Tag Archives: global warming

A People Divided

Back in November the Deseret News published the Official text of Utah Compact declaration on immigration reform, a declaration of five principles that was endorsed by many community members, including the LDS church, to “guide Utah’s immigration discussion.”

Then I was reading yesterday’s Salt Tribune article on the growing Momentum building for Utah immigration reform.   Immigration reform is and will continue to be a hot and emotional issue in Utah and beyond.  After reading this article and doing more research I was gearing up for a piece to post on Utah Legislature Watch, formulating information about both sides of the issue along with my own stance on immigration reform.

Little did I know that hours later our nation would be gripped with shock over the terrible tragedy in Tucson, Arizona where a gunman shot US Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords in the head before spraying bullets into a crowd that ultimately resulted in the deaths of six innocent people – among them a 9 year old child.

There is a lot of speculation about why this incident occurred, including the underlying political current in the country, particularly since Rep. Giffords had been a target of threats and vandalism.  It is no surprise that over the past few years there has been increasing amounts of hatred and violence in political debates – the network political commentator programs are no exception to this – inciting hatred and violence amongst people in the United States over their political views and practices.  One only has to read the comments in the articles cited in the first two paragraphs above to see the undercurrent of hate towards fellow human beings without any thought at all to discussing the real problems of immigration reform…or health care reform…or ethics reform…or global warming…or any issue – and devising solutions together as communities should.

There are a lot of things to say on immigration reform in Utah.  In time.  At this time, though, I offer my sympathy to the victims and their families of the tragedy in Tuscon.  I pray for recovery and healing – a healing of not only those directly affected by the incident but also by the rest of us on the periphery – a healing of the heart and mind.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Legislators Continue to Ignore Climate Change

Utah’s legislators are continuing to raise the temperature on Climate Change issues, putting Utah in the spotlight on environmental issues.

KSL TV has a video piece on yesterday’s vote here.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported  today:

In a 4-2 vote over the objections of critics — including former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and a large contingent of university students — the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee approved Rep. Kerry Gibson’s nonbinding measure.

It calls on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to freeze efforts to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions until completion of “a full and independent investigation” of climate-change science.

Read the rest of the article here, where even BYU scientists are quoted as opposing the resolution.

Drew Thompson, of the  Stop HJR12 Facebook Group distributed this message to the group’s supporters yesterday:

Dear friends,

Thanks to all those who attended the meeting this morning….Unfortunately we were not successful in stopping the resolution at that meeting, but not all hope is lost. The resolution will now go the senate. We should now direct our voices to our respective senators via letters, phone calls, emails, etc. I will try to find out when the actual vote will occur and will notify you all so we can get as many people as possible up on the hill at that time to oppose the resolution.

There was an incredible energy at the meeting this morning. I hope we can harness that passion to enact lasting change within our state and across the country.

Adding fuel to the climate change fire, legislators are looking at yet another resolution, that in essence, denies the reality of climate change:  HJR 21 Joint Resolution on Energy Policy .   Thompson continues:

We may also want to start turning our attention to HJR 21. It is a resolution urging the governor to withdraw from the Western Climate Initiative and will have a more immediate and profound effect on policy within the state than HJR 12. It is currently in the House of Representatives and will likely be voted on this upcoming week. While you are contacting your senators about HJR 12 you should consider contacting your representatives about HJR 21.

The motives for these resolutions are clearly about the economy and not about saving the planet.  There is no discussion about how to balance the two.  Our planet’s future is at stake and without a planet there will be no jobs to protect.

Students from the University of Utah and Westminster College had this to say to legislators:

Jillian Edmunds, a student at Westminster College, compared scientists who doubt man-made climate change to historians who don’t believe in the Holocaust, while University of Utah student Derek Snarr, blasted the committee for ignoring experts.

Both Snarr and Edmunds warned that decisions made by the Legislature now would have an impact on later generations.

“What we’re saying here, as future generations, is … ‘are you willing to sit here, do nothing except the status quo, and force us to face the consequences?’ ” Edmunds asked.

View previous posts on climate change legislation here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

HJR12 Heats Up

The heat is on with the Climate Change Joint Resolution (HJR12).  A message from a newly formed Facebook group of citizens against this resolution, which had organized a rally of 300 people for Friday at 2pm,  came out with this news and call to action:

It looks like those on the hill in support of HJR12 smelt defeat and moved the resolution to a new committee at the last minute. HJR 12 has been moved from the Senate Workforce Committee to the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee. This means that the senators voting on the resolution have changed to the people listed below and the vote will occur this Friday at 8:00 am instead of 2:00 pm. This will likely reduce the amount of people who can attend on Friday, but if you are able to make it this Friday at 8:00 am we could definitely use the support.

