Birds and Climate Change

Wildlife has the capacity to evolve and adapt to changes in its environment. But wildlife cannot adapt quickly enough to survive the rate of climate change we are on the path to seeing.

Birds are being threatened by climate change across the globe. While all birds are at risk, a report—“Bird Species and Climate Change”—by the World Wildlife Fund says the birds most likely to experience impacts first include migratory, mountain, island, wetland, Arctic, Antarctic, and seabirds.

Species that can move easily to new habitat may adapt by following the climate as it moves. But those that live in more narrowly defined ranges are expected to experience a pattern of mass extinction, the report (which analyzed more than 200 research studies) said.

Today, climate change affects bird behavior, the ranges they live in, and population dynamics. In the future, climate change caused sea level rise, fires, vegetation changes, and new use of the lands will exponentially impact birds.

One way climate change will impact birds is it will alter the timing of their life cycles. Confused by the signals of an altered climate, birds will arrive at their spring breeding grounds too early or too late, lay eggs at the wrong time, and find themselves in areas where their food source is already gone or has yet to bloom, hatch, or arrive.

Climate change is pushing birds to the far poles, or upwards to higher and higher elevations, essentially “pushing them off the planet,” the report stated.

Even birds who have the ability to move will face many obstacles—fragmented landscapes that offer them minimal resources as they move; unprotected environments that may have the proper climate but contain too many human hazards; and new prey, predators, and competitors to negotiate. Island birds will face vast, uncrossable seas. Mountain birds will have no land left to climb.  Some will even die from diseases they haven’t encountered before.

In summary, the report states that climate change poses a bigger threat to birds—those winged indicators of what is to come for all of us—than all other threats combined.

Posted in Nonprofit Work, Science, Wildlife and Wild Spaces | Leave a comment

Privatization of Water

Water – human right, or commodity to be mined?

The water infrastructure in the United States is so stable that most of us forget water can be pumped from the ground by someone who owns the land it sits under and has a leasing right. Like oil, copper, or gold, water is a natural resource that is mined.

But unlike oil, copper, or gold, there is a sense that water is sacred, something to be shared, owned and managed by the public. But it is being treated more and more often like a commodity.

Nestle owns a bunch of land in Maine and pumps millions of cubic meters of water every year and sends it to bottling factories. No big deal until the pumping draws so much water from the ground that other water sources—lakes, river, wells—dry up, leaving others with nothing to drink.

In Pakistan, local water sources dropped from 100 to 400 feet due to pumping for corporate bottled profits. Everything is connected.

As climate change continues and drought increases, there are going to be more conflicts and battles over water. Many climate debates are now not about avoiding climate change, but how to profit from it.

This is the new “green economy” we hear about … financialization and commodification of the element necessary to all life.

The World Bank promotes, with intensity, the commodification of water. There are some positive arguments for it … privatization of water can lead to investments in infrastructure. Higher costs could inspire conservation.

But at a cost. Privatization is ultimately about profits. And many test cases show the heaviest cost burden is born by the poorest, who also suffer the worst access to the water. The free market is not fair, it responds to pressures. Business in this dealing of water resources has grown exponentially in the last 10 years.

It is good to keep in mind that the World Bank is both advising countries to sell their natural resource assets to private owners and  investing in the profits of those private owners.

Wonder how it works? Ask the folks in Cochabama, Bolivia. They rioted when Bechtel tried to privatize their water. Later their new president, born from the riots, started a new climate change summit, the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, because he was disgusted by the lack of progress at Copenhagen.

Some of the top companies competing in the water privatization business are: Suez, Veolia Environment; RWE-AG; Bouygues; SAUR; Thames Water (owned by RWE); Bechtel-United Utilities. And other old names like Monsanto, Nestle, and Shell are getting into the act. $4 a gallon for water?

Learn about the privatization or water, or go see the James Bond flick Quantum Solace.

Posted in Activists, Banking, Investment, Finance, Books, Movies, Art, Entertainment, Business | Leave a comment

Climate Change | Follow the Money

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet.

Ever wonder how 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and is caused by human behavior, and we still don’t have federal legislation to curb greenhouse gases?

Money.

