Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Drawdown – A Playbook for the Climate Anxious

July 13th, 2017


“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
―Stanislaw Lec

Like many others out there I am suffering from climate anxiety, and yes, it’s a thing. In fact, there is even a 9 step program for it available in some cities.

I sometimes feel like there is very little I can do to help reverse the fairly dire situation we have gotten ourselves into. Right now, people on the front line, such as scientists, politicians, and civil servants, are working on developing adaptations to climate change. There are small island countries, such as the Maldives, in the Pacific Ocean whose governments have bought land on nearby mainland for the inevitable time that their homeland is under water; officials from cities along the shores of the east coast of the United States are regularly visiting Holland to take lessons on how they have adapted to living below sea level. » Read more: Drawdown – A Playbook for the Climate Anxious

Community Forestry International: Actively Managing Forests Promoting Larger Forests Faster for More Carbon Storage

November 21st, 2016

Community Forests International’s 705 acre woodlot near Sussex has stored carbon to the tune of $300,000. (photo credit: Zach Melanson)

When Jeff Schnurr returned to Canada after travelling the world, he wondered if it was possible to  encourage people to grow more forests than they cut down. He’d spent a considerable amount of time on the island of Pemba off the coast of Tanzania, helping its population reforest its land. In 2008 the locals had realized that if they didn’t take action soon, their island would be completely deforested. Soils would become unworkable, freshwater would be scarce, and employment for the islanders would be difficult to come by. His experience helping reforest Pemba made him realize the value of keeping trees in the ground. » Read more: Community Forestry International: Actively Managing Forests Promoting Larger Forests Faster for More Carbon Storage

Trump, climate and us: A letter to those who won’t give up

November 16th, 2016

I am a volunteer with the Climate Reality Project – an organization dedicated to educating the world about climate change and the science behind it. Its goal is to dispel the myth that it doesn’t exist, or, according to Donald Trump, a hoax invented by China. Like many who work in some way or another trying to get greenhouse gasses under control, I have been thinking a lot about the consequences of the recent US election and what it will mean for the progress we’ve made, especially over the last year.

On November 9th, Karel Mayrand, the President of the Board of Directors of the Canadian chapter of Climate Reality Project, wrote some encouraging news. Below, with permission from the Climate Reality team, I am sharing his blog post. Thank you, Karel, for sharing your thoughts.

Trump, climate and us: A letter to those who won’t give up

Like me, you likely woke up before sunrise this morning, opening your eyes in the dark to confirmation that the nightmare is real.

Like you, last night I felt sick to my stomach. I felt a strong sense of anxiety for my sleeping children, who also went to bed anxious. What future will we be leaving them?

I’m writing to you today because I need you to know that this new obstacle will not stop us. I need you to hear the truth — that we are millions, that we will not abandon our values of justice and inclusion, or ever stop working to protect all life on Earth. » Read more: Trump, climate and us: A letter to those who won’t give up

Thought Provoking Keynote Address at Greenbuild

October 12th, 2011

Greenbuild NEXT International Expo was jam-packed with places to go, people to see and things to do. There was absolutely not one dull moment to be had. To give you an idea of how big this conference has become, there were about 25,000 attendees, 1700 exhibitors, 105 education sessions available over 4 days.

The opening keynote address included an opening statement by Rick Fedrizzi, the President and CEO of the US Green Building Council, an opening keynote speech by Thomas Friedman and a roundtable discussion including Mr. Friedman, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, and Dr. Paul Farmer, moderated by Cokie Roberts. To top off the evening there was an excellent performance by Maroon 5, a band dedicated to lowering its carbon footprint, singing out on behalf of Haiti, and leading green lifestyles. I never knew that, I’ve always just enjoyed their music.

Tom Friedman was the highlight of the evening for me. He spoke about how it wasn’t a coincidence that the current economic and environmental crises are occurring at the same time. Regarding environmental sustainability, we are borrowing against our grandchildren’s future with the attitude being “IBG” — meaning “I’ll be gone” so it doesn’t matter. On the economic side of things, several practices and changes have meant that we no longer practice restraint with our accounting — both personally and corporately. There has been a generational shift to sloppy accounting practices resulting in events like the sub-prime lending fiasco; instant gratification is the norm, spend now, catch up later, especially since money is cheap. But we never end up catching up.

