Planet Earth Weekly

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


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Earth Day, Earth Hour, and Other Happenings

Make Every Day Earth Day

April 22, 2016, Love the Earth You’re On!

“Whether it is rising sea level, rising global temperatures, more frequent severe storms, changing weather patterns, the problems of climate change are real.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

April 14, 2016—-In the past year or so, environmental events have changed the public perception of global warming and climate change. Not only have the majority of people now endorsed the fact that warming of the planet is real, but also that something must be done to stop the rapid change to the global system. Making a difference has become the action mode. 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. Heads of state and mayors of major cities are now beginning to deal with these problems.

Earth Hour Spreads

On Saturday March 12, a global event took place called Earth Hour. The purpose of the event was to call attention to the rising impact of global warming and climate change. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia on March 31, 2007. The World Wildlife Fund organization asked the people to turn off their lights for one hour to call attention to the increasing effects of global warming. More recently, on Saturday, March 12, billboards in Times Square in New York and lights on some buildings were dimmed or shut down from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. Many other cities around the globe also participated.
This year marked the tenth year of the event.

Earth Day

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

Earth Day is Global

Earth Day 2016 promises to be a significant event. In December 2015, a conference was held in a suburb of Paris, France to discuss the necessary action to slow global warming. Attending were more heads of state than had ever before attended a single conference. The outcome? Nearly all of the countries presented plans to reduce greenhouse gases in the near future.

This year on Earth Day, April 22, that group of over 190 governments have been invited by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, to confirm the commitments they made in Paris by signing the agreement. The two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, have agreed to sign. Unfortunately, most of the countries which participated in the Paris conference have not agreed to attend the UN signing. In order for the agreement to become a working document more countries, accounting for an additional 55% of greenhouse gases, must sign. It is extremely important that as many people as possible contact their representative leaders and encourage these countries to sign the agreement. Enacting this agreement would be a huge step forward in slowing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming!

Earth Day: Let's Clean and Green!

Agreement between China and U.S. will be signed on Earth Day 2016.

Rapid Change in Global Temperature Becomes Evident

Many global temperature records were broken in 2015 and the trend has continued into 2016. February continued a string of nearly a dozen straight months of record breaking monthly temperatures. Global average temperatures reached 56.08 degrees Fahrenheit which is 2.18 degrees above the average. The winter season, December through February, also set records. In February 2016 global temperatures were not only record breaking temperatures, but they rose drastically. Increases over the previous year were the highest since records began in 1880.

The Artic

In February of 2016, the arctic region experienced unusually warm average temperatures. In January 2016, land temperatures were 10oF (5.6OC) higher than the average, and in February 2016 they were 8 degrees F warmer (4.4 o C warmer). Warmer air temperatures in the arctic have had an enormous impact on ice cover in the arctic seas.

Melting of the Arctic

The Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate.

Normally, the lowest amount of ice cover in the Arctic occurs in September and the maximum in February. The warmer temperatures have melted the winter ice cover. Scientists began recording the extent of melting of the winter sea ice in 1979. The winter freezing of the ice set a record in 2015. This past February the area of sea ice was lower than in 2015, setting another new record.

It is predicted that the Arctic could be entirely ice free in the next 20 years as greenhouse gases grow and the planet warms, resulting in even greater weather extremes in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth Day 2016–Make Every Day Earth Day

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The Historic Paris Climate Conference-Cop21

cop21

A promising outlook for the future’

The concern over global warming and climate change is so universal that 196 countries signed the agreement.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

Ban Ki-moon of South Korea became secretary general of the United Nations in 2007. He surprised many by announcing that he would make climate change a main priority and added a climate change summit meeting at the United Nations in July 2007, with another set of negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 expired in 2012. Two of the countries which led in greenhouse gases, the United States and Australia, did not sign it.

Ban Ki-moon was a leader in making the Paris conference on climate change a success. The conference on climate change brought together the greatest number of heads of state (approximately 150) of any conference in history. The climate conference convened in Paris on December 1, 2015 and concluded on December 13. Cop 21 was the twenty-first meeting of the “Conference of Parties.” These are the same countries that signed a treaty called The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.

Cop 21

There is a lot of hard work to be done after the Cop21 agreement.

