Archive for October, 2012

Atmosphere on Dope :: Attribution Science Takes on Climate Instability

Sometimes I play the Devil’s Advocate on discussions about climate instability and global warming. I will sometimes chortle out, “Based on the historical, geologic records and timelines, we should be entering an interstitial cooling period and freezing our asses off, so global warming should be a good thing, right?” Definitely NOT right.

I find the disconnect utterly confounding between (wo)man and nature–especially where (wo)man think s/he can assert control or absolutely predict the indifferent forces of Mother Nature, the weather.

One of my colleagues uses the metaphor of a boxing match to describe climate instability, “The boxer will win because of a persistent pummeling, not a single knockout.” And I think when the knock-out punch comes, (wo)man will become like the ‘fiddling’ Nero of Rome when it burned. Altho Nero may not have been fiddling, per se, Rome did burn. Why? Because the Romans were not well prepared, as I fear, is the case today. And then there’s the metaphor of the straw breaking the camel’s back. So, ja, even if climate change isn’t the main driver behind a given extreme, like Hurricane Sandy, it may very well play an important role, be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Frankenstorm Sandy

The impacts of climate change and a carbon-intensive economy cost the world around US$1.2 trillion a year – 1.6 per cent of the total global GDP (gross domestic product). Citation: ‘Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet.’

I await Mother Nature to do her indisputable bidding and dictate, and accept what will ultimately be. But the wise choice is to be prepared, control or eliminate whatever human actions that we know beyond a reasonable doubt are affecting the change that will ultimately ‘inconvenience’ many. I think we also need to acknowledge that the Earth and all its subsystems is a highly dynamic and changing place, and not to be controlled, but rather respected. And, so in respecting this, mitigating the effects of human contributions, er carbon emissions ‘doping’ into the atmosphere, to climate change/instability would be far more cost effective, in my opinion, than inaction. And to this I offer…

PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT.

Stop Emitting Carbon [all ways]

It seems these days as if in Oakland-Berkeley, CA, USA space is running out of stop signs for political messages. One of my daily bicycling routes takes me to (it’s good to be the) King & Russell Streets, where one can witness the defacing stop signs phenomenon.

The message is simple, and it has resonated with my low carbon footprint lifestyle for some time now. What I particularly like, is the city is rather slow on tidying up these ’embellishments.’

I am pretty sure this isn’t an only-in-Oak-Berk phenomenon. One has to wonder tho if other cities in the USA has as many defaced stop signs in such a small area. It is actually no surprise to me, since Oak-Berk have a history of fomenting political movements.

I’m not one to deface property, but I do have Photoshop.

PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT.

Skeptical Science

This broader-scale pushback on all sort of environmental issues, and in particular those on climate instability, continue to disturb me. These activities often involve attempts to discredit the science. I do, however, appreciate the arguments that resist the urge to argue endlessly about the theory of climate change and whether it’s influenced by humans.  What is particularly interesting is this stance isn’t unique to climate change; this has happened historically with the ozone hole and acid rain. SkepticalScience.com presents scientific information to common questions and objections to climate science.

In a word, denial.

In a word, denial.

Perhaps a better way to frame this argument and tell the story on climate change/instability that could be more universally accepted is if it were framed in a manner like pollution is bad, and burning of fossil fuels leads to pollution. Therefore, we should do what we can to curtail the burning of fossil fuels, because extracting fossil fuels creates dangers to our environment. And so, and since many have determined this risk is unacceptable, reliance on foreign oil in the USA has skyrocketed. Not to mention, the need to manufacture fear and interject ourselves in conflicts throughout the world to protect our ‘interests’ persists in escalating. Ja, I’m bent out of shape about the latter, too.

I would have hoped the pollution and environmental protection arguments, in tandem with national security would suffice to promote continued funding and support of green(er) energy technologies, sans the politics. And indeed, the question about climate change/instability does need to be mentioned in the argument. However, using it to form the basis of a single pronged debate, while ignoring other facts for which there is no reasonable contrarian argument would not be wise.