Maplight, a nonpartisan research organization that reveals money’s influence on politics, recently published that an analysis of campaign contributions from 2009 to 2012 showed that US Senators received more than $25 million from top carbon-emitting interests:

Contributions to Senators from Interests That Would Not Benefit from Market-Based Climate Legislation

  • Gas & electric utilities: $3,185,646
  • Electric power utilities: $2,807,445
  • Chemicals: $2,162,603
  • Coal mining: $2,143,406
  • Independent oil & gas producers: $2,061,058
  • Major (multinational) oil & gas producers: $1,920,807
  • Oil & gas: $1,540,206
  • Oilfield service, equipment & exploration: $1,383,057
  • Natural gas transmission & distribution: $1,270,501
  • Petroleum refining & marketing: $1,242,672
  • Trucking companies & services: $1,225,107
  • Airlines: $1,196,573
  • Livestock: $1,162,062
  • Forestry & forest products: $1,048,825
  • Steel: $779,041

Total: $25,129,009

This is almost 6 times more than opposing interests spent on lobbying for climate legislation.

Contributions to Senators from Interests That Would Benefit from Market-Based Climate Legislation

  • Environmental policy: $2,877,671
  • Alternate energy production & services: $1,092,770
  • Nuclear energy: $262,660

TOTAL: $4,233,101

The analysis was done by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan nonprofit organization that for more than 20 years has tracked money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com

Posted in Government: Local, National, Global, Nonprofit Work | Leave a comment

Who is to Blame for Climate Change?

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet.

Who is responsible for climate change? It sounds like an existential question, too big to quantify, too complex to nail down.

But Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute decided to crunch the numbers and find out, through a study called “Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010.”

His study is a quantitative analysis of historic emissions and traced sources of industrial CO2 and methane to the 90 largest corporate investor-owned and state-owned producers of fossil fuels and cement from 1854 to 2010.

It was a new approach to determining climate change accountability, similar to one used to hold the tobacco industry responsible for health issues caused by smoking.

The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had decided that the wealthiest nations should be responsible for funding international negotiations to stop climate change and pay adaptation costs for the poorest nations, because they had used the most fossil fuels.

Heede’s study focused instead on blaming those who made financial profits from selling carbon-emitting products to those “wealthy nation” consumers.

The study, published in November 2013, found that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all industrial carbon dioxide and methane released to the atmosphere could be traced to fossil fuel and cement production by just 90 entities.

These were investor-owned companies, such as Chevron and Exxon-Mobil; primarily state-run companies, such as Gazprom and Saudi Aramco; and solely government-run industries, such as in the former Soviet Union and China. The top 20 were:

  1. Chevron, USA
  2. ExxonMobil, USA
  3. Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia
  4. BP, UK
  5. Gazprom, Russian Federation
  6. Royal Dutch/Shell, Netherlands
  7. National Iranian Oil Company
  8. Pemex, Mexico
  9. ConocoPhillips, USA
  10. Petroleos de Venezuela
  11. Coal India
  12. Peabody Energy, USA
  13. Total, France
  14. PetroChina, China
  15. Kuwait Petroleum Corp.
  16. Abu Dhabi NOC, UAE
  17. Sonatrach, Algeria
  18. Consol Energy, Inc., USA
  19. BHP-Billiton, Australia
  20. Anglo American, United Kingdom

If there ever comes a time when citizens of the world decide to force someone to make financial amends for the destruction climate change has caused, perhaps Heede’s list will be where they start.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com

Posted in Activists, Business | Leave a comment

Climate Change | Steve Coll’s Book on Exxon

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet.

Steve Coll writes for The New Yorker. He used to be managing editor at the Washington Post. He is Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He won a couple of Pulitzer Prizes.

He wrote a book called “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” published in 2012. That year, he was interviewed about his book by Frontline. Here is a summary of what he said.

A lot of American companies objected to the 1997 Kyoto Accords (an international agreement organized by the U.N. to stop climate change).

Most of them said it was not fair and would not be good for our economy.

Exxon, however, went after the science.

Exxon does oil and gas. Gas would have done well under climate change regulation. They could have survived Kyoto. In fact, such regulation might have been good for the company’s bottom line.

But Exxon’s then CEO Lee Raymond did not personally believe in the science of climate change, so he decided to go after it.

Exxon (sometimes secretly) funded nonscientific groups (often free market ideologues) to attack the science of climate change. Multimillions of dollars were spent. The American Petroleum Institute was very busy. While other companies participated, Exxon led the way.

