Building the World

January 7, 2020
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ENERGY: Australia

 

“A river of smoke more than 25 km wide flows toward the Tasman Sea from fires burning in Australia.” Image: NASA

Australia’s fires have wrought damage to every aspect of life: people are perishing, dead animals are falling out of trees, the kelp forests of Tasmania are gone, houses are obliterated, the air is poisoned, kangaroos are herding to safe ground, families are camping on the beach. While some blame deforestation, and others note Australia is the most arid country on earth, many point to energy policy as causal. Studies by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis comment on “government’s defense of increasingly technologically obsolete thermal coal” (coal burned for energy rather than steel manufacturing). Australia also exports coal to China and India, among others. But those customers will soon be gone, having announced plans to transition from the coal sector.

Fires plague Australia, most arid country on earth. Image: wikimedia from a fire in another endangered area, California, USA. Climate change is an increasing factor.

The writings is on the wall, even if some politicians speak of alternative facts, and other walls. Coal is on the way out. Coal stocks in the United States dropped 50% in 2019 while renewable energy American utility Nextera Energy gained 42% more market share. Banks like Credit Suisee and Goldman Sachs are rethinking and restricting financing thermal coal and coal-fired power plants. Investors might observe the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change – with trillions under management – aligns pension funds to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Like former financial agreements such as those decided at Bretton Woods, investment and banking groups may increasingly link investment policy to environmental goals.

“Australian energy resources and major export ports,” based on Australian government Department of Resources, Energy, and Tourism, 2008 report. Image: Historicair, 2011, wikimedia.

Meanwhile, Australia might think of Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric as an example of mobilizing response to adverse conditions. The macro achievement was built after drought plagued early chapters of Australia’s history. From 1813 to 1815, drought parched the land; from 1824 to 1829 there was another. When a third drought occurred from 1837 to 1840, the land baked, crops failed, livestock died, and the once-lush landscape became so dry that people organized horse races on the Murrumbidgee River, using its dry bed as a dusty track. Snowy Mountains brought irrigation from snow melt, generating hydroelectric power to light a growing country. If Australia might again mobilize a suffering nation’s ingenuity and resolve in response to 2020’s parched and burned landscape, it should be noted that Snowy Mountains Hydro took 25 years to complete. If Australia sets a macro goal to rebuild energy and environment by 2025, what are the first three steps?

“Three Sisters, Blue Mountains,” Australia. Image: wikimedia.

O’Malley, Nick. “The world has made the link between Australian coal, fires, and climate.” 4 January 2020, The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-world-has-made-the-link-between-australian-coal-fires-and-climate-20200103-p53omu.html.

Koning Beals, Rachel. “Goldman Sachs becomes first major U.S. bank to stop funding Arctic drilling, pulls back on coal.” 21 December 2019. MarketWatch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-sachs-becomes-first-major-us-bank-to-stop-funding-arctic-drilling-pulls-back-on-coal-2019-12-16

Steil, Benn. The Battle of Bretton Woods. Princeton University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780691162379.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unpor

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July 6, 2019
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WATER: Cheers (from Cheerios)

Cheers! Can pubs offer a toast to public service? Image: “Weizenbier” by photographer Trexer, 2005. Wikimedia.

Food waste: it’s a world problem; more than 350,000,000 tons of food were lost or wasted so far, this year. Food trashed by the United States + Europe could feed the world (three times over). And, it’s not just food, but water, that is lost: food waste is responsible for 25% of the USA’s water use. But what if food waste could be transformed by the alchemy of brew?

Seven Brothers, a brewery in Manchester, England, makes rejected breakfast cereal (flakes too small, too large, for standardized manufacturing and therefore considered not right for the box) into craft beer. Like Corn Flakes?  You might appreciate “Throw Away I.P.A.” or if Coco Pops were a childhood favorite, you might re-aquaint yourself with a grown-up version in a dark stout, with chocolate overtones. Working with Kellogg’s, Seven Brothers receives 5,000 tons of deselected cereal flakes per year. Prefer toast? Try Chelsea Craft Brewing Company in New Oak for “Toast” made from left-over bread served at the screening of “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” produced by Anthony Bourdain.

