Saturday, December 19, 2009

Busting Civil Society, Chilling Out the Developing Nations -- Copenhagen Failed

Copenhagen spun by the mainstream press seems oddly successful, or some first step, or something the West tried so hard to work on. That's pure delusion and fabrication. We'll look at the ramifications of the failure of Copenhagen 15 in an upcoming blog. But for now, McKibben and Monbiot, two who have a keen eye on climate change and climate policy, post some remarkable observations.
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Environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben of 350.org voiced his disapproval. Writing for Grist, McKibben summarized what Obama accomplished:

He blew up the United Nations. The idea that there's a world community that means something has disappeared tonight. The clear point is, you poor nations can spout off all you want on questions like human rights or the role of women or fighting polio or handling refugees. But when you get too close to the center of things that count--the fossil fuel that's at the center of our economy--you can forget about it. We're not interested. You're a bother, and when you sink beneath the waves we don't want to hear much about it. The dearest hope of the American right for fifty years was essentially realized because in the end coal is at the center of America's economy. We already did this with war and peace, and now we've done it with global warming. What exactly is the point of the U.N. now?

He formed a league of super-polluters, and would-be super-polluters. China, the U.S., and India don't want anyone controlling their use of coal in any meaningful way. It is a coalition of foxes who will together govern the henhouse. It is no accident that the targets are weak to nonexistent. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves with targets, he said. Indeed. And now imagine what this agreement will look like with the next Republican president.

He demonstrated the kind of firmness and resolve that Americans like to see. It will play well politically at home and that will be the worst part of the deal. Having spurned Europe and the poor countries of the world, he will reap domestic political benefit. George Bush couldn't have done this--the reaction would have been too great. Obama has taken the mandate that progressives worked their hearts out to give him, and used it to gut the ideas that progressives have held most dear. The ice caps won't be the only things we lose with this deal.

McKibben's sentiment was echoed by Britain's leading climate writer, George Monbiot, who wrote:

Even before this new farce began it was starting to look as if it might be too late to prevent two or more degrees of global warming. The nation states, pursuing their own interests, have each been passing the parcel of responsibility since they decided to take action in 1992.

We have now lost 17 precious years; possibly the only years in which climate breakdown could have been prevented. This has not happened by accident: it is the result of a systematic campaign of sabotage by certain states, which has been driven and promoted by the energy industries. This idiocy has been aided and abetted by the nations characterized, until now, as the good guys: those which have made firm commitments, only to invalidate them with loopholes, false accounting and outsourcing. In all cases immediate self-interest has trumped the long-term welfare of humankind. Corporate profits and political expediency have proved to be more urgent concerns than either the natural world or human civilization. Our political systems are incapable of discharging the main function of government: to protect us from each other.

Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest; it was nice knowing you, not that we really cared. The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.

The next meeting of parties is scheduled for November 2010 in Mexico City, but it's unclear if a binding agreement will be put in place then. Friday's agreement set a goal of 2015.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inspired New Cities' Design -- Spokane, Yes We Can, No se Puede?

Copenhagen is huge, and the fallout will be bigger. The media failed, that is, the mainstream media. Americans are a bit behind the curve -- like 20 years. Other smart nations are appalled that USA has so many deniers, delayers and baby-step proponents. There are signs of hope in the USA. Portland, Chicago, heck, Los Angeles.

We'll analyze the major issues behind why Copenhagen failed, how the mainstream media spins it, why our Press allows Sarah Palin pen an editorial in the Washington Post demanding Obama boycott Copenhagen. These are troubling times, a bridge falling apart over troubled waters.

But, again, hope. Here's what Spokane (and the worldwide web) gets today in the form of my weekly/monthly piece, in the Inlander. Autocad's E-Squared series inspired me some to follow up on some of the information in several episodes. Thanks to PacifiCAD for allowing me to work this blog, for hosting it, this past year.

http://www.inlander.com/content/newscommentary_paul_haeder_living_post_carbon_world
A Post-Carbon World
Crawlers, delayers, deniers and baby-steppers need not apply to the future

Paul K. Haeder

Friend of the Earth? Need not Apply at Copenhagen!!

So, now World Wildlife Fund for Nature has been banned from COP15. Friends of the Earth. We wonder how the USA techie world, those involved in businesses and development used to help design a new world that cuts energy use, creates architecture that is possibly carbon net zero, works with innovators looking to Living Buildings and LEED platinum construction, we wonder where they stand on this movement to work toward a global justice movement tied to climate change?

This is what Treehugger has posted on the barring of Friends of the Earth International from the COP 15 meetings that have two days left for complete failure to be declared by all but the politicians who have showed they cannot lead. USA part of the reason for the failure? Canada? Maybe. More on that in a coming blog post:

Civil Society groups are being targeted at COP15 with none being more punished than Friends of the Earth International, which has been banned from the Bella Centre, site of the UN Climate talks. About 50 Friends of the Earth representatives, all with accreditation and secondary badges, have been refused admission to the conference. The group has set up an action alert so you can voice your disapproval to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC.

The letter reads:

I'm writing to express my dismay that you have barred the climate conference passes for Friends of the Earth International delegates without their knowledge and without warning.

Friends of the Earth International, along with other NGOs and civil society groups have an important role to play in these UNFCCC climate negotiations.

This often requires the use of peaceful protests at particular points and places during the conference, to highlight the pushing and shoving done by rich nations to get their way at the expense of the developing nations and those most at risk from the impacts of dangerous climate change.
Please make every effort to reinstate Friends of the Earth International, and other NGO and civil society passes, so that the voices of all can be heard at the climate talks, and so that a fair and just deal can be achieved for all.

The world is watching, Mr de Boer.

FOE has been critical of the weak US climate legislation and has been sounding the alarm about the dangers of REDD offsets in a carbon market. The group represents million from around the world. Please take action now.
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This is a call to action made by FOE, not by PacifiCAD, of course.
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Other sites?
http://www.350.org/

100 Countries for 350 and "1.5 to Stay Alive"!

16 December, 2009 - 04:59 — Jamie

We're entering the final days of the climate talks here in Copenhagen. And there's no need to sugar-coat it: the outlook doesn't look good. According to our friends at Climate Interactive, the cumulative result of all the proposals currently on the table would take the world not the 350 ppm that scientists say we need for a habitable planet, but all the way to 770 ppm. As Bill McKibben has been saying, "If that's not literally hell, it will have a similar temperature."

Yet, despite the slim chances of an ambitious agreement here in Copenhagen, we're taking hope from the growing number of countries that now support the 350 target and the call for real solutions to the climate crisis. Today, we got confirmation in a speech by Grenadian President H.E. Tilman Thomas that over 100 countries now support the call for 350ppm and a no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature rise.

"We must act now, because if we do not, history will not absolve us..." said President Thomas in a powerful speech on behalf of the Association of Small Island States, which 350.org has been working to build support for throughout the talks.

