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Posts Tagged ‘climate’

Wow…some politicians are actually uttering these words: Climate Change is Real!

Here’s New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his last minute endorsement of President’s Obama’s re-election after Hurricane Sandy laid NYC low (quoting from the New York Times 11/1/12):

Lower Manhattan 10/29/12 photo courtesy of Damon Dahlen, AOL

“Our climate is changing…And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”

On November 8, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said after the November 6th election extended the Democratic majority in the Senate: “Climate change is an extremely important issue for me and I hope we can address it reasonably. It’s something, as we’ve seen with these storms that are overwhelming our country and the world, we need to do something about it.”

Even President Obama made a passing reference to it in his re-election acceptance speech on the night of November 6th: “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

I imagine a lot of people who know climate change is happening in real time are thinking they’ll believe that Washington will manage to do anything about it when they see it. For sure one of them, Bill McKibben, isn’t waiting.

Do The Math logo courtesy of 350.org

Climate activist and author, McKibben was arguably the first voice in the wilderness speaking about climate change in terms folks could understand in his groundbreaking book, The End of Nature, published in 1996. With several more books, multiple speaking tours, direct actions, and teaching he’s continued to lead, calling for action on global warming. In 2008, he and others founded 350.org, an international effort to bring climate change front and center on the world political stage through citizen action. His most recent push—a 20 city nationwide biodiesel-fueled bus tour called “Do The Math” (math.350.org/)—started November 7th to a sold-out crowd in Seattle. Described as “TED-talk meets concert tour” there are two goals: to get universities and churches to divest portfolio investments in petroleum companies (following the lead of the South Africa divestments used in the 1980s as an anti-apartheid tool); and to re-ignite grassroots activism for the next stage of the climate battle.

Do the Math—Seattle courtesy of 350.org

Two universities have already pledged to divest. And one attendee at last night’s Los Angeles event told me she’s ready to get arrested if that’s what it takes.

Sounds like McKibben’s message just may be working.

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With a depth of nearly 2,000 feet Crater Lake in the Oregon Cascades is one of the deepest lakes in the world. In terms of average depth, it is fourth.  After a earth rumbling explosion and then collapse of 12,000 foot Mt. Mazama some 7,000 years ago, the lake filled with prodigious snow melt. It is now in a state of hydrologic balance.

Crater is also one of the most pristine of lakes, with remarkable clarity. Established in 1902 as one of the earliest national parks, it’s pretty much pollution free. And thankfully  the Park Service intends to keep it that way.

A lot of natural wonders are called jewels of this or that. But Crater Lake is surely the jewel of jewels. Like an opal, the color of its waters migrate as the sun and atmosphere change, all set in a deep facet of whitish volcanic cliffs streaked with black igneous rock, some rising over 2,000 feet above the lake surface. Sun rise, high noon, late in the day, clouds or clear skies, the colors are what? Sky blue azure, deepest cerulean blue, palest magenta, dark agate, silver in rippling and glinting reflections, even a bland gray under high clouds, red and gold at sunrise and sunset, mild rose to purple blue as evening falls across a mysterious void 6,000 feet above the world.

Crater Lake presents exhilarating mountain beauty at its most intense. Millions of photos have been taken over many years, years of depression and prosperity, war and peace, hope and fear, and the lake has survived intact. The record below spans some seventy-five years and three generations, from film to digital photography. Hopefully little will change in the next  seventy-five. But Crater Lake, because of its purity and uniqueness, is a frightfully good place to watch the growing impacts of climate change.

Whitebark Pine, the picturesque icon of the higher altitudes of Crater Lake National Park, is being decimated. A major factor is the mountain pine beetle, which proliferates as winter low temperatures rise and which, over time, can kill a tree. The Whitebark Pine is a “foundational species”, on which many other species, plant and animal, depend. Together with an onslaught of white pine blister rust, Whitebark Pine is on the way to extinction. Tiny carbon atoms may be the destruction of Crater Lake’s ecosystem, and thereby the lake itself as we know it.  And in truth, we all know where those atoms come from.

SRE

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Smoke Plume from the Sisters Fire
Photo Courtesy of Tracy Keebler

Last week we were at Crater Lake National Park. The sky was hazy from a fire burning near Sisters, OR about 75 miles north.

Currently there are close to 60 wildfires burning in the West, from South Dakota to the Pacific.      http://fires.globalincidentmap.com/home.php

This is one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. No surprise to those climatologists who’ve been pointing out that global climate change would translate into a hotter, drier American West. A 2004 Forest Service study predicted up to a fivefold increase in burned areas by the end of the century.

Fire seasons extend over two months more than in the past and individual fires are hotter, last longer and cover bigger areas. Between 1960 and 1990, average annual acreage burned was about 2.9 million acres. Between 2000 and 2009 the average rose to 6.9 million. For more grim stats see: www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2012/07/09/11889/western-wildfires-getting-worse-in-a-warming-world/.

While too many of our so-called leaders continue to doubt climate change we here in the West are already seeing its effects up close and personal. So too this year the heartland’s farmers. What will it take to get somebody’s attention? A wildfire on the Mall in DC?

Smokey the Bear Wishes Somebody Was Listening

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