Saturday, February 22, 2014

Climate Change at the Crossroads: Scientists, Skeptics and the Media

Harvard Kennedy School
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian
Naomi Oreskes, Harvard 
Peter Frumhoff, Union of Concerned Scientists

SG:  it's not a debate about climate change or science but about politics.  The right sees climate change regulation as a power grab [really?]. An argument like Israel/Palestine [intractable?  theological? both?]

NO:  the Keeling Curve of atmospheric carbon measurements is engraved on the wall of the National Academy of Science along with Darwin's finches and the double helix.  Keeling started his carbon work in 1957 and thought by the mid-1960s he had enough data to prove global warming.  
Checked 1000 scientific papers on climate change over a decade and found not one paper that disagreed with the existence of anthropogenic climate change.

PF:  we can now connect recent heat waves to climate change.  Local climate change solutions are going forward without the denialists and generally outside the climate change debate. [and those local solutions are mostly at city scale]

NO:  scientists need to include communication to the people in the street as part of their "real work"

Q:  lessons learned from the decades of tobacco disinformation campaign?
Not just one thing and the DoJ's case against Big Tobacco took the lid off their history of bad practice

Q:  quantify the effect of disinformation campaigns?
SG:  certainly a major part of the downfall of Waxman/Markey
PF:  we don't know what the money stream is [dark money from groups like Donors Trust is currently untraceable]
NO:  in the 1990s industry had a study of the effect of their various disinformation campaigns.

Q:  what's the game changer?  where's the tipping point?
SG:  denialists are a fringe group that punches above its weight.
NO:  a RICO case against big fossil fuels, a Nixon goes to China moment from a conservative, people don't know about things like the BC carbon tax and its success

Harvard Gazette article on the symposium and link to the full video of the event

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cows Save the Planet

_Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth:  Unmaking the Deserts, Rethinking Climate Change, Bringing Back biodivesity, and Restoring Nutrients to Our Food_ by Judith D. Schwartz
White River Junction, VT:  Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2013

(xi)  We can deny climate change because to do otherwise would imply that we have to tear the global economy apart, which no one can do;  we can persist in thinking that creeping deserts and melting ice have nothing to do with us because we have failed to think globally and holistically, or understand that the Arctic drives the climate of the world.  We can put our heads in the sand because it's painful to hear that we have enabled a failing civilization.

(2)  Leaving behind our bovine herd for the moment, another way to build soil is through zai pits, a traditional growing method from Burkino Faso in West Africa.  Small holes are dug into a field, and these capture water and old soil organic matter (compost and such), both precious resources in drylands that depend on seasonal rainfall - about a third of the world's landmass.

(3)  In _Dirt:  The Erosion of Civilizations_, geomorphologist David Montgomery offers numerous cautionary tales of kingdoms, cultures, and empires that squandered their soil and found themselves with nothing left to live on.

(5)  According to Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor at the Ohio State University, soil carbon restoration can potentially store about one billion tons of atmospheric carbon per year.  This would offset around 8 to 10 precent of  total annual carbon dioxide emissions and one-third of annual enrichment of atmospheric carbon that would otherwise be left in the air.

Consider also biodiversity, which starts in the soil;  there are as many living organisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil as there are people on the planet.

(6)  Steven Apfelbaum, a restoration ecologist in Wisconsin, says that every 1 percent increase in soil carbon holds an additional sixty thousand gallons of water per acre.  Not only does this limit damage from erosion, but it also keeps water on the land.

(7)  One sweeping and dramatic example is the restoration of the Loess Plateau in China, documented in John D. Liu's film "Hope in a Changing Climate."  Over ten years, an area the size of Belgium along the Yellow River in northwest China was transformed from a near-barren desert plagued by dust storms, considered the most eroded place on earth, to a thriving agricultural region with the poverty rate lowered by half.

(12)  Since about 1850, twice as much atmospheric carbon dioxide has derived from farming practices as from the burning of fossil fuels (the roles crossed around 1970).  In the past 150 years, between 50 and 80 percent of organic carbon in the topsoil has gone airborne.  The antidote to this rapid oxidation is regenerative agriculture:  working the land with the goal of building topsoil, encouraging the growth of deep-rooted plants, and increasing biodiversity.

(15)  According to Christine Jones, soils hold more carbon than the atmosphere and all the world's plant life combined - and can hold it longer, in a more stable form than, say, trees.  She says that a soil carbon improvement of just 0.5 percent in the top twelve inches of 2 percent of Australia's agricultural land would effectively store that country's annual carbon dioxide emissions over the long term.

Here in the United States, Rattan Lal, of Ohio State, has estimated that globally soil carbon restoration can potentially store about one billion tons of atmospheric carbon a year.  This means that the soil could offset about one-third of the human-generated emissions annually absorbed in the atmosphere.

