Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Drawdown:  The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming edited by Paul Hawken
NY:  Penguin Books, 2017
ISBN 9780143130444

(ix)  We can never survive in the long-term by despoiling nature;  we have literally reached the ends of the earth. - Tom Steyer

(x)  In conducting our research, we found a plan, a blueprint that already exists in the world in the form of humanity’s collective wisdom, made manifest in applied, hands-on practices and technologies that are commonly available, economically viable and scientifically valid.  Individual farmers, communities, cities, companies, and governments have shown that they care about this planet, its people, and its places.   Engaged citizens the world over are doing something extraordinary.  This is their story.

… Almost all of the solutions compiled and analyzed here lead to regenerative economic outcomes that create security, produce jobs, improve health, save money, facilitate mobility, eliminate hunger, prevent pollution, restore soil, clean rivers, and more.  That these are substantive solutions does not mean that they are all the best ones.  There are a small handful of entries in this book whose spillover effects are clearly detrimental to human and planetary health, and we try to make that clear in our descriptions.  The overwhelming majority, however, are no-regrets solution, initiatives we would want to achieve regardless of their ultimate impact on emissions and climate, as they are practices that benefit society and the evnironment in multiple ways.

(xi)  The buildup of greenhouse gases we experience today occurred in the absence of human understanding, our ancestors were innocent of the damage they were doing.  That can tempt us to believe that global warming is something that is happening _to_ us- that we are victims of a fate that was determined by actions that precede us.  If we change the preposition, and consider that globql warming is happening _for_ us - an atmospheric transformation that inspires us to change and reimagine everything we make and do - we begin to live in a different world.  We take 100 percent responsibiity and stop blaming others.  We see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius.  This is not a liberal agenda, nor is it a conservative one.   This is the human agenda.

(xiii)  Yet, terms such as “combat,” “battle,” and “crusade” imply that climate change is the enemy and it needs to be slain.  Climate is a function of biological activity on earth, and physics and chemistry in the sky.  It is the prevalent weather conditions over time.  Climate changes because it always has and will, and variations of climate produce everything from seasons to evolution.  The goal is to come into alignment with the impact we are having on climate by addressing the human causes of global warming and bringing carbon back home….

The only goal that makes sense for humanity is to reverse gobal warming, and if parents, scientists, young people, leaders, and we citizens do not name the goal, there is little chance it will be achieved….

What we measure and model in _Drawdown_ is how to begin the reduction of greenhouse gasees in order to reverse global warming. - Paul Hawken

(xiv)  Even taking a conservative approach, however, the solutions tend to offer an overwhelming net savings.

(3)  The International Monetary Fund estimtes that the fossil fuel industry received more than $5.3 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies in 2015;  that is $10 milion a minute, or about 6.5 percent of global GDP.  Indirect fossil fuel subsidies include health costs due to air pollution, environmental damage, congestion, and global warming - none of which are factors with wind turbines.  In comparison, the U. S. wind-energy industry has received $12.3 billion in direct subsidies since 2000.

(4)  Wind power uses 98 to 99 percent less water than fossil fuel-generated electricity.  Coal, gas, and nuclear power require massive amounts of water for cooling, withdrawing more water than agriculture -  22 trillion to 62 trillion gallons per year….

Bottlenecks in the grid caused 4,100 gigawatt-hours of wind electricity to be wasted in 2015 - enough to power 1.2 million houses.

(7)  According to the Geothermal Energy Associaiton, 39 countries could supply 100 percent of their electricity needs from geothermal energy, yet only 6 to 7 percent of the world’s potential goethermal power has been tapped.

(10)  While society grapples with electricity’s pollution in some places and its absence in others, the mysterious waves and particles of the sun’s light continuously strike the surface of the planet with an energy more than ten thousand times the world’s total use.
NB:  daily, monthly, annually?

(11)  [Photo] The first solar array by Charles Fritts in 1884 in New York City.  Fritts built the first solar panels in 1881, reporting that the current was “continuous, constant and of considerable force not only by exposure to sunlight but also to dim, diffused daylight, and even to lamplight.”
NB:  He used selenium

(15)  Indeed, heat can be stored twenty to one hundred times more cheaply than electricity.

(19)  What makes the future of nuclear energy difficult to predict is its cost.  While the cost of virtually every other form of energy had gone down over time, a nuclear power plant’s is four to eight times higher than it was four decades ago.  According to the U. S. Department of Energy, advanced nuclear is the most expensive form of energy besides conventional gas turbines, which are comparatively inefficient.  Onshore wind is a quarter of the cost of nuclear power.

(21)  Nuclear power is a regrets solution, and regrets have already occurred at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Rocky Flats, Kyshtym, Browns Ferry, Idaho Falls, Mihama, Bohunice, and Church Rock.

(29)  Waste-to-energy can impede emergence of something better:  zero-waste practices that eliminate the need for landfills and incinerators altogether.  If this sounds starry-eyed of impractical, know that ten large corporations have committed to zero waste to landfill, including Interface, Subaru, Toyota, and Google.

Rossano Ercolini of Lucca, Italy, is one of the leaders of the Zero Waste Interational Alliance.  The teacher was galvanized to action when a proposed incinerator was to be built near his school.  He successfully stopped that one, and didn’t pause there.  Through his effects to promote recycling and waste reduction, 117 other Italian municiaplities have shut down their waste-to-energy plants  and committed to zero waste.  That is a true solution, with nothing to regret.

(39)  The most conservative estimates suggest that raising livestock accounts for nearly 15 percent of global greenhouse gases emitted each year;  the most comprehensive asessments of direct and indirect emissions say more than 50 percent….

If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases….

