The Oil Price Crash of 2014

 

The Oil Price Crash of 2014 

by Richard Heinberg

Oil prices have fallen by half since late June. This is a significant development for the oil industry and for the global economy, though no one knows exactly how either the industry or the economy will respond in the long run. Since it’s almost the end of the year, perhaps this is a good time to stop and ask: (1) Why is this happening? (2) Who wins and who loses over the short term?, and (3) What will be the impacts on oil production in 2015?

Read more The Oil Price Crash of 2014

Last chance for meaningful climate change mitigation? – City-Utility Partnerships

The most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory (2012) for our region has recently been released, showing a slight decrease since its peak in 2010. Nationally, this same trend is attributed to reduced emissions from electricity generation, improvements in energy efficiencies, reduction in travel and yearly fluctuation in prevailing weather conditions. For the Tucson region the two largest sources of GHG emissions are Electricity (63%) and Gasoline (22%).

Meanwhile, the latest AR5 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is endorsing a “carbon budget” or limit to how much carbon can be put into the atmosphere. Given current rates of fossil fuel burning, we will burn through that budget by 2040. And even if we do transition to a zero-carbon culture by that time we will only have a 50/50 chance of stabilizing a 2 degree C rise in temperatures.

To date the planet is experiencing less than a 1 degree rise, producing changes outside “normal” including increasing temperatures, decreasing water supply, increasing health and social problems, increasing intensity of wildfires and flooding, and greater demands on our infrastructure including electricity production and mobility. If we put 2 and 2 together, the climate change picture is definitely not pretty – the challenge huge and “solution” – imperative.

Minneapolis just reached a milestone agreement to partner with their electricity utility to reach their goals to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/10/17/minneapolis-utility-fight-ends-with-unique-clean-energy-deal/

Could Tucson do the same? What would it take? Where will leadership come from?

Join Sustainable Tucson’s public meeting to find out more about the latest GHG inventory and the potential to leave future Tucsonans with a habitable climate and sustainable future.

Speakers will include:

Suzanne Cotty, Senior Air Quality Planner and report author

Tucson Electric Power Co representative: invited

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s November 10th meeting to find out more.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

 

Tucson Talks Transit – with Jarrett Walker – July 11

at Tucson Electric Power Company, 88 East Broadway, Downtown Tucson AZ (two blocks south of Ronstadt Transit Center)

Tucson Talks Transit – with Jarrett Walker

Friday, July 11, 2014
5:00 p.m. Sign-in and Reception
6:00 p.m. FREE Public Presentation

Jarrett Walker, the preeminent transit planner and transit thinker, will visit Tucson for a town hall the evening of Friday, July 11.

Jarrett Walker is renowned as a public transportation planner and consultant, leader of major transit planning projects around the world, and facilitator of community dialogue. He is author of the book Human Transit: How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives and the blog HumanTransit.org

For more info contact Suzanne, 520-289-4088, chelcdavid(at)gmail.com

also download the print flyer – Jarrett Walker 2014-07-11 Tucson Flyer (english & espanol)

 


 

Tucson Habla Sobre El Transporte – con Jarrett Walker

Viernes 11 de Julio del 2014
5:00 p.m. Registración y Recepción
6:00 p.m. Presentación Pública GRATUITA

Está invitado al diálogo con Jarrett Walker, planeador, pensador y escritor del tránsito, el viernes 11 de Julio.

Jarrett Walker se reconoce mundialmente como consultante y diseñador de transporte público, líder de grandes proyectos de planeación, y facilitador de diálogo comunitario. Es autor del libro Human Transit: How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives y el blog HumanTransit.org

Tucson Electric Power Company
88 East Broadway en el Centro de la ciudad de Tucson
(a dos cuadras al sur del Centro de Tránsito Ronstadt)

Si tiene preguntas contacte a Suzanne, 520-289-4088, chelcdavid(at)gmail.com

also download the print flyer – Jarrett Walker 2014-07-11 Tucson Flyer (english & espanol)

What climate activists should learn from the Monterey Shale downgrade

What climate activists should learn from the Monterey Shale downgrade

by Kurt Cobb

Published by Resource Insights on 2014-06-01

Original article: http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-climate-activists-should-learn.html

 

There is an important hidden lesson for climate activists in the vast downgrade of recoverable oil resources now thought to be available from California’s Monterey Shale. Almost all climate activists have rejected any talk that the world’s oil, natural gas and even coal supplies are nearing plateaus and possibly peaks in their production. That’s because they fear that such talk will make the public and policymakers believe that climate change will be less of a problem as a result or no problem at all.

 

Any yet, for obvious reasons climate activists rejoiced when the Monterey downgrade was announced. But this only served to highlight the fact that climate activists have lost control of the public narrative on energy and can only steal it back by including constraints on fossil fuel supply as part of their story.

 

In fact, climate activists have been content to accept fossil fuel industry claims–the two parties agree on little else–that we have vast resources of economically recoverable fossil fuels, the rate of production of which will continue to grow for decades–unless, of course, climate activists stop this trend. This stance makes for an heroic narrative, but misses what is actually happening in the minds of the public and policymakers, minds which must be won over in order to address climate change effectively.

 

Let me explain.

 

The hype surrounding the now vastly downgraded treasure trove of oil once thought to be recoverable from California’s Monterey Shale acted as a siren song on a state long devoted to energy innovation and a gradual transition away from fossil fuels. After all, California is the only state that has a climate change policy that will force businesses, localities and households to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions drastically and thus reduce their fossil fuel use drastically.

 

Sirens, mythological beings who are part woman and part bird, are said to send sailors to their demise through irresistible singing that lures them to crash on rocks they would normally attempt to avoid. It turns out that the thought of large amounts of readily available hydrocarbons under California has had a similar effect on the state’s sustainability-minded population.

 

Of course, large deposits of readily available oil would have spelled large amounts of money, both as income to individual Californians and as tax revenues to various California governments. And, such oil deposits would have also spelled large contributions to California politicians in whose hands the fate of drilling and production regulations lie.

 

But the siren song of oil in California ended abruptly when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that, based on new information, the Monterey Shale actually contained 96 percent less recoverable oil than previously thought. Climate and anti-fracking activists were overjoyed. This vast resource in all likelihood will not be heavily exploited, and most of the oil in it left unburned. (Yes, the oil is still down there. The EIA just doesn’t think anyone will be able to recover it profitably using known technology.)

 

Since the 2008 spike in oil prices, the oil industry had been looking for a way to convince the public and policymakers not to abandon fossil fuels in favor of renewable, sustainable alternatives. When the so-called “revolution” in hydraulic fracking provided a temporary bump in U.S. oil and natural gas production, the industry found its message. With rising production America would now become a new oil and gas superpower, ending its fossil fuel imports and even exporting some of its largesse to the rest of the world. (This claim is proving to be a wild exaggeration, but that doesn’t keep it from being effective.)

 

The other purpose of this narrative–which has been heavily touted in the media–is to change the conversation from climate change to rising fossil fuel supplies and the benefits that such supplies will bestow on America and ultimately the world.

 

So far, the oil industry’s strategy has worked famously. The media and the public are abuzz with the message of renewed American strength and prosperity resulting from fracked oil and natural gas. Yes, there are stories about the environmental and health hazards of this process. But, the vast majority of Americans remain far away from and therefore unaffected by these hazards.

 

As long as the news is about the success of fracking and even about its hazards, the public will fixate on the question of how to obtain the country’s supposed newfound abundance safely rather than on the unfolding horror of climate change.

 

But, there are, in fact, two justifiable reasons for us to move away from burning fossil fuels: climate change and supply constraints. We need to transition to other energy sources because fossil fuels are accelerating climate change AND because we simply do not know when these fuels will decline in their production rates. Current evidence suggests that the risks of such a decline are mounting.

 

Unless climate activists embrace this dual message, they will be ceding the argument to the fossil fuel industry. With its huge financial resources the industry will continue largely unopposed to spout the abundance narrative which experience now tells us trumps discussion of climate change.

 

Read for yourself any glowing account of America’s new oil and gas abundance and you will ALMOST NEVER see any mention of climate change.

 

But, the Monterey Shale downgrade is not an isolated incident. It’s part of a pattern of downgrades that are making expectations about the trajectory of oil and natural gas production in the United States more realistic.

 

Moreover, world prices for oil when measured using the average daily price have hovered at or near record levels for the past three years despite the shale boom in America. Worldwide oil supplies have barely grown since 2005, even as China, India and the rest of Asia have increased their demand. (That demand has been in large part accommodated by declines in U.S. and European oil use resulting from sluggish economies and changes in driving habits due to declining incomes.)

 

U.S. natural gas production has been stagnant since the beginning of 2012 even as prices have more than doubled. The shale gas miracle is gradually unravelling and we may even be headed for a natural gas supply crisis in the United States.

 

The evidence is compelling that the risks to fossil fuel supplies are rising and that the world’s and the nation’s reliance on them is a dangerous dependency. That combined with the national security implications suggests that the United States (which remains a huge importer of oil) and all other energy importing nations are far better off moving toward energy supplies that are entirely homegrown and can be relied upon indefinitely.

 

This is a forceful argument when combined with concerns about climate change. And it is a necessary addition to the arsenal of climate change activists if they expect to refocus America and the world on the imperative of addressing climate change effectively.

The great imaginary California oil boom: Over before it started

The great imaginary California oil boom: Over before it started

by Kurt Cobb, originally published by Resource Insights  | May 25, 2014

 

It turns out that the oil industry has been pulling our collective leg.

 

The pending 96 percent reduction in estimated deep shale oil resources in California revealed last week in the Los Angeles Times calls into question the oil industry’s premise of a decades-long revival in U.S. oil production and the already implausible predictions of American energy independence. The reduction also appears to bolster the view of long-time skeptics that the U.S. shale oil boom–now centered in North Dakota and Texas–will likely be short-lived, petering out by the end of this decade. (I’ve been expressing my skepticism in writing about resource claims made for both shale gas and oil since 2008.)

 

California has been abuzz for the past couple of years about the prospect of vast new oil wealth supposedly ready for the taking in the Monterey Shale thousands of feet below the state. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) had previously estimated that 15.4 billion barrels were technically recoverable, basing the number on a report from a contractor who relied heavily on oil industry presentations rather than independent data.

 

The California economy was supposed to benefit from 2.8 million new jobs by 2020. The state was also supposed to gain $220 billion in additional income and $24 billion in additional tax revenues in that year alone, according to a study from the University of Southern California that relied heavily on industry funding.

 

But that was before the revelation by the Times that the EIA will reduce its estimate of technically recoverable oil in California’s Monterey Shale by 96 percent–almost a complete wipeout–after taking a close look at actual data for wells drilled there already. The agency now believes that only about 600 million barrels are recoverable using existing technology. The 600 million barrels still sound like a lot, but those barrels would last the United States all of 40 days at the current rate of consumption.

 

Americans had been counting on the seemingly oil-rich Monterey Shale for more than 60 percent of a supposed newfound bounty of domestic oil locked up in deep shale deposits. But it turns out that the Monterey is rich with oil in the same way that seawater is rich in dissolved gold. In both cases the resource is there, but no one can figure out how get it out at a profit. The EIA previously estimated that resources of so-called tight oil, the proper name for oil from deep shale deposits, could reach 23.9 billion barrels for the United States as a whole. Overnight that number shrank to 9.1 billion.

 

The firm hired to do the original estimates, INTEK Inc., was saying as recently as December that it planned to raise its estimate for the Monterey to 17 billion barrels, presumably based on representations made to it by the industry.

 

The firm assumed, apparently without any justification, that the Monterey Shale would be just as productive as other shale deposits such as the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas.

 

But the geology of the Monterey is riddled with folds and far more complex than other U.S. shale deposits, something that wouldn’t have been too hard to find out from existing geological studies and well logs.

 

We cannot be sure whether those who wrote the wildly overoptimistic INTEK report were eager to encourage drilling and investment in the Monterey, something the oil industry certainly favored. But the colossal miss suggests the possibility that INTEK and its analysts have grown too close to the industry and are serving it rather than the EIA which commissioned the report.

 

It’s no surprise that those who work in the oil industry are perennially optimistic. This high-risk business isn’t for the timid. And that optimism is necessary if the industry is going to raise the capital it needs from investors. But it should be obvious that relying on the oil industry for objective information that will form the basis for public policy is a mistake. Independent sources and objective data are important cross-checks on the industry’s understandable but often misleading enthusiasm.

 

The other explanation for the Monterey miss is that the analysts at INTEK are simply colossally inept. Note that INTEK was also responsible for the overall U.S. assessment of 23.9 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil lodged in deep shale formations. The California miss alone reduced estimated U.S. resources to 9.1 billion barrels, a cut which by itself calls into question the entire premise of renewed American oil abundance. But, the gargantuan misreading of the Monterey Shale’s resources also suggests that the firm’s estimates for other areas of the country need review as well.

 

A February 2013 comprehensive report on U.S. tight oil and natural gas from deep shales released by the Post Carbon Institute presaged the Monterey disappointment by pointing out how little oil had been extracted per well using advanced techniques in the Monterey Shale. A follow-on report issued in December focused exclusively on the Monterey and concluded that the INTEK/EIA estimate was vastly overblown. Not surprisingly, neither of these independent reports received any oil industry funding.

 

It is well to remember that the above numbers are all just estimates, and that they are for so-called technically recoverable resources. The estimates tell us little about how much oil from the Monterey or elsewhere might actually be economically recoverable, that is, profitably extracted. For that reason, the oil that is ultimately extracted from the Monterey and other deep shale deposits will likely be less than any estimate of technically recoverable resources. That means that even the 600 million barrel estimate for the Monterey may turn out to be too optimistic.

 

The industry counters that improved technology could change what seems unobtainable now into accessible oil. But, it cites no specific developments that are not already in use and therefore reflected in current estimates of what we can hope to extract. And the idea that we should base our public policy on innovations that no one has thought of yet seems more than a little unwise.

 

Moreover, while technology can improve, the laws of physics don’t. The industry is already moving from the so-called “sweet spots” in shale deposits to those that are more difficult to exploit. That process will continue until the laws of physics and economics team up to make drilling unprofitable, and that will be the end of the shale boom in the rest of the country.

 

________________________________________________________

 

P.S. In a previous piece I asked, “Will anyone who is currently predicting U.S. energy independence be punished if the story turns out to be wrong?” My answer was probably not. Now, we will find out if that turns out to be the case. My guess is that the oil industry will redouble its efforts to convince the public and policymakers to continue to believe something which cannot be supported by the evidence.

 

P.P.S. Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle the following in response to the Monterey Shale revision: “People forget that the boom taking place in Texas and particularly North Dakota did not happen overnight. There were decades of operators trying to understand the technology and the geology.” He seems unable to recognize that in the decades that it may take to figure out how to unlock the Monterey Shale, California and the world will be working hard to create an advanced energy infrastructure that will make the Monterey irrelevant. Technology isn’t standing still in renewable energy either.

Request to RTA Board — April 25, 2013

Request to RTA Board

April 25, 2013

Honorable RTA Board:     Thank you for my reappointment to the CART as an original member. I continue to be honored to serve the RTA and larger regional community in this role.

Having closely followed the Broadway Blvd Project at public meetings and interviews, I want the following comments to be considered by the RTA. These comments reflect my sense of responsibility regarding the role of the CART to oversee the fiduciary mission of the RTA and reflect significant changes in the larger community.

The 2006 RTA Plan is essentially a plan to increase the regional capacity for safe modes of mobility. While economic and political constraints did limit acceptable RTA projects to correcting deficiencies in the existing system, PAG and regional jurisdictions in 2006 were anticipating high future growth,  more than 50% increase in population near the end of the Plan period. One RTA campaign piece warned voters that a 550% increase in vehicular congestion would result if the Plan did not pass.

Needless to say, these and many of the original assumptions did not play out and most probably will never play out, in particular driving behavior due to high vehicle fuel costs indefinitely. Indeed, we have observed significant changes in travel mode preferences as well as population growth rates. Walking, biking, car sharing, and bus ridership have all increased much more than proportionally and population movement to urban centers has been significant.

Interpretation of the voter will as expressed in the 2006 election results therefore should come down to implementation of “equivalent functionality.” This means that what we plan and build for the Broadway Corridor Project, as well as any RTA project for that matter, should reflect the ballot plan in terms of  equivalent “trips” summed over all modes rather than simply car lane capacity.

Currently, the RTA is overly concerned with the notion of funding roadway lanes and roadway cross-sections instead of multi-modal corridors and multi-modal alignments. The RTA Grant Road Improvement Project did include parallel bicycle boulevards and recently did find funding for their construction. In the case of Grant Road, PAG’s own published data shows vehicular traffic counts on the segments of Grant Road included in the 2006 Plan declined 20% between 2004 and 2010. Yet the RTA Project is increasing roadway lane capacity at least 40%.

An overwhelming and growing group of Broadway Blvd stakeholders question the significant roadway lane expansion and associated removal of structures given all of the assumption changes since 2006. While Broadway’s role as Tucson’s most important multi-modal corridor and high capacity transit designation continues to be strongly supported, the somewhat rigid position taken by the RTA is not. The ringing cry at the Broadway Blvd Taskforce public forum a month ago was: “This is Tucson’s last chance to get it right.”

I truly believe that it would be madness to ignore the preferred vision the community is saying it wants and continue to plan and build and spend scarce resources for a future that will most probably never exist. If that becomes the case, Tucson will suffer irreversibly.

The bottomline is this. We live in a very different world than seven years ago. We have a voter-approved mobility plan and funding source that no one wants to scrap and redo. We don’t need to bring in the lawyers. We as a region have immense obstacles to overcome in order to attract the young skilled workforce that will attract better paying jobs going forward. Smart, sustainable development which is urban, multimodal and mixed land-use is what the new generations prefer. Our region has already begun to move in this direction. The RTA needs to loosen up and join with the active parts of our community including the Broadway Taskforce and Coalition to find every possible way to make this happen.

Thank you for your consideration.

Bob Cook,  RTA Citizens Accountability for Regional Transportation Committee

BROADWAY COALITION: Design Criteria for the Improvement of Broadway

BROADWAY COALITION:  Design Criteria for the Improvement of Broadway

Based on all the facts we have examined and studies available to us, from the RTA as well as from national studies [See our website: https://sites.google.com/site/broadwaycoalition], we have arrived at a set of criteria that should be applied to all alternatives proposed for the Broadway Boulevard Improvement Project, in order that the result be a more livable city.  We believe these criteria are in line with the Mayor and Council’s instructions to the Broadway Project Citizens’ Task Force:

 

1. Advance the notion of place (quite different from the notion of corridor), including

affording residents in the area a range of services and amenities, establish a unique

identity, etc.