The purpose of these lobbying campaigns was to raise doubts about climate change in the public mind. A number of these climate change doubt lobbyists used to lobby for the tobacco industry.

Their messaging did not stop at “warming temperatures are not caused by human activity.” It said global temperatures were not actually warming at all (a topic most scientists had stopped debating about by that time).

Meanwhile, there is evidence that Exxon’s own scientists were doing internal studies to see how climate change could affect oil discovery.

Environmental groups, scientists, and eventually some in Congress became aware of the doubt campaign.

Investigations began. Activists started to activate. Even some of the Rockefellers (Exxon descended from Standard Oil) argued against the company’s approach.

There was a movement by climate change activists to identify victims of global warming. An island community under water. A corn farmer in the Midwest who lost his farm to drought.

The Exxon Board got nervous.

The tobacco industry had been sued and held accountable for killing people through intentional public misinformation.

Were there internal Exxon records that would show the company intentionally misled the public? Also, Exxon had traditionally been a very moralist company (up to the 1970s it was not unusual for employees there to pray together during a meeting). Would Exxon scientists come forward the way their counterparts had against big tobacco?

In 2005, Lee Raymond retired.

New CEO Rex Tillerson cut Exxon funding to many of the more radical lobbying groups it had supported.

Exxon lawyers were nervous. They did not want the company to admit liability. So the new messaging was “we were not wrong, we were misunderstood. What we meant to say is global warming is a serious matter. Let’s talk about it.”

In 2009, Obama took office and the Democrats held both houses of Congress. Exxon decided to admit that it was time to support a carbon tax (just not the one Congress was considering that year).

But the 12 year campaign had done its damage – while 97 % of climate scientists are in agreement that climate change is real and is human caused, public perception still hasn’t recovered from doubt.

Since World War II, Americans have been willing to tax themselves to protect current generations from pollution. But they have not been willing to do so for future generations. It seems to take an immediate threat to spark real action.

That threat is here, in the shape of super storms, severe drought, raging fires, and a melting Arctic.

Recently, after experiencing the worst drought in recorded history, Australia (who felt every bit as doubtful about climate change as we did) enacted a price on carbon.

Perhaps Americans will reconsider, too.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com

Posted in Activists, Books, Movies, Art, Entertainment, Business, Science | Leave a comment

Climate Change | “Buycott”

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet.

Want to put your money where your mouth is, but feel the corporate system is just too complex to know how the products you buy are connected to the political and social values you believe in?

A free app for your smartphone called “Buycott” can help. You can use it to scan products at the market that you are thinking about buying and it will tell you if profits from those products lead to such things as climate change, abortion, genetically modified food, human trafficking, and a number of other realities.

The app was the work of a freelance programmer named Ivan Pardo and made its debut last May.

The social issues covered by the app span both progressive and conservative views. Downloading the app and plugging in my user name and password were easy. Then I simply scrolled through the issue topics:

  • Animal Welfare
  • Civil Rights
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economic Justice
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Food
  • Health
  • Human Rights
  • Human Trafficking
  • Immigration
  • Labor
  • LGBTQ Rights
  • Social Responsibility
  • Veterans
  • Women’s Rights

There is also an issue category called “Other” that includes topics such as boycotting GOP Super PACS, reducing lobbying in Washington, supporting products made in the USA, removing rewards for spamming, boycotting companies that spend more on lobbying than on taxes, and supporting a list of brands that have been pre-approved by the Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert.

The app tells you how many members support each issue, who created the group and when, gives a description of what it covers, and includes sub-categories.

For instance, under the category “Environment,” there are categories such as “Protect Bees,” “No Fracking,” “Clean and Renewable Energy,” and “Corporations Lobbying Against Climate Legislation.” You choose the subcategories you care about by becoming a member.

Then you use your smartphone to scan the barcode on a product to see if it violates any of the values you plugged in. If the app does not recognize the product you are scanning, you can help improve the technology by inputting the name of product for future inclusion. The app also lets you know what is trending.

I joined 13 campaigns and the app let me know that out 80 companies, there are 60 I should avoid if I want to put my money where my mouth is, and it also told me why I have a conflict with them.

