Global Warming by the Numbers
The Cold Hard Truth About Global Warming
Bill McKibben lays it out with three simple numbers
Fall has arrived and Halloween is just around the corner, with its ghosts and gobblins and all things frightening. But nothing available at your neighborhood Halloween super store will scare the living daylights out of you like writer-activist Bill McKibben's recent article, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math.
The author of The End of Nature
and force behind 350.org, McKibben wrote the piece for the August 2, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone. If you believe in science and care at all about the future of life on Earth, read this article and share it far and wide. In it, McKibben explains three key numbers and how they add up to a truly dire situation. The three numbers:2° Celsius:
The global temperature increase that
world leaders meeting at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference agreed must not be exceeded. Note that this was the ONLY thing of any importance that came out of the conference and that we've already raised the average temperature of the planet by just under 0.8° Celsius. With just that modest increase, 1/3 of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic and the air over the oceans is five percent wetter. Given those facts, many scientists believe that 2° of warming is actually too much. 565 Gigatons:
The amount of carbon dioxide scientists estimate can be dumped into the atmosphere
and still have a "reasonable" chance of staying under 2° Celsius. At the rate that CO2 emissions are rising, studies predict that we will reach this allowance in 16 years. 2,795 Gigatons
: The amount of carbon locked up in the fossil fuel we are currently planning to burn
- nearly five times more than the allowable amount of 565 gigatons. It's our best estimate of the proven coal, oil and natural gas reserves of the fossil fuel companies and countries like Venezuela and Kuwait. At today's market value, 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion, so even though the carbon is still in the ground, economically, it may as well be in the atmosphere.
The gist? Unless we can somehow keep 80 percent, or $20 trillion worth, of fossil fuel reserves in the ground, we will exceed the 565 gigaton limit and raise the average global temperature more than 2° Celsius, the globally-accepted limit.
Does McKibben offer a solution to this problem? Yes, and it involves making the fossil fuel industry pay for the damage its carbon emissions are doing to the atmosphere (note that it's the only industry that's allowed to dump its main waste for free - CO2, in this case). But he points out that the only way this could possibly happen is "if people come to understand the cold, mathematical truth - that the fossil fuel industry is systematically undermining the planet's physical systems," and that even then, it may be too little, too late.
To fully understand what we are up against in the fight against global warming, read the full article here
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Trade your old stuff for "new" at a swap event near you
I'm wearing a new hat these days. I've recently joined peace. love. swap., the national organization started in 2009 by a couple of Grass Valley, CA moms. As the new Swap Organizer for Manhattan Beach and surrounding areas, I'm busy organizing community events where people come together to trade their gently used stuff. Fifty five moms came out to my first swap earlier this month, trading all things baby, kid and maternity and leaving four large bags of goods for charity.
When the previous Organizer stepped down from the role, I jumped at the opportunity to take over. Sure, organizing these events is labor-intensive and takes a good deal of time, but I think we need more community events like this, not less. There are many things I love about peace. love. swap. events, but to name a few, they are:
- Great for the environment...events are community-based, require no packaging and extend the useful life of consumer goods
- Charitable...all leftover goods are donated to local charities
- Fun...events are held in kid-friendly environments such as parks or indoor playrooms
- Stress-relieving...outgrown and otherwise unwanted belongings are purged
- Easy on the pocketbook...the entrance fee for most swaps is only $5
No kids? No problem! peace. love. swap. isn't all about babies and kids. We also host women's clothing and accessory swaps, and men's swaps are a possibility as well. With enough interest and community participation, anything is possible!
My next swap, a women's clothing and accessory swap, is coming up on October 21. For more information, or to find an event near you, visit www.peaceloveswap.com. And if no one is currently organizing swaps near you, consider becoming an Organizer yourself. It's cheap, relatively easy and extremely rewarding.
| Duty Calls|
On November 6th, Vote for Environmental Protection!
With so much at stake for the environment, it's more important than ever to exercise your democratic right to vote on November 6th. From fracking for natural gas, to shipping American coal to China, to the Keystone XL Pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the fossil fuel industry has big, big plans, and our best bet to stop them is through the political process.
If you haven't already, visit www.lcv.org to see what the League of Conservation Voters has to say about the candidates and propositions that will appear on ballots across the country. A national non-profit organization, LCV works to turn environmental values into national priorities by educating the public about important environmental legislation and running campaigns to elect pro-environment leaders to Congress.
The national LCV provides guidance on the national election with endorsements for the Senate, House and presidential races, and in more than 30 states, the state LCVs help voters choose ballot measures and state representatives that will protect the environment and consumers.
Some propositions are complicated and tricky to understand. This one is not. It simply requires food producers to label food that contains genetically engineered ingredients. Why might you want to know if the food you are eating contains genetically modified ingredients? Let's see...
GMOs produce foreign compounds in their tissues. Genetically modified corn has been engineered in a laboratory to produce pesticides in its own tissue and is regulated by the EPA as an insecticide.
GMOs have not been proven safe. Although the United Nations/World Health Organization and American Medical Association have called for mandatory safety testing of GMOs, no long-term health studies have been conducted.
Everyone else is doing it. Fifty countries, representing more than 40% of the world's population, already require GMO labeling, including all of Europe, Japan, India and China.
No cost to consumers or food producers. Changing labels is something they already do all the time.
And don't worry, if you like to eat genetically engineered foods, you'll still be able to, even if Prop 37 passes. In fact, the new labeling will make it easier than ever to get your fill of GMOs. Yum!
For more information, visit www.carighttoknow.org.
Endangered Species in the News
The Goods News...
