Building the World

December 12, 2018
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Industrial Revolution 2.0

Spodek arena, Katowice, Poland, site of United Nations Climate Change Conference COP24. Image: wikimedia.

Are we on the turn of a new industrial revolution? As governments gathered in Katowice, Poland for COP24 to discuss how to bring the Paris Agreement COP 21 to a next stage actionable directives with the agreed goal of limiting global warming to below 2.0 centigrade (or ideally 1.5); and as, at the same time one outlier government’s delegation pitched coal, a trend emerged, investors and industries held their own summit. Some might term it Industrial Revolution 2.0.

Shared knowledge: 14th century manuscript depicting members of University of Paris. Image: wikimedia commons.

Medieval guilds for craft and trade set regional standards for weights and measures, as well as tithes and taxes to support social goals. Charlemagne united a region in part through development of bridges, roads, and universities. Businesses, industries, and universities have long been sources of scalable innovation. Both guilds and universities trained new generations with shared knowledge spread by exchange. Both businesses and industries developed supply chains with interlocking standards that are a kind of currency of rapid exchange. Industries may change faster than governments, in no small part due to economic incentives.

The first Industrial Revolution gave us many things, some involving energy sources that causing the crisis of our times. Industrial Revolution 2.0 will turn on those same forces, but turn away. Stopping coal, for example, means moving away from a system built around energy sources of the first Industrial Revolution. Industrial Revolution 2.0 means not just moving away from coal, oil, gas, and other older fuels; more importantly, it is more a question of moving to a new system that is built for the ride. Governments can talk about that; industry can build it.

Businesses gave collective voice in Paris, during COP21; Bill Gates gathered 28 investors including Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to contribute seed money to new ideas about energy. Branson stated: We must produce an abundance of clean, renewable energy and drive further innovation to make the next generation of energy more efficient. It will benefit the environment, our society and the economy. When 415 investing organizations, with an economic force of $32 trillion, gathered in Katowice, Poland, this week to add their collective voice to COP24, they pledged a new set of standards that may, if met, prove of merit as detailed in the 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change.

It’s clear our innovators are taking action: what can each of us do?

Conference of the Parties 24. United Nations. https://unfccc.int/event/cop-24

Crilly, Rob. “Paris climate change summit: Bill Gates launches effort to disrupt energy sector by funding new search for clean energy.” 1 December 2015. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/paris-climate-change-conference/12026217/Bill-Gates-launches-effort-to-disrupt-energy-sector-with-fund-for-green-technology.html

Duncan, Bonnie. “Guilds and Skills.” ENGL403/603Chaucer. Millersville University. http://sites.millersville.edu/bduncan/403/guilds/

Jessop, Simon. “Investors managing $32 trillion in assets call for action on climate change.” 9 December 2018. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-investors/investors-managing-32-trillion-in-assets-call-for-action-on-climate-change-idUSKBN1080TR.

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

December 3, 2018
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Sending the Signal

Tom Brady, New England Patriots. Image: wikimedia.

Landmark program of the National Football League (NFL). “My Cause, My Cleats” features football athletes sending a signal. Players declare their cause and customize their shoes to put the cause into action. For the New England Patriots, messages include Tom Brady: Best Buddies; Sony Michel: Haitian Earthquake Disaster Rebuilding; Matthew Slater: International Justice Mission.

Michael Jordan may have started the trend of sending a message through athletic footwear. Image: wikimedia.

Could the idea mobilize the future of climate change? This week, world leaders meet in Katowice, Poland for COP24: three years since COP21, and the Paris Agreement, it’s time to take the climate’s pulse. In light of the IPCC data showing deteriorating climate and nations are not on target, compounded by the recent report on climate and economy in the United States, one of the questions to be debated in Poland may be how to communicate the urgency. Climate scientists have commented that finding the right message and image is challenging. Polar bears didn’t work; plastic in fish led to some awareness but did not solve the problem. What could?

