Fossil Fuels and Trump’s Admin. Fools and a Glimpse of Hope

Sabrina Torres

Donald Trump gained pull from the mining industry to assist the “war against coal.” Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, filed a proposal to formally repeal the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan that was designed to hasted state utilities’ adoption of renewable energy, improve air quality and public health across the nation and finally, have the United States meet its commitment under the Paris climate accord of a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 (Kormann). Pruitt stated that the C.P.P. would have “devastating effects” on the American people because it ignored states’ concerns and their longstanding and important partnerships. These ‘relationships’ being the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by Trump’s administration to private coal companies for popular appeal.

   The Environmental Protection Agency can no longer stop the decline of coal with the current figures in place that believe climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Pruitt and and Trump are completely ignoring market signals that the coal industry cannot last sustainably or efficiently, simply to keep stable relationships with fossil-fuel million-to-billionaires who put them into office. This ignorance can lead to disastrous consequences for climate and the global economy. Luckily, investors in the private market have recognized the long-term instability in high-carbon industries.

    Mark Campanale, a financier and environmentalist, reported in the Carbon Tracker INitiative project, that there was a significant problem with the way fossil-fuel stocks were prices. He started to identify that there is a finite “carbon budget,” meaning, if humans wish to avoid Climate Change induced catastrophes, then humans must limit emissions so the world’s average temperature rises no more than two degrees celsius; which is the agreed target in the Paris agreement (Kormann). Campanale looked at data on the planet’s known fossil-fuel reserves and calculated how much carbon would be released if all of it was burned. His calculations resulted in 2.8 trillion tons being released which is five times greater than Earth’s carbon budget for the next forty years. He warns that up to eighty per cent of the remaining oil, gas and coal, or what he references as “unburnable carbon,” needs to stay in the ground if humans wish to continue living on this planet. The environment will continue without humans, however humans cannot continue without the environment.coal

    Of course, fossil-fuel companies and investors deem Campanale’s project and stance as fruitless. So long as there is a repeal on C.P.P. and a lingering false sense of security in high-carbon industries, the Trump administration believes they are ‘winning.” However, the concept of the Carbon Tracker Initiative is advancing elsewhere.The energy sector is continuing to move in a climate-friendly direction. There has been a high point of investors interested in recognizing climate risks. Norway, a country well-known for their green initiatives, declared that it would require some of its partners to disclose “what influence their lending practices have on carbon emissions.” For those who question the effects of the workers within the mining industry, there are opportunities for them with green advancements.

   With a decline in the coal industry due to cheaper alternatives such as natural gas,  (Cardwell) what are these miners to do as they continue to be laid off by the thousands? Luckily these workers possess promising skills in the industry that is ever expanding: renewable energy. Thankfully some businesses within this expansive movement are aware of the culture surrounding the coal lifestyle on families and communities so they have began offering information sessions for previous coal workers to understand renewable energy and learn that this too is something they can be proud of. Some players in this emerging industry is encouraging those who are willing to transition with incentives to utilize the skills the workers attain previously working with fossil fuels. The “catch” being that these individuals may have to be willing to relocate to areas in the country that produce the highest levels of wind or receive the most sun. So these programs are showing to appeal more to younger workers with post secondary education who are motivated to follow through and more willing and able to relocate. (Reily). In Wyoming, a major coal-producing area, a wind turbine manufacturer is offering training to former miners. In Appalachia, Coalfield Development is attempting to revitalize the region’s economy with workshops in solar installation and woodworking. The program aims to reclaim mines and remodel dilapidated buildings.

  Although Trump’s administration pushed hard on appealing to the coal industry, they cannot complete with the current facts that hundreds of thousands of workers have been terminated, the burst of natural gas interest, and the general consumers’ preference to cleaner energy (Riquier). The administration focused on profiting coal industry owners, not the workers sacrificing their lives. Luckily, the industry of renewable energy is displaying interest in introducing and building positive relationships with workers willing to transition their skills. There is opportunity to move beyond the false promises this administration created on coal.

 

Works Cited

Cardwell, Diane. “What’s Up in Coal Country: Alternative-Energy Jobs.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Sept. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/business/energy-environment/coal-alternative-energy-jobs.html.

Kormann, Carolyn. “There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 Oct. 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/theres-a-dangerous-bubble-in-the-fossil-fuel-economy-and-the-trump-administration-is-making-it-worse.

Reilly, Michael. “The U.S. Coal Industry Is Dying, and Retraining Workers for Solar Isn’t Easy.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 11 Aug. 2016, http://www.technologyreview.com/s/602151/can-we-really-retrain-coal-workers-for-jobs-in-solar/.

