Category: Climate Change

The Good, the Bad, and the Vital. Prescott’s Climate Links #12

This week Prescott sent me a long email with so many important links in it, I nearly broke my rule of listing only three stories. But here are just three climate related stories. We balanced it out with some good news, some not-so-good news, and some essential reading for anyone interested in climate action and justice.

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First some good news. I find hope in the fact that so many researchers are exploring all sorts of responses to address climate change and to help us switch from greenhouse gases to cleaner forms of energy.  I wonder how much energy is used up every day just charging our mobile phones. Prescott shared with me a new advancement in solar technology that caught my eye. New Crystal Clear Solar Cells could Power Your Smartphone by Adam Clark Estes for Gizmodo.

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New Crystal Solar Cells

A team of researchers from Michigan State University has developed a completely transparent, luminescent solar concentrator. Whereas most traditional solar panels collect light energy from the sun using dark silicon cells and converted into electricity using the photovoltaic effect, solar concentrators actually focus sunlight onto a heat engine that produces electricity. In the case of this new technology, the plastic-like material channels specific wavelengths of sunlight towards the photovoltaic solar cells on the edge of the panel. “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” Richard Lunt, who led the research, explains in a release.

Read the entire article here

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Now for some disturbing but not surprising news. Major Disasters Linked to Extreme Weather, Climate and Water Hazards on the Rise by Chris Rose for Alternet.  

Far Rockaway, NY after Hurricane Sandy Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

Far Rockaway, NY after Hurricane Sandy
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

Recently published data collected by the World Meteorological Organization shows there were close to five times as many weather- and climate-change-related disasters in the first decade of this century than in the 1970s.

As many as 1.94 million people lost their lives due to these catastrophic weather events between 1970 and 2012, which cost $2.4 trillion U.S. in economic losses, according to the  Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2012).

The 44-page atlas, a joint publication of the Geneva-based UN agency WMO and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, examined major reported disasters linked to weather, climate and water extremes.

Read the entire article here.

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 Here in the USA we were gripped, shocked (or not so shocked), and moved to anger and action over the shooting death by a white police officer of Michael Brown, an 18 year old Black man in Ferguson, MO. Our own team member, Dr. Keisha McKenzie, wrote about Ferguson and her thoughts and feelings in the post: On #NMOS14, Ferguson, and Rooting for a New World.

At this blog we have been highlighting the intersectional nature of the climate work we are pursuing. We have been learning and sharing about how environmental injustice affects people of color, indigenous populations in North America and Australia, and adds to the disproportionate suffering of people living in the Global South.

Our last article this week: Why the Climate Movement Must Stand with Ferguson, is a powerful essay by Deirdre Smith, 350.org’s Strategic Partnership Coordinator. In it, she helps us see the connections to climate change and on-going discrimination. This gets played out dramatically in times of crisis.

'We are in this together and our fights are connected,' writes Smith. (Photo: flickr / cc / Light Brigading)

‘We are in this together and our fights are connected,’ writes Smith. (Photo: flickr / cc / Light Brigading)

It’s all over the news: images of police in military gear pointing war zone weapons at unarmed black people with their hands in the air. These scenes made my heart race in an all-to-familiar way. I was devastated for Mike Brown, his family and the people of Ferguson. Almost immediately, I closed my eyes and remembered the same fear for my own family that pangs many times over a given year.

In the wake of the climate disaster that was Hurricane Katrina almost ten years ago, I saw the same images of police, pointing war-zone weapons at unarmed black people with their hands in the air. In the name of “restoring order,” my family and their community were demonized as “looters” and “dangerous.” When crisis hits, the underlying racism in our society comes to the surface in very clear ways. Climate change is bringing nothing if not clarity to the persistent and overlapping crises of our time.

Read the entire article here:

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Coming Soon! New Climate Stew podcast and website. Launch Sept 15, 2014.

Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links.  And Let us know what you are interested in understanding better. Where do you find hope?

 

(photos come from articles listed unless otherwise indicated)

The “Why Not Now” campaign: ages 13-21submit your video

There is a new video campaign/competition sponsored by The Climate Reality Project. Young people from all over the world are submitting videos raising their concerns about global warming. Some of these will be then shown to delegates at the United Nations for the historic emergency gathering later this month. The winner gets a free trip to NYC.

This sounds like something perfect for Ms. Ob’s Classroom

Check out this short video by Seerat Kaur from India. She not only raises important points, she asks world leaders essential questions.

At The Climate Reality Project, we know solutions to climate change are right in front of us. We can create a healthy, sustainable, and prosperous future by making a global shift from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energies like solar and wind.

