Archive | August 2013

26. A Reflection on the National Governor’s Association Meeting in Milwaukee this Month

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Yosemite National Park – August 24, 2013. “”No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite… The grandest of all special temples of Nature . (John Muir)

I was disappointed reading the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel’s report on the National Governors Association’s meeting held earlier this month in Milwaukee, particularly that their agenda did not even include the growing threat of climate change and what steps the governors might take to reduce their state’s contributions to the rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as how they might better help their state populations cope with increasingly more severe weather conditions  already being witnessed worldwide. The wildfire that has spread into Yosemite National Park is now being called “one of the largest wildfires in recent California history”. It is said to have already burned more than 125,000 acres.

It is becoming increasingly clear that, despite what a small number of global warming deniers have been saying to the contrary, that humans burning fossil fuels – coal, natural gas, oil and other petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel) –  for heating, transportation, electricity production, recreational activities, and for use in military operations and other human pursuits – is causing more rapid global warming to continue.
The emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from fossil fuels burning, over time, continues to cause more global warming, which is not only changing everyone’s climate, but is also resulting in rising sea levels, ocean water acidification (by 30%!,), increased melting of the polar ice caps, changes in bird migration (poleward), more extreme weather events, worldwide, such as more horrific storms and accompanying heavy rain and flooding, and longer and worse drought and fires  and more brutal heat waves elsewhere. The frequency and extent of extreme weather events and rising coastlines  are predicted to increase with more global warming, across the U.S. and elsewhere.
The burning fossil fuels, especially over the last century and a half, has led to measurable increases in the concentrations of carbon dioxide and other potent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and these gases. accordingly, trap (absorb) more of the Sun’s energy near the surface of the earth, resulting in rising global average temperatures. The earth’s gradual warming is now manifesting itself in serious and growing-more-serious and more destructive  natural and human consequences to  the U.S. , North America, and the remaining continents and island communities around the world. It is of paramount importance that we all stop ignoring this problem, today, and that our political representatives and leaders, in particular, take immediate and meaningful action to confront this growing threat to humanity.
So why didn’t the governors who met earlier this month in Milwaukee have global warming and climate change on their agenda for this month’s meeting? It appears they were too busy parading around Milwaukee on their Harley Davidson motorcycles, burning fossil fuels,ith our Governor Scott Walker leading the way?
One has to wonder how future generations of Americans and others who will be affected by a warming and more dangerous and hostile environment will judge these so-called leaders of our day. Rather harshly I would guess.
See www.allthingsenvironmental.wordpress.com for more information.
The U.S. Forest Service says the Yosemite Fire is threatening about 5,500 homes and had already destroyed four homes and 12 outbuildings in several different areas.

25. Most Prestigious Worldwide Science Organization and NBC Sound Alarm on Global Warming

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NBC Nightly News   |  August 20, 2013

NBC ‘s Lester Holt is anchoring NBC’s “Nightly News” program this week while regular news anchor Brian William is having reconstructive knee surgery. He reports on a recent draft of the United Nation’s upcoming climate report, which states what scientists have been warning about for several years – that the main cause of long-term global warming is carbon dioxide emissions.

“Tonight a leaked report from one of the world’s most prestigious group of scientists, winners of the Nobel prize , has a lot of people taking notice because of the alarming conclusions about climate change . NBC’s Ann Curry recently traveled to one of the most breathtaking places on earth where folks are seeing their way of life disappear before their eyes. She joins us now in the studio. Ann, nice to see you.”

Ann Curry reports:

For several years Greenland’s native Inuits have witnessed the effects of climate change near the North Pole. The key finding in this leaked draft report is that it’s extremely likely, as in greater than 95%, that human activity is the main cause of the planet’s temperature rise in the last 60 years.  Well, recently our news team went looking for answers in a place where the ice melt is unprecedented.  Reporting from the top of the world in arctic, Greenland, scientists like Dr. Jason Box study the icy landscape. He says all this might be lost to climate change:  “There’s  no debate, it’s really quite simple. we’ve overloaded the atmosphere with trapping gas, and the rest are just details”, Box said.

