Sierra Club Blog Posts
Melting Arctic sea ice aims Frankenstorm Sandy directly at the Big Apple
By Paul Beckwith
Frankenstorm Sandy is a scary beast. A hybridization between a tropical hurricane and a mid-latitude cyclone, her behavior is not natural at all. Moving northward off the east coast, Sandy is turning left toward land instead of right toward the sea. Sandy’s being blocked from moving north by a high pressure area of enormous magnitude, and being sucked west by a low pressure region of very exceptional (and highly unusual) strength. Thus the designation “Frankenstorm”.... Read more »
I'm on the bus writing about what happened in Parliament last Friday. I still can’t get the day out of my mind... Megan Leslie, NDP MP and Deputy Leader, called for an emergency debate in Parliament on the massive and frightening rapid ice melt in the Arctic this past summer.
Megan eloquently pointed out that the Arctic icecap is responsible for moderating the global climate, and without it we’re in a sea of trouble.... Read more »
By Paul Beckwith
Push something and it moves a little. Push it a little more and it moves a little more. This is called a “linearity” response. But sometimes a little push can lead to something totally unexpected! This is called “nonlinearity” and, contrary to what one might think, nonlinearities are inherent in most systems - like our atmosphere, for example. In fact, abrupt and unexpected change happens at some point in most systems - we even have a saying for such unexpected outcomes: a tipping point.
Until recently, our atmosphere and oceans behaved like linear systems: incremental dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere caused incremental changes, like rising temperatures and predictable rates of ice melt. But things are now changing unexpectedly fast – nonlinearity is kicking in! We only have to look at the rapidly vanishing arctic icecap for astonishing evidence.... Read more »
September 26, 2012... Read more »
The climate change issue reached new heights in Canadian public dialogue this week. It wasn’t because of the unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice this summer, the phony-baloney announcement about Canada’s ‘progress’ toward meeting its greenhouse gas targets, or government’s caving on real regulations for coal plants. Nope, it wasn’t because of any of these worrisome situations.... Read more »
By Paul Beckwith
About 5 million years ago continental drift pushed North and South America together, creating the Isthmus of Panama where the Central American Seaway ocean passage had previously existed. The Pacific and Atlantic were no longer connected, drastically altering global ocean currents and atmospheric circulation patterns. As the Atlantic Gulf Stream strengthened, it carried vast amounts of moisture into the northern regions. The Arctic eventually cooled and it’s estimated sea ice cover has existed continuously in the Arctic Ocean for 3 million years, possibly for as long as 13 million years.... Read more »
A great Sierra Club environmental victory went largely unnoticed a couple of weeks ago. President Obama announced new fuel economy standards (an increase up to 54 miles per gallon) by 2025. As is generally the case, Canada will undoubtedly follow suit soon.
Working on both sides of the border, Sierra Club campaigners played a critical role in forming and executing a North American “clean car” strategy. It was brilliant, really. I'm proud to have been part of it.
It was a simple encirclement of Detroit. The car companies controlled the US Congress and Ottawa, but did they control sate and provincial governments? They certainly didn’t control California – always in the forefront of clean car regulations.... Read more »