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1. Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project

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In November, First Book and its partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute presented the Citizen Power Project; a challenge to educators nationwide to identify, plan, and implement a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community.

Fifteen projects received grants to help turn big plans into big impact.

The projects represent a wide range of civic engagement – from teaching empathy and healthy habits to supporting student voices and helping the environment.

So far, the civic impact of these projects has been phenomenal.

In Framingham, Massachusetts, middle school English teacher Lori DiGisi knows her students don’t always feel empowered. “They feel like the adults rule everything and that they don’t really have choices,” she explains. “The issue I’m trying to solve is for a diverse group of students to believe that they can make a difference in their community.”

Using the First Book Marketplace, Lori and her class chose to read books about young people who did something to change the world — books with diverse characters that each student could identify with. Through stories, Lori’s students have begun to understand that they too can make a difference.

From here, Lori plans to narrow the focus onto the issue of improving working conditions. Students will interview custodians, secretaries, and cafeteria workers in their school to understand what their working conditions are like and ask the all-important question: what can we, as middle schoolers, do to make your working conditions better?

claudine-quote_editMeanwhile in Malvern, Arkansas, middle school English teacher Claudine James has used the Citizen Power Project to improve upon an already successful program. In 2011, Claudine visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and wanted to bring that experience back to her students.

That year her class studied the Holocaust and put together their own Holocaust Museum in their school and opened it to the public.

The reaction to the museum was something Claudine never expected.

“It was very well received by the community and in fact, we had an opening day reception on a Sunday afternoon and there was no room to even stand.”

Claudine has organized project-based learning initiatives like this every year since. The Malvern community has embraced them, and even come to expect them.

This year, powered by the  Citizen Power Project, Claudine and her class are planning an exhibit called, ‘Writers from Around the World’. They are reading books by authors from all over the globe. Her goal is to promote tolerance and understanding among her students and for them to promote those ideas to the community.

“When my students are presented with problems that other people from other cultures have to overcome, they see the world in a new light,” explains Claudine, “then they go home and spread the word.”

safier-global-warming

Artwork by one student in Racheal’s class depicting the negative impacts of climate change.

In Newark, New Jersey, kindergarten teacher Racheal Safier has her young students thinking globally. “We wanted to figure out what climate change is,” she explains, “they took a really big interest in how global warming affects animals.”

Racheal has been amazed by her student’s enthusiasm for this topic and the project, but she knows where it comes from. “Books have been the launching point for so many of the ideas generated in my classroom.”

Now that ideas are being launched, Racheal wants to show her class the next step: what actions do we take?

And they have many planned. There will be brochures distributed to parents, a table at the school’s social justice fair, maybe a video, and even letters to the President.

“I want it to be their project — and some of the things they come up with, I am really blown away.”

These three projects are just a snapshot of all the important work educators are doing around the country for the Citizen Power Project. Lori, Claudine, and Racheal are shining examples of the impact that educators can have on their students and their communities.

For educators to create change though students they need access to educational resources. First Book is proud to help provide that access for the Citizen Power Project.

When these 15 projects are completed in early 2017 be sure to check the First Book blog to see videos and pictures, and read more impact stories of impact from across the United States.

 

If you’re an educator serving kids in need, please visit the First Book Marketplace to register and browse our collection of educational resources. Click here to learn more about the Citizen Power Project.

The post Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. Why is the world changing so fast?

Over the past 30 years, I have worked on many reference books, and so am no stranger to recording change. However, the pace of change seems to have become more frantic in the second decade of this century. Why might this be? One reason, of course, is that, with 24-hour news and the internet, information is transmitted at great speed. Nearly every country has online news sites which give an indication of the issues of political importance.

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3. Blue planet blues

The Earth we live on was formed from a cloud of dust and ice, heated by a massive ball of compressed hydrogen that was the early Sun. Somewhere along the four billion year journey to where we are today, our planet acquired life, and some of that became us. Our modern brains ask how it all came together and progressed, and what shaped the pathways it followed.

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4. Moth Collective’s ‘Forest 500’ Animates The Reality of Rainforest Destruction

Can a sweet but smart cartoon help stop the 500 companies, investors, and governments deforesting the Earth to crisis?

The post Moth Collective’s ‘Forest 500’ Animates The Reality of Rainforest Destruction appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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5. Climate change – a very difficult, very simple idea

Planet Earth doesn’t have ‘a temperature’, one figure that says it all. There are oceans, landmasses, ice, the atmosphere, day and night, and seasons. Also, the temperature of Earth never gets to equilibrium: just as it’s starting to warm up on the sunny-side, the sun gets ‘turned off’; and just as it’s starting to cool down on the night-side, the sun gets ‘turned on’.