Our leaders aren’t going to do it on their own. So we’ve brought together millions to make them, demanding a change with a collective voice so loud and forceful they have no choice but to help shape the clean energy future we need.

This Why? Why Not? campaign is an extension of those goals, aimed at giving members of future generations a voice in one of the world’s most important debates, and providing them with a forum to spread it.

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Frolicking with gays on Fire Island: A Climate Queer Reaches Out

Joseph Huff-Hannon of Queers for the Climate just posted a deliciously funny and actually quite helpful video in which he first models how NOT to speak to a group of gay guys about global warming. Then the compact florescent lightbulb goes off: People aren’t connecting the climate crisis to their community. So he switches up the message and BAM! the queens get it.

A canvasser with Queers for the Climate visits the iconic gay getaway to warn residents about the impending dangers of sea level rise. Hijinx ensue, Fire Islanders are riled up, all just in time for the historic People’s Climate March on September 21:

See Climate Change Ground Zero: Fire Island Pines

It’s about the children and grandchildren. Yes, It’s about YOU.

Maybe it is changing, but for the longest time the number one talking point I heard about global warming is that we must act because of our children and grandchildren. As someone with no offspring of my own or my own growing tribe of descendants, this talking point falls flat on my ears. Not that I am not concerned for future generations and our responsibility to hand off a sustainable and stable planet. But with the children/grandchildren arguments, I simply don’t have skin in the game.

In a world where most people do not/cannot even adequately prepare for their own retirements, appealing to the public to act for a future generation is noble but will not get a wide audience response other than, “Aw, yeah, poor kids. We should do something. Later.” No doubt some parents and grandparents have been moved by this talking point, and I am grateful for their passion to make the world a better place.

The problem I find with the talking point:: We need to safeguard future generations from the affects of global warming :: is that it makes it seem like climate change is still some distant event waiting to happen. It doesn’t take into account that since the 1970’s clear predictions stating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will warm the planet began to emerge in public.  Even long before when researchers observed the correlation of CO2 and heating, they began to raise concerns.

The planet I now live on is decidedly different from the one on which I was born and experienced back in the 1970’s and 80’s. Not only have we altered the landscape, cleared forests, expanded livestock production, and radically increased the human population, we have steadily pumped greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and continue to do so. As a result, we already see the affects of over 100 years of pollution.

Want to get a clear picture of the children and grandchildren experiencing climate change? Look in the mirror. We are those children and grandchildren. Our present age is the future that scientists warned us about in the past. No doubt it will get worse, and it will affect people in the Global South and poorer countries more profoundly than many folks in North America and Europe, but the economic costs of climate change are already noted by economists and insurance companies. The security risks have been discussed in the Pentagon. The handwriting is on the wall–we are officially experiencing global warming. We are those children and grandchildren who inherited an unsustainable and unstable planet.

Now let’s work through the grief and figure out what we are going to do about it.

Ebola and Global Warming, Solar in China, Anglicans in South Africa. Prescott’s Climate Links #11

We chose this week’s stories because they are NOT taking place in the USA. I appreciate that Prescott sends me a broad range of climate stories each week. I read through these and choose just three to share with you. Today’s stories come from China, South Africa, and Western Africa where there is a devastating Ebola outbreak affecting the region.

See how one faith community seeks to inspire climate change action and how China is responding to pollution and its energy needs with an unprecedented increase in solar power production. Consider the links between global warming and the recent outbreaks of Ebola.

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Religious institutions have some of the biggest global networks reaching millions on a regular basis. The Anglicans in South Africa have created a new resource for churches to help educate congregants about global warming and provide direction. One message they stress is that environmental work is not just for middle class, a privileged hobby. Rather it is an essential spiritual practice.

Social and Environmental Justice are intimately and profoundly linked. Anglicans in South Africa have produced resources for the Season of Creation. ACNS News

Kenyan environmental and political campaigner Wangari Muta Maathai by Bob Mash

Kenyan environmental and political campaigner Wangari Muta Maathai by Bob Mash

“Sleeper awake!” is the opening call of a new Anglican resource for the Season of Creation, the third in a series published by the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.

The resource has sermon notes and liturgical materials covering the themes of climate change, eco-justice, water, creation and redemption and biodiversity.

It is dedicated to the memory of Professor Wangari Muta Maathai who in 1971 founded the Kenyan Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and the empowerment of communities.

