The Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for us to spend with our families and take a step back and look at ourselves. When I take a step back, I see a country full of people that are stagnant. There is no progress, but progress is needed. I see people that are shallow, people that care more about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West moving in together than they do about world hunger and global warming. I also see a country full of hypocrites. People, like myself, that preach taking action, but never take action themselves.

Lastly, the holiday season is celebrating your religion. I am Christian. 78.4 percent of America is Christian, and 32 percent of the entire world is. One of the main rules that God had for Christians is to take care of the earth. This is not happening. Most if not all of our politicians are Christian, and they aren’t taking action either. Al Franken had this to say about Christians:

The point is that there is tremendous hypocrisy among the Christian right. And I think that Christian voters should start looking at global warming as a religious issue that speaks to the culture of life.

I agree with this whole-heartedly. We don’t think of global warming as something that can affect our daily lives, much less the expensive culture of our country. In order to take action, we are going to have to work together. We will have to put our differences aside, and isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

Can California Save the World?

So maybe the title is overstating a bit. Okay, it’s a bunch of hyperbole. But there still is some truth within it. An article I read talked about how California passed two cap-and-trade bills fairly recently. Now, knowing what these bills will do (starting January) is important. Their main purpose is to put a price on nonrenewable energy. However, I would like to focus on something else: how California is now using these two cap-and-trade bills to hopefully lead the rest of America into taking action. Daniel Stone, author of the article, claims California has lead the rest of America environmentally before:

” [California] adopted the first automobile tailpipe emissions in the nation in 1966, four years before they were enacted by Congress. After the Arab oil embargo, California acted more quickly than the U.S. government to cut the waste of energy-hogging appliances, with efficiency standards signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1974. California’s standards were the model for the deal President Barack Obama forged with carmakers to double fuel economy to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.”

What he is saying here is that California has always been doing environmentally friendly things before the rest of America, and thereby leading America to start being eco-friendly. Truly, California is America’s greatest leader in terms of environmental protection.

California is also setting an example for how helping the environment won’t mess up the economy. In an earlier post of mine, The Economics of Global Warming: Why We Are All Doomed, I talked about how most eco-friendly solutions to energy would kind of mess up the economy. Well, thankfully California Governor Jerry Brown knows better:

The original idea of cap and trade was to create a flexible, business-friendly system . . . . Instead of imposing rigid regulations, or an explicit tax on carbon, the government either hands out or sells tradable “permits” . . . Each permit allows the holder to emit one ton of CO2, and the number of permits issued declines over time so that they become an ever-more-valuable commodity. Companies that can cut emissions quickly can profit by selling their permits to companies that are having a hard time

Essentially, because permits are limited, they become a potential source of income. If your company runs low on money then you can sell some of your permits to other companies. It creates an incentive to emit less greenhouse gasses so your business can get more money. I think that this is a very smart plan, as it can easily reduce carbon emissions by forcing companies low on money to emit less CO2.

So what we are hoping now, is that history will repeat itself and the rest of America will follow California’s example to become even more green. Because although it is doubtful that California will be able to motivate too many people outside the US, if all of America were to suddenly go green, then suddenly any business that wants to go to the US to gain popularity is forced to change their standards. And it doesn’t make any sense for one part of the company to be green while one isn’t. So the entire company will go green. And any other competing companies might be forced to change their standards to gain a bit more popularity. And it turns into a huge cause and effect. And California ends up saving the world. It will happen.

Can OBAMA Walk the Walk??

After the terrible destruction from Hurricane Sandy, Obama now wants to take action on climate change. In class, I always asked the question, “Does something traumatic have to happen for us to realize climate change is evolving?” When Hurricane Sandy came upon us, everyone asked, “Is Climate Change causing this horrible destruction?” Mostly everyone in the world thinks climate change is causing these natural disasters. It is affecting the storms that are happening. That big gap that climate scientists think they have between the general public is closing.

Obama stated that it was a personal goal for him to try to end climate change. Hurricane Sandy made a light bulb go off in his head, and that is why climate change is a high priority now. Kert Davies said this in regard to Obama,

“Owning the risk to the country is the main thing. If he understands the risk to the country and is broadcasting that and telling that story to the people of this country, he will have tremendous support for any action he takes,”

Davis said this quote after people were requesting a climate bill. Unfortunately, I think Obama tackling climate change is kind of a joke because most likely it will probably fade away as an issue once again. Obama said that because Hurricane Sandy changed everyone’s lives, but when Hurricane Sandy fades away, climate change is going to fade away also.

Personally, I think it is about time for the world to act on climate change, and it is not a bad thing that Obama acts on it because the sooner we try to end climate change, the sooner climate change could go away. I have only one question for the world, Why do we have to wait this long to at on this worldwide issue?” The Human Race is a bunch of procrastinators. We have to wait until Hurricane Sandy kills thousands and destructs homes. We need to be more conscious about what are problems are in the world. Why would we wait so long to act on the topic of climate change. Now, people that died can’t spend time with their families. It is so funny how we decide to do something when people die or when something goes the opposite way that we want it to.

Here are the numbers after Hurricane Sandy tore through the U.S.

Two-thirds of voters (65 percent) say elected officials should take steps now to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations, while just 27 percent say we should wait for more evidence.

Seven in ten voters (69 percent) are greatly or somewhat worried about the growing cost and risks of extreme weather disasters fueled by climate change. Six in ten (58 percent) of Tea Party sympathizers are greatly or somewhat worried, showing a connection between climate action and fiscal responsibility.

73 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats saying they’re worried about the growing cost and risks of extreme weather disasters fueled by climate change

Look at these numbers. They have drastically changed since Hurricane Sandy. Majority of the people, now believe that climate change is real. If we can have more people believing, the world could probably go green. We need to continue this persistence, but the true thing is, Will OBAMA stay true to his word?

Sun, The Savior

I very strongly believe that solar energy is still the way to go. I will not be going over previous points, so if you haven’t read my ideas on the presidential debate, subsidies, and solar competitiveness, you can read that here. Not even mentioning its availability, solar energy is a very clean, renewable source of energy. A coal burning plant typically produces 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber each year. Nationally, more than 75% of this waste is disposed of in unlined, unmonitored onsite landfills and surface impoundments. In the process of solar energy, there is no place where ash and sludge is produced, and it is very clean.

Solar power is also a very renewable source. All of the power comes from the sun, and last time I checked we don’t have to pay for that. Yes it is expensive to install, but if you invest in solar once, the energy is unlimited–meaning that these payments will be paid back in due time. The price is also going even lower because of advances in technology. HUGE advances.

Scientists at Stanford University took it upon themselves to create  the first solar cell made completely out of carbon. This cell is the very first demonstration of a solar cell of its type. This innovation is a big deal because instead of the already existing and expensive rigid silicon solar panels, you have this flexible thin film prototype, which will reduce costs by a lot. It will reduce the cost in two ways. First carbon is everywhere, which will reduce costs. Second, the silicon solar panels (the old ones) use the same photoactive layer as touchscreens do–meaning that this material is becoming even more expensive with the growth of smartphones and tablets.

This is a major step in the right direction. There is a big difference between really-cool-but-too-expensive-to-be-a-reality-solar-panels and small developments like these cells that lead to big change.

Can Climate Change Jeopardize National Security?

Now, since this is my last post I would like to leave you with a big bang of information and enlighten you with knowledge on a pretty unfamiliar area of climate change. If you had read the title of this post, you should know that this post is about national security and how it could be jeopardized by climate change and why this might be a major concern of Congress, the CIA, the NSA, and even you.

According to an article I found, there is reason to believe that many issues world-wide that are caused by climate change also have the ability to endanger our national security. The National Research Council created an advisory panel, and the members of that panel have stated that the United States Intelligence Agencies must take climate change and the havoc it causes more seriously. They have advised the intelligence agencies to dig deeper into this subject, and find information that suggests how climate change might create social and communal upheaval. John D. Steinbruner, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland at College Park who led the panel on behalf of the National Research Council said,

There’s a lot going on, there are pieces here, but it isn’t organized to the extent that it ought to be.

