There is NO such thing as Climate Science

There is only plain ol’ science used to study the climate and modern scientists have been studying climate for over 100 years. The greenhouse effect was first named and explained by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927) in 1896; he received a Nobel Prize for his work in 1903. Since then more scientific research has piled up evidence of the impact of releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most significant greenhouse gases of concern are CO2 and methane (CH4). Industrialization and the explosion of human populations and agriculture and animal agriculture have all dramatically increased the amount of greenhouse gases being released. It is important to note that almost all of these increases have to do with human populations and human activities. Scientific models have predicted changes in temperature, changes in climate, and in sea level rise which correspond with rises in CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere. All of those predictions are now being observed in real time.

WE are living in the AGE of CLIMATE CHANGE, it was once a theory, now it is a reality, OUR REALITY. We can no longer avoid dramatically altering our atmosphere through greenhouse gas emissions–we have already done that. The climate change education and advocacy organization 350.org is named for a number used to measure the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million. This WAS the goal to avoid drastic climate change scenarios. Before industrialization, the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere was around 275 parts per million. We are now beyond 400 parts per million and our planet is generating historic storms, droughts, and those are producing historic floods and forest fires. The destruction linked to climate change related weather disasters in 2017 is estimated to be $330 billion.

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The catastrophic fires and floods we have seen over the past decade or so and the costs of their damages is but a fraction of the cost and destruction that is guaranteed to increase if emissions do not dramatically decline, which is why we must take this challenge seriously and shut off emissions of greenhouse gases! The most knowledgeable scientists tell us that we must cut them in half within 12 years and completely eliminate emissions from fossil fuels by 2100. Our priority must be ramping up efforts on every front to radically reduce emissions by 50% within the next 12 years. The momentum of such radical transformations will help ensure reaching the longer range target of zero or even negative emissions (through carbon sequestration–e.g. expanding of forest cover).

While this transformation is clearly daunting we must embrace the challenge and see it as an OPPORTUNITY to build and even BETTER future. The Green New Deal is one such vision, probably the best. In Canada there is the Leap manifesto. These are two comprehensive approaches to building a better tomorrow which include replacing dirty sources of energy with clean ones. They also include increasing prosperity for working people and ensuring that the wealthiest, those with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in wealth, pay their fair share to clean up the mess that much of their wealth has been built on, especially in fossil fuel industries. Fossil Fuel companies know they are on the hook, which is why they have spent billions to buy politicians, fight legislation promoting clean energy and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and spread misinformation about the science of climate change.

Part of a just future will mean those who have profited from misleading the public on climate change will be prosecuted, the sooner the better, so that the narrative can shift from one of obfuscation to one of truth.

The Green New Deal evokes a war time mobilization to transform our energy systems and systems of social welfare. The LEAP emphasizes that small steps aren’t enough, we must LEAP into a better future. To get such massive programs moving will require ALL of US who believe in the science and who care about the health of the planet or our children’s future must pressure our government and corporate leaders to embrace these radical solutions. At the same time we can help make this shift by choosing cleaner alternatives. Such cleaner alternatives have become more accessible and available than ever. Solar prices have plummeted. Today more than 20% of Australian homes have solar panels! The adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles helps to reduce emissions, but to ensure this they need to be powered by sun, wind, hydro or geothermal sources. This can be done, it won’t be overnight or easy, but it can be done. See scenarios for 100% clean energy for 139 nations by Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson.

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Another important step for those who believe the science and wish to do more is to reduce and, if possible, eliminate beef from your diet and reduce, or eliminate, dairy products. Beef and dairy are connected to livestock which are a major source of methane (CH4) into the atmosphere. They are also a driver of deforestation, especially in the Amazon (the lungs of the world). As consumers we can influence corporate behavior. Stop buying gas-guzzling SUVs and car manufacturers  will stop making them! Stop buying beef and milk and ranchers will switch to other (less resource intensive) animals or solar or wind farming! In a just transition, the government will help ranchers with this transition, as they spread information about the negative health impacts of beef consumption and promote the end of industrial livestock systems.

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As always there will be winners and losers. The end will be a better world for everyone, our children and future generations. If we don’t act with urgency things will get very bad. If you want to know just how bad things could get see here or here. Unchecked climate change not only permanently floods islands and coastal regions (goodbye southern Louisiana and coastal Florida) it also impacts food supplies (crops will fail, yields will be reduced), more hunger, and more refugees spilling across borders. It is simply a nightmarish world that gets worse and worse. No one should wish it upon the children of today and that’s exactly what we do by not embracing radical change now. We are the generation that must do this. If we fail, the future is lost.

