2018: Global CO2 emissions reach an all time high.
Mar, 2016: Global CO2 levels passed 400ppm- the agreed upon point of no return.
2011: A British government White Paper, ‘The Natural Choice’ sets out the overarching policy objective: to be the first generation to not only stop the decline in the natural environment, but to improve it.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
2009: In an exhaustively comprehensive study by World Bank environmental specialists Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang measured feed, flatulence, forest-to-field loss, packaging, cooking temperature, waste production, fluorocarbons used in meat refrigeration, carbon-intensive medical treatment of livestock and of meat eaters who suffer from heart disease, cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, and strokes, and even the cumulative CO2 exhaled by the worlds 19billion chickens, 1.6 billion cattle and water buffalo, 1 billion pigs, and 2 billion sheep and goats. Their conclusion was that livestock and their by-products account for at least 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse emissions (P385).-Countdown by Weisman.
2009: 98% of UNFPAs foundation funding came from four American foundations- 81% of that was from just one: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.-Countdown by Weisman.
1998: Suriname set aside 10% of its territory to create the Central Suriname Nature Reserve.-1493 by Mann.
1974: Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) banned in the United States.
CFC's evaporate easily, and once released into the great aerial ocean it takes about 5 years for air currents to waft them into the stratosphere, where UV radiation slowly breaks them down, causing the release of the chlorine atom. It is the chlorine in CFCs that is so destructive to ozone- just a single atom can destroy 100,000 ozone molecules- and its destructive capacities are maximized at temperature below -45F. This is why the ozone hole first emerged over the South Pole, where the stratosphere is a frigid -80F.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
A single kilogram of CFCs can capture and annihilate 70,000 kilograms of atmospheric ozone.- A Short History by Bryson.
22 Apr, 1970: Earth Day begins as the modern environmental movement when 20 million Americans took to the streets to demand a healthy, sustainable environment. These street demonstrations eventually lead to the creation of the US's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
1967: The UK Abortion Act legalized.
1948: Japan passed the Eugenic Protection Law, legalizing contraception, abortion, and sterilization for health reasons. A year later, with the crisis (population) unabated, the law was extended to permit abortions and family planning for economic reasons.-Countdown by Weisman.
1934: US began its first governmental birth control program- in Puerto Rico.
Midgley was an engineer by training and the world would no doubt have been a safer place if he had stayed so. He developed an interest in the industrial applications of chemistry. In 1921, while working for the General Motors Research Corporation in Dayton, Ohio, he investigated a compound called tetraethyl lead (also known, confusingly, as lead tetraethyl), and discovered that it significantly reduced the juddering condition known as engine knock.-A Short History by Bryson
In 1923 three of America’s largest corporations, General Motors, Dupont and Standard Oil of New Jersey, formed a joint enterprise called the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation (later shortened to simply Ethyl Corporation) with a view to making as much tetraethyl lead as the world was willing to buy, and that proved to be a very great deal. They called their additive “ethyl” because it sounded friendlier and less toxic than “lead.”-A Short History by Bryson.
1900: 1.6 billion people on Earth.
10,000- 4,000 BCE: A slight shift in the Earth's orbit brought between 7 and 8% more sunlight to the northern hemisphere. This enhanced the rainfall of Mesopotamia by 25-20%, markedly altering the ratio of rainfall to evaporation and increasing the overall moisture available to plants sevenfold. What was once a desert was transformed into a verdant plain that supported dense farming communities. After 3800 BC, however, Earth's orbit reverted to its former Pattern and rainfall dropped off, forcing many farmers to abandon their fields and wander in search of food.-The Wether Makers by Flannery.
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the International Energy Agency (IEA), and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) have concluded that room air conditioners alone - the typical window and split units used in most homes - are set to account for over 130 gigatons (GT) of CO2 emissions between now and 2050. That would account for 20-40% of the world’s remaining “carbon budget” (the most we can emit while still keeping global warming to less than 2˚C above pre-industrial levels - the goal set at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015).
Buildings, which directly or indirectly account for nearly 40% of CO2 emissions, stand to gain the most from ‘integrative design’ - that is, designing energy-using systems not as isolated components but as a whole. These approaches make order-of-magnitude building efficiency improvements economically and financially viable - mainly by eliminating or shrinking heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
·Among the most pressing environmental challenges facing us are extreme weather events and temperatures; accelerating biodiversity loss; pollution of air, soil, and water; failures of climate-change mitigation and adaptation; and transition risks as we move to a low-Carbon future.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
The prevalence of monoculture production heightens vulnerability to catastrophic breakdowns in the food system- more than 75% of the worlds food comes from just 12 plants and five animals’ species, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
Biodiversity loss is now occurring at mass-extinction rates. The populations of vertebrate species declined by an estimated 58% between 1970-2012.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
A record 29.7 million hA of tree cover was lost in 2016.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
More than 80% of the deforestation in the Amazon is accounted for by cattle ranching.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution are together responsible for more than one tenth of all deaths globally each year.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
More than 90% of the world’s population live in areas with levels of air pollution that exceed WHO guidelines.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
The commission estimates the overall annual cost of pollution to the global economy at US $4.6 trillion, equivalent to around 6.2% of output. Many of the associated risks to health are still not well understood. Research suggests, for example, that the huge volume of plastic waste in the worlds water- approximately 8 million more tons every year- is finding its way into humans. People eating seafood could be ingesting up to 11,000 pieces of micro-plastic every year. Microplastic fibres are found in 83% of the worlds tap water. One concern is that these micro-fibres could bind with compounds containing toxic pesticides or metals, providing these toxins with a route into the body.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
Having absorbed 93% of the increase in global temperatures between 1971 and 2010, the world’s oceans continue to get warmer and studies suggest that their capacity to absorb CO2 may be declining. Research also suggests that tropical forests are now releasing rather than absorbing CO2.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
•Simultaneous Breadbasket Failures threaten sufficiency of global food supply.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
The interaction of disruptors such as extreme weather, political instability, or crop diseases could result in a simultaneous blow to output in key food producing regions triggering global shortages and price spikes. The risk of a systematic breakdown could be further elevated by wider fragilities, including reduced crop diversity, competition for water from other sectors and geopolitical tensions.
Among the changes that could help are increasing crop diversity, establishing stress tests of choke points and other national and regional vulnerabilities, reducing waste along supply chains.
The tragedy of the commons means we often let chronic problems with dispersed responsibilities fester.-The Global Risk Report 2018 (13th Edition) by the World Economic Forum.
Trophic cascade: a change in the entire ecosystem via the food chain, starting at the top.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
The deeper the realization that even the smallest disturbance can lead to unpredictable changes, the stronger the arguments are in favor of protecting larger areas.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
Framing the Problem
In trying to turn a complex subject into simple numbers, it is arguably damaging to the cause.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Pure science, which today is defined by its demand for objectivity, might not help us advance, because it requires us to set our emotions aside.-The Inner Life of Animals by Wohlleben.
Since the end of the last glacial period about ten thousand years ago, the Earth has been gradually warming up. However, over the past half century, the Earth has been heating at an alarming and accelerating rate. We see evidence of this on numerous fronts: · Every major glacier on the Earth is receding · The northern polar ice has thinned by an average of 50 percent over the past fifty years · Large parts of Greenland, which is covered by the world’s second-largest ice sheet, are thawing out · A section of Antarctica the size of Delaware, the Larsen Ice Shelf C, broke off in 2017, and the stability of the ice sheets and ice shelves is now in question · The last few years have been the hottest ever recorded in human history · The Earth’s average temperature has increased by about 1.3 degrees Celsius in the past century · On average, summer is about one week longer than it was in the past · We are seeing more and more “one-hundred-year events,” such as forest fires, floods, droughts, and hurricanes.-The Future of Humanity by Kaku.
Lester Brown, one of the world’s leading environmentalists and founder of the famed Worldwatch Institute, a think tank for the Earth. His organization closely monitors the world’s food supply and the state of the planet. He is worried about another factor: Do we have enough food to feed the people of the world as they become middle class consumers?-The Future of Humanity by Kaku.
Above 100F, leaves and flowers wilt because moisture is being lost faster than the roots can replace it.-The Future of Humanity by Kaku.
There is the danger that, if this global warming accelerates unabated into the coming decades, it could destabilize the nations of the world, create mass starvation, generate mass migration from the coastal areas, and threaten the world economy.-The Future of Humanity by Kaku.
