Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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The Impact of Fossil Fuels on our Planet

“The gases from fossil fuels trap heat in our atmosphere leading to the greenhouse effect.”

By Linn Smith
April 21, 2018—Most people by now know the impact of fossil fuels on our environment. Ten years ago this wasn’t true, but today it’s common knowledge. Even with this knowledge and scientific data to confirm it, there are still some naysayers out there. As I have said many times in my articles, some people won’t believe in global warming until it’s in their own backyard, or as Bill Wilson put it….”Even then he may be like the farmer that looked out from his cellar to find his home ruined, saying, ‘Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?’”

Are Fossil Fuels the Cause of Global Warming?

How do we know fossil fuels are causing global warming? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the molecules of carbon dioxide (the main culprit in global warming) contain information about their source of origin. Carbon in atmospheric molecules have a distinctly different “signature,” so scientists can analyze these variations. Also, when using just the data that would show normal changes in our climate (such as from forces of the sun), our changing climate can’t be explained. When the carbon molecules are factored in, global warming can be explained accurately.

Coal and Its Negative Impact on Our Environment

Burning coal causes the chemical bonds that hold its carbon atoms together to break. This releases the energy from coal, which we use to heat our houses. But breaking down these chemical bonds that make up coal also releases pollutants and heavy metals into our atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is the main byproduct of burning coal and coal powered plants are the main culprits of CO2 emissions, contributing 24% of all energy related emissions in 2016.

fossil fuels and the environment

One of Colorado’s many oil wells.

Petroleum and its Negative Impact on Our Environment

Petroleum is usually found as small pockets of liquid trapped in layers of rock below the surface of the earth. Burning petroleum products (fuel oil and gasoline) also releases CO2 into our atmosphere. According to http://www.eia.gov, almost 20 pounds of CO2 is produced from burning a gallon of gas that does not contain ethanol. As with coal, many other hazardous byproducts are also released, but the release of CO2 from burning petroleum products is a main contributor to global warming.

Natural Gas and its Impact on Our Environment

Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbons, including methane, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. It is often found beneath the earth’s surface near pockets of coal or petroleum and is often extracted at the same time. Even though it burns cleaner than the other fossil fuels (it produces about ½ the CO2 emissions per unit of coal), it still contributes CO2 to our atmosphere. The demand for natural gas has increased greatly in the past decade, requiring drilling for natural gas separately from petroleum. This is called fracking.

Fracking contributes to other environmental hazards besides global warming. Earthquakes, created by disturbing ancient fault lines deep under our earth’s crust, can be a result of drilling for natural gas. As with coal byproducts, the gases from fracking can seep into our water ways, contaminating our drinking water and surrounding soil.

fossil fuels vs renewable energy

House explosion caused by fracking

Hazards of Fracking

In 2017, in Firestone, Colorado, fracking caused a house explosion which killed 2 and seriously injured another. The wells were drilled in the area years before the housing development appeared. The house that exploded was built in 2014. The COGCC (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) does not regulate the distance of houses from wells, allowing fracking companies in Colorado to have 129,000 underground oil and gas pipelines within 1000 feet of occupied buildings.

fossil fuels vs clean energy

Gas well showing lines extending out.

Anadarko Petroleum, owners of the nearby well which caused the explosion, allowed toxic gases from an uncapped line to seep into the soil around the house, and to eventually seep into the house. A gas well was 170 feet from the home that exploded, with a gas line 7 feet underground. The gas line, which ran within 10 feet of the house, appeared to be severed at some point, possibly from housing construction. In the past the gas line had run from the well to nearby storage tanks. The tanks had long been removed, but the line that caused the house explosion was still connected to a valve at the well that was left in the “on” position. This allowed a mixture of propane, methane and other gases to seep into the surrounding soil and into the home through drains and a sump pit in the basement. The explosion occurred when the family was trying to light a new hot water heater in the basement. 

Who takes responsibility to prevent these events from happening? In Colorado it’s a constant fight between communities and the owners of wells, such as Anadarko Petroleum.

Eliminating Fossil Fuels

The gases from fossil fuels trap heat in our atmosphere leading to the greenhouse effect—the heating of our earth which causes stronger, more frequent extreme weather patterns, rising and warming seas, and extinction of wildlife and their habitats.

Renewables produce little to no effect on weather patterns. Renewables lead to a healthier planet, healthier waterways, less erosion……the list goes on and on! If we support clean energy, we support a healthy planet!

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The Warming of Planet Earth Varies from Place to Place

Melting of the Arctic

The Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate.

“The Arctic Region is the Most Rapidly Warming Region in the Northern Hemisphere.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

April 10, 2018—–There is no doubt that Planet Earth is warming relatively fast! Data supports this allegation. The data supporting global warming include biological, geological, hydrological and climatological. 