A groundbreaking 2016 study from the University of Oxford modeled the climate, health, and economic benefits of a worldwide transition to plant-based diets between now and 2050.  Business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet (which includes cheese, milk, and eggs).  The model also calculates a reduction in global mortality of 6 to 10 percent.  The potential health impact on millions of lives translates into trillions of dollars in savings:  $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity, and upwards of $30 trillion when accounting for the value of lives lost.  In other words, dietary shifts could be worth as much as 13 percent of worldwide gross domestic product in 2050.  And that does not begin to include avoided impacts of global warming.

(41)  According to Professor Rattan Lal of the Ohio State University, the world’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stock, which combines with oxygen in the air to become carbon dioxide.

… Lal estimates that depleted farmland soils could reabsorb 88 billion to 110 billion tons of carbon, all the while enhancing tilth, fertility, bodiversity, and the water cycle.

The default mode of all land is regeneration.  That can be a slow process, but in the hands of skilled practitioners, the economic, soical and ecological benefits of farmland restoration can be greatly accelerated.

(42)  Yet a third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork.  That number is startling, especially when paired with this one:  Hunger is a condition of life for nearly 800 million people worldwide.  And this one:  The food we waste contributes 4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere each year - roughly 8 percent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.  Ranked with countries, food would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, just behind the United States and Canada.  
NB:  Same as meat

(43)  … where food waste is greatest:  the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, industrialized Asia, and Europe.
NB:  highest standard of living/highest waste

(44)  The harm caused by cooking with these solid fuels extends beyond homes and families to the earth’s climate.  Traditional cooking practices comprise 2 to 5 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide….

Some researchers point to black carbon as the second-largest driver of climate change, after carbon dioxide.
NB:  Black carbon is, if memory serves, a short lived in the atmosphere.

(46)  Ernst Gotsch, one of the world’s leading experts in agroforestry - Fazena de Toca of Brazil as an example

(48)  Rice provides a full one-fifth of calories consumed worldwide, more than wheat or corn, and is the essential staple in the daily diet of 3 billion people, many of them poor and food insecure….

It “was discovered by accident.”  That is how French Jeusit priest and agronomist Henri de LaulaniĆ© described the origins of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a key approach to improve rice production, which he and smallholder farmers developed on Madagascar in the 1980s.

(50)  Cattle and other ruminants require 30 to 45 percent of the world’s arable land and produce roughly one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, depending on specifics of analysis…

Pastures that are strewn or crisscrossed with trees sequester five to ten times as much carbon as those of the same size that are treeless.  Moreover, because the livestock yield on a silvopasture plot is higher (as explored below), it may curtail the need for additional pasture space and thus help avoid deforestation and subsequent carbon emissions.

(53)  …the typical calorie of food energy in your diet now requires about 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce.

….Well, during World War II, victory gardens supplied as much as 40 percent of the produce Americans ate.
NB:  The Victory Garden program began in 1942 and ended after 1945.  Within three years, it produced a third or more of the produce Americans ate.  If we did that in three years, imagine what we could do as a permanent, growing institution using modern technology.  I archive City Agriculture developments at http://cityag.blogspot.com

(54)  As you will see from data at the back of this book, no other mechanism known to humankind is as effective in addressing global warming as capturing carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis.

(55)  Every percent of carbon in the soil represents 8.5 tons per acre.  That growth adds up to 25 to 60 tons of carbon per acre….

Evidence points to a new wisdom:  The world cannot be fed unless the soil is fed.  Feeding the soil reduces carbon in the atmosphere.

(56)  Effective nutrient management is summarized by the four Rs:  right souce, right time, right place, and right rate.

(57)  Groups such as the American Carbon Registry have been working with researchers to develop a carbon-offset methodology focused on fertilizer rate reductions that would allow farmers to partiicpate in project that would ultimately provide them with payments for the carbon offset market….

Nutrient management is unique among the land-use solutions in this book, in that it is primarily about avoided emissions and not about carbon sequestration.  As such, the climate benefits of nutrient management are more continous and not at risk of saturation;  reduction in fertilizer use leads to avoided emissions  in perpetuity.  Additionally, implementaiton of this solution is extremly simple, as it only requires farmers to moderatley reduce their inputs and not undertake a drastically new practice or install a new technology.

(60)  Conservation agriculture adheres to three core principles: minimize soil disturbance, maintain soil cover, and manage crop rotation….

Conservation agriculture differs from regenerative practices in its use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Annual crops, those that are replanted each year, are grown on 89 percent of the world’s cropland.  Conservation agriculture is practiced on 10 percent of those 3 billion acres.

(62)  A quarter of anthropogenic global warming may be due to methane gas alone.

(65)  [Biochar] Studies show an average crop yield increase of 15 percent, with the greatest impact on soils that are acidic and degraded - the soils often found in areas struggling with food insecurity.

(73)  …pastures make up 70 percent of the world’s agricultural land

(76)  On average, women make up 43 percent of the agricultural labor force and produce 60 to 80 percent of food crops in poorer parts of the world.  Often unpaid or low-paid laborers, they cultivate field and tree crops, tend livestock, and grow home gardens.

(79)  After being silent on the topic of family planning for more than twenty-five years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included access to reproductive health services in its 2014 synthesis report and pointed to population growth as an important factor in greehohouse gas concentrations.

(81)  “The difference between a woman with no years of schooling and with 12 years of schooling is almost four to five children per woman.  And it is precisely in those areas of the world where girls are having the hardest time getting educated that population growth is the fastest….

A 2010 economic study shows that investment in educating girls is "highly cost-competitive with almost all of the existing options for carbon emissions abatement” - perhaps just $10 per ton of carbon dioxide.