Tyndall had resolved to do the same – but this time with gases. His interest was born of the realisation that for the earth to be hot enough to support life some of the gases had to trap and retain some of the sun’s heat.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
For two years Tyndall had sought to answer the question, testing which gases were the strongest absorbers of radiant heat – what we today call infrared radiation. He had constructed his apparatus at the British Institution, a rig which let him pass heat through tubes of gas and monitor the amount of absorption. The task had been difficult but he had stuck at it and from 9 September 1860 until 29 October he had ‘experimented from about eight to ten hours daily’. Now Tyndall was ready to reveal his results. He told his audience it seemed that a negligible amount of heat was soaked up by the typical atmospheric gases: oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen. Other gases, however, had dramatic absorptive powers, as did water vapour. One of his discoveries related to carbonic acid (carbon dioxide). He was eager to correct a misapprehension: In the experiments of Dr Franz, carbolic acid appears as a feebler absorber than oxygen. According to my experiments, for small quantities the absorptive power of the former (carbonic acid) is about 150 times that of the latter (oxygen); and for atmospheric tensions, carbonic acid probably absorbs nearly 100 times as much as oxygen.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
The implications of Tyndall’s discoveries were clear. The more water vapour, carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ present in the atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere would be.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
Tyndall put out a press release in the London papers. ‘All past climate was now understood, and all future climate changes could be predicted simply from a knowledge of the concentrations of these “greenhouse” gases.’-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
From about 1805 when FitzRoy was born to the end of the twentieth century the level of carbon dioxide rose from 280 parts per million to 380 parts per million.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
the IPCC has issued five reports on the state of the atmosphere and the likely impact of increased levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The latest was launched with a press conference in September 2013. It stated that 95 per cent of scientists now agree that global warming is happening. In their notes for policy-makers, the IPCC declared that ‘warming of the climate system is unequivocal’.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
Should the atmosphere continue to fill with increasing volumes of greenhouse gases, before the end of the twenty-first century we will find temperatures rising between 3° and 5°C, with sea levels up by half to one metre.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
Data that did not fit the commonly accepted assumptions of a discipline would either be discounted or explained away for as long as possible. The more contradictions accumulated, the more convoluted the rationalizations became. “In science, as in the playing card experiment, novelty emerges only with difficulty,” Kuhn wrote. But then, finally, someone came along who was willing to call a red spade a red spade. Crisis led to insight, and the old framework gave way to a new one. This is how great scientific discoveries or, to use the term Kuhn made so popular, “paradigm shifts” took place.-Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
“When you find one thing that depends on something else that, in turn, depends on something else, the whole series of interactions depends on constancy.”-Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
Democrat-leaning news programmes have been found to use the term ‘climate change’ while their Republican opponents have preferred ‘global warming’.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
Climate change is valiant, scientific, crucial to the survival of humanity. Global warming is expensive, a pseudoscience, a propaganda trap of the first magnitude.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
forging a coherent pact between the science, the politics and the economics will be one of the challenges of our age.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
The main reason there has been no international agreement to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is that too many decision makers still don’t believe we can do it without curbing economic growth and too many carbon emitters keep reinforcing that notion.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
the world’s growth pattern is unsustainable, because the way we produce and use energy and deplete natural resources is causing climate change and other environmental problems.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
The status quo is represented by much more powerful lobbying groups than the future is.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Willingness to revise views in the face of empirical data is the hallmark of the good scientific process.”-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
the federal government is America’s largest consumer of energy and the Department of Defense is responsible for 80 percent of it. And finally, because the military tries to make decisions based on evidence and has a proven capacity to solve problems in partnership with the private sector. The U.S. Army already has 126 renewable-energy projects under way.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Sweden got almost all of its reductions through greater efficiency, growing its economy more than 50 percent while reducing its carbon emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels. Germany did it by becoming the world’s number-one user of solar cells, putting up a lot of windmills, and increasing efficiency. The U.K. did it by substituting natural gas for coal, developing its offshore wind capacity, and promoting large-scale efficiency projects. Denmark is an especially interesting case. The Danes generate almost 25 percent of their electricity from wind, have biomass (waste-burning) power plants, and high home efficiency standards, including triple-paned windows, more insulation, heat pumps, and solar panels. Farmers are encouraged to put up their own windmills, which they can pay off in three years with savings from lower electricity costs, then earn a 12 percent profit on energy they sell to utilities. The results? The Danish economy expanded by 75 percent with no increase in fossil fuel use.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Energy efficiency is the perfect laboratory. It creates jobs, lowers costs, saves energy, and improves the environment. We should be clearing roadblocks to innovation, not erecting them.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
McHugh has set up a task force with a mandate to determine how the army can get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, with an investment of more than $7 billion in a clean-energy infrastructure.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
shipping conventional fuel into high-temperature combat zones just for air-conditioning costs the Pentagon billions of dollars a year in fuel, transportation, security, and medevac expenses. For Afghanistan, fuel is shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven eight hundred miles on terrible roads for more than two weeks through dangerous territory. A lot of U.S. soldiers have been killed in those and other fuel convoys. If our troops had had bases equipped with solar panels to run the air conditioners and keep the lights on, it could have saved money and lives and driven continued price reductions and technology improvements beneficial to the entire economy. Solar cells, a few backup generators with a small amount of fuel to run them, and relatively inexpensive batteries that store solar power for cloudy days could have made a big difference in Afghanistan and Iraq and still can in many less hazardous places where our troops are deployed, including at forts in the United States.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
the Pentagon, much to the chagrin of climate deniers in Congress, has recognized climate change as a threat to our national security. The Pentagon has conducted war games and ordered intelligence studies to determine the range of problems that rising temperatures, droughts, food shortages, melting glaciers, and high sea levels present to our security, and it is working on a range of possible responses to them.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
unlike our major competitors, the United States hasn’t passed legislation to limit carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax, or adopted a clear standard to increase the percentage of our electricity generated by clean energy by a fixed date, or committed to a clear long-term strategy of incentives to encourage large investments in clean energy and efficiency.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
our wind power potential is staggering—37 trillion kilowatt hours, almost ten times our existing needs.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Almost all the costs of solar and wind power, for example, are front-loaded, while the economic benefits in lower annual costs take time to realize. And building a new coal-fired power plant is simple. A utility gets approval from one regulatory body, hires one contractor to build the plant, secures a supplier of the coal, and gets to bill the customers over a twenty-year period, merging the cost of the plant with the annual cost of the coal. The annual costs of solar and wind are almost nothing, but the up-front costs are high (though dropping steadily as production goes up and technology improves), without a coal-like payback option of twenty years.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
on average, every billion dollars invested in a new coal-fired plant yields 870 jobs. The same amount invested in solar creates 1,900; in wind, 3,300, if the turbines and blades are made in the country where they’re put up; in big building retrofits, 7,000; in home retrofits, up to 8,000 jobs.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
At least paint the roofs white. The black tar roofs covering hundreds of thousands of American buildings, especially in older cities, absorb a huge amount of heat, requiring much more energy to cool the rooms below. Just painting the roof white can cut a building’s energy use by up to 30 percent on a hot day.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
We can get even greater energy savings and lower bills by planting greenery or growing gardens on rooftops.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Reinstate the full tax credit for new green-technology jobs.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Finish the smart grid, with adequate transmission lines, at least enough to connect the areas where the wind blows hardest and the sun shines brightest to the population centers that use the most power.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Our grid is divided into 140 largely autonomous areas of varying capacity. This leads to electricity disruptions that cost the economy $100 billion a year.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
If the transmission capacity were there, North Dakota alone could provide 25 percent of our nation’s electricity demand with wind.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
The United States already leads the world in geothermal capacity, with 3,100 megawatts, though Iceland and the Philippines generate a higher percentage of their electricity with it because of their unique geology.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
the price of geothermal power, at three to five cents per kilowatt hour, is highly competitive.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
We should turn more landfills into power generators.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
There are real benefits in converting solid waste into power: closing landfills; building recycling businesses in plastic, metal, glass, and organic fertilizer; and using the rest to provide steam heat to power factories or provide electricity for the grid.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
The progress of humankind came at the price of nature. Ecosystems are manipulated and at times destroyed to fulfill the wants and needs of humans.-Sapiens by Harari.
Develop our natural gas resources.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Many old coal-fired plants are scheduled to be closed in the next few years. They’re big producers of carbon dioxide; the oldest 10 percent are responsible for about 40 percent of total CO2 emissions from coal plants.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
As we develop other sources of clean power, we should use natural gas as a bridge fuel. It’s the cleanest fossil fuel, more than 50 percent cleaner than coal in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, 25 percent cleaner than oil when used in transportation, and only one-fourth as expensive.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
The primary controversy over natural gas concerns the most efficient technology for its extraction, called fracking. It’s alleged that the injections of a chemical solution into underground fissures to release and push the gas into more accessible and less costly recovery positions pollute water supplies and pose other health challenges. So far, studies in the areas where fracking has been most criticized don’t seem to support the claim, but there is some troubling anecdotal evidence.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
The science behind climate change represents nothing more than "a neutral description of reality."
THE SUREST WAY TO CREATE JOBS, cut costs, enhance national security, cut the trade deficit by up to 50 percent, and fight global warming is to change the way we produce and consume energy.-Back to Work by Bill Clinton.
Motto of the Royal Society of London: Nullius in verba (take nobody’s word for it).-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
‘I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use,’-Galileo.
Amid such superstition, science could never flourish.-The Weather Experiment by Moore.
‘The world loves to be amused by hollow professions, to be deceived by flattering appearances, to live in a state of hallucination; and can forgive everything but the plain, downright, simple, honest truth’.-William Hazlitt.
Trump's rescue plan for the fossil fuel sector is multipronged: bury the evidence that climate change is happening by stopping research; cut the programs that are tasked with coping with the real-world impacts of climate disruption; and remove all barriers to an acceleration of the very activities that are fueling the crisis- drilling for more oil and gas, mining and burning more coal.-No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein.
If oil rises to more than $80 a barrel, then the scramble to dig up and burn the dirtiest fossil fuels, including those under melting ice, will be back on. A price rebound would unleash a global frenzy in new high-risk, high-carbon fossil fuel extraction, from the Arctic to the tar sands.-No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein.
Responding effectively to climate change requires throwing out the entire pro-corporate economic playbook- which is one of the main reasons so many right-wing ideologues are determined to deny its reality.-No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein.
We are all part of system that takes endlessly from the earth's natural bounty, without protecting cycles of regeneration, and while playing dangerously little attention to where we are offloading pollution, whether it be into the water systems that sustain life or the atmosphere that keeps our climate system in balance.-No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein.
The root cause of the climate crisis- and it's the dominant economic logic of our time: extractivisim to feed perpetual growth rooted in ever-increasing consumption.-No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein.
World Wildlife Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the African Wildlife Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and Conservation International.
It lacks drama, crises and apocalypses, but it is the slow-burn reality that confronts us.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
“We have strong cognitive biases toward our present needs, and are weak thinkers about the long away future. But at least we’re starting to recognize the degree to which we have put human and natural systems at risk. What we need now is leadership. Great leaders must have the essential long view that a systems understanding brings.”.-Focus by Goleman.
We have zero neural radar for the threats to the global systems that support human life. They are too macro or micro for us to notice directly. So when we are faced with news of these global threats, our attention circuits tend to shrug.-Focus by Goleman.
The absence of imminent crises is what makes these problems so hard to tackle within the shorter-term political context.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Climate is the product of so many variables—rising and falling carbon dioxide levels, the shifts of continents, solar activity, the stately wobbles of the Milankovitch cycles—that it is as difficult to comprehend the events of the past as it is to predict those of the future.-A Short History by Bryson.
The most promising faith for the future might be based on the realization that the entire universe is a system related by common laws and that it makes no sense to impose our dreams and desires on nature without taking them into account.-Flow by Czikszentmihalyi.
There are three main "tipping points" that scientists are aware of for Earth's climate: a slowing or collapse of the Gulf Stream; the demise of Amazon Rain Forests; and the release of gas hydrates from the sea floor.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
The three main contributors: Cars, Cows, and Coal.
The notion that in all this noise objective science is likely to prevail in the setting of regulatory rules is fantasy.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
“When you find one thing that depends on something else that, in turn, depends on something else, the whole series of interactions depends on constancy.”-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
To many environmentalists it is obvious: there is only one earth, within which everything depends upon everything else. Humans are just a particular type of animal, and depend upon the productivity of nature for all that they do. Our very survival depends upon this set of natural ecosystems.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
It is a delusion to think that we can do without this natural capital (nature).-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Deterministic pessimism.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The culprits for global warming…-Countdown by Weisman.
Methane belched by cattle and rice paddies
An insidious by-product of over-fertilization: nitrous oxide, a heat trapping gas 300x as potent as CO2.
How might Nature destroy us? Probably in a number of cascading ways, as one loss ignites another.-Countdown by Weisman.
The fish supply collapse because we crave them to the point of disappearance.
Because we've dug up and burned millions of years worth of excess carbon buried by nature in less than three centuries
The waters they dwell in now grow warmer than some of them may be able to bear.
Decreased O levels and increased metabolic rates in warming waters are already decreasing body sizes of North Atlantic cod and haddock faster than models had predicted.
As oceans absorb our excess CO2 , they become less alkaline. And although our seawater is not yet so acidic that it's turned into salty Perrier, higher levels of dissolved CO2 corrode developing shells of young mollusks and crustaceans.
Warm waters expand, melting ice adds more volume, and the specter of rising seas become a certainty as it grows likely that Earth's average surface temperature is headed beyond the 2C increase over preindustrial levels proposed as the threshold we dare not pass.
