Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Before the Flood, DiCaprio's Climate Change Documentary, Will Be Free for a Week Starting Oct. 30

DiCaprio used Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights as a metaphor for human-caused climate change.
National Geographic Channel reported "Watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s three-year journey exploring the subject of climate change, Before the Flood, free on all platforms the same day it premieres on the National Geographic Channel [Sunday, Oct. 30]." Huffington Post noted it will be free "for a week following its release." Huffington Post added "He travels to some of the regions where climate change has hit hardest: Greenland’s melting ice, the rising seas consuming Kiribati and the world’s dying coral reefs."  Oct. 28 Update -- I watched the film tonight at UCSD's Price Center Theater, and after, the 130 people there gave it a thunderous applause.  DiCaprio did a great job of showing a global perspective as well as current and projected costs of inaction regarding cutting carbon. After the film, Dr. Ralph Keeling from Scripps emphasized the warming ocean is a result of too much carbon, and suggested a carbon tax to help transition to solar and other renewables. Asked if anything was missing from the film, Masada Disenhouse, Co-founder of San Diego 350, said she would have liked to have seen fossil fuel divestment and the children's climate movement. It was noted one of the easiest ways to fight catastrophic climate change is to shift to a mostly plant-based diet, something I did 26 years ago. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Allegedly Edible Fungi, Chasing Ice, and Hurricane Sandy

Fall in Oregon is mushroom season.  Above is a table of lobsters, chanterelles, porcini, and assorted.  A remnant of Typhoon Songda (2016) was forecast for Oregon on October 15 when these were harvested.

On Friday October 21 I showed James Balog's film Chasing Ice at my college.  Eighteen people arrived to see it, the Democracy Now! video about "Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance [ . . .]," and engage in a lively discussion about climate change solutions.  One professor said "Until something awful happens here [in San Diego], I don't think many people will pay attention."  It reminded me of a New York professor at AWP LA who taught climate change issues over 10 years to mostly bored English students until suddenly Hurricane Sandy put their houses were underwater, and they listened (The linked video notes "economic damages could be in the range of 10 to 20 billion [dollars . . . . ], more than eight million homes are without power," "the death toll has risen to at least 72").

After showing Chasing Ice, I asked all present to see themselves as global citizens, to go on a media fast for a few days like John Robbins once recommended, to imagine themselves 10 minutes before death, and what action they could feel good about regarding the climate change issue.  The great thing about Chasing Ice is how, through video evidence of retreating glaciers, it has the power to convert climate change deniers to realists, and hopefully activists. I suggest getting public performance rights at your college or library, then invite your community to see it, followed by a discussion regarding solutions, and the cost of inaction for the audience, other human and animal communities, and future human generations.  Those interested in the moral argument can watch the three and a half minute video of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Climate Change. Those interested in the science, watch this video on carbon sources, and carbon sinks. Those interested in spiritual aspects, watch these short videos on Pope Francis, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Here is an excellent climate change video for children. If you want eerie parallels with the Titanic, Parts 12 and 13 (first class passengers as developed nations, and second and third class as everyone else), watch these videos. This video narrated by Morgan Freeman offers hope. Of course, the Freeman video only works if oil companies agree to place the value of current and future humans above about 10 trillion dollars in oil reserves, or are made to do so by collective action, law, or catastrophic events.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Yellowtail in Mexico, and Climate Questions / Answers

Yesterday I enjoyed catching seven yellowtail (kept four) on the Tribute which had excellent deckhands and fine captains.  The captains were helpful, experienced, spoke to anglers as individuals, and found huge schools of fish.  On the overnight trip back to San Diego, I had discussions about climate change which will be presented as questions and answers below.

Q - Isn't the climate science uncertain?

A- No.  According to Olympic Climate Action, "Nov. 2012 through December 2013 [out of] 2258 peer-reviewed climate articles by 9136 authors [,] 1 author rejected man-made global warming."

Q - Hasn't the number of polar bears increased in recent years?

A - John Ingham of London's The Sunday Express (March 3, 2015) cited the WWF's claim that "of the 19 separate populations of polar bears across the Arctic, three are in decline and just one is known to be increasing while for nine there is insufficient data to make any assessment."

Q -- Isn't it true the oceans, and not humans, cause most CO2 emissions?

A- According to Cheryl Katz in a March 30, 2015, article for e360.yale.edu, "For decades, the earth’s oceans have soaked up more than nine-tenths of the atmosphere’s excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions. [ . . .] But as those gases build in the air, an energy overload is rising below the waves. A raft of recent research finds that the ocean has been heating faster and deeper than scientists had previously thought. And there are new signs that the oceans might be starting to release some of that pent-up thermal energy, which could contribute to significant global temperature increases in the coming years."  [In other words, human activity is putting the CO2 burden in the oceans.]

Q - Isn't it true what's happening in China makes U. S. action irrelevant?

A - According to Damian Carrington's July 25, 2016, article in The Guardian, "The latest official government statistics from China support the idea that its coal use peaked in 2014. Coal production fell 9.7% in the first half of 2016 compared to 2015, which itself saw a 5.8% decline on 2014, and coal burning fell 3.7% in 2015. China’s total emissions have been near flat in recent years. [ . . . ] [T]he nation’s falling coal use is now a permanent trend. One is the falling rate of economic growth from 9-10% to about 6% and the transformation of the Chinese economy away from heavy industry and towards more hi-tech and service sectors, which are much less dependent on energy. [ . . . . ] As coal declines, clean electricity in China is increasing rapidly with solar power up 28% in the first half of 2016, nuclear up 25% and wind and hydropower both up 13%. "

In addition, China supported a limit of a 1.5 C warming target at COP21.

Q - Why are you concerned about methane?

A- Read this October 4, 2016, Siberian Times article which quotes Professor Igor Semiletov, of Tomsk Polytechnic University: "We have reason to believe that such emissions may change the climate. This is due to the fact that the reserves of methane under the submarine permafrost exceed the methane content in the atmosphere [ . . . ] many thousands of times. If 3-4% from underwater will go into the atmosphere within 10 years, the methane concentration therein (in the atmosphere) will increase by tens to hundreds of times, and this can lead to rapid climate warming. This is due to the fact that the greenhouse effect of one molecule of methane is 20-30 times greater than one molecule of CO2."

The good news is that even though methane has a much stronger effect than CO2, the life of methane in the atmosphere is shorter.  Duncan Clark's January 16, 2012 article in The Guardian noted "Between 65% and 80% of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20–200 years" while "Methane, by contrast, is mostly removed from the atmosphere by chemical reaction, persisting for about 12 years."

Q - What can anyone do about climate change?

A- Join others working on it.  If you're on the Olympic Peninsula, join Olympic Climate Action. In Portland, Oregon, or Vancouver, Washington, join 350PDX. In Corvallis, Oregon, join 350Corvallis. In Eugene join 350Eugene. In San Diego join SanDiego350. This isn't just about donations of money. Your time as a volunteer will help.  As Bill McKibben noted in his August 15, 2016, New Republic article, "We're under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII." Mckibben's Twitter site provides updates.