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6. Cars – are they a species?

The Edwardian seer and futurologist, H. G. Wells, wondered whether aircrafts would ever be used commercially. He did the calculations and found that, yes, an airplane could be built and, yes, it would fly, but he proclaimed this would never be commercial.

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7. Chicano plots for your blockbuster

by Rudy Ch. Garcia
If you've got writer's block about your next novel, short story or lit piece to win that Pulitzer, read on.


On long-distance calls with my mom this year, one of her regular reports was about how the trees in her yard were dying in the Texas drought. No matter how much she watered, she still lost about half of them on her quarter-acre property on the outskirts of San Antonio, even her hardy mesquites. She, and her trees, are just another example of collateral damage from global warming. Mom's in her 80s and I'm in my 60s, so neither one of us will suffer long from this. However, a child of six will likely have a long thirsty future, maybe one with not very many trees.


Six-year-olds, Chicano and otherwise, dying trees, drought, an arid American Southwest (and northern Mexico), global warming--what's any of this got to do with a lit blog? Nothing more than the Occupy movement, Greenpeace and election politics have to do with latino lit. If we don't see connections to us, then we will make none.


This July's 60mph dust storms in the Phoenix area seem a reincarnation of the 50s Dust Bowl's immense storms, called "Black Blizzards" and "Black Rollers." Those eventually affected one hundred million acres, centered in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, and adjacent parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas.


Millions of acres of farmland became useless, and forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes. Many "Okies" families moved to California where economic conditions were little better than what they'd left. They affected author John Steinbeck enough to write about in The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, [wherein many of these "Hispanics" were portrayed as lazy shiftless drunks]. Those droughts began in the Southwestern United States, New Mexico and Texas during 1950 and '51; the drought spread through the Central Plains, Midwest and certain Rocky Mountain States, particularly between 1953 and 1957, and into Nebraska. Texas experienced the most severe drought in recorded history. 244 of Texas’ 254 counties were declared federal disaster areas.


Before I share the background of hard data that might kick-start or revive your lit career, here're some themes that sound like science fiction but could eventually qualify as nonfiction:


1. Epic war story: Drought-stricken Mexican peasants move across the border in the tens of thousands to avoid starvation, and successfully overcome thousands of troops stationed along the border. The forced-migration results in genocidal slaughter, but also overcrowding in homes far from the border. Oh, wait--that's already nonfiction.

2. Neohistorical fiction: An Irish-American-Chicano descendant of Billy the Kid finds safe harbor in those overcrowded homes because of his love for a mexicana and his Spanish poetry lamenting the loss of the few verdant patches in Aztlán. He's on the run from Homeland Security who used a security wand on him at the Denver airport, a violation he returned by taking out several with h

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8. Review: Rip Tide by Kat Falls

Ty's ocean escapades continue in this riveting sequel to Dark Life. Click here to read my full review.

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9. Will climate change cause earthquakes?

Could we be leaving our children not only a far hotter world, but a more geologically unstable one too?

In Waking the Giant, Bill McGuire argues that now that human activities are driving climate change as rapidly as anything seen in post-glacial times, the sleeping giant beneath our feet is stirring once again. The close of the last Ice Age saw not only a huge temperature hike but also the Earth’s crust bouncing and bending in response to the melting of the great ice sheets and the filling of the ocean basins — dramatic geophysical events that triggered earthquakes, spawned tsunamis, and provoked a series of eruptions from the world’s volcanoes.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Bill McGuire is Professor of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at University College London. His books include Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, Surviving Armageddon: Solutions for a Threatened Planet, and Seven Years to Save the Planet.

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10. It’s World Water Day! What are you doing to help?

Is staggering population growth and intensifying effects of climate change driving the oasis-based society of the American Southwest close to the brink of a Dust-Bowl-scale catastrophe?

Today is International World Water Day. Held annually on 22 March, it focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

We sat down with William deBuys, author of A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest, to discuss what lies ahead for Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. This semi-arid land, vulnerable to water shortages, rising temperatures, wildfires, and a host of other environmental challenges, is poised to bear the heaviest consequences of global environmental change in the United States. It is also a window to the world, from the dangers of water shortages in already fragile political regions to hopes in human intelligence and ingenuity.

Click here to view the embedded video.

William deBuys is the author of six books, including A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest; River of Traps: A New Mexico Mountain Life, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction in 1991; Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range; The Walk (an excerpt of which won a Pushcart Prize in 2008), and Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California. An active conservationist, deBuys has helped protect more than 150,000 acres in New Mexico, Arizona, and North Carolina. He lives and writes on a small farm in northern New Mexico.

