Tag Archives: climate change

COVID-19, Capitalism, and Climate Disruption

How will the coronavirus change perceptions
of climate change

By Krestine Reed

I’ve become interested in how COVID-19 sequestration (a.k.a. social distancing and shelter-in-place) may effect GHG and other factors contributing to climate change. There is much being written that acknowledges just how little time is required to make a significant visible and measurable change. We are currently emerged in a real-time case study that shows how existing energy and economic systems adapt to abrupt changes. I’m just hoping that those in the power seats are paying attention. Here is an article of interest that was in Scientific American, March 12, 2020.   

“History suggests that global disasters, particularly those with major effects on the economy, tend to drive a temporary decline in carbon emissions. The 2008 recession, for instance, was accompanied by a temporary dip in global carbon emissions.  On a local scale, the climate impact of an epidemic is more complex—it’s likely to hinge on a wide variety of changes in the way people carry out their daily lives, from how often they leave their homes to how they travel around their cities to how they do their shopping.”  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-coronavirus-pandemic-is-affecting-co2-emissions/.

I recently noticed that capitalism never misses a profit making opportunity. In the security of our “social distancing” confines comes the offer to purchase a new automobile and have it delivered to your driveway. And if your personal income stream is interrupted by COVID-19, you are offered extended terms in which to begin repayment. Now that’s ingenious marketing in a fear-based downturned economy. Only in America does consumerism and materialism have the fervor of religion. I’m a little disappointed though, so far I’ve only seen automobile manufacturers of combustion engines offering this deal. At my new house, I got local channels included in the Wave package, so I watched some TV with all those ads. Thank goodness I can get the TV channels option removed.

Changing climate matters in Montana

“The speed of change calls us to action for the sake of our kids and grandkids.
Believe the science and support changes to address our changing Montana climate.”

THE EDITORIAL BOARD of the Billings Gazette — Sep 22, 2019

For the first time in three years, Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road wasn’t closed by major wildfires in August, the height of the tourist season. 

Northwest Montana has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the Earth over the past century, according to information from Glacier Park. The largest and fastest temperature increases worldwide have occurred at the North Pole, south through Canada and Alaska and into the northern tier of the Lower 48, according to a report published last week in the Washington Post. 

When Glacier became a national park in 1910, it was home to more than 100 glaciers that provided water for wildlife and streams. Now only two dozen glaciers remain large enough to be considered active and they are melting faster.

Climate change is a key point in litigation over de-listing of the Yellowstone grizzly bear. The white bark pine trees of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are dying, so their pine nuts that were a staple of the grizzly diet are disappearing. Loss of that food source was part of the successful argument to keep the bears protected from hunting.

Bears and other animals whose food and habitat are changing with the climate may also get into more conflicts with people. When food is less available in remote locations, the bears will forage closer to where people are.

Among the climate changes documented in Yellowstone:

  • Average park temperatures are higher now than 50 years ago.
  • The time between last spring freeze and first fall frost has increased by about 30 days in some areas of the park over the past 50 years.
  • The Northeast Entrance by Cooke City recently has averaged 60 more days per year above freezing than it did in the mid-1980s.

Warmer days and nights might seem like a good thing, but warmth increases wildfire risk. Winters aren’t as cold as they were generations ago, so bark beetles that would freeze to death at 40 below zero are surviving to infect pine forests the next spring and summer. Huge swaths of Rocky Mountain forests (and trees in cities) have succumbed to disease transmitted by bark beetles in the past decade.

Wildfire is bad for forests, rangeland and for people who breathe the smoke. Wildfires in Colorado and Washington in 2012 alone led to 419 premature deaths, 627 hospital admissions and $3.9 billion in total health costs, according to an analysis by the National Resource Defense Fund and the University of California San Francisco that was published this month in GeoHealth.

