Tuesday, 13 October 2009 11:23

#ClimateTuesday is Here!

Written by
#ClimateTuesday is here and we’re taking over facebook and twitter. Today is the day to invite your friends and supporters to get involved in a 350 event. Can we make #climatetuesday a trending topic? Can we double our registrations for the event? I think we can! On October 24, events are happening in over 150 nations across the world. In Botswana, the Maru-a-Pula school will be hosting a Green Drive “to change attitudes and lifestyle of our students and our community.” They will be launching a new recycling center, promoting their organic garden and a strong treaty in Copenhagen. In the Maldives, a country whose citizens will lose their homes and way of life if we don’t reach this goal, a team of divers will build an artificial reef shaped like the three numbers: 3, 5 and 0. (They've produced an awesome video.) In Washington DC, local leaders and activists will be marching to the White House to call on Obama and the nation to get a strong international treaty. Not half-measures or baby steps, but a comprehensive global deal on protecting the earth’s climate. Find an event in your area, and help us spread the word! If you are in DC and reaching out to DC folks, here’s the DC event: http://bit.ly/381tFG DC tweet: RT @Carbonfundorg: #climatetuesday action: join @350 on facebook & join events around the world on Oct. 24th ! http://bit.ly/381tFG #green #climatebill For those outside of DC, here’s the main 350 event: http://bit.ly/1pUcwZ National Tweet: RT @Carbonfundorg: #climatetuesday action: join @350 on facebook & join events around the world on Oct. 24th ! http://bit.ly/1pUcwZ #green #climatebill People talking about #climatetuesday on Twitter
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 11:09

Climate Refugees

Written by
tuvaluAs sea levels rise, the picture of a new kind of refugee emerges.  Climate refugees are people displaced by global warming and related environmental disasters. Hundreds of thousands of these refugees have already been displaced from permanently flooded coastal areas in places like Bohla Island in Bangladesh and the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea.  The 10,000 Tuvaluans living on the low island atoll of Tuvalu pictured here may be next. But rising sea levels do not only affect these exotic far away places.  Nearly a quarter of the world's population lives in low coastal areas.  Some of the world's great cities like London, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Mumbai, Cairo, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Shanghai are vulnerable to rising sea levels.  According to Elaine Kurtenbach of the Associated Press, Chinese cities are among the largest and most threatened.  In Shanghai, developers seem to ignore this threat, and they are building new infrastructure on the densely populated coasts.  By 2070, experts estimate that nearly 150 million people will be living in areas vulnerable to flooding from rising sea levels.
International climate change negotiations received an unexpected blow when the UN's top climate change official, Yvo de Boer, announced he will step down from the post as of July 1. A Dutch national, de Boer was appointed as the Executive Secretary of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in September 2006. De Boer has been largely well regarded during his time in the position and is widely credited with raising the profile of climate negotiations and delivering a series of breakthroughs towards a deal. Though in recent months, the UNFCCC and their seminal reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have come under fire. While the science that underpins the IPCC studies remains strong, slight errors in the IPCC reports have raised the ire of global warming detractors. In a statement, de Boer announced he will take up a post as global adviser on climate and sustainability at consultancy giant KPMG, adding that it is the private sector that will ultimately deliver the deep cuts in carbon emissions that are required. “Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming. This calls for new partnerships with the business sector and I now have the chance to help make this happen,” said de Boer. His successor is expected to be named in the next few months.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 12:24

Climate Change's Link to Global Security

Written by
What do climate change and war have to do with each other? To the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, they’re intricately linked. The BPFNA is leading Baptists to build a culture of peace rooted in justice.  By teaching their member churches about worldwide conflict and putting their words into action, the BPFNA has taken a prominent role to fight for peace and for action to combat climate change. For the BPFNA, climate change is more than an environmental concern.  As they say, “Peace is not possible when we live at war with the Earth.” They also point out, “Peace is not possible when the poor suffer disproportionately - in natural disasters, in conflicts, in economic hard times - and as the climate of the Earth changes. In this point, they are not alone. As the New York Times reported, the Pentagon has concluded that:
Climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments.  Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.
Therefore, as the BPFNA fights for peace worldwide, they actively seek to minimize their environmental footprint. At their annual conference this summer, BPFNA collected donations to offset the conference’s carbon footprint. BPFNA also provides advice to their members on how to reduce their environmental footprints.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 17:41

Climate Change Policy Heats Up. Finally!

