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U.S. cities to dim lamps, illuminate climate-change

Amanda Paulson, Christian Science Monitor
Twenty-five cities around the world will participate in the World Wildlife Fund campaign.

When Brian Becharas sits down to dinner with his sweetheart Saturday night, they’ll eat by candlelight.

Guests at the Inn of Chicago on the city’s Magnificent Mile will walk into a darkened, candle-lit lobby. And when they look out at the iconic skyline, it will look different: the Sears Tower, the Hancock Building, the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier, and some 200 downtown buildings plan to turn out the lights at 8 p.m.

It’s all part of “Earth Hour,” an international climate-change awareness campaign that started last year in Sydney, Australia and that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is taking global this year. Starting in New Zealand, and rolling out through dozens of cities, including Bangkok, Thailand; Dublin, Ireland; and Tel Aviv; the campaign is urging individuals, businesses, and landmarks to go dark between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The actual impact of turning off lights for one hour is minimal, and some skeptics question the message. But promoters say the idea is to get people talking about further ways they can contribute, and to spur government action through grassroots activity.
(28 March 2008)

Cut in coal burning brings UK emissions down by 2%

James Randerson, Guardian
The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 2% in 2007 compared with the previous year, according to provisional figures from the government. The country now emits 18% less than it did in 1990, well inside the Kyoto reduction target of a 12.5% cut, but critics argue that last year’s drop is almost entirely due to energy companies burning less coal because it became more expensive.

According to the new figures, coal supplied 9.5% less energy than in 2006 while energy from gas was 17% higher than in 2006, a record high. The figures do not include the contribution from shipping and aviation, or the carbon emissions involved in producing UK imports.
(28 March 2008)

Despite Awareness of Global Warming Americans Concerned More about Local Environment

Emily Smith, University of Missouri
MU Professor Finds Americans are Hesitant to Support Global Environmental Efforts

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Last week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared climate change a top international threat, and Al Gore urged politicians to get involved to fight global warming. Results from a recent survey conducted by a University of Missouri professor reveal that the U.S. public, while aware of the deteriorating global environment, is concerned predominantly with local and national environmental issues.

“The survey’s core result is that people care about their communities and express the desire to see government action taken toward local and national issues,” said David Konisky, a policy research scholar with the Institute of Public Policy. “People are hesitant to support efforts concerning global issues even though they believe that environmental quality is poorer at the global level than at the local and national level. This is surprising given the media attention that global warming has recently received and reflects the division of opinion about the severity of climate change.”

Konisky, an assistant professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs at MU, recently surveyed 1,000 adults concerning their attitudes about the environment. The survey polled respondents about their levels of concern for the environment and preferences for government action to address a wide set of environmental issues.

A strong majority of the public expressed general concern about the environment. According to the survey, the top three issues that the public wants the government to address are protecting community drinking water, reducing pollution of U.S. rivers and lakes, and improving urban air pollution issues like smog. In the survey, global warming ranks eighth in importance.

“Americans are clearly most concerned about pollution issues that might affect their personal health, or the health of their families,” Konisky said. …

Results from the survey were recently presented at the annual meeting of the Western Political Science Association in San Diego.
(26 March 2008)
Public Attitudes on the
by Dr. David M. Konisky (PDF).

Recommended by JMG at Gristmill who says:

Think globally by thinking locally

A new study bolsters the importance-of-place arguments made by people like Wendell Berry: the strongest way to get people to engage with the problems and to act responsibly for the global environment is to focus on the threats to their own place).

Dr Kate Rawles: Why the climate change debate has gone wrong

Meet Dr Kate Rawles, a lecturer at the faculty of science and natural resources University of Cumbria.

In 2006, supported by a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship and leave from the University of Cumbria, she cycled 4500 miles from El Paso to Anchorage, following the spine of the Rockies and exploring North American attitudes to and beliefs about climate change along the way. The trip took three months and is now the basis of the Carbon Cycle, a slide show that uses the story of the bike ride to deliver a hard-hitting message about climate change and the urgent need to respond to it, in an engaging and ultimately up-beat way.

Greenbang caught up with her to find out why she thinks the climate change debate is going the wrong way.

Greenbang: What do you think is wrong with the debate on climate change?

Dr Kate: It hasn’t really got to grips with the fundamental problem, which is that Western, industrialised lifestyles are literally unsustainable. Climate change is just one symptom of this. WWF famously calculated that if everyone on earth were to enjoy the lifestyle of an average Western European, we would need three planet earths.

… According to the ‘peak oil’ analysis, as the main oil reserves are used up, oil becomes harder to extract and increasingly expensive. It therefore makes a lot of sense to preempt the impact of this by developing ways of meeting our needs and organising communities that are much, much less oil dependent. This is the starting point for many of the ‘transition towns’ or ‘transition initiatives’.
(27 March 2008)