Bill McKibben. If you haven’t heard of him you should familiarize yourself immediately. McKibben is an environmentalist, a writer, and a legend. He’s a New York Times best selling author and founder of 350.org, a world climate movement that spawned the largest ever unified global rally on October 24, 2009. His latest book is called “Eaarth” and it will probably make your head explode.
McKibben's book, "Eaarth"
Last week I got to see McKibben live in action in Boston, speaking about climate change (aka humanity’s biggest FAIL ). It was a fantastic talk (nerd-alert side note: I got to meet him and he signed my copy of “Eaarth!”) Anyway, to those who have already embraced the biggest problem affecting humanity today, the talk was a refreshing bit of truth. To those who aren’t as familiar with the current climate situation, well, you probably left the event feeling just a bit queasy and unsettled.
I’d like to summarize his words by going back in time. Since the last ice age, for the past 10,000 years, life on earth has existed within a constant and predictable climate. Our plants, with many years of evolution and adaptation behind them, have become accustomed to growing at the same temperate throughout that time. That’s 10,000 years, same temperature. Over the past 100 years, temperatures across the world have gone up by 1 degree. Now, off-hand that number may not seem a like a lot, but if you do the math and understand that evolution is a slow process, then 1 degree in a hundred years is quite a spike. And it’s only a fraction of what’s to come, when scientists today predict that temperatures will rise Continue reading
As we move into an era where peak oil production is behind us, we need to focus our efforts on developing new energy resources. We can’t afford to stand by and allow dirtier, more expensive, and less efficient tar sand oil become the energy that drives our nation. What is tar sand oil?
[Rewind: How Climate Change is Fueling the Need to End Our Fossil Fuel Addiction]
Tar sand oil is harvested in Alberta, Canada. Thousands of acres of pristine, ancient forest are clear cut (see picture below) so refineries have access to the soil. The soil, called tar sand, contains a small amount of oil that can be harvested through chemical processes. Comparing input energy (the energy required to set up refineries, transport crews and supplies, and power the chemical reactions) versus the energy yield, tar sand oil production is one of the least efficient methods of harvesting oil. In fact, oil companies have only started harvesting tar sands quite recently, as we run out of options to satiate our oil addiction.
Tar Sand Oil Production: Before and After
In production, tar sand oil is inefficient; in transportation, it is very dangerous. Continue reading
It was a nice sunny Spring evening in Boston, around the middle of May, and I was finishing my spaghetti dinner while enjoying a cold beer. It had been a long day; the kind of day where you look forward to coming home, cracking open a cold one, enjoying a refreshing first sip, and watching the condensation build around the bottle as the rest of the evening passes in lazy harmony. We’ve all been there. I was plopped on my couch and I decided to watch some TV. It was around 7PM and as I channel surfed I decided to settle on the Wolf Blitzer report on CNN. Just another day and another guy, getting my news from your trusty mass media conglomerate.
I turned on the news and what did I see? Headlining was the Gulf oil spill, and a live video feed of billions of gallons of oil gushing out of a leaking oil well built in waters over 1000 ft deep; painting the beautiful waters and coasts of the Gulf in black, ravaging communities and wildlife, and threatening to move into the Atlantic.
The Gulf Oil Spill
It was followed by a report on the vicious, historic 100 year flood that destroyed Nashville, TN and displaced thousands of people. Continue reading
I recently wrote a note to Sen. Scott Brown, the newly elected U.S. Senator (R) from Massachusetts, in support of the climate bill and new energy policy. As a resident of Massachusetts, I believe in the importance of having my voice heard but I never expected or desired any kind of reply. I was pleasantly surprised however when I received the following letter in response to my note. In the letter, Senator Brown outlines his personal views regarding climate change and energy policy.
U.S. Senator Scott P. Brown (R-MA)
It was nice to hear the freshly elected Senator’s stance on energy policy before he becomes a seasoned Washington veteran. Only time will tell whether Senator Brown decides to support a clean energy future via the American Power Act. UPDATE: On June 10th, 2010, Senator Brown decided to ignore local and national pressure and voted in favor of the Markowski Resolution, a bill that proposed blocking EPA oversight of carbon pollution. The resolution did not pass, but it begs the question: is a clean energy future really in Senator Brown’s interests?
Dear Mr. Kharitonenkov,
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about climate change. As always, I value the input of my constituents on all issues and appreciate hearing from you.
Reducing America’s greenhouse gas emissions — and especially the pollutants that pose the greatest harm to both people and our environment — is clearly of concern to Continue reading