Climate News (53)
Climate News covers climate policy and climate news related events for a general audience.
The Will Steger Foundation was proud and humbled to have so many of our strong supporters commit significant time, energy and resources to travel to DC so that their voices were heard at the largest climate rally in history. Thank you to Marian Moore for her reflection.
In Governor Dayton’s State of the State last evening he recognized Will Steger:
"No one can endure the severe droughts or floods of recent years or our milder snow-scarce winters without being greatly alarmed. Just talk with my good friend and world-premier polar explorer, Will Steger, about the drastic climate changes he has witnessed. Even more alarming is that our state and our nation are still not doing enough to reverse this path towards global catastrophe, before it is too late. We've made real progress with clean, renewable energy, instead of polluting fossil fuels...but are we progressing fast enough?"
For the past year the Will Steger Foundation has been working behind the scenes to provide Governor Dayton with compelling evidence of the massive public support for advancing renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions, and creating clean energy jobs. At the same time we have built this support through public outreach. Thousands of postcards collected at our fall forums were successfully delivered in a recent meeting with Governor Dayton, where we outlined why Minnesota is poised for climate action now and where we should be going next. The Governor responded to these efforts in his recent State of the State address.
This legislative session, we will be working with a broad coalition and Governor Dayton’s administration to support Minnesota’s existing clean energy and carbon reduction policies. We will heed his advice to "use our past achievements as springboards for Minnesota's next big leap toward a sustainable energy future." We will also galvanize our youth leaders through our Emerging Leaders Program to build a grassroots youth movement that expands what is politically possible in Minnesota. Governor Dayton has shown that he is responsive to youth concerns, which make the youth voice absolutely integral to his leadership.
Minnesotans have a rich history of coming together to advocate for common sense solutions. We believe that through collaboration around shared goals, the opportunity to create a clean energy economy is now.
In his inaugural address, President Obama pledged to respond to climate change “knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Obama elevated the issue of climate change into the top tier of his second-term priorities, alongside gun control and immigration reform.
We successfully completed an eight-city tour of Minnesota with free public forums on climate change, clean energy and health. When the New Ulm journal published the headline: Polar explorer, scientist, bishop to address climate change, we knew we were pulling together a diversity of voices for climate action.
Bill McKibben and the Do the Math Tour were in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota on Friday November 30th where they spoke to a sold out crowd of over 1200 people.
In his acceptance last night, President Obama clearly stated: "We want our children to live in an America…that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” With those words and another election behind us, we have the opportunity to not just message the reality and urgency of climate change, but to move forward with a clean energy and clean air agenda that protects health; creates jobs; secures our energy future through clean energy investments; and addresses climate change.
To truly secure our energy future and protect our health from dangerous air pollution we need to develop cleaner, safer technologies that harness American ingenuity to deliver affordable energy solutions and protect consumers from price shocks. President Obama and his administration have built a strong foundation for this by nearly doubling fuel efficiency standards for cars, the second biggest source of carbon pollution, and starting to set limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the biggest source. Now we need to move quickly to complete the process by setting standards for ALL power plants. We can address climate change by developing a clean energy policy that provides clean, safe, abundant energy while reducing carbon pollution that triggers climate change.
A Clean Energy Agenda Is Good For America’s Health And Economy
In 2012 Americans experienced violent and intense weather events that were fueled by climate change. Addressing carbon pollution and climate change should be front and center in any energy policy moving forward.
- Clean air and clean energy policies protect public health and create real, long term jobs here at home.
- EPA’s clean air standards improve public health: fewer heart attacks and asthma attacks; cleaner, healthier air; and fewer premature deaths associated with poor air quality.
- Clean air and energy policies cut emissions of the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change, which is linked to extreme weather, poorer air quality and rising sea levels.
- Cleaning up air pollution and investing in clean energy will save lives and spur economic growth through innovation and development of cleaner technologies to modernize power plants and produce cleaner, safer energy.
- Americans, by a large margin, support clean, safe, renewable energy and know clean energy will spur innovation and create countless green energy jobs.
- The clean energy agenda should include extending incentives for wind power development and support for innovations that develop other cleaner, safer forms of energy.
This week (Nov. 26- Dec 1) follow Siiri Bigalke as she participates in the United Nations climate conference, COP18, as our representative and youth leader.
Image credit: GOES satellite image provided by NASA. Hurricane Sandy churns off the East Coast on Monday morning, Oct. 29, 2012.
“Our climate is changing and while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.” - New York City Mayor Bloomberg in Bloomberg View
When I read this quote by Mayor Bloomberg, I appreciated it and was proud of his boldness (especially as a former New York resident). It’s exactly the kind of leadership we should expect from our decision-makers. I also know that such boldness comes as a result of witnessing something so profound, that you must act. This eyewitness experience is exactly what called Will Steger into action in 2006 when he established the Will Steger Foundation to address climate change, as he was witnessing the disintegration of ice shelves, the polar sea ice and his Arctic home.