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11. Carbon dioxide and our oceans

By Jean-Pierre Gattuso and Lina Hansson


The impact of man’s fossil fuel burning and deforestation on Earth’s climate can hardly have escaped anyone’s attention. But there is a second, much less known, consequence of our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A large part of human-caused CO2 is absorbed by the world’s oceans, where it affects ocean chemistry and biology. This process, known as ocean acidification, is also referred to as “the other CO2 problem”.

Natural laboratory at Ischia, gulf of Naples. CO2 bubbles rise from the sea floor leading to low-pH zones where the impacts of ocean acidification can be investigated. Photo courtesy of Jason Hall-Spencer (University of Plymouth).

The oceans as a sink of CO2

The oceans, covering 70% of Earth’s surface, provide a number of services to human society such as oxygen production (50% of the oxygen available in the atmosphere is produced by the oceans), source of food, income and recreation, and play a major role in the regulation of Earth’s climate. In fact, one fourth of human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are absorbed by the oceans, translating into 24 million tons of this greenhouse gas taken up by the oceans each day. Around one third of our emissions are absorbed by the terrestrial vegetation while roughly 45% remain in the atmosphere, where their accumulation leads to climate change. It is not hard to imagine the consequences if the oceans were too lose their ability to take up part of the anthropogenic CO2 released. But what is the result of adding increasing amounts of CO2 to the ocean? A perturbation of the very chemistry of seawater — a phenomenon known as ocean acidification.

Carbon dioxide — an acid gas

The dissolution of CO2 in the ocean provokes an increase in hydrogen ions (H+), measured on the pH scale, and thus in its acidity. However, it is important to keep in mind that the oceans will never become acidic (their pH will never decrease beyond 7). The term “ocean acidification” reflects the fact that seawater pH is decreasing, and thus its acidity is increasing. The average pH of global surface waters is currently 8.1, which is 0.1 unit lower than at the onset of the industrial revolution 250 years ago. Such a small change might seem negligible, but the pH scale is logarithmic, much as the Richter scale used to measure the magnitude of earthquakes. The logarithmic nature of the scale makes this 0.1 unit change equivalent to a 30% increase in acidity. If the current CO2 emissions continue unabated, the acidity will have increased by 150% by 2100.

Impacts on marine organisms and ecosystems

The oceans are home to a myriad of species and are one of the largest sources of biodiversity on Earth. Although the research on ocean acidification is still in its infancy, results now begin to reveal a more complete, and complex, picture of the potential impacts on the marine flora and fauna. One of the most likely consequences, and the first to be discovered some 15 years ago, is the problem that organisms producing calcified structures might experience in a high-CO2 ocean. As pH drops, sea water contains less carbonate ions, a critical building block for organisms producing shells or skeletons made of calcium carbonate. This might lead to difficulties in calcification (production of these calcium carbonate structures) and perhaps even to dissolution of existing calcareous parts. Laboratory studies have shown decreases in the rate of calcification that could reach 30 to 50% in some marine or

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12. Douglas Christie on contemplative ecology

There is a deep and pervasive hunger for a less fragmented and more integrated way of understanding and inhabiting the world. What must change if we are to live in a sustainable relationship with other organisms? What role do our moral and spiritual values play in responding to the ecological crisis? We sat down with Douglas E. Christie, author of The Blue Sapphire of the Mind, to discuss a contemplative approach to ecological thought and practice that can help restore our sense of the earth as a sacred place.

What is the blue sapphire of the mind?

It is an image used by Evagrius of Pontus, a fourth century Christian monk, to describe the condition of the mind transformed by contemplative practice: it is pure and endless and serene, capable of seeing and experiencing union with everything and everyone.

What is “contemplative ecology” and what does it have to do with this idea?

Contemplative ecology has two distinct but related meanings. First, it refers to a particular way of thinking about and engaging ecological concerns, rooted in a distinctive form of contemplative spiritual practice. Second, it refers to a particular way of thinking about spiritual practice, one that understands the work of transforming awareness as leading toward and including a deepened understanding of the intricate relationships among and between all living beings. The underlying concern is to find new ways of thinking about the meaning and significance of the relationship between ecological concern and contemplative spiritual practice, that can help to ground sustained care for the environment in a deep feeling for the living world.

What possible meaning do you think such a contemplative approach can have in an age of massive and growing environmental degradation?

