Why Have Our Commercial and Public Media (TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, Online Sources) and Officials in Federal and State Government in the United States Not Sounded the ALARM Yet on Continued Global Warming and Climate Change?
The following is a summary of a 2008 international conference entitled: “ENVIRONMENT: FROM GLOBAL WARNINGS TO MEDIA ALERT” that was held October 10 and 11, 2008, in Venice, Italy. The purpose of the conference was to challenge the international media to improve public understanding of the impact of climate change. Journalists and news executives from 29 countries representing six continents attended the conference which was held by the international World Political Forum (WPF).
Unfortunately, now almost five years after this conference was held, commercial and corporation funded TV and radio media in these United States continue to purposefully ignore said challenge by not sounding the alarm on the global warming world catastrophe in the making, as do many U.S. publicly elected government officials in federal and state government, leaving the at large public in the U.S. as confused as ever over whether human activities such as fossil fuel burning: in power plants that produce electricity; in home and business heating (natural gas; oil; propane; electric baseboard); in motor vehicle travel and product shipping, via trucks, ships, pipelines (fueling lift stations), in airplanes and in trains; and in cement making and paving the landscape (fuel burning in earth moving equipment). Another significant contributor to the growing global warming crisis is continued deforestation, worldwide, and especially the deforestation of the tropics, where previously large reductions in of carbon dioxide (CO2) were being taken out of the air by the vegetation there – through the process of photosynthesis. Less green vegetation on Earth means increasing buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans, adding to warmer global temperatures. Methane gas (unburned natural gas) that is released from oil wells, livestock, and rotting biological matter (permafrost thawing) compound the problem that is resulting in what the scientific community has called “a potentially very dangerous situation for all humanity and life on Earth and lasting far into the future. Reason is that many positive (lead to more warming) feedbacks . One such warming feedback is the loss of Earth’s albedo, where a reduction in the area of snow-covered land, ice caps, glaciers or sea ice has a compounding effect on the initial warming. As the loss of “white” snow and ice cover (the albedo) continues, the amount of solar energy absorbed by the ocean increases, leading to more warming, which reduces the albedo on the planet even more, which causes more warming, and so on. A small amount of snow melt exposes darker ground which absorbs more radiation, leading to more snowmelt.
The effect is most vividly demonstrated by the decline in Arctic sea ice in recent decades.
As humans are continuing to do things that add more heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the Earth’s atmosphere, the result is that climates all around Earth have been measurably and significantly changing, mostly to the detriment of humans and animal life.
The global warming that has already taken place has caused Earth’s ocean levels to rise – due to thermal expansion from increasing water temperatures and from melting glaciers on Greenland, Antarctica, and Earth’s numerous mountain ranges.
Ocean water acidification has already taken place (a 33% increase) which has already lead to significant environmental, economic, and social cost. These effects of expected to continue unabated which is expected to worsen in time, with projected increases in monetary losses, damage, and loss of human and animal life due to worse and worse “natural” disasters.
As examples of recent catastrophes suspected to have been made worse as a likely direct consequence of rising average global temperatures (global warming): in 2015 heat waves in India and Pakistan killed 1,400 and 2,500 people; in 2013, the thirtieth named storm of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season, Typhoon Haiyan — known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines – with an estimated one-minute sustained winds of 315 km/h (196 mph; 170 kn), making the typhoon the strongest tropical cyclone ever observed based on one-minute sustained wind speed and the deadliest typhoon hitting the Philippines in recorded modern history, killing 6,300 people in that country alone (dozens of fatalities from the storm were also reported in Taiwan, China and Vietnam) and according to United Nation’s officials, about 11 million people were adversely impacted by the storm with many left homeless and an economic cost in the billions of dollars; in 2012, Hurricane Sandy, which remains the largest Atlantic hurricane on record (as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km)) is estimated to have caused monetary damages of over $68 billion and killed at least 233 people along its path on the eastern U S. seaboard including New Jersey and New York; and in 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the fifth hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, was not only the costliest “natural” disaster in the history of the United States. Total property damage from Hurricane Katrina was estimated at $108 billion; the hurricane and subsequent flooding took 1,833 human lives and an undetermined number of domesticated and wild animal lives.
