#BuildingDevelopers #Save Millions with #Oregon #TaxRelief on #SustainableBuildings #LEED @GreenSourceMag http://greensource.construction.com/features/0704mag_policywatch.asp
#NASA Reveals New #Data Concerning #RisingSeaLevels @GreenSourceNews @NASA #NOAA #SeaLevels #ClimateChange
#GMOs Coming to #Nature as a #Conservation Method for #Species + #Wildlife #GeneticEngineering @EnsiaMedia
You may see adds on TV, that say “send money to Africa” or some other country of interest. These adds are created by people who want to help others. They try to make you look at the world and its issues through compassion. With the medium of television, social media, and the like, people have had the ability to connect more often, and more effectively. With them, we can see more clearly the issues in the world around us, and hopefully, try to solve them. In my opinion, never in human history have we had such a large problem, and such a large means to solve it than we do right now. As governments and policy makers look at the details of bureaucracy, healthcare, taxes, what have you, sea levels rise and those developing nations go under water. The largest emitters are not the ones who bear the brunt of the issue (Clark). Those effected by climate change seem to not be covered in the media. The media covers the things that are obvious, that are statistical and photographical; the people starving and dying of disease. They can only cover the massive hurricanes like the recent typhoon in the Philippines, not the longterm trends. Climate change is the silent killer more so than any disease in human history, and possibly in the history of life. The great irony is that solving climate change is not a selfless act to preserve the environment. The environment will survive, it will come back with new life, but humans won’t unless they adapt. Solving climate change is the salvation of the human race, and those that accept it are looking for solutions, that need to be found. To coordinate international cooperation, foreign and international policy regarding climate change needs to be addressed. That is where change will be made on a world wide scale. Science is the key to understanding the world’s problems, and policy and cooperation are the lock and the door to solutions.
The key to addressing a problem is first understanding it. To do this, we will look at the global carbon cycle (see figure 1).
As shown, carbon in the air is processed by plants to produce oxygen. This is called carbon fixation (a redox reaction, see figure 2).
CO2 + H2O + light energy —> CH2O (stands for a simple carbohydrate) + O2.(Green) (Figure 2)
As shown above, through the process of photosynthesis energy is converted to, and is stored in the form of, carbohydrates (represented by CH2O). Carbohydrates are then converted into useable energy in plants and other forms of life, by the reverse process (with energy instead of light energy, see figure 3). The carbohydrates may also be used as is, or in other reactions, to create complex structures i.e. plant cell walls, etc…(Green)
CH2O (stands for a simple carbohydrate) + O2 —>. CO2 + H2O + energy.(Green) (Figure 3)
Through the process of decomposing, carbon is released again into the cycle. In some cases, the carbon is trapped in the ground, and over time due to movements of the dirt and soil, is compressed in the earth to form fossil fuels. A major contributor to climate change is the burning of these fuels i.e. coal, natural gas, oil, etc… which results in the anthropogenic production of green house gasses. Currently, we produce so much CO2 that only 40% of our output can be processed annually by the environment, through this cycle.(Green)
This system is being put out of balance by climate change. The amount of CO2 the climate can support is being exceeded, and consequences are clear. The IPCC’s (Which stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) recently published fifth assessment report shows the scientific consensus and concern. A summary by Gian-Kasper Plattner, director of science for the IPCC Working Group I, regarding the groups contribution to the report explained that:
In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence)(5).
The observed warming 1951−2010 is approximately 0.6°C to 0.7°C(8).
Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century and virtually certain beyond 2100(14).
It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century(10).
There is clear scientific consensus on the issue of climate change, with 97% of climate scientists agreeing (NASA), adding support (and fear) to the trends predicted and observed. The IPCC forecasts that the area hit hardest is currently and will be the third world (Vidal).