President Thomas' remarks were amplified by a speech just moments later by H.E. Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili of Lesotho, speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who explicitly endorsed the 350ppm target on behalf of the LDC's 49 member states.
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http://climateinteractive.org/
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The so-called "leaked emails" from Climate Change center in England:

A leaked document on climate change is causing furor and driving a wedge between rich and poor countries at the worldwide summit in Copenhagen. Developing nations say that the document asks them to reduce carbon emissions by unfair levels. Former Vice President Al Gore and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon went on the defensive Tuesday, saying that the draft text was only one of many options on the table. We talk with Andrew Revkin, environment reporter for The New York Times and Richie Ahuja, India Program Manager for the Environmental Defense Fund.

http://www.thetakeaway.org/stories/2009/dec/10/gore-ban-defense-after-leaked-danish-text/

Andrew Revkin has done 25 years of environmental reporting, 15 years with the NYT. He's been pushed out, as NYT is cutting a hundred positions.

Climate Talks Are Less Talk, Less Action, More of the Same: Billy Clubs and the Club of the Elite Holding Court?

In a perverse way, climate change has inspired people around the world to make competing claims that they are its first victims. From low-lying Pacific islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu, where people face being literally swallowed by rising seas, to Tibetan farmers in Kashmir's remote Ladakh region, where receding Himalayan glaciers threaten agriculture, people in every corner of the world are coming forward as being on the frontline of global climate change.

Crop failure and drought in Africa, loss of biodiversity in the Amazon and extreme flooding and heat waves in Europe all prove that, if nothing else, climate change is successfully uniting the world in a collective state of imperilment.

Now add to the list Hawaii.

  • Climate Change Talks Do Show a Divide Between Rich and Poor Nations
  • Censorship Abounds
  • Transparency is Lacking
  • Police Use Gestapo Tactics to Round Up Scientists, Activists, People in the Know
  • Mainstream US Media Miss the Mark on Climate Change Talks COP15
  • NPR Barely Contextualizes Anything about Climate Change Action
  • Those in the Southern Hemisphere Are Reaping the Immediate Effects of Climate Change -- Droughts, Weird Deluges, Flooding, Crop Failure, Livestock Deaths, No Wheat
  • If Bush was in Kindergarten, Obama is in First Grade [on climate policy] -- Environmental change experts proclaims
  • Epic Fight Over Words -- 17 percent, 30 percent, 90 percent
  • Geo-engineering not the solution to climate change
  • Systemic change, not recycling cans and turning off lights
  • 1,500 people arrested in Copenhagen
  • UN suspended mainstream environmental groups from participating -- Friends of the Earth
  • “Politicians talk, leaders act,” read the sign outside the Bella Center in Copenhagen on the opening day of the United Nations climate summit.
  • Dr. Charles Fletcher, chair of the UH Geology and Geophysics Department said, "Scientists are not doing a good job of communicating the facts of global warming to policy makers and the public." He was referring to what he called "climate change deniers," particularly in the United States. "You don't see that in other countries," Fletcher said.

Copenhagen 15, the 15th UN Conference on Climate Change, has been a disaster.

And the divide between rich and poor, Northern climes and Southern climes; those with real scientific solutions and those who are deniers, delayers and economic hit men; paradigm shift seekers and ameliorating backpeddlers, elegant solution creators and business as usual types; those who are on the front lines of climate disaster and disruptions of people and economies versus those who seem to think they are insulated from dramatic climate change shifts, this great divide is a chasm widening, metaphorically the huge fissure in an ice field splitting as raging warming arctic waters divide and melt away entire ice sheets while little is done to work as a collective force of 192-plus nations on climate change mitigation.

The groups that see 350 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 and who see 1.5 C- average global warming as the limit, they are backed by not just science but myriad of people on the ground. From health care workers, to experts in husbandry. Agronomists and hydrologists. People planning the cities of the future. Transportation experts. Engaged youth and educational experts. The Five E's in sustainability -- Equity, Environment, Education, Energy and Economy -- all have been harmonized by the leaders in this movement to stop global catastrophe. The leaders of countries and corporations seem to be disrupting what the people want -- real, serious, committed change to move into a carbon-free society.

Here's another piece from Truthout. More blogs to come on Climate Countdown.

Paul Haeder
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Copenhagen - ‘’Those who run the decision-making on climate change are the same who have caused it,’’ said Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the world’s first international climate hearing on Tuesday, pithily identifying the reason why justice has been elusive at the ongoing climate change summit in the Danish capital.

Climate victims from all over the world were practically trying to scream into the ears of the negotiators at the COP15 that everybody’s lives were at stake unless a fair deal was reached.

Over the past year, more than one and a half million people from 36 countries around the world have participated in national climate hearings, testifying on how climate change has wreaked havoc in their lives and asking for justice.

"This is a case of deep injustice,’’ said the Archbishop who led the hearings on Tuesday along with former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

The timing of the international hearings could not have been better. Across the corridors in the Bella Centre, negotiators were trying to regroup after Monday’s suspension of negotiations as African countries, backed up by the entire G77 group of 130 developing states, protested against the conduct of the negotiations.Rather than going along a two-track approach preferred by the poorest countries, the negotiations seemed to be following the interests of the developed states.

"We are holding this international climate hearing at a critical moment in the negotiations," said Jeremy Hobbs, the executive director of Oxfam International, which hosted the hearings."

The stories of the climate witnesses should provide the moral imperative for a fair deal in Copenhagen,’’ said Hobbs, with just four days left for governments to reach an agreement.

The reality of the crisis in negotiations loomed large over the hearings as the conflict between the industrialised and the developing world surfaced. And the messages from the climate change witnesses stood out the louder for it.Speaking in the name of his indigenous brothers from Latin America, Caetano Juanca, a farmer from Cuzco, Peru, told the international audience in Copenhagen that his people were suffering without being guilty, and called for an agreement that "respects Pachamama (Mother Earth)."

Pelonesi Alofa from Trinidad and Tobago said that the CoP15 negotiators are "buying and selling’’ the lives of people. "Don’t we understand that climate change is not negotiable?" she asked. "I have now understood that CoP15 is beyond climate change, beyond Tobago."

Constance Okolet from Uganda explained that her people do not know any more when to plant and when to harvest, that they are eating only once a day, and that seasons have disappeared.

"I am here to tell the world leaders that we want our seasons back!" she told the audience.Shorbanu Khatun from Bangladesh, the last to testify, recounted how, as traditional crops failed in her village, her husband was reduced to foraging for food, only to be killed by a wild animal. Later on, her home was destroyed by a cyclone. "At first I thought god was punishing us," she said, "but I have come to understand that it is man-made."

Robinson concluded the hearings by stating that not only were the effects of climate change brought about by the actions of industrialised countries but they were being felt disproportionately by people who cannot be blamed for climate change.

"The failure of industrialised countries to act with urgency is leading us all to social and international disorder," she warned.The people’s fundamental right to "international and social order" (a basic principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is denied through the manner in which decisions about how to tackle climate change are being made, she said.

Robinson asked for industrialised countries to commit immediately to 40 percent emissions reductions by 2020 based on 1990 levels and to offer long-term - and additional - funding worth 200 billion US dollars annually until 2020 - half for adaptation and half for mitigation.

