January 8, 2013
Is climate change a problem of TECHNOLOGY or POLITICS?
Truthfully, it’s probably both – but these days it may be more of the latter.
These days, we have many technologies available to help us solve the climate crisis – from wind, solar, tide and wave energy; to high-efficiency buildings that produce more energy than they use; to real-time ridesharing via smart-phones.
But solutions don’t happen without political will, appropriate policies and strategic funding – all of which seem lamentably scarce these days.
That’s where you and I come in. As astrophysicist Carl Sagan said, “Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”
So – please make it your resolution not to sit this one out. I can’t overemphasize how much your involvement, in ways large or small, is needed. Here’s more on the ‘why’ plus some simple suggestions for ‘how’.
Happy New Year 2013 – may it be a pivotal year for climate change action.
November 14, 2012
24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report
2012 has been a year of crazy weather extremes: from the devastating drought that scorched much of North America last summer, to the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy, to the 80 mm of rain that caused flooding in my community three weeks ago.
If you’re wondering about the link between weird weather and climate change, tune in to 24 Hours of Reality November 14-15. It’s a marathon 24-hour program to be livestreamed globally starting November 14 at 8 PM Eastern. It will feature clear, science-based explanations of the link between climate change and extreme weather; climate news from around the world; and solutions. The finale will be presented live from New York November 15 at 7 PM Eastern by Hon. Al Gore.
Watch an 80 second promo here; and watch the event itself here (scroll down for the hour-by-hour schedule). You can watch as much or as little as you like. And please forward the links to your friends and share on your networks!
19 climate change games that could change the future
Whether it’s played on a board or on a screen, just about everyone enjoys a good game. And great games can bring out a surprising degree of analysis, creativity, strategy and action –the very same traits that make humans uniquely able to overcome big challenges. Like climate change.
ClimateProgress has compiled a list of 19 computer, role-playing and board games that put players into the heart of energy, economic and development issues that are at the core of climate change. The list includes:
- SimCity 5: a new version of the longstanding urban development computer game that incorporates sustainability and active transport
- Climate Catan: a version of the popular “Settlers of Catan” featuring oil as a resource that fuels development but leads to environmental disaster (AKA reality)
- “Stabilization Wedge” Game: based on Princeton University’s ground-breaking research, offers participants real-world options, choices and tradeoffs for cutting global emissions
Check out the list of all 19 games at http://tinyurl.com/ClimateChangeGames.
December 27, 2011
A couple of years ago, I completed an on-line quiz about my footprint on the planet. It asked questions about how I live – house, vehicle, driving, food, waste and more – and then calculated how much land it takes to sustain my lifestyle. I was shocked when it told me that if everyone on the planet lived like me, we’d need four planets. I’ve worked really hard since then to reduce my footprint – but more recently I discovered that that ratio applies to all Canadians: if everyone on the planet lived like us, we’d need four planets.
Of course, there is only one: this fragile, beautiful, precious and irreplaceable planet.
So perhaps the best New Years resolution any of us can make is this: to strive to use less of everything, in whatever way we can.
November 30, 2010
Combining fun and solutions
Many people spend at least part of their days playing games – whether solo or with others, whether face to face or across cyberspace. So why not combine the fun of a game with the challenge of solving the world’s environmental problems?
Cool It is a card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about choices that have to be made in solving climate change. It includes a teacher’s guide, and is available here.
Fate of the World is a new video game that challenges players to “manage a balancing act of protecting the Earth’s resources and climate versus the needs of an ever-growing world population, who are demanding ever more food, power, and living space”. It’s available here.
People like having fun – so why not make that fun time productive? These and other games like them can help!
January 13, 2010
Automatic door openers are in buildings everywhere these days, helping provide access to people with mobility challenges. But their popularity has led to an unintended side effect: many people with no mobility issues have gotten into the comfortable habit of pressing the button too.
Automatic openers use electricity, and they often hold exterior doors open long enough for a lot of heat to escape.