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 “There is a danger that care for creation and environmental concern are seen as a luxury for middle class Christians in leafy suburbs. So-called ‘Greenies’ or ‘tree huggers’ are perceived to be more concerned about the plight of the rhino than the plight of the vulnerable child. The connections between social and environmental justice are more intimately and profoundly linked. Ecological justice is relevant to everyone’s life, to everyone’s faith.” (Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Co-ordinator Anglican Church of Southern Africa.)

Read the entire article here.

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Ebola has dominated the news the past few weeks with the largest outbreak in history. Below you will find a link to a story looking at deforestation and extreme weather. Last week the World Health Organization says that the current outbreak, with its highest concentrations in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, could reach up to 20,000 cases, many of those ending in death.

Ebola and Climate Change: How Are They Connected? New research hold climate change accountable for uptick in viral diseases. By Ziona Eyob in Ecowatch (via Alternet)

 A Ugandan man displays a bat he captured for food December 1, 2000 in a cave in Guru Guru, Uganda. Bats are being studied as one possible carrier of the Ebola virus. (Photo by Tyler Hicks/Getty Images)

A Ugandan man displays a bat he captured for food December 1, 2000 in a cave in Guru Guru, Uganda. Bats are being studied as one possible carrier of the Ebola virus. (Photo by Tyler Hicks/Getty Images)

In 2006, a study published in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene revealed that Ebola, a “ violent hemorrhagic fever that leads to internal and external bleeding,” would be more frequent with global warming due to its intermittent connection to wildlife and climate. In 2008, another study reiterated the same fears, noting that Ebola outbreaks would be among a cluster of other diseases gaining momentum, such as bird flu, cholera, plague and tuberculosis.

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In light of the recent outbreak, some researchers are connecting  deforestation in countries such as Liberia to the disease, noting that the change in landscape is bringing wildlife in closer contact with humans. According to researchers, the virus is typically found in wildlife, and transmission from animals to humans occurs through contact with infected bodily fluids, causing a “ spillover” in species. The virus can also be contracted from another human being when a person is in  direct contact with infected blood, vomit or feces during contagious periods, putting health workers in West Africa primarily at risk.

Among other causes, “ seasonal droughts, strong winds, thunderstorms, landslides, heat waves, floods and changed rainfall patterns,” are also thought to draw wildlife migration away from their natural habitat to human proximity. WCS affirms that Ebola outbreaks typically occur after “ unusual downpours or droughts in central Africa—a likely result of climate change.” Climate change would in turn amplify food insecurity, and prompt even more remote West African communities to  eat virus-carrying animals like bats.

Read the entire article here.

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China is experiencing an energy revolution. While its use of coal increases, so does its aggressive implementation of solar energy. China is taking solar energy very seriously. 

China Will Install More Solar This Year Than The US Ever Has by Ari Phillips of Think Progress

Company executives look at thin-film solar panels developed by MiaSole before a press conference held at the headquarters of Hanergy Group in Beijing, China, in 2013

Company executives look at thin-film solar panels developed by MiaSole before a press conference held at the headquarters of Hanergy Group in Beijing, China, in 2013

According to new numbers released by the Chinese government, China added 3.3 gigawatts of solar capacity in the first six months of the year ending June 30, marking a 100 percent increase over the same period last year. That brings China’s total solar supply to 23 gigawatts — 13 shy of the country’s goal of installing 35 by the end of 2015.

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Australia, one of the most sunny, potentially solar power-friendly countries on Earth, has just about 3.2 gigawatts of total solar installed capacity. The U.S. has over 12 gigawatts of solar capacity installed.

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Pollution from fossil fuel power plants is one of the drivers of China’s quest to ramp up solar power. Just this week China announced that the country’s smog-plagued capital, Beijing, would ban the use of coal by the end of 2020. The official Xinhua News Agency said coal accounted for a quarter of Beijing’s energy consumption in 2012 and 22 percent of the fine particles floating in the city’s air. However the focus on Beijing, where there is a lot of global attention and domestic pushback, does not mean China’s overall coal consumption will diminish — in fact it is still expected to soar.

Read the entire article here:

 

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IMPORTANT! Do you read our weekly climate links? If so, PLEASE let me know with a quick comment or comment on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Are these links useful? Interesting? What types of climate stories are helpful for you? I want to make sure this feature is truly beneficial to readers.

Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links.  And Let us know what you are interested in understanding better. Where do you find hope?

 

(photos come from articles listed unless otherwise indicated)

My Apocalypse on Pinterest

Do you use Pinterest? There is something extraordinarily useful and magical about Pinterest. As one recent news story puts it, Pinterest’s “guided search helps you find things you didn’t know that you were looking for.”

