The Moral Equivalent of War?

Activists are urging mobilizations “equivalent to war” to combat climate change. But is that the right metaphor and call to action? Wars begin and end, usually within a half-decade. The fight to reverse climate change will likely take decades. Are we ready for the sustained commitment to that effort? Can a political system based on two-year and four-year cycles accommodate activities that will take generations to be successful?

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Seniors Should Support Climate Walkout September 20th!

Seniors should support the weeklong global walkout student strike for climate action beginning September 20th, #climatestrike, by attending local events. Millions of students, workers, seniors and ordinary people like you and me worldwide will walk out of their schools, leave their jobs and homes, to urge political leaders everywhere to act now, to begin planning and implementing the transition to an energy system based on electricity derived mainly from renewable energy and not combustion of fossil fuels.

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Climate Plans: I'll See Your $10 Trillion and Raise You $5 Trillion!

Every candidate on the Democratic side is trying to outdo the other with trillions of dollars to address climate change. At this point in the process, this is all funny money, with no grounding in reality. Will climate spending create more jobs? We’ve been hearing about “green jobs” for the past 15 years, but I’ve yet to see good documentation that these jobs wouldn’t have happened anyway, during the transition to a renewable energy economy.

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The Planet's "Lungs" are on Fire!

Amazon rainforest, often called the “lungs of the earth,” for its ability to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, has seen fire activity almost double this year from 2018. Massive deforestation followed by fires set to clear the land and encourage grass to grow for future cattle grazing, show the image of poor land management by Brazil’s governments. What should be done?

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Disappearing Glaciers: It's Just Not Ok!

We’re going to write the obituaries of many 20th century glaciers before 2050, as they disappear from warming temperatures. The OK glacier in Iceland is just the latest, disappearing over the last 30 years, leaving nothing behind but a lake. This week, Iceland unveiled a plaque for future generations to see. It’s worth reading and a real punch to the gut!

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Climate Change: Who's To Blame?

Global Warming: Who’s to Blame? Maybe it’s all of us? Or only the oil, gas and coal companies? Based on the dozens if not hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed by state’s attorney generals, citizens, young people and other aggrieved or merely greedy parties, you’d think it’s ONLY the purveyors of fossil fuels. See if you can find your point of view in this week’s blog.

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“A Little Child Will Lead Them” (Isaiah 11:6)

For real action on climate change, we need today’s students to step up in a big way. My favorite quote of late is from a teenage coordinator of Extinction Rebellion, Sophie Anderson. “It’s not our job as high-schoolers to come up with solutions to climate change. We’re not the ones with the answers. We just want people to take action.” Today’s mid-teenagers will likely be alive and retired in 2075. There’s no question that they will be living in a world hotter, more disease-ridden, and more dangerous than we live in today. Would you blame them for being really, really angry at that prospect?

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Climate Crisis: Do We Need a Moonshot?

Do we need a moonshot to deal with the climate crisis? Here we all were, celebrating last weekend the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Along with 600 million other people, I watched it live on TV in July of 1969. Yup, folks, “we” did it! From takeoff of the moon program (when President Kennedy set out the goal), to successful landing (and return) of two men took less than seven years. Why can’t we do the same with decarbonizing the U.S. (and world) economy?

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Climate Change - Locked and Loaded?

Climate change in the form of global temperature rise about 2C might be “locked and loaded” into the global electricity system already, according to a new study of projected power-plant emissions. We do not yet recognize how dramatic the shifts are that are required to keep global warming in check. The kids are right - we are rapidly flying into the clouds of a climate crisis, a time of unimaginable turbulence, without our seat belts fastened.

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Coastal Real Estate – A Depreciating Asset in an Age of Climate Change?

Think about it: 40% of Americans live in coastal counties. With rising sea levels and greater damage expected from storms, hurricanes and wave surges, much of coastal America will be in growing danger. Each year, predictably and unpredictably, the sea will inundate low-lying coastal areas. Rising sea levels will affect billions of dollars in real estate, destroying some of it and devaluing much of the rest.

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Climate Crisis: Prevention AND Adaptation

The climate emergency is rewriting human history, year by year. We no longer have a choice between preventing massive climate change and putting adaptive measures in place - we simply must do both, with a speed that has never been seen in political, social and economic affairs. That requires a massive public education program by all professions and a massive commitment to training millions of professionals in new strategies for zero carbon design and climate adaptation/mitigation engineering.

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Joe Biden's Climate Plan Looks Bold, But Is Skepticism Justified?

Joe Biden released his Climate Plan this week, to mixed or tepid reviews. At what point will he advocate stripping the fossil fuel industry of all tax advantages and start asking everyone to pay the true cost of carbon emissions? A carbon tax means pain for all of us, and the last thing politicians want is to promise you pain! The vague promises of “making the polluters pay” ignores that our entire economy is still predicated on the promise of cheap, readily available and abundant fossil energy. The Clean Energy Revolution needs to be completed by 2030, not 2050, as Biden’s plan promises.

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Jay Inslee - The Grown-Up in the Room on the Climate Crisis?

Two weeks ago, Washington Governor Jay Inslee introduced a plan to address the Climate Crisis with an “Evergreen Economy Plan.” The plan proposes to “catalyze” $9 trillion of investment over ten years — with at least $300 billion in average annual federal spending leveraging approximately $600 billion in private and local government investment each year. Inslee’s plan is detailed, thorough and feasible, but has received little public attention.

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A More Efficient Trump?

A more efficient Trump Tower? Three related stories caught my eye in the past two weeks. First, New York City mandates energy efficiency upgrades at all tall buildings, including Trump Tower (lawsuit against the mandate to follow?); second, Amory Lovins is back with another paean to energy efficiency, a drum he’s been banging for 40 years; third, renewable energy mandates are incredibly costly compared to efficiency upgrades.

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Climate Emergency: Move Fast and Break Things!

“Move Fast and Break Things” shouldn’t only be Facebook’s motto. Everyone engaged in climate policy needs to understand that we need to adopt a new kind of war footing: get new ideas into prototype as fast as possible, try them out, then choose the ones that can scale the quickest and most effectively. This is not a time for political candidates to tread cautiously on climate, hoping that people will divine their true intentions behind the rhetorical timidity.

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Cutting Oil Use - A True Heavy Lifting Challenge!

A recipe for climate disaster! Barclays’ recent study shows how hard it is to cut oil use, let alone get to “zero net carbon” emissions by 2050. Under “most likely” scenario, world oil demand peaks in 2030-2035, with 2050 demand about 5% above today, 105 million barrels/day. What can we do to change this?

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Remembering the First Earth Day (1970)

The first Earth Day in 1970 shifted the 1960s early environmental movement into overdrive. In September 1969, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that a national Earth Day would be held the following April 22nd. As a student at Caltech, the announcement electrified me: Here was a cause I could support: a clean environment, focused on passing laws reducing air and water pollution.

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Deepwater Horizon - Remembering the Worst US Environmental Disaster

Just in time for a remembrance on Earth Day, April 20th marks the 9th anniversary of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. We shouldn’t forget that the fossil fuel age is not just about carbon dioxide concentrations increasing in the atmosphere, it’s about significant adverse impacts on people and the environment of this dependence.

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Slaying the Seven Dragons of Climate Change Inaction (Part Two)

Seven Dragons are generic types of psychological barriers, compiled by psychologist Robert Gifford at the University of Victoria (Canada), that hold a person back from doing something. These barriers may help explain why a person (or society) agrees that climate change and environmental sustainability are important issues yet doesn’t take sufficient action to effectively deal with them. (Part Two)

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