The year 1880 has been established as the beginning of a period of accelerated warming due to the increased use of fossil fuels and a growing population. From 1880 to 1979, the global temperature increased 0.1°F (0.05ºC) above the pre-industrial average. By 2016 the global temperature had climbed 1.4°F(0.6ºC).

Land and Sea Warm at Different Rates

The warming of our planet is not the same from place to place over the surface. With the possible exception of Antarctica, the continents are warming faster than the oceans. The main reason is the difference in specific heat between land and ocean. The specific heat of a substance is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of the substance 1°C (1.8ºF). The specific heat of water is used as the base for measuring specific heat and has a value of 1.0. The specific heat for some other substances are ice=0.5, air=0.24, and sand=0.19.

The significance in the difference in specific heat is that a given unit of energy will raise the temperature of earth materials about five times as much as a unit of water. Thus, land surfaces warm faster than water when an equal amount of energy is added.

Glacier National Park

Global warming is causing disappearing glaciers.

Northern Hemisphere is Warming Faster Than the Southern

Climate normals are periods of 30 years that move forward every 10 years. The current normal being used is that of the period 1980-2010.When compared to the 30 year global average for the period 1980-2010, the northern hemisphere is warming faster than the average for the earth as a whole. It is also warming faster than the southern hemisphere. The Northern Hemisphere temperature increased more than two degrees Fahrenheit. The reason the Northern Hemisphere is warming faster than the southern Hemisphere is due to the fact that most of the earth’s land mass is in the Northern Hemisphere.

Disease and melting ice caps

Consequences of Global Warming

The Arctic Region is Rapidly Warming

The Arctic is the coldest region in the Northern Hemisphere. The region consists of the sea surrounding the North Pole and land that rings the sea. The arctic is warming faster than mid-latitude or tropical regions. It is warming more than twice as fast as the average for the earth. The reason for this is that as ice and snow melt on the fringes of the arctic the ratio between reflection and absorption of solar energy changes drastically.

In the winter the sea is covered by a veneer of ice and the surrounding land is generally covered by snow. With the onset of summer, the increased solar radiation results in the melting of ice and snow melting off the land. The more snow and ice that melts, the faster the arctic warms. This change results in what is known as a positive feedback mechanism. More and more energy is absorbed rather than reflected or used to melt the ice. As the melting season lengthens the land and atmosphere above it warm faster than areas further south.

While the Arctic is still the coldest region in the Northern Hemisphere, it is warming more rapidly than other areas!

Global Warming

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Trump Rolls Back Clean Air Act

Following are recent changes announced by the Trump administration for rolling back the Clean Air Act. This article was copied from the EPA’s website:

EPA Administrator Pruitt: GHG Emissions Standards for Cars and Light Trucks Should Be Revised
04/02/2018

WASHINGTON (April 2, 2018) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is announcing the completion of the Midterm Evaluation (MTE) process for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025, and his final determination that, in light of recent data, the current standards are not appropriate and should be revised. Administrator Pruitt is also announcing the start of a joint process with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop a notice and comment rulemaking to set more appropriate GHG emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
“The Obama Administration’s determination was wrong,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”
Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA sets national standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions of certain pollutants. Through a CAA waiver granted by EPA, California can impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions of certain pollutants than federal requirements. The California waiver is still being reexamined by EPA under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership.
“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country. EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford — while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars. It is in America’s best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard,” said Administrator Pruitt.
Additional Background
As part of the 2012 rulemaking establishing the model year 2017-2025 light-duty vehicle GHG standards, EPA made a regulatory commitment to conduct a MTE of the standards for MY 2022-2025 no later than April 1, 2018. This evaluation would determine whether the standards remain appropriate or should be made more, or less stringent.
In November 2016, the Obama Administration short-circuited the MTE process and rushed out their final determination on January 12, 2017, just days before leaving office. Since then, the auto industry and other stakeholders sought a reinstatement of the original MTE timeline, so that the Agency could review the latest information.
EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a reestablishment of the MTE process in March 2017. And, in August 2017, EPA reopened the regulatory docket and asked for additional information and data relevant to assessing whether the GHG emissions standards remain appropriate, including information on: consumer behavior, feedback on modeling approaches, and assessing advanced fuels technologies. EPA also held a public hearing on this topic.

For more information: https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/midterm-evaluation-light-duty-vehicle-greenhouse-gas

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-04/documents/mte-final-determination-notice-2018-04-02.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Global Violence Is a Symptom of Overpopulation and the Need to Limit Growth

Aristotle

Poverty and Revolution

“There are many factors which precipitate violence. Poverty and unemployment are two key ones in today’s world.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

March 16, 2018—-Among the symptoms of global overpopulation and the need to limit population growth are widespread human health problems, resource depletion, and migration. Violence must be added to these symptoms.

