Standing Up for the Planet and the Future: Time to Stop Using Fossil Fuels

Coal power plant – Alberta

+15,000 temperature records already broken in the US this year 

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 4, 2012 (IPS)

What are you doing on Saturday? Peter Nix, a retiree, will be standing on a railway track on Canada’s west coast blocking a coal train destined to ship U.S. and Canadian coal to Asia.

Nix will be joined by dozens of people near White Rock, British Columbia on May 5. They will be in good company as tens of thousands of people around the world participate in global day of action to “connect the dots” between climate change and extreme weather.

“There will be at least 1,200 actions in more than 100 countries,” says Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org, a U.S.-based environmental group.

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There’s been a general perception that climate change is a future problem but with all the extreme weather disasters and weather records the public is being to realise that climate change is here, says Henn.

“Recent opinion surveys show the more than 60 percent of the U.S. public are connecting extreme weather to climate change,” Henn told IPS.

The U.S. public is not wrong, say scientists. 

“All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be,” Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, told IPS previously.  Continue reading

Fossil Fuel Lobby Following the Playbook of Big Tobacco Confusing the Public on Dangers of Climate Disruption

Fossil Energy Interests Sowing Confusion and Buying Legislative Delay on America’s Biggest Threat: Climate Change says Environmental Economist

Robert Repetto

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 2, 2011 (IPS)

Powerful fossil energy interests are preventing the United States from making the necessary transition to 21st century energy sources, one of the country’s leading environmental economists documents in a just-published book.

Fossil energy interests are spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” lobbying U.S. politicians in Congress and funding groups to confuse the public about the serious risks climate change poses, says Robert Repetto, author of “America’s Climate Problem: The Way Forward” published by Earthscan.

IPS climate and environment correspondent Stephen Leahy spoke with Repetto about his new book.

Q: Why did you write this book?

A: We’re running out of time. The latest science shows that climate change is coming faster and posing greater risks than previously thought. We are at risk of triggering positive feedbacks that will lead to uncontrollable climate change.

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Meanwhile, America is locked in a climate-policy stalemate, with very few in the public comprehending the real risks climate change poses. Most don’t understand that climate change is happening now. They don’t link extreme weather events we’ve been experiencing with climate change. As a result they are not demanding that politicians take action.

Q: Why don’t most Americans understand the fact that climate change is already underway and poses serious risks?

A: Fossil (oil, coal, natural gas) energy interests are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into sowing doubt and uncertainty to blunt public concern and to provide political cover to those politicians they are funding. In America, there is a very concerted effort by fossil energy interests that bankroll right-wing and libertarian “think tanks” like the Competitive Enterprise Institute to create an atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty, just like the tobacco companies did regarding the health effects of smoking. Continue reading

“Climate change pits the rich and powerful against the young and unborn” – NASA Scientist James Hansen

One the world’s most acclaimed climate scientists, NASA’s James Hansen was handcuffed and arrested in front of the White House yesterday.

Hansen and hundreds more were urging the US government to end the coal industry practice of blowing off the tops of mountains to mine coal. Such practices are extremely damaging to the environment and local communities he says. Moreover to prevent catastrophic climate change coal must stay in the ground Hansen said.

Excerpts of Hansen’s speech in front of the White House:

“… government is failing to protect the future of young people, knowingly allowing and even subsidizing actions that benefit the few at the expense of the public and at the expense of all life sharing this Earth. Continue reading