The Primary Goal: Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The main goal of the group was to keep the mean temperature of Earth from increasing less than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above the pre-industrial average temperature, even though it has already risen about half that: 1 degrees C (1.8 degrees F). What this means is moving forward in our effort to keep the global temperature from rising no more than another 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F). This would bring the level of carbon dioxide back to where it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. To reach this goal greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced essentially to zero by 2070.

An even more optimistic goal is to keep the temperature from rising only half that of the primary goal. To reach this goal of 0.5 degrees C (0.9 degrees F), it will be necessary to have negative emissions. Negative emissions means taking more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than are being added to it. Theoretically this could be done by adding technological means to natural means of removing carbon from the air. Natural means would include expanding areas of forest. Many technological means have been suggested, including seeding the ocean and direct removal of carbon dioxide from the air.

Cop 21

Hopeful that we have turned a corner as a planet.

It may already be too late to limit the warming to the lower level. To reduce the rise to 0.5 degrees C, greenhouse gases need to be reduced to zero by 2050. This is probably politically impossible, if not physically impossible. The cost of this radical program would be too high and it would be necessary to take funds away from other critical programs. Any significant measures taken would be expensive. Estimates of costs to bring emissions into a negative level are as much as $100 a metric ton.

The Second Goal: An International Agreement Supported by All Countries

A second goal was to have a united climate change agreement accepted by the end of the conference. The leaders of nearly every country signed on in the end. The agreement was finalized on December 12. The group committed to keeping the global temperature rise to 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) by the year 2100.

This agreement imposes no penalties for countries which do not meet their own goals. A key difference in this agreement from previous agreements is that each individual country can set its own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Prior conferences wanted to set the goals for each country.

Some poor countries still wanted the richest countries to bear the biggest share of the cost or to make the biggest cuts in carbon emissions. The wealthier countries did commit $100 billion a year to help pay the costs for the poorest countries.

The concern over global warming and climate change is so universal that 196 countries signed the agreement. It is worth noting that both Australia and the United States supported the goals of this agreement.

What will actually be done to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses remains to be seen. However, if actions already being taken by countries, cities, and other institutions are any indication, there will be major changes!

COP 21: A Response to Climate Change


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Turning the Page on Climate Change

Climate Change, Global Warming

Climate Change Affects Everyone!

Millions of people are banding together to demand action on climate change.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

November 7, 2015—The tide has turned on recognizing global warming and climate change. The vast majority of people and governments now recognize that the earth’s environment is changing, and it is largely due to human activity.

Globally environmental change is real and action must be, and is now, taking place to slow or stop the process. Some recent and forthcoming events support the change in attitude towards recognizing climate change.

The Peoples Climate March

In 2014 the People’s Climate March was held. It was organized to persuade the United Nations to call a conference on climate change. There were public demonstrations in New York City and around the world to support action on climate change. It was billed as the largest climate change action in history. The march in New York drew more than 300,000 individuals and filled the 2 ½ mile route. Participants included people from many nations, Capuchin Franciscan monks, and Catholic nuns. An international advocacy group presented a petition containing 2.1 million signatures which demanded action towards climate change. Among the supporters were former vice-president Al Gore, Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations, and Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. The Mayor committed New York City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

Earth Day Celebrations

Earth day celebrations have been held around the world to make the case for slowing environmental change and to protect the earth from a major catastrophe. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970. It is often considered to be the beginning of the environmental movement. I had the privilege to be a speaker on that day at the University of Indiana. Earth Day Network now has participants in 192 countries. The United Nations has declared April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Earth Day 2015 was the 45th anniversary of the movement. Seventy-nine organizations around the world partnered in this event with more than a billion people participating in activities on this day. The overall purpose was to modify changes that are detrimental to the planet and the people on it. Many different educational activities took place. In some countries they planted sustainable trees. In Nigeria solar lanterns were made available in schools. Uganda held an International Children’s Climate Conference.

Climate Change summit

The world comes together on climate change issues.

The Coming UN Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Paris beginning on November 30. COP21, Conference of Parties, will be held in Paris in December. More that 190 nations are expected to take part in this conference, focusing on action towards climate change. It is expected that world leaders will create a strong global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, with plans for action by individual countries and the group as a whole.

