Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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History of the United State’s Effort to Lead the War on Climate Change

Climate Change

Temperatures are steadily rising on our planet.

The President’s Decision Will Have Major Effects on People, the Environment, and the International Status of our Country.

By Dr. John J. Hidore
June 2, 2017—-The United States has been a world leader for decades in the effort to take action to slow or stop the warming of planet Earth. In 1992 a United Nations conference know as the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At that conference the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adapted. The United States played a key role in that conference, where the to reduction of emissions from greenhouse gases was initiated.

Negotiations were held in Kyoto, Japan in the fall of 1997. Opposition to the Protocol by the corporate world was so great that the negotiations nearly collapsed. Representatives of the United States pleaded for adaption. Then vice President Al Gore led the fight for adoption. The supporter of the document won. The treaty finally came into full force in 2005 when enough countries satisfied the criteria necessary for adaptation.

Melting of the Arctic

The Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate.

The United States became a leading proponent of the Paris Climate agreement of 2015. The agreement will greatly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the years ahead. It was agreed to by almost every country in the world.

Shredding America’s Leadership on Climate Change

America’s leadership in taking action on climate change may be shredded. The GOP now controls the federal government and most state governments. Their position is that profits are more important than people. Greed is the primary ethic driving this policy.

The newly elected president has laid out extensive plans that will essentially prevent any action from being taken to reduce the risk of climate change if it will affect corporate profits. First and foremost the president has repeatedly stated that he would withdraw the United States participation in the Paris Climate agreement. As a major producer of these gases the decision to withdraw from the agreement spits in the face of every other country and every individual living on the planet. His stance on the agreement was a major topic at the Group of Seven (G7) meetings in Taormina, Italy this past month. The group of seven includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and japan in addition to the United States.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

Since the United States is the second leading country in the production of greenhouse gases, it would severely reduce the importance of the agreement. It is second only to China which has signed onto the agreement. Many very important persons on the international scene have encouraged President Trump to keep this country in the agreement. The first on the current trip to admonish Trump on the environment was the Pope, who gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on the environment. Others that made a strong case for the US staying in the agreement were major players in the European Union.

Effects on People, the Environment, and the International Status of our Country

What the United States does on this issue is of global importance since we are such a large consumer of energy and source of greenhouse gas emissions. At the time of this writing it is unclear what decision the President will make. He can stay with his plan to withdraw us from the world agreement in favor of profits, he can keep us in the agreement and lower our goals for cutting greenhouse gases, or he can decide to keep this country in tune with the rest of the world and honor our pledge to do something about global warming and climate change. If he decides on the latter it will at least do two things. One, announce to the world that profits for American corporations are the number one goal of his administration, and two, decide to further tarnish our image and trust by the rest of the world!

Do your part in reducing CO2!

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Make a Difference: Action Against Climate Change

Global warming and climate change are real! Get involved.

You can help!

The truth is that individuals can and do make a difference.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

September 6, 2015—-I have been writing and talking about the massive and unexpected results of global warming and climate change for decades. The reaction I receive from some people varies from laughter to absolute denial of the existence of global warming and climate change. There will always be deniers! More often when I talk with people about climate change, they tell me they believe it is taking place, but as an individual, there is nothing they can do about it. I understand because I often feel the same way. My response is to suggest that, not only can they do something about it, but only when enough individuals demand action will those in power respond!

Education Against Destructive Policies

The truth is that individuals can and do make a difference. If you can get a number of individuals to work together, you have a group. In today’s world individuals can identify and join others in ways not possible a decade ago. The internet and social media allow individuals to find people with similar interests to work together, even if they are separated by long distances. If you can educate just one other person of the reality and consequences of following a destructive policy, such as denying global warming, you have made a difference! If you convince even a few people to change their position you have created a group to support your position. A group can make a difference! In communities a group can make a difference on policies and if a number of groups with the same goals come together you have a crowd. A crowd can make a difference in a city, county or state. When crowds in different locations combine their efforts, it is possible to change national policy. In this manner individuals can turn into a crowd in an unbelievably short time and make a big difference on political and economic decisions.