Institutions focusing on world economics are concerned about this, like the world bank who believes without action now, years of social/economic progress will be worthless, and that climate change threatens to put prosperity out of reach for millions (World Bank). The increased intensity of storms as a result of rising sea levels (see figure 5.) will affect the smallest nations most. With the known fact that climate change exists, and that it is an issue, a question arises of whose fault it is, and who is responsible to fix it. Small nations say it is their turn to industrialize, and that they should not be limited in their pursuits by regulations to solve the issues the first world created. Larger nations protest that despite this unfairness, the world can not allow the same mistakes to be made.
As shown to the right in figure 6, since 1870, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased (Plattner). Although not related to climate change, government intervention to solve environmental problems can be dated back to the turn of the 20th century, with the progressive era and its presidents, coinciding with the conservation movement in the United States. Theodore Roosevelt, a progressive president and conservationist, established the parks system, preserving many natural areas to prolong their usefulness. This was a fundamental change in ideas, first, it accepted that humans have an impact on the environment, and second, it used policy to protect it.
In 1962, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was published, which highlighted on the connection of man and nature, and man’s new ability to control and destroy it. (A Fierce Green Fire)
Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world.
– Rachel Carson, in Silent Spring
As we go into the 70s, the same participants in the civil rights and anti-war movements fought for the cause of environmental protection (A Fierce Green Fire), a cause brought to national attention with the first Earth Day in 1970 (Cooper). The policy results of this rebirth of environmentalism can be found in the clean air act, the clean water act, and the endangered species protection act (see figure 7).
The domestic concern which ignited national policy change, also stimulated international policy. The United Nations, founded in 1945 (United Nations), sought to be a tool of international peace and prosperity, through discussion and cooperation. As an extension of this, it attempted to address environmental issues, one of the most famous bids of which was the Kyoto Protocol.
The protocol, adopted in 1997 (Kyoto Protocol), tried to address the growing issue and fear of climate change. As shown to the right; however (see figure 8.), the overall success of the protocol is questionable. Some believe that it was a failure, but it is worth noting that it was a strong first step, for the international conversation, even though its physical climate impact was negligible (Clark, Kyoto). Of all of the countries combined that adopted the protocol, there was a significant decline in emissions, but not all nations signed on, specifically in the third world (Clark, Kyoto), which was largely exempt, plus China. Most developed nations did; however, adopt it. Yet overall, global green house gas levels spiked since Kyoto went into effect (Clark, Kyoto).
For the international community to solve the issue of climate change, they first had (and have) to understand it. This is shown through the creation of the IPCC (mentioned earlier) in 1988 (IPCC, History). The group sought (and seeks) to understand the issue of climate change, with science, through the lens of possible solutions. In 2007, the IPCC received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work (along with Al Gore) (IPCC, History). Overall, their contributions show the ability of science and policy to coincide, and from this, the solutions that can be produced.
The solutions to anthropogenic climate change are somewhat controversial. In my view, policy is the only method to achieve the massive cooperation necessary for change. Technology and science could be used to limit energy use by making more efficient systems, investing in nuclear power (and research in nuclear fusion), and changing habits. Sustainable development, a current goal of the UN (United Nations), could be achieved in the third world through incentives. Other lures can be put in place in developed nations, along with accountability through systems like cap and trade, or a carbon tax.
Never has there been greater opportunity for global unification under the banner of solving a problem. We have the tools and it is within our reach. Through science and understanding along with implementation of solutions on the world stage, climate change can be solved for future generations.
“2.10.2 Direct Global Warming Potentials.” AR4 WGI Chapter 2: Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing. IPCC, 2007. Web. May 2015. <https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-10-2.html>.
“7.3 The Carbon Cycle and the Climate System.” – AR4 WGI Chapter 7: Couplings Between Changes in the Climate System and Biogeochemistry. IPCC, 2007. Web. May 2015. <https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch7s7-3.html>.
Carson, Rachel. “Silent Spring Quotes.” By Rachel Carson. Good Reads, n.d. Web. May 2015. <http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/880193-silent-spring>.
Clark, Duncan. “Has the Kyoto Protocol Made Any Difference to Carbon Emissions.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. May 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fenvironment%2Fblog%2F2012%2Fnov%2F26%2Fkyoto-protocol-carbon-emissions>.
