This Week's HuffPost Family Dinner Download: Our Impact On The Planet

02/18/2011 03:49 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In her new book, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie to launch a new feature we're calling HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads. Every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

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Two barely-noticed stories this week illustrate the undeniable truth that humans are severely impacting the earth's climate, and the fact that barring a dramatic adjustment in the way we live, the devastation of this impact will be massive. A piece in the New York Times, "Heavy Rains Linked to Humans," shows how scientists have concluded that extreme rains around the world in recent years are at least partly "a consequence of human influence on the atmosphere." They learned that the likelihood of extreme precipitation on any given day increased by a whole 7% since the last half of the 20th century.

Another story that sends shivers down the spine reveals an entirely new source of global warming. A new report shows that the melting Arctic permafrost, caused by the global warming we already know about, will itself release a whole new onslaught of greenhouse gases. And not a small amount -- it will eventually be enough to equal half of the carbon emissions from the entire industrial age.

Are you concerned about what the earth's climate will be like when you grow up? What are some consequences that will affect us from this warming of the earth? Do you know what a carbon footprint is? What are some things your family does to minimize its impact -- or 'carbon footprint' on the earth's climate? What are some actions and steps you could take that you haven't yet? What are some things you think the country should be doing to stop global warming?

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To see last week's Family Dinner Download, click here.

Subscribe to receive HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads by email every Friday afternoon.

For more tips and recipes, check out The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt (

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