2. Preserve the structures that exist along Broadway and provide safe, easy access to

them;

3. Enhance the business climate/viability;

4. Promote use of alternative modes of transportation and give particular attention to

pedestrian and bicycle activity and safety;

5. Be visually appealing;

6. Aid the movement of a people using a variety of forms of vehicular traffic;

7. Contribute to environmental sustainability, and

8. Be a fiscally sound, affordable approach.

 

 

Proposals that meet these criteria should be given positive ratings; those that do not should be rated negatively, the fewer they meet the more negative the rating.

 

100-Foot Max WIDTH Resource Page

Broadway Coalition Design Criteria for the Improvement of Broadway

Arizona Daily Star June 8th OpEd : Pro 100′ width Broadway by Robert Cook

Arizona Daily Star June 8th OpEd: RTA viewpoint by Douglas Mance

Follow-up lobby letter to public officials June 9th by Robert Cook

It is the width, not the number of lanes: Broadway Coalition notes

Broadway Coalition: Some Thoughts on Money

Major Report on Mobility Trends and Future Implications

2006 RTA inflated traffic and population projections

2007 PAG Annual Report shows population projections on steroids

Request to RTA Board — April 7, 2011

Request to RTA Board — April 25, 2013

 

 

RTA and County Should Heed Community’s Vision for Broadway Project

RTA and County Should Heed Community’s Vision for Broadway Project

 By Robert Cook , June 8, 2014

This is the June 8th Sunday Arizona Daily Star Guest Opinion without the Star’s edits. Note the Star’s edited headline is: “8-Lane Roadway No Longer Makes Sense.”

 

The two-year design phase of the Broadway Boulevard, Euclid to Country Club Project is reaching its final months. And not without controversy over funding and design elements. A successful outcome will require broad agreement between the Regional Transportation Authority, Pima County, Tucson Mayor and Council, and the many community stakeholders including residents, businesses, and visitors along Tucson’s historic Sunshine Mile and west to downtown.

 

The Broadway redesign is a bellweather project that will set a highly visible precedent for regional planning in the decades to come. The result of this process will signal to what degree local government is willing and able to scale infrastructure projects to actual needs and preferences. Importantly, the design outcome will be an indicator whether the region can flexibly adapt to significant changes in our economy, demographics, urban design standards, energy and resource costs, and serious Southwest climate change.

 

From the beginning, the City-appointed Citizens Task Force and the Broadway Coalition have questioned the wisdom of rigidly following the 2006 ballot language specifying a 150ft-wide, 8-lane roadway. This would require removal of more than 115 existing buildings in the right-of-way. Such acquisition and demolition would cost in excess of $42M, not counting the lost tax base these historic properties represent.

 

The 2006 RTA Plan was based on inflated traffic projections. The actual, lower traffic volumes have changed very little in the past two decades. The major question has been why expand car lane capacity when recent studies show that people are increasingly shifting to other modes of mobility. Should our limited public funds be invested in unnecessary infrastructure?

 

Community stakeholders support a maximum 100ft. width design that could accommodate a 5-lane option with significant pedestrian, bicycle and transit improvements which also anticipate future high capacity transit. The high capacity system would serve both local and suburban demand to the east and could be partially funded by the savings from eliminating 50 feet in right-of-way and construction costs and the tax revenues from increased destination business activity.

 

One only needs to look at the transformational investments along the Modern Street Car line including UMC, UA Maingate, West University, Downtown and the westside Mercado District to see that vibrant urban change and economic activity can happen without widening roadways.

 

Transit-oriented development not only preserves historic values but is currently the most successful type of development in Tucson. Visually beautiful places where people walk, bike, meet, and share life is what the new as well as older generations are demanding in urban settings where growth is occurring.

 

The research supporting the 100ft. width is robust. Rapid suburban population growth is no longer the key to future prosperity because of higher resource costs and climate impacts as well as the preference for urban living by the new “millennial” generation. Safety is also a big issue for roadway design. The U. S. currently spends nearly $900B per year due to automobile-related accidents.

 

The rising cost of oil itself looms large as a design factor. This impacts both road fuels and asphalt prices. The truth is that we built our economy on $20/barrel oil and we are now in the era of $100+ oil. Per capita driving behavior since World War II shows continuous increase until 2005 when it began its current slide downward.

 

It is time for the RTA, County, and City to actually address the realities of the emerging 21st Century and let go of 2006 assumptions and the wishful thinking that everything will return to the world of 10 years ago.

 

What’s needed now is a significant change of heart to match the serious choices ahead.

 

Robert Cook, a 50-year resident of Pima County, is a two-term member of the RTA Citizens’ Accountability for Regional Transportation Committee, Past-chair of the Tucson-Pima County Metropolitan Energy Commission, and current member of the Pima County Planning & Zoning Commission. Robert co-founded Sustainable Tucson in 2006 with many other committed neighbors.  Email him at unispan@dakotacom.net.

 

The public is invited to the final Broadway Boulevard Planning Forum on Thursday, June 12th: 5:00 – 8:00pm,  Sabbar Shrine Hall, 450 S. Tucson Blvd

Options available for Broadway project that meet RTA’s ‘functionality’ test

 

Options available for Broadway project that meet RTA’s ‘functionality’ test

by Douglas Mance,  Special to the Arizona Daily Star,  June 08, 2014

 

The last time I addressed the Broadway Corridor Citizens Task Force, I let them know I wanted those dedicated volunteers to succeed in their efforts to come up with a design that would be acceptable to all of the funding entities: the Regional Transportation Authority, Pima County and the city of Tucson.

 

On another occasion I addressed the same body as the ex-officio liaison to my CART Committee (Citizens Accountability for Regional Transportation). I let them know that I felt that their process now was like a “bowling alley with gutters.” My intimation was that if the task force put forth a plan that ignored the 2006 ballot language, they might jeopardize the chances of it being funded at all.

 

The Broadway task force now needs regional community guidance so it can avoid rolling a gutter ball. On Thursday the entire regional public needs to participate in a public forum on this important Broadway project.

 

Prominently stated in the 2006 voter-approved Regional Transportation Plan is the overarching policy that “functionality is not to be diminished.” Some of the task force proposals would clearly diminish functionality.

 

At risk here is more than $42 million from the RTA, more than $25 million from Pima County and $3 million from the city of Tucson. The obligation that both the RTA and Pima County has is to the voters of the entire region and the entire county. The obligation attached to the city of Tucson, the Broadway project manager, seems to be to city voters only.

 

The city’s apparent unwillingness to take into account other regional vested interests could paralyze the efforts to find a common ground. Or this could be a wonderful opportunity to allow three representative governmental bodies to work together to find an elegant compromise solution for this important stretch of Broadway — a gateway to a vibrant downtown for the entire greater Tucson region.

 

I have served on the CART committee since its inception in 2006, and all of us on the committee have a stated mission to “ascertain that the Regional Transportation Authority plan is implemented as presented to the voters of Pima County on May 16, 2006.” The CART is a recommending body of citizen volunteers who will be making our recommendation on the Broadway Corridor RTA project directly to the RTA Board.

 

Like the volunteers on the Broadway Citizens Task Force, we CART members perform our duties because we believe in and we are very proud of our community. The CART committee is also dedicated to keeping the promises made to the 2006 regional voters. The Regional Transportation Plan is a comprehensive plan that contains many hundreds of incredible and visionary component projects, and naturally, not all the projects carry the same popularity levels.

 

That being said, the RTA Plan represents one of the most successful compromises that the Tucson region has ever agreed upon and funded, and if we endanger the plan now by going against the will of the voter and the taxpayer, we run the real risk of affecting the credibility of this entire plan and similar future plans.

 

Within the portfolio of Citizen Task Force Broadway Corridor design options that are now on the table, there are options that may meet both the functionality tests that the voters approved and the fiduciary responsibility that the RTA plan places upon the RTA Board. Unfortunately, there are also some options on the table that will diminish multi-modal transportation functionality on Broadway.

 

We have before us a wonderful opportunity to bowl a good score on this important transportation corridor. All we need to do now plan together and avoid gutter balls.

 

 

Douglas Mance is a longtime financial adviser and resident of the greater Tucson region. He is also a two-term member of the RTA Citizens Accountability for Regional Transportation Committee. Email him dmancerta@comcast.net

 

The public is invited to the final Broadway Boulevard Planning Forum on Thursday, June 12th: 5:00 – 8:00pm,  Sabbar Shrine Hall, 450 S. Tucson Blvd

 

 

 

ST June Meeting – BUILDING RESILIENT NEIGHBORHOODS: Eco-villages and Social Cohesion

BUILDING RESILIENT NEIGHBORHOODS:

Eco-villages and Social Cohesion

Monday, June 9, 2014, 5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

With climate change increasing the likelihood of heat waves, flooding and other emergencies that may overwhelm first responders, and when “sheltering in place” becomes the default response, will your neighborhood be a caring and sharing place? Do you have a neighborhood association or group projects?

What is the level of trust on your street? How meaningful are conversations with your neighbors? Do you recognize your neighbors? Are they trustworthy? Do they keep to themselves?

Whether at an Eco-village start-up in Avra Valley, or an Tucson urban neighborhood the challenges and opportunities are great.

Join Sustainable Tucson’s public meeting to explore the value of community cohesion. It may move you to organize where you live.

Speakers will include:

David Burley, organizer at Tortillita Eco-village, Avra Valley. This rural effort to create community can teach us much about starting from scratch including the fundamentals of sharing water and gardening.

Joanie Sawyer, teacher and community activist, past City of Tucson PRO neighborhoods facilitator, Sustainable Tucson core team founder.

Michael Ray, Limberlost Neighborhood Association, President; Inventor and owner of Nurse Tree Arch, LC3.

Both Joanie and Michael are members of the Vulnerable Communities and Neighborhoods Task Force, 2014 (an outcome of the 2013 Climate Smart Southwest national conference).

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s June 9th meeting to find out more.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST May Meeting: CAN MUSHROOMS SAVE THE WORLD?

 

Sustainable Tucson’s May Meeting:

CAN MUSHROOMS SAVE THE WORLD?

 

Monday, May 12, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

 

What do human health, environmental detoxification, consumer waste recycling and a great-tasting and healthy locally produced food source have in common? – MUSHROOMS! Learn about the current state of the mushroom industry, its potential for growth, the health implications for mushrooms in our diets, and their potential role in environmental cleanup and recycling.

Join Sustainable Tucson’s public meeting to explore the value of mushrooms to our environment, economy and enjoyment.

Speakers will include:

Barry M. Pryor, PhD, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the School of Plant Sciences. Dr. Pryor is internationally renowned for his work studying fungi in the genus Alternaria, and this research includes study in Alternaria ecology, biology, systematics, mycotoxicology, and the role of Alternaria in childhood-onset asthma. Additional research programs include disease management in agricultural and horticultural crops, characterization of fungal communities in native ecosystems, and cultivation of edible mushrooms and their co-utility in landscape and consumer waster recycling.

Andrew Carhuff, Old Pueblo Mushroom Growers. OPMG is growing oyster mushrooms and selling at 3 local farmers markets as well as to local eateries. All this is being done using local growing materials with efficient water use. Andrew is willing to share his experience as a Tucson business start up with this “growing” sustainable crop.

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s May 12th meeting to find out more.

 

For an excellent 17 minute introduction to 6 ways mushrooms can save the world, watch Paul Stamets on TED Talks:

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

April 20th: “Welcome the Third Economic Revolution”

Welcome the Third Economic Revolution

A talk on converting from a Consumer Killer Economy to a Sustainable Green Economy
by John ‘Skip’ Laitner, featured speaker at Sustainable Tucson’s December 2013 General Meeting.

Skip is a Resource and Energy Economist, International Economic Conversion Consultant, and Visiting Fellow to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Hear how he is advising the Government of Normandy, France in their conversion to an Energy-Efficient Economy NOW. They are not waiting until all of Greenland’s ice is in the sea.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Milagro Cohousing Common House at 3057 N. Gaia Place in the Tucson Mountains
Refreshments, Q A, Tours of this eco-designed neighborhood following the talk.

Bring a Friend and learn how we can achieve prosperity by reducing energy consumption through conservation, efficiency and renewables and  reduce our climate changing greenhouse gas output!

More information from Holly at 520-743-1948

ST’s April Meeting: Local Water – Localized Food?

Sustainable Tucson’s April Meeting:

Local Water – Localized Food?

 

Monday, April 14, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

 

How much local food can Tucson produce? And how much local water is available to produce it?

For several thousand years the Tucson region has been producing food for its human population using renewable rainwater and surface flows. Now our food supply is almost entirely imported from long distances, at great energy cost and with potential for disruption. Many Tucsonans are growing food locally for a variety of reasons, and these efforts will tend to make Tucson more resilient should those disruptions come.

But how much is Tucson’s locally grown food dependent on the water supplied by the Central Arizona Project canal with its huge carbon footprint and diminishing supply? Is it possible to grow local food from our seasonal rainfall and, if so, how much? What about water-supplied agriculture from our watershed and aquifer?

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s April 14th meeting to find out.

Speakers will include:

Jay Cole: Off-grid Water Harvesting at the residential scale

Victoria White: Gardening in Avra Valley

Tarenta Baldeschi: Avalon Organic Gardens and Ecovillage, Tumacacori; Community-Scale food production

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST March Meeting: Preparedness for a World of Change

 

Sustainable Tucson’s March Meeting:
Preparedness for a World of Change

Monday, March 10, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Join the Sustainable Tucson community and extended network to hear Nicole Foss, world-renown lecturer and co-creator of TheAutomaticEarth.Com speak from their DVD on Preparedness. Time will be taken to discuss this important subject which all of us are interested in.

Topics include Navigating an Epic Predicament, Psychology of Contraction, De-Globalization, Community and Society, Energy and Resources, Goods and Services, Nutrition and Health, Entertainment and Education, Be Prepared with Hard Goods, To Rent or Own, Community Building, Depression-proof Employment, and Building Robust Systems.

This General Meeting should begin the conversation of what we actually should start doing and acting on.

We hope to see you all there.

Doors open at 5:30. Program begins at 6:00 until 8;00pm

In addition to the General Meeting on Monday, March 10th, there will be an online Whole Earth Summit March 11 -13th, featuring 42 global sustainability leaders including Tucson’s own Brad Lancaster. To see the schedule of speakers and get more info on how you can connect, go to:

    www.WholeEarthSummit.org

This should be an unforgettable convergence of like hearts and minds considering: What’s your vision for a resilient world? How are you creating it now? Food + water + community + regenerative design + social transformation!

February General Mtg: IS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Sustainable Tucson’s February Meeting:
IS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?

Monday, February 10, 2014,    5:30 – 8:00 pm

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Last November 14th, the State of Arizona ran a simulation of an emergency event that included a 72-hour power outage – the kind of event climate change may visit upon the Tucson region.

Within the first hour of this mock climate emergency county officials realized hospitals would be overwhelmed by those seeking shelter from the 110+ degree heat. With no power for air conditioners or water delivery, and with severely curtailed communications capacity, hospitals became the first option for the most vulnerable seeking safety and shelter.

In the meantime, local emergency response teams with generators powered limited operations but (as in most emergencies) the general public is left to their own resources to manage until outside help arrives. For most, the physical setting of home is where they will wait out the event.
This mock exercise was an eye-opening experience for those who participated – driving home the fact that healthy connections between neighbors will be essential to best outcomes during such an event.

But are Neighborhoods able to respond in such circumstances? Do residents feel part of a community and trust they can turn to their neighbors for assistance?  Who makes sure the most vulnerable are taken care of? Is there a method for neighborhood communication when commercial communications go down? What supplies should be stored and available?

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s February 10th meeting to find out.

Speakers will include:

Louis Valenzuela:  Pima County Health Department

Donna Branch-Gilby:  Climate Smart: Ready or Hot? Building Resilient Neighborhoods working group, and

Donald Ijams:  Neighborhood Support Network

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST Dec. Mtg: The Economic Imperative of Energy Efficiency: Leading Tucson to More Jobs and a Robust Economy While Mitigating Climate Change

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At Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

 

Sustainable Tucson December Meeting: The Economic Imperative of Energy Efficiency: Leading Tucson to More Jobs and a Robust Economy While Mitigating Climate Change

This month, Sustainable Tucson brings international expertise and vision to our community to understand how our region can move to a much more energy-efficient economy while enabling a 100% renewable-energy-powered, and a more vibrant economy.

A recently leaked portion of the upcoming (March 2014) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report endorses a CEILING ON GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. A September 28, 2013 New York Times article describes the Panel’s endorsement:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/science/global-climate-change-report.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Tucson’s regional power system and economy can be planned to produce a vibrant economy AND mitigate the worst effects of climate change. In fact the components that can make this happen work in concert.
Sustainable Tucson is proud to present two speakers with backgrounds and experience in transitioning from a carbon-intensive economy to one anchored by energy efficiency and powered by renewable energy.

John A. “Skip” Laitner is a resource economist who leads a team of consultants with his own group, Economic and Human Dimensions Research Associates based in Tucson, Arizona. He served nearly 10 years as a senior economist for technology policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He won EPA’s Gold Medal award for his contributions to economic impact assessments evaluating climate change policies. More recently, he led the Economic and Social Analysis Program for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a well-known think tank based in Washington, D.C. He has just returned from France where he works as the senior economist for a regional initiative that proposes to reduce energy requirements by half with renewable energy technologies powering all remaining energy needs.
Matthew T. McDonnell, J.D. is a regulatory and policy analyst with Economic and Human Dimensions Research Associates. He has previous experience in the renewable energy finance industry and the utility regulatory process. He has worked with former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Paul Newman, providing policy analysis; and he has given testimony before the ACC. As a consultant, Mr. McDonnell has advised clients on a variety of energy projects including independent review of generation options analysis, prospects for municipalization, as well as, regulatory issues involved with the transmission and sale of electricity–in both FERC and ACC jurisdictions. Mr. McDonnell’s clients have ranged from municipalities and energy firms, to public utilities and stakeholder groups.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Will the real International Energy Agency please stand up?

Will the real International Energy Agency please stand up?

