Planet Earth Weekly

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


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The Island of Greenland Responds to Climate Change

Climate change

The rapidly melting artic

“The melting of the ice on Greenland is significant!”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

There is no doubt that Planet Earth is warming relatively fast. Data of all kinds supports this allegation. The data 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).

Arctic Ocean

Melting of the Arctic Sea Ice

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 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.

climate change

The exchange of energy is causing rapid arctic melting.

The Arctic Region is the Most Rapidly Warming Region in the Northern Hemisphere

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, 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 the ice and the 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.

Climate Change is altering the World’s largest Island

Greenland has the most extensive ice cover of any island on the planet. In much of the region the ice is more than a mile ( O.6 km) thick. The melting of the ice sheet has been monitored by satellite since 1979. The ice sheet normally starts to melt at the end of May. In 2016 the ice began to melt in mid-April. The higher temperatures resulted in early melting of the ice sheet. In the second week of June there was melting over nearly half of the ice surface. This was a record area of melting for this date. Part of the reason for the extensive melting this year was the light snow cover during the past winter. It melted fairly quickly allowing the sunshine and warmer air to increase melting in the older snow and ice beneath. How much melting occurs on any given day depends on wind direction and cloud cover.

The year of 2012 was the record year for total melting of the ice sheet. The town of Narsarsuaq recorded a temperature of 76.6°F. In that year there was a net loss of some 200 billion tons of ice.

Climate Change, Global Warming

Climate Change Affects Everyone!

Selected High Temperatures

2012 Marsarsuaq May 76.6 °F
2013 Manitsoq July 78.6 °F
2014 Kangerlussuaq Jan 73.8°F
2016 Nuwk June 75 °F

Spring temperatures came early to the Arctic this year. The island of Greenland experienced these early warm temperatures. Average temperatures exceeded normal by several weeks. In some areas the temperatures were as much as 40° F (22°C) above normal. The early warm temperatures have resulted in early and extensive melting of the ice sheet.

The melting of the ice on Greenland is significant because it is the major source of water for the current rise in sea level. If all the ice melted it is estimated that it would raise sea level approximately 24 feet (7.3 meters). Since data has been collected, in the early 1970’s, sea level has risen about ½ inch (1 ¼ centimeters).

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Coal: Still Visible but on the Decline!

Coal Plant

Coal waiting to be burned at the local utilities plant.

“Our time is up! We no longer have time to sit back and say it’s someone else’s concern!”

By Linn Smith

During my annual trek back to the Midwest where I call home, I had plenty of chances to observe that coal is still alive and well, although in my home state, wind turbines are popping up by the hundreds.

Coal sits at the local utilities plant in my hometown.

Yes, piles of coal are still scattered throughout the region and being hauled on trains, but the overall growth rate of coal use has diminished. According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the use of coal in the energy sector of the U.S. is declining.

coal train

A frequently seen site along the tracks in the midwest.

Coal is on the Decline

The reason for coal’s decline is mostly economical. Here are several reasons for the decline:

1. Good or bad, the nation has turned towards greater use of natural gas. Even though fracking is the method of extracting natural gas, it burns cleaner than coal. Hopefully it’s just the middleman as we move towards clean energy!

2. Declining costs of renewables.

3. Aging of our coal plants which are leading to greater cost to the consumer.

4. Climate change and extreme weather have caused greater concern in public opinion, leading to a willingness to move toward renewables.

5. Corporations and oil companies have adjusted their economies towards public concern. They may still lack the concern for our planet…but money speaks, and if public opinion and price of renewables are telling them to move away from fossil fuels, then they are forced to listen!

Coal Consumption

Coal is on the decline, but is it fast enough?

Someone once said that people wouldn’t listen to the concern about climate change until it was in their own backyard and that seems to be what has happened! Extreme weather, a predicted effect of climate change, is happening around the world in the form of floods, water shortages, depletion of rivers, storms, heat and extreme cold. Our time is up! We no longer have time to sit back and say it’s someone else’s concern!

