Sunday, April 29, 2012

How grassroots and personal-carbon-footprint sustainability efforts do move us forward

I'm sure this subject has been addressed before; if you've seen a particularly good post about it, please speak up.

Earlier today I'd argued that a focus on local and personal-sized sustainability actions was something to be careful of, since it could lead people to think they had done enough, whereas policy action is the most important part of the solution.  But upon rumination, I'd like to backtrack, partly.  These local-and-personal actions do move us forward in a number of ways, IF they're consistently, repeatedly paired with communication to drum in the point that policy action is the most essential part of the solution; i.e., "just don't make the mistake of only working on these local-greening things."

Coming soon on NCTV: an episode on upcoming Connect The Dots event and its climate context

Lew, Richard and I were guests for an Occupy Nevada County TV episode publicizing our upcoming local Connect the Dots May 5 event and climate change; we filmed it this morning.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

This a.m, planning for May 5 Climate Impacts Day, on climate change & extreme weather - connect the dots

We were hugely fortunate to have Bill McKibben come here last week (Tue 17th) and speak to a packed house about global warming, and about the "global weirding" of weather that we've seen over the last several years. (If you haven't seen the talk, an edited-down version will air on NCTV, on the Occupy Nevada County program.) His most trenchant statement was essentially this:
Working to green your local community is important; just don't make the mistake of ONLY working on those things - because this won't be nearly enough to tackle the scale of the problem.
He also spoke a lot about "global weirding", the spate of wild weather that's hit our world over the last few years - record U.S. heat in March, "the French heat wave, the Chicago heat wave, the Australia heat wave, the Russian heat wave, the Texas drought"; the Pakistan and Phillipine floods...

A quick summary of 2011 [New England] weather highlights would read approximately like this:  Devastating snowstorm, devastating snowstorm, blizzard, heat wave, heat wave, torrential rains, hurricane (more torrential rains), floods, hurricane remnants (even more torrential rains), worse floods, even more devastating snowstorm—and that only takes you through October.  (link)

 The climate group that McKibben and seven Middlebury College students started,, is holding a worldwide action May 5 to stand in solidarity with communities and workers (including Vermont small farmers) impacted by this wild weather - and we in Nevada County will participate.  Our planning meeting is at 8:30 a.m. this (Sat.) morning at Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters; and the event itself will be next Saturday afternoon, 3pm.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why it matters

We can tangle on details of the science, but it's more important to step back and consider the risks.

See this excerpt from Elisabeth Kolbert's interview with Bill McKibben. Is it worth an extra 2 or 3% of income, to make a high-risk gamble with the only home we've got, when it's irreplaceable?

Keep in mind that uncertainty actually makes the risk picture worse.

McKibben will speak here in Nevada City next Tuesday eve (tickets at Briarpatch), and a climate speaker from the Carnegie Institution at Stanford will speak at the May 18 Sierra Club meeting.

p.s. for newbies: is the best resource I know of for checking out the science bearing on contrarian climate claims.

Lakes and oceans, from xkcd


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hottest March, hottest 12 months on record for contiguous U.S.; with inaction, expect much more.

March temperatures were "as much as 15 degrees F hotter than average" (link)35 times more heat records were set than cold records.  For the contiguous U.S., aka the "lower 48", this was the warmest March and the hottest January-March on record, according to the NOAA's National Climate Data Center State of the Climate Report; and the hottest 12 months on record, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters. (link)

"This is weird. This is not good." (link)

And it's with just 1.5 degrees F average warming over the past century; this century, if we don't change course, we expect five times more. (link)

(But this doesn't give us license to throw up our hands and walk away; "Pick any guideline you want, from 1C to 2C to who knows what, and in whatever “important” time frame you prefer, but the inescapable bottom line is that there is always a very high human cost to doing too little. And the further we are from doing enough, ... we’re undeniably making the situation, and thereby the price humanity will pay, much worse by our inaction..." (link) )

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Uncertainty; (4/1) Climate science fixed, "wrong sign paradox" finally resolved. And other news.

RealClimate has the good news; though you might want to check the publication date.  (Also, is April Fools Day a worldwide observance, or is it just for Euro&North American culture?)

Also, from the NY Times on March 28, see Justin Gillis's Weather Runs Hot and Cold, So Scientists Look to the Ice - meaning the decline of Arctic sea ice, a disruption that'll likely disrupt weather patterns.

Climate models, which didn't predict this much weather weirdness, "have always had a kind of stodginess to them" (link); so when someone says that "climate models are uncertain," remember (since they typically don't mention this fact) that uncertainty cuts both ways, and increases the threat considerably:
"As uncertainty increases, the probability of a truly catastrophic outcome [goes up disproportionately: an increase in]...the standard deviation of our distribution...from .5 to 2.5 increases the likelihood of catastrophe by a factor of 200."
Edited (wording, add link) 2012-04-10,11.