While there may be debate around the margins, it is hard to argue comprehensively with the science of climate change. There will always be room for improvement in studies and reports, but small errors should not cause us to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater.' The time to act is now, and in spite of what you may have heard from some, the science of climate change is still very clear. For a few more answers to typical climate change skeptic questions, please see this recent article in Scientific American.
• The global climate is changing.
A 1.5-degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperature over the past century has been documented by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Numerous lines of physical evidence around the world, from melting ice sheets and rising sea levels to shifting seasons and earlier onset of spring, provide overwhelming independent confirmation of rising temperatures.
Measurements indicate that the first decade of the 2000s was the warmest on record, followed by the 1990s and the 1980s. And despite the cold and snowy winter we've experienced here in Texas, satellite measurements show that, worldwide, January 2010 was one of the hottest months in that record.
• Human activities produce heat-trapping gases.
Any time we burn a carbon-containing fuel such as coal or natural gas or oil, it releases carbon dioxide into the air. Carbon dioxide can be measured coming out of the tailpipe of our cars or the smokestacks of our factories. Other heat-trapping gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, are also produced by agriculture and waste disposal. The effect of these gases on heat energy in the atmosphere is well understood, including factors such as the amplification of the warming by increases in humidity.
•?Heat-trapping gases are very likely responsible for most of the warming observed over the past half century.
There is no question that natural causes, such as changes in energy from the sun, natural cycles and volcanoes, continue to affect temperature today. Human activity has also increased the amounts of tiny, light-scattering particles within the atmosphere. But despite years of intensive observations of the Earth system, no one has been able to propose a credible alternative mechanism that can explain the present-day warming without heat-trapping gases produced by human activities.
• The higher the levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the higher the risk of potentially dangerous consequences for humans and our environment.
A recent federal report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” commissioned in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration, presents a clear picture of how climate change is expected to affect our society, our economy and our natural resources. Rising sea levels threaten our coasts; increasing weather variability, including heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall events and even winter storms, affect our infrastructure, energy and even our health.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010 20:01 Written by Jason Fitzgerald
From March 16th - 28th, the 18th annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital will present 155 poetic and thought-provoking films that delve into diverse topics such as farming, natural gas, even bee colonies. Over 60 of these films are Washington, D.C., United States, and World premieres that celebrate the environment and highlight the increasing challenges to life on Earth. A special focus of this year's film festival will be on our food: how it is produced and distributed and the myriad effects our food has on the environment. A few of the most anticipated films include Gasland, chronicling the natural gas industry, and Sweetgrass, about a group of Montana shepherds. Films like these add to one of the strongest lineups in Environmental Film Festival history. With a full schedule of films playing at locations throughout Washington, DC, be sure to get your tickets soon! A list of films and locations can be seen here with full show times.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010 10:45 Written by Amy Givler
Mac-Gray, the leader in campus laundry services, is helping campuses reduce their campus laundry emissions through its “Lighten the Load” initiative. Working with Carbonfund.org, Mac-Gray has now teamed with fourteen college and university campuses around the country to reduce 100 percent of the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted from their laundry equipment. The initiative involves offsetting over 21 million pounds of GHG emissions. "We recognize that the first step in lessening laundry's carbon footprint is reducing energy consumption, which is why we recommend the most water- and energy-efficient washers and dryers. We then rely on our 'Lighten the Load' initiative to offset unavoidable emissions," said Michael Calderaro, Mac-Gray's Vice President of Campus Laundry. Mac-Gray will be supporting three methane destruction projects of Carbonfund.org which were selected based on criteria set forth by the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment 2008 Voluntary Carbon Offset Protocol, in that they must represent immediate and verifiable GHG emissions reduction. The destruction of methane from such projects is important in the fight against global climate change because methane is approximately 23 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Such projects not only reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere, but also help protect an area's local groundwater, reduce localized air pollution, control odor and produce power for regional electricity grids. "In selecting a laundry services company for our campus, our University chose Mac-Gray because it is a company that cares about the environment and is willing to invest their own money to offset the carbon footprint that our washers and dryers produce. This partnership is an important part of the university's overall sustainability initiative," says Ron Dalton, director of housing at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. The 14 colleges and universities now participating are: Colorado College, Colorado State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Keene State College, Salisbury University, Stonehill College, University of Montevallo, UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, USC Aiken, USC Upstate and Western Carolina University. To learn more, please visit: www.cleanandgreenvision.com.
