Politics and Climate Change Info

My views on our environment, sustainability and the politics of it all

350 Turnout October 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bowet000 @ 11:49 am
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P-091024-89087-006.jpegSo last Saturday, I went to the 350.org rally and there was a really good turnout.  About 200 people were there as  well as a bunch of news crews.  I am in the bottom right of the 5, wearing a green hoodie.

350.org put together a short video of all the people worldwide who participated in this event and our group was at 0.34 seconds in the video.  It wasn’t me, but those were the people I was with.

 

 

As it turned out, strangely enough, my next door neighbour is one of the leading organizers of 350.org in Taipei.  I always say good morning to him, but have never really talked.  Guess the next time I see him, I will have something to say.

 

350 MongoliaI have to admit that seeing all the photos worldwide and seeing the turnout in Taipei has almost made me cry a number of times.  It’s so amazing and wonderful to me that people in the middle of nowhere in Mongolia (the picture on the left) know what is going on and CARE!!!

 

350.org had over 20,000 photos contributed to their website, but check out their 3min video to see the vast variety of people who showed up to show that they are willing to change to protect our environment and want their governments to make plans to enforce it for everyone.

 

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350.org October 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bowet000 @ 6:32 am
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Today is the International Day of Climate Action and it makes me smile that 350.org ‘s website is so overwhelmed with traffic that their servers are failing. I know I will be participating in this event here in Taipei and it may be small, but I hope many others will also participate in their respective cities.  There are more than 5000 events planned in over 180 countries!

One friend mentioned she would do it if she were in Taipei, but in Chicago alone (where she lives) there are 10 events.  I hope Carla attends something in her hometown.

350 is piggy-backing on the movie “Age of Stupid” that aired last month, to generate support for binding climate change government policies at the coming Copenhagen Summit in Dec.

I hope the millions of people that take action today will really show governments that people are ready for their governments to step up and take responsibility for protecting the land we live on.  If not, our biggest concerns in the future will not be the “state of the economy”!

 

Organic Produce October 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bowet000 @ 1:56 am
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I know I’ve heard people recently talking of buying organic produce and buying locally but I never realized how much it can make a difference, and further, how not-that-expensive it could really be.  I remember back at university thinking that buying organic local veggies was ridiculously overpriced, and perhaps it was, or I was just poor, so it seemed very expensive.  But recently I have been looking online at locally delivered organic produce and it only runs in the $20-40 a week range.  That certainly doesn’t seem overpriced to me.

A number of companies now offer a “box” option of organic, local veggies.  They send you boxes of veggies and fruits that are in season and available in that week, which allows farmers to harvest the vegetables that are ready and have a market for them.  This supports organic farmers and provides a local market for their produce.  I know some people think “well what if I want arugula and they don’t offer it that week” but to me, I love the idea of them sending me a wide assortment of random veggies that I might never choose for myself. It broadens my veggie consumption and provides me with the excuse to find new recipes, be surprised and try new things.

Buying locally helps the environment because it minimizes the fuel costs associated with transporting foodstuffs around the world on ships and airplanes.  Buying organic helps because it preserves soil in any areas where it is used, allowing continued use of the soil to grow more food.  This is in contrast to farming that occurs in areas such as deforested rainforest, where the soil is not conducive to growing crops and farming sugarcane there only is effective for 3-5 years before the soil erodes or loses all its nutrient value, or both.  Organic growing also maintains healthy ecosystems around the areas that are being farmed, because pesticides and herbicides are not leaking into the water supply and being consumed by humans and the surrounding animals.  Although there are these reasons and many others, it seems to me that for a few dollars more, wouldn’t you want to support farmers who are trying to make a difference to the planet we live on, have non-carcinogenic food items, and preserve the soil, water, and your own surrounding environment?  Everyone always complains that bad things are happening in “their” neighborhoods.  Buying organic local food items is your chance to help change things directly in “your” neighborhood!

Check out these cool websites (I was incredibly surprised how many companies are out there at the click of a google search engine):

England:

http://www.farmaround.co.uk/

http://www.riverford.co.uk/

http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/

Victoria, Canada

http://www.shareorganics.bc.ca/

http://www.localfooddirectory.ca/foodshed/geobrowser/ (takes a lot on your brower but good site for finding local food)

Vancouver, Canada

www.spud.ca

 

Activism in Taiwan October 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bowet000 @ 2:26 am
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350ppm of CO2 is whats considered safe. We are at 390ppm currently and rising fast.

350ppm of CO2 is what's considered "safe". We are at 390ppm currently and rising fast.

I have been thinking a lot how I can help in Taiwan make any difference with regards to the environment.  I sent my letters to the mayor, and I have stopped using our dryer.  But, because I don’t speak or read Chinese, I have been wondering recently if there are any NGO groups that organize activities to promote awareness or have rallies.

As it turns out, the answer to this questions is YES.

There is a non-profit group called 350 that is having a rally on Oct 24, 2009 at 4pm to promt the government into curbing carbon emissions, and to send to Copenhagen for the coming climate change summit.

