We live in a time of great uncertainty that is reflected in the political turmoil and stark choices before us in the coming election. So far this election cycle the mainstream media and the debates have almost entirely avoided the subject of climate change and how our energy policy needs to radically change. Republican orthodoxy requires their candidates to deny that climate change is even a problem. As a parent and grandparent this is a real worry to me, and I know that I am not alone. Imagine the concern young people must have, when they hear what is and is not being talked about by the candidates, as they face this unprecedented and uncertain future.
Can we maintain our optimism, as one month after another breaks world records for the highest global temperature in the history of civilization? Friday evening in San Rafael we have an opportunity to hear what Bill McKibben, our nations’ most articulate and fervent spokesperson for pulling back from climate disaster, has to say. McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, somehow manages to discuss this dark problem with a life affirming belief in humankind’s capabilities. After speaking, he will join a conversation with four young people who are actively studying and working on climate issues. These millennials will talk about their concerns and the work they are doing in response to those concerns. Seeing how engaged they have become is always inspiring and a source of renewed hope and energy for us all.
The importance of our collective response to this challenge is highlighted by a major new study by Oil Change International, The Sky’s the Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production, which lays out a clear, scientific basis for our energy policy choices. Key recommendations include a just transition for the affected workers and communities, and encouraging the fastest possible growth of the wind and solar industries.
This study led to a New Republic article, Recalculating the Climate Math, in which Bill McKibben asserts that we are “in a war with climate change,” but that we still have a chance to safely transition our society from fossil fuels to renewable energy. It remains to be seen if are we going to fight for our children and our civilization, or allow the Exxon’s of the world to keep telling us that an alternative future is not possible and that there is no danger in our current path anyway.
If we have hope, it is in our hands and those of the younger generation, to expand the growing movement for a massive, “World War II scale,” investment in the development of renewable energy, which McKibben successfully fought to include in the Democratic platform. He also insists that we must stop all further development of fossil fuel infrastructure and leave existing untapped reserves of fossil fuels in the ground. This includes halting new projects, like the Dakota Access Pipeline, currently being challenged by united Native American communities across the continent.
All these ideas will be discussed Friday evening in this timely and thought provoking program, “Reclaiming our Climate Future - Bill McKibben and Bay Area Millennials.” The program is hosted by 350Marin.org at the San Rafael Community Center Auditorium, 618 B Street, October 21, from 7 to 8:30 pm.
Please be there to learn how we can protect our children’s future. A minimum donation of $10 is requested and students enter free!
Desmond Tutu, Vivienne Westwood, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky are among a group of high-profile figures who will issue a mass call to action on Thursday ahead of the UN’s crunch climate change conference in Paris in December.
They call for mass mobilisation on the scale of the slavery abolition and anti-apartheid movements to trigger “a great historical shift”.
Their statement, published in the book Stop Climate Crimes, reads: “We are at a crossroads. We do not want to be compelled to survive in a world that has been made barely liveable for us ... slavery and apartheid did not end because states decided to abolish them. Mass mobilisations left political leaders no other
Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state's Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains.
In what may prove to be a turning point for political action on climate change, a breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels.
The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, brings new importance to a feedback loop in the ocean near Antarctica that results in cooler freshwater from melting glaciers forcing warmer, saltier water underneath the ice sheets, speeding up the melting rate. Hansen, who is known for being alarmist and also right, acknowledges that his study implies change far beyond previous consensus estimates. In a conference call with reporters, he said he hoped the new findings would be “substantially more persuasive than anything previously published.” I certainly find them to be.
When Gov. Jerry Brown visits the Vatican this week for an international conference, he'll be carrying a resolution from state lawmakers supporting Pope Francis' recent encyclical on climate change.
He's hoping the Legislature will send an even stronger message later this year by passing new environmental rules aimed at helping California slash greenhouse-gas emissions over the next few decades.
Approval of the legislation, intended to enact goals outlined by the governor this year, would bolster Brown's calls for global action on climate change with a display of regulatory muscle in his own state.
A newly unearthed missive from Lenny Bernstein, a climate expert with the oil firm for 30 years, shows concerns over high presence of carbon dioxide in enormous gas field in south-east Asia factored into decision not to tap it
ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change – seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm’s own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial.
Prince Charles has said that “profound changes” to the global economic system are needed in order to avert environmental catastrophe, in an uncompromising speech delivered in front of an audience of senior business leaders and politicians.
The heir to the throne – often criticised for his meddling in political affairs – argued that ending the taxpayer subsidies enjoyed by coal, oil and gas companies could reduce the carbon emissions driving climate change by an estimated 13%.
Although the prince’s passion for environmental causes is well known, the speech delivered on Thursday evening in St James’s Palace, London was particularly pointed in its criticism of companies that protected vested interests and came with a report that proposed raising taxes on them.
Speaking at a event for the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), of which he is a patron, the prince complained that “the irresistible power of ‘business as usual’ has so far defeated every attempt to ‘rewire’ our economic system in ways that will deliver what we so urgently need”.
As expected, the 2015 wildfire season has meant more bad news for drought-stricken Western states. As of June 30, 45 wildfires large active wildfires burned from Alaska down to Arizona and as far west as Colorado. Wildfires in Southern California had driven thousands from their homes, while fires in Alaska have burned more than one million acres this year.
Separate from human interference, wildfires are a completely natural occurrence that help a forest ecosystem with regeneration and growth. But decades of fire suppression tactics combined with climate change have provided wildfires with an abundance of dry, dead fuel, leading to more fires and a longer fire season. Fighting wildfires also comes with a large price tag, with an average of $1.13 billion spent on wildfire suppression each year. With climate change, that price could increase to $62.5 billion annually by 2050.
But wildfires impact more than just forests and the economy — they can have far-reaching impacts on public health, water quality, and climate change.
In a landmark ruling that many hope establishes a new global precedent for a state's obligation to its citizens in the face of the growing climate crisis, a Dutch court on Wednesday said that the government has a legal duty to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
The decision came in response to a lawsuit, launched in November 2013 by the Amsterdam-based environmental nonprofit Urgenda Foundation along with 600 Dutch citizens, which argued that the government was violating international human rights law by failing to take sufficient measures to combat rising greenhouse gas emissions.
"The state must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty of care to protect and improve the living environment," read a statement from the Hague District Court.
“A slow-moving emergency” is how state assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) describes the threat of rising seas in the Bay Area. According to Inside Bay Area, Gordon authored California’s first report on climate-related flooding, and his findings reveal a region woefully unprepared to manage water damage.
Per Inside Bay Area, San Francisco Bay rose 8 inches over the past century and could rise another 16 to 55 inches by 2100. Torrential storms and “king tides” could overwhelm infrastructure that’s not designed to withstand major flooding. Making matters worse is California’s own gradually eroding coastline. Coastal communities such as Pacifica have become media flashpoints thanks to images of houses literally slipping off of cliffs.