Friday, December 18, 2009

Some good news, and some fun

Here's some good news and fun to counteract the rather disappointing news coming out of Copenhagen so far: last week, after years of inaction, the EPA finally determined that greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change, endanger human health and welfare. The move is necessary to allow EPA regulation of global warming pollutants. At the same time, the EPA also proposed regulation of the largest sources of carbon emissions. EPA's actions should prod Congress to pass laws that cap greenhouse gases. A climate change bill has passed the House of Representatives, but a similar bill has languished in the Senate while health-care reform is debated. So, before you go full swing into Christmas, solstice, or Kwanzaa (or right after Hanukkah's over), please thank the EPA for these actions by clicking here. Please change the message so that it says what you want it to. And email your members of Congress to let them know you still support strong climate action despite all the tactics of the global warming deniers and those who are fighting to preserve the status quo. There is an excellent sample letter here, which can be sent to your Senators and representatives with the click of a mouse, that states clearly why the fuss over the stolen climate emails doesn't change the facts of global warming or their seriousness. Again, please change to suit your needs.

If you have a slightly sick sense of humor like I do (and don't object to violence to out-of-season vegetables), check out this funny video from Green Thing.

The New Mexican says they're deciding when to print my piece, so look for it this Sunday or the next and I'll link to it when it's published.

Resolve to do all you can to fight climate change in 2010. In the meantime, take the above actions, then relax and enjoy the rest of your holidays. I'll post again in the new year.
Stay cool,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't be fooled by deniers

Not one, but two opinion pieces in the Santa Fe New Mexican last Sunday are full of falsehoods and misleading statements about climate change. I will address these fully in response to the New Mexican, which I'll either excerpt or provide a link to on this blog, but in the meantime you can find facts and links to more information to counter most of the spurious claims in the New Mexican pieces in this piece by Scientific American. Remember, 97% of US climate scientists, the scientists who actually study this subject, agree that global warming is real and that it's caused by humans. Our National Academy of Sciences under George W. Bush, along with the academies of science of 10 other nations, agreed that the evidence for climate change and humans' role in it was strong enough to warrant fast action by governments. Update: The US National Academy of Sciences, along with the Academies of Science of 12 other industrialized and emerging nations, signed a statement in June 2009 including the following quotes: "Climate change is happening even faster than previously estimated,""The need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable," and "Limiting global warming to 2°C would require a very rapid worldwide implementation of all currently available low carbon technologies. The G8+5 should lead the transition to an energy efficient and low carbon world economy." When we are faced with such great consequences and quite substantial evidence, do you think we should wait until the consequences are so dire that they can't be denied? The people who live on various islands and in the polar reaches, not to mention many species of plants and animals, are already facing dire consequences. By the time the consequences are in the faces of the rest of us, because the ocean and the natural world absorbs CO2 and heat and delays these consequences, scientists tell us it will probably be too late to avoid a world far different from the one that civilization evolved in. Do we really want to let a minority of vocal deniers, some of whom have been paid by oil companies to delay government action, confuse us into losing our chance to save ourselves and thousands of other species? Would you rather prepare for a catastrophe that might not happen, or not prepare for a catastrophe that is actually already happening, but not yet to most of us?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Should You Buy Carbon Offsets?

After encouraging you to offset your Thanksgiving travel by using one of the offset programs at the bottom of the homepage, I did more research. Carbon offsets, which are shares of projects you can buy that cancel out your greenhouse gas emissions for various activities, are controversial. Responsible Travel, one of the first travel companies to give travelers the option of buying offsets, canceled their program in October because they believe that offsets do more to soothe consciences than reduce CO2 output. We do need to ask ourselves whether we're buying offsets to assuage a guilty conscience, or whether we're using them when we've reduced our carbon footprint as much as we can. If you just have to take a flight, buying an offset will reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions if the offset is real. Here's where things get dicey. Michael Wara, a professor at Stanford Law School and former climate scientist, says "we don't know" how many offset projects really reduce CO2 emissions. The hardest part is knowing whether a project would have been done without offsets helping to pay for it. My take is that it's very unlikely that all offset programs would have been done without offset money, so you are paying for some greenhouse gas reduction. Since it's an imperfect mechanism, it's not a great conscience-soother, so don't use it for that. With these cautions in mind, I've changed the links at the bottom of this page to only include carbon offset programs that serve individuals and are retailers for the Climate Action Reserve, which has strict requirements that projects are real, permanent, and additional, and includes independent verification. I encourage you to reduce your carbon footprint as much as you can (see the list of "10 Things" below), look at these sites, and then offset your holiday travel and other activities as much as you see fit. Going through the process will also make each of us more aware of how much greenhouse gas our different activities produce. Please share any thoughts, facts, or questions you have about offsets, and
Stay cool,