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A New Shade of Green

By Sherry Listgarten

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About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More)

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This blog will be carbon-free by 2030!

Uploaded: Jul 26, 2020
Yes, I’ve taken the courageous step to set this bold goal: This blog will be carbon-free by 2030! Are you impressed? Inspired? Relieved? Confused? Curious? Rolling your eyes?



I’m not entirely sure what it would mean for this blog to be carbon-free. Well, it would be carbon-neutral, since there would surely be some trading going on. The electricity I use would need to be carbon-neutral. Probably also the devices. I could stick with Apple, which is going carbon-neutral by 2030. I’m not sure what to do about your (readers’) devices — maybe they don’t need to be included? I would bike or use an EV to meet with people, which might even be allowed again by 2030. Maybe I should eat vegetarian on the days when I write? I would definitely need to talk with Bill about how the papers’ websites work… (Bill, is Embarcadero Media going to be carbon-neutral by 2030?)

Anyway, the point is, these claims are more complicated than they appear, and sometimes the goal-setter has less influence over their emissions than you might guess. Entities as diverse as Norway, the Church of England, Apple, Hoboken NJ, the UC system, and the city of Los Angeles all have goals (plans?) to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Melbourne, Australia has even promised 2020 — I should probably check in on that one…

So when I saw that Menlo Park recently adopted a Climate Action Plan to be carbon-neutral in 2030, including a steep 90% reduction in emissions below 2005 levels, I had to follow up on it. There are a lot of smart, capable people in Menlo Park, but a 90% emission reduction in ten years is a near-impossible task. What have they got in mind? I read over the Climate Action Plan (pages 13–28 of this city document), and sat down to talk with Menlo Park’s Environmental Quality Commissioners Josie Gaillard, Tom Kabat, and James Payne, who did most of the work on this. There is lots to like about what they write, but my first question was “Is this a plan or an aspiration?” It’s called a Climate Action Plan, but it looked for all the world to me like an aspiration. I’ve been schooled on this by folks in Palo Alto, so I wanted to know if Menlo Park is taking a different approach.

To my surprise, I got pretty different answers. One responded with a clear “This is a plan. We have numbers, at least for the first phase, and I think we will hit those numbers.” Another said “Well, this is the start of a conversation to make it a more active conversation.” Councilwoman Betsy Nash insists the goals are aspirational. Carbon Free Palo Alto founder Bruce Hodge, who has been around the block a few times on this, scoffed when I relayed my confusion to him. “Climate plans are never actionable plans. Even when you have a set of proposed policies, when you look at what has to happen to implement a policy, it’s just huge.” (1)

Putting aside the political and financial obstacles for the moment, I want you to understand how difficult this task is. Menlo Park’s Climate Action Plan has a table showing the emissions reductions needed in each of the four main categories (vehicles, natural gas, electricity, and waste), along with this diagram.


Emissions reductions needed to hit Menlo Park’s goal (Source: Climate Action Plan, 7/14/2020)

It looks hard but perhaps doable. The thing is, the diagram is not to scale. It under-represents the change needed (an 88% decrease from 2017–2030) while over-representing the change already made (a 19% decrease from 2005–2017, largely from moving to cleaner electricity, but also from capturing methane at the landfill).

It is easiest to compare the reductions needed on this bar chart.


Emissions reductions needed to hit Menlo Park’s goal, shown at scale (2)

That is a tectonic shift in emissions. The rate at which we reduce emissions has to be 4-5x what it was in the past ten years. This is a massive effort, a sea change in how Menlo Park operates. (3) And pre-coronavirus trends were not promising. Vehicle emissions were up 15% from 2005–2017 and waste emissions were up 51% in the last four years measured (2013–2017). Buildings showed good progress from cleaner electricity, but natural gas emissions were down just 6% in the 12-year period. With only 10 years left, how do we get a further 88% reduction?

This is where the Menlo Park commissioners speak very clearly with one voice. “Mandates. If there is anything we have learned from Palo Alto’s experience, it is that incentives and rebates are not enough.” We unhappily contemplated Palo Altans’ adoption of heat pump water heaters over the past few years.


