Today, I got this link to Leo Murray’s Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip video. It one of the better overviews of what causes global warming / climate change and what the phrase tipping point is all about. (Video is about 11 minutes and 35 seconds).

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

It’s a great little video and I found it interesting and informative so I thought I’d share. I especially liked his mention of the rampant consumerism that is so embedded in our culture that so many find it difficult to think of consuming less, of buying smaller or conserving our funds, our environment, our energy — and maximizing our enjoyment of life. It’s tiring and exhausting to get, buy, consume, and waste. Having more doesn’t make us any happier than just enjoying what we already have.

The other day I watched 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama and one of the questions from the interviewer was about his observation that in India, among the poorest of the poor, he’d noted that they laughed far more and with true enjoyment that most of the people he knew who had much, much more — where laughter was more often forced or at someone else’s expense.

Things don’t make us happy. People and relationships and taking the time to get to know and enjoy the people around us help to make us happy. So, rethink your own consumerism and I know that I’ll be thinking of mine and how I can make changes in my behavior.

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For the past several years, we’ve taken part in Earth Hour but this year somehow — probably lack of promotion on the net — we totally missed it. Not such a bad thing because we do as much as we can every day of the year. We recycle and for us that means we have to drive to the recycle center once a week, although only as part of our normal shopping cycle. We tend to put water in a water bottle rather than buy bottled water. We keep our heat down in the winter and our air conditioning higher in the summer (forget saying turn it off completely we live in an area that gets days over 100 degrees). We use the car to go to and from work (no public transport closer than work). We plan our weekly shopping trips to be as efficient as possible using gas. We’re saving to make take some more measures — replacing the single pane windows in the house, purchasing a hybrid car, swapping out the 20 year old appliances for EnergyStar ones.

We live on 5 wooded acres and have little direct sun during the day. Solar is out for us but we’re looking into other options. But that’s a long term project.

Earth day is a time to think about our commitment to the Earth and strive to live lightly upon it. Here’s a video about Earth day and what it’s trying to get people to think about. Granted it’s by a vested interested party but that doesn’t take away from the core message:

It seems that here in the US there are many people who prefer to put their heads in the sand and pretend that the Earth has infinite resources and all this “green” talk is not worthy paying attention to. Our planet is where we live, work, and play. But it’s resources are indeed finite. There was a recent report that the world will reach peak oil (that point where it cost more to extract the oil and you could possible get from using/selling it and which is the beginning of the end of that resource) within the next 10 years. Others say we’ll reach that point in 5 years or 2 or we’ve already reached it. Note that none are saying it’s not going to happen.

There’s a definition of insanity that I find very cogent. Insanity is doing the same activity over and over and expecting a different result. We can’t go on using petroleum/gas/oil and expect that it won’t someday run out. If we start now putting money into alternative energy sources, we not only help our planet, we help ourselves.

Closing our eyes to the problems of global warming, peak oil, deforestation, water contamination, and species loss will not make it go away. We need to look these problems in the face and come up with plans that deal with what is not what we wish it was.

Take some time on Earth Day to decide how you and your family will do their bit to help save the Earth and its resources. Even something as simple as turning lights off when you leave the room or filling your own bottle with water will help. Every little bit does help and certainly it helps more than doing nothing. Take action to help our planet.

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Image of Inconvenient Truth DVDWhen Al Gore wrote Inconvenient Truth about the dangers of global warning, he couldn’t have found a name for his book that could be any more indicative of many people’s reactions to global warming, its possible causes and potential results.

Today, I came across an article in the entitled, “Utah delivers vote of no confidence for ‘climate alarmists’“. I figured it was just another bit of ranting about how could global warming exist if it snowed and we had winter. These types of stories happen a lot in the US as many people can not or rather will not grasp the concept of “global” in the phrase “global warming”.

Nope. I was wrong. The state of Utah has proved to the world that the United States has, in positions of power, some of the most scientifically uneducated buffoons on the face of the Earth. Note that the vote on this bill was 56 to 17 — only 17 people could see that this was a bad piece of legislation. Utah Legislature HJR012 says in its General Description:

This joint resolution of the Legislature urges the United States Environmental Protection Agency to cease its carbon dioxide reduction policies, programs, and regulations until climate data and global warming science are substantiated.

Obviously, members of the Utah legislature need a refresher course in General Science 101. They also need to pay attention to what has been coming out of the Climate Change Summits over the last several years. They may also need to watch Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth DVD a few times. No matter what government legislates or believes, facts are facts. Our weather is changing. We can work to mitigate those changes but denying the existence of the facts isn’t going to make them go away.

The scientific community is not in doubt about the need to reduce carbon dioxide emission or that global warming is taking place or that human activity is a part of the equation causing global warming. Utah believes that since they want it not to be true they can simply demand that all the data has to be done again and again and again until they get the results they want. Because at heart, that’s what they’re really trying to do.

It might also be noted that Utah is a solid Republican state. That’s important because the Republican party has been the party of wishful thinking for quite a few years. If they don’t like a fact they try to make out like it isn’t a fact. If they don’t like a law that is passed they try to repeal it. If that doesn’t work they try to make it impossible to enforce or use that law. If they don’t like something, they consistently try to denigrate it, besmirch it, or make fun of it. One thing they never ever do is try to come up with a better way of doing things or helping the country or its citizens achieve their potential.