It is crucial for us to contact this new list of senators as soon as possible. It’s likely that the committee was changed to ensure that the resolution will pass. You can just forward the emails you sent to the last committee members to these new senators. Two of the senators, Okerlund and Morgan, serve on both committees. If you are not able to make it to the meeting this Friday due to the time change you may want to mention that in your email.

On another note, High Road for Human Rights is collecting signatures in opposition to HJR 12. Check out http://climateletter.highroadforhumanrights.org/ before Friday to add your name to the list.

Drew Thompson

Sen. Dennis E. Stowell (R) (Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Millard, Washington)
Email: dstowell@utahsenate.org
Home: (435) 477-8143
Cell: (435) 559-8143

Sen. Allen M. Christensen (R) (Morgan, Summit, Weber)
Email: achristensen@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 782-5600
Cell: (801) 710-0315

Sen. Gene Davis (D) (Salt Lake)
Email: gdavis@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 484-9428
Office: (801) 484-9442

Sen. Margaret Dayton (R) (Utah)
Email: mdayton@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 221-0623

Sen. Karen W. Morgan (D) (Salt Lake)
Email: kmorgan@utahsenate.org
Home: (801) 943-0067
Office: (801) 538-1406

Sen. Ralph Okerlund (R) (Juab, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Tooele, Wayne)
Email: rokerlund@utahsenate.org
Home: (435) 527-3370
Cell: (435) 979-7077

Read other posts about this Resolution here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

HJR12: It’s getting hot, hot, hot…..

The controversy about Global Warming continues amongst Utah’s Legislators with HJR12, Climate Change Joint Resolution which passed the Utah House yesterday 56-17.  The Resolution will now go to the Senate for review.

Here are some gems reported in the Deseret News:

Sponsor Rep. Kerry Gibson, R-Ogden, a dairy farmer….said some argue that if the Environmental Protection Agency goes forward with cap and trade on CO2, it could lead to a “cow tax.”

Then cows like his own could be measured for “belches” and other gases they produce, which in turn could lead to a head tax that would increase the cost of milk and meat to consumers.

“I believe in global warming,” Gibson said. “I believe in global cooling, in (weather) cycles. We’ve had an ice age, extreme heat,” but can humans, “in our everyday lives,” change the environment around us?

Instead, through inaccurate data and a general type of hysteria, the public has been pushed to make improper judgments, he said. And adopting CO2 cap and trade would be a diabolical mistake. Such action is really “an energy tax” that will harm all Americans, harm jobs in this country and likely have little or no effect on global warming.

Some representatives opposed to HJR12 have pointed out that EPA grants could be in risk of not being issued to Utah if it actually took the advice of the Resolution, putting on hold any research on clean air and funds for revamping school buses.  But another representative had this gem:

But the idea that CO2 is somehow detrimental to humans, or to the earth, brought Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, out of his chair.

“CO2 does not give us red days” of air pollution warnings on the Wasatch Front, he said. “That is absolutely untrue.”

“First do no harm,” said Noel. And cap and trade will do great harm, he added.

The resolution would have no legal bearing.  The sentiment, though, of “doing great harm” is a blind-sighted view to the harm that will continue to be done to all life on our planet if something is not done to protect it, making the things that these legislators opposed to Global Warming value in their lives moot.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Lawmakers claim global warming is “conspiracy”

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Utah must look really crazy to the world right now.  Members of  a House committee passed a non-binding resolution to keep federal global warming laws out of the state.

ksl.com has posted a piece on the action today:

KSL.com on Utah Legislature view on climate change

The committee plans to take the resolution to the full House for a vote.

There are also many conservative Republicans who strongly believe global warming is a conspiracy to do something that would harm Utah. The resolution reflects this theory with strong words and a strong message.

For example, it claims perpetrators of “Climategate” often “incorporate “tricks” related to global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome.” The end result is what the resolution calls a climate change “gravy train.”

Along with scientific evidence, one only needs to look at things like the Hardiness Zone Map to see the the changes in climate over a period of years. (Oh, but wait!  The Arbor Day Foundation are some of those “conspiracy theorists”!).

Global Warming is a very controversial issue with conservatives.  The denial of global warming comes from the fact that the extraction industry would be heavily taxed and the profits would no longer be realized.  The rich would become less rich and that just isn’t acceptable.

