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Tag Archives: climate change

My Climate Scientist is Smarter Than Your Climate Scientist

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I happen to believe global warming is real, not just as something that naturally occurs as our planet hurtles through space over the course of billions of years (yes, I said billions), but also as a process being expedited by our own hell-bent-on-consumption lifestyle. It doesn’t take a scientist, or a Google search, to figure out that as “the global economy” brings more eager mouths to suck at the swollen teat of consumption, stuff is going to get burned through that much quicker. Just look out your window. If you happen to live in a place that more and more people think looks like a great place to be – as we do here in Montana – you can watch, like one of those time lapse movies, the views and resources and access rights get gobbled up faster than we can say, “the last best place!” Read More »

In The Petri Dish: The Plight of our Energy-Sucking Species

An iteration of Bacteria by physicist/artist Eshel Ben-Jacob

This is not the decade of global warming or even climate change. It is one of ensuing ecological destruction. When the energy runs dry, all of the systems we have so carelessly created to gulp that energy down will be worthless. We can build tiny houses (less than 100 square feet), rip up our lawns for edible estates, drive a Prius, sell carbon credits on the Chicago climate exchange, or refocus our energy policy on biofuels and ethanol, but as Wes Jackson from the Land Institute argues, “We aren’t going to invent or grow our way out of this thing.” No amount of human innovation can stop the ensuing ecological destruction. To even begin to do that, humans will need to cut their energy use in half, in just ten years. This was the sobering theme of the 2007 Sopris Conference: Innovative Ideas for a New West, held in Missoula this weekend. Read More »

Idaho Leaders Should Address Climate Change

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The scientific evidence is compelling – global climate change poses a serious threat to Idaho’s public health, natural resources, and environment. It threatens some of our most vital industries including tourism, agriculture, recreation, and forestry. Addressing climate change requires interstate and international cooperation. At this point, Idaho is not a team player. For example: Six western states and two Canadian provinces have established the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, agreeing to collaborate in identifying, evaluating and implementing ways to reduce greenhouse emissions. Idaho is not a participant. Read More »

Idaho Governor Otter Signs on to Global Climate Challenge

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Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has signed an executive order to have the Department of Environmental Quality coordinate efforts by state agencies to track greenhouse gas emissions. I applaud this effort by my governor. It's a refreshing change of pace from the business as usual approach many Idaho political leaders have been taking on this critical issue. Those of you who have read my comments elsewhere on New West know my position on this issue. It is one that I have come to after reviewing the scientific basis for anthropogenic climate change. Many out there are still skeptical, and that is an understandable position to take. The Earth’s atmosphere is a very complex system, with multiple forms of equilibria interacting simultaneously. However, there are a few things that are crystal clear to me. First, by examining the Keeling curve, which has measured the concentration of atmospheric CO2 since the late 1950s, it is clear that there has been a constant trend upwards over that time. It is rising at a rate of 1-2 ppm each year and has risen in absolute terms about 20% over the last four decades of the 20th century. If we also look at the paleological data (page 31 of linked PDF file) acquired from ice cores drilled in Antarctica, we see that the present day observed levels of the gas far exceed anything that has been naturally occurring over the past several hundred thousand years. The only reasonable explanation for the current increase is Read More »

Boise Steps Up for the Earth

Step It Up Boise Concert for Climate Action

How can a small group organize a major environmental action in only seven weeks? When folks think about environmental issues like global climate change, the city of Boise, Idaho doesn’t exactly leap to the forefront as a fertile ground for finding much sympathy and activism. Idaho is the reddest of red states in the union, and as such, environmental issues are often viewed as the domain of “hippies, commies and veggies,” and not something that real people should care about. So what chance did a small group of committed people have to organize a successful event in Boise calling for congressional action to address this growing crisis? We had just 50 days. Read More »

Bicycling To Work Makes Sense—If You Can Do It

Did you know that May 14-18 is National Bike to Work Week? Okay, now that you're informed, what are you going to do about it. As millions of Americans say they're willing to make lifestyle changes to address global warming, save money on high gas prices at the pump, and to stay in shape, how many of us will actually follow through? Today, just two percent of Americans bicycle to the office. In the story that follows, Carol Flaherty of the Montana State University News Service takes a look at how faculty who work at Bozeman's campus of higher learning are setting an example not only for students but the entire car-commuting city. But it isn't without hassles. What is your town doing to promote public transportation and non-motorized routes? Let us know. Read More »

Guest Column: We Ought Not Grow Cows In Dry West

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In a notoriously dry region like the American West, guest columnist George Wuerthner minces no words when it comes to the suitability of turning domestic livestock loose on the public range: Cattle and sheep, he says, do not belong. Portraying beef cows as a yoke hanging around the necks of wild ecosystems and fragile natural resources, he says livestock production is "by far the worse environmental catastrophe to befall the West." It's especially bad, he claims, because of the natural aridity. In an age of global warming when hotter temperatures are expected to cook the deserts even more, and where even wetter places will endure rises in heat that last longer and suck the moisture out of the ground faster, he believes it's time for society to truly assess if the mythical land of cowboys is really a good place to produce red meat. -Todd Wilkinson Read More »

NewWest.Net/Boise Sponsors Concert for Climate Action This Saturday

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Here’s an idea: Let’s have a free concert in Julia Davis Park, with music and booths and a family atmosphere, and gather people to send a message to Congress to take steps to combat global warming. Oh, that’s already a thing? Sign us up! This coming Saturday, April 14th, Boise residents concerned about the threats posed by climate change will gather from 11am to 4pm at a free concert at Julia Davis Park to urge Congress to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050, and NewWest.Net/Boise is a sponsor of the event. We’ll have a booth and hope you’ll plan to stop by. Read More »

What is the ‘New West’ versus the ‘Old West’ Economy?

Natural resource economy? What comes to mind when you hear the term? A poor Third World nation, prosperous logging and mining communities in the American West, or maybe a state where natural resources like coal, gas, minerals and cattle are shipped out but without local residents capturing the majority of the commodity value? In the short essay that follows, Joe Kerkvliet, an economist with The Wilderness Society's regional office in Bozeman, Montana, provides an overview of what he sees are the differences between the traditional Old West economy, which in many ways still shapes the region's cultural mindset, and the rapidly growing "recreation economy" which has had a profound influence on land values, inward population migration, changing uses on the landscape, and the flavor of "local culture" and businesses. - Todd Wilkinson Read More »

What Jackson Hole Can Learn From The Big Apple

When Westerners get their city fix in the Big Apple, some return home with nothing but relief. Lifestyle statistician and commentator Jonathan Schechter got something else: A revelation about the similarities between the green heart of New York City and his own turf in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. His epiphany grew out of conversations he had with investment gurus who told him the best strategy for ensuring sustainable prosperity is to plan ahead and take a long view of the mountainous horizon that, more and more, Americans are coveting. Despite Jackson Hole's reputation as being a refuge for the ultra rich and famous, Schechter notes that the way it approaches growth and plots its own future is still bamboozled by a poor man's mentality in thinking about development. As always, his essays deliver lessons about where the West has been and where it's headed. Read More »