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Home | Tag Archives: climate change

Tag Archives: climate change

NMSU Climate Change Education Seminar Series Set for November 7

New Mexico State University will host its third presentation of the NMSU Climate Change Education Seminar Series known as NMSUCCESS.

The presentation titled ‘The Three S’s of Climate Change: Simple, Serious and Solvable,’ will outline the dynamics of climate change, the ramifications of climate change across the social, economic, political and environmental landscape, and steps the global community can take to address this crisis.

“A recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that the world will face increasingly catastrophic impacts from climate change if the global community, including the U.S., does not take drastic steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lara Prihodko, college associate professor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Headlining at this presentation is Scott Denning, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. His research has included extensive field work in the great north woods of Wisconsin, the farms of Iowa and the Amazon rainforest.

Denning is known for engaging audiences on the subject of climate change.

NMSUCCESS, which is an eight-part series of presentations that began in the fall of 2018 and will continue throughout the spring semester, is led by experts of different fields all impacted by climate change.

Prihodko hopes this series ensures the local community remains informed and engaged in the effort to preserve a stable future for generations to come.

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 7, at the Rio Grande Theatre located in the downtown mall at 211 North Main Street

For more information about the climate change series visit the website or Twitter page.

Author: Victoria Balderrama – NMSU

Op-Ed: The Ethics of Climate Change

The National Wildlife Foundation estimates that the United States is the second largest global contributor of carbon emissions, though only comprising a mere 4.4% of the global population.

It seems that the apparent dangers of rising sea levels, devastating coastal floods, damaging wildfires, destructive hurricanes, and increasingly threatening heat waves somehow all seem to fall short in providing the necessary motivation needed for a global coalition on energy reform.

The international conversation on global warming can at times seem discouragingly pessimistic.

While the scientific community shares the consensus that global warming is indeed a critical global issue, it seems that the movement for an international communal effort has only begun to gain momentum.

Meanwhile, newer green technologies are continually competing in broad markets against other long-established companies and products. Even worse, unequal tax burdens for existing energy companies, as well as a failure of the market to value green energies to begin with, are only some of the contributing factors that are slowing the global green energy movement.

The reasoning behind the argument against energy reform stems from two basic beliefs: first, that the science is wrong. Surprisingly, there is still a large population of people who either deny the implications of rising carbon emissions or deny the scientific community’s findings altogether.

Second, the more pragmatic critics note that – while it may indeed be in our best interest to accelerate the transition to more efficient sources of energy – the reality of capitalistic interests, insufficient technologies, and unscalable initiatives seem to be the insurmountable challenges that many are not yet willing to face.

Considering that the effects of carbon emissions are affecting the planet, this brings up an unavoidable question: Are we humans the only ones who are suffering from this global phenomenon?

The International Union for the Conservation of Energy estimates that nearly 21,000 species of animal life are at risk of extinction due to rising CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. While this number does not include plant life, with such a huge proportion of the natural kingdom in such alarming danger, the question must be asked:

Do we have an ethical duty not only to ourselves, but also to the other species of life on this planet to do something about our carbon emissions?

In light of these considerations, many countries are making strides in addressing these issues.

On January 1st, 2017, The Costa Rican Electricity Institute reported that 98.2% of the country’s electricity generated in 2016 was created by renewable energy sources.

Costa Rica’s eclectic mix of efforts include hydro, geothermal, wind, solar, and biomass energy sources. Even with such great efforts, Costa Rica currently ranks 42nd in the 2016 Energy Trilemma Index, a study that ranks countries in three domains: Energy Security, Energy Equity, and Environmental Sustainability.

Countries leading the globe in renewable sources of energy include Denmark, Switzerland, and Sweden, each scoring a perfect A in each of the domains, per the 2016 index.

The United States came in 14th place with the weakest domain being Environmental Sustainability, which the council defines as, “…the achievement of supply- and demand-side energy efficiencies and development of energy supply from renewable and other low carbon sources.”

While an all-or-nothing approach seems to be a looming inevitability, the global leaders in sustainability seem to have already come to the realization that the longer we wait for a global coalition, the greater the danger we are in.

Countries like Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, and Costa Rica seem to be hinting to the world that we have more control over our future than we might think.

Indeed, this is the mentality that we as Americans should keep as we make decisions that affect lives other than our own.

Websites like carbonfund.org suggest ways in which individuals can reduce their own carbon footprint, including ideas for our driving habits, traveling, home ownership, and even weddings.

Surprisingly, a 2005 study completed at the University of Chicago discovered that switching to a battery-powered vehicle, like a Toyota Prius, saves, on average, roughly 1 ton of carbon dioxide per driver each year. The study also showed that switching to a plant-based diet saves, on average, 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, a much more inexpensive and healthy option than switching vehicles.

The quality of our lives in the future depends entirely on the decisions that we each individually make today. Perhaps the longer that we wait for an international consensus on global warming before acting, the greater and greater our future challenges may become.

The choices we make about what we put into our bodies each day, the kinds of companies that we choose to buy from, and the way that we choose to live our lives as conscious consumers all do indeed affect other conscious, living beings. As we have seen, a little change can go a very long way.

I am always disinclined to end essays with quotes, but I am strongly reminded of the anthropologist Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Clearly, the time has come for us to shift the conversation from disappointingly delayed global efforts to the kinds of things we can each do in our own lives to contribute to the greater good.

It us up to us to lay down a brighter future for those who will inherit this planet after us.

***

By Gabriel Fernandez – Special to the Herald-Post

Author: Gabriel Fernandez is a creative consultant and co-founder at thChrch, a creative accelerator in El Paso, Texas. He writes at www.gabefernandez.net and can be reached at gabe@thchrch.com. 

