Climate change and the 75% problem

Originally Published on GatesNotes.com on October 17, 2018 By Bill Gates

Climate change and the 75 problem_11

Quick: Think of some inventions that help fight climate change.

What came to mind first? I bet you thought of solar panels and wind turbines. In my experience, that’s what people point to when they think about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

They’re not wrong. Renewables are getting cheaper and many countries are committing to rely more on them and less on fossil fuels for their electricity needs. That’s good news, at least in places that get a lot of sunlight or wind. Everyone who cares about climate change should hope we continue to de-carbonize the way we generate electricity.

I wish that were enough to solve the problem. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Making electricity is responsible for only 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions each year. So even if we could generate all the electricity we need without emitting a single molecule of greenhouse gases (which we’re a long way from doing), we would cut total emissions by just a quarter.

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy within 50 years—and as the IPCC recently found, we need to be on a path to doing it in the next 10 years. That means dealing with electricity, and the other 75% too.

Where do greenhouse gas emissions come from? I like to break it down into five main categories—what I call the grand challenges in stopping climate change:

  • Electricity (25%). Although there’s been progress in the renewable energy market, we still need more breakthroughs. For example, wind and solar need zero-carbon backup sources for windless days, long periods of cloudy weather, and nighttime. We also need to make the electric grid a lot more efficient so clean energy can be delivered where it’s needed, when it’s needed.
  • Agriculture (24%). Cattle are a huge source of methane; in fact, if they were a country, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases! In addition, deforestation—clearing land for crops, for instance—removes trees that pull CO2 out of the air, and when the trees are burned, they release all their carbon back into the atmosphere.

Climate change and the 75 problem_12

  • Manufacturing (21%). Look at the plastic, steel, and cement around you. All of it contributed to climate change. Making cement and steel requires lots of energy from fossil fuels, and it involves chemical reactions that release carbon as a byproduct. So even if we could make all the stuff we need with zero-carbon energy, we’d still need to deal with the byproducts.
  • Transportation (14%). Low-emission cars are great, but cars account for a little less than half of transportation-related emissions today—and that share will shrink in the future. More emissions come from airplanes, cargo ships, and trucks. Right now we don’t have practical zero-carbon options for any of these.
  • Buildings (6%). Do you live or work in a place with air conditioning? The refrigerant inside your AC unit is a greenhouse gas. In addition, it takes a lot of energy to run air conditioners, heaters, lights, and other appliances. Things like more-efficient windows and insulation would help. This area will be more important over the next few decades as the global population moves to cities. The world’s building stock will double in area by 2060. That’s like adding another New York City every month for 40 years.

(The final 10% is a sixth, miscellaneous category that includes things like the energy it takes to extract oil and gas.)

I think these grand challenges are a helpful way to think about climate change. They show how energy isn’t just what runs your house and your car. It’s core to nearly every part of your life: the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the home you live in, the products you use. To stop the planet from getting substantially warmer, we need breakthroughs in how we make things, grow food, and move people and goods—not just how we power our homes and cars.

These challenges are only getting more urgent. The world’s middle class has been growing at an unprecedented rate, and as you move up the income ladder, your carbon footprint expands. Instead of walking everywhere, you can afford a bicycle (which doesn’t use gas but is likely made with energy-intensive metal and gets to you via cargo ships and trucks that run on fossil fuels). Eventually you get a motorbike so you can travel farther from home to work a better job and afford to send your kids to school. Your family eats more eggs, meat, and dairy, so they get better nutrition. You’re in the market for a refrigerator, electric lights so your kids can study at night, and a sturdy home built with metal and concrete.

All of that new consumption translates into tangible improvements in people’s lives. It is good for the world overall—but it will be very bad for the climate, unless we find ways to do it without adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

This is undoubtedly a tough problem. It is not obvious what the big breakthroughs will look like. Most likely we will need several solutions to each challenge. That is why we need to invest in lots of research and development, across all five areas, now.

Fortunately, governments and the private sector are stepping up. Since the 2015 launch of Mission Innovation—two dozen governments that committed to doubling their spending on clean-energy R&D—the amount of funding available has gone up by more than $3 billion a year.

Personally, I’m part of a group of investors in a private fund called Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), which is putting more than $1 billion into helping promising companies take great ideas from the lab to market at scale. We’re using the five grand challenges I mentioned above as the framework for our investments. Every idea we’re supporting is designed to solve one of them—and our mission is about to get a big boost from a new partnership in Europe.