“Now that you have read this, you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with the national security of this country?” Well, the reason Congress and the National Research Council is worried about our national security is for this reason,

Millions of people depend on water delivered from the Himalaya Mountains by the Indus River. Pakistan experienced a series of electrical blackouts and shortages of irrigation water between 2010 and 2012 as a result of decreased water levels in the Indus. The shortages were part of a long-term decline in per-capita water availability, which by 2010 was less than a third of what it was in the 1950s, the report says.

The water shortages, it says, led to demonstrations and riots of increasing frequency and intensity in 2010 and 2011. Those events worsened political relations between India and Pakistan, both of which have nuclear weapons. In such cases, the U.S. government, if sufficiently aware of the developing crisis, could act to avert catastrophic conflicts, such as by taking more aggressive steps to help local communities establish alternative power supplies.

Now this means that even though we may think that global warming only applies to the problem of ice caps melting and the earth going through levels of heating all over the earth. But now it comes to a somewhat different (but not necessarily bigger) stage where warfare and mass destruction may become the bigger and more immediate threat.

Global Warming Solutions: Can I Really Help?

This is my last post on this blog site, and I wanted a sense of closure, which is why I made the title “Can I Really Help?” Now it should be apparent that most people who write on this blog site believe in climate change and that we all want to save the world, but is it really a viable thing for average humans to accomplish? What I am basically trying to say is what can one man do to save the world? Sure he can recycle and buy energy efficient lightbulbs, but will that have any impact on the fate of the Earth or the condition of out atmosphere. Unfortunately, the answer—at least in my opinion—is no.

While the above statement is true, there is more to it. The problem with this mentality, is that if everybody thought like this, the whole world would get worse. While one person’s fight to save the environment won’t make a difference, if the whole human race were to convert to energy efficient lightbulbs and start driving hybrids the combined effect of everybody going green would have a huge impact.

So if you really care about the environment, you should start by taking steps that you would want other people to take, then you should go tell your friends and family about the fate of Earth if we continue on this path and maybe, you can even send them to this site.

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. ~ Ryunosuke Satoro

Europe’s in the Fire, But Can We Put Out the Flame?

“Climate change evident across Europe, confirming urgent need for adaptation,” a new post from Skeptical Science, has confirmed that, as the title suggests, Europe is definitely heating up. What exactly does the author, John Hartz, have to say about it?

The report, Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012 finds that higher average temperatures have been observed across Europe as well as decreasing precipitation in southern regions and increasing precipitation in northern Europe. The Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice and many glaciers across Europe are melting, snow cover has decreased and most permafrost soils have warmed.

Extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods and droughts have caused rising damage costs across Europe in recent years. While more evidence is needed to discern the part played by climate change in this trend, growing human activity in hazard-prone areas has been a key factor. Future climate change is expected to add to this vulnerability, as extreme weather events are expected to become more intense and frequent. If European societies do not adapt, damage costs are expected to continue to rise, according to the report.

Uh-oh. What we are looking at here is such blatant proof of global warming, it’s almost a slap in the face to anyone who still refuses to believe that it’s happening. These numbers aren’t just one or two outlying hot days, but higher average temperatures overall. Not in just one or two countries either, but all across Europe. People in the Americas or other continents may be thinking, “Oh, it’s ok we still have time to act just let me finish this one thing.” No, pull your head up and look around, the Arctic’s ice is melting, fast, along with the Greenland ice sheet, and multiple glaciers. We are way past ok by now. The flame gradually engulfing the earth has grown; it’s time to actually do something about it. This should be our boiling water, like the frog in An Inconvenient Truth, it’s time to jump out, not just wait to be boiled alive.

So here we are again. Hopefully this time when you leave this page, you’ll feel a little more motivated to change, even just a little, because just a little change can cause a ripple effect. As the great Michael Jackson has said “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m telling him to change his ways” I know I’ve changed, in my small ways, but when is the rest of the world going to catch on?