The power of an image and a slogan. Image: Social welfare library, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Some of the greatest successful macro initiatives in history came to life with a coined word, a slogan, an image. The Channel Tunnel had been in some form of planning since Napoleon, but it took a newly coined word, “Chunnel,” (by Frank Davidson) to make the idea of a rail tunnel across the channel linking England and France popular enough to get built. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) “sold” the idea of electricity with a slogan “Electricity for ALL” emblazoned on one of the first logos in history: a fist clutching a lightning bolt, reminiscent of Prometheus.

Poland could recommend sports stars and teams adopt one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for example. Another image? #1.5, slogan displayed on the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 2015, and the subject of the world’s largest postcard collaged on a glacier in Switzerland.  “My Cause, My Cleats” might help to mobilize change. Making climate action fashionable can be even more exciting when profitable. The NFL invites fans to bid in an online auction to buy the cleats, assured that 100% of the proceeds will go the player’s charitable cause.

Tokyo 2020 – my cause, my cleats goes global? Image: wikimedia

COP24 could, among its recommendations on climate action, send a global message of peace and sustainability through the 2020 Olympics. When Tokyo hosted the games half a century ago, Japan launched a new era in efficient-energy speed-rail transport: Shinkansen. Will the Olympics of 2020 send the message of climate action in sartorial splendor?

Bobin, Jean-Louis. Les Déconvenues De Prométhée: La longue marche vers l’énergie thermonucléaire. Atlantis Sciences/Atlantica 2001. ISBN: 2843943264.

Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities After Disasters. “Haiti: After the Cameras Have Gone.” 2010. University of Massachusetts Boston.

Davenport, Coral and Kendra Pierre-Louis. “U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy.” 23 November 2018. The New York Times.

NFL . “My Cause My Cleats” NFL Auction.

SDG Knowledge Hub. “Katowice Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP24) 2-14 December 2019. Katowice, Slaskie, Poland. http://sdg.iisd.org/events/unfccc-cop-24/

Sullivan, Tyler. “Patriots players reveal their My Cause, My Cleats.” 30 November 2018. 247sports.com.

UNFCCC. “Katowice Climate Change Conference – December 2018.” United Nations Climate Change. https://unfccc.int/katowice.

United Nations. “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Through Climate Action.” https://unfccc.int/achieving-the-sustainable-development-goals-through-climate-action

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

November 17, 2018
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Signs of the Times

Mont Blanc, highest peak of the Alps. Will the name change with the climate? Image: wikimedia.

Switzerland sent the world a postcard. A collage of 125,000 drawings by children across the world, assembled for aerial display on Switzerland’s Aletsch glacier, receding at 12 meters (13 yards) per year. Organized by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the campaign is part publicity stunt to establish a Guinness world record, and part educational campaign to engage the next generation in climate action. While individual children’s messages on the segments include pledges and pleas (Save the Future for Us), the aerial overview spells out the message “#1.5C” reminding the world of the Paris Agreement where 195 nations pledged to reduce emissions, holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“1 Heart 1 Tree” by Naziha Mestaoui. image on Eiffel Tower, 2015, by Yann Caradoc. Wikimedia commons.

France’s Eiffel Tower turned into a banner proclaiming the message to stop climate change in 2015. Artist Naziha Mestaoui designed “1 Heart 1 Tree” for people to add, via a mobile app, a virtual tree to a green installation on the Tower while actual trees were planted in Australia, Brazil, India, Kenya, Peru, and Senegal. Mestaoui was inspired by the “trees of peace” program in Kenya, designed by Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai.

Many cities around the world have iconic monuments: Sydney’s Opera House, New York’s Empire State Building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa are among the possible “billboards” that may invite us to look up into a better future.

Keaton, Jamey. “Kids’ postcards blanket Alpine glacier in eco-friendly stunt.” 16 November 2018. AP News. https://www.apnews.com/97e0023d66754fcc8e6b5832d463a10b.

Paris Agreement complete text: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreemet.pdf. 

