Category: Prescotts Links

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)

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)

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

2014_0728gas_

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

USmap1slrheatwavewithhurricanesheatwavetotal

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)

Climate Criminals, Big Vulnerable Mammals, and A Harbor Garbage Muncher : Prescott’s Climate Links #8

“We know the shit is gonna hit the fan; we just don’t know how much shit and how big of a fan we’re gonna need  to deal with it.” -Marvin Bloom from Does This Apocalypse Make Me Look Fat?

Regularly I provide you with links to just three articles about Climate Change and Climate Action. From hundreds of articles that Prescott Allen Hazelton, one of my team members, sends me,  I pick the ones that help me best understand the problems we face, and articles that give me hope.

In this edition a clever invention that helps clean up trash in the water and harsh words for Climate Criminals in Australia. But first a piece about extinction. Such an awful word. A sad word when I think of wildlife. A terrifying word when I think of the human race.  With extinction, the bigger they are the faster they fall. That is what some researchers are saying about the the mass extinction that we have been witnessing. The winners will be all those little guys–insects, rodents, bacteria. The losers? Elephants and other large mammals

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Stanford biologist warns of early stages of Earth’s 6th mass extinction event by Bjorn Carey for Stanford.edu News. 

extinction_news

Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.

And while previous extinctions have been driven by natural planetary transformations or catastrophic asteroid strikes, the current die-off can be associated to human activity, a situation that the lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, a professor of biology at Stanford, designates an era of “Anthropocene defaunation.”

Across vertebrates, 16 to 33 percent of all species are estimated to be globally threatened or endangered. Large animals – described as megafauna and including elephants, rhinoceroses, polar bears and countless other species worldwide – face the highest rate of decline, a trend that matches previous extinction events.

Larger animals tend to have lower population growth rates and produce fewer offspring. They need larger habitat areas to maintain viable populations. Their size and meat mass make them easier and more attractive hunting targets for humans.

Read the whole article here.

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‘Climate Criminality’: Australia OKs Biggest Coal Mine by Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.
Environmental groups slam decision that will ‘dump on’ Great Barrier Reef, fuel climate crisis

protectthereef

In a decision criticized as “climate criminality,” Australia’s federal government announced Monday that it has given the OK to the country’s biggest coal mine.

The announcement comes less than three months after the state of Queensland gave its approval to the project.

“With this decision,” wrote Ben Pearson, head of programs for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, “the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest.”

“Off the back of repealing effective action on climate change,” stated Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters, referring to the scrapping of the carbon tax, “the Abbott Government has ticked off on a proposal for Australia’s biggest coal mine to cook the planet and turn our Reef into a super highway for coal ships.”

Read the whole article here.

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Solar-Powered Water Wheel Can Clean 50,000 Pounds of Baltimore’s Trash Per Day by Brandon Baker at Billmoyers.com

water2

A large wheel has been strolling the Baltimore Inner Harbor this summer, doing its best to clean the trash that has littered a city landmark and tourist attraction.

It’s called the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, and though it moves slowly, it has the capability to collect 50,000 pounds of trash. The timing for John Kellett’s solar-powered creation is crucial — hands and crab nets simply can’t keep up with the growing amount of wrappers, cigarette butts, bottles and other debris carried from storm drains into the harbor.

“It looks sort of like a cross between a spaceship and a covered wagon and an old mill,” Kellett told NPR. “It’s pretty unique in its look, but it’s also doing a really good job getting this trash out of the water.”

Read the whole article here and check out the cool video of the Inner Harbor Water Wheel.

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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)

Creative and Clever Responses to Global Warming — Prescott’s Climate Links #7

It is one thing to be alarmed about Climate Change, but what does one do with all that alarm? As we gain a deeper understanding of how absolutely dire the climate crisis has become, it is essential to see that many people are working overtime to develop creative, clever, and substantial responses to Global Warming. In this issue of Prescott’s Climate Links, we focus on solutions including one you can do on your very own.

Three Climate Solution Stories

hacking-climate-bwHacking the Climate: The Search for Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenge by John Harte at Grist.

(excerpt) Today, around the world, governments as well as everyday people are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary drivers of climate disruption. They’re finding the results of these actions go far beyond curbing global warming: They are also creating jobs, enhancing water quality, increasing crop yields, reducing waste, and improving health. These are the co-benefits of combatting climate change.