(82)  A 2013 study found that educating girls “is the single most imoportant social and economic factor associated with a reduction in vulnerability to natural disasters.”  _The simgle most important._

(84)  The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has created a plan for all buildings to be net zero by 2040.  California is proposing to revise its building code to mandate all new residential be net zero by 2020 - followed by all new commercial building construciton by 2030.  There is now a Walgreens drugstore in Chicago that is a net zero building.  Newer net zero building push the margins further:  zero water and zero waste.  They harvest rainwater and process sewage on-site into compostable forms.
NB:  I archive Zero Net Energy developments at http://solarray.blogspot.com

(85)  Projected U. S. building sector energy consumption in 2030 has declined for eleven successive years since the [2030] challenge was issued, a reduction of 18.5 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs), the equivalent of 1,209 coal-fired 250-megawatt power plants.

The Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center - net zero building in Basalt CO used Integrated Project Delivery software and model and addressed the six factors that affect human comfort, which are air temperature, wind speed, humidity, clothing level, activity level, and the temperature of the surrounding surfaces.

(87)  The six dimensions of the built environment - demand, density, design, destination, distance, and diversity - are all key drivers of walkability.

(91)  Recent studies have shown that the capacity of cool roofs to relieve the urban heat island effect is more pronounced during heat waves, when heat islands are particularly intense, sometimes deadly.  The growth of cities continues, so making them cleaner, more livable, and better for well-being is essential….

Cool roofs can create glare for their neighbors, and their impact depends on local climate.  Hotter places benefit more from their cooling effect, while suffering less from their reduced heat retention in cold months.

(93)  Solar-LED products, on the other hand, pay for themselves within a year of purchase….

So hardwired into human life is lighting, it accounts for 15 percent of global electricity use - more than that generated by all nuclear plants worldwide.

(95)  One technology stands out from the rest:  Heat pumps could  address the world’s heating and cooling needs and eliminate almost all emissions if powered by renewable energy….

According to the International Energy Agency, a 30 percent penetration of the building sector by appropriate heat pumps could reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent….

Current adaptation is low at .02 percent of the market, but we esitmate rapdi growth as costs continue to decrease by up to 25 percent by 2050.

(102)  In the United States, buildings’ energy consumption is more than 40 percent of the nation’s total.

(103)  Because old buildings are replaced by new at a rate of 1 to 3 percent per year, most of the existing building stock will still be here fifteen to twenty years from now.

… Retrofitted buildings have higher occupancy rates.

Tenants want healthy green spaces and will pay more for them in most cities today.  Studies show people to be more creative, productive, and happy in well-designed green workplaces, and employers find it easier to recruit and retain talent….

The Rocky Mountain Institute is piloting a more industrialized strategy in Chicago:  Limit the scope of retrofitting to a set of highly effective, broadly applicable measures;  pursue additional measures on the basis of impeccable analysis;  and undertake multiple buildings simultaneously to gain economies of scale.  Early results show it can reduce retrofit costs by more than 30 percent and achieve payback within four years.
NB:  Swiss, Dutch, and Belgians also doing work on systemic deep energy retrofit

(105)  The issue of water loss exists around the world.  In the United States, an estimated one-sixth of distributed water escapes the system.

(106)  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, buildings are responsible for roughly one-third of global energy use and one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.  

(109)  Research shows that once an intact primary forest begins to be cut, even under sustainable forest-management systems, it leads to biological degration.

(110)  Carbon emissions from deforestation and associated land use change are estimated to be 10-15 percent of the world’s total.  In gigatons, these emissions dropped by 25 percent from 2001 to 2015, but deforestation rates may climb again in order for food production to increase by 2050...

The most prominent pay-for-performance program is the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, in operation since 2008.   Another is the New York Declaration on Forests, endorsed by forty countries and nearly sixty multinational coporations among others.

(111)  Norway’s lead in financing forest protection [with Brazil] is a model of what could be done.

(112)  Absorbed over centuries, maybe millennia, this “blue carbon” - so called because of its seaside location - coastal wetlands can store five times as much carbon as tropical forests over the long term, mostly in deep wetland soils.

(114)  Tropical forest loss alone is responsible for 16 to 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

(115)  It [Monteverde Cloud Forest  Reserve] was named by Quaker farmers who moved from Alabama to Costa Rica to avoid being drafted for the Korean War.

(117)  Addressing global warming is another way it could be put to use;  bamboo rapidly sequesters carbon in biomass and soil, taking it out of the air faster than almost any other plant, and can thrive on inhospitable degraded lands.  Some species, in the right environment, are capable of sequestering seventy-five to three hundred tons of carbon per acre over a lifetime….

Because bamboo is a grass, it contains minute silica structures called plant stones, or phytoliths.  Composed of minerals, phytoliths resist degradation longer than other plant material.  The carbon they store can remain sequestered in the soil for hundreds or thousands of years.  The combination of phytoliths and bamboo’s rapid growth rate make it a prolific means to sequester carbon.  The carbon impact of bamboo is even greater, due to its ability to replace high-emissions materials such as cotton, plastics, steel, aluminum, and concrete,  As a replacement for pulp used for paper, bamboo can produce six times as much pulp as a conventional pine plantation.

(121)  The United States leads the world in the production of liquid biofuels.  Forty percent of the corn grown nationally becomes ethanol.  Huge subsidies go into this annual crop, often for little or no benefit to the climate because energy inputs are so high.

(122)  Today, though these unique ecosystems [peatlands] cover just 3 percent of the earth’s land area, they are second only to oceans in the amount of carbon they store - twice that held by the world’s forests, at an estimated five hundred to six hundred gigatons.  Though forests have gotten more attention in recent decades, society is waking up to the invaluable role of peatlands as a carbon storehouse… so long as they stay wet.
NB:  artificial peatlands as carbon sink and “blue carbon” adaptations for coastal cities and towns

… Drained peatlands make up 0.3 percent of the world’s land area, yet they produce 5 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions caused by human beings.