Paris summit on Climate change

Supporting the Paris Summit on climate change

24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth: The World is Watching

An impressive group of people and approximately 60 organizations have partnered to persuade the Paris conference to make real progress. This event will be held on November 13-14 and is to be a day of climate action and music hosted by former Vic-President Al Gore. Millions of people are banding together to demand action on climate change, with eight different sections of the event based on geographic location. The program will focus on each section as the day moves along.

There Will Always Be Deniers

In spite of the global recognition that it is time for action, there are now and always will be those that deny climate change.These same people, many of which are in positions of power, propose that we should continue the economic and environmental policies of the past. Those that support this position are rapidly losing credibility. After all, there are still those that believe evolution is not a real process and those that believe the earth is flat!


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The Bamboo Bicycle

An American bike from 1896. The frame made of ...

An American bike from 1896. The frame made of bamboo. Exhibited in Prague’s Technical Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Lin Smith

A Non Polluting Form of Transportation
December 16, 2013—The bamboo bicycle caught my attention when reporting on the Green Climate Fund Conference in Warsaw last month where the U.N. chief, Ban Ki-Moon, was seen riding around the city, and the conference hallways, on a bamboo bike. At the conference, the Bamboo Bike Initiative of Ghana was one of several projects being recognized by the U.N. as a Lighthouse Activity, a project which shines light towards the future, helping to build a low carbon and efficient world, “tackling climate change, health, financial and social problems.” They are recognized for the beacon of hope they shine on their communities and throughout the world. The Bamboo Bike Initiative provides an affordable form of transportation plus provides jobs for those in rural African communities.

The History of the Bamboo Bike
No one is credited with inventing the first bamboo bike, as it is thought many were building some form of the bike in the late 1800’s. The bamboo bike first appeared in New York around 1894, where it was on display by Bamboo Cycle, a company from England which patented it the same year. Following is a review sent to the company in 1894 praising the bike:

Sirs,
I am more than satisfied with my bamboo bicycle. I have ridden on rough, stony roads and it has shown no signs of wear and tear. I strongly recommend these bikes to my friends. The appearance of them is better than steel machines. There still seems to be a prejudice against them, but as my experience goes, it is an unfounded one. I believe they are as strong as any on the market.

This same review might have been written in 2013. They are highly recommended by those who ride them and stand up to any bike on the market, yet, they are not as widely accepted as carbon fiber or steel framed bikes.

Bamboo bikes today are made as road bikes, mountain bikes and racing bikes. The methods used to make the bamboo durable consists of smoking, heat treatment, torching or placing the bamboo in ovens. The poles can be joined using metal, resin saturated fibers or hemp and coated with a substance to prevent water damage.

The Bamboo Bike Initiative of Ghana
The Bamboo Bike Initiative was established in 2009 in Ghana to reduce rural unemployment by training apprentices to assemble the bamboo bike frames. The long term goal is for these apprentices to open workshops in their villages and train 5 or 6 more people to craft the bikes. The bamboo for the bikes is grown locally, which keeps the bikes at a lower cost, provides jobs for the unemployed in Africa and creates a healthy atmosphere, as it is a prolific producer of oxygen.

The Bamboo Bike Initiative partners with a company from Australia called Bamboo Rides, which supplies the equipment used to improve the precision and marketability of the bikes to meet European standards, where most of the bikes are sold. Growing bamboo locally not only creates jobs, but saves on carbon emissions, resulting from shipment of bamboo. Unlike carbon filled frames, which create pollutants at every stage from extraction to manufacturing, the bamboo bicycle frame is able to be recycled, leaving minimal environmental damage. Isaac Osei, Regional Director for Ghana’s EPA, states ” Vehicle ownership will rise as Ghana reaches record levels of growth, which will increase carbon dioxide emissions—educating people to make and use bamboo bicycles to commute will meet the goals for sustainability in Ghana.”

Finally, Mathew Sparkes, of the Guardian, writes about his bamboo bike ride, “When I first started riding the bike, nothing happened for a split second. Then, almost before I noticed, it sprang ahead as though it had more energy than I was putting in to it. It rivals carbon, steel, or anything I’ve ridden. It’s also as comfortable and soaks up the bumps. The feel of it comes from something that grows naturally—grass!”