Yet today, incredibly – almost six years later – there remain deniers of human-caused global warming and climate change, including our State of Wisconsin’s own U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, as well as announced U.S. presidential candidate and our current governor, Scott Walker, who continue to spread the false message that Earth’s climates have not been shown to have changed as a result of human activities, to the delight of corporations that are financially benefiting from continued and more fossil fuel burning, which releases carbon dioxide gas, the most abundant of the greenhouse gases, which compounds from year to year in the atmosphere and Earth’s oceans, leading to monumental negative consequences for humanity and other life forms on Earth.
WPF’s President Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991 when the party was dissolved, chaired the conference at which participants reached a consensus that the problem of climate change is “URGENT”.
“Time is running out,” Mr. Gorbachev said in his closing remarks. “The most efficient way to tackle the urgent environmental problems facing our planet is transparency, in which the media have a vital role to play. This means global glasnost.”
Climate experts and media delegates approved a declaration calling for higher standards of reporting on strategic options to avert irreversible damage to the Earth’s eco-systems.
Stressing the importance of well-informed public opinion, the declaration set out the following main recommendations:
– The media have the central role in ensuring that politicians, corporations, non-governmental organisations and scientists keep the general public informed about the latest facts and policy options regarding climate change. Civil society formation and action are essential components in deliberation on this issue.
– Journalists have a responsibility to improve their knowledge and skills in order to be able effectively to question government policy-makers, to distinguish facts from opinion or advocacy, and to evaluate scientific arguments from an independent viewpoint.
– Journalists and civil society should redouble their efforts to combat restrictive measures by governments on journalists reporting on their deficiencies in fighting environmental degradation or in informing the public about the dangers of climate change.
– Journalists should avail themselves of existing international databanks of validated statistics and scientific research on climate change.
– Scientists need to acquire improved communications skills to explain their findings in accessible terms and to build relationships of trust with the media.
– Media proprietors should be prepared to invest more resources in investigative reporting to allow specialist journalists to carry out serious and objective coverage of complex issues, based on a thorough understanding of good science.
– Editors should provide more space for in-depth treatment of environmental issues, not just on-line but in print and on air, and encourage innovative approaches that will grab the attention of the audience in a responsible, independent and non-sensational manner.
– Journalism training organisations should develop ever more sophisticated exercises to improve reporters’ skills in explaining complex scientific arguments. An international network should be created to share information about the availability of training courses and the development of new training models.
The Conference concluded on a positive note, declaring: “There is, however, cause for optimism if we act now. Numerous positive solutions to the global environmental change proposed by science and made possible by innovations in technology, the potential inherent in global civil society organization and by citizens’ groups everywhere in the world; and contributions from socially responsible business leaders can make it possible for us to provide for a decent and full life for all, and for generations to come, within the limits of our planet’s resources.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed borrowing plan for highway construction the next two years has finally hit the skids! GOP lawmakers said as much in a letter to the governor yesterday. Not only is the governor’s proposed $1.3 billion transportation borrowing plan too high, said the 33 Assembly Republicans who signed the letter, but also any reduction to $800 million must include reductions in the massive Milwaukee area freeway projects already under construction.
The Republicans lawmakers, who are in the majority in both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature, are negotiating among themselves over the reduction in bonding to $800 million according to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website Monday.
Allthingsenvironmental emailed the Republican dominated Joint Finance way last March after the governor’s proposed biennial budget for 2015-17 hit the streets sending them the following message:
So it’s not just the governor’s highway plan part of the 2-year budget that’s unsustainable. It’s virtually everything Scott Walker has done as governor, starting January 2010 with his Act 10 that destroyed collective bargaining in public employee unions, having appeared out of the blue.
Meanwhile, as probable presidential candidate Scot Walker heads his way to yet another Wisconsin taxpayer funded speaking engagement, this time in California, the brewhaha simmering among his fellow Republicans is beginning to reach the boiling point. One has to wonder how many frequent flyer miles the governor and his security people have racked up over the past 5 years? A lot? Yes, but undoubtedly not even close to the millions of tons of greenhouse gases his jets, autos and motorcycles have emitted to the atmosphere for the next generation to be burdened with.
