Building the World

November 23, 2021
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THANKS Giving: Global traditions of gratitude

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States. Photograph by Derek Jensen (Tysto) 2004. Generously donated to public domain by the photographer. Image: wikimedia commons.

Giving thanks can take many forms including exchanges to strengthen friendships between nations. American presidents sit at the Resolute Desk, given by Britain to the United States in 1880 as a gesture of thanks for rescuing the HMS Resolute from an Arctic ice-jam, repairing and returning the vessel to the United Kingdom. Six years later, in 1886, France gifted the United States with the Statue of Liberty as an icon of freedom and democracy, and to honor Abraham Lincoln. The famous sculpture proposed by Éduard de Laboulaye (French political philosopher, abolitionist, and expert on the US Constitution) was commissioned to Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi with interior designed by Gustave Eiffel, of the Paris Tower fame.

Norway has given a tree to Trafalgar Square, London, annually since 1947, in thanks for the end of World War II. Photo by Anneke-B, “Trafalgar Square Tree,” 2008, the year the tradition switched to halogen bulbs for energy conservation and sustainability. Wikimedia CC2.0, with thanks to photographer Anneke-B.

World War II’s dangers formed alliances later celebrated by partners in thanks for solidarity, including annual gifts of  20,000 tulips bulbs from the Netherlands to Canada for sheltering Princess Juliana during the war, and Norway’s yearly gift of a holiday tree to grace Trafalgar Square in London in commemoration of World War II’s alliances, cooperation, resolution, and peace.

Most festivals of harvest and thanks feature traditional cuisine. Here is a vegetarian feast from Seoul, Korea. “Korea-Seoul-Insadong-Sanchon” by Julie Facine. Creative Commons license CC by SA 2.0, wikimedia. Included with thanks to photographer Julie Facine.

As Americans observe Thanksgiving, it’s a time to recognize traditions of gratitude around the world. Countries celebrating a holiday of thanks include: Barbados (Crop Over Festival), Brazil (Dia de Ação de Graças), Canada (Thanksgiving), China (Chung Ch’iu), Germany (Erntedankfest), Ghana (Homowo Festival), Grenada (Thanksgiving), Israel (Sukkot), Japan (Kinro Kansha no Hi), Liberia (Thanksgiving), Malaysia (Ka’amatan), Netherlands (Thanksgiving), Norfolk Island (Harvest Home Festival), South Korea (Chuseok), and Vietnam (Têt-Trung-Thu). Many world festivals of thanks honor the harvest, the family, and the power of alliance and cooperation.

Received at the White House on 23 November 1880, the Resolute Desk (seen here with John F. Kennedy, President, and son, John) is a Partners’ Desk. Photo by Stanley Tretick, October 1963. Public Domain image. Wikimedia.

Today, we observe an anniversary with a message. The Resolute Desk, that began this discussion, arrived at the White House on 23 November 1880. When the gift was opened, it was discovered to be a partners’ desk: crafted for two people, facing each other, to work together. The design is believed to promote cooperation. Should be there be an international holiday of thanks to honor cooperation and peace?

Deron, Bernadette. “This is how 15 other countries around the world celebrate thanksgiving.” 7 November 2021. All That’s Interesting.com. https://allthatsinteresting.com/thanksgiving-in-other-countries

“Gifts Given Between Countries.” Accessed 22 November 2021. https://visual.ly/community/Infographics/travel/gifts-given-between-countries-weird-and-wonderful

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November 18, 2021
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SPACE: Debris

“Space Debris” Image: NASA Debris-GEO1280, 2005. Image: public domain. wikimedia and nasa.gov

Space just got more crowded, and dangerous. When Russia shot at one of its older, Soviet-era, satellites (Kosmos-1408 had been orbiting Earth since 1982)  to test a space weapon, the hit on the target blasted over 1,500 shards of debris into space. While other nations quickly condemned the test, China, India, and the US have also tested antisatellite missiles: the practice is so established that it has its own acronym: ASAT.

“Animation of GPS satellite’s orbit from 15 May 2013 to 6 September 2018” by Phoenix7777, 2018. Based on data of NASA and JPL. Image: wikimedia commons. Included here with appreciation to Phoenix7777.

