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Mother-son film team takes on auto exhaust

Original post made on Apr 23, 2014

A Palo Alto filmmaker launched a $21,000 fund-raising drive this week for a children's video analogizing auto exhaust to poop. The analogy, she said, is a way to get people to care about a pollutant they cannot smell, taste or see.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 10:24 AM

Comments (34)

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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Great. Let's increase the population density drastically while cutting traffic lanes while imagining no one will drive cars. Carbon dioxide is just SO green, right?

Let's allow more buildings without requiring the owners to provide parking spaces and then let's hire consultants to figure out why we've got a gridlock problem. Feh.

Only in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Torgei
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Apr 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

What a senseless waste of time and lack of logic!!!!


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2014 at 10:58 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 25, 2014 at 8:23 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by OPAR
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2014 at 7:56 pm

I like the approach of reaching out with humor and visuals to bring awareness on a topic that impacts life.


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Posted by Arianne
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 28, 2014 at 11:39 am

The education of our children on climate change much start early - they will be inheriting the earth from us and must keep in going for their children and generations to come. This is a great film that helps bring that message to our children in a light and yet strong way. Thanks to the mother-son team for thinking of it


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Posted by Anne S
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 28, 2014 at 11:59 am

I am so pleased that Vanessa is planning to make this movie. She is dedicated to the challenge of global climate change, supports several local projects with the same goal of reducing polluting gasses, and is a fabulous ambassador for green living. I am disappointed to see a few who have responded negatively..... for myself, I am inspired by those , like Vanessa, who are willing to step out and do the work. (As an expert film maker she has lots of choices of the kind of films to dedicate her working life to. Many, as we know would be much more lucrative!)


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Posted by Annette
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

What a clever & fun way to convey an important and complex topic. Love the creativity of visual learning, and that a Spanish language version will be made.

I supported Worse Than Poop on Kickstarter!


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Posted by Polly Wanacracker
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

It's about time somebody did an exhaustive study of automobile emissions.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2014 at 6:27 pm

I love the humor, and I think kids will love it, too. I watched the trailer and was very impressed with how well-spoken Elliot is. What a great Mom for involving him. You're never too young to be an activist for saving the planet!


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

I hereby challenge Filmmaker Warheit to a public debate on climate change. At risk of saying what's unspeakable here in my home town, as fundamental a question as whether C02 has caused global warming or warming raising C02 levels has not yet been answered by science.

MY children will hear both sides of the debate, will yours?


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Posted by Muriel M.
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Muriel M. is a registered user.

Children intuitively understand why it's important to protect the environment and once equipped with more education on this subject they will be the biggest drivers for change. It takes time to change as we can observe in many domains such as gender/racial/sexual orientation equality and yet the generation of today has a mindset that often dramatically differs from 2 generations ago. This was achieved through political activism and education.
Vanessa's movie will contribute to driving this change and the world will be a better place as a result.

This is not just about climate change, it's about health. Reducing emissions positively affects people's health at many levels. Wouldn't it be magical to drive your bicycle in Palo Alto without breathing toxic fumes?

I am supporting Vanessa's movie through Kickstarter and I encourage everyone to do the same!
Muriel (currently participating in BMW's electric car pilot and loving every minute of it!)


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Posted by Ben Hammett, PhD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I am delighted that Vanessa Warheit, although she has an advanced degree from Stanford, has found a non-intellectual way of making shockingly visual for us and our children, who will inherit this planet, the invisible serious unnatural build up of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. If unabated, this unnatural build up will in mere decades cause dangerous warming, dangerous weather changes and sea level rise, and the acidity of our oceans to reach levels not seen in 300 million years, in turn causing the progressive extinction of the calcifying organisms that are the basis of our ocean food chain.
Don't take my word for it, my degree from Stanford is merely a B.S. in physical sciences, with a subsequent PhD in clinical psychology. Instead I invite you study the evidence for yourself, and chat with experts at Stanford, right next door to you. Therefore I wish to recommend to you to watch this video, in case you did not see this in early April on the San Francisco KGO ABC7 News report, about the IPCC's latest climate findings and projections. It includes a very concerned commentary from Dr. Terry Root of Stanford University. She was the colleague and wife of the late Dr. Stephen Schneider who was, climate adviser to five presidential administrations and, to me, a "Paul Revere" of climate change.

