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Posts Tagged ‘carbon emissions’

When I wrote about the opportunity to align desired green behaviors with individual needs and wants, this is what I had in mind:

Different people will rank these needs and wants differently. Using myself as an example, the primary motivators for me to bike more, are fun and convenience. If I was in a lower-socio-economic group, where making ends meet was the primary issue, I would probably pick money. If I was a mother of young children, the bonding potential would work best. Etc. 

Seems like a no brainer to me! The question is how come so few green marketers and environmental communicators think along those lines? The last time I read something that made really sense to me, was in Steve Bishop’s article, “Don’t Bother With the Green Consumer“. He uses a bike example as well! :) (I also refer to Steve’s article in a recent post I wrote for the Huffington Post)

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Starting tomorrow, I will be off to Europe for a two-week visit to my family, followed by a tour of the Tuscan countryside. If I was 100% pure, I would stay home, and use Skype to stay in touch with my loved ones. After all, air travel is one the most CO2 intensive mode of transportation:

This is where the power of emotional ties collide with my green conscience. The tragedy of my 86-year old mother slowly falling to Alzheimer’s, and the adorable pictures of my new six-month old nephew Amadeo, are stronger than all the carbon calculations. I have to go.

To ease up my footprint, I will, of course, buy carbon offsets from Terrapass. And dream of a not so distant future, when air travelling may not be such a curse on the environment.

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That show last night was pretty depressing!” Hubby Prad did not sleep well after watching ‘We Were Warned: Out of Gas‘, the latest in CNN’s Special Investigations Unit series. Neither did I. Listening to most of the comments in the show, you would never know we are at the brink of a planetary disaster. Hardly any mention of conservation. No, instead it is all about looking everywhere in search of yet more oil, no matter what the cost. Cost in dollars per barrel. And more importantly, cost to our future in terms of carbon emissions.

Never before has the addiction to oil metaphor been more apt. Big Oil is leaving no soil unturned, no ocean unprobed, to satisfy our need for our daily oil fix.

Now, here’s the part that really, really got to me, best conveyed in trailer for new movie, Pay Dirt:

Just when I thought  coal mountain top removal was as bad as it could get . . . 

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From AFP:

The world could solve many of the major environmental problems it faces at an “affordable” price, the OECD said Wednesday, warning that the cost of doing nothing would be far higher.

In a report presented in Oslo, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development suggested a range of measures to address what it said were the greatest global environmental challenges through 2030: climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and the impact on human health of pollution and toxic chemicals.

“It’s not cheap. It is affordable, but also it is considerably less onerous for mankind and for the economy than the alternative of inaction,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria told reporters.

Angel Gurria

The suggested measures would cost just over 1.0 percent of the predicted global gross domestic product in 2030, meaning world wealth would grow on average 0.03 percentage points less per year over the next 22 years, the organisation said.

If nothing is done however, global greenhouse gas emissions could rise by over 50 percent by 2050, while “one billion more people will be living in areas of severe water stress by 2030 than today, and premature deaths caused by ground-level ozone worldwide would quadruple by 2030,” the OECD report said.

“It has a positive cost-benefit result. Regardless of the ethical, of the moral, of the social, of the political consequences, simply looking at it from the business and the economic point of view, it is a better idea to start right away focusing on the environment,” Gurria insisted.

The OECD said its proposed investment would allow the world to slash “key air pollutants by about a third,” and significantly limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The group placed a special emphasis on the need to rein in carbon dioxide emissions through special taxes and increased emission trading.

“We know the enemy. It is called carbon. We have to fight the enemy and we have to put a high price on the carbon,” Gurria said.

The OECD also suggested measures like increasing waste charges and implementing “more stringent regulations and standards” in the most environmentally harmful industries, like energy, transport, agriculture and fishery.

The organisation also insisted on the importance of international coordination and cooperation.

“If we do not have everybody, and that includes every single developed country but also Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Indonesia etc, it will obviously not work,” Gurria said.

By 2030, Brazil, Russia, India and China’s combined annual emissions “will exceed those of the 30 OECD countries combined,” the group said.

I purposely underlined those two words: ‘We could. As we gather more information about global warming, it is becoming more and more evident that the missing ingredient for a successful resolution, has to do with the lack of political will at the international level. The main responsibility lays on the United Sates as the world’s biggest polluter and its leadership role on the international scene. Given that the US leadership draws its authority from its people, the challenge then becomes, how to transform the US from a car addicted – mall obsessed – energy entitled culture to a planet conscious society? Back to yesterday’s discussion on ‘A Most Inconvenient Truth‘, and Kyle‘s point about the cultural dimension of climate change.


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A trip to the neighbors across the street is almost always a culture shock. A peak into the reality of American culture and its excesses. This time, was Russell’s one year birthday party. You could tell from the street, by the balloons and the SUV’s parked in front. To get to it, we had to make our way through the house, and all the plastic toys, strewn all over the floor. I did not remember children needing so many things to play with. More was in the wing. It was impossible to ignore the mountain of presents waiting in the corner of the living room. We found the crowd, outside, celebrating, with enough food to feed an entire block, and disposable plates and plastic cups, of course. Kids and adults kept coming in and out of the obligatory bounce house. I asked Prad what kept the thing inflated. He assured me it only took minimal energy. Plus everybody seemed to enjoy the jumping so much. Little Russell, oblivious to the occasion and a big smile on his face, was cruising around, playing with a plastic straw and picking at the grass. Life seemed so easy, and happy, and abundant. I should have been rejoicing.

