Archive for the 'Climate Change' Category

(Chronologically Listed)

RU ready for ‘weird’ weather? the case for adaptive investment

cold kauai decembers, click for larger

As we track and anticipate climate change in these islands, the one certainty seems to be that we are in for “weird” weather.

For example, the record-cold December on Kaua`i (see chart) and the recent Hanalei gusher that broke records (and gauges) certainly qualify as "Black Swan events"--things previously thought to be rare that occur with increasing frequency.

Of course, those who build models of "system dynamics" tell us this weirdness is an expected consequence of the "hockey stick" trends we're now seeing. Every major geo-physical indicator is ramping up faster and faster (see chart below), and this accelerating quantitative change is generating startling qualitative changes.

Published by Ken on January 4th, 2010 tagged Climate Change, Community Initiatives | 1 Comment »

Holdren on climate policy: lead or be cooked

john holdren

As Copenhagen looms, Obama's science advisor John Holdren says "industrialised nations need to get their acts together..and developing countries have to join pretty soon, or we're going to be cooked" (via newscientist).

Holdren still sees a chance for Senate passage of "commitments that will move us onto a declining emissions trajectory", and if so, "we will see a degree of progress at Copenhagen that will surprise people."

For now, Holdren sees cap-and-trade as a vital stepping stone, with "more ambitious" targets to be added over time.

Such adjustments are "likely", says Holdren because two things are going to happen:

Published by Ken on August 3rd, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

military spending must shift to reflect climate security

guns vs green

With our military budget now approaching $700B annually, a new report from IPS urges Obama to shoot for a minimum of $30B in each of the next 20 years for climate change initiatives, including R&D and retrofits for government facilities (via grist).

Grist's Kate Sheppard notes that this need not be a zero-sum game, since climate action could be funded from carbon cap revenues (if they ever emerge from Congress).

Still, 'twould be smart to ratchet down on the gunboats as we ratchet up the green generators. Even with the stimulus package, Obama's military spending is still 9 times higher than climate action.

Published by Ken on August 1st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

ahoy Senator! boaters want emission reductions, too

west marine founder

Citing the horrors of ocean acidification, a major boating company has launched a 'call-your-Senator' campaign to push for a climate bill even stronger than Waxman-Markey. Kewl!

West Marine sent emails to its customer base making the connection between CO2 and ocean acidification, noting that "solving one will solve the other", and urging boaters to "demand far greater emissions reductions than were able to pass the House."

"As one friend who got the email said, it's "interesting to see them step up with a position!"

Especially with 'Big Coal" flooding the Senate with cries for even more loopholes, this is a heartening sign.

Published by Ken on July 28th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Island Vulnerabilities | Comments Off

Hawaii climate change funds escape guv veto

HI climate change

Bravo for state legislators who last week overrode Governor Lingles' veto of SB266!

So, there will be a climate change task force to study the potential impacts of rising sea levels, eroding coast lines, ocean acidification, fiercer storms, and other expected affects of climate change, and to suggest response strategies...all funded with $100,000 a year to be diverted from the state tourism fund (via gristmill).

Grist's Jonathan Hiskes notes that the fed’s climate change report forecasted severe effects on U.S. Pacific islands if climate change continues unchecked.

Lingle had argued that the state's emissions reduction task force was already addressing climate change.

Published by Ken on July 20th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Climate Change | Comments Off

runup to Copenhagen: agreement on planes and boats?

ships planes on copenhagen agenda

Forgive yourself if the rush of high-level pre-Copenhagen gatherings leaves you befuddled about the prospects for an achievable climate change deal to supersede Kyoto. We just hope it all works out, right?

Now, Gordon Brown has called for $100B annually from developed nations to help developing world 'leapfrog' to cleaner energy technologies, with funding from a new tariff on airline and shipping industries (which were excluded from Kyoto). Kewl! (via newscientist).

Guess that means emissions from flying and shipping would become the 'cash cow' for the green fund, rather than coming under the umbrella of national emissions targets. Double kewl!

Published by Ken on July 20th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | Comments Off

King Coal has no clothes: don’t bow down on climate change

big coal

What's up with "Big Coal" marauding through Congress as if it's a stuck pig? The concessions wrung from the House were enough to gut the “climate change” bill's effectiveness, and now their Senate lobbying sounds like "life or death" (via wbcd).