Why is space debris a problem? At 17,500 miles per hour, even a paint chip becomes a lethal weapon. There are more than 100 million pieces of space junk bigger than one millimeter, with 27,000 larger than a softball (NASA 2021) and therefore more dangerous. There is no current method for vacuuming up space junk: some developing innovations include giant nets to capture shards as demonstrated by the RemoveDEBRIS or shoving devices that could push the pieces high enough into the distant atmosphere where they could safely disintegrate.

If space debris hit the cupola of the International Space Station, there could be great danger. In 2021, ISS astronauts were commanded to take cover during the ASAT test. Photograph by Scott Kelly, astronaut, 4 June 2015. Image courtesy of NASA, included with appreciation to Scott Kelly.

When KOSMOS-1408 disintegrated into flying debris, International Space Station astronauts received warnings to duck and cover. No harm occurred – this time. But collisions with space junk could destroy satellites, space stations, and space vehicles: crashes between orbiting debris chunks are also ominous possibilities that grow, as orbiting pieces increase, into probabilities. NASA and US Department of Defense’s Space Surveillance Network tracks 8,000 pieces most likely to cause problems.

“Dome of Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory,” by Coneslayer 2007. Image: wikimedia.

Space satellites began with Sputnik, proliferated with COMSAT, and now number 3,372 as of January 2021, with 1,897 belonging to the US. Want to see some celestial traffic? In Massachusetts, visit the Gilliland Observatory at the Museum of Science. Harvard College Observatory, part of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, offers options. University of Massachusetts Lowell hosts viewing from the Schueller Astronomical Observatory. Or, visit one of the 25 best observatories in the US for an out-of-this-world vacation.

Grush, Loren. “Satellite uses giant net to practice capturing space junk.” 19 September 2018. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/19/17878218/space-junk-remove-debris-net-harpoon-collisions

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/

Heilweil, Rebecca. “The space debris problem is getting dangerous.” 16 November 2021. Recode. Vox.com. https://www.vox.com/recode/2021/11/16/22785425/international-space-station-russia-missile-test-debris

NASA. “Space Debris and Human Spacecraft.” 26 May 2021. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/news/orbital_debris.html

RemoveDEBRIS. University of Surrey, UK. https://www.surrey.ac.uk/surrey-space-centre/missions/removedebris

SpaceX. “Starlink Satellite Launch.” VIDEO https://youtu.be/5h2t9Oyg2o0

University of Massachusetts Lowell. Schueller Astronomical Observatory. https://www.uml.edu/research/observatory/

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November 9, 2021
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TRANSPORT: Rebuilding Back Better

“Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge” by Eric Vance, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2011. Image: Public Domain, Wikimedia.

Transportation infrastructure is one of the paths to a better future. From electric vehicle charging stations, to bridge repair or replacement, American roads will soon experience the biggest rebuilding project since the US Federal Highway System of 1956. Here’s a summary of what to expect over the next five years (Lobosco and Luhby, 2021):

Roads – $110 billion for road repair and upgrades. It is estimated that 173, 000 miles of US roads are in bad condition;

Trains -$66 billion for passenger and freight trail, modernizing the Northeast corridor, and upgrading intercity rail to high-speed capability, with additional funds of $12 billion;

Broadband – $65 billion to improve reach and signal strength of Internet;

Bridges – $40 billion to repair or replace the 45,000 bridges in poor shape;

Public Transit – $39 billion to modernize and upgrade subways and buses;

Airports – $25 billion to repair aging airports and upgrade to low-carbon tech;

Marine Ports – $17 billion for improving marine ports, a major part of the supply chain;

Safety – $11 billion for better protection for cyclists and pedestrians;

Buses and Ferries – $7.5 billion for zero or low-emission ferries and school bus transport;

Electric Vehicles – $7.5 billion for a national network of electric charging stations;

Communities – $1 billion to reconnect neighborhoods divided by highways. This was one of the goals of the Central Artery Project in Boston.

In addition to the transport upgrades, the American Infrastructure Bill will begin rebuilding the electric grid ($65 billion) and correct water infrastructure problems from Flint to Benton Harbor and beyond, replacing lead service lines and old pipes. Finally, uncapped gas wells and abandoned mines will be remedied with a $21 billion fund. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (HR 3684) passed on 6 November 2021, as nations gather in Glasgow to address response to climate change at COP26. It is now time to rebuild the world.