The significance of the name 350 is that this is the amount of CO2 that can be in our atmosphere that is considered by scientists to be “safe”, where warming and the climate are not in crisis.  Currently we are at 390ppm and it’s rising quickly.   Please join me on Oct 24, perhaps for those of you coming to Bishop’s birthday we can do this beforehand, to march from XinYi District A8 Mitsukoshi building.

http://350taipei.blogspot.com/

 

Climate change Cassandras October 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bowet000 @ 5:52 am

This was stolen from an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times, but certainly sums up how I’ve been feeling lately about climate change:

Every once in a while I feel despair over the fate of the planet. If you’ve been following climate science, you know what I mean: the sense that we’re hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything to avert it.

And here’s the thing: I’m not engaging in hyperbole. These days, dire warnings aren’t the delusional raving of cranks. They’re what come out of the most widely respected climate models, devised by the leading researchers. The prognosis for the planet has gotten much, much worse in just the last few years.

What’s driving this new pessimism? Partly it’s the fact that some predicted changes, like a decline in Arctic Sea ice, are happening much faster than expected. Partly it’s growing evidence that feedback loops amplifying the effects of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are stronger than previously realized. For example, it has long been understood that global warming will cause the tundra to thaw, releasing carbon dioxide, which will cause even more warming, but new research shows far more carbon locked in the permafrost than previously thought, which means a much bigger feedback effect.

The result of all this is that climate scientists have, en masse, become Cassandras — gifted with the ability to prophesy future disasters, but cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe them.


And we’re not just talking about disasters in the distant future, either. The really big rise in global temperature probably won’t take place until the second half of this century, but there will be plenty of damage long before then.

So if you live in, say, Los Angeles, and liked those pictures of red skies and choking dust in Sydney, Australia, last week, no need to travel. They’ll be coming you way soon.

In a rational world, then, the looming climate disaster would be our dominant political and policy concern. But it manifestly isn’t. Why not?

Part of the answer is that it’s hard to keep peoples’ attention focused. Weather fluctuates — and it’s all too easy to reach the false conclusion that the danger is past or that it hasn’t even really yet begun.

But the larger reason we’re ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don’t.

Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It’s also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.

So here we are, with the greatest challenge facing mankind on the back burner, at best, as a policy issue. I’m not, by the way, saying that the Obama administration was wrong to push health care first. It was necessary to show voters a tangible achievement before next November. But climate change legislation had better be next.

We can afford to do this. Even as climate modelers have been reaching consensus on the view that the threat is worse than we realized, economic modelers have been reaching consensus on the view that the costs of emission control are lower than many feared.

So the time for action is now. O.K., strictly speaking it’s long past. But better late than never.

 

Electric Scooters letter to the Mayor October 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bowet000 @ 4:04 am

Just the other day, I was thinking, how can I affect change while living in Taiwan.  There are not a lot of marches or rallys I could join, nor would the federal government take me seriously, as I’m not even a citizen of this country.  Then it occurred to me that writing to the mayor very likely could affect some type of change, as I have heard from others that his office has personally responded to their phone calls and letters.  As such, I wrote this letter to the mayor the other day and mailed it to his office on Monday.  I have yet to hear back but will let you know when I do.

If anyone wants to copy the letter or send a version of your own, I highly encourage you to do so.

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Dear Mr.Mayor,

I am writing you this letter today to strongly encourage the government in Taipei to implement a program requiring local residents to switch from gas powered scooters, to electric scooters.  If correctly implemented over the next 5 years, this plan could drastically reduce the amount of pollution in Taipei’s air.  Although electric scooters still require electricity to operate, electricity is significantly cheaper, cleaner and better for the oceans, as there is no possibility of oil leakage from barges importing oil into Taiwan.

I have spoken with many Taiwanese people about the environment, and the biggest concern that comes up in Taipei is that of air quality.  When people are asked to identify the causes of this air pollution, every single person says “cars and scooters”.

The plan I propose, would include a monetary incentive (perhaps NT$500 -2000 rebate on the purchase of a new electric scooter) for people to trade in their old gas scooters for an electric scooter.  This would encourage people to purchase the newly required electric scooters.   Further, the traded in old gas scooters could then be refurbished by mechanics or the government to provide poorer residents with a cheaper electric alternative to a brand new electric scooter.

As the standard of living in Taipei and Taiwan is increasing, people are more and more frequently purchasing new scooters.  As such, implementing this plan over a 5 year period would give residents a long enough time frame that, when in the market to buy a new scooter, they could easily make the choice to purchase an electric scooter alternative instead of purchasing a gas scooter.
Recently a number of car companies, including Nissan and Tesla Motors have created fully electric cars that are coming out on the market in 2010.  If this is possible, then surely it would be possible to promote the sale of electric scooters which already exist on the market, and are currently used in China.

I have noticed a lot of changes happening in Taipei that make me very happy to be a part of the community.  I am very pleased with the new legislation preventing smoking inside buildings, am excited about the great local support for Taipei Car Free Day, and about the growing use of the riverside bike paths.  Further the new bike path on Dunhua Rd encourages me to think that the local government is trying to cut back on cars in Taipei.   I think these are all wonderful programs to have implemented, and hope that the Taipei government continues to help the city to grow to be prosperous, clean and environmentally conscious.

Yours Sincerely,
Tracey Bowen