Reilly, Michael. “The U.S. Coal Industry Is Dying, and Retraining Workers for Solar Isn’t Easy.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 11 Aug. 2016, http://www.technologyreview.com/s/602151/can-we-really-retrain-coal-workers-for-jobs-in-solar/.

Riquier, Andrea. “Even as Trump Focuses on Coal Miners, Renewable Energy Jobs Are Booming.” MarketWatch, 30 June 2017, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/paris-agreement-or-not-solar-employment-looking-brighter-than-coal-2017-06-02.

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Climate Change and Resilience By: Cecile Edleman

Taking action to help stop climate change and reduce its negative effects is not just about saving the Polar Bears. Climate change is an issue some STILL deny to be prevalent to this day, but the death tolls due to climate change are rising. According to the World Health Organization Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress and other climate change related issues. Climate change affects not just environmental but social determinants of health, clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter (WHO).

So what is climate change exactly? Climate change in simple terms is a change in the Earth’s climate. This could be a change in Earth’s usual temperature or it could be a change in where rain and snow usually fall on Earth (NASA). Although this doesn’t sound like a big deal even a small changes in Earth’s temperature can have huge effects.

What causes climate change? We do! Yes, Climate change can occur naturally on earth over an extended period of time but humans are excelling it at a dangerous rate. A leading cause to climate change or global warming is the burning of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels like oil when we heat/ cool our houses or drive our cars lets out toxins into the air. Air pollutants coal plants let out into the environment include the major one, CO2 and additionally, Sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate matter (or fly ash) and Mercury (NCSUSA). Air pollutants released with the burning of fossil fuels can’t all be absorbed so this leads to the heating of the atmosphere.

Climate change can also lead to an increase in natural disasters and extreme weather. “The combined result of increased temperatures over land, decreased equator-versus-pole temperature differences, and increased humidity could be increasingly intense cycles of droughts and floods as more of a region’s precipitation falls in a single large storm rather than a series of small ones. A warmer, wetter atmosphere could also affect tropical storms (hurricanes)” Scientists believe over the next 100 years the earths temperature will continue to rise causing more than just the melting of the earths ice caps. This would cause more snow and ice to melt. Oceans water levels would rise. Some places would get hotter. Other places might have colder winters with more snow. Some places might get more rain. Other places might get less rain. Some places might have stronger hurricanes (NASA).

Climate change is also proven to make the problem of air pollution worse. Air pollution deaths are expected to rise because of climate change. New research predicts that air pollution worsened by climate change will cost tens of thousands of lives if changes are not made (CBS). Hotter temperatures “can speed up the reaction rate of air pollutants that form in the atmosphere,” lead study author Jason West states.

The direct damage costs to health due to climate change is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030 (NASA). All of these are factors that if happen people would need to be prepared for in order to stay safe. Areas with weak health infrastructure, mostly in developing countries, will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond. Essentially those of a lower socio-economic standing will have the most trouble with adapting and surviving to changes that climate change will cause. Yet this is the group of people we ask to be the most adaptable.

This brings up the discussion of how do we prepare and become resilient? How can we prepare for heat waves, hurricanes and other affects of global warming when many people in society do not even believe that the issue of global warming even exists. The term resilience means ones capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. But I don’t think the people wan to get used to an increase in death tolls due to climate change; so a progressive attitude in preparing for this extreme weather and motivation to stop contributing to making the driving causes of climate change worse. Now, I’m not saying the only solution is for everyone to build state of the art storm shelters for an apocalypse; but possibly a change in government spending and regulations when it comes to infrastructure. Using concrete that absorbs water more efficiently and other progressive attitudes in a change towards being more ready and resilient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Dunbar, Brian. “What Is Climate Change?” NASA, NASA, 13 May 2015, http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-k4.html.

 

 

“Climate Change and Health.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/.

 

News, CBS. “Air Pollution Deaths Expected to Rise Because of Climate Change.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 31 July 2017, www.cbsnews.com/news/air-pollution-deaths-expected-to-rise-because-of-climate-change/.

 

“Coal Power: Air Pollution.” Union of Concerned Scientists, www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/coal-air-pollution#.WeO8YzZZREc.

 

“The Rising Cost of Natural Hazards : Feature Articles.” NASA, NASA, earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/RisingCost/rising_cost5.php.