We’re still working out the details, but here’s what I can tell you today: I’ll be in Brussels this week to sign an agreement between Breakthrough Energy and the European Commission. Our goal is to create a joint investment vehicle called Breakthrough Energy Europe, which will serve as a pilot fund investing in European companies working on the grand challenges. The partners will commit €100 million, half from the European Commission and half from BEV.

But this isn’t only about funding. We’re creating a new way of putting that money to work.

Because energy research can take years—even decades—to come to fruition, companies need patient investors who are willing to work with them over the long term. Governments could in theory provide that kind of investing, but in reality, they aren’t great at identifying promising companies and staying nimble to help those companies grow.

That’s where this partnership can shine. It allows the European Commission, which is funding cutting-edge research and development, to partner with investors who know how to build companies well. Because the fund will be privately managed, it can avoid some of the bureaucracy that slows things down and makes it hard to support new companies. We’ll have the resources to make a meaningful difference, and the flexibility to move quickly. That’s a rare combination.

I hope this partnership is just the beginning. We need many more like this one around the world.

Over the next year, I will be writing a series of TGN posts about each of the five challenges, focusing on some of the promising solutions I’m learning about. (In the meantime, I’ve posted a short, fun quiz about energy and climate. See if you can beat my score.) I’m inspired by the ingenious inventors who are tackling climate change and all the partners who are supporting their work. I can’t wait to share their progress with you.

WHAT IS CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Originally Published on climeworks.com 

WHAT IS CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
Climate change is driven by human activities such as burning fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the air, causing global warming.

The 2016 Paris Agreement aims to keep the increase in the global average temperature to “well below” 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, in order to significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change on the planet.

Although significant strides have been made in renewable energy and energy efficiency, these are not enough to meet the critical 2 °C target. Additional CO2 removal from the atmosphere will be required.

Climate change mitigation therefore urgently needs carbon removal technologies. Eighty seven per cent of all IPCC climate scenarios make it clear that negative emissions are absolutely necessary in order to keep global warming below 2 °C.

Importantly CO2 removal is not only needed to enable negative emissions but also to achieve zero CO2 emissions globally. Sectors such as shipping and aviation do not yet have viable alternatives to fossil fuels. Traditional mitigation measures such as renewable energies can – even in the optimum scenario – only reduce CO2 by around 80 per cent. The rest must come from removing carbon from the air.

Climeworks has developed the first commercial carbon removal technology on the market today, allowing us to physically remove any organisation’s or individual’s past, present and future CO2 emissions.

WHAT IS CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT_3_2

Are there any alternative approaches to carbon dioxide removal?
Carbon dioxide removal, also known as negative emissions technologies, covers a number of technologies which reduce the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

WHAT IS CARBON DIOXIDE REMOVAL AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT_2

These include:

  • Bioenergy in combinations with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
    Afforestation: large-scale tree plantations to increase carbon storage in biomass and soil
  • Enhanced weathering: distribution of crushed silicate rocks on soil surfaces to absorb and bind CO2 chemically
  • Direct air capture of CO2 from ambient air through engineered chemical reactions

Our direct air capture approach has several advantages over other carbon removal technologies: it does not require water or depend on arable land; has a small physical footprint; and is scalable.

Save Old Rocky

Mother Earth needs your help. In Vacaville,CA they are trying to build a tower on a pristine piece of Mountain and it’s Illegal. Help the Citizens of Vacaville stop this illegal action by the City of Vacaville. They did not properly vet it. Join

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Controversy heats up over removal of Lower Snake River dams as orcas suffer losses

Originally Published on seattletimes.com on September 22, 2018 By Lynda V. Mapes

Orca survival may be impossible without Lower Snake River dam removal, scientists say
The Ice Harbor dam on the Snake River is seen near Pasco. (Bob Brawday /The Tri-City Herald, 2013)

The Ice Harbor dam on the Snake River is seen near Pasco. (Bob Brawday /The Tri-City Herald, 2013)

Southern resident orcas that frequent Puget Sound may not survive without breaching the Lower Snake River dams to help the salmon the orcas live on, scientists say.

Leading killer-whale scientists and researchers are calling for removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River and a boost of water over the dams to save southern resident killer whales from extinction.

The scientists sent a letter Monday to Gov. Jay Inslee and co-chairs of a governor’s task force on orca recovery.

The whales need chinook — their primary prey — year round, scientists state in their letter, and the spring chinook runs in particular returning to the Columbia and Snake are among the most important. That is because of the size, fat content and timing of those fish, making them critical for the whales to carry them over from the lean months of winter to the summer runs in the Fraser River, the scientists wrote.
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The need for Columbia and Snake river fish is so acute, “we believe that restoration measures in this watershed are an essential piece of a larger orca conservation strategy. Indeed, we believe that southern resident orca survival and recovery may be impossible to achieve without it.”

