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Folks, I'm happy to say that the Climate Letter Project (that is, me) is getting a vacation.  For 27 days I'm not going to write a single letter, I swear.  Mind you, that's because I've written enough extras in the past few months that I'm 29 days ahead.

I need it; reading bad news and summarizing it every day is tiring.

So I'm going to India, with wife & daughter.  

My idea of a vacation is to go places and sing, so that's what I'll be doing.  I'll be giving concerts of Hindustani vocal music in Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Thane and with luck Nashik as well.  If you're a Kossack in India and feel like seeing a concert of khyal style singing...let me know in the comments, and I'll get you the info.


Dear Ones,  

Here are the most recent published letters.  

As usual, if you want to steal any of my letters and revise them to suit your needs, please do.  They're all available at my blog, along with music, education, India photos, and lots of good stuff.


Here we go...


The New York Daily News reliably publishes my letters and just as reliably never checks my identity.

The New York Daily News notes the US' first likely climate refugees:
The northwestern Alaskan village of Kivalina is perched on a remote and narrow strip of sand next to the frigid waters of the Chukchi sea. Its 400 residents are the descendants of an Iñupiat tribe.

And in just 10 years, these folk might just be America’s first climate change refugees.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts that Kivalina will be completely uninhabitable by 2025, a victim of melting ice, coastal erosion and rising sea levels.

Until the shopping malls are covered, ain't nobody gonna give a damn.  July 31:
That an obscure town in the middle of nowhere will probably fall victim to planetary climatic transformations does not at first seem like particularly significant news, for the world is full of tragedies.  But Kivalina's plight merits closer attention.  Its 400 residents have contributed next to nothing to the greenhouse emissions which may well seal the fate of their ancestral homes. The melting Arctic ice and rising seas are triggered by industrialized civilization's essentially instantaneous introduction of hundreds of millions of years' worth of fossilized carbon into the atmosphere.  

These villagers will become climate refugees, with luck moving on to other towns, other lands, other lives, other hopes.  Kivalina holds a lesson and a warning for the rest of us.  We all live together on an obscure planet in an unremarkable corner of a nondescript galaxy — which we are rapidly rendering uninhabitable.  Where shall we send seven billion climate refugees?

Warren Senders


Sometimes you get a piece that just demands a response.  I'm pleased with how this one came out, and pleased that they published it.  It's pretty fierce.

Just eeeeeeeeew.  The Concord Monitor:
In 1950, New Hampshire was home to just 50 moose. Today, the count is near 5,000, but state biologists fear that climate change – by way of winter ticks and other parasites – is threatening the herd.

“Shorter winters are a problem for moose because they give ticks a leg up,” said Kristine Rines, moose project leader for the state Fish and Game Department. “People have to recognize that the (climate) changes we are facing are not just changes in the Arctic. It’s not just polar bears that are going to be affected.”


It’s hard to imagine ticks taking down one of the state’s largest animals until you consider the magnitude of the problem.

In the recent issue of New Hampshire Wildlife Journal, Fish and Game biologist Dan Bergeron reported that the average number of winter ticks on a single moose in Alberta, Canada, is 32,000 but can be as much as 150,000, all of them feasting on the moose’s blood.

According to Bergeron, the number of winter ticks is directly related to fall and spring weather. If those seasons are mild and nearly snowless, ticks thrive. The winter ticks, which are different than deer or dog ticks, attach to the moose, mate and lay eggs, Bergeron wrote in his piece. That cycle repeats and repeats unless the state gets a traditional, long, cold winter.

Read that number again. 32,000 ticks on average per individual.  I'm sooooo squicked out by that.  July 29:
When it comes to undocumented immigrants, the most powerful causal factor is global climate change.  While it's obvious that a warming atmosphere, rising sea levels, and increasingly extreme weather are going to create burgeoning populations of climate refugees, these human casualties of the intensifying greenhouse effect are just the tip of a (rapidly melting) iceberg.

If conservatives really cared about illegal aliens they'd be working to address the greenhouse effect and its consequences, for it's not just people, but non-native mammals, plants and insects that find their way Northward as newly hospitable ecological niches open up.  Ask New Hampshire's moose population, which is now hosting hundreds of millions of winter ticks, thriving in the warmer temperatures that constitute the region's "new normal."  Unlike the hardworking humans so often targeted by conservative xenophobia and fear-mongering, these debilitating bloodsuckers are genuine parasites whose contribution to the local economy is entirely negative.  