Lobosco, Katie and Tami Luhby. “Here’s what’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.” 5 November 2021. CNN.com. https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/28/politics/infrastructure-bill-explained/index.html

United States Congress. “H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.” https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/hr3684/text

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November 4, 2021
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ENERGY: Ending and Reversing Deforestation

“Amazon rainforest in the Urubu River, near Silves, Amazonas State, Brazil” by Andre Deak, 2008. Image: wikimedia

Trees help combat climate warming, absorbing emissions of carbon dioxide. In many areas of the world, deforestation – cutting and clearing trees to use land for other purposes – depletes forests that absorb the warming gas. This week, world leaders meeting in Glasgow for COP26 pledged $19 billion to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. Among the signatories was notably Brazil, where Itaipú supplies hydroelectric energy but also stresses forest land. Brazil’s Amazon forest has suffered significant deforestation in the recent decades. Canada, China, Russia, nations of the EU, the UK, and the US also signed the declaration, with over 85% of world forests represented.

“Map of ecoregions of Central Africa.” Encyclopedia of Earth, 2016. Image: wikimedia commons.

Importantly, 30 global financial organizations also agreed to end investment in activities tied to cutting forests. Companies including multinational insurance giants Aviva and Axa signed on. A fund to protect the world’s second largest rainforest, in the Congo Basin, completed the pact.

Stopping and reversing deforestation may be one of the great successes of COP26. Image: COP26 Logo, United Nations. Wikimedia

Some observers noted that a similar pledge, the “New York Declaration on Forests” of 2014, promised hope but ended in disappointment. Some key countries like Brazil, China, and Russia were not signatories of that earlier pact. Brazil holds the planet’s biggest rainforest, and Russia has more than 20% of the world’s trees. Optimists noted that the difference between 2014’s declaration and 2021’s “Global Forest Financing Pledge: Financing the protection, restoration, and sustainable management of forests” is indicated in the title: the key commitment of financing a better future.

Aviva. www.aviva.com

Axa. https://www.axa.com

Rannard, Georgina and Francesca Gillett. “COP26: World leaders promise to end deforestation by 2030.” 2 November 2021. BBC.com. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59088498

United Nations. UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 in partnership with Italy. “The Global Forest Finance Pledge.” 2 November 2021. https://ukcop26.org/the-global-forest-finance-pledge/

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October 25, 2021
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WATER, ENERGY, CITIES: Earthshot Prize

One of the winners of the inaugural Earthshot Prize, The Bahamas, for a program of coral reef restoration. “Coral Reef” by Photographer Jerry Reid, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013. Public Domain. Wikimedia.

October is a time of prizes. Earlier this month, Nobel Prize winners received momentous telephone calls. Now, inaugural winners of the Earthshot Prize received recognition for innovative solutions to the world’s climate crisis. Named after the “Moonshot” launched by President John F. Kennedy to land people on the moon within a decade, the Earthshot campaign will run from 2021 to 2030. Initiated by Prince William, Sir David Attenborough, and The Royal Foundation, the timeframe was described by Prince William as “A decade doesn’t seem long, but humankind has an outstanding record of being able to solve the unsolvable. Many of the answers are already out there,  but we need everyone – from all parts of society – to raise their ambition and unite in repairing our planet.” ((Ryan and Foster 2021)

Image: Earthshot Prize.org

Bahamas: Growing coral on land and then replant in damaged coral reefs;

Costa Rica: Paying residents to protect and restore rainforests, reversing deforestation;

“Costa Rica forest,” by Nakashi, 2007. Wikimedia.

India: Takachar attaches to tractors, reducing emissions by 98%, turning waste into new products. The enterprise started at MIT and creates biochar and other products.

Italy: city of Milan as a food hub to share restaurant and supermarket food with the needy;

Milan, Italy won as a Food Hub City. “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan,” 2017 by C. Messier. Image: wikimedia commons.

Thailand/Italy/Germany: AEM Electrolyser turns water into carbon-free hydrogen.