That’s the bottom line, and at the expense of our planet and all its life.

“Happy” New Year?

(I have been out of town for the past 2 weeks, so posting has been non-existent.)

I am having difficulty wishing people a “happy” new year with everything that is going in in our world: A failing economy resulting in job losses, a housing market crash, budget shortfalls; A broken health care system that continues to prevent families from receiving adequate health care; War-ridden countries and recent escalation of conflict in Gaza; the continuation of planetary destruction with not only the effects of war, but also the sale of land for oil drilling, lack of adequate regulation for pollution generating machinery and equipment and practices, lack of appropriate measures to address global warming, the demise of local businesses due to increasing invasion of large corporate giants, to name a few.

There is so much negative occurring at this time that it is difficult to focus on the positive. Nonetheless, I have generated this list of positive things in my life:

I am thankful that I have a job with health benefits.
I am thankful that I have the skill and knowledge to be able to grow my own food and be self sustaining.
I am thankful that I have resources to help my children and grandchildren right now in the current economic crisis.
I am thankful that I can gain and share knowledge about world events and actually have the ability to do something about some things to effect change.
I am thankful that I am able to provide an education for a little girl in Ethiopia, my small postivie contribution to one life which otherwise is affected by negative circumstances.
I am thankful for my husband who is a constant daily source of friendship and inspiration in my life.
I am thankful for my family and friends here in Utah and across the country.

My hopes for the new year?

That I am able to maintain my health and attitude to continue to work on peace, justice and sustainability issues in my community and beyond.
That at least one person I know who isn’t as convinced that big change needs to occur to improve our world will come to the realization that some of the things I mention here do need to be addressed and so they make changes towards that end for themselves and in their community.
That the new administration begins to make moves in the direction towards a more peace and just society and world without war.
That family and friends I know who are without jobs and health care will find improvements in those areas in their lives.

So “happy” new year with these things in mind. Peace on earth. Good will toward all life on our planet.

Retailers in U.S. – Food Rationing?

It’s kind of creepy to see that retailers have the power to ration food….

Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World
Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 21, 2008

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Many parts of America, long considered the
breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable
phenomenon: food rationing. Major retailers in New York, in areas of New
England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and
cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports
that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.

At a Costco Warehouse in Mountain View, Calif., yesterday, shoppers grew
frustrated and occasionally uttered expletives as they searched in vain
for the large sacks of rice they usually buy.

“Where’s the rice?” an engineer from Palo Alto, Calif., Yajun Liu, said.
“You should be able to buy something like rice. This is ridiculous.”

The bustling store in the heart of Silicon Valley usually sells four or
five varieties of rice to a clientele largely of Asian immigrants, but
only about half a pallet of Indian-grown Basmati rice was left in stock. A
20-pound bag was selling for $15.99.

“You can’t eat this every day. It’s too heavy,” a health care executive
from Palo Alto, Sharad Patel, grumbled as his son loaded two sacks of the
Basmati into a shopping cart. “We only need one bag but I’m getting two in
case a neighbor or a friend needs it,” the elder man said.
Continue reading

Step it Up 2 – Rocky Anderson in concert

Not only did Pom Poms Not Bomb Bombs perform, so did Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson with Salt Lake’s School of Rock at the Step It Up 2 event on Saturday November 3rd:

More photos

Is Climate Change Real? To Act or Not: You Decide

Global Warming caused by raising animals for food

I became a vegetarian about 6 years ago when I realized that by eating meat I was contributing to an industry that really kept people all over the world from being fed.  The article from Common Dreams pasted below gives one even a lot more to think about regarding the consumption of meat:

Nuggets and Hummers and Fish Sticks, Oh My!
Why Vegetarianism Is the Best Way to Help the Environment

by Bruce Friedrich

In 1987, I read Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé and — primarily for human rights and environmental reasons — went vegan. Two decades later, I still believe that — even leaving aside all the animal welfare issues — a vegan diet is the only reasonable diet for people in the developed world who care about the environment or global poverty.

Over the past 20 years, the environmental argument against growing crops to be fed to animals — so that humans can eat the animals — has grown substantially. Just this past November, the environmental problems associated with eating chickens, pigs, and other animals were the subject of a 408-page United Nations scientific report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow.