Coal or Renewables


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Earth Hour and Earth Day are Now Global Events

Earth Day, April 22, 2019

This year Earth Day has a theme which is, “Protect Our Species”.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

In the past few years unusual environmental events have changed the public perception of global warming and climate change. Not only have the majority of people now endorsed the fact the warming of the planet is real, but also that something must be done to stop the rapid change to the global climate system.

Politicians around the world, regardless of their political or economic philosophy, are being forced to take action to curb the process. They are taking action because they must deal with the effects of global warming. Whether it is rising sea level, rising global temperatures, more frequent severe storms or changing weather patterns, the problems are real! Mayors of large cities and heads of state are now recognize and realize that something must be done.

Earth Day 2019

Earth Hour

Earth Hour

On Saturday March 30, 2019, a global event took place called Earth Hour. The purpose of the event was to call attention to the rising impact of human activity on the planet. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia on March 31, 2007 and organized by the World Wildlife Fund. They asked the people to turn off their lights for one hour from 8:30 to 9:00 pm to call attention to the increasing effects of global warming. It is estimated that more than two million individuals participated.

Support for Earth Hour can be demonstrated by turning off lights at the designated time and/or for individuals, signing a pledge to do your part. Billboards in Times Square, New York and lights on some buildings were dimmed or shut down. Many other cities around the globe also participated. It has also been suggested that there has been more grass roots participation in this event than any other organized event. Next year’s event will be held on March 28 2020.

Earth day 2019

Earth day 2019

Earth Day

The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. This will be the 49th year of the event. Earth Day 2019 promises to be of major significance. This Earth Day, April 22, more national governments, non-governmental organizations, and individuals are expected to take part in scheduled activities than ever before!

This year the event has a theme which is, “Protect Our Species”. The emphasis is going to be on protecting threatened and endangered species. Today humans are responsible for the most rapid rated of extinction of species that has occurred in more than fifty million years. Prior to the impact of humans, species were disappearing at the rate of one to five species each year. The current rate is perhaps a thousand times that. It is estimated that nearly half of all animal species are in decline. Some have labeled it the Sixth Mass Extinction. A mass extinction is defined as an event in which more than half of all species become extinct.

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019

Next year will the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Plans are already underway to make it a special event!

Protect Our Species


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Renewable Energy: Hatch, New Mexico

“The systems are best for high and dry climates, which makes Hatch an optimal location.”

As a resident of New Mexico for 6 years, I have long known the value of Hatch green chili…the Best in the West! But the past several years I have traveled Hwy 26, a lonely stretch of road through seemingly baron land just west of Hatch, passing massive wind and solar fields.

Solar Power

According to VillageofHatch.org here is the data on the impressive energy produced by these solar fields, plus pictures I was able to snap along my route recently:

“The Hatch Solar Energy Center consists of 84 Amonix 60-kW systems on 41 acres of land. The platform and panels are each 50 feet wide and 55 feet high tall. Each panel is made up of three different photovoltaic materials in a single cell so they extract more energy from the range of wavelengths in sunlight. Dual-axis tracking systems maximize energy production throughout the day by allowing the CPV systems to follow the sun. The systems are best for high and dry climates, which makes Hatch an optimal location. The systems require no water in power production, use land better, and produce more energy per acre than any other solar technology— equivalent of planting 3,500 trees every year it operates.”

Wind Power

The Macho Spring windfarm is nearby.

Wind Turbines

Along my route I also passed a train carrying at least 30 wind turbine blades…the trip was a visual feast for my “build it green” eyes!

And, while you’re on the drive, stop at Sparky’s in Hatch and get some green chili lemonade, it’s a treat your taste buds won’t soon forget!

Happy Trails!

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Renewable Energy


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Building Sustainable Communities

Sustainable communities

Live sustainably

“A sustainable community, though varying in structure, promotes sustainable, or green, living for its occupants.”

By Linn Smith
March 3, 2019—I recently read an article by a woman who was trying to live sustainably for several months… walking, riding her bike, growing her own food and dumpster diving when that ran out. I’m all for living sustainably, and I think I do a pretty good job of it, but dumpster diving is not on my list of sustainable living methods. Not that I’m against it, it’s just not for me! Plus, I can’t see spending my entire day walking, biking and looking for food. So, what is the answer? Maybe the hippies of the 70’s had it right when they developed communes. Today the word is…sustainable communities!

