Visualizing energy slaves

This long form comic about the concept of energy slaves is by Stuart McMillen.  Very few citizens, even landscape architects or urban planners, understand the idea of energy slaves.  It is as if we take our way of life completely for granted as something that is just “natural.”  In the below zero era that we must get to if we are to escape the worst ravishes of climate change, we will fully understand just what we had.

Don’t despair: climate catastrophe can still be averted

This is an op-ed by Simon Lewis, a well respected scientist in the UK.  In this piece he lays out the stark conditions we are already facing due to climate change.  We have only warmed 1 degree Celsius and the devastation is already enormous.  We are on track for a 3-4C warmer world by the end of the century.  Mr. Lewis argues that only through political change can we avoid the worst.

Is that wishful thinking:  will people vote for a complete dismantling of our current way of life? In the near future, we will face additional extremely difficult questions.

New Study: Climate tipping points may move earth into “hothouse” state

“A domino-like cascade of melting ice, warming seas, shifting currents and dying forests could tilt the Earth into a “hothouse” state beyond which human efforts to reduce emissions will be increasingly futile, a group of leading climate scientists has warned.”

The report concludes this could happen even if we ended all CO2 emissions immediately. *Gulp*

Read more here

Losing earth: the decade we almost stopped climate change

The New York Times has published a remarkable article by Nathaniel Rich about the decade from 1979 to 1989 when it appeared that climate change could have been addressed.  The story centers on environmentalist Rafe Pomerance and scientist James Hansen and their efforts to publicize the climate change issue and then to work toward legislation to address it in the 1980s. Obviously, they were unsuccessful.  The article gives some hint as to why, but stops short of what we know to be the real reasons:  Republican intransigence and the beginnings of a concerted effort by fossil fuel companies to cast doubt on the science.  (In fact the author literally says that Republicans weren’t to blame, despite his own reporting that suggests otherwise.) In the intervening 30 years from the end of the story, humanity has nearly doubled its annual burning of CO2 causing materials.

Naomi Klein has an excellent rebuttal here. In her view, it is not “human nature” that we failed to stop climate change.  Rather, she explains:  “It is absolutely true that the global unleashing of the unbound form of capitalism known as neoliberalism in the ’80s and ’90s has been the single greatest contributor to a disastrous global emission spike in recent decades, as well as the single greatest obstacle to science-based climate action ever since governments began meeting to talk (and talk and talk) about lowering emissions.” 

Climate disaster is here.

In this article, Global Heatwave is Symptom of Early Stage Cycle of Civilizational Collapse, Nafeez Ahmed lays out in stark, but honest terms, what the extreme weather events of summer of 2018 mean for our future:  “They are early stage warnings of a protracted process of civilisational collapse as industrial societies face some of the opening symptoms of having already breached the limits of a safe climate.”

How did the end of the world become old news?

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That is the title of an analysis article written by David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine.  In it, Mr Wallace-Wells lays out the case that while climate change caused disasters and death are rapidly increasing – this summer, right in front of our eyes – the news media are not making the connection.  Yes, they do report on the various fires, heat waves, droughts, and floods, but no, they do not attribute the causation to climate change.  The article offers possible explanations as to why.

The Most Important Chart for the Future of Landscape Architecture

I wrote a commentary piece about what the below zero era means for landscape architecture on Land8 landscape architects network.  The purpose of the piece is to make landscape architects – especially young ones – of the implications for materials and construction processes, and thus design and education, of a world without fossil fuels.