"I do not trust the governments of industrialised countries because they are only interested in money and they do not care about Pachamama," Caetano Juanca told TerraViva. "But I trust the people, the work done through churches and communities - there are people who care.’’

Asked what will happen if a fair deal is not signed in Copenhagen, Juanca responded: ‘’We will continue to fight until they listen to us. Our struggle does not stop here."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Copenhagen Facts from WRI

From December 7-18, 2009, the world will convene in Copenhagen, Denmark to create a new global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-15). WRI's experts have been actively involved in the negotiations leading up to COP-15 and are analyzing various dimensions of a new agreement. Here are our most recent thoughts:

Obama's Copenhagen Visit, Emission-Reduction Target are Good News for Climate

South Africa: An Experiment in Climate Change Adaptation Planning. As South Africa moves forward with its own preparations for climate change, other countries are taking note.

Dispelling Myths About India and Climate Change - Leaders must overcome the mistrust that has characterized recent U.S.-India relations on climate change and energy.

China's State Council Unveils 40-45% Carbon Intensity Target - China's announcement signals its commitment both to the climate conference in Copenhagen, and its intent to achieve significant domestic emissions reductions. Jonathan Lash on China's new carbon intensity target.

Reflections from Barcelona - The Barcelona talks brought into relief the complex mix of politics and policies that countries are grappling with as they attempt to identify clear choices for their leaders.

Online Resources for COP-15

Foundation for a Low Carbon Future: Essential Elements of a Copenhagen Agreement. This brief paper, rooted in WRI's long-running analysis of the complex and interconnected issues under negotiation, identifies key elements for a successful and possible outcome in Copenhagen.

COP-15: Countdown to Copenhagen. Collection of resources for those following the international climate negotiations, including staff contacts and expertise, recent COP-15 stories, publications, charts and maps, and related links.

ChinaFAQs, a project facilitated by WRI, provides insight into critical questions about Chinese policy and action on energy and climate change. ChinaFAQs is a portal to policy-relevant data and analysis informed by a network of leading U.S. research institutions, business groups, and civil society.

@WorldResources on Twitter - follow @worldresources for regular news and information updates about the COP-15 negotiations. You can also subscribe to the @worldresources twitter list of UNFCCC-IPCC-COP tweeple.

Today's environmental challenges are complex and global in nature. They call for visionary and ambitious action grounded in sound science and objective analysis -- the kind of action that has distinguished WRI's record of effectiveness for over 25 years.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Real Climate (dot) ORG & Copenhagen

Nov. 24th, 2009

The ‘Copenhagen Diagnosis‘, a report by 26 scientists from around the world was released today. The report is intended as an update to the IPCC 2007 Working Group 1 report. Like the IPCC report, everything in the Copenhagen Diagnosis is from the peer-reviewed literature, so there is nothing really new. But the report summarizes and highlights those studies, published since the (2006) close-off date for the IPCC report, that the authors deemed most relevant to the negotiations in Copenhagen (COP15) next month. This report was written for policy-makers, stakeholders, the media and the broader public, and has been sent to each and every one of the COP15 negotiating teams throughout the world.

Among the points summarized in the report are that:

  • The ice sheets are both losing mass (and hence contributing to sea level rise). This was not certain at the time of the IPCC report.
  • Arctic sea ice has declined faster than projected by IPCC.
  • Greenhouse gas concentrations have continued to track the upper bounds of IPCC projections.
  • Observed global temperature changes remain entirely in accord with IPCC projections, i.e. an anthropogenic warming trend of about 0.2 ºC per decade with superimposed short-term natural variability.
  • Sea level has risen more than 5 centimeters over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than IPCC projections from 2001.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the report articulates a much clearer picture of what has to happen if the world wants to keep future warming within the reasonable threshold (2°C) that the European Union and the G8 nations have already agreed to in principle.

The full report is available at http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.com/. Three of us at RealClimate are co-authors so we can’t offer an independent review of the report here. We welcome discussion in the comments section though. But read the report first before commenting, please.

Look for more information on climate change news and activism here:

CPR Initiating Groups
350.org
Alliance of Community Trainers
Center for the Working Poor
Global Justice Ecology Project
Indigenous Environmental Network
Mobilization for Climate Justice West
Rainforest Action Network
Rising Tide North America
Ruckus Society
Yes Men

Another Battle of the Generations? Climate Change, COP15, and the Future is for the Young at Heart, Chronologically Speaking!!

The Fire this Time: Copenhagen and the War for the Future
Alex Steffen, 17 Nov 09

"That which is unsustainable cannot go on. Unsustainable things that are propped up too long snap and collapse suddenly. Our way of life is unsustainable. The sooner we transform our economy into one that can generate sustainable prosperity, the better off we’ll be, and with every passing day, the risks of catastrophe grow larger and more certain. We need change now."

Read more at:

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/010774.html

Copenhagen 15 is Serious Business

From our good friends at Good IS Magazine
http://www.good.is/post/the-good-guide-to-cop15-now-what/:


Even if you flew to Copenhagen, they probably wouldn’t let you in to the conference. But don’t despair: You don’t have to be a delegate to help stave off catastrophe.

Keep track of the treaty: Negotiators are working on a draft treaty—raising objections, making changes, and shaping the fate of the world. Keep track of it at 350.org/treaty-tracker.

Get to know the negotiators: Find out who will represent your country in Copenhagen and what they think. Adoptanegotiator.org has “trackers” from 11 countries following the meetings leading up to Copenhagen “so you can stay up to date and either support or put pressure on your country’s climate negotiator to aim for a safe and fair deal.”

Petition important people: Send a letter to your local representative, or schedule some face time with a staff member (yes, you can actually do that). Urge them to support a climate treaty that will manage and reduce carbon emissions over the next 30 years. Learn how at wecansolveit.org/content/advocate.

Get involved with Hopenhagen: The United Nations has teamed up with an all-star roster of ad agencies on a campaign to spread awareness about the opportunities COP15 presents. Join the campaign at hopenhagen.org.

Participate in the International Day of Climate Action: An International Day of Climate Action on October 24 was organized by 350.org to make sure decision-makers knew where the public stands. Find activities in your area, or set up your own at 350.org/actions.

Make sure the treaty gets ratified: After the conference, the treaty won’t be binding unless the U.S. Senate ratifies it. That’ll take 66 votes, and they could be hard to come by. Find out how to contact your senator at senate.gov.

Do something on your own: The outcome of the conference will make a big difference, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Ride a bike, eat less red meat, or support sustainable local policies wherever you live.

Read the raw documents: The Kyoto Protocol is the current international agreement on climate change. It’s hardly a page-turner but it’s actually not that long. Read that, and the draft version of the Copenhagen treaty, at unfccc.int.

A Bath Tub By any Other Name is a Carbon Sink Demo

Pretty simple analysis of what kind of conversation needs to take place at Copenhagen in five days. REALLY. CO2, lag time, feedback loops, systems thinking, holistic action.

