After a long slump in youth voting, enthusiasm has spiked: In 2018 the number of young voters doubled over the 2014 midterm election.
Many scientists assert that this summer’s intense weather is being fueled by climate change. One of the most prominent is Penn State climatologist Michael Mann, who says the connection between the two is like “the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.”
The elephant in the room at the presidential debates was climate change. According to a piece in Slate, this year the candidates spent a total of five minutes and 27 seconds on the subject. That’s better than 2012 when candidates didn’t mention it at all.
Paul Duncan, a battalion chief with California’s state firefighting agency, was at home in Northern California enjoying a day off on September 12 when he got the message: A wildfire was burning on Cobb Mountain, about a dozen miles away from Hidden Valley Lake, where he lived with his wife and two daughters.
Duncan, 46, decided to leave and help knock down the blaze because he knew the fire unit in the area was already short-staffed from putting out on another conflagration. Besides, his nearly 30 years of experience persuaded him there was no way a fire burning on a mountain to the west could burn down to the valley floor and then race eastward to threaten the Duncans’ home.
His optimism was short lived. Upon arriving on Cobb Mountain Duncan got some troubling news. The fire he was fighting was heading toward his family.
State lawmakers returned from the Labor Day weekend to face a potential Greek tragedy as the current legislative session enters its final days. Taking center stage is a contentious battle pitting the oil industry, the California Chamber of Commerce and a group of business-friendly Democrats against two history-making global warming measures.
Senate Bill 32, authored by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), seeks to extend the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions already achieved by Assembly Bill 32, a bill Pavley helped write as an assemblymember, and which became the state’s highly effective 2006 carbon cap-and-trade law.
Senate Bill 350 is the attempt by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) to spell out the “Golden State Standards 50-50-50” that Governor Jerry Brown unveiled in January’s State of the State address. It would require California to double the energy efficiency of its older buildings,
Here’s the good news: The percentage rate of change in global carbon emissions in 2014 was zero. It didn’t go up. That’s the first time in the record books that the world economy grew but carbon emissions didn’t. Here’s the bad news: The average global temperature has been hotter every month since February of 1985 than the 20th century average for any given month. We’re talking 360 consecutive months of warmer-than-average temperatures.
Here’s the really bad news: If we continue to extract fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas – at the current pace, we will not be able to live on the planet by mid-century.
Here’s the science: Despite the climate deniers, the consensus of people who study this field professionally say that if we raise the temperatures of the planet more than two degrees Celsius (that’s about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) human life as we know it will not be possible.
More Americans believe in angels than in climate change. Still, a poll released earlier this year indicated that more Americans than ever now think that climate change is happening, that it is caused by human activity and that world leaders have a moral obligation to do something about it.
So why are we getting so little action? If a large majority of people actually thinks our only home, the Earth, suffers from human behavior, then shouldn’t our personal and public actions reflect that reality? Oh, sure, lots of people drive electric cars, but lots more drive SUVs. I know that California has implemented a “cap-and-trade” program that will limit the future growth of carbon in the air, but the state has not banned fracking, which wastes water and hurts our air quality. And I know that the federal government has been setting higher goals for vehicle mileage —
This month the U.S. and China reached an historic and unexpected agreement on climate change. As a follow-up, China announced that it will cap its coal consumption by 2020. The U.S. and China are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, and the world’s largest economies. What does this mean for us?
Climate change isn’t something that we can wait 50 or 100 years to deal with – it is happening right now. The U.S. is seeing more severe weather, unprecedented sea level rise, loss of habitat and expanding ranges of pests and diseases.
The primary driver of climate change is the carbon that humans put into the atmosphere and the biggest producers of carbon are coal-fired power plants that generate electricity. China is now the world’s largest user of coal.
In the climate change agreement, China promised to reach its peak emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases,
Have you ever felt paralyzed by the apocalyptic projections of global warming? Have you walked away from a presentation, article or news report feeling despair about the heating of our planet? You’re not alone. Amongst young Americans polled, global warming is a major worry.
The fear is good and warranted; the despair and paralysis are not. According to Jonathan Parfrey of the L.A.-based nonprofit, Climate Resolve, climate change needs to be seen as a local issue that people can address and do something about. And he has many ideas about how that can be done.
“L.A. has a spectacular climate,” says Parfrey, “we all love it. That’s why we’re here.” But global warming can hurt our city by impacting the things we care most about — including our health, food and water supply, property values, air quality and fire safety.
What’s called the “urban heat island effect” —
At some point during the last decade, as various plans have been floated to avert climate change, it struck me that we’re focusing on the wrong problem. Global warming caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (carbon dioxide chief among them), has indeed sped us in the direction of rendering the planet uninhabitable for life, human and otherwise. But climate change is not a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a symptom of a disease, systemic and pernicious, brought on by squandering the parts of nature we call “resources” at a breathtaking clip and without restraint. All of the solutions on offer, from displacing coal with natural gas in the West to constructing more nuclear reactors in the South, are supposed to allow us to go living exactly as we do, without the consequences.
Except we can’t. As Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and the blockbuster bestseller, The Shock Doctrine,
Social justice activists often think that when things are terrible, people will rise up and protest those conditions until they see significant change, and sometimes they do. But usually, especially in recent decades in this country, they don’t. My friends, as well as other readers of the Frying Pan, often ask, Why not?
I always return to one of the classic analyses of dramatic social change, Crane Brinton’s Anatomy of Revolution. The book follows the trajectory of four historic revolutions: England, France, America and Russia. In each, he argues, regime change did not happen because conditions were at their worst. Instead they occurred when the circumstances of everyday life were actually getting better but did not match the hopes of people. Revolution happened, Brinton says, in the widening gap between expectation and reality.
That explanation probably clarifies why demonstrations in Greece and Spain have met with frustration,
Despite the conventional wisdom that Southern California only has one season, some wag suggested it does indeed have four: Fires, floods, earthquakes and riots. So far this year we’ve had none of those, for which I am grateful, and I hope our luck holds.
I say luck because Los Angeles County leads the state in fire risk. Of the million homes in California in high-risk fire areas, half are in our county. Seven of the 10 most expensive fires in the U.S. since 1990 have been in California, and insurers paid some $5 billion in wildfire claims in 2003, 2007 and 2008.
Meanwhile, wildfires across the country have set new records. Nine million acres of forest were destroyed this year in 45,000 wildfires. An area larger than Massachusetts was burned over in five western states, including ours. That’s 13,000 square miles blackened, wild life killed, trees and brush scorched and burned.