Easter Island all over again.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Our planet is threatened by a multitude of interactive processes- the depletion of natural resources; climatic changes; population growth; a rapidly growing disparity in the quality of life; the destabilization of the ecological economy; and the disruption of social order.-Countdown by Weisman.
As Hardin put it: ‘Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.’-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Demand for clean water, global surface temperatures, ozone depletion, consumption of ocean resources, species extinction, CO2 concentration, deforestation, and global sea levels.-Inferno by Dan Brown.
Nine Planetary Boundaries, beyond which the world would enter a phase shift that could prove cataclysmic for humanity:-Countdown by Weisman.
Disruption of Global Nitrogen and P cycles
Changes in Land Use
Behind each of these are the same unspoken cause: cumulative human presence.-Countdown by Weisman.
The cloud line is the level at which clouds sit against mountainsides, bring misty conditions, and beginning in 1976 the bottom of the cloud mass had risen until it was above the level of the forest. The change had been driven by the abrupt rise in sea surface temperatures in the central western pacific that heralded the magic gate of 1976. A hot ocean had perhaps heated the air, elevating the condensation point for moisture in it. By 1987 the rising cloud line had, on many days, forsaken the mossy forest altogether and hung about in the sky above, bringing shade but no mist.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Global Dimming: Due to particles spewed out into the air by coal- fired power plants, automobiles, and factories.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Escaping methane from permafrost could cause runaway warming.
Projected 900 ppm CO2 by AD 2100.-The World Without us by Weisman.
Computer based modeling supports their research, indicating that as greenhouse gas concentration increase in the atmosphere, a semi permanent El Nino like condition will result .-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
The Tropopause is where much of our weather is generated. With less heat produced in the stratosphere, this layer of the atmosphere has cooled and shrunk. Meanwhile in the troposphere, ever increasing levels of greenhouse gases are trapping more heat, causing it to expand. Between these two effects, the tropopause has been rapidly ascending.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Nights are warming faster than days causing additional heat to be trapped in the atmosphere.
More rainfall, more violent storms due to ability of hotter atmosphere to hold more moisture.
Since 2000, there is more cloudiness, less solar radiation, and rising nighttime temperatures. The higher the temperature at night, the more energy a plant burns to convert surges- energy it otherwise would apply to growth.-Countdown by Weisman.
Until about 200 years ago, CO2 from the gaseous part above dissolved into the liquid part below at a steady rate that kept the world at equilibrium. At first the ocean’s surface will absorb CO2 rapidly. As it saturates, that slows. It loses some CO2 to photosynthesizing organisms. Slowly, as the seas mix, it sinks, and ancient, unsaturated water rises from the depths to replace it. It takes 1,000 years for the ocean to completely turn over. The geologic cycle will take CO2 back to pre-human levels. That will take about 100,000 years. The more oceans warm, the less CO2 they absorb, as higher temperature inhibit growth of CO2-breathing plankton.- The World Without us by Weisman.
They discovered, CO2 acts as a trigger for that potent greenhouse gas, water vapor. It does this by heating the atmosphere just a little, allowing it to take up and retain more moisture, which then warms the atmosphere further. So a positive feedback loop is created, forcing our planet's temperature to ever higher levels. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Sunlight easily passes through carbon dioxide. But as sunlight heats up the earth, it creates IR , which does not pass back through carbon dioxide so easily. The energy from sunlight cannot escape back into space and is trapped.-Physics of the Future by Kaku.
In 1990 carbon emissions were growing at around 1–1.5 parts per million (ppm) per annum. They are now growing at nearly 3 ppm. The 400 ppm concentration has been breached (compared with the pre-Industrial Revolution level of roughly 275 ppm), and it is very hard to see how much can be done to stop the concentrations reaching 450 ppm in the next couple of decades. Beyond that, scientists predict that the warming may be more than 2°C. Too many people and too much consumption mean we face a potentially radical change to the earth’s climate.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The sun is a very powerful energy source, and the more powerful the source, the shorter the wavelengths of energy generated. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
And so light passes harmlessly through an atmosphere charged with greenhouse gases, but heat has trouble getting out. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Solar radiation warms the upper levels of the stratosphere through the UV rays that are absorbed by Ozone. Greenhouse gases, in contrast, warm the troposphere, and they warm it most at the bottom, where their concentration is greatest. At the moment, Earth is experiencing both stratospheric cooling (due to the ozone hole), and tropospheric warming (due to increased greenhouse gases). -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Blair stated "The emission of greenhouse gases…is causing global warming at a rate that began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long term. And by long term I do not mean centuries ahead. I mean within the lifetime of my children certainly; and possibly within my own. And by unsustainable, I do not mean a phenomenon causing problems of adjustment. I mean a challenge so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence… There is no doubt that the time to act is now.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Methyl-Bromide, the most potent ozone destroyer of all.- The World Without us by Alan Weisman.
Depletion of the ozone was cooling the stratosphere, while greenhouse gases had been warming the troposphere. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Aerosols of sulphate are most effective at reflecting sunlight back into space, and thus act powerfully to cool the planet. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
The O that keeps your body alive consists of two atoms of O joined together, but high in the stratosphere, 5-30 miles above our heads, UV radiation occasionally forces an extra O atom to join the duo. The result is three-atom molecules of a sky-blue gas known as ozone. Ozone is unstable, for it is constantly losing its additional atom, but new trios are forever being created by sunlight, so a constant amount persists- about 10 parts per million (one of every 100,000 molecules) in an unmanaged stratosphere. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
If the great aerial ocean is Earth's blood supply, then ozone is its sunscreen. Two Atom Oxygen is able to block UV radiation that comes in wavelengths shorter than .28 microns, but ozone can block UV wavelengths between .28 and .32 microns. It shields us from around 95% of the UV radiation (that is, radiation at wavelengths shorter than .4 microns) reaching Earth. Without ozones very high SPF, UV radiation would kill you fast, by tearing apart your DNA and breaking other chemical bonds, within your cells. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Midgley set out to create a gas that was stable, non-flammable, non-corrosive and safe to breathe. With an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny, he invented chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs.- A Short History by Bryson.
Dust is important stuff, because its tiny particles can scatter and absorb light, thereby lowering temperature. These particles also carry nutrients into the ocean and to distant lands, assisting the growth of plants and plankton, and thereby increasing the absorption of CO2.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Coal Gasification: Water and O are mixed with the coal to create CO and H. The H is used as a fuel source, while the CO is converted to a concentrated stream of CO2. These plants are not cheap to run: around 1/4 of the energy they produce is consumed just in keeping them operating. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Yesterday, the argument goes, it was coal, today it's oil, and tomorrow it will be natural gas, with Nirvana being reached when the global economy makes the transition to H- a fuel that contains no C at all. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Check fuel efficiency of your car
Walk, cycle, take public transport
Calculate your C Footprint
So far carbon reductions have been relatively easy to achieve – partly because carbon reductions are measured in production rather than consumption terms, and partly because the economy has been deindustrializing and has been subjected to a massive economic recession.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Climate change, for which they concluded that atmospheric CO2 concentrations should not exceed 350 ppm. As of 2009, CO2 is at 387 ppm. The amount of N siphoned from the atmosphere for human use, chiefly through Haber-Bosch. The boundary they arrived at was 35 million tons per year, versus the current 121 million.-Countdown by Weisman.
Nature—mostly through the belching's of volcanoes and the decay of plants—sends about 200 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, nearly thirty times as much as we do with our cars and factories.- A Short History by Bryson.
Foraminiferans are ready for it or not. Since 1850, it has been estimated, we have lofted about 100 billion tonnes of extra carbon into the air, a total that increases by about 7 billion tonnes each year.- A Short History by Bryson.
We know from samples of very old ice that the “natural” level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—that is, before we started inflating it with industrial activity—is about 280 parts per million.- A Short History by Bryson.
SINCE the start of the industrial revolution, humans have burned through enough fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—to add some 365 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere. Deforestation has contributed another 180 billion tons. Each year, we throw up another nine billion tons or so, an amount that’s been increasing by as much as six percent annually. As a result of all this, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air today—a little over four hundred parts per million—is higher than at any other point in the last eight hundred thousand years. Quite probably it is higher than at any point in the last several million years. If current trends continue, CO2 concentrations will top five hundred parts per million, roughly double the levels they were in pre industrial days, by 2050. It is expected that such an increase will produce an eventual average global temperature rise of between three and a half and seven degrees Fahrenheit, and this will, in turn, trigger a variety of world-altering events, including the disappearance of most remaining glaciers, the inundation of low-lying islands and coastal cities, and the melting of the Arctic ice cap. But this is only half the story.-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert
Greenhouse gases are a class of gases that can trap heat near Earth's surface. As they increase in the atmosphere, the extra heat they trap leads to global warming. This warming in turn places pressure on Earth's climate system and can lead to climate change. These include Methane, NO2, CFCs, O3, and Water. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
By trapping more heat than reflecting light, high thin clouds tend to warm the planet, while low thick clouds have the reverse effect.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
What keeps the planet stable and cool? Life does. Trillions upon trillions of tiny marine organisms that most of us have never heard of—foraminifera and coccoliths and calcareous algae—capture atmospheric carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide, when it falls as rain and use it (in combination with other things) to make their tiny shells. By locking the carbon up in their shells, they keep it from being re-evaporated into the atmosphere where it would build up dangerously as a greenhouse gas. Eventually all the tiny foraminiferans and coccoliths and so on die and fall to the bottom of the sea, where they are compressed into limestone.- A Short History by Bryson.
A six-inch cube of Dover chalk will contain well over a thousand litres of compressed carbon dioxide.- A Short History by Bryson.
CO2 dissolves in H2O to form an acid.
CO2 makes up .04% of the atmosphere. CO2 catches infrared photons that bounce of the Earth and re-radiate back to the surface. Molecules of CO2 remain in the air for thousands of years.
Oxygen is our most important elixir of life only because we need it for the cells in our body to burn carbon compounds.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
It is vitally important for us that we don’t run out of carbon dioxide. But that’s exactly what the far distant future seems to hold. For hundreds of millions of years, leaving aside the fluctuations, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been falling. The warmer the world gets, the more this process speeds up, because warmth increases the rate of erosion and therefore the rate at which the gas binds to tiny particles.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
The thing that should concern us most is the rate of change.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
In the Cambrian, about 500 million years ago, there were already vertebrates very distantly related to us. They had to deal with levels of carbon dioxide that sound like something from science fiction. Whereas we have pushed the amount from 280 ppm (parts per million) to more than 400 ppm, the amount in the Cambrian was more than 4,000 ppm. Then it sank, before rising extremely again to around 2,000 ppm 250 million years ago. Why didn’t the earth collapse from heatstroke? If we consider the future predicted by many scientists if we get to just a few hundred ppm more than preindustrial levels, life at these levels should be basically impossible. But clearly it was possible, or humans would never have existed. It’s a question of the speed at which change happens—and thus the chances species have to adapt—that decides whether climate changes like these are catastrophic or benign.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
Human activity has transformed between a third and a half of the land surface of the planet.-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
Most of the world’s major rivers have been dammed or diverted.