Earthshot’s five goals for 2030. “Greetings from the Year 2030” by Riesenspatz. Public Domain, wikimedia.

Earthshot’s five goals by 2030: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World, and Fix our Climate. In honor of the Earthshot Prize, Buckingham Palace turned green. The Earthshot prize announcement precedes another event designed to bring green to the UK, and the world. COP26 will soon convene in Glasgow, Scotland to decide the future of climate, energy, and Earth.

AEM Electrolyser. https://www.enapter.com/

Attenborough, Sir David and Prince William of Cambridge, “Announcing the Earthshot Prize.” VIDEO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFbwTRMwBAc

Brooke, Kathleen Lusk and Zoë Quinn. “ENERGY: The Physics of Climate Change.” Building the World Blog, University of Massachusetts Boston. https://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2021/10/05/energy-physics-of-climate-change/

Earthshot Prize. https://earthshotprize.org/

Ryan, Hannah and Max Foster, “Winners of Prince Williams Earthshot environmental prize announced.” 18 October 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/16/uk/prince-william-earthshot-prize-intl-gbr/index.html

Takachar. https://www.takachar.com/

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October 15, 2021
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TRANSPORT: supply chain reaction

The Silk Road was an early transport and supply chain network. Image: “Seidenstrasse GMT” 2005 by Captain Blood, GNU free license, wikimedia commons.

From the Silk Road to the Suez Canal, transporting goods has shaped civilization, stimulated cultural exchange, and truly united the world. Presently, the global supply chain is in the news. Cargo tankers are stalled in ports, dock unloading is stalled by COVID restrictions, trucks are waiting for drivers, warehouses are stuffed with unshipped goods, local stores are limiting purchases and warning shoppers to buy early. All this costs both time and money: McKinsey reports shipping costs are six times higher than in 2019. (Hall 2021)

“Where is shipping heading?” Photo: Fleet 5. by U.S> Navy/PH3 Alta I. Cutler. ID: 020418-N-1587 C-030. Source: United States Navy. Image: wikimedia commons.

While government has stepped in, opening certain ports 24/7; and private enterprise has stepped up, chartering their own ships and diverting them to less congested ports; what will happen after the holiday buying season? Some say it is an opportunity for autonomous transport. Maritime shipping is exploring options. Experiments on inland waterways by the Collaborative Autonomous Shipping Experiment (CASE) in cooperation with Belgium, China, Italy, and the Netherlands, noted that control algorithms should be coordinated. Vessels are usually owned and operated by different parties, and use proprietary systems for control and navigation. Results produced simulation models that may help develop shared systems.

“Will autonomous trucks change the supply chain reaction?” Photo by epsos.de, https://www.flickr.com/photos/36495803@NO5/5591761716. Image: wikimedia commons. CC2.0

When ships are unloaded, trains and trucks take over: autonomous trucking is advancing rapidly. Embark Trucks, and Locomation, join TuSimple, Plus, and Aurora in the race for innovation and investment in autonomous trucking. Advances in trucking will change the supply chain: 68% of all freight comes to you on a truck.

“Supply Chain Network” graphic by David Pogrebeshsky, 2015. Image: wikimedia commons cc4.0

Analysts predict the supply chain will recover by 2022, but will it ever be the same? We hear a lot about self-driving cars, but there is also significant innovation in shipping and trucking. Autonomous transport may cause a supply chain reaction.

Aurora. https://aurora.tech

Efrati, Amir. “Two More Self-Driving-Truck Developers Consider Public Offerings.” 9 June 2021. The Information. https://www.theinformation.com/articles/two-more-self-driving-truck-developers-consider-public-offerings

Embark Trucks. https://embarktrucks.com

Farooque, Faizan. “4 Self-Driving Truck Stocks You Need to Keep an Eye on.”  9 September 2021. NASDAQ.com. https://investorplacecom/2021/09/4-self-driving-truck-stocks-you-need-to-keep-an-eye-on/

Hall, Claire. “Supply Chain Disruptions Create Shortages of Goods Just in Time for the Holidays.” University of Connecticut interview with Professor Tao Lu, Operations and Information Management Systems. 12 October 2021. https://today.uconn.edu/2021/10/supply-chain-disruptions-create-shortages-of-goods-just-in-tme-for-the-holidays/