Published by Resource Insights on 2013-11-16
Original article: http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2013/11/will-real-international-energy-agency.html by Kurt Cobb

It was as if the International Energy Agency were appearing on the old American television game show To Tell the Truth last week as it offered a third contradictory forecast in the space of a year.

You may recall that on To Tell the Truth the host would begin by reading a statement from a person with an unusual story or profession. Then, a celebrity panel would question three contestants who claimed to be that person. Afterwards, the panelists would vote on whom they believed was the real person. Finally, the host would say, “Will the real [name of person] please stand up?” (Some episodes are still available here on YouTube.)

The difference is that the contestants on To Tell the Truth would try to tell similar, plausible stories so as to stump the panel. In the non-game-show world of energy forecasting, the IEA–a consortium of 28 countries, all net oil importers except for Canada and Norway–plays all three contestants and does not even attempt to be consistent. So, it’s possible that the agency is just a collective mental case with multiple personality disorder.

However, one has to allow for the fact that the IEA is not just one person or one voice. Still, if the agency were a single person, what it has released over the last year as official pronouncements would likely have a psychiatrist reaching for the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition).

Last November in its 2012 World Energy Outlook (WEO), the agency noted rising U.S. oil production and even predicted that the United States would become energy self-sufficient by 2035 (a doubtful call, in my view). It also noted that growing oil demand in the Asia has more than outweighed declines in European and U.S. consumption, keeping upward pressure on prices. It said that growth in Iraq’s oil exports was not a sure thing. While the 2012 WEO is really a rather optimistic document on supply, it did not paint an especially rosy picture, indicating that obtaining the supplies of oil necessary to meet projected demand was not a foregone conclusion.

Then, only six months later came the agency’s so-called Medium-Term Oil Market Report which read like an ad for the North American oil and gas industry. The agency touted a “supply shock” in oil from American tight oil fields unleashed by a new kind of hydraulic fracturing–a shock that would send “ripples throughout the world.” Unlike six months earlier, worldwide supply was supposed to take flight on the wings of fracking.

This enthusiasm didn’t last long. In its latest report, the just-issued 2013 World Energy Outlook, the agency sounded like a group of Gloomy Guses noting that “Brent crude oil has averaged $110 per barrel in real terms since 2011, a sustained period of high oil prices that is without parallel in oil market history.”

The report goes on to say, “The capacity of technologies to unlock new types of resources, such as light tight oil (LTO) and ultra-deepwater fields, and to improve recovery rates in existing fields is pushing up estimates of the amount of oil that remains to be produced. But this does not mean that the world is on the cusp of a new era of oil abundance.” The most recent forecast calls for rising oil prices in real terms through 2035. This is in part because the agency expects that “no country replicates the level of success with LTO” that we are seeing in the United States today.

What’s really happening here? Is the IEA getting better at seeing the future? Not really. What’s happening is that the IEA is being asked to do something which it cannot possibly do: accurately predict oil supplies 22 years into the future. So, given this impossible task, the agency responds by following current trends (and industry hype) and then extrapolating them.

Now that the IEA has had a chance to re-examine the industry’s claims in light of more experience with tight oil development, it is backing off its previous assessment in its Medium-Term Oil Market Report from May. Fatih Birol, chief economist for the IEA, told the Financial Times that he would now characterize rising oil production in the United States as “a surge, rather than a revolution.” He expects OPEC to become dominant once again in oil markets early in the next decade. The Financial Times characterized the report as predicting an oil supply crunch.

But, will the IEA have a change of heart once again? It might, depending on what it hears from industry sources and what it chooses to believe. But, the takeaway from the last year of IEA projections is not that the agency is suffering some sort of breakdown, but that it has been given an impossible task that in the volatile world of oil supplies has it casting about for a coherent story. In short, it is trying to tell the truth without knowing the truth for the simple reason that in this case the truth cannot known. That has made it a poor contestant in its own real-life episode of To Tell the Truth stretched out over the past year.

It is a fool’s errand to try to predict the future of world energy supplies. But, it is even more foolish to base our public policy, business and personal decisions on such predictions.

P. S. There is a minor acknowledgement that such forecasts are exercises in futility in a disclaimer at the end of the 2013 World Energy Outlook summary. The disclaimer reads: “The IEA makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, in respect of the publication’s contents (including its completeness or accuracy) and shall not be responsible for any use of, or reliance on, the publication.” This is standard boilerplate, I know. But, it is not the kind of language that inspires confidence.

 

Editor: the thumbnail image, of course, is the logo from The Oil Drum website, whose work lives on.


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Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.


Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-11-16/will-the-real-international-energy-agency-please-stand-up

Loss and Damage @Warsaw: Climate change Conference of Parties 19

Loss and Damage @Warsaw

Published by Daily Kos on 2013-11-15
Original article: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/15/1255756/-Loss-and-Damage-Warsaw by Deborah Phelan

The issue of ‘loss and damage’, which at long last mainstreamed at last year’s COP18, is vying for center stage in Warsaw as COP19 participants wrestle with the problems of effectively addressing and financing the irreparable impacts of climate change, those impacts already beyond the options of mitigation or adaptation.

The World Wildlife Fund pounced yesterday on the urgent need for an international mechanism to address this problem with the publication of Tackling The Climate Reality: A Framework For Establishing An International Mechanism To Address Loss And Damage At COP19.

The report was co-authored by WWF, ActionAid and CARE.
© WWF, ActionAide and CARE
“The experience of the Philippines with Super Typhoon Haiyan is surely evidence that we are in the throes of an impending crisis,” said Sven Harmeling, climate change advocacy coordinator at CARE International. “Thousands of people died and still suffer, despite the Philippines investing a lot in disaster preparedness and adaptation. The lack of serious attention to both mitigation and adaptation is pushing the world into the third era of climate governance, where the two pillars of adaptation and mitigation are no longer sufficient to respond to the challenge of climate change.”
From the report’s Executive Summary:

Climate change loss and damage is resulting from insufficient mitigation efforts. If emissions continue to be pumped into the atmosphere at current levels, the long-held goal of keeping average global temperature rises to below 2°C will be exceeded. In fact, the world is currently on a pathway towards an altogether much warmer world; average global temperature rises of well over 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century are looking increasingly likely with a business-as-usual approach to mitigation.

Climate change loss and damage is also resulting from insufficient support for adaptation. In fact, increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events are already providing ample evidence of how adaptation limits are being breached, overwhelming the ability of countries, people and ecosystems to cope with damage which, in turn, undermines people’s adaptive capacity and eats away at their resilience.

Announcing “a new era” of climate change, where rapidly rising sea waters, desertification, the acidification of the oceans and glacial melt overwhelm the world’s most vulnerable communities, the report implies a shift in focus to climate justice: poverty, lack of infrastructure and vulnerability of geographic locale cripple inadequately funded adaptation and mitigation policies and elevate the severity of the problems. The authors suggest an over reliance on flawed adaptation schemes will result in severe devastation to lives and livelihoods, ecosystems, and food and fisheries in many countries.

The proposed international mechanism would provide global oversight and coordination of actions related to loss and damage and “enhance cooperation, oversight and coordination of action and linkages with regional and global institutions.” Operationally, the mechanism would be a part of the UNFCCC’s current loss and damage program while creating a new Standing Body on Loss and Damage, also under UNFCCC auspices.

Additional functions would include:

•Knowledge development and exchange.
•Support for the implementation of a wide range of approaches identified to address loss and damage.
•Facilitate and catalyse the development of innovative financial measures, including measures for rehabilitation of damage, compensation for loss, and reparations for non-economic impacts.

ActionAid International Coordinator Harjeet Singh says developing nations must accept their “moral duty and legal obligation” to fast track support for the most climate vulnerable nations.

“We need to establish the international mechanism here in Warsaw to deal with the unprecedented challenges we are facing,” he said. “The mechanism is not just about providing finance to recover from climate change impacts that cannot be adapted to. It is also about generating knowledge and finding new ways to deal with non-economic losses such as loss of biodiversity, indigenous knowledge, human mobility, cultural heritage, ancestral burial sites and so on.”

With loss and damage front and center this week after the unparalleled devastation from Typhoon Haiyan (read The Brisbane Times article Typhoon Haiyan and a year of weird weather), all 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) yesterday engineered a strategic intervention by jointly presenting the UNFCCC Secretariat with their National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs).
True to the course, lead negotiators from industrialized nations are expected to shy away from any “formalised mechanism” to address loss and damage, focusing instead on attracting investors to navigate their way towards profit via long-term clean tech development through contributions towards $100bn annual Green Fund commitments.
The application of this ‘antiquated’ and seemingly unsustainable model of development was evidenced yesterday at the US Center where USAID hosted the panel “Concept to Reality: Mobilizing Private Investment for Clean Energy in Africa.”
In a case study detailing a six year project to bring a 5MW biomass grid online in South Africa, CTI PFAN advisor Michale Feldner (Inspire South Africa) painting a disturbing picture of huge financial costs (primarily legal fees), delays in permit applications, difficulties in luring and holding onto investors, and the dismal ratio between project identification and actual funding and development.
Wake up, Warsaw. We don’t have six years to waste.
Speaking at this year’s Social Good Summit, Al Gore  suggested that without a ‘sea change’ in political and social consciousness, “Civilization might not survive the next 100 years.”
So, Get Real, Warsaw. Maybe it truly is now or never.

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Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.


Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-11-15/loss-and-damage-warsaw

Three things you shouldn’t miss this week: Energy Crunch: the global picture

Energy Crunch: the global picture

Published by New Economics Foundation on 2013-11-15
Original article: http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/energy-round-up-the-global-picture by Energy Crunch staff

Three things you shouldn’t miss this week

  1. The dwindling emissions budget if we are to limit global warming to no more than 2°C.

    Graphic: International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2013
  2. Article: Shale’s Effect on Oil Supply Is Not Expected to Last –  According to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency, production of such oil in the United States and worldwide will provide only a temporary respite from reliance on the Middle East.
  3. Commentary: Want an energy revolution? Think beyond the big six –  When you own a stake in the energy you use, you use less of it. Solar Schools, part of the 10:10 carbon reduction project, has been a striking example of this.
Everything is changing on energy, and yet everything remains the same. This is the message from the latest World Energy Outlook by the International Energy Agency. The report shows shifting global demand and supply patterns, but the overall picture remains one of rising carbon emissions, fossil fuel domination and tight oil markets.
Emissions from the energy sector will increase 20% by 2035 based on current policies, putting the world on target for 3.6 degree warming. The urgency of the issue surely couldn’t be more obvious as climate negotiators meet in Warsaw. Typhoon Haiyan can’t be directly linked to climate change, but increasingly powerful storms are one likely predicted effect, and the UN expects 2013 to be the 7th warmest year on record.
Fossil fuels still provide 82% of world energy according to the report – the same as 25 years ago. The agency predicts this will have fallen to 76% by 2035, but 76% of a much larger pie. This dominance of fossil fuels is supported by record subsidies of $544 billion in 2012. A new report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) shows that fossil fuel subsidies aren’t just a developing world phenomenon. It estimates that OECD countries spend up to $90 billion in fossil fuel support measures, often via tax cuts or exemptions, and calls for G20 governments to phase out all subsidies by 2020 – or 2015 for wealthier nations – while protecting vulnerable groups from the impacts.
Not much has changed in the UK energy debate over the past couple of weeks either, but the focus is renewable rather than fossil fuel subsidies, as the government and the Big Six slug it out over ‘green taxes’. It looks increasingly likely that funding for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), under which energy companies carry out domestic efficiency measures, will move from bills to general taxation as the utilities want. How much relief that would provide, and for how long, is another question entirely.

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Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.


Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-11-15/energy-crunch-the-global-picture

Who knew that Seoul was a leader in the sharing economy?

Who knew that Seoul was a leader in the sharing economy?
by Richard Heinberg
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Published by Post Carbon Institute on 2013-11-12
Original article: http://www.postcarbon.org/blog-post/1949822-who-knew-that-seoul-was-a
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Did you know that Seoul, South Korea is one of the world’s key sites for post-growth economic re-development? No? Neither did I, until I saw for myself.
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I was pleased to be invited to give the keynote address at a conference titled “Reshaping the Way We Live,” put on by the Seoul Youth Hub, held November 7-8. I had no idea what to expect, and was rather surprised when the event turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and eye-opening in recent memory.
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First, some background on South Korea. The nation has an export-based industrial economy that has expanded rapidly in recent decades; however, its rate of growth has begun to slow and the youth unemployment rate is now north of 22 percent. Korean politics has also taken a worrisome turn: many citizens dispute the legitimacy of the most recent presidential election, which brought to power Park Geun-hye, the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee.
Meanwhile Korea’s energy situation could hardly be bleaker: the nation imports essentially all its oil, natural gas, and coal (Korea was once self-sufficient in coal, but production has declined dramatically). It gets some electricity from hydropower, but there is little room for expansion. The country’s 23 nuclear power plants are subject to increasing controversy since the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe in nearby Japan, as many Koreans fear they are now eating radioactive fish.
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The Seoul Youth Hub evidently sees crisis as opportunity. Why else would they ask the author of The End of Growth to address a conference of 18-to-40 year-olds? I came to their attention through a protracted Internet search, but it helped that three of my books have been translated into Korean. Evidently the organizers weren’t shy about conveying a sobering message.
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Lunch with the Youth Hub conference organizers.
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Though I hadn’t visited their country previously, I knew that Koreans have a reputation for being friendly and generous. If my experience is any gauge, the reputation is well deserved. The organizers put me up at a traditional Hanok Korean guesthouse (no chairs or television, just mats on the floor of a beautifully constructed, floor-heated, meticulously scrubbed little pavilion). Nearly all food provided during my stay was also traditional, and included a Buddhist temple meal with multiple courses of artistically crafted vegetarian morsels. Suffice it to say that I felt well taken care of and had a splendid time.
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Now to the conference itself. Except for the opening keynote and a final wrap-up, the sessions were workshops led by eight collaborative groups (including ones from Hong Kong and Japan), each of which is a youth-led organization engaged in social innovation. You can find a list of participating groups at the conference website. The subjects explored ranged from cheese-making to innovations in democratic decision-making; in effect, it amounted to a multi-track laboratory for young people to explore adaptive responses to economic contraction.
Surprisingly, the event was free to the participants. The City of Seoul footed the bill, thanks to Mayor Park Won-soon (more about him in a moment).
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The Seoul Youth Hub is a project of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and its mandate is to help young people “design a future society” by providing a place where they can share and resolve their problems, experiment with a sharing economy, and “discuss specific policies regarding various agendas such as work-labor, housing, life safety net, business creation, youth politics,” and more. The Hub is also intended as a model and a networking center for similar projects throughout Asia. I highly recommend watching this short video.
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The venue for the conference was the Youth Hub’s headquarters, which features movable walls, furniture made of recycled building materials, open and shared office spaces, informal dormitory nooks, a café, and learning co-laboratories. Altogether, there was far more going on here than I could take in during the two days of the conference, much less describe in a couple of paragraphs.
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On the evening of the first day of the conference I met Mayor Park at his offices in City Hall, a twisty new steel-and-glass structure whose ground floor is devoted to citizen-led social innovation projects.
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Copies of The End of Growth were on the Mayor’s meeting room table. Using an interpreter, we got right to it: he had clearly read the book and asked intelligent questions about it. What would I recommend that he and the City of Seoul do to prepare for the end of economic growth? It was a stunning question, given the circumstances, and he appeared eager to consider whatever suggestions I might offer. I started rattling off a laundry list of ideas—supporting farmers’ markets, community gardens, and other staples of a local food system; discouraging cars while encouraging bicycling and public transport; raising energy building standards to the Passive House level; staging more cultural events to increase the happiness quotient among citizens. When I finished, he recited examples of how he and the City have already begun doing nearly every one of these things. He was saying, in effect, “Check, check, check. Come on, what else have you got? Please tell me, and I’ll see if we can do it!” I suggested he find a way for the City to help bring Transition to Seoul (there are currently two official Transition Initiatives in Japan, none in Korea). He promised to do just that.
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Mayor Park Won-soon
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Whoa, I thought. Who is this guy? I looked up his Wikipedia listing later that night. Before becoming Mayor in 2011, Park Won-soon had a 30-year career as a human rights and social justice activist and spent four months in prison for some of these activities. In recent years he developed a chain of nonprofit “Beautiful Stores,” which collect donations of used items, repair them if needed, and sell them to raise money for the social enterprise movement. There are now over a hundred of these stores throughout Korea.
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Inside a Beautiful Store
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Hard to believe this man is the elected leader of the largest city proper in the world, with a population of over 10 million.
The organizers of the Youth Hub conference think the world of Mayor Park, and I can understand why. I’ve seen a lot of hopeful post-growth initiatives in a lot of places—usually citizen-led and modest in scale; never have I seen such visionary, intelligent leadership at the municipal government level within so large a city.
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This is a country with a hard future ahead. Challenges with energy, the economy, and the environment are lining up (not to mention ever-present tensions with North Korea). Yet if efforts led by Mayor Park and the Seoul Youth Hub manage to flourish, things may go much better than they otherwise would. Perhaps other cities can begin to find inspiration here.
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For a helpful overview of the food sovereignty movement in South Korea, see this article from Foreign Policy in Focus.
Richard Heinberg in front of a Youth Hub garden of Korean cabbage (key ingredient of Kim-Chee)

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Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.


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Green Redevelopment & the Rise of 2030 Districts

at Tucson Association of Realtors conference room,  2445 N. Tucson Blvd   (one block north of Grant Rd)

 

But, could something like a 2030 District in Tucson help align many efforts to support economic re-generation in our community?    Come join us on:

Monday. November 11, 5:30 – 8:30 pm 

PLEASE NOTE: SPECIAL MEETING LOCATION

Tucson Association of Realtors

2445 N. Tucson Blvd   (one block north of Grant Rd)

Come hear our speakers, and bring your questions and opinions for an active conversation – where we go from here.

Peter Dobrovolny, architect, planner and City of Seattle liaison to the Seattle 2030 District

Robert Bulechek, Tucson building science and energy-efficiency expert

Peter will show how across the United States, 2030 Districts are being formed to meet the energy, water and vehicle emissions targets called for by Architecture 2030 in the 2030 Challenge for Planning. In response to climate change, resource depletion, and financial challenges, communities everywhere are raising the bar on these criteria as well.

Through unique public/private partnerships, property owners and managers are coming together with local governments, businesses and community stakeholders to provide a model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources.  Together they are developing and implementing creative strategies, best practices, and verification methods for measuring progress towards a common goal.