Contemplative traditions of spiritual practice, including those grounded in monastic forms of living, have long occupied the margins of mainstream society. The work of such communities is often hidden from view. Because of this, their contributions to work of social and political transformation can seem, on the face of it, negligible. But a careful examination of the historical record suggests that such communities have contributed and continue to contribute significantly to the project of cultural, social and even political renewal — primarily through their unwavering commitment to uncovering the deepest sources of our bonds with one another and with the living world. In our own moment of ecological and political crisis, these traditions of contemplative thought and practice can help to awaken in us a new awareness of the deepest sources of our shared concern for the world.

Is this a matter of particular concern to religious communities?

Yes, and no. Certainly, environmental degradation is a concern that religious communities around the world are waking up to in a new way, and this includes the particular contributions of monastic communities. But the distinctively contemplative dimension of this renewal transcends religion (at least in narrow terms) and touches on a wider and more fundamental human concern: to truly know ourselves as part of the rich web of life. Contemplative ecology addresses anyone who wishes to think more deeply and carefully about what it is to be alive and attentive to the natural world, and to respond with care and affection.

Douglas E. Christie is Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University, and the author of The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology and The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism.

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Image credit: Dissolving fractured head. Photo by morkeman, iStockphoto.

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13. The five stages of climate change acceptance

By Andrew T. Guzman


A few days ago, the President of the United States used the State of the Union address to call for action on climate change. The easy way to do so would have been to call on Congress to take action. Had President Obama framed his remarks in this way, he would have given a nod to those concerned about climate change, but nothing would happen because there is virtually no chance of Congressional action. What he actually did, however, was to put some of his own political capital on the line by promising executive action if Congress fails to address the issue. The President, assuming he meant what he said, has apparently accepted the need for a strong policy response to this threat.

Not everybody agrees. There has long been a political debate on the subject of climate change, even though the scientific debate has been settled for years. In recent months, perhaps in response to Hurricane Sandy, the national drought of 2012, and the fact that 2012 was the hottest year in the history of the United States, there seems to have been a shift in the political winds.

Oblique view of Grinnell Glacier taken from the summit of Mount Gould, Glacier National Park in 1938. The glacier has since largely receded. In addition to glacier melt, rising temperatures will lead to unprecedented pressures on our agricultural systems and social infrastructure, writes Andrew T. Guzman. Image by T.J. Hileman, courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives.

In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described the “five stages” of acceptance:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. For many years, climate change discussions seemed to be about getting our politics past the “denial” stage. Over time, however, scientific inquiry made it obvious that climate change is happening and that it is the result of human activity. With more than 97% of climate scientists and every major scientific body of relevance in the United States in agreement that the threat is real, not to mention a similar consensus internationally, it became untenable to simply refuse to accept the reality of climate change.

The next stage was anger. Unable to stand on unvarnished denials, skeptics lashed out, alleging conspiracies and secret plots to propagate the myth of climate change. In 2003, Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma said, “Could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it.” In 2009 we had “climategate.” More than a thousand private emails between climate scientists were stolen and used in an attempt (later debunked) to show a conspiracy to fool the world.

Now, from the right, come signs of a move to bargaining. On 13 February, Senator Marco Rubio reacted to the President’s call for action on climate change, but he did not do so by denying the phenomenon itself or accusing the President of having being duped by a grand hoax.  He stated instead, “The government can’t change the weather. There are other countries that are polluting in the atmosphere much greater than we are at this point. They are not going to stop.” Earlier this month he made even more promising statements: “There has to be a cost-benefit analysis [applied] to every one of these principles.” This is not anger or denial. This is bargaining. As long as others are not doing enough, he suggests, we get to ignore the problem.

It is, apparently, no longer credible for a presidential hopeful like Senator Rubio to deny the very existence of the problem. His response, instead, invites a discussion about what can be done. What if we could get the key players: Europe, China, India, the United States, and Russia to the table and find a way for all of them to lower their emissions? If the voices of restraint are concerned that our efforts will not be fruitful, we can talk about what kinds of actions can improve the climate.

To be fair, Senator Rubio has not totally abandoned denials. While engaging in what I have called “bargaining” above, he also threw in, almost in passing, “I know people said there’s a significant scientific consensus on that issue, but I’ve actually seen reasonable debate on that principle.” In December he declared himself “not qualified” to opine on whether climate change is real. These are denials, but they are issued without any passion; his heart is not in it. They seem more like pro forma statements, perhaps to satisfy those who have not yet made the step from denial and anger to bargaining.