Mr. Friedman quoted some scary statistics that came out in a World Wildlife report. We are currently consuming 25% more natural resources than our earth can regenerate. We are creating a smaller and smaller base of natural resources from which an ever increasing world population must live on.

The way to fix this problem is with price signals — pricing natural resources so that the consequences of taking them out of the natural environment or adding CO2 into the atmosphere is reflected in the price of any product. Natural resources are not finite, despite the fact that they have always been valued that way. As Mr. Friedman notes, the way our current financial system works, we under price our natural resources while the financial gains are privatized by corporations and the losses are socialized (weather extremes leading to hurricanes, drought, etc.) becoming government and therefore, tax payer burdens.

He aptly notes that while a price signal is the key to changing human behaviour, we shouldn’t be looking for it any time soon. This current American (and Canadian for that matter) administration isn’t about to radically overhaul the pricing structure before they’re out of office. Let’s face it, a price signal right now would be political suicide — even if it is necessary.

He compared the IT industry with the “green revolution” by saying the difference is that with the IT revolution you got a product that had a function that was seen as beneficial such as cell phones, personal computers and all the software and technology that’s developed around these devices. At the end of the day with the green revolution, all you’re getting is the same things you already have: heat, cooling, lighting, transportation. Where is the incentive in converting to cleaner methods if the price signals aren’t there? To me it’s like when you take your car to the mechanic’s to get some work done and all you get back is a working car and a big fat bill; nothing visually has changed, and your bank account has decreased a little. It can feel deflating. (Don’t you think the least mechanics could do is vacuum the inside of your car just to make it look like you’ve gotten something for your money?)

So, after this frank lecture, which was pretty depressing because he was stating the reality of the economic and environmental mess we’re currently in, he did offer some hope. On his travels across the US, he meets lots of fascinating and ingenious people. People with ideas about how to solve the world’s problems while still earning a decent living. He’s glad that these grass roots people “didn’t get the message” that a price signal was necessary to overhaul our problems. Maybe our ingenuity will save us after all. So, to all of you inventors, keep on inventing and us find our way out of this mess we’ve created.



Weekly Round Up of Eco Building and Other Eco News from around the Web

May 1st, 2011

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the ecosphere. Keeping up with what’s happening in green building and on the environmental front would be a full-time job in itself. Here are a few of some of the thought-provoking the articles from the last week.

Nearly Net Zero Energy Home: This is an excellent example of a good looking nearly “zero net energy” house. A zero net energy home is defined as a home that produces the same amount of energy as it uses. This one comes close with a combined electric and heating bill of $263 per year.

US Energy Production Mix 2011 and 2035: I admit that I’m a numbers geek, so I love these two pie charts on Grist that show the make up of the US energy mix now and predicted for 2035. The big take away is that natural gas will have more of a presence and coal less. I guess my own disappointment is that renewables are still predicted to make up only 11% of the entire energy supply mix. Eleven percent? Can’t we do any better than that?

Living Future Conference 2011: Building Green people are attending the “Living Future ‘Unconference,'” in Vancouver this week. I admit that I’ve never heard of the event, but once I read about it, I will now be paying very close attention. Basically, the conference is a way to bring visionaries together who look beyond “green buildings” and towards how do we rejuvenate cities to be healthy urban environments?

Stop Climate Change — What you can do: From Earth Day, a list of the top ten things you can do to stop climate change. Really? We can stop climate change by eating local/organic and carpooling? The list of actions is symbolic of course — yes you should eat less meat and use the car less and it will make you feel like you’re actually doing something about it, but we should also be putting pressure on governments and corporations to lead by example. The last action: donate to your favourite environmental not for profit organization.

Why use an Energy Monitor: I couldn’t write a weekly round up without pointing to my own article, could I? For Practically Green’s action: use an energy monitoring device I wrote about why this is an important step. After all, if you’re trying to figure out how to reduce your own energy consumption at home, you have to know what’s consuming  all the energy. In the “Comments Section” one reader notes that one watt of power in Massachusetts produces 11 pounds of carbon in the air. It all depends on your state or province’s energy production mix, but it’s a good number to think about. Imagine how much energy is wasted (and CO2 pumped into the air) because we leave TVs and computers on standby all the time.

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