Violence can be defined as the use of physical force to injure or abuse another person or persons. It also includes mental injury due to the distorting of the truth or verbal abuse. It should be pointed out that most violence does not result in death. Among the elements that most often lead to violence are: poverty, resource depletion, regional health problems, such as under nutrition, and alternative facts. These factors are often difficult to separate from one another. By far the greatest number of acts of violence do not result in death. These acts include physical assaults such as rape and beatings. Verbal abuse and threats of physical violence are also widespread, particularly. Deaths due to violence have increased in recent decades. In 2013, the most recent year for which the World Health Organization has data, an estimated 1.3 million people died from violence. Self inflicted action, or suicide, was responsible for the greatest share of the deaths, 65% of the total.

Crime and revolution

Poverty and Crime result from overpopulaton.

Violence by Individuals

Violence involving relationships between individuals accounts for another 32% of deaths. In the interpersonal death by violence, knifes and guns were the primary weapons used. The United States is the worlds leader in death by firearms. Approximately 70% of all guns privately owned on the planet are in the United Sates, mostly by men. In total numbers it is estimated there are about 300 million guns privately owned in the United States. In the last few years death by gun has passed the 30,000 mark. It now exceeds those killed in automobile accidents. Mass shootings are increasing in frequency and numbers killed. Many of these involve killing children in schools.

Overpopulation and hunger

A depletion of resources.

Group Violence

The remaining deaths were due to war between tribes or nations. In today’s world extreme violence has become global. Religion is one of the factors in group violence and tribal wars. The best known of these tribal wars is that between Christianity and Islam. However, there is violence between Islamic groups and between groups classified as Christians. The clash between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is one example. Within the major religions there are often extremist sections that promote violence such as the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Isil in the middle east.

Contributing Factors and Trends

There are many factors which precipitate violence. Poverty and unemployment are two key ones in today’s world. The prospects for much of the population in the poor countries are not good. It should be clear that the income gap is contributing to global unrest and increased violence. Most of the increase in national wealth will go to just a few people.

One can only conclude there will be more and more violence as civil uprisings by every large numbers of people as they protest the continual decrease in income and resources available to them. It should be reiterated that the vast majority of violence does not result in death. However, the physical and mental pain that accompanies non-fatal incidents is just as real and long lasting.

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Global unrest and violence


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The Effect of Climate Change on the Saguaros of the Sonoran Desert

saguaro pic by Linn Smith

Saguaro of the Sonoran Desert

“Saguaros have evolved to rely on the summer monsoons and winter rains that prevail here.”

By Linn Smith
March 4, 2018—-Each morning I ride along the dirt paths in southwest Arizona, my dog in tow, and wonder at the giant Saguaros, towering, as if royalty of the desert. What do I know about these gigantic, human like plants? I know I am truly humbled by their presence. The beauty against the mountains, the size, the human like features of arms lifting to a blue sky above, their age and, while the world moves forward, these mammoth cactuses have survived the elements of a dry arid life in the Southwest…all part of my fascination!

But what about the survival of the Saguaros? What is the future of these majestic desert plants? With climate change comes a hotter, drier desert and with a hotter, drier desert comes a greater risk of fires and drought, making it difficult for the Saguaro to propagate according to the narrow margin of time allotted for seed dispersion that coincides with the monsoons.

And also….there’s Buffelgrass!

Saguaros

Buffelgrass competes with Saguaros for nutrients

Buffelgrass: A Giant Threat to a Giant Cactus

Buffelgrass is native to Africa and was transported to the desert of Arizona to prevent erosion and for cattle forage in the 1940’s. Many volunteers work tirelessly digging up the invasive grass, which competes with the Saguaros for food and water. The grass not only competes for the nutrients and water among the Saguaros, it is also fire-resistant, as the roots are able to survive a fire, allowing the Buffelgrass to endure the elements of nature and return healthier than ever.

Buffelgrass is highly flammable and burns very hot, much hotter than the Saguaros can survive. It changes a fire-resistant desert into a flammable grassland and, as climate changes and fires increase, so does the Buffelgrass. A healthy ecosystem is able to resist changes of climate due to global warming, but the buffelgrass creates an unhealthy environment for the Saguaros of the Sonoran Desert. When it fills in the bare areas between the Saguaros, the grass acts like fodder for fire caused by lightning strikes.