The public needs to know about these co-benefits. And so, with considerable input from journalism faculty at UC Berkeley, I led a follow-up graduate-level course, entitled “Early Solutions: Stories from the frontlines of the battle against climate change,” focused on the co-benefits of taking steps to deal with climate change.

The result is five stories, each exploring the various ways individuals and communities throughout the world are addressing climate change and, in return, enjoying the many co-benefits of their actions.

read more at Grist.org

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Whenever I hear about seed banks, like the powerful story of the seed bank during the Siege of Leningrad or the Svaldard Global Seed Vault in Norway,  I am almost moved to tears. Storing seed for me evokes both belief in the future and the foreboding that things can go terribly wrong. Similarly the following story Prescott shared with me caused me to tear up because of the challenges faced by these farmers and the hopeful strategy to survive.

Indigenous Seed Savers Gather in the Andes, Agree to Fight Climate Change with Biodiversity by Erin Sagen for Yes! Magazine

(excerpt) They came from as far as Bhutan and China, and from as near as the mountain itself. They discovered that their cultures were more similar than they had expected, and that one concern had been troubling all of them: Climate change was making it harder to grow food on the mountains that had sustained them for centuries. They were meeting to do something about it.

During a series of talks held between April 26 and May 2, the farmers forged a unique partnership entailing the exchange of indigenous crop varieties and farming methods, which they hope will protect agricultural biodiversity in the face of climate change. The exchange will begin with potatoes—a sturdy crop that thrives in the mountains of China, Bhutan, and Peru—and will enable the farmers to experiment together from a distance, so they can find the hardiest, most resilient varieties.

Read more here. image-1

 

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Finally a story that hits too close to home. I was a vegan for nearly 10 years, but since moving down to from Hartford, CT to Central Pennsylvania to be with the man I love, I have seen a expansion of my diet (and my waist). My husband, the fabulous writer, Glen Retief, is the slippery slope of omnivore living. We sit down to eat–I with my brown rice and veggies, he with a platter of animal products–when suddenly in his seductive South African accent he coos, You have to try to amazing cheese, and as I open my mouth to decline, he pops the hunk of cheese (or smoked trout or grilled lamb) in my mouth. Now that we have access to high quality, locally raised eggs and animals, I have feel off the vegan wagon.

Our diets do make a difference. A vegetable-based diet usually improves one’s health, contributes to a more peaceful world (with less killer of animals and maiming of meat packing industry workers), and aids the environment. These arguments still move me, and I am not completely happy with my current diet. To make me look at the issue deeper, here come Avatar director, James Cameron and his wife Amis, with a campaign to decrease animal products in our diets.

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James Cameron and wife to launch campaign advocating sustainable plant-only based diet by Jo Confino for the Guardian.

The couple initially quit eating meat and dairy for health reasons and Amis Cameron points to studies coming out of China from doctors and scientists that she says shows a strong connection between the consumption of animal products and major health problems such as heart disease and cancer.

As they delved further into the subject, they recognised that the meat and dairy industry is also the elephant in the room when it comes to climate change.

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Amis Cameron says momentum is starting to build around highlighting the issue and says she is heartened by recent studies in the UK showing the importance of reducing meat consumption. Last week the journal Climatic Change published a major study in the UK which found the dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat eaters were more than twice as high as for vegans.

Read more here

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If you read and enjoy this Prescott’s Climate Links series, please leave a message. Let us know what sort of stories move you and interest you. What do you want to hear more about? What do you want to learn about Global Warming? Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links.

photos (except Avatar poster) taken from articles above

Prescott’s Climate Links #6

Every week Prescott Allen Hazelton, one of my team members who lives up in New England, sends me 20-50 links on climate change. I read through these and handpick just three. This time around I have selected articles about renewable energy. There is a race to develop new technologies and use existing ones so that we can meet our energy needs without burning greenhouse gases. Electricity is essential for most people in the world, well, except maybe my Amish neighbors.

