At some point (hopefully in the very near future) politicians, skeptics and blowhards who deny that human beings are altering the Earth’s climate will have to snap out of their right-wing fantasy lands and face facts. For Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina, that day finally came, thanks in part to his children:

Once a skeptic of global warming, Inglis got a hint that the political winds might be shifting when a longtime supporter warned that he might vote against Inglis if he “didn’t clean up his act on the environment.”

The warning came from Inglis’ eldest son, Robert Jr., now 22.

His daughter was no less blunt about the congressman’s refusal to embrace the view that global warming was being caused by human actions and that a serious response is needed. “I have three more kids coming up — and they seem to share the same view,” Inglis said.

Family pressure worked. Inglis traveled to Antarctica and, most recently, to Greenland to witness the effects of rising CO2 levels and temperatures. He now believes the science behind global warming. And he believes the politics are equally conclusive: Republicans will “get hammered” if they do not reckon with the issue soon.

Imagine that. A representative does a little research, takes a trip to see the effects of climate change first hand, and realizes that the bullshit climate critics have been force-feeding him for years was wrong. Perhaps there’s hope for us yet. In the meantime, Al Gore continues to fight the good fight and come to the aid of whales everywhere.

You really have to hand it to Al Gore. First he wins an Academy Award for his groundbreaking work on An Inconvenient Truth with Davis Guggenheim. Next he stages the largest entertainment event in the history of the planet, and now he wins the Nobel Peace Prize along side the IPCC. All of this was done in the name of raising awareness to the growing problem of man-made climate change, and his efforts seem to be paying off. People everywhere are starting to list climate change as one of the most important problems facing our nation and the world. With record temperatures being set, hurricanes that strengthen in record times and ever shrinking glaciers, the general public is starting to feel global warming’s effects directly.

Of course, this doesn’t stop the climate deniers from insisting that there really isn’t a problem. It seems that even when faced with overwhelming scientific evidence, from thousands of leading scientists across the planet, it’s just not enough. Well, today we learned that one man’s hard work and perseverance, along with the dedicated research of thousands of climate professionals, may just help to save us all. Bravo Al, from all of us who happen to think our pale blue dot matters.

Behold the Power of Kids!

October 2, 2007

One night when I was five years old (as the story is told to me), I sat at dinner with my parents. Aside from mom’s wonderful cooking, was the typical helping of cigarette smoke from my parents’ ash trays which were perched on the dinner table in their usual spots. That night, out of the blue, I asked mom and dad to quit smoking. I’m not sure if mom had smoked while she carried me, but both her and dad had smoked all through my first years in our home. Right up until that night at the dinner table. One simple plea from their only son did what multiple doctor visits, a modified diet and even a hypnotist could not do… change their behavior for the better. After that small request from me, they got serious, worked hard and threw away the cigarettes forever.

So when I read an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal about how kids are starting to influence their parents in matters related to the environment, I knew exactly what was going on. Our public school system has stepped up and is teaching kids beneficial practices like remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, or how to switch from wasteful incandescents to compact fluorescents to help lower carbon emissions. Children all across the country are mobilizing families to help do their part for the future. Parents now think twice about not recycling or buying that big SUV. According to the article, one boy even convinced his family not to just replace their failing roof, but to upgrade it with solar panels. I say, if it takes your kid to convince you to do the right thing when it comes to how to treat the environment, so much the better.

Parents have always wanted what’s best for their children. It’s the reason why my mom and dad quit smoking when I asked them to, and it’s the reason why so many parents are now re-insulating, recycling and reusing around the house. We want our kids to grow up in a world that is just as good, if not better than the one we got from our parents. We all want to do what’s best, not just for our children, but for our friends and neighbors as well. It makes perfect sense to plant a tree, turn off extra lights or promote alternative energy sources, but all too often things like these are overlooked. Sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge from those we love to make everything crystal clear once again. Call it kid power for the 21st century, and just in time too.

