Sustainability

A Generational Challenge to Repower America

July 23, 2008 - 06:34:23 PM


Al Gore speaks at DAR Constitution Hall on 7/17/08

Ladies and Gentleman:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more - if more should be required - the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don't remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse - much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland's largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an "energy tsunami" that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn't it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that's been worrying me.

I'm convinced that one reason we've seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately - without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective - they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges - the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we're holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.
The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of "solutions summits" with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don't cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation's problems, we need a new start.

That's why I'm proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It's not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans - in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge.  READ MORE »


2007 Global Temperatures Tied for 2nd Warmest

April 08, 2008 - 01:40:01 PM

"The year 2007 tied for second warmest in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. 2007 tied 1998, which had leapt a remarkable 0.2°C above the prior record with the help of the "El Niño of the century". The unusual warmth in 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean is in the cool phase of its natural El Niño-La Niña cycle."

"The Southern Oscillation and the solar cycle have significant effects on year-to-year global temperature change. Because both of these natural effects were in their cool phases in 2007, the unusual warmth of 2007 is all the more notable. It is apparent that there is no letup in the steep global warming trend of the past 30 years."

"Global warming stopped in 1998," has become a recent mantra of those who wish to deny the reality of human-caused global warming. The continued rapid increase of the five-year running mean temperature exposes this assertion as nonsense. In reality, global temperature jumped two standard deviations above the trend line in 1998 because the "El Niño of the century" coincided with the calendar year, but there has been no lessening of the underlying warming trend."

 

Source:NASA Surface Temperature Analysis


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Worldlink Foundation to launch multi-year *NOURISH* Initiative in fall of 2008

March 31, 2008 - 10:42:53 PM


Inspiring Learning and Action

What we eat, where we eat, and how we eat reveals much about our relationship to food. Today, more than ever, we need to understand where our food comes from and how it reaches us. The purpose of Nourish is to open a broad public conversation about our food system that encourages citizen engagement, particularly among young people and families.

Nourish PBS Special

Launching in fall 2008, the nationally broadcast, high definition PBS special entitled Nourish explores the abundant possibilities to create a sustainable food system. The special traces our relationship to food from a global perspective to personal action steps.  READ MORE »


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Challenges of the 21st Century from an Engineering Perspective

February 16, 2008 - 08:32:12 PM

LEADING ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY ADVANCES THAT COULD IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE AROUND THE WORLD
21st CENTURY'S GRAND ENGINEERING CHALLENGES UNVEILED

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) today announced the grand challenges for engineering in the 21st century. A diverse committee of experts from around the world, convened at the request of the U.S. National Science Foundation, revealed 14 challenges that, if met, would improve how we live.

"Tremendous advances in quality of life have come from improved technology in areas such as farming and manufacturing," said committee member and Google co-founder Larry Page. "If we focus our effort on the important grand challenges of our age, we can hugely improve the future."

The panel, some of the most accomplished engineers and scientists of their generation, was established in 2006 and met several times to discuss and develop the list of challenges. Through an interactive Web site, the effort received worldwide input from prominent engineers and scientists, as well as from the general public, over a one-year period. The panel's conclusions were reviewed by more than 50 subject-matter experts.

The final choices fall into four themes that are essential for humanity to flourish -- sustainability, health, reducing vulnerability, and joy of living.  READ MORE »


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Leading Wall Street Banks Establish The Carbon Principles

February 12, 2008 - 07:57:14 PM


Guidelines to strengthen environmental and economic risk management in the financing and construction of electricity generation

The Rainforest Action Network, among others, offers a critique of what they feel are the principle's strengths and weaknesses.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C)
February 04, 2008

NEW YORK – Three of the world's leading financial institutions today announced the formation of The Carbon Principles, climate change guidelines for advisors and lenders to power companies in the United States. These Principles are the result of a nine-month intensive effort to create an approach to evaluating and addressing carbon risks in the financing of electric power projects. The need for these Principles is driven by the risks faced by the power industry as utilities, independent producers, regulators, lenders and investors deal with the uncertainties around regional and national climate change policy.

The Principles were developed in partnership by Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, and in consultation with leading power companies American Electric Power, CMS Energy, DTE Energy, NRG Energy, PSEG, Sempra and Southern Company. Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council, environmental non-governmental organizations, also advised on the creation of the Principles.

This effort is the first time a group of banks has come together and consulted with power companies and environmental groups to develop a process for understanding carbon risk around power sector investments needed to meet future economic growth and the needs of consumers for reliable and affordable energy. The consortium has developed an Enhanced Diligence framework to help lenders better understand and evaluate the potential carbon risks associated with coal plant investments.  READ MORE »


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Leonardo DiCaprio's Film : THE 11th HOUR opens in August

July 27, 2007 - 02:53:32 PM


With the help of over fifty of the world's most prominent thinkers and activists, including reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, physicist Stephen Hawking, and Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, “The 11th Hour” documents the grave problems facing the planet's life systems. Global warming, deforestation, mass species extinction, and depletion of the oceans' habitats are all addressed.

However, the most powerful element of “The 11th Hour” is not a portrait of a planet in crisis, but an offering of hope and solutions. The film ends with a call for restorative action through reshaping human activity.

“The 11th Hour” is opening on August 17th in New York and Los Angeles. On the 24th it opens in other cities, and in the following weeks across the country. It would be great if you could go see it and bring a friend. You can go to www.11thhouraction.com to get more information on the movie and when it will play near you.

We need the message of this movie to hit as far and wide as possible.The hope is us. Let's begin. Thank You, Leonardo DiCaprio LeonardoDiCaprio@11thhouraction.com

Please take a look at the trailer here: http://www.11thhouraction.com/trailer  READ MORE »


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