(128)  Rising biomass density and overall increase in area mean these ecosystems absorb roughly 0.8 gigtons of carbon each year.  There is an opportunity for more sequestration  through restoration.  According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), more than 1.4 billion additional acres are candidates for restoration - either large-scale, closed forest or mixed mosaics of forests, more sparsely growing trees, and land uses such as agriculture.

(129)  From the 1990s to 2000s, the carbon sink provided by U. S. forestland rose 33 percent.

(132)   The most successful afforestation projects are those that plant native trees.  Replanting, however, can take a variety of forms - from seeding dense plots of diverse indigenous species to introducing a single exotic as a plantation crop, such as the fast-growing Monterey pine, the most widely planted tree in the world.

(134)  The Miyawaki method calls for dozens of native tree species and other indigenous flora to be planted close together, often on degraded land devoid of organic matter.  As these saplings grow, natural selection plays out and a richly biodiverse, resilient forest results.  Miyawaki’s forests are completely self-sustaining after the first two years, when weeding and watering are required, and mature in just ten to twenty years - rather than the centuries nature requires to regrow a forest.  In the same amount of space, they are one hundred times more biodiverse and thirty times denser than a conventional platnation, while sequestering more carbon.  They provide beauty, habitat, food, and tsunami protection….

Inspired by Miyawaki’s approach and drawing on Toyota’s assembly line process, entrepreneur Shubhendu Sharma’s company afforest is developing an open-source methodology to enable anyone to create forest ecosystems on any patch of land.  In an area the size of six parking space, a three-hundred-acre forest can come to life - for the cost of an iPhone.

Jadav Payeng, the “forest-man of India,” single-handedly afforested a 1,300-acre area of Majuli, the world’s largest river island.

(136)  He [Jaime Lerner] is famous for saying, “If you want creativity, cut one zero from the budget.  If you want sustainability, cut two zeroes!”

…. The transportation sector is responsible for 23 percent of global emissions.  Urban transport is the single greatest source and growing - largely because the use of cars is on the rise.

(146)  Half of all urban trips are less than 6.2 miles, an easy distance for e-bikes.

(147)  Electric bicycles are already the most common and fastest-selling alternative-fuel vehicles on the planet.

(149)  More than 1 billion motor vehicles exist worldwide.  By 2035, there will be more than 2 billion.

(151)  Research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identifies taxiing on a single engine, rather than both, as the most effective measure for reducing fuel use on the ground, where aircraft spend 10 to 30 percent of their transit time.  Fuel burn from gate to runway or vice versa can drop 40 percent and save a single large airline $10 million to $12 million a year.

(158)  Half or less that [urban] waste is generated at the household level, and managing it tends to be the responsibility of local government.

(161)  In other words, while recycling happens at end of life.  It is best considered from the beginning.

Enhancing the exchange of recyclable and reusable goods is essential.  As a step in this direction, the U. S. Materials Marketplace was launched in 2015 as matchmaker for secondary materials.

(162)  Decarbonizing limestone causes roughly 60 percent of the cement industry’s emissions.  The rest are the result of energy use:  Manufacturing a single ton of cement requires the equivalent energy of burning four hundred pounds of coal.  Add those emissions up and for every ton of cement produced, nearly one ton of carbon dioxide puffs skyward.  In total, the industry produces roughly 4.6 billion tons of cement each year, more than half of it in China, and generates 5 to 6 percent of society’s annual anthropogenic carbon emissions in the process.

(167)  Today, roughly half of paper is used once and then sent to the proverbial scrap heap.  But the other half is recovered and repurposed.  In Northern Europe, that recovery rate reaches 75 percent.  South Korea achieved a recovery rate of 90 percent in 2009.  Bringing the rest of the world up to that level of paper recycling, or beyond, presents a significant opoprtunity to draw down the emissions of the paper industry, which are estimated to be as high as 7 percent of the world’s annual total - higher than that of aviation.

(167)  The analysis finds that production of recycled paper generates just 1 percent of the climate impacts virgin paper creates.  Moreover, it consumes a quarter of the amount of water required for the same quantity of product, and requires 20 to 50 percent less energy for pulping and papermaking.

(174)  As with advanced multipaddock grazing and regenerative agriculture, the Zimov proposal to repopulate the mammoth steppe is a land-use practice that reverses a long-term trend of degration.  It is difficult to imagine that the wildness of the sub-polar regions is actually a degraded landscape, but that is what Zimov has shown.  Today the biomass of all the animals being raised, most of which are entrapped and caged in industrial factories, totals close to one billion tons.  The cost:  vanishing resources, loss of biodiversity, degraded soils, unhealthy meat, and a changing climate.  Repopulating the mammoth steppe may appear to be an esoteric pursuit at first glance.  Actually, it is no differnt from other restoration practices - just bigger.  Regeneration of the land can be brought about by rewilding the abandoned lands of the north, returning the animals that created the great once-dominant, carbon-sequestering grasslands.  When herbivores were free to roam, the earth supported twice the number and wieght of animals that humans raise today in ranches, feedlots, and animal factories.  In the mammoth steppe, considered unlivable to all but a hardy few, the benefit of returning it to its wild origins would be immense.
NB:  Zimov and Savory?

(175)  On pasture-cropped land, the soil is never broken.  Planting annual crops in a living perennial pasture creates an ecosystem that gets healthier every year.  A complex relationship between the forbs, fungi, grasses, herbs, and bacteria reknits the web of life, increasing the health, resilience, and vitality of the soil, crops, grasses, and animals….

[Colin] Seis began to employ rotational mob grazing in his paddocks.   And things started to turn around - profits, productivity, and animal and soil health.  Soon the regeneration of the farm was evident to all.  Costs went down.  Seis was saving $60,000 a year on fuel and chemical inputs he no longer needed.  Water retention and soil carbon increased threefold.  Insect infestation virtually disappeared.  Profits from his sheep ranching went up along with yields and the quality of wool.  Birds and native animals returned.

