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 Post subject: What should be done about climate change?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:29 pm 
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This issue has long since moved on from one of debate to one of action.

Anyone who wishes to discuss the science, the impacts or so on may still continue to do so in the Global Warming thread. I respectfully request that this thread be limited to actions which can, should, and are being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will likely be over a spectrum of three inter-linking areas; regulatory (government), business (the market), and individual (personal lifestyle choices).

I've had a shot at quickly listing a few of them below.
I have grouped these ‘actions’ under the broad headings of ‘Reduce’, which involves reducing certain impacts and improving efficiencies, and ‘Replace’ which are more in line with technological and economic changes

Reduce
-increase vehicle fuel economy
-use less electricity
-drive less
-increase efficiency of coal fired power plants (much less desirable than getting rid of them, but more realistic)
-reduce deforestation
-improve energy efficiency
-improve agriculture methods (eg. Methane emissions from cattle)
-lower birth rates
-increase conservation

Replace
-replace coal fired power plants with renewables (gas also has fewer CO2 emissions than coal, but more than renewables which have none)
-replace transport fuels with fuel cells charged with electricity sourced from renewables OR hydrogen OR biofuels OR a mixture of these
-replace standard light globes with fluorescents
-wash your clothes in cold water

HOW do we do the above?

The most important thing (IMO) is to remove the source of most of our emissions- and that would be done by switching from fossil fuel based power to renewable, emission free sources. This would, in turn, allow a switch in transport fuels.
Currently (this varies somewhat between countries) coal is the cheapest source of energy in most places, and a significant part of that is due to the large subsidies the fossil fuel industry receives. On top of that is that in countries without an emissions trading system, they do not have to pay for the environmental (not to mention associated social and economic) cost of their emissions (and generally those with such a system do not pay as much as they should). Partially renewables are more expensive than coal, so the cost of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels must be taken into account in the market (i.e. this externality must be removed) in order for renewables to be competitive and prosper. This must be done by government regulation (the market will not do it alone, despite it being in the interest of the public good; would you pay taxes if you didn’t have to, even though they will pay for roads, health care, etc?).
Renewable Energy Targets & Emissions Trading Schemes are they key. A renewable energy target dictates that a certain percentage of energy must come from renewables or the retailers have to pay a penalty. Emissions Trading Schemes (which are less direct and therefore less effective) put a price on carbon.

I could go on but this is supposed to be the cliff notes version, so I’ll post more later.

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:15 am 
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Laura, I think you left off what I think is a major contributor to air pollution (especially in the US) that doesn't get mentioned (probably because it's traditionally a local issue, and not as easy to apply one "simple" rule to):

--Designing communities to be less reliant on automobile transport by encouraging such aspects as density, mixed-used development, and corridors for alternate transportation.

AKA, stop suburban sprawl.

I might have more a little later as well--I still need to think through what you've posted.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:22 am 
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Green Habit wrote:
Laura, I think you left off what I think is a major contributor to air pollution (especially in the US) that doesn't get mentioned (probably because it's traditionally a local issue, and not as easy to apply one "simple" rule to):

--Designing communities to be less reliant on automobile transport by encouraging such aspects as density, mixed-used development, and corridors for alternate transportation.

AKA, stop suburban sprawl.

I might have more a little later as well--I still need to think through what you've posted.

that's a valid point nick, and building more sustainable cities is absolutely part of this- i suppose i'm aiming for more direct & immediate actions

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:33 am 
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It's not automobiles or whatever. The root of fossile fuel pollution is not finding an unlimited source of renewable energy aka fuel cell. Automobiles is just scratching the surface.

Suburban sprawl definitely is a major contributor.

Before I go any further, may I reccomend this EXCELLENT movie I just downloaded:
Image

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:35 am 
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Sunny wrote:
It's not automobiles or whatever. The root of fossile fuel pollution is not finding an unlimited source of renewable energy aka fuel cell. Automobiles is just scratching the surface.

Suburban sprawl definitely is a major contributor.

Before I go any further, may I reccomend this EXCELLENT movie I just downloaded:
Image

i can't see that picture

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:38 am 
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its a movie called "An Inconvenient Truth".

It's a speech by Al Gore on the global warming situation.

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"There are two ways to enslave and conquer a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt." -John Adams


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:43 am 
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vacatetheword wrote:
Green Habit wrote:
Laura, I think you left off what I think is a major contributor to air pollution (especially in the US) that doesn't get mentioned (probably because it's traditionally a local issue, and not as easy to apply one "simple" rule to):

--Designing communities to be less reliant on automobile transport by encouraging such aspects as density, mixed-used development, and corridors for alternate transportation.

AKA, stop suburban sprawl.

I might have more a little later as well--I still need to think through what you've posted.

that's a valid point nick, and building more sustainable cities is absolutely part of this- i suppose i'm aiming for more direct & immediate actions


Well, as we all know, change doesn't happen overnight.