Unfortunately, passing frivolous legislation and showing a total lack of understanding of scientific data to the world is not going to make global warming go away. Passing legislation that denies the existence of gravity and calling it a passing fancy of Newton will not cause you to float if you should trip over an apple peel. Facts are what they are and denying them and asking for more and more proof of their existence when most countries of the world have already determined the facts to be only arguable in degree not in actuality, only shows that here in American we have discovered a way to live on denial to the detriment of our economy and our country.

I cringe to think what this effort on the part of Utah to maintain its place as a oil and coal producing state in the face of such inconvenient truths will do to the standing of the United States on the world stage whenever science and facts are being discussed. It’s fairly obvious that wishful thinking rather than scientific inquiry rules in at least one state of the union.

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W. Antartic Ice Sheet I usually keep my eye on global warming related reports and spotted these articles (Google News’s “Sea Rise from Antarctic Ice Melt Overestimated“, Christian Science Monitor’s “If W. Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, how high will sea levels rise?”, and Science’s “Ocean Science: Ice Sheet Stability and Sea Level” (link takes you to the abstract, you can’t read the full paper unless you pay) on the new figures for sea rise if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) melts.

Originally, it was thought that if the WAIS melted that sea levels would rise between 5-7 meters. However, that was based on models that just don’t seem to stand up in comparison to reality. So, once they started looking at the real world and comparing with the models they found that it was more likely that the sea level rise if the WAIS melted would be closer to 3.2 to 3.3 meters (depending on which report you read). So things aren’t as dire as scientists originally thought, although 10.5+ feet is still pretty dire. That’s still going to make drastic changes to the east and west coasts of the United States as well as some other countries.

You see sea level just doesn’t rise; it also runs horizontally. Most people hear that the sea level will go up a foot and they think that won’t bother me I’m above that level. Right, it won’t bother you directly if you’re above that level and not close enough to be bother with storm surges which can be much higher than normal high tides when pushed by a storm. But those people near rivers, streams, and in areas between the current sea level and the new one — even if they are inland — might find themselves having problems with rising water tables, water levels in streams and rivers, and now they sit in a flood plain.

If you look at a map with topographic markings you can see that areas that currently don’t connect with the sea, if the level rises a foot or a yard would suddenly be underwater. That’s the part of sea level rise that most people don’t think about and don’t seem to care about.

It’s the intellectual blindness that caused people to buy houses on the Mississippi between the river and the levees and never consider that the levees were there for a reason and maybe living between a levee and the river wasn’t a good idea. When the flooding occurred a few years back, I was really upset that so many people had lost their homes. Then I saw a live broadcast where they were talking to the homeowners trying to salvage whatever they could from the wreckage of their homes. The camera pans and there are the homes with the river on one side and the high levees on the other. Really, it was a matter of when not if they would lose their homes. I still felt sympathy that they had to go through this terrible experience but couldn’t stop thinking why didn’t they think about their situation logically before buying the home in the first place. People ignore what they don’t want to face. If there’s a levee and your home is between it and the river, that should be a “duh” moment and a no sale.

People have been ignoring global warming for years and now it is not just a nice little hypothetical thought experiment but is changing the face of the world. Still people hear about scientists discussing sea level rise and the possible factors that will effect the eventual change and what the numbers might be and they shrug and go on. Well, I won’t be buying any sea front property anytime soon but if I was I’d certainly be checking out topographical maps. Just maybe that house on the hill with lots of acres will turn out to be a nice private island in a hundred years or so.

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Planet EarthIrreversible. That’s what a new study reported by NPR says:

As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, the world will experience more and more long-term environmental disruption. The damage will persist even when, and if, emissions are brought under control, says study author Susan Solomon, who is among the world’s top climate scientists.

I’ve heard that mentioned for a long time. There were several times over the past thirty of forty years where significant changes might have made a difference. But, once we reach the tipping point there’s no turning back. Things will change and we have to adapt to those changes.

“People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years. What we’re showing here is that’s not right. It’s essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years,” Solomon says.

This is because the oceans are currently soaking up a lot of the planet’s excess heat — and a lot of the carbon dioxide put into the air. The carbon dioxide and heat will eventually start coming out of the ocean. And that will take place for many hundreds of years.

Do we still have to make changes to the way we pollute the environment and cut back on carbon emissions. Yes, we do. Because we can continue to make things worse. It’s about the only thing we can be sure of — we can make it worse. So, why not try to adapt, change and learn to protect our environment as much as we can.

Dr. Solomon, a scientist at NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) also said:

If we continue with business as usual for even a few more decades, she says, those emissions could be enough to create permanent dust-bowl conditions in the U.S. Southwest and around the Mediterranean.

So, we should be doing everything in our power as citizens of the planet to help contain the damage we’ve already done to our planet. It’s not like we have anywhere else to go — at least not right yet. Since this is the only planet we have to live on we can’t afford to make a worse mess of it. So, do your part to reduce the damage — recycle, reduce your carbon footprint, look for ways to live a greener life.

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