Climatecental.org states, “Like many such imports, which seemed like a good idea at the time, this one (Buffelgrass) has gone out of control. Approximately 2,000 acres of Saguaro National Park are currently covered with buffelgrass, and can spread at a rate of up to 35 percent per year. There’s no way for one park or its visitors to hold back global warming, but while park employees attack the fire-loving buffelgrass with herbicides, volunteers show up for communal buffelgrass pulls. It’s a difficult battle, but after great effort and thousands upon thousands of buffelgrass clumps yanked from the ground, mostly by volunteers, some land is declared free of the unwanted grass.”
The staff at Saguaro National Park states it like this, “The math of climate change is simple: Hotter summers mean a greater likelihood of fire. Warmer winters mean less chance for buffelgrass to die back in a hard freeze. It all adds up to long odds for the saguaros. If we start seeing buffelgrass come through and we have larger fires, really you can start calling us Buffelgrass National Park. The cacti are not going to survive that.”

Saguaro

Saguaros of the Southwest

The Saguaros and Monsoon Rains

The Saguaros only habitat on earth are the deserts of the southwest. Andy L. Fisher, chief of interpretation for Saguaro National Park says, “Even — or especially — in the desert, water is life. Saguaros have evolved to rely on the summer monsoons and winter rains that prevail here. Their adaptations to this regional weather cycle are so specific that the species is found in the Sonoran Desert and nowhere else on Earth. The saguaros have got it dialed in. They know exactly when they need to put up the fruit to put out the seeds, to get the seeds carried by the animals, to get seeds deposited just in time for the first monsoon rains.” If the monsoons fail to bring the needed rains within their usual timespan, these cactuses could soon become extinct, along with the many other species of plants throughout our planet dependent on timely conditions for survival.

Saguaro Population Regeneration

A seventy-five year study of the Saguaro cactus by the National Parks Conservation Association titled, “Saguaro Mortality and Population Regeneration in the Cactus Forest of Saguaro National Park: Seventy-Five Years and Counting,” created maps showing the percent of population change of the Saguaros according to sections. The study shows that only 12 of the 64 four-hectare (one hectare equals approximately 2.5 acres} plots had a population increase over the past 75 years in which the Saguaro was studied. The other 52 plots decreased in Saguaro population. Other studies document the same degree of regeneration.

Weiss, Castro, and Overpeck , who headed the study, contrasted the drought of the 2000s with the drought of the 1950s and point out the following. “Temperatures during the drought of the 2000s have been generally higher than during the 1950s drought due to climate change. They note that the higher temperatures increase the evapotranspiration especially in the foresummer prior to the monsoons. Hence, we suspect drought, not reproductive potential, is primarily responsible for the lack of regeneration in this population in the current era.”

The observations made during the past 75 years of this study suggest that the success of the Saguaro’s regeneration in the 21st century will depend on a combination of factors including climate and fire associated with the invasive non-native buffelgrass. Climate change may benefit some species, such as Buffelgrass, and cause extinction of others….the Saguaro, which is at risk of disappearing in the future!

If you are in the Southwest or just visiting and would like to spend a day for a worthy cause….digging Buffelgrass, contact the Desert Museum: https://www.desertmuseum.org/buffelgrass/volunteer.php

One last note, don’t try to poach a Saguaro to sell or relocate to your yard, as many are microchipped!

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 A Visit to Biosphere 2

“On a day by day basis I was very aware that the Biosphere, the plants, the algae in there, were providing me with my oxygen.”

By Linn Smith

January 13, 2018—–A visit to Biosphere 2 last week, which is the world’s largest science laboratory, revealed a site of many experiments, both past and present. Biosphere 1 is our Planet Earth. Biosphere 2, located in the desert of Arizona, emulates our planet, containing a rainforest, ocean, grasslands, desert and other earth replications. The mini earth also contains human living quarters and an agricultural area for growing food.


Biosphere 2 according to Wikipedia, “was originally meant to demonstrate the viability of closed ecological systems to support and maintain human life in outer space. It was designed to explore the web of interactions within life systems in a structure with different areas based on various biological biomes.”

Life in Biosphere 2

In the 1990’s, eight people were sealed inside of Biosphere 2 for two years. The experiment was to study if conditions on earth could possibly be emulated and contained for living elsewhere—possibly the moon.

One participant, Jane Poynter, said, “We were recycling all our water, all of our air, and growing all our food. Nothing was going in or out. The Biosphere was truly hermetically sealed.” The experiment eventually revealed that the participants couldn’t get enough oxygen or calories, eating their emergency food supplies and getting oxygen injections.

When the experiment ended Poynter stated, “I walked out and the next morning saw a gigantic pile of garbage. We hadn’t had any garbage in the Biosphere, we recycled everything. And then you go to a store to buy stuff, and you’re like ‘holy cow, look at this!’ There’s not only tomato ketchup, there’s 17 brands of it! It’s the abundance of this world that we all take for granted which became so apparent!”