The Climate Change Mistake: The Call to Action

Joseph Pacifico

Blog Post #4 Climate Change

ENV 310

 

Climate Change. The ongoing debate whether or not the world’s temperatures are indeed rising, when scientists everywhere agree that they are, is doing nothing but delaying further progress. This illusion that there is even a debate about climate change, coupled with the leader of the west pulling out of the only internationally held agreement that we have to deal with climate change and all the aspects of life that it impacts, is an obvious step in the wrong direction and makes our future seem dim. Despite these setbacks, we do continue to see progress by the forward thinkers that will guide us to a solution.

The world needs to shift towards clean energy and renewables such as wind and solar. The atmosphere has some absorptive capacity when it comes to emissions from CO2, SO2 and methane, so we aren’t talking about a planet-wide embargo on oil and coal, just providing a way to not be so dependent on dirty energy. Recently at the One Planet Summit in France on December 12th, the World Bank announced that they will stop funding oil and gas projects starting in 2019. “Trillions of dollars must be invested in clean energy technology to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.” [1] By investing and subsidizing clean energy developments, markets are formed and provide alternatives to conventional methods. By subsidizing this investment, the cost to the consumer of clean energy is cheaper, incentivizing cheaper energy can make people and large businesses make the crucial switch.  “A lack of money has long been a constraint to the global effort to limit global warming, worsened by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement and slash funding for climate projects.” [1] Lack of funding will hinder our ability to find the next breakthrough solution to the energy crisis we face. Only through invention, and the subsequent spreading of those ideas and inventions through global trade, and then fostering innovation of those inventions to perfect it further, can we drive society into the future. A lack of invention due to budget cuts of the green economy will impede progress. By adding new minds and thinkers through the creation of new markets, and fostering their development from early on, there is a greater chance of developing that new method for energy that can cure the problems we have. But to get there, we cannot start by cutting that funding and investment, and giving it to fossil fuel interests. “In its 2016 annual report, the World Bank Group said it had invested just over US$3 billion in “extractive industries”, which also include mining, in 2016 – three times as much as the year before.” [1] The World Bank provides financial loans for the development of capital programs, which will then foster economic activity in other countries. They also focus eliminating extreme poverty. [2] In addition to this, they are now starting to appeal to clean energy. Governments should follow in this example and invest in their own countries’ green economies. Through competition in these markets, better quality goods (in this case clean energy methods) and cheaper goods become widely available to consumers. Wide acceptance of these goods (in this case clean energy) causes a wide-scale reduction in emissions that help the poorest of the population get access to cheaper energy. A wide-scale reduction in emissions and getting the poor to have energy and electricity should be amongst the top concerns for a government. This is only possible by investing, subsidizing and incentivizing the economy.

Another recent development is with Tesla’s electric Semis. Walmart, PepsiCo, JB Hunt Transportation Services, Ryder System Inc., and DHL all have placed reservations on Tesla’s new vehicle releasing in 2019, even with the reservation price jumping from $5,000 to $20,000. The trucks cost $150,000 for a 300-mile range and costs $180,000 for 500-mile range. This trend follows a renewed effort by large corporations to cut their emissions along their supply lines by 2030. [3] “It has been shown that the average annual cost of operating a tractor trailer for one year is approximately $180,000 per year or $1.38 per mile, depending on the number of miles the truck drives in one year.” [4] The major driving cost in operating a typical tractor trailer with a combustion engine is the diesel fuel associated. Statistical data is not yet available as to the average annual cost of operating a Tesla electric Semi, but the numbers here are comparable. The price to just buy the Tesla Semi costs the same amount to own and operate a typical tractor trailer in widespread use today. In order to incentivize more than just the biggest corporations to switch to electric semis, the market needs to reduce the cost to the consumer. Small businesses use vehicles for a large amount of their operations, and these businesses will not be able to switch off of cheaper oil. In the long-term, the price will decrease due to new competitors entering the market and technological innovations that make the construction of these products become better and thereby reducing the inputs required. But that’s long term. And even then, small businesses might still use dirty semis because they are cheaper. The government needs to step in and subsidize the market, and further enhance green projects.

