Paint the Town Green
Celebrate Arlington’s Path to a Sustainable Future
Sunday, September 23, 2018 - 3-5 p
Arlington Town Hall, 730 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA
Hot, Flat, and Crowded is essential reading
Thomas L. Friedman has hit many nails on the head in his analysis of what this country needs to do to deal with global warming, population growth, and the expansion of the world's middle class. This book is the current selection of the Arlington Democratic Town Committee Book Group. All are welcome to attend the discussion of Hot, Flat, and Crowded on Sun., Jan. 4, from 3 to 5 at Ken Larsen's house at 4 Frost Street. Please contact Ken at 648-5332 if you have any questions.
Here's my favorite review of what I feel is an essential-to-read book.
-- David Landskov
from Washington Post | September 7,2008
A Climate for Change
Tom Friedman says Americans can prosper by "outgreening" everyone else.
Reviewed by Joseph S. Nye Jr
Sunday, September 7, 2008; Page BW03
HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDED
Why We Need a Green Revolution -- And How It Can Renew America
Farrar Straus Giroux. 438 pp. $27.95
Like it or not, we need Tom Friedman.
The peripatetic columnist has made himself a major interpreter of the confusing world we inhabit. He travels to the farthest reaches, interviews everyone from peasants to chief executives and expresses big ideas in clear and memorable prose. While pettifogging academics (a select few of whom he favors) complain that his catchy phrases and anecdotes sometimes obscure deeper analysis, by and large Friedman gets the big issues right.
Almost a decade ago, in The Lexus and the Olive Tree, he celebrated the arrival of "globalization." Three years ago, in The World is Flat, he warned that borders, oceans and distance no longer protect us from the information revolution that is leveling the global economic playing field and relocating our jobs. Now he updates and expands this diagnosis by showing how population growth, climate change and the expansion of the world's middle class are producing a planet that is "hot, flat, and crowded." Unchecked, these trends will produce dangerous instability; but Friedman remains guardedly optimistic that we can stave off this nightmare, particularly if the United States changes its wasteful energy habits. In this important book, Friedman says we can survive, even prosper, by going green.
Of course, rousing a full-bellied nation, groggy from decades of energy overconsumption, is no small task. As the current election debate reminds us, the United States has proven inept at developing a serious energy strategy. Our approach, says one expert quoted by Friedman, is "the sum of all lobbies"; we have energy politics rather than energy policy. In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush ignored calls by Friedman and others for a "USA Patriot Tax" of $1 per gallon on gasoline. Instead, the president offered tax cuts and urged us to shop. Rather than stimulating the economy to move toward fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable energy, we became more dependent on China to finance our deficit and Saudi Arabia to fill our gas tanks. Americans wound up paying even more for gas in 2008, but we enabled OPEC to be the tax collector instead of using the revenues ourselves. Friedman calls this a "No Mullah Left Behind" policy and quotes former CIA director Jim Woolsey: "We are funding the rope for the hanging of ourselves."
Friedman believes we need to become "green hawks," turning conservation and cleaner energy into a winning strategy in many different arenas, including the military. ("Nothing," he writes, "will make you a believer in distributed solar power faster than having responsibility for trucking fuel across Iraq.") We should stop defining our current era as "post-Cold War," he says, and see it as an "Energy-Climate Era" marked by five major problems: growing demand for scarcer supplies, massive transfer of wealth to petrodictators, disruptive climate change, poor have-nots falling behind, and an accelerating loss of bio-diversity. A green strategy is not simply about generating electric power, it is a new way of generating national power.
Incremental change will not be enough. The three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the New York Times scoffs at the kind of magazine articles that list "205 Easy Ways to Save the Earth." In the 1990s, global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.1 percent annually, and many nations (not including the United States) signed the Kyoto Protocol to try to curb those emissions. But from 2000 to 2006, growth in CO2emissions tripled to 3 percent per year.
Friedman cites an estimate by Royal Dutch Shell that it typically takes 25 years for a new form of energy to capture 1 percent of the world market. Shell predicts that if we do things right, renewable energy will provide 30 percent of global needs by 2050, but fossil fuels will still provide 55 percent. Friedman says we need to do better than that. "Carbon neutral" is not ambitious enough; companies and institutions should seek a "carbon advantage" over rivals. This will require innovations in clean energy; greater energy efficiency (including the use of information technology to create smart grids and smart buildings); and a new ethic of conservation. Friedman argues that rather than costing too much, such initiatives can create investment opportunities, new jobs and global leadership for the U.S. economy. Here one wishes he had provided more evidence from some of the pettifogging academic economists.
