Loading the dice on climate change

irenephil-blackwood--guest-columAs I sit here writing this, cleanup crews are winding their way through my neighborhood picking up the broken branches left by Hurricane Irene.

Just this year, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world have directly experienced intense storms or intense drought. Anybody in Vermont or Texas, anybody along the Mississippi, anybody in Australia, Thailand, or Columbia, and anybody who was along the path of a tornado knows this.

But many people do not know, or do not want to believe, that we are “loading the dice” and making extreme weather more frequent. I suppose some people think this is a far-off problem that we can worry about later.

A vast geophysical experiment
Unfortunately, it already is “later.” In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson’s science advisors issued a warning about how burning fossil fuels might affect the climate: “Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment.”

Barack Obama was three years old at the time. And now almost 50 years later, we know the results of this experiment. Key indicators of our climate are moving in the wrong direction:

By taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the air, we are causing the planet to heat up and disrupt major weather patterns. We run the risk of passing a tipping point that cannot be reversed.

A fierce urgency
The “fierce urgency of now” is here and it is now.

What do we need to do?  First, support the new clean energy economy. By jump-starting solar, wind, electric cars, and critical research, President Obama has helped plant the seeds of a new clean energy economy. Help them grow! 

“Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.”
— Barack Obama in 2007

I know we can run our economy on clean energy. That’s why I put up solar panels, and that’s why I was excited to participate in a two-year trial of electric cars. Joe Biden is right – it would be a monumental error not to migrate to clean energy.

And second, we need to start shutting down the use of the old, dirty sources of energy. It won’t be easy but it is absolutely necessary.

blackwood-mini-e-w-solarKeystone XL pipeline
For example, the TransCanada Corporation is asking the U.S. for permission to build a pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico so their oil can be sold on the world markets. The pipeline, called the Keystone XL, would carry highly corrosive and dirty oil, and building it would move us in exactly the wrong direction.

We need to migrate off of dirty energy and on to clean energy.  That’s why I went to the White House on August 26 and sat out front, risking arrest to make a personal statement opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. More than 1,000 other people did the same thing.

We need to stop using dirty energy. That’s why I’d like you to join me in asking President Obama to deny the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Not in our national interest
It is not in our national interest to continue the fossil fuel climate experiment, and it is not in our national interest to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built right through the center of our country.

Ask President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline because it is not in our national interest. Congress does not get a vote on this one; President Obama gets to make the decision.

Here are links to different web pages where you can make your voice heard:

Earth sending us a message
The cleanup crew is still making its rounds through my neighborhood, picking up branches. We can’t predict when the next disaster will happen, but we can be sure the climate will continue to throw us more surprises and misery until we get the message.

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One way to do this is to ask President Obama to hold true to ideals he voiced a few years ago. For instance, Obama made the following call in 2007:  “Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.”

Please let the President know we support this vision and are determined to make it a reality.

[Phil Blackwood lives in New Jersey where he’s using a 9.4 kW rooftop solar system to produce electricity for his family’s home — and to power an electric car.]

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