I have been having fun with the image-driven social networking site . Along with the typical Pinterest pages–gardening, recipes, and wish lists, I also set up a series of boutique pages with offbeat themes.

There is  If Jesus Had Pinterest, WWJP? Turns out my Jesus pins lots of sandals and ways to use up frankincense and myrrh. I offer up Bible commentary through these Pinterest pins.

Skin lightening for saviors

Skin lightening for saviors

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lakeside fish bbq ideas

I also have a page called Quaker Porn, with lots of advertisements that draw on the Quaker name and culture along with photos I took at various meeting houses and archival photos of Quakers through history.

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Pennsdale Friends Meeting

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I love the little Quaker men putting out the fire

Queer and Queer has lots of beautiful and intriguing images around sexuality and gender.

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Free CeCe McDonald Poster

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from Soft Fem Tumblr site

And in order to explore my obsession with global warming, I have created a page of pins called Does This Apocalypse Make Me Look Fat? In addition to links for articles on climate change, I also include some of my original memes and writing.

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One of my climate memes

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global warming art installation

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political cartoon

If you are on Pinterest, let’s connect.

#ItGetsWetter Queers for the Climate Video Campaign

We’re here. We’re queer. And we are taking a sassy approach to climate action!

This week Queers for the Climate announced the launch of the #ItGetsWetter video campaign.

It gets wetter. Seriously. Well it gets drier too, depending on where you are. But mostly, especially on the coasts, it gets wetter. In fact a brand new UN report on climate change says sea levels could rise of over 20 feet if we don’t give our climate a chill pill.

Holy shit! That’s REALLY bad for places like New York, London, Rio, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Shanghai, Mumbai, Cape Town, Miami, New Orleans, and a whole lot of other vibrant cities and coastal communities. And it’s bad for the queers, since we tend to like living in those big, bustling, creative hubs. And visiting them too. Goodbye Provincetown and Fire Island.

So here’s the thinking. Lately people have been dumping buckets of ice water on their head for a great cause, so there’s reason to believe that a video about getting wetter for a cause will grab attention. That’s why Queers for the Climate is launching the #ItGetsWetter challenge, to spread awareness about the climate crisis, spread the word about the upcoming fabulous People’s Climate March, and basically have some fun in the process.

It’s simple and fun. I made mine while hopped up on muscle relaxers after two weeks camping (no, that’s not a lisp you hear–its slurred speech.) Check out the #ItGetsWetter video campaign and make your own!

It’s not all bad news, just mostly. Prescott’s Climate Links #10

Every week when I open Prescott’s climate links, I read a lot of bad news. Sure there are some signs of hope, great innovations, encouraging movement, but when dealing with Global Warming, right now we need to face the music and dance, which means ingesting some bad news.

How do we face the current crisis that is upon us? With honesty. It’s like when my sisters and I first learned our mom had lung cancer. We wanted to hear all of the potential good news, all the the hope for recovery. We needed to hear these possible positive stories because the news that we were losing our mother was far too devastating to accept. But a day came when we had to hear and receive the bad news–there was no cure for her, just palliative care to help her feel as comfortable as possible. When we finally were able to receive that bad news, it opened our hearts to action, to deep love and caring. We knew our time was precious, and we didn’t want to waste a second.

The downfall of humanity and most other species is not at all set in stone, not yet. We have time to act–precious, vital time to act. To get to the place of action, we need to swallow some bad news. So take a deep breath and read about the wars, the waves, and the uncertain promises.

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The age of climate warfare is here. The military-industrial complex is ready. Are you? For the Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed, author of A Users’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: and How to Save It.

To be sure, the link between climate change and the risk of violence is supported by many independent studies. No wonder, reports NBC News citing various former and active US officials, the Pentagon has long been mapping out strategies “to protect US interests in the aftermath of massive floods, water shortages and famines that are expected to hit and decimate unstable nations.”

But the era of climate warfare is not laying in wait, in some far-flung distant future. It has already begun, and it is accelerating – faster than most predicted. Pentagon officials and the CNA’s new study point to the Arab Spring upheavals across the Middle East and North Africa as a prime example.

Read the entire article here.

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Bad News: Scientists Have Measured 16-Foot Waves In The Arctic Ocean by Robert T. Gonzalez for io9

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For the first time, waves as tall as 16 feet have been recorded in Arctic waters. If these waves are speeding the breakup of the region’s remaining ice, as oceanographers suspect, they could signal the birth of a feedback mechanism that will hasten the Arctic’s march toward an ice-free summer.Read the entire article here.

