Climate, compost, and those plastic cups: Sustainability (1)

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 5:38 PM GMT on August 14, 2011

Climate, compost, and those plastic cups: Sustainability and Climate Change (1)

This past week I was at the county fair. There were science exhibits, and a display on climate-wise gardening. There was a lot of attention to garbage; it was a zero-waste event. There was an exhibit and lecture on irrigation, with, of course, some discussion of stressed and contentious water resources. After the fair I took a one-day course on grasslands and the reclamation of prairie land. There are many places where climate and climate policy fit into this mix of small activities.

I want to start with the idea of “sustainability.” When I moved to University of Michigan in 2005, I was introduced, seriously, to the idea of sustainability. I kept asking whether or not there was an accepted, single definition of sustainability. The short answer was, “no.” If you look around you find a couple of notions that are always included in the definition of sustainability. First, there is the idea that the way that we use resources to maintain our standard of living does not preclude the ability of future generations to do the same. Second, there is the idea that all of the pieces fit together into a whole. A popular notion of sustainability is “think globally, act locally”, or conveyed by the company Seventh Generation, which strives, “To inspire a revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations.” On a whole different scale is Ceres, which “leads a national coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change and water scarcity.” Here are some links to definitions and discussions of sustainability: @ Washington State University, Wikipedia, Environmental Protection Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It is obvious that our climate and climate change fit into the notion of sustainability, but it is not an easy relation to understand, describe and to make actionable. More directly related to our ability to sustain ourselves are population, energy, energy consumption, and standard of living. Historically we have used easy resources, because they are easy. For many centuries we were reliant upon wood for fuel and building. We cleared forests for agriculture. During the 1800s the United States was largely deforested. It became self evident that forests and whale oil were not going to support a growing population, an industrial society, and a growing economy. (A nice history of energy, and interestingly Dolly Sods Wilderness.) These sources of energy were replaced with coal and oil. All of these sources of energy have obvious, direct environmental consequences. There are also some environmental consequences that are not quite as obvious and direct; namely, those consequences due to the release of carbon dioxide.

The wealthy economies and standard of living that followed from industrialization become the priority; hence, easy energy becomes a priority. The obvious and direct environmental consequences, ultimately, become something that we try to deal with – for example, The Clean Air Act. We seek a balance of environmental pollution and industrialization – a contentious balance. Climate change is an environmental problem that is not as obvious and not as direct. It is problem where it takes, compared with a human life, a significant amount of time for the signal of climate change, of global warming, to emerge over the natural variability that we are used to dealing with. In order to mitigate climate change through the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions our “easy” choice is to quit burning fossils fuels, but that is not an easy choice to make if we humans exercise our prerogative of pursuit of high standards of living and population growth. To address climate change requires us to look out beyond the length of our lives and to see the value that a sustainable environment will have to those who follow us.

There was a couple of years ago a paper in Nature entitled, “A safe operating space for humanity”, by Johan Rockstrom and many colleagues. Here is Figure 1 from that paper.



Figure 1: “The inner green shading represents the proposed safe operating space for nine planetary systems. The red wedges represent an estimate of the current position for each variable. The boundaries in three systems (rate of biodiversity loss, climate change and human interference with the nitrogen cycle), have already been exceeded.” From “A safe operating space for humanity”, by Johan Rockstrom and many colleagues (Nature, 2009)

This figure conveys the integrated nature of sustainability on the planetary scale. An easy example to point out – climate change is, primarily, a problem of carbon dioxide emission, as is ocean acidification. Hence, from an integrated perspective, the two cannot be looked at in isolation. But looking around the circle, all of these environmental issues are related. They are all related to population, energy, consumption, standards of living and robust economies.

I started this entry, this series, with a very mundane event – being at the fair. At the fair we talked about water, and sure climate change might be important to water, but it does not seem as immediately important as the cities’ thirst for water and the purchase of agricultural water rights (Thirsty Cities, Dry Farms). This interface of climate change on this local level is real, it is contentious, and it is substantive. Yes, I have started another series, and in it I will look at “think globally, act locally.” Yet another problem of many scales that must be addressed as we adapt to global warming.

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452. Ossqss
1:43 AM GMT on August 29, 2011
Interesting, and back on topic, if you realize it or not.

Perspective, from the creator!

You are a racist!

So Sad,,,,,,,,,,,,, depth of conviction and passion, not science? WTH!



Something to pass the time >:)

August 24, 2011 4:58 pm
More Complexity Found In The Climate System
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
450. Ossqss
1:23 AM GMT on August 29, 2011
Quoting cyclonebuster:


"EXTREMELY UNLIKELY" Comprende?