Sustainable communities

The Amish live a sustainable life.

The Amish: A Sustainable Community

When I was growing up in the rural Midwest, there was a nearby Amish community. The Amish would open their homes on weekends to the outside community, selling a variety of pies, cakes and many other delicious baked goods and hand made products. We would drive the country roads to get there, passing the men in black hats walking behind the draft horses as they plowed the field. Sometimes we would pass them on the paved roads near our house as they drove their buggies near the edge. The men would make extra money roofing barns in the area, with the stipulation that you must go to their community to pick them up. The Amish are living a sustainable life as they have since arriving since the U.S. in the early 1700s.

I grew up knowing how hard field work was, (but not Amish hard) driving the tractor to bale hay and dragging the fields, milking cows and watching my folks fill the jars with canned goods that went in the basement for the winter. It was sustainable living for that time period.

What is a Sustainable Community?

A sustainable community, though varying in structure, promotes sustainable, or green, living for its occupants by creating a healthy place to live while reducing the carbon footprint and negative environmental impact. It doesn’t have to mean dumpster diving or driving a horse and buggy down the highway, but it is important for individuals, families and communities to move in a sustaining direction.

sustainable communities

Dancing Rabbit is a sustainable community in Missouri.

Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage

Building a sustainable community may take several forms, such as buying land and building sustainable housing with a community greenhouse, gardens, solar and wind power. An example of this is Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage in Missouri which has built their community using the following guidelines:

Green communities

Sustainable living

1. No vehicles are to be used or stored in the village.
2. Fossil fuels for cars, refrigeration, heating and cooling homes, as well heating domestic water aren’t allowed.
3. All gardening must be organic.
4. All power must come from renewable resources.
5. No lumber from outside the local area is allowed unless it is recycled or salvaged.
6. Organic waste and recyclable materials are to be reincorporated into usable products through composting methods.

Extreme? Maybe….. but there may be more palatable solutions.

green communities

Work .towards making your community more sustainable

Making Your Community Sustainable

In the Mother Earth Living article by Carol Venolia, “Come Together: How to Build Sustainable Communities,” Ms. Venolia makes the following points for making an already established community more sustainable:

1. Have a neighborhood potluck to discuss the possibilities of moving towards a green community and exchange information.
2. Establish a community garden in free spaces in the neighborhood such as vacant lots.
3. Install low water drip irrigation systems where needed. This system is the most efficient in water saving techniques.
4. Share produce from already existing backyard gardens
5. Help each other replace high maintenance sod lawns with indigenous plants that will thrive in your climate.
6. Create a neighborhood resource website to encourage sharing of items from tools to cars. Also, list neighborhood members’ different skills that could be traded.
7. Ride share. Create a community e-mail to list who is going on errands that may be shared with another rider.
8. Share time and skills to make the neighborhood homes more energy efficient, lowering energy bills.
9. Make a neighborhood investment in a solar-power.
10. Support local farmers by buying food grown locally.
11. Become familiar with your larger community by knowing local flora and fauna and waterways. The more you learn the more you are apt to participate in making your environment a healthy place by creating sustainable living. “Community is a major component of sustainability. Strong neighborhood ties don’t just make life more pleasant, studies show they also improve safety and increase personal longevity.”

Now is the time to reach out and lend a helping hand to your neighbor and Planet Earth! Be a role model for your children and leave them a healthy place to live.

Sustainable Living


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CLIMATE CHANGE, DROUGHT AND FAMINE

Some species may become extinct

The growing ranges of our food supply will change as the temperatures rise.

“Climate change is the current cause of drought and famine.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

December 10, 2018—There are many causes of famine, but one of the major ones is drought. Most of the past catastrophic famines have been precipitated by drought resulting from short term shifts in the atmospheric circulation.

Crop Yield and Drought

Drought generally occurs when there is a short-term lack of precipitation lasting more then one growing season. They are the most common in regions which have a pronounced seasonal rainfall regime. Drought affects the quality and quantity of crop yields and the food supply for domestic animals. During severe droughts there may be a great loss of domestic animals. The loss of milk products or meat increases the impact of drought.

