The Earth is 70% covered by oceans, and stores about 90% of the planet’s heat.  This means that ocean warming translates into global warming.  Climate change deniers contend that global warming is not caused by greenhouse gas emissions, but rather by natural processes and variations.  However, a study released this week proves with 99% certainty that no more than 10% of the observed increase in ocean temperatures over the past 50 years could be accounted for by natural variation.

The Human-Induced Global Ocean Warming on Multidecadal Timescales study is the most comprehensive study ever performed on rising ocean temperatures, and authored by a team of American, Indian, Japanese, and Australian scientists.  According to the study, the planet’s oceans are warming at a rate of 0.20°F per decade, which affects global weather patterns leading to increasing weather extremes such as more heat waves, storms, and intense storms.  Furthermore, ocean warming affects the ocean ecology itself.  A few of the effects we’ve already begun to see are plankton reduction, melting sea ice, and coral die-off. 

The study unequivocally points to global warming as man-made.  Of course, this has been known, shown and settled for nearly twenty years by the IPCC and climate scientists around the world.  But the shift to ocean warming is significant due to its proportion of the Earth and its surface as well as because the vast majority of the people on Earth live very close to rising oceans.

Four or five years ago we shifted from the question of ‘is it happening’ to ‘what to do about it’.  Political and business interests have worked hard to shift this debate back again, but the real focus must remain on the numerous solutions to climate change and the dwindling timeline we have to reduce our global emissions 50-80% by mid century.

Download the full study at this link: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n7/full/nclimate1553.html

 

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We can do a lot as individuals to combat global warming.  But it is undeniable that governments can do more since they harness the power of the collective.  The Obama administration’s strategy is to control global warming emissions through regulation.  This week a huge victory was given to both the administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia.  The decision was unanimous in upholding the agency’s landmark rulings to control greenhouse gases.

The issue seems like a “no brainer” that the EPA should regulate greenhouse gases.  However, dozens of lawsuits from industry groups and 14 states challenged four rules that aim to limit greenhouse gases.  The biggest rule is the EPA’s 2009 “endangerment finding” and the foundation on which the other three rules rest.  The EPA contended, and was vindicated in this ruling, that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions constitute a danger to public health and therefore could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  The three-judge panel acknowledged and gave credence to climate change as a real and legitimate threat to public health and safety.  So now climate change deniers have less of a leg to stand on; the EPA based its case on sound science and careful research which stood up to a rigorous judicial review and emerged victorious.

The ruling cleared the way for the EPA to proceed with clean car standards and restrictive permits on power plants and other major industrial polluters.  Perhaps now power plants will put increased effort into developing cost-effective and reliable methods to capture carbon emissions, or at least offset them.  If not, the future will certainly be in renewable energy sources now that there are stricter limitations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Published in carbonfree blog
Friday, 22 June 2012 09:09

Ensuring that We Have a Future

Everyone has heard the saying that children are our future.  Well, this week, a child spoke out about climate change and how the path we are on “with the earth warming, emissions and sea levels rising, our future here is questionable.”

Tcktcktck.org, the Global Campaign for Climate Action, offered young people around the world a chance for a Date with History by asking them, “If you had two minutes to tell the world's leaders what kind of future you want, what would you say?”  The organization received nearly 200 video entries and thousands of votes.  The winner was 17-year-old Brittany Trilford of New Zealand.

This eloquent young lady addressed heads of state from more than 130 nations on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 and spoke for the world’s approximately 3 billion children, roughly half of the Earth’s population, at this week's U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The conference is also called Rio+20 to mark the 20th anniversary of the initial Earth Summit.

 “Our future is in danger.  We are all aware that time is ticking and we are quickly running out” said Miss Trilford voicing many parents’ fears.

“The people [20 years ago] at the [first Earth] Summit knew there needed to be change…  They made great promises...  These promises are left, not broken, but empty.”

“We, the next generation, demand change; demand action, so that we can have a future.”