If leaders on the right have reached the bargaining stage, the next stage is depression. What will that look like? One possibility is a full embrace of the science of climate change coupled with a fatalistic refusal to act. “It is too late, the planet is already cooked and nothing we can do will matter.”  When you start hearing these statements from those who oppose action, take heart; we will be close to where we need to get politically. Though it will be tempting to point out that past inaction was caused by the earlier stages of denial, anger, and bargaining, nothing will be gained by such recriminations. The path forward requires continuing to make the case not only for the existence of climate change, but also for strategies to combat it.

The final stage, of course, is acceptance. At that point, the country will be prepared to do something serious about climate change. At that point we can have a serious national (and international) conversation about how to respond. Climate change will affect us all, and we need to get to acceptance as soon as possible. In short, climate change will tear at the very fabric of our society. It will compromise our food production and distribution, our water supply, our transportation systems, our health care systems, and much more. The longer we wait to act, the more difficult it will be to do so.  All of this means that movement away from simple denial to something closer to acceptance is encouraging.  The sooner we get there, the better.

Andrew T. Guzman is Professor of Law and Associate Dean for International and Executive Education at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change and How International Law Works, among others.

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14. Climate change and our evolutionary weaknesses

By Dale Jamieson


In the reality-based community outside of Washington D.C. there is a growing fear and increasing disbelief about the failure to take climate change seriously. Many who once put their faith in science and reason have come to the depressing conclusion that we will only take action if nature slaps us silly; they increasingly see hurricanes and droughts as the only hope.

This helps to explain why two articles published recently in scientific journals garnered such attention. Their message: It may already be too late to save the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The slap is on the way. As glaciologist Richard Alley put it, “we are now committed to global sea level rise equivalent to a permanent Hurricane Sandy storm surge.” This sea level rise of 4-16 feet may be the “new normal,” and on top of that there will still be additional Hurricane Sandy style surges. Daniel Patrick Moynihan anticipated such a sea level rise in a 1969 memo he wrote to President Nixon’s White House Counsel, John Ehrlichman: “Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington…” He might have added, “goodbye Shanghai, London, Mumbai, and Bangkok. Goodbye South Florida and goodbye to the California coast.”

Photo by NASA. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by NASA. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Nature’s slaps have begun and they may soon become punches, but as any parent knows, slaps do not always help. Those who reject decades of climate science will not be swayed by two new scientific papers, while those who care about climate change may come to see their actions as increasingly futile. We need to get out of this cycle of denial and depression and get on a road to recovery.

The first step to take is to recognize that climate change is the most difficult problem that humanity has ever faced. Climate change deniers, greedy corporations, and opportunistic politicians deserve all the blame they get and more, but they are not the only problem. The most difficult challenge in addressing climate change lurks in the background. Evolution did not design us to solve or even recognize this kind of problem. We have a strong bias toward dramatic movements of middle-sized objects that can be visually perceived, and climate change consists of the gradual build up in the atmosphere of an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas. We are built to respond to sudden movements of middle-sized objects in our visual fields, so action would all but be assured if the threats that climate change posed were immediate and proximate. If carbon dioxide was sickly green in color and stank to high heaven, we would have done something about it by now.

Another feature of climate change that makes it difficult for us to respond is that its causes and effects are geographically and temporally unbounded. Earth system scientists study the earth holistically and think on millennial timescales and beyond, but this perspective is foreign to most people. Most of us pay little attention to events that occur beyond national boundaries, unless they are “one-off” disasters. The idea that turning up my thermostat in New York can contribute to affecting people living in Malaysia in a thousand years is virtually beyond comprehension to most of us.

The challenge is obvious once we see the problem in this way. We need to design institutions and policies that can help us to overcome our natural frailties in addressing climate change, and we need to make the threat as immediate and sensible as possible. The presentation and rollout of the US National Climate Assessment was a welcome attempt to do this. The report’s message was that climate change is here to stay and will only get worse. Some cities and states are already starting to take action, and administration officials fanned out across the country to make sure that local opinion leaders understood what climate change means for their communities.

We also need to strengthen and create institutions that provide credible knowledge of such long-term threats. Life in a large-population, high-consumption, high-technology world brings new risks, especially when nature is starting to wake up from the relatively stable period that it has been in for the last 10,000 years. We need the kind of knowledge that will enable us to anticipate and adapt to these unprecedented challenges. This was part of the thinking behind President Lincoln’s establishing the National Academy of Sciences in 1863, and Congress’s creation of the Office of Technology Assessment in 1972 (which was shut down in 1995). The media, educational establishments, and the general public have important roles to play in supporting and creating these institutions. All of us need to become more critical consumers of information. Reports from Washington “think tanks,” for example, are often highly partisan, and yet they are still treated as having the same authority as scientific assessments. What should matter when it comes to information is credibility, not insider influence, and this should be reflected in our airwaves as well as our scientific journals.

