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Posts Tagged ‘environment

What’s in a name?

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A recent Bloomberg piece by Faye Flam, “Inspiring Terms Are Simple. ‘Climate Change’ Isn’t,” makes the point, I guess, that climate change as a term is not very effective.

Flam writes, “As scientific terms go, ‘climate change’ is failing. Good terms are specific, descriptive and help people to understand complex concepts. Climate change is ambiguous, referring perhaps to the most pressing human-generated environmental problem of the century, or to other kinds of changes that happen through natural forces and have been going on since long before humans arose.”

Basically, the term is “failing” because it’s too ambiguous, too confusing and too complex at the same time.

That’s right, climate change encompasses all those things; it’s not simple by its very nature. But why is “simplicity” the key to inspiring action?

I think I get the point — if only we had a simpler, sexier, more “inspiring” term for the climate change crisis, we could deal with it better and perhaps make progress. I think that’s specious reasoning: for one thing Flam is not giving much credit to people’s ability to understand what the crisis is and what it means for humanity, plus she is giving cover to the “climate is always changing” crowd of yahoos that will always question what is happening with the climate due to fossil fuel use, no matter what it is called.

The column has no purpose except to describe a minor sideshow about climate terminology. It’s not even mildly clever. And then it offers no alternative terminology, or terminology that is obtuse. If you are going to knock down climate change as a term at least offer a reasonable alternative.

Climate change is not a PR or marketing idea that needs to be “sold.” That idea just muddies the water and makes it harder to act. Better to debate what to do about climate change, not what it should be called.

The Bloomberg editors were correct to offer the disclaimer that the column “does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.”

Image: Danger Climate Change by Environmental Illness Network via Flickr CC

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Written by William DiBenedetto

14 May, 2018 at 11:56 am

James Balog and geologic-scale change

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“We are in the midst of geologic-scale change, and we humans are causing it.”

James Balog says this during Chasing Ice, a masterpiece of filmmaking and science. It’s perhaps the one film that that those who have any doubts about climate change—and even those who don’t—should watch, and maybe watch again with a group of friends.

Balog, an American photographer who explores the relationship between humans and nature, set out to record visual evidence of what we know is happening to our planet’s glaciers due to climate change.

In 2007 Balog founded the Extreme Ice Survey, a long-term photography program that integrates art and science to give a “visual voice” to the planet’s changing ecosystems.

Chasing Ice features the largest glacier calving ever caught on camera:

Balog, at TEDGlobal 2009, talked about the images from the Extreme Ice Survey and the network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate – some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change.

Chasing Ice is available on Netflix. The film is stunning, astounding, inspiring, artistic and heartbreaking. If ever there was anything that is must-see, it is this.

Written by William DiBenedetto

12 March, 2018 at 6:00 am

Canadian retailer puts organic on top

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You probably don’t travel to Montreal to visit the local IGA, but make an exception because the roof of an IGA Extra store in Montreal, owned by the Duchemin family, has a huge organic garden, billed as the largest in Canada. It’s worth a look-see.

The grocery chain has been working with urban gardening and agriculture company La Ligne Verte and the urban beekeeping company Alvéole to grow a range of organic vegetables and honey.

According to a report in Strategy, the 25,000 square-foot garden – which the food retailer claims is the largest organic vegetable garden in Canada – will provide produce and honey under a new store brand, “Frais du toit” (“fresh roof”), though they are only available at the Duchemin family’s store.

Launched July 19, more than 30 kinds of vegetables and greens, including beets, tomatoes, eggplant, and kale, are grown and harvested on a half-acre, in six inches of soil. “A green roof garden allows us to nourish our passion for food while reducing our environmental footprint, something that is particularly important to us. We are happy to give life to this innovative project and hope it encourages other companies to follow suit,” said Richard Duchemin, co-owner, IGA extra Famille Duchemin, quoted in a FreshPlaza article.

The certified organic farm’s vegetables are grown in dirt, not hydroponic grow trays. The store’s dehumidification system pulls excess moisture from the store and delivers to the garden’s irrigation system. It’s the first system of its kind in Canada, according to IGA.

Image: The Montreal IGA rooftop garden; credit Ligne Verte

Written by William DiBenedetto

28 August, 2017 at 7:00 am

Shame and outrage – withdrawal from the Paris climate accord

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Just when you thought Trump and his administration lackeys/weasels/fools could not be any more ignorant and despicable – they surpass themselves.