The amount of solar energy received at the top of our atmosphere has followed its natural 11-year cycle of small ups and downs, but with no net increase. Over the same period, global temperature has risen markedly. This indicates that it is extremely unlikely that solar influence has been a significant driver of global temperature change over several decades.




Global surface temperature (top, blue) and the Sun's energy received at the top of Earth's atmosphere (red, bottom). Solar energy has been measured by satellites since 1978.



Keep workin on it CB, it will come to you.

Now, how would your tunnels have done in 30 FT seas? Just curious how you think that would work out.

Would those 1- 2,000 Ft deep fiberglass tubes have survived across 40 miles of ocean, let alone hurricane stirred ocean ?

Perspective, is a tremendously essential tool of focus, clarity, and ultimate understanding.

Some have it, some don't. Quite simple actually :)


Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
448. Ossqss
12:59 AM GMT on August 29, 2011

Some have vision, others perpetuate policy as instructed. Bollards cannot stop the unstoppable :)

Remember, we still are learning how clouds are actually created, no? Do those models that want to rule our world know how that works?

Nope

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
447. overwash12
9:49 PM GMT on August 28, 2011
Quoting nymore:
I see the lunatics over at Climate Progress are blaming Irene on AGWT and these people want us to take them at their word about anything. Sounds like someone should Baker Act them. LMFAO
What caused hurricanes in the past? Global cooling?
Member Since: June 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1498
446. nymore
1:45 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
I see the lunatics over at Climate Progress are blaming Irene on AGWT and these people want us to take them at their word about anything. Sounds like someone should Baker Act them. LMFAO
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
442. nymore
1:11 AM GMT on August 28, 2011
Neo- For a killer income I'll go where ever they tell me to go. Which makes it possible to send the kids to the college of their choice so I think they will forgive me. I will continue to do so unless you would like to make up the difference for me to work at Mc Donalds BTW thanks for the beautiful photos of what makes modern life possible. I really like the sunset and there is such a wonder at the sight (site) of organized chaos
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
430. Neapolitan
9:05 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting JBastardi:
Looks like present climate models are exactly what everyone knew, but warmists denied: garbage! It's fun to see that warmists have become what they accuse everyone else of being: deniers. It's amusing that AGW proponents are guilty of denial in the psychological sense as well. They are projecting their traits of denialism onto those following true science.

Link

I had to laugh at your use the term "true science" while linking to an article by anti-science propagandist Andrew Orlowski. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
429. Neapolitan
8:50 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting JBastardi:


That is exactly what the greenies said about the Alaskan Pipeline. I remember them screaming how it was going to decimate all of the wildlife. Now it's the only area in the winter that has any vegetation. The caribou congregate along the pipeline because it keeps them warm. You warmists are really entertaining. You never have any memory of past events when your dire predictions fail as they always do -- somewhat similar to the doomsday predictions of "global warming."

Allow me to show you the difference between the Trans-Alaska pipeline (photo #1) and the Alberta Scar Sands (#2):

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Using the first to justify the second is like saying that since shooting a spitball at someone doesn't hurt, would a few hundred rounds from a .50 cal at point blank range oughta be just fine.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
428. Neapolitan
8:35 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting JBastardi:


The article itself said that many would not be able to pay for fuel. No pay = no heat. What happens if you have no heat in winter? Do I have to spell it out for you?

Allow me to state the exceedingly obvious again: paying a few extra cents now is immensely cheaper than it's going to be to deal with climate change down the road. As such, it's disingenuous to pretend care and concern for the poor is behind the wish to maintain the fossil fuel paradigm, as the poor are the very ones who will suffer the quickest and the greatest as the planet warms.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
427. theshepherd
7:15 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
419. Ossqss

Excellent.

Amazing how some think that only they get to choose.

Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 10236
426. PurpleDrank
6:28 PM GMT on August 27, 2011



Member Since: August 17, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 730
422. Neapolitan
2:33 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting nymore:
Neapolitan- I go work where they tell me to and I am proud to help the economy out. Thank you now I'm off to work. I guess 500 lunatics getting arrested in Washington DC is no match against 300 million americans worried about a stable supply of oil. Better luck next time and the next time. If you people don't like it build a better mouse trap LMFAO

Oh, so it's the whole, "I was only following orders" defense? Got it. At any rate, those 500 patriots getting arrested is no match, alright: no match against billions in fossil fuel dollars. The "Screw-The-Environment-Profit-Is-All-That-Matters" crowd must be very pleased this morning. :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
421. Neapolitan
2:30 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Ossqss:
And some blame others for their posts being invisible :)


In your obvious confusion, you may wonder why my posts are hidden, but since I know the entire story, I don't wonder at all. Not for a second. Here's a hint: it's because of a deliberate and concentrated attack by denialist trolls doing what they do best. That is, censoring and obfuscating the truth.

