Archive for February, 2007

early warning signs: footprints and harbingers

ucs map of global warming events

For those of us confused about what is and is not an indication of global warming, this new resource will come in handy as an illustration of the local consequences.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has compiled a global map showing climate change events already occurring that are manifestations of the global warming trends predicted by climate models.

This peer reviewed research categorizes events through 2003 based on the latest scientific findings. Events indicated on the map are divided into two categories:

Published by Ken on February 28th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

inconvenient truth returns: documentary viewable

inconvenient truth online againThe Oscars are pau (over), Gore's message has been delivered.

In case ya missed it, this (newly) award-winning documentary feature is now (again) available online for free (full length).

Get it here: An Inconvenient Truth

Mahalo to Climate Change Action for the headsup!

Let's hope it stays up this time...

Published by Ken on February 28th, 2007 tagged Climate Change | Comment now »

where’d my glacier go? on warming in Alaska

mendenhall glacier then and now

As a teenager in Juneau, I enjoyed ice skating on the lake in front of Mendenhall Glacier, which was visible through our dining room window.

I especially liked climbing the icebergs caught in the frozen lake, and will never forget the bonfire we started atop one such...which lit up that iceberg in a trippy way.

Now, I knew the glaciers had been retreating steadily since those halcyon days, yet I was truly shocked to zoom in with Google Earth and discover this glacier was, by now, far up the valley.

Published by Ken on February 27th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Community Initiatives | Comment now »

on weird weather and wondering whether…

grandots in the snow

My older son was cracking about how this unusually cold February (as we visited grandots in Minneapolis) should shutup the global warming gloaters who were all over the unusually warm January.

...Which is an odd way for him to find comfort in the cold, for sure.

It's not like he's alone in this. Fact is, it has now become an all too common misapprehension of the long term warming trends...which have little to do with what climate scientists call 'meteorological anomalies' (via real climate).

Published by Ken on February 27th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

where there’s smoke…there’s addiction

smoking is so not green

Speaking of catastrophic prospects that prompt little action...time to fess up to our own smoking footprint.

Yup, my wife and I both smoke. A lot. It's the least green thang we do.

A friend once asked, incredulously: 'You mean you smoke AND cycle'? My reply: 'I cycle because I smoke'.

Not funny, but true. And I've been 'offsetting' in this way for many years.

Still, no amount of offsetting could account for the damage to our lungs or those we affect second-hand.

We know this.

Published by Ken on February 27th, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

calculating the cost of saved energy: a primer

emissions reduction potential, click for larger

According to RMI's Joel Swisher, the total achievable potential for cost-effective carbon emissions reduction from energy efficiency in 2030 is enough to essentially offset carbon emissions growth.

Equally important, Swisher estimates that energy efficiency can achieve nearly 60% of cost-effective emissions reductions from all sources, including renewables.

Writing a new report by the American Solar Energy Society, Swisher notes that energy efficiency projects can yield very attractive returns (via digg).

Swisher shows that the cost of saved energy is less than one-third the cost of supplied energy.

Published by Ken on February 26th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

getting to yes: on climate crisis solutions

boston review on climate crisis

Just in case ya missed this, the current Boston Review has a marvelous collection of essays on how we can manage the climate crisis.

Opening with one of the finest summations on human influence, and covering economics, coal, carbon credits, global collaboration, and U.S. leadership, this is great information for those of us looking for next steps.

Chock full of proposals about what to do now, this collection of thoughtful pieces by leading researchers and policy wonks should be required reading for our state and national political reps.

Published by Ken on February 26th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

Gore on will-to-act: it’s a renewable resource

gore as climate crisis messenger

Al Gore, climate change messenger, is done; message received. Time now to focus on solutions.

So says editor David Biello of Scientific American (via sciam blog).

Gore himself couldn't agree more. At last night's Oscar awards, Gore opened with:

"My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis."

Then, spinning my favorite thought these days, Gore insisted "It's not a political issue, it's a moral issue."

And in his closer for this masterpiece of 15-second speechifying, Gore noted that "we have everything we need to get started with the possible exception of the will to act. That's a renewable resource. Let's renew it."

Published by Ken on February 26th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

aloha, dave: kauai farewell to community leader

david boynton RIP

Wildlife photographer and educator Dave Boynton was all about Kauai, from science to art to community, and his sudden death falling from his favorite Na Pali cliffs leaves a huge gap in our knowledge base.

He will be missed, as evidenced by the veritable army of friends and disciples who ascended to Kokee State Park this day for his memorial.

Boynton, 61, was well-known on the island for sharing his love of what he once cited as an “ethereal” beauty, which he photographed in the form of pristine beaches, rugged cliffs and verdant ridges.

Published by Ken on February 25th, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives, HI-specific | 3 Comments »

suddenly sunday: island climate change tops news

HI climate impacts, click for larger view

When Hawaii's top scientists appear in a lead story by the islands' top environmental writer talking about our prospects for climate change, you know the policy climate is changing, as well.

Good buddy Jan TenBruggencate this morning covers what we know so far, from sea level rise to ocean acidification to drought conditions.

Says TenBruggencate, "Hawai'i in the coming century will face rising temperatures and sea levels, eroding shorelines and more acid in ocean waters as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases."

Citing meteorologists, oceanagraphers and tourism experts, this story highlights fundamental changes coming our way:

Published by Ken on February 25th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, HI-specific | Comment now »

red, blue and CO2: on voting and emissions

bush voters spew more cargon

Would you believe there's a fairly high correlation between per capita emissions and voting for Bush?

That's right, and it's why some think Al Gore will be the next president.

Say what? Well, if global warming is a major concern in 2008, then voters in 11 swing states with lower emissions are more likely to vote Democratic.

