I happened across a post on Lifehacker today about the video offerings at PBS.org. I ended up turning on this episode of Frontline that first aired back in October, but it is, of course, still relevant right now (seriously, a total coincidence that I watched it on Earth Day).
I thought this was a great in-depth piece about about the issues facing our nation and world regarding energy consumption, global climate change, and their ramifications for the economy. It’s a investment of time if you choose to take a look (a little less than 2 hours), but I wanted to make it easy for you… enjoy.
As I peer out the window and shake my head on this somewhat chilly April morning, I also took a minute to read Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth blog from Friday in the New York Times online. The piece talks about a paper that is set to be published in Geophysical Research Letters on the tendancy to see short-term cooling trends in an overall warming cycle for the planet.
Beyond just mention of that paper, though, he touches a bit on the importance of some standardization of terms and measurements when we (ALL of us) talk about climate change. That’s sort of what I was getting at in that post from a couple weeks back where I mentioned the new climate literacy publication from the NOAA. I think it’s great that this debate is moving out of the perceived realm of hippie fanaticism and into serious, mainstream science. It’s the only way we’ll make notable progress toward solving the environmental problems of the 21st century.
Trying to keep up on my daily news feeds for a change, I ran across a link to a new publication being put out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It’s a “Climate Literacy” piece designed to be accessible for a variety of ages and backgrounds.
Word of caution to anyone who feels that climate change is just some sort of liberal-hippie ruse designed to take your 4.0-liter, V-12 trucks off the road: they admit that human activity affects Earth’s climate. But, they do so in a way that is not too heavy-handed– the reader is presented with facts and conclusions drawn through research, and is given a sort of personal measuring device to assess one’s own climate literacy. Hence, the approach in presenting scientific findings is very… scientific.
I guess I like the fact that this publication doesn’t offer any judgment of the reader (as opposed to mass media outlets, who have a clearer position on everything). It seems to be less about positing an opinion regarding climate, and more how to MAKE a sensible and informed assessment; nearly the entire first half of the book talks about how conclusions are reached via research, and what the process of peer review is all about. For someone who knows about science, it’s pretty basic stuff, but for a person that has long since forgotten (or maybe never knew) what research processes are, it offers a firm foundation on which debate and explanation can be built.
The thing that has really bothered me on the climate issue is an attitude I’ve seen from some people: that we should change NOTHING without absolute, certain proof that human activities are affecting the planet. The truth is, our species has been on Earth for such a brief part of its history, we can’t be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT sure of anything; it’s no excuse for inaction. Taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect the water supply from pollution, and preserve our forests, jungles, and other ecosystems is not going to HURT anything, so let’s do it.
Anyway, I read the pamphlet, and it’s a worthwhile read. Give it a look if you have a chance, even if you have a well-established attitude about climate change.
I have caught a whiff of whatever illness befell Michelle earlier in the week. I seem to have the symptoms under control with a steady dosage of generic Day-Quil every 4 hours. I am not about to let a little cough and runny nose keep from going skiing on one of my last available weekends of the winter.
So, we are overcoming both weather and illness in order to persevere– rather than staying at home for a quick day trip to Cascade Mtn near Madison, we will be driving up to E.R. this evening, staying @ Mom & Dad’s, and then we’ll head up to Indianhead on Saturday.
I better get done packing before Michelle is out of work; enjoy your V-Day weekend, however you choose to spend it!
I caught part of an episode of NOVA (almost completely by accident) this afternoon. It was called “The Big Energy Gamble” and it focused on the state of California’s initiatives to move away from fossil fuels and generate a third of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. I always like that PBS programming tends to be fairly even-handed, and what I saw of the show did a good job of balancing the positives and negatives of this plan.
And, since we live in the future, you and I can both watch the show in its entirety via the PBS website. Take a look if you have the chance and interest…
Apologies to those of you who also read the podcast blog for this dual-post; thought this was apropos for both…
In podcast #7, we touched on the so-called “green movement” and how it seems to be moving beyond the realm of partisanship. Today’s Dot Earth column from Andrew Revkin and the New York Times shows some numbers that beg to differ. The column is a good jumping-off point to read up on some recent stories on this topic. Revkin cites a Rasmussen Reports poll that said:
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats blame global warming on human activity, compared to 21% percent of Republicans. Two-thirds of GOP voters (67%) see long-term planetary trends as the cause versus 23% of Democrats.
