The Complete List: What Can I Do? (4)

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 6:40 PM GMT on April 21, 2013

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The Complete List: What Can I Do? (4)

This is the continuation of a series in response to the question, “What can I do about climate change?” Links to the previous entries are listed at the end.

So far, I have introduced the common, easy answer: to be more efficient in the use of energy. I listed the places where we can improve efficiency and in short order reduce expense: insulation improvements in building, fuel efficiency in transportation, elimination of standby losses, and more efficient lighting, air conditioning and water heating. In addition to this common answer, I wrote about a couple of issues that I see discussed less often: barriers, overcoming barriers and how individuals can organize and influence communities, governments and businesses in ways to improve efficiency. My goal is to show that we can develop small, organized efforts that have the potential to grow into large impacts in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We don’t have to wait on federal and global policy, which by all evidence remains far in the future. (EPA Delays Emission Regulations for New Power Plants (from Washington Post), Clean Energy Efforts Stalled (International Energy Agency, from UPI))

In this entry, I look beyond efficiency and provide a list to help organize how to think about reduction of greenhouse gas emissions both individually and collectively.

1. Efficiency
2. Food
3. Alternative Energy
4. Waste Management
5. Behavior, Conservation and Reduced Use
6. Fuel Waste Management
7. Forestry Management
8. Soil Management

This is my list, and I have formed it over the years from a number of sources. For example, if you revisit the figure in the first blog of the series you can pick out these categories. Another place you can look to see these categories is in the influential paper byPacala and Socolow, who argued in 2004 we could, in fact, adequately reduce emissions with existing technology. My list is tuned a bit towards individuals and perhaps a little closer to everyday language. A point: Pacala and Socolow make a convincing argument that we can do a lot with existing technology. To make that happen would be a matter of organizing, breaking down barriers, and changing behavior and practice. For individuals, the fact that there is a realizable possibility for global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions should be encouraging and motivating. It is a matter of providing a bridge between the individual and the greater impact of collective behavior.

I have arranged the list, from 1 – 8, in a way that I imagine might be most accessible to individuals. I place efficiency at the top of the list because not only is it intuitive, but it has the possibility to cost less. The second item on the list is food, which will be the subject of the next blog. If you take a slice of our energy use, land use and greenhouse gas emissions through our methods of food production and food provision, then there is opportunity for significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The third item on the list is alternative energy. Many of us in the United States now have the opportunity to make the decision to buy our home energy from sources such as wind and solar. There are choices in vehicles of electric, hybrid electric, natural gas, ethanol and biodiesel. The impact of these choices on climate change is not easy to determine. The fourth item on the list is waste management. There are, of course, personal decisions about what we buy and what and how we throw things away. Waste management is also a place where we can have a lot of influence in our communities and local governments. Globally, there are issues of industry-wide waste management that can have huge impacts. I have deliberately separated the waste associated with energy production, as item 7 on the list.

The remaining items on the list I will describe more in future entries. They are a bit more removed from the individual, although for sure, there are decisions that we make as individuals that directly matter to fuel waste and forestry and soil management. This is especially true if we think about our individual influence: for example, if you are a farmer, you make decisions that influence both a lot of land as well as the people who buy your wares.

The final point I will make in this blog is that the items in the list are not independent of each other. For example, decisions that we make about what we eat will have implications for soil management, forestry management and fuel waste management. What you do with husks of your corn and your moldy bread matters directly to waste management. And all the items have something to do with individual behavior and with collective behavior of individuals – good stewardship of the climate has to become a natural part of the way we behave.

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Links to the Series

Setting Up the Discussion Deciding to do something, definition of mitigation and adaptation, and a cost-benefit anchored framework for thinking about mitigation

Smoking, Marriage and Climate Behavioral changes and peer pressure

Organizing and Growing Individual Efforts A little detail on efficiency and thinking about how individuals can have more impact than just that of a single person

The Complete List Eight categories of things we can do to reduce greenhouse gases

We Are What We Eat Food and agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions


Moderation of comments: I have been getting more and more complaints about what is going on in the comments. WU and I will be addressing this. To start, here is a modified version of Dr. Master’s Blog Contents Rules.

Rood's Rules of the Road

1. Please do not carry on personal disputes.
2. Keep it civil. Personal attacks, bickering, flaming and general trollish behavior will not be tolerated. Disagreements are fine, but keep them civil.
3. No spam.
4. Stay on the topic of climate change or the entry topic.
5. Foul language is not allowed.
6. Please avoid topics that would be considered adults only. Many children come to this site looking for information.
7. Threats and intimidation, especially that which extends into the real world will be dealt with accordingly.
8. Do not circumvent a ban. Most bans last 24 hours or less; please accept the ban. If you create a new username to circumvent a ban, you will be blocked from the site completely.