Ready to get started? I’ve already mentioned reducing or eliminating beef and dairy in your diet. A &W is ready to help, they now offer vegan “beyond meat” patties for all burgers across Canada, and if you live in an urban area you are sure to find more vegetarian and vegan options than ever. The next time you are shopping for a car look for electric vehicles and hybrids. If you can, install solar on your roof. Start making plans, start researching and saving. Be vocal about your concern. Let your local politicians and state or provincial leaders know you support the building of green infrastructure and rapid phasing out of coal and other fossil fuels. Pressure institutions and corporations you are part of to divest from fossil fuels. There’s lots we all can and must do. Let’s get busy!

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For a start: Like/Share/Retweet! 🙂
Go here for additional ideas and explore my blog form more information.

You Cannot Be a Good Parent and Be Nonpolitical

As parents we should be alarmed, incensed, and demand change to build a safe and healthy society for our children. But how do we know what to fight for? This can be tricky, especially because the same corrupting powers influencing politicians are also working hard to influence our views. As parents, we have to break free of the influence of those powerful lobbying groups to think for ourselves, and to gain clarity. Only you can decide what is most important to you and your family, but I will present my thoughts on a few issues that are worth fighting for in America.

Legislation to Prevent Senseless Massacres
(of our children)

This is a hot button issue and people are primed up to jump on it one way or the other. Why is that?  Why is it so important for fellow Americans to own military grade assault rifles like the AR15, high capacity magazines, and bump stocks (which modify rifles to fire like a machine gun)?  No one can seriously suggest any of these are needed to hunt or even to protect one’s life, family or property (do you live in a live war zone of attacking militias? if so, consider other fixes). So what does regulating or banning such weapons and accessories have to do with parenting?  Do you remember the massacre of 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 at their elementary school named Sandy Hook in Connecticut?  As a parent, that was one of the saddest days of my life and it still fills me with sadness. I’ve never been to Connecticut, I didn’t know any of those kids or their parents, but as a parent, I know what it is like to drop your kids off at school and can imagine the unspeakable horror to have my own beautiful innocent children taken away in such senseless violence. How did this happen? How did it happen in Parkland, FL? In Vegas? And so many other places?  I’m no expert, but one of the common threads in the massacres mentioned is use of the AR 15 which is designed to kill humans by tearing up their internal organs. Those conducting autopsies on the victims in Parkland said they’d never seen anything like it. It is easy to use and once hit there is no little chance of survival which is why it is increasingly the weapon of choice for mass murder.

As parents, we should ask ourselves would we rather work now to prevent future massacres of our own children or wait until it happens to one of our children, like the father of Jamie Guttenberg, gunned down at her high school in Parkland, FL? NO, we should educate ourselves now, write emails, make calls, donate money. Those are the basic ways to be a participant in our democracy. Because powerful organizations like the NRA do this, it requires all parents to stand up together to fight for our children and their safety. It’s not easy to become an expert, and so we have to rely on others at some point to make the best decisions about gun control. But the wrong positions are easy to identify and protest; the talking points of the NRA and their proxies are usually in the interest of making more violent weapons more widely available (facilitating more massacres).

Legislation to Protect the Environment

Another important issue for parents to be informed about and active on is the environment. Once again, it has become politicized thanks to powerful corporations who have full time lobbyists to influence politicians and marketing teams to confuse the public. As parents we have to recognize that we want to insure our children have clean air and clean water and not let corporations or politicians stand in our way. How would you feel if you were among those families in Flint, MI exposed to lead in your drinking water, harming your children?  We have to keep up the fight for high environmental standards. We also have to become educated about climate change and work to address it in the name of our children and grandchildren. Again, Parents stand the most to lose on these issues, we should STAND UP and BE HEARD. We should organize as PARENTS fighting for our CHILDREN and their FUTURE. The political parties have just paid lip service to our needs; we need to demand more of all of them. We can do it together.

Healthcare Reform

Maybe you are happy with your healthcare, maybe you have good insurance, or maybe you have found it prohibitively expensive. As parents we need to ask ourselves what we want for our kids and fight for it. Polls suggest that most Americans are interested in universal coverage such as is found in Canada and most other developed countries. America is the outlier on this, as it is on guns, because of the corruption of our political system. Do you want to go broke getting medicine for your child? Do you want them to go broke after they are grown? No, it’s not right and there is a better way.

Other Issues

As parents we have many other concerns: internet safety, drugs, education, sexuality, money, racism and more. There is much we can do on our own to protect and educate our children, and some issues may not have clear legislative fixes. We should be careful not to think everything can be legislated. Some things are left to us and our wits and responsible actions. What we want to work on at the political level are those threats that are more difficult to protect ourselves from through our own wits and efforts, which is why I’ve listed three: guns, climate, healthcare. These three already have robust resources to explore and organizations to help. I welcome thoughts in the comments below on the issues I’ve raised or ones I may have missed.

