Climate Science 101

In this video Bill Nye, the Science Guy, explains the fundamentals of climate science, which have been understood by scientists for decades. Just like the tobacco lobby did with the clear evidence linking smoking with health effects, the petroleum industry has been trying to cast doubt on the science of climate change. The tobacco lobby managed to delay government action for the sake of public health on their industry for 3 decades – how long will the petroleum lobby be successful in their campaign? If they manage to delay action for 3 decades, we will have lost the window to take effective action on climate change. It’s time to stop the debate and the denial, and move on to solutions. Take the time today to write or phone at least one (more is better!) of your elected officials to let them know you’re concerned about climate change, and you want them to take action.


More links:

Parliament of Canada – contact info for Senators and MPs

Best Ontario Election website

Climate Reality

Climate Denial Hits the Fan

Al Gore’s 24 hours of Climate Reality has been running online since 7:00 pm yesterday. If you  haven’t had a chance to tune in yet, there’s still time to tune in for a good dose of climate reality, as well as a good look at the climate deniers and their spin, and real answers to the dilemma that we’re in together as a global community.


My favourite quote so far – although there has been lots of great discussion – is  from a climate scientist,who said his response to the question “Do you believe in climate change?”, is “Do you believe in thermometers? If you believe in thermometers, then you believe in climate change, as the increased global temperature is measurable.”

Don’t miss it!

To watch the last 2 hours, go to

Good News About Climate Change – Really!!

More and more concerned and informed people around the world are becoming aware of the bad news about climate change – our polar ice caps are melting, carbon dioxide and other climate change-inducing emissions in our atmosphere are rising unchecked, our weather is becoming increasingly unstable and “weird”, political instability and wars over shrinking water and food supplies are a reality in Darfur and  are looming just around the corner for the rest of us, and the list goes on. As Energy Bulletin said recently:

How do we handle Peak Oil AND climate change? …You know we are going to run out of civilization’s life-blood: fossil fuels. And if we burn what’s left, the climate will tip into a mass extinction event. Meanwhile, barking madness seems to be the only growth industry. Is it time for more pills, booze, or end-time religion?

But before you throw up your hands in despair and/or seek refuge in the aforementioned escapes, let’s talk about the “good” news.  For example:

  • There is still time to take action and stop our race towards destruction; not an unlimited amount of time (7 to 10 years), but still enough time if enough good people work at it long and hard enough.  As Andrew Simms wrote recently on The Guardian’s “100 months to Save The World” blog:

Like a bad disaster film, the naysayers have been in charge over climate change. It’s not too late to rewrite the final scenes.

  • There is a precedent for the kind of global cooperation that is needed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The global community came together to address the danger to our ozone layer (with Canada under Conservative PM Brian Mulroney showing strong leadership) and the result was the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete The Ozone Layer in 1987. In this international agreement, CFC production was sharply limited beginning in 1987 and phased out completely by 1996. Scientists now report that the upper atmosphere ozone depletion rate has slowed down significantly during the past decade, although full recovery will take several lifetimes. We CAN do the same with climate change if the global community works together now, before the climate has reached the tipping point.
  • Another precedent is the retreat away from the brink of global annihilation due to nuclear war.  Who would have thought it possible, before it happened, that the Berlin Wall would be dismantled and the Cold War would end?  Yet those things did happen, and those of us who are concerned about climate change should take heart.
  • The financial meltdown in 2008 demonstrated that, when the political will is present, money can be found quickly and  directed at solving a global crisis. The money to save our failing economic system appeared at the speed of light, in political terms, because the cause seemed so pressing to those holding the government purse strings. When we persuade our elected leaders that climate change is THE pressing issue that humanity faces today, the same thing can happen with regards to funding solutions.
  • Energy and climate experts say the world already possesses the technological know-how for trimming greenhouse gas emissions enough to slow the perilous rise in the Earth’s temperatures. What is lacking is the political will.
  • If, on a global scale, our species gets together and addresses climate change effectively, the civilization and planet that we will leave for our children and their children will be much safer, more humane, and more democratic. The air and water will be cleaner, our forests will be protected and cherished, our cities will be more livable, and our whole way of life will be based on sustainable principles.