Go to Web Link
And Click on the video >

Some further links for you to check out:

Dr. Terry Root's most impressive CV:
Web Link

Dr. Stephen Schneider's Stanford website, memorialized as he kept it with an encyclopedic amount of information:
Web Link

The Chasing Ice Film – was a life-changing experience for me, along with my trip back in 2006 to visit Alaskan natives whose homes are washing away due to the melting permafrost caused by arctic warming.
Web Link


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Posted by Diane M
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Thank you Vanessa and Elliot for your commitment to producing Worse Than Poop!
The climate crisis is the world's most critical challenge of this century. We must do everything possible, individually and collectively, to slow the pace of greenhouse gas emissions, and prepare to live on a steadily warming planet. As the parent of a 12 -year old I know that empowering children and youth to take actions everyday that make a difference is essential, since they are facing an uncertain environmental future.

I've made my pledge on KickStarter to get this project funded and am asking everyone I know to do the same.


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Posted by Ben Hammett, PhD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2014 at 10:59 am

In my previous comment I neglected to give you references to the statement about ocean acidification rate.

Whitehouse study finds ocean acidification rate highest in 300,000,000 years.
Web Link

Play the video and stop at 56.40 minutes to see the effect of CO2 ocean acidification on calcifying ocean organisms.
Web Link

Also, it is not enough just to give a scary proof of what will happen if we continue with business as usual. Here in this book is a most hopeful solution to the problem.
Web Link


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Posted by DR. A. Cannara
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I'll just add to Ben Hammett's good comment that acidification is not only more imminent than warming and sea rise, but equally catastrophic, because extinctions are permanent: Web Link

Too many groups claiming an environmental mantle fail to recognize the full, broad effects of our over 1.5 trillion tons of emissions, and the limited means we have for prompt remediation.

We've lackadaisically chosen to fall decades behind the facts and even a President's vision: Web Link

Our descendants are watching us from the future.
--
Dr. A. Cannara
650 400 3071



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Posted by Vanessa Warheit
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm

In response to Chris Zaharias,
I suggest you read some of the links thoughtfully provided by Ben Hammett regarding the scientific basis for understanding climate change. The IPCC has just told us unequivocally that climate change is here, that it's man-made, and that it's potentially catastrophic if we don't act quickly. There is no longer any scientific debate on climate change.
I'm sorry if your children weren't alive a few decades ago to hear the debate when it was happening - but those days are now over. The scientists have reached consensus; and what we need now is action. Our family has committed to a zero-carbon transportation lifestyle, and we're making this film to educate others about why, and how, everyone can do the same. Right now - while we still have time to make a difference and leave a safe climate for our children. And, like Muriel pointed out - even if you DON'T believe the scientific consensus on climate change, reducing gas vehicle driving will help air quality, reduce childhood asthma and obesity, and improve our standard of living. What's not to like?
Best,
Vanessa


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Posted by Mark G
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 29, 2014 at 4:32 pm

This is really a good project. Kids need to be taught what's in store for them in a non-scary way. And kids love scatological references, right?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:23 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

Thanks for your reply Vanessa. As an independent thinker with three children of my own, I can't tell you how tiresome it's been over the years to see good people with good intentions be lulled by their own false righteousness into falling for the scam that is anthropogenic global warming. Not that many in Palo Alto are open to a middle ground reality check, but please read on if you are:

1) IPCC science. If you read about the IPCC, you quickly realize their reports are anything but the settled scientific fact you appear to think they are. Exhibit One: Web Link

2) CO2 cause & effect - whereas none of the information linked to above gets anywhere near proving that CO2 has caused warming and not the inverse, hundreds of millions of years of pre-human data exists to prove that both warming and cooling occur when CO2 is as much as 10X higher than it is today. "Perhaps the simplest way to expose the fallacy of 'extreme certainty' is to look at the historical record. When modern life evolved over 500 million years ago, CO2 was more than 10 times higher than today, yet life flourished at this time. Then an ice age occurred 450 million years ago when CO2 was 10 times higher than today.