Finally, to address climate change we need new political and legal institutions that are specifically designed to restrain our tendency towards short-sighted behavior. There are many proposals and experiments from around the world designed to support us in addressing long-term threats, including various mechanisms for representing future generations in governmental decision-making, creating an atmospheric trust, and reforms in statistical, accounting, and decision-making procedures so that they better reflect the future effects of our present actions.

Climate change is not a single problem. It presents us with a wide range of challenges that will only become more severe as time passes. One of the most important steps to take is realizing how ill-equipped we are to deal with climate change and reforming our institutions and policies accordingly, but we should not lose sight of the need to mitigate the emissions and land-use practices that are bringing it about. No matter what we do, we are in for a rough ride, but by taking simple actions at present and recommitting ourselves for the long haul, we can preserve what we most value about the world that our ancestors have given us, and provide a livable future for our descendants.

Dale Jamieson is the author of Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed — and What It Means for Our Future (Oxford University Press). He teaches Environmental Studies, Philosophy, and Law at New York University, and was formerly affiliated with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

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15. Our climate-change numbers


e.e. cummings answered one question: "The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches." What's unanswered is, whether those of us who are alive give enough of a damn about being "touched" by Global Warming, which lays down its "touches" in the form of extreme weather.

I inserted no pics today. It's all about numbers and begins with a simple one. 350. The best scientific estimate about preserving a planet livable for our species, and many others. 350 parts of carbon dioxide per 1,000,000 parts of gases in the atmosphere, or p.p.m. More than that is not livable, another way of saying--extinction for homo sapiens. Currently, the number hovers around 400. For maybe the 1sttime in the last 3,000,000 years.

We're not living on borrowed time; that point (350ppm) was passed in the late 1980s. Over 20 years ago. I checked today's numbers; they are at 397ppm. And will rise this year, next year, every year, the way our species and our country are headed. Unless we change the number, stop it, reverse it, permanently.

The climate is a tolerant, superior phenomenon that doesn't give a soft white damn whether it falls on Anglos, blacks, Chicanos, Hispanics, L.A., Denver or Tokyo. Even the 1% have resources to survive only a little longer than the rest of us.

Here are more numbers:
The 21st of September coming up in 8 days. The date of the People's Climate March in New York City.
50 - the number of states that will be represented at the march
http://peoplesclimate.org/march/?r=350
374 - buses and trains listed for travel to NYC for the march.
26 - city blocks the NYPD has reserved for assembling before the march
1100+ - community, labor, environmental justice, faith and progressive groups that endorsed the march [More join every day.]
28 - different religious faiths and denominations that will be represented
20 - the minimum number of marching bands expected
300+ - college campuses where students are mobilizing to go to NYC
1500 - actions planned worldwide that weekend in
130 - countries
40,000 - people at last year's Forward on Climate march in DC, the largest US climate march to date
401 parts per million - the peak concentration of carbon in the atmosphere measured by the world's leading scientists this spring
0 - the amount of progress made if everyone stayed home
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ – the number of us that will take a stand in NY and other cities.

The climate's numbers will continue rising.
More vacations will be ruined from more, severe hurricanes or snowstorms or disrupted airline flights.
More of our lawns will bake brown.
Or more trees die from excessive rainfall.
Or homes float away from flooding.
Or burn from drought and firestorms.

Obviously, all of that is less important than the number of us, our children and grandchildren who will be around to survive climate change catastrophes created by our species. A number that could go to
0.

Before that, head to NYC for the march.
If you can't get there, then to Denver.
Or to one of 2 in the L.A. area. Or find one nearest you.  
Even if you're in another country where snow never falls.
You can also send funds if you're unable to send yourself.

Es todo, hoy, except where the snow doesn't give a soft white….
RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch. Garcia - 1who plans on marching and more

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16. The Last Polar Bear – Perfect Picture Book Friday

This is my last picture book in the series of books I wanted to suggest as part of your Earth Day celebrations next Wednesday. Title: The Last Polar Bear Written by: Jean Craighead George Illustrated by: Wendell Minor Published by: Harper, 2009 Themes/Topics: polar bears, … Continue reading

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17. When politicians talk science

With more candidates entering the 2016 presidential race weekly, how do we decide which one deserves our vote? Is a good sense of humor important? Should she be someone we can imagine drinking beer with? Does he share our position on an issue that trumps all others in our minds? We use myriad criteria to make voting decisions, but one of the most important for me is whether the candidate carefully considers all the evidence bearing on the positions he advocates.