Let's say, for example, that we decide to raise the gasoline/petrol taxes to a level that would be twice the current price. Now, all excise taxes such as this one are regressive in nature, in that they hurt the poor more than they hurt the rich. Moreover, cities have been constructed in such a manner that oftentimes it is near impossible to perform lifestyle functions without a car. Now, in addition to money lost, there is also time lost if the price is high enough that the budget forces a switch to a form of transportation less vulnerable to the tax.

Furthermore, once the gov't in question obtains the tax in question, what will they do with it? It's easy enough to say that "I assure that it will go directly to [say, ] credits towards purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle or constructing clean energy", but we all know how politicians are--that money could easily be diverted to some pork-barrel project that's completely unrelated.

Just a few reasons on why I think a "carbon tax" is fraught with plenty of potential problems.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:46 am 
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Sunny wrote:
its a movie called "An Inconvenient Truth".

It's a speech by Al Gore on the global warming situation.


Pffft, she knows all about that. She was even willing to commit piracy to deliver the message.

http://forums.theskyiscrape.com/vie ... 89#1584489


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:58 am 
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Green Habit wrote:
Sunny wrote:
its a movie called "An Inconvenient Truth".

It's a speech by Al Gore on the global warming situation.


Pffft, she knows all about that. She was even willing to commit piracy to deliver the message.

http://forums.theskyiscrape.com/vie ... 89#1584489

i've burned many a copy of that to give to people

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:10 am 
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Green Habit wrote:

Just a few reasons on why I think a "carbon tax" is fraught with plenty of potential problems.


i think some forms of a carbon tax are the only way we're going to accomplish any meaningful changes and reductions.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:23 am 
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Green Habit wrote:
vacatetheword wrote:
Green Habit wrote:
Laura, I think you left off what I think is a major contributor to air pollution (especially in the US) that doesn't get mentioned (probably because it's traditionally a local issue, and not as easy to apply one "simple" rule to):

--Designing communities to be less reliant on automobile transport by encouraging such aspects as density, mixed-used development, and corridors for alternate transportation.

AKA, stop suburban sprawl.

I might have more a little later as well--I still need to think through what you've posted.

that's a valid point nick, and building more sustainable cities is absolutely part of this- i suppose i'm aiming for more direct & immediate actions


Well, as we all know, change doesn't happen overnight.

Let's say, for example, that we decide to raise the gasoline/petrol taxes to a level that would be twice the current price. Now, all excise taxes such as this one are regressive in nature, in that they hurt the poor more than they hurt the rich. Moreover, cities have been constructed in such a manner that oftentimes it is near impossible to perform lifestyle functions without a car. Now, in addition to money lost, there is also time lost if the price is high enough that the budget forces a switch to a form of transportation less vulnerable to the tax.

Furthermore, once the gov't in question obtains the tax in question, what will they do with it? It's easy enough to say that "I assure that it will go directly to [say, ] credits towards purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle or constructing clean energy", but we all know how politicians are--that money could easily be diverted to some pork-barrel project that's completely unrelated.

Just a few reasons on why I think a "carbon tax" is fraught with plenty of potential problems.

ok, firstly, in response to your comment "cities have been constructed in such a manner that oftentimes it is near impossible to perform lifestyle functions without a car". In American cities this seems to be the norm, but look at Europe for example, or even here in Melbourne- i have a car, but I barely use it and it would make little difference if I didn't have it.

the impression i've been getting is that you guys (americans) seem to be focussing more on transportation emissions, which is very important, but the biggest proportion of the world's GHG emissions don't come from transport, they come from power generation, which is what any initial carbon tax or cap and trade scheme would be aimed at for the time being.

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


Top
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:02 am 
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vacatetheword wrote:
ok, firstly, in response to your comment "cities have been constructed in such a manner that oftentimes it is near impossible to perform lifestyle functions without a car". In American cities this seems to be the norm, but look at Europe for example, or even here in Melbourne- i have a car, but I barely use it and it would make little difference if I didn't have it.


I hear you here--I'm just speaking from what I know the best. I'd agree that Melbourne is fairly well designed. Sydney and Brisbane, that's another story. (I figured you'd appreciate a "melb is the best" type of comment. ;))

vacatetheword wrote:
the impression i've been getting is that you guys (americans) seem to be focussing more on transportation emissions, which is very important, but the biggest proportion of the world's GHG emissions don't come from transport, they come from power generation, which is what any initial carbon tax or cap and trade scheme would be aimed at for the time being.


I'd agree with you that power generation contributes more pollution, but it's also the easier nut to crack--alternate energy and, perhaps more importantly, green building (have you seen http://www.usgbc.org/ before?) provide solid solutions. Supplanting transportation fuel, however, I'm not as confident in.

