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Posts Tagged ‘climate change legislation’

Back in the movie/musical “Oklahoma”, we got a musical lesson that the farmer and the cowman should be friends.  They seem to have bridged that divide rather well in the intervening decades, but today the question remains whether the farmers and ranchers and the climate should be friends.

Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples certainly doesn’t think so.  On his Twitter account last week, he asked “How could anybody involved in agriculture think the proposed Cap &Trade legislation is good for Texas?”

Well, we’ll tell you.  It’s a combination of solving the climate crisis which will disproportionately hurt agriculture in Texas, not using faulty studies cooked up for partisan purposes (which Staples does) and about the jobs and savings to everyday Texas families, which helps everyone  whether you’re a farmer or not.

First, no other industry is so exposed as agriculture to the impacts of climate change. Agriculture is almost completely dependent on relatively stable patterns of rainfall and temperature to get a good yield.  Climate change threatens not only how much rainfall we get, but also how we get it.  Predictions are that some areas may actually see more rain, but in fits and starts with large storms that flood and then wash away topsoil rather than absorb moisture.

Texas is still in the midst of one of the worst droughts in its history. Australian scientists have linked 37% of this drought to anthropogenic climate change. Recent drought has brought record breaking agricultural losses to Texas both this last year in 2009 and in 2006,  when billions of dollars in crops were lost and cattle had to be culled in mass numbers because feed and water was too expensive and they were dying in the field from the heat.  Some are even asking if this prolonged drought is actually just the beginning of “the new normal,” a frightening prospect for anyone with a farm or ranch in West, Central, or South Texas where drought has been the most extreme.

The USDA’s study of impacts of climate change on agriculture, as part of the consensus opinion of 13 federal agencies, is that Texas stands to lose up to 35% of its agricultural yield from just 2 degrees of warming.  And that’s not all — check out this press release from the USDA:

The report finds that climate change is already affecting U.S. water resources, agriculture, land resources, and biodiversity, and will continue to do so. Specific findings include: (more…)

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Finally, Global warming is getting some international recognition. Since the Kyoto Protocol is about to expire in 2012,koebenhavn-bellacenter-20080211-dsc-0180-250 the UN, with help of the Danish government, is organizing an international summit about global warming. The summit will be held on December 7th through the 18th at the Bella Center, the largest fair and conference center in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Participants:

The main participants will be the United States, China, India(biggest world polluters) and a bloc of 27 countries of the Europian Union. But overall, there will be more than 190 countries that will be a part of this summit. Many of these countries already have been working on cutting or constraining the grow of ththeir emissions, while some refuse to make any commitments. However, though the summit hasn’t taken place yet, 11 countries that are vulnerable to climate change have dedicated 1.5% of their gross national product for climate change actions. Those countries are Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, the Maldives, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania and Vietnam.

“We are not responsible for the hundreds of years of carbon emissions, which are cooking the planet[…]But the dangers climate change poses to our countries means that this crisis can no longer be considered somebody else’s problem.” said Mohamed Nasheed, the President of the Maldives who was a leading voice in the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

The Task:

The general set goal for the summit is to keep the increasing temperature of the globe below 2C (3.6F). That will happen through the many proposals of the participating countries. Cutting Carbon commission is a major one. Some of the European countries have agreed on cutting greenhouse emissions by 20% by 2020, the set date for these commitments. The United State’s climate change plans call for 17 percent less emissions by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050. Janos Pasztor, climate adviser to U.N, however, told news agencies that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “”has consulted with a number of heads of state and so far the general feeling seems to be that we should try to complete the job earlier than later.” This has been part of what triggered the White House to consider other options (International agreement) that can be more efficient and faster but cover a shorter term, this is also because of the concern that Congress will fail to pass a climate change legislation this year. Unfortunately, world leaders have decided not to agree on ”Global pact” for climate change action in the Copenhagen summit but rather to come up with a “politically binding” agreement that will set the guidelines for a future pact in a possible forthcoming conference in Mexico City. This does nothing but postpone actions to deal with a urgent and a concerning phenomena such as our man-made-climate change. The postponement is due to recent assessment by the participants of the summit “that it is unrealistic to expect a full internationally, legally binding agreement could be negotiated between now and Copenhagen, which starts in 22 days,” said Michael Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.

