Building the World

December 24, 2018
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Golden Anniversary, Golden Opportunity

Earthrise, December 24, 1968: “You don’t see . Image: wikimedia.

Fifty years ago, someone grabbed a camera and changed history. NASA Apollo 8’s crew was to orbit precisely 10 times while photographing the surface of the moon, as a field study for the Lunar Landing mission.  It was 1968: before digital photography, a crew could carry only so much film – all of it was to be used for lunar surface documentation.

For hours, only the occasional click was heard as the spacecraft hovered above the lunar surface, snapping photos of the topography of the moon. There was not much to look at: gray gravely surface cloaked by a dark sky. Then, suddenly, as Apollo 8 completed the first circle of the moon, an orb of blue and green surrounded by swirling clouds appeared in the module window. It was Earth.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets.

When Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders looked out the spaceship module’s window, three voices whispered astonishment in unison. Anders grabbed the camera. “Hey, that’s not our authorized mission; we’ve only carried designated film,” said the commander. The three stared at each other in a wild surmise. Then, all three nodded in assent. Anders, mission’s official photographer, captured the first view that humanity ever saw of our own Earth.

To call it a selfie would be to trivialize it. Earthrise, as the photo came to be called, snapped history into a new era. “It was credited with awakening the modern version of the environmental movement,” according to former American Vice President and environmental leader Al Gore; author of An Inconvenient Truth. “You don’t see cities, you don’t see boundaries, you don’t see countries,” stated mission commander Frank Borman. The first Earth Day followed. World water laws developed further; in the United States, the Colorado River Compact updated environmental provisions; new policies like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act set new standards.

But where are we now, fifty years later?  Hope for our planet’s blue and green miracle is narrow but not impossible. Many governments are setting new goals to save the climate before it is too late, bringing the Paris Agreement COP21 to shared measurement standards at COP24. Cities and states are taking matters into their own hands. Businesses and industries, including aerospace, shipping, and fashion, are setting global supply chain standards to reduce emissions. In response to changing markets, innovations are developing at a pace that some find encouraging. Clean energy jobs are growing faster, and more profitably. There could be trouble, but there is a narrow window of success possible. If we too see the vision in the photo, words of Borman and Anders might ring true: “Got it?” “Yep.” 

Watch the video. Apollo 8 took the Earthrise photo on December 24, a half century ago. So, today is a kind of Golden Anniversary. Is it time to renew our vows?

“Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act,” 1974. http://usbr.gov/lc/region/pao/pdfiles.crbsalct.pdf

NASA.”Earthrise.” https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181224.html.

Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel, director, and Adam Loften, producer: “Earthrise.” Go Project Films. http://goprojectfilms.com

Wall, Mike. “This New ‘Earthrise’ Photo from NASA Is Simply Breathtaking.” 21 December 2015. Space.com. https:///www.space.com/31422-earthrise-photo-nasa-moon-probe.html/

Wright, Ernie. “Earthrise” – visualizations created for the 45th anniversary, released on 20 December, 2013. Includes extensive downloadable videos showing the actual cloud pattern on Earth at the moment. There is link to Wright’s presentation at SIGGRAPH Vancouver. NASA, Scientific Visualization Studio. http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-releases-new-earthrise-simulation-video/.

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 17, 2018
by buildingtheworld
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Scale to Weigh In on Climate

Vernier scale. Image: wikimedia.

In Katowice, Poland, at COP24, almost 200 nations of the world, represented by 28,000 participants, set common standards to measure climate change. This is one of very few such achievements in history. When transcontinental rail systems were first built, Canadian Pacific Railway surveying engineer Sandford Fleming proposed a set of world standards for time zones; the International Meridian Conference (1884) in Washington, DC set global standards to measure longitude, establishing the Greenwich Meridian.  That’s why your phone can tell you what time it is in Boston, even when you’re in Bangkok. Fleming would agree that getting the whole world on one shared measurement system is no small feat; we haven’t even yet transitioned to a global metric system.

Katowice will be remembered for establishing a scale to weigh in on climate. According to Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete: “We have a system of transparency, we have a system of reporting, we have rules to measure our emissions, we have a system to measure the impacts of our policies compared to what science recommends.” (McGrath, 2018)

At COP24, many things were agreed; some still to be fully realized. On the present emissions course, the world will warm to 3C triggering disastrous change. By 2020, we have to get on track. There are those who wanted a touchdown in Poland but had to take a field goal, until the next meeting in Chile November 2019 (with a pre-COP25 meeting in Costa Rica). Until then, Katowice made history. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know the importance of the weigh-in; only consistent measurement can determine the biggest loser. The world just got a scale.

Sources:

Katowice Agreement COP24: https://unfcc.int/sites/default/files/resource/Katowice%20text%2C%2014%20Dec2018_1015AM.pdf

McGrath, M. “Climate change: Five things – COP24.” 16 December 2018. BBC Environment.

United Nations. “I.3. (c) “Modalities, work programme and functions under the Paris Agreement of the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures (L-document), Katowice Texts, 2018.

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 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
by buildingtheworld
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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

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