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Climate Change

What’s After Paris?

Gore ParisLast week, Al Gore reflected on the ten years since he founded The Climate Reality Project. Following is an excerpt from an email he sent to the Climate Reality Leaders he trained.

Ten years ago, I trained the first group of Climate Reality Leaders in my barn in Carthage, Tenn. I asked them to join me in spreading the word about the urgency of the climate crisis, and I was impressed by the commitment and passion they demonstrated. I’m even more impressed now as the work they’ve done in their own communities and beyond has helped to spark a global movement for action on climate change.

In the decade since that first group came together, I’ve trained more than 10,000 Climate Reality Leaders who are just as committed to making the world a better place for future generations. The Climate Reality Leadership Corps is active in more than 130 countries around the world and represents people from all backgrounds and walks of life. I’ve enjoyed working alongside teachers, scientists, community leaders, business owners, students, and so many others who all share a dedication to promoting solutions to the climate crisis.

Ten years of concerted action by the Climate Reality Leadership Corps came together last year when 195 countries committed to working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions planet-wide as part of the Paris Agreement. Now, it’s time for us to continue our work together and push countries to strengthen and implement their commitments so we can make the promise of Paris a reality.

Even as we look to the future, I want to make sure we take a moment to appreciate the last 10 years and all of the amazing work that you’ve done to help share the truth about the science and solutions of climate change with your friends, family members, colleagues, and everyone else.

I want to thank each and every one of you for what you’ve done in your own communities to bring attention to the most important issue of our time.

It is easier to play a role in the global effort to mitigate the causes of global warming and climate change when thousands of others are doing the same thing, each in their own way. That’s been my personal benefit from The Climate Reality Project.

I joined in Chicago (August 2013) and have no regrets. I learned the story behind Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, and the science behind it. Gore presented a broad mix of information about what is happening in our environment because of global warming and how it impacts communities.

Since then, I’ve presented my story to individuals and groups in the area and seek opportunities to do more. I served as a mentor at the Cedar Rapids training last year and have written about the need to act on climate change in my blogs, and in letters to the editor of our local newspaper. When I worked as a freelance correspondent, climate change informed my world-view and was a context in which I framed stories whether they were about farming or forestry, the school board or city council, or about new business openings or individual achievements.

Talking about global warming and climate change has become part of my life.

If the Paris agreement was the culmination of ten years of work, as Gore said it was, the work is not finished.

With a sharp focus on identifying the impact on our climate of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, Gore and many allies made the point about seeking alternatives. As solar and wind-generated electricity reach price parity with fossil fuels (and they are doing so faster than anyone imagined) the coal industry is in disarray and nuclear power is waning.

There is a cloud on the hopeful horizon of renewable energy. Buoyed by exploration and discovery of oil and shale gas reserves, companies like British Petroleum, once green washing us with their interest in renewables, divested their interests in solar and wind energy this decade to focus on oil and gas.

I predict declining prices of solar power will help it dominate the future of municipal and regional electricity generation. Already companies like Central Iowa Power Company (CIPCO) are changing their tune. Not so long ago they were promoting nuclear power at their annual shareholder’s meeting. Today, they are building solar arrays.

If there is a blind spot in Gore’s laser focus on burning fossil fuels it is the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from other sources. He acknowledges them, but they have not taken the spotlight. There’s work to be done regarding manufacturing, agriculture, mining and other aspects of our industrialized global economy.

Every time I talk to an Iowa farmer Gore’s work can be heard in the conversation. Not so much from me, but from farmers. They’ll tell you the hydrology cycle seems different even if they dislike Al Gore and don’t acknowledge it is related to global warming. They don’t have to and I don’t need ratification of my own beliefs.

Like so many others I am focused on the work of mitigating the causes of climate change. You may not know it, but it is baked into everything I do.

What have you done lately to create a better environment for all of us to enjoy?

Random Thoughts On A Hot Weekend

Denali Photo Credit - Wikimedia Commons

Denali Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Too hot to work too hard today:

Congratulations to Patty Judge on her nomination to defeat Chuck Grassley this fall. Judge has always outperformed expectations. Let’s hope she can do it one more time. Grassley, you have obstructed your last Judge!

Note to Robb Hogg. Congratulations on running a great race. Now that you have time to think a little, think about a job opening coming up in Des Moines in 2018. The current occupant of Terrace Hill has been there way too long. If it is not Branstad, then Reynolds is way too right wing for Iowa.