(16)  [Ian Mitchell-Innes, South African rancher and Holistic Management trainer] "If we improve 50 percent of the world's agricultural land, we could sequester enough carbon in the soil to bring atmospheric CO2 back to pre-industrial levels in five years."

Abe [Collins] expresses it this way:  "Worldwide, if the organic matter - which is about 58 percent carbon - in all the land that we currently farm and graze were increased 1.6 percent to a foot in depth, atmospheric CO2 levels would be at pre-industrial levels.  We'll have to do even better than that for many reasons, including if we want to get below three hundred parts per million of CO2, since annual global carbon oxidation exceeds photosynthesis."  He cites Allan Yeomans, author of _Priority One:  Together We Can Beat Global Warming_ and a longtime proponent of an agricultural solution to climate change, as inspiration for his soil carbon advocacy.

(22)  He [Nicholas-Théodore de Saussure] demonstrated that carbon in plants - the basis for plant organic compounds - was obtained from carbon dioxide in the air;  the hydrogen in these compounds came from water….

If we define work mathematically, as force over distance, day in and day out the work of photosynthesis exceeds the total of the world's industry by a factor of nine.
NB:  The sunlight that grows US agriculture is at least three times the annual energy budget of the US.

(26)  Cattle, like all ruminants, emit methane as part of their unique digestive process (from the front end, actually).  According to the EPA, ruminant livestock annually generate about eighty million metric tons of methane, which is approximately 28 percent of the global methane emissions attributed to human-derived activity.

(27)  COs and CH4 have different weights, with a carbon dioxide molecule nearly three times as heavy as a methane molecule.  Rather than comparing the global warming potential of a molecule of carbon dioxide with a molecule of methane, the twenty-five number [methane is 25 times more global warming than CO2] expresses the activity of a kilogram of methane versus a kilogram of carbon dioxide.

Plus, methane in the atmosphere breaks down much more quickly than carbon dioxide;  in the presence of oxygen CH4 turns into CO2 and H2O, or water….

There seems to be little correlation between methane levels and the number of ruminants.  A joint 2008 report from the FAO (the UN's Food and Agiruclture Organization) and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) noted that since 1999 atmospheric methane concentrations have been stable while the population of ruminants worldwide grew at a rapid rate, raising the question of whether livestock play much of a role in the greenhouse gas situation.

(28)  So I contacted Steven Apfelbaum, a world-recognized expert on ecological restoration and the founder and chairman of Applied Ecological Services in Wisconsin...

Historically, the primary origin of biochar is wildfires, he [Steven Apfelbaum] said.  According to Joel S. Levine, a senior research scientist at NASA, about 30 percent of global annual carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to biomass burning.

(30)  Australian soil scientist Christine Jones' website:

(35)  A plant with mycorrhizal connections can transfer up to fifteen times more carbon to soil than a non-mycorrhizal counterpart.

There's another aspect to these root fungi scientists are still learning about:  glomalin, a sticky secretion - it's been called "soil's superglue" - that coats the spindly hyphae.  This glycoprotein (both a carbohydrate and a protein) was only discovered in 1996 by Sarah F. Wright, a soil scientist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (AGS).  Glomalin is significant for two reasons:  It holds carbon, storing it for as long as several decades (a study by microbiologist Kristine A. Nichols of the ARS determined that glomalin represents on average 15 percent of carbon in soils);  and it binds soil particles to create aggregates, which lends soil its tilth - that soft, granular quality you get when you run a handful of good soil through your fingers.  This helps keep soil stable and resistant to erosion while allowing for air and water flow.  As one USDA brochure asks rhetorically, "Does glomalin hold our farm together?"

(37)  How much carbon can be brought into the soil and stored?  According to Jones, "under appropriate conditions, 30 to 40 percent of carbon fixed in green leaves can be transferred to soil and rapidly humidified, resulting in rates of soil carbon sequestration in the order of five to 20 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year."  If we wish to "revitalize all terrestrial life forms, including people," she says, the way to do so is to restore the soil battery.  This means creating the conditions for the liquid carbon pathway to flow uninterrupted in  the soil, giving biology the chance to do its thing.

(44)  "Institutional soil scientists, funded by agrochemical companies, are doing their utmost to prevent this information being accepted because the humification process (and hence the storing of the sun's energy in the soil) does not proceed where there are high levels of chemical inputs," says Jones.  "Once farmers 'get' this, the big end of town (in the ag world, at least) will have nothing to sell.  Farmers will not want to use toxic chemicals because their use results in soil degradation - which is a symptom of the loss of soil energy."

(45)   One tool that reportedly allows for faster soil building is the Keyline plow and design system, originally developed in the 1940s by P. A. Yeomans, a farmer and engineer (and his son Allan Yeomans, who wrote _Priority One_, which inspired Abe Collins).  The chisel-shaped plow decompacts and aerates the subsoil with minimal disturbance;  water can infiltrate and conditions improve for fungi and microorganisms.  With Keyline plowing and planned high-density grazing, Yeomans was reportedly able to produce four inches of humus-rich soil in three years, starting with bare sandy ground.

(47)  Christine Jones:  "Every kilogram of glucose produced via the photosynthesis process represents 16 megajoules of sunlight energy bound in a biochemical form.  If that same amount of light falls onto bare ground rather than onto a green leaf, the energy is radiated back to the atmosphere."

(52)  Drylands - the arid, semi-arid, and sub-humid areas with seasonal, and often unpredictable rains - are complex, delicate ecosystems that though resilient are vulnerable when land and water are not sustainably managed.  Drylands account for 41.3 percent of the world's landmass, including 44 percent of land under cultivation.  Each year upward of twelve million hectares (thirty million acres) of productive land are lost to desertification;  this means an area the size of South Africa is slipping away each decade.

(53)  So intertwined are these three - desertification, climate change, and biodiversity loss - that we can consider them manifestations of the same problem:  The biological cycles underlying life on earth have been thrown out of whack.  We can't hope to make inroads on any one of them without addressing all of them.  However, this is not how it's usually discussed.

(60)  Allan Savory:  "This planning process [Holistic Management] results in the many different factors having a bearing appearing on the chart over the months planned, then allowing the moves of the livestock to be plotted so that the animals are in the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons and with the right behavior."

(61)  So if domestic herbivores can be managed such that their behavior mimics that of their wild counterparts, the grasslands - the African savanna or the U.S. prairies and plains, terrain that represents about 45 percent of all land world-wide - will regain the state of wild land:  healthy, diverse, and resilient…

The animal urine and dung provide fertilizer as well as the impulse to move on, as an animal will not feed where it has dunged.

(63)  The Holistic Management decision-making model can be applied to other processes that benefit from planning, such as governing a town (the mayor of Buena Vista, Colorado, Joel Benson, is a Holistic Management educator and brings this approach to local governance), running a business (see:  Buena Vista Roastery, the café Benson runs with his wife, Laurie), and setting personal life goals.

(65)  Among Savory's contributions to our understanding of desertification is the concept of brittleness.  This term refers to the distribution of humidity throughout the year in an environment.
NB:  brittleness and anti-fragility

(76)  _Water for the Recovery of the Climate:  A New Water Paradigm_ [Kracvik, Pokorny, Kohutiar, Kovac, and Toth 

(78)  "Water enters the plant as dirty water and goes into the air as distilled water.  Plants not only give us oxygen, they also produce for us clean water and function as the perfect air conditioning system."  [Jan Pokorny]  

(79)  Pokorny's applied ecological research nonprofit, Enki, named for the Sumerian "god of fresh water and education, the patron of craftsmen and artists," in addition to research in Africa

(81)  Water has a greater capacity to absorb thermal energy than any other known substance.

(84)  "Regarding sea level rise, people are still thinking of ice melt and not about the loss of water from the landscape, the water that flows from the continents to the sea."  Michal Kravcik

(85-86)  Let me introduce this concept by posing a question that the biotic pump potentially answers:  If precipitation derives from moisture brought to land from the ocean, how does that moisture reach inland areas far away from the ocean?  In other words, why doesn't it only rain on the coast?

Answer:  It's thanks to _forests_.  The high rate of transpiration in wooded areas enriches the atmosphere with water vapor.  When moist air ascends, it cools, and water vapor condenses, producing a partial vacuum where condensation has occurred.  This creates an air pressure gradient, whereby the forest canopy sucks in moist air from the ocean.  This moisture now enters the small water cycle described by the forest and its surrounding region, and brings sustaining rains.  The biotic pump is the mechanism by which moisture is transported across the land.  Forests don't merely grow in wet areas - they create and perpetuate the conditions in which they grow.
NB:  Auroville example

(88)  In the early 1990s, scientist Malin Falkenmark of the Stockholm International Water Institute articulated the distinction between "blue water" and "green water."  Blue water is precipitation that ends up in lakes, rivers, and aquifers, whereas green water is water on land:  soil water.  While we think of rainwater replenishing reservoirs, in fact 65 percent of water that falls as rain becomes green water.

(91)  [Michal Kravcik]  "You can think of the sun as yellow and water as blue.  Together the sun and water make green, which is nature.  This is how we make a green landscape.  We prime the small water cycle:  evaporation takes water up and condensation brings it down.  Every drop of water is key to our recovery."  He alerts me to a favorite quote, from King Parakramabahu the Great of Sri Lanka in the twelfth century:  "Not a single raindrop should be allowed to flow into the sea without first having been used for the benefit of the people."