Climate Change

Our Food Supply may be Rapidly Reduced with Rises in Temperatures.

Great famines have occurred throughout the Asian continent from the time that agriculture spread over the continent. China, India, Russia, and many middle-east countries have suffered frequently from famine resulting from drought. A famine is described as occurring during the time of Abraham, about 2247 BC. A massive famine occurred in Egypt prior to the exodus of the Israelites.

Drought and famine are endemic in India and China. The oldest record of famine in India goes back at least to 400 B.C. and in China to 108 B.C. From the time of the earliest known famine there have been nearly continuous episodes of drought and famine in some part of the region. Other regions experience droughts as well. It should be mentioned here that what is often referred to as The Great Famine occurred in Europe in the period from 1315-1317.

Working toward 100% renewables

Working Toward Renewable Energy

Eighteenth Century Drought and Famine in India

In the mid-eighteenth century the people of India were largely subsistence farmers. It was primarily crop agriculture based on the whims of the monsoons. The country was under the control of the British East India Company, which kept the farmers on the verge of starvation under the best of conditions. Because of the general poverty of the masses and the marginal nature of the food supply, only a small shortfall in the crops in a given year produced scattered starvation. India is a huge country, and at the time only a ponderous transportation system existed. There was no means of moving large quantities of food, nor of moving large numbers of people to areas where food was available. When drought set in there were few alternatives to starvation available.

Drought and Famine: 1768

In the summer of 1768 there was little rain and crops were poor. The drought continued into 1769. Famine was apparent in the northern parts of Bengal by November 1769. By April 1770 over 30 million people in West Bengal and Bihar were affected. Fatalities were estimated at upwards of 10 million. The deaths were the result of both starvation and disease. Smallpox became epidemic along with the drought. The death toll from this famine is the highest known from any famine up to this time.

Famine has often been a problem in some part of the world since this event. As with this one, short term climate change has been the primary cause.

Drought and Famine


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The Arctic Basin: Warming Faster than the Planet in its Entirety

Arctic Ocean

Melting of the Arctic Sea Ice

“The arctic basin is warming faster than most of the earth’s surface.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore
June 8, 2018—–The Arctic Basin consists of the Arctic Sea and the surrounding land. The climate of the basin is warming faster than any other area of Earth’s surface. Air temperature over the arctic has increased an average of nearly three degrees Celsius (five degrees Fahrenheit) over the last century. This is almost double that of the global average.

The Energy Exchange in Change of State Between Ice and Water

One very important feature of the energy balance distinguishes the Arctic Basin. Over 95% of the earth’s surface, the major change in the state of water in the environment is between liquid and gas. This entails evaporation and condensation. In the Arctic it is between solid and liquid. There is an energy exchange of about 80 calories per gram between solid and liquid. For the rest of the earth the energy exchange is much higher. The energy exchange between liquid and gas is 590 calories per gram. This is nearly seven times that of ice and water.

The implication of this is that melting or freezing takes place with relative small changes in heat added or heat lost in the environment!

The energy exchange in melting artic

Melting of the Arctic

Energy Exchange in the Tundra

Surrounding the Arctic sea is a grassland, generally known as the tundra. Such a grassland is found primarily only in the Northern Hemisphere. The southern margin of the tundra is delimited by the polar margin of a coniferous forest. Specific regions that contain tundra are the northern coast of North America, Iceland, Spitsbergen, coastal Greenland, and the Arctic borderlands of Eurasia.

A significant feature of the tundra is permafrost. Permafrost is permanently frozen ground. Extensive area of land in the basin are covered with it. Permafrost can vary from centimeters to many meters thick.

Ice and snow are highly reflective of solar radiation. However, in the summer months some of the solar radiation melts the permafrost. The surface layer of permafrost thaws leaving the deeper layer frozen. The result is that lakes and ponds are a characteristic of the tundra. Once the permafrost melts at the surface, the wet ground absorbs much more radiation and the thawing increases. However, except on the margins of the permafrost, there remains frozen ground beneath the surface.

How deep the permafrost melts will vary. The point is that once the surface thaws the solar energy that is absorbed goes up substantially. This in turn increases the rate of the thawing of the permafrost. As the earth’s atmosphere slowly warms this process is being accelerated.

climate change

The exchange of energy is causing rapid arctic melting.

