Thursday, 07 January 2010 16:59

It's Cold Outside! Is Global Warming -Really- Over?

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Most people in the Northern Hemisphere are deep within the clutches of winter's cold. Washington, DC (where I live) received record levels of snow in December, and January has been cold enough to keep me indoors more than I care to admit. This same story is playing out all over the United States. With the cold - crops in the Southeast that are not accustomed to the cold are freezing, and the normally adept American heartland is coping with wind chills that are dipping well into negative figures. So what is the deal? Did we already solve the climate crisis with reductions and carbon offsets? Does this prove that global warming was never happening in the first place? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is no. While your actions to reduce your carbon footprint today are immensely important, there is a lot more work to be done as the existence of cold weather does not disprove the existence of man-made global warming. Even in a warming world, there will still be winter and there will still be seasons. It is easy to forget those hot summer days when it is 10 degrees outside, but it doesn't mean that the summer wasn't hot. The easiest to understand write-up (that I found) about this cold winter is offered to us by the Christian Science Monitor Bright Green Blog. To paraphrase the three reasons why cold weather doesn't negate global warming (and I highly suggest going over to read the piece):
  1. It's not actually that cold - it is cold right now, but it is not like every place is setting record lows. Some might even say that winters like this are more like the winters we used to have; but due to a recent string of warmer than average winters this one just feels colder.
  2. Some places are really hot right now- Australia and New Zealand are currently in the midst of record heat waves, and Bulgaria is close to 72 degrees right now. The 2000s were the hottest decade on record, with the 1990s closely trailing. In fact, over the last ten years, the only continent to not experience warmer than average temperatures was North America.
  3. Nobody said it would never get cold again - Winter is supposed to be colder than Summer - and a cold streak is perfectly reasonable in winter. But with global warming, the incidence of record cold days to record warm days has shown a measurable and significant drop over the last 60 years.
There are other reasons for why this cold weather doesn't mean an end to global warming explained in the article that I do encourage you to read. My take on the weather is two fold:
  1. People have short-term memories - it is hard to remember the summer heat when you are bundled up, your toes are cold and your nose is running like a faucet.
  2. People confuse weather with climate - it is nearly impossible to link any single weather event to global warming - hot or cold, catastrophic or normal - there are just too many factors at play. So one cold streak doesn't disprove global warming just like one warm streak doesn't prove it. The best measures of the climate come from scientific analysis and from observing long term trends.
Remember this winter as you are judiciously using your furnace to stay warm that this doesn't mean that the climate has been saved. It is still our responsibility to fight global warming and to reduce what we can, and offset what we can't.
Grounds for Change, a specialty coffee roaster based in the Seattle area, has released another coffee in its disaster relief/NGO support series. The Japan Relief Blend released today is aimed at providing coffee drinkers with a simple way to donate to relief efforts in Japan. The Japan Relief Blend is Fair Trade, Organic and CarbonFree® Certified, and for each regularly priced 12 ounce bag purchased, Grounds for Change will donate $2.00 to the Japan Earthquake fund at Mercy Corps, a relief and community support organization based in Portland, Oregon. Japan Relief Blend: http://www.groundsforchange.com/shop/product.php?pid=152 "Grounds for Change is an engaged member of our global community and as such, we feel compelled to reach out to those in the Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate Prefectures, as well as other communities affected by the March 11th earthquake, to provide much-needed assistance," said Kelsey Marshall, Co-Founder of Grounds for Change. "The need for relief is massive and the urgency is acute. Many people want to help but don’t know where to start. We’re making it easy for those who drink coffee to make a contribution." Grounds for Change roasts exclusively Fair Trade Certified, Organic, CarbonFree® Certified coffee which is grown in shaded conditions. In 2008, Grounds for Change partnered with CarbonFund.org to offset 100% of the global warming emissions associated with the full lifecycle of their coffee. Grounds for Change is the first coffee roaster in the country to complete the rigorous third-party certification process necessary to obtain the CarbonFree® Certified Product label. Grounds for Change is also a member of 1% for the Planet and donates at least 1% of its revenues to environmental organizations each year. In addition to donating to numerous disaster relief efforts throughout its eight years, Grounds for Change has developed partnerships with a number of non-profit organizations such as The Humane Society of the United States, Wildlife Land Trust, Seattle Audubon Society and others. Grounds for Change donates a portion of sales from each of these partnership coffees to support the on-going efforts of these valuable organizations. Grounds for Change coffee is served at independent caf� locations around the country and is available online exclusively at www.GroundsforChange.com. Press release reprinted from CSRwire.com.
CODiCODi Direct is a leading manufacturer and supplier of laptop bags and cases, mobile security and accessories.  Since 1992, their unique products have been simplifying mobile life.  They have a strong commitment to quality, value, customer service, and limiting their environmental impact.  That's why CODi ships CarbonFree® with Carbonfund.org by offsetting emissions related to shipping in support of Carbonfund.org third-party validated carbon reduction projects. With messenger bags, backpacks, rolling cases, totes, and even checkpoint friendly bags, CODi has a reliable bag for anybody.  And until January 31st, CODi is giving out a special 15% discount to Carbonfund.org supporters.  Just use the discount code "CARBONFREE" at checkout to save 15% on your entire order. "Being eco-conscious is a growing concern for us as an organization and is shaping the decision-making of many of our corporate customers," explained CODi spokesperson Julie Bancroft.  "Because our customers' needs are the cornerstone of everything we do, we have partnered with Carbonfund.org to echo our commitment to them and the environment." Carbonfund.org is proud to have CODi as a valuable partner in the fight against climate change.  To learn more or take advantage of your discount, visit www.codidirect.com.
Thursday, 21 October 2010 17:40