(92), news from a Native American perspective

(106)  John Kempf, farming consultant in Middlefield, OH, Advancing Eco-Agricuture.  "The company manufactures liquid nutritional blends and micronized (meaning broken down into extremely small particles, to ease assimilation by plants) minerals and micronutrient blends.

(107)  [Kempf]  "The biggest single problem with the agricultural paradigm of the day is the warring mentality.  It's us against nature:  let's kill all these pests.  I'm sorry, nature always bats last.  It will always circumvent the inventiveness of our attempts to play God."

(120)  [Gene Goven]  He's also constantly juggling complexity in new ways.  For example, when he says he manages for diversity he means this on multiple levels, including chronology:  "If I seed a field early this year, I will seed it later next year.  That breaks up the weed cycles.  I'm changing the timing all the time.  It sort of keeps things in chaos.  If I graze one pasture on June 1, I won't come back at the same calendar time for ten years.  The goal is to create the conditions for deeper rooting [of plants], which then creates conditions for building soil."

(121)  …wild flax - the one plant he [Goven] knows of that's found worldwide…

(128)  Tony Lovell from TEDxDubbo:  "If you reduce [soil and plant] biodiversity you reduce biomass [plant cover], which reduces photosynthesis, which reduces carbon uptake and oxygen creation, which disrupts nutrient cycling, which reduces fertility, which reduces infiltration and retention of rainfall, which changes soil moisture, which changes relative humidity, which changes weather, which changes climate."  However, a focus on soil biodiversity gets the cycle running in the other direction…

The soil research that's done, he [Hans Herren, Millennium Institute] says, is mostly on the physical properties - fertilizers, how minerals move in the soil.  That's one thing.  But when it comes to soil biology, we know very little.  And you know why?  Because it's extremely complicated.  Now we have molecular tools with which we can differentiate organisms, and see what role they play in the soil, and what do we do when we mistreat our soils."  He says it's imperative to study the mix of insects, bacteria, and microorganisms in the soil because "the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to regenerate some of this system."

(130)  The sign welcoming visitors to Organic Growers of Fairlie [Scotland] reads:  Promoting Global Worming.

(149)  In spring 2011 he [plant pathologist Don Huber] unintentionally sparked a stir when a letter he'd written privately to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was leaked.  This communication was to alert Vilsack that scientists had come upon a new pathogen associated with plant diseases and reproductive problems (infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths) in cattle, pigs, chickens, and horses and which was found in crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate.  In an interview with Food Democracy Now!, Huber said this previously unidentified organism can kill a fertilized egg in twenty-four to forty-eight hours.  Through his letter, Huber urged Vilsack to pursue more research before GMO alfalfa, the country's main forage crop, is approved and enters the food supply.  Numerous scientists, including Purdue colleagues, refuted Huber's statements and claimed he had jumped the gun by, well, calling for caution.  Meanwhile, the USDA approved GMO alfalfa, which is now sold under Monsanto's Genuity "trait master brand."

…"Let's start by going back to the very basics," he [Huber] says.  "We need to recognize that farming is a management program for a system.  In that management process, sometimes we forget that there are four major components:  the plant, the physical environment of the soil, the very dynamic component of soil microorganisms, and your pests.  When we think we have a silver bullet, we forget the interaction[s] among those four components that are so critical to success - to whether we have a successful crop, a nutritious crop, disease or no disease.  Any time we make changes in agriculture we change the interaction of those four components.  In the same way, one gene operates with all the components.  We can't just look at one gene and say it's only doing one thing.  We don't have enough genes for all the processes that take place."

(156)  A BBC report noted that malnourished people may not absorb the beta-carotene from the rice without a balanced diet that includes the type of traditional foods that commodity crops like hybrid or GM rice put in jeopardy.  It's also been found that to get the benefit from fortified rice, young children would have to consume six pounds of it a day.

(157)  [Hans Herren]  "If you look at crops from before the green revolution, they were nutritious," he says.  "Breeding has raised the starch and water content.  With high-yielding varieties we have increased the crop yield but lowered the nutrition.

(162)  After leaving the firm [J. P. Morgan] in 2001, [John] Fullerton began grappling with questions of economics and sustainability.  He has since formed the Capital Institute, a nonprofit forum on the role of finance in a shift to a more "just, resilient and sustainable" system.

(171)  When people consider the growing potential of a particular environment, they often look to the amount of rain it receives.  Holistic Management emphasizes making effective use of whatever precipitation comes down.  To Brandon [Dalton], this is an inherently optimistic model:  We can't force rain down from the sky but we _can_ take measures to ensure that the rain we get is used well.