Heat pump water heater adoption in Palo Alto (Source: Update to City Council, 4/13/2020)

David Coale of Carbon Free Palo Alto agrees with Menlo Park’s approach. “Yes. We spent years trying to make this work and it didn’t. We are running out of time. We need to have mandates.” Bret Andersen, also of Carbon Free Palo Alto, added “The time is right. Prices are coming down, you’ve got off-the-shelf availability of many options, more tradesmen with appropriate skills, and funding at all levels — state, county, and utility. There are six different heat-pump water heater rebate programs now just in the Bay Area. You didn’t see that years ago. The stars are aligning to make real reductions more feasible.”

Kabat is excited to do the work needed to design an electrification mandate for Menlo Park that is equitable and affordable. He will be assisting city staff in their effort to draft a “burnout ordinance” that requires new appliances to be electric. He believes that this is not only the smart thing to do (“Why buy long-lived assets that are sure to be stranded within a few years?”) but the responsible thing to do. “In order to make progress on climate change, cities have to take a bite at the apple, not just a nibble. This is our bite.” He hopes that other cities will lead in complementary areas, and all can share each other’s work. The Menlo Park commissioners believe an important part of their job is sharing what they are doing so that other cities can take a look and use what they like. Palo Alto’s contribution on the building side of things may be on-bill financing. The Carbon Free Palo Alto folks realized years ago that this type of financing is essential for widespread adoption of building electrification, and have designed a BE Smart program to enable that. The City has slowly come around to it, and it is now seriously being considered by the city’s utility. Kabat is also running this concept by local energy providers Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy.

Palo Alto has learned a lot on the vehicle side of things as well. While its high 8% (est) penetration rate of EVs has only been possible because of the tremendous wealth in the city, it is also high in part because Palo Alto has been encouraging adoption of electric vehicles for years through education, test-drive programs, incentives for chargers and electric panels, and deployment of chargers throughout the city. Recently the city mandated EV readiness in new construction, another big step.

If you ask Hiromi Kelty, Palo Alto’s Utility Marketing Program Administrator, about something "simple" like EV charger deployment, you will get an earful. Her work deserves an entire blog post on its own, but you can see below that the rebate program is gaining momentum, with 107 chargers installed to date at schools, non-profits, and multi-family homes, three-fourths of which happened in just the first five months of 2020:


Palo Alto’s rebated chargers to date (Source: Update to Utilities Advisory Commission, 7/1/2020)

Curious to know how many more chargers we need? Kelty has an answer for that:


How many chargers do we need? (Source: Presentation to Utilities Advisory Commission, 7/1/2020)

Wondering where the funding will come from? Because of the city’s early focus on climate change and clean electricity, the utility has amassed millions of dollars worth of credits from the state, to be used for promoting EV infrastructure:


Draft budget for promoting EV infrastructure (Source: Update to Utilities Advisory Commission, 9/4/2019)

This is the level of planning we need to move the needle, and it represents another “bite” that Palo Alto is taking in its emissions reductions. EV infrastructure on its own isn’t going to drive adoption. Market momentum and decreasing prices (e.g., for car batteries), along with state and federal fuel standards and incentives, will do most of the heavy lifting. But Palo Alto is doing its part to speed local adoption with clear priorities, consistent messaging, and careful planning that takes advantage of state and county programs.

Menlo Park has taken a step in that direction with their almost-all-electric building code for new construction, and now they are taking another by embarking on the difficult and important work of detailing a feasible burnout ordinance for gas appliances. While I may not agree that Menlo Park’s Climate Action Plan is a plan at this point, or that a 90% emissions reduction is feasible in ten years, that is mostly beside the point. Menlo Park is fortunate to have a highly motivated and positive group of people pushing the city ahead on emissions reductions. They have managed to make progress even in a pandemic. They emphasize teamwork across cities and organizations, and are smart to try to understand how their work can best complement that of the state, county, local utility (Peninsula Clean Energy), and neighbors such as Palo Alto. They are showing leadership on an urgent issue.

But at the end of the day, it will be up to the people of Menlo Park to demonstrate their own leadership when it comes to supporting the environmental policies that city staff and the commissioners come up with. Do Menlo Park residents want to slash their use of fossil fuels sooner rather than later? I hope that the people will respond in kind to the leadership that their City Council and Environmental Quality Commission are demonstrating.