– Paul Ryan called Donald Trump on his (Trump’s) racist remark concerning the judge in the Trump University case. Ryan then said he would vote for Trump. Does Paul Ryan have a clue what that last statement meant? After a while one begins to wonder if the Republican Party has a full deck among the lot of them.

Trump’s remarks have Republican office holders at all levels seemingly playing a game of dodge ball trying not to get hit with the slime of Trump statements while trying to look like a party loyalist. For the most part the Republican office holders just can’t seem to say “I quit you, Donald.” Thus they have become oddly pathetic creatures that can’t seem to stand up and are afraid to say anything. Certainly not worth a vote.

Tuesday night we watched Clinton’s speech. She hit all the right notes. For me, suddenly I got it. I thought about my daughters and how great it must be for them to see a woman, just like them, to be preparing to run for the presidency. And a tear crept out of my eyes. This is huge.

– America deserves a presidential campaign that lives up to the historic occasion. Unfortunately on one side we will have a candidate with the mentality of a 5th grade boy who wants lots of attention.

Now that Trump woke the press up by nastily insulting them directly to their faces at his so-called press conference, one has to wonder if if he (Trump) still feels that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” It’s, like, incredible.”

Last week Physicist Stephen Hawking got oodles of press when he answered a question on how to explain Donald Trump , he said ” “I can’t. He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” What was little reported was the remainder of the comment where Hawking said, “A more immediate danger is runaway climate change,”

– BTW – do you remember in 2008 when Republicans reported that Britain’s National Health System would abandon people with illnesses like Dr. Hawking?

As we sit here sweltering in yet another record or near record heat, don’t forget that one transcendent issue must be climate change. The earth won’t go way if we don’t address it, just most of the inhabitants.

What is the word that Republicans will be using when they are jumping the sinking ship named Trump? De-endorse? Unendorse? Disendorse? Never heard of the guy?

– Don’t forget that all that billionaire money – especially the Koch brothers money – will probably not be going to Trump. Therefore it will most likely be showing up in state and congressional races. Expect some to show up in all of Iowa’s congressional races, the senate race and certain state races. Mike Gronstal is one of the major targets so I think we could expect Koch money over there.

IUB: Stop Rewarding Dakota Access

Bakken Pipeline Proposed RouteChange.org

May 4, 2016 — The IUB has requested that Dakota Access produce justification to begin construction BEFORE the Army Corps of Engineers permit is issued. The company has repeatedly fed us the line that “delays will impact farmers over two growing seasons instead of one.”

If they are genuinely worried about impacting farmers, then they need to do the right thing and wait until next year to commence construction instead of arguing that delays will cause them to work during two growing seasons.

No one asked them to jump the gun on “pre-construction” clearing and cutting. No one asked Dakota Access to stockpile materials throughout our state. They are using these activities to pressure public servants, farmers, and elected officials all over our state. The IUB needs to stop rewarding Dakota Access for behavior that is far from “Iowa Nice”.

Please file a complaint at https://iub.iowa.gov/

Within the form choose “other” and say “Dakota Access is NOT a utility” then tell them that it benefits no one to allow construction to begin early.

Sen. Rob Hogg’s Earth Day Remarks

 

Grassley Challenger Rob Hogg On America’s Climate Century

 

Update: Science And Green News

thom hartmann
Give your brain a break from the Donald.

There are other news sources besides CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and right-wring radio.  Thom Hartmann is one. http://www.thomhartmann.com/

 

Grassley Major Climate Denier

Pretty Bad Week For The Environment

Of course the IUB approves the Bakken oil pipeline

Bakken Pipeline Proposed Route

Honestly, did anyone in Iowa think that the Iowa Utility Board would do anything but approve the Bakken oil pipeline? The protests and the coming court cases will delay but probably won’t change anything but to possibly sharpen the the lines of reasoning that will be used as decision after decision favors business and thumbs its nose at the environment.

In case you missed it, after much delay the IUB voted to allow the construction of the Bakken oil pipeline by a 3-0 vote. This pipeline will be carrying about 450,000 barrels of tar sand oil through precious Iowa farmland. This at a time when oil prices are low. This also at a time when our country and our world would be much better served by pouring money and effort into ways to get off the fossil fuel addiction.