Peltier, Elian. “Eiffel Tower Goes Green for Climate Talks.” 29 November 2015, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/climate/2015-paris-climate-talks/eiffel-tower-goes-green-for-climate-talks. 

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

October 13, 2018
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Eyes on the Prize

Nobel Prize in Economics 2018 goes to carbon tax advocates: William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. Image: wikimedia.

The Nobel Prize in Economics, awarded to William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer, followed a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning of urgent and dire effects if the world does not limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). Nordhaus advocated carbon pricing and taxation, stating: When I talk to people about how to design a carbon price, I think the model is British Columbia. You raise electricity prizes by $100 a year, but then the government gives back a dividend that lowers internet prices by $100 a year. You’re raising the price of carbon goods but lowering the prices of non-carbon-intensive goods.

Co-laureate Paul Romer stated at a press conference following the announcement: It’s entirely possible for humans to produce less carbon. There will be some tradeoffs, but once we begin to produce fewer carbon emissions we’ll be surprised that it wasn’t as hard as it was anticipated. Romer advocated supporting and encouraging innovation, while at the same time starting with a very low tax on emissions that will rise over time, if required. Outcome? “Innovators will start investing now in ways for people to get what they want without paying the tax. They will stop investing in ways to extract more fossil fuels that will be subject to the tax. Recent pessimistic environmental warnings might be true, but bad news is not always motivating, and can even cause avoidance and apathy. Romer continued: Optimism is part of what helps motivate people attack a hard problem, hoping that the Nobel award “will help everyone see that humans are capable of amazing accomplishments when we set about trying to do something.”

Davenport, Coral. “After Nobel in Economics, William Nordhaus Talks About Who’s Getting Pollution-Tax Ideas Right: A few governments – notably parts of Canada and South Korea – have adapted the the ideas in ways that frame them as a financial windfall for taxpayers.” 13 October 2018. The New York Times.

http://www.nber.org/chapters/c7620.pdf

Nordhaus, William. https://economics.yale.edu/people/william-d-nordhaus

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “Few countries are pricing carbon high enough to meet climate targets.” 18 September 2018. http://www.oecd.org/tax/few-countries-are-pricing-carbon-high-enough-to-meet-climate-targets.htm.

Rathi, Akshat. “Why the newest Nobel laureate is optimistic about beating climate change.” 8 October 2018. Quartz Media. https://qz.com/1417222/why-new-nobel-laureate-paul-romer-is-optimistic-about-beating-climate-change/.

Romer, Paul. https://paulromer.net/about-paul-romer/

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

 

October 6, 2018
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Report Card: Warning on Warming

“Simulating Carbon,” by William Putnam, 18 November 2014, NASA Visualization Explorer. Image: nasa.gov.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a warning: if the world keeps going at present rate, we’ll miss the target agreed upon in Paris 2015 (COP21) for limiting global warming. The goal of 1.5 may be out of reach; 2.0 Celsius may be unlikely.

Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0 Centigrade of global warming, above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8 to 1.2. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

Global warming in 2015; things now are even worse, warns IPCC. Image: wikimedia commons.

Consequences include extreme weather events, damage to warm water corals, mangroves, arctic, coastal flooding, fluvial flooding, terrestrial ecosystem, crop yields. (Reasons for Concern RFCs). The IPCC advocates climate-resilient development pathways (CRDPs) that “strengthen sustainable development at multiple scales and efforts to eradicate poverty through equitable societal system transitions and transformations while reducing the threat of climate change through ambitious mitigation, adaptation, and climate resilience.” (IPCC SR1.5)

IPCC, Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Centigrade (SR15), 6 October 2018. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15

IPCC, “Global Warming of 1.5Centigrade: Summary for Policymakers.” http://report.ipcc/ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.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

September 13, 2018
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Food for Thought about Climate

Food from plant sources may be healthy for you, and for the planet. Image: wikimedia

Even if you’re not in California for the Global Climate Action Summit, you might participate in affiliate events around the globe including “Food and Climate Strategy Session: Building Solidarity with Demand-side Solutions” in Brooklyn, NY on September 13. With Brighter Green, Loyola Marymount University, Mediterranean City Climate Change Consortium (MC-4), ProVeg International, Friends of the Earth, and members of the Food and Climate Alliance. Another example of urban food and climate innovations: City Farm Fish in the creative shadow of the  Brooklyn Bridge.

