Large industrialized nations such as the United States and Australia no longer can point to lesser developed countries for refusing to set binding emissions targets. This week the head of the United Nation's (UN) climate change secretariat, Christiana Figueres, praised on Twitter the "remarkable leadership ahead of [a] 2015 agreement" of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) willingness to sign legally binding emission reduction targets as part of any new international climate treaty. The 2015 agreement aims to provide a new draft international climate change treaty that will then be enacted by 2020.
Last week Quamrul Chowdury, lead negotiator for the LDC Group, told Climate News Network that the group would accept binding emission targets as part of any new deal, provided they are based on countries' differing circumstances, and that they would like to see all countries face such targets.
Historically the group of 49 LDCs, which together cover 12 per cent of the world's population, refused to accept responsibility for helping to solve a problem they do not believe they caused. This allowed some developed countries to argue that they will make cuts only when the LDCs do so, despite the fact that it is industrialization and development that have largely contributed to the human caused portion of climate change.
Also this week, Responding to Climate Change reported that Afghanistan became the latest country to formally ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The country is now required to develop its own national action plan, including development of low carbon infrastructure and adaptation to climate change. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and shows little sign of ever doing so while Canada, Japan and New Zealand withdrew from the agreement at the last round of UN climate talks in Doha.
The LDCs willingness to sign targets is a critical step forward in negotiations that have been stalled for years with industrialized nations and lesser developed countries at loggerheads. The LDCs have stepped up and made the first move. Now it is time for the U.S. to make its citizens proud and commit to legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as well. The fact is our country is out of excuses. Let’s not run out of time to save the planet too.
As spring nudges its way into April, most of us are looking forward to longer, warmer days and short-sleeved outdoor activities. There is, however, a very hardy group of extreme sports enthusiasts preparing for the grueling sub-zero temperatures that will envelope them during the running of the 11th annual UVU (You versus You) North Pole Marathon on April 9th.
The North Pole Marathon is run over the classic 26.2 miles marathon distance, and the race includes an individual competition with male and female divisions and a team competition for teams of three or more. There will be 24 hours of daylight at the North Pole during race time, so the race is scheduled to commence at midnight, if the conditions are optimal. Forty-eight competitors from 20 countries will take part in the 2013 UVU North Pole Marathon.
This year’s UVU North Pole Marathon will set a record of its own by achieving CarbonFree® Event status in partnership with Carbonfund.org. Race organizer Polar Running Adventures worked with Carbonfund.org to assess the event-related carbon dioxide emissions resulting from attendees’ international flights to the Svalbard, Norway meeting venue, attendee and staff travel from Svalbard to the North Pole camp, all helicopter flight emissions related to race set-up and management, and heating fuel consumed by the accommodation tents provided at the race site.
The overall calculated emissions impact was then offset by an equal investment in reforestation projects in the Brazilian Amazon in order to neutralize the estimated race-related emissions.
The North Pole Marathon race course crosses Arctic ice floes six to twelve feet thick, located at the Geographic North Pole. In fact, not a single section of this marathon crosses over land. Dubbed the 'World's Coolest Marathon' by Runner's World magazine in 2004, and with temperatures hovering around April’s 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, icicles forming on eyelashes, eyebrows and noses will be the least of the competitors’ worries.
The first ever North Pole Marathon was a 'solo' run by Polar Running Adventures’ own Richard Donovan. Richard won the First Ever South Pole Marathon ten weeks previously and became the first marathoner at both poles by completing the North Pole Marathon.
"The melting sea ice of the Arctic Ocean is often cited to be the result of the impact of global warming. Hence, the North Pole Marathon is very conscious of the need to use its race location on the polar ice cap in a positive environmental manner,” explains Richard. “Many of the participants use the event to spread climate change messages to a large global audience, and we have found a perfect partner in Carbonfund.org to make sure our race is CarbonFree®."