Clark, Duncan. “Which Nations Are Most Responsible for Climate Change?” The Guardian. The Guardian, 21 Apr. 2011. Web. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fenvironment%2F2011%2Fapr%2F21%2Fcountries-responsible-climate-change>.
“Climate Change Affects the Poorest in Developing Countries.” “Climate Change Affects the Poorest in Developing Countries” The World Bank, 3 Mar. 2014. Web. May 2015. <http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/03/03/climate-change-affects-poorest-developing-countries>.
“Climate Change Overview.” The World Bank. Bank Group, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. May 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.worldbank.org%2Fen%2Ftopic%2Fclimatechange%2Foverview%231>.
Cooper, Mary H. “Environmental Movement at 25.” CQ Researcher 31 Mar. 1995: 273-96. Web. May 2015. <http://photo.pds.org:5012/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1995033100&type=hitlist&num=0>
“Earth Day.” Earth Day. United States Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. May 2015. <http://www2.epa.gov/earthday>.
A Fierce Green Fire. Dir. Mark Kitchell. Perf. Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende, David Brower, Lois Gibbs, Paul Watson. First Run Features, 2012. DVD. June 2015
“Global Climate Change: Consensus.” Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. NASA, n.d. Web. May 2015. <http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/>.
Green, Hank. “The Global Carbon Cycle – Crash Course Chemistry #46.” Crash Course. Crash Course, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. May 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLuSi_6Ol8M>.
“History.” IPCC. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, n.d. Web. May 2015. <http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization_history.shtml>.
“Kyoto Protocol.” The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United Nations, n.d. Web. May 2015. <http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php>.
Motel, Seth. “Polls Show Most Americans Believe in Climate Change, but Give It Low Priority.” Pew Research Center RSS. Pew Research Center RSS, 23 Sept. 2014. Web. May 2015. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/23/most-americans-believe-in-climate-change-but-give-it-low-priority/>.
“Overview.” United Nations. The United Nations, n.d. Web. May 2015. <http://www.un.org/en/sections/about-un/overview/index.html>.
Plattner, Gian-Kasper. “Highlights of the New IPCC Report.” Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. IPCC, 2013. Web. May 2015. <https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/unfccc/cop19/cop19_pres_plattner.pdf>.
Vidal, John. “Climate Change Will Hit Poor Countries Hardest, Study Shows.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 27 Sept. 2013. Web. May 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fglobal-development%2F2013%2Fsep%2F27%2Fclimate-change-poor-countries-ipcc>.
This spring, I was lucky to be able to go on a trip with my school to the Chihuahuan Desert and the Rio Grande River in Texas. We spent several days camping in the desert and travelling along the river. We also visited the Mimms ranch run by the Dixon Water Foundation, which raises cattle using sustainable practices that save water and help the environment.
When we arrived, a friendly man in a cowboy hat walked out to greet us. He asked us where we were from and what our interest was. He led us to a conference room and pulled out some maps, and proceeded to explain to us the layout and methods their ranch uses. It was similar to Joel Salatin’s method described in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. They use a rotation method, in which their cows have a different piece of land to graze every day of the year. This allows the grass plenty of time to recover and keeps the cows well fed.
We were particularly interested in water, so as our new teacher, Mr. Potts, led us to a van to drive us around the ranch, he explained how this method is sustainable in the desert. When the Dixon Water Foundation first bought the land, he told us, it wasn’t as healthy. Shortly after switching to their rotation method, the land endured a harsh fire. Since then, the foundation has been working hard to bring the land to its best potential health. The new method, Mr. Potts explained, has made the land more resilient and full of plants that help the ecosystem. This is especially important in such an arid environment. Unlike in places like my home state, Georgia, rain is sparse in Texas and every inch makes a huge difference.
It was really neat to learn about the ranch and how this smart, thoughtful approach can benefit the cattle, the ranchers, the consumers, and the environment in the long run. Check out their website to learn more – there are some great links at the bottom of the Ranches > Sustainable Land Management page.