David H. Marks and Edward Spang are among those who find the Energy – Food – Water nexus may determine the future of global climate. It takes energy and water to grow the world’s food: some aliments require more allotments. Sir Paul McCartney is among the artists who raise voices and awareness in support of sustainable food.

Do you know the water, energy, and environmental aspects of your favorite foods?

Global Climate Action Summit: https://www.globalclimateactionsummit.org/about-the-summit/

Spang, E S, W R Moomaw, K S Gallagher, P H Kirshen, D H Marks. “Multiple metrics for quantifying the intensity of water consumption of energy production.” Environ. Res. Lett. 9 (2014. 105003. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/9/10/105003/pdf

Webber, Michael E. “More efficient foods, less waste.” 29 December 2011. Scientific Americanhttps://www.scientificamerican.com/article/webber-more-efficient-foods-less-waste/

Why is an Orange Like a Light Bulb? Building the World Bloghttp://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2017/04/14/why-is-an-orange-like-a-light-bulb/

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

August 27, 2018
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Art of Change

Times Square, New York City. Image: wikimedia

Climate change can be difficult to picture. That may be why, in part, politicians and citizens alike find it hard to grasp, and even more challenging to take action. But what if Mel Chin‘s “Unmoored” caught your eye? Displayed in Times Square, New York City, the artist’s work addresses the prediction that by the year 2100, six feet of water may slosh the great white way. Urban denizens, and tourists, can download the app, pointing a phone camera at various structures to see which ones will be afloat, and where boats may replace taxis and other vehicles. Will lessons from the Netherlands be part of the solution?

Will Miami soon be underwater? Image: wikimedia

Or maybe you prefer winters in Florida. This December, Xavier Cortada‘s “Underwater HOA” campaign invites residents of Pinecrest to place signs on their lawns showing how many feet of water will need to rise before inundating their property. Watercolor paintings that serve as background on the signs will be made with the very melted glacier water that the campaign hopes to stop. The installation opens in December. One month later, January 9, 2019, the signs will come down but the work will start: a citizens’ organization will meet at Cortada’s house to address climate change in the area of Miami. Can the invisible be made visible? What is the art of change?

For more: “12 Artists On Climate Change: A dozen artistic responses to one of the greatest threats of our time.” By Zoë Lescaze. 22 August 2018.  T AGITPROP The New York Times.

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

August 3, 2018
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Last First Chance?

“Sadnecessary” studio album by Milky Chance. Image: wikimedia.

In 1979, we knew enough about climate change and how to stop it. We didn’t. Now, according to environmental scientists, two-degree warming (goal of the Paris climate agreement) is our best case scenario, albeit with dire consequences. Three-degree warming: goodbye to most coastal cities. Four-degrees? China, India, Bangladesh become deserts; Colorado River, a mere trickle, Polynesia, gone. Unfortunately, the proposal drafted in 1989 to freeze carbon emissions that would have held warming to 1.5 degrees never made it: delegates from 60 nations met in the Netherlands and came up empty. Fast-forward: last year’s hurricane season in the United States saw inundations when Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, leaving 60 inches of rain and $185 billion of rebuilding costs. And that’s just the United States: the cost of climate change worldwide is so enormous as to almost incalculable. We missed our first chance. But sustainable solutions may yet be possible. Better global communication could lead to understanding, commitment, and change. What can you do to protect and preserve the earth, in what may be the last first chance in history?

Rich, Nathaniel with photographs and videos by George Steinmetz. “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.” 1 August 2018. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth.html.