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Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Cyclonebuster you never asked me by name before. I am not Miss Cleo from the psychic friends network and I do not assume questions thrown out at random are addressed to me.


Sorry I didn't think the question was that difficult...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
BaltimoreBrian,

We need Yottajoules of heat to escape our atmosphere and into space now to make the change we need to restore our summertime Arctic Ice extent/mass to what it was prior to the industrial revolution.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Become more energy efficient and wean ourselves off fossil fuels.



Not fast enough that is to slow the ice will be gone on top of the world during the summer before we can do that..
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Become more energy efficient and wean ourselves off fossil fuels.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 9508
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
I believe anthropogenic global warming is occurring and is a serious problem.

That should be clear from my comments and my blog.


What do you think we should do to stop it?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Cyclonebuster you never asked me by name before. I am not Miss Cleo from the psychic friends network and I do not assume questions thrown out at random are addressed to me.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 9508
Wow. I'm amazed that the film was still intact. Cool stuff.

Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Earliest satellite maps of Antarctic and Arctic sea-ice

This is more on topic.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
I believe anthropogenic global warming is occurring and is a serious problem.

That should be clear from my comments and my blog.



Finally you answer me... Wasn't that easy?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
I believe anthropogenic global warming is occurring and is a serious problem.

That should be clear from my comments and my blog.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 9508
Which paper is that?

Quoting JohnLonergan:


I think you're right, it appears that the 4 per second applies to the more recent time period which implies an acceleration. I wanter to look at Dana's paper, but it's behind a paywall.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Daisyworld and Neapolitan I have a climate blog with a lot of information links if you want to post there. No trolls either.



Which side of the fence you on?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Earliest satellite maps of Antarctic and Arctic sea-ice

This is more on topic.


Which side of the fence you on?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
The nuclear explosion BS on here today is so deep you need a diving bell to navigate.


Which side of the fence you on?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Quoting JohnLonergan:


I think you're right, it appears that the 4 per second applies to the more recent time period which implies an acceleration. I wanter to look at Dana's paper, but it's behind a paywall.


Which means we may need 2 Yottajoules of heat to be released to space.
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Daisyworld and Neapolitan I have a climate blog with a lot of information links if you want to post there. No trolls either.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 9508
Earliest satellite maps of Antarctic and Arctic sea-ice

This is more on topic.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 9508
The nuclear explosion BS on here today is so deep you need a diving bell to navigate.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 9508
Quoting evilpenguinshan:
I see it variously cited on the web as either 2 per second or 4 per second. As near as I can tell, it's 2 per second if totaled from 1961 through today (per the SkS cited below), but that the current rate is more like 4 per second. is that right?



I think you're right, it appears that the 4 per second applies to the more recent time period which implies an acceleration. I wanter to look at Dana's paper, but it's behind a paywall.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3989
Quoting evilpenguinshan:
A terajoule (TJ) is a trillion joules. There are not "different types" of joules, just various ways to name quantities of them.
i.e. I can say 63 TJ (the yield of the Hiroshima bomb) instead of 63,000,000,000,000 joules.
Please, do explain this alternate theory of yours.




And all this time I thought there were big jumbo joules. Kidding of course.

Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 9508
Quoting FLwolverine:
Time to remember the "-" and "!" Buttons.


If someone were so inclined, i see an oppurtumity fo the definitive study of fractal wrongness.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3989
I see it variously cited on the web as either 2 per second or 4 per second. As near as I can tell, it's 2 per second if totaled from 1961 through today (per the SkS cited below), but that the current rate is more like 4 per second. is that right?

Quoting JohnLonergan:



I foumd the 4 Hiroshima bombs per second attributed to James Nansen here




"The amazing persistence of CO2 in the air has allowed billions of our small emissions, like those from the Enola Gay, to amass into an ever growing threat to civilization. How fast is that threat growing? In a must-see TED talk, NASA climate scientist James Hansen say the current increase in global warming is:
"...equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year. That’s how much extra energy Earth is gaining each day."

That's 278 atomic bombs worth of energy every minute – more than four per second -- non-stop. To be clear, that is just the extra energy being gained each day on top of the energy heating our planet by 0.8 degree C. It is the rate at which we are increasing global warming."

TedTalk
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ask yourself this question? Why do they have you place the lid on the pot?

Link






.....
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Quoting FLwolverine:
John, unlike some other people on here, I did realize it came from the source you were citing. In my first reaction to the image, I didn't immediately think about separating out the heat from the other effects of an atomic bomb, but I get the idea now.

Xandra, thanks for the info and the link to a Skeptical Science.