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The Green Climate Fund

Scientific studies on climate helped establish...

The Green Climate Fund would help counteract temperature increases by funding climate friendly programs in underdeveloped nations(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Lin Smith

Origination of the Green Climate Fund
November 30, 2013–The idea for the Green Climate Fund originated at the 2010 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Cancun, Mexico. According to the drafted document, which can be viewed at gcfund.net, its purpose is, “to make a significant contribution to the global efforts to limit global warming, by providing support to developing countries to help limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate with low-emission projects and climate-resilient development.” The Fund was to limit the emissions that would take place with the Industrial Revolution that would soon evolve in undeveloped nations, by working and funding a cleaner Industrial Revolution for those nations using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, preventing a further rise in global temperatures. In last week’s article on planetearth5.com, “The Demographic Transition”, by John Hidore, it was stated, “A country’s stages of the Industrial Revolution and population growth have merged from one to the next, but do not take place at the same time. Many less developed countries have not yet changed to an industry based economy, still being an agricultural society.” The Green Climate Fund was to provide grants and lend funds to the developing countries, working closely with the countries that would be most impacted by global warming, by channeling funds where needed and closely monitoring them for efficiency and effectiveness.This project has been in the development stage for several years, having a projected date of action starting in 2020.

The Warsaw Climate Talks
In the past two weeks, 9,000 people gathered in Warsaw for the Green Climate Fund Summit conference, including representatives from 195 countries, plus world environmental groups. This conference was to map and plan the action of the Green Climate Fund. Manfred Konukiewitz, of the the Green Climate fund board, stated, “Climate finance is a critical part of the international effort to combat climate change and address the impact of ever more serious climate change. The Fund is stepping up its work to deliver effective results in developing countries and ensure that the impact of funding for adaptation is maximized.”

The conference in Warsaw succeeded in creating frustration among several organizations, resulting in a walk out of these groups. Greenpeace walked out stating, “Expectations were that the developed countries were going to put money on the table, but what happened was a farce! It was the opposite of what we expected.” The environmental groups showed dismay with the lack of leadership, as Poland performed a political shuffle of their environmental ministers during the conference plus hosting a coal industry summit during the Green Climate Fund talks. This led to the belief by many that Poland was not serious about combating global warming. The environmental groups stated, “We are walking out to send a strong message due to total inaction at the talks, due to lack of ambition and finance, at a time when we need the most action.” They believe that rich countries are not pledging enough money in proportion with the climate damage they have caused. So question is, where will the money come from? Some believe, at least in part, that it should be raised with a carbon tax on the trillions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies, which allow the price of these commodities to remain relatively low.

The bickering continued with the developed nations not wanting to take responsibility for further weather catastrophies, as underdeveloped nations thought they should. Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Commissioner stated, “We cannot have a system where there will be automatic compensation whenever severe weather events are happening one place or the other around the planet. You will understand why that is not feasible!” Ban Ki Moon, The UN Secretary General told the Financial Times, “While national delegates bicker, human activity is leading to rising global temperatures, as stated by a new climate report released September 2013. It is much more than a wake up call. It is an emergency alarm bell. We have to take urgent action.” The conference ended with giving developed countries until 2015 to establish their “contribution” plans (meaning no commitment!) to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, with nothing being finalized until the next conference in Paris in 2015.

Solutions To the Global Warming Crises
If we can’t seem to organize soon enough on a large, global scale, (much environmental damage will be done by 2020, the target date of action for Green Climate Fund) then everyone on every level needs to step up to the plate–and quickly! Individuals, communities, states and nations need to be contributing to saving our planet at a personal, state and national level. Todd Gitlin, in his article “How to Stop Apocalyptic Climate Change,” states, “The institutions of our ruling world have a powerful stake in the mad momentum of climate change, the energy system that’s producing it and the political stasis that sustains and guarantees it. They are so powerful they seem unbreakable. Don’t count on them to avert the coming crisis. They can’t because, in some sense, they are the crises!”

A final thought–would it be possible for the developed nations to cut their defense programs in half and contribute that money towards defending our planet?