Sunday, January 29, 2012
Growing Oil Demand Creating Serious Problems
It seems to me inescapably true that the population on this planet is growing. More and more people here in the United States and throughout the world are driving cars, and the use of oil and its byproduct gasoline to fuel our cars and trucks is creating long-term serious problems for our environment. At the same time, we have serious economic and security issues related to the use of oil, as the worldwide demand for oil increases. In short, we have a bundle of various serious problems related to our use of oil.
This Generation Must Act
Doing nothing is not an option. We have to address these issues. If we don’t address these issues, in not very many years we will experience very negative effects on our physical health, our economy, and our national security. If we don’t address these issues, I fear that the children of today as well as future generations will not look back on our generation with the same fondness we look back on prior generations. If we don’t address these issues, no one will call us “the greatest generation.”
One Action Is Increasing Fuel Efficiency Standards
The good news, the very hopeful news, is that as a society we are beginning to address the challenges we face, including thinking of ways to decrease the amount of oil we use. And I for one am very grateful that the US EPA is leading the way, with its many initiatives and efforts, including with NHTSA the proposed increase in the fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025 that brings us here today.
This Action Is a No-Brainer
I have spoken to many people about the proposed fuel efficiency standards -- to family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. The reaction of virtually everyone I have spoken to about this can be summed up in the words of a woman I met at an exercise class this morning. “Seems like a no brainer,” she said. That’s exactly what this proposal for increased fuel efficiency is – a no brainer. I know that the EPA and NHTSA cannot just call something a no brainer and make it law, so I appreciate and thank you for holding this hearing and for the thoughtful way you approach this subject. I sincerely hope that the EPA and NHTSA will take this very important step toward decreasing our dependence on oil for the benefit of our children and future generations. And maybe, just maybe, if we take this step and some other similarly prudent and wise steps those future generations will admire us for thinking ahead and taking prudent action to protect ourselves, our planet, and our way of life by decreasing our dependence on oil.
Let me close by thanking you for your attention. And let me thank the other panelists. I take real hope knowing that there are so many compelling spokespersons on this important issue. This is our generation’s time to stand and face the greatest threat of our time.
Friday, January 27, 2012
My name is Sue Edwards, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in favor of higher auto fuel efficiency standards. I speak as a citizen who has been reading all I can in the past few years on scientists' findings about climate change. It is clear to me that the vast majority of authoritative, peer-reviewed scientific studies conclude that there is already serious damage being done to fragile balances of nature as humans continue to spew carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. I am concerned enough about this that I was one of over 1,200 people who committed civil disobedience and were arrested at the White House at the end of this past summer to call for rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would end up massively increasing the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. I applaud President Obama's rejection of that pipeline this week.
I am very encouraged by the improved fuel efficiency standards that have been proposed, and I urge you to adopt them without loopholes. We need to curb our use of fossil fuels if we are to have a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. I have two sons and hope there may be grandchildren in my future, so I have a big stake in doing my part so they'll have an environment that's livable--not just for cockroaches, but also for humans!
Climate Change Is Here
I'm sure you must be aware of the many predictions that were made in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the effects of climate change in a wide variety of places on our planet. Devastatingly, a whole litany of these predictions have come about precisely as the IPCC warned.
Examples from 2010 include the hottest summer on record in Russia, with a drought that sparked hundreds of wildfires, reducing the wheat harvest by over one-third; Pakistan's heaviest monsoon rains on record; northwest China's floods and landslides, which killed at least 1,100 people; Iowa's wettest 36-month period in 127 years of record-keeping, with flood-waters which forced hundreds from their homes; and the breaking off of a 100-square-mile chunk of ice from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland, the biggest ice island to calve in the Arctic in a half-century of observation. Worldwide temperature readings show that the first half of 2010 was the hottest six months since record-keeping began in the mid-19th century. 17 nations recorded all-time-high temperatures in 2010, more than in any other year.
2011 was no better, with a summer that was the third hottest on record for the globe as a whole. There were an unprecedented number of weather-related disasters, including droughts in Texas and East Africa. Thailand, Australia, Colombia, and Brazil all experienced floods that were either the deadliest or the most costly natural disasters in their histories. The U.S. had major floods, too, but most of our weather-related natural disasters involved tornadoes and other storms. Iowa and Missouri had heightened tornado activity, including the one in Joplin, MO, that killed 161 people.
As a Quaker, my faith holds that “We recognize that the well-being of the Earth is a fundamental spiritual concern....Our planet as a whole, not just the small parts of it in our immediate custody, requires our responsible attention.” I firmly believe that humankind has the intelligence to understand our situation and act swiftly to protect the environment upon which we are dependent. What we need is the courage and political will to act. I urge you to adopt the strongest possible fuel efficiency standards for the sake of the future of humankind.
Blog by Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune - January 5, 2012.
A summer of extremes: Scientists point to weather cataclysms as a sign of climate change.
By Charles J. Hanley – August 13, 2010. Press.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
With prices at the pump high and threatening to climb higher, we need better, more efficient cars that guzzle less gas. That's why I joined hundreds of my fellow Pennsylvanians at a public hearing in Philadelphia last week to testify in support of new standards that would mean significant savings for drivers, cleaner air, a safer climate, more jobs, and better vehicle choices.
A few weeks ago, President Obama proposed strengthening fuel-efficiency and carbon-pollution standards for cars and light trucks to 54.5 m.p.g. by 2025. That means the average Pennsylvania family buying a car in 2025 would save more than $3,500 on gas over the car's lifetime, even after paying for fuel-saving technology.
Instead of sending nearly $1 billion a day overseas for oil, we could be investing it in businesses here in Philadelphia and around the state. America's oil addiction also puts our troops at risk around the world and our health at risk here. Burning and refining oil releases contaminants that cause respiratory illnesses, trigger asthma attacks, and can harm lung function and development.