With the price of gas down to levels we haven’t seen since 2006 and the global economy reeling, will we shove our collective head into the sand once again when it comes to climate change? Can we afford to? The new president doesn’t seem to think so…
Just being out of commission for a day can set you back a little bit. I had 36 new articles come through my New Scientist feed this morning…
In the category of “It’s Always Something,” we have: Flatscreen TVs turn up the heat on climate, showing once again that we can ALWAYS find a way to destroy the planet. Is the Earth this fragile, or are we this big?
At this point, the celebrity (or quasi-celebrity) who I idolize the most is definitely John Hodgman. He exudes an ideal combination of hilarious and intelligent. If I could be this funny, I wouldn’t really need to worry about anything else. His second book is a great gift idea for Jason, by the way…
Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed (and I barely have), the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team has committed to showing up for at least 82 more games, and their season begins tonight. I have entered basketball seasons with no hope for the Bucks in the past, but this is the first time since I took an interest in the NBA in the late 80s that I start a season with neither hope or interest. Well, maybe that’s not 100% true– I must be at least vaguely interested, or you wouldn’t be reading these words. However, I’m not as interested in following the fortunes of the team as I am the story of their inevitable collapse. I pity the Tom Enlunds and Michael Hunts of the world, who make a living writing about this team. It can’t be a very good living…
Oh, and you may have noticed a significant uptick in the size of the ‘archives’ available on the site– my sick day was good for researching and solving the problem I’d had with importing data from the old tikiwiki blog. So if you care to relive the days when my words were much prettier, stop by 2003 or so.
That is all, carry on.
This is the time of an election year when it gets the hardest to sift through soundbites and 30-second ads and mudslinging in order to get at pertinent materials that deal with issues. I was saying to Michelle last week that I would really like to get more policy specifics from Barack, because it seems like the only things I see on TV from him are defensive reactions to the McCain camp’s relentlessness. I’ve watched some of those McCain ads, too. Just ridiculous. Regardless of who you want to support in this election, you have to agree that an ad whose thesis is “all of that candidate’s supporters are fickle dipshits that just like rock concerts” is pretty weak.
Instead of just repeating over and over that your opponent has no plan (which is patently false), let’s talk about some actual voting records positions on issues.
So with that in mind, here’s a little shortcut to Obama’s page on new energy and the plan for combating global warming and dependence on oil. You’ll jjust see summarized info on that web page, if you want more details, you should download the PDF that’s linked from there.
Also remember that factcheck.org is a good resource for getting the stories of the candidates straight. This is an important election cycle, and I hope we can all make informed decisions about these folks.
Oh and a little PS — sorry for dearth of new info, between working on school and working AT school, it’s a helluva month. Stick with me, folks, there’ll always be more to tell…
I am enjoyed this New Scientist feed, and I have to thank David Q. Schrubbe for sending me its links a number of times and getting me keyed in there…
Anyway, I read a story today about a study to investigate how knowledge about global warming effects a person’s perception of the phenomenon. The finding was that more knowledgeable Democrats were more concerned, and more knowledgeable Republicans were less concerned.
I mention it just because this echoes my experience trying to talk about the subject to a T. What I don’t understand, and what I wish some conservative die-hard could tell me is: if climate change is, as you like to believe, some sort of liberal conspiracy invented by Al Gore (much like the Internet), then… what would be the POINT of that? All these scientists doing all this research, taking all these core samples, compiling all this data– how exactly does this advance some perceived liberal agenda to trash capitalism and take away everyone’s guns?
And I realize that I might’ve mentioned this before, but no one ever came back to me with an answer.
On a completely different side note, this will likely be the last post for me until after Memorial Day. Michelle and I are headed up to Bayfield and Madeline Island for a long weekend. Hope you enjoy yours; weather’s supposed to be phenomenal in Milwaukee…
So, after the average price of gas in the Milwaukee area topped 4 frakking dollars today, I said to myself, “hey, is that new Honda hybrid rumor I heard anywhere close to fruition?”
Still haven’t found any photos or drawings of this car, so what it’s gonna look like is a bit of a mystery– but they say it’s a “futuristic five-door hatchback,” for what it’s worth. I’m excited. I wonder if it’s too early to get on a waiting list?