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Wishful Thinking About Natural Gas: Why Fossil Fuels Can’t Solve the Problems Created by Fossil Fuels by By Naomi Oreskes for TomDispatch/Truth Out

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As a historian of science who studies global warming, I’ve often stressed that anthropogenic climate change is a matter of basic physics: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. So if you put additional CO2into that atmosphere, above and beyond what’s naturally there, you have to expect the planet to warm.  Basic physics.

And guess what? We’ve added a substantial amount of CO2 to the atmosphere, and the planet has become hotter.  We can fuss about the details of natural variability, cloud feedbacks, ocean heat and CO2 uptake, El Niño cycles and the like, but the answer that you get from college-level physics — more CO2 means a hotter planet — has turned out to be correct.  The details may affect the timing and mode of climate warming, but they won’t stop it.

In the case of gas, however, the short answer may not be the correct one.

Read the entire article here.

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Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links. (It’s NOT all bad news. I promise.) And Let us know what you are interested in understanding better. Where do you find hope?

(photos come from articles listed)

Climate Change & Mental Health, POC & the environment, USA’s last Climate Refuge. Prescott’s Climate Links #9

Prescott has some excellent links for us this edition. Out of the 40 or so links he sent me, I found so many that I thought you will like. Here are just three. When it comes to climate change in the USA, why will Washington state be the final climate? And will there be any coffee left in the world to enjoy?

Also, an excellent interview with Dorceta Taylor, professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, “the first African-American woman to earn a PhD from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies” talking about how deeply people of color care for the environments. But first, do you have the Climate Change blues? 

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What is climate change doing to our mental health? by By Joanne Silberner for Grist.org

climatechangedepressionBerry has documented increased levels of distress in young people in drought-affected areas, and in farmers as well. The farmers she’s studied have shown a strong reluctance to use mental health services. She’s also looked at the effect of climate change on Aboriginal communities.

“When you think about what climate change does, it basically increases the risk of weather-related disasters of one sort or another,” she said. “What happens from a psychological point of view is people get knocked down. Whenever people are knocked down, they have to get up again and start over. And the more that happens, the more difficult it is to keep getting up.”

I spoke to elders from several Aboriginal communities in New South Wales who all told of a general sense of unease. All have noticed something — the absence of snow in the winter, the disappearance of rivers. One woman said, “I feel like the world is ending, that’s what I think. It’s scary.” Her solace: working in her garden.

Read entire article here

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Think people of color don’t care about the environment? Think again by Brentin Mock for Grist.org

Dorceta Taylor, professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment

Dorceta Taylor, professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment

Dorceta Taylor: The perception that people of color don’t care about the environment has existed for a long time, and has been debunked for just as long. We can go back to [historian] W.E.B. DuBois, whose 1898 study on Philadelphia looked at the housing and health conditions of African Americans. People have described it as a sociological study, but if you read it, it is an environmental study, if ever there was one. He looked at the environmental conditions of these communities, but he linked them with social inequality and justice issues.

Before that, look at Harriet Tubman. We tend to think of her as someone only successful on the Underground Railroad, but to be that successful she was steeped in environmental and ecological knowledge. She knew the Chesapeake Bay so well that the U.S. military used her at the head of their ships to identify landmines the Confederates had laid in the water and identified them based off what she understood about disturbances in the water.

Slaves depended on ecological knowledge and were extremely effective at it — they used it to survive slavery. So the notion that we don’t care or know about the environment is just a fallacy.

Read entire interview here.

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Will the Pacific Northwest be a Climate Refuge Under Global Warming? from Cliff Mass Weather Blog

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The Northwest is the place to be during global warming.   
  • Temperatures will rise more slowly than most of the nation due to the Pacific Ocean (see below)

  • We will have plenty of precipitation, although the amount falling as snow will decline (will fall as rain instead).  But we can deal with that by building more reservoir and dam capacity (and some folks on the eastern slopes of the Cascades have proposed to do exactly that).

  • The Pacific Ocean will keep heat waves in check and we don’t get hurricanes.

  • Sea level rise is less of a problem for us due to our substantial terrain and the general elevation rise of our shorelines.  Furthermore, some of our land is actually RISING relatively to the sea level because we are still recovering from the last ice age (the heavy ice sheets pushed the land down and now it is still rebounding).

  • There is no indication that our major storms…cyclone-based winds (like the Columbus Day Storm)… will increase under global warming.

  • Increased precipitation may produce more flooding, but that will be limited to river valleys and can be planned for with better river management and zoning.

Read entire blog entry here. 

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Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links. And Let us know what you are interested in understanding better. Where do you find hope?

(photos come from articles listed)