Notes and References
1. Hodge also pointed out that Climate Action Plans have become a cash cow for consulting firms that "cut and paste boilerplate and change the city names. The Climate Action Plan usually consists of a report on current emissions (a SWAG in practice because of the lack of hard data), plus a long menu of things that the city ‘could’ do in theory, but with little to no guidance on the best way to approach things from a policy perspective." He worries that Palo Alto's recently-hired AECOM consultant will tell us what we already know (basic ways to reduce our transportation and building emissions), but with little guidance on how best to achieve those goals.

2. If you are curious about how Menlo Park’s goals compare with California’s, take a look at the chart below. California’s emissions reduction pledge of 40% below 1990 by 2030 amounts to a 47% reduction below 2005 by 2030. The state reduced emissions by only 13% between 2005 and 2017, so California also needs to steeply accelerate emissions reductions in the next ten years, by a factor of 3.


California to reduce emissions to 259 MMT CO2e in 2030 (Source: CARB)

The interesting thing is, California has a track record of hitting its goals. Prior to coronavirus, Axios estimated California to be heading towards 281 MMT CO2e, which isn’t too far off its goal of 259 MMT CO2e. That would represent a 42% reduction overall and a 34% drop from 2017. With some recent changes in behavior initiated by the coronavirus, and a possibly more climate-friendly administration in 2020, California’s goal looks plausible. The question is, can Menlo Park, with its many advantages over the state, do a whole lot better?

As another point of comparison, here is the same chart for Palo Alto, which has a goal to reduce emissions 80% from 1990 by 2030. As with Menlo Park, the city needs to quickly address both vehicle emissions and natural gas use. EVs, telecommuting, and heat pumps need to see rapid, widespread adoption.


Palo Alto aims to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2030 (Source: Palo Alto’s 2019 Earth Day Report, ignoring the natural gas offsets)

3. Yes, a sea change to limit the sea change…

4. City emissions do not reflect emissions from residents’ air travel, diet, or general consumption.

Current Climate Data (June 2020)
Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard (updated annually)

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Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by CO2, a resident of Community Center,
on Jul 26, 2020 at 9:19 am

If EVERYONE drove an electric car & ALL gas-powered vehicles were globally banned, how much
ACTUAL carbon reduction (in theory) would be accomplished?

And if coal & steel production + plastic manufacturing eliminated by 100%, could we achieve a relatively carbon-free existence/environment?

Lastly how can we effectively remove, destroy and dispose of all the existing carbon unfriendly devices & structures already in place?

This is the KEY to achieving what you are proposing.

Your scientifically-based documentation & empassioned devotion to global ecology is admirable.

I suspect that these measures will require eco-extremism & a major shift in global politics & economics.

As a follower of Edward Abbey's writing's, I believe these goals can be achieved but it will take an eco-revolution of sorts where money is no longer used as an exchange model for goods & services.

The wealthy will also have to be removed from power as a plutocracy is eco-unfriendly & detrimental to the well-being of ALL living things.

Banks and ALL financial institutions must also be relieved of their stranglehold on humanity to achieve an eco-friendly global universe.

These changes are paramount to establishing carbon-free world
& ALL obstacles must be removed to achieve these ends.
at all costs to ensure


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Jul 26, 2020 at 7:43 pm

The arrogance of Menlo Park officials simply boggles the mind. What right do they have to impose these demands on residents?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 27, 2020 at 10:02 am

thanks for another great post, sherry. i have several thoughts.

"Climate Action Plans have become a cash cow for consulting firms" - agreed; and another way putting off tough decisions.

"City emissions do not reflect emissions from residents' air travel, diet, or general consumption." - agreed; reaching palo alto's "goal" will only get part way toward eliminating palo alto pollution.