Friedman is skeptical of treaties, and he argues that "a truly green America would be more valuable than fifty Kyoto Protocols. Emulation is always more effective than compulsion." He makes a good case that "outgreening" other countries would contribute to America's soft power as well as our hard power. "We are still the city on the hill for many Chinese," he notes, "even though they hate what we've done at times at the top of the hill." But the problem of China could overshadow what we do at home. In 2007, China surpassed the United States as the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide. Chinese argue that on a per capita basis each of their citizens is responsible for only one-fifth the emissions of an American, and that developing countries should not have to cut back until they reach rich countries' CO2levels. This is a formula for global disaster. As Friedman says, "Mother Nature isn't into fair. All she knows is hard science and raw math."
China uses coal, a particularly CO2-intensive fuel, for 70 percent of its commercial energy supply, while coal accounts for a third of America's total energy. China builds more than one new coal-fired power plant each week. Coal is cheap and widely available in China, which is important as the country scrambles for energy resources to keep its many energy-intensive industries running. But Friedman does not deal with the issue of cleaner coal in China, and no amount of renewable energy in America will solve the problem. At the rate China is growing, a Chinese switch to renewables will come too late.
What can the United States do about this security threat? The bombs, bullets and embargos of traditional security policy are irrelevant. A 2007 report from the International Energy Agency urged a cooperative approach to helping China and India become more energy efficient. In other words, to promote our own security, the United States and other rich countries may have to forge a partnership with China, India and others to develop a full range of creative ideas, technologies and policies to prevent dangerous climate change. This requires a reframing of what we think of as national security and a more inclusive strategy than we have had in the past. If we finally move in that direction, Friedman will deserve some of the credit. ·
Joseph S. Nye Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard and author, most recently, of "The Powers to Lead."
Climate Change News
Nov 16, 2018 | 06:41 am
A U.S. scientific panel reports that technologies that take CO2 out of the atmosphere could be a significant part of a strategy to mitigate global warming. In an e360 interview, Stephen Pacala, the panel’s chairman, discusses how these fast-developing technologies are becoming increasingly viable.Is there still time to avoid runaway climate change? To a large degree, the answer depends on the feasibility of “negative emissions” — techniques or technologies that suck CO2 out of the air. In the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), all scenarios for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius depend on negative emissions technologies, or NETs. Most 2-degree scenarios also rely on negative emissions; many call for removing billions of tons of CO2 per year by mid-century. Yet most NETs remain either untested or unproved. To help bridge this gap, the National Academies convened a panel of scientists and asked it to propose a research agenda. The panel considered several possible techniques, ranging from the low-tech — planting more trees — to the high-tech — developing machines to scrub CO2 from the sky. It also looked at a hybrid technology that has become known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS. The panel recommended several billion dollars be directed to research on NETs. Such technologies, it suggested, ought to be viewed as a “component of the mitigation portfolio,” rather than as a futuristic, last-ditch effort to reduce atmospheric CO2. Read more at Climate Solutions: Is It Feasible to Remove Enough CO2[…]Read more...
Climate Change News
Nov 16, 2018 | 06:29 am
Policies leading to more destruction of the Amazon and Cerrado would have a huge impact on climate change. Environmentalists and scientists fear that Brazil’s newly elected president, the far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro, will accelerate the destruction of the nation’s Amazon rainforest and Cerrado savanna, which rank among the world’s largest storehouses of carbon. Both absorb massive amounts of greenhouse gas from the air, stocking it away in trees, grasses, roots, and soil. Bolsonaro’s campaign rhetoric and ties to agribusiness have led observers to fear he’ll push to loosen environmental rules and monitoring, says Tica Minami, coordinator of Greenpeace Brazil’s Amazon campaign. That could embolden farmers to burn down or otherwise clear more land for soybeans, sugarcane, and cattle, releasing vast quantities of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Already, as much as 15% of global climate emissions come from “deforestation and degradation of tropical forests,” studies have found. Read more at Brazil’s Presidential Election Could Mean Billions of Tons of Additional Greenhouse GasesRead more...
- Climate Change News Nov 16, 2018 | 06:09 am Read more...