Burning fossil fuels is also cooking the planet. Nearly every day brings news of severe droughts and devastating storms that show climate change is well under way. A spike in the number of extreme weather events, shifts in migratory patterns, drought-induced wildfires and crop failures, devastating floods of coastal communities due to rising sea levels, and disruptions of critical habitats and food chains are costing us billions of dollars and threatening our way of life.
Cleaner cars that burn less oil won't solve all these problems, but they are an important part of the solution.
Last week in Philadelphia, I stood alongside veterans, public-health officials, small-business owners, and other concerned citizens who support cleaner cars. They aren't unusual. Higher fuel-efficiency standards enjoy the support of three-quarters of Americans. And 13 major auto manufacturers, including Detroit's "Big Three," have committed to strong standards.
It's not hard to understand why the idea is popular. Stronger efficiency standards would drive demand for fuel-saving technology and put money back in Americans' pockets. They would create an estimated 484,000 jobs by 2030, including 43,000 in the auto industry. And we would be using 1.5 million fewer barrels of oil per day by 2030 - the same amount we imported from Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined last year. That would have the same impact on carbon pollution as shutting down 72 coal-fired power plants for a year.
President Obama's proposal to double the efficiency of America's cars and light trucks would be the biggest single step we have ever taken to break our dangerous addiction to oil and tackle climate disruption. It should not be seen as a partisan or controversial notion. Saving families thousands of dollars, cutting pollution, creating jobs, and protecting the climate should be benefits we can all get behind.
Robin Mann is the president of the Sierra Club and a resident of Rosemont.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Pennsylvania Clean Air Campaign Speaks Out at the EPA/NHTSA Hearing on Clean Cars in Philly: The Tweets
Here are tweets from the PA Clean Air Campaign testimonies:
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Testimony of Dr. E Bryan Crenshaw III, Pennsylvania Clean Air's Media Lead, at the EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly
Today, I bring with me two perspectives. First, as a biomedical scientist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and more importantly, as a father of 12 year-old, Zack (Seen here expressing his concern about global warming).
Although I am not a climatologist, many of the major scientific articles addressing climate change and the release of anthropogenic green house gases that cause it, are published in major scientific journals that I read, such as Science and Nature. I have followed with interest for years the strengthening evidence in support of the science behind global warming. Not only do these journals address the evidence in support of climate change, but also they often address the engineering, policy and economic solutions to mitigate the worst effects of climate disruption.
In 2004, a paper in Science by Pacala and Socolow outlined an approach that could effectively address the problem, not by using a single solution, but a series of incremental and feasible solutions for different sectors of the economy, which they referred to as “stabilization wedges” (Pacala and Socolow, 2004). No single wedge would address the entire problem, but addressing each wedge individually and collectively would lead to the carbon reductions necessary to stem global warming. Critically, transportation represents a fundamental component of the solution, and I laud these new mileage standards as an important step in the “wedge” to decarbonize our transportation sector.
Although – as a scientist – the solutions to decarbonizing our economy seem concrete and feasible, as a father, I am concerned that our public and private institutions are not doing enough to address the impending serious problems that will result, if we do not reduce our emissions of green house gases.
As a scientist, I read policy papers in which the best military minds view global warming as a major national security threat, and I am encouraged that our military is acting on this security concern by increasing their use of sustainable energy (Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 2010). Nonetheless, as a father, I fear that not enough is being done to ensure the security of the world that I am leaving behind for my son.
As a scientist, I’ve read policy papers by groups, such as the McKinsey and Company (Creyts et al., 2007), that outline the dangers of global warming to the economy, and the modest costs – such as those incurred by the rule proposed today – necessary to ameliorate the negative economic consequences. As a father, I strive to encourage our government to take the necessary steps to ensure the prosperity of our economy in the future.
Working at a major pediatric hospital, I understand the numerous ill effects of burning fossil fuels on vulnerable populations, such as our children. In venues, such as the hearing today, I work to protect my child by supporting actions that reduce the amount of pollution that is spewed into our enviroment.
For these reasons, I support the efforts that the EPA and NHTSA are taking to implement an important rule critical for the reduction of our use of fossil fuels, and consequently, the production of green house gases that are endangering our climate. For my son, Zack, and his generation – for their security, for their prosperity, for their health and well-being – I implore you to implement this rule for their future, and the future of our country.
E. Bryan Crenshaw III, PhD
Citizen Activist and Member of the John Muir Society
Pacala, S. and Socolow, R. Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies. Science: 305: 968-972 (2004). [Abstract - Subscription needed for full paper]U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report (Washington, DC, February 2010), < http://www.defense.gov/qdr/images/QDR_as_of_12Feb10_1000.pdf >.
Creyts, J., Derkach, A., Nyquist, S., Ostrowski, K. and Stephenson, J. “Reducing US greenhouse gas emissions: How much at what cost?” < http://www.mckinsey.com/Client_Service/Sustainability/Latest_thinking/Reducing_US_greenhouse_gas_emissions > (2007).
@SierraClubLive Tweeted about this testimony:
Monday, January 9, 2012
Public Hearing in Philadelphia: January 19
Any questions contact William Kramer, william.kramer(at)sierraclub.org.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The U.S. National Archives just released a series of photos, entitled, "DOCUMERICA Project by the Environmental Protection Agency." These photos from the early days of the EPA document pollution (or what needed to be protected from pollution). The Archives Flickr site has a selected group of these photos that are available on the National Archives Web site. These photos should provide a great resource of copyright-free photos for environmental bloggers!
For more info, see the New York Times article describing the Documerica project.