New Movie Coming Soon: “The 11th Hour”

July 31, 2007

I’m not a huge movie-goer, but I saw a trailer today for Leonardo DiCaprio’s new documentary “The 11th Hour” that looks pretty intriguing.   I’ve known for a while that DiCaprio was one of the ‘green’ celebrities out in Hollywood, and that he had read Thom Hartmann’s “Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight,” but wasn’t aware that he was that much of a believer in Climate Change, Peak Oil and the like.

The trailer itself is pretty short, but looking through the move website, it appears that DiCaprio has lined up an impressive number of experts for the film.  Here’s a short list of names you may recognize:

  • Lester Brown
  • Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Paul Hawken
  • Steven Hawking
  • Thom Hartmann
  • Richard Heinberg
  • Bill McKibben
  • Matthew Simmons
  • David Suzuki
  • Joseph Tainter

There are 50 or more people appearing in the film, but those are some of the names that jumped out at me.   I’ll be curious to see what the overall message of the film is, since there’s a mix of viridians/technofix types along with some pessimists.   Based on the trailer, it appears to be trying to inspire Generation Y and the Millenials to take action as a sort of new ‘greatest generation.’    As a Gen-Xer myself, I think we’ll be shouldering plenty of the load as well, but we’re apparently too old to be lumped in with the cool kids..

The movie opens on both coasts on August 17th.

Bill McKibben’s “Deep Economy”

April 16, 2007

I was fortunate enough to check out Bill McKibben’s latest book, “Deep Economy” from my local library before the wait list started filling up. I take it as a positive sign that new books covering subjects like these are sought after among other members of the community.

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NAE Attempts to Remove “Creation Care” Proponent From Board

March 4, 2007

Here’s another great example of right-wing ideological chuckleheads giving Christians a bad name:

“More than two dozen evangelical leaders are seeking the ouster of the Rev. Richard Cizik from the National Association of Evangelicals because of his “relentless campaign” against global warming.”

Apparently anything that would slow down the arrival of the rapture is verboten, especially when it also takes evangelicals’ focus away from persecuting homosexuals and telling women that they don’t have the right to make critical medical decisions on their own.

Richard Cizik is hardly some left-winger, for what it’s worth, but apparently his showing concern for God’s creation is troubling some of his compatriots on the NAE.

“We believe that some of that misunderstanding about evangelicalism and its ‘conservative views on politics, economics, and biblical morality’ can be laid at Richard Cizik’s door.”

Somehow, trying to preserve what they admit the Lord made is somehow immoral… go figure.

Another Reason Why Climate Change Won’t Be Fixed In Time

February 14, 2007

Syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote a whopper of an op-ed that was printed in the Strib this week.   Goldberg, who is also a writer for the conservative/neocon magazine National Review, wrote that the prosperity we can gain by not fixing global warming is worth a degree or two rise in global temperatures.  The wealthy can sit in their climate-conditioned bunkers in the future and revel in their good fortune, counting their gold while the rest of the planet swelters.

I’ll give Goldberg points for laying out his argument in plain and simple language, but I still think he’s off-base.   I would venture to guess, though, that his line of thinking is probably popular among big business, since the effect of future profits is eaiser to gauge than the effect of a numerically small rise in temperature.

Once again, the mindset of short-term gain trumping long-term sustainability rears its ugly head.

Moving From Prevention to Mitigation

February 8, 2007

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their latest report last week. As expected, they declared that the planet is warming, that there’s a 90% chance that it’s due to human activity, and that no matter what we do, we are going to experience significant changes in our environment within our lifetimes. The focus, they state, should move from preventing change to trying to mitigate the worst effects. Good luck to us on that.

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Will Steger Write-Up at Groovy Green

February 1, 2007

I went to see Will Steger at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival last weekend.  The event was outside, and it was pretty damn cold, which seems fitting for the Winter Carnival after we Minnesotans have enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures for the entire winter up to that point.

I posted a short note about the experience over at Groovy Green.

Krauthammer – Energy Nonsense?

January 26, 2007

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has a pretty interesting article today both skewering President Bush over his SOTU remarks about ethanol and outlining the US’s various options for “energy independence.”   Whether you agree or disagree with his ideas, he presents one truth that we all need to consider in the constant debate over how to keep the lights on without burning up the planet:

“There is no free lunch. Producing energy is going to produce waste. You pick your poison, and you find a way to manage it. Want to do something about global warming? How many global warming activists are willing to say the word nuclear?

So much easier to say ethanol. That it will do farcically little is beside the point. Our debates about oil consumption, energy dependence and global warming are not meant to be serious. They are meant for show.”

Going to See Will Steger this Weekend

January 26, 2007

Arctic explorer Will Steger is setting off on a new expedition this winter to Baffin Island, Canada to raise awareness of the impact global warming is having on the polar regions. I’ll be attending the kickoff event for Steger’s expedition at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival on Saturday.

