The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed this week that 2012 was officially the warmest year on record in America’s contiguous 48 states, based on 118 years of temperature records dating back to 1895. Despite this fact, news coverage of climate change actually declined in 2012. According to The Daily Climate, worldwide climate coverage decreased by two percent between 2011 and 2012, which represented the fewest number of published stories since 2009.
Last year the US was experience droughts in more than just rainfall. During the presidential election there were accusations of a “climate silence” until Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast in the days leading up to the election. In President Obama’s acceptance speech he said, “We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
However, President Obama’s statement has not reassured everyone that he and Congress are going to make any meaningful efforts to tackle carbon pollution and climate change. In fact, the League of Conservation Voters and a coalition of 70 environmental organizations recently wrote an open letter to President Obama, which encouraged him to spotlight climate change during his second term. A quote from the letter includes, "Cutting carbon pollution at home and rejecting dirty fuels will establish America’s leadership and credibility, enabling [President Obama] to create clean energy jobs in the United States while forging an effective international coalition to cut global carbon pollution."
Whether or not President Obama and Congress heed the global warming warning signs, the bright spot is that local governments are undertaking real strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change right now. ICLEI USA, a network of local governments working to address climate and sustainability challenges, recently highlighted 20 communities across the continental US that are leading the efforts to plan for the future and respond to extreme weather. Some particularly prominent examples by local governments include:
- Atlanta, GA – Urban heat island effects worsened by hotter seasons. Addressing the problem with a climate action plan, including cool roof/pavement standards and 10,000 new planted shade trees.
- Chicago, IL – Responding to extreme heat and flooding with the milestone Chicago Climate Action Plan and the most installed green roof square footage in the country.
- Eugene, OR – Ravaged by major wildfires and mega-dry conditions. Mitigating these issues by increasing water conservation, reducing hydroelectric power demand and planting drought-resistant trees.
- Miami Dade Count y, FL – Known as the most vulnerable city in the world to sea level rise as demonstrated by severe flooding. Urban planning now addresses sea level rise and disaster response, and they’re also investing millions in flood mitigation projects.
- New York, NY – Suffered $19 billion in damage from Superstorm Sandy. Taking positive action with a $2.4 billion green infrastructure plan, restoring barrier wetlands, and initiating a climate risk assessment requirement for new developments.
It’s wonderful to see these steps being taken towards a more sustainable future. It would be even better if federal leadership ensues, taking their cues from local governments. Media silence or not, climate change is here and further delayed action will only result in catastrophic results. The time is now to secure a low carbon global economy and thereby the planet for current and future generations.
The electronic delivery of software applications, rather than mailing physical DVDs and CDs for manual installation on computing networks and workstations, is an important component to reducing operational emissions. Recent studies have calculated that replacing traditional distribution of DVD/CD disk kit software with Electronic Software Delivery (ESD) can result in at least an 83% reduction in carbon emissions.
CarbonFree® Business Partner Kivuto Solutions offers green software distribution solutions through ESD, enabling users to download software and avoid the carbon emissions attributable to product packaging and shipping. Previously known as e-academy, Kivuto seeks to maximize software availability for organizations by reducing the total cost and environmental impact of software distribution.
But Kivuto decided it was important to do more and wanted to join the national movement of businesses and organizations that are leading the fight against global warming. Recognizing that its own operations still created a significant carbon footprint, Kivuto took the proactive step to calculate its annual operational emissions. Kivuto then chose to partner with Carbonfund.org to mitigate its emissions by supporting Reforestation and Forest Preservation projects that absorb carbon emissions now and for years to come.
Electronic software delivery may be part of a lower carbon world, but IT systems use a tremendous amount of electricity. Carbonfund.org encourages companies to follow examples set by business partners such as Kivuto to take the next step towards operational sustainability by supporting carbon sequestration projects, energy efficiency innovation and renewable energy source development.