Interdependency of our Planet

Today, Poynter tries to live her life with as low a carbon footprint as possible. Life inside the Biosphere also taught her the value of food. “Today we pick up the phone and order a pizza, but in the Biosphere we had to plant the wheat, which would take about 120 days to grow, harvest it, grind it, turn it into flour and make dough. To get the cheese our goats had to be artificially inseminated and have babies to get our milk!” Similar to what life was like before the early 1900’s!

Even though the experiment failed in some areas, not only lack of food and oxygen, but also warring factions between participants, Poynter states, “On a day by day basis I was very aware that the Biosphere, the plants, the algae in there, were providing me with my oxygen, and I was providing them with their carbon dioxide. It was incredibly interdependent. It’s like that on Planet Earth, but it’s so big you don’t realize it, or think about it.”

Is it time to start thinking of where our oxygen comes from? How interdependent life is? The causes of extreme weather conditions and what our carbon footprint looks like? Will future generations lack food and oxygen? It’s time to look at the truth and the increasing data collected by scientists that will predict how comfortable future generations will be when occupying Planet Earth.


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Extreme Climate Change: The Pleistocene Ice Age

climate change

Climate change through geological time

“Today the total mass of ice on the planet is continuing to decline as global warming increases the melting. Sea level is rising in response.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

February 23, 2018—-Planet Earth was formed from cosmic debris approximately 4.5 billion years ago. For almost its entire history the planet has been warmer than it is today. Over the past 540 million years relatively warm conditions have existed on our planet probably 90 percent of the time. Temperatures have averaged 5 degrees C (9°F) higher than at present. However, there have been times when the planet cooled enough so that massive amounts of ice formed on the land masses.

The Pleistocene Ice Age

Probably the most important single global environmental event since the human species has been on Earth was the Pleistocene geological epoch. Large areas of the land masses were covered by sheets of ice and mountain ranges supported many individual glaciers. Geologists have dated the Pleistocene Epoch as beginning about 2,588,000 years ago and continued until about 11,700 years ago.

The Pleistocene ice age was not a single glacial expansion followed by warming. It included several large advances and retreats. Each period of expansion included many minor advances and retreats. Significant fluctuations in the last million years averaged about 100,000 years in length. Of the 100,000 year periods, extreme cold prevailed about 90% of the time. The warm periods, or interglacials, were relatively short, averaging approximately 10,000 years.

Areas Covered by Ice

During this epoch large ice sheets formed in both hemispheres on land masses near the poles. At the maximum some 30% of earth’s land surface was covered by ice. The ice sheets reached a thickness of 1500 to 3000 meters (4950-9900 ft). The impact of the ice sheets extended well out from the edge of the ice. Permafrost (permanently frozen soil) extended outward several hundred kilometers in both North America and Eurasia. In North America the present path of the Ohio and Missouri Rivers mark the approximate southern limit of the ice sheet. These two rivers were formed by the melted water at the edge of the ice.

Mountain ranges developed glaciers that extended into the surrounding lowlands and in many cases into the nearest ocean. Pack ice covered the polar seas, and icebergs floated far into the tropical oceans being carried by cold ocean currents.

climate change

Climate Change over geological time

Temperatures

During the time when ice was most extensive over Earth, temperatures averaged 4°C ( 7.2°F) less than at present. In the northern hemisphere it was perhaps 8 to 12°C (14 – 25º F) lower than the current mean temperature. At the edge of the ice the temperature was about -6°C ( -21º F). At the edge of the permafrost is was 0°C (32º F).

The Wisconsin Glacial Advance

The most recent major glacial advance in North America is known as the Wisconsin. It has other names in other geographical regions. It took place about 30,000 to 12,000 years ago. The peak of the advance was about 18,000 years ago. Huge ice sheets extended as far south as 50º N in Scandinavia and to 40º N in North America. Polar ocean currents extended in the North Atlantic as far south as 45º N. The ice mass was great enough to lower sea level approximately 125 to 140 meters (413 to 462 ft). As the ice accumulated the continental margins changed and the landmasses became more extensive. It was during this time that there may have been a land bridge between Asia and North America, allowing humans to cross into North America.

The Pleistocene ice age had a tremendous effect on Earth. The ice sheets and mountain glaciers changed the surface of the land over large areas. There are still visible features on the continents resulting from the moving ice. There was also a mass extinction of species. Large numbers of species of plants and animals disappeared. The melting of the ice continues to impact life including our species.

The ice has been retreating irregularly since its peak. Over the last 6000 years, sea level has been within a meter (3.3 ft) of that of the present. Today the total mass of ice on the planet is continuing to decline as global warming increases the melting and sea levels is rising in response.


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 Biophilic Design: Creating a Healthy Environment

biophilic design

Biophilic design accelerates the healing process of patients.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks!”

