California is burning. The news coverage has been amazing, from the up-close of a reporter filming his own house burning down to the wide angle of satelite photos showing fires and smoke covering areas larger than some smaller states in the union. Fortunately, there have been very few deaths, and the state has done a good job of managing the evacuation of nearly a million people, but the costs will be horrendous. Could it have been prevented? Is this a harbinger of things to come?
It's been speculated that a warmer planet and changing climate patterns have already begun and may be partly at fault here, although the Santa Anna winds and smaller fires are the norm. But then - so are other climate cycles that seem to be getting worse every year.
From this article
describing the melting of polar ice:
(The video at the link is like a punch in the gut)
The relentless grip of the Arctic Ocean that defied man for centuries is melting away. The sea ice reaches only half as far as it did 50 years ago. In the summer of 2006, it shrank to a record low; this summer the ice pulled back even more, by an area nearly the size of Alaska. Where explorer Robert Peary just 102 years ago saw "a great white disk stretching away apparently infinitely" from Ellesmere Island, there is often nothing now but open water. Glaciers race into the sea from the island of Greenland, beginning an inevitable rise in the oceans.
Chili too has seen the effects. In this article
, the melting ice and lack of snow is causing serious problems already:
SAN JOSE DE MAIPO, Chile — With a population of 16 million people, Chile doesn't produce much of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. But it's paying the price.
Giant glaciers are disappearing. Mudslides are becoming more common. Snow no longer falls in the spring, replaced instead by tepid rains.
Last May, an entire lake in southern Chile disappeared practically overnight after the Tempano Glacier, which had acted as a dam, melted and destabilized.
So what can the United States do? Bush has already shown he doesn't plan on doing anything, having removed us from the Kyoto accord. He won't even require stricter fuel economy standards
The Bush administration bucked up the U.S. auto industry today in the fight over tougher fuel economy standards, telling Congress the president likely would veto an energy bill if it contains the Senate’s fuel economy provisions
The move creates another hurdle for backers of the Senate’s plan to set a standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for news cars and trucks, who were unable to force a vote on the proposal in the House after intense lobbying by Detroit automakers and Toyota Motor Co.
California is not taking this sitting down. They are suing the Federal Government over it
SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Jerry Brown says California has waited long enough for the federal government to take action on global warming.
Brown said Monday that he will sue the Environmental Protection Agency for stalling on a decision about whether to let California and 11 other states force automakers to produce cleaner cars.
The lawsuit, to be filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, comes 22 months after California first asked the EPA to let California impose tougher regulations on emissions of greenhouse gases from cars, pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles.
Other states are picking up the slack as well. Activists in Montana are fighting a coal-burning power plant
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Richard D. Liebert turned his back against a hard wind the other day, adjusted his black cap and gazed across golden fields of hay. Explaining why he is against construction of a big coal-burning power plant east of town, Mr. Liebert sounded like one more voice from the green movement.
“The more I learn about global warming and watch the drought affect ranchers and farmers, I see that it’s wind energy, not coal plants, that can help with rural economic development. Besides, do we want to roll the dice with the one planet we’ve got?”
But Mr. Liebert, despite his sentiments, fits nobody’s stereotype of an environmentalist. He is a Republican, a cattle rancher and a retired Army lieutenant colonel who travels to South Korea to train soldiers to fight in Iraq.
He is also an example of a rising phenomenon in the West. An increasingly vocal, potent and widespread anti-coal movement is developing here. Environmental groups that have long opposed new power plants are being joined by ranchers, farmers, retired homeowners, ski resort operators and even religious groups.
Some areas go even further, embracing new ideas on the way to renewable energy
The state sees an energy alternative in chicken manure.
A $410,250 state grant will help Energy Works North America LLC convert chicken manure to electricity on an Adams County poultry farm.
Michael J. McCaskey, who heads business development for the company, said the plant, when finished a year from now, will generate 3.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.
That's enough to power 2,000 homes for a year.
The plant will be at the Hillandale-Gettysburg LLC poultry farm in Tyrone Twp. near Gettysburg. McCaskey said the plant will use gasification to convert manure from 3.5 million chickens on the farm.
Most of the manure now goes into the soil, where it could pollute waterways. The plant will get rid of 85 percent of the manure on the farm, he said.
This seems like one of the best approaches yet - using waste products to create energy. It may not meet all of our needs, but - pardon the pun - it's best we don't put all our chickens in one basket anyway. We need energy, but more importantly - we need a planet that will support human life. It's the eleventh hour; we have no more time to waste. It's time for creativity, committment and common sense.