Leaders in Procurement Convene, Reduce Emissions

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Government procurement has helped drive the market towards more sustainable and innovative products. The federal government has required, for example, that all new federal facilities meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification standards. Next month, the country’s leaders in the government procurement process will be recognized for their efforts at the 2010 Excellence in Partnership Awards ceremony. By working with Carbonfund.org and with a generous donation from Office Depot, the Coalition for Government Procurement has calculated and offset the show’s carbon footprint by supporting third-party validated carbon reduction projects. This year’s awards will also highlight two sustainability leaders with Green Contractor Awards (read more on this year’s winners soon). If the companies highlighted next month are any indication, expect government procurement to continue to help lead the nation towards a sustainable future. If you're interested in attending this year's ceremony, please contact the Coalition for Government Procurement here.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 11:23

#ClimateTuesday is Here!

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#ClimateTuesday is here and we’re taking over facebook and twitter. Today is the day to invite your friends and supporters to get involved in a 350 event. Can we make #climatetuesday a trending topic? Can we double our registrations for the event? I think we can! On October 24, events are happening in over 150 nations across the world. In Botswana, the Maru-a-Pula school will be hosting a Green Drive “to change attitudes and lifestyle of our students and our community.” They will be launching a new recycling center, promoting their organic garden and a strong treaty in Copenhagen. In the Maldives, a country whose citizens will lose their homes and way of life if we don’t reach this goal, a team of divers will build an artificial reef shaped like the three numbers: 3, 5 and 0. (They've produced an awesome video.) In Washington DC, local leaders and activists will be marching to the White House to call on Obama and the nation to get a strong international treaty. Not half-measures or baby steps, but a comprehensive global deal on protecting the earth’s climate. Find an event in your area, and help us spread the word! If you are in DC and reaching out to DC folks, here’s the DC event: http://bit.ly/381tFG DC tweet: RT @Carbonfundorg: #climatetuesday action: join @350 on facebook & join events around the world on Oct. 24th ! http://bit.ly/381tFG #green #climatebill For those outside of DC, here’s the main 350 event: http://bit.ly/1pUcwZ National Tweet: RT @Carbonfundorg: #climatetuesday action: join @350 on facebook & join events around the world on Oct. 24th ! http://bit.ly/1pUcwZ #green #climatebill People talking about #climatetuesday on Twitter
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 11:09

Climate Refugees

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tuvaluAs sea levels rise, the picture of a new kind of refugee emerges.  Climate refugees are people displaced by global warming and related environmental disasters. Hundreds of thousands of these refugees have already been displaced from permanently flooded coastal areas in places like Bohla Island in Bangladesh and the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea.  The 10,000 Tuvaluans living on the low island atoll of Tuvalu pictured here may be next. But rising sea levels do not only affect these exotic far away places.  Nearly a quarter of the world's population lives in low coastal areas.  Some of the world's great cities like London, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Mumbai, Cairo, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Shanghai are vulnerable to rising sea levels.  According to Elaine Kurtenbach of the Associated Press, Chinese cities are among the largest and most threatened.  In Shanghai, developers seem to ignore this threat, and they are building new infrastructure on the densely populated coasts.  By 2070, experts estimate that nearly 150 million people will be living in areas vulnerable to flooding from rising sea levels.
International climate change negotiations received an unexpected blow when the UN's top climate change official, Yvo de Boer, announced he will step down from the post as of July 1. A Dutch national, de Boer was appointed as the Executive Secretary of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in September 2006. De Boer has been largely well regarded during his time in the position and is widely credited with raising the profile of climate negotiations and delivering a series of breakthroughs towards a deal. Though in recent months, the UNFCCC and their seminal reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have come under fire. While the science that underpins the IPCC studies remains strong, slight errors in the IPCC reports have raised the ire of global warming detractors. In a statement, de Boer announced he will take up a post as global adviser on climate and sustainability at consultancy giant KPMG, adding that it is the private sector that will ultimately deliver the deep cuts in carbon emissions that are required. “Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming. This calls for new partnerships with the business sector and I now have the chance to help make this happen,” said de Boer. His successor is expected to be named in the next few months.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 12:24

Climate Change's Link to Global Security

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What do climate change and war have to do with each other? To the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, they’re intricately linked. The BPFNA is leading Baptists to build a culture of peace rooted in justice.  By teaching their member churches about worldwide conflict and putting their words into action, the BPFNA has taken a prominent role to fight for peace and for action to combat climate change. For the BPFNA, climate change is more than an environmental concern.  As they say, “Peace is not possible when we live at war with the Earth.” They also point out, “Peace is not possible when the poor suffer disproportionately - in natural disasters, in conflicts, in economic hard times - and as the climate of the Earth changes. In this point, they are not alone. As the New York Times reported, the Pentagon has concluded that:
Climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments.  Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.
Therefore, as the BPFNA fights for peace worldwide, they actively seek to minimize their environmental footprint. At their annual conference this summer, BPFNA collected donations to offset the conference’s carbon footprint. BPFNA also provides advice to their members on how to reduce their environmental footprints.