If you need more hope than I’ve given you here, I recommend reading “The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need” by Calgary author Chris Turner.  Turner was inspired by the birth of his young daughter to spend a year traveling around the world exploring what sustainability really means.  As Turner writes in the introduction to the book:

Life is not an either/or proposition, and it’s always a bit melodramatic to reduce it to any single choice. Still, this is as close to the fundamental crossroads as humanity’s ever come, and the implications of our choice of path are global in scale and monumental in impact…

The front pages of the newspaper may look like bad news, an ominous and intractable mess – storm clouds on the horizon, the four horsemen at the gate – but the back pages and the margins are filled with solutions. Tools and technologies, organizations and ideas – everything we need to avoid catastrophe. And they lead to a better way of life. That’s maybe the most surprising, electrifying thing about this geography of hope: it beats what we have now, even if our climate wasn’t compelling us to change.

The world we need: it all exists. It only took a year to find. And anything that exists is possible.

To be part of the generation that beat climate change: this is possible.

Here is Chris Turner in Calgary, the heart of Alberta oil country, giving a talk entitled “The Great Leap Sideways” (via ZeroCarbonCanada’s website):


Bill Gates: Climate Change Greatest Threat to Human Health

Microsoft founder and world’s richest philanthropist Bill Gates spoke about energy and climate change last Friday at a TED (Technology-Environment-Design) conference in Long Beach, California.  Gates has come under fire in the past for working to help the world’s poor without taking seriously current and future climate change effects.  For example, at last year’s TED conference Gates focused on insect-borne diseases, particularly malaria, which he presented as the world’s #1 problem without mentioning climate change.  This despite the fact that a changing climate will cause the spread of insect-borne diseases.

This changed on Friday. Gates told his audience that the deadline for the world to cut all of its carbon emissions is 2050. Gates reminded his listeners that climate change will cause poverty and famine that will disproportionately affect the world’s poorest people. The world’s number one problem is dirty energy, Gates asserted, and the burning of fossil fuels that drives climate change. About the science of climate change Gates said:

“Now the exact amount of how you map from a certain increase in CO2 to what temperature will be and where the positive feedbacks are, there’s some uncertainty there — but not very much.  And there’s certainly uncertainty about how bad the effects will be, but they will be extremely bad.

Gates went on to say that:

The formula is a very straightforward one. More carbon dioxide equals temperature increase equals negative effects like collapsed ecosystems. We have to get to zero.

Gates asserted that what the world needs is an “energy miracle”, and said that he is investing in high tech that could turn spent fuel rods into clean energy. The Huffington Post reported:

The world’s energy portfolio should not include coal or natural gas, he said, and must include carbon capture and storage technology as well as nuclear, wind and both solar photovoltaics and solar thermal power.

Not everyone who is concerned about climate change agrees with Gates’ proffered solutions.  Indeed, Gates told his audience that he would be sending them Al Gore’s latest book, Our Choice, which focuses on already available solutions to the climate crisis.  In his introduction, Gore writes:

It is now abundantly clear that we have at our fingertips all of the tools we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient is collective will.

Despite disagreement on his view of solutions, Gates’ contribution is still a welcome, and high-profile, addition to this debate.  For an interesting discussion check out “Bill Gates is Wrong about ‘Energy Miracles’ ” on Climate Progress.

“Our Choice” Presents a Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis

I’m on a weekend trip to Vancouver, British Columbia this weekend (I’ll address carbon credits when traveling by air in an upcoming blog), so will keep my postings short and sweet. I’ve just picked up Al Gore’s new book “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis” and will share a paragraph from it with you.

In any case, despair serves no purpose when reality still offers hope.  Despair is simply another form of denial, and it invites inaction.  We don’t have time for despair.  The solutions are available to us!  We need to make our choice to act now.

Mr. Gore goes on to quote an African proverb:

If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

Enjoy your weekend, and don’t despair – make a choice to act!  Remember, when people lead, leaders follow.