Sunday, March 30, 2008

Snow, and Cooling Public Budgets

I started this blog partly to record my observations and thoughts about climate change. There are other places better at the science.

Today,climate change seems a lot more accurate than global warming, but that's because my first spring daffodils had their pale and tender heads glued to the sidewalk with last night's very late spring snowfall. I can remember quite a few winters in Washington with no snow; this year we've had a lot.

I spent Friday and Saturday at a City Council Retreat, and the Council did suggest the city include sustainability as an overall goal in addition to the many smaller ways it's already in our goal set - like green building programs. But we're having a tough budget year, and its going to be hard to keep all of our green initiatives going. Well-conceived sustainability programs almost all have an eventual payoff, especially when you consider the public triple bottom line (environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic progress). But a lot of them are in that tender start up time when any new venture needs continued funding, and in a downturn, many cities get hurt. I'm hopeful that through these tough budget times, elected officials around the country will be able to make the tough, sustainable, long-term decisions.

Voters are going to have to help them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life....

I was at a science fiction convention this weekend, and at one point there was a discussion between me and someone else about science fiction plots, and the other person mused that we would see more global warming plots in sf books. We have seen some - Kim Stanley Robinson has a great trilogy out on the topic, and I have it as background in two as-yet-unpublished novels, for example.

Anyway, I just picked up James Patterson's fourth Maximum Ride book for my bus reading pleasure, and he's addressing it there. So two days after that discussion, that what I'm reading, entirely on accident.

And then today, there is more Antarctic ice breaking free. And some of the setting in the Patterson Book is Antarctica.

We science fiction writers like to be prescient and preen a bit when we think of examples like cell phone which are a lot like Star Trek communicators. But I for one don't want to be prescient on global warming.

I suspect I will be.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is it just me, or is it getting worse out there?

This week's news stories highlight that the real data is worse than we thought. China's greenhouse gas emissions grew faster than projected. This means the IPCC report was based on data that looked better than the real data. This morning, the story is about glaciers melting faster than expected, which may destabilize India, where the rivers are largely melt water.
I can't remember a major global warming story that showed data which was better than expected. My fear this morning is that if we get far enough behind the global warming curve (if we aren't already - except to quote a popular politician, hope is a good thing), poverty and economic damage will make it worse - the desperate don't care about being green. That's a Maslow's hierarchy thing. I can recycle and buy green products and slowly change my lifestyle (today's puzzle is what to do with end of life battery backup for the desktop computer), but the hungry and sick will have more imperative worries.
The household eleven year old came home and got us all playing a subsistence farming game last week. My game family all slowly died, except the ones I sent away who might have gotten menial jobs, or might have gotten sold into slavery.
Much of the world is waking up to the danger, but there are clear signs of boredom here in America. Climate change should be a top issue in this election, but instead our economy is the top issue. It's not even the war. It's gas being almost half the price of gas in Europe. Which underscores my point above about poverty and economic damage.
Maybe if the data keeps getting worse, climate change will rise to the top after the election.