Bounce House

Instead I felt unease. Displayed in front of me, was a graphic manifestation of unconsciousness, that did not sit well with my green conscience. Prad accused me of being a party spoiler. ‘You are going overboard now. You can’t stop people. They are celebrating the happy event with their community.’ I could not disagree with the community part. It was the ‘how’ that bothered me. Before the dawn of plastic, what did people do? I asked. Wasn’t the party for Russell anyway? The contrast between Russell’s happiness with so little, and the amount of stuff that seemed necessary for everybody else to have a good time, seemed so obvious to me.

Last week, Andrew Revkin asked the DotEarth readers to ‘Imagine Everyone Was Equal In Emissions‘. What would it mean, knowing that currently the average American is producing about fifteen times as much as a person from India or Africa? It means Russell’s parents would have to live a very different life. No brand new toys, or at least not so many. No SUV. No flat screen TV running while nobody is watching. No disposable plates. Less food. Less meat. It means adopting Kyle’s ‘One Tonne Carbon Lifestyle‘, recognizing that there are indeed limits to what we can do and consume. And that such a change is not the end of the world, but instead the beginning of a new, more conscious way of living.

Twice a week now, I commute to San Francisco for a consulting assignment. Instead of driving, I take the train. Altogether, I get in my one hour of exercise, walking to and from the train station, and two hours of work in the train. Carbon emissions: minimal. Personal efficiency: maximal. This is what Kyle’s One Tonne Carbon Lifestyle is about. Can you think of one way that you can change your life that is all benefit to you, and to your environment?

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In case you were not quite sure what to do yet to help with the climate fight, here is what IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri had to say during his recent Paris press conference – as reported by AFP:

Don’t eat meat, ride a bike, and be a frugal shopper – that’s how you can help brake global warming, the head of the United Nation’s Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change said Tuesday.

The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued last year, highlights “the importance of lifestyle changes,” said Rajendra Pachauri at a press conference in Paris.

This is something that the IPCC was afraid to say earlier, but now we have said it.

A vegetarian, the Indian economist made a plea for people around the world to tame their carnivorous impulses.

Please eat less meat — meat is a very carbon intensive commodity,” he said, adding that consuming large quantities was also bad for one’s health.

Studies have shown that producing one kilo (2.2 pounds) of meat causes the emissions equivalent of 36.4 kilos of carbon dioxide.

In addition, raising and transporting that slab of beef, lamb or pork requires the same amount of energy as lighting a 100-watt bulb for nearly three weeks.

In listing ways that individuals can contribute to the fight against global warming, Pachauri praised the system of communal, subscriber-access bikes in Paris and other French cities as a “wonderful development.”

Instead of jumping in a car to go 500 meters, if we use a bike or walk it will make an enormous difference,” he told journalists at a press conference.

Another lifestyle change that can help, he continued, was not buying things “simply because they are available.” He urged consumers to only purchase what they really need.

Since the Nobel was awarded in October to the IPCC and the former US vice president Al Gore, Pachauri has criss-crossed the globe sounding the alarm on the dangers of global warming.

The picture is quite grim — if the human race does not do anything, climate change will have serious impacts,” he warned Tuesday.

At the same time, however, he said he was encouraged by the outcome of UN-brokered climate change negotiations in Bali last month, and by the prospect of a new administration in Washington.

“The final statement clearly mentions deep cuts in emissions in greenhouse gases. I don’t think people can run away from that terminology,” he said.

The Bali meeting set the framework for a global agreement on how to reduce the output of carbon dioxide and other gases generated by human activity that are driving climate change.

Pachauri also sees cause for optimism in the fact that, for the first time since the world’s nations began meeting over the issue of global warming in 1994, “nobody questioned the findings of the IPCC.”

“The science has clearly become the basis for action on climate change,” he said.

In 2007, the IPCC issued a massive report the size of three phone books on the reality and risks of climate change, its 4th assessment in 18 years.

Pachauri said it was too late for Washington to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the sole international treaty mandating cuts in CO2 emissions.

The United States is the only industrialised country not to have made such commitments.

But he remained hopeful the US — under a new administration — would be a “core signatory” of any new agreement.

“With the change that is taking place politically in the US, the chances of that happening are certainly much better than was the case a few months ago,” he said.

At 67, Pachauri said he has not yet decided whether to take on a second five-year mandate as IPCC head. Elections take place in September.

On the one hand, he said, the experience he has acquired would serve him well.

But the advantage of retiring, he said with a smile, is that his carbon footprint — the amount of C02 emissions generated by all this travels — would be greatly reduced.

Three things. That’s all he is asking from us. That’s all and that’s not so simple.

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One Track Mind

New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, AOL homepage, NPR, my habitual news sources are mute on climate change. Have been for the last week. The elections have taken over, and there is no space left for much else. I no longer see, hear green. Like the rest of my fellow Americans, I have become obsessed with the polls, latest gossips, and predictions. I am an Obama girl, cheering for her man. In the mean time, CO2 is continuing its dirty work. But we are all taking a break from watching. Our minds are too busy keeping track of Hillary, Obama, and Edwards, and Mc Cain, and Romney, and Huckabee. There is a competition going on, and the thrill of not knowing who’s going to win in the end, is too hard to resist. Yesterday Hillary nearly cried, and that was big news. Tonight, it looks as if Obama is winning again. We are addicted. And that’s ok, as long as we make sure to vote for candidates with a sound climate change agenda.

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