Thanks to National Geographic for this "graphic" illustration. It's about narrative framing and systems thinking. Again. Cognitive limitations created by our plugged in society to grasp a simple illustration on how much carbon and GHG's we create versus how much the earth systems can absorb. It's sobering? This cognitive dissonance caused by superficial and unobjective media? By the dwindling K-12 education? By a consumer-driven society? By the Five E's of sustainability -- equity, environment, education, energy and economy driven by greedy economics?


The Carbon Bathtub

It’s simple, really: As long as we pour CO2 into the atmosphere faster than nature drains it out, the planet warms. And that extra carbon takes a long time to drain out of the tub.

A fundamental human flaw, says John Sterman, impedes action on global warming. Sterman is not talking about greed, selfishness, or some other vice. He’s talking about a cognitive limitation, “an important and pervasive problem in human reasoning” that he has documented by testing graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Sterman teaches system dynamics, and he says his students, though very bright and schooled in calculus, lack an intuitive grasp of a simple, crucial system: a bathtub.

Interactive Climate Change Simulator »

In particular, a tub with the tap running and the drain open. The water level can stand for many quantities in the modern world. The level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is one. A person’s waistline or credit card debt—both of which have also become spreading problems of late—are two more. In all three cases, the level in the tub falls only when the drain runs faster than the tap—when you burn more calories than you eat, for instance, or pay off old charges faster than you incur new ones.

Plants, oceans, and rocks all drain carbon from the atmosphere, but as climatologist David Archer explains in his book The Long Thaw, those drains are slow. It’s going to take them hundreds of years to remove most of the CO2 that humans are pouring into the tub and hundreds of thousands of years to remove it all. Stopping the rise of CO2 will thus require huge cuts in emissions from cars, power plants, and factories, until inflow no longer exceeds outflow.

Most of Sterman’s students—and his results have been replicated at other universities—didn’t understand that, at least not when the problem was described in the usual climate jargon. Most thought that simply stopping emissions from rising would stop the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere— as if a tap running steadily but rapidly would not eventually overflow the tub. If MIT graduate students don’t get it, most politicians and voters probably don’t either. “And that means they think it’s easier to stabilize greenhouse gases and stop warming than it is,” Sterman says.

By 2008, the level of CO2 in the tub was 385 parts per million (ppm) and rising by 2 or 3 ppm each year. To stop it at 450 ppm, Sterman says, a level many scientists consider dangerously high, the world would have to cut emissions by around 80 percent by 2050. When diplomats convene in Copenhagen this month to negotiate a global climate treaty, Sterman will be there to help, with software that shows immediately, based on the latest climate-model forecasts, how a proposed emissions cut will affect the level in the tub—and thus the temperature of the planet. His students are generally much better at bathtub dynamics by the end of his course, which gives him hope. “People can learn this,” he says.

—Robert Kunzig
National Geographic

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/big-idea/05/carbon-bath

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is this the Theme of the 21st Century Planning? A Sense of Place?



By Paul Haeder

The E-Squared Series at EWU's Riverpoint and Cheney campuses broached the land use and urban planner and architectural Mecca in this region, of sorts, Portland. Portland bit the bullet and took the plunge sooner than many American cities. Investing in transportation, street carries, trolleys, aerial trams, and putting pedestrians as the first class transportation model has turned Portland into a city that is readying for a post-fossil fuel dependent future.

Look at the facts -- Portland in the 1960s was a dreary, dumpy city, full of decay in the downtown, and it was a parking lot hell. It tried to compete with the suburbs, but what was happening was a hollowing out of the city. Planners thought the decay and urban flight to the suburbs would be remedied with some planning method that would be able to facilitate getting Portland-ites in and out of the city as rapidly as possible -- in their cars, of course.

Portland's metropolitan area, 565 square miles, and the 500,000 inhabitants are tied to a strong multi-modal transportation system. That system started 30 plus years ago was facilitated by the 1973 land use law that Gov. Tom McCall pushed with 100 Friends of Oregon that made it a requirement that every city in Oregon establish and delineate and plan for the urban growth boundary. With Portland's leadership in development, planning, architecture and transportation engineering, as well as community development, accessibility won over mobility.

Now, Portland has major facts showing the investment in trolleys and rails and land use planning and pedestrian and street scale design worked:


  • 17 percent fewer private vehicle trips since 1990


  • 90 percent increase in ridership for mass transit


  • 257 percent increase in bike trips


  • 14 percent decrease in global green house gas emissions


Everything is organized around the pedestrian in Portland, and the Pearl and River Districts look for multi-use planning, having retail on the ground floor that does not have to have parking spaces built into future retail activity. Millions of miles of automobile trips have been taken out of the equation when it comes to people living in Portland and using feet, bikes and mass transit to get to places of work, recreation, commerce and public activity. The street car construction moved at a pace of a block a week, and the value of the property along the lines more than double in value.

The Pearl District in the 1960s had one big retailer, Powells Books; today, more than 250 businesses are in that district. Affordability is a big issue as these "lifestyle migrants" are moving into Portland. A commitment to affordable housing is part of the Pearl and River Districts plan, so 3,000 permanent affordable units are part of the housing mix. The City is committed to 30 percent of all new housing units built or developed to be affordable.

This E-Squared episode shows the power of vision, the power of community planning, and the power of seeing how fossil fuels are what has shaped the misuse of land and community and that it's a country, our is that is, that is shaped by aspiration, and reprogramming the American dream to include having more people able to act upon the dream. It's not about acquisition, that American Dream. Or if it is, we are doomed.

Portland shows that a new paradigm is not about deprivation. It's about choice.

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/11/portland-trimet-mass-transit/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Press, Newspapers, Truth, Science and Tech News -- Going Extinct? Only PR blurbs will do?

By Paul K. Haeder





There is much in the media today about the media's role in shaping culture, thought, action, political landscapes and how we frame the big issues of our day, from health care policy, to green jobs, to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Copenhagen Climate Change summit coming up, to climate change in general. I have a huge swatch of history tied to writing for daily newspapers. Dailies are dying, and two daily cities are as rare as honesty in the health care debate. These are not boding well for science, technology and those middle folk who work in cities and counties and for government agencies -- the old days included interviewing biologists about dams and culvert, or engineers about traffic loads, or any number of government workers on the work they do to keep this ship afloat. City, county, state, and the federal government work because of them, not the electeds. Those hard working, trained, experienced members of the health, safety, education, engineering, management, science and technology teams in governments are the reason why we have pretty much a well-oiled system. They also are on the front lines and can say so much about why we need bridges, why auto pollution kills, why mass transit works, why we need more policies on recycling, all of it and more, have been the stomping grounds of daily beat newspaper reporters.

Newspapers are dying, and so are the eyes and voices in the community. It won't happen on Twitter or Facebook or e-zines or digital newspapers.

Read my latest piece in the weekly here in Spokane. Read the other links to other stories about how the media have failed in the realm of science reporting, and climate change in particular.



