Planet Earth Weekly

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


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Heating your RV

“Staying warm can be challenging, especially in an RV.”

By Linn Smith

Winter is upon us here in North America and staying warm can be challenging, especially in an RV. We have a Mr. Heater which we sometimes use in the RV, but I have always used it for short periods only, because I have never been sure of the safety when it comes to carbon monoxide emissions… and the RV chat groups on the internet have ceased to put my mind to rest.

Some RVers say they would never use a Mr. Heater in small spaces, others say they have used them for years. These heaters have built in safety features so, except for leaks at the connections which can be checked for after connecting, they are relatively safe. Mr. Heater has a sensor that shuts them down when oxygen gets low and a tip over safety feature which will also shut them down.

Mr. Heater

Mr. Heater attached to outside propane tank on RV.

Heating your RV

I have friends in Arizona who use only the Mr. Heater to heat their RV, running a Mr. Heater 12’ propane hose assembly from their outside propane tank. There are videos on YouTube for setting this up by drilling a hole in the floor of the RV.

What is the carbon foot print of propane heaters? According to Seattlepi.com, “Propane, though a fossil fuel, is a relatively clean burning fuel which is attributed to its lower carbon content….though its combustion does produce some greenhouse gas wastes.”

Solar on RV

Charge your battery with solar panels.

Although you can make many arguments for and against the environmental impact of an RV, most full time RVers go south for the winter, where they have access to an ideal heat source…warm weather and the warm sun shining through the windows. Today more and more RVs are equipped with solar panels to keep their battery charged.

Charging the battery with solar

The “green argument” for heating an RV with propane? It’s not ideal, but you are heating a very small space and if you travel south for the winter, a heater is only used occasionally for several hours at night.

Heating with a Mr. Heater

During my spare time I began watching videos on the safety of Mr. Heaters and found one that pretty much put my mind at rest, a video on YouTube hosted by a charismatic Canadian full time RVer, Taylor Dzaman. Mr. Dzaman did his own very thorough investigation on Mr. Heaters called “Are Buddy Heaters Safe Inside an RV/Carbon Monoxide full test (review). The question he asked, “Can you sleep all night long with a Buddy heater turned on in your RV. What about a tent? A room in your home? Does it give off carbon monoxide?”

Here’s the link to his YouTube video: https://youtu.be/5vqyfOq0D-8

Heating your RV

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Unethical but not Illegal: Feeling Indifferent about Our Carbon Footprint

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

“The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.”

Joshua Becker

By Linn Smith

What is unethical? According to vocabulary.com it means, “Going against social or professional expectations of what’s right. It’s a word that’s often used to describe bad behavior or immoral conduct.”

What is the definition of Illegal? Laws and consequences that regulate human behavior.

Legally Destroying our Planet

Currently there are very few regulations on carbon dioxide and toxins we pour into our atmosphere, landfills and oceans. Most regulations are voluntary. What makes it unethical? The practice of adding more greenhouse gases and toxic materials to our earth and our atmosphere is a destructive force that negatively impacts our planet…but it’s not illegal!

We have produced generations of people that have lost all human memory of survival by using their own resources to live, such as growing gardens, canning, freezing, sewing their own clothes, harvesting their own honey….having the ability to live independent of industry. It’s the Industrial Revolution of destruction… consumers dependent on mass production which is destroying our planet!

The earth continues to warm

Fight against global warming!

Unethical but not Illegal

It’s not against the law to:

•Manufacture, transport and toss millions of plastic materials which, not only leave a huge carbon footprint in manufacturing, but end up in our lakes, rivers, oceans, landfills and falling from the sky in raindrops. Unethical but not illegal!

•Purchase gas guzzling vehicles that have left huge carbon footprints even before being purchased.

•Spend thousands on the latest fashions. The fashion industry leaves a huge toxic trail before you see it on the racks of your favorite retail outlet. Unethical but not illegal.

•Buy the latest and greatest cell phone….huge carbon footprint!