Climate change over the past 20 years has made forest recovery more difficulty, according to University of Montana researchers. In study reported March 12 by Science Daily, the authors analyzed regeneration rates of forests

Montana’s two biggest industries — agriculture and outdoor recreation — depend on Mother Nature’s benevolence. The timing of snow, snow melt and rain are crucial for crops and livestock production. Wildfires that force road closures, evacuations and obscure Montana scenery cut into outdoor recreation for Montanans and our 11 million annual visitors. Lack of mountain snowpack hurts the ski business. Warmer rivers and streams result in hoot owl restrictions that keep anglers off the waterways during the daytime.

The weather changes daily, if not hourly, but climate is long term. Our climate is changing over decades and at an increasingly rapid rate. The vast majority of climate scientists in the United States and around the world have found that these changes are largely driven by increases of human-caused pollutants in the air.

Climate change cannot be ignored. We must prepare to live in a changed and changing world. The first steps are recognizing the problems and working on solutions that will benefit our communities and our children.

For example, there is much work to do in energy conservation. Anyone who has replaced an old boiler with a new high-efficiency furnace knows the dramatic savings it yields in electric or gas bills. Solar panels installed at Billings high schools are projected to pay for themselves in energy savings. Yet our 2019 Montana legislators rejected a well-researched bill that would have provided needed options for small businesses to upgrade their energy efficiency.

What business, homeowner or renter doesn’t want to minimize energy expenses?

The city of Billings recently re-instituted an energy conservation advisory panel at the behest of citizens who know the city can save money while reducing pollution by planning carefully and acting promptly.

These are small, but necessary first steps to conserve our resources, reduce waste and respond to the overwhelming strong scientific consensus that human activity is accelerating the warming of our planet. The speed of change calls us to action for the sake of our kids and grandkids. Believe the science and support changes to address our changing Montana climate.

The terrible truth, in one graph

2050 is a generation too late. That would be unforgivable, and very likely utterly catastrophic.

Extinction Rebellion: “The Emergency”

If you let this graph sink in, you’ll understand why so many are turning out in the streets to demand a halt to business as usual and the most massive turnaround of the world’s economy we’ve ever seen. If you need more background, go here.

Kudos to Port Angeles High School

They’ve made Climate Change their theme for the year. Here’s their memo to students and parents:

School-wide theme: Educating for Climate Change: Teachers are reporting creative ways that they are incorporating the theme of Educating for Climate Change into their classrooms this year. For example:

  • Ms. Christianson’s French III/IV students found French words/phrases associated with climate change, then read articles in French that use the words. Topics ranged from a comparison of the carbon production of an average American citizen and an average Chinese citizen, to the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protesting French President Macron’s fossil fuel surcharge, to the features of modern electric vehicles.
  • Mr. Brabant’s DigiTools students read 10 Ways to Be a Better Environmental Steward in 2018.
  • Mr. Logan’s Environmental Science class features monthly themes centered on climate change. This week his students are learning about phenology –monitoring how a tree on the campus changes throughout the year. Two years of data collected by his classes suggest that spring is occurring earlier and fall is finishing later.
  • In Mr. Hansen’s Automotive Technology class, students are writing a research essay on a subject that is automotive and related to climate change, such as what the current U.S. automotive industry is doing to reduce vehicles’ carbon footprint.
  • Ms. Helpenstell’s Leadership class discussed the idea of a Climate Action Week: Meatless Monday…Brown Out Day…Carpool Day, etc. Her Money Management class is exploring the rising cost of insurance due to climate change…how the job outlook will change…comparing long term cost of eco-friendly vehicles vs traditional vehicles.
  • students will have a unit on public murals and social change.  We plan to propose a campus mural about envisioning a positive future, highlighting hopeful imagery and references to leaders in the movement to address climate change. Digital Illustration students will have a poster assignment along similar lines, art as a tool for promoting positive social change.  We will focus on addressing climate change this year.
  • In Honors English 9, students are assigned to discuss/explain the value of one aspect of nature that you find important, emphasizing personal connections, current events, and your hopes for its future.

Two worthy events this weekend

Orca forum Friday 1-4 pm in Port Angeles

Celebrate science & technology Saturday at PA City Pier

Climate and America’s endangered rivers

Endangered Rivers