Also, care to provide any "carbon tax or cap and trade scheme[s]", so I could appropriately praise or condemn them?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:13 am 
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Green Habit wrote:
vacatetheword wrote:
the impression i've been getting is that you guys (americans) seem to be focussing more on transportation emissions, which is very important, but the biggest proportion of the world's GHG emissions don't come from transport, they come from power generation, which is what any initial carbon tax or cap and trade scheme would be aimed at for the time being.


I'd agree with you that power generation contributes more pollution, but it's also the easier nut to crack--alternate energy and, perhaps more importantly, green building (have you seen http://www.usgbc.org/ before?) provide solid solutions. Supplanting transportation fuel, however, I'm not as confident in.

Also, care to provide any "carbon tax or cap and trade scheme[s]", so I could appropriately praise or condemn them?

once we've cracked the nut of power generation sans GHG emissions, it will become a lot easier to deal with transportation. there are a number of alternate opportunities available to power cars; electric (powered on batteries recharged by renewables); biofuels (possibly hybrids with electrics); hydrogen; and compressed air. Shipping, similarly, may be dealt with by future solar/wind technology. The big one which we don't yet see a solution to is aviation, but the contrails may actually be helping in a way by contributing to the dimming effect.
in short, again, once we solve power, we can solve transport.

as for cap and trade, kyoto is an example :)

the cap and trade scheme i'm most familiar with is one the australian states have been trying to get up over here. the basic premise is, as a power generator, you must supply a permit for the GHG you emit. these permits are like offset credits which are created through emissions reductions elsewhere, forestry, etc. the big problem is the price of these permits is too low, and essentially won't lead to any significant reductions in emissions. in lieu of it being higher, we also need other schemes such as a renewable energy target.

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:25 am 
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this is interesting.

Top Ten U.S. Cities Ranked by Use of Renewable Energy

A newly released study conducted by SustainLane Government concludes that Oakland, California, generates the highest percentage of renewable energy out of all U.S. cities, producing 5 percent more energy than any other city surveyed.

http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/re ... y?id=48169

Percentage of Power from Renewable Energy

1 Oakland, CA 17%

2 Sacramento/San Francisco/San Jose, CA 12%

3 Portland, OR 10%

4 Boston, MA 8.6%

5 San Diego, CA 8%

6 Austin, TX 6%

7 Los Angeles, CA 5%

8 Minneapolis, MN 5%

9 Seattle, WA 3.5%

10 Chicago, Il 3%

Source: SustainLane U.S. City Rankings data 2006/2007

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:50 am 
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god'll take care of the earth and his children, i'm not worried.

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They say someone's watching from the calm at the edge
What about us when we're down here in it?
We gotta watch our backs


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:55 am 
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Just so you know, none of those cities surprised me.

Thought I'm surprised NYC didn't make the list--check out this article:

http://www.walkablestreets.com/manhattan.htm

EDIT: OK, I didn't read the article properly, but it's still an interesting article that I linked.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:14 am 
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About 35% of all energy consumption is related to the construction and operation of buildings. Therefore, designing a more sustainable built environment at the macro level (i.e. urban planning) and micro level (energy efficiency, life-cycle analysis, embodied energy, net-zero energy buildings, etc.) is the most important, in my opinion. That is why I think the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) rating system is so important, because it takes into account the entire built environment, from the transportation to mechanical design to water efficiency aspects of buildings. Check 'em out: http://www.usgbc.org , http://www.cagbc.ca


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:17 am 
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corduroy11 wrote:
About 35% of all energy consumption is related to the construction and operation of buildings.

what are you including in this?

_________________
Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:33 am 
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vacatetheword wrote:
corduroy11 wrote:
About 35% of all energy consumption is related to the construction and operation of buildings.

what are you including in this?


I was using the figures for Canada. In Canada, buildings account for:

- 30% of total energy consumption
- 50% of total electricity use
- 30% of total GHG emissions

The operation/construction phase takes into account heating, cooling, lighting, etc.

Also, buildings account for over 40% of the world's raw material resources.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:38 am 
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vacatetheword wrote:
once we've cracked the nut of power generation sans GHG emissions, it will become a lot easier to deal with transportation. there are a number of alternate opportunities available to power cars; electric (powered on batteries recharged by renewables); biofuels (possibly hybrids with electrics); hydrogen; and compressed air. Shipping, similarly, may be dealt with by future solar/wind technology. The big one which we don't yet see a solution to is aviation, but the contrails may actually be helping in a way by contributing to the dimming effect.
in short, again, once we solve power, we can solve transport.


Wow...you seem to be more optimistic on something with the environment than I am. Is this a first? ;)

I've always been under the impression that hydrogen is a good half a century away, and that biofuel poses other problems, such as all the traditional fuel required to grow the crops necessary to supply all of the transportation. I haven't heard about compressed air, though--I guess I need to research that further.

I'll get to the other half later--I think I'm running out of gas for tonight.


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