A study was done in China that studied the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and projected sales trend. “Penetrations of EV can lower health-impairing pollutants and greenhouse emissions, thereby providing sources of domestic employment and investment.” [5] It should be the goal of any governing body of a people to do an action that promotes the health and saves lives of those people. Promoting EV use and having them become prevalent in a society has the direct effect which has been proven by many studies, of saving lives. It also creates jobs and investment in the economy, another purpose of government. “Our results of EV sales show rising trend, corresponding with that in the U.S. and U.K. Yet the numerical result is bigger due to the large vehicle fleets that China already has.” [5] The data show that people are responding to this growing phenomena by actively buying EVs. If the consumer is reacting to EVs by buying them, it shows a growing market that should be invested in and expanded further while it grows. Now is the time to do so. “For policy makers, incentive strategies can be formulated based on the multivariate models, such as subsidies, tax adjustment, and employment encouragements.” [5] Incentivizing the economy is imperative in order to fully exploit the benefits of the market. Instead of subsidizing an overproduction of corn and wheat, the government can shift a portion of these subsidies towards the green economy in the form of tax breaks and active employment marketing. “Thus, improvements made to reduce full social lifetime cost is a direct incentive for the boost of EV market, including the size and lifetime of key components (i.e., batteries, electric motors), the cost of key materials (i.e., lithium, platinum and membrane) and the maintenance and repair requirements…usually, incentive policies include the subsidy-based and the tax-based policies. The former include purchase, charging as well as maintenance subsidies.” [5] If these EVs can provide users with a reduction in “full social lifetime cost[s]” then businesses and individuals will make that switch, and feel good doing it. Right now, the costs are very high, and the better-off portion of society only has access to these EVs. If the price drops, due to a change in government policy towards subsidizing the green economy (which would be in line with the Paris Climate Change Summit’s overall goal), then more of the common everyday commuters will go out and buy EVs.  “Enhancing the recharging infrastructure, and the availability of fast-charging points is another direct incentive. A potential buyer will not purchase an EV unless he/she is assured of having constantly-available charging places.” [5] With firms naturally profit maximizing, big oil companies will make the switch if the EV market is profitable enough. This will in turn prompt them to convert their gas stations into electric charging stations, or at least add on to their current gas stations an electric charging station. Making these available and synonymous with gas pump prevalence will encourage more EV buyers. “Other incentives include urban sprawl control and lane access that are specially designed for EV; free parking or electricity; exemption of emissions test; and better insurance products.” [5] Even developing houses far from the city centers will be encouraged, which creates the problem of promoting an agenda of inefficient dispersion, as oppose to efficient concentration (sprawl). Urban sprawl also creates more emission problems, and EV use can help reduce these effects and would be a less expensive way of doing so as oppose to moving houses. Insurance cuts to EV buyers can also lead to encouragement of EV use, with clients making an active switch in order to save money in the long run.

Climate change will not be solved without governments playing an active role. Delays in this process will only exacerbate the inevitable problems that will come. The data is there. Mobilizing the green economy, which is already showing powerful signs with a lack of government incentivizing; Imagine with the government backing it. The change will only hurt the lobbying interests of fossil fuels. According to the World Health Organization, “Ambient (outdoor air pollution) in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 3 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.” [6] We must meet this growing pandemic by nothing but impactful action and just policy making that meet the needs of the people, and help them make choices that better their situations.

 

Work Cited

 

[1] Agence France-Presse. “World Bank Will No Longer Finance Oil, Gas Projects from 2019.” South China Morning Post, 12 Dec. 2017, http://www.scmp.com/news/world/europe/article/2124040/world-bank-will-no-longer-finance-oil-gas-projects-2019-pressure.

 

[2] “World Bank Group – International Development, Poverty, & Sustainability.” World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/.

 

[3] Geuss , Megan. “Who’s Putting Money down for a Tesla Semi?” Ars Technica, 29 Nov. 2017, arstechnica.com/cars/2017/11/whos-putting-money-down-for-a-tesla-semi/.

 

[4] “The Real Cost of Operating a Truck.” Find a Trucking Job, http://www.findatruckingjob.com/trucking-info/trucking-articles/real-cost-operating-truck.

 

[5] Zhang Y, Zhong M, Geng N, Jiang Y (2017) Forecasting electric vehicles sales with univariate and multivariate time series models: The case of China. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176729. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176729

 

[6] “Ambient (Outdoor) Air Quality and Health.” Ambient (Outdoor) Air Quality and Health Fact Sheet, World Health Organization, Sept. 2016, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/.

 

“Climate Change: A Hot-Button Issue”

By Olivia Cobleigh

I want to start this blog with a story about my research of this topic that proves a prudent issue. The first article I read about climate change and the Earth’s heating specifically, was called “The Uninhabitable Earth.” Written by David Wallace-Wells who is not a scientist but a journalist who conducted this article by interviewing scientists and using their data so bear this in mind. Seeing that he himself was not a scientist I wanted to first research the authenticity of this article and what I found was many scientists “deemed the paper erroneous and misconstrued”. I read what these scientists had to say and what shocked me was how these scientists down played the severity that Wells was presenting. They stated that he was “too bleak!” In a world with rising seas and thousands of people dying from heat waves, for a fact. How can concern about this “be too bleak?” Not to mention it will only get worse as time goes on without intervention, so this shocked me and I think it is part of the detrimental “out of sight, out of mind” policy that a lot of people have with climate change.