NBC : The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change seems to confirm what Box and other scientists have been warning long before the draft was leaked. Among the findings:  “that the main cause of long-term warming is carbon dioxide emissions , that sea levels could rise about three feet by the end of the century , and that even if we stop producing carbon emissions now, climate change will persist for hundreds of years.”

Here in what’s known as Iceberg Alley, Box, who’s been studying the arctic for 20 years, says “the ice is now melting at a pace never seen before, affecting weather  systems” .    Reporter:  “So in ways that people don’t fully yet realize,climate change is affected us in America and across the world?”

Dr. Box: “Yeah. there are manifold that climate change is having impact.  The arctic is a very useful bellwether of change.  And it’s ringing.”

Reporter:  But in Greenland, once called Eskimo (now called Inuits), they don’t need a scientist to tell them about climate:  “the sea ice are disappearing”.  The Inuit  leader says melting ice means his people struggle to reach their traditional hunting grounds. Some have even fallen through the thinning ice and died.  You’re saying that a way of life is so threatened, it could die? It could be lost forever?

Inuit leader:  “The only humans around the North Pole in the Arctic are us.  We have been here for thousands of years. and we tell you, things are changing. and you will feel it, maybe tomorrow.”

Ann Courry:  “His message essentially is that we in the industrialized world are using more than our fair share and that our children and our grandchildren will pay the price, Lester”.

Lester Holt:  “Very Sobering, Ann, thank you”.

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24. Bill to Raise Speed Limit in Wisconsin to 70 Miles Per Hour Would Add to Already Steep Pace of Global Warming

Just a day after Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill raising the speed limit on rural highways in his state to 70 mph, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, on Tuesday called for the same thing in Wisconsin

. Such a bill would promote burning more fuel per mile driven in the state, because gas mileage usually rapidly decreases each mile driven faster over 50 miles per hour.

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The result  of burning more fuel in motor vehicles driven in the state would result in increased amounts  greenhouses gases, such as carbon dioxide, from the transportation sector of the state, leading to higher rates of global warming.

Illinois was the 35th state to increase speed limits since Congress allowed it in 1995, doing away with widely ignored federal speed limits of 55 mph on most roads and 65 mph on rural roads. The federal speed limit law was passed to reduce fuel consumption after the 1973 oil embargo.

An international team of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could rise by more than 3 feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.

A 3-foot rise would endanger many of the world’s great cities — among them London; Shanghai; Venice; Sydney; Miami; New Orleans; and New York.

The international scientists’ summary of the next big U.N. climate report largely dismisses a recent slowdown in the pace of warming, which is often cited by climate-change contrarians, as probably related to short-term factors. The report emphasizes that the basic facts giving rise to global alarm about future climate change  are more established than ever, and it reiterates that the consequences of runaway emissions are likely to be profound.

The Wisconsin bill would have to pass the Senate and Assembly, and be signed by Governor Walker, before taking effect.

Tittl’s proposal has the backing of Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has said he wants a vote on the measure in September.

While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph.

23. Governor Scott Walker Signs “No Climate Tax Pledge”

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is among signers of Koch-backed ‘No Climate Tax Pledge’

There’s a new pledge in town, and several Wisconsin conservatives have signed on.

This pledge is called the “No Climate Tax Pledge,” but it might as well be called the “Koch Brothers Protection Pledge,” since it was devised by a group co-founded and backed by the billionaire brothers whose companies, according to the EPA, emitted over 24 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2011.

The pledge was devised by Americans for Prosperity, a tea party group founded by the Koch brothers and Koch Industries board member Richard Fink.

“While the pledge began with a marginal following, an energized turnout of conservative voters in the 2010 election swept 85 freshman Republicans into the House,” the authors of the report write. “Of those 85 Republicans, 76 signed the Koch pledge as candidates. And 57 of those 76 received campaign contributions from Koch Industries’ political action committee.”