Why? Because the costs of mitigation will be lower in these states, and the global warming issue will elicit less opposition.

So argues Roger Pielke Jr., Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at Colorado (via prometheus).

Published by Ken on February 24th, 2007 tagged Climate Change | Comment now »

signs of global warming in Hawaii’s cloud forests

HI scientists study cloud forests

Here's some island science we can really use from the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center.

Turns out that Hawaiian cloud forests are among the most sensitive of the earth's ecosystems to global climate change.

Relatively small shifts in patterns of atmospheric circulation are likely to trigger major local changes in rainfall, cloud cover and humidity.

These changes in turn would provide additional stresses on island biota which are already vulnerable to disturbance-related invasion of non-native species.

Will the montane cloud forests of Hawaii disappear or will the zones simply shift upward on the high island mountains?

Published by Ken on February 24th, 2007 tagged Island Ecosystems, Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

bagging our dust: no more unannoying options

vacuum has a bag

Who knew electricity doesn't comes from the socket and gas doesn't come from the stove and wood doesn't come from the lumberyard and food doesn't come from the supermarket?

"I didn't even know vacuum cleaners had bags until I was far older than I should have been."

So says Jon Carroll in a marvelous post on why we watch out for each other and act from concern (vis sf gate).

"It sure is more convenient not to really consider the consequences, or believe that our role in the grand scheme of things is just not that important," says Carroll.

Published by Ken on February 24th, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comment now »

big biz and green bandwagon: cheer or jeer?

big biz green bandwagon

"The growth of the green economy -- embraced by corporations, heralded by politicians -- marks something of an IQ test for the progressive movement."

So say Jason Mark and Kevin Danaher in a compelling post on 'business unusual' (via grist).

Mark and Danaher query: "How can we at once celebrate companies that move toward better practices while acknowledging how much farther they need to go?"

Good question, especially now that "sustainable living has gone from granola fringe to glossy fashion."

Their answer? A cagey "Yes, but." Yes, it's progress when big companies take steps to lessen their environmental impact. But it's not quite victory yet.

Published by Ken on February 24th, 2007 tagged Community Initiatives | Comment now »

video pick: seminar on Stern Review findings

stern review reviewed by rff

Gotta love Resources for the Future, not just because their fellowship got me through doctoral work in economics, but especially because they foster broad dialogue and deep thinking on major policy issues.

In this case (last week), RFF sponsored a special seminar on the economics of climate change featuring a discussion on the recently released Stern Review, which is the first major government-sponsored benefit-cost analysis of climate change (via enviro valuation).

Now, you can view this seminar on a set of videos available from RFF.

Published by Ken on February 23rd, 2007 tagged Climate Change | Comment now »

which way Hawaii? on biofuel developments

biofuel development in hawaii

Looking for clues to how Hawaii might proceed with biofuels development?

Here's one: Vinod Khosla, who is partnering in Hawaii BioEnergy, appeared at a conference last week on Solar Policy Leadership, sponsored by the MIT Club of Northern California and co-sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric (via gil friend).

Khosla argued that much renewable technology and investing has been greenwashing, and that any viable strategies have to meet four conditions:

  1. If it isn't cheaper than the alternatives, it won't work
  2. It should be scalable
  3. It should be amenable to rapidly declining cost due to technology
Published by Ken on February 23rd, 2007 tagged HI-specific, Island Vulnerabilities | 1 Comment »

too late to save icecaps? scientists say yes

ice sheets melting

A critical meltdown of ice sheets and severe sea level rise could be inevitable because of global warming, the world’s scientists are preparing to warn their governments (via celsias).

New studies of Greenland and Antarctica have forced a United Nations expert panel to conclude there is a 50% chance that widespread ice sheet loss “may no longer be avoided” because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The warning appears in a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the likely impacts of global warming and will be published in April.

Published by Ken on February 23rd, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

federal court rules: tweaked alfalfa needs EIS

alfalfa

For the first time ever, a federal court has ruled that the USDA failed to abide by federal environmental laws when it approved a genetically engineered alfalfa without conducting a full Environment Impact Statement (via food safety).

According to Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, "Not only has a Federal Court recognized that USDA failed to consider the environmental and economic threats posed by GE alfalfa, but it has also questioned whether any agency in the federal government is looking at the cumulative impacts of GE crop approvals."

Published by Ken on February 23rd, 2007 tagged Island Vulnerabilities | Comment now »

who’s pushing fed carbon rules? big corporations

corps going green

Why are many large companies now tackling global warming and making the transition to renewable energy on their own?

Because the federal government is moving too slow, that's why (via green options).

What's more, they vigorously support federal regulation of carbon emissions, if only because it will be better than responding to the patchwork of rules already being adopted by various states.

Naturally, companies whose bottom lines are being impacted by global warming have been some of the first to call for action. For example, Diavik Diamond Mines of Canada, which works in the Arctic region, now has to pay more money to transport materials by helicopter, rather than relying on the ice bridges to move equipment – because those bridges have melted.

Published by Ken on February 22nd, 2007 tagged Climate Change | Comment now »

grandots vs blogging: wot’s more important?

gurl games

'K den, I've been off-island, spewing carbon from Kauai to LAX to SEA to MSN and back, as part of my semi-annual visit with grandots and sibs...hence the paucity of posts in recent days.

Still, this is the stuff of real life from which deeper reflections come, and I look forward to spinning new insights from conversations and love fests with `ohana and friends in recent days...as well as some sobering notes.

For example, not one member of my immediate family sees global warming as a pressing challenge, deserving of immediate attention and action.

Published by Ken on February 21st, 2007 tagged HI-specific | Comment now »