"Down for the Count
Newspapers are hurting, but journalism is still crucial"

Paul K. Haeder

The Tucson Citizen — a newspaper that’s been around long enough to have reported on the 1881 shootout at the nearby OK Corral — was gunned down in April, after 140 years in the business as the evening newspaper. The editorial staffs of the Citizen and its rival, the morning Arizona Daily Star, competed for news — reporting on the elegance of humanity struggling under the stressors of sprawl, and writing about the drug war, bad politics, and the good, bad and ugly in the business community


http://www.inlander.com/content/newscommentary_paul_haeder_newspapers_are_dying_journalism_still_important

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Must-read study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics — “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress.”

January 25, 2009

One of the country’s leading journalists has written a searing critique of the media’s coverage of global warming, especially climate economics.

How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change is by Eric Pooley for Harvard’s prestigious Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Pooley has been managing editor of Fortune, national editor of Time, Time’s chief political correspondent, and Time’s White House correspondent, where he won the Gerald Ford Prize for Excellence in Reporting. Before that, he was senior editor of New York magazine.
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"Don't dumb me down -- We laughed, we cried, we learned about statistics"

Ben Goldacre on why writing Bad Science has increased his suspicion of the media by, ooh, a lot of per cents

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/sep/08/badscience.research

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"Panel investigates media reporting on science and politics of stem cells"

http://harvardscience.harvard.edu/engineering-technology/articles/panel-investigates-media-reporting-science-and-politics-stem-cells
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"Journalistic Balance as Global Warming Bias Creating controversy where science finds consensus"

By Jules Boykoff and Maxwell Boykoff

A new study has found that when it comes to U.S. media coverage of global warming , superficial balance—telling "both" sides of the story—can actually be a form of informational bias. Despite the consistent assertions of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that human activities have had a "discernible" influence on the global climate and that global warming is a serious problem that must be addressed immediately, "he said/she said" reporting has allowed a small group of global warming skeptics to have their views greatly amplified.

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"Social media threats hyped by science reporting, not science"

Does using Twitter make you indifferent to the suffering of others? Will Facebook kill your grades? You might be forgiven for thinking that based on some recent press reports, but the science behind these stories doesn't necessarily support some of the reporting. Ars takes a look into how these stories developed.

http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/04/social-media-slammed-by-science-reporting-not-science.ars

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

E2 Series looks at Affordable Housing

By Paul Haeder
E2 Series at EWU Riverpoint and Cheney
Partially underwritten by PacifiCAD and Autodesk


So, with the housing bubble now popped, foreclosures on the rise, and people looking to planners, architects and government and business leaders to come up with a new way to live smaller, cheaper and less dependent upon fossil fuel and private transportation, just where is affordable housing in the "sustainability movement"?

Episode 4 of the E2 Design series, season two, covers the social, cultural and economic ties to affordable housing. More than 14 million Americans spend at least ½ their incomes on rent. For more than 50 years, planners and housing and architectural folk have disregarded the notion of community when planning and designing and building low income and mixed income housing.

Biophillia and the notion that humans are innately drawn to connecting with communities and diverse people and diverse social, biosocial, biological and cultural systems are key elements to today's holistic planning. In this E2 episode, “Affordable Green Housing,” one real estate developer, Jonathan Rose, looks at affordable housing as an entire package of things – the systems and networks and complexities and integration of people living and working and recreating in communities, cities that is. The concept of livable communities is tied to the built environment, and the social and cultural fabrics of the housing, the neighborhood -- all of this is stressed in this pretty insightful and successful E2 episode.

Jane Jacobs’ concepts are alluded to, including “eyes on the street” building and planning -- the more porches out front and less carports in the way, the more sidewalks and more outdoor venues, the more the community gets to know each other and engage in diversity on every possible level. A daycare and foster care center in New York is designed with a teaching garden and community garden to make those connections, making the built environment dynamic, a place of active and passive learning. So, these sometimes throw-away kids are now part of the community and integrated in daily city life.

South Bronx hit a real low point in the 1970s with residents fleeing and buildingsabandoned and decaying, looking like West Gaza looks like now. President Jimmy Carter used S. Bronx as an emblem of what’s wrong in America with old urban policy of huge ugly and non-integrated housing complexes stuck or fenced away from community design and inclusion. So, that 1977 Carter visit pulled people in new directions of thinking and how maybe a new urban housing policy had to be embarked upon.

Now, 30 years later, we have green and community building as key elements to design. A competition -- and 32 teams applied -- created a rarified group of designers and architects to come up with both quality, affordability and sustainability as part of the housing complex design. Five firms ended up with solicitations for complete proposals. One ended up getting the South Bronx narrow piece of property for $1.
Villa Verde then took off.

Meeting neighborhood people and advocates and just plain common Joe and Jane forced the architects to look at community needs, not just designers', developer s'and architects' needs. Health was the number one concern, since more than 17 percent of kids in South Bronx have asthma, and that means missing school and parents missing work. So, housing and health were tied together. A community Health Center is at the bottom of this mixed development, plus an organic community- based food coop is also designed in. Air quality of the units was important, so two exposures were built into each of the 139 single family units and 63 coop housing units.

Gardens, orchards, south facing light, and the general idea that landscapes have the power to educate, inspire and motivate were all points that ended up built into the housing development.

The idea is to provide affordable housing that makes people healthier -- physically, mentally and spiritually. An example of sustainable and culturally sound design and thinking is a village in Tibet that has been around for a thousand years and has maintained three simple inputs – sunlight, rainwater and human intelligence.

Bringing back the Bronx or Flint or Cleveland or other urban spaces is the goal now in a world where oil is expense, and it’s people like T. Boone Pickens who sees gas in the USA going for $10 a gallon in less than a decade who wants to see a decarbonization of societies. Sun, rain, intelligence -- what a concept.
Holistic design includes building a safe and secure place to live in which encourages youth to leave for school and then come back to the neighborhood to concentrate on community building, jobs and potentiality. These are the underpinnings of what this E2 series episode emphasized.

Taking residents seriously, getting them into the design phase, the project initiation phase, now that’s the key to this new design principle; and looking at them as beings who want to aspire to do great things, is what Rose sees as his job – creating potential for the community is self-arising AFTER housing and community space are sustainable from economic, social and cultural points of view – with the natural environment – as much as a city can afford – key to it all.

The tendril acts as a metphor for the architects and designers since it is proof of nature reaching out, seeking a foothold, adjusting to the light, geography, the conditions to gain a foothold. So, Villa Verde and Rose and the others see that thread -- the tendril -- as emblamatic of green affordable housing -- making footholds in brownfields and old spaces and generating life, a green vision.
So, this episode is talking about revolutionizing the way affordable housing is built in NYC, and the world. Mixed income neighborhoods are what we’ve lost, and some say suburbanization has caused that, while others say cities are highly bifurcating since the poorer folk live in the tougher parts and richer ones move out or into gentrified communities and neighborhoods on the edge. Mixed income neighborhoods highlighted in this show, like the Villa Verde (Green Estate-Town), is poart of the green community movement, and that is an integrated approach covering the legalities, profitability and the beauty of it all. This is the new paradigm of architecture and private-public urban space design.

