Archive for the ‘Global warming’ Category

This semester, one component of our core requirements involves weekly ecology field trips around the Philadelphia region.  When we left the city to head to the Ringing Rocks County Park, I was anticipating our visit to be merely a casual observation of some rock formations. I didn’t expect that this trip would involve an extremely sensory and awe-inspiring experience.

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Still staying in tune on the Michigan front:

This week the Detroit Free Press published a pretty good article about local activists in Michigan who are speaking out about global warming through workshops and presentations for community organizations, neighborhood block clubs and church groups. The individuals highlighted (including my friend and former employer) are part of a cadre of volunteers trained by Al Gore and The Climate Project and who are now raising awareness about climate change in their local communities. The Climate Project website is very interactive and includes a calendar of events for you to see what local activities are taking place in your state.

The presenters’ tasks are to be available to talk about climate change and make the technicalities behind global warming more accessible to non-scientists (i.e. regular folk). So if you want to do something tangible about combatting climate change, get in touch and tap into this resource to bring them out to your own community organization.

Top of the Rock

Last night I went to the Top of the Rock to see New York City’s skyline. The view was fantastic. It was raining, so I couldn’t get a good shot of the city, but here’s a photo from Gothamist.

Just within the past two weeks, I have been part of conversations with a range of people — with non-SNRE types, around Detroit living rooms, during carpools, and in sangha discussions, that are speaking with passionate concern and urgency about global warming and climate change. The level of public consciousness about climate change has changed remarkably, and this comes to me with a mixture of surprise, anxiety, and relief. No doubt Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth had something to do with getting the message out to a broader audience, and for many who live in Michigan, the warm weather and lack of snow in January has caught a lot of our attentions. While this year’s unusually warm weather may not be directly attributed to global warming, it is still to hard to ignore the melting ice shelf and decrease in bird migration.

What is missing from some of these conversations is an awareness of the disproportionate impact of global warming among people of color, poor communities and indigenous folks — which is an analysis carried by the Climate Justice movement. As global temperatures increase, these populations may be hit hardest and perhaps were least responsible for the greenhouse gases that are accelerating global warming. Here are some scenarios of what those impacts could be:

  1. Climate change will reduce discretionary spending because prices will rise across the board. Low-income families will have to spend even more on food and electricity, which already represent a large proportion of their budgets.
  2. Indigenous Peoples are losing traditional medicinal plants to a warming climate, and subsistence households are suffering from the loss of species that are unable to adapt.
  3. Climate change harms the health of communities of color and Indigenous Peoples. Communities of color and Indigenous Peoples are burdened with poor air quality and are twice as likely to be uninsured than whites. Yet, these communities will become even more vulnerable to climate-change related respiratory ailments, heat-related illness and death, and illness from insect-carried diseases.
  4. Air pollution already hits people of color especially hard. Over 57 percent of whites, 65 percent of African Americans, and 80 percent of Latinos live in 437 counties with substandard air quality. Global warming is expected to double the number of cities that currently exceed air quality standards.
  5. Climate change will reduce discretionary spending because prices will rise across the board. Low-income families will have to spend even more on food and electricity, which already represent a large proportion of their budgets. (thanks for pointing out that this repeats #1).

There are many groups working diligently on this issue. Admittedly, the pessimist in me feels that all this talk is too little too late, that our human footprints are irreversible. So I can only turn to the hopefulness in me, which asks me to embrace my cynism and fears by looking at how to reduce my own impact, as a person living in the world’s wealthiest country. In the spirit of TNH, I’m committing myself to a No Car Day once a week, and I invite others to do the same, to the extent that they are able.