Retired NBA Star Shines Light on Plight of African Elephants and Rhinos
Retired NBA star Yao Ming - one of China's greatest sports heroes - arrived in Kenya on August 10th to begin filming "The End of the Wild," a documentary about the escalating problem of illegal poaching of African elephants and rhinos. His goal: to convince his fellow Chinese citizens to stop buying products made from elephant ivory and rhino horn.
Following the 1989 international ban on ivory trade and the 1993 ban on sales of rhino horn in China and other parts of Asia, populations of African elephants and rhinos grew until 2007. Since then, poaching activities have escalated, bringing these majestic animals perilously close to extinction. Take rhinos in South Africa, for example: between 1990 and 2005, an average of 14 animals were killed per year. In 2011, that number exploded to 440 animals per year (www.traffic.org
Yao wants the Chinese people to know that when they buy ivory and rhino horn, they are contributing to the demise of these species. On his blog, he notes, "we would be outraged if people were killing our pandas, we should be just as upset with what's happening to rhinos and elephants in Africa."
Yao's involvement with this documentary is so important because a combination of "old customs and traditions with new money" makes China the #1 destination for rhino horn and ivory in the world. Despite the fact that scientists have been unable to prove that rhino horn has actual medicinal properties, it continues to be used for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as it has been since 2000 BC. And in light of recent research out of the University of Ohio that revealed that rhino horn is very similar in structure to horse hooves, turtle beaks, and cockatoo bills, it seems unlikely to have any real medicinal value.
On his blog, Yao chronicles his journey to Africa, including his encounter with Thandi, a seven-year-old white rhino who survived having her horn hacked off after being shot with a tranquilizer dart. To learn more and see photos from his visit, go to yaomingblog.com
The Bad News...
Kill-at-Will Plan Announced for Wyoming's Northern Rocky Grey Wolves
On Friday, August 31, stating that Wyoming's wolf population had recovered to the point that Endangered Species Act protection is no longer needed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will be removing protections for Wyoming wolves and handing control over to state officials on September 30.
How big is Wyoming's wolf population that it no longer needs protection in a state known for its hostility towards wolves? Get ready for it: an estimated 328. That's right, a population of roughly 328 wolves
will now be living in a state where wolf-management policies allow unregulated killing of wolves in 85 percent
of the state. That means no hunting season or bag limits. They can be shot like varmints at any time.
To predict what will happen to Wyoming's wolves, one need only look at the fate of wolves in neighboring Idaho and Montana. In those states, where protections were removed in April 2011 (due to larger populations and "less hostile attitudes"), hunters and trappers killed 545 wolves during the 2011-2012 hunting season. Note that earlier this year, the entire wolf population in the three states (and portions of eastern Oregon and Washington) was roughly 1,700.
By any measure, Northern Rocky Grey wolves have had a tough time of it over the past 100+ years. Exterminated from the West by 1945, they were listed as an endangered species in 1974 and reintroduced to the area in the 1990s. The first threat to their protection came in 2003, when their endangered standing was changed to threatened before being challenged by conservation groups. Since February 2008, their ESA protections have been removed three times. The first two times, their protections were restored. Now, once again, a coalition of conservation groups is working to relist Wyoming's grey wolves, having served notice on September 10 that it will file a court challenge to the federal government's delisting of the wolves.
After centuries of fear and superstition, research has shown us that wolves are actually social creatures that play an essential role in ecosystems. Now they are being killed indiscriminately throughout the Northern Rocky Mountains. How long will this continue? Until their numbers in any given state have dropped to 100 animals. Below that threshold, the Service has pledged to restore endangered species protections. Oh, good. Never mind that these tiny populations will be genetically isolated and that the overwhelming scientific consensus
is that "thousands (not hundreds) of individuals are required for a population to have an acceptable probability of riding out environmental fluctuation and catastrophic events." See Bill McKibben's Global Warming's Terrifying New Math
for more on that.
Events and Other Stuff for Angelinos
Date: THIS Friday & Saturday, September 28 & 29
Location: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica, 90401
Cost: Free admission to the Expo Hall, Ride & Drive and most programming; parking $10, FREE bike valet More info: www.altcarexpo.com
Highlights include: Special debut of the Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid Sedan, North America's most extensive presentation of alternative technology vehicles available for test drive, and a Speakers Program featuring world renowned AltCar experts.
Stop the Frack Attack Public Forum
Date: THIS Saturday, September 29
Time: 9:30-12 noon
Location: Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Montemalaga Dr., Rancho Palos Verdes
Cost: FREE but donations are appreciated
Join the Environmental Priorities Network to learn what can be done to protect our water, air and public health from the hazards of fracking. Featured speakers will include Assemblymember Betsy Butler, 53rd Assembly District, Paul Ferrazzi, Executive Director of Citizens for a Safe Community, and Dr. Clyde Williams, Oil and Gas Specialist and leader of the Sierra Club California Fracking Group. Cosponsored by Pacific Unitarian Church Green Sanctuary Committee and the South Coast Interfaith Council.
Date: Saturday and Sunday, November 17-18
Location: LA Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa Street
"Featuring an organic food court; an environmental film installation presented by the Sierra Club; hands-on DIY workshops; organic vegan and vegetarian cooking demonstrations; an organic beer and wine garden; live music; and, an incredible Green Marketplace for all of your holiday shopping needs, featuring products and services from local, regional and national green and sustainable businesses and organizations."
New Green Building Store in the South Bay!
South Bay Green is a one-stop-shop for sustainable building materials, specializing in non toxic, recycled, and reclaimed finishes for remodels and new construction, at every budget. With backgrounds in architecture, construction, and design, South Bay Green's team of LEED professionals is available to help guide you through the design process.
Hours: M-F 9am - 5pm
Location: 1005 N. Aviation Blvd. Manhattan Beach 90266
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Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.
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