Archive | September 2014

Global Warming is a No-Brainer

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August 2014 was the hottest August ever recorded (global average temperature of 61.45°F), with records dating back to 1880. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet’s oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes – oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment. [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency]

The increase in global temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces for August 2014 was 1.35°F higher than the 20th century average of 60.1°F.

Nine of the 10 warmest Augusts on record have occurred during the 21st century. Additionally, August 2014 marked the 38th consecutive August with a temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for August occurred in 1976.

Sea surface temperatures have been higher during the past three decades than at any other time since reliable observations began in 1880.

Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere. The energy is produced by power plants burning predominantly coal and natural gas, who sell the energy for heating and electricity. Commercially owned power plant are the number one emitter of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, followed closely by the transportation sector’s burning of petroleum products (oil, gasoline, and jet fuel). Transportation accounted for over half of the net increase in total U.S. GHG emissions from 1990-2011.

Carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for nearly a century, so Earth will continue to warm in the coming decades.
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The warmer it gets, the greater the risk for more severe changes to the climate and Earth’s system. Although it’s difficult to predict the exact impacts of climate change, what’s clear is that the climate we are accustomed to is no longer a reliable guide for what to expect in the future.

The temperature record shows the fluctuations of the temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans through various spans of time. The most detailed information exists since 1850, when methodical thermometer-based records began.

The Northern Hemisphere (Arctic) sea ice extent — which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites — averaged for August 2014 was 6.22 million square km (2.40 million square miles), 1.00 million square km (390,000 square miles), or 13.85 percent, below the 1981-2010 average. This was the seventh smallest August Arctic sea ice extent on record.

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The second most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas (after carbon dioxide, or CO2), is methane (CH4). Although its concentration in the atmosphere is far less than that of CO2, it’s a much stronger greenhouse gas on a per-molecule basis. It also is eventually is transformed into CO2 by atmospheric chemistry processes. More than half the atmospheric CH4 load is due to human activities. Atmospheric methane concentration had stabilized from about 1999 to 2007, but recently began rising again.

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Conserve NOW Petition to President Obama, U.S. Congress, Wisconsin Governor Walker and Wisconsin Legislature to Enact and Fund Climate Change Legislation

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PETITION TO: U.S. PRESIDENT OBAMA, U.S. CONGRESS, WISCONSIN GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER, WISCONSIN STATE LEGISLATURE

Title of petition: “Pay Individuals and Families, Annually, for Maintaining a Smaller Global Footprint”
(Sign petition here.)

Enact and Fund Legislation to Annually Pay Families and Individuals who Record a Smaller Global Footprint Each Year.

People would voluntarily apply to a “Minimize My Global Footprint” program, and work towards (1) minimizing the number of miles they drive their vehicle(s) in a year. The families and individuals who record the fewest number of driving miles in a year’s time, as recorded on their vehicle(s) odometers (illegal to modify in Wisconsin), or if they do no driving at all over the year, would earn the most money for their “low global footprint of driving”; (2) people who choose not to fly by an airplane anywhere during that year (flying emits the largest global impact due to the long distances traveled) would earn the maximum amount of money allowed for their “zero global footprint of flying” that year; and (3) people who minimize their household use of fossil-fuel-derived electricity and/or heating (by installing solar panels, installing more efficient windows, replacing light bulbs with LED lights, adding more insulation, or turning the heat down in winter and up in summer, or using less hot water) or obtaining their energy from wind turbines, would earn the “minimum household energy use global footprint”.

Depending on how successful each individual or family was at minimizing their driving mileage and flying, and minimizing their energy use in their home, they could earn up to $22,800 in a year. African-American individuals and families would be eligible to earn a higher maximum of $30,400 per year. (For tables identifying lower amounts, see “Conserve, NOW” at: http://www.allthingsenvironmental.com and multiply by four.)

or:

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Conserve NOW!1.doc; Final

As with practically every new major governmental initiative, there would undoubtedly be some “bugs” to work out. But “TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE “when it comes to reducing our aggregate annual emissions of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, because, at 400+ parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide (CO2), we have already far exceeded the natural concentration level of those gases (eg. 350 ppm CO2) in the atmosphere that scientists claim to be “safe” for the planet. Continuing to pave over the landscape with Portland cement and bituminous asphalt, for the purpose of expanding highways and building more freeways and bridges to accommodate more motor vehicle driving, and adding more airplane runways to accommodate more flying by everyone, is totally unsustainable for the preservation of our planet for life in the future.

In fact, NOTHING is more URGENT than for everyone to SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE their activities THAT BURN LARGE QUANTITIES OF FOSSIL FUELS (and emit tons more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, where they remain upwards of 100 years. One way to do this is to fly less (or not at all), and drive less, or not at all, by using more sustainable modes of transportation (such as bicycling, walking, using mass transit), and by conserving on fossil fuel burning in their home, or by using less electricity (that which is generated by burning of fossil fuels; i.e. solar and wind powered electricity not counted).