Green redevelopment is increasingly being viewed as a first tier strategy for community economic development, generating significant reductions in operating costs and climate-altering emissions and creating long-term sustainable jobs. Green redevelopment also benefits from new investment mechanisms that could provide the financial push toward developing a larger-scale redevelopment industry. With very few good alternatives facing us, green redevelopment could be the next big thing in Greater Tucson.

Robert will show how green redevelopment, at the scale of one building at a time, can practically reduce household resource consumption significantly. He will present how everyone can significantly reduce waste in electricity, natural gas, water, and gasoline consumption and do so by saving money every step of the way. His strategies are cash flow positive at every level of efficiency-mitigation down to zero consumption. At the same time, they also produce other positive benefits including improved comfort and significant reduction in climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Using the Minnesota Power Pyramid of Conservation and the HERS home energy modeling system, Robert will demonstrate that resource efficiency is the first step toward financial improvement which does not require government subsidies to advance the general welfare.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST Oct Mtg: Investing in Local Solar Energy Solutions

Sustainable Tucson October Meeting: Investing in Local Solar Energy Solutions

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,

101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

Investing in Local Solar Energy Solutions

As Tucson begins planning to reduce its greenhouse gases 80% by 2050, the largest emissions sector (59%) arises from the generation and consumption of electricity, currently 84% coal-fired. What clean energy solutions are available to connect consumers to investments in clean solar energy, ready-made for Tucson Electric Power’s utility grid? Community-owned solar is a new, innovative, customer-focused renewable energy model that is being adopted by large and small utilities across the country.

Clean Energy Collective is a new idea in power generation that is building, operating and maintaining community-based clean energy facilities. Headquartered in Colorado, CEC is pioneering the model of delivering clean power-generation through locally centralized, medium-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers. To date, CEC has partnered with 10 utilities across the US to deliver and manage 25 community-owned solar projects to respective utility customers. The company’s mission aims to: 1) Accelerate the adoption of long-term clean energy solutions; 2) provide utilities with lower risk, well located and more beneficial clean energy generation; and 3) create a manageable and mutually beneficial production partnership between utilities and consumers.

Come learn about how you can receive maximum benefits from collective investment in localized solar power for yourself and your community, how the CEC model can promote local jobs and the local economy. Join us for this very informative meeting and support renewable energy action in your community.

Meeting speakers will include:

Genevieve Liang, Clean Energy Collective’s VP of Business Development for the Western U.S.

Bruce Plenk, lately of the City of Tucson Energy Office, and Solar Coordinator for the City of Tucson

Kevin Koch, Technicians for Sustainability, local solar installer

Elizabeth Smith, StelcorEnergy, solar energy consultant

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

ST September Mtg: Working Together Toward a Sustainable Community Part IV – Sept 9th

Monday, September 9, 2013

5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room, 101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

ST September Meeting
Working Together Toward a Sustainable Community
Part IV

Sustainable Tucson’s “Conversations with our Public Officials” series provides Tucson community members the opportunity to meet with local public officials to discuss a wide range of sustainability issues. The venue offers a unique opportunity to converse with our public officials in a supportive atmosphere designed to build understanding and establish relationships.

Join Sustainable Tucson for our fourth Conversation with our Public Officials.

Jessie Baxter, Outreach Coordinator for Congressman Raul Grijalva, Ray Carroll, Pima County District 4 Supervisor, and Claire Zucker, Director, Sustainable Environment Program, Pima Association of Governments, will share their vision of a more sustainable Tucson. A networking session will precede the meeting from 5:30 to 6:00.

We believe that building a sustainable future will take the cooperation and partnering of residents, government, institutions and organizations. It is in this spirit that we are reaching out to our public officials by bringing them together with Sustainable Tucson and the wider public in this discussion process. Our ultimate intent for these popular “fishbowl discussions” is to build partnerships and work together toward our common goals.

We invite you to join us on September 9 for this exciting conversation with our local public officials.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

 

A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis

A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis

by Christian Parenti, July 19, 2013

Several strands of green thinking maintain that capitalism is incapable of a sustainable relationship with non-human nature because, as an economic system, capitalism has a growth imperative while the earth is finite. One finds versions of this argument in the literature of eco-socialism, deep ecology, eco-anarchism, and even among many mainstream greens who, though typically declining to actually name the economic system, are fixated on the dangers of “growth.”

All this may be true. Capitalism, a system in which privately owned firms must continuously out-produce and out-sell their competitors, may be incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. However, that is not the same question as whether capitalism can solve the more immediate climate crisis.

Because of its magnitude, the climate crisis can appear as the sum total of all environmental problems—deforestation, over-fishing, freshwater depletion, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, chemical contamination. But halting greenhouse gas emissions is a much more specific problem, the most pressing subset of the larger apocalyptic panorama.

And the very bad news is, time has run out. As I write this, news arrives of an ice-free arctic summer by 2050. Scientists once assumed that would not happen for hundreds of years.

Dealing with climate change by first achieving radical social transformation—be it a socialist or anarchist or deep-ecological/neo-primitive revolution, or a nostalgia-based localistaconversion back to a mythical small-town capitalism—would be a very long and drawn-out, maybe even multigenerational, struggle. It would be marked by years of mass education and organizing of a scale and intensity not seen in most core capitalist states since the 1960s or even the 1930s.

Nor is there any guarantee that the new system would not also degrade the soil, lay waste to the forests, despoil bodies of water, and find itself still addicted to coal and oil. Look at the history of “actually existing socialism” before its collapse in 1991. To put it mildly, the economy was not at peace with nature. Or consider the vexing complexities facing the left social democracies of Latin America. Bolivia, and Ecuador, states run by socialists who are beholden to very powerful, autonomous grassroots movements, are still very dependent on petroleum revenue.

A more radical approach to the crisis of climate change begins not with a long-term vision of an alternate society but with an honest engagement with the very compressed timeframe that current climate science implies. In the age of climate change, these are the real parameters of politics.

Hard Facts

The scientific consensus, expressed in peer-reviewed and professionally vetted and published scientific literature, runs as follows: For the last 650,000 years atmospheric levels of CO2—the primary heat-trapping gas—have hovered at around 280 parts per million (ppm). At no point in the preindustrial era did CO2 concentrations go above 300 ppm. By 1959, they had reached 316 ppm and are now over 400 ppm. And the rate of emissions is accelerating.Since 2000, the world has pumped almost 100 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere—about a quarter of all CO2 emissions since 1750. At current rates, CO2 levels will double by mid-century.

Climate scientists believe that any increase in average global temperatures beyond 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels will lead to dangerous climate change, causing large-scale desertification, crop failure, inundation of coastal cities, mass migration to higher and cooler ground, widespread extinctions of flora and fauna, proliferating disease, and possible social collapse. Furthermore, scientists now understand that the earth’s climate system has not evolved in a smooth linear fashion. Paleoclimatology has uncovered evidence of sudden shifts in the earth’s climate regimes. Ice ages have stopped and started not in a matter of centuries, but decades. Sea levels (which are actually uneven across the globe) have risen and fallen more rapidly than was once believed.

 

Throughout the climate system, there exist dangerous positive-feedback loops and tipping points. A positive-feedback loop is a dynamic in which effects compound, accelerate, or amplify the original cause. Tipping points in the climate system reflect the fact that causes can build up while effects lag. Then, when the effects kick in, they do so all at once, causing the relatively sudden shift from one climate regime to another.

 

Thus, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says rich countries like the United States must cut emissions 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020—only seven years away—and thereafter make precipitous cuts to 90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would require global targets of 10 percent reductions in emissions per annum, starting now. Those sorts of emissions reductions have only occurred during economic depressions. Russia’s near total economic collapse in the early 1990s saw a 37 percent decrease in CO2 emissions from 1990 to 1995, under conditions that nobody wants to experience.

 

The political implications of all this are mind-bending. As daunting as it may sound, it means that it is this society and these institutions that must cut emissions. That means, in the short-term, realistic climate politics are reformist politics, even if they are conceived of as part of a longer-term anti-capitalist project of totally economic re-organization.

 

Dreaming the Rational

Of course, successful reformism often involves radical means and revolutionary demands. What other sort of political pressure would force the transnational ruling classes to see the scientific truth of the situation? But let us assume for a second that political elites faced enough pressure to force them to act. What would be the rational first steps to stave off climate chaos?

 

The watchwords of the climate discussion are mitigation and adaptation—that is, we must mitigate the causes of climate change while adapting to its effects. Mitigation means drastically cutting our production of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, that prevent the sun’s heat from radiating back out to space.

 

Mitigation means moving toward clean energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal kinetic power. It means closing coal-fired power plants, weaning our economy off fossil fuels, building a smart electrical grid, and making massive investments in carbon-capture and -sequestration technologies. (That last bit of techno-intervention would have to be used not as a justification to keep burning coal, as is its current function, but to strip out atmospheric CO2 rapidly and get back to 350 ppm and away from the dangerous tipping points.)

 

Adaptation, on the other hand, means preparing to live with the effects of climatic changes, some of which are already underway and some of which are inevitable. Adaptation is both a technical and a political challenge.

 

Technical adaptation means transforming our relationship to non-human nature as nature transforms. Examples include building seawalls around vulnerable coastal cities, giving land back to mangroves and everglades so they can act to break tidal surges during giant storms, opening wildlife migration corridors so species can move away from the equator as the climate warms, and developing sustainable forms of agriculture that can function on an industrial scale even as weather patterns gyrate wildly.

 

Political adaptation, on the other hand, means transforming social relations: devising new ways to contain, avoid, and deescalate the violence that climate change is fueling and will continue to fuel. That will require progressive economic redistribution and more sustainable forms of development. It will also require a new diplomacy of peace building.

 

Unfortunately, another type of political adaptation is already under way—that of the armed lifeboat. This adaptation responds to climate change by arming, excluding, forgetting, repressing, policing, and killing. The question then becomes how to conceive of adaptation and mitigation as a project of radical reform—reforms that achieve qualitative change in the balance of power between the classes.

 

The core problem in the international effort to cut emissions is fundamentally the intransigence of the United States: it failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has played an obstructionist role at subsequent negotiations. Domestically, progress has been just as frustratingly slow. We have no carbon tax, nor any program of robust investment in clean technology. Even the minimal production tax credit for clean energy generated by solar, wind, and hydro power has not been locked in as a long-term commitment. This creates uncertainty about prices, and, as a result, private investment in clean tech is stalling.

 

China, on the other hand, though now the world’s second-largest economy and largest greenhouse gas polluter, is moving ahead with a fast-growing clean-tech industry—that is to say, with mitigation. The Chinese wind sector has grown steadily since 2001. “According to new statistics from the China Electricity Council,” reported American Progress senior fellow Joseph Romm, “China’s wind power production actually increased more than coal power production for the first time ever in 2012.” This growth is the result, in part, of robust government support: China has invested $200.8 billion in stimulus funding for clean tech. Estimates of U.S. stimulus funding for clean technology range from $50 to $80 billion.

 

The European Union is also moving forward to create a €1 trillion regional supergrid. Germany and Portugal in particular are moving aggressively to expand their already quite large clean-tech sectors. Action in the core industrial economies is essential because only they have the infrastructure that can propel the clean-tech revolution and transform the world economy.

 

A De Facto Carbon Tax

Environmental economists tend to agree that the single most important thing the United States could do to accelerate the shift to clean energy would be to impose a carbon tax. Despite our political sclerosis and fossil fuel fundamentalism, the means to do that already exist.

 

First and foremost, there is the Environmental Protection Agency, which could achieve significant and immediate emissions reductions using nothing more than existing laws and current technologies. According to Kassie Siegel at the Center for Biological Diversity, “The Clean Air Act can achieve everything we need: a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2020.”

 

Rather boring in tone and dense with legalistic detail, the ongoing fight over EPA rulemaking is probably the most important environmental battle in a generation. Since 2007, thanks to the pressure and lawsuits of green activists, the EPA has had enormous—but under-utilized—power. That was the year when the Supreme Court ruled, in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, that the agency should determine whether greenhouse gases threaten human health. In December 2010, the EPA published a science-based “endangerment finding,” which found that CO2 and five other greenhouse gases are, in fact, dangerous to human life because they cause global warming.

 

Once the EPA issues an endangerment finding, it is legally bound to promulgate regulations to address the problem. The first of these post–Massachusetts v. EPA “tailoring rules” were for “mobile sources.” Between 2011 and 2012, regulations for cars and for trucks went into effect. Then the EPA set strict limits for new power plants in 2012. But other major sources of greenhouse gas pollution—like existing electric power plants (which pump out roughly 40 percent of the nation’s total GHG emissions), oil refineries, cement plants, steel mills, and shipping—have yet to be properly regulated pursuant to Massachusetts v. EPA.

 

If the EPA were to use the Clean Air Act—and do so “with extreme prejudice”—it could impose a de facto carbon tax. Industries would still be free to burn dirty fossil fuels, but they would have to use very expensive, and in some cases nonexistent, new technology to meet emission standards. Or they would have to pay very steep and mounting fines for their emissions. Such penalties could reach thousands of dollars per day, per violation. Thus, a de facto carbon tax. Then cheap fossil fuel energy would become expensive, driving investment toward carbon-neutral forms of clean energy like wind and solar. For extra measure we could end fossil fuel subsidies. Before long, it would be more profitable to invest in clean energy sources than dangerous and filthy ones.

 

Big Green Buy and U.S. “Shadow Socialism”

According to clean-tech experts, innovation is now less important than rapid, large-scale implementation. In other words, developing a clean-energy economy is not about new gadgets but about new policies. Most of the energy technologies we need already exist. You know what they are: wind farms, concentrated solar power plants, geothermal and tidal power, all feeding an efficient smart grid that, in turn, powers electric vehicles and radically more energy-efficient buildings.

 

But leading clean technologies remain slightly more expensive than the old dirty-tech alternatives. This “price gap” is holding back the mass application of clean technology. The simple fact is that capitalist economies will not switch to clean energy until it is cheaper than fossil fuel. The fastest way to close the price gap is to build large clean-tech markets that allow for economies of scale. But what is the fastest way to build those markets? More research grants? More tax credits? More clumsy pilot programs?

 

No. The fastest, simplest way to do it is to reorient government procurement away from fossil fuel energy and toward clean energy and technology—to use the government’s vast spending power to create a market for green energy. Elsewhere, I have called this the Big Green Buy. Consider this: federal, state, and local government constitute more than 38 percent of our GDP. In more concrete terms, Uncle Sam owns or leases more than 430,000 buildings (mostly large office buildings) and 650,000 vehicles. (Add state and local government activity, and all those numbers grow by about a third again.) The federal government is the world’s largest consumer of energy and vehicles, and the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

 

Government procurement is one of the hidden tools of American capitalism’s “shadow socialism.” By shadow socialism I refer to the massively important but often overlooked role of government planning, investment, subsidy, procurement, and ownership in the economic development of American capitalism. A detailed account of that history is offered in Michael Lind’s book Land of Promise. From railroads, to telecommunications, and aviation and all the attendant sub-industries of these sectors, government has provided the capital and conditions for fledging industries to grow large. For example, government didn’t just fund the invention of the microprocessor; it was also the first major consumer of the device. Throughout the 1950s, more than half of IBM’s revenue came from government contracts. Along with money, these contracts provided a guaranteed market and stability for IBM and its suppliers, and thus attracted private investment—all of which helped create the modern computer industry.

 

Now consider the scale of the problem: our asphalt transportation arteries are clogged with 250 million gasoline-powered vehicles sucking down an annual $200 to $300 billion worth of fuel from more than 121,000 filling stations. Add to that the cost of heating and cooling buildings, jet travel, shipping, powering industry, and the energy-gobbling servers and mainframes that are the Internet, and the U.S. energy economy reaches a spectacular annual tab of 1.2 trillion dollars.

 

A redirection of government purchasing would create massive markets for clean power, electric vehicles, and efficient buildings, as well as for more sustainably produced furniture, paper, cleaning supplies, uniforms, food, and services. If government bought green, it would drive down marketplace prices sufficiently that the momentum toward green tech would become self-reinforcing and spread to the private sector.

 

Executive Order 13514, which Obama signed in 2009, directed all federal agencies to increase energy efficiency; measure, report, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from direct and indirect activities; conserve and protect water resources through efficiency, reuse, and storm water management; eliminate waste, recycle, and prevent pollution; leverage agency acquisitions to foster markets for sustainable technologies and environmentally preferable materials, products, and services; design, construct, maintain, and operate high performance sustainable buildings in sustainable locations.

 

The executive order also stipulates that federal agencies immediately start purchasing 95 percent through green-certified programs and achieve a 28 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020. But it has not been robustly implemented.

 

Government has tremendous latitude to leverage green procurement because it requires no new taxes, programs, or spending, nor is it hostage to the holy grail of sixty votes in the Senate. It is simply a matter of changing how the government buys its energy, vehicles, and services. Yes, in many cases clean tech costs more up front, but in most cases, savings arrive soon afterward. And government—because of its size—is a market mover that can leverage money-saving deals if it wishes to.

 

Protest and the “Relative Autonomy” of the State

Why would the capitalist state move to euthanize the fossil fuel industry, that most powerful fraction of the capitalist class? Or put another way, how can the state regain some of its “relative autonomy” from capital? History indicates that massive, crisis-producing protest is one of the most common reasons a modern state will act against the interests of specific entrenched elites and for the “general interest” of society. When the crisis of protest is bad enough, entrenched elites are forced to take a loss as the state imposes ameliorative action for the greater good of society.

 

Clearly, we need to build a well-organized, broadly supported, yet tactically and strategically radical movement to demand proper climate policy. For such a movement to be effective it must use myriad tactics, from lawsuits and lobbying to direct action such as tree-sits, road blockades, and occupations aimed at the infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry. Only by disrupting the working of the political and economic system as a whole can we forge a consensus that ending the fossil fuel sector is essential. (The work of Francis Fox Piven and Richard Cloward is, in my opinion, still among the best in tracing the dynamic of this process of rebellion and reform.)

 

At question, then, is not just the state’s capacity to evolve, but the capacity of the American people to organize and mobilize on a massive scale. Far be it from me to say exactly how such movements could or should be built, other than the way they always have been: by trial and error and with good leadership. Movement building is a mass and organic process.