Waking up early to the sound of my phones alarm clock, I roll over and tell my friend to wake up. We crawl out of our sleeping bags and meet the morning air with a gasp. But first, we must get to our oatmeal. We take down our bear bag which was hastily set up in the dark late last night after laughing about how low off the ground it was, and how little bears or raccoons were deterred by our subpar craftsmanship. We set up the stove, a little better than the night before, cook our oatmeal seasoned with half a stick a butter and drink hot chocolate. I’m barely awake and running on auto-pilot so we can get out of camp as soon as possible to complete our 125 mile bike trip over less than 48 hours and two nights. While I eat, heat slowly returns to my body as my consciousness comes to the realization that we have to bike 25 miles before 11 am, if all goes well. In the last two days we biked 100 miles carrying everything we needed on our bikes. During this three day trek I have learned a lot about myself- and what it means to be on the road. In movies and on Pinterest you always see this idyllic sepia toned, feet out the window, acoustic music, good vibes road trip image. On a bike that goes out the non-existent window, every hill is a battle, every gust of wind is convincing yourself you can do this. Okay, maybe it’s a little different for someone who has trained for this, I didn’t and it was physically grueling. Except, emotionally it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. There really is something about the open road. The freedom you have to push yourself up a huge hill, or to decide where to camp is extraordinary. But mostly to know that where you went and wherever you are going was purely powered by yourself is a really incredible feeling. You know what you can handle or even if you couldn’t handle it you did, you know how to cook food you need for the next day, and when you need to stop moving your legs because you feel like you can’t pedal any further.
This bike trip was a practice trip for a larger trip I will be taking with my friend starting June 3 from Seattle to San Francisco and then on to Lake Tahoe. The total mileage is 1400 miles, and I am beyond excited to get on the road after the most hectic ending to junior year. Throughout this whole year my friend and I have been planning this trip and with some obstacles by parents and money its actually happening. I’ve been learning so much about bikes, and bike touring but also lots about fundraising advertising and promotion. I’ve also come to some really big realizations about myself, and the world around me.
Through my practice bike trip I realized how disconnected we are from the world because of cars and trucks, we don’t feel the actual temperature outside, we don’t feel the land we are driving over, and most of the time we don’t even notice little things because we are zooming by. While on this trip I felt a much bigger ownership and pride for my home state of Minnesota and a real appreciation of where I live because I noticed all the red winged black birds by the side of the road, and heard all the songbirds. I think that in society today we do everything that disconnects us from reality, using phones and screens as a way of communication as opposed to meeting face to face, more and more things indoors, and even schooling seems like its not applicable to real life. Theres not much you can do about big problems like that other than be aware of what you’re doing and why, to really unplug, go outside and relax, and try to live in reality. But really reality is different for everyone and since we have trouble defining it, why not create your own reality? Mine is on two wheels.
To follow our blog go to https://lifeontwowheels2015.wordpress.com
And to help support us go to https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/life-on-two-wheels-1400-miles-to-teen-empowerment
The setting was filled with greens and blues, not just seeping into view from the ground and sinking from the sky, but also from the clothing of the people that surrounded me. The people who have brought me closest to nature and the people nature has brought me closest to. The quaking aspen kept us in like bars of a prison, but only reminded me of the cold spring mountains of Park City, Utah. After the branches fall off, the eyes of the aspen watch me as I ski with my family and sit quietly for science lab. The quaking aspen do not have a distinct taste, or smell like the lodgepole pines. The quaking aspen age from the bottom up, wrinkling grey overtaking the smooth pale bark that covers their core. The kinnikinnick carpets the ground and disperses around the small pond reflecting the sky shaded my quaking aspens and littered with fallen quaking aspens. The flutter of leaves and movement of bugs fill the air as the silence continues. The air up above smelled strongly of pine and the ground was damp. The quaking aspen stand their ground, but they will be overtaken by the lodgepole pines soon.