Gabriel works with artists, bands, and creatives to help solve creative and entrepreneurial obstacles in major project releases. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of Texas at El Paso and is currently pursuing his M. Ed. from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Study: Fast-Growing Texas Cities Are Hot – and Getting Hotter

SAN ANTONIO – The effects of climate change on temperatures don’t appear to be deterring people from moving to some of Texas’ largest cities, according to a new report.

The website Sparefoot, which helps people locate storage space, rates the fastest-growing cities in the country by how rapidly their average temperatures are rising. Earning places two through six on the survey are San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Houston, respectively.

Texas State Climatologist Dr. John Nielson-Gammon said he isn’t surprised by the results. He said the reason seems obvious.

“Mainly global warming. The pace of warming is comparable to what’s been observed globally,” Nielson-Gammon said. “And actually, if anything, the natural variability or surface modifications have suppressed the warming a bit in Texas.”

The study’s authors picked the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities based on Census Bureau reports, and ranked them using the Sperling Heat Index and a Climate Central projection of extreme hot days for the rest of the 21st century. They found that some of the most popular destinations for those looking to relocate are also those likely to be hit hardest by the warming change.

Nielsen-Gammon, who is also a professor at the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M, said based on the criteria, Texas should dominate the list.

“Texas is a relatively warm state with lots of people,” he said. “It is hotter – on average, temperatures are about 1.5 to 2 degrees warmer than they were during the 20th century.”

Climate studies show rising temperatures are likely to bring problems to cities such as higher pollution levels, more disease and water shortages if global warming continues unabated.

Phoenix was number one on the list of “hot” cities getting hotter. Others include Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York City, and – perhaps surprisingly – Denver and Seattle.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

O’Rourke: President Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Agreement ‘One of the Worst Executive Actions to Date”

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; below is a statement posted to Facebook by El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, regarding his feelings on the President’s decision.

Today, President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change—one of his worst executive actions to date. In 2015, the U.S. agreed to modestly curb greenhouse gas emissions and provide funding to help developing countries adopt renewable energy at a faster rate.

The U.S. pulling out of the agreement signals to the rest of the world that we don’t intend to reach our emissions targets and that we will not be making those contributions.

The practical effects of leaving the agreement are dire. The primary goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep worldwide average temperatures from rising more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the pre-industrial era. Right now, we’re already almost halfway there and we’ve seen storms that have destroyed billions worth of property, shrinking ice caps, and droughts that have resulted in political instability and even wars.

Most importantly for El Paso and the state of Texas, it’s estimated that by 2050, the number of extremely hot days in Texas (temperatures exceeding 95 degrees) will double, resulting in an estimated 4,500 additional heat-related deaths. Additionally, it’s estimated that there will be a $650 million per year increase in storm-related losses along the Texas coast.

By taking the U.S. out of this agreement, all of these problems stand an increased chance of getting worse.

Just as important, President Trump is sending a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is no longer interested in being a world leader. Any progress we make economically, diplomatically, and militarily all depends on our credibility as a nation. By pulling out of the agreement, we are signaling to traditional and potential partners that they cannot depend on Americans to stick with them during difficult times.

Leaving the agreement also means we’re going to let others lead on what the world’s renewable energy future will be. Doing so puts our domestic wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers and other renewable energy providers at a disadvantage relative to countries that are participating in the Paris Agreement. This is a mistake at a time when our state is home to nearly a quarter of the country’s wind power jobs. Texas is a leader in renewable energy production, and El Paso is poised to play an important role. Diminishing the U.S. role will have direct effects on our local economy.

Removing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement makes us one of only three countries, along with Syria and Nicaragua, to not join—even North Korea is part of the agreement. Historically, the U.S. has put more carbon into the atmosphere than any other country, so we must be a leader in curbing worldwide emissions.

I’m hopeful that the rest of the world continues to make progress on this front, and that we can revisit and rejoin the effort once we have a Congress and a President willing to lead because we have much to gain, and even more to lose.

Bill Would Allow Climate-Change Denial in Texas Classrooms

AUSTIN – A state legislative committee will consider a proposal that would allow climate-change denial to be taught in Texas public schools.

Texas is among several states considering laws that would block state and local school officials from limiting teachers to lessons using evidence-based science.

Jose Medina, deputy communications director for the Texas Freedom Network, says House Bill 1485 cites academic and religious freedom for proposing to strip both elected and appointed school administrators of the power to determine curriculum.

“In essence, it says a teacher can bring any theory they like into the classroom, and their superiors at the school or at the state level are powerless to stop them,” he says. “And it specifically singles out evolution and climate change.”

In addition to Texas, similar bills are under consideration in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Alabama, Indiana, Florida and South Dakota.

Medina says a hearing on HB 1485, sponsored by freshman Rep. Valoree Swanson, is set today in the House Education Committee. Swanson did not return a call requesting a comment.

Medina believes the bill is part of a trend to make it easier for teachers to present climate science and evolution as controversial ideas rather than settled science.

He adds that backers say it is not designed to promote religious doctrine, but that opponents of science-based instruction have used the “academic freedom” approach in the past.

“For years, the term ‘strengths and weaknesses’ have been used by the creationist movement to attack evolution,” he explains. “This is an end run, around not just the state board of education but school administrators that might want to teach just accurate, sound science in the classroom.”

Medina says the Texas Freedom Network will be among a dozen or more groups and individuals speaking against the bill at today’s hearing. If the measure is approved by the committee, it must be passed by the full House and then the state Senate.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service (Texas)

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