Archive for March 29, 2014

Peter Kirkup speaks on the Climate Reality Project

Climate Change Deniers seem to fall into the same general category as our old friends the “Birthers”. Despite overwhelming proof that their position is wrong, it simply “feels right” that their position is correct. After all, if you admitted to yourself that the planet you are leaving to your kids and grandkids is going to be a vastly altered environment with droughts, floods, famine, and disappearing coastlines, how could you go on without doing something about it? and people like things the way they are.

Peter Kirkup, representing The Climate Reality Project, an organization founded by Vice President Al Gore to “unleash a global cultural movement to demand action on the climate crisis”, spoke at the March meeting of the American River Democrats. He presented an abridged slide show of the current state of change in the world.

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Some deniers like to point out events like the unusual snow storms that hit the East and Southeastern US this year, and their favorite quote seems to be “where’s your global warming now, Al Gore!?” Peter pointed out that “The cold snap we had this winter was like the freezer door being broken off. It may have felt cooler in the kitchen for a little while, but it doesn’t mean the whole house is cooling down.” You would of course be insane to think that a broken freezer door was great for your house in a hot summer, but what does it mean for the planet?

Peter shared that the famous “Polar Vortex” was actually pushing the cold from the north to the south, so the freak storms were actually a result of our ongoing climate change, not proof against it. 2013 joined the other recent years as being one of the 10 hottest on record. Changes to the jet stream are cooling some places on the planet, while others face debilitating heat and drought. Increased heat, and subsequent flooding usually means devastating landslides as vegetation is no longer there to absorb the rains.

Meanwhile, the oceans continue to be affected. Along with increased acidification, sea levels are rising, not just because glaciers are melting, but the increase in temperature causes the water to expand.

Is there any room for optimism? Well, there is some. Peter said that if we get on it now, we can limit our temperature increase to a manageable 2 degrees this century. If not, we are looking at a 7 degree increase, which would lead to a variety worst case scenarios.

Opportunities are there, such as our increasing solar and wind power projects, ideas such as “Fee & Dividend” plans or “Cap & Trade” plans, which put a cost to carbon and spend the money on efficiency and paybacks to people for conservation.

Even India and China, which loom large as countries that could tip us over the edge, are working aggressively to reduce emissions and pollution.

What can you do? Educational opportunites are there by exploring websites such as The Climate Reality Project, Skeptical Science, this story in the Huffington Post and others. Then joining these groups and electing representatives who support action on the environment, energy and climate change is crucial to getting things done. Meanwhile, plant trees, use LED and CFL lightbulbs, and ride your bike…

March Meeting to address Climate Change

American River Democrats welcome speaker Peter Kirkup from the Climate Reality Project to the March Meeting

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For years now, we have been told that the carbon we have been pumping into the atmosphere at unprecedented rates is creating a greenhouse effect that is altering the natural climate cycles of the earth and will, if unchecked, result in massive catastrophic changes globally, such as drought, sea level rise, frequent weather events such as hurricanes, and the acidification of the oceans. And also that the effects, such as reducing of the ice caps and glaciers, would only accelerate the warming as less heat is reflected and more permafrost melted, releasing more carbon and methane gas into the air. And as forests are leveled, less carbon is absorbed by nature.

Al Gore in 2006 did his best to bring the message to us nationally and globally with his film An Inconvenient Truth. Our response, as a people, has been mixed. Some countries got on the bandwagon right away, and made immediate progress to reduce emissions. Others, like China and India, thought it was a good idea, but didn’t want to sacrifice their growth, when the West and US had already done most of the damage. And we in the US mostly argued back and forth about whether the scientists were right or not. (Look at this snowstorm! Where’s your global warming now, Al Gore?!!!)

And even the most progressive states, such as California, made efforts, but mostly to reduce back to targets such as 1990 levels of carbon emissions. (Of course it is 1990 type levels that got us into this situation – we need to get back to, say, 1500 levels…)

So now we are rapidly and seemingly unstoppably rushing towards and past the famous “tipping point” where the damage will be done and irrevocable; where even reducing to totally zero emissions would have no positive effects. Where the only answers will be global engineering projects to reduce warming – does that scare you even more?

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The American River Democrats will be welcoming a speaker from The Climate Reality Project, an organization founded by Vice President Al Gore to “unleash a global cultural movement to demand action on the climate crisis.” Peter Kirkup, volunteer for Organizing for Action and the Climate Reality Project, will be on hand to update us on what the organization is doing and how you can be part of it.

Please join the meeting at Wednesday, March 19 at Samurai Sushi in Rancho Cordova. Guests are always welcome!


The America River Democrats January Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, March 19, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to hear about the Climate Reality Project, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.

Patrick Stelmach speaks about early childhood education

February 19, 2014 – Patrick Stelmach, a member of the American River Democrats and State Organizer for California Fair Share addressed the club on issues focused on gaining support and financing for pre-school education for all of California’s children.

“90% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5” Patrick shared, pointing out that kids who miss that nurturing and development at an early age miss an opportunity to get a head start in learning and development, and set them up to succeed in school and life.

On a pure dollars and cents outlook, Patrick pointed our that every dollar invested in pre-school and early childhood education pays off at $7.00 down the road – even more for children from low income background.

The savings comes as these kids grow older and are less likely to need remedial education classes in school, state sponsored job training, public assistance for food, housing and medical care, and even law enforcement and incarceration costs, as poorly educated youth and adults are far more likely to end up in trouble with the law.

Getting kids off to an early good start most often results in better achievement and social development as they progress through school, which will give them more opportunities and choices in their lives, especially if they are also struggling with low income or poverty in their families.

To learn more about the work the California Fair Share is doing, and to find out how you can support their efforts, please see their website.