(177)  Natural rock weathering removes approximately 1 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide annually….

Broadly, if olivine was applied to one-third of tropical land, it could lower atmospheric carbon dioxide by thirty to three hundred parts per million by 2100.

One study demonstrated that previous assumptions about enhanced weathering dissolution rates are overly pessimistic.  It showed sequestration of carbon dioxide to be ten to twenty times greater in nature than what was being found in the laboratory.  Biotic factors that accelerate weathering include the effects of lichens, soil bacteria, and mycorrhizal fungi, which provide sugar-based exudates to bacteria that accelerate mineral dissolution….

In tests conducted in Iceland by Reykjavik National Laboratory and in the United States by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a branch of the U. S. Department of Energy, liquid carbon dioxide was placed underground in carverns of volcanic rocks called basalt.  As with olivine weathering, the carbon dioxide combined with the basalt and formed solid carbonates called ankerite.  The scientists dub this process high-speed weathering, Professor Klaus Lackner, who directs the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University, called the result “immense progress.”  He went on to say that “basalts on land and below the ocean floor are so abundant that if they can be pulled in, we have indeed unlimited storage capacity [for carbon dioxide].”

(179)  The productivity of the tallgrass prairies of the Great plans region can be attributed to the fire ecology practiced by Native Americans.  In Norman Myers’s book _the Primary Source_, he describes going into a forty-thousand-year-old “untouched” primary forest in Borneo with an ethnobotanist.  Both stayed in one spot for the day while the ethnobotanist identified the towering dipterocarps and other flora for Myers.  It turns ouf the entire forest had been placed and planted by human beings before the last ice age.  The Swiss agroecologist Ernst Gotsch works with deforested and desertified lands in Brazil and restores them in a matter of years to such forest farms bountiful with food.  In a video segment in which he describes his work, Gotsch picks up dark, moist soil and proclaims, “We are growing water."

In the Atlantic, satellite imagery is detecting a 4 to 8 percent per annum decline in biological activity, a number that exceeds predictions in global warming models.

(180)  Most of the carbon emitted by human activity is contained within the top five hundred feet of the ocean known as the photic zone.  It is accumulating carbon significantly faster than the rest of the ocean.

(181)  Silvopasture is the most commonly practiced form of agroforestry today, covering 1.1 billion acres worldwide.  The theory is simple:  Combine trees or woody shrubs and pasture grasses to foster greater yields.  Cattle fatten faster and provide better-tasting meat than in any other system.  Rarely are livestock and climate mitigation used in the same sentence;  silvopasture, however, sequesters up to three times more carbon per acre than grazing alone - ranging from one to four tons per acre in the tropics and averaging 2.4 tons in temperate regions…

In a five-year study of intensive silvopasture in which trees were incorporated with grasses and Leucaena leucocephala, the rate of carbon sequestration exceeded an extraordinary ten tons per acre.

(182)  Plants convert sunlight effortlessly and without fail;  however, when it comes to converting photons into useful stored energy, they are about 1 percent efficient.

(185)  Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers predicts AVs [autonomous vehicles] will make up 75 percent of road vehicles by 2040, though there are many legal and regulatory hurdles to overcome before that can become a reality…

The contemporary car is not a driving machine but a parking machine for which 700 million parking spaces have been built - an area equivalent to the state of Connecticut.
NB:  USA?  World?

…It would be hard to discuss the basic technological capabilities of AV technology without acknowledging three other parallel and complementary areas of research and practice:  shared vehicles, on-demand vehicles, and connected vehicle technology…

Autonomy will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles because most trips are local, thus in battery range.  Smaller, efficient vehicles may pare road width and release land for other uses.

(186)  On the other side, a time could come when people are banned from driving because in a world of self-directed, connected vehicles, individual drivers are a danger to everyone else.

(187)  Whether now of later, the ocean remains the largest untapped source of renewable energy on earth.

(188)  LBC [Living Building Challenge] is based on regeneration, buildings that can reanimate and renew the environment, for both the natural world and human communities…

Buildings can function more like a forest, generating a net surplus of positives in function and form and exhaling value into the world.  Buildings, in other words, can do more than simply be less bad….

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, lving buildings make their greatest impact by producing more energy than they consume and offsetting all embodied carbon as well.

(189)   Architect David Sellers summed it up perfectly when he said the pathway to sustainability is beauty, because peopel preserve and care for that which feeds their spirit and hear.  All other buildings are torn down sooner or later….

Habitat exchange.  For each acre of development, an acre of habitat must be set aside in perpetuity.

(191)  We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a futre to be shared with everyone.  This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life.

(192)  First, carbon dioxide in the air is very dilute:  0.04 percent.

(193)  Professor Klaus Lackier at Arizona State University has launched the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions to research DAC [Direct Air Capture] technologies, and the U. S. Department of Energy embarked on its first-ever DAC research projects in 2016.

(194)  A 2003 study by the ecologist Jeffrey S. Dukes estimated that the average gallon of gasoline requires over 90 tons of prehistoric biomass as raw material.

(197)  Among its technologies, the “Route 66 of the future” incorporates energy harvesting, weather sensors, and dynamics paint, including bioluminescent “glowing lines” that absorb sunlight during the day and glow at night.  No streetlights, and their attendant energy use, required.  The Dutch efforts are now expanding within the Netherlands and beyond to China and Japan.

(201)  At present, converting nitrogen to ammonia for fertilizer requires 1.2 percent of the world’s energy use.  The process creates emissions from fossil fuel energy generation, and much of that nitrogen ends up in the sky as nitrous oxides - a greenhouse gas 298 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over the course of a century.