"The fact that we had both higher temperatures and an ice age at a time when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than they are today fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming." From Patrick Moore's recent U.S. Senate testimony: Web Link

3) IPCC of warming alarmist models have been consistently wrong. Have you bothered to explain to your children that the only thing consistent about the math models upon which CO2-based global warming fears are based is that they've always ended up being wrong? WSJ: Web Link

I could go on and on with legitimate, scientific destruction of AGW, but more importantly, I hope everyone can move on from this tired dialectic and focus on the one thing all sound minds should agree on, which is that national and local energy independence, natural resource preservation and durable quality of life are the true, sound bases for emissions reduction advocacy. On *that* point, I'll refer back to what another PAOnline commenter on another thread said:

"Whether or not you can handle the science behind Global Warming, it has got to be a good thing to think about our impact on the environment and to move toward energy alternatives that reduce carbon emissions. It just makes sense. Our responsible decisions role model good stewardship for our community's children and create in all of us more mindful attitudes toward our choices and how our actions impact our world. Remember if we want youth to buy into our values, we must demonstrate values worth caring about."

That sounds great, but PA residents drive big, fat cars, have big, fat homes, take big fat vacations, eat huge amounts of food and as such, IMHO, talking about energy decisions outside of the geo-political reasons for energy independence shows us to by hypocrites more than anything else. I think we do our kids a disservice when we let our righteousness lead us astray.


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Posted by Eric
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Human caused warming or not, CO2 and emissions affect air quality, what do you think visibility was like here 100 years ago? Incidence of asthma 100 years ago?

Can't we just reduce emissions and use more improved technologies, or behavior change because it is the right thing to do, it reduces waste, and improves quality of life? You don't need to be a climate change advocate/denier to agree that cleaner air, and reduction of energy consumption are good things.


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Posted by Ben Hammett, PhD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm

In spite of sudden recent escalation of climate change warnings from the IPCC, some of us parents and grandparents clearly are still asking 1) how really urgent is the changing climate situation for our future generations, and 2) is it caused by human activity? Because if it is not, then it must be cyclical and beyond our control, so why blame car exhaust?

Fortunately, a recent conference at the University of California at Santa Cruz invited leading scientists and policy makers to report to us the latest findings and climate related governmental actions, present and proposed. I attended, assuming that what would be trustworthy to teach university students would be equally important information for all my own grandchildren to understand.

I wish to share with you this valuable opportunity that I had to hear what these presenters consider to be the distillation of the latest state of climate change knowledge and action plans, by inviting you to read the following two news reviews of the conference and to listen to and to evaluate for yourself the following three videos of the panels and the question and answer discussions that followed each panel.

Web Link

Web Link

Panel 1: The current state of climate change scientific research
Web Link

Panel 2: Mitigation of the effects of climate change
Web Link

Panel 3: Adapting to the future effects of climate change
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thomas
a resident of Midtown
on May 1, 2014 at 12:18 am

I'm puzzled by the nay sayers in this thread of comments. It's almost as if the fossil fuel industry has online commentators on payroll. Vanessa is using the power of humor to open windows of perception about an existential issue. As NASA climate scientist James Hanson says, we can only burn 565 Gigatons of the 2795 GT of coal, oil, and natural gas remaining in the ground before we've raised the temperature of the atmosphere by 2 degrees Centigrade. Even politicians and nation states, who are inclined to protect their fossil fuel industries, admit that 2 degrees will render the earth unfit for human habitation.

We've all going to have to get creative like Vanessa, spread the word, and change our lifestyles. Building more internal combustion engines and parking lots won't help Palo Alto when the Bay shore is west of Route 101 and droughts and famine are the norm. We have the technology to protect our ultimate natural resource with a massive global investment in renewable energy - let's go! Solar! Wind! Geothermal! Water!


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2014 at 7:21 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

When I was growing up in PA I remember how worrisome it was to think about the Cold War, to see/hear all the sub-hunting planes flying from Moffet 24x7, to know that the windowless blue building at Nasa/Ames had 50 megatons of Soviet ICBMs targeted to it, that thermonuclear destruction was possible and outside our control. Remember that?

So today, when I see misguided but well-meaning parents & teachers crying out the global warming gospel as if it were God's truth when all indications are it's utterly unsettled science, I try to get folks on both sides to see the reasonable middle path, which is to step back from notions of certainty, and focus on the geopolitical & economic advantages of energy independence and conservation. As if there weren't reasons enough for all sides to move to the middle, here's a recent article on how the global warming scare is hurting our youth's mental state:

Web Link

Anyone else think that matters?


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm

That French Literature degree has made you quite the expert in the science of climate change.


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

While at Harvard, Al Gore got a 'D' in Natural Sciences 6 (Man's Place in Nature) and a C+ in Natural Sciences 118 his senior year. By comparison, my grades in my Marine Biochemistry minor were much, much better. But yes, I'm no expert, just curious enough to be a life-long fan of science, and surer with age that the majority's usually wrong.

Web Link


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Great link, CZ. I love this quote from it: "Unlike adults who can put their heads in the sand about what we have been doing to our planet, these kids are very aware of what's going on,"

Smart kids. Maybe they heard this one, whose author I've long forgotten: "When you got your head in the sand, your [word deleted] is high in the air."


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Posted by Char T
a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

I appreciate Chris Z's comments. I also applaud Ms. Vareheit for making this film. I'm glad we have a forum to discuss these issues. I think the issue is a little more complex when politics and policy interact with science.

I think in Palo Alto, its amazing to see people put their money where their mouths are and buy zero-emmissions vehicles and bike everywhere. I sure wish we had more bike racks though!

When I hear, "there is no debate...there is only consensus...we must act now..." I wonder what you (collectively) mean by that. What does it mean "to act" in this sense. If all the financially stable educated people start biking and driving Leafs (I think the plural of a Nissan Leaf is "leafs.") Will that be sufficient? Is there any consensus on what will be required to stabilize and repair climate change? How much production must cease? What forms of consumption must be completely prohibited or heavily limited?

I'm all for people helping the earth voluntarily, but lets cut to the chase - how soon and how much will you legislate energy use? A lot of people here will be immune to the higher cost of products, but many people won't be.

I always thought it was suspicious that some of the loudest voices for climate change action seem to be some of the largest consumers of energy - then they buy "carbon offsets." Who is auditing these carbon credit companies? If flying in a private plane is an example of a hugely inefficient contributor to C02 emissions, what if all the left leaning celebrities just agreed to do e-concerts? How about the speakers and politicians? What if they just wrote but never did live appearances?

So, from a practical standpoint, what is your plan? Is it worth a sacrifice of economic and personal liberty if it isn't going to make a dent in climate change anyway? Where do you propose the line be drawn? Of course its doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition, but I'd just be curious to hear exactly where the line should be drawn.

We know politicians on both sides use fear mongering to drive donations and votes. The examples on the right and left are too numerous to mention. So, I would love to hear unemotional honesty about what is needed, and what is likely to work.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

"I think in Palo Alto, its amazing to see people put their money where their mouths are and buy zero-emmissions vehicles"

There is no such thing. Electrical energy generation is a major, major CO2 emitter. The emissions are not zero, they are merely elsewhere, out of sight, out of mind.


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Posted by Fellow parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2014 at 9:03 am

To the filmaker,
Great idea! Two things to consider for your video

1) we see ths great big sky above us and think there is so much atmosphere. But really the breathable atmosphere is such a small shell over the surface of the earth. Show the true dimensions of our small life support system in a tangible way. The poop fillls up the space faster than we realize.

2) children learn about trash by recycling in school, but there is no example set with clean air. There are no laws or rules ensuring good air quality for students in California schools, or even laws against bad air quality, so consequently that's an area most school districts ignore. Where they are required to have an asbestos plan, they do regular inspections. But since no such requirement exists for other indoor air hazards for kids - mold, VOCs, even outside exhaust - there's no leading by example or involving the kids in valuing clean air. (There are a few very weak OSHA rules but teachers are usually afraid to complain, and children are more vulnerable than adults.) It's like telling the kids to eat well and putting nothing but sodas and candy and some occasional poison in the school lunch program. Show them by example. The EPA has worked out a well-honed air quality program for schools that helps them optimize it within their resources. It includes awareness of and best practices with exhaust. Again, leading by example teaches the next generation that we care about their health, and how to care for it themselves - in this case, in regards to clean air. Give the children a value of lean air by bringing it into their daily lives, and they, too, will see the poop comng out the exhaust pipes!