Fertilizer plants produce more nitrogen than is fixed naturally by all terrestrial ecosystems.
Fisheries remove more than a third of the primary production of the oceans’ coastal waters.
Humans use more than half of the world’s readily accessible freshwater runoff.
Most significantly, Crutzen said, people have altered the composition of the atmosphere.
Owing to a combination of fossil fuel combustion and deforestation, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air has risen by forty percent over the last two centuries, while the concentration of methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas, has more than doubled.
About fifty million square miles of land on the planet are ice-free, and this is the baseline that’s generally used for calculating human impacts. According to a recent study published by the Geological Society of America, people have “directly transformed” more than half of this land—roughly twenty-seven million square miles—mostly by converting it to cropland and pasture, but also by building cities and shopping malls and reservoirs, and by logging and mining and quarrying. Of the remaining twenty-three million square miles, about three-fifths is covered by forest.-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
Due to Dams, some 39% of freshwater fish in North America and Europe are now considered imperiled.
One of 8 cities over a million people that depend on Colorado River Water (Vegas, Denver, Salt Lake, LA, SD, Phoenix, Tijuana, Mexicali), as well as a dozen other smaller cities (Tucson, Albuquerque).-Countdown by Weisman.
The bleak salt marsh is what remains of Lago Texcoco, the largest of 5 lakes that filled this high basin in central Mexico when Hernan Cortes's Spanish troops first saw it. The Aztec capital, called Tenochtitlan was on an island, connected to the shore by causeways. After the conquest, the Spaniards drained the lakes; eventually the basin refilled and overflowed- with people. Today, 24 million live in one of the Earth's greatest expanses of continuous concrete and asphalt, covering Mexico's Distrito Federal o and parts of five surrounding states. The sheer weight of the city atop its over pumped aquifer has sunk it so low that sewage canals no longer flow outwards.-Countdown by Weisman.
A convenient fiction is to assume that it is businesses that do the polluting rather than people like you and me. Surely the owners and managers of businesses are the ones responsible? The same kind of logic leads people to believe that companies rather than individuals should be taxed. Yet this is an illusion. Companies are owned by shareholders, who receive dividends, and they sell products to consumers at prices that reflect their costs. If the farmer is not paying for the costs of the damage to the river that the nitrate fertilizers applied to the fields are causing, then the costs of production are artificially low. The result is that the price of bread is lower too, and those who buy it – you and me – are getting away with the benefits of the pollution, without having to pay the full costs. The consumers of the bread are the ultimate beneficiaries, and hence they are really the polluters. The farmer is doing the pollution on consumers’ behalf. The shareholder might also be a polluter if the company can capture the lower costs in higher profits rather than lower prices to us the consumers. But there is little escaping the inconvenient fact that the villains are the consumers and shareholders, rather than the easy scapegoat, some large corporate entity. Strictly speaking, companies do not pollute, only consumers and shareholders do. Companies are just our agents – intermediaries doing our bidding. Politically, few want to admit this and place the blame where it properly lies: with our consumption – at least in part. All that extra consumption that will come in this century will have embedded in it more and more pollution unless consumers have to pay in full for the damage their spending will cause.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Nature provided us with lots of gas, oil, coal, iron ore, copper and a host of other minerals. We have been depleting this cornucopia like children in a sweet shop.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Are more red squirrels in mid-Wales more important than the ability of teenagers to go mountain-biking near Cardiff city centre?-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The rule tends to be that resource-rich countries spend their entire current income from resource depletion and then, when the oil prices fall, get into serious trouble (The Middle East).-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Senate decision to authorize oil drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Green Energy faces setbacks in New Tax Bill
Scaleback of incentives for wind and solar while bolstering oil and gas production.
There is a further twist to the failure of the Club of Rome and other doom-laden predictions of the end of the world: when they fail to materialize, public skepticism grows. It is already the case when it comes to climate change. Attributing every bit of extreme weather to climate change, and repeated dire warnings of floods, heatwaves and other extreme weather events, has induced a rather bored indifference since life goes on.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Both will probably hire ‘experts’ and consultants to argue their cases, and maybe lobbyists and corporate public relations advocates too. This sort of strategic informational game is typical of a wide range of pollution cases: denial on one side, exaggeration on the other.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Human Activity- Solution
Stair-Step Exchange: Nevada would take Denver's Colorado River allotment, because Denver, in turn, would take Nebraska and Kansas' share of the Platte River, because those states could recharge their depleted Ogallala Aquifer by siphoning water from the Mississippi, and so on Eastward.-Countdown by Weisman.
The Natural Capital Project: An International collaboration to keep ecosystems and people whose lives depend on them- meaning everybody- in healthy equilibrium with each other. It focuses on three areas: land and sea use, climate stability, and human demographics and economics- p186.-Countdown by Alan Weisman.
UN's Current Millennium Development Goals as a world class example of gender equality, women's empowerment, reduced maternal and child mortality, and universal health care and education- p344.-Countdown by Weisman.
In its magnitude, the temperature change projected for the coming century is roughly the same as the temperature swings of the ice ages. (If current emissions trends continue, the Andes are expected to warm by as much as nine degrees.) But if the magnitude of the change is similar, the rate is not, and, once again, rate is key. Warming today is taking place at least ten times faster than it did at the end of the last glaciation, and at the end of all those glaciations that preceded it. To keep up, organisms will have to migrate, or otherwise adapt, at least ten times more quickly.-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
World Global avg T has increased by 1C since the industrial revolution.
Spring in the UK is beginning 2 weeks earlier than it did 50 years ago; and Autumn a week later.
Doubled frequency of heatwaves (2003 Europe Heatwave killed 70,000 people).
What Martin Weitzman called ‘the fat tail problem’ in his discussion of climate change. The future temperatures that may result from increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are not known with any precision. The predictions for business-as-usual vary from about 1°C warming to over 6°C. Should we treat a small probability of a catastrophe (6°C) on the same basis as a larger probability of something much smaller? Weitzman says no, the former is more important, and he is surely right.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Carbon Tax: ~$40/ton emitted, would raise Gas prices ~$.36/gallon- directly attacks problem while creating a large enough increase in gas price to effect consumer behavior.
Emissions Trading System (ETS) aka "Cap and Trade": Create a supply and demand for businesses allowing them to buy and sell depending on their Carbon usage needs.
End Fossil Fuel Subsidies.
Rigid boundaries get in the way of what nature has in mind: change.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
Global Warming manifests itself as a poleward shift in species distribution of, on average, around 4 miles per decade, and an advance of spring activity of 2.3 days per decade.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Poleward shift of sea-animals by hundreds of kilometers.
Such is the pain the loss of a single species causes that we’re willing to perform ultrasounds on rhinos and hand jobs on crows.-Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
There is one group of species that will benefit enormously from this aspect of climate change. These are the parasites that cause the four strains of malaria. As rainfall increases, the mosquitoes that carry the parasite will spread, the malarial season will lengthen, and the disease will proliferate.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
The world is on track to warm more than 2C- at which point coral reefs, home to the main protein source in the PI, aren't expected to survive.-Countdown by Weisman.
Biodiversity Loss: before the industrial revolution, the fossil record suggests .1-1 species per million went extinct annually. The acceptable proposed limit is 10. The actual current loss is at least 100 missing species per million, a figure widely feared to rise 10 fold this century.-Countdown by Weisman.
Nature is often valued inversely to its abundance. In other words, the rarer the species, the greater the enjoyment we get from seeing it.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Today, the number of roe deer in German forests is at fifty times the level once found in the region’s ancient forests, and red deer, originally animals of the plains, now hang out in the safety of the trees as people take over their ancestral ranges.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
True tropical diversity with millions of species depends on the return of all the fungi, insects, and vertebrates, all of which require such special conditions that their return is unlikely.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
When we save individual animals or plants, we really believe we’re doing something good for the environment. Yet this is rarely what happens, mostly because when we have to change conditions in the environment to ensure the survival of one species, the survival of many others ends up in jeopardy.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
When you see photographs of fishing trawlers pulling aboard nets filled with living, slowly suffocating ocean inhabitants, when you see a trout thrashing around at the end of an angler’s bent rod, you have to ask yourself how society tolerates such behavior in light of today’s discussions about animal welfare. It’s probably not a case of intentional ill will, but rather acceptance of the mostly unproven assumption that fish are witless creatures that swim around in rivers and oceans not feeling anything at all.-The Inner Life of Animals by Wohlleben.
When you think how sensitive pigs are, how they teach their young and help them deliver their own children later in life, how they answer to their names and pass the mirror test, the thought of the annual slaughter of 250 million of these animals across the European Union alone is chilling.-The Inner Life of Animals by Wohlleben.
Ultimately, we, not the beetles, are to blame for upsetting the carefully calibrated balance of nature. Instead of blaming the beetles, you could see them as an indicator that things are not as they should be. You could argue that all they are doing is exacerbating a situation that is already out of balance, making it all the more urgent that we change course to bring us more in line with the natural order.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
Destruction caused by the mountain pine beetle, however, is on another scale altogether. This beetle lives in pine forests in western North America, where it is particularly partial to lodgepole pines. It behaves much like the spruce engraver beetle, except it is the females that lead the attack and summon the males with seductive scents. To shut down a tree’s defenses (its flow of pitch), the beetle carries a fungus that attacks and paralyzes the living layers of bark. That way, not only are the tree’s defensive mechanisms shut down, but it also cannot feed itself, and the defenseless victim can easily be colonized. They have destroyed approximately 55 percent of all the commercially harvestable pine in British Columbia. You have to wonder how this can happen. Usually, a species doesn’t destroy its natural habitat. Scientists suggest it has to do with climate change. Higher winter temperatures allow more eggs and larvae to survive, and the beetles to extend their range farther north. Warming also weakens trees so that they have less energy to defend themselves against their attackers.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
Between 1961 and 2007, humankind's numbers doubled, roughly speaking, while global harvests of wheat, rice, and maize tripled. As population has soared, in fact, the percentage of chronically malnourished has fallen- contrary to Malthus's prediction. Hunger still exists, to be sure, but the chance that any given child will be malnourished has steadily, hearteningly declined. Hong, by contrast, pointed to a related but more complex prospect. The continual need to increase yields, Hong presciently suggested, would lead to an ecological catastrophe, which would cause social dysfunction- and with it massive human suffering- p180.-1493 by Mann.
•"The power of Population," Malthus proclaimed, "is indefinitely greater than the power in the Earth too produce subsistence for man." Every effort to increase the food supply, Malthus argued, will only lead to an increase in population that will more than cancel out the increase in the food supply- a state of affairs today known as a Malthusian Trap. Forget Utopia, Malthus said, Humanity is doomed to exist, now and forever, at the edge of starvation. Forget charity, too: helping the poor only leads to more babies, which in turn produces increased hardship down the road. No matter how big the banquet grows, there will always be too many hungry people wanting a seat at the table. The Malthusian Trap cannot be escaped.-1493 by Mann.