Another Reason RFID Sucks

September 10, 2007

As if massive privacy concerns and identity theft were not enough reasons to worry about the wide spread use of radio frequency identification technology, now comes word that it it may also cause cancer. It seems that a series of veterinary and toxicology studies from the mid-1990s, found that RFID chip implants had “induced” malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats. Although the FDA has officially approved the chips for implanting in pets and limited use in humans, these studies found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous “sarcomas”, or malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.

Although the research is ongoing, I’m seriously thinking about having the RFID chips in our pets removed. Some people think all this FUD is hogwash, and that RFID is perfectly safe and secure. To them I say, have you ever had chemotherapy? I have, and let me just say it’s no day at the beach. If you’d like to gamble with an aggressive form of cancer that can kill you in as little as 3-6 months just to prove your pet theories, be my guest! The chips are even mentioned by bible enthusiasts as one of the signs of the end times for Pete’s sake! Do you really want to portend the apocalypse AND go through localized radiation therapy? No, I didn’t think so.

Earlier this month, California passed a law forbidding companies from forcing their employees to have RFID chips implanted in them. I plan on writing our representatives and asking them to support the very same measure here in NC. The chips pose serious threats to security, personal liberty and now, health. As far as I’m concerned, they can’t be banned fast enough. Now excuse me while I finish that Book of Revelations.

I love how this ad takes Bush’s “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” rhetoric and turns it on its head. The climate deniers seem to respond to black and white vs. levels of gray, so maybe spots like this will penetrate their thick, thick skulls. We can only hope and pray. There isn’t much time left.

Nothing to See Here

September 3, 2007

Global warming is a hoax. Just remember that simple “fact” as you watch the news this week. Temperatures in parts of the United States have hit triple digits for the second straight week, California is suffering rolling blackouts due to the extreme heat and Felix grew from a tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane in just 27 hours. None of this matters you see, because evidently there is no empirical evidence to suggest that man is causing climate change.

I know what you’re thinking. You thought the argument was that the climate wasn’t changing AT ALL, not that man was causing it. Well, those skeptics seem to have given up on that lame defense and are now admitting that climate change is real, it’s just not humans who are causing it. It has to do with the wobble of the earth, or sun spots, or water vapor or cycles or… or… whatever! Just not increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. No, there is no evidence of that what-so-ever.

So as you bake in your blacked out or windswept home in the days and weeks ahead, just keep repeating to yourself that man isn’t to blame and there is nothing we can or even should do about it. If you say it enough times, it will be true. At least in your own head.

China’s Choking

August 26, 2007

Interesting, if distressing story today from the New York Times about China and its rush toward industrialization. It seems that China’s pollution levels are reaching staggeringly bad proportions thanks to a heavy increase in coal fired power plants. China has lots of coal, maybe more than any other nation on Earth and they intend to use it. The problem of course, is that coal is dirty, both for the environment and human health. The increase in China’s pollution output has created an environmental disaster and has made cancer their leading cause of death. This bit is especially distressing:

“China’s problem has become the world’s problem. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by China’s coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. Much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research.

More pressing still, China has entered the most robust stage of its industrial revolution, even as much of the outside world has become preoccupied with global warming.

Experts once thought China might overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases by 2010, possibly later. Now, the International Energy Agency has said China could become the emissions leader by the end of this year, and the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency said China had already passed that level.”

Back in 2005, Al Gore touched on the challenges facing China and its increasing number of coal fired plants in his award winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I’ve captured the segment dealing with China and posted it on YouTube as an interesting tangent to the NYT piece. It seems that China’s pollution problems have only grown worse since the movie was made which doesn’t bode well for China or the U.S.

Given the problems the United States has had dealing with greenhouse gasses and our lack of global responsibility in regard to the climate crisis, it seems unlikely that the Chinese will fare better any time soon. It most likely will be decades before the communist government there decides to do something about their nation’s contribution to global warming. Given the rate at which things are changing around the world, I don’t think any of us can afford to wait that long.