As Oklahomans begin the recovery from the devastating tornado that ripped through Tornado Alley earlier this week—destroying the town of Moore in the process and killing 24 people at last count—many people are asking if this tornado could be linked to global warming and climate change.
The answer to that question is that there’s a definite possibility of a firm maybe. (Actually, no one weather event can ever be truly linked to climate change; rather, it’s the trends of weather patterns that that can more easily be linked to a warming planet.)
Global warming has very strong science to support that it’s the main culprit in the increase seen in many of the extreme weather phenomena we’ve been experiencing in recent years. Things like major downpours floods and hurricanes can all be linked to our greenhouse gas emissions because they are all phenomena related to more heat and more moisture in the air, two things global warming leads to. (Even droughts and wildfires are related due to the absence of moisture, typically becasue all of the water was dumped earlier in the season. It’s weather whiplash at its finest.)
“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” —Bill Gates
CanChannel is a new Canadian web-based channel on the internet that gives an indication of what the future of television will likely be all about. As their website describes:
CanChannel is a full service web tv channel and we are slowly building up our list of services to our sponsors and advertisers. Along with our ability to match up sponsors needs with creative producers and content, we can also develop eyeball catching video advertisements. These can either be animated or with real life humans!
They’re still relatively early in their journey, but they already have a number of interesting mini-documentaries online that you can look at, usually not much more than two minutes in length. (The short duration is meant to accommodate the short attention span we humans have while surfing the net.)
At this point, you can do Toronto Walkabouts with Frank De Jong, a school teacher who also happens to be a politician and an environmentalist. There are also a number of shows on collectors which are quite interesting. They’re open to ideas from you as well, the viewing public if you’d like to pitch your own concept for a show.
Why do I even bring up CanChannel? Well, one of their shows also happens to be entitled “Climate Change & Canada.” And the host happens to be yours truly. We only have three pilots on the page at the time of this posting, although that will hopefully expand. And if you have any suggestions of either topics we should cover, or ideas about style for these mini-docs, please post a comment and let me know.
CanChannel and wet TV: just another way for us to get the message out there.
“What makes tar sands particularly odious is that the energy you get out in the end, per unit carbon dioxide, is poor. It’s equivalent to burning coal in your automobile.” —James Hansen
If you’ve read my book “Comprehending the Climate Crisis”or follow this blog with any regularity, you’ll appreciate that I’m no fan of developing the tar sands in northern Alberta. Indeed, it was trying to understand why Canada was putting so much into these efforts—putting economy ahead of environment—that was a key factor that led me to explore the issue and ultimately become an advocate for renewable energy.
But I must admit that every time I learn more about the tar sands, I become a little more disgusted with the provincial government of Alberta and the federal government of Canada. If the amount of money invested into their development had instead been put toward developing green renewable sources of energy, imagine how much of a world leader Canada could be in this regard, instead of the embarrassment it currently is on the world stage.
“Oil is the drug, the world is the junkie, and Canada is more than happy to be the dealer.”
A reader recently twigged me onto an excellent website to learn more about the impact the tar sands are having on our country, and the reality of the economic benefits we’re actually enjoying from their development. If you’d like to learn more about it from Oil Sands Reality Check, click on this link to their website.
One of the best aspects of the website is that every comment is supported with links to supporting evidence; simply by clicking on the “Read More” button on the bottom of each fact, you can confirm for yourself the veracity of the various statements.
The video below provides an excellent summary of some of the key points that I think everyone should know before claiming that the devastation to Alberta’s ecosystems are truly worth it.
“The public is fed up with self-indulgent partisanship. If today’s parties cannot cooperate on such a simple, honest approach that would stimulate our economy, provide millions of good jobs, a clean environment, and stable climate, then in 2016 there should be a new party.”
—Dr. James Hansen
Earlier this month, Dr. James Hansen became the 2013 recipient of The Ridenhour Courage Prize for his tireless efforts to try to educate people about global warming and climate change. As the website for the prize announcement indicates:
[Dr. Hansen] was recognized for bravely and urgently telling the truth about climate change, even when the Bush administration tried to silence and penalize him as director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Rather than giving in, or giving up, Dr. Hansen—one of the world’s most tireless and articulate activists—has courageously and continuously led the fight to save the planet ever since.
The prize is named in the memory of Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour, an investigative journalist who who helped bring the horrific events at My Lai—the infamous massacre of the Vietnam War—to the attention of the American public and the world. Ridenhour himself won the George Polk Award for Investigative Journalism in 1987 for his year-long investigation into a New Orleans tax scandal. Sadly, he died suddenly in 1998 at the age of 52.
Dr. Hansen’s message at his acceptance of the award is worth listening to. (The transcript is also available on the website if you scroll to the bottom.) He may not be the most dynamic speaker, but these few minutes are important. Few can underscore the importance of combatting climate change with the level of credentials that Dr. Hansen has.
“The cool things about space is when you put your pants on here, you can put them on two legs at a time.” —Chris Hadfield
Canada has very few astronauts, and I’ve always envied them. Truth be told, I applied for the role during the last wave of applications the Canadian Space Agency held a few years back. I even managed to make it to the second wave of the application process but unfortunately no further. I think it’s because I was too old. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.)
But I’ve had the good fortune to meet a few of our astronauts, and Chris Hadfield is one. Through the good fortune of us sharing a mutual friend, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions, and even shared a dinner once. He is the consummate gentleman, the epitome of what Dale Carnegie was thinking about when he wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I can see why Chris has done so well. He’s represented Canada in outstanding fashion as the last commander of the International Space Station, having just returned to Earth earlier this week after spending 146 days in space.
Seeing Earth from space gives one a unique perspective on our planet and its place in the universe. Even though I’ve never been in space and likely never will, I’ve been enough of a fan of astronomy that my book “Comprehending the Climate Crisis” begins and ends with images taken from space. I can only imagine how an astronaut would feel seeing Earth in all her majesty, but for myself I expect it would only solidify how I feel about the importance of tackling problems our planet is facing, particularly climate change.