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

The Most Environmentally Friendly Product

Here’s a suggestion. Why not buy used and donate the difference to The Ocean Cleanup (which is currently cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage patch), a nonprofit clean energy organization, homeless shelters, a children’s hospital or a horse rescue, just to name a few possibilities. There are many horse rescues around and they always need hay! Just google one and offer to buy a few bales once in awhile! (I volunteer at horse rescues so I know this firsthand.)

The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy!” and I will insert “buy new!”

cop21

Extreme Weather

The Industrial Revolution cannot continue. Underdeveloped countries need to develop in an environmentally friendly direction and developed countries need to take a look at the meaning of economic growth if the meaning of economic growth is further destruction to our planet!

How much extreme weather can we endure and how many species will become extinct? Can we just turn our backs and say it’s too late or worse, nothing I can do will matter?

Tagore had it right! “The one who plants trees, knowing that they will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.”

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The Greenhouse Effect: Dangers of Methane

The Methane Molecule

The methane molecule binds heat because of its make up.

“Keeping methane emissions in check is essential to prevent global warming.”

By Linn Smith

As we battle the effects of climate change we must also educate ourselves about the changes taking place in our atmosphere. The two main components humans are dumping into our atmosphere that are contributing to the greenhouse effect are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane(CH4).

CO2 vs Methane

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the emission we think of as creating the greatest impact on global warming. The least talked about until recently is methane. The increase in fracking for natural gas has resulted in an increase of methane in our atmosphere.

A 2015 study published in ScienceMagazine.org revealed that emissions of methane in our atmosphere was approximately 60% greater than has been estimated by the EPA, as the EPA did not include the emissions from fracking and drilling sites not currently active.

Methane leaks by oil rigs

Methane leaking in the U.S.

Satellite Detection of Methane

As stated in my previous article, https://planetearth5.com/2014/10/30/the-hottest-spot-of-methane-in-the-u-s/, data from satellites have detected the largest gas leaks from major sources. Newer and more efficient satellites, MethaneSAT, are due to be launched in 2021. These satellites are so advanced they will be able to pinpoint individual producers of greenhouse gases from oil rigs.

Methane

The make up of the methane molecule.

Methane and the Greenhouse Effect

What then makes methane so deadly to our plMethaneanet? When we hear the term greenhouse effect, it isn’t all negative. Some of it is a natural process of keeping the earth warm so we can inhabit it. The sun’s rays make their way to Earth, trapping some of the energy in our atmosphere where the natural greenhouse gases are interconnected with the energy of the sun making our planet livable.

The Scientific Explanation of Greenhouse Gases

The greenhouse gases are molecules made up of 3 or more atoms bound together loosely so they can vibrate when they absorb heat. This keeps heat near the Earth’s surface. Most of the gas in our atmosphere is made up of oxygen and nitrogen which are made up of 2 atoms bound together more tightly than the greenhouse gas molecules, which are three or more atoms. Two atoms bound together can’t vibrate as three or more atoms do, so they can’t absorb the sun’s heat as it travels back from earth into space. The vibrating and absorption of heat by the molecules made up of 3 or more atoms causes the greenhouse effect.

Methane is made up of 5 atoms and carbon dioxide of 3, so methane is able to absorb far more heat than CO2 even though there is less methane in our atmosphere. The more methane and CO2 flood our atmosphere, the greater the greenhouse effect because of their 3 and 5 atom makeup. The methane molecule can stay 10 or more years in the earth’s atmosphere, not as long as carbon dioxide but binding more unwanted heat in its molecules. For more information see: UCAR Center for Science Education (scied.ucar.edu).

Methane a greenhouse gas

84 times more potent than co2.

