COP21 Green-washed Logo is a Tonne of Hot Air

Literally. Does this logo just released by the UNFCCC remind you of anything? Something that is touted as green but in reality is leading to Tonnes of methane emissions and ruining air, water, and human health around the world? 

“Natural” Gas company and project logos, perhaps? You know- that ones that make this dangerous and dirty form of energy look like it’s a clean energy source? That’s what I thought, too.

 

And of course the color scheme looks like a more infamously green-washed icon: 

 

I personally prefer more honest logos… like this one:

More on Green-washing in a bit. Just let these images sink in for a bit.

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Drought, Earthquakes, and Corporations- Oh My!

Climate Change is Strictly Business

In the wake of the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck California’s wine country on August 24th, 2014 (the largest since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake with a magnitude of 6.9) it’s time for this drought-ridden state to wake up.

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I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of my fondest memories are of exploring the river near my house and visiting my Aunt who lives up near Lake Tahoe and playing in the refreshingly cold water. With the current drought, the rivers and lakes of my childhood are nothing more than glorified puddles. I find myself wondering how this could happen.

As climate change has pushed the golden state to the brink of a full on water crisis, private corporations operating within the state have not been subject to lessening their water consumption. Just the other day, news broke that residents in the San Joaquin Valley have no tap water running from their faucets due to their wells coming up dry.

According to local news, “The situation has become so dire that the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services had 12-gallon-per person rations of bottled water delivered on Friday in the community of East Porterville, where at least 182 of the 1,400 households reported having no or not enough water… the supplies cost the county $30,000 and were designed to last about three weeks, but are only a temporary fix.” So- let me get this straight. Bottled water companies in California are aiding in emptying the aquifers at an undisclosed rate, contributing to the drought, AND making a profit off of it?

CA drought worsening from 2010 to 2014; over 80% of the state is now in “Exceptional Drought” http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/MapsAndData/WeeklyComparison.aspx

CA drought worsening from 2010 to 2014; over 80% of the state is now in “Exceptional Drought”

What could be worse than that?

Unfortunately, I have an answer to that rhetorical question: the drought is is putting pressure on our already active fault lines. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS) and recent research published in the journal Nature, the aquifers have become so empty that the surface has begun to cave in. As a result, the subsidence problem of buckling land is putting pressure on our fault lines which could result in some stronger quakes in our future.

If this wasn’t enough, the state is using what little water is leftover from daily use by California residents and sold for profit by corporations such as Nestle for a rapidly expanding natural gas industry. As such, the risks of more earthquakes and furthering the drought in California have entered a positive feedback loop. The more companies use the process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the less water there is. It requires over 4.4 million gallons of water to frack a drilling pad.

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Not only does fracking take more than its fair share of water, but the process contaminates the groundwater adjacent to the pads and the water sent down in the process becomes non-reusable. In a state where there isn’t even enough water for thirsty people, we should be seeking alternatives to water-intensive extraction projects. And let’s not forget about the positive feedback loop going on here. Hydraulic fracturing has been found to be possibly more detrimental to climate health than coal! And let’s not forget that fracking has also been found to cause earthquakes even in places that historically don’t feel them.

“All active fracking pads in the state”

All active fracking pads in the state

 

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time that companies are held as accountable as private citizens. If corporations are people, shouldn’t they be fined for violating drought restrictions like everyone else?

  

What You Can Do:

  1. Get informed
  2. Actively conserve water
  3. Join the fight!

For more information about removing bottled water from your campus, you can read more here

To learn more about the drought and its impact on California you can read more here. 

Think I forgot about California’s Agribusinesses role in all of this? I didn’t! Read more here.

Still don’t think the drought is an issue? Check out these bad boys.

A Crash Course in Climate Change

New blog up by myself and fellow delegates. I’ll be sharing these here as they come up.

Epoch

Climate Change – it’s all the buzz these days. The phrase is filling up the airways, and with all the heated discussions, impassioned speeches, and downright arguments – it’s easy to lose track of what’s actually happening to our planet.

So let’s start with some facts:

  1.      Climate is not the same as weather. The eastern US may have gotten absurdly cold in 2014, but Alaska and Australia were having record heat waves. Climate is the long-term trend of weather patterns in an area, so a few hot or cold days does not indicate a change. Rather, more extreme weather events and a shift in average temperatures, rainfall, etc. are much stronger indicators of a shift in climate. For a great illustration of the difference, watch the brilliant Neil deGrasse Tyson explain it on his show Cosmos.

  2.      There is an immense scientific consensus (~97%) that climate change is occurring…

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State of the (Climate) Union

By 2015, the world must commit to new, stronger stances regarding action against climate change. The current platform for achieving this change is through the United Nations platform, called the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In light of the recent carbon proposal from the White House, there is much that the environmental and larger American public can be excited about: an administration where mentioning climate change is no longer taboo. There is, however, a long way to go. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) that countries have committed to raising $100 billion per year leading up to 2020 remains empty. The U.S. is being one of the first and loudest countries at COP19 to justify why they stalled, trying to push blame elsewhere and divert attention from their inaction, and all the while the majority of the American public is oblivious of the work being done. 

So here’s my Climate Change “State of the Union”: 

  • Research has recently shown that in the U.S. people respond better to media discussing “Global Warming” over “Climate Change”
  • Less than half of U.S. citizens feels that climate change is an important national issue.
  • The government signed climate denial into action when the Department of Defense tried to allocate Pentagon money for adaptation for vulnerable military bases, and changing responses to resource conflicts and climate change altered disaster response.

In light of all of this denial, there is much work ahead of activists and policy makers alike in the United States. A new report highlights that the U.S. has already faced national climate change.

 

And for those of you who don’t know, most of what you heard through various media outlets about the current state of the climate from the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was water down “half truth”. Much of the content of the full report was not included in the summary circulated a week prior to its release for general digestion. So, bad news. What you read in the past few months may not have told you the whole scoop

It’s pretty obvious to me that we have a long way to go, but with so little time. Perhaps if we had media that accurately and accessibly spoke about climate issue then we may see some progress- just a thought.

Until then… I’ll keep writing.