Friday, January 16, 2015

Casablanca - We'll always have Paris

News has hit the wire that the planet is rapidly becoming hotter than ever, and the destruction of our ecosystem, water supplies and food continue unabated. My astonishment at the lack of response or concern by the international leadership is also laced with grief. The chart above (Time history of atmospheric CO2) shows the definitive science research on the atmospheric carbon that our post-industrial civilization as punched into the atmosphere, creating unprecedented rapid heating in the atmosphere and the oceans.

Welcome to the anthropocene. Could be a short epoch.

A rational response to the predicament that we're creating for ourselves, coming from some industry groups, is encouraging. The rapid ramping down of fossil fuel use, as well as a severe reduction in our human impact over the next few decades is the only thing that might get us out of this jam; a WW II style global mobilization. A couple of examples of these include:

Does 2015 mark the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era? It seems to be the earliest indications of a remarkable progression in the necessary rapid reduction in fossil fuel use, as Architecture 2030 lays out in its notations of remarkable changes.

The Rocky Mountain Institute in partnership with the Carbon War Room summarizes the Top 10 Clean Energy Developments of 2014. It notes some significant changes in the approach to energy development over the last few years, providing a means of alternative investment in renewable and non-carbon fuels.

Aside from that, we shall have to see if Casablanca really does happen in Paris.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Music for Generational Change

The music produced on a violin has, for centuries, been expressed through classical composition and techniques.The long history of music since the violin was invented in the early 16th century in Italy reveals how a variety of musical interpretations have evolved on this instrument. It continues with modern compositions today.

Instruments of approximately 300 years of age, especially those made in Italy by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù, are the most sought after instruments (for both collectors and performers). The Ave Maria (Bach - Gounod) clip above is performed on the ex-Napoleon/Molitor Stradivari Violin.

There has been an effort, examined on this website from a French violin maker, to illustrate the charted climate variations during the last 600 years with a violin. The composition expresses the graphics of the rising global temperatures in an intuitive movement showing this progression using an electric violin. It's a direct evocation of the changes experienced on this planet through the sonic rendition of the historic temperature cycles.

The expression of harmonic scales and integral ratios of the octaves underlie a deeper understanding of the structure of music that explores the fundamental behavior of all other materials and living things and their relationship with the interconnecting energies of the physical world. It's the sonic mathematical equivalent of quantum physics and the geometry of shape, size, relative position of figures and the properties of space, just as colors are a song in light, seen across the spectrum as a rainbow.

It's all harmonics.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Sixth Year - The Rains Came

A dent in our drought, thanks to the Pineapple Express that developed suddenly in December, has appeared, and our gardens and hills are beginning to revive in the rain. The high-pressure ridge over California that prevented the storms from coming in has apparently dissipated.

"We've had a few weather systems come through," said Leslie Wanek, a meteorologist in Salt Lake City at the regional headquarters of the National Weather Service. "But it just keeps rebuilding there. It's kind of a mystery about why. Why is the global atmospheric pattern stuck like this?"

This resilient ridge has actually altered the geography in California, and has displayed some unusual warming in the local weather, based upon computer simulations.

Using these climate model simulations, we found that the human emission of greenhouse gases has very likely tripled the likelihood of experiencing large-scale atmospheric conditions similar to those observed in 2013.

This rainy season is just a small dent in this long-term drought, and we need a lot of rain to recover. Groundwater reserves throughout the state are drastically depleted and need years of good rain to recover.

The climate change that has heated up the atmosphere apparently contributed to the lessening precipitation all across the globe, it's not an isolated phenomenon. That, along with the increased human consumption and pollution of rivers and waterways, is a recipie for stressed landscapes and scarce water. While our public policies around the world have moved towards "resilient design" to cope with this new climate, it's imperative that we rapidly take the steps necessary to reduce emissions to zero before climate change becomes irreversible.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Foreshadowing

This Advent season, we will have the gathering of world representatives for COP 20 in Lima, Peru in order to forge a consensus on the framework for a global climate agreement to be finalized in December 2015. Last September there was a preliminary UN conversation in Washington, D.C. along with several parallel conferences and the People's Climate March taking place worldwide. One notable presentation for the Club of Rome was a presentation by David Wasdell, the Director of the Apollo-Gaia Project which is part of the Meridian Programme in the United Kingdom. It was called, "Beyond the Summit,Sensitivity, Target Temperature & the Carbon Budget".

