A Warning and Plea to U.S. and World Leaders



I saw both of the above-linked articles today.

We Are Toast. Burned toast.

I still believe – though that’s all it is at this point – that we can reverse this. We have done remarkable things in the past. But we have to get on a true global war footing to do so, and we have to date shown no signs of being willing to do so. That must change now.

We think we will survive and die peacefully of old age in our beds while the bees die, the rains stop, the seas rise, the crops fail, and the wildfires rage? Some form of the world will go on without us. Life, of some form, will likely survive even this – though not the forms we love, or not many of them. What environmentalists are really fighting for is not Nature, which will survive us, but a fighting chance for human civilization to continue its journey.

Congress and the President – and the leaders of other industrialized nations, as well – Must Act Now and put us on a war footing. No compromise, no more time wasted.

Forget Keystone XL. We cannot permit that. If the government permits it, the people must prevent it.But the problem is, by all scientific accounts, so much more dire. We must be proactive. We must do more than we believe to be necessary, faster than we believe possible, because we have less time than we thought. Time’s up. We cannot delay another month.

  • We must reduce our emissions of CO2 this year, this month, in real terms, and help China, India, and the EU to do so.
  • We must begin building 4th generation nuclear plants, if we can do so responsibly and safely, decommission all coal plants, and go all in on renewable energy.
  • We must now stop and reverse the exponential growth in the population of humans.
  • We must reforest the nation and the world, beginning this year.
  • We must ground planes and park cars in significant numbers – 20%? 50%? 75%? – without any delay.

We must not wait for anything before acting. No new Earth Summit. No new studies. No economic impact studies. We may already have delayed too long. We must hope we have not. We only have the present in which to act. We are increasingly foreclosing the possibility of a future in which to act.

I do not understand: the President and Congress must have in hand facts that are even more detailed  and disturbing than the information I have linked to above, and what I heard from NASA’s Dr. James Hansen a couple of weeks ago. President Bush’s administration was vilified for ignoring the warnings of Al Qaeda flying planes into buildings. Surely President Obama is receiving dire warnings about the march of climate change. The consequences of ignoring these warnings will make 9/11 look like a minor tragedy in comparison.You and I will live to see the catastrophic effects of inaction. This is a current, not a future problem. We, not our children or grandchildren, are responsible for taking action. We Must Act. Right Now.

Humans have risen to great challenges before. We have shown an enormous capacity for courage, self-sacrifice, and vision. We have developed the capacity to see farther and deeper, and to make finer measurements, than even scientists a hundred years ago would have imagined. We must now heed the warnings that our long quest for knowledge have brought us. This is our generation’s challenge, and it is greater than any that have come before. We will either respond in a manner worthy of mythic story, or we will twiddle, while all stories and knowledge come to an end in us.

Consider what and who you love, and act with all urgency. Do not wait for others, or for permission. The decision is yours. The lives of those you love depend on what you do right now.


John McAndrew

[To see how to contact your elected officials, go to this link]

We Hit 7 Billion in 2011 – two years early

Fleeing Colorado Wildfires

Texas Drought of 2011

Superstorm Sandy: Not a Thrill Ride. A Disaster

Noon in Beijing. How Can We Think This Has No Consequence For the Planet?


How High Morals Are Incompatible With Putting Food On the Table

“[H]igh morals do not put food on the table.”

This statement, which PNM, the electricity provider for most New Mexicans, liked, was posted on PNM’s Facebook page in a discussion about retiring the San Juan Generating Station – one of the most polluting coal-fired plants in the country – and transitioning to solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Are high morals incompatible with putting food on the table? No. Pretty much everyone, regardless of morals, puts food on the table one way or another. If necessary costs go up, food remains the highest priority. Maybe there are fewer trips to Cancun or the south of France, or fewer premium channels on the TV. As another reader pointed out, PNM raised prices 250% recently without apparent qualms about the cost to poor New Mexicans. Were those increases good morals or bad? Is anyone starving because of them?

In Germany, gas is the equivalent of $8/gallon (or was when I was there last year). People there ride bikes more, and rarely drive big honking cars. When prices rise, so does the incentive for efficiency.