Watch Brittany Trilford’s moving speech on climate change here http://youtu.be/karQQb-B8Uk and click here to see The Future I Want: her winning entry for the Date with History contest http://youtu.be/hpxsvZ4eqZk.

Climate change mitigation is possible.  Carbonfund.org provides a number of ways for individuals to make a difference and reduce their impact on climate change, including reducing emissions by supporting reforestation projects.  Get involved now so we can build a sustainable world and ensure our children’s future.

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New information is coming to light about the massive collapse of one of the world’s oldest and earliest urban civilizations.  The Harappan, or Indus, civilization came into being over 4,000 years ago and existed for about 600 years before it slowly disappeared.  Scientists and scholars have hypothesized about its demise.  Theories range from regional conflicts to a foreign attack, but some suggest environmental issues may have been the cause. 

Researchers recently published an article named, “Fluvial landscapes of the Harappan civilization” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlining evidence that points to environmental factors leading to the end of this ancient civilization.  The scientists studied satellite maps and collected field sediment samples, then cross-referenced them with previous archaeological findings to develop a much clearer picture of what really happened to this long-lost civilization.

The Harappan civilization is named for one of its largest cities, and occupied what is now India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and part of Afghanistan.  It had a sophisticated indoor plumbing system, gridded streets, a flourishing arts and crafts community, and what appears to be a more democratic society than other large civilizations such as Egypt or Mesopotamia. 

The Harappans were largely dependent upon monsoons that dried up leading to the end of their urban environment.  They used the rivers and seasonal floods that were fed by these monsoons to meet their agricultural needs.  Once the monsoons weakened, people slowly moved eastward away from cities into small villages and towns.  The water in the area they moved to was unable to support the large cities of the past.  

There are lessons to be learned from the extinction of this colossal civilization.  The Harappans were overly dependent on monsoons that eventually disappeared and the U.S. is also largely dependent on somewhat predictable weather, which is now threatened by climate change.  Americans need to prepare for increasingly extreme weather, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase energy efficiency, and we need to do it now before we suffer a similar fate to that of the Harappans.

Published in carbonfree blog
Thursday, 24 May 2012 16:13

Killer Climate Change

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 that estimates 150,000 additional American deaths in the country’s top 40 cities by 2100 due to the excessive heat caused by climate change.

The top three deadliest cities outlined in the analysis of peer-reviewed data include Louisville, Detroit, and Cleveland.  Some other cities projected to have thousands of heat related deaths by the end of the century are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

Why cities?  Because that is where two-thirds of the U.S. population lives, and many municipal services there are not prepared to help people effectively beat the heat.  Urban areas have high concentrations of poor with little to no access to air conditioning.  Although everyone is at risk, children, the elderly, the obese, and those on medication are the most vulnerable. 

We’re already seeing how global warming can kill with hundreds of heat related deaths annually.  Extreme heat causes heat exhaustion and heat stroke and worsens illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.  In 2006, a two-week long heat wave in California caused 655 deaths, 1,620 excess hospitalizations, and more than 16,000 additional emergency room visits, resulting in nearly $5.4 billion in costs.  However, Chicago had an even deadlier record-setting heat wave in 1995 when more than 700 people died due to the excessive heat.

Some cities are learning from their experiences or heeding the warnings, and strengthening their municipal services.  Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle have already put measures in place to lessen the risk from excessive heat days.  Measures include improving the city’s heat warning system, emergency services, and establishing cooling centers.

There is hope; we can save lives by reducing emissions and improving emergency services.  Some examples of climate change mitigation are supporting reforestation projects and using more renewable energy such as wind energy.

Read the report and get more information at http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/killer-heat/.