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

May 18, 2018
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Volcanology and the Future

“Kilauea at Dusk,” photographed in 1983 by G.E. Ulrich, USGS. Image: wikimedia.

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano has been erupting, dangerously. But it is always in some form of activity, as one of the world’s most active volcanos, and is therefore heavily instrumented. Volcanic prediction is feasible, according to Paul Segall, professor of geophysics at Stanford University; whereas earthquakes, caused by similar disturbances below Earth’s surface, are less predictable. Volcanos may become an important factor in mitigating climate change. Here’s why:

Iceland is the site of CarbFix, exploring the future of carbon capture. When CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere, at a plant near Reykjavik’s Hellisheidi power station, it is pumped underground to combine with basalt. As a result, the combination becomes rock. In fact, the ancient Romans used volcanic ash to form a particular building material. Basalt contains calcium, magnesium, and iron – elements that bind easily with CO2; basalt is like a sponge for CO2. Could this be answer to Earth’s carbon crisis? Maybe – basalt is the most common rock type on the planet; it’s even found on the ocean floors. India, Saudi Arabia, and Siberia are particularly well-endowed. Problem? CarbFix is water-intensive, not ideal for the already thirsty water planet. It takes 25 tons of water to transform one ton of CO2. Humans cause the emission of 35 gigatons of CO2 (a gigaton is a billion tons) per year. But the potential encourages research by CarbFix partners including Columbia University in New York, National Center for Scientific Research in France, and Reykjavik Energy in Iceland. Theoretically, the amount of world basalt could store all the CO2 emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, since Prometheus.

Kilauea is a basaltic shield volcano, producing an eruptive form of basalt called Tholeiite, according to Ken Rubin, professor of geology and geophysics, University of Hawaii.  It’s the dominant basalt type on Earth. In the future, we may learn to work with volcanic basalt to combat CO2 emissions and build a better climate. Meanwhile, if you would like to give support to those in need, due to Kilauea’s recent eruption, here are some ways to help.

For more:

Ancheta, Dillon. “Here’s how to help those affected by the Big Island eruptions.” 5 May, updated 22 May, 2018. Hawaii News Now. http://www.hawaiinewsnowcom/story/38119223/heres-how-you-can-donate-to-those-impacted-by-the-kilauea-eruption/.

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk. “Philosopher’s Stone?” 17 June 2018, Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2016/06/17/philosophers-stone/

CarbFix. https://www.or.is/carbfix

Perasso, Valeria. “Turning carbon dioxide into rock – forever.” 18 May 2018. BBC News. www.bbc.com/news/world-43789527/.

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

 

 

 

November 17, 2017
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Bonn Voyage

Sunrise in Bonn, Germany. Image wikimedia.

The Conference of the Parties (COP23) met in Bonn, Germany to put the walk in the talk. COP23’s purpose? Make actionable those agreements, formed in Paris at COP21, addressing climate change. Among developments in Bonn, the Ocean Pathway will include waters not contained within specific countries. Other notable achievements: Powering Past Coal Alliance. World agreements, such as that achieved in Paris and followed up in Bonn, are relatively rare in history. Global time zones were agreed at the International Prime Meridian Conference of 1884, as a result of the work of Sandford Fleming, surveyor on the Canadian Pacific Railway. COMSAT invited companies around the world to join governments to build a new “railway” in the sky: communications satellite systems later resulted in the Internet. Bonn’s achievements at COP23 will determine the future, as participating nations (with a notable exception) work together to rebuild a sustainable world. Even where a country might not participate, states and cities continue the effort: We Are Still In.

Ellis, Jonathan. “The Bonn Climate Conference: All Our Coverage in One Place.” 13 November 2017. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/climate/bonn-climate-change-conference.html

Powering Past Coal Alliance. http://www.ym.fi/download/noname/%7B2ECC2AA5-F5D9-4551-BEC1-63C29DDB57A4%7D/132328

United Nations. COP23. https://cop23.unfccc.int

We Are Still In. https://www.wearestillin.com/cop23-press-release

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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