Haseltalab, Ali, et al., “The Collaborative Autonomous Shipping Experiment (CASE): Motivations, Theory, Infrastructure, and Experimental Challenges. International Ship Control Systems Symposium (ISCSS) 2020, Delft, The Netherlands. For Project: Navigation and Path Planning of Marine Vehicles. DOI:10.24868/issn.2631-8741.2020.014

Inland Waterways International. https://inlandwaterwaysinternational.org

Locomation. https://locomation.ai

Metzger, Joe, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain Operations, Walmart US, “How Walmart is Navigating the Supply Chain to Deliver this Holiday Season.” 8 October 2021. https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2021/10/08/how-walmart-is-navigating-the-supply-chain-to-deliver-this-holiday-season

Plus. https://www.plus.ai

TuSimple. https://www.tusimple.com

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October 5, 2021
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ENERGY: Physics of Climate Change

“Nobel Prize Medal.” Photographer, Jonathunder. Wikimedia commons.

Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann, and Giorgio Parisi “demonstrate that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation,” stated the Nobel Prize Committee, when awarding the Nobel Prize for Physics 2021. Half of the prize went to Parisi for discovery of the “interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atoms to planetary scales,” while Manabe and Hasselmann split the other half. Manabe created one of the first climate models that revealed how carbon emissions warmed the planet, while Hasselmann showed that Manabe’s computer simulations could accurately predict the trends of climate change, even while weekly weather fluctuations were still variable. Parisi won for studies of the results produced when metals like iron or copper are mixed, revealing patterns. Parisi commented, when winning the Nobel Prize, that perhaps the Nobel Committee wanted to send the world a message about climate change: “I think it’s urgent. It’s clear that for the future generations we have to act now in a very fast way.” (Brumfiel 2021). Stefan Rahmstorg, climate modeler, stated “Physics-based climate models made it possible to predict the amount and pace of global warming, including some of the consequences like rising seas, increased extreme rainfall events and stronger hurricanes, decades before they could be observed.” (Keyton and Borenstein, 2021)

“Global warming” NASA 2016. Image: public domain, nasa.gov.

Recent weather proves the scientists right: in 2021, 36% of Americans, and many more worldwide, suffered severe effects of climate change through drought and fires, storms and floods. In a few weeks, the world will convene in Glasgow, Scotland for COP26, sequel to the Paris Agreement (COP21). Now it is time for action. What do you think are the highest priorities for climate?

Brumfiel, Geoff. “The Nobel Prize in physics honors work on climate change and complex systems.” 5 October 2021, NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/2021/10/05/1043278925/nobel-prize-physics-climate-change-winner

Hasselmann, Klaus. “Interview with Klaus Hasselmann” 2009. Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Climate Change. VIDEO https://youtu.be/uSfmKx2ylSc

Keyton, David and Seth Borenstein. “Physics Nobel rewards work on complex systems, like climate.” 5 October 2021. AP.com

Nobel Prize. https://www.nobelprize.org

Manabe, Syukuro and Richard T. Wetherald. “On the Distribution of Climate Change Resulting from an Increase in CO2 Content of the Atmosphere.” January 1980, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Volume 37, pages 99 – 118.

Manabe, Syukuro. “Why this is happening” Interview upon receiving Nobel Prize in Physics 2021.” AUDIO. Telephone call interview with Manabe explaining the work. https://youtu.be/yt246IKVhr4

Parisi, Giorgio. “Statement on receiving Nobel Prize.” 5 October 2021. AUDIO interview. https://youtu.be/GE-qX8mwvuA

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September 24, 2021
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WATER: Vertical Migration

“Every night, the largest biological migration takes place.” Image animation: “Diel Vertical Migration” by NASA, 2018. Public Domain.

Did you know the largest biological migration on Earth takes place – every night? It is called Diel Vertical Migration (DVM). This week, as the United Nations 76th General Assembly convened, leaders of over 100 nations attended in person. Speakers included presidents and policy-makers who addressed 12 commitments. But this year, there was additional representation: Nature. The message is one of growing awareness of the Rights of Nature. From the 1962 General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII) on “Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources” and the 1982 “World Charter for Nature” to the recognition of personhood rights of the Whanganui River of New Zealand in 2017, the rights of nature will grow in importance during climate change.