Written by
I often tell people that Carbonfund.org exists today because socially and environmentally concerned individuals and business leaders stepped up and took action to reduce their climate impact, support burgeoning technologies, and prove to the world that we can tackle climate change -- and do it cost effectively. What makes this more remarkable is that we did this despite a lack of US government leadership over the last three decades on climate change. Just a few years back, academics suggested carbon would cost $50-100 per tonne, a total non-starter for almost any government initiative to reduce emissions. Yet we are here today, talking about Copenhagen, Waxman-Markey and the Senate bill in large part because of the voluntary actions taken by a relatively small group over the last five or six years to prove the concepts, technologies, methodologies, costs and processes. Leadership is about stepping up to the plate when others will not, and I am always amazed and appreciative of our thousands of partners who have done just that. This is why it is so important these early leaders receive credit for their voluntary actions. Their vision and commitment turned into the first offset projects and investments. (I still can’t imagine what it must have been like for the person at a large company to go into their boss’s office a few years ago and say they wanted to offset their electricity use in California by buying these REC-things from Texas, or this carbon offset doohickey from New York.) Finally, we’re making headway. The EPA has approved their first-ever carbon offset project, which Carbonfund.org has supported and brought through the EPA process. The House of Representatives has passed a great bill, thanks to the leadership of Reps. Waxman and Markey and many others, the Senate is working on a similar version, and thousands of delegates from around the world are in Copenhagen to work on a global deal to reduce emissions by about 80% by 2050. We’re at a tipping point and Carbonfund.org must now participate in the national and international policy debates to ensure we maximize carbon reductions and verification while unleashing capital, technology and innovation to achieve these goals as quickly and cost effectively as possible. I am heading to Copenhagen this weekend for the climate talks to help push for a global consensus on massive carbon reductions during my lifetime, not just my kids’. This is a new space for us and we’re working with policy experts to advocate for the best possible legislation in the US on climate change. These next several months will be crucial to our future, and we need the experiences of organizations like Carbonfund.org that have proven the concepts to ensure we get a bill (or treaty) that will work. We’re enlisting the best minds in Washington and as a first step we’re pleased to be working with the Podesta Group, a leading government relations firm, to help Carbonfund.org achieve its objectives. Done right, fighting climate change will create millions of jobs, save taxpayers money, reduce or eliminate our reliance on foreign oil, reduce our overseas defense responsibilities and help the developing world leapfrog on technologies and help their people. It will also clean the air, reduce asthma and other health effects of burning fossil fuels and save us billions in health costs. We’d hoped to get a US climate bill in 2009 but 2010 will work too. We’re just so glad we’re all talking climate policy. Finally!
Thursday, 11 March 2010 19:03

Climate Change Evidence Still Strong

Written by
A recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle by climate scientists from the state of Texas sums up the state of the science well:

• 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.

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.
Concern about climate change and the environment edges the general economy as the greatest threat in the Global Pulse Survey of city dwellers by HSBC Bank USA. 38% of those surveyed believe climate change and environmental issues comprise the biggest threat, while 35% said the economy generally. However, when unemployment and poverty, which are listed separately in the survey, are factored in, economic issues still concern people around the world the most. A unique aspect about the survey is it asks what the greatest concern is among many leading issues globally, from international relations and public health to energy and the environment. Incidentally, energy came in 6th at 19%.

grp2

The Survey focuses on spending and investing habits and the opinions of respondents in 11 cities around the world, including 4 in the US (New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles). To learn more about the survey, take a look at this article in Environmental Leader, which published the above chart.
Monday, 01 November 2010 17:23

Climate Change & The Elections - How You Can Help

Written by
Keep the climate in mind this Election Day. How do you know where your candidates stand on fighting climate change? The nonprofit, nonpartisan Project Vote Smart has launched an interactive tool, VoteEasy, that matches you with candidates based on your view of climate change and other current issues. Enter your zip code and get a local report of your candidates' positions. You can use VoteEasy at http://votesmart.org/voteeasy. No doubt this election will affect how the nation addresses climate change at home—where Congress has yet to pass comprehensive climate legislation—and abroad, with the next major round of U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico later this month. As The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin notes, the U.S. could be in a bind should Congress become further deadlocked on the issue of climate change, despite the fact that the administration says it is not backing away from the pledged 17 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions vis-a-vis 2005 levels. The elections will affect whether or not, and how, Congress or the EPA acts, and how the administration will act in the international arena. If you care about climate change, know how your vote affects the issue and be sure to get out and vote.