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LEI Electronics and EcoAlkalines™ are ecstatic to be able to announce that EcoAlkalines™ Batteries, the World’s first Landfill safe, Certified Carbon Neutral Alkaline Batteries have been certified meet LEED standards.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)® Green Building Program is a voluntary, consensus-based global rating system for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.  LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) with the intent on providing building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. LEED is based on a credit system and points are allocated based on the potential environmental impacts and human benefits of each credit. Under the current LEED credit system, EcoAlkalines™ batteries can help earn one prerequisite and one point under the LEED category of Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) rating system.

For more information on LEED standards visit www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19 

Eco Alkalines™ have been reviewed by a LEED AP third party – Above Green, LLC. Above Green has provided us with a LEED certified technical statement which explains exactly which prerequisites and points Eco Alkalines™ batteries can be used to count towards.

As per Above Green, LLC:

EcoAlkalines are the world's first certified carbon neutral batteries. Manufactured with 0% Mercury, 0% Lead, 0% Cadmium – EcoAlkalines™ set the standard for responsible disposable alkaline batteries. Because of these qualities, EcoAlkalines are considered an environmentally preferable product. If you own and operate a LEED Certified building, include EcoAlkalines™ as part of your purchasing policy, and earn points toward certification and recertification of your facility.” 

Applicable   Credit Category and Credit Name

Number   of Points

MRp1: Sustainable Purchasing Policy

          Prerequisite

MRc1: Sustainable Purchasing - Ongoing Consumables

1

  • Materials and Resources Prerequisite 1 ("MRp1"): Sustainable Purchasing Policy requires facilities managers to develop a comprehensive purchasing plan, which sets goals for the purchasing of environmental friendly products.
  • Materials and Resources Credit 1 ("MRc1"): Sustainable Purchasing - Ongoing Consumables focuses on the implementation of MRp1, specifically in the procurement of environmentally friendly ongoing consumables, including batteries.

Carbonfund.org is pleased see one of our Carbon Neutral Certified Products recognized by the USGBC as meeting LEEDs Green Building Program Standards and congratulates LEI Electronics on this achievement. For more information about EcoAlkalines™ please visit: http://www.leiproducts.com/eco-alkalines and to learn more about Carbon Neutral Certification through Carbonfund.org please visit: http://carbonfund.org/offset/product-certification.

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A new study named, “Dispersal will limit ability of mammals to track climate change in the Western Hemisphere” from the University of Washington released on Monday, May 14, 2012 examines how 493 animals will fare as they attempt to outrun the rising heat from climate change. 

The article, authored by Carrie A. Schloss, Tristan A. Nuñez, and Joshua J. Lawler, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and says on average 9.2% of the mammals in the study migrate too slowly to keep pace with expected climate shifts.  In some places, such as the Amazon basin and parts of the Appalachian Mountains, up to 39% of animals may be unable to find suitable climates in a warming world.

Contrary to popular belief, although temperature changes are expected to be more extreme in mountainous regions, equatorial-dwelling mammals may have a rougher time moving their ranges fast enough.  This is because temperatures at the equator have been fairly static and the animals that live there are adapted to steady temperatures.  Conversely, animals that live in the mountains don’t have as far to go to find cooler temperatures.  Flat lands are also a problem for mammals.  For example, animals that live in the Central United States or the Amazon basin will need to travel farther to beat the heat.

Mammals that take several years to mature, such as New World monkeys, disperse more slowly and this puts them in danger of extinction.  The study indicates that a whopping 87% of animals are expected to have smaller dispersal ranges.  Of which, 20% will probably result from limited dispersal abilities rather than less suitable climates.

The analysis provides additional information on how humans might help these animals and our own plight.  Reducing emissions is critical to slow down climate change.  However, it is also possible to ease animal migration barriers such as shopping centers, roads, and cities.  In fact, people could even build corridors to help the mammals reach safe havens in time.