In the presentation, Wasdell is adamant about the clear and present danger of our current global carbon emission path: 

It is now abundantly clear that limiting temperature change to 2°C cannot be achieved by emissions reductions on their own. There is no available carbon budget. Emissions must be reduced to zero in the shortest possible time and the existing stock of atmospheric greenhouse gasses must be drastically reduced. Moreover, the 2°C target has been set far too high and must be lowered from 2°C through 1.5°C to a mere 1°C in order to avoid dangerous climate change, and comply with the global commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In conclusion - Ending the Addiction: an Inspirational Challenge

This is therefore a call for global transformation. It is a call to break free from our addiction to fossil energy. It is a call to break free from the fossilized slavery at the very heart of human civilization. We must end fossil slavery now. That is the imperative of the strategic agenda.

This conclusion that we have already exceeded our carbon emissions budget under which we have a habitable planet is grounded in Wasdell's systemic calculations of the global sensitivity factor, which has been omitted in previous IPCC calculations and studies along with the feedback mechanism from arctic melting. He takes a very deterministic stance on this factor, sounding the alarm on its critical importance in the climate picture as well as its omission from the models used by the IPCC.

Wasdell notes in an earlier paper that the IPCC models are minimally computed in the AR4 report, and this remains uncorrected in the AR5 models recommending the 2°C upper bound, estimating the 2.6 RCP scenario of a remaining 250 Gt C carbon emission budget. The IPCC AR5 report does state that the Climate Sensitivity factor is important, but it lies within a range of consensus. So Wasdell's position is that the budget really needs to be at zero as soon as possible, setting that point at about 2050; therefore the current models are horribly in error and will only produce a lethal future scenario for our planet if they're adopted in Paris at COP 21. The Precautionary limit should be 1°C to allow for the probable overshoot in accomplishing this goal. That is merely a path on the way back to a safer level of 350 PPMV for the atmospheric concentration of carbon which should be established by 2100 if we want our civilization to continue.

The further path - back to the natural atmospheric carbon concentration of 280 PPMV - that we experienced prior to the Industrial Revolution in 1800 is a task for our descendants (if we have them) in the next century beyond 2100.

The practical reality is that these agreements don't forge the necessary action. Historically, the goals recede in the face of economics and pragmatic local policies. According to Rob Stavins, the Paris agreement could provide a post-Kyoto framework that finally gets the world on track for an eventual climate fix. “The way to judge the negotiations coming out of Paris is whether or not the structure is a sound foundation for meaningful long-term reductions.”

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Way We Were

When the ecological alarm bells had started going off in 1999, we had anticipated that there would be a worldwide engagement in the reduction of pollution, carbon emissions and consumption of resources. At that time, the architecture profession was engaged in a dialogue about how to live on the earth more responsibly and mindfully, as the article above from The Architecture Review attests (click to enlarge). Our atmospheric concentration at the time was at 367 PPMV, and the weather had not yet begun to destabilize. This was in the decade before the limit of 350 PPMV was declared by James Hansen of NASA and became a focus of the 2009 UN COP international climate treaty.

These hopes have been dashed by the corporate sector that controls the US Congress, particularly the fossil fuel industry, as well as the governments of India and China in the chase for extreme energy development. The chart below shows how the emissions accelerated instead, resulting in the recently begun polar melting and collapse, as well as the disastrous climate impacts that we're currently experiencing.