I used to think that if we switched to wind and solar, our energy needs would be completely met by clean renewables, but I didn’t understand about intermittence–the need to fill in the gaps when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Natural gas has been filling in some of these gaps, but we need to discover ways to store more energy and find alternative ways of addressing the alternative energy downtimes. (You can learn more here: Intermittent Energy Source)

Although wind and solar are not yet 100% clean sources because of the intermittency issue, they are still a whole like cleaner than burning coal, which is what has been the standard fuel source for many power stations globally. Everyday more and more alternative energy options are expanding. Here are three stories about renewable energy in the US, Denmark, Germany, India, and beyond.

Half of all New Energy Capacity in the US This Year is Renewable

According to the latest  Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, solar and wind energy constituted more than half of the new generating capacity in the country for the first half of 2014.  Solar and wind energy combined for 1.83 gigawatts (GW) of the total 3.53 GW installed from January to June.

Prescott’s Climate Links #5

Global Warming. Will technology save us? I know many of us hold onto a hope that some great invention will solve all of our climate woes. As you will see in our third link, addressing global warming will take more than just technology. But first, when I think of Global Warming, I don’t typically think of polar bears, bees, or sea coral–not that the threats they face are not real or urgent. I instead think of the people affected by climate change. I can’t help but think of myself and my husband and our friends and family in North America, Europe, and Southern Africa, and things we value that are at risk of being lost forever along with the feelings of fear over the uncertainty of it all.

I also think of other people–farmers, women in Subsaharan Africa, and poor and working class people in cities around the world who have always had to deal with more pollution in their communities than their richer neighbors.  Before we look at technology first let’s consider links to two stories that look at people disproportionately affected by climate change–poor communities in California cities and women in Jamaica.

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For the past 18 months the state of California has implemented a carbon cap-and-trade program collecting millions of dollars from companies who pollute. According to the original law, 25% of the revenue is suppose to go towards poorer communities adversely affected by pollution. Because of a budget shortfall last year, Governor Jerry Brown diverted that money (500 million dollars,) but at last these funds are going in the right place.

Under the new budget, about $230 million, or 26 percent, of the $872 million cap-and-trade money will go toward environmental justice efforts. That includes $75 million to weatherize low-income homes and $25 million for transit and intercity rail networks in poor communities. A program called Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities run by the state’s Strategic Growth Council will get $130 million to plan and build new housing and add amenities like public transit to existing neighborhoods.

Calif. Earmarks a Quarter of its Cap-and-Trade Riches for Environmental Justice by Amy Nordrum, Inside Climate News

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Throughout the developing world, women and girls are expected to face a harder time of it because of global warming. A recent series of papers out of Jamaica looks at some of the impacts of natural disasters and drought based on gender.

Apart from hurricanes, water shortages and droughts are also consequences of climate change which impact the poor and vulnerable within the society. Women and children in rural areas often find themselves having to go in search of water for domestic use.

“Women in general make up a large number of the vulnerable in communities that are highly dependent on local natural resources to survive,” said Tesi Scott.

Women said more vulnerable to climate change, Jamaica Observer

 

If you want to learn more about climate change and women, read the UN’s Women Watch page, Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change.

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I find that my mind repels the idea that Global Warming is as serious as scientists say it is. Who can grasp the magnitude of the crisis without denying it in part or negotiating its impacts away? “Well, I recycle,” we say trying comfort ourselves believing that if we each did our part, we will ultimately lick this current crisis. When we realize that our individual efforts do not even begin to come close enough to addressing the problem, we look to science and innovation for a cure, “Surely technology will save us.”

No doubt technology will play a large part in helping us to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We will need to develop all sorts of new technologies to capture carbon and create new energy sources that do not pollute. We are not there yet, and we need to dispossess ourselves of the notion that we can simply rely on technology to pull us out of the climate mess. Doug Struck of the Boston Globes recently wrote about a talk given by a Swiss scientist visiting the US.

“Technology will bring us a long way. But we will need also a change in our lifestyle,” he said. “It’s a grim message, but a true message. Science and technology is useful, but if you want to save the earth, you need also to work on the other side, on reducing our energy use.”

No magic bullet for climate change, Swiss scientist says by Doug Struck, Boston Globe

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If you want to get involved with a group of people working hard to change the way we use energy through a market-driven approach that will curb consumption and encourage alternatives to greenhouse gases, check out the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Prescott’s Climate Links #4

For years I endured unnecessary and harmful gay conversion therapy in hopes that I would at last one day be 100% heterosexual and masculine the way the world around me demanded. The gay to straight “ex-gay” leaders at the time repeated the mantra, Change is Possible! While I was distracted attempting to change my sexuality, right under my nose the planet changed, the atmosphere grew toxic, and the temperature continued to rise. Today I am happily gay and genuinely alarmed about Global Warming. But as Prescott reveals in the links he sent me this past week, all sorts of changes are happening all around us–yes the planet we live on but also our fellow earthlings and how we respond and adapt.