Based on the science and the urgency of the current threats confronting the southern residents, the scientists recommended two top priorities for the task force in its recommendations for orca recovery: Immediately initiate processes to increase the spill of water over the dams on the Columbia and Snake, to create more natural river conditions, and to breach the Lower Snake River dams.

The letter comes as the death of three southern resident orcas in four months last summer, one from L pod and two in J pod, have added fuel to the long running-campaign to free the Snake.

Lower Snake River dam removal has been debated in the region for decades as a way to boost salmon runs. Three federal judges in a row in five rulings since 1994 also have called for an overhaul of hydropower operations by federal agencies at eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers to boost salmon survival, including a serious look at dam removal. The latest court review now underway will not be concluded until 2021.

However, the scientists called for urgent action now because the orcas are continuing to decline and need food. “Orca need more chinook salmon available on a year-round basis as quickly as possible,” the scientists wrote.

As orca advocates joined forces with dam busters, BPA has pushed back. In a recent press briefing, BPA managers said the Columbia and Snake produce only some of the fish the orcas use, and that the four Lower Snake River dams are important to the region.

The whales depend on chinook from rivers all over Puget Sound as well as the from the Fraser, Columbia and Snake rivers, a recent listing of fish runs important to the whales shows.

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The first 15 salmon stocks on the priority list include fall, spring and summer Chinook salmon runs in rivers spanning from British Columbia to California, including the Fraser, Columbia, Snake and Sacramento rivers, as well as several rivers in Puget Sound watersheds.

Columbia and Snake rivers were once the biggest chinook producers in the world, but recovery efforts have been a long struggle.

Hatchery chinook recently have been surging, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows. Yet even good returns are a fraction of historic numbers. Wild runs have remained far below the level of adult returns required for recovery — let alone to prevent extinction.

Signing the letter were Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, and Deborah Giles, who is resident scientist at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs and the science and research director for the nonprofit Wild Orca.

Their research shows a steady increase in mortality and orca pregnancy failure due to lack of adequate food. Today the orca population among the southern residents stands at just 74 individual whales — a 35-year low.

As early chinook runs have declined on the Fraser, Columbia River fish runs have become even more important, Wasser said. “If they didn’t have that Columbia River infusion, they would really be cooked. … The Columbia replenishes you, and sustains you until the Fraser peaks. I don’t think unless you have those Columbia runs you can save these whales.”

Also signing the letter was David Bain, chief scientist for the nonprofit Orca Conservancy, and Katherine Ayers and other scientists whose work has documented that vessel noise disrupts orca feeding. That disruption, as well as toxins in the food chain, are more harmful to orcas when they do not have enough food, because the orcas when hungry metabolize the toxins stored in their fat.

The letter comes as the governor’s task force on orca recovery is set to convene one of its last meetings before making its recommendations to Gov. Jay Inslee, due Nov. 16.

The meetings are scheduled for all day Wednesday and Thursday at the Tacoma Landmark Convention Center at 47 St. Helens Ave., in the Plaza Grand Ballroom.

The agenda includes three hours scheduled for public testimony between 5 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday. A summary of public comments shows a bigger consensus for Lower Snake River Dam removal than for any other action considered for orca recovery.
Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2515 or lmapes@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @LyndaVMapes. Lynda specializes in coverage of the environment, natural history, and Native American tribes.

Cohousing Makes You Happier

Originally Published on www.ic.org on August 20, 2018 By Christopher Kindig

Cohousing Makes You Happier_1

Loneliness kills. This is what new evidence suggests from a range of reputable institutions and studies, to bolster that likely feeling in your gut about this.

To clarify, loneliness is not just being isolated. Isolation is a public health epidemic. You may spend professional and personal time around other people, but just how connected to them are you really? How well do people really know you — enough to know how well you are truly doing, what your hopes and fears are, and how they can support you on your journey or brighten up your day?

Grace Kim explains how Cohousing, which originated in Denmark decades ago, has helped to close the gap between people where they live, encouraging more interaction, friendships, support, and, well, happiness!

It all revolves around a central courtyard, where people’s kitchen windows are faced, and members of the communities and their children are regularly gathering, playing, and celebrating. There are also double doors in the courtyard leading into the “secret sauce of cohousing” — the Common House.

