Climate of Hope – an update of a older post

One of the positives of the previous US president pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord is it galvanized the many who see the need to act to save our planet. Coupling the US exit with the former president placing climate change deniers and fossil fuel supporters in key cabinet roles, he placed the US government at the kids table, while the adults talk about solving the world’s problem. But, with the current president, this is changing, but even he is not moving fast enough. Getting the US back to the table is a huge plus, though.

Fortunately, even the former president’s actions cannot stop the momentum as a tipping point on renewable energy and other efforts have been reached. As reported in the book “Climate of Hope,” by former New York City Mayor and Governor Michael Bloomberg (he actually did some good before his sexual harassment caught up with him) and former Executive Director of the Sierra Club Carl Pope, cities, businesses and citizens have been leading the way. This is important as cities are significant contributors to climate change and can therefore make a huge dent in ameliorating its effect. And, they are sharing their successes formally and informally

Some of these efforts include:

– Restoring and renovating older buildings into green buildings. Bloomberg touts the renovation of the 1931 built Empire State as a key example.

– Building new structures with an even greener footprint. In India they deploy white rooftops to reflect away the sun to minimize cooling costs, e.g,

– Building more pedestrian areas which provide safer and eco-friendly access to shops, restaurants and businesses. These car free zones actually are part of a solution to reroute traffic to reduce carbon polluting stoppage.

– Building and nurturing buffers to allow nature to do its jobs to absorb the pounding of the ocean, since,  so many large cities are coastal cities with some below sea level. We should use nature to provide defenses that stand the test of time.

– Developing master traffic plans embracing car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing, pedestrian pathways, electric vehicles from buses to taxis, and the elegant use of mass transit based on capital needs and restrictions. Bloomberg is big on measuring things, so installing GPS in New York taxis allowed them to measure success and make modifications to their plans as executed.

– Planting more carbon saving trees in cities and other areas, as well as using other plants such as mangroves in coastal areas as they suck carbon out of the air.

– Conserving food and reducing wastage. We waste huge amounts of food, both before and after it is cooked. Imperfect fruits and vegetables go straight to the dumps unless concentrated efforts prevent it and guide distribution to other users. Buying local saves on transportation costs and emissions, as well (but we need to buy more of what grows naturally in an area, as a caveat).

– Challenging manufacturers for efficient production and distribution. For example, a significant amount of wood goes to pallets that are tossed after one use. Look to more durable pallets that can be reused. Plus, the US does an excellent job of distributing products by rail and can do even better, as the rest of the world improves their efforts. These transmodal distribution centers that marry the efforts of ships, planes, trains and trucks provide huge efficiences and enhance trade.

– Dissuading the building of new coal plants. Active efforts have reduced coal from over 53% market share in 1990 to 30% market share of energy in 2016. Market forces are reducing this further as natural gas became cheaper and renewable energy cost fell to become more on par with coal. If new coal plants must be built, do it in concert with retiring older, less efficient plants. Fortunately, coal has become more costly to produce (not even factoring in its other costs) than natural gas which has its own set of issues) and is more on par with certain renewables.

– Making investment funds available to pay for upfront costs for renewable energy in countries that have fewer capital funding sources. India could do even more with available funding, especially as they electrify more of the country.

The great news is these things are happening. And, they are being shared. Please read this book. It is brief and optimistic. Also, watch the soon the sequel to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and the excellent documentary “Ice on Fire” to learn more. Also, there is a very practical book called “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn on dealing with climate change. Iowa gets over 40% of its electricity from wind energy with Texas getting about 20% from renewables. And, California is the 4th largest solar energy “country” in the world, by itself. Then spread the news about what is happening.

To be frank, these actions are positive and smart irrespective of one’s stance on climate change. And, a final note from Bloomberg is the millennials are paying attention. They want to work in places that are doing their part to fight climate change. Think about that as you plan. Yet, we still need to move faster than we are. In my view we are at least ten years behind where we should have been.

23 thoughts on “Climate of Hope – an update of a older post

  1. Any ‘suggestion’ that doesn’t address the immediate need to stop the burning of fossil fuels and offers a policy of how to switch over to renewables as quickly as possible is part of the problem fueling a misguided belief that we can help by doing smaller things. We can’t. No amount of ‘greening’ in all its wonderous and feel good forms ameliorates human caused climate change. At all. In any way. All these suggestions do is give false assurances while we continue to drive climate change… as if reaching 2.5 C increase in global temperature by 2100 is so much better than reaching 2.51C.