As always, from the many articles Prescott forwarded to me, I have selected just three Climate Change links. Let’s begin with a story of change:

Some like Tom Steyer, a long time Wall Street investor, are waking up to the crisis upon us all and making big changes in their lives. Steyer used to invest in fossil fuels, but through a recent editorial in Politico, he set the record straight and explains how he left his investment job to take on Global Warming action as his life’s work.

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Let me be clear—climate change is bigger than any one person. I believe it is truly the most pressing issue we face, and one that if not addressed will have profound consequences for our kids. As a very senior and very conservative investor friend told me, “You never put the entire enterprise at risk. That’s bad business.” And yet, that’s what our society appears to be doing.

How Climate Change Changed Me by Tom Steyer

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The one issue I have with Steyer’s piece is that he falls back on a common belief often among liberals that, “If we each just do our part, we will beat this thing.” Change the car you drive and those lightbulbs and don’t forget to recycle. That feel-good, we-can-do-it message is a form of climate change denial. All those individual changes are good, don’t get me wrong, but we need to come to the place where we understand and accept the science. Global Warming has been ignored so long and has proceeded so far that our individual actions at home and on the road will make little difference. We need to act on larger scales. We need governments and businesses to change the way they operate. Prescott gives a good example from a town in Austria. Each citizen immediately has a lower carbon footprint because of this one big move by their town.

Vast amounts of hot water from household appliances, businesses and factories gurgle down the drain every day, wasting not only H2O but also another precious resource: heat energy. Not, however, in the Austrian town of Amstetten, where a pilot project by the local utility company is “recycling” this energy from a place where normally few dare to tread — the sewer.

Austrian town ‘recycles’ heat from unlikely source — its sewers

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If you want to learn about how cities in Sweden have been so successful in getting energy from burning their trash (without polluting) that they have a garbage shortage, read Sweden imports waste from European neighbors to fuel waste-to-energy program.

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While Alaska recovers from record flooding, the drought in the Southwest of the United States worsens. Ian James wrote a moving, informative, and thorough piece about alarming water shortages hitting the Southwest.

The biggest reservoir in the United States is dropping 1 foot each week. Lake Mead’s rapidly sinking water level is set to reach an all-time low in July, driven down by a 14-year drought that scientists say is one of the most severe to hit the Colorado River in more than 1,200 years.

The water behind Hoover Dam supplies vast areas of farmland and about 25 million people in three states, and this critical reservoir stands just 40 percent full.

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Some researchers say climate change in the Southwest is also essentially “water change” because the biggest, most difficult adjustments may be forced upon the region by worsening water scarcity.

Vanishing Water–An Already Strained Water Supply, Threatened by Climate Change 

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Check out previous editions of Prescott’s Climate Links and feel free to leave your comments below.

 

 

Prescott’s Climate Links #3

Over the past three weeks Prescott has stuffed my inbox with over 50 articles climate related articles. I have selected just three for you to read. This curated list of climate related articles are specially chosen to give hope and direction as we see the world changing around us.

Three Climate Links

The Brat is Back! No doubt you have been hearing speculation about how bad the next El Niño cycle will be. Samantha Larson at Grist offers a simple to understand tutorial about the whole thing replete with cute stick figures and a video.

Everything you need to know about El Niño–and More

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When someone has proposed legislative action to address climate change (Carbon Tax, etc) immediately the cries of “JOB KILLER!” rises from the collective heap of do-nothing  but moan politicians. Turns out addressing climate change will NOT harm the economy.

Hunter Stuart at Huffington Post writes: No, Cutting Carbon Emissions Won’t Ruin the Economy. If this topic is interesting to you, also check out the new REMI study results that outline the positive economic impact in the USA of a Carbon fee and dividend.

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Audrey Quinn has created an engaging comic about Climate Change in the Muslim world. Facing Serious Climate Impacts, some Muslims put their faith in going green.

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