree as well, he writes about the first week leaving developing nations and the Third World, “understandably unimpressed.” Lean continues: “One dispute that may go all the way to the top is the objective of the agreement itself. Until recently, this was expected to be to keep global warming beneath two degrees centigrade. That’s still the goal of the big polluters, whether developed countries or industrializing ones like China and India. Science, however, increasingly indicates that this would not save low-lying island nations or other vulnerable countries from devastation, and over 100 delegations -– backed by a fast-growing, worldwide youth movement pressing for concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to be brought back to 350 parts per million—is demanding no more than 1.5 degrees.”  Read more of his report  HERE

David Roberts of Grist also recaps the first week - and not surprisngly, he writes in depth about the emerging voice of the youth and poorer nations in what he calls, the “first big public eruption of the simmering tensions between major developing countries and their smaller/poorer brethren.”  Roberts continues: “The one significant new feature of this treaty round is the emergence of a distinct voice for small island nations and the poorest states—the folks for whom climate change is an existential, not just economic, problem.”  Read more HERE. 

The ethics of global warming…

Good morning, Netizens…

Now before I get down to the serious business writing about the Russian journalists who were visiting Spokane this week, a visit which Jeanie and yours truly played small but emotional roles, I must open this can of worms called Global Warming, at least viewed by cartoonist David Horsey.

It should be noted that, from my position and thinking, the threat of Global Warming is true. However, this is just an opinion based upon what limited facts I have from which to draw my conclusion. In the cartoon, even David Horsey suggests that scientists are hyping the truth about Global Warming, which also might be truthful.

However, Horsey also draws the same conclusion that others have reached, that it is altogether too often that both scientists and government leaders “massage” the numbers to match their opinions. Thus David Horsey’s ethical question does not contain another element which I have often found to be far too truthful, and thus is inelegantly unethical.

There are people throughout the Blogosphere who have developed a considerable following when speaking of Global Warming, who lack either the scientific acumen nor have the political authority to declare Global Warming either exists or does not. Yet because they are purportedly unbiased, that they are not swayed by either scientific researchers nor political persuasion, they are therefore more ethical and thus more likely to possess the facts. Thus is not always the case, in my opinion.

The truth or untruth about Global Warming depends upon which source(s) you find most ethical. That perhaps is the more difficult question than whether or not Global Warming exists or its impact upon our lives.


Good afternoon from Copenhagen

Cha ching.  That’s the sound made yesterday in Copenhagen when American philanthropist and financier George Soros appeared to identify a pot of $100 billion that he says richer nations could use to pay poor nations for dealing with the effects of climate change.  “The money, he said at a news conference, would come from a pool of assets made up of an international financial instrument called special drawing rights, or S.D.R.’s,” as reported by Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth. Read more HERE. 

Is it really real?  Copenhagen is already a bust, a binding agreement isn’t possible, the US isn’t doing anything, it’s impossible to meet target for stabilizing greenhouse gas emission, China and India are the ones holding us up, there’s no way to judge emissions reductions in developing nations, and an agreement will put the US at a disadvantage - these are the myths, and Grist is here to set you straight.  Read more HERE. 

At the end of the day - it’s all about the youth.  And there’s a large contingency of them in Copenhagen showing the rest of the world how serious they’re taking their future.  Read more about a youth rally HERE

Tis the season for lists

The end of a year, the end of a decade, and for some maybe the end of a nightmare.  From now until New Year’s Day you’re going to be inundated with so many top 10’ish lists that you’re going to think you’re in some kind of Carson Daly twilight zone trip.

So sit back and click away at Grist’s list of “Top 25 reasons to give a damn about climate change.”  What - you thought we were going to break the trend?  We didn’t say there was anything wrong with lists - in fact, we’re looking forward to posting more.  Because we know our two readers are going to be all over this - and hey, we like to argue.  Click here to see the list.  Here’s our favorite:

17. Because Stephen Colbert does. Need we say more?

More lists after the jump!


Tuesday Video - How to know what to believe

“The absolute worst thing that humanity could do is mistake a short-term natural cooling for the absence of human-caused global warming and, in so doing, not transition as soon as economically possible from the fossil fuel age to the post-fossil fuel age. To make this mistake would leave a legacy of global warming for our children, grandchildren and multiple generations thereafter which they likely could not reverse, and for which they would likely not forgive us.” - Michael Schlesinger, a climatologist at the University of Illinois,

Trust is hard to capture - even harder after you lose it.  Precisely what a lot of people in the science community have been dealing with recently after a British university said thousands of private e-mail messages and documents had been stolen from its climate center.  But sometimes good can come out of events like this, and that’s exactly what’s happening as prominent climate scientists are calling for changes in the way research on global warming is conducted following the East Anglia incident.  

You don’t have to look far for evidence that anybody can claim to be a climate expert - go read the comments section of any environmental news site or blog.  At every turn, some commenter has a graph or a study trying to legitimize their skeptical beliefs.  It’s dangerous, and as Schlesinger says above, it’s the worst thing humanity could do.  While we don’t want to discourage you from asking questions or being skeptical, we ask that you do research when it comes to climate science.  Trust only peer reviewed studies.  And trust that because of the incident at East Anglia, we’re likely to see better evidence surface.  And when someone tries to argue otherwise - take advice from Ed Bagley Jr.

