Metro, the Portland Oregon regional government, is asking about Greenhouse gas reduction strategies here Focus is on motor vehicles and transport with a bit of land use thrown in. *Note: Opt In is an innovative on-line civic forum with almost 20,000 registered participants from all around the metro region begun when I was a Metro [...]
Now, the demand for water to cool coal-fired power plants is drying up the breadbasket of China. Add this to the heavy pollution blanketing urban areas like Beijing and its a wonder the people are as quiet as they are.
Two articles in today’s NY Times highlight the challenge and promise of changing our energy mix.
China is in the midst of its worst air pollution crisis, with images reminiscent of 1950s Pittsburgh, when the noontime sun disappeared regularly in the dark cloud of smog.
While in the US, the tax credit for alternative energy being restored in January has led to a resurgence in wind energy projects. The US still lags most of the industrial world in its percentage of energy produced with non-carbon sources but a recent report done in New York state lays out a viable path for virtually 100% renewable energy there by 2050. The study authors noted:
“We must be ambitious if we want to promote energy independence and curb global warming,” said study co-author Robert Howarth, a Cornell University professor of ecology and environmental biology. “The economics of this plan make sense,” said Anthony Ingraffea, a Cornell engineering professor and a co-author of the study. “Now it is up to the political sphere.”
Portland is heralded for its strong investment in bicycle facilities and is being copied around the continent (think NYC, Vancouver, BC and Chicago). Can’t even remember how many times Bicycling Magazine has called Portland the Best Cycling City in North America. In the past 20 years, Portland has built over 300 miles of bicycle facilities and much of the Portland metropolitan area is not far behind. Well, has it worked? Let’s find out…
Good article over at the Guardian on how new approaches to urban mobility have the potential to reduce cities’ carbon emissions. With transportation making up about 20% of a city’s carbon contribution, changes in how we move are critical to address climate change but also, if done right, can make our cities safer, cleaner, quieter [...]
“the last time the planet was 2 degrees warmer, the oceans were four to six (perhaps eight) meters higher. We may not know how fast that will happen (although it is already occurring more rapidly than initially estimated), but the end point in sea-level rise is not in question. A major portion of humanity lives in coastal areas and small island states that will go under water. The site of the Earth Summit and Rio+20 will disappear under water fairly early on.” Thomas Lovejoy, NY Times, 1/21/13
One of the big questions hurled by the defenders of the fossil fuel age is that low-carbon energy technologies just can’t be ramped up to meet the burgeoning need of growing economies worldwide. And, of course, they shed alligator tears at this point over their concern for the billions of poor people yearning for refrigerators and cars who, they contend, would be left in poverty by the heartless “climate alarmists.” But it is a great question. Can we produce the energy for a vibrant, equitable economy without fossil fuels?
Who has a fat butt?
Time to look in the mirror and take responsibility for our carbon excesses.
Some would say that we shouldn’t have to cut fossil fuel use to reduce carbon emissions until every country commits to doing the same. But what would you think if you knew that those countries suffering most from severe climate disruption aren’t causing the problem? Countries in the tropics and the global south produce relatively little carbon yet are suffering severe flooding, water shortages and catastrophic storms…
Country size represents total carbon emissions. Source: Worldmapper.org
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms…
Why Getting to 2100? The next century will be a test: can humans use their intelligence and foresight to successfully transition from our consumption-fueled economy to one that balances the needs of humans with the Earth’s available resources. Getting to 2100 aims to be a forum for sharing of good ideas and good works. Got a good example or a new idea? Share it with the world!