California, in particular, has become an extreme case of climate change impact, as the NASA GRACE satellite photos show below. One can only imagine what the US Congress can be thinking as the US attempts to disrupt the climate agreements coming up at COP 20 in Lima and COP 21 in Paris so that the US, China and India can continue to spew carbon into our ecosphere and complete its destruction.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Different Take On It

Just for fun, looking at it as a spiral vortex. Part 2 of this video is here.
There's a critique of it, too. And then, another view:

This is a Venus-Centered view of the Earth:Venus:Sun cycle where 8 Earth-Years equal 13 Venus-Years with 5 Venus:Earth 'kisses' [apogee-moments] during that time. The music is the first movement of the Trio for Viola, Clarinet and Piano [wr A Meyer; performed by Rusen Gunes, Bob Hill, Amanda [?] at the 'Purcell Room' on London's 'South Bank' July 1985.

We're taking the long view now because of the Global People's Climate March, September 21, 2014, across the planet. It's a disruptive campaign, meant to focus attention on the need for immediate action on drastically reducing carbon emissions by all countries.

This is ahead of the UN Climate Summit in NYC, September 23, where Countries have agreed on the need for a meaningful, robust, universal, legal climate agreement by 2015. The Secretary-General is convening the 2014 Climate Summit to mobilize action ahead of 2015 and to increase political will for greater action and ambition.

It forces us to look beyond the short-term and destructive view of our civilization and planetary ecosystems, and understand that we're part of a harmonic whole. It's the only way to forge the agreements that will allow the regenerative cycles to take hold.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Case Study

In the photo above, W.G. Nye and Loy E. Moore, owners of the Peerless Incinerator Company, display their inventory of backyard incinerators as they hear reports of banning all incinerators. "We're convinced we're being made the goats for some other industry," said Moore, Oct. 20, 1954. Incinerators were finally banned in So Cal on Oct. 1, 1957, and people had to tear them out. Then the trash collection industry went into business, bigtime. Previously only food garbage was picked up. This was before electric garbage disposals were installed in kitchen sinks and changed the habits around food waste, as well.

A very complete article is here, and you'll find the history of trash, going forward, here.

By 1956, Los Angeles County had started to phase in trash collection in areas where incinerator use was being phased out. A total ban on incinerators was in place by October 1, 1957. Thus the death of one industry, backyard trash incineration, gave birth to a massive new one. The public safety issue of pollution in the Los Angeles basin had trumped the "politics as usual" around the smokestack industries because of the obvious pollution impacts on human health and the environment. This legislative route to zero is a good precedent for the methodology that will be needed to phase out fossil fuels in order to get to zero by 2050.

The practical impact of going to zero on fossil fuels will require a layered system of "zero points" on carbon emissions for various fuels. Based upon the weight of carbon emissions, it's necessary to phase out the heaviest fuels first as the transition is made to renewable and zero-carbon fuels. The carbon limits on fuels can be layered so that the most rapid cutbacks are mandated by zero emissions per fuel type by weight of carbon. This can be a VERY effective system in the management of the convergence of emissions if they're adopted globally, based upon a system such as Contraction & Convergence, with the contraction year set at 2020.

For example, in the scenario where the global budget is equitably distributed at RCP 2.6, the "zero year" for these fuels are established as 2020 for coal, 2025 for fracked gas, 2030 for oil, and 2050 for natural gas. The other fuels, wind/wave/solar/geothermal/hydroelectric/algae/ethanol, have no zero date, and thus are the targets for long-term investment strategies.

Setting up a rough chart for this, the height of the carbon emission bar chart of carbon per unit of energy is taken from the EIA page.

What this does is tell the global industries and investors the timeline allowed to taper to zero for each fuel under RCP 2.6 so that we don't exceed 2C in our ecosphere; this is the stability needed to get off of carbon sources and move to clean energy with exceedingly rapid investment and development. So the chart for the convergence sequence implementation starts to look like this. The rapidity with which the carbon is reduced is quite revealing, and using sequential zero years shows that this can be very effective, just as it was in Los Angeles in the 1960's and '70's and the air began to clear significantly.