The Bottom Line

Being a good parent requires a great many things besides being political. In fact, being a good parent is MOSTLY nonpolitical in nature. BUT, due to the unbridled corruption of our political systems we the people need to fight to make the world safe for our children. This is why I think parents are a critical source for political action and change. We love our children and would do anything for them. If that is true, political action is part of our call as good parents, to ignore politics is to make the world more dangerous.

 

Organizations and News Outlets Working Against Climate Change

We are busy people and as much as we would like to research, advocate, and demonstrate, we can’t do everything. That is why we rely on the work of others and should support those who are committed to fighting climate change.

Organizations Working to Prevent Climate Change

Please consider supporting these organizations

350.org   – Founded in 2008 by Bill McKibben and associates, 350 is named after 350 parts per million — the safe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 350 is a global network linking activists in 188 countries that uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions.

The Sierra Club  – Founded in 1892 by John Muir and associates, the Sierra club is arguably the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. Over recent years they have focused on fighting climate change.

Oil Change International – Founded in 2005 by Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change is a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy. The production and consumption of oil, gas, and coal are major sources of global warming, human rights abuses, war, national security concerns, corporate globalization, and increased inequality.

The Rainforest Action Network  – Founded in 1985 by Randy “Hurricane” Hayes and Mike Roselle, the focus of the organization has been to protect rainforests and thereby prevent climate change. More than most groups they pressure corporations to act responsibly.

Greenpeace – Founded in 1971 by Irving and Dorthy Stowe with other activists working to ensure earth’s ability to nurture life in all its diversity. It is now a global network of activists involved with direct actions, lobbying, and research and has done much to raise awareness of environmental issues.

The Natural Resource Defense Council – Founded in 1970 by law students and attorneys to protect America’s air, land, and water from pollution and corporate greed. Apart from advocacy and information, this group also engages litigation to support environmental protection.

The Union of Concerned Scientists – Founded in 1969 by scientists and students at MIT to engage in scientifically informed advocacy on critical issues such as nuclear weapons, climate change, and sustainable agriculture.

The Best News Organizations for Climate Change Coverage

-Please consider supporting them. Neither accepts corporate sponsors, which is a key reason they are the best source of news on climate change. Both of these are politically left of center, but that has more to do with respect for science and concern with justice when it comes to climate change, rather than any political bias.

Democracy Now

The Guardian

 

If I’m missing your favorites please let me know and I will see about adding them to this list.

 

Cows and the Environment

“Livestock production may have a bigger impact on the planet than anything else.”
-The Triple Whopper… Global Meat Production

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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), 37 percent of human- induced methane comes from livestock. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas and warms the atmosphere much more strongly than CO2. However, it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as CO2 (its’ half-life in the atmosphere is only about 8 years, compared to 100 years or more for CO2). Significantly, this means that we can reduce the dangerous greenhouse gases in the atmosphere much more quickly by reducing methane, than by reducing CO2 (see –Livestock and Climate Change). This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t focus on reducing CO2, it just means that in addition to our CO2 reduction measures, we can get more bang for our buck by reducing methane. The way to do that is one of the easiest things you can do: purchase less beef and dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt). If you want to be an ally in the reduction of climate change reduce your consumption of meat (especially beef) and dairy. If you want to be a climate hero go vegan! It is a rapidly growing trend that we can all support by not ridiculing vegans or vegetarians.

Going Vegan or Vegetarian

Just as there is much misinformation about human induced climate change, there is also plenty of misinformation about vegan and vegetarian diets. I’ll try to clear up any questions or confusions you may have.  I’ll start by saying that Vegan and Vegetarian diets are arguably the most healthy diet one can have. It’s not hard to find someone who will tell you how their health has been turned around for the better by adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet. Studies indicate that these diets prevent heart disease, strokes, as well as various diseases. In short, you can be strong, healthy and long-lived as a vegan or vegetarian. We have centuries of proof.

First what is the difference between Vegan and Vegetarian?

Vegans do not purchase or consume animal products and byproducts such as meats of any kind, or milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs or butter. Strict vegans are careful to check products for any animal products, this includes some vitamins and many packaged goods. Vegans can, nonetheless, consume the many plant-based meat and dairy substitutes which are increasingly available. Milk alternatives are made from soy, almond, coconut, cashew, rice, hemp and more. Silk brand makes milk substitutes from soy, almond, cashew, and coconut. Daiya makes better than average cheese substitutes. Some of the meat substitutes available are made by Yves, Morning Star, Beyond Meat, Field Roast, Tofurky,  Trader Joes, Lightlife, Boca Burger. Did I miss your favorite? Tell me about it in the comments.