The U.N. report found that the meat industry contributes to “problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.” The report concludes that the meat industry is “one of the … most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”

Eating Meat Is the No. 1 Consumer Cause of Global Warming

Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others have brought the possibility of global cataclysm into sharp relief. What they have not been talking about, however, is the fact that all cars, trucks, planes, and other types of transportation combined account for about 13 percent of global warming emissions, whereas raising chickens, pigs, cattle, and other animals contributes to 18 percent, according to U.N. scientists. Yes, eating animal products contributes to global warming 40 percent more than all SUVs, 18-wheelers, jumbo jets, and other types of travel combined.

Al and Leo might not be talking about the connection between meat and global warming, but the Live Earth concert that Al inspired is: The recently published Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook recommends, “Don’t be a chicken. Stop being a pig. And don’t have a cow. Be the first on your block to cut back on meat.” The Handbook further explains that “refusing meat” is “the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint” [emphasis in original].

And Environmental Defense, on its website, notes, “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains … the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Imagine if we stopped eating animal products altogether.

Eating Meat Wastes Resources

If I lie in bed and never get up, I will burn almost 2,500 calories each day; that is what’s required to keep my body alive. The same physiological reality applies to all animals: The vast majority of the calories consumed by a chicken, a pig, a cow, or another animal goes into keeping that animal alive, and once you add to that the calories required to create the parts of the animal that we don’t eat (e.g., bones, feathers, and blood), you find that it takes more than 10 times as many calories of feed given to an animal to get one calorie back in the form of edible fat or muscle. In other words, it’s exponentially more efficient to eat grains, soy, or oats directly rather than feed them to farmed animals so that humans can eat those animals. It’s like tossing more than 10 plates of spaghetti into the trash for every one plate you eat.

And that’s just the pure “calories in, calories out” equation.  When you factor in everything else, the situation gets much worse.

Think about the extra stages of production that are required to get dead chickens, pigs, or other animals from the farm to the table:

  1. Grow more than 10 times as much corn, grain, and soy (with all the required tilling, irrigation, crop dusters, and so on), as would be required if we ate the plants directly.
  2. Transport — in gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing 18-wheelers — all that grain and soy to feed manufacturers.
  3. Operate the feed mill (again, using massive amounts of resources).
  4. Truck the feed to the factory farms.
  5. Operate the factory farms.
  6. Truck the animals many miles to slaughterhouses.
  7. Operate the slaughterhouses.
  8. Truck the meat to processing plants.
  9. Operate the meat processing plants.
  10. Truck the meat to grocery stores (in refrigerated trucks).
  11. Keep the meat in refrigerators or freezers at the stores.

With every stage comes massive amounts of extra energy usage — and with that comes heavy pollution and massive amounts of greenhouse gases, of course. Obviously, vegan foods require some of these stages, too, but vegan foods cut out the factory farms, the slaughterhouses, and multiple stages of heavily polluting tractor-trailer trucks, as well as all the resources (and pollution) involved in each of those stages. And as was already noted, vegan foods require less than one-tenth as many calories from crops, since they are turned directly into food rather than funneled through animals first.

Eating Meat Wastes and Pollutes Water

All food requires water, but animal foods are exponentially more wasteful of water than vegan foods are. Enormous quantities of water are used to irrigate the corn, soy, and oat fields that are dedicated to feeding farmed animals — and massive amounts of water are used in factory farms and slaughterhouses. According to the National Audubon Society, raising animals for food requires about as much water as all other water uses combined. Environmental author John Robbins estimates that it takes about 300 gallons of water to feed a vegan for a day, four times as much water to feed an ovo-lacto vegetarian, and about 14 times as much water to feed a meat-eater.

Raising animals for food is also a water-polluting process. According to a report prepared by U.S. Senate researchers, animals raised for food in the U.S. produce 86,000 pounds of excrement per second — that’s 130 times more than the amount of excrement that the entire human population of the U.S. produces! Farmed animals’ excrement is more concentrated than human excrement, and is often contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, toxic chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and other harmful substances. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the runoff from factory farms pollutes our rivers and lakes more than all other industrial sources combined.

Eating Meat Destroys the Rain Forest

The World Bank recently reported that 90 percent of all Amazon rainforest land cleared since 1970 is used for meat production. It’s not just that we’re destroying the rainforest to make grazing land for cows — we’re also destroying it to grow feed for them and other animals. Last year, Greenpeace targeted KFC for the destruction of rainforests because the Amazon is being razed to grow feed for chickens that end up in KFC’s buckets. Of course, the rainforest is being used to grow feed for other chickens, pigs, and cows, too (i.e., KFC isn’t the only culprit).