Warren Senders


This next piece caught my eye and begged to be written.  As a music teacher I think a great deal about the consequences of climate change to the art I love.

The NOLA Defender (New Orleans, LA) gives the Big Easy's perspective on climate:
Global warming often conjures images of melting ice caps and smokestacks spewing soot. On Friday, a group of New Orleans cultural pillars put brass bands and New Orleans food in the conversation. Community leaders and climate change awareness activists flooded the docks at Mardis Gras World Friday afternoon to support the I Will #ActOnClimate campaign, and to discuss the potential impact of climate change on New Orleans.

After Glen Hall III, of the Baby Boys Brass Band, piped out his rendition of the National Anthem on the trumpet, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation President and CEO Mark Romig gave his opening comments.

“We are all affected by climate change, including this city’s tourism industry, which is a major economic driver,” he said. “Tourism relies on the things that make New Orleans so great, like our picturesque wetlands, our world-renowned seafood, our rich culture, our heritage, all of which are at risk due to the changing climate. Chefs, musicians, tour guides, artists, and event planners have gathered here to urge action to end climate change.  Not only for the sake of our industry, but because we have a moral obligation to future generations.”

This one was pretty deeply felt.  July 21:
Blues and jazz may have been born of hard times, but New Orleans’ musical genius took its character not only from sorrow and oppression, but from the region’s productive agriculture and essentially benign environment.  The same is true everywhere in the world: music flourishes where there’s enough to eat, where people have enough security to devote time to refining their artistry, and performing for audiences, and teaching their craft to others.  Thanks to its location, the Crescent City is feeling the punishing effects of climate change more immediately than many other locations, so this formulation is no abstraction.

Whether it’s New York or New Delhi, Laos or Louisiana, the arts only flourish when the climate allows people to invest their time in cultural expression.  Subtract climatic stability, and it’s not just agriculture and infrastructure that’ll suffer; without a habitable future, all of humanity’s priceless and unique musical expression is at risk.  

Warren Senders


By contrast, the New York Times gave me a hit for a letter that was essentially a rewrite of one which had seen print in other outlets two or three times before.

The NYT discusses divestiture in the context of the POTUS' speech:
It was a single word tucked into a presidential speech. It went by so fast that most Americans probably never heard it, much less took the time to wonder what it meant.

But to certain young ears, the word had the shock value of a rifle shot. The reference occurred late in President Obama’s climate speech at Georgetown University two weeks ago, in the middle of this peroration:

“Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.”

That injunction to “divest” was, pretty clearly, a signal to the thousands of college students who have been manning the barricades for nearly a year now, urging their colleges to rid their endowments of stock in fossil-fuel companies as a way of forcing climate change higher on the national political agenda.

“The president of the United States knows we exist, and he likes what we’re doing,” Marissa Solomon of the University of Michigan wrote soon after. Other students recounted leaping to their feet or nearly falling off their chairs when the president uttered the word.

Good stuff.  I recycled an older letter, which takes exactly as much time as writing a new one.  July 9:
Recent studies have demonstrated that college endowments won't be adversely affected by divesting from fossil fuel companies, but this shouldn't be the ultimate arbiter in any case.  Economic rationales are ultimately secondary to the moral argument which recognizes that big oil and coal corporations rely on a profoundly destructive business model, atmospherizing huge quantities of fossilized carbon every year without regard for the consequences to our climate, our environment, or our posterity.

Higher education's mission is expected to go beyond mere careerism to inculcate a responsibility to ensure a better future for all.  While fossil fuels may be astonishingly profitable, colleges and universities investing in them are voting with their dollars for a future of devastating climate change instead.  

Student campaigns for divestiture are environmentally, morally, and economically sensible.  As in the long campaign against apartheid, it is the voices of youth which express the better angels of human nature.

Warren Senders

Published (and heavily truncated).

Okay, friends.  Wish me luck in India.  Come to my concerts if you're around!




Originally posted to WarrenS' Blog on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 06:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Climate Change SOS.

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