The Common House is a shared space with a large dining room and kitchen that can accommodate all 28 people living in 9 apartments, plus their guests, on regular meals they share 3 times a week. Meal preparation rotates so the average adult prepares a meal only once every other month. It is an intentional way for neighbors to gather, to become closer, to laugh, and to stave off that pesky loneliness.

Of course everything is not “rainbows and unicorns” in cohousing, but it is a model that brings people closer together, gets them to relate more regularly, and incentivizes them to solve problems together.

The cohousing community featured in this video is Capital Hill Cohousing, located in Seattle, Washington.

You can read more about it from Grace Kim in Communities Magazine issue #177: Urban Communities.

For more education and stories on this topic, check out Cohousing in the Communities Bookstore.

To find places like this around the world, see the Cohousing Communities in the Communities Directory.

The Army Base Yoga Studio That’s Healing Wounded Warriors

Originally Published on Yahoo.com on October 11, 2018 By Reader’s Digest Editors

The Army Base Yoga Studio That’s Healing Wounded Warriors_1

Editor’s Note: Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, Texas, was selected as one of Reader’s Digest’s Nicest Places in America. Meet the winner, find out how the finalists were selected, and hear from our chief judge, Robin Roberts.

Army Lieutenant General Paul E. Funk II is no stranger to stress. He’s been deployed five times, leading soldiers in combat in Operation Desert Shield and more recent efforts in Iraq and Syria.

But these days, when General Funk II needs to work out his stress, he’s more likely to stand in warrior pose than to drop and give you 20. In 2011, the U.S. Army completed the biggest update to its physical fitness program in over 30 years and, for the first time ever, yoga is now part of the routine.

Known for their toughness and macho swagger, soldiers have been slow to replace “Yes, Sir!” and “Hooah!” with “om” and “Namaste.” But a movement that aims to change that is gaining momentum in Killeen, Texas, home to Fort Hood, the largest military base in the country. Its goal is to help service-members build physical and mental strength, even when they are battling wounds, both seen and unseen. And it’s starting at the top.

After his fifth tour, Funk returned home to take the helm at Fort Hood. He was born there, when his father, Paul Funk Sr., was commander-in-chief. He met his wife, Beth, there and they got married at the chapel on base.

“I’ve found yoga to be relaxing, but it also gives me an opportunity to think and put life in a balanced perspective,” Gen. Funk II told Reader’s Digest. “It’s a good practice for soldiers and families for that reason: It gives us time to slow down and get in tune with our environments while also building strength and endurance.”

Lucky for Gen. Funk II, he doesn’t have to go far to find his center. Life Moves Yoga, a studio owned and operated by his wife Beth Funk, is right across the street from the fort. She opened the studio in 2017 with a goal of helping wounded warriors regain mobility as well as peace of mind. In addition to offering various kinds of yoga to the soldiers and general public, Life Moves also holds a free class on Wednesdays called “Warriors at Ease,” which caters to soldiers who have suffered physical and mental trauma. Until recently, the class was paid for by a grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation; when the grant dried up, Life Moves kept the classes going for free and has since trained more teachers in this special kind of yoga who give classes on the base itself.

“We had to continue it because it’s that powerful for the community,” said Beth Funk.

Caity Underwood, 31, is a student. She served for seven years but had to leave the Army because of medical problems that severely limited her mobility.

“By the time I got out, I couldn’t do a pushup because I couldn’t put pressure on certain joints,” she told Reader’s Digest. After just a few months at Life Moves, she can do many. Underwood goes every Wednesday.

“Wednesday is my favorite day,” she said. “It puts me in a better mood just by knowing I have that outlet.”

Another student is Lieutenant General Paul Funk, Sr., 78, a Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran who, in addition to being the former commanding officer of Fort Hood, is the commanding officer of the Funk family.

“The whole notion of mind, body, spirit is something that can be valuable to anybody and in particular those who have had setbacks, like being wounded in war,” he told Reader’s Digest.

Before you assume the whole base has swapped doing 100 pushups a day for warrior poses, Gen. Funk, Sr. admits that getting soldiers excited about a slower-paced workout has been a challenge. But the Army likes challenges.

“If ordered, I can promise you that all the members will try it,” he said. “But you can’t just order this and expect it to produce results.”

One enterprising non-commissioned officer at Fort Hood, who spoke with us on the condition of anonymity, has done just that. When asked to come up with a new physical training program for her crew, she suggested a yoga day.

“When I told my crew that we’re having a private class, they said, ‘I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,’” she said. “But they didn’t have a choice because they had to come with me.”

Given that this is no ordinary yoga class, it won’t be long until they too see what makes it so special. And once they’re ready to try it again, Life Moves Yoga will be there.