 

The Rebellion of Nature

Along with protest, a more organic source of crisis is already underway and may also help scare political elites into confronting big carbon. Climate change is a “rebellion of nature,” by which I mean the disruption caused by ecological breakdown. The history of environmental regulation in the West is, in many ways, the story of protest and advocacy combining with the rebellion of nature at the local (urban) scale. Together, they have forced rudimentary regulation in the name of health and sanitation.

 

By the 1830s, America’s industrial cities had become perfect incubators of epidemic disease, particularly cholera and yellow fever. Like climate change today, these diseases hit the poor hardest, but they also sickened and killed the wealthy. Class privilege offered some protection, but it was not a guarantee of safety. And so it was that middle-class “goo-goos” and “mugwumps” began a series of reforms that contained and eventually defeated the urban epidemics.

 

First, garbage-eating hogs were banned from city streets, then public sanitation programs of refuse collection began, sewers were built, safe public water provided, and housing codes were developed and enforced. Eventually, the epidemics of cholera stopped. Soon other infectious diseases, such as pulmonary tuberculosis, typhus, and typhoid, were largely eliminated. At the scale of the urban, capitalist society solved an environmental crisis through planning and public investment.

 

Climate change is a problem of an entirely different order of magnitude, but these past solutions to smaller environmental crises offer lessons. Ultimately, solving the climate crisis—like the nineteenth-century victory over urban squalor and epidemic contagions—will require a re-legitimation of the state’s role in the economy.

 

The modern story of local air pollution offers another example of the “rebellion of nature.” As Jim McNeil outlines in Something New Under The Sun, smog inundations in industrial cities of the United States and Europe used to kill many people. In 1879–1880 smog killed 3,000 Londoners, and in Glasgow a 1909 inversion—where cold air filled with smoke from burning coal was trapped near the ground—killed 1,063. As late as 1952, a pattern of cold and still air killed 4,000 people in London, according to McNeil, and even more according to others. By 1956, the Britons had passed a clean air act that drove coal out of the major cities. In the United States there was a similar process. In 1953, smog in New York killed between 170 and 260 people, and as late as 1966 a smog inversion killed 169 New Yorkers. All of this helped generate pressure for the Clean Air Act of 1970.

 

Today, a similar process is underway in China. Local air quality is so bad that it is forcing changes to Chinese energy policy. A major World Bank study has estimated that “the combined health and non-health cost of outdoor air and water pollution for China’s economy comes to around $US 100 billion a year (or about 5.8% of the country’s GDP).” People across China are protesting pollution. Foreign executives are turning down positions in Beijing because of the toxic atmospheric stew that western visitors have taken to calling “airpocalypse.” The film director Chen Kaige, who won the Palme d’Or for his 1993 filmFarewell My Concubine, told the world he couldn’t think or make films because of the Chinese capital’s appallingly bad air.

 

These local pressures are a large part of what is driving Chinese investment in renewable energy. Last year China added more energy capacity from wind than from the coal sector.

 

Capitalism vs. Nature?

Some of the first thinkers to note a conflict between capitalism and non-human nature were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They came to their ecology through examining the local problem of relations between town and country—expressed simultaneously as urban pollution and rural soil depletion. In exploring this question they relied on the pioneering work of soil chemist Justus von Liebig. And from this small-scale problem, they developed the idea of capitalism creating a rift in the metabolism of natural processes.

 

Here is how Marx explained the dilemma:

 

Capitalist production collects the population together in great centers, and causes the urban population to achieve an ever-growing preponderance. This has two results. On the one hand it concentrates the historical motive force of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e., it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil….All progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil.

 

And as with “soil robbing,” so too concentrations of atmospheric CO2: the natural systems are out of sync; their elements are being rearranged and redistributed, ending up as garbage and pollution.

 

It may well be true that capitalism is incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. But that is not the same question as whether or not capitalism can solve the climate crisis. Climate mitigation and adaptation are merely an effort to buy time to address the other larger set of problems that is the whole ecological crisis.

 

This is both a pessimistic and an optimistic view. Although capitalism has not overcome the fundamental conflict between its infinite growth potential and the finite parameters of the planet’s pollution sinks, it has, in the past, addressed specific environmental crises.

 

Anyone who thinks the existing economic system must be totally transformed before we can deal with the impending climate crisis is delusional or in willful denial of the very clear findings of climate science. If the climate system unravels, all bets are off. The many progressive visions born of the Enlightenment will be swallowed and forgotten by the rising seas or smashed to pieces by the wrathful storms of climate chaos.

 

Resilience.org is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.

Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-07-19/a-radical-approach-to-the-climate-crisis

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2013 edition of Dissent Magazine and is reproduced at Resilience.org with the permission of the author.

Original article: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/a-radical-approach-to-the-climate-crisis by Christian Parenti

Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

 

 

Arctic Methane Release Due To Climate Change Could Cost Global Economy $60 Trillion, Study Reports

Arctic Methane Release Due To Climate Change Could Cost Global Economy $60 Trillion, Study Reports

By Nina Chestney

LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) – A release of methane in the Arctic could speed the melting of sea ice and climate change with a cost to the global economy of up to $60 trillion over coming decades, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University in the Netherlands used economic modelling to calculate the consequences of a release of a 50-gigatonne reservoir of methane from thawing permafrost under the East Siberian Sea.

They examined a scenario in which there is a release of methane over a decade as global temperatures rise at their current pace.

They also looked at lower and slower releases, yet all produced “steep” economic costs stemming from physical changes to the Arctic.

“The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb,” said Gail Whiteman, an author of the report and professor of sustainability, management and climate change at the Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University.

“In the absence of climate-change mitigation measures, the model calculates that it would increase mean global climate impacts by $60 trillion,” said Chris Hope, a reader in policy modelling at the Cambridge Judge Business School, part of the University of Cambridge.

That approaches the value of the global economy, which was around $70 trillion last year.

The costs could be even greater if other factors such as ocean acidification were included, the study said, or reduced to some $37 trillion if action is taken to lower emissions.

As much as 80 percent of the costs would likely be borne by developing countries experiencing more extreme weather, flooding, droughts and poorer health as the Arctic melt affects the global climate, the paper said.

Methane is a greenhouse gas usually trapped as methane hydrate in sediment beneath the seabed. As temperatures rise, the hydrate breaks down and methane is released from the seabed, mostly dissolving into the seawater.

But if trapped methane were to break the sea surface and escape into the atmosphere, it could “speed up sea-ice retreat, reduce the reflection of solar energy and accelerate the melting of the Greenland ice sheet,” the study said.

It said that could bring forward the date at which the global mean temperature rise exceeds 2 degrees Celsius by between 15 and 35 years – to 2035 if no action is taken to curb emissions and to 2040 if enough action is taken to have a 50 percent chance of keeping the rise below 2 degrees.

Scientists have said the rise in global average temperatures this century needs to stay below 2 degrees Celsius to prevent devastating climate effects such as crop failure and melting glaciers.

However, the International Energy Agency warned last month that the world is on course for a rise of 3.6 to 5.3 degrees Celsius citing record high global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions last year.

The Arctic has oil and gas reserves which Lloyd’s of London has estimated could draw investment of up to $100 billion within a decade. Environmentalists warn Arctic drilling is too risky and could have devastating consequences for the region. (Editing by Jason Neely)

Link to article:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/24/arctic-methane-climate-change_n_3643917.html

Our Coming Food Crisis by Gary Paul Nabhan

Our Coming Food Crisis

By Gary Paul Nabhan,  Published by the New York Times: July 21, 2013

 

TUCSON, Ariz. — THIS summer the tiny town of Furnace Creek, Calif., may once again grace the nation’s front pages. Situated in Death Valley, it last made news in 1913, when it set the record for the world’s hottest recorded temperature, at 134 degrees. With the heat wave currently blanketing the Western states, and given that the mercury there has already reached 130 degrees, the news media is awash in speculation that Furnace Creek could soon break its own mark.

 

Such speculation, though, misses the real concern posed by the heat wave, which covers an area larger than New England. The problem isn’t spiking temperatures, but a new reality in which long stretches of triple-digit days are common — threatening not only the lives of the millions of people who live there, but also a cornerstone of the American food supply.

 

People living outside the region seldom recognize its immense contribution to American agriculture: roughly 40 percent of the net farm income for the country normally comes from the 17 Western states; cattle and sheep production make up a significant part of that, as do salad greens, dry beans, onions, melons, hops, barley, wheat and citrus fruits. The current heat wave will undeniably diminish both the quality and quantity of these foods.

 

The most vulnerable crops are those that were already in flower and fruit when temperatures surged, from apricots and barley to wheat and zucchini. Idaho farmers have documented how their potato yields have been knocked back because their heat-stressed plants are not developing their normal number of tubers. Across much of the region, temperatures on the surface of food and forage crops hit 105 degrees, at least 10 degrees higher than the threshold for most temperate-zone crops.

 

What’s more, when food and forage crops, as well as livestock, have had to endure temperatures 10 to 20 degrees higher than the long-term averages, they require far more water than usual. The Western drought, which has persisted for the last few years, has already diminished both surface water and groundwater supplies and increased energy costs, because of all the water that has to be pumped in from elsewhere.

 

If these costs are passed on to consumers, we can again expect food prices, especially for beef and lamb, to rise, just as they did in 2012, the hottest year in American history. So extensive was last year’s drought that more than 1,500 counties — about half of all the counties in the country — were declared national drought disaster areas, and 90 percent of those were hit by heat waves as well.

 

The answer so far has been to help affected farmers with payouts from crop insurance plans. But while we can all sympathize with affected farmers, such assistance is merely a temporary response to a long-term problem.

 

Fortunately, there are dozens of time-tested strategies that our best farmers and ranchers have begun to use. The problem is that several agribusiness advocacy organizations have done their best to block any federal effort to promote them, including leaving them out of the current farm bill, or of climate change legislation at all.

 

One strategy would be to promote the use of locally produced compost to increase the moisture-holding capacity of fields, orchards and vineyards. In addition to locking carbon in the soil, composting buffers crop roots from heat and drought while increasing forage and food-crop yields. By simply increasing organic matter in their fields from 1 percent to 5 percent, farmers can increase water storage in the root zones from 33 pounds per cubic meter to 195 pounds.

 

And we have a great source of compostable waste: cities. Since much of the green waste in this country is now simply generating methane emissions from landfills, cities should be mandated to transition to green-waste sorting and composting, which could then be distributed to nearby farms.

 

Second, we need to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles to using small- and medium-scale rainwater harvesting and gray water (that is, waste water excluding toilet water) on private lands, rather than funneling all runoff to huge, costly and vulnerable reservoirs behind downstream dams. Both urban and rural food production can be greatly enhanced through proven techniques of harvesting rain and biologically filtering gray water for irrigation. However, many state and local laws restrict what farmers can do with such water.

 

Moreover, the farm bill should include funds from the Strikeforce Initiative of the Department of Agriculture to help farmers transition to forms of perennial agriculture — initially focusing on edible tree crops and perennial grass pastures — rather than providing more subsidies to biofuel production from annual crops. Perennial crops not only keep 7.5 to 9.4 times more carbon in the soil than annual crops, but their production also reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to till the soil every year.

 

We also need to address the looming seed crisis. Because of recent episodes of drought, fire and floods, we are facing the largest shortfall in the availability of native grass, forage legume, tree and shrub seeds in American history. Yet current budget-cutting proposals threaten to significantly reduce the number of federal plant material centers, which promote conservation best practices.

 

If our rangelands, forests and farms are to recover from the devastating heat, drought and wildfires of the last three years, they need to be seeded with appropriate native forage and ground-cover species to heal from the wounds of climatic catastrophes. To that end, the farm bill should direct more money to the underfinanced seed collection and distribution programs.

 

Finally, the National Plant Germplasm System, the Department of Agriculture’s national reserve of crop seeds, should be charged with evaluating hundreds of thousands of seed collections for drought and heat tolerance, as well as other climatic adaptations — and given the financing to do so. Thousands of heirloom vegetables and heritage grains already in federal and state collections could be rapidly screened and then used by farmers for a fraction of what it costs a biotech firm to develop, patent and market a single “climate-friendly” crop.

 

Investing in climate-change adaptation will be far more cost-effective than doling out $11.6 billion in crop insurance payments, as the government did last year, for farmers hit with diminished yields or all-out crop failures.

 

Unfortunately, some agribusiness organizations fear that if they admit that accelerating climate change is already affecting farmers, it will shackle them with more regulations. But those organizations are hardly serving their member farmers and ranchers if they keep them at risk of further suffering from heat extremes and extended drought.

 

And no one can reasonably argue that the current system offers farmers any long-term protection. Last year some farmers made more from insurance payments than from selling their products, meaning we are dangerously close to subsidizing farmers for not adapting to changing climate conditions.

 

It’s now up to our political and business leaders to get their heads out of the hot sand and do something tangible to implement climate change policy and practices before farmers, ranchers and consumers are further affected. Climate adaptation is the game every food producer and eater must now play. A little investment coming too late will not help us adapt in time to this new reality.

 

Gary Paul Nabhan is a research scientist at the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona and the author of “Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons From Desert Farmers in Adapting to Climate Uncertainty.”

 

Link to original article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/opinion/our-coming-food-crisis.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

Climate Smart Southwest: Ready or Hot? – National climate change conference in Tucson – Sep 20-21

Free lecture Friday evening at the TEP Unisource Building, 88 East Broadway, Tucson AZ

Saturday conference at the Tucson Convention Center (details below)

Tucson will be hosting a climate change conference focused on public health and climate adaptation in September, sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility and 35 other local and national organizations. The following guest article by Susan Waites has more details.

Climate Smart Southwest: Ready or Hot?

article by Susan Waites

We have all been hearing lots about climate change. Have you ever wondered if climate change will affect us here in the Southwest? Have you ever wondered if climate change will affect you and members of your family personally? Here’s an opportunity to find out. You can attend this conference focused on public health and climate adaptation coming up Friday and Saturday September 20th and 21st. The conference is being sponsored by the Physicians for Social Responsibility and 35 other local and national organizations.

To kick off this community event there will be a free talk by Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology at New York University and the author of the bestselling book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, about the July 1995 week-long triple-digit heat wave that took over 700 lives. Dr. Klinenberg will give his talk Friday September 20 from 7 to 8pm at the TEP Unisource Building Conference Room, 88 E. Broadway in Tucson. While this event is free and open to the public, you are asked to RSVP as space is limited. You can do so by going to the conference website www.psr.org/azclimate

On Saturday September 21 the conference itself will take place from 7:30am to 5:30pm at the Tucson Convention Center. The cost is just $35 ($15 for current students) which includes a free buffet lunch and free on-site parking at the TCC. The morning of the conference will be dedicated to hearing nationally and internationally known speakers present information about climate change and emerging health problems, food security, mental health, and about how we can educate our children, build neighborhood resilience, and address cross cultural issues as we adapt to climate change. In the afternoon conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in workshops to prepare and respond to the challenges posed by climate change. To register for Saturday’s events go to www.psr.org/azclimate

The Climate Smart Southwest Conference will be a unique opportunity to learn how climate change will affect you and your family. Best of all, you’ll learn what you can do be prepared and help yourself and your loved ones meet the challenges we will face with a changing climate. For more information, go to www.psr.org/azclimate. If you need more information, please contact Dr. Barbara Warren at bwarre01(at)gmail.com

The One Thing You Need to Know about the President’s Plan to Address Climate Change

The One Thing You Need to Know about the President’s Plan to Address Climate Change

by Kurt Cobb,    June 30, 2013

 

The one thing you need to know about President Obama’s plan to address climate change is that the most it will accomplish is slowing very slightly the pace at which the world is currently hurtling toward catastrophic climate change. Having said this, his plan is nonetheless a brave and even historic move in a country whose political campaigns and public discourse have been utterly poisoned by the science-free propaganda of the fossil fuel industry.

 

I would be more enthusiastic about the president’s baby steps if the devastating droughts and floods and swiftly melting ice in the polar regions and mountain glaciers weren’t telling us that drastic action is necessary right now. Nature doesn’t really care about the timetables of politicians or about what is politically feasible. Nature doesn’t negotiate, and it doesn’t compromise. The laws of physics and chemistry cannot be repealed or altered by the Obama administration, the United States Congress or any other body. And, these physical laws are deaf to complaints about the negative economic consequences of addressing climate change–consequences that will be far worse if we do nothing about climate change.

 

But let me return to the goal announced by the president and put his plan into perspective. Using existing executive powers–mostly through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which the Supreme Court affirmed in 2007 has the power to regulate greenhouse gases–the Obama Administration will endeavor to reduce the RATE of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States to 17 percent below the RATE in 2005 and do this by 2020. It’s a relatively easy target because half the reduction has already taken place. In recent years electric utilities have been changing from coal to cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas to fuel their plants, and drivers, stung by unemployment and high gasoline prices, have reduced their driving.

 

I’ve put the word “RATE” in all capitals above because this one word gets to the heart of the matter. The plan does NOT propose to reduce the absolute concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the major greenhouse gas which recently topped 400 parts per million (ppm). Instead, that concentration would continue to rise–even though it is increasingly evident that we must now reduce that concentration (some say to below 350 ppm) in order to avoid the worst.

 

The proposed decline in the rate of U.S. emissions would only reduce the overall rate of world emissions by just 1.6 percent based on 2011 emissions figures (using carbon dioxide as a proxy for all greenhouse gas emissions). Of course, other countries will have to do their part if we are to succeed as a species in addressing climate change. But it is worth noting that while the United States is home to just 4.5 percent of the world’s population, it currently produces 16.8 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. (The 2011 emissions were 5.49 billion tons for the United States and 32.58 billion tons for the world.)

 

I often refer to climate change as a rate problem. By this I mean that the rate at which we are dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere exceeds the rate at which the planet can remove them. Because the rate of emissions has consistently exceeded the rate of absorption by the Earth since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the absolute concentration of greenhouse gases has steadily risen. (The oceans, the forests, and the weathering of rocks are responsible for almost all of the carbon absorbed from the atmosphere. Were it not for these, the atmospheric concentration of carbon would be about twice what it is today, and we would long ago have have passed into a planetary emergency.)

 

Now, logic tells us that the only way we are ever going to get the absolute concentration down is to make it so that the rate of emissions falls below the rate of absorption by the Earth. And, that would require a drastic cut in the rate of emissions by more than 50 percent. But if we are to avert catastrophe, we must go much further so that the concentration can be brought down before a permanent new climate regime gets established. In other words, human survival depends on avoiding the tipping point in climate change that would render any human action ineffectual.