In addition to organizing the world's most northerly marathon, Polar Running Adventures also organizes the world's most southerly marathon, the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Working with a network of associate specialists, including the world's foremost polar logistics experts, the company delivers world class events in the most remote parts of the planet. Carbonfund.org admires these hearty competitors and is proud to partner with Polar Running Adventures to help the North Pole Marathon achieve CarbonFree® status.
Green Web Hosting is getting a lot of attention as it seems that every business of any size is setting up a website. Businesses with a commitment to environmental sustainability are looking for the cleanest, greenest ways to run their websites.
Green web hosting companies are able to offer their services as being more environmentally responsible by reducing or mitigating emissions from their own server and IT electricity consumption. The CarbonFree® Business Partnership program makes this a simple and affordable step, and HostBaby Web Hosting of Portland, OR recently made the move to green web hosting with Carbonfund.org.
HostBaby offers web hosting services that help independent musicians, authors and artists create highly customizable websites. Now HostBaby’s services will be CarbonFree® through HostBaby’s support of Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy and clean air technology projects.
In addition to its CarbonFree® commitment, HostBaby maintains a robust recycling program and paperless billing. The company helps facilitate ride-share programs for its employees by offering discounted year-round bus passes and giving gas cards to employees who rack up carpooling miles. They also participate in the Bike Commute Challenge every year with sister company CD Baby.
"It’s essential that all businesses conserve and establish sustainable practices,” states Chris Bolton, HostBaby Marketing. “The future is at stake. HostBaby is committed to doing our part."
Part of Carbonfund.org's mission is to bring to our readership and subscribers the current issues surrounding and the proposed solutions available to address the negative impacts of climate change. While this objective is intended to be informational, it is also intended to provide simple actions that each of us can take to help solve the climate crisis.
Our previous post addressed the politics of climate change, underscoring the importance and impact that grass-roots efforts can bring to bear on current issues. It also elicits action you can take today to insist your political representatives take notice and take actions consistent with the public’s demand for climate crisis solutions.
Well, here’s a great place to take up the challenge.
Last month, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) proposed a very aggressive bill to address climate change through a series of measures intended to:
- place a carbon emissions fee on the top fossil fuel polluters in the US,
- protect communities from the environmental harms of natural gas fracturing,
- invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives,
- create a clean energy rebate program for consumers, and
- contribute to national debt reduction.
The provisions of the bill are very clearly explained in this summary posted on Senator Sanders’ website.
The proposed legislation has garnered “overwhelming public support” expressed through an online public survey and from key environmental leaders across the country, including Bill McKibben of 350.org, Mike Brune of Sierra Club, and Tara McGuiness of Center for American Progress.
Read environmental leadership quotes supporting the legislation on Senator Sanders’ website.
The imperative to “tax” carbon emissions in order to curb fossil fuel consumption was underscored by report just released by the International Monetary Fund in support of eliminating energy subsidies as a way to more accurately reflect the true cost of energy sources.
In his op-ed published by the Guardian, Senator Sanders explained part of the motivation for the proposed legislation:
“We will never fully deal with this crisis until Congress passes strong legislation. Sen. Boxer and I are going to fight as hard as we can to do that, and we will work to rally support from American families all across this country that care deeply about their children and grandchildren's future, and want to protect them from this planetary crisis.”
Let your Congressional representatives hear from you today – let them know that you support the Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act proposed by Sanders and Boxer. Tell them that you demand action – today – to develop real and effective solutions to combat the climate crisis.
Among our long-term CarbonFree® Business Partners are many that choose to support our renewable energy projects, in part because their own business operations provide essential services to green energy resources.
Concord, NH-based FiberNext does just this, maintaining its CarbonFree® operations for the past five years while providing fiber optics communication solutions to the green energy industry.
FiberNext, a versatile turnkey fiber optics solutions provider, has been involved with the design and implementation of fiber optic networks for commercial scale wind farm sites. An industry leader in this area, FiberNext has established a commitment to green energy initiatives by supplying developers of clean wind energy with next generation communication systems. This focus on renewable energy made it a compatible choice to support Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects with annual donations as a CarbonFree® Business Partner.
