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Post Carbon Landscape Architecture

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By Steve Austin

originally posted on Land8.com – click to see embedded links

Background

Here in early 2019, we find ourselves in a terrifying time. The evidence is astoundingly clear that the effects of climate change are worse than previously predicted and accelerating. If humanity is to avoid catastrophic, perhaps even unsurvivable climate change, we must end the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible.

However, if we were to do that, the resulting energy and civilizational transition would be the most dramatic ever undertaken by our species. Everything about our current way of life would change greatly.

But scientists are emphatic about the need to end using fossil fuels now. Prof David Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, says we must “act now or see the last chance for a safer climate future ebb away.”

The end of fossil fuels will usher in a “post carbon” era. It is “post carbon” because we can no longer do anything that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, especially through burning fossil fuels.

Landscape architects must accept this reality. Continue reading “Post Carbon Landscape Architecture”

Featured

This chart is the essence of this site – first timers start here

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We have 12 years to avoid climate catastrophe.  The chart above shows in stark relief exactly the world we must transition to if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This chart shows how we must essentially cease the use of fossil fuels and other climate changing activities. That in turn means the end of the industrial age.

Continue reading “”

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

From The Guardian:

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.

This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown

From the Institute for Public Policy Research:  Mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible.

Human-induced environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and the window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes in societies around the world is rapidly closing. These outcomes include economic instability, large-scale involuntary migration, conflict, famine and the potential collapse of social and economic systems. The historical disregard of environmental considerations in most areas of policy has been a catastrophic mistake.

In response, this paper argues that three shifts in understanding across political and policy communities are required: of the scale and pace of environmental breakdown, the implications for societies, and the subsequent need for transformative change.

Here is The Guardian’s reporting by Jonathan Watts:

The gathering storm of human-caused threats to climate, nature and economy pose a danger of systemic collapse comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new report that calls for urgent and radical reform to protect political and social systems.

The study says the combination of global warming, soil infertility, pollinator loss, chemical leaching and ocean acidification is creating a “new domain of risk”, which is hugely underestimated by policymakers even though it may pose the greatest threat in human history.

“A new, highly complex and destabilised ‘domain of risk’ is emerging – which includes the risk of the collapse of key social and economic systems, at local and potentially even global levels,” warns the paper from the Institute for Public Policy Research. “This new risk domain affects virtually all areas of policy and politics, and it is doubtful that societies around the world are adequately prepared to manage this risk.”

Until recently, most studies of environmental risk tended to examine threats in isolation: Continue reading “This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown”

The future of construction

Two important articles from Alice Friedemann at energyskeptic.com

Muscle Power.  “As fossil energy declines, muscle power will increasingly have to replace it.”

From Horsepower to Horse Power. When Trucks stop, Horses start. “Just as horses were indispensable the past millennia, so have the cars and trucks of the 20th century become essential to our way of life. If one horsepower equals the power one horse can generate (this is roughly true), then the 268.8 million cars and trucks in the United States, let’s say with an average horsepower of 120 HP, then that’s nearly 32.3 billion horses. If each needs an acre of pasture, then that’s over 50 million square miles of land. But the U.S. is only 3.5 million square miles. Clearly we can’t go back to horses – except we have to at some point because oil is finite (I’m assuming you’ve read my book “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation” to understand why biofuels, CTL, batteries, overhead wires, natural gas, and hydrogen can’t replace petroleum powered internal combustion engines).”

 

Global warming will happen faster than we think

By Yangyang Xu, Veerabhadran Ramanathan and David G. Victor in Nature: “the latest IPCC special report underplays another alarming fact: global warming is accelerating [italics mine] Three trends — rising emissions, declining air pollution and natural climate cycles — will combine over the next 20 years to make climate change faster and more furious than anticipated. In our view, there’s a good chance that we could breach the 1.5 °C level by 2030, not by 2040 as projected in the special report (see ‘Accelerated warming’). The climate-modelling community has not grappled enough with the rapid changes that policymakers care most about, preferring to focus on longer-term trends and equilibria.”

A dark vision at the latest UN Security Council meeting

“A new Dark Age will descend on most of the planet as never before,” warned Philippines’ foreign minister, Teodoro Locsin at the January 25th UN Security Council meeting. “And unlike in the past, the darkness will never be lifted. No age of enlightenment will follow. Human life won’t be worth living except for brutes. And there are quite a few of those already in countries denying climate change and refusing its challenges.”

This is in response to a new report reported by Climate Progress: “Scientists Find that We are Living Through a Record-Setting Period of Significant Warmth”