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 7, 2014 at 11:25 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

Great thoughts from 'Fellow Parent', to which I'd add that for those who still believe that capitalism and markets are and will continue to be the real agent for change, we need to become aware of ourselves - and then teach youth - of the inexorable presence of the global market, the fairly efficient manner in which it *is* making energy production/use more efficient, and the opportunities we as consumers, workers, investors, voters and managers have to accelerate the market's march to efficient energy, which is by definition cleaner and renewable.

Most youth I talk to know nothing about that, and ditto for most educators, not surprising since they inherently have no market experience. That needs to change, and parents are the front line.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2014 at 3:06 pm

"accelerate the market's march to efficient energy, which is by definition cleaner and renewable."

Won't happen while fracking keeps dirty energy cheaper. That's how the market works.


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Posted by Ben Hammett, PhD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Would we have won the second world war with half-way measures? We waited with middle-of-the-road involvement while Hitler invaded Europe; but Pearl Harbor was the call to full action. Now half-measures may avail us little, for we stand at a climate change turning point. Witness the news:

Scientific American-May 12, 2014
Scientific American ... Antarctica's Twaites Glacier, one of the six glaciers of the Amundsen Sea Embayment of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. ... state of retreat and melt that is "unstoppable," two new studies have found. ... The other new study, detailed in the May 16 issue of the journal Science, used the radar ...

West Antarctic ice melt is now 'unstoppable,' NASA report says

Al Jazeera America-May 12, 2014
Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun, studies say

Los Angeles Times-3 hours ago
Shift in Antarctic Winds Drives "Collapse" of Glaciers

National Geographic-3 hours ago
The Big, Scary News About Melting Antarctic Ice Is Just the Beginning

National Geographic-by Clark Howard-May 12, 2014
The melting shelf is causing the glacier behind it to collapse, a new study suggests. ... Rignot, a UC-Irvine Earth science professor and lead author of a study to be published in a journal of the American Geophysical Union

BBC News-by David Shukman-May 12, 2014
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News ... Key glaciers in West Antarctica are in an irreversible retreat, a study team led by the ... Amundsen Bay and concluded that nothing now can stop them melting away. ... a journal of the American Geophysical Union, but Nasa held a teleconference on ...

ABC Science Online-21 hours ago
"A large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat. ... Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. ... journal Science found that Thwaites Glacier is melting fast and that ..."

However, the resulting sea level rise is not the more immediate, more permanently devastating problem, since extinction of sea life in the oceans is forever. So please do attend the following lecture in person or online about ocean acidification causing the inability of the calcifying organism to make their shells and exoskeletons. They are the bottom of the ocean animals' food chain. 20% of the world's population depends upon sea food.

May 22 – Dr. Alex Cannara, Cannara Consulting: OCEAN ACIDIFICATION, (THE MOST DANGEROUS SECRET) AND ITS REMEDIATION
Web Link

A Paul Revere wake up call and an educated public will nurture quicker, large group ingenuity and action.


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Posted by Ben Hammett, PhD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2014 at 7:41 am

And here is a letter written to the San Jose Mercury by a colleague, suggesting reading material.


"Unstoppable Global Warming was published in 2006. Stanford University in recent years has hosted, and I have attended, several major conferences on energy and our climate crisis. These events featured speakers such as Stanford professor, Nobel Laureate and former US Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, plus Nobel Laureate and Stanford Physics professor emeritus, Dr. Burton Richter. No one at those events was claiming that today's climate change is not caused by human activity or that we can't or shouldn't do something about it.

For a clear, eloquent explanation of what is now accepted as the science behind climate change, read Dr. Burton Richter's "Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century," 2nd edition, to be published November 2014.

And read 'Merchants of Doubt: How A Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming", 2011, Naomi Oreskes & Eric Conway.'


"Jack Wiren 408-373-0374
Thorium Energy Silicon Valley (local non-profit NGO)
Thorium Energy Alliance (national 501 - c3 non-profit NGO)


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 6:15 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

Web Link

That tens of millions of Americans & Europeans continue to believe in climate change is no less surprising than our continued belief in superstition (knock on wood, don't jinx yourself, etc).


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