For Thomas Malthus, land was a fixed factor of production, with subsistence rising at best arithmetically, and hence population would be checked as food production could feed only so many mouths. The geometric population growth would be checked by malnutrition, disease and war – as it had been for all of human history up to then.-Natural Capital by Helm.
We were taught in the mosque, in school, and at home to have lots of children, for lots of reasons. In America or Europe, if there's a problem, you can call the police. In a place with no laws to safeguard you, you rely on family." (p4, Palestinian).-Countdown by Weisman.
Sir David Attenborough: I've never seen a problem that wouldn't be easier to solve with fewer people, and utterly impossible if there were more. We all agree that the solution is to empower women to control their own fertility.- p115.-Countdown by Weisman.
If the issues in the population debate are connected to the very survival of our species and culture, then the notion that different views are just people's opinion is frankly ridiculous- p117.-Countdown by Weisman.
Borlaug: we are dealing with two opposing forces, the scientific power of food production and the biologic power of human reproduction….There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort.-Countdown by Weisman.
In Niger, every woman averages between seven and eight- the highest human fertility rate on Earth. The only thing that checks Niger's world-highest fertility is its 50 year life expectancy.-Countdown by Weisman.
Yet another reason for the preternaturally skewed sex ratios in Haryana is a widespread belief among Hindus that passage to heaven depends on having a son to light his parent's funeral pyres.-Countdown by Weisman.
Although abortion has been legal in India since 1971, sex-selective abortion is punishable by both jail and fines. Enforcement, however, is so lax that by 2030, India could have 20% more men than women- a deadly prescription for, among other problems, jealousy-fueled violence and escalating rape.-Countdown by Weisman.
The Bottom Line
We currently add 80 million people annually.-Countdown by Weisman.
Every 4.5 days, there are another 1 million people on the planet.-Countdown by Weisman.
The 1973 Helms Amendment prohibits the use of US foreign aid to pay for abortion as a method of family planning.-Countdown by Weisman.
1984: The Reagan Administration proclaimed by executive order what is still known as the Mexico City Policy (or the Global Gag Rule) requiring foreign NGOs to pledge not to "perform or promote" abortion as a method of family planning.-Countdown by Weisman.
By any biological gauge, our species has exceeded our sustainable numbers.-Inferno by Dan Brown.
In the entire history of biology, every species that outgrows its resource base suffers a population crash- a crash sometimes fatal to the entire species (p40).-Countdown by Weisman.
UN's medium estimate for population by 2050 is 9.2billion.-Countdown by Weisman.
After the peak of around 10 billion is reached, it is predicted that the replacement rate will have fallen sufficiently to bring on a gradual decline.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Population specialist Dr. Malcolm Potts, just a half child per woman decrease in the world's fertility rate could bring us back to 6 billion by the end of the century- or half a child in the other direction could take us to 16 billion.-Countdown by Weisman.
"It's totally counterintuitive if you want to manage people. If you go to Darfur and see people starving, you bring them food, and their reproductive rate goes back up. Haiti has an earthquake, you bring in food and relief, and their reproduction rebounds." He shakes his head at the irony: by replenishing the population, the suffering inevitably recurs (P379).-Countdown by Weisman.
Before scarcity and civil order devolved into food riots and water wars, "a far better choice, in our view, is to expand the milder methods of influencing family size preference, while redoubling efforts to ensure that the means of birth control are accessible to every human on earth within the shortest time possible- Holdren and the Ehrlich's.-Countdown by Weisman.
Costa Rica has an Office of Population.-Countdown by Weisma
He and his coauthors had imagined a super agency they dubbed a "Planetary Regime," which might one day combine the UN's environmental and population programs and expand the UN treaty called the Law of the Sea to manage all natural resources. It would be a steward of the global commons, empowered to control pollution of the atmosphere, oceans, and transboundary waters. Such an agency, they added, also "might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world."- p85.-Countdown by Weisman.
Optimum population did not mean the maximum number that could be crammed onto the planet like industrial chickens, but how many could live well without compromising the chance for future generations to do the same. At minimum, everyone should be guaranteed sustenance, shelter, education, health care, freedom from prejudice, and opportunities to earn a living. Optimum population should be big enough to maintain human cultural diversity, and in places dense enough to allow a critical mass of intellectual, artistic, and technological creativity- enough people to have large, exciting cities and still maintain substantial tracts of wilderness- p92.-Countdown by Weisman.
For the Uganda shilling equivalent of $1.50, a woman can buy a voucher to cover prenatal care, her stay in the hostel, delivery, and postnatal care. The vouches are subsidized by Marie Stopes International, Britain's analog of America's International Planned Parenthood Federation- p148.-Countdown by Alan Weisman.
China's 1 child policy
In the inverse of maternity leave, she was given abortion leave, including a subsidy that procedure, her convalescence, and for replacement of stainless steel IUD- p164.-Countdown by Weisman.
Some 22 legal exceptions have allowed 35% of families at least two; many Chinese refer to the 1.5 child policy.-Countdown by Weisman.
Since 2002 China's, 56 ethnic minorities- anyone other than the 92% Han Majority- have been permitted three, lest they shrink into cultural extinction.-Countdown by Weisman.
Calculating the carrying capacity of China involved countless variables, but they had focused on arable land, locally available raw resources, the cost of importing others, and the economic potential (and cost) of each added person.-Countdown by Weisman.
Population must be checked before it became an economic impediment rather than an asset. They had prepared gradual plans involving incentives for voluntary limits, birth spacing, and postponed childbirth. Mathematical recommendations of one child per couple for the next few decades until a generation died off and the graph peaked at just over a billion chinese- and then, as population momentum reversed and shrank back towards the optimum, people could gradually return to replacement level production.-Countdown by Weisman.
Deng Xiaoping, governments clamor for a one child policy, which in the 1980, became official.-Countdown by Weisman.
Prescriptions for Progestin Contraceptives: mostly injections of Norgestrel or oral packets of lo femenal and ferrous fumarate tablets. Women can also request IUDs, longer term Depo- provera shots, condoms for their husbands, or tubal ligation, but shorter term birth control methods are preferred here. Also… birth spacing, sterilization.-Countdown by Weisman.
Talking to Muslims: You can't say family planning. You must say birth spacing. If it's about health, they accept. Numbers, they resist.-Countdown by Weisman.
Why women aren't having as many kids: Education, Cost, Food.-Countdown by Weisman.
One Indispensable Factor: female education.-Countdown by Weisman.
Giving women control over their wombs and their education made it increasingly hard to deny them the workplace.-Countdown by Weisman.
The sole requirement was that all couples attend premarital classes, held in mosques or in health centers where couples went for prenuptial blood tests. The classes taught contraception and sex education, and stressed the ads of having fewer children to feed, clothe, and school. The only governmental disincentive was elimination of the individual subsidy for food, electricity, telephone, and appliances for any child after the first three.-Countdown by Weisman.
Japan is the first to reach the end of its demographic transition- when high mortality and high birth rates both turn to low.-Countdown by Weisman.
The demographic transition- a country's passage from high birth and death rates to low.-Countdown by Weisman.
Low fertility rates directly result from a high percentage of female university graduates.-Countdown by Weisman.
One simple thing might make a difference, however. Indian women who make it to secondary school average 1.9 children apiece. For those who graduate, it's 1.6. The fertility rate among women with no education is 6.0.-Countdown by Weisman.
Compliance with family planning tracked directly with female literacy.-Countdown by Weisman.
Letting women choose proved far more effective than making them feel stupid or guilty for having so many children. Everyone wanted the pills- which led to the next problem: Until then, only medical clinics dispensed them, but just 20% of the population lived in easy reach of one. Even if they did, many found medical centers intimidating.-Countdown by Weisman.
"A Five minute operation on an unintentionally pregnant 17 year old woman can change the trajectory of the next half century of her life. Few other medical procedures have that power."- Malcolm Potts.-Countdown by Weisman.
The total number of people, each using 3KW of energy apiece, that could live in a world using no more than 6TW was 2 billion. In a world of 1.5 billion, everyone could have 4.75 KW.-Countdown by Weisman.
A large wind farm, consisting of 100 windmills, can produce 500 MW, comparable to the 1000 MW produced by a single coal burning or nuclear power plant.-Physics of the Future by Kaku.
One of the key decisions in our war on climate change is whether to focus our efforts on transport or the e grid. But when it comes to the really big effort required to stop C emissions from one or the other, decarbonizing the power grid wins hands down. For with that achieved, we can use the renewable power thus generated to decarbonize transport.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Of all the sources of intermittent power, the most mature and economically competitive is wind- to which Denmark is leading the world.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Three important technologies that directly exploit the sun's power. These are solar hot water systems, solar thermal devices, and photovoltaic cells. Solar hot water is the simplest and, in many circumstances, the most cost-effective method of using the sun's power for household purposes, making it the best way to make large, easy savings in most household power bills. Solar hot water systems sit on a north facing roof, and trap the sun's rays, which are then used to heat water. They require no maintenance.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Photovoltaic cells use sunlight that falls on them to generate e. That e must then be transformed into an AC of the correct voltage for your area using an inverter. If you are on the grid, all you need are these two items and a power socket, and you can generate power. The average home requires around 1.4kW of power to run, and the average size of panels is 80 or 160 W.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
If the renewables sector offers one lesson, it is that there is no silver bullet for decarbonizing the grid: Rather, we will see a multiplicity of technologies used wherever favorable conditions prevail.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Among those pursuing renewables, the Brazilians have the lead, for their vehicle fleet runs largely on ethanol derived from sugarcane- in the United States, ethanol is largely derived from corn, but the amount of fossil fuel put into growing the crop means that the use of corn-derived ethanol in transportation provides little in the way of C savings.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Prius: Instead, when slowing or stopped in traffic, the 1.5 qt gas engine shuts down and doesn't commence operations again until speed has been built up. The silent e motor takes over, which is powered by energy generated in part from braking- energy wasted in an ordinary vehicle. The prius has taken the market by storm, with a tank that needs refueling every 600 miles.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Combined-cycle plants, which burn gas to turn a turbine then capture the ultra-hot exhaust emissions to generate more electricity, are extremely efficient at converting fuel to power. If coupled to a heat-using industrial process (called cogeneration), they can achieve efficiencies of 80%. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Weak aggregate natural capital rule: the aggregate level of renewable natural capital should be kept at least constant, and there should be general capital compensation for the depletion of non-renewables. Strong aggregate natural capital rule: the aggregate level of renewable natural capital should be kept at least constant and the value of the economic rents from the depletion of non-renewable natural capital should be invested in renewable natural capital.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The aggregate capital rule, even in its weaker form, is a radical one, requiring that the existing stock of assets be maintained at least intact. As a condition for sustainable growth, it necessitates a new way of accounting for economic growth. A national balance sheet is needed, with explicit policies and provisions to maintain the natural capital stock of assets.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
In the last 50 years, world population more than doubled, but world economic growth increase sevenfold.-Countdown by Weisman.
This is a profound dilemma. Because the predominant paradigm of social and economic development remains largely oblivious to the risk of human induced environmental disasters at continental to planetary scales.-Countdown by Weisman.