    Human caused climate change is the inevitable result of burning carbon to produce energy and releasing it into the atmosphere. The problem is carbon. It’s not cars. It’s not buildings. It’s not a lack of trees. The problem is using any form of carbon to create energy at any level. So the ONLY solution (reasons), therefore, must address how energy is produced and not – as is the HUGE con job going on – how it used.

    Any time one encounters climate change solutions based on how energy is used – as if this somehow and magically addresses human caused climate change and gives the impression that each of us, our homes, our transportation, our businesses, our communities, can play a part if we alter (usually through reductions) the USE of energy – one knows one is being sold a bill of goods. We’re being conned. We’re being played. The problem is the kind of energy being used and every molecule of carbon we emit ADDS to human caused climate change REGARDLESS of the rate.

    So solutions that address the source of non-carbonized energy are the only solutions worthy of the name. All the rest is just a feel good con job.

    • I don’t disagree with your larger point. But, we must take carbon out of the air while putting less carbon in the air. That is the major tenet of the scientists behind the documentary “Ice on Fire.” Building up and nurturing mangroves is not a small strategy as the mangroves are carbon eaters, eg. So, are kelp and evergreens. With that said, we must do what you suggest and cut back fossil fuels in a major way. One of the most significant accomplishments noted in the book was making industry decommission an old coal plant, when they built newer cleaner (not clean) coal plants.

      You made your point and I encourage readers to read it. We need to do more far more, but these measures are helpful. Thanks for your thoughts. Keith

      • Keith, I don’t mean to belabor some quibble or criticize you or the this documentary for wanting to try to help. That trait is admirable. What I want to address is this point that, “we must take carbon out of the air while putting less carbon in the air.” This point is actually the Big Lie in the sense of redistributing or throwing overboard the deck chair on the Titanic: such action have no meaningful affect whatsoever on the PROBLEM.

        Putting carbon into the atmosphere is like running water down a hose into a bucket. The bucket is finite. The ability of all natural earth systems now to absorb carbon and – in this analogy – remove water from the bucket amounts to perhaps a droplet (reasons). The additional water is the problem. That’s the carbon. What you’re talking about is the rate of what is being added, as if reducing the rate of a stream of water by perhaps a droplet is meaningful and should be pursued. I’m trying to explain why this is actually meaningless, diversionary, that the problem is not addressed AT ALL by championing policies that reduce the rate. That bucket is going to overflow. Net zero is like puncturing the pail so that water added runs out at the same rate. See how it’s all about rate? But rate is not the problem! The water coming in is the problem and greater per second than all the net zero holes combined per year. That’s the global rise in temperature that causes all kinds of reciprocal events, all of which are harmful to humans and no mitigation of rates is going to change that fact. The only meaningful solution is to shut off the water, to stop burning carbon for energy. We’re still going to have water added by natural factors such as fire, volcanic activity, and melting permafrost as well as from the biology of the life cycle of carbon creatures. Any and all natural mitigating mechanisms are already insufficient to deal with these; adding carbon by energy use overwhelms any and all natural responses. This includes planting trees, covering fields with basalt, carbon capture, and so on, may seem like something is being done but the climate mechanisms already in play – the water already coming down the tube – is going to raise global averages of temperature by about 2100. The only meaningful thing we can do is advocate for government and business in the strongest possible way – with our votes and dollars – to switch our energy source to renewables. We need to turn off the water.

  2. I’ve been reading about the role of trees in sustaining a healthy environment and one thing that has stood out is that this can be an effective solution but only if trees indigenous to an area are replaced. Typically, developers have replaced areas with the most cost efficient trees, which is not a solution. Always comes down to money, eh?