In other environmental news the past couple of weeks, Fiji was slammed by Cyclone Winston which contained the highest wind speeds ever. In Melbourne Australia overnight temperatures were the warmest they ever recorded at 82 degrees as they headed into fall. In the southern US they were hit with another {fill in the blank} hundred year flood as “record strength low” drops swimming pools of water on them

Record-Strength Upper Low Brings Extreme Rains to South U.S., Thundersnow to Mexico

“A remarkably rare atmospheric event is unfolding over Mexico and the Southern U.S., where an upper-level low pressure system of unprecedented strength in the historical record for that location has stalled out, bringing multiple days of torrential rain to the Southern U.S. and snow to the mountains of Mexico. The upper low tapped into an atmospheric river of moisture from both the Western Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific, bringing rainfall amounts one would expect to occur only once every 200 years (a 0.5% chance of occurrence in a given year) over portions of northern Louisiana. According to the latest NOAA Storm Summary, as of 9 am EST Thursday, the city of Monroe, Louisiana had received 17.25″ of rain since Monday, and Shreveport had picked up 16.70” at Barksdale Air Force Base.”

Iowa has had its share of these rains in recent years and no doubt will have more.

Looking forward CO2 readings at Mauna Loa, which is used as the world measuring spot, continue well above 400 PPM. Recordings above 350 PPM indicate an amount of CO2 that will be very conducive to greenhouse effect. As you can see from the chart for the last year the trend is up, up, up.

mauna loa co2 plot
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

Climate change should be one of the overriding issues in this year’s US senate race. Here in Iowa we have the two very opposite views represented. On the climate change denial side we have our current senator, Chuck Grassley. Grassley is a climate denier of the first order. He denies that climate change is in any way caused by humans. In a recent town hall meeting Chuck claimed that the world has been cooling since 1998, which contradicts records. Lat month was the warmest February on record just as last year was the hottest year on record.

Challenging for the Democratic party nomination is Rob Hogg who literally wrote the book on climate change – or at least on of the many books on climate change. Below is Sen. Hogg doing a presentation on his book in Denver a couple years back (video @ 1 hour)

Stated simply, you’d be a fool to vote for a guy who denies reality and puts YOU and YOUR FAMILY in jeopardy by that denial.

Why Palm Oil Is Bad For Iowans

Palm Oil Extraction Photos Credit Wikimedia Commons

Palm Oil Extraction Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons

On Friday, Feb. 5, the benchmark crude palm-oil future contract traded on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives exchange reached its highest level since May 2014, according to NASDAQ.

Traders were feeling bullish as warm, dry weather caused by El Niño in the region receded from the prime palm plantations in Sumatra, Borneo and other parts of Indonesia.

These palm oil producing regions are half a world away, yet they matter to Iowa more than one knows.

The use of palm oil for cooking is in direct competition with soybean oil, including Iowa-grown soybeans traded on international markets. In a recent interview, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said one out of four rows of Iowa soybeans are bound for international sales.

“India, the world’s largest importer of cooking oils, will buy more soybean and sunflower oil this year (2015) than ever before as a global glut weakens prices and prompts buyers to switch from palm oil,” according to Bloomberg News.

Because of the decline in farm commodity prices, current trends may favor soybeans over palm, but at the expense of soybean farmers. There is a clear case to be made to avoid products like chocolate, ice cream, detergent, soap and cosmetics that contain palm oil and its derivatives as a way to support Iowa farmers.

What matters more is deforestation to expand the cultivation of palm trees. Using a slash and burn methodology to clear equatorial rain forest for palm plantations, the haze covering Indonesia was visible from space. While haze may be viewed as a temporary inconvenience, deforestation has a direct impact on the planet’s capacity to process atmospheric carbon dioxide. That’s not to mention the loss of habitat and biodiversity, as well as release of carbon stored in trees into the atmosphere.

From logging, agricultural production and other economic activities, deforestation adds more atmospheric CO2 than the sum total of cars and trucks on the world’s roads, according to Scientific American.

“The reason that logging is so bad for the climate is that when trees are felled they release the carbon they are storing into the atmosphere, where it mingles with greenhouse gases from other sources and contributes to global warming accordingly,” the article said. “The upshot is that we should be doing as much to prevent deforestation as we are to increase fuel efficiency and reduce automobile usage.”

Most corporate food conglomerates use or have used palm oil and its derivatives as an ingredient. What’s a person to do?

The first recourse in Iowa is the power of the purse. Avoid purchasing products with palm oil because it competes with Iowa-grown soybeans, and is a contributor to climate disruption. There is no such thing as sustainably grown palm oil.

Palm oil and its derivatives go under many names. A list of alternate names for palm oil can be found here along with a handy wallet sized printout.