If this sounds too great a challenge or you’re not ready just yet to abandon butter or cheese, consider going vegetarian instead. Vegetarians also include one’s who avoid eggs and milk, but there are also many vegetarians who consume milk, eggs, and butter. What all vegetarians avoid is meat of any kind, beef, chicken, fish, lamb, other seafood. As mentioned above, there are increasingly good substitutes available. Many which require no sacrifice in taste or enjoyment.  You should, however, educate yourself on how to best meet your nutritional requirements. A good rule of thumb is to include a good variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet (colors and textures) as well a consistent protein source (beans, peas, tofu, nuts, substitutes).  For more info visit: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Being a Vegetarian

The Alternatives to Beef and Dairy Are Healthy and Delicious

Beef and dairy can be replaced with protein found in vegetable sources. These sources of protein are better for the environment as well as socially responsible. The production of beef generates twice the greenhouse gas emissions of pork, four times as much as chicken, and 13 times that of vegetable proteins found in beans, lentils, and tofu.

Still feel you are not up to taking the plunge?  Feel free to try it out to the level that you are comfortable. You can take it slow by having “Meatless Mondays.” That one day a week can be completely meat free and give you a chance to explore and experiment with meatless alternatives. After a few weeks or months, you may have naturally begun to eat more meals which are meat free. If not, make a conscious effort to have another day or several meals meatless every week. Or, go further and limit yourself to meet and dairy on two or three days of the week. Whatever it takes to begin to make that shift. But start right away. There is no time to lose.

If you continue to eat meat you should choose responsibly. That means eating pork or pork products and chicken RATHER than beef or other meats. Pork and poultry are the most climate-friendly (they account for only 10% of total livestock greenhouse-gas emissions while contributing more than three times as much meat globally as cattle). “Pork and poultry are also more efficient for feed, requiring up to five times less feed to produce a kg of protein than a cow, a sheep or a goat.”-Livestock and Climate Change

So, the calculus is pretty simple. The less beef and dairy you consume, the greater contribution you make to reducing your personal carbon footprint. If you eliminate beef and dairy completely like hundreds of thousands of people have, you will be a climate hero. Heroic action requires struggle and sacrifice–but going vegan has gotten easier than ever!

Additional Links:

The Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change

5 Ways Factory Farming is Killing the Environment

Why People in Rich Countries are Eating More Vegan Food

 

 

10 Reasons You Will Like Electric Cars

Electric Vehicles are the future of transportation for a number of reasons.

The main reason is that they are simply a better product than traditional vehicles.

If you like cars, you will love electric vehicles.

  1. They are faster than traditional vehicles.
  2. They have instant acceleration due to the immediate torque power.

If you don’t like spending time and money fueling up and changing oil and other maintenance, you will love electric cars:

  1. They require no gasoline. You can plug in and charge at home or work or while shopping.
  2. They require no oil or oil changes.
  3. They require very little maintenance as there are vastly fewer moving parts.
  4. All of this leads to cost savings over traditional vehicles that add up to thousands of dollars per year. See here.

If you like clean air you will love electric vehicles.

  1. There are no emissions; there is no tailpipe! Any emissions happen at power generation.

If you like quiet you will love electric vehicles.

  1. The “engine” is silent. The only sounds are road noise and wind.

Other benefits of going electric include:

  1. You can enjoy benefits like preferred parking and special commuter lanes.
  2. You can help establish energy independence and greater global security.

An additional benefit, may be a generous rebate on buying an EV. So, if you are shopping for a vehicle, be sure to research what electric vehicles are available where you live, as well as what government rebates are available.

Are there any drawbacks to going electric?

Yes, there are two related issues, which are being resolved by engineers and material scientists.

The number one concern is the range which is closely related to another issue, charging time.

As of September 2018 there are three fully electric vehicles which essentially resolve range anxiety issues: The Tesla Model S (100D), the Chevy Bolt, and the Tesla Model S (60D). These vehicles have ranges of 335 miles, 238 miles, and 218 miles on a full charge.

For more on range and charging see my post here.

The good news about both of these drawbacks is that they are not permanent drawbacks, they are being resolved in real time. In the near future, EVs will have greater range on a full charge than conventional vehicles on a full tank of gas and DC fast charging stations are popping up everywhere with billions of dollars being poured into new charging infrastructure worldwide. Once these concerns are fully removed there will be no substantial user drawbacks to going electric, which is why, I am certain (barring quick advances in fuel cells or other tech) the future of private transportation is electric. What are you waiting for?