David Marks, Edward Spang, and other engineers and scientists who study the Water-Food-Energy Nexus report that 80% of the world’s water, 40% of the world’s land, and 10% of the world’s energy goes to food. Yet 1/3rd is wasted. Of course, brewing is just a very small response to food waste, but it’s a notable achievement. Should your next pub be chosen for its public service? Cheers!

Bourdain, Anthony, producer; Anna Chai and Nari Kye, directors. Wasted! The Story of Food Waste. 2017. PMK*BNC, New York and Tribeca Film Festival, TribecaFilm.com. https://tribecafilm.com/filmguide/wasted-the-store-of-food-waste-2017?smid=nytcore-ios-share.

Spang, E., W. Moomaw, K. Gallagher, P. Kirshen, and D. Marks. (2014). “Multiple Metrics for Quantifying the Intensity of Water Consumption for Energy Production.” Environmental Research Letters 9 105003.

United Nations. “Water, Food, and Energy.” UN WATER. https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/water-food-and-energy/

“World food waste statistics,” The World Counts. 5 July, 2019. https://theworldcounts.com/counters/world_food_consumption_statistics/world_food_waste_statistics.

Yaffe-Bellany. “Drink a Pint, Waste Less Food.” 3 July 2019. The New York Times.

Zimberoff, Larissa. “Toast Ale, From Recycled Bread, Is Now Brewed in New York.” 24 April 2017. The New York Times. https://wwww.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/dining/toast-ale-bread-bronx.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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June 22, 2019
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ENERGY: Net Zero = 10 Million Jobs

“Wind power plants in Xinjiang, China” by Chris Lim, from Windmills in China series, 2005. Image: wikimedia.

Nations, and industries, are steadily reducing carbon emissions;  the June 2019 European Union (EU) meeting  signaled progress. Finland and Norway have resolved to achieve energy net-zero (state where input and output result in a zero balance) by 2035; others pledged 2050. The COP21 Paris Agreement advocated all signatory countries (over 190) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. Recently, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, urged the European Union to cut beyond that to 55%. Contributing to that goal is the phasing out of burning coal, and terminating approval of new coal-fired power plants after 2020. European Union nations failed to reach agreement on net zero by 2050; they did agree, however, to study ways to achieve that goal. One stopping point: some EU nations are more dependent upon fossil fuel systems; for example, Poland relies upon coal for 80% of its energy and many of its jobs.

“Installing Solar Panels,” Oregon Department of Transportation, 2008. Image: wikimedia

Energy Jobs: Renewable energy jobs are quickly growing and may soon overtake fossil sources. In a report by Climate Nexus, in the United States, “more people (over 3 million) work in wind, solar, efficiency and other clean energy fields than are employed as registered nurses and just shy of those working as school teachers.” Globally, people working in renewable energy reached 10 million in 2017 and continues to grow, attracting investment in technologies like solar photovoltaic. Hot job markets? By 2026, wind technician jobs will increase 96% and solar installer positions will grow 106%.

Energy innovations have always stimulated investment and jobs. The Tennessee Valley Authority was both a federally-owned electricity utility that served seven states, as well as a regional employment program: 9,000 people were hired in the first year. Will the TVA divest its 8 coal plants? There are also 30 hydroelectric facilities, 16 natural gas plants, 3 nuclear powerhouses, 14 solar energy sites and one wind energy farm. It’s still the biggest power campus in the United States. Also noteworthy: the muscle shoals sound.

Migrants invited to Australia to work on Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric also helped to build a new nation. Image: “Sydney Opera House” by Steve Collins, 2011: wikimedia.

Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric hired 100, 000, recruiting locally in Australia and also inviting war-displaced migrants to move for work and opportunity: “You won’t be Balts or Slavs…you will be people of the Snowy!” promised Sir William Hudson, first commissioner of the project. As renewable energy grows, the world may experience improvements in climate, innovation, migration, and employment.

Climate Nexus. “WHERE THE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS ARE: 2019” Climate Nexus. https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/energy/clean-energy-jobs-2019/

Darby, Megan. “Which countries have a net zero carbon goal?” 14 June 2019. Climate Change News. https://www.climatechangenewscom/2019/06/14/countries-net-zero-climate-goal/

De Carbonnel, Alissa. “U.N. chief calls on EU to raise 2030 climate goal to 55%.” 15 June 2019. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-climate-un-exclusive-un-chief-calls-on-eu-to-raise-2030-climate-goal-to-55-idUSKCN1TG0FY?smid=nytcore-ios-share/

International Renewable Energy Agency. “Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2018.” May 2018: ISBN: 9789292600624. https://www.irena.org/publications/2018/May/Renewable-Energy-and-Jobs-Annual-Review-2018.

Marcacci, Silvio. “Renewable Energy Job Boom Creates Economic Opportunity As Coal Industry Slumps.” 22 April 2019. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/energy/innovation/2019/04/22/renewable-energy-job-boom-creating-economic-opportunity-as-coal-industry-slumps/.

Schreuer, Milan. “E.U. Leaders Fail to Strengthen Climate Target.” 20 June 2019. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/climate/europe-carbon-neutral.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Sengupta, Somini. “Can Europe Wean Itself From Fossil Fuels?” 19 June 2019. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/19/climate/europe-cargon-neutral.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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November 3, 2018
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Migration and Innovation

Net Migration Rate, Map by Kamalthebest, 2017. Image: wikimedia

Human history is one of migration. We all came from Africa. Cyrene, ancient city-state where art and science flourished (the first map of the stars, the mathematics of doubling a cube), was founded by climate migrants escaping drought on Santorini. Atomic energy was the discovery of an immigrant: Albert Einstein advised President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the danger, and potential, that resulted in the Manhattan Project. Migrants shaped the future of Australia: two-thirds of the 100,000 builders of Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric were recruited from displaced refugee camps after a war that had forced many from their homeland. Far from being seen as a threat, homeless were recruited by Sir William Hudson, first commissioner of the Snowy: You won’t be Balts or Slavs…you will be people of the Snowy!

Immigrants founded AT&T, Comcast, eBay, DuPont, Goldman Sachs, Google, Pfizer, and Tesla, among others. Immigrants are twice as likely to start a new business as those native born, perhaps because of the courage, hope, and vision it takes to walk to a new horizon. Everyone who is an American is either indigenous (0.8%), immigrant or refugee. Immigrants start 25% of engineering and technology companies in the United States, employing 560,000 people and producing sales of $63 billion.

Conca, James. “We Are All Immigrants, Refugees Or Their Descendants. ” Forbes, 4 July 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/07/04/we-are-all-immigrants-refugees-or-their-descendants.

Davidson, Frank P. and Kathleen Lusk Brooke, Building the World, Volume 2, page 529. Greenwood:ABC-CLIO 2006. ISBN: 0313333742. www.buildingtheworld.com

Livi-Bacci, Massimo. In Cammino, 2010. Translated to English, A Short History of Migration, by Carl Ipsen (2012). ISBN: 9780745661865.

McKissen, Dustin “This Study: Immigrants are Far More Likely to Start New Businesses Than Native-Born Americans: Research shows that the economy benefits, in a big way, from immigration.” 1 February 2017. Inc. https://www.inc.com/dustin-mckissen/study-shows-immigrants-are-more-than-twice-as-likely-to-become-entrepreneurs.html.

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April 13, 2018
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Tale of Three Cities: Sydney, Australia

Sydney Opera House. Photographer: Steve Collis. Image: wikimedia.