Global Warming Potential of Methane

According to National Geographic.com, “The 20 year global warming potential of methane is 84. That is, over a 20 year period it traps 84 times more heat per mass unit than CO2 and 32 times the effect when accounting for aerosol interactions. Global methane concentrations rose from 722 parts per billion (ppb) in pre-industrial times to 1866 ppb in 2019.” Methane has risen more than 150% ppm since the 1700s. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has warned that keeping methane emissions in check is essential to prevent global warming.

In 2016 during the Obama administration, steps were put in place to regulate the fracking and drilling industries’ emission of methane, cutting the total emissions in half by 2025. Last month the Trump administration announced they had plans to loosen these regulations.

Emissions of methane

Methane is a greenhouse gas.

As these more dangerous gases are released into our atmosphere by gas vehicles, industry, drilling and heating our homes, our planet continues to move towards an unbalanced system. This will continue in the future to cause our earth to warm, weather to be more extreme, ice to melt in the arctic and many species to become extinct…..possibly even humans. So sense of urgency? Yes, because our focus on wealth by and for continuous development in the private sector, industry and government seems to be speaking louder than our suffering planet.

Methane: A greenhouse gas

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Climate Change Brings Hotter Heat Waves

Indian drought

Millions effected by the drought

“Heat Waves: They will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

When it seems unusually warm someplace there is a tendency to describe it as a heat wave. The reason is simple. Normal high temperatures vary greatly from place to place. So what would be defined as a heat wave in one location would not be appropriate for another location, perhaps one not too far away. An adequate definition might be, “A heat wave is an unusually warm or hot period lasting for days or perhaps weeks.”

We associate heat waves with summer, but by this definition they can actually occur at any season. India and Pakistan make a clear definition of a heat wave and they use different temperatures in different parts of the country to establish what constitutes a heat wave. In the plains regions temperatures above 40 C (104F) constitute a heat wave. They also define a severe heatwave for this region as experiencing temperatures over 46 C (114.8F).

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

Western European Heat wave of 2019

The last two decades have seen the hottest summers in the last 500 years.The summer of 2019 was no exception. July of this year was the warmest July ever recorded for the planet. Record high temperatures were recorded over much of western Europe in the last week of July. In Paris, France the temperature reached 110°F ( 43°C ) on July 25. In Bayreuth, Germany the temperature reached a record 93°F (34°C). A high of 105 °F (41°C ) was recorded in Belgium. The high temperatures became a health hazard, particularly for the elderly.

It was the lack of air conditioning and the high temperatures which were largely responsible for the high death toll in Europe in the summer of 2003. The use of air conditioning varies greatly from country to country. Over 90% of households in Japan and the United States have air conditioning systems. There is relatively little installed air conditioning in households in Europe. In Germany, for instance, less than two percent of households have air conditioning systems. Parts of Paris are served by a cold water pipeline system that uses water from the Seine River for cooling.

The Barefoot College

Gandhi’s Philosophy: The small villages must be empowered.

Indian heat wave of 2016

India experienced unusually high temperatures in 2016. Temperatures were above normal most of the spring. Normally, the hottest months of the year are April, May, and June, before the summer monsoon rains begin. In May a severe heat wave alert was issued for several states. A severe heat wave is one in which temperatures of at least 117°F (47.2°C) occur. In the city of Philodi, in western India unofficial temperatures reached 124°F (51°C). This is the highest temperature on record in India. Temperatures averaged above 104 ºF (40°C) over large areas. Some urban high temperatures were:

New Delhi 47 °C (117 ºF)
Churu 50 °C (122 ºF)
Philodi 51.°C (124 ºF)

The impact on the country was immense. More than 300 million people were adversely affected. Crops failed or were below average in 13 states in the last growing season . Thousands of farmers abandoned their farms. In places the asphalt on the streets partially melted. At Bikaner, the streets were being sprinkled with water to reduce the heat. Some 17,000 villages had, or were facing water shortages. Several Indian states shut down schools to reduce risk to students. Heatstroke was a widespread problem and many deaths were reported across the region. Fortunately the government responded in a variety of ways to reduce the suffering and mortality.

