All posts by Pat Adams

William McKibben on Getting to 350

McKinney described the problem in his 1989 book The End of Nature (still one of the most influential books on climate):

“We’re like the patient that goes to the doctor and learns he’s overweight, or his cholesterol is too high. He doesn’t die immediately—but until he changes his lifestyle and gets back down to the safe zone, he’s at more risk for heart attack or stroke,” says McKibben. “The planet is in its danger zone because we’ve poured too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we’re starting to see signs of real trouble: melting ice caps, rapidly spreading drought. We need to scramble back as quickly as we can to safety.”

“Scrambling back” requires all nations to transform energy infrastructures, including transportation and power structures, becoming more energy efficient, using solar arrays instead of coal, planting trees instead of cutting down forests, reducing waste.

“Getting to 350 means developing a thousand different solutions—all of which will become much easier if we have a global treaty grounded in the latest science and built around the principles of equity and justice,” the group reports. “To get this kind of treaty, we need a movement of people who care enough about our shared global future to get involved and make their voices heard.”

Universal Design – Making helpful buildings, without limits.

60 minutes recently told a story about an architect who lost his eyesight after a brain surgery. In an interview with Leslie Stahl, Chris Downey said that losing his eyes expanded his vision.

“Just nine months after going blind, the recession hit and Downey lost his job. Then he got word that a nearby firm was designing a rehabilitation center for veterans with sight loss. They were eager to meet a blind architect. What are the chances?”

Chris Downey said: “It took my disability and turned it upside down. All of a sudden, it defined unique, unusual value that virtually nobody else had to offer.”

He developed a specialty making spaces accessible to the blind. One solution he came up with allowed people who use canes to navigate the four-block long Transbay Transit Center by setting grooves into the concrete running the entire length of the platform. The subtle change from smooth to textured concrete would signal where to turn to get to escalators and exits. He also used this approach on the renovation of a three-story office space for his old training ground, the LightHouse for the Blind.

Downey’s approach exemplifies the concept of “Universal Design”, incorporating features that accommodate people with disabilities but that are just as appealing to everyone else. Practically everyone may have physical limitations during their lifetime. Universal design can help everyone: babies, children, senior citizens, adults carrying heavy packages.

As we begin to build more of the concepts of Universal Design into everyday tools, building owners will not need to add expensive specialize adaptations. For example, if every building was entered either by a flat doorway or by a long sloping ramp, nobody has to deal with steps. This is good for people with wheelchairs, arthritis, oldsters, children, delivery people. No limitations. Happier people.

Watch a brief summary of Chris Downey’s ideas on designing for everyone.

Read the transcript of the 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/architect-chris-downey-goes-blind-says-hes-actually-gotten-better-at-his-job-60-minutes/

Or see the whole 60 Minutes segment on Youtube:

https://youtu.be/UMIK5WTOOEI

– Pat Adams

Is it TOO LATE to survive the changes?

Surviving climate change or too late?

Can we work together to fix what is broken in our climate?

We only have a few years before our climate becomes unsurvivable, according to scientists and educators. Change is already evident all around the world. Are we close to the destruction of humanity? Can we keep our planet alive?

All experts believe we are in grave danger. Like the seven blind men and the elephant, they disagree about the shape and texture of the beast, yet all agree that it is big, strong and dangerous unless tamed.

Most questions arise on which CO2 measure is most meaningful, on how much is man-caused rather than determined by natural sources, and of course, whether the main culprit is the fossil fuel industry.

Question (1): How do we know if it is too late? When will we know we have gone too far?

Answer: We may be awfully close, as measured by annual rise in temperature and CO2 concentration.

An article by “EarthTalk” in a 2015 Scientific American issue.includes study results that point to 2042 is the tipping point based on the annual increase in CO2 concentration of 1.92 ppm. Greenpeace has said we only have until around 2020 to significantly cut back on greenhouse gas output around the world.

Question (2): Can We Still Avoid the Worst Impacts of Climate Change?

Answer: Maybe. The international movement 350.org is a good source for updates on how we are progressing and what we can do. The non-profit group, founded by writer and activist William McKibben and others, is dedicated to reducing atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm, which they believe is attainable.

Research questions:

  • HOW can we help make a cut back on CO2 output?
  • HAVE we cut back since the 2015 study cited above?

Sources:

Additional articles and videos on the question of Is It Too Late.

– Pat Adams

Don’t BELIEVE our climate is BROKEN?

2°C: Beyond the limit : Extreme climate change has arrived in America

Article from Washington Post Published Aug. 13, 2019

Key Message from the Article

New Jersey may seem an unlikely place to measure climate change, but it is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. Its average temperature has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895 — double the average for the Lower 48 states.

Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes.

The potential consequences are daunting. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that if Earth heats up by an average of 2 degrees Celsius, virtually all the world’s coral reefs will die; retreating ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could unleash massive sea level rise; and summertime Arctic sea ice, a shield against further warming, would begin to disappear.

But global warming does not heat the world evenly.

A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

Read and study the Washington Post report:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/national/climate-environment/climate-change-america/

– Pat Adams