Already the most populous city in Australia, Sydney’s headcount will double in the next four decades. Solution? Divide Sydney into three separate metropoles: Eastern Harbour City, Central River City, and Western Parkland City. Eastern has the Sydney Opera House and airport. Western will get its own airport, with the new city built as an “aerotropolis.” In-between, Central River will attract the best of both sides, it is hoped. New transport infrastructure, road and rail, will fulfill the strategic goal of “30-minute cities” offering travel from home to work in a reasonable commute. How will the new urban plan honor the First Nations? Australia has experience in city development: the town of Cooma expanded rapidly when chosen as headquarters for the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, bringing water and electricity to rapidly growing Australia. Megacities, urban centers with more than 10 million people, are on the rise: in 1960, there were just two – New York and Tokyo; more than 40 megacities are expected by 2030. Will Sydney set a precedent?

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk and Zoë G. Quinn. “Badu Gili: Water Light.” 30 June 2017. Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2017/06/30/badu-fili-water-light.

Lo, Andrea. “Why is Sydney being split into three cities?” 12 April 2018. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/12/asia/sydney-three-cities/index.html.

United Nations. “The world’s cities are growing in both size and number.” http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/urbanization/the_world’s_cities_in_2016_data_booklet.pdf.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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March 22, 2018
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Water Day: Wear Blue

World Water Day: Wear Blue. Indigo, popular 5,000 years ago in the Indus Vally where the color gets its name, was called nila. The color dye was popular on the Silk Road. Image: wikimedia

World Water Day: March 22, 2018. We’re an increasingly thirsty world: by 2050, one-third of the planet will suffer water scarcity. Climate change intensifies problems: floods and drought are worse. More than 3 billion people suffer diminished access to water for at least one month each year due to drought: that number is set to increase by 2050 to 5 billion. Mitigating influences of forests and wetlands are vanishing: two-thirds have been cut or built upon since 1900, according to a study released by the United Nations. Rivers are polluted, with ten rivers identified as the major source of marine plastic debris. Think those problems are “elsewhere” and you may be alarmed to find 80% of tap water contains microplastics. What can you do, as an individual? Social scientists observe the original days of the week had a dedicatory purpose, still detectable in the names. For example, the Japanese day Suiyōbi is Wednesday, meaning Water Day. Should we rededicate the days of the week to raise awareness of our shared resources, including water? One fashion leader suggests wearing blue as a way to honor water. Would you consider dedicating one day each week to water?

Schlanger, Zoë. “We can’t engineer our way out of an impending water scarcity epidemic.” 21 March 2018. Quartz Media. https://qz.com/1234012/we-cant-engineer-our-way-out-of-an-impending-water-scarcity-epidemic/

World Water Day. http://worldwaterday.org

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December 1, 2017
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100 Days to Power

Stone sculpture, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: wikimedia commons.

A promise, a bet, a race: Tesla founder Elon Musk made a deal. In 100 days, Tesla would build a 100-megawatt battery or turn it over to South Australian state if the deadline were missed even by a day. The battery, world’s biggest to date, is due to be on time for December 1. Why that date? It’s the start of Australia’s summer, the season of air-conditioning and power outages. French partner Neoen helped build the powerhouse that will store energy generated by its Hornsdale Wind Farm. Expected power? Enough to bring electricity to 30,000 homes. Australia, location of Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric, experienced an energy crisis earlier this year, as a result of exporting so much liquefied natural gas (LNG) that a heat wave challenged air conditioners. After Qatar, Australia is the largest exporter of LNG. Australia just closed a major coal power plant in Victoria.  Australia’s race to the future with partners Neoen and Tesla may mark a milestone for renewable power, especially energy storage.

Mcguire, Rod. “World’s biggest battery to be ready this week in Australia.” 28 November 2017. Associated Presshttps://apnews.com/a6cd45c5b5f141cf80f2bad43755295c

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June 30, 2017
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Badu Gili: Water Light

Sydney Opera House: public art with a message. Image: Adam J.W.C., wikimedia.