Unfortunately, our planet is already exhibiting the damaging impacts of having excessive concentrations of greenhouse gases in its atmosphere. The climate has already changed in many places: heat records have been broken, massive flooding has occurred, oceans are rising and becoming more acidic, extreme drought and massive wildfires has cost the nation billions of dollars – all will worsen with more global warming

Another problem this proposal aims to address is the clearly grotesque disparities between the top and lowest annual income levels in the U.S., especially for African American families. Some say the low income levels of African American families and individuals in the U.S. is rooted in the U.S. government’s condoned enslavement of African Americans on plantations in America for close to 400 years (40 generations), until finally being outlawed by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The government’s order provided the slaves with their freedom but failed to require or cover payment of financial reparations to the African Americans for their long period of enslavement (close to 40 generations of slavery!); hence, the increase in annual financial incentives for African American families and individuals to reduce greenhouse emissions.

In short, the U.S. Congress, President Obama, state Legislatures and our governors should, without delay, go to work and adopt this revolutionary new approach to addressing global warming and the inequalities that remain within the American economy, while only touching the surface of the reparations that really ought to be made to present day African Americans, for nearly 400 years of slavery of their ancestors. Our current political leaders need to show the courage that millions of American’s soldier exhibited in World Wars I & II, and all the many other wars where American soldiers put themselves in harm’s way and adopt this proposal into law.

The prognosis for Planet Earth and all life forms that exist on it is getting increasingly dire by each day we fail to have political action to slow global warming and prepare for the increasingly bad effects of global warming. We need a new paradigm to counter global warming which is the now is widely accepted as reality and our fault.

The effects of increasing global warming are overwhelmingly negative and severe, cause massive negative environmental changes, and continuing global warming will create environmental, social, and economic havoc that would not otherwise occur. This proposal needs to be fast-tracked in the Congress, not only to provide supplemental income for families demonstrating their small global footprints annually, and annually thereafter. The alternative of “no action”, which has continued to be employed by our governmental officials in Washington D.C. and by our state Legislature, is that catastrophic global warming effects will not only continue but worsen, and the effects are, for all intents and purposes, irreversible.

Money for this program could come from a variety of sources. First, Congress should use the billions of dollars ($18.5 billion in 2013) that subsidize U.S. fossil fuel industries (coal, oil, natural gas) and instead use those funds to pay incentives to the public who apply to this program, and minimize their global footprint. Hopefully, this will help slow global warming in time and reduce the current rate of sea level rise. The rate of changes in the climate that have already been set in motion (drought in California and Guatemala, ice melting at poles, mountain glaciers receding) might at least be slowed but we must act now.

Our economy and public health would be expected to improve with the full implementation of this program, and while the primary purpose of the program is to slow climate change, the benefits of not using as much coal, natural gas and oil will help the environment by reducing the need for additional infrastructure for providing fossil fuels, such as pipelines carrying dirty crude oil from the tar sand region of Canada and other negative environmental impact developments. There would need to be less flammable products transported by rail. The air would get cleaner with less coal being burned and fewer car and jet airplanes emissions. The additional income would help families presently struggling from having insufficient family and individual income, due to the low minimum wages in the U.S., reductions in monthly food shares, having children with disabilities that require extra money and discrimination in employment. Income disparities have never been higher in the U.S.. Transit systems and pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure is needed in many communities for people who choose not to own and use cars. Madison, Wisconsin, for example, has had a long history of building for travel without cars and serves as a model for promoting non fossil fuel transportation, year round.

Adoption of this program would help all individuals and families that conserve energy and preserve our environment.

The funds could come from a multiple sources of sources not just the fossil fuel industry. The airline industry is heavily subsidized by the U.S.Federal Aviation Administration, despite the fact that a large percentage of American don’t fly at all during the year. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has more than 15,000 FAA-employed controllers, The FAA has an operation budget of $16 billion. Groups such as the National Business Aviation Association, a Washington-based trade group for corporate flight departments, have opposed any arrangement requiring fees. Of course they do, its in their own best interest. But is it in the interests of all Americans and the future of the planet to reduce global warming caused by too much fossil fuel burning.

Follow – Up to Labor Day WORT Radio Show: “Plant Earth -It Needs our Help Now More The Ever”

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I broadcast my second show on finding a solution to the global warming and income disparity problems this past Labor Day Monday, September 1, on the weekly “Access Hour”, 7-8 pm, on Madison, Wisconsin’s WORT-FM at 89.9 (HD) radio station. With the friendly assistance of Access Hour engineer Ken Rineer, I was able to provide what I hope listener found to be an informational and enjoyable listening experience, on a problem of serous consequence to the habitability of our planet in the future. If you missed the Labor Day show, for the next 60-days, anyone in the world having access to the Internet can listen to the archived show from WORT-FM September 2, 2014 here.

Those who wish to sign a petition for the U.S. Congress and state governors and Legislatures to petition the government to enact legislation to provide positive monetary incentives to individual and families who minimize their global footprint can sign the petition here.