The post When politicians talk science appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Our diet and the environment [infographic]

Our diets are a moral choice. We can decide what we want to eat, though more often than not we give little thought to our diet and instead rather habitually and instinctively eat foods that have been served to us since a young age.

The post Our diet and the environment [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Acme Library - Girls Gone Green


perfect earth day reading for young boys AND girls alike. this awesome book has projects FOR KIDS BY KIDS that help the environment.


to buy this book, see ACME LIBRARY on the right.
(this only works of you are on the acme sharing website)

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20. Acme Holiday - Earth Day


happy earth day! enjoy this precious video from our friends at tiny revolutionary.

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21. As Earth Day Returns

Once again it is April 22―the official Earth Day―and once again I find myself trying to write an informative blog about this day on which we honor our lovely home planet.

I previously wrote posts for Earth Day in 2008 and 2009. Each blog described the many celebrations that take place across the country in honor of this special day. But there is just one event in particular that I want to mention for this Earth Day―the new exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum entitled Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day: The Making of the Modern Environmental Movement (running until June 19, 2010, in Madison). This exhibit is important for two reasons: first, it celebrates the 40th anniversary of Earth Day; and second, it honors the founder of the first Earth Day, in 1970, a senator from Wisconsin (shown here). The exhibit and corresponding Web site (nelsonearthday.net) tell the story of how one man’s idea of using “teach-ins” about environmental issues became a national movement involving millions of people.

I found out some other interesting facts about the history of Earth Day on the Web site of the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Action Fund Center. For example, the first Earth Day was celebrated by some 20 million people; 40 years later, it is thought that one billion people will participate in the many events around the world. In addition, some developments that have been influenced by Earth Day events include the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970; the passage of important environmental laws; the push for recycling programs; and even a United Nations Earth Summit. Not surprisingly, the focus for this year’s Earth Day (according to the NWF) is the issue of climate change. But even some early environmentalists from 1970 now realize that we cannot expect to live a perfect and pure “green” life―all human activities will have some impact on the physical world around us. And the issue of climate change has brought that to the fore: fewer nuclear power plants usually translates into more coal-burning (i.e., carbon-dioxide–emitting) power plants. And carbon dioxide (among other “greenhouse gases”) is blamed by many scientists for the reported increase in average global temperatures.

So, enjoy your E

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22. Acme Library - Kids Make It Better


here is a fun book to do with your kids (or let them do it themselves).


a "write-in, draw-in journal", KIDS MAKE IT BETTER asks its readers questions and gives them the space to fill in answers. questions like,

"how would you get people to stop fighting?"
"what would you do to help animals who have no place to sleep?"
"what would you do to get more people to share?"

it's a great thinking activity that is "others oriented" and perfect for summer; on a plane, in the car or sitting on the grass under a tree.

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23. How much oil is left?

The world’s total annual consumption of crude oil is one cubic mile of oil (CMO). The world’s total annual energy consumption – from all energy sources – is currently 3 CMO. By the middle of this century the world will need between 6 and 9 CMO of energy per year to provide for its citizens.

In their new book, Hewitt Crane, Edwin Kinderman, and Ripudaman Malhotra introduce this brand new measuring unit and show that the use of CMO replaces mind-numbing multipliers (such as billions, trillions, and quadrillions) with an easy-to-understand volumetric unit. It evokes a visceral response and allows experts, policy makers and the general public alike to form a mental picture of the magnitude of the challenge we face.

Here, Ripu Malhotra answers some questions we had about oil, energy, climate change, and more.

Q: What is the goal of your book, A Cubic Mile of Oil?

A: Raising literacy about energy in the general public. Meeting the global demand for energy is going to be a daunting challenge, and the way we choose to do it, namely the energy sources that we choose to employ will have a profound effect on the lives of millions of people. We have tried to provide an unvarnished look at the different energy sources so people can engage in an informed dialog about the choices we make. People have to be involved in making the choice, or the choice will be made for them.

Q: Why introduce a cubic mile of oil as another unit of energy? There are so many units for energy already.

A: True, there are way too many units of energy in use. Furthermore, different sources of energy are often expressed in different sets of units: kilowatt-hours of electricity, barrels of oil, cubic feet of gas, tons of coal, and so on. Each of these units represents a relatively small amount of energy, and in order to express production and consumption at a global or national scale, we have to use mind-numbing multipliers like millions, billions, trillions and quadrillions. To add to the confusion, a billion and a trillion mean different things in different parts of the world. It gets very difficult to keep it straight.