Depleting natural assets typically leads to an increase in GDP growth.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Economic production is the combination of natural capital with other forms of capital and labour to produce outputs, which we consume.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
North Sea oil produces a flow of income, increasing output, and that means GDP goes up. There is no countervailing balance sheet adjustment for the fact that the oil is thereby used up.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The world’s economic growth rate is currently around 3–4 per cent per annum.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
A fixed supply of resources and continuous demand growth means that demand will surpass supply. It is just a question of time.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, land was the fixed factor of production, and land determined – and limited – the productivity of agriculture. Agriculture determined how many people could be fed, and hence determined population. Population as labour was what produced valuable output, and capital was just embodied labour. The fact that land was fixed meant that there was a natural limit to growth. In classical economics this was the stationary state.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
A deficient level of demand ‘explained’ the unemployment of the 1930s in the US and Britain, and the job of the state is to correct such imbalance, Keynes and his followers argued, by borrowing and spending. The spending would be multiplied through the economy, and would lift output and employment so that the borrowing would be paid back through the extra output. Unemployment costs would fall, and tax revenue would go up.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
GDP accounting not only ignores the asset side, but also encourages the building-up of liabilities – debts the next generation will be lumbered with.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Keynes publicly urged housewives to go out and spend to create demand rather than to prudently save for a rainy day: ‘O patriotic housewives, sally out tomorrow early into the street and go to the wonderful sales … You will do yourselves good … And have the added joy that you are increasing employment, adding to the wealth of your country because you are setting on foot useful activities.’4 Economic growth would take care of the future by making everyone richer.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
There is no market in air, and no price. Many renewable natural resources have been treated this way – fish stocks, forests and uncultivated land. But as human populations have grown and wealth has increased, almost all these abundant natural resources have come under pressure. Humans impact on almost all of nature now and, where there is no price, and hence no cost to the users of these natural resources, there is no incentive to conserve them. That is why they are over-exploited and, as a result, degraded. In an increasing number of cases, this over-exploitation runs up against the thresholds, and even where stocks are above or close to the threshold, they are nevertheless reduced to suboptimal levels. The result is economic inefficiency. The result, inevitably, is overgrazing and a collapse of the common. Hardin actually had in mind the whole planet and its human population, and his remedy for the commons in general, and population in particular, was some form of coercion. In the absence of prices there is a very powerful economic incentive to drive renewables below the thresholds.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Take two very different examples of pricing pollution: the marginal damage from an extra tonne of carbon emissions; and the marginal damage from applying another tonne of fertilizer. The carbon example is quite tractable. It does not matter where the carbon is emitted. A tonne of carbon saved in Birmingham is the same as one saved in Chicago or in Beijing. A universal global single carbon tax is needed. How much damage does that extra tonne do? The answer lies in considering the carbon targets, and in estimating the price that would deter emissions to such an extent as to bring them within the envelope to achieve the 2°C warming limit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists have suggested and the associated maximum ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. It can be achieved by setting the total amount of emissions, and then auctioning allowances up to that limit. This is indeed what the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) tries to do for the European component of the total emission targets (though it turns out this is a very badly designed scheme).11 Or it can be achieved by setting a carbon tax. Now take the fertilizer case. There is a strong and immediate difference compared with the carbon example. The impact of fertilizers is context-specific. Suppose they are applied along the banks of a clear chalk stream, teeming with aquatic life dependent on high levels of oxygen in the water. The effects could be devastating. Now consider the application alongside an already heavily polluted river with little biological activity. The marginal cost in the first location is massive; in the second it is negligible since there is little left to damage. Location matters too in respect of aquifers, the intensity of other pollution, and proximity to the sea.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The greater the existing pollution, the lower the marginal cost of more pollution, and hence the perverse incentive to create the initial pollution in order to reduce the subsequent taxes.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Developed countries did the damage by putting all the carbon in the atmosphere as they industrialized, and therefore they should bear a disproportionate burden in reducing emissions.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
By failing to account for the deterioration of the assets, GDP paints a picture that is far too rosy. It pretends that the deterioration does not matter.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Consumers from developed countries are contributing to the depletion of developing countries’ non-renewables without providing for the economic rents.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Failure to take assets seriously led us into the financial mess that we are still struggling to escape. Failure to face up to liabilities is one reason why the debt that we ignored came back to bite us. Short-term cash accounts suit the Keynesians who drive economic policy still, but it is thrift, savings, asset maintenance and investment that provide the foundations of a sustainable growth path, not deficits, money-printing and ever greater indebtedness. Environmentalists need to understand how big the gulf is between Keynesian macroeconomic management and the goals they aspire to.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
China could have burnt very little coal in the last two decades instead of being in large measure responsible for the continued growth of emissions since 1990. But that would have meant that the growth path would have been much lower, and tens or even hundreds of millions of people would still be in poverty. These are the sorts of choices to be made.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
the risks to, and opportunities of, the natural capital under company control.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Proper accounting would lead to a restatement of economic growth. Once the depletion of non-renewables (such as North Sea oil and gas, Russian and US oil and gas, and all the massive reserves in the Middle East) is added to the failure to maintain renewables and then combined with failure to maintain the rest of the infrastructure properly, and when the debt liabilities too are all fully incorporated, the past would look a very different place, and so too would the future.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The case has been made for taking a narrower asset approach to this question, by focusing on the core assets needed for the economy and society to function, and ensuring that within this core the stock of natural capital should not fall in aggregate.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The total GDP would need to be reduced by the capital maintenance charge.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
In the absence of sufficiently constraining social norms, there are two routes forward. The first is that experts can decide. The authorities – be they national park authorities, government departments, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the British Environment Agency, the European Commission or national planners – make the choices supported by a battery of legislation, from the EU Habitats Directive4 to the US Endangered Species Act. The second is to use the price mechanism, either directly by setting prices or indirectly by auctioning permits.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Efficiency dictates that we find the projects with the highest benefits relative to costs – the highest net present values.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Priority should be given to the bundle of social primary goods necessary for people to participate in society and meet their basic needs,-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Taxing, to see what the elasticities are. The impact of environmental taxes is to encourage producers and consumers to substitute away from their polluting activities.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Getting the prices right, so that the ultimate polluters (typically us as consumers) face the consequences of what is done by producers on our behalf would change our behaviour and therefore significantly reduce our environmental footprint.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Under the EU approach, each and every river needs to meet the minimum thresholds, and this dictates that most of the resources should be directed at the most polluted ones. Yet a moment’s reflection tells us that a marginal improvement to a biologically dead river will not make much difference, while removing phosphorus and nitrates from an otherwise biologically rich upstream river might make a lot of difference. The EU approach is chronically inefficient from a natural capital perspective.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Scott Barrett has led the way in applying the insights of game theory to work out when and how international environmental agreements might work. The elements are whether the entity to be protected is easily measured; whether cheating is easily detected; whether there are straightforward ways to punish those who cheat; and whether all parties gain from the attempt to conserve stocks and hence solve the problem of the commons.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Thus the answer to the financing of capital maintenance on a sustainable basis is that it will be paid for by some combination of higher taxes and lower spending, so that our standard of living will be correspondingly reduced in the short term, but increased in the medium and longer term.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Prudent approach for developed countries might be closer to 1 per cent economic growth.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The Climate Change Committee, the first of its kind, is charged with achieving the 2050 target through a process of recommending rolling five-year carbon targets, always set at least three five-year periods ahead. Its job is to analyze and measure, and to advise Parliament on the form of these carbon budgets. Parliament can reject its recommendations, but only if it can come up with a better way of achieving the same target. Its chairman and its staff are independent. The Climate Change Committee’s credibility comes from its statutory foundations and the role of the five-year carbon budgets. The statutory basis of the target means that its aims and objectives are given and not readily open to change. It has a legal remit which it has to carry out. It has some discretion in how it goes about its tasks, but it cannot deviate from these legal constraints. The five-year budgets force it to translate the target into bite-sized chunks, and for periods which are the same length as the gap between general elections. The requirement that Parliament must vote to approve the carbon budgets cements these into the political process.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
A credible and well-designed institution requires a number of conditions to be met. It must have a coherent and consistent set of objectives. They should be measurable, so that they can be monitored and managed accordingly. The organization should be open to external independent assessment. The trade-offs between objectives must have clarity at the political level rather than be left to the discretion of its board. It must have at least as many instruments as targets at its disposal. The strategy of the organization needs broad social and political support. In order to achieve its objectives, there needs to be a plan. Finally, the skill sets need to be coherent so that the management of the organization can direct its workforce in a consistent fashion.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The scale of technical change to come will inevitably dwarf what we now have. That brilliance cannot, however, exist independently of nature.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
First, what would a sustainable economy look like? Second, how can natural capital be accounted for, measured and valued? Third, what policies would be required to put natural capital at the heart of the economy? And fourth, how could the prize of a large-scale river, land and marine restoration plan be designed, financed, and delivered?-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The loss of biodiversity and much of our natural environment may be a physical and biological process, but the solutions lie squarely in the allocation of scarce resources – in other words, with economics.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Economic growth does not have to be abandoned to improve the state of natural capital. It just has to be sustainable economic growth, not the sort of growth currently so widely promoted.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
We need to know what these assets at risk might be, what the critical thresholds are, identify safe limits given the uncertainty about the science, and make sure they are not crossed. And if for other reasons they are depleted beyond the critical point then serious compensation will be needed.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The practical policies necessary to implement the natural capital approach to economic policy. There are three: compensation; environmental taxes, subsidies and permits; and the provision of natural capital public goods, including protected areas, parks and nature reserves.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Compensation is at the heart of the aggregate natural capital rule.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
There are at least three major sources of finance: compensation payments, pollution taxes, and the contributions from the depletion of non-renewable resources.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
It is all about improving efficiency through pricing natural capital and damage to it, ensuring that the economic rents from non-renewable depletion are shared across the generations, and in the process raising the sustainable growth rate.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
we must stop pursuing economic growth,-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Treating the environment not simply as a constraint on economic activity, but rather as an integral part of the economy.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The central idea is that debt is the contract between the generations, and growth pays off the debt through the greater tax revenues that richer future people will be able to pay.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The assets necessary to deliver social primary goods could be regarded as the core distributional part of the contract between the generations. These include schools, hospitals, water, energy and transport systems, as well as law and order and defence. Where these break down, states are considered as having failed.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The most important feature of asset-based accounts is those assets at risk.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Cost and value are two different things. The former is in itself of little interest.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Economists are obsessed with optimal resource allocation. Indeed defining the optimal allocation of resources might be considered the objective of economics. Optimal points are ones where demand and supply intersect, where the marginal costs of an additional unit of output are just equal to the marginal benefits. Since the marginal costs of a renewable are effectively zero – or where human management is involved usually close to zero – the emphasis is on the marginal benefits. The trouble is that most (but not all) renewable natural capital has no market and hence no price.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Someone has to decide the total carrying capacity of the commons, who should have what share of the sustainable yield, and how quotas should be enforced to avoid ruin.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Science for her work on social norms as solutions to the problem of the commons.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
In assessing environmental impacts, planners use a mitigation hierarchy: avoid; reduce, moderate and minimize; relocate; restore; offset.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
This is ‘learning-by-taxing’, and once the tax is recognized as an imperfect approximation it can be applied in a wide range of circumstances.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
By raising money from taxing things that are bad, such as pollution, rather than from taxing work and labour, which are good, there is what has been called a ‘double dividend’. Taxing work distorts the incentives to work. Reducing these taxes makes the economy more efficient as wages better reflect the value of work done. Taxing pollution is correcting failures in the market by internalizing costs, so it raises money at the same time as getting the economy to work better.5-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The European Union typically cuts out the context and sets uniform rules. A car can emit a maximum level of various chemicals, a power station can emit so much nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide, and so on. This approach relies on experts knowing best.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The solution requires a demarcation between science and economics, and it does require the science to identify the thresholds and assets-at-risk, and the uncertainties, and to provide an understanding of the complexity of ecosystems and the linkages between the various assets.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Verde Island Passage: the planet's most biologically diverse body of water. - p208.-Countdown by Weisman.
