Category Archives: government

Is it Time to Stop Asking Whether Climate Change is Real?

Two hundred and fifty years from now, this is how the Earth could appear. (FOX Cosmos Web Site)
Two hundred and fifty years from now, this is how the Earth could appear. (FOX Cosmos Web Site)

Last night U.S. Senators talked “all night” about climate change. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid started the discussion at about 6 p.m. EDT yesterday, with the final address by Sen. Bill Nelson ending about 15 hours later, right before 9 a.m. EDT today. The White House posted live tweets during the overnight session under the hashtag #up4climate.

HT_cspan_mar_140310_16x9_608“We have a simple message for all Americans: We’re not going to rest until Congress acts on the most pressing issue of our time,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, a freshman Democrat from Hawaii, who organized the all-nighter on the Senate floor.

Kate Sheppard live blogged the event; you can read the details of the speeches on Huffington Post.  

Many climate change activists are unhappy with the lack of progress on climate change by the Obama administration despite promises during the elections. Climate change deniers point to inadequate/conflicting evidence, uncertainty in the science because scientists are liberals, assertion that the effects are acceptable, and even that it’s a hoax.

Many Republicans see the issue as anti-business, so oppose efforts for the legislators to address climate change. 55% of Republicans in the House of Representatives and 65% of those in the Senate reject the science behind climate change or oppose action on climate change, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress.

How could something like climate change elicit so much partisan politics in the U.S.? Younger people here apparently see things differently – a bipartisan poll conducted for the League of Conservation Voters shows 80% support for Barack Obama’s climate change plan among voters under 35 years of age.

Perhaps this battle here in the U.S. is another between the religious right and the … well … almost everyone else. Why can’t religion and science just get along?

aa bruno1In the premiere episode of the program Cosmos on Sunday night, there was a segment about how the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno in the late 1500s expressed cosmological theories of an infinite universe. He was tried, convicted, and burned at the stake for heresy by the Roman Inquisition which was a method used by the Roman Catholic Church to stifle any alternative thinking. (Copernicus and Galileo were among its victims.)

According to a report yesterday in ClimateProgress, Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of National Geographic and Fox’s new show Cosmos, said Sunday that he thinks the media needs to stop providing false balance in stories on scientific subjects like climate change.

“… science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

These conflicts boil down to a anthrocentric view of the world versus an isotropic Universe view. Are humans on Earth the center of the Universe and all that matters to God? Are humans supposed to use the Earth and its resources without thought for the future? We will soon look back on the climate change debate the same way we now look back on the idea of the Earth as the center of the universe.

However, while disagreement on the Earth’s position in the cosmos had significant implications for the power of the religious institutions of the time, acting as if climate change is real hurts whom, exactly? Even some of the world’s largest energy companies acknowledge climate change.

It’s time we stop arguing about it and take what actions are needed to preserve life on Earth. Because even if the consensus of scientists is wrong, taking care of the Earth not only makes sense, it is our moral obligation.

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Labor Day 2013, Americans are Working Everywhere

Labor Day 2013President Obama is adamantly clear that Labor Day is important to “the working men and women of America”, and that he wants more for the middle class, countering “the forces that conspire against working Americans”. Yet what I see is a country in which Labor Day is all about the “end of Summer” and making money … which means many Americans are working today. The Labor Day sales of retailers ensure that many “working Americans” are at work today. For others, the once-clear boundaries of the office are gone with the advent of mobile technologies, the Internet, and the expectation that one can work anywhere, any time. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that Labor Day is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” By 1894, Labor Day was a national holiday, to be marked with parades and speeches celebrating the workforce that made this country great. Today, the fast-food workers reported to work as usual. The retail store workers also reported as usual. Construction workers were on sites building. Yes, the Federal Government and many businesses are closed. Yet many of the bottom-of-the-rung workers are working, because they can’t afford to take the day off without pay. Or because they simply don’t even realize what Labor Day is supposed to mean. The very people for which this day is supposed to honor are being treated as if it’s just another day. And these same people have lost their Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Year Days as everything must remain open every day now. While there is much not to like about the unions responsible for Labor Day, they did once improve the position of this core of America – the worker – and they deserve some thanks. will work for foodIn 2013 workers are the center of some huge arguments in America. From a faltering economy to a pending healthcare plan to immigration debates, the lower and middle class workers are not only the focus of discussion, they are key to the success of this country. People with hopes and dreams are working to survive, and many expect to make their lives better. Yet we can’t even take one day off from the massive mindless consumerism that defines our culture. So as some of us bask in the sun waterside of those soon-to-be-closed swimming facilities and beaches, let us at least stop a moment and thank our workers, all of them working today, from the janitors to the farm workers, from the bus drivers to the nurses, from the teachers to the information-age workers. Tell them today, Labor Day 2013, or tomorrow or any day that they are appreciated. If you own a business or have influence in one, show the employees some respect.

If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. Abraham Lincoln

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Clean Energy Stalled?

IEA Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013“… the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago,” says the International Energy Agency (IEA),

IEA released an annual report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013. The 154-page report recommendations stress “that the true cost of energy must be reflected in consumer prices, through carbon pricing and the phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies. Technologies like electric vehicles, wind and solar will need support for several years more, but policies should be flexible and transparent. More stringent and broader energy performance standards, building codes and fuel economy standards can drive energy efficiency.”

IEA asserts that stark messages emerge:

  • progress has not been fast enough
  • large market failures are preventing clean energy solutions from being taken up
  • considerable energy-efficiency potential remains untapped
  • policies need to better address the energy system as a whole
  • energy-related research, development and demonstration need to accelerate

The silver lining is that the uses of solar photovoltaic, wind, and advanced vehicle technologies (especially hybrid-electric and electric vehicles) are growing. Still, very few regions have comprehensive fuel economy measures in place, says IEA. Also, while the U.S. uses less coal than before, other countries use more.

You can dive into the specifics with visualization tools on the IEA site.

How does this affect consumers? IEA encourages governments to reflect the true cost of energy in consumer prices. Without a doubt this would mean higher prices. Still, shouldn’t the true cost of things be reflected in the price tags?

My takeaway from the report is that governments need to start doing more towards lowering carbon emissions. And consumers need to accept — or better yet demand — change. Are you willing to pay more and use less to help delay global warming? Are you willing to tell your government to move faster on clean energy initiatives?

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