By Linn Smith

February 18, 2018——-Growing up in rural America I was always connected to nature. I knew from an early age that I could find peace somewhere out of doors, sometimes laying back on my saddleless horse pondering the clouds or walking the farm fields with my dog. Peace in nature was always close at hand. John Muir said it best, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks!” Biophilic design recognizes this.

What is Biophilic Design

Biophilic is derived from the term, “biophilia,” meaning “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” 

Biophilic design in architecture creates environmentally friendly, energy-efficient buildings and developments by effectively managing natural resources. It recognizes the human need to be close to nature by replicating it in architectural design. It seeks a healthier, happier way of life through creating sustainable buildings and cities.

“Passive biophilic architecture produces buildings that use less energy to operate because they feature efficient designs, materials and systems. The majority of biophilic architectures have highly competent heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting systems, and appliances. In addition, these biophilic restructures are built of energy-efficient materials. Green building elements contribute to a better microclimate through evaporation, filtering of dust from the air and reducing the temperatures at the rooftop,” as stated in the article “Towards a New Potential of Healthy Architecture”

Examples of Biophilic Design

Biophilic Design

Live oak trees extend through the deck of an internal courtyard. Natural bark lines the back walls

WHR Architects, Inc

Christus St Michael Health Care Center in Texarkana, Texas where nearly every hospital room looks out on trees or other elements of nature.

The impact of these designs? Studies show that Biophilic designs have a positive effect on our health and well being. Also, using sustainable materials in the construction of biophilic designed buildings has a positive effect on our environment. Biiphilic design provides another example of creating a healthier planet for future generations. 

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Jostein Gaarder on Climate Change

“Human activity is draining resources and destroying natural habitats.”

By Linn Smith

February 6, 2018—–Besides being a successful author, Jotstein Gaarder works to support both human rights and a sustainable environment. Gaarder clearly states our current world condition concerning the cause and effect of climate change in the following article, which is the foreword to his 20th addition of Sophie’s World. Sophie’s World is a novel he wrote in 1995 which became a best seller around the world. 

This exerpt is from the article, “Sophie’s World in Danger: Living as though everything centres on our time is just as naïve as thinking the Earth is flat” from http://www.independent.co.uk:

“Two decades ago, a history of philosophy by an unknown Norwegian teacher became a most unlikely phenomenon. But how has time changed the writer? And how might he change his book now, if he could? Jostein Gaarder takes up his own story. However, by far the most important philosophical question of our time must be this: how are we going to save our civilization and the basis of our existence?

From time to time I am asked a question. If I had written Sophie’s World today, is there something important I would have added? Is there something I would have placed more emphasis on? The answer is a resounding yes! If I were to write a philosophical novel today, I would have focused a lot more on how we treat our planet.

It is strange to look back after only 20 years and realize that Sophie’s World doesn’t really address this question. The reason may be that over the course of these 20 years we have gained an entirely new awareness of climate change and the importance of biological diversity. An all-important principle in the study of ethics has been the golden rule, otherwise known as the reciprocity principle: do to others what you would like them to do to you. Over time, we have learnt to apply this rule more widely. In the Sixties and Seventies, people came to realize that the reciprocity principle must apply across national borders, both to the north and to the south.

But the golden rule can no longer just apply across space. We have begun to realize that the reciprocity principle applies across time, too: do to the next generation what you would like them to have done to you, had they lived on the planet before us.

It’s that simple. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Obviously, this rule must apply to the next generation and to everyone who lives on the planet after us. They are human beings, too. Therefore, we should not leave behind a planet which is less valuable than the one we have enjoyed. A planet with fewer fish in the sea. Less drinking water. Less food. Fewer rainforests. Fewer coral reefs. Fewer species of animals and plants… Less beauty. Less wonder. Less splendor and happiness.

Jostein Gaarder

Climate change and responsibility

The 20th century has taught us that people need conventions and obligations which go beyond national boundaries. 

The question we are left with at the beginning of the 21st century is: for how long can we claim human rights without accepting they come with fundamental obligations. The time is ripe for a Universal Declaration of Human Obligations. It no longer makes sense to think about an individual’s rights and freedoms without also thinking about the responsibility of individuals and individual states – not least our responsibility to safeguard the rights of future generations.

At this very moment we are experiencing the consequences of man-made climate change. They are dramatic. However, opinion polls indicate that the people of this world are not particularly concerned. One day in the future, global-warming denial may be considered one of the greatest conspiracies of all time.
The era we live in is exceptional in every way. On one hand, we belong to a triumphant generation, which can explore the universe and map the human genome. On the other, we are the first generation seriously to lay waste to the environment. Human activity is draining resources and destroying natural habitats. We are changing our surroundings to such an extent that people think of our time as an entirely new geological era.