The Paris climate agreement was the most comprehensive international accord to fight climate change ever. It was signed by all but two countries (Syria and Nicaragua), and hailed as an historic effort to save our planet.

So of course, Trump now says that the United States will withdraw. This means the United States will leave the world stage and abandon crucial environmental regulations that can make a huge difference in saving the planet.

By exiting from the Paris agreement, Trump is ignoring advice from the Pope, foreign leaders and even businesses like Exxon. He is even rebuffing pleas from his own daughter, and from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This is really an effort to spite President Obama, who worked hard to craft the Paris climate agreement.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, called Trump’s announcement a “historic display of ignorance.”

Brune said: “Donald Trump is making a shameful mistake of historic proportions. Our grandchildren will look back with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality. He is abandoning millions of Americans who will bear the brunt of climate disruption — from record floods to droughts and hurricanes that destroy people’s homes and livelihoods.

“Leaving the agreement is also an outrageous abandonment of American leadership. The move will put Trump alongside Syria’s Bashar Al Assad and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega (who’d like to make it stronger) as the only three world leaders keeping their countries out of the climate accord. With almost 70% of Americans supporting the Paris Agreement — including majorities in every state — it’s clear that Donald Trump’s reckless action is completely out of step with the wishes of most Americans.”

China and Germany are now the world leaders on climate changes and trade policies. The U.S.? A third-class laughingstock and Russian patsy.

Mark the date – June 1, 2017 – a day that will go down in infamy.

Images: Climate Change by Jan and Donald Trump Caricature by DonkeyHotey via Flickr CC

Written by William DiBenedetto

1 June, 2017 at 4:21 pm

It’s not nice to ignore Mother Nature

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A new book by Geoffrey Heal, professor at Columbia Business School, makes a trenchant point that’s ignored by those currently in power: our prosperity depends on protecting the planet.

Heal did a Q&A interview about his book, Endangered Economies, in the current issue of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ magazine Catalyst. (Heal is also UCS board member and an expert on economics and the environment.)

“The natural world provides everything we depend on,” Heal says. “We get our food from the natural world, we get our drinking water and our oxygen from the natural world, and we evolved as part of it. We simply can’t live without it. Plants create food, and they need pollination from insects and they need rain and they need soil. We can’t synthesize these things. So we really are totally dependent on the natural world in the end. Read the rest of this entry »

Foxes guarding the henhouse

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scott-pruitt_gage-skidmoreThe emerging Trump administration/cabal is taking shape, and it’s not looking good for the environment and climate change. What is emerging, for the most part, is a group of rich people in tune with the “president-elect’s” version of business intrusion, anti-regulation and crony capitalism.

With respect to the environment, and specifically the Environmental Protection Agency, DJT selected a puppet of the fossil fuel industry, Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to head the EPA. According to the New York Times report on the nomination, it signals a “determination to dismantle  President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the EPA itself.” Pruitt is actually suing the EPA for its “regulatory overreach” in his oil and gas intensive state.

The transition team press release announcing Pruitt’s selection, (quoted in a Washington Post report) said, “For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn,” the release quoted Trump as saying. Pruitt “will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.” Trump added, “My administration “strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity.”

More evidence that we are in Orwellian 1984 territory. Get ready for four years of doublethink.

Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, said: “Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires. He is a climate science denier who, as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections. “Nothing less than our children’s health is at stake. Scott Pruitt, whose own bio describes him as ‘a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda’ cannot be trusted to head the EPA, an agency charged with protecting all Americans from threats to their water, air, and health. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for families across the nation and oppose this nomination.”

Senate Democrats have signaled they will fight this nomination—this could be an early battle, and test, for the Dems.

Image: Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

Written by William DiBenedetto

9 December, 2016 at 7:15 am

“This is the way the world ends…”

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climate-change_janGet set for a rough ride on climate change policies and inactions under Trump. Actually it will be a full-on climate disaster, with all of the progress of the past eight years—which wasn’t all that great in any case, but at least were crucial steps in the right direction—almost certainly reversed, undone, scrapped.

This is what is likely to happen, post-Jan. 20, based on reporting by various news outlets including Newsweek, the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the statements from DJT:

During the campaign, DJT vowed to withdraw from the Paris treaty on climate change negotiated last year. He said he would remove regulations that curb carbon emissions and permit oil drilling and mining on federal lands in the seas. He would approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and weaken—a better word is eviscerate—the Environmental Protection Agency. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

21 November, 2016 at 7:01 am

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