BRADLEY J. DIBBLE received his medical degree in 1990, followed by specialty training in cardiology. He practices in Barrie, Ontario. In 2009, he was appointed by the federal minister of the environment to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Dr. Dibble lives in Midhurst, Ontario, with his wife, Katherine, and two sons.
“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.
“Prompt and stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally would reduce these biodiversity losses by 60 per cent if global emissions peak in 2016, or by 40 per cent if emissions peak in 2030, showing that early action is very beneficial. This will both reduce the amount of climate change and also slow climate change down, making it easier for species and humans to adapt.” —Dr. Rachel Warren
There are myriad consequences of climate change, most of which I’ve written about either in my book Comprehending the Climate Crisis or on this blog. Most people are becoming more familiar with many of them because they’re already upon us, such as extreme weather phenomena like floods, droughts, and hurricanes. Others are also fairly well known even though their real devastation won’t be for years to come: sea level rise and expansion of disease vectors like those which cause malaria are prime examples.
But one that gets less attention although is no less significant is the extinction of species. New research just published in Nature Climate Changelooked at 50,000 common species of plants and animals worldwide and what climate change might do to them. Their findings are rather alarming: about half of the plant species and a third of the animal species will lose half of their geographic ranges of survival by 2080 if we continue with business as usual. This means that biodiversity everywhere will be affected. Continue reading →
“The 400 is a reminder that our emissions are not only continuing, but they’re accelerating; that’s a scary thing. We’re stuck. We’re going to keep going up.” —James Butler, director of global monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth Science Research Lab in Boulder, Colorado
We knew it was coming. But only two days after I posted that it was expected we’d cross the threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm) for carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, that threshold happened. Last year, 400 ppm was recorded at a few remote stations in some northern countries, but this was the first time that Mauna Loa’s station in Hawaii recorded such a level since Roger Revelle and Charles David Keeling began taking measurements in back in 1958. This has been confirmed by two independent bodies: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the Scripps Institute.
And just so the significance isn’t lost, allow me to spell it out bluntly: this is the first time in all of human history that our atmosphere has had carbon dioxide levels of 400 ppm. Continue reading →
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
Today’s science fiction is typically tomorrow’s reality. Jules Verne wrote stories about travelling to the moon by rocket, nuclear-powered submarines, television newscasts and even Tasers. Captain Kirk’s Enterprise had communicators and bio-beds eerily similar to standard technologies like cell phones and bedside monitoring equipment in hospitals we use today.
So as we hear about new science applications that provide green energy but aren’t yet ready for prime time, don’t be so quick to dismiss them. After all, it may be mere decades before these sorts of things will be standard in every home. Here are two things you may not have heard of, but in time I bet you will: