Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes and
What I Learned About Global Warming

On Friday, I attended a continuing legal education course at UW. The title was "Climate Change Conference: Law, Economics, and Impacts." The place was the new law school which is called William H. Gates Hall. You see, Bill Gates' dad who is still very much alive, attended the UW and he went to law school there as well. He continues to be hugely involved with the University as an alum and contributor so naming the new law school after him was a no-brainer. Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the seminar:

1. Jay Inslee, who is my personal U.S. Congressman because he represents Mukilteo and Edmonds area, was the key note speaker. He was amazing. He sees global warming as an opportunity for American ingenuity which he calls a "clean energy revolution." After describing the devastating effects of global warming on our world, he then listed several solutions and companies working on answers. Naturally, I was mesmerized by everything he said because I have had a crush on him after meeting him in person a couple of years ago. He is handsome and brilliant and don't worry---my husband knows all about it. The Seattle Times agreed with me.

High-powered panelists and a full house in William G. Gates Hall are in the first wave over the ramparts of old thinking and conventional wisdom about energy generation and carbon expenditures and their impact on the world around us. The velocity at which this public discourse has picked up speed from a dead start is extraordinary. Rep. Jay Inslee, D- Bainbridge Island, noted that Congress held its first hearing on what to do about global warming only last week. The ice is melting in the Arctic, Inslee noted, but it's also melting in Washington, D.C.

2. By the way, and I mean this to be a sidenote, there is no question, no issue, no debate, no controversy nada nada nada that global warming is real and caused by an excess of CO2 emissions due to humankind's over use of energy. Al Gore was mentioned only once during the entire day. Scientists have known about this for 20 years. The only thing that is shocking is the speed with which it is happening. It is sad and immoral that it has been tagged a partisan issue and poo-pooed by FOX news. Folks, it is here; it is happening and we did it!

3. Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" is actually a first grade lesson compared to what was presented on Friday. The conference was the powerful sequel.

4. The powers that are trying to maintain global warming as a controversy are the oil companies and automobile manufacturers who believe the truth of it in their back rooms, but are doing everything they can to delay the inevitable regulations which will happen. It is a matter of profits for them and not truth. It is the exact same pattern the tobacco companies followed to keep the public from the truth of the bad health effects of smoking.

5. The United States, with 3% of the population, is the biggest producer of green house gases in the world. China is catching up to us though we still produce more than China, India and Japan combined. In Seattle and Washington, over half of the CO2 emissions are caused by transportation which includes mostly automobiles. So Americans are in the position of being able to do something about this and are morally required to do so.

6. One little thing that would make a huge reduction in CO2 emissions is requiring automobiles to get better gas mileage. The technology exists. This is not rocket science. But the industry is being held back simply because Americans would then use less oil and gas which means less money for you know who. Is is very simple.

7. Individuals, cities, states and a variety of corporations are way ahead of our federal government which is headed, as we all know, by oil people. Probably the most astounding thing I learned was about a group called "United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP)." Oh sure, this is just a group of old hippies, you might say. Or you might guess this is just a bunch of Earth Firsters or Sierra Club members or a bunch of wild and crazy tree huggers. Or for certain, this group must be just a fringe lefty environmentalist bunch of nuts.

Nope! The partnership includes--get this--Alcoa Aluminum, Caterpillar, Du Pont, General Electric, PG&E among others. This is their joint statement:
a. The scientific consensus on climate change is now clear.
b. Debate cannot substitute for action, and the time to act is now.
c. Mandatory climate change policy will create more economic opportunities than risks for the
U.S. economy.
d. Voluntary compliance with emission standards don't work. Our climate program must be
--get this--mandatory!

8. If this wasn't enough for me to take in, Weyerhaeuser Corporation, our big timber industry, J.R. Simplot, our big agribusiness corporation, and Fireman's Fund Insurance have all signed on to the reality of human-caused global warming and presented to us their programs for reducing CO2 production and responding to the new extreme weather patterns. Yes, we were all in the same room with no debate and total agreement about the direction we need to go. I was stunned.

9. We actually reversed the destruction of the ozone layer and the hole we created because of fluorocarbons is closing. In the same way, prevention of further climate change is possible. We have already done so much damage that ways of adapting were also talked about. I cannot say this loudly enough. We are not in a NATURAL cycle of climate change. Human kind has caused significant and rapid global warming. PERIOD. Al Gore is correct so get over it.

10. A northern Alaskan village---an American town---which has existed for 4000 years has now had to relocate. This is not some futuristic thing; this is happening now in the United States. The ocean is rising and eating the village; the ice floes which they depend upon for hunting are disappearing; and the tundra upon which they are built is melting causing them to sink. The nation of The Marshall Islands will disappear in our lifetime because their high point is only 2 feet above sea level.

Tuvalu, an island near Australia, is now disappearing. The powers that be in Tuvalu have contacted a Seattle attorney who honed his skills against the tobacco and asbestos companies, to represent them in a possible lawsuit against major American polluters. American corporations have caused global warming and global warming is destroying their island. This may very well be the future of litigation.

Hold on to your seats.

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Apolo in last week's snow. He had never seen so much snow in his entire life and he kept sticking his head in it!

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Yesterday, it was 70 degrees and the snow didn't hurt my flowers.

What a difference a day makes.