The Lies of Oil

Here is a hodge-podge of information about energy, global warming, demand, peak oil. We will be looking at how Copenhagen plays out, how we will absorb the peak oil predictions and realities already playing out, and the huge challenge of a world seemingly ready for an Apollo program for decarbonizing our energy habits.

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The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.


"This all gives an importance to the Copenhagen [climate change] talks and an urgent need for the UK to move faster towards a more sustainable [lower carbon] economy if it is to avoid severe economic dislocation," he added.

The IEA was established in 1974 after the oil crisis in an attempt to try to safeguard energy supplies to the west. The World Energy Outlook is produced annually under the control of the IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, who has defended the projections from earlier outside attack. Peak oil critics have often questioned the IEA figures.

But now IEA sources who have contacted the Guardian say that Birol has increasingly been facing questions about the figures inside the organisation.

Matt Simmons, a respected oil industry expert, has long questioned the decline rates and oil statistics provided by Saudi Arabia on its own fields. He has raised questions about whether peak oil is much closer than many have accepted.

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World marketed energy consumption is projected to increase by 44 percent from 2006 to 2030. Total energy demand in the non-OECD countries increases by 73 percent, compared with an increase of 15 percent in the OECD countries.

In the IEO2009 reference case—which reflects a scenario in which current laws and policies remain unchanged throughout the projection period—world marketed energy consumption is projected to grow by 44 percent over the 2006 to 2030 period. Total world energy use rises from 472 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2006 to 552 quadrillion Btu in 2015 and then to 678 quadrillion Btu in 2030 (Figure 1). The current worldwide economic downturn dampens world demand for energy in the near term, as manufacturing and consumer demand for goods and services slows. In the longer term, with economic recovery anticipated after 2010, most nations return to trend growth in income and energy demand.

The most rapid growth in energy demand from 2006 to 2030 is projected for nations outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (non-OECD nations). Total non-OECD energy consumption increases by 73 percent in the IEO2009 reference case projection, as compared with a 15-percent increase in energy use among the OECD countries. Strong long-term GDP growth in the emerging economies of the non-OECD countries drives the fast-paced growth in energy demand. In all the non-OECD regions combined, economic activity—measured by GDP in purchasing power parity terms—increases by 4.9 percent per year on average, as compared with an average of 2.2 percent per year for the OECD countries.


World carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise from 29.0 billion metric tons in 2006 to 33.1 billion metric tons in 2015 and 40.4 billion metric tons in 2030—an increase of 39 percent over the projection period. With strong economic growth and continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels expected for most of the non-OECD economies, much of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions is projected to occur among the developing, non-OECD nations. In 2006, non-OECD emissions exceeded OECD emissions by 14 percent. In 2030, however, non-OECD emissions are projected to exceed OECD emissions by 77 percent.


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In 1999, with less than 5 % of the world's population, the US generated 30 % of the world's GDP (Gross Domestic Product), consumed 25 % of the world's energy, and emitted 25 % of the world's carbon dioxide."


"The United Nations compiles annual statistics about human development and the environment in 174 countries. The statistics relate to energy use, life expectancy, nutrition and health, income and poverty, carbon dioxide emissions, and so on. Three of the indicators are combined to calculate a Human Development Index (HDI). The UN's HDI is considered by many to be a fair measure of basic human well-being."


"Alan Pasternak...found a correlation between electricity consumption and the HDI (see the figure). His analysis showed that HDI reached a high plateau when a nation's people consumed about 4000 kWh (kilowatthours) of electricity annually per capita..."

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US military energy consumption- facts and figures

by Sohbet Karbuz

As the saying goes, facts are many but the truth is one. The truth is that the U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. But as a wise man once said, don't confuse facts with reality. The reality is that even U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) does not know precisely where and how much energy it consumes. This is my Fact Zero.

Below I give some facts and figures on U.S. military oil consumption based mostly on official statistics.[1] If you want to reproduce them make sure you read every footnote even if you need to put on your glasses. Also read the footnotes in this article.

FACT 1: The DoD's total primary energy consumption in Fiscal Year 2006 was 1100 trillion Btu. It corresponds to only 1% of total energy consumption in USA. For those of you who think that this is not much then read the next sentence.

Nigeria, with a population of more than 140 million, consumes as much energy as the U.S. military.

The DoD per capita[2] energy consumption (524 trillion Btu) is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption in China, or 30 times more than that of Africa.

Total final energy consumption (called site delivered energy by DoD) of the DoD was 844 trillion Btu in FY2006.
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Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible?
Part 1
March 31, 2008

The short answer is, “Not today — not even close.”

The long answer is the subject of this post (and my book and this entire blog).

Certainly regular readers know that the nation and the world currently lack the political will to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450 ppm or even 550 ppm.

The political impossibility is also obvious from anyone familiar with Princeton’s “stabilization wedges” — and if you aren’t, you should be (technical paper here, less technical one here). The wedges are a valuable conceptual tool for showing the immense scale needed for the solution (although they have analytical flaws).

Of course, if solving the climate problem were politically possible today, I would have found something more useful to do with my time (as, I expect, would you). But 450 ppm or lower is certainly achievable from an economic and technological perspective. Indeed, that is the point of the wedges discussion (since they rely on existing technology) and the Conclusion to Hell and High Water.
As Princeton’s Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala (S&P) explain:

A wedge represents an activity that reduces emissions to the atmosphere that starts at zero today and increases linearly until it accounts for 1 GtC/year of reduced carbon emissions in 50 years. It thus represents a cumulative total of 25 GtC of reduced emissions over 50 years.

They wrote their Science paper when we were at 7 GtC and rising slowly — an ancient time you may remember as 2003, before Bush was reelected, before anybody ever heard of Reverend Wright or Paris Hilton or the need to stabilize below 450 ppm. An innocent time, really, but I digress.

So they said that 7 wedges would keep emissions flat for 50 years and then, assuming we invested in a lot of R&D, we could start cutting global emissions rapidly after 2050, and stabilize at 500 ppm. And everybody would live happily ever after driving fuel cell cars, watching
YouTube, and popping the occasional Xanax.

Problem 1: The world is at 8 GtC annual emissions.

Just to stabilize emissions at current levels thus requires adopting at least 8 wedges.

Energy and Gas in the News

Watchdog: New York State Regulation of Natural Gas Wells Has Been "Woefully Insufficient for Decades."



The New York-based Toxics Targeting went through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s own database of hazardous substances spills over the past thirty years. They found 270 cases documenting fires, explosions, wastewater spills, well contamination and ecological damage related to gas drilling. Many of the cases remain unresolved. The findings are contrary to repeated government assurances that existing natural gas well regulations are sufficient to safeguard the environment and public health. The state is considering allowing for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale watershed, the source of drinking water for 15 million people, including nine million New Yorkers

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What the Energy Horizon Will Look Like



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Paul K. Haeder

Coal and Nuclear: Problem or Solution? E-2 Series, Energy

[Photo above -- Boy with silver caps because of rotting teath caused by chemicals in water from coal mining in USA's south.]