Onboard the USS Titanic .. sort of…

Good morning, Netizens…

As David Horsey suggests in this morning’s cartoon, the world’s leaders are hemming and hawing over climate change like a group of farmers sitting around the Grange after a bad harvest is complete and they are wondering if they have enough profit to buy seed for the next year’s planting. They haven’t solved the problem, but instead constantly poke at it, constantly rehash it over and over again, and maybe if they are lucky, they might even agree on but not solve the issues. You cannot beat Mother Nature when it comes to handing out a good butt-kicking.

 Perhaps worse than that, you cannot get the purported experts upon whose opinions we depend to tell us how bad the climate is or is about to become in another generation or two. One set of scientists are broadcasting doom and gloom, such as how the icebergs in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting faster than ever before, while other scientists say, “Piffle. That is a bunch of poppycock.”

 Getting scientists to agree with one another is about like getting meteorologists to accurately forecast the weather over a long period of time.

 So what David Horsey is saying is at least partially true. If each of the world leaders are listening to different scientists, each coming to the table with their very diverse opinions, the world’s leaders probably will sit at the Great Table and instead of taking active steps to combat global warming, they make vague, lofty-sounding statements that play well with the “folks back home” while accomplishing very little. Isn’t this what is happening right now?

 Sometimes I wonder when or if the pendulum will swing the other way; instead of global warming will might have global cooling.


Climate Debt

“Millions of people – in small islands, less-developed countries, landlocked countries as well as vulnerable communities in Brazil, India and China, and all around the world – are suffering from the effects of a problem to which they did not contribute.” – Angelica Navarro, chief climate negotiator for Boliva.

There’s a myriad of bureaucratic, business-friendly half-measures floated around in discussions about climate change and carbon emissions - from carbon offsets to emissions trading - but what about common-sense proposals? Those less centered around developing confusing markets for pollution, and more focused on keeping coal and oil where it’s at - and out of our atmosphere.

There’s one concept we’ve heard of, and it’s picking up serious steam as the climate talks in Copenhagen inch closer. It’s called climate debt – a reparations that the world’s richer nations would pay to the poorer nations for the climate crisis. And it really is as simple as it sounds.

Developed countries, which represent only 20 percent of the world’s population, are responsible for about 75 percent of all greenhouse-gas pollution that is helping cause an unstable climate. Whereas developing nations, making up the remaining 80 percent of the population, are only responsible for 25 percent of pollution. And it’s estimated that 75 to 80 percent of the damages caused by global warming will be suffered by developing countries. And in case you were curious – the U.S alone, which makes up a mere 5 percent of the world’s population, contributes 25 percent of all carbon emissions.

At the U.N. climate negotiations last June in Bonn, Germany, Bolivian ambassador Angelica Navarro spoke about what this climate debt could look like, describing it as three-fold:  Rich countries need to pay the costs associated with adapting to a changing climate, make deep cuts to their own emission levels “to make atmospheric space available” for the developing world, and pay Third World countries to leapfrog over fossil fuels and go straight to cleaner alternatives. “We cannot and will not give up our rightful claim to a fair share of atmospheric space on the promise that at some future stage, technology will be provided to us.”

Tuesday Video II

We were under the impression that as a country and as a society, that we were several decades too late in really cranking up the discussion on climate change - but according to The Washington Post, some are arguing more about the merits and timing of the discussion itself.  Watch for yourself below, and read the story HERE. 

Another Green Monday

“But as I said, the movie is not about him. He is, rather, the surprisingly engaging vehicle for some very disturbing information.”  That’s what A. O. Scott of The New York Times said of Al Gore’s “performance” in An Inconvenient Truth in a review article written in May of 2006 - about exactly one year before we started this Down To Earth blog.  But excuse us if we drop a bombshell disclosure on you and say that An Inconvenient Truth had little if any influence over our environmental news ambitions.  Just convenient timing.  It did however give us a new reason to pay attention to and consider the relevancy of the former vice president - and admittedly crash course learn of his environmental prowess.  Maybe an even bigger bombshell disclosure would be that before An Inconvenient Truth, we had only casually known of Al Gore’s eco cred, and once joked that his “role” in An Inconvenient Truth was another lucky career break ala Kiefer Sutherland in “24” - remember, we’re only in our mid twenties.

But if you read through the Times’ review, you see that even they didn’t properly portray the fact that for 30+ years, Al Gore has been a student of the climate crisis and an advocate for change in environmental policies.  They were confused, a little caught off guard - just like everybody else in America.  And you could argue that in the 3+ years since, most people still don’t get it.  And that’s what makes Al Gore so incredible.  Because in those 3+ years since, he hasn’t stopped trying to make it less confusing, he hasn’t stopped trying to advance the discussion on climate change. Even if you don’t agree with Gore’s message, you can’t disagree with his effectiveness in engaging both citizens and politicians in the climate conversation.

So what does this have to do with the present?  Well “The Goracle” is back, and he’s back in a big way.  In a recent piece in Newsweek titled, “The Evolution of an Eco-Prophet”, Gore talks about his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis and provides insight into the intense fact-gathering process behind the book - analyzing from Gore which Joseph Romm, former head of the Department of Energy’s renewables program called, “a fire hydrant of information.”  

It’s hard to imagine a better time for Al Gore to once again be at the forefront of the climate conversation - but it would be better to imagine there not being a conversatin at all.  For it was that 2006 Times’ review that gave us the line, “‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ Davis Guggenheim’s new documentary about the dangers of climate change, is a film that should never have been made.  So like we did three years ago, we will “continue a process of education that could hardly be more urgent.”  Click HERE to read an exerpt from Gore’s new book, and continue after the jump for some stories you might have missed last week.