Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change

Looking for some light summer reading to keep yourself entertained while also staying informed on matters of international and scientific importance? Look no further. “The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change”, by Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman, is now available. You may remember these characters from their fully-illustrated yet unlikely literary debut, “The Cartoon Introduction to Economics”, which elucidated the dismal science with whimsical clarity. Think of it as a cross between “Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar” by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein and “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi.

Their latest joint venture takes the most contentious topic in contemporary American politics and spells it out so plainly that even a Tea Party member could understand it. Students, skeptics and scaredy-cats could all stand to gain from a close reading of these climate change comics. Check your local book store or order online today. “The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change” is sure to be a hot seller.

San Luis Obispites, your neighbors to the south need your help! Oil and gas interests are planning to exploit the Monterey Shale deposits in Santa Barbara county. Dubbed the “Santa Maria Energy Project”, the scheme would create 136 drilling wells. If passed, the industry estimates that they will be able to extract 15.4 million barrels of oil, as much as would be pumped through the Keystone XL Pipeline over a 40 year period. In addition to wreaking havoc on the climate by pumping 88,000 tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere each year, the extraction processes would waste and pollute already stressed water supplies. The Santa Maria Energy Project would inject 300,000 gallons of water into the earth each day, taking resources away from farmers and infrastructure.

Take the time to sign a petition through 350.org to be presented to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission and County Supervisors this month!

As a climate scientist, tackling global warming is an immense challenge. The most basic information, such as the location of the world’s fossil fuel-burning power plants and how much CO2 they emit, is difficult to obtain while sitting in an office. Through the power of crowdsourcing and the Internet, researchers at Arizona State University have created a computer game called Ventus that takes advantage of data provided by citizen scientists. Led by Kevin Gurney, the website operates on the belief that every facility in the world has at least a dozen or so people living or working near the plant that could provide valuable information. Players register through the page and are asked to provide the name and location of the plant along with what kind of fuel is used, how much electricity is produced, and the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. They are able to view all entries as well as make adjustments and edits. Participants who have provided the most useful data at the end of the year will win.

The team at ASU has already compiled a list of 25,000 plants through Google Earth. They estimate that there are over 30,000 fossil-fuel sites across the world, and the number is likely to grow as countries such as India and China continue to industrialize. With power plants accounting for nearly half of the world’s CO2 output, understanding where and how much greenhouse gas is being expelled into the environment will be a powerful tool for governments and communities to use in shifting towards alternative sources of energy.

In the effort to combat climate change, we carpool, scale back our utility use, purchase carbon credits, and do our best to source our power from clean technologies. Yet, if we pay tuition, donate to non-profits, or have a stock portfolio, we may still be contributing to dirty energy. Many universities, local governments, and religious institutions have endowments or investments that benefit financially from fossil fuels. Seeing the support of coal companies, oil giants, and mining projects as antithetical to their moral and political proclivities, organizations across the nation are divesting from these markets.

The Fossil Free campaign helps to organize and support those who wish to give non-renewable resources the boot. Over 300 colleges have already started their own campaigns, including Brown University who is slated to vote on axing 15 coal and mining companies from their endowment this month. Major cities, such as San Francisco have decided that exacerbating climate change was not in the best interest of the planet or the Bay. Those interested can visit the website and either begin a petition or join an already existing call to action. In addition to hosting a platform to collect signatures, Fossil Free also provides relevant articles, charts, and studies to help make a strong and well-informed case.

As a strategy, taking away a source of revenue may be one of the quickest and most effective ways to halt fossil fuel infrastructure. Seeing as much of the industry has bought influence in Congress and around the world, pulling money away from conglomerates is one of the most powerful means of stopping a number of pipelines and mountaintop removals at one time. While it is true that companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal make billions of dollars and that the dissent of only a few small institutions may not at first make a huge dent, it is important to back up beliefs with concrete action. Not only igniting discussion and creating a PR nightmare, large endowments are responsible for billions of dollars themselves, and can make their voices heard if they decided to gather together to send a message and hit polluters where it hurts. Money could then be apportioned to back renewable energy and bolster a healthier, greener economy that would not only ease the burden of climate change, but give birth to a vibrant new market that benefits more small businesses and communities.

The time has come to tell the fossil fuel giants that carbon is so very last century.

Forget the national debt, don’t worry about the next election cycle, no big deal if you can’t drop those extra couple of pounds before swimsuit season. As a species, climate change is the largest challenge we face. So why then are our elected officials doing almost nothing to address a phenomenon that could make the planet uninhabitable for human beings? Scientist Anthony Leiserowitz from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication recently sat down with Bill Moyers to discuss the public’s understanding and reactions to global warming.

Lesierowitz has identified six groups of American by levels of knowledge about and  engagement with the issue of climate change. As a specialist in the psychology of risk and perception, he explains how climate change is almost the perfect challenge for human beings. While we are wired to deal with immediate physical survival, global warming and its causes are practically invisible. For the most part, we cannot see the greenhouse gasses spewing into the atmosphere, and the gradual changes we have made since the Industrial Revolution tend to escape our notice. Only by amassing large amounts of data taken from a variety of sources across the world can we begin to understand our effects on the planet.

Part of the difficulties climate activists face is working amidst a very vocal and well connected association of deniers and special interests that dominate the political discourse. In addition to clarifying the science for those who still do not believe in the myriad of reports and drastic weather conditions affecting the country, each of the six groups requires a completely different type of social engagement. The best way to connect with each demographic is to identify their core values, and meet their concerns on terms that are familiar.