As recovery efforts are underway to address the impact of Hurricane Sandy, people are asking what role climate change plays in influencing such storms.
Oceans have absorbed much more of the excess heat from climate change than land and scientists understand that when hurricanes form, higher water temperatures can energize them and make them more powerful. Warming is also causing the atmosphere to hold more moisture and concentrate precipitation in stronger storms, including hurricanes. In the case of Hurricane Sandy, it retained much of its strength as it tracked across ocean water that was 9 degrees (F) warmer than average for this time of year.
More broadly climate change is increasing sea levels globally, which affects all coastal storms, including hurricanes. Locally, sea level rise along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts has been among the highest in the world. Additionally, Hurricane Sandy made landfall during a full-moon high tide, which further drove storm surges that caused extensive coastal flooding. With continued warming, such high tides will become higher and more damaging.
The link between extreme weather and climate change is the subject of much ongoing research. A special report on extreme weather from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released this summer concluded that coastal flooding and more extreme precipitation were strongly linked to human-induced climate change and are expected to get worse in the future. By contrast, scientists can have only “low confidence” when it comes to the historical link between hurricanes and climate change.
In the future, the report said, it’s likely that heavy rainfalls associated with hurricanes will become more intense. Overall, hurricane strength – measured as wind speed – is likely to increase while the frequency of hurricane formation is likely to either remain unchanged or decrease.
As Mayor Bloomberg so eloquently stated, regardless of the role of climate change in events like these, we are going to continue to experience the ramifications of a changing climate. The costs of inaction are far greater than the costs of addressing climate change. We need bold political leadership. Our elected leaders cannot keep the issue silent any longer.
Nicole Rom at the finish of the 2012 Climate Ride
The 5-day adventure is now over and while my body is adjusting to its newfound strength and tired muscles, I am reinvigorated from the journey.
Everyday we were provided a copy of Rider News - an overview of the highlights along our way, a profile of one of the over 100 riders, and a climate topic/overview of the evening's speakers. The ride is fully supported such that every rider can focus on each day - riding through challenging terrain that pushes limits; networking with other like-minded people, and finding hope and inspiration for the issues we care deeply about and work everyday on.
Each day I was personally pushed physically and mentally to tackle hills that went on for 5 miles up steep mountain passes, or descended over 12 miles down curvy switchback roads. I had a lot of time to think about the metaphor that biking provides to our work. It takes a positive attitude and perseverance to make it through the tough spots, but the rewards, sometimes fleeting moments, make the tough times worthwhile.
I was able to develop a closer relationship with my Board member, Dave Bryan, and was deeply thankful that he decided to do this ride with me (his third Climate Ride!) Dave and I pedaled over 250 miles together, looking out for each other, supporting each other, and discovering new things about each other.
I know that this trip has allowed me to understand a bit more about what brings people like Dave to this work. It's not just the issue, or his concern for his children's future, but it is often deeply personal and emotional. The presentations and conversations that stood out were those that fell into these lines; it wasn't the conversations about a specific policy or action story, but the focus on future generations, on reaching youth and the need for more education. Only when a young person understands how the planet works, can they understand what our impact has on it.
I was reminded over and over again why the work we do is so critical to addressing climate change. It also became evident how lucky we are to have Will Steger's unique eyewitness perspective framing our work. No one can tell the arctic climate story as well as we can. No one has the history of connecting educators and youth to understanding the power of our planet and engaging them in opportunities to protect it. Will has been doing this for over 20 years and we have been successfully carrying out this legacy for over 6 years.
The climate ride continues in new ways for me and our work.
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Today was a super pleasant day as we are all adjusted to the rhythm of biking everyday. The bike route opened at 8 am and we began by following the Russian River inland towards wine country. We made an early stop at Moshin Vineyard which features a unique 4-tier Gravity Flow Winery and control of 28 acres of grapes, mostly Pinot Noir. Using sustainable farming methods, they have established energy-saving practices through the use of gravity-flow and solar energy. After trying a few wines, we were back on the road, riding through gently rolling hills along stunning backroads.
We had a delicious picnic lunch at Ragle Ranch Regional Park outside of Sebastopol. We left lunch for some larger hills before stopping again in Tomales with an excellent cafe, the highlight being ice cream!
The end of our day took us along Shoreline Highway (or Highway 1), up and down over rolling hills as we neared closer to Point Reyes National Seashore. We soon came upon Tomales Bay and coastal sea towns before finishing a few miles past Point Reyes Station.
Once in camp, everyone enjoyed a final meal together, before the closing program. Tomorrow is our final day - 40 miles to San Francisco, which includes crossing the Golden Gate bridge to end at Civic Center.
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