There should be no encroaching glaciers for at least the next 15,000 years.-The World Without us by Weisman.
Among the most important and best supported of these models predictions are that the Poles will warm more rapidly than the rest of the Earth; temperatures over the land will rise more rapidly than the rest of the Earth; temperatures over the land will rise more rapidly than the global average; there will be more rain; and extreme weather events will increase in both frequency and intensity.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
More severe droughts due to evaporation.
The rich countries have trashed their environments, used up the timber and extracted the minerals, and they have exploited the poor countries’ natural resources too through the processes of trade and colonization. There has been little compensation for depleting non-natural resources, and thresholds for renewable natural capital have been frequently breached as whole ecosystems and habitats have been damaged. The rich countries have both the responsibility and the wealth to act, whereas the poor developing countries have neither. Therefore, the argument goes, let the developing countries run down their natural assets as the developed countries have done until such time as they are rich enough to be able to afford to pay for protecting them.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Unlike almost anything else on Earth, New England's temperate forest is increasing, and now far exceeds what it was when the US was founded in 1776.-The World Without us by Weisman.
Scarce resources need to be directed to where the marginal benefits are greatest.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
We need to create a patchwork quilt of protected areas.-Natural Capital by Helm.
Backyard biodiversity matters alongside rainforest protection.-Natural Capital by Helm.
The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN REDD), pay developing countries to avoid destruction of forests and other habitats;-Natural Capital by Helm.
Punjab, the size of Vermont and NH combined, makes up just 1.5% of India’s total land area, it is the nation's pantry, growing 60% of its wheat and 50% of its rice. Hydrologists are saying: that the water table below it are dropping 10' per year.-Countdown by Weisman.
Because Libya's northern wells are depleted or fouled by seawater, drinking water for 90% now comes via Muammar Gaddafi's magnum opus, the "Great Manmade River"- the world's biggest network of pipes, connected to more than a 1000 wells drilled half a kilometer into a sandstone aquifer in the south. The water they tap accumulated when the Sahara abounded with plant and animal life, a wet period that ended about six-thousand years ago when the Earth's axis wobbled slightly.- p226.-Countdown by Weisman.
Rice, for example, showed an increase in yield of only 6% in response to a doubling of CO2, while wheat yields rose by only 8%. In future, crops will be stressed by higher temperature, more ozone at ground level, and changes in soil moisture, all of which will decrease yields.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Crop Ecologists expect grain harvests to drop 10% for each 1C rise in average temperatures.-Countdown by Weisman.
70% of the grain grown in the US, they claim, and 98% of the soy meal, goes to feed livestock (Worldwide, about half of grain is used for animal feed), not people (as do 80% of the antibiotics sold). Nearly one-third of the planet's ice-free land mass is used for either grazing or for growing animal feed. It takes about 6 lbs of grain (and roughly 2400 gallons of water) to produce 1lb of beef (P384-385).-Countdown by Weisman.
2050: Nutritional food output is expected to double (from 2015).-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The conversion of plants into meat is fabulously inefficient at around 10 per cent.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
In the US, ethanol now accounts for a significant amount of the total agricultural land use, with 40 per cent of corn used in ethanol production.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The ninety-nine cent price of a fast-food hamburger simply doesn’t take account of that meal’s true cost- to soil, oil, public health, the public purse, etc., costs which are never charged directly to the consumer but, indirectly and invisibly, to the taxpayer (in the form of subsidies), the health care system (in the form of food-borne illnesses and obesity), and the environment (in the form of pollution), not to mention the welfare of the workers in the feedlot and the slaughterhouse and the welfare of the animals themselves.-Omnivores Dilemna by Pollan.
We have already cleared, built on, or dug up an unbelievable 80 percent of the Earth’s land mass.-The Inner Life of Animals by Wohlleben.
Food production for humans currently occupies some 40% of the earth's non-frozen terrestrial surface, plus all our roads, cities, and towns, we've claimed nearly half the planet for just one species- us. (p41).-Countdown by Weisman.
Thomas Robert Malthus, a British economist and Anglican vicar, Malthus's 1798 magnum opus, An essay on the Principle of Population, warned that population growth would always outstrip food availability.-Countdown by Weisman.
Meat could be taxed to reflect the environmental consequences.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
If you wish to take more decisive action, the best place for most people to start is with hot water.
National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation at Fort Collins, CO and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in a cavern deep in the Norwegian permafrost:" the so-called doomsday repository for the earth's botanical diversity.-Countdown by Weisman.
The positive message from all this is that not only can we win back the original forests, but doing that could also steer the climate in the right direction. And to achieve this we don’t even need to do anything. Just the opposite, in fact. We need to leave things alone—on as large a scale as possible.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
We need areas of wild forests to be like the steppingstones we use to cross water without getting our feet wet. If there were enough of them, wild species could travel freely through our culturally manipulated landscape from one preserve to the next.-Secret Wisdom of Nature by Wohlleben.
Sahel in Sudan: A single climatic variable was responsible for much of the rainfall decline: rising sea-surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, which resulted from an accumulation of greenhouse gases. The Indian Ocean is the most rapidly warming ocean on Earth, and the computer study showed that as it warms, the conditions that generate the Sahelian monsoon weaken. As a result, by the 1960s the Sahelian "drought" had begun.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
The vast waste gyration in the Pacific, the destruction of the great Canadian Grand Banks fishery, the dredging of the bottom of the North Sea and the collapse of the great coral reefs are just some exhibits in this catalogue.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
All but 2% of the Jordan is already allotted by the time it leaves the lake.-Countdown by Weisman.
Fresh meltwater from Greenland’s ice cap chills the Gulf Stream to a halt, closing down the great ocean conveyor belt that circulates warm water around the globe. That would bring an ice age back to Europe and the East Coast of North America after all.-The World Without us by Weisman.
More likely, at least in the short term, is the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet. In the past fifty years the waters around it have warmed by 2.5 degrees Celsius and collapses have increased dramatically. Because of the underlying geology of the area, a large-scale collapse is all the more possible. If so, sea levels globally would rise—and pretty quickly—by between 4.5 and 6 meters on average.
For every degree of warming we create, our world will experience an average 1% increase in rainfall .-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
As the oceans warm, they become more stratified, and as a result water mixing from the surface to the depths is impeded, so that it takes a long time for the heat to find its way to the abyssal plain miles below. This means that when Earth is on a cooling trend, there is little lag between the reduction of greenhouse gases and the changed climate they entail. When our planet is heating, however, it takes the surface layers of the ocean about three decades to absorb heat from the atmosphere, and a thousand years or more for this heat to reach the ocean depths .-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Thermal Expansion of the oceans is expected to raise sea levels by 20-80" over the next 500 years .-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Freshwater disrupts the Gulf Stream because it dilutes its saltiness, preventing it from sinking and thus disrupting the circulation of the oceans worldwide. In other words, at all depths the tropical Atlantic is becoming saltier, while the North and South Polar Atlantic are becoming fresher. The change, the researchers reasoned was due to increased evaporation near the equator and enhanced rainfall near the poles. The increasing tropical saltiness, the researchers suggest, will lead to a temporary quickening of the Gulf Stream that will paradoxically herald its abrupt shutdown. This will occur because of the extra heat transferred to the Poles, which will melt more ice and thus freshen the North Atlantic until the required Sverdrups flow into it, collapsing the system altogether.-The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Melting glaciers in Greenland are shifting the distribution of water on Earth, nudging the planet’s axis resulting in a Eastward shift in the North Pole by more tan 1 meter since 2005.
The only fresh water that reaches the city is from floods, which, strangely are caused in part by drought: as dry riverbeds fill with windblown sand, they flatten and can't control the flow during the monsoon. When the floods subside, seawater intrude, and mangroves at the river's mouth die.-p261.-Countdown by Weisman.
Rather like early slash-and-burn agriculture, the approach to the marine environment has been to treat it as a limitless renewable natural asset and as a convenient equivalent of a landfill site.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Cold drinks hold their fizz longer, and what is true for your can of soft drink is also true for the oceans. Cold sea water can hold more C than warm sea water; so as the ocean warms, it becomes less able to absorb the gas. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Thanks to all this extra CO2, the pH of the ocean's’ surface waters has already dropped, from an average of around 8.2 to an average of around 8.1. Like the Richter scale, the pH scale is logarithmic, so even such a small numerical difference represents a very large real-world change. A decline of .1 means that the oceans are now thirty percent more acidic than they were in 1800. Under what’s known as a “business as usual” emissions scenario, surface ocean pH will fall to 8.0 by the middle of this century, and it will drop to 7.8 by the century’s end. At that point, the oceans will be 150 percent more acidic than they were at the start of the industrial revolution. The biggest tipping point, the one at which the ecosystem starts to crash, is mean pH 7.8, which is what we’re expecting to happen by 2100” .-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert
This year alone the oceans will absorb two and a half billion tons of carbon, and next year it is expected they will absorb another two and a half billion tons. Every day, every American in effect pumps seven pounds of carbon into the sea.-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert
The problem with global marine public goods is that they are the responsibility of everyone and no one.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
To build their shells or exoskeletons or calcific plates, calcifier’s must join calcium ions (Ca2+) and carbonate ions (CO32−) to form calcium carbonate (CaCO3). But at the concentrations that they’re found in ordinary seawater, calcium and carbonate ions won’t combine. At the site of calcification, organisms must therefore alter the chemistry of the water to, in effect, impose a chemistry of their own. Ocean acidification increases the cost of calcification by reducing the number of carbonate ions available to begin with. To extend the construction metaphor, imagine trying to build a house while someone keeps stealing your bricks.-The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert.
Geosequestration: Pumping CO2 underground.