Published in carbonfree blog
Friday, 04 May 2012 11:53

May 5th is Climate Impacts Day

If you read our earlier blog post on the connection between extreme weather and climate change http://carbonfund.org/blog/item/4605-un-climate-panel-report-links-global-warming-and-weather-extremes, you’re already aware of this issue and have connected the dots to an extent.  But perhaps you walked away from the blog post asking yourself, what can I do about climate change?  Well here is an event in which you can participate.  This Saturday, May 5, 2012 is Climate Impacts Day. 

Climate Impacts Day is a global day of action that spotlights people around the world who are connecting the dots between extreme weather and climate change.  The focus of individual events varies among assorted communities spanning the globe.  Follow this link to find an event near you.  http://act.climatedots.org/event/impacts_en/search/#

Next steps after connecting the dots between extreme weather and climate change are to connect the dots to solutions.  Clean energy, food-based initiatives, and political organizing for climate action are just a few solutions anyone can put their efforts toward to address climate change and its impacts.

There are also a couple things we can do regarding the impact of climate change.  We must adapt to the impacts that are we are already seeing, and the impacts we know are coming.  Then it’s important to organize to make our governments and businesses take the bold action needed to prevent the truly catastrophic effects of climate change, the effects to which we cannot adapt.  This includes eliminating the use of fossil fuels and moving to renewable power sources as soon as possible.

Extreme weather and climate change may seem like a far-off problem, but it is here and there is something everyone can do.  Attend a Climate Impacts Day event.  Learn more at http://www.climatedots.org/.

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on Wednesday last week, warning that there is evidence from observations gathered since 1950 of change in some weather and climate extremes, including heat waves and record high temperatures. 

“Evidence of climate change is expressing itself to people in different parts of the world in lots of different ways.  There are some places in the world where there has been an increase in droughts, especially in Southern Europe and Africa.  In other parts of the world there have been increases in heavy rainfall events.  We’ve seen that especially in North America,” said the Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group II, Chris Field, a climate expert with the Carnegie Institution for Science in a video overview of the report.

The 592-page Special Report is named, “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)” and is the first to focus on extreme weather changes whereas past IPCC reports highlighted the gradual rise of temperatures and oceans.

SREX is the world’s most current assessment of climate change risks.  The report is aimed at policymakers and its main thrust is that enough is known about climate change for the world’s leaders to start making decisions about how to handle the risks.

The report does not address reducing greenhouse gas emissions which have been blamed in large part for increasing global warming.  Instead, it offers a range of strategies for adapting to a warmer world.  Although mitigation of climate change is not the focus of this report, adaptation and mitigation can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change.

“It’s beginning to dawn on people that something is going on; that something bigger is afoot.  The frontline of climate change is in the backyard,” said Susanne Moser of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting.  Nations need to act now, because increasingly extreme weather is already a trend.

For more information or to read the full report from the IPCC, click this link.  http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/

 

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According to a United Nations report released Monday of this week, significant threats to global water supplies include climate change, rapid urbanization, and an unprecedented rise in the demand for food.  The report also indicates that a drastic new approach to managing this essential resource is necessary to sustain future generations.

The 4th edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR4), ‘Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’ was launched on the first day of the World Water Forum, in Marseille, France.  The report estimates that there will be a 70 percent increase in demand for food by the year 2050, spurring a 19 percent surge in water used for agriculture.  Currently, 70 percent of freshwater is already being used for agricultural purposes.

Climate change has an increasing impact on water resources as it changes soil humidity and rainfall patterns, causes glaciers to melt, and raises the number of water-related disasters such as floods and droughts.  All of these impact food production.  The report estimates that by 2070, this impact will affect up to 44 million people world-wide.

The report also shows that sanitation infrastructure is not keeping pace.  More than 80 percent of the world's waste water is neither collected nor treated.

However, the report does not stop at pointing to the world’s water problems.  It also aims to provide decision-makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water.  Best practices are offered as well as in-depth theoretical analyses to help stimulate ideas and actions for better stewardship in the water sector.  Additionally, through a series of assessments, a mechanism is provided for monitoring changes in water management and tracking progress towards achieving targets.

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