Global warming, the driver of climate change, is exponential and on a scale that we can never properly measure. As temperatures continue to rise we will see more ice shelfs falling into the sea, more heat waves and this all will release more CO2 and possibly methane that will serve as a catalyst. And the even scarier part… we are seeing the effects of heating and climate change now from decades ago. This will catch up to us and humans still haven’t fully prepared, or even acknowledged that the warming of the Earth could (will) be our biggest problem.

stuck polar bear

What specifically should we be most afraid of right now, you might ask? The ice caps. As the Earth warms this doesn’t just melt the ice caps it makes huge shelfs of land ice break off into the ocean that immediately increase ocean levels. But what’s even worse, this permafrost is meant to stay permanently frozen, because trapped inside are enormous amounts of CO2 and methane. It is estimated there is one to two times the amount of CO2 in the permafrost that is currently in out atmosphere. So, imagine doubling the already devastating amount of pollution in the atmosphere in one fell swoop.

As we discussed in class, what do people do when it gets hot? They turn on their air conditioners. These air conditioners are part of an exacerbating cycle which is exactly what caused the heat wave in the first place. But it probably saved some lives because in the 2003 heat wave of France, 15,000 people died. It is this injudicious human behavior that is simply a catalyst to our possible catastrophe.

Economically, I don’t even have to tell you that rising temperature will cause ruin. For the cities and peoples who live near coasts or on islands, they will become climate refugees. This aid and relocation will be astronomically expensive. There is also the question of where will they go? Will neighboring countries let them in? Will America or the UN have to redistribute people? I think we are just hoping this doesn’t happen and if we ignore it, it will go away but this is already happening.

For the currently cold places like Russia, the Northern United States and Canada, they will see some positives, so at least it’s not all doom and gloom, if you can forget about the rest of the world. These areas will develop longer growing seasons mainly. With the ice melting, Canada and Russia will have more accessible land and more access to channels in the ocean.

A hotter Earth will exacerbate every climate issue we currently face, from worsening allergies and asthma to more smog and to stronger natural storms like hurricanes. The costs of rebuilding after super hurricanes alone, is immense, not to mention they decrease GDP. Another economic yet moral issue we see especially in America is that the poor, or the people who are least able to help themselves are left to bear the brunt of things, like in the case of hurricanes and air and water pollution.

“Since 1980, the planet has experienced a 50-fold increase in the number of places experiencing dangerous or extreme heat” (Wallace-Wells). As temperature continue to rise at exponential rates this is problematic and lethal for equatorial countries especially. In the summers, with 90%+ humidity and temperature about 100 degrees it would be dangerous just to go outside. Not only will the people have to stay indoors but for countries like Costa Rica and El Salvador where their livelihood depends on agriculture and outdoor tourism, this will be impossible.

To conclude, this is just scratching the surface of all the issues we as a species will face due to rising global temperatures. I think if we take away anything from this is that we literally need to change drastically right now, or we have to fund Elon Musk more. It is our choice, and it goes against our nature, and anthropocentric views for most people, but we have already entered a war with climate change.

Works Cited

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Global Warming Effects on the Economy.” Thebalance.com, November 13, 2017. https://www.thebalance.com/effects-of-global-warming-on-the-economy-3305692

Bamat, Joseph. “France takes steps to avoid repeat of deadly 2003 heat wave.” France24.com, July 1, 2015. http://www.france24.com/en/20150701-france-paris-heat-wave-alert-deadly-2003-summer-guidelines

Lawson, Ashley. “It’s certain: The Earth is getting warmer, and human activity is largely to blame.” C2es.org, March 10, 2017. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. https://www.c2es.org/2017/03/its-certain-the-earth-is-getting-warmer-and-human-activity-is-largely-to-blame/

Mooney, Chris. “Scientists challenge magazine story about ‘uninhabitable Earth’.” Washingtonpost.com, July 12, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/07/12/scientists-challenge-magazine-story-about-uninhabitable-earth/?utm_term=.a5f1e9c00efc

Wallace-Wells, David. “The Uninhabitable Earth.” Nymag.com, July 9, 2017. New York Media LLC. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

Reducing energy consumption By: Eduardo Salomon

Science and technology are developing faster and faster and helping us, humans, save and protect our world from more environmental problems we are causing. We have different research teams around the world coming up with innovative technologies and methods to make life on earth more sustainable. We have new things like producing energy from urine to products like the Coffee Joulies (“thermodynamic stones that capture excess heat and then slowly disseminate heat back”)[2]that help us save energy, but the real change has to come from within us, the human race.