Climate change and sustainable living

Jostein Gaarder

Huge volumes of carbon are contained in plants, animals, the sea, oil, coal and gas. The carbon is just itching to be oxidized and released into the air. The atmosphere on dead planets such as Venus and Mars is mostly CO2, and that would also be the case here if the Earth’s processes didn’t hold the carbon at bay. But from the end of the 18th century, fossil fuels have tempted us like the genie in Aladdin’s lamp. “Release us,” they whispered. And we gave into that temptation. Now we are trying to force the genie back inside the lamp.

If all the remaining oil, coal and gas on this planet is extracted and burnt, our civilization will not survive. But many people and many countries see this as their divine right. Why shouldn’t they use the fossil fuels on their land? Why shouldn’t countries with rainforests chop them down? What’s the difference? What difference will it make to CO2 levels or to biodiversity if one country stops while the rest carry on?

Over the past few centuries, most people here in Norway have been lifted out of poverty. The same is true in many regions of the world. We should not forget that. But this prosperity has come at a high price, a debt we are only now beginning to pay off. Before the Industrial Revolution, the atmosphere contained 275 CO2 parts per million. At the moment of writing, that figure is 400 ppm and it is still rising. Devastating climate change is unavoidable at this rate. Sooner or later we must attempt to return to pre-industrial CO2 levels. 

According to Dr James Hansen, considered by many to be one of the world’s leading climate researchers, we must – initially at least – get this level down to 350 ppm. Only then can we feel reasonably secure that we will escape the worst catastrophes for this planet and for our civilization. But the figure is not going down. It is going up.

If we are to save biodiversity, we need to revolutionize our thinking. Living as though everything centers on our time is just as naive as thinking the Earth is flat. Our time is no more significant than future times. It is only natural that our time is the most significant to us. But we cannot live as though our time is also the most important one for those who come after us. We must respect future times as we respect our own time.
In relationships between individuals and between nations, we have emerged from our “natural state”, characterized by the survival of the fittest. But when it comes to the relationship between generations, unbridled lawlessness still reigns.

Everyone has the right to practice their beliefs, and everyone has the right to hope that our planet can be saved. But that does not guarantee that there will be a new heaven and a new earth awaiting us. It is unlikely that supernatural forces will bring about a Judgement Day. But it is inevitable that we will be judged by our descendants.

Climate change comes down to greed. The destruction of biodiversity comes down to greed. But greed does not trouble the greedy. History is our witness. 

The ethical question is not difficult to answer – what is difficult is living by the answer. But if we forget our descendants, they will never be able to forget us. The question of how widely we should apply the reciprocity principle comes down to identity. What is a human being? Who am I? If I were merely myself – that is, the body sitting here writing – I would be a creature without hope. But my identity goes deeper than my own body and my own short time on Earth. I am a part of – and I take part in – something which is bigger and greater than myself. Humans tend to have a local and short-term sense of who they are. We used to have to scan our surroundings, wary of dangers and prey. That gives us a natural tendency to defend ourselves and protect our own. But we do not have the same natural tendency to protect our descendants, not to mention species other than our own.

Favoring our own genes lies deep within our nature. But we don’t have the same instinct to protect our genes four or eight generations down the line. That is something we must learn – just as we had to learn to respect human rights. Ever since our species emerged in Africa, we have fought a determined battle to prevent our branch of the evolutionary tree from being cut off. That battle has been successful, for we are still here. But we have become so prosperous that we are threatening the basis of our own survival. We have become so prosperous that we are threatening the basis of every species’ survival.
As clever, vain and inventive as we are, it is easy to forget that we are simply primates. But are we really so clever if we put our cleverness and inventiveness ahead of our responsibility for the future of the planet?

No longer can we think only about one another. The planet we live on is an essential part of our identity. Even if our species is destined to die out, we still carry an important responsibility for this unique planet and for the nature we leave behind. Modern humans think we are almost entirely shaped by our cultural and social history, by the civilization which produced us. But we are also shaped by our planet’s biological history. There is a genetic heritage as well as a cultural one. We are primates. We are vertebrates.

It took billions of years to create us. Billions of years to create a human being! But are we going to survive the next millennium?

What is time? First we have the horizon of the individual, then of the family, of culture and of literary culture, but there is also geological time – we come from tetrapods that crawled out of the sea 350 million years ago – and finally, there is cosmic time. Our universe is almost 13.7 billion years old.

But in reality, these periods of time are not as distant from one another as they may seem. We have reason to feel at home in the universe. The planet we live on is precisely one third of the age of the universe, and the class of animals to which we belong, the vertebrates, has existed for a mere 10 per cent of the time our solar system and life on Earth have existed. The universe is no more infinite than that. Or conversely: our roots and our kinship are intricately and deeply woven into the universal soil.