The global warming genie has escaped his bottle! He has begun to show his wrath, which is only likely to worsen in the coming years, decades and centuries, and there is presently no end in sight!
He’s leaving plenty of evidence. The only way we can all help weaken him is by stopping our nonessential burning of fossil fuels, stopping deforestation especially of the tropics, and doing things which naturally result in more greenhouse gases being added into the earth’s atmosphere and oceans (such as overeating, wasting food, not recycling, not reusing things whenever possible, running our air conditioning and furnaces needlessly, using energy derived from tar sands industry, doing other things that frivolously burn fossil fuels such as going for joy rides, cruising, etc.. Because our atmosphere is where Global Warming lives and breathes (now that he’s escaped the bottle) and because he gets his tremendous strength to wreak havoc on the world by his breathing in greenhouse gases that have been accumulating to record high concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere (as a by-product of our burning carbon-based fuels in our cars, trucks, airplanes, power plants, ships, boats, trains, machinery, recreational products and the like) we need to all put him on a crash diet, NOW!
According to David Owen, author of Green Metropolis and The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse, the proportional share of the fuel burned during a round trip from New York City to Melbourne, Australia, is greater than the total amount of energy that the average resident of the earth uses, for all purposes, in a year. Forestalling global calamity is a preemptively worthy, ethically justifiable and economically achievable goal for everyone on the planet, especially in this era of television, radio, computers, Skype, the iPhone and virtual reality. Climatologists, environmentalists, CEOs, religious leaders, students and tourists seeking entertainment or to broaden their horizons, and government officials ought use the least greenhouse gas emitting technologies available to them to accomplish their objectives; they should not have to cross the oceans and great land masses of world (requiring vast burning fossil fuels) just to be present in person. Likewise, our government leaders and business people ought minimize the amount of products traded with distant countries, so as to minimize the amount of fuel burning required in the shipment of goods by air, sea and over miles and miles of terrain. Transportation of billions of tons of goods along with extensive long distance vacationing and business trips by millions of people every year is simply no longer sustainable. Such activities are becoming ethically wrong because they are unquestionably harming the planet and all the living things it is home to, both now and in the future.
We cannot and must not wait for technology to bail us out. Scientists the world over say it is now paramount that all humans begin acting in significant ways to reduce their annual greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, we will never get Global Warming to go back into his bottle – where he belongs! Greenhouse gases accumulate atmospherically over time – they build up in the atmosphere and oceans from year to year. Their volume is accelerating in earth’s atmosphere and as well as in its oceans, and the total volume will likely keep accelerating for some time due to compounding factors (positive feedbacks) of the earth’s natural systems. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance – paramount – that everyone act in ways to reduce their annual carbon footprint, immediately, before Global Warming becomes all to powerful, uncontrollable and for generations, a tragedy for civilization.
Trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2 degrees centigrade safety limit, a new report published in the journal Nature.
New research identifies which fossil fuel reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands. Trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit, says a new report.
Vast amounts of oil in the Middle East, coal in the US, Australia and China and many other fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground to prevent dangerous climate change, according to the first analysis to identify which existing reserves cannot be burned.
The new work reveals the profound geopolitical and economic implications of tackling global warming for both countries and major companies that are reliant on fossil fuel wealth. It shows trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, including most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas and much potential shale gas, cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit agreed by the world’s nations. Currently, the world is heading for a catastrophic 5C of warming and the deadline to seal a global climate deal comes in December at a crunch UN summit in Paris.
“We’ve now got tangible figures of the quantities and locations of fossil fuels that should remain unused in trying to keep within the 2C temperature limit,” said Christophe McGlade, at University College London (UCL), and who led the new research published in the journal Nature. The work, using detailed data and well-established economic models, assumed cost effective climate policies would use the cheapest fossil fuels first, with more expensive fuels priced out of a world in which carbon emissions were strictly limited. For example, the model predicts that significant cheap-to-produce conventional oil would be burned but that the carbon limit would be reached before more expensive tar sands oil could be used.