    • VJ, very true. Please refer to my response to TildeB. We must do both – put less carbon in the air and take more of it out of the air. Sequoias and large evergreens are part of that strategy, so we must cease the purposeful deforestation and wildfire destruction and replenish. Kelp farming to feed livestock is helpful, as it is a carbon eater as are the mangroves that need to be replenished and nourished. This along with moving more rapidly away from fossil fuels are key. The plains area of North America are moving deeper into wind energy and offshore wind now a reality for the US as it is elsewhere.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Keith

  3. Those steps as little or big they may appear, each one is important. But as you said, we need to move faster because the effects of climate change have begun to speed up the process.

    • Janis, we need to have hope, but I share your concerns, as well. I have seen two climate scientists, one in Miami and one in Sweden, say the following statement in different ways. Miami is the most at risk large city in the world and it is gone. In other words, they contend we cannot save Miami from its fate. And, at this same time, we have had two successive governors of Florida, a state surrounded on three sides by water, ignore the sunny day flooding that occurs in Miami Beach, where the sea water comes out of the street drains. Keith

    • Resa, this is interesting and we don’t think as much about the disposable clothes industry. As you know, fashions change for one simple reason – money. The stores have to sell new product. And, it is far worse for women as they are hit with so much advertising. Thanks for sharing. Keith

  4. A good post Keith
    Any action is better than no action.
    The issues we are facing are complex, and there is the fearful momentum of the planet’s dynamics reacting to our centuries old casual attitude to resources and environment. A brief reading of the various stages this world has gone through will show there are always consequences. We would be the first of Life’s progeny to have been in the situation of perceiving what we are doing and why it is not safe; we however have continued.
    There will of course be consequences to actions. Allow me to digress by way of one example.
    Say for instances every nation decided to stop burning coal and close down its mines. Would there be alternative jobs for the workers in the industry and allied industries or would there be pockets of unemployment which the Opportunists of Political disaffection take advantage of?….Which would lead to another issue. And we have seen how the politics of ignorance spreads. So I with my socialist hat I would say Planned Economy, steered by strict central control and education of the population…..Whoops, history suggests that sounds great on paper but never seems to work out in practice. Anndd it makes me sound like a Cassandra on environmental issues.
    To return to the original point. WE must press ahead as best we can, how we can, as we can, even in the face of reactionary opposition (Looking at you MAGA, and the scattered equivalents).
    I fear though as with War, there will be a price to pay for not taking action sooner and a great number of ordinary folk will suffer. Victory is attainable but it will be along, hard ‘slog’ and there will be many set backs as we catch up on 150 years of carelessness.

    • Roger, well done. Continuing your example, I am in no position of authority or science, but even I have known of the future demise of the coal industry dating back almost ten years. If I knew, then so-called leaders of US states and where coal is mined should have known this. So, I find these folks at fault for not looking ahead with job retraining and transitional pay to newer energy or other industries. It is not a surprise, per your point, that many of these coal producing areas are seeing higher incidences of disability claims and opioid deaths.

      Leadership requires speaking some inconvenient truths. People may or may not care for what Bernie Sanders stands for, but he was the only presidential candidate to stand up in front of coal miners in 2016 and tell them their jobs are going away, but here is what I propose we do about it. Lying to people, giving them false hope, is not a recipe for needed change. These folks coalesced around the former president, but an energy consultant said back in 2017, the former president’s own energy plan will cause the further demise of coal not the opposite.

      Inconvenient truths need to be spoken. And, action taken in a more profound way.. Keith

      • Again thank you Keith.
        Here comes the Socialist again…sorry about that.
        It is wise that long term planning should be a factor of government- although a problems in democracies as the other side will get in and have a notion to revise. However Consensus -despite what Margaret Thatcher said is essential to the well being of a nation. Thus a long-term plan which makes sense to both sides is valuable.
        Thus viewing Coal Mining, part of the reduction would be re-training of the miners and ensuring there are the subsequent jobs for them to go to. Not an easy task, but one which would have benefits in terms of environment, health and employment.

      • Roger, I go back to what was written in “That Used to be Us,” America has a history of blended investment between government and the private sector. We have forgotten that history and it prevents us from doing big things. So, it is collaboration between elected officials as well as funding sources that will address our needs. Keith

  5. I know you won’t like some of the swear words used in it, but this most recent ad really is by far the most accurate assessment of COP26 and the state of climate change direction for policy I’ve yet encountered. And there’s a reason it is endorsed by Greta Thunberg specifically. It’s honest. And I’m a big fan of honesty.

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