April 3rd, 2008

Drinking the green kool-aid?


I've been off reading No Impact Man's blog for the past 9 months or so. I've been reading books and articles on climate change to try to understand the science and to be able to tell when a skeptic is blowing smoke up my ass and when a skeptic may have a fair point. Of the things I've read, I think that this article by James Hansen from Scientific American seems reasonably accessible and reputable.

I've been trying to incorporate a regime of lifestyle changes to lower my carbon footprint - taking the bus, biking, buying carbon offsets for the rest. The problem of global warming is so much larger than me and my individual actions, though. I feel that any lifestyles change that I make will be completely overwhelmed by China's plans to build 150 new 1000 Megawatt coal plants (or their generating equivalent) by 2020.

I worry that maybe James Hansen (head of NASA's Goddard Institute) is right - again. He did see this coming back in the 80's, after all. Plus, he has more precise climate models than I do (not to mention wayy cooler satellite-based sensors). I worry that he's right again because he's saying that maybe we only have 20 years (maybe less) before we start making irreversible changes to the climate system.

I feel like I should be doing something more. I've written my Senators and have talked to Congressman Doyle about this. By the way, when I talked to Doyle about global warming, he seemed more worried than I am. In particular, when the subject of the American West and the increased probability of droughts was brought up, there was a bit of fear in his eyes. He mentioned that we saw it coming with New Orleans but we failed to take to take action to improve the levees there - no one wanted to spend the money.... I feel like I should be doing more. But, I am not quite sure what that should be just yet. I figured I would just think out loud here a bit... Maybe I will try to post more often to give some context while I'm trying to figure out how to make a difference. And, if you've got any ideas, feel free to share..

If you feel inclined to do a little something now, I recommend joining the Sierra Club and Penn Future. The Sierra Club is pushing Congress to pass legislation to cut CO2 emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. Also, Penn Future has been working in Pennsylvannia to get renewable energy legislation passed. Also, on the agenda is a moratorium on new coal plants until we can get carbon capture and storage worked out. Also, if you haven't heard, Al Gore has started a new initiative to educate Americans on global warming.

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