Here’s an analogy: If enough molecules of water combine they can form a drop of water. If enough drops of water come together, you can get a cloud or a lake. The ocean covers the majority of our Earth’s surface. Even the global ocean is formed from individual drops of water! Similarly, sand dunes are made up of individual grains of sand.

Sustainable living on a sustainable planet!

Let’s hand our children a healthy planet!

Defending Your View: Making a Difference

There are situations, time after time, when individuals have taken steps that have grown enough to force change. Everyone belongs to what I call a tribe. The tribe may be a religion, a country, a political party or some other group defined by a common interest. There are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in many areas of interest. For instance, there are such groups on climate change, civil rights, theater and animal rights. Making a difference simply means taking action. Taking action means defending your view in your tribe. This is often difficult because, as an individual, you may not want to risk your inclusion in the tribe. This is especially true if the bonds within the group are family or workplace.

Earth Day, The Kyoto Conference and One Million Women

There are many examples of individuals starting an NGO, non-governmental organization, that are currently making a difference. To bring the focus to climate change, we have the creation of Earth Day in 1970 and the work of Senator Al Gore, who helped save the Kyoto Conference from ruin and formed the organization on climate change that became national and, subsequently, international, the Climate Reality Project. Another good example is “One Million Women” (see posting dated July 13, 2015). This group was started by two women after a discussion over coffee. They based their organization on the recognition that the choices women make could add up to a big difference in reducing waste and pollution. Their goal is to grow the group to one million members. By September of 2015 they have enlisted over 218,000 women to work together!

It becomes more important every day that global climate change needs to be addressed now! The evidence of the changing climate is overwhelming. Every year produces more evidence of the changing global system and the increasing stress to the human population and all other living things. It is essential that each of us become a part of the growing sea of the people demanding action to keep climate change and its consequences at a minimum, so future generations can inherit a healthy planet. We can do it!

Taking Action to Create a Healthy Planet!


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From Global Warming to Global Environmental Change

Global Greenhouse Gases

Climate Change

There will always be those that deny that humans have any effect on the earth’s environment. But the evidence is in! It is time to focus not on whether we are altering the global system but how we can best slow the rate of changes.

By John J. Hidore
June 2, 2015–More than 100 years ago (1896) Svante Arrenius, a Nobel Laureate, made a study of the relationship between carbon dioxide and global temperatures. He concluded that the burning of fossil fuels could result in increasing temperatures.

In the 1930’s, a meteorologist named G.S Callendar, examined the temperature data from around the world and determined atmospheric temperatures were increasing. He also believed that the use of fossil fuels would lead to a warmer planet. In the 1950’s Charles Keating and Roger Revelle demonstrated that a large part of the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels was accumulating in the atmosphere.

Rising Temperatures

About this time global temperature measurements began to show a slow and erratic increase. Over time the increase became well documented and the rising temperatures began to alter many natural processes on Earth. In the past several decades the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has accelerated.

Global Warming

Global Warming and Declining Sea Ice

The Koyoto conference

In 1997 in Koyoto, Japan, an international conference on what was then being called global warming was convened. Many nations were represented at the Koyoto conference indicating a global awareness of the problem related to the additional greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. But–the largest contingent at the conference was that of energy corporations. They lobbied with the premise that global warming was a natural event and human activity had nothing to do with global warming. These deniers nearly prevailed! Only the efforts of then Senator Al Gore and a few others bought about a plan to reduce the greenhouse gases. Many nations set goals for reducing their contributions of carbon dioxide.

Working toward 100% renewables

Working Toward Renewable Energy

Global Warming vs. Climate Change

The reference to the process of global warming gradually was replaced by the phrase climate change. Climate change does not imply any hazard, just change! In one sense, the phrase “climate change” is more benign than global warming. Global warming has a more definite connotation of a threat than does climate change. However, implicit in climate change is the fact that there is more involved in change in the atmosphere than just temperature.