Human beings may be the only living creatures in the entire universe who have a universal consciousness. We have a staggering sense of the immense and mysterious cosmos we are part of. Therefore, not only do we have a global responsibility to save our planet. We have a cosmic responsibility.”

This is the foreword to the 20th anniversary edition of ‘Sophie’s World’ (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, £8.99) published 8th October 2015. Translation © Paul Russell Garrett 2015 is published 8th October 2015.

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The State Of The Human Species On Planet Earth

By Dr. John J. Hidore

“Undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem in the world today.”

February 2, 2018—-The human population on planet Earth has grown astonishingly fast and spread over the earth as few other species have. Global population is growing faster than at any time in history. We are now adding over 200,000 people per day to the planet. This amounts to 85,000,000 people each year.

What is astonishing is how fast the rate of growth has been increasing. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the first billion to be reached in about 1800. The last billion was added in just 12 years from 1999 to 2011. At the beginning of 2018 global population growth stood at about 7.6 billion.

Adding the billions

1 billion 1800 200,000 Years of population growth for modern humans
2 billion 1930 130 years
3 billion 1960 30 years
4 billion 1974 14 years
5 billion 1987 13 years
6 billion 1999 12 years
7 Billion 2011 12 years
8 Billion 2023-2025 12-15 years (Date estimated from various sources)

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

Food Shortages and Undernourishment

In the early 21st Century, global food production is the highest it has ever been. However, the availability of food varies greatly from place to place. Estimates of the number of people on Earth facing food shortages today vary between 800,000 and two billion. Globally, undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem in the world today. It is clear that food production and distribution is not keeping up with demand regionally, if not globally.

Undernutrition does not mean starvation. It means those suffering from undernutrition are in some way being physically affected by not getting either enough food or not getting the right kind of food. The extreme health problem is starvation.

According to data from the UN, in 2016 the number of people experiencing undernutrition grew to an estimated 815 million. Of these, approximately 200 million children suffered some form of reduced physical growth.

overpopulation

Overpopulation and climate change creates environmental stress.

Fresh Water Shortages

The absence of safe water to drink is widespread over the planet. Estimates if the number of people suffering from a shortage of safe water for drinking ranges from 600 million upwards to two billion. Over a third of the global human population now lives in water stressed regions. The ratio of population living with water related stress may increase by half by 2100. Disease is common in areas where there is no safe water to drink. Diarrhea is the most common problem resulting from contaminated water. Cholera is also prevalent.

South Sudan is one of many countries suffering from a shortage of potable water. It is estimated that less than half of the population has access to safe water. In some areas of the country women must spend an hour or more each day to get to a safe water supply and return. The trip must be made regardless of danger.

In the country of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by a hurricane last September, many residents do not have access to safe drinking water four months after the event.

At the time of this writing the city of Capetown, South Africa, with a population of four million, is faced with the possible shutoff of its water supply. Unless rains come soon this may happen within a few months. A three year drought in the watershed is responsible for the problem. How the population will react to the situation remains to be seen.

Overpopulation and violence

Overpopulation can cause world disaster.

Lack of Sanitation Facilities

Between a half billion and a billion people do not have access to a sanitary toilet facility. The majority live in Asia, but this lack of sanitation is spread over the globe, including countries such as Haiti and Mexico. In the beginning when human population numbers were small and scattered, defecating in the open was the standard. This behavior probably predominated over most of human history. It has only been in the last few thousand years that it has not been the standard. As population densities have grown it has become unacceptable. The activity became not only unsavory but unhealthy, as it became a mechanism for transmitting disease. Defecating in the open, whether in fields or vacant lots, is responsible for a many diseases and fatalities, particularly among children. Diarrhea is common among children that play in areas used for defecation. Diarrhea is estimated to kill more than 600,000 children a year under the age of five. The UN estimated that in 2016 nearly 40% children in India had stunted growth due to a combination of undernutrition and disease. The problem now is the numbers and concentration of people spreading diseases through unsanitary conditions.

That the human population has been successful on the planet is clearly evident from the growing numbers. However, while the population has grown by leaps and bounds, there has been, and currently is, much suffering by a substantial portion of the population. The number facing severe problems of survival at the current time is the greatest in history.

Inherent in this situation are two problems. One is the tremendous rate of growth of the population itself. The second is that of the uneven distribution of wealth and resources. Both the population growth rate and the unequal distribution of resources could be changed fairly rapidly, but is unlikely. It appears neither the wealthiest one per cent nor the world religions want to reduce population growth. In the last year for which data is available 82% of all income went to the richest one percent.