One of the most ambitious programs proposed to rid the world of excess CO2 involves fertilizing the Southern Ocean with iron fillings. The rationale is that Fe is the limiting nutrient in Seawater, and it's in particularly short supply in the Southern Ocean. Small-scale experiments show that a dusting of iron fillings can stimulate spectacular growth in plankton, which captures CO2 from the surface waters and, when it dies, is carried into the ocean depths. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Pumping compressed CO2 directly into the ocean depths causes severe side effects. High rates of death among organisms in the vicinity of the plume, which seems to have occurred due to the sea water turning acidic (its pH increasing by half to one unit). Given that humans are releasing 13,000,000,000 tons (13 gigatons) of C per year, the disposal of a paltry 900 tons through this tedious and expensive process is a poor result indeed. -The Weather Makers by Flannery.
Assuming that consumption remains at about the same proportion of income, then by 2030 the world will be consuming twice what it does now. Continuing on this growth path makes consumption four times the current level before 2050, and at least 16 times the current level by 2100. Pause for a moment and just think of what this means. As in 1900 looking to 2000, the future is a foreign country. Think of all the extra energy, food, clothing and consumer goods this represents – all the extra cars, aeroplanes, ships, and electronic devices. Imagine what you personally would spend, say, 16 times your current income on.-Natural Capital by Helm.
The impact of technology on resource scarcity. -Natural Capital by Helm.
Sustainability asks how the level of consumption can be kept up into the future – how future generations can be guaranteed to be at least as well off as the present generation.-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
Renewables are the ones that we will lose forever if they cannot replicate themselves. Later on, improving, rather than just holding,-Natural Capital, Valuing the Planet by Helm.
The Campus of Mechai Pattana School
Construction: Carbon-Absorbent, fast growing renewable bamboo is the chief construction material.
Since 2009, ninety local children in grades seven to nine attend; a high school opened in 2012.
Each classroom has two teachers, a 1:5 teacher-student ratio.
Students have classes in math, Thai, English, science, history, art, social studies, and environmental studies.
They (students) also help to screen and select applicants for incoming classes. (To avoid nepotism, siblings are automatically accepted; since even rural women now average two at most, there are plenty of places left over).
Students also participate in interviewing and hiring prospective teachers, and serve with parents and teachers on the school board.
Rather than textbook-based lessons, the curriculum is woven into study projects that students propose, based on whatever piques their curiosity. Emphasis is on original thinking, not rote learning.
"The School's two goals," says its founder, "are to return students into social entrepreneurs and philanthropists." Meaning: helping their villages become places they don’t have to leave in order to learn a living, instead of going to Bangkok factories or Israeli date plantations, or becoming sex workers.
While attending "the bamboo school," they teach younger children to use computers, elderly villagers to read, and their own parents to design household budgets.
Students start and run their own businesses, raising specialty fruits, recycling plastic, selling duck eggs, making jewelry, sprouting beans, and preparing baked goods, all financed by a student-run bank. Half the profits underwrite scholarships for needy primary school students they identify in their villages; the rest is reinvested in their fledgling enterprises.
During tenth grade, students spend a year helping to run Birds & Bees, PDAs resort in a famous Thai Beach destination, Pattaya, where they learn the hospitality business.
In lieu of tuition, students and parents plant 400 trees and contribute 400 hours of community service, tutoring and keeping their village and temples clean. "Our school is not just for students," Mechai tells parents. "We guarantee that every family living near the poverty line will be out of it in nine months."
Parents are automatically eligible for micro-loans and for occupational training. In sixteen surrounding villages, students families are running cricket farms, purifying and selling water, cultivating mushrooms, making paper-flower wedding and funeral wreaths, and raising pigs.
Students grow asparagus, chilies, basil, eggplant, assorted edible greens, and lime trees, which, through clever pruning and watering schedules, they coax to fruit just when limes are out of season and scarce.
Mechai watches girls and boys in uniforms they designed themselves- dark skirts and trousers, white shirts and blouses with plaid collars- water a living sculpture of discarded soda cans filled with soil and nailed to colored posts, from which sprout herbs and chives. Lettuce grows in suspended tiers of discarded PVC pipe, slit lengthwise and drip-irrigated by discarded intravenous feeding tubes connected to plastic bags that once held saline solution. Even discarded sneakers and irrigation boots have been converted to planters. Mango, Coconut Palm, Banana, Custard Apple, and rose apple trees are spread among bamboo classrooms, where students at computer screens learn to graph growing cycles.
There's a library with bamboo furniture the students build themselves, and a toy lending library for village children, stocked with playthings that students have collected.
Surrounding the campus are rice paddies, which grow an organic cash crop that pays for teacher salaries and the school's operating budget.
A motto embroidered on the students sleeves reads, "The more you give, the more you get." Mechai sits among them in the spacious, open-sided Cafeteria, kept spotless with homegrown, chemical-free cleansers made from neem tree oils and lemon grass, where students earn their meals by planting more trees. "No free lunches," he reminds them. As long as they waste no food, students may eat all they want.
It will take half a generation to see if these rural children- who, but for this school, might otherwise have grown up illiterate, undernourished, and impoverished- turn into the entrepreneurs and philanthropists Mechai hopes. More than half are girls, and one thing he is confident of is that they are destined, if not for the careers of their own making, at least not to be sex workers- and not mothers to more children they, their village, and their country can afford.-Countdown by Weisman.
When the air or the water is too dirty, the standard analysis says that it is because polluters impose “externalities” (that is, harms) on those who breathe or drink. Even libertarians tend to agree that when externalities are present, markets alone do not achieve the best outcomes. Those who pollute (meaning all of us) do not pay the full costs that we impose on the environment, and those of us who are harmed by pollution (again, all of us) usually lack any feasible way to negotiate with polluters to get them to clean up their acts. People who celebrate freedom of choice are well aware that when “transaction costs” (the technical term for the costs of entering into voluntary agreements) are high, there may be no way to avoid some kind of government action. When people are not in a position to make voluntary agreements, most libertarians tend to agree that government might have to intervene.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
If you engage in environmentally costly behavior next year, through your consumption choices, you will probably pay nothing for the environmental harms that you inflict. This is what is often called a “tragedy of the commons.”-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
The second problem that contributes to excessive pollution is that people do not get feedback on the environmental consequences of their actions. If your use of energy produces air pollution, you are unlikely to know or appreciate that fact, certainly not on a continuing basis. Even if you know about the connection, it is probably not salient to your behavior. Those who turn up the air conditioning and leave it on for a few weeks are unlikely to think, moment-by-moment or even day-by-day, about all of the personal and social costs.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
In the environmental area, two broad approaches have been proposed. The first is to impose taxes or penalties on those who pollute. In the domain of climate change, a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, favored by many environmentalists (and economists too), is a simple example. The second approach is called a cap-and-trade system. In such systems those who pollute are given (or sold) “rights” to pollute in certain amounts (the “cap”) and these rights are then traded in a market. Most specialists believe that such incentive-based systems as these should usually displace command-and-control regulation. We agree. Incentive-based approaches are more efficient and more effective, and they also increase freedom of choice.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
And if the problem of climate change is to be seriously addressed, the ultimate strategy will be based on incentives, not on command-and-control.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
Much of the time, the best approach to pollution problems is to impose a tax on the harmful behavior and to let market forces determine the response to the increased cost. The price of the harm-producing good will go up, and consumption will decline. Of course none of us likes taxes. But raising the tax on gasoline, for example, would eventually induce drivers to buy more fuel-efficient cars, drive less, or both. As a result, emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading contributor to global warming, would decline. And if gas taxes were increased, automobile manufacturers would have plenty of incentives to develop new technologies to meet the demand for more fuel-efficient cars.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
The alternative cap-and-trade system is similar in spirit and approach. In the pollution context, people who reduce their pollution below a specified level are allowed to trade their “emissions rights” for cash. In one stroke, such a system creates market-based disincentives to pollute and market-based incentives for pollution control. Such a system also rewards rather than punishes technological innovation in pollution control, and does so with the aid of private markets.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
It is fair to say that the acid deposition program ranks among the most spectacular success stories in all of American environmental regulation.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
Much attention has already been given to the possibility of creating worldwide markets in greenhouse gas emissions rights, with a cap on global emissions.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
A key reason is that the costs of pollution are hidden, while the price at the pump is quite salient.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
To create the Toxic Release Inventory, firms and individuals must report to the national government the quantities of potentially hazardous chemicals that have been stored or released into the environment. The information is readily available on the EPA Web site to anyone who wants it. More than twenty-three thousand facilities now disclose detailed information on more than 650 chemicals, covering more than 4.34 billion pounds of on-site and off-site disposal or other releases. Users of hazardous chemicals must also report to their local fire departments about the locations, types, and quantities of stored chemicals. And they must disclose information about potential adverse health consequences.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
suggested that all by themselves, disclosure requirements might be able to produce significant emissions reductions.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
The government should create a Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GGI), requiring disclosure by the most significant emitters. The GGI would permit people to see the various sources of greenhouse gases in the United States and to track changes over time. Seeing that list, states and localities could respond by considering legislative measures. In all likelihood, interested groups, including members of the media, would draw attention to the largest emitters. Because the climate change problem is salient, a Greenhouse Gas Inventory might well be expected to have the same beneficial effect as the Toxic Release Inventory.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
1975: Congress has required new automobiles to meet fuel economy standards. A helpful disclosure mandate, accompanying the economy standards requirement, was designed to promote competition by requiring companies to post in large print the expected fuel economy buyers can expect from each car (see Figure 12.1).-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
What if a way could be found to ensure that people see, each day, how much energy they have used?-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
The underlying problem is that energy is invisible, so people do not know when they are using a lot of it. The genius of the Orb is that it makes energy use visible.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
A design firm, DIY Kyoto (based on the Kyoto Protocol, the international effort to control emissions of greenhouse gases), already sells the Wattson, a device that displays your energy use and allows you to transmit the data to a Web site, thus permitting comparisons with Wattson users elsewhere.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
The EPA set out voluntary performance standards and allowed participating firms to use the agency’s Energy Star logo.-Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein.
Math: I=PAT: Impact= Population x affluence x technology.
Center for Environmental Citizenship
College and University Recycling Council
Earth Island Institute
Filter for Good
Kiva: Loans that change lives
Union of Concerned Scientists
Climate Change Solutions
Clean or replace HVAC filters every three months.
Get Educated (Reading).
Get Educated (Podcasts)
Get Educated (Movies).
An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Sequal
Before the Flood
Drive an electric car.
Use your cities bike-share program.
Use Car Sharing: add Car2Go Link and ZipCar link.
Take Public Transit: add incorrectly assume link and chart.
Bring your own shopping bags.
Plant your own vegetable garden.
Use sustainably sourced wood: Look for the Forest Stewardship Council
Remove your lawn.
There are ~42million acres of grass nationwide.
Eat Less Meat.
Stop drinking bottled water.
Use Energy Efficient Items: Look for Energy Star Logo.
~75% of the total energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions produced by a single load of laundry come from
warming the water itself. Read article on washing in cold water....
Use a Programmable Thermostat.
Add Solar Panels to your house.
Get a Home Energy Audit
Use LED Lightbulbs.
Quality LED lightbulbs can last 25x longer, are more durable, and use at least 75% less energy than other bulbs.
Ask your utility company about buying clean electricity.
Support a Carbon Tax.