(175)  "The thing about cattle is that it scales up nicely.  Grazing management for five hundred cows [is] much the same amount of work as fifteen hundred cows."  [Brandon Dalton]

(183)  The stark fact that appears now, and which wrote itself across the Roman Empire, is that debt and taxation increase as the soil declines.
GT Wrench, _Reconstruction by Way of the Soil_, 1936

(185)  As the late Kenneth Boulding said of his own profession, "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

(186)  Bank of North Dakota, a public bank established nearly a century ago that keeps money in the state, drawing on public wealth to provide credit to citizens and local enterprises

(190)  The high-disturbance soil breaks apart ("not enough glomalin or 'glue,'" says Jay [Fuhrer]) and the water clouds up.

(191)  At least a third of US agricultural land is no-till.

(195)  As for finances, Gabe [Brown, sustainable farmer in North Dakota, Burleigh County Soil Conservation District] says that "it takes an average of twenty-one gallons of diesel fuel to plant, grow, and harvest an acre of corn.  Here we're doing it in five.  If we can save 75 percent of our fossil fuel bills, we're doing well."

(200)  In _The Solutions Journal, ecologist John Todd takes the analogy yet farther and proposes that carbon - specifically the carbon found in the soil - serve as a form of currency:

"Humanity has always been carbon based.  The carbon that supported us through most of history was slow carbon embodied in trees, other plants, and animals.  Since the Industrial Revolution we have shifted to using fast carbon in the form of oil and natural gas.  fast carbon is mainly finite and nonrenewable.  What if we used carbon as a universal currency?  What if people around the world were paid to capture and sequester carbon, particularly in soils?  What if enterprises that emit carbon into the atmosphere, including, for example, coal-fired power plants, had to pay for the right to pollute based upon every ton of carbon they emitted?  A tectonic shift in the way the world conducts its business, from farming to aerospace, might ensue.  Let's continue the conversation.  The stakes are too important not to."

He could have been channeling Christine Jones, who has said:  "Carbon is the currency for most transactions within and between living things."

(202)  In a 2005 talk at The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State titled "The Farm as Natural Habitat," Laura Jackson, Wes Jackson's daughter and professor of biology at the University of Northern Iowa, said:  "In most areas of the Upper Midwest, land in agricultural production is barren dirt for nine months of the year.  Because of our corn/soybean rotation, we're looking at a system of collecting solar energy about three months of the year.  The rest to the time the land has very little cover on it, very little green leafy cover to collect solar energy…"

Jackson included a slide that depicted, via satellite imaging, the "greenness index," or plant cover, over a period of two weeks in June.  She said:  "The maximum amount of solar energy comes to Iowa on or around June 21, and Figure 2 shows that a big chunk of the Corn Belt is virtually bare, brown to yellow, on the same days that solar energy is at its maximum.  What a waste, right?"

(203)  One YouTube clip called "the Stupifyingly Simple Solutions to Preventing Drought and Flooding" (on the "whatifwechange" channel) draws on his  [John D Liu] observations:

"…We need to realize that wealth is not coming from manufactured goods and from commerce.  Wealth is coming from natural ecological function.  If we understand this we can base our monetary systems on ecological function.  And to do conservation of the earth will be to protect wealth.  And to restore degraded areas will be to increase wealth.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Governor Candidates' Forum on Energy

These are rough notes and impressions.  All mistakes and opinions are mine.

Sponsored by Next Step Living
Design Center, Boston MA

Opening statements:
Joe Avellone:  revenue neutral carbon tax like British Columbia, workforce development through community and state colleges and vocational education
Don Berwick:  climate adaptation, wife, Ann Berwick is chair of the state's Department of Public Utilities, son in solar business
Martha Coakley:  no specific plans mentioned but will continue current policies, proud of EPA carbon case
Steve Grossman:  his company started using 100% renewable electricity in 2007 and brought along his subcontractors to do the same, as Treasurer issued green bonds, second entity to do so after World Bank, plans a 1% green budget for state
Juliette Khayyem:  green bank proposal, climate change liaison in gov's office

Berwick:  built a near passivhaus vacation home which now has solar electricity (PV), supports imported hydro (which is probably Hydro Quebec)
Khayyem:  military as a client for renewables
Avellone:  community, state colleges and vocational schools for building a skilled labor force, big corporations to switch to renewables through carbon tax
Q:  funds for retrofitting old buildings and infrastructure?
Khayyem:  brownfields and infrastructure concentration needed

More at

Sunday, February 9, 2014

China's Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Various Scales and Perspectives

Haikun Wang, Nanjing University

Satellite data show CO2 emissions have been underestimated
80% of greenhouse gases are attributable to cities worldwide
China's emissions are mostly from industrial energy consumption and processes
2000-2009 more than half the provinces emitted 10% more with Inner Mongolia growing to 17%, although the growth rate slowed after 2007
72% of emissions from industrial energy, 11% from industrial process (cement, glass)
Summer shows more than 25% releases of annual CO2 in most provinces except for those with a large proportion of hydropower
Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) collects emission data for over 60,000 power plants around the world but may not be accurate as to emissions and plant placement
Manufacturing accounts for over 80% of emissions in 2007 and emissions are mainly from the eastern  coastal provinces.
Per capita urban individual emissions are far below world averages