"The idea that coal lobbyists are out there complaining that they need more is just appalling, because they already got so much" says Friends of the Earth's Nick Berning.

Fact is, we (and other nations) must get off coal if we've got a shot at achieving the required near-term global emissions reductions. So why is Congress so susceptible to the "stuck pig" thang?

Published by Ken on July 13th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change, Energy | Comments Off

sustainability thinking is crucial says Prince Charles

prince charles

Prepping for teaching short courses on sustainability thinking at KCC, I'm struck by the cacophony of  voices saying we need a new way of including Prince Charles.

Last Wednesday, Charles concluded the Dimbleby Lecture by advocating "a much more integrated way of thinking and perceiving the world", noting that new technologies and lifestyles won't be enough (via bestfootforward).

"We are still conditioned by Modernism’s mechanistic thinking...invariably seeking a solution to one problem without thinking of the impact this will have on the whole...which has led to our disconnection from the complexity of Nature", says Charles.

Published by Ken on July 11th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

think science and markets drive policy? look at climate change

william rees

Bill Rees invented the ecological footprint concept, and in the dozen ensuing years has become one of Canada's leading public intellectuals.

Now, Rees wants to see science and markets drive climate policy, yet he's bumping up against climate denial and market hypocrisy (via themark).

Both Canada and the US are science-based and market-based societies, right? Says Rees, "if you accept this conventional wisdom, you’d be wrong on both counts."

“Public policy on climate at both the federal and provincial levels bears almost no relation to current climate science”, and “ecological dysfunction represents gross market failure.” We’re “wallowing in deep denial.”

Published by Ken on July 9th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

war-time footing: bring back rationing…for carbon

WWII ration stamps

My wife was an impressionable 6 years old when WWII ended, and has a clear and favorable recollection of rationing.

This week, on returning from her mother's funeral she showed me a prize find from her stored stuff: a ration book with her name on it.

The stamps shown here are for oils and grains, yet what she remembers most clearly is the stamps for chocolate...none of which remain in this ration book (duh!).

Actually, her fondest memory is of plenty bubblegum when the war ended (doh!).

She firmly believes Americans need some new stamps for carbon rationing.

Published by Ken on July 3rd, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Community Initiatives | 1 Comment »

faster is better: on energy pathways to economic recovery

next 10 energy pathways

"The faster and farther California can improve energy efficiency, while accelerating deployment of renewable energy, the faster the state economy will grow and create jobs", says a new report on "Energy Pathways" by Berkeley economist, David Roland-Holst (via next10).

If you think this sounds like greener-sooner-cheaper, you'd be right. And if you think the alternative "portends ever greater reliance on out-of-state fuel sources, and therefore greater exposure to fuel price volatility", you'd also be right.

Just don't tell KIUC, which recently joined "Big Coal" lobbying in DC to bash climate change legislation on the pretext of keeping energy prices down*.

Published by Ken on June 19th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Energy | Comments Off

on smearing people and mis-stating sustainability science

smear tactics

"Full-time global warming disinformers, like Swift boat smearer Marc Morano and Anthony Watts, have dedicated their lives to promoting disinformation and delay whose inevitable outcome — if a large fraction of people continue to be suckered by them — is unspeakable misery and/or violence to billions of people."

So says Joe Romm, after his climate change advocacy was labeled " murdering people" by a commenter on Watts' blog.

Romm fires back, noting that such statements from deniers and disinformers "are the equivalent of shouting ‘no fire’ on a burning planet. That is perhaps the most immoral thing any human being can do.”

Published by Ken on June 9th, 2009 tagged Climate Change | Comments Off

what needs more explaining? on ignoring idiots


The amazing scientists at RealClimate are getting tired of climate deniers and delayers.

Wouldn't you, if you faced "the same nonsense, the same logical fallacies, the same confusions - all of which seem to be endlessly repeated."

Most of us are bystanders as the educated and the idiotic battle it out for headlines and soundbites.

The educated push on "because bystanders deserve to know where better information can be found", says Gavin Schmidt.

Meanwhile, the idiotic "keep floundering ahead with blind faith in their increasingly fallacious worldview."