Believe me or don't believe me; the choice is yours. But proof is coming shortly. And that's a promise.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
420. nymore
1:26 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Neapolitan- I go work where they tell me to and I am proud to help the economy out. Thank you now I'm off to work. I guess 500 lunatics getting arrested in Washington DC is no match against 300 million americans worried about a stable supply of oil. Better luck next time and the next time. If you people don't like it build a better mouse trap LMFAO
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
419. Ossqss
12:31 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
And some blame others for their posts being invisible :)

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
418. Neapolitan
12:21 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting nymore:
The Keystone pipeline is going through I am working here right now helping them expand production. It is just political games being played BTW this won't be the last pipe put in.

Yeah, good for you, eddy. And when your grandkids someday look at pictures of the hot, toxic, barren gravel field that Alberta's once-pristine wilderness has become, you can proudly tell them, "I did that, children! Oil company profits rose 5% because of me!"

Good for you.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
417. Neapolitan
12:17 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting theshepherd:


So lets see...This project will help lower dependency on foriegn oil and create domestic jobs at the same time???

Hmmm...






Well, first, for Americans, it is foreign oil.

But aside from that, and far more insidious, is that the ignorant rallying cry for all types of corporate greed run amok is yet again "job creation!". And that's used far too much as an excuse for pretty much anything--tax cuts to the wealthiest, bank bailouts, corporate malfeasance, and so on--which might be okay if, you know, it were actually true.

Treasonous acts are being committed. There will be a price to pay, and the entire planet will be paying it.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
416. Neapolitan
12:09 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Ossqss:
August 26, 2011 6:45 pm
Keystone pipeline project clears hurdle



"In its final report, the department concluded that, provided the pipeline complied with its required standards for construction and maintenance, there would be “no significant impacts to most resources” along the route."



I'm sure that same wording was in the Deepwater Horizon's drilling permit.

At any rate, those with the deepest pockets--in this as in so many others cases, Big Energy--are the ones whose voices are heard. I'm still a little unsure why so many are so ready and willing to surrender their planet's future to corporate greed; whether it's ignorance, blindness, or stupidity, I just don't know. Maybe it's all three...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
415. Neapolitan
12:04 PM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting JBastardi:


If the people could afford it. You're averaging the increase. I suppose you want the poverty-stricken to freeze.

Yes, I'm averaging the increase--as the article itself did. Now, how you extrapolated that to "I suppose you want the poverty-stricken to freeze" is entirely beyond me. But then again, denialist blather often avoids any semblance of logic altogether, so kudos for sticking to the script...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124
414. theshepherd
10:39 AM GMT on August 27, 2011
412. nymore

Good for you bro.

Instead of worrying about even having a job this winter, maybe yourself and many like you can have a blessed Christmas.

And may all of the brats that wish to get arrested impeeding the progress of the project receive "Community Service" and be assigned the task of picking up trash on the highway so that you and others like you can better enjoy your ride to work...that would be "Justice".
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 10236
413. theshepherd
10:28 AM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting Ossqss:
August 26, 2011 6:45 pm
Keystone pipeline project clears hurdle



"In its final report, the department concluded that, provided the pipeline complied with its required standards for construction and maintenance, there would be “no significant impacts to most resources” along the route."




So lets see...This project will help lower dependency on foriegn oil and create domestic jobs at the same time???

Hmmm...





Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 10236
412. nymore
3:35 AM GMT on August 27, 2011
The Keystone pipeline is going through I am working here right now helping them expand production. It is just political games being played BTW this won't be the last pipe put in.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
410. Ossqss
2:18 AM GMT on August 27, 2011
Quoting JBastardi:


If the people could afford it. You're averaging the increase. I suppose you want the poverty-stricken to freeze.


Not intentionally, but that is what it amounts to.

That is simply the way some think.

I call them bollards.

Once installed, they never move until removed.

Designed to protect, but have no ability to change.

It is time for a change!

Real and tangible change, and it is happening as I type..... L8R>>



Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
409. Ossqss
2:06 AM GMT on August 27, 2011
August 26, 2011 6:45 pm
Keystone pipeline project clears hurdle



"In its final report, the department concluded that, provided the pipeline complied with its required standards for construction and maintenance, there would be “no significant impacts to most resources” along the route."


Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
403. Neapolitan
7:02 PM GMT on August 26, 2011
Quoting JBastardi:
Watch out! This could happen here if the EPA gets its way:

Link

Even if true, $0.46 a day is far less than it'll cost to take care of things if the EPA doesn't get its way.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15124

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Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

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.
Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.