A Different Way to Look at the Carbon Emission in China

Zhu Liu

China produces half the world's steel, cement, and glass
Their carbon emissions surged around 2000, with China contributing now 80% of the growth in carbon emissions and already using more water than its own reserves
China's energy intensity is low, lower than India's, and thus has many opportunities for greater energy efficiency and has been achieving their energy intensity targets in their five year plans, mostly by closing small coal plants and factories and building large scale plants and factories with higher coal energy efficiency than US
However they do not have total carbon emissions controls, gauge enviro and health impacts, and no potential for future efficiency through the method of closing small and building large
Now looking at carbon footprint throughout the supply chain
Great growth in cross-boundary emissions (importation of energy beyond city or regional borders) and in transportation since 1997.  Production has moved to poorer regions while their consumption of goods and services has not matched the growth in the more developed regions.  This is also happening between China and the world but their emissions and air pollution are also an export which affects people beyond the Chinese borders.
Construction is about half of all Chinese carbon emissions, with the vast majority in indirect emissions through the production of metal, non metal, chemical, power and transportation production.
Chinese average per capita carbon footprint is only a little larger than the global average, with the richest Chinese having a footprint approaching that of the UK or Germany and higher than the Japanese average.
China's reduction of emissions to reach the 2 degree or less temperature increase will be larger than all the rest of the world.
The growth in transportation is mostly attributable to the shift from bicycles to cars
Q:  infrastructural limit to cars?
Regulation and trade offs
Q:  black carbon?
Cooling effects of carbon have to be taken into consideration
Q:  Chinese public attitude and action on climate change?
Increasing awareness and concern around sustainability and environment.  Carbon footprint labeling may be a future possibility.
Q:  realistic emissions reductions?
Already achieved the promised 45% energy intensity reduction pledged for 2020 and 15% renewables by 2020.
Q:  regional consumption differences?
Shanghai to Inner Mongolia is a range of 30-50x 
If China used US production methods it would result in 10% decrease in emissions
Wind could address all of China's needs according to one study.  Wind produces about a third of the power in Mongolia while many turbines are not connected to the grid
Q:  carbon intensity as a measure?
Included in the 2005-2010 five year plan as well as energy intensity
Q:  carbon trading?
Now covers 15% of the emissions and will soon be the largest carbon trading market in the world

Friday, February 7, 2014


_Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability_ by John R Ehrenfeld and Andrew J Hoffman
Stanford CA:  Stanford Univ Press, 2013
ISBN 978-0-8047-8667-6

(ix)  For John, sustainability is not about windmills, hybrid cars, and green cleaners;  it is about the way we live.  It is about living authentically;  it is about our relationships with nature, with each other, and with ourselves.

(2)  According to the UN, the richest 20 percent of the world's population consume over 75 percent of all private goods and services, while the poorest 20 percent consume just 1.5 percent.

(4)  In his [Ehrenfeld's] words, "If we learn to make a product or service more sustainable, all we've probably done is figured out how to make the wrong thing last for a longer time. What we need to learn is to make not just any thing, but the right thing, and make it to last for as long as possible."  To him, most of our efforts to address sustainability are focused on reducing unsustainability, which is not the same as creating sustainability.

(7)  So, John defines sustainability as "the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on the Earth forever"…  As a result, John does not refer to sustainability per se;  he refers to _sustainability-as-flourishing_.  This modified term adds a culturally meaningful end to our act of sustaining;  we strive for a context in which all life can flourish.

(8)  Humberto Maturana, the Chilean biologist and philosopher, claims that love is a basic emotion that determines how humans relate to themselves, others, and the world.  The primary feature of love is acceptance of the existence of everything and everybody in the world on their own terms.  Love in this way shows up in the world as care.  When we love the world, we take care of it, not merely use it.

(21)  Increasing numbers of experiments and surveys show that, when asked, people say they are not happy.  There are visible signs of breakdown.  Almost every social indicator of happiness or well-being has been on the decline for years.

(22)  It's [flourishing] the positive image of a world that's working for both humans and everything else.  That is critical.

(31)  The traditional concept of poverty is limited and restricted, since it refers exclusively to the economic predicaments of people who live below a certain income threshold.  Instead, we should speak not of poverty, but of poverties in the manner of the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef, who points out that any fundamental human domain of care that lacks adequate resources reveals a kind of poverty.

(39)  Technology is always a symptomatic solution.  It's always dealing with making some outcome different or better or worse.

(49)  If you look at the semantics of the phrase "corporate sustainability," it means a condition in which the corporation prospers for a long time.  I don't think this is what it was meant to refer to, but there it is.