"Carbonfund.org seemed like an effective way to make a direct contribution to clean energy initiatives, which is at the heart of our business and corporate culture," explains Craig Bowden, Sales and Marketing Manager for FiberNext. "The media recognition that Carbonfund.org had already generated for itself as an innovator in the area of carbon offsets helped us realize it was a legitimate and reputed vehicle in this emerging market."
Over the past five years, FiberNext has neutralized its annual operational emissions by an amount equivalent to the emissions from the annual electricity consumed by twenty-five households. The CarbonFree® Business Partnership program has helped FiberNext to lead by example in the renewable energy field, and we commend their ongoing commitment to a cleaner energy future.
Global warming has become a highly charged political issue. The players in the climate change drama cast into different roles. It seems like you must be a Democrat to be interested in combating global warming, or if you’re a Republican, you cannot be environmentally motivated.
“The Earth’s climate does not care whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn’t care whether you’re liberal or conservative. Climate change will affect all Americans no matter what your political beliefs, your religious beliefs, your race, class, creed, et cetera, okay. And in the end, the only way we’re going to deal with this issue is if we come together as a country and have a serious conversation, not about is it real. But what can we do about it,” Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and a Research Scientist at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University said in an episode titled, “Encore: Ending the Silence on Climate Change” this month on Bill Moyer & Company.
For many years fossil fuel company interests have waged an active disinformation campaign that has borne fruit for them. They learned well from tobacco war strategy, which was to make people believe the science isn’t clear and that the experts do not agree. This leads the average person to reserve judgment on climate change. They aren’t likely to take global warming seriously until it seems that the experts reach a conclusion. Unfortunately that day will be long coming because these big, powerful companies will continue to spread misinformation.
The climate change disinformation campaign has spread so far that it’s even affected politics. In last year’s presidential election the question was, “If we focus on protecting the environment, won’t that harm the economy?” The truth is that there is no inherent contradiction. The U.S. could, in fact, lead the Green Industrial Revolution.
What is also interesting is that Republicans weren’t always painted with the not caring about global warming brush. They actually led the charge on issues such as acid rain. President George H.W. Bush passed cap and trade legislation on sulfur dioxide. It was one of the most successful environmental programs in American history, and it was accomplished at a cost far below even best guess estimates at the time.
The answer to the politicization of climate change is that the U.S. needs a groundswell of grassroots movement for environmental change. We need to get organized and demand change of our politicians. This country’s political system simply is not conducive to making the changes itself to deal with the global warming crisis we desperately need. Let’s take partisan gridlock out of the picture. We can begin by mobilizing and directing the 16 percent of Americans that are the Alarmed, defined in my last post on climate change communication, but are unsure what to do to make a difference in climate change.
We’ve heard the phrase “think globally, act locally” associated with many environmental movements and causes. Our CarbonFree® Business Partnership program takes this call to action a step further by helping businesses of all sizes to “act globally and act locally.”
For the past five years, Monica’s Waterfront Bakery & Café in Silverdale, WA has heeded this call. They’ve maintained a CarbonFree® Business as an important part of their overall commitment to “remarkable customer service” and sustainable business practices. Monica and her team recognized that it was important to supplement their dedication to sourcing locally, and to eliminating waste and emissions wherever possible, by adding a global commitment to neutralizing all annual carbon emissions from their business operations.
"Because we know we are doing some things well and there are lots of things that we can do better,” explains Monica Downen, Owner and namesake of the bakery and café. “We love that we reduce what we can and offset what we can't!"
Monica’s Waterfront Bakery & Café offers a menu featuring local produce, dairy, eggs, coffee, honey, sodas, flour and grains, pickles, and poultry. The staff composts food waste, recycles, uses compact fluorescent light bulbs and subscribes to green power through the local utility. All of these efforts accompany their five-year commitment to maintaining a CarbonFree® operation.