This E-Squared episode is long on two or three wonks discussing the benefits of a world wrapped around coal-fired electricity generating plants and nuclear reactors splitting atoms for our daily electricity needs. Here are a few topics broached in the film.

  • Pebble bed modular reactors
  • carbon capture and storage
  • gassification
  • permeability highways
  • mini-nuclear plants, modular style
  • FutureGen experimental coal carbon capture, carbon burial plant
  • 60 percent government, 40 percent private investments for Big Coal

In a time when carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are these huge looming issues of our time -- tied to global warming and what scientists see now as the only guard rail -- no more than 2 degrees Celsius warming for the planet, as the upper limit for global temperature increases in the next 50 years -- all sorts of designs and programs and solutions are coming forth as ways to look at using up the 600 years of coal the earth has without all the so-called emissions damage as the burned by-product. Many don't see the horizon as so full of blue sky as many of those in this E-Squared episode do.

E-2 tries to tackle this huge subject, but it's 24 minutes of superficiality and interesting asides and technological dreaming, at best. WE know that if the USA doesn't use it (coal, oil, tar sands, uranium, etc.) then China and India will, and as an argument, that's a global loser; many of us are betting on a better plan for global action to pull down carbon emissions.
There are so many other things tied to feedback loops when discussing the climate change predicament -- tundra and permafrost melt, ocean currents shutting down, black soot, albedo effect waning, nitrogen cycle out of whack, acidification of the oceans, air and chemical pollution and public health, water peaking, food crisis.

It seems apropos that one person interviewed continued with the mantra -- save federal handouts for carbon free energy industries, and give that money to seed wind and solar companies, and pump up the disadvantaged companies working on next generation, experimental planning and agricultural designs, projects that have an afterlife beyond just renewable and alternative energy and fuels.

Fifty percent of electricity in in this country comes from coal plants, and that likely won't end with a bunch of people hoping big coal jumps ship.

And one-fifth of electricity comes from nuclear plants. Again, that industry is taking off again, and is gaining the ear of many politicians.

Will it take 10,000 wind turbines to equal one nuclear generating plant? Is nuclear power safe? Up to $1 trillion is invested in coal plants in the USA and China. USA is 1/4 of the world's economy and we use 50 percent of the gasoline. Will we be the solution makers for solving the problems we've largely created?

Let's begin the conversation. Until then, read other spins and points of view on coal and nuclear. Here are some pretty insightful articles and points of view questioning the so-called power of coal and nuclear energy to fuel world economies and cut down on CO2.

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080421123231.htm

Federal Energy Supply R&D Expenditures, 1948-19985
Energy R&D Program
Total Federal Expenditure (2003 dollars); percent of total


Nuclear Energy
$74 billion
56%

Fossil Fuels
$30.9 billion
24%

Renewables
$14.6 billion
11%

Energy Efficiency
$11.7 billion
9%


http://www.neis.org/press/NAS%20BEIR%20VII%20results%206-29-05.pdf

http://www.timeforchange.org/what-is-nuclear-proliferation-nutshell

Nuclear proliferation is related to the civil application of nuclear power in the following ways:


· Nuclear power makes widely and innocently available all the key ingredients of do-it-yourself bomb kits (fissile materials and the technologies, knowledge and skills to produce and process them; new reactor types are much worse)

· Without civil nuclear power, these ingredients would be harder to get, more conspicuous to try to get, and politically far costlier to be caught trying to get, because the reason for wanting them would be unambiguously military.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/54218/

Biofuels hoax

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/032108R.shtml

As the global energy/climate crisis deepens, coal has become the starkest symbol and most telling measure of our predicament. Coal produces more carbon emissions than other energy sources - more than twice that of natural gas per unit of energy output. Consequently, coal-fired power plants are responsible for about one-third of US emissions of carbon dioxide. Despite this, we are mining and burning more coal than ever.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es702249v

http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/nuclear_power_plants/articles.cfm?ID=13449

http://www.citizen.org/documents/JTF-Cost.pdf

http://www.citizen.org/documents/RenewableEnergy.pdf

http://www.ilovemountains.org/

http://www.appvoices.org/index.php?/site/mtr_overview/

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/us/13water.html?_r=1

In summary, the extent of economically recoverable uranium, although somewhat uncertain, is clearly linked to exploration effort, technology, and economics but is inextricably linked to environmental costs such as energy, water, and chemicals consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and broader social issues. These crucial environmental aspects of resource extraction are only just beginning to be understood in the context of more complete life cycle analyses of the nuclear chain and other energy options. There still remains incomplete reporting however, especially in terms of data consistency among mines and site-specific data for numerous individual mines and mills, as well as the underlying factors controlling differences and variability. It is clear that there is a strong sensitivity of energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to ore grade, and that ore grades are likely to continue to decline gradually in the medium- to long-term. These issues are critical to understand in the current debate over nuclear power, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change, especially with respect to ascribing sustainability to such activities as uranium mining and milling.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070403181045.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304100413.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325142511.htm

http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/coal/liquids.pdf

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/14/nation/na-coalwars14?pg=2

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/coal-and-global-warming-faq.html

http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/200905/tennessee-sludge-christmas-poison

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Green Machine --Obama's Stomping Grounds with a Mayor Who Does Top Down Leadership with a Green Eye

By Paul K. Haeder

So does it take a William Daly to move a city to become the greenest city in the US of A? City Hall with a green roof. Police stations that are energy efficient, have clean circulating air, have rooms for the public to use? Green Homes for Chicago is about applying Mayor Daly's work in the international camp, holding an international design contest, and then having these residents built and then put on the market, the moderate income market.

Somebody has to take the lead, and sometimes that means someone who says this or that has to be done. We've had centuries of the wrong folk leading from the top down, greed being the second only to power driving them. But when it's about sustainability, equity, energy independence, public places, clean technology, healthy environments, layering all those sustainability components into how people live, work, recreate in the city, can the ends justify the means or means justify the ends?

Green Machine looks at the third largest city in the USA, Chicago, where the skyscraper was invented. This is a laboratory for America, a place where the future will be tested. Now. It's the crossroads of America. It was once the dumping ground for toxins, junk, by-products. Hundreds of those brown fields have been cleaned up. And the drive is not at the neighborhood level. It's about Richard Daly, mayor of Chicago.

What do planning students and landscape designers and others think of this system of greening? Is it too dangerous to see a personality like Daly take the lead, take the city into the plunge toward green? Green roofs for city buildings as a symbolic gesture, to show the development community it can and will be done? Daly has changed the spirit of the city, and the spirit of politics.

On June 10, 2004, Daly and his staff created the Chicago Standards, sustainability design and construction for public buildings to reduce operating costs and to save energy. Daly believes that too often the wrong people see cities as steel, concrete, and dirty . . . that they work there, yes, but once the 9-to-5 commitment is over, they want to get out as soon as possible. His goal is to get green mainstream, for remodeling and construction in all sectors. To have a city a place to live, grow and stay.