I foumd the 4 Hiroshima bombs per second attributed to James Nansen here




"The amazing persistence of CO2 in the air has allowed billions of our small emissions, like those from the Enola Gay, to amass into an ever growing threat to civilization. How fast is that threat growing? In a must-see TED talk, NASA climate scientist James Hansen say the current increase in global warming is:
"...equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year. That’s how much extra energy Earth is gaining each day."

That's 278 atomic bombs worth of energy every minute – more than four per second -- non-stop. To be clear, that is just the extra energy being gained each day on top of the energy heating our planet by 0.8 degree C. It is the rate at which we are increasing global warming."

TedTalk
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3989
Time to remember the "-" and "!" Buttons.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting evilpenguinshan:
Because we're talking about the quantity of additional heat (energy) that the planet can now store because of the altered composition of the atmosphere. You know of a better way to quantify that?




I like that...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
Because we're talking about the quantity of additional heat (energy) that the planet can now store because of the altered composition of the atmosphere. You know of a better way to quantify that?


Quoting allahgore:


I have no clue why everyone is stuck on joules at all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yottajoule

The yottajoule (YJ) is equal to 10 to the 24 joules. This is approximately the amount of energy required to heat the entire volume of water on Earth by 1 degree Celsius.

This is about how much heat we have to move out to space to get back to pre-industrial revolution temps..
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 20503
A terajoule (TJ) is a trillion joules. There are not "different types" of joules, just various ways to name quantities of them.
i.e. I can say 63 TJ (the yield of the Hiroshima bomb) instead of 63,000,000,000,000 joules.
Please, do explain this alternate theory of yours.


Quoting allahgore:


Please read your link.
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Quoting allahgore:


There is Different types of joules; schitkicker
Well, I wasn't a math or physics major so help me understand: where in the link on joules did it describe different types of joules?
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Wow.... so much shoddy math so little time...
My head hurts.
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Quoting schistkicker:


Exploding a bomb -> releases energy (Joules)
Nuclear fission -> releases (large amounts) of energy (Joules)

Energy is energy.

It's bad-math and bad-physics day in here today, apparently.


I guess allahgore wasn't math or physics major at Stanford.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3989
No. no. no.

Link

Quoting allahgore:


There is Different types of joules; schistkicker
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting schistkicker:


Exploding a bomb -> releases energy (Joules)
Nuclear fission -> releases (large amounts) of energy (Joules)

Energy is energy.

It's bad-math and bad-physics day in here today, apparently.
Sorry for giving the trolls an opening today. I wonder how much energy is released when splitting hairs.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I feel like that might be every day around here.

Quoting schistkicker:


Exploding a bomb -> releases energy (Joules)
Nuclear fission -> releases (large amounts) of energy (Joules)

Energy is energy.

It's bad-math and bad-physics day in here today, apparently.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JohnLonergan:


I didn't make that analogy, it was used by the author of the post. The Hiroshima bomb anology has been used at SkepticalScience for a while. I try to find their math and get back to you.

I'm a child of the 50's also and certainly remember the nuclear winter scenario. Briefly, the thought was that the blasts in a global war would fill the the atmosphere with vast amounts of dust, smoke and other particulate matter, cutting down the sunlight reaching the surface.

Nuclear winter (also known as atomic winter) is a hypothetical climatic effect of nuclear war. It is theorized that detonating large numbers of nuclear weapons could have a profound and severe effect on the climate causing cold weather and reduced sunlight for a period of months or even years, especially nuclear weapon strikes on flammable targets such as cities,[dubious – discuss] where large amounts of smoke and soot would be ejected into the Earth's stratosphere.

Similar climatic effects can be caused by comets or an asteroid impact,[1][2] also sometimes termed an impact winter, or by a supervolcano eruption, known as a volcanic winter.[3]
John, unlike some other people on here, I did realize it came from the source you were citing. In my first reaction to the image, I didn't immediately think about separating out the heat from the other effects of an atomic bomb, but I get the idea now.

Xandra, thanks for the info and the link to a Skeptical Science.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting evilpenguinshan:
last time I checked, that's what happened at Hiroshima.

man, your trolling really is sub par today.



Exploding a bomb -> releases energy (Joules)
Nuclear fission -> releases (large amounts) of energy (Joules)

Energy is energy.

It's bad-math and bad-physics day in here today, apparently.
Member Since: June 13, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 327
last time I checked, that's what happened at Hiroshima.

man, your trolling really is sub par today.

Quoting allahgore:


Correct, Tera Joules when exploded but not in the process when splitting!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
we're talking about heat energy released, so yes, also when splitting atoms.

Quoting allahgore:


Not when splitting atoms!
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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.
Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.
Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.