Those newly elected Republicans helped push through funding cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and tried to roll back the agency’s regulatory powers, as well as being obstacles to enactment of laws to address climate change, the report says.

In addition to Walker and Kleefisch, Wisconsin signers of the pledge, all Republicans, are U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble, state Sens. Leah Vukmir, Alberta Darling, Glenn Grothman and Mary Lazich, and state Reps. Dale Kooyenga, Don Pridemore, Jim Ott and Bill Kramer.

In addition to Walker and Kleefisch, Wisconsin signers of the pledge, all Republicans, are U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble, state Sens. Leah Vukmir, Alberta Darling, Glenn Grothman and Mary Lazich, and state Reps. Dale Kooyenga, Don Pridemore, Jim Ott and Bill Kramer.

22. The Evidence of Global Warming is Overwhelming Yet the U. S. House of Representatives Denies It

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The evidence is now overwhelming that our continuing to burn fossil fuels – for heating, electricity production and in transportation – has led to a significant warming of the atmosphere, namely global warming. Yet our U. S. House of Representatives of the U. S. Congress has foolishly – and dangerously – refused to acknowledge global warming is a problem much less acknowledge any awareness that greenhouse gases from fossil fuel burning by humans is causing the warming.

One month after President Obama laid out a bold plan to tackle climate change, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to say that carbon pollution is not  a problem.  They are wrong, big time.

The burning of fossil fuels and other fuels that  emit carbon dioxide when burned has undeniably led to the following:  a profound melting of the polar ice caps; the receding  of numerous mountain glaciers, worldwide; a significant and accelerating rise in sea level; ocean acidification (by 30%!) and resulting in harm to the lobster and other species living in the oceans; the loss of billions of dollars as a consequences of global warming caused drought  and flooding; and the loss of human life from increasingly more extreme weather events such as hurricanes, more severe storms, heat waves, and fires, plus the increased threat of deadly mosquito and tick transmitted diseases in the U. S., including dengue fever and West Nile virus infection, to name just two.

Scientists the world over predicted all these things could happen, that catastrophic consequences would be inevitable if humankind took no action, and that the number and intensity of such tragedies would worsen over time. Regrettably, especially for the young people of today and future generations – who will have to face the wrath of global warming and its awful consequences their entire life – those predictions are now becoming reality.

Yet today a committee of the U. S. House of Representatives voted to prevent the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and then the House voted to cut the EPA’s budget by 34 percent!

And now it’s not just the national academy of scientists of the world who are warning others of the global warming threat. Last week, four former EPA administrators under Republican presidents wrote in The New York Times: “The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes ‘locked in.'”

But still there are so many politicians in Congress who are still choosing to ignore the problems that global warming is already causing our U. S. citizens and other populations of the world, by their continued silence about the issue, or even worse, their ridicule of others who have concluded the threat is great enough to speak out about, including the president of the United States himself.;

They should be singled out and openly chastised, as they are undoubtedly doing so because of financial contributions they receive from the fossil fuel industries. And then we should thank those who are standing up for our environment by fight against global warming with their votes. This is a call for action to contact your representatives in the U. S. Congress and tell them to vote for actions that reduce U. S. greenhouse gas emissions, that reward individuals and families in the U. S. who use less fuel burning derived energy in their home, business and in transportation, and that will help us all to better adapt to the changing climate that global warming is now already bringing.

We’ve already heard from our president about the need for swift and major governmental action now to confront global warming enemy.   Below is how he concluded his June 25, 2013 speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.:

“THE QUESTION NOW IS WHETHER WE WILL HAVE TIME TO ACT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. AS A PRESIDENT AND AS A FATHER AND AS AN AMERICAN, I’M HERE TO SAY:  “WE NEED TO ACT!”‘

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 See post #7 “Positive Financial Incentives: An Environmentally Just Approach for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions” for a proposal to reward using less greenhouse gas emitting energy on an annual basis .