(202)  Cotton is the dirtiest crop in the world with respect to chemical use and is largely dependent on fossil fuel inputs.  Though cultivated on 2.5 percent of all cropland, cotton accounts for 16 percent of annual insecticide use….

Nearly 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from cotton production.  Total emissions for a white cotton shirt from field to customer are 80 popunds of carbon dioxide.

(203)  Whereas annual wheat has a spindly three-foot root, Kernza’s [Land Institute’s perennial grain] roots are thick and robust and go down ten feet, sequestering many times more carbon from the air and burying it deep in the earth.

(204)  Methane, the key waste product generated when cows process their food, dropped by 12 percent on [Joe] Dorgan’s diet [of seaweed].

(205)  Around the world, these small discharges [cow burps] add up to 39 percent of all emissions from global livestock produciton and a quarter of the world’s methane pollution….

Various seaweeds, delivered in large quantities, had some effect on methane production, but the researchers quickly homed in on Asparagopsis taxiformis.  This species of red algae grows in warm around the world - some where it is native, others where it is invasive - including those off the coast of Queensland….

Asparagopsis taxiformis reduced methane production by 99 percent - and required a dose of just 2 percent of feed to do so.  In live sheep, the same dose led to a 70 to 80 percent drop in methane.  (The tests have not yet been performed with live cows.)…

With more than 1.4 billion  cows and nearly 1.9 billion sheep and goats inhabiting the planet today, scale is a major cjallenge for reining in methane emissions with Asparagopsis taxiformis….

Feed production and processing is the other main culprit, responsible for 45 percent of livestock-related emissions….

Most critically, Asparagopsis taxiformis could dramatically reduce livestock methane emissions, which now account for a 4 to 5 percent of greenhouse gases released around the world each year.

(207)  With early 9 percent of large fish stocks threatened by overfishing and 3.5 billion people dependent on the seas as their primary food source, ocean farming advocates have concluded that aquaculture is here to stay…

Instead of finish, the anchor crops of green ocean farms are seaweed and shellfish, two organisms that may well be Mother Nature’s secret prescription for addressing global warming.  Considered the tree of coastal ecosystems, seaweed uses photosynthesis to pull carbon from the atmosphere and the water, with some varieties capable of absorbing five times more carbon dioxide than land-based plants…

Although oysters absorb carbon, their real contribution is filtering nitrogen out of the water column.  Nitrogen is the greenhouse gas you do not pay attention to.  It is nearly three hundred times as potent as carbon dioxide, and according to the journal _Nature_, it is the second worst in terms of having already exceeded a maximum “planetary boundary.”  Like carbon, nitrogen is an essential part of life - plants, animals, and bacteria all need it ot survive - but too much has a devastating effect on land and ocean ecosystems…

The main nitrogen polluter is agricultural fertilizer runoff.
NB:  waste

(208)  About 50 percent of seaweed’s weight is oil, which can be used to make biodiesel for cars, trucks, and airplanes.  Scientists at the University of Indiana recently figured out how to turn seaweed into biodiesel four times faster than other biofuels are made, and researchers at the Georgia Insitute of Technology have discovered a way to use alginate extracted from kelp to ramp up the storage power of lithium-ion batteries by a factor of ten.

(211)  The construction of timber-framed buildings spans back seven thousand years to China, and it includes the fourteen-hundred-year-old Horyu-ji Temple complex in Ikaruga, Japan, which has survived seismic threat and a wet environment to endure as the oldest group of wooden buildings…

A unit of dry wood is 50 percent carbon, and that carbon is locked in while the wood is in use….

According to a 2014 study out of Yale University, bulding with wood could reduce annual global emissions of carbon dioxide by an impressive 14 to 31 percent.

(215)  I admit it’s counterintuitive to imagine plants growing closer together in the face of scarcity when our competition bias and our economic theories tell us we should do otherwise.  For years, careful experimenters tried to explain this as an anomaly, missing the beneficience in their search for the struggle.  Now we know that it’s not just one plant helping another;  mutualism - complex exchanges of goodness - are playing out above- and below ground in extraordinary ways.

(216)  If we are to remain here, we must together take great care.  To do that means we must become a “we,” a movement that is unstoppable and fearless.  Movements are dreams with feet and hands, hearts and voices.

(217)  The economic data we have collected shows clearly that the expense of the problems in the world now exceeds the cost of the solutions.  To put it another way, the profit that can be achieved by instituting regenerative solutions is greater than the monetary gains generated by causing the problem or conducting business-as-usual.  For instance, the most profitable and productive method of farming is regenerative agriculture.  And, more people in the U. S. as of 2016 are employed by the solar industry than by gas, coal, and oil cmbined.  Restoration creates more jobs than despoliation.  We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future rather than stealing it….

We are surfeited with metaphors of war, such that when we hear the word “defense,” we think attack, but the defense of the world can be accomplished only by unifying, listening, and working side by side.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summary of Systems Principle

Donella Meadows was one of the authors of the Limits to Growth and Beyond the Limits studies of the world and its resources. She thought, wrote, and taught about natural systems deeply.  

I met her once at a conference on Cape Cod about The Natural Step.  I had been asked to read Wendell Berry's "Mad Farmer Liberation Front" at the opening dinner by the organizers and she was one of the presenters.  She nodded me over and showed me her notebook with a copy of the same poem.  We both smiled.

Here is the core of her thinking on systems dynamics from Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows (White River Junction, VT:  Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008 
ISBN 978-1-60358-055-7)

Systems A system is more than the sum of its parts. Many of the interconnections in systems operate through the flow of information. The least obvious part of the system, its function or purpose, is often the most crucial determinant of the system's behavior. System structure is the source of system behavior.  System behavior reveals itself as a series of events over time.