I say this, because in their inability to understand the science systemically, a great deal of people tend to think of environmental issues as something that only affects nature, and has no affect in one’s immediate community. I daily witness how a great deal of folks in the USA, who are surrounded by material stuff, can barely operate their ‘toys’ and cannot comprehend the underlying principles that make these items work–sadly, because of their limitations, it is understandable that they are alienated toward science. But what is also sad to me, is how on one point, history is littered with examples of certain types of technology ‘triumphs’; ballistics, machine guns, tanks, atomic bombs, etc. It’s as if in some respects, destructive technologies is the aim and our purpose here. So, it should be no surprise that humans are contributing to climate instability. *Sigh*

In general, I think the media needs to do a better job helping the masses connect the dots, which is difficult to do. It takes time, and so many unwillingly lack the time to invest in learning, understanding the bigger picture on how anthropogenic life style contributions affect climate instability.

All my life I have tried to look at the science. And, I do realize it would be prudent to avoid controversy when trying to advance a new technology, renewable energy technologies at this time. Difficult to do. It’s also pretty clear to me now, the rational does not seem to move people to change–I think tapping into the emotional side would be the way to go. I think depression, on part, is a rejection reactionary response to the malfeasance in the world, which is utterly incapacitating to some; prohibiting them from taking any action toward a constructive, corrective change. I also think there is another component that requires us to work on…

Albert Einstien once said, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT.

Environmentalists are conservatives. Conservatives conserve.

Bill McKibben of 350.org on Bill Maher. Short, simple, sweet, BAD-ASSERY!

PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT.

Today is Indigenous People’s Day

Daily, I am challenged to reconcile how I cope and endure the culture in which I reside. Greed and the unmindful manner in which a great deal of my species capitalizes on, grossly mismanaging our life-sustaining natural resources has never equated. This upsets me, for it is as if some, history does not exist–they are in denial about learning from mistakes, prepare for the next ‘war’ and promote the manufacturing of fear.

My heart is inordinately heavy today, and my soul is in turmoil. I think, until the people are prepared to truly feel and accept what is transpiring in the world, instead of denying, ‘medicating’, numbing themselves, we will remain blighted and bereft of feelings that establish our common humanity. And so, I lament.

It’s Indigenous People’s Day today. Shawnee ancestry is part of my heritage. I am a Hope Addict. I’d like to think I am an agent of positive, constructive change, and will be able to use my skills in sustainable development and renewable energy engineering to assist in averting, mitigating and mopping up the mess (wo)man have made, so this Cree Prophecy does not come to fruition…

When all the trees have been cut down,
When all the animals have been hunted,
When all the air is unsafe to breathe,
Only then will you discover that you cannot eat money.

RESIST. RECLAIM. RESTORE.

PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT.

Hope Addicts :: People I Acolyte

I am utterly losing faith in humanity. But, I still try to have hope, that our exalted species in the animal kingdom will do the right thing as far as the sustainability future of our space ship is concerned.

Over the years, I have come to learn that there are a veritable plethora of takes on what sustainability development constitutes–a great deal, of which, have and continue to undermine ecosystems and quality of many lives. I came into the know about sustainability development, because I was blessed and privileged to come across, or be schooled by some folks I hold in the highest regard. They, in my opinion, are the epitome of Hope Addicts…

Hope Addict, Dr. Ecology, The Ground Zero Guy, John Harte

Hope Addict, John Harte issues the real rub on climate change, and is the author of Consider a Spherical Cow and Consider a Cylindrical Cow–textbooks he uses in the courses he teaches at UC Berkeley, and the inspiration for my taglines. Since 1990, John has been artificially warming a subalpine meadow in Colorado to show the effects of climate warming and ecosystem responses. Click here to read more.

“Major findings: ecosystem responses to climate change are likely to trigger large feedback effects that will likely enhance, not reduce, climate warming.”

I think John, The Ground Zero Guy, a climate instability myth buster, needs to go on The Daily Show to talk about climate instability, and answer Jon Stewart’s questions about whether he should trust his rock hard nipples in January when chopping it up on global warming and climate instability.