Published by Ken on June 7th, 2009 tagged Climate Change | Comments Off

don’t build carbon storage, enhance it

natural fix

Energy firms are pushing billions for building carbon capture and storage (CCS) at power plants, yet there's a better and cheaper approach for reducing emissions: stopping deforestation, restoring marshes and peatlands, and practicing more sustainable agricultural techniques.

So says "The Natural Fix" from UNEP, looking at the role of ecosystems in climate mitigation (via treehugger).

UNEP's Achim Steiner notes this is a "tried and tested method" for storing carbon "that has been working for millennia", and unlike CCS, “delivers improved water supplies, soil stabilization and reduced biodiversity losses alongside new kinds of green jobs in natural resource management and conservation”.

Published by Ken on June 5th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | Comments Off

keeping track: what happened to sustainable development?


Sheesh! Was it 17 years ago, already, that our eyes turned to Rio and the Earth Summit?

Don't know about you, but I haven't been closely tracking the progress of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) that emerged from the Rio deliberations to ensure effective follow-up. Too bad, too!

Howzat? It seems the CSD has been marginalized at precisely the time we need these efforts most. After all, COP-15 in Copenhagen arises because we haven't done much since Rio...except conduct some important research and draft some strategic plans.

So says Adam Parsons in lamenting this state of affairs (via commondreams).

Published by Ken on June 1st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

keywords for sustainability: essential, inevitable, and feasible

sustainability transition

Hopefully, folks 'get' that "going green" ain't enough...that there's no such thing as "sorta sustainable".

At the same time, this or that "green" initiative may be seen as a "choice", yet there is no choice but to quickly transition to sustainability. Period.

As the "Transition Town" gang puts it, "climate change makes the carbon reduction transition essential, peak oil makes it inevitable, and transition initiatives make it feasible, viable and attractive."

Notice we're talking "3 Spheres": In economies we will inevitably switch energy, in ecologies we will essentially adapt to climate change, and in communities we will viably re-invent from the bottom-up.

Published by Ken on May 31st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

six steps from illusion: countdown to copenhagen

copenhagen climate council

Forget the long-term targets for emissions reduction by 2050, and focus on dramatic cuts by 2020, or else none of this matters, says Per Meilstrup (via copenhagenclimatecouncil).

"A (2050) vision without a (2020) plan is a (2009) illusion”, and the US plan for reductions to 1990 levels by 2020 is “simply not enough”, says Meilstrup. "Without a firm emissions target in 2020, a 2050 target is will never get there".

"In 2020, at least a 25% reduction for the developed countries – and probably 40% if we are to believe the latest science – is required in 12 years time."

Published by Ken on May 31st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

peak oil come quickly! on reserves and hot air


Don't even think about "stopping climate breakdown" unless you're "prepared to impose a limit on the use of the oil reserves already discovered, and a permanent moratorium on prospecting for new reserves", says George Monbiot (via commondreams).

Why? Because recent ground-breaking science suggests we can't afford to spew more than 500 billion tons MORE carbon, even though there may be 800 billion tons (carbon equivalent) of oil reserves available.

So, however limited our remaining fossil fuel supplies may be, we can't use 'em all or we're toast.

Monbiot wants to know now which reserves we're gonna leave in the ground.

Published by Ken on May 19th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | Comments Off

can we fix sustainability if “sacrifice” is unacceptable?

societal collapse

We will not "take preemptive action to mitigate the consequences" of our unsustainable industrialization, nor will we "choose to modify voluntarily our distorted, cornucopian worldview and our dysfunctional, detritovoric resource utilization behavior" we're headed for "societal collapse", says Chris Clugston (via oildrum).

Yet, don't worry: "We will be able to defer the onset of our Societal Collapse until a permanent shortage or disruption in the supply of a critical nonrenewable natural resource permanently disenables our industrial mosaic" says Clugston.

Clugston recommends preparation strategies "for those who believe that survival probabilities and living standards during and after Societal Collapse can be optimized".

Published by Ken on May 19th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Energy | Comments Off

Hawken to seniors: you are brilliant, and the Earth is hiring

paul hawken at commencement

Every campus should be lucky as UPortland to have Paul Hawken speak to graduating seniors. Here's why (via charityfocus).

"Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades", says Hawken.

"Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done".

According to Hawken, "working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich."

Published by Ken on May 18th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Climate Change | Comments Off