Thursday, March 29, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 3-29-07

  • Rising tides. No, not from global warming. Well, not directly. I’m talking about the ones that are going to wash over the Repubs as they take their opposition to focusing on global warming to new heights, this time trying to stop Gore’s Live Earth Rock Concert at the Capitol. As we’ve said over and over here, all the other issues we fuss about are pale compared to the urgency and consequences of what we’re doing with global warming and its associated concerns of energy and water. Nothing else comes within a universe of it despite the lack of interest even from most of our fellow “progressive” blogs, much less the news media. And the people who go down in history as impeding action and letting the worst happen will live with the consequences. So let them play their games, even win on this point, just to label them better. That light at the end of their tunnel IS a train.
  • Does seem like a few of the Repubs have a clue. From one of their pollsters: And Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who conducted the poll in South Carolina, said Republican candidates could garner support from independent and swing voters by showing sensitivity to climate change. "The issue has advanced dramatically over the last eight years," Ayres said, "and flat denials of the existence of global warming are no longer credible." (h/t Grist) But, as the story makes clear, most Repubs are beligerent ostriches on this and a few semi-reasonable ones don't make up for their silliness.
  • Here's the poll mentioned in SC, from a story on how FL and TX may finally be realizing that sun all the time might make them, you know, rich in solar power: State Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, is pushing for more solar investment in Florida. He says a recent Mason-Dixon poll found that 90 percent of Floridians think the Florida Legislature should encourage investment in solar energy, and 78 percent say they would be willing to pay up to $1 a month on their utility bills to pay for it.
  • But this is the big kahuna poll that the Repubs are fortunately ignoring (h/t Scientific American). 83% of Americans see global warming as a serious problem and more than 80% have serious concerns about toxic soil and water, deforestation, wildlife extinction, and dependence on foreign oil. Rightly, this is being called a "tidal wave." Remember those yahoos who stood around laughing at Noah. They were Republicans. Oh, the irony.
  • Oh, yeah. Their favorite claims that it's just a natural cycle? Well, now we have 420 m. years of evidence of consistent correlation of CO2 rates and effects on temps. Wait, I forgot. The earth's only 4000 some years old. At least the Brits are doing their part, with their carbon emissions up 1.25% last year. And they're the ones who accept it and claim to be doing something about it.
  • Polar ice experts kindly let us know that a TX-sized piece of the Antarctic ice sheet is thinning. And if it melts? Only a 20 foot increase in sea levels. Nothing to see. Move along.
  • If, IF, their vegetation isn't too screwed up and they keep good supplies of their upstream sediment, tidal marshes might not be too harmed by rising sea levels, which is also a protection of shoreline against damage. So let's work on keeping them healthy, and not by building giant homes on them, okay? NC? Okay?
  • Speaking of NC and SC, looks like that major water war may be getting started, with SC accusing NC of siphoning off its river water. This is one of many possible feuds that could get ugly, and remember the last time SC got aggravated with some other states . . . ?
  • More on every other crop being cut back so as much corn for ethanol can be grown. Result? Higher food prices anyone? More hungry people anyone? Save a democracy anyone?
  • Interesting article here on a UN study showing how much could be done against global warming with better architecture and use of building materials. The potentials are good for us, but obviously even better for poorer nations still wanting development.
  • And speaking of tech advances and changes, here's another piece on all the geoengineering ideas being thrown around out there to let us keep having our fuel cake and burning it, too. What's good about this article is its thorough presentation of the questions we need to be asking before these things get going. Things like:

Simply put, economic analyses can't deal with far-reaching, long-term problems like climate change or geoengineering, he says. There are too many unknowns. "Changing the earth's climate is an experiment we're going to do once," he says. "There are not going to be any do-overs."


Others point out that the mere mention of a techno-fix for climate change could have unintended consequences. If people know that someone will bail them out of catastrophe, they're more inclined to engage in risky behavior, says David Keith, director of an energy and environmental systems research group at the University of Calgary.


Because climate change has winners and losers – one country's breadbasket dries up while another's desert blooms – unilateral change becomes a sticky prospect. Manipulation – even if it's viewed as a corrective measure – will inevitably impinge on another's newfound good fortune. "Even if you're very confident that you can make things better, that doesn't necessarily give you the right to do that if, in fact, you're affecting other people's interests," says Professor Jamieson. Ken Caldeira posits another possibility: "You could imagine some kind of arms race of geoengineering, where one country is trying to cool the planet and another is trying to warm the planet," he says.

Now let's see if anyone pays attention.