Stocks, Flows, and Dynamic Equilibrium A stock is the memory of the history of changing flows within the system. If the sum of inflows exceeds the sum of outflows, the stock will rise. If the sum of outflows exceeds the sum of inflows, the stock level will fall. If the sum of outflows equals the sum of inflows, the stock level will not change - it will be held in dynamic equilibrium.
A stock can be increased by decreasing its outflow rate as well as by increasing its inflow rate. Stocks act as delays or buffers or shock absorbers in systems. Stocks allow inflows and outflows to be de-coupled and independent.
Feedback Loops A feedback loop is a closed chain of causal connections from a stock, through a set of decisions or rules or physical laws or actions that are dependent on the level of the stock, and back again through a flow to change the stock. Balancing feedback loops are equilibrating or goal-seeking structures in systems and are both sources of stability and sources of resistance to change. Reinforcing feedback loops are self-enhancing, leading to exponential growth or to runaway collapses over time. The information delivered by a feedback loop - even nonphysical feedback - can affect only future behavior;  it can't deliver a signal fast enough to correct behavior that drove the current feedback. A stock-maintaining balancing feedback loop must have its goal set appropriately to compensate for draining or inflowing processes that affect that stock.  Otherwise, the feedback process will fall short of or exceed the target for the stock. Systems with similar feedback structures produce similar dynamic behaviors.

Shifting Dominance, Delays, and Oscillations Complex behaviors of systems often arise as the relative strengths of feedback loops shift, causing first one loop and then another to dominate behavior. A delay in a balancing feedback loop makes a system likely to oscillate. Changing the length of a delay may make a large change in the behavior of a system.
Scenarios and Testing Models System dynamics models explore possible futures and ask "what if" questions. Model utility depends not on whether its driving scenarios are realistic (since no one can know that for sure), but on whether it responds with a realistic pattern of behavior.

Constraint on Systems In physical, exponentially growing systems, there must be at least one reinforcing loop driving the growth and at least one balancing loop constraining the growth, because no system can grow forever in a finite environment. Nonrenewable resources are stock-limited. Renewable resources are flow-limited.

Resilience, Self-Organization, and Hierarchy There are always limits to resilience. Systems need to be managed not only for productivity or stability, they also need to be managed for resilience. Systems often have the property of self-organization - the ability to structure themselves, to create new structure, to learn, diversity, and complexify. Hierarchical systems evolve from the bottom up.  The purpose of the upper layers of the hierarchy is to serve the purposes of the lower layers.
Source of System Surprises Many relationships in systems are nonlinear. There are no separate systems.  The world is a continuum.  Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion. At any given time, the input that is most important to a system is the one that is most limiting. Any physical entity with multiple inputs and outputs is surrounded by layers of limits. There always will be limits to growth. A quantity growing exponentially toward a limit reaches that limit in a surprisingly short time. When there are long delays in feedback loops, some sort of foresight is essential. The bounded rationality of each actor in a system may not lead to decisions that further the welfare of the system as a whole.

It is here where systems dynamics questions the Invisible Hand as misunderstood by free market fundamentalists:
"As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of greatest value... he generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it...  He intends his own security;... he intends only his own gain and he is in this... led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.  By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it." 
Adam Smith

Frequently does not mean always.  Smith knew that the Invisible Hand is fickle and sometimes intending only our own gain does not promote the security of society in general but degrades it.  Markets are human systems and can be changed and managed as the participants agree.  At least, that's how it works at the local farmers market.

Economic theory as derived from Adam Smith assumes first that homo economicus acts with perfect optimality on complete information, and second that when many of the species homo economicus do that, their actions add up to the best possible outcome for everybody.

Neither of these assumptions stands up long against the evidence.
"Best possible outcome" in the "best of all possible worlds," Dr Pangloss?

Bounded rationality means that people make quite reasonable decisions based on the information they have.  But they don't have perfect information, especially about more distant parts of the system.  Fishermen don't know how many fish there are, much less how many fish will be caught by other fishermen that same day....
Herman Daly calls this the "Invisible foot" while Herbert Simon uses "bounded rationality":

We are not omniscient, rational optimizers, says Simon.  Rather, we are blundering "satisficers," attempting to meet (satisfy) our need well enough (sufficiently) before moving on to the next decision.  We do our best to further our own nearby interests in a rational way, but we can take into account only what we know.  We don't know what others are planning to do, until they do it.  We rarely see the full range of possibilities before us.  We often don't foresee (or choose to ignore) the impacts of our actions on the whole system.  So instead of finding a long-term optimum, we discover within our limited purview a choice we can live with for now, and we stick to it, changing our behavior only when forced to.
Bounded rationality can lead to seeking the wrong goals or confusing effort with result.  Meadows believed, "Maybe the worst mistake of this kind has been the adoption of the GNP as the measure of national economic success."

We should keep the boundaries of our rationality in mind when we consider our mental maps of the world.

Mindsets and Models Everything we think we know about the world is a model. Our models do have a strong congruence with the world. Our models fall far short of representing the real world fully.Here are some common system traps:
Policy Resistance Trap:  When various actors try to pull a system state toward various goals, the result can be policy resistance.  Any new policy, especially if it's effective, just pulls the system state farther from the goals of other actors and produces additional resistance, with a result that no one likes, but that everyone expends considerable effort in maintaining. The Way Out:  Let go.  Bring in all the actors and use the energy formerly expended on resistance to seek out mutually satisfactory ways for all goals to be realized - or redefinitions of larger and more important goals that everyone can pull toward together.
Letting go can be of profound significance and a devastating tool, especially when considered from a judo/aikido/tai chi context.