“Components of the Biological Pump” by Ducklow, Hugh W. et al., 2015. Image: wikimedia commons.

DVM acts as a biological pump, renewing oceans and lakes, in ways essential to the marine environment. Organisms move up to the top at night, and return to the bottom by day. Crustaceans commute; so do trout. In the process, conversion of C02, and inorganic nutrients, transfer zones. This cleansing and renewing system is one of the treasures of the marine cycle. By bringing attention to vertical migration, the United Nations may set the stage for COP 26 in Glasgow, November 2021, where environmental issues will be decided. Displayed on the night-cloaked facade of the United Nations iconic building, the film “Vertical Migration” brought awareness to the largest migration our world knows, and the importance of marine life in a sustainable, balanced future. View “Vertical Migration.”

Cavan, E.L., et al., “The importance of Antarctic krill in biogeochemical cycles.” 18 October 2019. Nature Communications 10, article number 4742 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12668-7.

Ducklow, Hugh W., et al., “Components of the Biological Pump.” https:tos.org/oceanography/article/upper-ocean-carbon-export-and-the-biological-pump.

Hill, M.N. Physical Oceanography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

United Nations. “Policy Brief.” September 2021. http://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/policy-briefs/what-well-be-listening-for-at-unga-76/

United Nations. “Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources.” General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII) https://legal.un.org/avl/pdf/ha/ga_1803_ph_e.pdf

United Nations. “World Charter for Nature.” 1982. UN Document A/37/L.4, and ADD.2. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/39295?LN=EN

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September 16, 2021
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ENERGY: Jobs of the Future

Jobs of the Future will focus on renewable energy. Image: “Energy on the Grid,” by photographer Kenueone, 2016. Public Domain CC0 1.0. Original image: https://pixabay.com/electricity-sun-wind-1330214.

Born after 1996? Or 1981? You are 70% more likely to rate climate change as the top priority for your future (Pew Research Center 2021). Universities are responding, integrating climate and environmental studies into the curriculum. University of Massachusetts Boston founded the School for the Environment, as well as the Sustainable Solutions Lab and Stone Living Lab. MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) founded in 2014 involves design, engineering, humanities, policy, science, social science, and technology. Harvard’s Center for the Environment (HUCE) offers research, policy, science, climate leaders program, and special events like “Literature for a Changing Planet.” University of Southern California inaugurated “Sustainability Across the Curriculum” weaving the environment into majors of  20,000 undergraduates.

“Shift Change at Clinton Engineering Works, Oak Ridge, TN, August 1945,” by Ed Westcott, US Army photographer. Public Domain. Over 82,000 people were employed. Energy jobs will dominate the future.

Upon graduation, a new generation will find the jobs of the future. Throughout history, great undertakings, like the Manhattan Project, Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric, attracted those seeking careers in new energy. Now, a similar surge in energy employment means you can do well by doing good: average pay for climate scientists is $73,230; environmental lawyers earn median salary of $122,960. Not all jobs require traditional degrees: urban farmers earn $71,160. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics/Guardian 2021).

“New Crops: Chicago Urban Farm,” by Linda N. Creative Commons CC 2.0. Wikimedia.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the transition to a global net zero energy system will see renewables like solar and wind power dominate, while bioenergy and carbon capture will develop innovative approaches. There are 400 milestones to guide development, with total annual energy investment of $5 trillion by 2030.

Education + Jobs = Health of the Planet. Graphic by Nevit Dilmen, 2011. Image: creative comons, public domain.

Climate change will cause an era of innovation more comprehensive than we have seen in the history of the world. Every field will be impacted; every field will see innovation. Rachel Larrivee, 23, Boston-based environmental consultant, says it well: “I’m in the first generation who knows the extent to which climate change poses an existential threat to life on Earth, and also the last generation who may be able to do anything about it.” (Lashbrook, 2021.)

