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Tag Archives: Global Climate Change

Climate Strike, Spokane, Sept 20, 2019

 

Went to the Climate Strike event held in Spokane today–saw some signs worth commenting on–

 

Climate Strike, Spokane, Sept 20, 2019

 

Here are people on the front lines of what needs to be done–

 

Climate Strike, Spokane, Sept 20, 2019

 

The carbon fee (and a big one) and a per capita dividend is the only idea that I think works to properly price carbon–tax it when it comes out of the ground so it gets priced into everything, and give people a carbon quota–and a dividend based on that quota.  If you use more than your quota, you pay a stiff tax, if you use less than your quota, it’s like a guaranteed income.  But the “carbon fee” has to be high enough to change behavior–where we live, how we move around, how we heat and cool our homes.

 

Climate Strike, Spokane, Sept 20, 2019

 

And I love this sign–“don’t distract us with straws and light bulbs”–no kidding.  We have to start thinking about SUVs, cars, and central air conditioners.  Changing light bulbs is a very tiny step in the right direction, but it doesn’t get us anywhere close.  And straws are way down in the pixie dust.  And I love her T-shirt–“Make coffee, not war.”

 

 

One reason why is seems so hard to believe that we emit so much carbon dioxide is that we never see it.   If we make a visible mess of things, there tends to be a lot of pressure to clean up our act, but burning fossil fuels is a real disappearing act.  The gas we put in our cars, or the firewood we put in a stove, or the coal going into a power plant just disappears—so there is nothing to clean up.  It’s already clean.

The exception for combustion is when it gets really cold—like it does in Fairbanks in the depths of winter.   The CO2 never condenses at these temperatures, but the water vapour that accompanies the combustion will—and the clouds from these persist long enough to give a sense of the volume of emissions we leave loose in the atmosphere.

8-4778 17th and Cushman, 2008

I remember once driving from Fairbanks to Anchorage on Thanksgiving.  It was about -37 F in Fairbanks when we left in mid-morning, and even colder at noon when we passed though the flats south of Nenana—it was at least -50, maybe colder.  There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road, and we passed only a handful of cars.  The sun was out, barely clearing the southern horizon,  and I remember looking in the rear-view mirror of my Honda Civic, and realized that I was leaving a contrail on the road behind me—a visible vapor trail from my exhaust, just like the jet trails high in the atmosphere.

This spring, the fire season came early in Alaska—we had a dry May, and fires burned nearly a million acres in two weeks—one fire north of Fairbanks developed into a firestorm, moving up a ridge at several miles per hour, fire behavior never seen in Alaska before.  Most of these fires were put out by rains in early June (thank god—June is usually dry), and I traveled to the site of the firestorm a couple days after the rain, to photograph the damage (maybe I would have preferred to photograph the fire, but I was grateful that it was out…).

Elliot Burn, June 5, 2010

Elliot Burn, June 5, 2010

The fire was started by a lightning strike (a natural cause) in an undeveloped area (is it wilderness?), so maybe the fire was natural.  But there was hardly any snow on the ground at the end of winter this year, and spring came early (evidence of global climate change?), so maybe the fire wasn’t so natural.  And instead of drilling in the wilderness of ANWR, we’ve drilled deep in the gulf…  And I drove 200 miles just to make some photographs, releasing about 250 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air, but this fire just released millions of tons…