Q: Who coined the term CMO?

A: Hew Crane came up with this term. He was waiting in a gas line in 1973 when he began contemplating how much oil the world was then using annually. He made some guesses of the number cars, and the miles driven by each, etc., and came up with an estimate approaching a trillion gallons. How large a pool would hold that quantity, he next pondered. A few slide rule strokes later realized that the pool would have to a mile long, a mile wide and a mile deep—a cubic mile!

Q: What is your overall message?

A: Currently, the global annual consumption of oil stands at 1 cubic mile. Additionally, the world uses 0.8 CMO of energy from coal, 0.6 from natural gas, roughly 0.2 from each of hydro, nuclear, and wood for a grand total of 3 CMO. Solar, wind, and biofuels barely register on this scale; combined they produced a total of 0.03 CMO i

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24. ¿La Nada?

 



Please do not think that I have been transferred from Amsco’s science department to the foreign language department. Earth science has a number of Spanish terms in its lexicon: El Niño, La Niña, and now La Nada. Yes, I checked with Florencia, Amsco’s Spanish editor, and “nada” does mean “nothing.” The next question is: What does “nothing” have to do with Earth science?


In December 2010, La Niña was in full swing. The image on the left shows cold water (the blue and purple band) flowing across the Pacific Ocean. Under ordinary circumstances, when La Niña begins to fade, El Niño, which brings warm water, takes its place. However, by April 2011, there was no sign of El Niño, as shown in the image on the right. These images were taken by the Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 satellite, NASA JPL.

You may be asking: What has La Nada to do with me? Well, remember all those snow storms and cold weather last January and February? They may have been caused by La Nada. According to NASA climatologist Bill Patzert, “La Niña was strong in December, but back in January it pulled a disappearing act and left us with nothing—La Nada—to constrain the jet stream. Like an unruly teenager, the jet stream took advantage of the newfound freedom—and the results were disastrous.” The jet stream meandered wildly around the United States and the weather pattern became dominated by strong outbreaks of frigid polar air, producing blizzards across the West, Upper Midwest, and Northeast in the United States.

In the spring, there were many strong thunderstorms and tornados. Russell Schneider, Director of the NOAA-NWS Storm Prediction Center, explains: “First, very strong winds out of the south carrying warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico met cold jet stream winds racing in from the west. Stacking these two air masses on top of each other created the degree of instability that fuels intense thunderstorms.”

According to Patzert, “The jet stream—on steroids—acted as an atmospheric mix master, causing tornadoes to explode across Dixie and Tornado Alleys, and even into Massachusetts.”

The next time someone asks you: What’s up with the weather? You can say: “It’s nothing,” and smile sweetly.



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25. A Hidden Silver Lining

Good new too all!  There may be a hidden silver lining to global warming…well, in the Arctic at least.  According to a new study, the persistent change in climate may very well improve the quality of air in the polar region.  This good news is rare seeing as global warming in the Arctic is increasing at a more rapid rate than in other areas of the planet.  Due to warming, air pollutants from industrial regions travel to the Arctic.  In turn, these pollutants only speed up the warming.  It is a vicious cycle! 

 Now, I’m sure you are asking, “Where is the good news?”  Well my friends, global rainfall is also predicted to be a widespread result of global warming.  Lucky for us, rain serves as a natural cleanser.  As said by the scientist leading this recent study, Timothy Garrett, “Precipitation is the atmosphere’s single most efficient way of removing particulate pollution.”  Raindrops take the pollutants with them. Simple as that!  Due to this redeeming natural occurrence, rainfall may already swipe pollution from the air before it even reaches the Arctic.

Read about another vicious cylce in our book, “In Arctic Waters,” by Laura Crawford.  I promise, this cycle is more forgiving and much more exciting!  Through this wonderfully illustrated book,  join in the rhythmic, building fun of Arctic animals as they play and chase each other around “the ice that floats in the Arctic water.”  What happens to interrupt and spoil their fun?  Go and see for yourself!

 

For even more fun with reading, dive into another one of our titles, “The Glaciers are Melting!” by Donna Love.  In this book, Peter Pika is sure the glaciers are melting and is off to talk to the Mountain Monarch about it.  Joined along the way by friends Tammy Ptarmigan, Sally Squirrel, Mandy Marmot, and Harry Hare, they all wonder what will happen to them if the glaciers melt.  Where will they live, how will they survive?  When Wiley Wolverine tries to trick them, can the Mountain Monarch save them?  More importantly, can the Mountain Monarch stop the glaceirs from melting?


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