 

(Keep in mind that time is of the essence because climate change lags by 25 to 50 years the emissions that cause that change. We are only now experiencing climate change caused by greenhouse gases emissions between the early 1960s and the late 1980s. Even if all emissions ceased today, we would be in for another generation or two of warming.)

 

The oft-used phrase “tipping point” in this case refers to self-reinforcing loops in Earth processes that once started cannot be stopped by human action. Perhaps the most troubling example is the release of carbon dioxide and methane in the Arctic from the permafrost. The permafrost is now melting at an alarming rate and releasing greenhouse gases from the decay of dead plants formerly immune to such decay because they were frozen. The amount of carbon contained in the permafrost is nothing short of stupendous, twice as much as is currently in the atmosphere. The methane portion of any release is at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet .

 

Once this vicious cycle gets going, it will be unstoppable as warming temperatures melt more permafrost which then releases more greenhouse gases which then increase the temperature which means further melting and so on until the globe reaches a new stable climate that is much, much hotter than our current one.

 

But this isn’t the only self-reinforcing loop that imperils us. Another is the declining albedo or reflectivity of the Earth at the poles as snow and ice disappear more frequently from larger and larger land and water surfaces as a result of rising temperatures. Snow and ice have high reflectivity and return much of the Sun’s light to outer space. But land and water absorb much more of the light and turn it into heat which then melts adjacent snow and ice which creates ever larger areas of heat-absorbing open ocean and exposed land surface.

 

It’s no wonder then that many scientists are calling for an 80 to 90 percent reduction in the rate of emissions by 2050. It’s not simply about slowing warming. It’s about stopping and possibly reversing it so as to stay away from climate destabilizing tipping points.

 

I haven’t even touched on a subject which seems almost taboo, even among policymakers who are eager to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from utilities, factories, homes and vehicles. Meat production is so energy intensive that it is estimated to contribute about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions each year. Telling people to reduce their meat intake, however, could prove to be even more unpopular than telling them to drive less or to lower their thermostats in winter.

 

And, deforestation–primarily in the world’s rainforests–contributes nearly as much as meat production each year to climate change, about 15 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions. Felled forests cease to absorb carbon dioxide and instead emit it as the waste wood and other dead biomass left behind decays.

 

The application of nitrogen fertilizers, essential to the so-called green revolution around the world, releases copious amounts of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. Today’s large human population would not have been possible without nitrogen fertilizers which played a leading role in raising crop yields. It is thus going to be difficult to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use.

 

Then, there are several industrial gases. These compounds are extremely long-lived in the atmosphere–one lasting up to 50,000 years–and they are very potent, three of them exceeding the warming potential of carbon dioxide by more than 10,000 times. Some have been banned. Others are still in use. While their small concentrations in the atmosphere means that their contribution to climate change remains small, they are nevertheless worth addressing.

 

So, any credible climate change response must also address these other sources of emissions as well. The president’s plan does touch on deforestation, but only briefly. The word “meat,” however, does not appear anywhere in the report. In fairness, the president of the United States does not control world forests, nor can he change American farm policy–let alone American eating habits–single-handedly. While hydrofluorocarbons–used to replace now banned ozone-layer killing chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants–are mentioned, nitrous oxide, a major greenhouse gas, is omitted. Yes, agricultural practices are mentioned, but use of nitrogen is THE major agricultural practice alongside meat production that generates climate warming gases.

 

The public needs to understand that the sources of greenhouse gas emissions are far more varied than most realize. And, the public also needs to understand that declines in the rate of emissions–unless very steep–are likely to be too little, too late. That’s because it is the absolute concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that largely determines the climate. And, this concentration needs to start falling soon if we are to make certain that we avoid a climate catastrophe.

 

To read this story with original links, go to:

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-06-30/the-one-thing-you-need-to-know-about-the-president-s-plan-to-address-climate-change

Sustainable Tucson July Film Night!

Monday, July 8th, 5:30 – 8:00, Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

Sustainable Tucson will show a variety of films at our July general meeting. Included among the short and medium length topics are greening the desert, climate change in the arctic, how the people of Cuba adapted to the loss of oil and fertilizer after the Soviet Union collapsed, a Tucson documentary of a community strawbale homebuilding project, and the multifold challenges of sustainability.

Doors will open at 5:30 and films will start showing immediately. Regular monthly announcements will take place at 6:00 during a brief intermission.

Come enjoy film viewing with us at the cool Downtown Main Library lower meeting room

Building Sustainable Cities – New York Times Conference April 25

See the online video archive of the entire conference at nytenergyfortomorrow.com

ENERGY FOR TOMORROW – BUILDING SUSTAINABLE CITIES

A NEW YORK TIMES CONFERENCE
IN COLLABORATION WITH RICHARD ATTIAS AND ASSOCIATES

APRIL 25, 2013
THE TIMESCENTER, NEW YORK CITY

 
THE CONCEPT

According to U.N. data, the worldwide urban population over the next 40 years will increase by 3.1 billion people. Where will the water come from for these people to drink and use? The fuel to heat and cool their homes? The fresh fruit and vegetables for them to eat? The modes of transportation to move them from home to workplace and back? And how can we build buildings, develop infrastructure and diversify transport in ways that limit the waste and pollutants that could make these urban areas unpleasant and unhealthy places to live? These are the issues The New York Times will tackle in its second annual Energy for Tomorrow Conference: Building Sustainable Cities.

In America and in other countries around the world, there is an enormous amount of innovation going on to make our cities more eco-friendly and sustainable. There are fleets of natural gas-fueled trucks and hybrid taxis. LEED-certified buildings are being constructed. Cutting-edge technology is helping cities cut down on energy and resource use. Summers bring urban and rooftop farming. And this innovation is occurring at both a micro and macro level.

THE FORMAT AND AUDIENCE

The New York Times will bring together some 400 thought leaders, public policy makers, government urbanists and C-suite level executives from energy, technology, automotive and construction industries among others, to debate and discuss the wide range of issues that must be addressed if we can create an urban environment that can meet the needs of its citizens and, thanks to innovation, run cleanly and efficiently. The conference will be invitation-only.

There will be a fee of $795 to attend the one-day conference, but The Times will make some grants available for N.G.O.s, entrepreneurs and start-ups to attend at a discount. The format will mix head-to-head debates, panel discussions, keynote addresses, case studies and audience brainstorming sessions.

 
APRIL 24 EVENING
(THE EVE OF THE CONFERENCE)

7 – 9p.m.
SCREENING OF THE DOCUMENTARY “TRASHED”

The documentary feature film “Trashed” highlights solutions to the pressing environmental problems facing us all. Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons has teamed up with British filmmaker Candida Brady to record the devastating effect that pollution has had on some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. The screening will be followed by a conversation with Irons.

Confirmed speakers:
Jeremy Irons, actor and executive producer, “Trashed”
in conversation with David Carr, media and culture columnist, The New York Times

 
APRIL 25 AGENDA

Throughout the day, we will be conducting networking and discussion sessions (via smartphones and BlackBerries) to gather, as well as to submit questions to the panel

7 a.m.
REGISTRATION AND BREAKFAST

7:45 – 8:45 a.m.
BREAKFAST DISCUSSION
SMART VEHICLES ARE HERE: CAN GOVERNMENT KEEP PACE?

The pressures are building for safer and smarter vehicles on our roads, raising questions about the national, state and local policies that will emerge. Several states are already early adopters of legislation to enable the use of autonomous vehicles. But every law is different, no national policies exist and innovations are unfolding rapidly. With the evolution of connected vehicles, intelligent roadways, and cloud-based technologies (first maps, soon much more), there will be a host of choices for consumers and governments.

Moderated by Gordon Feller, director of urban innovations, Cisco Systems; founder, Meeting of the Minds

Confirmed Panelists:
Anthony Levandowski, manager, Google autonomous vehicle project
Alex Padilla, state senator, California
Jim Pisz, corporate manager, North American business strategy, Toyota Motor Sales Inc.
Dan Smith, senior associate administrator for vehicle safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Bryant Walker Smith, fellow, Center for Automotive Research, Stanford University

9 – 9:30 a.m.
OPENING ADDRESS

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the City of New York and chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

Introduced by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher, The New York Times

9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
THE MAYORS’ PANEL
HOW DO WE REINVENT OUR CITIES FOR THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION?

The city of 2025 could be crisis-ridden if the world doesn’t create more sustainable models of urban development. Research says that our cities will continue to expand and increase in population, while their populations will bring rising consumption and emissions. Alongside these huge challenges, there are also opportunities for businesses: electric vehicles, new low-carbon means of cooling, and energy efficient buildings. We ask a group of mayors to outline an urban planning strategy for 2025.

Moderated by Bill Keller, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil
Stephanie Miner, mayor of Syracuse
Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia
Greg Stanton, mayor of Phoenix

10:15 – 10:40 a.m.
COFFEE BREAK

10:40 – 11 a.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION

Jeremy Irons, actor and executive producer, “Trashed”
in conversation with Andrew Revkin, Op-Ed columnist and author, Dot Earth blog, The New York Times

*Please note, there is a screening of “Trashed” on the eve of the conference. Seats are limited and the
screening will be open to the public. Confirmed conference participants will get priority.

11 – 11:30 a.m.
PLENARY: THINK NATIONAL, BUT POWER LOCAL

A sustainable city will use a high proportion of renewable energy, but there is a catch-22: sites that generate renewable electricity – wind farms, solar farms and tidal generators – tend to be far away from urban centers. How can we create grids that get renewable energy from the places it is made to the hundreds of millions who will use it? Meanwhile, how can we increase and incentivize localized power generation and supply? Options include district heating and cooling, and buildings producing their own power through solar powered roofs or single wind turbines, and then sharing that power through a smart grid.

Moderated by Thomas L. Friedman, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Sabine Froning, C.E.O., Euroheat and Power
Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S.
Kevin Burke, chairman, president and C.E.O., Consolidated Edison Inc.

11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION

Shaun Donovan, United States secretary of housing and urban development
in conversation with Thomas L. Friedman, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

12 – 12:40 p.m.
GAMECHANGERS: THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION

Cutting-edge technology is helping cities cut down on energy and resource use and this innovation is occurring at both a micro and macro level. Can we innovate quickly enough?

Moderated by Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Stephen Kennedy Smith, president, Em-Link LLC
Judi Greenwald, vice president for technology and innovation, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Adam Grosser, group head and partner, Silver Lake Kraftwerk
Neil Suslak, founder and managing partner, Braemar Energy
Steven E. Koonin, director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP)

12:40 – 2:05 p.m.
LUNCH AND BRAINSTORMING, URBAN FOOD SUPPLY

Lunch will take place in the Hall downstairs; during lunch we will host a brainstorming discussion featuring expert panelists on the Urban Food Supply.

Moderated by Mark Bittman, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Discussion leaders:
Will Allen, founder and C.E.O., Growing Power
Dave Wann, president, Sustainable Futures Society
Dan Barber, chef and co-owner, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and director of program, President’s Council on
Fitness, Sports and Nutrition

2:05 – 2:40 p.m.
DISCUSSION: GREEN BUILDINGS AND URBAN DESIGN

Sustainable cities need energy-efficient buildings and the current symbol of urban architecture – the glass and metal skyscraper – scores badly in this regard. What kinds of building should be the centerpieces of new sustainable cities? Are current green building codes leading us in the right direction? Nearly half of the world’s new megacities will be in China and India: how can their leaders ensure that the millions of new structures in these cities use energy sparingly and follow sustainable urban planning?

Moderated by Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
David Fisk, co-director of the BP Urban Energy Systems Project and Laing O’Rourke Professor in Systems Engineering and Innovation, Imperial College London
Hal Harvey, C.E.O., Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology LLC
Katrin Klingenberg, Passivehouse Institute, USA
Jonathan Rose, founder and president, Jonathan Rose Companies
Martha Schwartz, professor in practice of landscape architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and co-founder, Working Group for Sustainable Cities, Harvard University

2:40 – 3:15 p.m.
DISCUSSION: TRANSPORT AND TRAFFIC

An effective and energy-efficient transport network is the skeleton of a sustainable city, allowing residents to move from home to work with a minimum of congestion, pollution or emissions. The solutions are different for old cities and new cities, and for rich cities and poor cities. But the traditional model of urban expansion followed by new roads has created a vicious spiral where new roads beget more cars, which beget the need for more roads. New, more sustainable ideas for city transportation not only reduce emissions, but also improve quality of life.

Moderated by Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Walter Hook, C.E.O., Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
Peder Jensen, head of programme, governance and networks, European Environment Agency
Anna Nagurney, director, Virtual Center for Supernetworks, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts
Naveen Lamba, intelligent transportation lead, IBM
Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC transportation commissioner

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION
PLANET-WARMING EMISSIONS: IS DISASTER INEVITABLE?

Klaus Jacob, adjunct professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
in conversation with Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

3:30 – 4:15 p.m.
NETWORKING DISCUSSION:
Participants will be split into two concurrent sessions to brainstorm two issues on the sustainable agenda. Led by a member of The Times team, and with an expert panel to comment and shape the discussions, participants will brainstorm ideas together. The results of the brainstorming – including suggested actions – will be released after the event.

DISCUSSION 1: TRANSPORT

Ingvar Sejr Hansen, head of city planning, City of Copenhagen
Ari Kahn, policy adviser for electric vehicles, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability
Bruce Schaller, deputy commissioner for traffic and planning, New York City Department of Transportation
Greg Stanton, mayor of Phoenix

DISCUSSION 2: GREEN SPACES

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, partner, Bjarke Ingels Group
Steven Caputo Jr., deputy director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability
Susan Donoghue, senior adviser and assistant commissioner for strategic initiatives, New York City Parks
Deborah Marton, senior vice president of programs, New York Restoration Project

4:15 – 4:35 p.m.
COFFEE BREAK

4:35 – 4:55 p.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION

Carol Browner, senior counselor, Albright Stonebridge Group, and former energy czar
in conversation with Bill Keller, Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times

4:55 – 5:45 p.m.
CLOSING PLENARY
DEALBOOK: INVESTING IN THE CITY OF TOMORROW

The challenge is to reinvent and retool the cities and urban life in a guise that is more sustainable – and to do it fast. Some of the best minds in the developed and developing worlds are trying to address this global issue. Architects, urban planners and engineers are drawing up plans. Business consultants are looking for new business opportunities as these sustainable cities evolve. The World Bank is trying to figure out how to finance their growth. How can we finance the creation of the city of tomorrow?

Moderated by Andrew Ross Sorkin, columnist/editor, DealBook, The New York Times

Confirmed panelists:
Alicia Glen, managing director, Urban Investment Group, Goldman Sachs
Richard Kauffman, chairman of energy and finance, Office of the Governor, State of New York
William McDonough, chairman, McDonough Advisors

5:45 p.m. CLOSING AND RECEPTION

 
See the online video archive of the entire conference at nytenergyfortomorrow.com

Move to Amend – Corporations Are Not People – May 10

May 2 planning meeting at Unitarian Church, 22nd between Swan and Craycroft

May 10 demonstration at Miracle Mile freeway entrance

 

Move to Amend – Corporations Are Not People

JOIN US IN A NATIONWIDE ACTION ON MAY 10TH (details below) urging Americans to take the next step in passing a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT which declares that corporations are not persons, and money is not speech.

The disastrous “Citizens United” ruling was just the death knell in the 127-year-long corporate takeover of our government, and must be overturned, to return control of our government to the people.

Until we do that, we will not be able to achieve any of the changes necessary for stopping the slide of the middle class into poverty, creating jobs instead of soaring unemployment, holding Wall Street, Big Banks, and other financial entities accountable for their crimes against Americans, social justice, freedom from war waged for corporate profit, preventing reckless plundering and poisoning of natural resources, and saving our environment. Currently, we can’t even pass legislation for background checks on gun purchases.

Twelve states have already formally requested a Constitutional Amendment to overturn “Citizens United”

We need 22 more to make it happen.

May 10th is the date of the action, and we need volunteers now to help in planning and preparation, and to help in executing it on the 10th IN LARGE ENOUGH NUMBERS THAT THE MEDIA CANNOT IGNORE IT.

COME TO OUR MEETING at 7:00 PM WED MAY 2ND AT THE UNITARIAN CHURCH ON 22ND BETWEEN SWAN AND CRAYCROFT, TO HELP US IN OUR PLAN TO GET THE WORD OUT TO ALL AMERICANS ON MAY 10TH !

The plan is to have a very large group of real “persons” holding a 45-foot long banner on the walkway over the freeway at the Miracle Mile freeway entrance from 7:00 AM until 9:00 AM facing incoming rush hour traffic, and from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM facing outgoing rush hour traffic on Fri. May 10th.

www.MoveToAmend.org

Cooking the Books: The True Climate Impact of Keystone XL


Click to view/download a pdf of the full report

Cooking the Books: The True Climate Impact of Keystone XL

April 16, 2013

A new report out today from environmental groups shows that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would, if approved, be responsible for at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants.

In documenting the emissions associated with the controversial pipeline project, the report makes real the scale of climate impact and the further hurdles the project would create for the battle against climate change, putting the State Department’s “business as usual” scenarios into doubt.

The major findings of “Cooking the Books: How The State Department Analysis Ignores the True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline” are:

– The 181 million metric tons of (CO2e) from Keystone XL is equivalent to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars. This is more cars than are currently registered on the entire West Coast (California, Washington, and Oregon), plus Florida, Michigan, and New York – combined.

– Between 2015 and 2050, the pipeline alone would result in emissions of 6.34 billion metric tons of CO2e. This amount is greater than the 2011 total annual carbon dioxide emissions of the United States.

– The International Energy Agency has said that two-thirds of known fossil fuel reserves must remain undeveloped if we are to avoid a 2 degree C temperature rise. Constructing the Keystone XL pipeline and developing the tar sands make that goal far more difficult, if not impossible, to reach.

“When evaluating this project, the State Department should apply a simple test: Does its completion bring the U.S. closer to meeting its climate goals? The answer is clearly no, and therefore the project must be denied,” said Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International.

In its 2012 World Energy Outlook, the IEA is very clear about the impact of climate policy on U.S. oil demand. If meaningful climate policy is pursued, U.S. oil demand would necessarily be cut 50 percent by 2035 and 70 percent by 2050 based on a 2012 baseline.