Make sure your sustainable business plan minimizes your impact on the environment. Join Monica’s Waterfront Bakery and Café in our CarbonFree® Business Partnership program and support our carbon reduction and clean air technology projects around the world.
My last blog post covered the psychology of climate change. The post closed questioning whether or not the public will heed global warming’s warning signs. One of the dilemmas facing climate change educators is that research has shown that there is no single American public. There are actually six distinct audiences that need to be communicated with differently regarding climate change.
Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and a Research Scientist at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, says in an episode titled, “Encore: Ending the Silence on Climate Change” this month on Bill Moyer & Company, “There are multiple publics within the United States. In fact, what we've identified are six Americas.”
Leiserowitz goes on to outline, “Six different Americas that each respond to this issue in very different ways and need different kinds of information about climate change to become more engaged with it.” He cautions those of us that want to educate others about global warming, “if we were to do a true engagement campaign in this country we would need to recognize that there are very different Americans who need to be engaged in very different ways who have different values and who trust different messengers.”
Here are the six publics that Leiserowitz refers to:
This group comprises roughly 16 percent of the public and is made up of people who believe global warming is happening. They acknowledge that it is primarily a human caused, serious and urgent problem, and they want to begin implementing solutions as quickly as possible.
However, they aren’t always certain what the solutions are. This is coupled with an uncertainty as to what they can accomplish as individuals as well as society at large. There are things we can do on both fronts, but there remains a communication gap climate change educators need to begin addressing.
This group composes about 29 percent of the public. Like the Alarmed, the Concerned believe climate change is happening, it’s human caused and serious. Where the two groups differ is on the urgency of the problem. The Concerned tend to think of global warming as a distant problem.
Distance is perceived by this group on two levels: in time and space. The Concerned think of climate change impacting their children or other future generations. Spatially, they think global warming is affecting Arctic animals or island nations such as the Philippines. In essence, climate change is a serious problem to this group, but they think there will be plenty of time to address it in the future.
Approximately a quarter of the public make up the Cautious group. This group is undecided. They question whether or not global warming is happening and what is causing it. They aren’t sure it’s even a serious threat, but at least they’re listening. Climate change educators need to engage this group on some of the basic facts of global warming.
This group comprises around eight percent of the public. These people have heard about global warming, but know nothing substantial about it. Climate change educators should begin by elevating the Disengaged’s basic awareness of the issue. Then they need to outline global warming’s causes, consequences and potential solutions.
The second to last group makes up roughly 13 percent of the public. This group doesn’t think climate change is really happening, and if it is it is natural and not human caused. This leads the Doubtful to believe there is nothing that we can do about the issue. These people pay scant attention to global warming, but even if they do they’re inclined to believe it is not a problem.
This last group comprises a mere eight percent of the American public, but they are very vocal. These people do not believe climate change is happening, nor do they believe it is human caused or a serious problem. Many of the Dismissive are conspiracy theorists who claim global warming is a hoax. They loudly and openly question the validity of climate science data, claiming it’s some sort of plot to further other countries and/or people’s gains.
As you can see from the six distinct publics, there are some definite climate change communication challenges, but the first step is certainly knowing your audience. Perhaps we should also consider looking at statistics in a different way, one that addresses humans’ visual nature.
Seeing Climate Change from a Different Perspective
Chris Jordan is a digital photographic artist best known for his large scale works portraying mass consumption, consumerism and waste. Jordan imbeds the message in his art. For example, the photograph above titled, “Caps Seurat” is made up of 400,000 plastic bottle caps, which is equal to the average number of plastic bottles consumed in the United States every minute. Jordan has said of his art, “There's this contrast between the beauty in the images and the underlying grotesqueness of the subjects. And it's something that I put there intentionally. Because I was using beauty as a seduction, to draw the viewer in to sit through the piece long enough that the underlying message might seep in.”
Now that you see the art of climate change communication, I’ll explore the political nature of the issue in my next blog post, which is the final in this three-part series.