 

It is really difficult to convince people to lower their energy consumption levels. Most of us do not know how much energy we are consuming in our day to day activities, also we do not specifically know what amount of energy each of our appliances use. Many different methods have been tested to make people more conscious about their energy consumption levels; but in my opinion, the best way to implement this change in someone is if the change comes from within them. The change has to come from within oneself for it to be a real and strong one.

 

To have an effective reduction of energy consumption levels over time the change has to be steady or incremental as time passes. For this to happen our subject has to compromise and start, passively and almost automatically, to change their behavior towards energy misuse. Having stated this, the change has to first be a psychological one so it then becomes a behavior one.

 

In the University of Kent, located at Canterbury (UK), a programmed called Integrated Persuasive Technology and Energy Delegate (IPTED) was implemented. This initiative consisted of a set of software and hardware introduced in sixteen different students’ residence houses (with 112 students each) with the purpose of reducing their energy consumption and CO2 emissions. A real-time system that measured the consumption of energy of the students was applied to the dorms, then energy saving delegates were appointed in eight of the residential houses and for the other eight residential homes, the students got weekly emails showing the energy consumption of the building. [1]

 

The study showed that in the eight residential halls where both the real-time feedback and the delegates were appointed the energy consumption went down by 37%, saving 1360.49kWh and 713.71kg of CO2. In the other hand, in the eight residence halls were only the real-time feedback and weekly emails were implemented the energy consumption only went down by 3.5%, saving 165kWh and 86.56kg of CO2. These results show us how important the human factor is in this equation: when we had the energy delegates we see how the savings were more than ten times of those were we did not have them. Peer social pressure can be key when promoting energy saving. [1]

 

Reducing energy consumption not only has a positive environmental effect but decreasing the energy consumption levels in a building also help with cost reduction; the less energy is consumed the less energy one has to pay. There are different ways to reduce the energy consumption, one way is by switching from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs. This change can help reduce energy consumption up to 75%. Turning off electronic appliances when not in use or simply by changing to more energy efficient devices can also reduce the consumption by a significant amount. Reducing the energy use levels is not a hard task and by everyone helping a little we can make a huge impact on our planet.

 

Environmental practices are gaining ground in people’s priorities, but there is still a long way to go. In my opinion, more social programs like this are the ones that have a positive and long-lasting effect on people. Changing people to become more environmental one by one can cause a great effect as a whole. Having people realize that we have to take better care of our environment is key for the human species to survive. The next step to achieve for environmentalist should be to spread the word and educate all the population on environmental issues and the importance of preserving our planet, both for the present and the future.

 

  • Emeakaroha, A., Ang, C., & Yan, Y. (2012). Challenges in Improving Energy Efficiency in a University Campus Through the Application of Persuasive Technology and Smart Sensors. Challenges,3(2). doi:10.3390/challe3020290
  • Freeman, K. (2012, February 15). 4 Unique Ways to Generate Renewable Energy. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from http://mashable.com/2012/02/15/renewable-energy-methods/#0XdqsOKrUEqO

 

 

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Can Pace “Go Clean”?

Lauren Costa

Sustainability can be defined as responsible use of resource over an indefinite period of time. Responsible resource use has become increasingly more important as human population continues to grow and consume natural resources at an unprecedented rate. James Griffin states “In industrialized economies, clean energy becomes increasingly important as a policy goal as incomes rise and standards become more exacting, and it will probably always be so as those standards remain perpetually out of reach. Indeed, today there is no perfectly clean technology free of some negative attribute”. Witht that being said the overarching challenge is to make that transition at minimum cost and without economic disruption. Energy saving technologies will play a pivotal role. Energy efficiency is a fundamental step to reducing our impact on climate change and creating a sustainable energy future.