“Alberta’s premier was just in Washington, DC noting how essential the pipeline is to meeting increased production of the dirtiest oil on the planet. The numbers in this report make it clear that we can’t afford to help Big Oil meet that goal,” said Elizabeth Shope of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

U.S. demand for oil has declined since 2005 by 2.25 million barrels per day – or the equivalent of almost three Keystone XL pipelines.

“Any objective analysis of the impact of building Keystone shows that it would be a climate catastrophe,” said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Instead, the State Department seems ready to buy into the pipeline propaganda of an army of lobbyists who are trading on their ties to Secretary Kerry and President Obama to taint the decision. The president must act in the national interest, not the interests of Big Oil, and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“Today’s report clearly demonstrates that we can’t protect future generations from the worst impacts of global warming while allowing ourselves to become hooked on even dirtier sources of fuel,” said Daniel Gatti, Get Off Oil Program Director for Environment America. “We need President Obama and Secretary Kerry to say no to tar sands, and no to the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“If he’s to keep his promise to confront climate change to protect America’s wildlife and communities, President Obama should say no to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Jim Murphy, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation. “Our leaders can’t have it both ways – if they’re truly committed to protecting America’s wildlife and communities from climate change, they need to say no to Keystone XL and massive amounts of climate-disrupting carbon pollution it would deliver.”

The report was researched and written by Oil Change International with input and review by the Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.

Original article by David Turnbull – http://priceofoil.org/2013/04/16/cooking-the-books-the-true-climate-impact-of-keystone-xl/

Submit a comment to the State Department regarding the Keystone XL pipeline here.

100% Renewable Energy – Earth Day Weekend Rally – April 20

at Tucson Electric Power Headquarters, 88 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson AZ (corner of Broadway and Scott, just west of 6th Ave)

100% Renewable Energy: Earth Day Weekend Rally

This Saturday April 20 at 10:00 am, the Tucson Climate Action Network continues its campaign to stop TEP’s stockpiling and burning of coal and push ahead with a full transition to renewable energy for southern Arizona.

Bring your brightest yellow shirt or top (to symbolize solar energy) AND a black shirt or top (to symbolize fossil fuels). We will do two group photos to demonstrate our preference for renewable energy. Bring signs if you can. We will supply some signs and other props. This demonstration will only be one hour long. Bring your family and friends for this community event.

When: Saturday, April 20, 2013, 10 to 11 am (group photo at 10:45 am)

Where: Tucson Electric Power Headquarters, 88 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson (this is the corner of Broadway and Scott, just west of 6th Ave.)

To share the event via Facebook, sign up here www.facebook.com/events/449689741774850/

Fore more info, contact rongoproctor(at)hotmail.com, 520-629-9788

How Can Arizona Survive the Coming Dust Bowl? – Climate presentation at Milagro – May 4

at Milagro Cohousing, 3057 N Gaia Place, Tucson, AZ
Come early for a tour of Milagro at 4 pm.

How Can Arizona Survive the Coming Dust Bowl?

Presentation by renowned climate scientist Dr. Steve Ghan, a Fellow of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Editor-in-Chief of the Atmospheres Section of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Refreshment will be available before any dust bowl conversations! And during as well as afterwards. Come early for a tour of Milagro at 4:00PM as well.

For more info, contact EVJerry, email EVisionA2Z(at)usa.net or phone (202)486-5450

Hosted by the ECO ED Committee of Milagro Cohousing

www.milagrocohousing.org

A Fierce Green Fire – A Film and Panel on Green Activism – April 19

at The Loft Cinema, 3233 East Speedway Blvd, Tucson AZ

Join us for a special post-film panel discussion on opening night, featuring local experts in the field of environmental studies!

Maria Baier – Executive Director of the Sonoran Institute

Roger Clark – Grand Canyon Program Director for The Grand Canyon Trust

Paul Green – Executive Director of the Tucson Audubon Society

Diana Liverman – IE coDirector and Regents Professor of Geography and Development

Kenny Walker – Rachel Carson Fellow and PhD candidate in the University of Arizona’s English Department’s Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English (RCTE) program, studying the rhetoric of science and technology.

Fierce Green Fire movie poster

 
Time: Friday, April 19th at 7:00pm
Location: The Loft Cinema, 3233 East Speedway Blvd. Tucson [MAP]

Spanning 50 years of grassroots and global activism, A Fierce Green Fire, from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties), brings to light the vital stories of the environmental movement where people fought – and succeeded – against enormous odds. From halting dams in the Grand Canyon to fighting toxic waste at Love Canal; from Greenpeace to Chico Mendes; from climate change to the promise of transforming our civilization, A Fierce Green Fire is “nothing less than the history of environmentalism itself.” (Los Angeles Times).

Inspired by the book of the same name by Philip Shabecoff and informed by advisors like Edward O. Wilson, this fascinating documentary chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the major keys to the 21st. Through awe-inspiring stories of triumph and struggle, the film focuses on real world activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, their futures – and succeeding against all odds.

Narrated by Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones and Isabel Allende. Directed by Mark Kitchell, 2012, 101 mins., Not Rated, First Run Features, Digital.  Watch the Trailer

“Winningly spans the broad scope of environmental history.” Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

“Rousing … the most ambitious environmental documentary since An Inconvenient Truth tries to make the case that we just might win. Noggin-shaking historical truths … jabs you in the heart.” Michael Roberts, Outside Magazine

“Rarely do environmental-themed films come with the ambitious scope of A Fierce Green Fire… which aims at nothing less than the history of environmentalism itself.” Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times

Sustainable Tucson Community Fundraising Appeal

Sustainable Tucson needs your support to continue to present timely, interesting and informative monthly programs. With minimal financial support from the larger community we have provided continuous monthly programs for nearly seven years, drawing particularly on local talent and sustainability leaders. As we increasingly bring in cutting-edge speakers from other cities and regions, Sustainable Tucson faces greater costs and increased organizational needs.

A brief review of previous programs archived on our website shows the breadth and depth of subject matter we have produced for the emerging sustainability community free of charge. More than 2,000 people have directly benefited from our educational, networking, and advocacy opportunities. Efforts to provide media coverage of our events will reach many thousands more.

There are two ways you can help us further our mission to foster greater understanding  and collaborative activities ensuring resilience and a sustainable future.  One way is to use your credit card and go to our online donation webpage: (http://www.sustainabletucson.org/contactcontribute/donate). The other is simply to write a check to “NEST Inc — Sustainable Tucson”  and mail it to P.O. Box 41144, Tucson, AZ 85717

Thank you for your support and remember that every dollar donated to Sustainable Tucson goes a long way to help all of us find our way to more sustainable lives and a more sustainable community.

ST May Meeting – Food Resilience in the Time of Global Climate Change – May 13

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N Stone, Downtown Tucson (in the large lower-level meeting room, free lower-level parking off Alameda St)

Food Resilience in the Time of Global Climate Change

Almost all the food we eat in Tucson is not grown here. It isn’t even grown in Arizona.

Please join us for the May Sustainable Tucson meeting, and discuss with a panel of local food experts what Tucson can do to become more food resilient, and connect with local food organizations and vendors. Find out what you can do here in Tucson at the Resource and Networking session.

Nobody knows for sure how much of Tucson’s food is grown in Arizona, but the best informed guesses are that it is only a small percentage (perhaps as little as 2%-3%). The rest comes from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Are we food secure? Can we be? Should we even try? Can we become more food resilient? Tucson can grow a lot more of our food locally than we do today, and do it sustainably and healthily. Is that important? What will it take? What are our options?

Our panel of speakers will be

Bill McDorman, Native Seeds/SEARCH
Elizabeth Mikesell, Pima County Food Alliance
Stéphane Herbert-Fort, Local Roots Aquaponics
Rafael de Grenade, Desert Oasis Initiative
Adam Valdivia, Sleeping Frog Farms
Dan Dorsey, Sonoran Permaculture Guild

And take the opportunity to meet with these organizations that are making Tucson more food resilient,

Community Gardens of Tucsonwww.communitygardensoftucson.org
Local Roots Aquaponicswww.localrootsaquaponics.com
Tucson Aquaponics Projectwww.tucsonap.org
Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculturewww.bajaza.org
Native Seeds/SEARCHwww.nativeseeds.org
Flor de Mayo Artswww.flordemayoarts.com
Iskashitaa Refugee Networkwww.iskashitaa.org
Tucson Organic Gardenerswww.tucsonorganicgardeners.org
Walking J Farmwww.walkingjfarm.com
Pima County Public Library Seed Library – www.library.pima.gov/seed-library

Explore with us what Tucson could become: 
“Resilient Tucson 2020 – Visions of a local, healthy, sustainable food supply for Tucson”. Find out what’s happening now, what’s possible, and what you can do.

We meet at the Joel Valdez downtown library, lower level meeting room (free parking under the Library, enter from Alameda Street).

Doors open at 5:30 pm
The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm
Free and open to the public

Also see Local Food Summit May 14 at U of A with Gary Nabhan & Jeff Silvertooth

Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters

Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters:

An interview with four top climate scientists: Peter Wadhams, Director, Polar Ocean Physics Group, Cambridge University: Natalia Shakhova, International Arctic Research Centre; David Wasdell, Director, Apollo-Gaia; James Hansen, NASA, Goddard Institute.

By Nick Breeze, Envisionation, Communicating Climate Change

If there is one short video you need to share with others unconvinced that the challenge of climate change is the number one urgent challenge that humanity faces — this is surely near the very top of the list.

 

Click here to watch the 20-minute video.

 

 

The End of Growth: David Suzuki & Jeff Rubin

The End of Growth: Rubin & Suzuki

From Ideas with Paul Kennedy

Economist Jeff Rubin and biologist David Suzuki might seem an unlikely pairing. But they’ve been touring Canada together, talking about the natural limits to growth from their very different perspectives. We listen in as they try to convince a Calgary audience that we’ve already exceeded the capacity of the planet.

Click here to listen to Jeff Rubin and David Suzuki.

 

Originally published by CBC Radio on 2013-03-15; article: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2013/03/13/the-end-of-growth/ by Jeff Rubin , David Suzuki

Re-published on Resilience (http://www.resilience.org)

 

 

Phoenix in the Climate Crosshairs

Phoenix in the Climate Crosshairs

by William deBuys

 

If cities were stocks, you’d want to short Phoenix.

Of course, it’s an easy city to pick on. The nation’s 13th largest metropolitan area (nudging out Detroit) crams 4.3 million people into a low bowl in a hot desert, where horrific heat waves and windstorms visit it regularly. It snuggles next to the nation’s largest nuclear plant and, having exhausted local sources, it depends on an improbable infrastructure to suck water from the distant (and dwindling) Colorado River.

In Phoenix, you don’t ask: What could go wrong? You ask: What couldn’t?

And that’s the point, really. Phoenix’s multiple vulnerabilities, which are plenty daunting taken one by one, have the capacity to magnify one another, like compounding illnesses. In this regard, it’s a quintessentially modern city, a pyramid of complexities requiring large energy inputs to keep the whole apparatus humming. The urban disasters of our time — New Orleans hit by Katrina, New York City swamped by Sandy — may arise from single storms, but the damage they do is the result of a chain reaction of failures — grids going down, levees failing, back-up systems not backing up. As you might expect, academics have come up with a name for such breakdowns: infrastructure failure interdependencies. You wouldn’t want to use it in a poem, but it does catch an emerging theme of our time.

Phoenix’s pyramid of complexities looks shakier than most because it stands squarely in the crosshairs of climate change. The area, like much of the rest of the American Southwest, is already hot and dry; it’s getting ever hotter and drier, and is increasingly battered by powerful storms. Sandy and Katrina previewed how coastal cities can expect to fare as seas rise and storms strengthen. Phoenix pulls back the curtain on the future of inland empires. If you want a taste of the brutal new climate to come, the place to look is where that climate is already harsh, and growing more so — the aptly named Valley of the Sun.

In Phoenix, it’s the convergence of heat, drought, and violent winds, interacting and amplifying each other that you worry about. Generally speaking, in contemporary society, nothing that matters happens for just one reason, and in Phoenix there are all too many “reasons” primed to collaborate and produce big problems, with climate change foremost among them, juicing up the heat, the drought, and the wind to ever greater extremes, like so many sluggers on steroids. Notably, each of these nemeses, in its own way, has the potential to undermine the sine qua non of modern urban life, the electrical grid, which in Phoenix merits special attention.

If, in summer, the grid there fails on a large scale and for a significant period of time, the fallout will make the consequences of Superstorm Sandy look mild. Sure, people will hunt madly for power outlets to charge their cellphones and struggle to keep their milk fresh, but communications and food refrigeration will not top their list of priorities. Phoenix is an air-conditioned city. If the power goes out, people fry.

In the summer of 2003, a heat wave swept Europe and killed 70,000 people. The temperature in London touched 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time since records had been kept, and in portions of France the mercury climbed as high as 104°F. Those temperatures, however, are child’s play in Phoenix, where readings commonly exceed 100°F for more than 100 days a year. In 2011, the city set a new record for days over 110°F: there were 33 of them, more than a month of spectacularly superheated days ushering in a new era.

In Flight From the Sun

It goes without saying that Phoenix’s desert setting is hot by nature, but we’ve made it hotter. The city is a masonry world, with asphalt and concrete everywhere. The hard, heavy materials of its buildings and roads absorb heat efficiently and give it back more slowly than the naked land. In a sense, the whole city is really a thermal battery, soaking up energy by day and releasing it at night. The result is an “urban heat island,” which, in turn, prevents the cool of the desert night from providing much relief.

Sixty years ago, when Phoenix was just embarking on its career of manic growth, nighttime lows never crept above 90°F. Today such temperatures are a commonplace, and the vigil has begun for the first night that doesn’t dip below 100°F. Studies indicate that Phoenix’s urban-heat-island effect may boost nighttime temperatures by as much as 10°F. It’s as though the city has doubled down on climate change, finding a way to magnify its most unwanted effects even before it hits the rest of us full blast.

Predictably, the poor suffer most from the heat.  They live in the hottest neighborhoods with the least greenery to mitigate the heat-island effect, and they possess the least resources for combatting high temperatures.  For most Phoenicians, however, none of this is more than an inconvenience as long as the AC keeps humming and the utility bill gets paid. When the heat intensifies, they learn to scurry from building to car and into the next building, essentially holding their breaths. In those cars, the second thing they touch after the ignition is the fan control for the AC. The steering wheel comes later.

In the blazing brilliance of July and August, you venture out undefended to walk or run only in the half-light of dawn or dusk. The idea for residents of the Valley of the Sun is to learn to dodge the heat, not challenge it.

Heat, however, is a tricky adversary. It stresses everything, including electrical equipment. Transformers, when they get too hot, can fail. Likewise, thermoelectric generating stations, whether fired by coal, gas, or neutrons, become less efficient as the mercury soars.  And the great hydroelectric dams of the Colorado River, including Glen Canyon, which serves greater Phoenix, won’t be able to supply the “peaking power” they do now if the reservoirs behind them are fatally shrunken by drought, as multiple studies forecast they will be. Much of this can be mitigated with upgraded equipment, smart grid technologies, and redundant systems.  But then along comes the haboob.

A haboob is a dust/sand/windstorm, usually caused by the collapse of a thunderstorm cell. The plunging air hits the ground and roils outward, picking up debris across the open desert. As the Arabic name suggests, such storms are native to arid regions, but — although Phoenix is no stranger to storm-driven dust — the term haboob has only lately entered the local lexicon. It seems to have been imported to describe a new class of storms, spectacular in their vehemence, which bring visibility to zero and life to a standstill. They sandblast cars, close the airport, and occasionally cause the lights — and AC — to go out. Not to worry, say the two major utilities serving the Phoenix metroplex, Arizona Public Service and the Salt River Project. And the outages have indeed been brief.  So far.

Before Katrina hit, the Army Corps of Engineers was similarly reassuring to the people of New Orleans. And until Superstorm Sandy landed, almost no one worried about storm surges filling the subway tunnels of New York.

Every system, like every city, has its vulnerabilities. Climate change, in almost every instance, will worsen them. The beefed-up, juiced-up, greenhouse-gassed, overheated weather of the future will give us haboobs of a sort we can’t yet imagine, packed with ever greater amounts of energy. In all likelihood, the emergence of such storms as a feature of Phoenix life results from an overheating environment, abetted by the loose sand and dust of abandoned farmland (which dried up when water was diverted to the city’s growing subdivisions).

Water, Water, Everywhere (But Not for Long)

In dystopic portraits of Phoenix’s unsustainable future, water — or rather the lack of it — is usually painted as the agent of collapse. Indeed, the metropolitan area, a jumble of jurisdictions that includes Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa, Sun City, Chandler, and 15 other municipalities, long ago made full use of such local rivers as the Salt, Verde, and Gila. Next, people sank wells and mined enough groundwater to lower the water table by 400 feet.

Sometimes the land sank, too.  Near some wells it subsided by 10 feet or more. All along, everyone knew that the furious extraction of groundwater couldn’t last, so they fixed their hopes on a new bonanza called the Central Arizona Project (CAP), a river-sized, open-air canal supported by an elaborate array of pumps, siphons, and tunnels that would bring Colorado River water across the breadth of Arizona to Phoenix and Tucson.

The CAP came on line in the early 1990s and today is the engine of Arizona’s growth. Unfortunately, in order to win authorization and funding to build it, state officials had to make a bargain with the devil, which in this case turned out to be California. Arizona’s delegation in the House of Representatives was tiny, California’s was huge, and its representatives jealously protected their longstanding stranglehold on the Colorado River. The concession California forced on Arizona was simple: it had to agree that its CAP water rights would take second place to California’s claims.

This means one thing: once the inevitable day comes when there isn’t enough water to go around, the CAP will absorb the shortage down to the last drop before California even begins to turn off its faucets.

A raw deal for Arizona? You bet, but not exactly the end of the line. Arizona has other “more senior” rights to the Colorado, and when the CAP begins to run dry, you may be sure that the masters of the CAP will pay whatever is necessary to lease those older rights and keep the 330-mile canal flowing. Among their targets will be water rights belonging to Indian tribes at the western edge of the state along the lower reaches of the river. The cost of buying tribal water will drive the rates consumers pay for water in Phoenix sky-high, but they’ll pay it because they’ll have to.

Longer term, the Colorado River poses issues that no amount of tribal water can resolve. Beset by climate change, overuse, and drought, the river and its reservoirs, according to various researchers, may decline to the point that water fails to pass Hoover Dam. In that case, the CAP would dry up, but so would the Colorado Aqueduct which serves greater Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as the All-American Canal, on which the factory farms of California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys depend. Irrigators and municipalities downstream in Mexico would also go dry. If nothing changes in the current order of things, it is expected that the possibility of such a debacle could loom in little more than a decade.