Hope Addict, Dr. Kornelis Blok

My first day meeting Kornelis at Universiteit Utrecht, NL where I spent some time taking graduate coursework in Sustainability Development as applied to Energy and Resources, he firmly shook my hand and would not let it go. Kornelis found out I was from California. Kornelis also knows that as a state, California tends to be the vanguard in precipitating change on a grand scale where environmental issues are concerned in the USA.

Not only is Kornelis a Professor of Sustainable Energy at Universiteit Utrecht, he is also the Founder and Director of Science at Ecofys. And it was during my time at Universiteit Utrecht affirmed I am indeed a ruimdenker == broad-minded, most environmentally aware progressive. No surprises here.

And in this discovery, I came to know that my ideas and perceptions about the bigger picture of what needs to be accomplished, were embraced by Kornelis, my Dutch colleagues and friends. It was EASY to have open, direct dialogues while I lived there. And thanks to Kornelis girding me on, I continue to explore this current trajectory I am on.

Hope Addict, George Monbiot

I came to know more about political and environmental journalist (yes, there are still some out there), activist and polemicist George Monbiot whilst pursuing my studies at the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) at Loughborough University in the UK. What I particularly like about George is he does not mince his words, and spits some real spit.

George is par exemplar at getting his teeth into: little people vs. big business; corruption of the planning process to favour corporate interests; democratic decisions prejudiced and mis-directed by government officials; lack of accountability and transparency; flagrant disregard for processes which protect our natural heritage; media monopolisation, and of course, bribery.

What first caught my attention was his catch-phrase, “Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it. Tell people something new and they will hate you for it.” Yeah, for real. But someone’s got to do it, hah?

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I will do my best to continue follow their lead, keep putting it out there for anyone who is able to ‘consume’, for without them inspiring me and girding me on, I would have given up hope a very long time ago.

Poetics of Grace :: One way to tell the RE wind story

Year after year, I try to find a way to address the post headline.

I was always keen on the notion that those of us privileged to have eyesight are visual creatures and this would be a tactic worthwhile pursuing. Sure, making a story cool and sexy helps, too; it is after all, just a sign of the times.

However, our species seems to have a completely difficult time learning from history. And, I fear unless there is a great deal of ‘pain’, it is highly unlikely folks will modify their consumerism bent habit–such that, this habit will be the bane of existence as we know it.

Recently I contacted a colleague who has UX (user experience) expertise in the transportation sector. This colleague believes, “…a strong analytical approach to design can yield creative solutions that solve problems users may not even know they have.” Indeed. And yet he recently shared with me that he too is challenged to create change in human behavior on a massive scale. On that note…

My most recent attempt I have been sharing with colleagues in trying to getting all with whom I make contact to stop emitting carbon.

NB: I snipped the following from the LinkedIn Hybrid RE Group post I started about a couple of weeks ago.

What would you say to the general audience to obtain an answer to the following:

1. What would I need to say to you/show you to convince you to stop emitting carbon?

OR

2. What would I need to say/show to you to change your human (consumptive) behavior?

OR

3. How do you see the debate over climate change policy impacting you personally?

In my own effort to try to get folks to change behavior, I too am utterly and completely challenged. I actually spoke to a UC Berkeley professor-colleague about a week ago who’s expertise is in the poetics of grace during the Renaissance. Brainstorming. It’s all about reaching the audience and some how get them to change their priorities and behavior. I mean during the Renaissance, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Brahe were able to intermingle science and art (visual), to increase reliance on observation, the scientific method, process of discovery, acceptance by the populous–so how can we get lay audience embrace it now? With videos like
“I am here” by Talco?

Where climate instability is concerned, I’m pretty sure we’re already fully immersed in a positive feedback loop. Mother Nature will have her way with us, and sadly other living creatures. Not sure if there is time to force a ‘constructive (negative)’, mitigating feedback–probably futile.

Still trying to find a successful tactic to steer this behavior change in the general population to embrace renewable energy technologies more and to change carbon emitting lifestyle. Brainstorming is welcomed…

PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT.

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What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

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