Tag Archives: climate change

Talking About Climate on This American Life

Last week while running errands I tuned into the NPR program “This American Life.” I caught the first act of “Hot in My Backyard,” the story of how climate change is impacting Colorado and how Colorado’s State Climatologist, Nolan Doesken talks about it — or doesn’t.

It was an interesting story that left me thoughtful and sad. The reporter had interviewed three other scientists (not Doesken), none of whom will tell the public what they know about climate change. They are making plans to take care of themselves in the difficult future ahead, but they weren’t telling others how to prepare. And who can say that isn’t wise. In four states, climatologists have lost their jobs because they talked about climate change.

The state climatologist who was the focus of this story, Nolan Doesken, seems like a very earnest and honest person. He’s a conservative whom farmers and ranchers have turned to for years for the information they rely on. And he’s so fearful of talking that he’s avoided saying anything for years. When he does finally say something – and the reporter is there to hear it – it’s so little that people don’t even recognize the import of what he’s said.

It’s disheartening that someone who has the trust and respect of the community – someone just like them – can’t find a way to communicate the truth of this dire situation we all face. A person like myself could never reach those people. But when a person in their sphere cannot or fails to communicate the message, how can we hope for the situation to change?

Of course, I can say that because I believe the situation can – and must – change. He may not believe that. Bubbling up throughout the interview I heard what may be the underlying reason for this failure to communicate: a belief that there is nothing anyone can do. That would make sense. After all, why damage relationships, why make people mad, why risk one’s career if there is nothing anyone can do?

He may believe that – lots of people do – and that’s what makes me sad. We really don’t know what we could do if we threw ourselves at this challenge the way we did the space race or the fight for victory in WWII. However, if we succumb to the belief that there is nothing we can do, it ensures there is nothing we will do.

This Blog is a Denial-Free Zone

I’ve been hit by a lot of spam since my last post (could be a coincidence …). One post actually did relate to the contents of this blog. For that person’s benefit I am going to repeat what I’ve posted before. This is a denial-free zone on the topic of climate change. I’m not going to argue with you about climate science, neither am I going to allow you to post climate-denial claims. I believe what 98% of the climate scientists in the world are telling us. That does not make me an extremist – it makes me mainstream.

I am going to take this opportunity to respond to your assertion that people who accept personal responsibility for their impact on the environment by acting to reduce their carbon footprint are anti-science, anti-technology and anti-trade.
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400 Reasons to Fight – 400 Reasons to Care

Record floods, record storms, record heatwaves, record droughts. 2012 was a year for the record books, but one that didn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserved occurred in June. That’s when 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide was recorded in the atmosphere in the Arctic. It’s important to know this because rising CO2 is a factor in all of those other unfortunate records.

It’s important to know this because if we want to have a chance at heading off permanent, deadly climate change, we need to reduce CO2 to 350 parts per million. We’re not even close and we’re heading in the wrong direction.

It’s important to know this because every day you, your family, your business, make choices that can increase or decrease the amount of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) you put into the atmosphere.  And every day you have a chance to make a different choice.

400 Parts Per Million – 400 Reasons to Fight

Why should you take action today to curb your carbon footprint? That’s what MN350 is asking people in its “400 Reasons to Fight” project.

  • Who and what do you love?
  • What makes life worth living?
  • What do you not want to lose?

When you find yourself wondering if anything you are doing will make a difference, pull out your list or the photos of your kids or the dog or your favorite camping place and remind yourself that THIS is why you are making the effort. THESE are your reasons to fight.

Make your reasons visible every day. And if you feel like it, share your reasons with MN350.

Speak Up! How To Talk About Climate Change

Is there someone you’ve been wanting to talk to about climate change but you’re worried that you don’t have all the facts or won’t be able to answer their questions? Cool Planet is having a speaker training on Sunday, November 20, from 3 to 6 PM at  Macalester College, 1600 Grand Ave, St. Paul. Fee of $10-25  but no one will be turned away if they can’t pay. Register online or call 952-920-1547.

Dr. John Abraham from St. Thomas University will be talking about the science of climate change and then Dr. Christie Manning (Handbook of Sustainable Behavior) and Craig and Patricia Neal (Art of Convening) will talk about HOW TO TALK.  I haven’t met the Neals but I’ve heard Christie speak and what she’s got to say is very interesting.

I can’t make it on the 20th but if you go, I’d love to hear from you.


Events this week

Brought to you by Transition Longfellow member Rebecca Cramer

Forum on Clean Air and Your Health: The Power of EPA Actions and Federal Legislation

Wednesday, Aug 10, 7 to 8:30 pm
Edina Public Works Building, 7450 Metro Blvd (just west of 76th & Hwy 100)
FYI: 612-871-2786 or dawnerlandson@gmail.com

Although 800,000 Americans urged the EPA to regulate mercury emissions from power plants yet attempts are  underway to block final implementation. Learn about recent and pending actions to strengthen the Clean Air Act, about attempts by some members of Congress to block action and enforcement. as well as ways to let their voices be heard by the EPA and Congress. Attendees will also learn about activities in Edina related to clean air, energy and the environment.

SPEAKERS: Will Steger, Edina Mayor James Hovland, Julie Risser of the Edina Energy and Environment Commission Gary Botzek, Executive Director of Minnesota Conservation Federation, and J. Drake Hamilton, Scientist, Fresh Energy.

Public Forum: “Sense of Place in a Changing Climate”

Thursday, August 11, at 7:30 pm
Town and Country Club in St. Paul (on the east end of the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge).

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on our state’s natural resources and what we as citizens can do through the personal stories and “testimony” of prominent Minnesotans. This event is part of the Will Steger Foundation’s Summer Institute on Climate Change Education, which focuses specifically on Minnesota’s changing climate. Speakers will share their connection to Minnesota, how climate change is impacting their sense of place, and why they are concerned about the issue.

Speakers include Don Shelby, J. Drake Hamilton and Will Steger with moderating by MPR Mid-morning host, Kerri Miller.

The Steger Foundation website says this even has reached RSVP capacity and that while you are welcome to come, a spot is not guaranteed.

Highest CO2 Emissions in History Sets the Stage for More Biking

The transportation mini-challenge doesn’t start until August, but when I saw that CLIF BAR had created a nifty biking challenge, I thought this was as good a time as any to commit to more biking for both the health benefits and CO2 reduction.

I have to admit, I was spurred to action when I saw the International Energy Agency  report that 2010 had the highest CO2 emissions in history. “At current rates, the 2° temperature increase that most experts consider the threshold of unmanageable climate change, will be considered a floor for potential future temperatures, rather than the ceiling.” That’s grim news from Greenbiz.

So what’s the challenge? To use your bike for any trip you take within a 2 mile radius of  your home.

Why 2 miles?

Forty percent of all urban travel is within 2 miles of home and yet 90% of the time people get in a car to make that trip! That puts tons of carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating the problem of climate change. CLIF BAR hopes their challenge will inspire people to avoid 100,000 car trips.

Sign up to take the 2 Mile Challenge!

Last weekend I biked to book group, biked to an exercise class in Highland Park (almost but didn’t quite make it up the hill), and biked to the coop where I signed up for the ZAP program. (The ZAP program offers an incentive for members to visit the co-op on bicycle.)

That’s a great start for me. I’m looking forward to racking up more points for Team 350 this weekend. Maybe a bike ride to PRIDE.