Monday, 15 March 2010 17:31 Written by Jason Fitzgerald
During my undergrad days, I would often spend nearly $500 per semester on textbooks and other required reading for my classes. With four classes every semester, that is over $100 per class! I wasn’t even a science major – some of my friends spent even more. Enter BookRenter.com, a CarbonFree® Partner who can save you hundreds of dollars per year on your textbooks and required reading. What’s more, they are offsetting the round-trip carbon emissions from their textbook rentals! BookRenter allows you to rent hassle-free and simply ship your books back when you’re done. If you want to keep a few, no worries. You can turn the rental into a purchase. Not only is renting textbooks cheaper, but can be a more sustainable choice. There is no need for piles of unwanted books outside your campus bookstore. This semester (and next!), rent textbooks with BookRenter.com to save money and prevent unwanted books at the end of your semester. You can also enter their St. Patrick’s Day sweepstakes on Facebook!
Friday, 12 March 2010 17:38 Written by Jason Fitzgerald
Carbonfund.org Partner Electrum Marketing is a unique branding agency that excels at helping businesses find, get and keep customers. They specialize in identifying what sets their clients apart, optimizing their delivery of that product or service, then finding cost-effective ways to promote it to their target audience. From strategic planning to website design, they offer a full menu of branding services to clients throughout Florida and beyond. Electrum's services include consulting, graphic design, website design, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, brand delivery and training, mystery shops and customer satisfaction surveys. Electrum was able to reduce 35 tons of C02 generated annually by the agency by donating to Carbonfund.org to support reforestation projects. Energy efficiency in their office has improved with the installation of compact fluorescent lighting, reduced consumption, programming the thermostat, and sealing the door and windows. For more information on how Electrum Marketing can help you find, get and keep more customers, visit www.electrummarketing.com.
The New York Times has reported that both China and India have agreed to sign on to the Copenhagen Accord to reduce emissions. China and India are two of the largest emitters of global warming causing greenhouse gas emissions. The Accord, reached at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (or COP15) meeting in Copenhagen last December, commits all the signatories to reduce emissions to help keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) from pre-industrial levels. To date, over 100 countries have signed on to the Accord. While the Copenhagen Accord is non-binding, it may prove to be the precursor to a legally binding global agreement. The world's largest emitters like the US, Canada, India and China will have responsibility for some of the largest reductions, but even small nations will be provided incentives to reduce. A key component of the Accord is the inclusion of up to $100 billion a year in subsidies for developing nations to adapt to climate change impacts and implement cleaner technologies. With India and China on board, hopefully this paves the way for the US to take strong action on climate change. The climate bills that have been debated in Congress have stalled for the time being, but may get another shot for a vote before the year is up. While their passage is nowhere near a given, at least one excuse for inaction (what about China and India?!?!) is no longer on the table. Image Courtesy of The New York Times
Friday, 12 March 2010 17:12 Written by Jason Fitzgerald
Thursday, 11 March 2010 19:12 Written by Greg Taylor
CarbonFree® Partner Central Coast Outdoors offers the best local tours in California’s Central Coast. Long residents of San Luis Obispo, founders John and Virginia Flaherty take pride in their local expertise and knowledge of all Central California has to offer. Early this year, founder Virginia Flaherty released a Brant Goose that had been recuperating from a broken wing. Working with Pacific Wildlife Care, she helps rescue and rehabilitate wildlife in the area. For the second consecutive year, Central Coast Outdoors is offsetting its carbon footprint with Carbonfund.org. By supporting over a dozen local environmental organizations, Central Coast Outdoors has developed a business that gives great tours and helps the environment. If you’re looking for a great outdoors vacation with true nature lovers, you’ll be in great hands with Central Coast Outdoors. They’re long time locals who can take you kayaking, biking, or for a great trip through the local wine country.
A recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle by climate scientists from the state of Texas sums up the state of the science well: