Got one of those crazy family members who thinks that Rush Limbaugh is an expert on, well, everything, and who firmly believes that climate change is a conspiracy designed to undermine the capitalist economy? Yep, we know the type, and we fully understand that you may already be dreading family time at the holidays. This uncle or cousin or in-law isn’t going to let facts get in the way, so showing him how even scientists once skeptical about global warming are coming around in a big way probably won’t change any minds. And this relative certainly isn’t going to hold back for the sake of a peaceful gathering.
Want to get into a heated argument? Start a conversation about the methods we use to grow our food. Whether you’re supporting the current norm for agriculture (big, mechanized farms using an array of chemical products) or something that seems much greener (organics and other methods of ecological farming), you’ll likely have no trouble finding someone who disagrees with you. Vehemently. At some point, that person will tell you that you’re arguing for the starvation of millions — regardless of which side you’re on.
Missing anything this summer? How about rain? At this point, I’ve given up on some of the plants in my yard — no amount of watering will make up for the lack of rainwater. Of course, I’m just one guy with a small yard. Across the river in southern Illinois, farmers are facing historic crop losses. According to the Associated Press, the Department of Agriculture had predicted a bumper crop of corn this year: 166 bushels per acre. But with more than half the country now facing drought conditions, the USDA has not only revised those numbers downward but also made its largest disaster declaration ever: 1,000 counties spread over 26 states are eligible for low-interest loans and reduced penalties for grazing on federal land (see the image below). Livestock farmers may well need the latter: Most feed corn to their cattle and other animals, and prices are sure to shoot upward.
Repeat after me: no matter what Rush said, wind farms don’t cause global warming. But there may be some substance to the idea that warmer air allows baseballs to travel a bit further. These stories and more in this week’s green tech finds.
Electricity from lobsters? Kelp as a model for renewable energy generation? Yep, we’ve got those stories, and more, in this week’s green tech finds.
Wearing used coffee pods: Single-use coffee machines are convenient, but you end up with all of those used pods you have to throw away, right? Designer Rachel Rodwell saw potential in those pods, and her Podtex concept uses them as materials for clothing and jewelry. See how she transforms them in the video above. (via Do the Green Thing)
A fictional film born from a factual source: that’s not so unusual, right? Almost any biopic falls loosely into that category, and films ranging from THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES to FROST/NIXON openly blend historical fact and a filmmaker’s imagination (as did their sources’ authors). But a story born from a scientific article? Sounds like either a stretch, or the prelude to a really boring evening. Even this kind of reimagining has worked in the past, though – think FAST FOOD NATION – and writer/director Jenny Deller is giving it another go her forthcoming FUTURE WEATHER.
Even if you buy the science behind climate change (which is very compelling), it’s still hard to make an emotional argument about global warming: all of the bad stuff’s going to happen in the future, so you can’t show someone a victim. Right? Not so fast – not only are parts of the developing world, particularly Africa, already feeling the impacts of a warming world, but the children and grandchildren of current generations will “feel the heat.” The victims of global warming are all around us, even if they’re not experiencing the worst of the phenomenon yet.
Super Bowl Sunday is coming up, and while I don’t pay enough attention to say whether it’ll be a good game, it will definitely be a green(er) game. That, plus cooler roofs for more efficient solar power, and a very quick look at over a century of global warming: your green tech finds for the week.
Buy renewable energy for your Volt: While the arguments about the energy sources for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are generally really overblown and oversimplified, many EV drivers do want the cleanest power they can get for their vehicles. So, GM is developing a system for its OnStar platform that would notify Volt drivers when there’s renewable energy available on the grid so they could plug in at the right time. (via Earth 911)
What does global warming look like? If you’re thinking big picture in response to that question, the folks at NASA have released a video that shows 131 years of global temperature fluctuations in 26 seconds. (via Climate Central and @NRDC)
If filmmakers are poets, than documentarians stand out for their use of synecdoche: the most powerful docs almost always rely on stories that point to issues bigger than themselves. AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH isn’t just about climate change, but also about human shepherding of resources. GASLAND isn’t just about fracking, but corporate power, and its effects on the lives of individuals.
Two documentaries premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival not only follow in this poetic tradition, but even revel in it.
Back when I was a full-time academic, I swear we held meetings simply for the purpose of scheduling more meetings. That seems to be what’s happening with international climate change negotiations: each round of talks since Bali in 2007 seems to degenerate into a punting of major issues to the next round. This week, delegates have gathered in Durban, South Africa to discuss a global response to climate change, and some representatives of smaller countries most affected by global warming think it’s time for new tactics. In short, they’re talking about an “occupation” of the meetings.
Tried arguing climate change science with someone who doesn’t buy it? Yeah, it’s tough… and getting tougher. Even as the science itself becomes more clear, fewer people are concerned about global warming and its effects. It’s enough to make a good greenie bang his/her head against the wall, or just move to a cave.
Or… we could just stop arguing about it.
The global Fair Trade movement has done a stellar job of highlighting the economic plight of coffee farmers in the developing world, many who barely eke out a living growing one of the world’s most heavily traded commodities. And while Fair Trade has always had an environmental element to it, that may become more pronounced as these farmers become some of the first victims of global climate change.
How do you get a group of urban high school students interested and involved in issues like climate change and environmental justice? Connecting it to the music they love is a good bet… and we’ve already seen how hip hop’s worked as a tool for engaging target audiences on topics ranging from local, healthy food to the damage created by plastic shopping bags.
Frustrated by the pace of climate policy in the US and around the world? Think you could do a better job of creating change that maintains economic and political stability while addressing the threat of global warming? Red Redemption, the British game maker who created the BBC’s popular Climate Challenge, is giving you a chance to prove your ability to save the planet with its new offering Fate of the World.
Animal agriculture has been on the climate change radar since (at least) 2006, when a report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization claimed that “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.” The common response to this news: eat lower on the food chain.
You probably understand “lower on the food chain” as “plants,” but Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis has a different take on this phrase: he thinks more people should eat insects.
If you’ve ever been to one of the big auto shows, you know that big announcements by the car companies often have many of the makings of a rock concert. For its promotion of the new CT 200h compact hybrid at the New York Auto Show, Lexus took a totally different approach: it hosted a debate on climate change.
Lifelong Jersey City resident Adam Szpala describes himself as a climate change skeptic. And cap-and-trade programs? He “thinks [they're] crazy when the economy is suffering as it has been,” according to The Jersey City Independent.
But this contractor and rental property owner loves him some solar panels… and plunked down $45,000 four years ago to install them on his own house as well as the building next door he rents out. His incentive: cost savings on energy. Because he lives in New Jersey, which has had some of the most generous rebate programs in the country (they’ve dried up some lately), he’ll likely recoup his initial investment in just a few more years. He saves about $200 a month on electricity, and also receives Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC) payments to the tune of around $7000 a year.
Low Carbon Zones across London sprang to life this week to help residents, schools and businesses go green, save money and create job opportunities at the same time. The Mayor of London awarded each of the 10 zones a share of three million pounds to fund the program that aims to cut city’s carbon dioxide emissions 20.12 percent by 2012.
The American pika does not meet the criteria for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday after completing a review of the species’ status and evaluating current and future threats to the small, mountain-dwelling mammal.
Cleanup crews and 27 skimmer boats are working to contain and remove oil from a massive spill that happened when a crude oil tanker and a barge collided Saturday in the Port Arthur Ship Channel.
From Copenhagen to cable news channels, most of the arguments surrounding global warming, and, more specifically, government responses to it, involve economic growth. These arguments often fail to miss the broader human costs that people around the globe are already experiencing as a result of a warming climate. Michael Nash’s CLIMATE REFUGEES brings these stories to the forefront: the rising seas that may engulf the island nation of Tuvalu, droughts and extreme storms in Africa and Asia, and rapid desertification in China.
One year after he was inaugurated with promises of “hope” and “change,” President Barack Obama has earned only a grade of “C” for his handling of endangered species, climate, energy, public lands, and oceans from one conservation group but an overall grade of “B+” on climate and energy from another.
The world’s largest investors today issued a statement calling on the United States and other governments to “act now to catalyze development of a low-carbon economy and to attract the vast amount of private capital necessary for such a transformation.”
With Christmas just a few days away, you may be rushing out to buy those last-minute gifts for friends and loved ones. If you’re concerned about the climate impact of the companies from which you buy, Climate Counts’ third annual ratings of corporations’ efforts to fight global warming will take one stresser out of the equation.
Just before 01.00 on Saturday morning, a number of heads of state and government agreed on a draft climate agreement at the UN conference in Copenhagen. The draft includes agreement on the target of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius and on money for climate financing.