Climate Change News
Nov 15, 2018 | 06:45 am
Low-tech, time-tested forest, farm and land management techniques are effective, cheap and carry benefits well beyond tackling climate change. Conserving and restoring American forest, farm and natural lands could cut a substantial chunk of the country's emissions, helping meet greenhouse gas reduction goals without relying on undeveloped technologies, a new report finds. A team of 38 researchers spent more than two years looking at "natural climate solutions"—a range of strategies that includes planting trees in cities, preventing the conversion of natural grassland to farmland and shifting to fertilizers that produce less greenhouse gas emissions. In a study published Wednesday in Science Advances, they report that these solutions, if deployed across agricultural lands, forests, grasslands and wetlands, could mitigate 21 percent of the country's net annual greenhouse gas emissions, getting the U.S. closer to meetings its goals under the Paris climate agreement. "It's the same as if every car and truck in the country stopped polluting the climate," said Joseph Fargione, the study's lead author and, the science director for The Nature Conservancy North America region. "There's much bigger potential than most people realize." Read more at Natural Climate Solutions Could Cancel Out a Fifth of U.S. Emissions, Study FindsRead more...
Climate Change News
Nov 15, 2018 | 06:00 am
The US could meet its pledge to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement through “natural climate solutions” (NCS), a new study suggests. NCS comprise a group of techniques – such as reforestation, seagrass restoration and fire management – that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or boost carbon uptake from land and wetlands through changes to the way they are managed. While the US has already made progress towards its Paris pledge, NCS has the potential to provide the remaining emissions reductions needed by 2025, the researchers say. However, this would require a carbon price of around $100 per tonne to incentivise the use of NCS, the researchers estimate. And the measures would only be enough to meet the US’s pledge whereas global commitments need to be “roughly tripled” in order to meet the terms of the Paris Agreement, the lead author tells Carbon Brief. The research, which involves 38 researchers from 22 institutions, was led by scientists at the Nature Conservancy, an environmental NGO. Natural climate solutionsAs the special report on 1.5C from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledges, meeting the 1.5C limit without overshooting will require “negative emissions” – techniques that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it on land, underground or in the oceans. To achieve this, the integrated assessment models (IAMs) that generate emission pathways for 1.5C generally rely on large amounts of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This technique involves burning biomass – such as trees and crops – to generate[…]Read more...
Climate Change News
Nov 15, 2018 | 05:10 am
According to the International Energy Agency, “2018 is the year of electricity” and global electricity supply “is being transformed by the rise of renewables”. “Electricity has been the fastest growing element of final demand and is set to grow much faster than energy consumption as a whole over the next 25 years,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. Speaking yesterday at the launch in London of the IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook (WEO), Birol noted that the power sector now attracts more investment than oil and gas combined – a major shift for the energy market. And it also marks a similar shift for the IEA itself – for the first time, it devotes several chapters in the weighty WEO to electric power.IEA launches WEO and says “2018 is the year of electricity” The WEO states that global electricity supply “is being transformed by the rise of renewables, putting electricity at the centre of the response to a range of environmental challenges”. It stresses that “increasing digitalization of the global economy is going hand-in-hand with electrification, making the need for electricity for daily living more essential than ever. Electricity is increasingly the ‘fuel’ of choice for meeting the energy needs of households and companies.” In what it calls its New Policies Scenario, the IEA forecasts that between now and 2040, nearly 90 per cent of electricity demand growth will be in developing countries, while demand in advanced economies will come on the back of policies promoting the electrification[…]Read more...
- Climate Change News Nov 15, 2018 | 04:50 am Read more...
- Climate Change News Nov 14, 2018 | 04:59 am Read more...
Climate Change News
Nov 13, 2018 | 06:00 am
With window units set to more than triple by 2050, home air conditioning is on pace to add half a degree Celsius to global warming this century, a new report says. Increasing demand for home air conditioning driven by global warming, population growth and rising incomes in developing countries could increase the planet's temperatures an additional half a degree Celsius by the end of the century, according to a new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute. The demand is growing so fast that a "radical change" in home-cooling technology will be necessary to neutralize its impact, writes RMI, an energy innovation and sustainability organization. Fast-Rising Demand for Air Conditioning Is Adding to Global Warming. The Numbers Are Striking.Read more...
Climate Change News
Nov 13, 2018 | 05:10 am
Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) could build up to 50 million electric cars on its new electric vehicle platform and is looking at expanding its manufacturing footprint in the United States, Chief Executive Herbert Diess told Automotive News. “We set up the plant in Chattanooga always with the idea to be able to grow it, to mirror it,” Diess was quoted as saying. “The plant is still too small, and we are considering different options - it might be electric cars, it might be a different derivative of the Atlas (SUV) - it’s still open.” Volkswagen (VW) and Ford are looking at expanding cooperation, mainly in commercial vehicles, Diess added.Read more at VW Could Build Up to 50 Million Electric Cars: Automotive NewsRead more...