This morning I woke to a trickling sound in the downspout next to the bedroom window. Splat splat. Water blobs landed in the bottom of an empty rain barrel. Trickle became gurgle and splashing of water into water. Misty air about trees turned to visible raindrops. At this moment this corner of Washington state welcomes reprieve from almost 5 weeks of dry and heat dome that took our temperatures into three digits Fahrenheit — more heat than we are used to — especially before July, and far less water.
More heat and less rain made for a discomfiting lead up to a nail-biting Independence Day, fearing fires as well as concern for the animals and other living beings impacted by smoke, heat and reduced availability of water. We kept our bird baths clean and full, but many animals in the wild have no such support.
My book club foursome’s most recent choice was “More, How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here” by Hope Jahren. The gist of her message is that more harm requires us to use less and do more so all can have enough. Jahren spells out all the ways humans have brought ourselves to this point of reckoning. Specifically, she focuses on how much change has escalated since 1969: doubled population, doubled amount of crops harvested, meat production tripled, fish taken from ocean doubled, tenfold increase in seaweed production (half of it going to food additives), table sugar consumption tripled, daily energy use tripled, and total electricity use quadrupled.
At this time 20% of the total world population now uses half of the electricity generated globally. …
And so much more that has become “more.” These are areas we need to find ways to slow, halt or reduce growth by using and buying less.
How does your car get charged?
The electricity use alone begged a question I have been bringing up with those jumping on the electric vehicle trend. How will the electricity to run those cars be generated? With all humility, I waited to get an electric car until after solar panels were installed on our home. Solar panels on the roof do not make sense everywhere. Lots shaded by trees sequestering carbon are less than ideally situated.
What seems obvious to me are the vast treeless expanses of shopping malls and big box store rooftops and parking lots. What if those retail locations invested in solar? They could generate enough to meet the needs of their buildings by putting panels on the rooftop. Most are open primarily during daylight hours. Erecting panels on poles over coveted parking spaces would provide a threefold advantage. First, generating juice to recharge vehicles for shoppers (hmmm my car needs a little longer to charge, I’ll do a little more shopping, grab a bit to eat …). Second, shade for cars in the heat of the day, offsetting the need of drivers to deploy energy draining AC. Third, albeit a less generative time of year, protection from getting in and out of a vehicle in snow and rain, while still trickling some energy flow to the charging station.
I have yet to see any large retailer make such an investment. If you know of any, I would love to know which ones and where they are.
Start with sharing information
Speaking of letting me know, I received a surprise in my e-mail spam-blocker last week. Usually I first meet new readers when they post a comment and I am thrilled to connect with another point of view. This reader chose instead to send a message through the Contact form. He suggested my readers may wish to know about a site that provides a full review of the current status of global warming and the resulting climate change:
It is a five minute read of about 5,000 words. In compressed form it progresses from one impact to the impact that one makes and so forth … reminding me of the poem “This is the house that Jack built” that we learned in grade school. Thank you Phil C. If you wish for other readers to know who you are and where they can find more, I will leave it to you to leave a comment.
Tomorrow, a weather forecasting provider, based this summary on information provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), comprised of more than 1,300 scientists from many different countries, including the U.S. The IPCC has identified some of the effects of global warming through the Third and Fourth National Climate Assessment Reports. Detailed in this piece, those include:
- Global Temperature and Sea Level Rise
- Ocean Warming and Acidification
- Shrinking Ice Sheets
- Glacial Retreat
- Decreased Snow Cover
- Declining Arctic Sea Ice
- Extreme Events
- Extreme Precipitation
- Extreme Heat
More Ways to Change, Please
If we want less of these damaging impacts, we may need to do more to change.
The report includes advice on how to stop these effects including:
(Investing in) Renewable Energy
Reducing Water Waste
There are many ways to do each of the above.
Hope Jahren in “More” offers excellent advice. Jahren recognizes everyone who wants to do what they can once informed will be coming from different starting points. She suggests considering the many areas impacted and choosing which resonate most with your values. Then pick one thing to start with. Do you want to contact your representatives, either local, regional or national to encourage policy changes? Are you ready to shift the energy supply to your home to more sustainable sourcing? Would conserving energy such as insulation, driving less, carpooling or using public transportation be a step you can take? If you eat animal products are you ready to switch some meals to plant-based options?
As the Tomorrow report states: “When looking at the overall picture, we’re all responsible for tackling climate change. You’re responsible as well as politicians, activists, and energy producers. We all have roles we can play in stopping global warming and bettering the world we live in.”