(54)  Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and Peter Drucker have all said that customer satisfaction is the purpose of production and the overall economy.  

(60)  First of all, sustainability is a systems property.  You don't measure sustainability;  it's only a possibility.  You strive to attain it, to bring it forth.  It's either present in the system or it's not.  So no single company is going to be able to measure - which is what  a metric does - their specific contribution to sustainability.   What's important is whether they are promoting a culture of flourishing or not.  Are they structuring their company to promote fairness, wellness, equality, ecosystem health, and community cohesion?  It is only these kinds of measures that would indicate, and only indicate, that a company is working toward, rather than against, sustainability.

(63)  Anger is not an emotion that I find very effective.  More accurately, you can talk about my being indignant and sad.  Most companies are doing things that are beneath our dignity.  They are perilously and unconsciously destroying my world and everybody else's.  I can be deeply, profoundly disappointed with or sad about what I see going on, but I hesitate to say I'm angry.

(67)  More and more businesses are adding sustainability to their strategy for survival in the market.  But very few of these businesses have yet to understand the full and complex nature of sustainability and the need to shift our cultural models away from consumption and toward caring relationships as a means to achieve satisfaction.

(70)  The planet doesn't care which continent produces the stresses that are threatening it.  So the real question about whether our consumption-based economy is changing is whether the cultural roots of our society have changed globally.  We need a different story to explain how we operate in the world.

(83)  To be truly authentic, to realize the potential of flourishing, we need [note] a shift from a view of ourselves first from one of _Having_ to one of _Being_, and second form one of _Needing_ to one of _Caring_.

(88)  Love is not a something, but a way of acting that accepts the Being of all others as legitimate…

Chilean biologist and philosopher Humberto Maturana - someone who has had a large influence on my thinking - writes that we are fundamentally loving animals that have become separated from this basic way of accepting and interacting with the world by the forces of modern cultures.

(90)  Andrew Hoffman:  Are they [audiences] puzzled by your use of philosophical models and language to reframe sustainability around cultural change?

John Ehrenfeld:  Yes.  I'm still puzzled.  Why shouldn't they be? [laughter]
NB:  Puzzlement is uncertainty.  Uncertainty is good.  Heidigger's valley of discomfort [page 95]

(92)  Satisfaction comes not from some inner feeling, but from an assessment that what you care about is being addressed.  Satisfaction occurs in the world, not in one's body.

(93)  …the more emergent notions of leadership - like systems thinker Otto Scharmer's _Theory U_ - are completely consistent with a more reflective type of leadership.  Scharmer say that if somebody can quiet their mind, and touch their whole and authentic self, they're capable of leadership.  The tie between that kind of leadership as a way to reach sustainability-as-flourishing is self-evident to me.

(95)  AH:  You describe this sort of valley of discomfort that one has to go through, in order to become authentic.  Can you talk more about this?

JE:  That's a direct connection to my readings of Martin Heidegger, who says that authenticity springs form anxiety in the face of death.  He says that only when we accept the notion of loss or death can we make free choices.  He calls that authentic living.  Others who have followed Heidegger have argued that it's not just death, but it's the loss of identity as you shift from one domain to another.
NB:  The ordeal of change

(102)  The first important component is that the complex Earth system cannot be reduced to a set of analytic rules that both explain and predict its behavior.  Future behavior cannot be related to the present and past states of the system with any real certainty using the scientific method alone….

Chaotic situations remain chaotic until something perturbs the system and creates order, but we cannot tell in advance what the ordered system will look like.

A second important component is that the model of learning and knowledge necessary to understand sustainability in a complex system contradicts the conventional Cartesian model of cognition…

Complexity is amenable to some analysis;  it's possible to understand the basic rules that bring order to a flock of birds, but not to map the actual behavior at any instant….

A third important component is that we must replace the apparent certainty of technocratic designs with adaptive and resilient systems build on understanding that is gained by experience.  We are not Cartesian beings with a mind separate from the body for taking in and representing the world.  We learn through experiencing the world via the actions we engage in.  Humberto Maturana writes, "Learning is doing;  doing is learning"…

(103)  We have lost a great deal of our capacity to see the world in authentic and personal terms.  We see it instead through the myths of our modern culture.
NB:  Which are?

By developing an experiential viewpoint from which to understand our world, we find the truth in practice through a continuing inquiry process, and apply it to underpin and explain our successful actions.  Truth is then manifest in outcomes that work as desired.
NB:  Truth in practice

(105)  AH:  ..._Death of Nature_ by ecofeminist philosopher Carolyn Merchant.  She describes our view prior to the Enlightenment as one in which nature was the benevolent mother of all things.
NB:  Not so sure about that benevolent part

(107)  Sustainability-as-flourishing could come much faster if we moderns would put spirituality back into the place it belongs and deserves.