Global Greenhouse Gases

Asian heat waves of 2015

In 2015 a May heat wave in India claimed at least 2,500 lives. Heat waves are fairly frequent in India but this was the greatest loss of life from a heat wave in over 30 years. Extremely high temperatures were reached in cities scattered over the country. Power outages were wide spread as a result of high demand for air conditioning. The city of Khammam recorded the highest temperature ever recorded there at 48 degrees C (118.4 degrees F). Other high temperatures that were recorded were:

Allahabad 47.8 C (118.0 F)
Delhi 45.5 C (113.9 F)
Hyderabad 46 C (115 F)
Jharsuguda 45.4 C (113.7 F)

In June the deadliest heat wave known to have occurred in Pakistan took place in the southern part of the country near Karachi. The death toll is unknown for certain, but may have reached more than 1000. It followed by several weeks the severe heat wave that struck India. The heat wave struck during the month of Ramadan which made the impact of the event more severe than it might have been. Unfortunately, city services were not in condition to cope with the heat.

Perhaps the most deadly heat wave of the 21st Century was that which occurred in Europe in August of 2003. Temperatures in France reached as much as 40°C (104F) and remained exceptionally high for two weeks resulting in nearly 15,000 deaths in that country alone. The death toll over Europe reached 35,000 at least and may have been as high as 50,000. A large contributing factor in the high death toll was warmer nighttime temperatures. Nighttime temperatures were much warmer than normal. As a result people without air conditioning could not cool down during the night. The heat stress accumulated over time.

Extreme heat waves also can devastate agriculture. In Europe in the heat wave of 2003 temperatures averaged 5.5°C (10°F) above normal. In Italy corn yields dropped 36% below average. In France fruit yields fell 25% and wine production 10%. Heat also affects the rate of plant pollination.

As the planet warms it can be expected that: (1) there will be more severe heat waves and (2) They will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places. New record high temperatures will be set for the planet As cities grow larger in area and population they will also experience increasing heat waves.


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Removing Carbon Dioxide from our Atmosphere

Carbon Engineering

Cleaning CO2 from our atmosphere.

“CarbonEngineering:“Commercialization of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere at an affordable price.”

By Linn Smith

According to NASA, in a report from June 2019, CO2 in our atmosphere reached 412ppm (parts per million) which hasn’t been seen in human history. CO2 is the gas that we humans are rapidly releasing into our atmosphere, trapping heat similar to a greenhouse. It is a result of burning fossil fuels such as coal.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

The Rise in Earth’s Temperature

Earth’s average temperature has risen 1.62 degrees F since late 1800’s, with most of the rise in temperature occurring in the past 35 years. The 5 warmest years have occurred since 2010! At this point in history the answer to survival of life on our planet is multifaceted. We must work to not only offset our personal CO2 emissions, but also seek ways of CO2 removal from our atmosphere before it’s too late
.

Carbon Offsets

A carbon offset is an action everyone can take. It means compensating for your emissions in one part of your life by working to cut CO2 emissions somewhere else or contributing to programs that are working to combat global warming.

Unless you’re driving an electric or hybrid, an average car can emit about 5 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Can you plant enough trees in your yard to offset your car pollution? Probably not.

There are many online sites that will calculate your CO2 footprint with recommendations to offset emissions, such as planting trees, or you can go to the EPA website and use their carbon footprint caluculator to calculate the carbon footprint of you and your family.

Clean Energy

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

Planting Trees to Offset Your Carbon Footprint

According to http://www.urbanforestrynetwork.org, “On average, one acre of new forest can sequester about 2.5 tons of CO2 a year. Young trees absorb about 13 pounds per tree each year. Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about 10 years, at which point they are estimated to absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year.”

An MIT study states that the average CO2 emissions emitted per person per year in the U.S.. is 20 metric tons, compared to the world average of 4 tons.

Carbon Engineering

CO2 is turned into clean fuel.

