IPCC: "Climate Change is Affecting All Continents"

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the largest international project with the purpose of providing nations of the world with a distilled summary of the status of climate change, both the science behind it and its effects. This information is available to the world’s leaders so they can develop the best policies that can help tackle the problem, if they choose to that is.

Their last complete report—the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4)—came out back in 2007. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is being released out in steps over a number of months.

The Working Group I report was the first step. It addressed the basic science and how climate change occurs and came out last September. One of its recommendations was to adopt a “carbon budget” that we need to stay within if we hope to limit global warming to under 2°C, the level generally considered by most climate scientists as a safe upper limit that would avoid an absolute catastrophe. What that carbon budget means, however, is that our planet can only emit a total of about 1,000 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere and we’re already more than halfway, at about 531 gigatons as of 2011. Given that we currently add about 35 gigatons annually, we have our work ahead of us if we’re going to stay within this threshold.

Step two of AR5 is being released today. According to the Guardian, the report comes to the conclusion that climate change has already “caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.” The biggest immediate threat is Continue reading

Earth Hour Happens Tomorrow: How Will You Celebrate?

Tomorrow night, millions of people all over the world will be turning off their lights for one hour beginning at 8:30 p.m. in their efforts to honour Earth Hour. Will it make a difference in emissions? Sure, any reduction in energy usage means a reduction in greenhouse gases. Will this reduction in emissions make a significant difference to the problem? Probably not. It would be like a smoker deciding not to smoke for part of one day every year; the overall risk for smoking-related diseases is not all that much different.

So why do it then? I can think of a few reasons. One is that it’s meant to raise awareness to the general public about one very important component to helping tackle global warming and climate change; that is, to reduce our energy usage and to learn that our lives aren’t destroyed in the process.

Another is to make a symbolic stand. If you can show your support in this small way, it acknowledges to those around you that you believe global warming is real and that we’re a part of the problem. As each year goes by, more people are taking this stand.

And another important reason is to use the opportunity to reflect. In this year’s campaign, the organizers are suggesting you contemplate what you can do to help during that hour, in your “moment of darkness.” As part of their efforts, a number of celebrities have uploaded videos to encourage you to participate.

I thought about posting one from William Shatner, but opted instead for a real astronaut. Chris Hadfield, Canada’s most famous citizen to view our planet from space had some pertinent words to explain why he thinks it’s an important event to participate in. See what you think, but please consider doing your part to make a difference.

Even if it’s just for one hour.

Climate Change Education From….The White House

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
—Nelson Mandela

If you want people to know more about global warming and climate change, what do you do? I suppose if you’re me, you write a book and follow it up with a regular blog to keep people up to date. It helps no doubt, but the reach in my case has its limits. (Let’s just say my followers don’t match Justin Bieber’s.)

But what if you have the clout of, say, the President of the United States? Barack Obama has decided it’s time for Americans to learn more about the impact of climate change. To make it as easy as possible, he’s doing it with a web-based app.

Last week the White House inaugurated its new climate education website: climate.data.gov. The goal is to use visual presentations to illustrate the state of our planet. White House science adviser, John P. Holdren, played a part in its development. Continue reading

What Happened to President Carter's White House Solar Panels?

For a midweek break I thought a little levity might be nice so I thought I’d look to David Letterman for some comic relief. I’ve been a fan of Letterman since I first discovered his daytime show in 1980 (hilarious but so misplaced for a daytime audience). Then I watched his NBC show Late Night with his final episode occurring on my 28th birthday (Google will let you do the math).

A few months later he moved to CBS with the Late Show. I actually got to see a taping in 1994 from the second row. It was an amazing experience but in retrospect it was a bit dated. His guests that night: Fran Drescher, an up-and-coming Samuel L. Jackson, and country singer Alan Jackson.

So checking out Dave’s recent guests on the Late Show, I stumbled on this Monday’s episode with former President Jimmy Carter. Well into his 80s, he still has valuable advice for a better planet. His new book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power just came out this week.

When President Carter was on Letterman, he managed to discuss his very progressive concept for the 1970s of placing solar panels on the roof of the White House. It was interesting to hear what happened to them, with the tactful approach only a former President can provide. Enjoy.


State of the Climate: World's Meteorologists Agree Global Warming is Real and Our Fault

“There is no standstill in global warming.”
—Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization

This past Sunday was World Meteorological Day. Since 1950, March 23rd has been World Meteorological Day, celebrated primarily by members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), so unless you’re a meteorologist, don’t be surprised if you didn’t know about it.

To mark the occasion, the WMO released their annual State of the Climate report highlighting extreme weather events and helping to confirm that more severe droughts, heat waves, floods, and hurricanes are the result of climate change, and that it’s primarily our fault.

According to Michel Jarraud, the WMO Secretary-General:

There is no standstill in global warming. We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise—as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines.

Continue reading