For instance, my favorite pizza company supports GOP Super PACs, and my favorite clothing store opposes equal pay for women.

I guess I’ll be losing some weight this year, and will need to find someplace else to buy new clothes.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com.

Posted in Activists, Business, Technology | Leave a comment

Climate Change | Environmental Memes (2)

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet. 

The Center for Story Based Strategy (formally Smartmeme) is trying to do just that by offering social justice networks, alliances and organizations the analysis, training and strategic support to change the narrative and win the battle of ideas.

They create new memes: contagious ideas, stories, images, and rituals that spread from imagination to imagination, generation to generation, shaping and shifting human cultures. Many memes are now found on the Internet, those quick messages, often with visuals, that go viral through social media. Memes are carriers that spread stories.

By embracing and using the fast that stories are embedded with power—to justify the status quo or make change—the organization is equipped to do battle against the conservative meme makers who have been so effective during the last 10 plus years.

Greenpeace also uses memes, like their “Let’s Go Arctic Hoax”campaign, and the Mister Flashy Pants campaign with Reddit that made a huge impact on whaling in Japan. So does Green Memes, which uses Facebook to help spread the message.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com.

Posted in Activists, Journalism and Social Networking | Leave a comment

Climate Change | Environmental Memes (1)

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet.

With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. — Abraham Lincoln

In their essay “The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post Environmental World,” Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus say the problem with climate change activists is that they suffer from literal-sclerosis—the belief that social change happens only when people speak a literal truth to power.

They believe that people arrive at their political beliefs through a rational and considered process and are constantly surprised and disappointed when others don’t.

The conservative movement seems to have a better handle on the subject and has expertly manipulated large chunks of the population into doubting that human caused climate change is real.

To sway public opinion back to the reality of climate change, then, environmentalists should stop trying to convince people with facts and, instead, move them with stories that grab their attention and manipulate their passions, using things like memes.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com.

Posted in Activists, Journalism and Social Networking | Leave a comment

Climate Change | World Desertification Day

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet.

Yesterday was World Day to Combat Desertification.

Desertification happens when fertile land becomes desert as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture.

In 1994, the U. N. General Assembly declared the day to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the U. N. Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought or desertification, particularly Africa.

In honor of the day this year, National Public Radio highlighted the book “Cows Save the Planet” by Judith Swartz and Gretel Ehrlich, which explains that correctly-managed cattle grazing can reduce the deserting of our grasslands and combat climate change

Many people wrongly believe that cattle strip the land and cause desertification.

But cows and other grazing animals actually build productive soil by nibbling plants to stimulate plant and root growth, trampling the ground to break apart caked earth and allowing water to seep in and seeds to germinate, and leaving waste that fertilizes the soil.

The radio program reminded me of a Ted Talk I saw recently given by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist and environmentalist.

The talk is detailed and long, but stick with it—because he has a plan that just might save the world.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com.

Posted in Books, Movies, Art, Entertainment, Journalism and Social Networking, Science | Leave a comment

Climate Change | Cool City Challenge (2)

Climate change is real. KB Advancing Green covers real people who are working on climate change solutions to cool our planet.

The Cool City Challenge is a strategy to stop climate change that involves people going household-by-household, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, city-by-city, to educate their neighbors and friends about their carbon footprint and inspire them to reduce their energy consumption.

It removes the sense of isolation people have been feeling about making a difference on climate change, and it taps people’s intrinsic need for meaning and purpose in their lives, for social connection, and for feeling like they make a difference.

Lawrence Berkeley Lab provides the research and development methodologies and a framework for collecting the data, and doing the modeling and data analysis itself. The strategy has won the NASA Sustainable Silicon Valley Global Competition.

In California, there are more than 400 cities, and over 25 percent of those have climate action plans, but they had no funding. This year, the state’s AB32 initiated cap and trade program kicked into higher gear, promising revenues that can be used to support neighborhood and city efforts.

Three cities will be chosen for the deeper pilot, from five finalists: Palo Alto, San Francisco, Sonoma, Davis, and San Rafael. Once the pilot is completed, the group plans to then disseminate this strategy nationally and worldwide.

Are you taking action to prevent climate change and would like me to write about you, or are you looking for ways to get involved? Contact KB Advancing Green at kbadvancinggreen@gmail.com.

 

Posted in Activists | Leave a comment