(109)  Pragmatism is a way of learning from past experience and also from the experience of present actions.  Finding the pragmatic truth relies on a continuous inquiry or experiment by a community of learners that ends only when the theory developed to explain the latest results successfully explains what is happening and, then and only then, is deemed to be "true."  But such truths are always contingent on and subject to being overruled by future experience.

(111)  Pragmatic thinking and acting could and would, in my opinion, open up  the possibility of flourishing, and put us on a path toward sustainability.  But we would have to kick the habit of framing everything through the lens of objective reality and the scientific method….

AH:  We can't theorize about the whole world system around us.  We have to get involved, engage, and get our hands dirty.  We have to experience nature in order to understand and care for it.  We can't just live in a totally man-made environment and read about it and theorize it.

(112)  AH:  …psychologist Karl Weick's work in which he says, "We enact the world we live in."

(119)  The right question is, "Am I hopeful?"  The answer is an absolute yes!  Playwright and first president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel said, "Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism.  It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."

(121)  To change how we consume, we must return relationship to the marketplace.

(123)  Common Threads is an exchange set up by Patagonia to encourage people to buy used Patagonia stuff on eBay before going to the store to buy it new.  This represents a new story, a new way of thinking, one that has business school professors scratching their heads and looking for some market-based, utilitarian rationality to explain.
NB:  LLBean and Craftsman's lifetime guarantee, "products in service"

(126)  JE:  In fact, American poet William Stanley Merwin even goes so far as to say that you can be both hopeful and pessimistic at the same time, adding, "You make a decision to be hopeful.  When you're in a lifeboat, that's not he time for your worst behavior, but for your best."

AH:  Oberlin College environmental studies professor David Orr says, "Optimism is the recognition that the odds are in your favor:  hope is the faith that things will work out whatever the odds.  Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up."

(127)  We're at 150 percent of the global carrying capacity.

(127-128)  Sustainability, as I talk about it, rests on a shift in our consciousness about who we are and a consequent realization that wealth is not the be-all and end-all.  What matters is who we are as human beings.  We don't need all the trappings of modernity to recover our humanness.  A shift in our fundamental way of thinking about the world;  how we govern, respect, and become a part of it is distinctly possible, as is any mind-set shift.  I am hopeful that we can make it, and continue to enjoy life on this planet.

(130)  [JE lives in Lexington]  We cannot flourish as isolated individuals:  we only can flourish through our connectedness to the world.

(132)  I have been involved for a year with a group at the Weatherhead Business School at Case Western Reserve on a project thinking about the role of spirituality in business and business schools.

(135)  Everyone must ask himself or herself, "What gives you the authentic and most lasting sense of well-being and fullness in your life?"  I'm convinced that when young people ask themselves that question, they will always come down to how they care for people, and how they care of the world.  So my advice would be to start there;  truly start there.

(137)  M Sandel _What Money Can't Buy:  The Moral Limits of Markets_  NY:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012

(138)  K Lewin _Resolving Social Conflicts_ NY:  Harper and Row, 1948
CO Scharmer _Theory U:  Leading from the Future as It Emerges_ SF:  Berrett-Koehler, 2009

(140)  T Jackson _Prosperity Without Growth:  Economics for a Finite Planet_ Oxford, UK:  Routledge, 2011
MA Max-Neef _Human Scale Development:  Conception, Application and Further Reflections_  Lanham, MD:  Apex, 1989

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Restructuring Roundtable: Solar in CA and MA

Nick Chaset, advisor to Gov Brown
Cap and trade is only economy-wide system
1.5 zero emission vehicles
3000 mW of solar, half utility and half rooftop, rooftop half residential
With San Onofre nuke offline, 11% rise in ghgs
Net metering cap now at 5GW with no cap by 2017
Solar Initiative three years ahead of schedule and post-incentive now
Over 200,000 solar systems installed, over 20,000 jobs in solar
Net metering 2.0 will probably require smart inverters for voltage regulation
More energy storage with rooftop PV - 1000MW of storage by 2020
50% by 2030 and 70% by 2050 for ghgs goals
Q:  Japanese required solar for all new construction.
New home construction languished but there is a program and requirement for solar-ready in new construction
2016-2018 for grid storage, $300 per kW price point
No increase in rates or reliability issues as RPS has expanded 

Mark Sylvia, MA DOER
361 MW in MA with a goal of 1600MW by 2020
PV prices dropped 28% in 2012, second largest drop in nation:  346 cities and towns have solar out of 351;  120 municipalities have solar on their facilities;  1800 renewables firms with over 21,000 jobs, 60% in solar sector

Sen Ben Downing, chair of telecom, utilities, and energy committee

Ron Geratowski, National Grid 

Carrie Cullen-Hitt, SEIA
10 mW of solar in US
Have hit net metering cap on public side and stalling presently