Climate consists of all different kinds of weather that occur in any area. It includes average temperatures, and seasonal changes. Climate also includes extremes that may occur in terms of temperature and precipitation. Temperature extremes may include extreme heat or cold. Climate also includes extreme precipitation and propensity to drought. Thus, climate change implies there are many more changes taking place in the atmosphere other than just temperature. The result of massive data collection around the earth documents both global warming and climate change.

Climate Change and the Effect on Regional Systems

It has now become apparent that the changes in climate, that are currently taking place, effect all aspects of the environment. Every region is made up of the atmospheric conditions, the flora and fauna, the water supply, and the land surface itself. Climate change is altering many regional systems such as the tropical rainforests, the grasslands, and even the world deserts.

Walruses need Sea ice

Walruses Cling to Melting Sea Ice.

The Effect of Ocean Temperature on Planet Temperatures

The Arctic basin is a good example. Not only has the region warmed but the Arctic Sea has changed from being largely frozen summer and winter to more and more ice free in the summer. This has greatly altered the lives of most inhabitants of the region. Perhaps most significant are the changes in the world ocean. The world ocean covers the majority of Earth’s surface and it is warming and becoming more acidic. These ocean temperatures determine the average air temperature of the planet! The height of the ocean is also rising, reducing the amount of land surface.

This connectedness in earth’s regional systems has resulted in the coining of the term “Gaia”. The term implies that the earth is a living, ever changing system. The concept of it being a living system has been questioned. However, it is well established that when a region of our planet experiences change in some aspect of the environment, it results in changes in the entire system.

Global Environmental Change

What began as the discovery of global rising temperatures has now morphed into a much broader and more inclusive recognition of 21st Century global environmental change. Human activity no effects the entire planet from pole to pole. The most important question of our time this: How much longer can we continue on the present path before the global system can no longer function in a manner that has supported life on the planet for millions of years. All indications point to the fact that time is running for making major changes in world policies.

There will always be those that deny that humans have any effect on the earth’s environment. But the evidence is in! It is time to focus not on whether we are altering the global system but how we can best slow the rate of changes.

Climate Change: Altering Our Global System


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The Growing Effort to Deny Global Warming

Climate Change

Global Warming: Denial by corporations for profit.

By John J. Hidore

Denying Global Warming

In 1998 an international conference on global warming was convened in Kyoto, Japan. Many nations were represented at the conference,  indicating a global awareness that there is a real problem related to adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. As it turned out, the largest contingent at the conference was that of corporations, mainly those related to fossil fuels. They lobbied hard for the concept that global warming was a natural event and that human activity had nothing to do with it. These deniers nearly prevailed. Only the efforts of then Senator Al Gore and a few others brought about a plan to reduce the problem. At that conference many countries set goals for reducing their contributions of dumping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.

Human beings use the concept of denial in order not to deal with threats they cannot comprehend or understand. The majority of the people in the United States, and probably in the world, believe that global warming exists. However, there is a tendency in some to deny it. They deny it because it is simply beyond their ability to understand why it is taking place or that they could be part of the cause. Dan Brown stated very clearly the characteristics of denial in his recent book entitled Inferno (New York: Doubleday. 2013).

Denial is not limited to individuals. Corporations have long used denial to hide negative impacts of their policies and products. Energy corporations deny global warming for fear it will lower profits. Those in denial in the past relied heavily on the lack of scientific evidence to back up the theory. Now the data is in from almost every aspect of the environment stating that our planet is heating up.

The Denial of the Kyoto Protocol 

Since the Kyoto Conference there has been a well-organized and vigorous campaign to deny the findings and actions of the conference. Of the active deniers of global warming, the majority are not scientists. They are people paid to prepare literature, TV adds, and newspaper ads. They are also representatives of corporations that want to protect profits. With decades of rising temperatures they have grudgingly admitted that the planet may be warming, but insist it is due to natural causes. Instead they try and convince us that it is useless to try and do anything about it.

Common Characteristics of Global Warming Denial

Those that deny global warming tend to have several things in common:
1.They do not believe Earth is heating due to man made causes
2.They maintain that if it is heating, it is due to natural causes.
3.If they are politicians they repeatedly vote against limiting carbon emissions.
4. They are anti-science

The seriousness of climate change has brought the issue into national and international politics. The G.W. Bush administration repeatedly tried to keep NASA scientists from delivering data on temperature increases  to the press. In 2012, Senator James Imhof, Republican from Oklahoma stated that climate change was a hoax perpetrated on the American people. He insisted that there is only a debate whether global warming exists.
After 30 year of steadily warming temperatures, the 113th congress mostly consists of  anti global warming members. In the Senate 30 of 46 members are climate deniers. All senate democrats are advocates of global warming. In the house 128 of 233 members are global warming deniers. The Republican Party leadership consists of 90% global warming deniers. Among 200 democrats in the house all are supporters of global warming and climate change. Corporations have intensely lobbied congress to prevent legislation that might adversely affect their operations. Corporate America has, and is, spending huge amounts of money to cover up global warming. Whether it is cause or effect, large donations from energy industries flow accordingly. Campaign contributions to climate change deniers in the house and senate are more than three times that for the supporters of global warming. Campaign contributions in the senate are more than four times as great for the global warming deniers as for the supporters. ThinkProgress maintains an up-to-date- list of the deniers and their donations at thinkprogress.org/climate-denier-caucasu.

The Environmental Literacy Improvement Act

Beginning in January of 2013, Heartland Institute and a group called American Legislative Council started introducing a bill in state legislatures called the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act”. This act demands that global warming not be taught in schools. They insist there should be a neutral treatment of climate change, which suggests the evidence for global warming is debatable. The act has already been legalized in a number of states. They include Texas, Lousiana, South Dakota, and Tennessee. It is currently being considered in other states including Colorado, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

U.N. Conference on Climate Change-Warsaw

In November of 2013 a UN conference on climate change negotiations was held in Warsaw, Poland. This conference was to prepare for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to be considered and hopefully adapted. Unfortunately, vested interests resulted in fairly weak proposals that can ill be afforded. The emission of greenhouse gases will likely continue, led by China and India.

The fight for action to slow

global warming

is clearly just beginning!


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From Global Warming to Extreme Weather

From global warming to extreme weather

From global warming to extreme weather (Photo credit: HikingArtist.com)

By Lin Smith

December 21, 2013—-Scientists won’t say any one event causes extreme weather because weather is a product of many different factors, but they do agree with the study of probability, that extreme weather is impacted by global warming and the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere.The fact is, scientists do know, through decades of monitoring, that if there was no global warming, global temperatures would not be rising. Computers produced these results years ago, when computers first started gathering data. Data shows what the world weather would be like if it was impacted only by natural causes, with no greenhouse gas emissions, using many different models and programs. These models have measured the atmospheric temperature increase of .9 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, caused by carbon dioxide from fossil fuels acting like the glass of a greenhouse, holding the warm air close to the earth and not letting it escape.

Scientists using these models, have also measured the rising temperature of the oceans, which have warmed by .18 degrees Fahrenheit to a depth of 2,300 feet in the past century. This is the level at which most ocean life dwells. As global temperatures increase so do ocean surface temperatures, oceans occupying 71% of the earth’s surface. Warmer temperatures lead to greater evaporation. Water vapor drives rainstorms–and this is a variable in extreme weather.

The data collected supports the fact that burning fossil fuels creates all the conveniences which have ” made life easier” since the Industrial Revolution, but, in the long run, will make life more “inconvenient” for our children and grandchildren. Scientists predict a greater frequency of droughts, floods, heat waves, sudden drops in temperature, tornadoes, hurricanes, and severe storms. Larry West states in his article, Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather?, “You can’t say with certainty that any single weather event is a direct effect of global warming, but you can link climate change to extreme weather trends.”

Mario J. Molina, 1995 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, recieved his award for establishing that CFC’s, the chemical in aerosol spray cans, were destroying the ozone layer of earth’s atmosphere. The result was the “Montreal Protocol” which entered into existence in 1989. The “Montreal Protocol” states “…certain substances can significantly deplete and, otherwise, modify the ozone layer in a manner that is likely to result in adverse effects on human health and the environment…..(this protocol) is determined to protect the ozone layer by taking precautionary measures to control total emissions of substances that deplete the ozone…” This agreement was signed by 197 states and the European Union, making it the single most successful international agreement in United Nations history.

Insert the two words ‘fossil fuels’ for CFC’s, sign a new agreement and you have the Kyoto Protocol, implemented in 2005 by the United Nations, with much political fall-out. Developing nations, such as China, (yes, it is considered a developing nation), would not be required to limit their emissions, so in 2005 the United States pulled out. The remaining 37 countries, left backing the agreement, have met their target CO2 reduction, cutting their greenhouse gases by 16%. These cuts have had little impact on the atmosphere, but these countries should serve as models for the nations that didn’t sign the Protocol, backed out of the Protocol, or didn’t produce a better solution. Worldwide emission have continued to surged by 50% since 1990, because of the earth’s worst fossil fuel offenders, China, United States, and India.

Why was the Montreal Protocol a success and the Kyoto Protocol a failure? Molina believes it was because the Montreal Protocol involved only a small set of substances and it was easy to get all nations on the same page. The economies of developed countries today, have been built around fossil fuels, making economic risks higher, especially without alternatives to maintain our economies at the present levels. He states, “It’s important that people are doing more than hearing about it. People will not change unless they feel it… experience it, by the impact of food prices, and extreme weather, such as floods, tornados, hurricanes, and rising temperatures. Unless they actually see the direction global warming is taking us.” Molina suggests a course of action that would include “phasing out” substances that cause global warming and providing less expensive alternative energy.

At this point in time, there seems to be greater global impact by grassroots groups, putting pressure on universities, cities, and countries to divest in fossil fuels. If individuals and corporations have to “feel” the impact for change to happen, then this movement may provide the force necessary for the economies to reverse direction, along with waking up to the forces of nature.


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Island Nations in Trouble

Laura Beach, the Marshall Islands

An enlargeable satellite image of Marshall Islands

An enlargeable satellite image of Marshall Islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By John J. Hidore ( my uncle, who has written about Climatology and global warming for many years)

July 13,  2013—Global warming and climate change affect all of planet Earth. Among the areas that are already severely impacted are the island nations of the Maldives, Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu. Changing wind patterns, more severe storms, salt water intrusions, and rising sea level are currently creating substantial physical and economic problems for the islands.

The Maldives are a small group of islands in the Indian Ocean that are already suffering the effects of changes in storm tracks and rising sea level. The islands are largely remnants of coral reefs and most of the land area is within three feet of mean sea level. Coral reefs surrounding the islands act as natural breakwaters. Recent storms have damaged the reefs. This has allowed waves to attack the shoreline more frequently and to result in extensive beach damage. There is a net loss of beach, and hence land area, on over half the islands.

In April 1987 a large storm in the Indian Ocean generated large swells that traveled through the Maldives. There was a huge loss on the islands in terms of the economy, public utilities, and the land. Some of the islands were permanently evacuated. It is worthy to note that the Maldives was the first country to sign the Kyoto Protocol on 16th March 1998 and the first nation to ratify the Protocol on 30 December, 1998.

The Marshall Islands are best known as a testing ground by the United States for nearly 70 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958. Now different threats face the island. In addition to those affecting the other island nations a severe drought has resulted in a shortage of fresh water. This has resulted in health problems due to polluted water. In May of this year the foreign minister declared climate change to be the number one threat to the country.

Tuvalu is another small island nation consisting of some 11,000 people living on nine small atolls in the South Pacific. The people there are also adjusting to existing and future changes taking place on the islands. A representative of the nation spoke at a recent UN conference and asked for help in adapting to the changes.

These islands have climate change problems now that may make many of the islands uninhabitable long before they disappear below the rising sea. Scientific projections suggest that sea level will rise from two to as much as seven feet by 2100. If the rise in sea level reaches even the conservative estimates these nations will simply cease to exist.

Sources:
“Pacific islands deadly threat from climate change”, Washingon Post, May 30, 2013
weather.com. “Are simultaneous floods, drought an omen in the Pacific” 2013