What About Eating Fish?

Anyone who reads the news knows that commercial fishing fleets are plundering the oceans and destroying sensitive aquatic ecosystems at an incomprehensible rate. One super-trawler is the length of a football field, and can take in 800,000 pounds of fish in a single netting. These trawlers scrape along the ocean floor, clear-cutting coral reefs and everything else in their path. Hydraulic dredges scoop up huge chunks of the ocean floor to sift out scallops, clams, and oysters. Most of what the fishing fleets pull in isn’t even eaten by human beings; half is fed to animals raised for food, and about 30 million tons each year are just tossed back into the ocean, dead, with disastrous and irreversible consequences for the natural biological balance.Then there is aquaculture (fish farming), which is increasing at a rate of more than 10 percent annually. Aquaculture is even worse than commercial fishing because, for starters, it takes about four pounds of wild-caught fish to reap just one pound of farmed fish, which eat fish caught by commercial trawlers. Farmed fish are often raised in the same water that wild fish swim in, but fish farmers dump antibiotics into the water and use genetic breeding to create “Frankenstein fish.” The antibiotics contaminate the oceans and seas, and the genetically engineered fish sometimes escape and breed with wild fish, throwing delicate aquatic balances off-kilter. Researchers at the University of Stockholm demonstrated that the horrible environmental impact of fish farms can extend to an area 50,000 times larger than the farm itself.

Eating Meat Supports Cruelty

Caring for the environment means protecting all of our planet’s inhabitants, not just the human ones. Chickens, pigs, turkeys, fish, and cows are intelligent, social animals who feel pain, just as humans, dogs, and cats do. Chickens and pigs do better on animal behavior cognition tests than dogs or cats, and are interesting individuals in the same way. Fish form strong social bonds, and some even use tools. Yet these animals suffer extreme pain and deprivation in today’s factory farms. Chickens have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade, pigs have their tails chopped off and their teeth removed with pliers, and cattle and pigs are castrated — all without any pain relief. The animals are crowded together and given steady doses of hormones and antibiotics in order to make them grow so quickly that their hearts and limbs often cannot keep up, causing crippling and heart attacks. At the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside-down and bled to death, often while they are still conscious.

What About Eating Meat That Isn’t From Factory-Farmed Animals?

Is meat better if it doesn’t come from factory-farmed animals? Of course, but its production still wastes resources and pollutes the environment. Shouldn’t we environmentalists challenge ourselves to do the best we can, not just to make choices that are a bit less bad?

The U.N. report looks at meat at a global level and indicts the inefficiency and waste that are inherent in meat production. No matter where meat comes from, raising animals for food will require that exponentially more calories be fed to animals than they can produce in their flesh, and it will require all those extra stages of CO2-intensive production as well. Only grass-fed cows eat food from land that could not otherwise be used to grow food for human beings, and even grass-fed cows require much more water and create much more pollution than vegan foods do.


The case against eating animal products is ironclad; it’s not a new argument, and it goes way beyond just global warming. Animals will not grow or produce flesh, milk, or eggs without food and water; they won’t do it without producing excrement; and the stages of meat, dairy, and egg production will always cause pollution and be resource-intensive.


If the past is any guide, this essay will generate much hand-wringing from my meat-eating environmentalist colleagues and, sadly, some anger. They will prefer half-measures (e.g., meat that is “not as bad” as other meat). They may accuse PETA of being judgmental — simply for presenting the evidence. They will make various arguments that are beside the point. They will ignore the overwhelming argument against eating animal products and try to find a loophole. Some will just call the argument absurd, presenting no evidence at all.

But as Leonardo DiCaprio has noted, this is the 11th hour for the environment. Where something as basic as eating animals is concerned, the choice could not be any clearer: Every time we sit down to eat, we can choose to eat a product that is, according to U.N. scientists, “one of the … most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global,” or we can choose vegan — and preferably organic — foods. It’s bad for the environment to eat animals. It’s time to stop looking for loopholes.

Considering the proven health benefits of a vegetarian diet — the American Dietetic Association states that vegetarians have a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, and various types of cancer — there’s no need or excuse to eat chickens, pigs, eggs, and other animal products. And vegan foods are available everywhere and taste great; as with all foods — vegan or not — you just need to find the ones you like.

You can find out more at GoVeg.com and get great-tasting recipes, meal plans, cookbook recommendations, and more at VegCooking.com.

Bruce Friedrich is the vice president for campaigns at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He has been a progressive and environmental activist for more than 20 years.