Organizing for Action: Tackling Climate Change

Organizing for Action (OFA) is the name of the nonprofit organization that supports President Obama and his efforts to make changes that most Americans want. Changes like gun control, sensible environmental policies to address climate change, and immigration reform. OFA encourages local chapters to form with grassroots support an important component for its success.

One of the many fights OFA is taking on is climate change. With so many politicians on the right side of the aisle refusing to accept the overwhelming evidence that scientists consider irrefutable, it’s time to point out this silliness. In 2011, a grand total of 240 members of Congress voted to rule climate change as a hoax. They publicly mock the science, spewing out comments that reveal how little they truly understand about the issue, and now OFA is calling them on it.

Here’s a video with clips of some of the most vocal politicians—hilarious and yet sad all at the same time.

Global Warming: Happy 75th Anniversary

“It may be said that the combustion of fossil fuel, whether it be peat from the surface or oil from 10,000 feet below, is likely to prove beneficial to mankind in several ways, besides the provision of heat and power. For instance, the above mentioned small increases of mean temperature would be important at the northern margin of cultivation, and the growth of favourably situated plants is directly proportional to the carbon dioxide pressure. In any case, the return of the deadly glaciers should be delayed indefinitely.”
—Guy Callendar predicting possible benefits of global warming in 1938

This month is an important anniversary in the story of global warming. John Tyndall was the first to recognize that carbon dioxide was a molecule that absorbed infrared energy making it a greenhouse gas, back in the mid-nineteenth century. A few years later, Svante Arrhenius realized that given all of the fossil fuels the world was burning even back then, their would be a real warming effect as a result of the increasing levels of carbon dioxide added. He came up with the Greenhouse Law—ΔF = α Ln(C/Co)—an equation that allowed a precise calculation of just how much heat would be trapped depending on the amount of carbon dioxide present.

But it was Guy Callendar who took it one step further. Born in Montreal and working in West Sussex, he was a steam engineer and inventor but he also dabbled in meteorology. In April 1938, he wrote an article published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (QJMRS) entitled “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and its Influence on Temperature,” linking increasing levels of carbon dioxide to a warming global temperature. Continue reading

Canadian Health Care Facilities: Preparing for Climate Change

“The toolkit challenged how we are planning for events and with the recent experience of Sandy in New Jersey and New York, reinforced our conviction in these strategies. Extreme weather events are happening more frequently and can be catastrophic for communities that don’t understand or prepare appropriately.”
—David MacKenzie, VP—Operations with the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority

Say what you want about Canada’s attitude toward greenhouse gas emissions, based on our government’s decisions to pull out of Kyoto and continue to develop the tar sands in Alberta. But make no mistake: Canada believes that global warming and climate change are real.

Need some proof? Health Canada as part of the Ministry of Health has been acknowledging climate change for a number of years. They have already created many documents which advise people about the potential adverse effects to health that climate change can cause.

Now Canadians are taking it one step further. A new publication entitled the Health Care Facility Climate Change Resiliency Toolkit is designed to ensure that the places where we look after people’s health are also ready for the effects of climate change. Continue reading

Global Warming or Climate Change: Which Is It?

In the latest attempt to spin doubt about the science, many skeptics and deniers are trying to argue that we’ve stopped using the term “global warming” and started using the term “climate change” in its place. Why would we do that? Well, because the world stopped warming more than a decade ago, or so the skeptics and deniers would have you believe.

Interestingly, as this video helps point out, Republican strategist Frank Luntz put out a memo ten years ago to the Bush administration and other conservatives recommending they use the term “climate change” because “global warming” sounded too scary. It’s easier to get people to be complacent about it if it doesn’t sounds as threatening.

For those who don’t understand the differences between those terms, I’ll try to clarify it. Greenhouse gases are the main culprit for the global warming our planet has experienced over the last century. Global warming manifests in many ways such as melting glaciers and ice caps, greater floods and droughts, more extreme weather events such as hurricanes, and sea level rise.

In other words, one of the many consequences of global warming is climate change. Increased emissions lead to global warming which leads to climate change. It’s as simple as that. It has nothing to do with trying to put a different spin on it.

Unless you’re a skeptic or denier who will try to argue the point. Just like you were advised to do a decade ago.

The Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchill

Experts have been predicting that the Arctic sea ice might disappear during the summer months within the next decade.

And that’s bad for so many reasons. First, it’s one of the worst proofs of global warming. But it will contribute to more climate change in the region in large part due to the loss of albedo—or reflectivity from the ice cap—so the Arctic Ocean will be able to absorb even more solar energy. This can in turn lead to more melting of the ice on Greenland, as well as melting of permafrost located near the Arctic Circle. Given the amount of carbon stored in permafrost in the form of methane (a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide), that can contribute to a real acceleration of greenhouse gas emissions, a significant positive feedback loop.

A lot of people tend to ignore this real threat our planet is facing. One way to appreciate it more is to see exactly him much ice the North Pole has lost in the last generation. This thirty second video helps to put it into perspective.

I dare you to watch this and not care about its implications.