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As a world, country, and community, the use of natural resources as a source for energy is becoming overused and destructive. It is time to put renewable resources to use within the community in hopes for a widespread result. Some renewable resources require a specific environment for the most efficiency. New and modern innovations have come into the renewable energy source spectrum that could be a beneficial component of environmental sustainability. A technology known as the Pavegen, uses the power of footsteps. It is a piezoelectric tile made completely of recycled material, that when force is placed down upon will generate a usable energy. Pavegen as a company stands for clean energy through changing human behavior. From climate change to rapidly expanding cities, we face complex environmental and social challenges. Pavegen enables people to directly engage with clean energy, to increase their understanding of sustainability issues, and to connect purposefully with brands. The new, creative technically is a multifunctional custom flooring system. As people step on the tiles, their weight causes electromagnetic induction generators to vertically displace, which results in a rotatory motion that generates off-grid electricity.

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The use of the Pavegen has a deeper future impact. It has not only the power to generate electricity, but also influences community togetherness. In a case study performed at Simon Langton School, in which an energy walk way was implemented, the students and faculty felt a personal contribution to the renewable energy system. This case study also coincides with a survey done that resulted in 79% of people admitting they would go out of their way to generate clean and efficient power. The Pavegen system adds to the community and allows individuals to feel as though they are making a real difference. Yes, the Pavegen system will help achieve environmental sustainability, but it will also create a community bond that will really change the meaning behind “go clean.”

Could pace “go clean” and install a Pavegen walk way on campus?

The engagement of students is what will make or break the success of the Pavegen on campus. Without footsteps, the energy will not be generated and collected for use. It is necessary that once the word of the system is out, that students will continually make their way across the Pavegen tile daily. If the students understand that each of their footsteps makes a significant difference, it is assumed they will go out of their way to generate clean energy. Students will benefit from the project by generating clean and efficient energy for their school’s campus, while engaging in fitness simultaneously. With the help from students on campus, we could make flyers and have some sort of ceremony to bring attention to the Pavegen system. This project will truly only be successful, if the Pace community is able to unify and work together to generate energy.

 

Citation:

Buy Clean Energy 2017, buycleanenergy.org/why

Griffin, James M. “Climate Change and the Search for Clean Energy.” A Smart Energy Policy: An Economist’s Rx for Balancing Cheap, Clean, and Secure Energy, Yale University Press, New Haven; London, 2009, pp. 103–122. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1nq062.8

McLean, Peter. “Introduction: The Need for Sustainability.” The American Biology Teacher, vol. 71, no. 5, 2009, pp. 267–268. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27669428

“Pavegen – What We Do.” Pavegen – The Next Step, http://www.pavegen.com/what-we-do/.
SACHS, JEFFREY D. “The Road to Clean Energy Starts Here.” Scientific American, vol. 296, no. 5, 2007, pp. 39–39. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/26069265.

The Failures of Our Food System

By: Christina Thomas

Food is an integral part of our lives. As families, we sit around the table to share a meal. In between classes and meetings we run to grab a quick slice of pizza or a sandwich if we can find the time. First dates are usually centered around a meal together. Even the holidays become a great excuse to eat our fill and then some while catching up with friends and family.

But our obsession with food goes beyond just basic survival. It has become a social occasion and something to look forward too.

But where does our food come from? Of course farming helps get groceries on the shelves and, eventually, our tables. However, the United States no longer gets a majority of its food from small family farms. Instead, because of our increased demand for food, especially meat, dairy, and poultry, we, as a society, have reverted to Concentrated Animal Feeding Grounds (CAFOs), more commonly known as factory farms.

An example of a concentrated animal feeding ground.

While this term may seem overused and more of an abstract idea as opposed to an actual place, the truth is that the animals that are raised in these factory farms for slaughter face horrible conditions and abuse on a daily basis. Most of these animals are fed a mixture of corn, grain, and rejected animal parts from fellow slaughterhouse animals that either died prematurely, were not large enough to package once slaughtered, or are just not demanded by the general public, such as cattle blood and poultry litter (Pluhar, 2010, p. 457). Calves raised for veal are kept in small cages where there isn’t even enough room for them to lay down with their legs outstretched or turn around (Pearce, 2011, p. 442). Cows frequently spend their lives standing in their own excrement and have their horns cut off without anesthesia to avoid them injuring other animals who live in such tight quarters. Pigs get their tails docked, chickens and other birds get their beaks cut off to avoid them pecking at themselves and others as the conditions slowly turn them crazed (Pearce, 2011, p. 442), and the list goes on. Countless well-known documentaries, such as Earthlings, Food Inc., Cowspiracy, among others have shown these conditions through undercover work and watching anyone of them can make one’s stomach turn. Despite this, our public policies are still incredibly lax in regards to how these farms are regulated and rarely do you hear public outcry to change such conditions or even phase away from factory farming altogether by means of public policy, as Europe is currently doing (Pluhar, 2010, p. 462).