The preferred solution to this crisis among the water mavens of the lower Colorado is augmentation, which means importing more water into the Colorado system to boost native supplies. A recently discussed grandiose scheme to bail out the Colorado’s users with a pipeline from the Mississippi River failed to pass the straight-face test and was shot down by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Meanwhile, the obvious expedient of cutting back on water consumption finds little support in thirsty California, which will watch the CAP go dry before it gets serious about meaningful system-wide conservation.

Burning Uplands

Phoenicians who want to escape water worries, heat waves, and haboobs have traditionally sought refuge in the cool green forests of Arizona’s uplands, or at least they did until recently. In 2002, the Rodeo-Chediski fire consumed 469,000 acres of pine and mixed conifer on the Mogollon Rim, not far from Phoenix. It was an ecological holocaust that no one expected to see surpassed. Only nine years later, in 2011, the Wallow fire picked up the torch, so to speak, and burned across the Rim all the way to the New Mexico border and beyond, topping out at 538,000 charred acres.

Now, nobody thinks such fires are one-off flukes. Diligent modeling of forest response to rising temperatures and increased moisture stress suggests, in fact, that these two fires were harbingers of worse to come. By mid-century, according to a paper by an A-team of Southwestern forest ecologists, the “normal” stress on trees will equal that of the worst megadroughts in the region’s distant paleo-history, when most of the trees in the area simply died.

Compared to Phoenix’s other heat and water woes, the demise of Arizona’s forests may seem like a side issue, whose effects would be noticeable mainly in the siltation of reservoirs and the destabilization of the watersheds on which the city depends. But it could well prove a regional disaster.  Consider, then, heat, drought, windstorms, and fire as the four horsemen of Phoenix’s Apocalypse. As it happens, though, this potential apocalypse has a fifth horseman as well.

Rebecca Solnit has written eloquently of the way a sudden catastrophe — an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado — can dissolve social divisions and cause a community to cohere, bringing out the best in its citizenry. Drought and heat waves are different. You don’t know that they have taken hold until you are already in them, and you never know when they will end. The unpleasantness eats away at you.  It corrodes your state of mind. You have lots of time to meditate on the deficiencies of your neighbors, which loom larger the longer the crisis goes on.

Drought divides people, and Phoenix is already a divided place — notoriously so, thanks to the brutal antics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, Andrew Ross offers a dismal portrait of contemporary Phoenix — of a city threatened by its particular brand of local politics and economic domination, shaped by more than the usual quotient of prejudice, greed, class insularity, and devotion to raw power.

It is a truism that communities that do not pull together fail to surmount their challenges. Phoenix’s are as daunting as any faced by an American city in the new age of climate change, but its winner-take-all politics (out of which has come Arizona’s flagrantly repressive anti-immigration law), combined with the fragmentation of the metro-area into nearly two dozen competing jurisdictions, essentially guarantee that, when the worst of times hit, common action and shared sacrifice will remain as insubstantial as a desert mirage. When one day the U-Haul vans all point away from town and the people of the Valley of the Sun clog the interstates heading for greener, wetter pastures, more than the brutal heat of a new climate paradigm will be driving them away. The breakdown of cooperation and connectedness will spur them along, too.

One day, some of them may look back and think of the real estate crash of 2007-2008 and the recession that followed with fond nostalgia. The city’s economy was in the tank, growth had stalled, and for a while business-as-usual had nothing usual about it. But there was a rare kind of potential. That recession might have been the last best chance for Phoenix and other go-go Sunbelt cities to reassess their lamentably unsustainable habits and re-organize themselves, politically and economically, to get ready for life on the front burner of climate change. Land use, transportation, water policies, building codes, growth management — you name it — might all have experienced a healthy overhaul. It was a chance no one took. Instead, one or several decades from now, people will bet on a surer thing: they’ll take the road out of town.

 

William deBuys, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of seven books, most recently A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest. He has long been involved in environmental affairs in the Southwest, including service as founding chairman of the Valles Caldera Trust, which administers the 87,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 William deBuys

Original article published by TomDispatch on 2013-03-15
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175661/tomgram%3A_william_debuys%2C_exodus_from_phoenix/


Republished on Resilience.org 3/17/2013

Content on this site is subject to our fair use notice.

Resilience is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.


Source URL: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-03-15/phoenix-in-the-climate-crosshairs

Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics, & Sustainability – starting March 27

for 6 Wednesdays, near Congress & Grande, Tucson AZ

Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics, & Sustainability Discussion Course

Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture offers “Hungry for Change”, a 6-session discussion course that analyzes the connection between food, ethics, and sustainability. The goals of the course are to explore the interconnected nature of food systems & our relationship to them; examine the impact our food choices have on our health, the health of others, & the planet; and consider the ethical & political implications of our current food system & our personal food choices.

Participants meet for discussion on six Wednesdays, March 27 to May 1, from 6:30 to 8:00pm (attendance required at all sessions).

Location: downtown/west Tucson, near Congress & Grande.
Cost: $30 BASA members, $35 non-members; or $50 for the course and a 1-year BASA membership.

See www.bajaaz.org/calendar for more info.
Contact Meghan at meghan.mix(at)bajaaz.org or 520-331-9821 to register.

ST April Meeting – Power to the People: Should TEP be municipalized? – April 8

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Downtown Tucson (in the large lower-level meeting room, free lower-level parking off Alameda St)

Power to the People:
Should TEP be municipalized?

with guest speaker Leslie Glustrom, Research Director for Clean Energy Action, Boulder Colorado

also speaking – Dan Millis (Sierra Club)

The science is clear. We need to slow the rate of atmospheric carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of run-away climate change. A “Manhattan Project”-scale effort is needed to de-carbonize our culture if present and future generations are to have a chance to adapt. There is plenty we can do as individuals to tackle the problem: modify our lifestyle; reduce our energy and material consumption, the carbon footprint of our travel, diet, and so forth. But there are aspects of our energy consumption where we seem to have little or no choice – like the carbon-intensive electricity supplied by our local utility, Tucson Electric Power (TEP).

Or is there a choice?

Initiatives have begun to spring up around the country to municipalize privately owned utilities, like TEP, that are resisting the transition to clean energy sources. In 2011, voters in Boulder, Colorado approved two ballot measures to allow the city to create a municipal utility placing it among the nations’ first communities in decades to do so.

The city’s most recent analysis found that Boulder could get 54% of its energy from renewable resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% at a lower cost than the current provider, Xcel Energy.

On Monday, April 8th, Sustainable Tucson is bringing Leslie Glustrom, Research Director for Clean Energy Action, to town to share the lessons learned from Boulder’s campaign to reclaim its energy future. We hope you’ll come and join the conversation about whether or not Tucson might pursue a similar path.

We meet at the Joel Valdez downtown library, lower level meeting room.

Doors open at 5:30 pm
The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm
Free and open to the public

Followup – For a download of Leslie’s informative powerpoint, an audio recording of this important presentation, and further info & notes, please see (and contribute to) the comments on this post, below…

Citizens Climate Lobby monthly conference call & planning meeting – (usually) first Saturdays

at 255 W University Blvd, Tucson AZ

Groups meet at 9:45am PT / 12:45pm ET, the international conference call starts at 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET. The conference call is about an hour long, and the groups meet for another hour after that to plan actions.

 

Citizens Climate Lobby – Monthly Conference Call

www.citizensclimatelobby.org

 

Saturday, July 13th 2013, 9:45am (3rd Saturday)
Guest Speaker: Lynne Twist of the Pachamama Alliance

 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Guest speaker: Dr. Amanda Staudt, National Wildlife Federation

Dr. Amanda Staudt is a climate scientist with the National Wildlife Federation who uses her expertise to translate complex scientific theories into terms the public can understand.  Dr. Staudt connects the dots between global warming and weather related phenomenon including wildfires, hurricanes, increased flooding and drought in certain areas of the country. On our next call, she will give an overview of the National Climate Assessment, a report that will be finalized and released later this year.

 

Actions:

1) Write letters to your two senators asking them to improve and co-sponsor the Climate Protection Act, and plan your group’s strategy for generating additional support in your state for this legislation.

2) Confirm which members of Congress your group will research and schedule meetings with during the conference in Washington this summer.

 

For more info, come to a meeting, or email Tucson Climate Action Network tucan.news(at)gmail.com or phone 400-1775

Also see: Tucson Climate Action Network monthly meetings, the March 2013 Sustainable Tucson meeting on Climate Change Activism, and the Citizens Climate Lobby website

Navigating the Perfect Water Resources Storm – U of A – Feb 28

at Integrated Learning Center, Room 140 (underground), 1500 E University Blvd, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ

Las Vegas – Navigating the Perfect Water Resources Storm

Speaker: Patricia Mulroy, General Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority

What does a water manager do when the perfect storm strikes? Las Vegas, for decades the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States, serves as an excellent case study for those interested in navigating through extreme conditions.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear a prominent leader in western water talk about the many challenges of sustaining our limited water supplies. Open to all.

Bio: Patricia Mulroy oversees the operations of the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Las Vegas Valley Water District. Mulroy joined the LVVWD in 1985 and assumed the role of general manager in 1989. She was a principal architect of the SNWA, which has served as a model for other Western water agencies since its creation in 1991. Mulroy is President of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Water Research Foundation and the National Water Resources Association. She is a member of the American Water Works Association.

Co-Sponsors: UA Water Sustainability Program, Water Resources Research Center, James E. Rogers College of Law

Contact: Jackie Moxley jmoxley(at)cals.arizona.edu

UA Water Sustainability Program – http://wsp.arizona.edu

ST March Meeting – Climate Change Activism – March 11

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Downtown Tucson (in the large lower-level meeting room, free lower-level parking off Alameda St)

Climate Change Activism – Messaging and Solutions

with guest speaker Julie Robinson, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University

In our future there will be no more important issue to the health of humans and continuance of civil society than that of Climate Change and its disruptive effects.

Projections of increasing heat in our region (now 6-10 degrees F by the turn of the century), increasing severity of drought and wildfire, decreasing water supply, distant crop failures and super storms lay before us a challenge to which we either respond or succumb. Detrimental environmental, health and economic effects all stem from a historic reliance on fuels producing carbon dioxide, and exacerbated by a region planning for an ever increasing population.

The timeframe for effective action to mitigate the worst outcomes continues to shrink, and we find ourselves at our own localized ground zero. It is this paradigm that motivates a growing number of concerned citizens to put aside other life tasks to concentrate more of their time on tackling the climate change challenge.

The goal of this Sustainable Tucson meeting is to increase participation in effective climate change activism in Tucson.

Please join us this month and learn about climate change messaging from our guest speaker Julie Robinson, a recent post-doc with the Center for Climate Change Communication (George Mason University). She will present an overview of relevant work in this field including the latest research conducted by her colleagues at Mason and Yale on Global Warming’s Six Americas.

And please acquaint yourselves with the work being done locally and globally by Tucson Climate Action Network (TUCAN), the local activist community… and hopefully lend your support for TUCAN’s mission and these initiatives, presented by some of our local activists,

350.org – Patsy Stewart
Sierra Club – Dan Millis
Interfaith Power and Light – Lisa McDaniels-Hutchings
Tucson Bus Riders Union – Susan Willis
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Dr. Barbara Warren
National Institute for Peer Support – Bridget Stoll
Citizen’s Climate Lobby for national Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation – Ron Proctor

If there was ever a time to support a climate action solution, the time is now. Come find out about solutions to this most-challenging dilemma, and join a growing community of activist-friends in the process.

See you there,
Ron Proctor
Coordinator, Sustainable Tucson

Monday, March 11th, 2013 at the Joel Valdez Library
in the large lower-level meeting room.

Doors open at 5:30 pm
The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm
Free and open to the public

p.s. Here are Julie Robinson’s powerpoint slides for this presentation, other notes and audio recordings will be available here soon…

Also see: Tucson Climate Action Network meetings and monthly conference call with the Citizens Climate Lobby. View this recent interview with Anthony Leiserowitz, Yale climate change communication expert, by journalist Bill Moyers.

The World According To The Automatic Earth: A 2013 Primer Guide

For the past five years, Nicole (Stoneleigh) Foss and Raul Ilargi Meijer have been providing the world with keen analyses of critical sustainability subjects: finance and economics;  energy; scale, society, and trust; and preparation. The Automatic Earth’s 2013 Primer is an excellent summary of their work including dozens of links to cutting-edge articles and clear writing.

Click here for article.

 

The “Stay Informed” section of Sustainable Tucson’s homepage recommends that periodic visits to our two favorite News and Views websites: Resilience.org and AutomaticEarth.com, provide the best “two-stop” coverage of sustainability subjects on the Internet.

 

Sonoran Permaculture Guild – 18th Annual Permaculture Design Course – 5 weekends starting Feb 9

5 weekends starting Feb 9 in Tucson AZ

Sonoran Permaculture Guild
18th Annual Permaculture Design Course

This Permaculture certification course covers all aspects of sustainable design with a Southwest dry lands flavor, including a balance of hands on experience, classroom time, and design practicum. Dynamic exercises encourage pattern recognition, noticing the links between plants and animals, climate, and landforms that make up natural ecosystems.

The course focuses on dry land communities with a strong urban and semi-rural emphasis, addressing individual site and neighborhood “problems”, such as storm water flooding. Students learn to read the landscape, to map and analyze energies flowing through a site, and to develop integrated designs for sustainable systems.

Our course closely follows the standard 72 hour format developed by Bill Mollison and others. The weekend format of the course makes it easier for people who hold a week day job to attend and promotes better integration of the course material into daily life.

Dates for the the upcoming 2013 course are the following weekends – Feb. 9-10, Feb. 16-17, March 2-3, March 16-17, March 23-24

Cost $695, or $650 for early registration before January 25th.  There is also a class book fee of $42 for a copy of Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison. Also highly recommended is Brad Lancaster’s Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Vol 1 and Vol 2.

For the last seventeen years this course has been full with a waiting list, so early registration is encouraged. To give a high quality educational experience, we limit the size of the class to eighteen participants. A limited number of Partial scholarships are available.

Contact Dan, the course registrar, dorsey(at)dakotacom.net or 520-624-8030 to register or receive more information.

Sonoran Permaculture Guildwww.sonoranpermaculture.org

TUCAN – Tucson Climate Action Network – (usually) 2nd Wednesdays

at Pima Friends Meeting House, 931 N 5th Ave, Tucson AZ

Also see: monthly conference call with Citizens Climate Lobby, and the March 2013 Sustainable Tucson meeting on Climate Change Activism

 
March 16 thru 23 is the Stop Tar Sands Profiteers Week of Action – details at www.tarsandsblockade.org/actionweek

 
Jan 7, 2013

Dear friends of a sustainable future,

Happy 2013! Let’s make it a healthier one for the planet.

The regular monthly meeting of the Tucson Climate Action Network is THIS WEDNESDAY, Jan. 8, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Pima Friends Meeting House, 931 N. 5th Ave., Tucson. Parking is in back and it’s a block from Sun Tran’s route 4.

Tar Sands Action is heating up! You can follow at TarSandsBlockade.org or the Tar Sands Blockade Facebook page. February 17 should be the biggest action yet, in Washington, D.C. The announcement below is excerpted from the letter from 350.org and the Sierra Club announcing the Feb. 17 action. If you can attend or are considering it, please contact Patsy Stewart, 520-615-0381, p.s.patsystewart(at)gmail.com, as soon as you can so we can coordinate a Tucson contingent and plan our transportation. Patsy gets a lot of e-mail! so if you contact her that way, please put “Presidents Day” or “Feb. 17 action” in your subject line and include your phone number.

Dear friends,

It’s never been clearer that we need bold and immediate climate leadership – that’s why this Presidents Day weekend thousands of activists will head to the White House and tell President Obama to shut down the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.

Something this big has to start early, and it has to start with the people who care the most. Commit to join us in Washington D.C. on February 17th and make this the biggest climate demonstration yet: act.350.org/signup/presidentsday

The last time we stood up against Keystone XL, thousands of us surrounded the White House – and it worked. Right when every political and energy “expert” said the tar sands pipeline was a done deal, we beat the odds and convinced President Obama to take a year to study it.

Now that year is over, and Mother Nature has filed her public comments: the hottest year in American history, a horrible ongoing drought, and superstorm Sandy. And still Big Oil is pushing as hard as ever for their pet project, looking for even more private profit at public expense.

There is also good news: Together, we’ve proven time and time again that grassroots voices can speak louder than Big Oil’s dollars. So this Presidents Day weekend, the Sierra Club, 350.org, and other environmental groups are working with our partners across the progressive community to organize the biggest climate demonstration yet.

Our goal for Presidents Day is to form a massive human pipeline through Washington, and then transform it into a giant symbol of the renewable energy future we need – and are ready to build, starting right away.

You can make this a Presidents Day weekend that the president can’t ignore and won’t forget – sign up to join the rally, bring your friends, and stop the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline on February 17th: act.350.org/signup/presidentsday

ST January 2013 Meeting – Jan 14

at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, Downtown (free lower level parking off Alameda St)

Sustainable Tucson 2013
How We Can Take Action in the New Year

Lots of powerful efforts are happening in Tucson and around the world to make a more sustainable and secure future. Join Sustainable Tucson on Monday, January 14 as we begin a new year and decide on the main focuses of Sustainable Tucson in 2013.

This year, Sustainable Tucson will continue our efforts to help you find ways you can take action to make your own life, Tucson, and the whole world more and more sustainable.

At the January meeting, we will join our passions and find the areas that we really want to act on. Our goal is to find those things that not only excite you, but excite a lot of people. That way, it isn’t each of us acting alone. It is many people acting together.

What’s your passion – Having healthy, local food to eat? Tackling our share of global climate change? Developing a sustainable local economy that serves Tucson? – Come to this month’s Sustainable Tucson General Meeting and find others who share your passions. It is time to act… together.

Please join us Monday, January 14th, 2013 at the Joel Valdez Library, lower level meeting room.

Doors open at 5:30 pm
The meeting will begin at 6:00 pm
Free and open to the public

Also see Sustainability Actions Everyone Can Do and personally What You Can Do – Top 10, sketches for community-wide Sustainability Plans in the menu above, and articles & resources in the Topics in Focus menu and Archive Categories below.