The stakes are high, the problems that we are causing are getting worse, and are on track to escalate in intensity. At the heart of the dilemma is how human being see themselves in relationship to the natural world. What are our responsibilities to nature and one another? How do we organize to tackle such a huge problem? What is the best way to sound the alarm and put climate change at the top of the agenda?

The first step is come together. Check out 350.org and other movements that are working towards shifting our political system and economy to take action!

 

Climate change is perhaps the single biggest issue facing the health of our communities. Severe weather conditions threaten the crops on which we depend for food and a thriving economy as well as the safety of our neighborhoods and health of our landscape. In San Luis Obispo, we have historically seen weather patterns consistent with a Mediterranean climate where we experience long, hot and dry summers with rainy, wet winters. Many of the native plants are drought-tolerant, and the cold waters and upwelling of nutrients off of our coasts provide us with a stunning amount of marine biodiversity. With greenhouse gasses on the rise, what can we expect for the seasons to come?

The Coast: According to a report released by the California Academy of Sciences in June of this year, Central California’s waters are already showing the effects of a warming planet. Surface waters have increased in temperature, sea levels are higher, winds are stronger, upwellings are more intense, there is increased ocean acidification, and shoreline erosion has accelerated. As a result, ecosystems have been thrown out of balance and organisms are struggling to adapt.

The study states that the most severe ecological disruption will come from the changes associated with upwellings, ocean temperature, sea level rise, and acidification. Upwelling appears to be increasing because of more rapid heating of land in contrast to the ocean which creates pressure gradients and strong winds, driving the process. Researchers worry that stronger currents may carry the larvae of fish and other animals out to sea, disconnecting whole populations and threatening the food web. Warm surface temperatures have heated bays and shallow waters, making for steep temperature gradients from east to west. Warmer surface waters also inhibit the vertical mixing of water and nutrients which can result in plankton blooms and areas of low dissolved oxygen, killing certain species that need oxygen rich habitats to survive and aiding in the takeover of invasive organisms.

Sea level rise has accounted for a large amount of coastline erosion as well as the change in tidepool ecosystems. Rising waters affect the ability of marine mammals to reproduce and rest, changing the living patterns for these top predators. As CO2 continues to be absorbed by the sea, waters have become more acidic, creating conditions where shelled animals cannot form their exoskeletons or even dissolve.

In regards to broader weather patterns, the El Nino oscillation cycles are expected to continue with higher temperatures than in the past. La Nina years will be wetter and warmer than average with heavy downpours becoming more frequent.  Days of high fire risk are going to become more common with an extended fire season brought on by hotter temperatures and increased evaporation. Flooding and erosion from sea level rise and lack of vegetative cover will deposit more soil and sediment into freshwater systems, eventually affecting marine ecosystems as they flow out to sea.  Saltwater is also expected to flow into freshwater systems as the oceans rise.

 

 

 

So, imagine you’re sleeping. I mean really sleeping. Deep, awesome, post burger kind of sleep. And you wake up, and suddenly your whole apartment complex has turned into an oil refinery. That happened this week, to a very confused polar bear and her baby cub.

In Alaska’s north slope, a mama bear awoke from hibernation with her cub to find that the world around her had been transformed to a construction zone for and oil refinery (Read: environment destroying machine).  It’s these instances that remind us that we are, in every way, messing with our ecosystems. Polar bears have already been affected drastically from global warming. Due to the warmer temperatures, there are fewer areas of solidly frozen ocean; something that polar bears rely on to hunt. With more of their energy devoted to hunting, they have less time to focus on reproduction, and thus their population has dwindled.

Thankfully, once she was noticed, construction on the refinery ceased. One can only imagine her fear and bewilderment. If you would like to aid to the plight of the polar bear, there are several organizations you can make donations to. If you can’t afford to help in that way, do your best to save on gas, and reduce not only the effects of global warming, but the need for more refineries.

Today marks the last day of summer for those of us basking in the warmth of the northern hemisphere. And not a moment too soon for the people of Russia and most of the US where this summer’s warmth turned into a wave of blistering, deadly heat. Yet while the rest of the world roasted away and corral reefs were bleached into oblivion, here in California the summer never really arrived. We’ve had nothing but mild breezes and temperate sunshine, but the Indian Summer still lies in wait, poised for a late season attack.

So what’s all this aberrant meteorological prognostication have to do with the house of bamboo? Don’t worry, I’m getting to that. Just as soon as my morning typing fingers have a chance to thaw out. In the meantime, don’t let your defenses down, because this weekend looks likes it’s gonna be a hot one, and bamboo might actually be one of your best defense.

In addition to bamboo clothing’s cozy breathability and superior thermal regulating properties, the material also provides an excellent shield against the sun’s harmful UV rays. A number of independent studies have all confirmed that bamboo fabric can effectively block out more than 90 perfect of the sun’s ultra-violet radiation. This makes bamboo an ideal for babies, those with especially sensitive skin, and anyone concerned about the increasing rates of skin cancer associated with prolonged sun exposure.

We are consistently impressed by the number of customers who tell us that bamboo is one of the only fabrics they can wear because of various allergies, skin conditions and/or chemical sensitivities. Check UV-protection as just one more advantage of bamboo in a world facing severe climate changes.

Song of the Day: “Indian Summer” by The Doors

X