Carbon Engineering

Jennifer Wilcox states in her TedTalk that we have the technology to clean up the atmosphere, but it has been too expensive until now. Companies are currently working to bring down this cost. One company, Carbon Engineering, www. carbonengineering.com, is focusing on “commercialization of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere at an affordable price.” They do this in a “closed loop where the only major inputs are water and energy and the output is a stream of pure, compressed CO2 that can be stored underground or converted into fuels using AIR To FUEL technology.”

“AIR to FUEL uses CO2 captured from the atmosphere to synthesize clean transportation fuels. It uses renewable electricity to generate hydrogen from water, and then combines it with CO2 captured from atmosphere to produce hydrocarbon fuels such as diesel, gasoline and Jet-A, all with little or no fossil carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Individual facilities can be built to capture one million tons of CO2 per year which is equivalent to 250,000 average cars per year.”

Combating Climate Change

Cleaning our atmosphere

Carbon Engineering

Combating global warming

We all have a responsibility to do our part with no more excuses! We can’t wait for someone else to do it. For survival on earth, we need to stabilize the ppm (parts per million) of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The outcome of doing nothing about our changing climate is mass extinction of species, including our own, caused by extreme weather and our changing climate.

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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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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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Cities Accept the Challenge of Climate Change

“It seems clear now that political organizations other than national governments are going to lead in taking actions to reducing climate change.”

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

November 19, 2018—–Earth’s climate has been changing from the time the planet came into being. It has gone through times when it was much warmer than today and others when it was colder. The climate of today is one that is inseparable from the growth of the human population. The industrial revolution began about 1770 AD and is synonymous with the advent of the steam engine. Steam engines burned fossil fuels, primarily wood or coal.

Planet earth is a single system in which nothing or no process exists in isolation. The burning of fossil fuels began to change the composition of the atmosphere. The temperature of Earth began to warm above what might be expected from natural causes and the term global warming started to appear in literature. Professional conferences by groups of scientists and others began to occur.

In 2015 an international conference on climate change was convened in Paris, France to discuss the problems associated with a changing climate. What is known as the Paris Agreement was ultimately approved by representatives of nearly 200 countries. However, the Agreement does not dictate any actions to be taken by the signatories. Many have done little or nothing concrete to stem climate change

Sierra Club

Sierra Club for Clean Air

Cities, Provinces and Other Regional Governments Take Charge

Many homogeneous political units such as cities, states or provinces began to respond to climate change because governments of these units began dealing with problems of flooding, unhealthy air to breath, increasing heat, etc.

Cities and towns are home to the majority of people now living on the planet. The number living in cities is growing by more than a million each week. By mid-century the percentage of people living in urban areas is estimated to reach 70%.

Groups of cities are now actively working together to reduce greenhouse emissions. As of June 6, 2018, approximately 250 mayors of American cities have officially adopted the Paris agreement. These cities contain about 60 million people. They are part of a group called Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. Among the cities that have agreed to support the Paris Agreement is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is the very city where U.S. President Trump stated he did not represent Paris and might withdraw the United States from the agreement.

building green

Cities, states and individuals must do their part in preventing climate change.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Perhaps the most concerted effort being made is to reduce carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary gas in the absorption of energy in the atmosphere. Cities account for about 70% of carbon dioxide emissions. A major part of the effort to reduce emissions is reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles. Another is switching to renewable fuels for generating electricity. This means eliminating power plants using fossil fuels.

The Sierra Club recently estimated that encouraged by their Beyond Coal campaign, coal-fired power plants have been closing at times at the rate of one every 16 days. This month representatives from more than 70 countries are gathering in Edmonton, Canada, to explore how to develop cities that can create and maintain a climate that adds a minimal of carbon to the atmosphere.

While some national governments, such as that of the United States, refute the whole concept of climate change and do not want to take any action, the people are taking combined action through more localized governments. It seems clear now that political organizations other than national governments are going to lead in taking actions to reducing climate change.

Planning Sustainably

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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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