International Energy Agency (IEA). “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.” Report May 2021. https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050

Lashbrook, Angela. “‘No point in anything else:’ Gen Z members flock to climate careers. Colleges offer support as young people aim to devote their lives to battling the crisis.” 6 September 2021. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/06/gen-z-climate-chnage-careers-jobs

Pew Research Center, by Alec Tyson, Brian Kennedy, Cary Funk. “Gen Z, Millennials Stand Out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement With Issue.” May 2021. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2021/05/PS_2021.05.26_climate-and-generations_REPORT.pdf

Thanks to Yujin Asai of dotmeta.com for sharing this research.

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September 9, 2021
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WATER: Foreseeing the Future

New Orleans in 1803. Image: “Under My Wings Everything Prospers” by J. L. Bouqueto de Woiseri. 1 January 1803. Public Domain. Image: wikimedia commons.

Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, in August 2021, bringing severe wind and water. New Orleans was watching. After Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, the city built a flood-prevention system of gates, levees, pumps, and walls. Sixteen years later, almost to the day, Ida tested Katrina’s resilient infrastructure. The city emerged relatively unscathed( Hughes, 2021). But just 60 miles away, storm surge toppled the Lafourche Parish levee. Overwhelmed by floods, damaged sanitation and sewage systems threatened public health. The discrepancy between a prepared city and an unprotected town foretells the future of coastal communities in climate change.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused damage that resulted in the building of a storm protection system, tested by Hurricane Ida in 2021. Image: “Hurricane Katrina, 28 August, 2005” from NOAA. Public Domain.

It’s not just flooding. Even though New Orleans avoided Katrina’s flooding in Ida, there were other dire effects. Like power outages. Hundreds of thousands of people remained without electricity a week after the storm. Refrigerators were off, so were air-conditioners: in the 90 degree (F) heat, the situation was dangerous. Those who could escaped to nearby places with electricity for an “evacuation vacation.” Many were not so fortunate.

“Hurricane Ida at Landfall in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, 29 August 2021. Image: weather.gov. Public Domain.

Coastal communities face an uncertain yet certain future. By 2040, providing storm-surge systems like sea walls for American cities with populations greater than 25,000 is estimated to cost $42 billion – that would include New Orleans. But what about Lafourche Parish? Protecting smaller communities and towns would raise the cost to $400 billion. (Flavelle 2021). Protecting against flooding is only part of the problem, however: wind damage to above-ground electrical poles, wires, and transformers is cause for alarm. During Hurricane Ida, 902,000 customers lost power when 22,000 power poles; 26,000 spans of wire, and 5,261 transformers were damaged or lost – more than Katrina, Zeta, and Delta combined (Hauck 2021).

“Map illustrating areas of the Netherlands below sea level.” By Jan Arkestejin. Pubic Domain Image: wikimedia.

Even with abundant funding, infrastructure takes time to build. Storms, however, will not stop. While rebuilding more resilient storm barrier and electrical systems, communities may look to the Protective Dikes and Land Reclamation practices of The Netherlands as a case example of immediate resilient response. The Dike Army (Dycken Waren), composed of residents responding together in times of need, was part of the system. As Louisiana, and other areas significantly damaged by Hurricane Ida, consider how to rebuild, it may be time to call to arms a new kind of Dike Army, perhaps a regional Civilian Climate Conservation Corps (4C), to serve and protect coastal communities and habitats: both terrestrial and marine. Disaster response would be in addition to the goals of the Civilian Climate Corps proposal of the US in January 2021. The 4C’s motto is up for a vote: some want “For Sea” and some like “Foresee.” What’s your vote?

“CCC” pillow from CCC museum in Michigan, USA. Image: public domain.

Flavelle, Christopher. “With More Storms and Rising Seas, Which U.S. Cities Should Be Saved First?” 19 June 2019. The New York Times.

Hauck, Grace. “Week after Hurricane Ida’s landfall, hundreds of thousands still without power.” 5 September 2021. USA TODAY. https://wwwusatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/09/05/hurricane-ida-louisiana-residents-without-power-families-homeless/5740682001/

White House, Biden-Harris. “Civilian Climate Corps.” 27 January 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/27/fact-sheet-president-biden-takes-executive-actions-to-tackle-the-climate-crisis-at-home-and-abroad-create-jobs-and-restore-scientific-integrity-across-federal-government/

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

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