Energy Exchange in the Arctic Sea

The Arctic Sea is a part of the world ocean that is frozen much of the year but increasingly is open during the summer months. The season when melting occurs has increased by three weeks since records began. At present, even in the summer, there is a large area that remains frozen. As the atmosphere slowly warms more of the ice cover melts. Open water absorbs much more radiation than the ice and this increases the temperature of the water which then increases melting of the ice. As a result, over recent decades, the sea ice has been thinning or melting entirely over large areas. Just as on land the conversion from sea ice to open water is increasing at an increasing rate.

Climate change

The rapidly melting artic

In summary, the arctic basin is warming faster than most of the earth’s surface. Part of the explanation lies in the fact that the amount of energy it takes to change the state of water between solid and liquid is much less than it takes to change the state between liquid to gas. There is thus a net gain in heat that is proportionately higher than that of the rest of the planet. As the summer season increases in length more heat is absorbed in the environment adding to the general global warming!

Warming of the Arctic


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Wind Driven Power Surging Globally

windpower

Wind power is thriving in Arizona.

“Globally, the use of wind driven turbines to generate electricity is growing extremely rapidly.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

April 30, 2018—-Wind has long been used as a power source. The earliest use of wind as an energy source probably began with its use to power boats and ships. Evidence indicates that it has been used for this purpose for several thousand years. Both Egyptians and Phoenicians were using primitive sails on boats. Pictorial evidence shows that it was used on the Nile nearly 4000 years ago.

Windmills are believed to have been in use in what is now China and Persia as early as 2000 BC. They came into use to power water pumps and for grinding grain in Europe around the tenth century. Paintings by early Dutch artists often include windmills. They are still widely used to lift water from the ground throughout the arid and semi arid lands. In the United States such windmills are visible throughout the Great Plains region.

wind turbines

Building offshore wind turbines.

Historic Growth of Wind Power

Wind is one of the renewable sources of energy that is rapidly replacing the use of coal to generate electricity. Windmills to generate electricity are a product of the 20th Century, and in the 21st Century there has been a phenomenal growth in the industry. Today a single wind turbine can power up to 500 homes. According to current estimates renewable energy sources will surpass coal by 2045.

Wind Driven Turbines are now in Operation on Both Land and Sea

Not only are wind driven turbines found on land, but they are also being placed in the ocean. Some are in shallow water with their base on the sea floor. Others are now being placed on floating platforms in deeper water. Hywinds, the world’s first floating wind farm recently began operation off the coast of Scotland and extends towards Norway. The project includes five turbines. The turbines will be tethered to the sea bottom in several hundred feet of water. The system was developed by Statoil, a Norwegian oil and gas company.

wind turbines

Building Wind Farms offshore.

Wind Power Usage in the United States

In the United States five states now produce more than twenty percent of their electrical energy from wind farms. These states are all in the Midwest. They are Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Texas is known worldwide for its history of oil production. Now the state of Texas ranks 6th in the world in energy produced from wind when compared to that produced by countries around the world.

The state of Iowa is a leader in the proportion of its energy demands being met of wind driven electrical energy. In 2016 it got 36 percent of its electricity from wind turbines and this is expected to increase to at least 40% by 2020. The town of Georgetown, Texas decided in 2015 to require all of the city’s electricity to be from renewable sources. The town currently gets most of its power from a wind farm in Amarillo and this summer will add solar energy from a West Texas farm.

Wind turbine

Wind farm off the coast of the U.S.

Global Use Growing Rapidly

Globally, the use of wind driven turbines to generate electricity is growing extremely rapidly. The year 2017 saw a record high amount of installed wind power. The capacity increased 11 percent over 2016. In 2017 China was the world’s leader in installing wind energy capacity. The European Union was second in amount. Among the countries projected to make substantial increases in wind power generation are Russia and India, both potentially large markets.
Not only is the total amount of electric energy produced by wind increasing, but other aspects of the industry are increasing as well. For example, in the year 2016 there were more than double the number of employees in the wind industry than in the coal industry. As renewable energy grows, so will job opportunities.

Wind Power


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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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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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