In the summit, there will be plans for developed countries to help the developing countries to cut on their emissions through renewable energy sources.

The initiatives also include “measures such as building sea defenses, securing fresh water supplies and developing new crop varieties” as BBC reports.

What The People Are Doing

While the world leaders are set to meet to come up with an agreement to deal with climate change, the media reports that the number of people who believe there is a global warming is declining, much less believe it is caused by human activities.

This is the time to be concerned about our health and the environment. Scientist have said that you don’t have to be an environmentalist to care about the issue because global warming will affect a major element of our lives, the economy.

It will be some time until we will see an effective treatment for climate change but YOU can start Now. Some are doing the Climate Justice Fast, a demonstration to the world to show the need for an urgent action and also ” to inspire those who are already aware of climate change to become more politically active.” Others are holding debates about the issues to be discussed in the Summit. Some have come up with twelve-steps programs for America to become green. You don’t have to fast or go win a debate about climate change, you can even by as simple an action as turning off the light you don’t need.

You also can participate in:

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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You would think that the Veterans of the United States would be mostly outspoken about traditional war issues, such as pulling the troops out of Iraq or sending more of them to Afghanistan, but a few groups of veterans have decided to take a different route. Operation Free is the name of a veterans’ movement that has been touring the country to advocate about climate change and to support the passage of the climate change legislation currently being debated in Congress. They consider climate change a “national security threat” (consider that Homeland Security) and their mission is to “Secure America with Clean Energy.”

Here is a video of the group visiting Washington D.C.

Besides the organization’s concerns about the security of our food, health, and water, they tie a very interesting view on climate change to terrorism. Since climate change makes certain areas of the world inhabitable, the devastated people of such areas will be more prone to be involved with terrorist groups.

“Shifts in climates will result in shifts in populations as certain areas become more and more inhabitable. The bulk of these refugees will be sequestered away in squalid, wretched camps and largely denied education, medical care, and access to the opportunity of the outside world. This environment is for terrorists like a pool of stagnant water is for mosquitoes: a breeding ground.” – Drew Sloan Former Army Captain, Infantry OEF/OIF Veteran

"Terrorism 101" - Operation Free

Patrick Bellon, Western Regional Director of another veteran’s organization called VoteVets, told Public Citizen that when the public sees veterans advocating for such an issue it gives it more credibility, “But they are often surprised and curious to see veterans talking about it,” he added. Bellon thinks that the majority of people still can’t fully comprehend the threat of climate change, “when people hear that there will be three degree change in temperature, they don’t understand the impact of that.”

You can visit the VoteVets blog by clicking here

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As expected, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved climate change legislation last night and sent it along in the legislative process. We strongly urge lawmakers to make major overhauls to this bill or go back to the drawing board.

The problem? Oil, coal and nuclear industries had far too much say in its shaping, and it shows.

Now more than ever, Public Citizen needs you to tell your representatives that climate change legislation should not be weakened by the corrupting influence of big money.

Those who say this bill is the best the legislative process can produce are wrong: The American people demanded strong climate legislation, and polluters are subverting these goals.

Public Citizen supports strong, effective climate legislation, but this bill won’t achieve it. We can talk about hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, but this bill won’t do it.

It creates a legal right to pollute for industries and gives away credits for free to allow companies to meet those targets without having to pay for them. That is not going to spur the kind of investments we need.

We must act fast to influence lawmakers to fix this piece of legislation. Please take action so that our voices can be heard loud and clear over those of the oil, coal and nuclear industries.

For more information about the climate change bill and how it needs to be fixed, visit our Web site and watch Tyson Slocum explain Public Citizen’s position in an interview on Democracy Now!

Take action today, and let your representatives know you want them to put interests of consumers above those of the energy industries.

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