So to save a bit of electricity and heat, why not leave automatic door openers for those who really need them, and , if you can, open doors the old-fashioned way.
In the News
What are the TOP 10 environmental moments of the past decade? Here they are, according to CNN. The last two sentences of number 8 will likely surprise you. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/12/17/environmental.decade.top.ten/
Who – or what – came out on top in Copenhagen last month, and who – or what – lost out? http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/magazine/article/915898
December 31, 2009
December 7, 2009
The long awaited Copenhagen Climate Change Conference kicked off yesterday. It’s a critical moment, one that will test our global community’s ability – and desire – to work together to solve a problem that will impact every single human on Earth.
This week, a few visuals worth watching:
From 1992, “The Girl Who Silenced the World” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0, a twelve year old’s powerful message to world leaders gathering for the Rio Earth Summit.
“The Story of Stuff” http://www.storyofstuff.com/, a frank look at where stuff comes from and where it ends up – worth thinking about during this ‘season of stuff’.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to 500 young people about climate change. To me, their bright, young faces represent hope and promise for the future. For their sake and the sake of all youth everywhere, let’s hope our leaders gathering in Copenhagen get it right.
In the news
Check out this editorial http://www.thestar.com/news/sciencetech/environment/copenhagensummit/article/735124–star-joins-global-climate-crusade calling for action from world leaders on climate change, published yesterday by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages.
Sometimes short-term cheap comes with a much larger long-term cost. http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/magazine/article/873098
September 14, 2009
There are less than 100 days until “Copenhagen”, the critical international meeting that will determine the follow up to the Kyoto Accord. Many of the world’s biggest emitters hold positions that are miles apart – yet climate experts tell us a strong successor to Kyoto is critical to solving our climate crisis.
If you’ve never been politically active before, perhaps now’s the time to discover your “inner activist”. After all, could there be any more compelling reason than the well-being of our children?
Here are a couple of ways you can make a difference:
Tell your elected representative(s) what you think. Contact information is available here: http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E (Canada) and here (US): Congress http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/index.html and Senate http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm .
Use the power of technology to organize a ‘flashmob’, a spontaneous gathering to make a point to leaders at all levels. You can use the template of Avaaz.org, a global web community planning a network of events September 21: http://www.avaaz.org/en/sept21_hosts/?cl=313334902&v=3906 .
(Check out this tactic being used in Quebec to put social pressure on people commuting solo: http://www.atsa.qc.ca/pages/encoreseuldanstonchar.asp ).
“We must be the change we seek in the world” – Mohandas Gandhi
“We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points” – David Spratt & Philip Sutton, “Climate Code Red”, July 2008
Terry Fox Run
Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far to my Terry Fox Run this weekend. If you’d still like to contribute, please visit http://www.terryfox.org/cgi/page.cgi/Run/participants.html/USH8SW.
July 12, 2009
Air conditioning feels great on a hot day – but it comes with a big environmental price. In vehicles, next to driving, air conditioning is the biggest load on the engine. In homes and buildings, air conditioning can be a big part of the summer power bill. In Ontario and most US states, power consumption is actually higher in the summer than it is in the winter because of air conditioning. Considering most power still comes from fossil fuels, well… you get the picture.
But we can stay comfortable, save money and reduce the impact of air conditioning with a few simple actions:
In vehicles, use open windows at speeds below 60 KM/h (about 35 MPH); use the fan with a window open a crack at faster speeds.
In buildings, set thermostats a few degrees higher (this simple action has a HUGE impact), and only cool places where there are people, when they are there. Encourage people to dress for warm weather. (Duh!!)
You can read more tips here: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/rss/article/712954
In the news
Munich Re, a huge German reinsurance company, is spearheading an effort to develop solar power in the Sahara Desert. http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSLG48059620090616
Yikes – a new report covering about 45,000 species of wildlife concludes that that nearly one quarter of the world’s mammals, nearly one third of amphibians and more than 1 in 8 of all bird species are at serious risk. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/07/02/02greenwire-report-shows-greater-peril-for-worlds-threaten-54487.html