The Tragedy of the Commons Trap:  When there is a commonly shared resource, every user benefits directly from its use, but shares the costs of its abuse with everyone else.  Therefore, there is very weak feedback from the condition of the resource to the decisions of the resource users.  The consequence is overuse of the resource, eroding it until it becomes unavailable to anyone. The Way Out:  Educate and exhort the users, so they understand the consequences of abusing the resource.  And also restore or strengthen the missing feedback link, either by privatizing the resource so each user feels the direct consequences of it abuse or (since many resources cannot be privatized) by regulating the access of all users to the resource.

Elinor Ostrom's work is all about managing the commons [pdf alert].  She has documented some common pool resources that have been managed sustainably by people for hundreds of years.

Drift to Low Performance  
Trap:  Allowing performance standards to be influenced by past performance, especially if there is a negative bias in perceiving past performance, sets up a reinforcing feedback loop of eroding goals that sets a system drifting toward low performance. 

The Way Out:  Keep performance standards absolute.  Even better, let standards be enhanced by the best actual performances instead of being discouraged by the worst.  Set up a drift toward high performance!
This may be the trap that newspapers have fallen into
Escalation Trap:  When the state of one stock is determined by trying to surpass the state of another stock  - and vice versa - then there is a reinforcing feedback loop carrying the system into an arms race, a wealth race, a smear campaign, escalating loudness, escalating violence.  The escalation is exponential and can lead to extremes surprisingly quickly.  If nothing is done the spiral will be stopped by someone's collapse - because exponential growth cannot go on forever. The Way Out:  The best way out of this trap is to avoid getting in it.  If caught in an escalating system, one can refuse to compete (unilaterally disarm), thereby interrupting the reinforcing loop.  Or one can negotiate a new system with balancing loops to control the escalation.
Success to the Successful Trap:  If the winners of a competition are systematically rewarded with the means to win again, a reinforcing feedback loop is created by which, if it is allowed to proceed uninhibited, the winners eventually take all, while the losers are eliminated. The Way Out:  Diversification, which allows those who are losing the competition to get out of that game and start another one;  strict limitation on the fraction of the pie any one winner may win (antitrust laws);  policies that level the playing field, removing some of the advantage of the strongest players or increasing the advantage of the weakest;  policies that devise rewards for success that do not bias the next round of competition.
Sounds like too big to fail, don't it? 
Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor Trap:  Shifting the burden, dependence, and addiction arise when a solution to a systemic problem reduces (or disguises) the symptoms, but does nothing to solve the underlying problem,  Whether it is a substance that dulls one's perception or a policy that hides the underlying trouble, the drug of choice interferes with the actions that could solve the real problem.
If the intervention designed to correct the problem causes the self-maintaining capacity of the original system to atrophy or erode, then a destructive reinforcing feedback loop is set in motion.  The system deteriorates;  more and more of the solution is them required.  The system will become more and more dependent on the intervention and less and less able to maintain its own desired state.
The Way Out:  Again, the best way out of this trap is to avoid getting in.  Beware of symptom-relieving or signal-denying policies or practices that don't really address the problem.  Take the focus off short-term relief and put it on long-term restructuring.
If you are the intervenor, work in such a way as to restore or enhance the system's own ability to solve its problems, then remove yourself.  If you are the one with an unsupportable dependency, build your system's own capabilities bak up before removing the intervention.  Do it right away.  The longer you wait, the harder the withdrawal process will be.

I also like Anne Wilson Schaef's work on addiction and addictive systems, When Society Becomes an Addict and The Addictive Organizaton.

Rule Beating Trap:  Rules to govern a system can lead to rule-beating - perverse behavior that gives the appearance of obeying the rules or achieving the goals but that actually distorts the system.
The Way Out:  Design, or redesign, rules to release creativity not in the direction of beating the rules,  but in the direction of achieving the purpose of the rules.
Seeking the Wrong Goal Trap:  System behavior is particularly sensitive to the goals of feedback loops.  If the goals - the indicators of satisfaction of the rules - are defined inaccurately or incompletely, the system may obediently work to produce a result that is not really intended or wanted.
The Way Out:  Specify indicators and goals that reflect the real welfare of the system.  Be especially careful not to confuse effort with result or you will end up with a system that is producing effort, not result.
What should be the goal of late stage capitalism in a peak oil world?
Places to Intervene in a System (in increasing order of effectiveness)Numbers:  Constants and parameters such as subsidies, taxes, and standards
Buffers:  The sizes of stabilizing stocks relative to their flows
Stock-and-Flow Structures:  Physical systems and their nodes of intersection
Delays:  The lengths of time relative to the rates of system changes
Balancing Feedback Loops:  The strength of the feedbacks relative to the impacts they are trying to correct
Reinforcing Feedback Loops:  The strength of the gain of driving loops
Information Flows:  The structure of who does and does not have access to information
Rules:  Incentives, punishments, constraints
Self-Organization:  The power to add, change, or evolve system structure
Goals:  The purpose of the system
Paradigms:  The mind-set out of which the system - its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters - arises
Transcending Paradigms...
"...to stay flexible, to realize that no paradigm is "true," that every one, including the one that sweetly shapes your own worldview, is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension... is to "get" at a gut level the paradigm that there are paradigms, and to see that that itself is a paradigm, and to regard that whole realization as devastatingly funny.  It is to let go into not-knowing, into what the Buddhists call enlightenment."
Guidelines for Living in a World of SystemsGet the beat of the system.
Expose your mental models to the light of day.
Honor, respect, and distribute information.
Use language with care and enrich it with systems concepts.
Pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.
Make feedback policies for feedback systems.
Go for the good of the whole. [Sarvodaya]
Listen to the wisdom of the system.
Locate responsibility within the system.
Stay humble - stay a learner.
Celebrate complexity.
Expand time horizons.
Defy the disciplines.
Expand the boundary of caring.
Don't erode the goal of goodness.