Here is a list that discusses use of palm oil in various consumer products.

Explore the Rainforest Action Network web site, beginning with this link. There is a lot of information about the issue and actions you can take to address the most pressing aspects of deforestation.

While Indonesia may seem distant, what goes on there and in other equatorial palm plantations matters here in Iowa.

Grassley, Ernst Proudly Vote Stupid

Climate change? You got a campaign contribution?

Climate change? You got a campaign contribution?

Republicans vote to deny climate change caused by human activity.

In a little reported amendment offered by Sen. Brian Schatz (D- Hawaii) our nation’s senators voted on whether climate change was caused by human activity.

This has been settled science for a couple of decades with the exception of some highly bribed scientists. Seems like for most people in the US that deny climate change has any connection to human activity, you can find a paycheck written to them by one of the Koch brothers or someone else in the oil business.

So here are a couple of America’s top decision makers who occasionally have to make decisions based on some understanding of facts. Facts being things that are demonstrably true. In this case, facts that have been proven over and over and over. Scientific facts are facts which allow us to not only show how they were true based on experience, but can also be the basis for predictions of what will come.

Climate change science has allowed us to predict with some amount of accuracy the rise in temperatures on earth and the disruption it will cause. These predictions are currently starting to come true and the forecast for what is to come is frightening.

So Grassley and Ernst are 2% of one of the most powerful groups in the world that is tasked with, among other things, dealing with climate change and its effects. AND THEY DENY IT IS HAPPENING AND DENY THE SCIENCE. They proudly vote to deny the science, to deny facts. Their denial only serves to make consequences of climate change worse as the US continues to bury its head in the sand – pushed in there by Republicans who only serve their donors and ignore the general good.

We knew Joni Ernst was bought lock, stock and barrel by the Koch brothers. No one ever tried to hide that.

Whatever Grassley’s motivation for voting to loudly proclaim his stupidity it is a more than sufficient reason for Iowans to loudly proclaim that we need a senator who is grounded in reality. Climate change will soon enough claim the corn and soybean industries in Iowa as temperatures become to hot to grow those plants here. Now is the time to remove Grassley and get started on turning climate change around.

You don’t need to worry about Chuck by the way. He has done plenty of favors for his “campaign contributors” that they will make sure he is taken care of.

joni ernst the perfect Koch investment

Hard To Believe Americans Accept This

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

Cheaper to fix while they are still up

We come to the end of another year and my biggest single take on the country is the things that Americans are now willing to accept. It is hard to believe that the generation that fought and defeated the military machines of Germany and Japan at the same time would accept this sort of stuff without a fight:

Americans going hungry, even dying in the richest country in the world while congress cuts funds to government aid programs.

– Infrastructure that they built being neglected to the point of decay and ruin while tax cuts are given to the wealthy.

Public schools, once the pride of America and especially Iowa, now beg for funds while tax cuts are awarded to businesses or funds for public schools are funneled to corporate charter schools.

– Students coming out of college with a lifetime of debt and low job prospects.


– Jobs continuing to be “off shored” with little regard to the effects of such policies on the American economy.


– America unilaterally handing over its sovereignty under the guise of “trade agreements.”


– The world plunging headlong into climate disaster while companies that pollute continue to be subsidized by congress.


– Americans working full time jobs for below poverty wages.


– Temporary hiring agencies and payday loan companies are not only legal but doing a brisk business screwing fellow Americans over with the blessing of state legislators.


– Continuing to be involved in foreign wars for oil rather than making the harnessing of wind and sun a national defense and domestic priority.

Citizens openly carrying weapons that could wipe out a 3rd world village because of perceived demons with the blessing of state legislatures.

– State legislatures passing laws written by corporations under the name of ALEC.

– Congress openly working to deny poor Americans access to health care simply because they are poor.

As you know, the list goes on. As you also know, this is simply the most important election year ever. The downward spiral that began with Reagan must be reversed. Voting Republican will only accelerate the spiral. To reverse the spiral we must identify, nominate and work our butts off not just to win the presidency but to give the next president a congress that will pass progressive legislation. It is time to send Chuck Grassley packing, let Steve King stir in his fantasy world in Kiron and get Rod Blum and David Young out of congress before they can do too much damage.

Every bit as important is to return a Democratic majority to the Iowa legislature to blunt an out of control governor who seems to see his duty as paying off donors with our tax money.

Resolve today to give a significant amount of your resources (time, money, ideas) this election year so we no longer have to look at problems such as listed above as “normal” in America anymore.