The city of Chicago has 10,000 bike riders (most total of any city) and has accommodated for them in many amenities. The reality is that last year, at the turn of 2008, the world went urban -- that is, more than 50 percent of global population lives in urban places. By 2030 or 2050 that might be 65 percent.

Of course, we as spasming when it comes to values, framing, those few global warming deniers getting equal time with the millions working on global warming mitigation. We have those seeing cities as solutions, yet in America, there are slow-to-change perceptions of what the American dream is. See this document PacifiCAD blogspot will be discussing at length in the future:

http://pewsocialtrends.org/assets/pdf/Community-Satisfaction.pdf

The counterpoint to the E-Squared mainframe of optimism and business as the solution is those voices in sustainability and architecture, critics if you will, writers and practitioners. The bottom line is that we can't consume our way out of peak oil, peak living, peak food and climate change. We have to redesign our cities, redesign our societies. That means that we have to do this now, and it doesn't have mean we lose community, some luxuries, and well being. Green and design for post carbon means positive things for societies.

Daly, the mayor, wants the city to have a connection to people, to the environment, to the connectivity of public-private space, shared neighborhoods, transportation that isn't about smog and cars.

Having McDonald's put on a green roof of sorts is the ultimate contradiction, one of the architecture writers said in Green Machine. A band-aid. The ultimate in drive-through, car centric businesses, puts some grass and perennials into roof soil, and that gets the business some green points? Wrong. And forget about the ecological footprint (damage) of a fast-food, fast meat-egg-dairy business like McDonald's? And the health of people after consuming said products? How do those implications play out in community planning, sustainability? Questions.

We have to have a green way of living, and all the green buildings in the world won't amount to a hill of organic, fair trade coffee beans. It's about thinking, acting and engaging in green all the time. And lowering consumption. that's what these counterpoints in the E-Squared series illustrate.

Can we begin to finally admit to the huge lobbying influence of the US Chamber of Commerce and the others locally who buy into the big business paradigm for ruddering a community's future? We need mayors and senators and congresswomen and administrators to make bigger leaps, like Daly has. Some completely disagree, seeing consensus building as the ultimate goal. Countless meetings, and charrettees and plans that end up on the shelf, so to speak.

I wonder when the incrementalists will finally be taken to task? Copenhagen is the most important meeting of our times, so says http://www.350.org/ activist Bill McKibben. We need city halls and county supervisors to have vision and to get off their diffs and look to the future 40, 60 , 100 years out. We need to work harder to criticize them at gatherings and in our emails.

Read Chris Hedges and Bill McKibben here, for the argument about doing it ourselves -- cutting down on electricity use, saving gray water, etc; or looking toward changing the culture of corporate domination:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/143481/mckibben_versus_hedges%27_clash_of_worldviews%3A_how_do_we_solve_the_environmental_crisis_

What's the EWU Planning Program doing about this sort of reaction to the needs of our nation? Do the classes see that sustainability is not just some pie in the sky or impossible dream?

The debate is on, and the E-Squared series shows are good starting points. In one way, they are dated, and in another way they illustrate the shape that could be coming if we bite the bullet and make the sacrifices necessary to move into a post-carbon world.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Number is 3-Five-Zero -- Climate Change Day of Action Around the USA, and in Spokane


Come join with your Spokane area neighbors to stand together and call for world leaders to set a sane and science-based climate action policy. Come to the north end of the blue Howard St. Bridge at noon on Saturday, October 24. We will have our picture taken holding a huge “350” banner. More information about climate change, and up-coming local presentations and events, will be available. Your participation is very important!.

Our event photo will be shared with local, national and international political leaders and joined with photos from all around the world to show delegates to the Copenhagen Conference, urging them to be motivated by recent science to give all peoples and plant and animal species the best chance possible to survive the climate changes that have already begun.

This activity is being organized at website www.350.org please visit the site to learn more. Visit the Spokane Event site on the 350 Global Action Map.

We can use your help too at the 350 Banner Making Party this coming Saturday from 10 AM – 1 PM; and/or putting Climate Action Day handbills up in your favorite haunts. Reply to this email sender, or call 509-327-8303 for more information on how to help. Thank you!
But most important – show up for our brief but very important event, October 24!

The Oh-Sh-- Moment is Upon US

The news these days require swift action, and yet we still are glazed over as a society when it comes to climate change action, solutions and mitigating the hardships to come. Sorry about the bad news. Read the full piece here:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/143256/without_drastic_co2_cuts_immediately%2C_the_world_faces_a_massive_%27oh_shit%27_moment

By Mark Hertsgaard

"It came in July, courtesy of the chief climate adviser to the German government. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chair of an advisory council known by its German acronym, WBGU, is a physicist whose specialty, fittingly enough, is chaos theory. Speaking to an invitation-only conference at New Mexico's Santa Fe Institute, Schellnhuber divulged the findings of a study so new he had not yet briefed Chancellor Angela Merkel about it. The study, Solving the Climate Dilemma: The Budget Approach, has now been published here.

http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_sn2009_en.html

free copy here:
http://www.wbgu.de/bestellen_en.php

Solving the climate dilemma: The budget approach
WBGU, Berlin, 200958 pages, 2 Tables, 12 Figures, ISBN 3-936191-27-1

"If its conclusions are correct -- and Schellnhuber ranks among the world's half-dozen most eminent climate scientists -- it has monumental implications for the pivotal meeting in December in Copenhagen, where world leaders will try to agree on reversing global warming.

Schellnhuber and his WBGU colleagues go a giant step beyond the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body whose scientific reports are constrained because the world's governments must approve their contents. The IPCC says that by 2020 rich industrial countries must cut emissions 25 to 40 percent (compared with 1990) if the world is to have a fair chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. By contrast, the WBGU study says the United States must cut emissions 100 percent by 2020 -- in other words, quit carbon entirely within ten years.

Germany and other industrial nations must do the same by 2025 to 2030. China only has until 2035, and the world as a whole must be carbon free by 2050. The study adds that big polluters can delay their day of reckoning by 'buying' emissions rights from developing countries, a step the study estimates would extend some countries' deadlines by a decade or so.

Needless to say, this timetable is light-years more demanding than what the world's major governments are talking about in the run-up to Copenhagen. The European Union has pledged 20 percent reductions by 2020, which it will increase to 30 percent if others -- i.e., the United States -- do the same. Japan's new prime minister likewise has promised 25 percent reductions by 2020 if others do the same. Obama didn't mention a number, but the Waxman-Markey bill, which he supports, would deliver less than 5 percent reductions by 2020. Obama's silence -- doubtless a function of the fact that Republicans are implacably opposed to serious emissions cuts -- allowed Hu to claim the higher ground at the UN. Hu went further than any Chinese leader has before, pledging to curb greenhouse gas emissions growth by a 'notable margin' by 2020. Obama dropped his own bombshell, however, urging that all G-20 governments phase out subsidies for fossil fuels. 'The time we have to reverse this tide is running out,' Obama declared. Alas, the WBGU study suggests that our time is in fact all but gone. "

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