So why is this?

While culture influences our ever-increasing demand for meat and meat products, economic drivers have continued to influence factory farming. Due to such a large supply of meat that has been fed with cheap grain and crammed into a small space, prices remain low for consumers relative to disposable income (Pearce, 2011, pp. 438-439). In other words, “more animals means greater economies of scale and lower cost per unit” (Pearce, 2011, p. 438).

A cattle farm.

However, the biggest problem with this is that the factory farming industry does not take into account externalities such as the negative effects to the environment, contributions to climate change, and the negative effects to human health.

When it comes to environmental consequences, agricultural run-off from these farms remains a huge issue, especially in terms of animal waste. This proved to be a huge issue in North Carolina in 2016 after Hurricane Matthew flooded many hog and poultry farms (Hernandez, Fritz, & Mooney, 2016). As the flood waters receded, it carried with it tons of waste and dead animal carcasses back to the ocean, seeping into groundwater the entire time. But hurricanes are not the only way waste can get into the water supply. Just simple day-to-day activities, improper disposal, and lack of monitoring can lead to waste running off into the local rivers and water supply, causing illnesses such as E. Coli and Salmonella poisoning. To top it off, factory farming requires large patches of land, which can be traced back to our current land-use changes within the United States and the inefficiencies this causes (Bartling, 2012, p. 28). In addition, it is not news to anyone well-versed in climate change science that methane gas, which is released by cows when they flatuate, is a huge problem and can even pose a bigger challenge than carbon dioxide.

Perhaps the most compelling argument against factory farming from an anthropocentric point of view is how bad factory farmed animals are for our health. Recall above that I mentioned many of these animals are fed a questionable concoction of grain, corn, and animal byproducts. The biggest issue here is that whatever these animals eat, we wind up eating further down the food chain. Little research has been done to show how this may affect human health directly but recent correlations have shown that many infectious diseases that can spread to human populations develop more readily in factory farms than anywhere else (Pearce, 2011, p. 452). Matters are also not helped by the fact that increased use of antibiotics in animals, which are used to minimize spread of disease as well as help these animals grow larger, has lead to many strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses, thus compounding the ability for sickness to get spread among these animals while being packed in such close quarters.

A milking parlor on a modern farm.

Currently, as a society, we are rather limited when it comes to “solutions” to factory farming. Several ideas that have been proposed include becoming vegetarian or vegan or simply cutting back on how much meat we consume daily, closing factory farms and reverting to old-style small, family farms that follow organic practices, and in-vitro meat, where cells of one animal can be grown in a laboratory setting into a single slab of meat, such as the muscle of a pig being grown into a single slab of bologna (Pluhar, 2010, p. 463). However, the truth is that our demand for meat and meat products is not going to dwindle anytime soon and the draw for people to become farmers is just not there anymore. To top it off, technology to develop in-vitro meat have not been advanced enough to the point that we can satisfy the world’s meat demand cheaply. However, as Prince Charles of Wales stated, “farms have been reduced to little more than factories and must be brought into greater harmony with the planet” (Starkey, 2017). While we will not stop our meat consumption anytime soon, we must find away to bring meat farming into greater harmony with nature if not just for the well-being us but also for the environment and the animals who are subjected to the cruelty of factory farming and I believe we can start by pricing this food while taking into consideration the externalities that it causes.

References

Bartling, H. (2012). A chicken ain’t nothin’ but a bird: Local food production and the politics of land-use change. Local Environment, 17(1), 23-34. Retrieved from http://rlib.pace.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=70354350&site=eds-live&scope=site

Hernandez, A. R., Fritz, A., & Mooney, C. (2016, October 16). Factory farming practices are under scrutiny again in N.C. after disastrous hurricane floods. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A466739970/AONE?u=nysl_me_pace&sid=AONE&xid=3437f7c9

Pearce, J. I. (2011). A brave new jungle: Factory farming and advocacy in the twenty-first century. Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum, 21(2), 433-467. Retrieved from Academic OneFile database. (edsgcl.280092018)

Pluhar, E. B. (2010). Meat and morality: Alternatives to factory farming. Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics, 23(5), 455-468. Retrieved from Academic OneFile database. (edsgcl.236244471)

Starkey, J. (2017, July 11). Factory farming puts humanity in danger, Charles warns. The Times, p. 10. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A498226331/AONE?u=nysl_me_pace&sid=AONE&xid=0132ceee