Sydney, Australia, location of the legendary Opera House, has launched a series called Badu Gili or ‘Water Light’ in the language of the original Gadigal people. Video art, displayed on the Sydney Opera House every night at sunset, honors the First Nations; soundscapes echo across the harbor. The land of Snowy Mountains will host the series year-round.

Iconic monuments like the Sydney Opera House, and the Eiffel Tower, often serve as signposts for important messages of our world. During the Paris Climate Conference of the Parties, La Tour displayed the goal of 1.5 Celsius. Recently, activist artist Robin Bell displayed messages on buildings bearing the name of a certain politician. In Boston, the Zakim Bridge has changed color as a sign of the times.

Iconic monuments may find a voice in sharing ideas that color our future. What iconic monuments in your area can speak?

To watch and listen to Badu Gilihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMmLRIc6Sgg

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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April 26, 2017
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Fountain of Hope

Water is the hope of the MOF-801. Here, the largest floating fountain in Europe, Multimedia Fountain Roshen, Ukraine. Image: wikimedia.

Two-thirds of the earth’s population may soon need more water, especially in arid regions. Australia, India, North Africa, and areas of the United States and Mexico, to name but a few, are rich in sun but poor in water. Using the sun to power a metal-organic framework (MOF) that acts like a sponge to soak up humidity, Omar Yaghi of the University of California Berkeley and Evelyn Wang of MIT, and team, have developed MOF-801 that could be carried in a suitcase, set up in a solar view, and immediately produce enough water for a family of four.

Hyunjo Kim, Sungwoo Yang, Sameer R. Rao, Shankar Narayanan, Eugene A. Kapustin, Hiroyasu Furukawa, Ari S. Umans, Omar M. Yaghi, Evelyn N. Wang. “Water harvesting from air with metal-organic frameworks powered by natural sunlight.” Science, 13 April 2017: eaam8743. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8743. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/04/12/science.aam8743/tab-figures-data/

Urieff, Kaya. “New solar-powered device makes water out of desert air.” 19 April 2017, CNN.com. http://cnnmon.ie/2pg50FR/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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April 14, 2017
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Why is an Orange like a Light Bulb?

The water-energy-food nexus may influence the growing of oranges, in competition for lightbulbs and drinking water. Image: wikimedia commons.

Did you know that growing one orange requires 13.8 gallons of water? Next time you crunch into an almond, you’ll consume the result of one gallon. California grows both: a result, in part, of the Colorado River Compact. Edward Spang of the University of California Davis, as well as colleagues including David H. Marks of MIT, predict competition for water use will increase in the water-energy-food nexus. Spang developed a water consumption for energy production (WCEP) indicator, comparing the use of water for different forms of energy in over 150 countries. Fossil fuels and biofuels require the most water; wind is less thirsty. The United Nations cites the World Water Development Report: “If water, energy, and food security are to be simultaneously achieved, decision-makers, including those responsible for only a single sector, need to consider broader influences and cross-sectoral impacts. A nexus approach is needed.”

For more: Spang, Edward. “A Thirst for Power: A Global Analysis of Water Consumption for Energy Production.” GWF Discussion Paper 1246. Global Water Forum, Canberra, Australia. http://www.globalwaterforum.org/2012/10/23/a-thirst-for-power-a-global-analysis-of-water-consmption-for-energy-production/and also see: http://cwee.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/10-25-2013-ThirstforPower_Final.pdf

“Multiple metrics for quantifying the intensity of water consumption of energy production.” E.S. Spang, W.R. Moomaw, K.S. Gallagher, P. H. Kirshen, and D.H. Marks. 8 October 2014. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 9, Number 10. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/9/10/105003/meta

Ahuja, Satinder, Editor. Food, Energy, and Water. Elsevier 2015. https://www.elsevier.com/books/food-energy-and-water/ahuja/978-0-12-800211-7

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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