It was already known that there is about three times more fossil fuel in reserves that could be exploited today than is compatible with 2C, and over 10 times more fossil fuel resource that could be exploited in future. But the new study is the first to reveal which fuels from which countries would have to be abandoned. It also shows that technology to capture and bury carbon emissions, touted by some as a way to continue substantial fossil fuel use in power stations, makes surprisingly little difference to the amount of coal, oil and gas deemed unburnable.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.
Article that received most views: “Homeless Children in the United States” (Nov. 2014)
Is the Earth one of many habitable planets in the universe, or are human beings alone, the product of a lucky fluke? Author of “Lucky Planet: Why Earth is Exceptional–and What That Means for Life in the Universe”, David Waltham says it’s more likely the latter, thanks to our planet’s unusually stable climate and early development of life.
But whether Earth’s climate can still said to be “stable” is now, unfortunately, open to question. We humans have have relied far too extensively on fossil fuel burning – especially coal, oil (gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, propane, fuel oil) and natural gas (methane), which all emit greenhouse gases to the atmosphere upon combustion, since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. What Earth needs now is another kind of revolution, a peaceful revolution, but where humans use their own physical power and the energy of the Sun and the wind and rid themselves from the over-dependence on burning fossil fuels. Read about a plan to do just that right here and then sign the petition to our elected governmental officials demanding they undertake the necessary changes to make this happen before its too late! Thank you.
October 16, 2014
Tornado Swarms Increasing In U.S.: NOAA Study Tracks Deadly Storms
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Tornadoes in the United States are increasingly coming in swarms rather than as isolated twisters, according to a study by U.S. government meteorologists published on Thursday that illustrates another trend toward extreme weather emerging in recent years.
According to a study published by government meteorologists in the journal Science on Thursday, tornadoes are increasingly coming in swarms, meaning on the days a tornado hits, it is far more likely that several more — possibly dozens — will occur that same day.
Researchers looked at tornado activity over the past 60 years and found that although the number of the deadly storms occurring each year had remained relatively steady, since the mid 1990s they have been more likely to come in swarms over fewer days per year rather than as isolated tornadoes spread throughout the season.
On the list of the 10 single days with the most tornadoes since 1954, eight have occurred since 1999, including five since 2011. That year alone had days with 115, 73, 53 and 52 twisters.
The meteorologist who led the study, Harold Brooks of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma, said emergency management agencies and insurers should be prepared to deal more often with days with lots of tornado damage.
The study analyzed the official U.S. tornado database for the six-decade period ending last year, excluding twisters below Category F1, with wind speeds of 73-112 mph (117-180 kph), on the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale.
Some experts have blamed weather intensity seen in recent years on global climate change they attribute to human activities. This study did not, however, offer a conclusion as to a cause.
“Knowing that the climate now has changed from that of the 1970s makes for a circumstantial argument in favor of a changing climate playing at least some role in the tornado changes,” said meteorologist Patrick Marsh of NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.
“There are indications that heavy rainfall events are occurring with greater frequency globally, and given a warmer climate, this makes sense,” added Storm Prediction Center meteorologist Greg Carbin.
But “any trend in tornado events is much more difficult to discern,” Carbin added.
The average number of days annually with at least 20 tornadoes has more than doubled since the 1970s to upwards of five days per year in the past decade. For days with at least 30 tornadoes, there has been an average of three per year in the past decade, compared to 0.6 days per year in the 1970s.
Records for both the most and fewest tornadoes over a 12-month period have come in the past five years, with 1,050 from June 2010 to May 2011 and 236 tornadoes from May 2012 to April 2013. May is the month with the most tornado activity, followed by June and April.
Tornadoes, rapidly spinning columns of air usually spawned by rotating thunderstorms, can be among the most violent weather events. They have been reported on every continent except Antarctica but most often hit a U.S. region covering the Great Plains and parts of the Midwest and South.
Tornadoes can cause extensive loss of life and property damage like the May 2011 twister in Joplin, Missouri, that killed about 160 people and wrecked thousands of homes.
(Reporting by Will Dunham, editing by G Crosse)
Conserve NOW Petition to President Obama, U.S. Congress, Wisconsin Governor Walker and Wisconsin Legislature to Enact and Fund Climate Change Legislation
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.)
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.