It’s from noon to 1:30 or so at Harriet Island. I’ll be posting a story about the event to Groovy Green sometime next week.

Global Warming 101 Badge

News and Notes

December 29, 2006

I’ve run across a couple of interesting stories in the last few days that readers should be aware of.

- In early 2006 the Federal Reserve got rid of reporting on M3, the total amount of US dollars in circulation worldwide, whether electronic, printed, or otherwise accounted for. The offical reason was that the Fed claimed it wasn’t a very accurate or relevant figure to track, while some economists and conspiracy theorists believed that this was a precursor to the Fed starting to inject massive ammounts of liquidity into the markets to keep the dollar afloat and the US government open for business. Several sites have reconstructed M3 based on other stats, and what do the numbers show? Why, they show that overall M3 is up 11.5 percent this year. In other words, the good folks over at the Fed have created $11.50 out of thin air for each $100 in circulation worldwide.

What happens when they dilute the puchasing power of money this way? Inflation happens. Have you noticed your bills for food, power and taxes rising faster than your wages? When costs are rising by 8-10% a year, and your savings account is earning a whopping 1.5% interest, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Likewise, at an 11.5% inflationary rate, is it any wonder why Wall Street punishes corporations that fail to keep profits rising faster than that? Expect more of the same next year, and every year after that until the dollar finally crumbles under the pressure. The best investment I can see is in acquiring necessary tools and equipment now while prices are still low.

- CNN is reporting that a new ice island has been formed in the Arctic Ocean where a large piece of the ice shelf attached to Ellesmere Island has snapped off. An ice sheet the size of 100,000 football fields (or around 41 square miles) became a new ice island in about an hour one day in late 2005, according to scientists in both Canada and the USA. The experts are warning about this being another sign of climate change and thresholds being crossed, etc. I still don’t expect the US to do anything serious about it until we personally are devastated. That seems to be the way of things.

- Speaking of climate change, 2006 was the third-warmest year on record for Minnesota. It’s late December and the ground still isn’t frozen here in the great brown north.

- “One day in the not too distant future I believe that gold and silver will be great investments; almost as good as a stockpile of baked beans.”

Weird Weather

November 30, 2006

Yesterday morning was like most other ones around my house. Up early, shower, shave, and hopefully being more or less cogent by the time the kids wake up. I let the dog out at 7:00 AM for his morning constitutional, and while I was standing in the brisk morning chill, I noticed something unusual. Canada geese… lots of them… flying south. I must have counted at least two hundred of them flying generally southward in their ragged ‘V’ formations.

This isn’t unusual in and of itself, but normally the sky carp have headed to warmer pastures weeks earlier. But here I was standing on my porch at the end of November with the outside air temperature in the middle 30′s watching all of these geese flying south and wondering what was spurring them to migrate right now? By the end of the day, I knew. When I walked out of work that evening, the temperatures had gone from being above-average to below-average. My car’s thermometer read 18F at 5:15PM, and the wind was up. Yuck.

All-in-all, I should be thankful for the pleasantly warm November we experienced up here. Temperatures were between 10F and 20F higher than normal for large chunks of the month, though it was very dry. I’d started to think “thank you global warming” until I remembered that this October had been cooler than normal, which made taking the kids out on Halloween miserable. In fact, Thanksgiving was around 20F warmer than Halloween, which was almost a month earlier. Just another wierd weather cycle here in the middle of the continent.

This ties into a novel I’ve just finished that relates to climate change. “Fifty Degrees Below,” by Kim Stanley Robinson, is the middle book of a trilogy based around abrupt climate change affecting the United States sometime in the “near future.” Robinson, a noted science fiction author, has written an interesting novel that deals with scientists at the National Science Foundation, and their attempts to try and stave off the worst effects of abrupt climate change after Earth has already passed at least one major tipping point. The first book in the trilogy, “Forty Signs of Rain” culminated in a huge flood that wiped out large portions of Washington D.C., and “Fifty Degrees” starts up in the aftermath of that event. As the book unfolds, the new problem popping up is that the Atlantic Conveyor has more or less shut down, and the affects are dramatic, as that winter, the US and Europe are subjected to extreme cold (-50F in Washington D.C., hence the title of the book), and everyone scrambles to deal with the problem after the fact.

Abrupt climate change is a relatively new field of study, and I have no idea how plausible the scenario in Robinson’s books are. It makes sense to me, but that’s about as far as I can critique his science. His description of the political intrigue surrounding the problem is excellent, though, with the scientists and some corporations fighting with the White House (and it’s un-named, conservative Christian, global warming-denying occupant) and other businesses with vested interests in maintaining some form of the status quo no matter what. There’s a certain amount of fiddling while Rome burns, so to speak, and Robinson’s biases concerning the political/scientific crossroads come through loud and clear to me. It’s a good book, though I wish I had started with the first book in the series, for I’m definitely missing some of the backstory that must have developed there.


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