Germany, which is just a little larger than New Mexico, provided power to 40 million Germans – half their population – one Saturday recently via their newly-increased solar capacity. We have two million people and more sun in New Mexico. Even if you take into account that we are less efficient than Germans (Americans are less efficient than almost everyone) we could still assume that, if we matched Germany’s solar capacity, we could be selling electricity to 40 million neighbors.

I’ll tell you what takes food off the table: a drought and heat wave like the one we are experiencing. Continuing to pump the atmosphere full of carbon when we know its environmental cost and we have proven alternatives is not just a bad long-term investment: it’s morally reprehensible.

The New Mexico Fire: How Big Is It?

Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire in New Mexico. Photo by Zelie Pollon

The fire called the Whitewater-Baldy Complex has covered 271,000 acres, or 423 square miles.

Whitewater-Baldy Map, June 8, 2012.

These numbers are thrown around until we’re numb. How big is that, anyway? When you see the satellite photos, it’s hard to put it in perspective. Perhaps some comparisons might help.

Rhode Island is about 1545 square miles, so it’s about 27%, or more than a quarter, the size of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island. Google Maps.

How about this: Los Angeles – the city alone, not the entire megalopolis – is 469 square miles, so it’s just a neighborhood or two larger than the Whitewater-Baldy Complex.

Map of Los Angeles. Google Maps.

Phoenix and Nashville are both 474 square miles, so it’s a bit smaller than both of those cities.

San Antonio is 407 square miles. So the fire is larger than all of San Antonio.

San Antonio. Google Maps.

The city of Chicago is 227 square miles in area. So this fire is almost twice the size of Chicago.


Washington, D.C. is 61.4 square miles. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire is, therefore, almost 7 times the size of D.C.


I say “almost”. But if you add the other half dozen fires that are now burning or – thank the gods for firefighters – nearly extinguished in New Mexico right now, I’m sure we can claim a full seven D.C’s worth of forest fire.

For international comparisons: this fire is the size of

1.23 Berlins

4.2 Edinburghs

8.8 Jerusalems

9.6 Vancouver BC’s

10.3 Parises, and

2,486 Vatican Cities

Perhaps this series of comparisons will help you understand how large this fire is; how much forest has been lost; and how much smoke is in our air, and why New Mexicans, when you see us, look a little shell-shocked, grief-stricken or nervous. This is what drought and climate change mean to us.


Honest to God Heroes

A River Runs Out

In this excellent short (12 minute) film about the Colorado River, filmmaker Peter McBride wants to know how long it takes for the irrigation water from his farm in Colorado to reach the Sea of Cortez at the end of the Colorado’s reach. Answer: the Sea of Cortez has been beyond the reach of the Colorado since 1998. The picture, at about the 10 minute mark, of the sludge that passes for the river is disgusting. The statistic that the West is in the 20th year of a drought is accompanied by a picture of “bathtub rings” 100 feet high that mark how low Lake Powell has dropped since the drought began.

Bathtub Rings

The Fire This Time

If Only They Had Prayed Harder . . .

Governor Perry, you may want to re-think slashing the funding of your volunteer firefighters and Forest Service in Texas. Perry cut funding support for volunteer firefighters by 74%, and the Texas Forest Service budget by 34% this year, before requesting federal help with the worst fire season in Texas history. These firefighters are not getting paid in the first place – and he wants them to provide their own equipment, maintenance, and supplies?

As if the 2011 fire season – with over 21,000 fires in Texas alone – was not enough…

Is it warm in here, or is Texas burning again?

If this prediction of soil moisture “anomalies” is right, Texas – and most of the American Southwest, and all of Mexico – will be either a desert or engulfed in flames by the end of this century. (If the chart is wrong, it will probably be because it happens earlier.) You can find the entire IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report here. But, as Joe Romm says on ThinkProgress.org, its main failing is that it inserts uncertainty where there is none. And as Bill DeBuys, author of A Great Aridness, said recently in Albuquerque, what the Southwest and Mexico are about to endure is not a drought.

Because you don’t say the Mojave is experiencing a prolonged drought. You say that the Mojave is a desert.

And where will 100 million Mexican refugees go?


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