650,000 covid-19 deaths to date; 150,000 deaths every year from co2e emissions
Web Link

we've all made pollution reduction progress because, not in spite of, the pandemic...worldwide ghg emissions may go down 7%+ this year. governments are willing to cause economic hardship in order to save lives re the coronavirus; will they also do so to save lives re the accumulation of toxic crud in the atmosphere?

palo alto's "utility has amassed millions of dollars worth of credits from the state, to be used for promoting EV infrastructure...EV infrastructure on its own isn't going to drive adoption... incentives..." agreed, using that money to give rebates to people who buy/lease ev's could lead to more palo altans driving ev's (compared to building more public chargers). not everyone has access to their own garage, but most palo altans do; so most of us can charge in (or next to) our garages. the federal rebates (which ran out) for teslas and bolts were a valuable incentive.

how to get residents to support to city enforced mandates? palo alto's utility has been providing thoughtful, colorful, public education (with consistent messaging) for years, via it's utility bill inserts. why not do something similar re preventing lethal pollution? the anti-smoking campaigns of past years give us an example of how to do such in an effective manner.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by K. Pauls, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jul 27, 2020 at 10:10 am

Sherry, this blog continues to be thought provoking, fact based and friendly! What a service you are providing to our community. I believe that CAPs must be aggressive to get the momentum moving forward. We are capable of so much more than we think and moving forward doesn't mean that life will be harder, just different. And better for our kids and their kids.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 27, 2020 at 1:20 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Thanks for the comments! A few thoughts:

@CO2: Hmm, I didn't think it was possible, but you may be *overstating* the amount of change we need to make to hit our emissions goals... Re emissions, you mention the transportation, power (coal), and industrial sectors (e.g., cement, plastics); this post mentions buildings/heating; don't forget agricultural and land-use. That's the other big one.

@Joseph: So I guess you wouldn't be excited about a ban on new gas-powered cars either? A number of countries and cities are looking to 2030 for that (or 2025 for Norway), and I am very supportive. It should make for an interesting blog post...

@neighbor: I think the utilities are looking to bigger pockets to discount EVs, except for the low-income households (e.g., Peninsula Clean Energy's program for used EVs). EV prices are expected to come down to parity with gas cars soon. In contrast, we have to build chargers no matter what. So fwiw I think they are doing the right thing by using the money for chargers and not EV rebates. I think they do try to set up bulk deals for EV purchases with dealers. Not sure how successful that has been.

@K -- "I believe that CAPs must be aggressive". I agree. Change seems hard, but then you look back and say "What was the big deal?" We just need to get over the hump, and it's much easier when we all do it together.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Jul 27, 2020 at 3:28 pm

No, I wouldn't be. A carbon tax would be more logical.

I would be more offended, though, if Menlo Park took it upon itself to ban gasoline powered cars for its residents. This simply isn't an appropriate use of city authority. If I bought a house in Menlo Park, it would not have occurred to me previously that the City Council might try to dictate my choice of cooking surfaces or whether or not I could have a natural gas hot water heater.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by CO2, a resident of Community Center,
on Jul 27, 2020 at 4:23 pm

>> this post mentions buildings/heating; don't forget agricultural and land-use. That's the other big one.

^ Absolutely!

Bio-degradable/temporary housing with solar heating/electricity, tanked H20, and septic tanks for safe sewage could alleviate low-income housing problems & homelessness...preferably in areas other than Palo Alto as many residents would object to such an arrangement.

The Ohlones lived in reed huts & had far fewer amenities and conveniences.

Shared community organic gardens would serve vegan & semi-vegetarian diets although chickens could probably be raised for eggs & meat.

Again the Native Americans (our most eco-oriented citizens) have been doing this for ages.

Going off the grid is paramount to addressing the issues you have presented.

I haved lived this way (in the various bucolic areas of Santa Cruz County/Boulder Creek and even in Los Altos Hills!

Currently residing near Lucie Stern Center at parent's former home. They recently passed away & as soon as the house is sold, I will be returning to former lifestyle.

The problem is that most people have become far too reliant & addicted to modern conveniences that are essentially eco-unfriendly. These individuals are the ones to be held fully accountable for destroying Earth via their pervasive materialistic needs & wants.

Conspicuous consumerism and greed is the root of all these eco-related problems & concerns.







 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 27, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Joseph: I think you are making points that many others share, so thank you for speaking up. It does feel kind of weird. How can it be the city’s business? On the other hand, the city can tell us what kind of windows we can install, what kind of fireplace (not wood-burning), how high our house can be, and how far back from the street. Telling us what kind of water heater seems pretty similar, at least in my book.

Specifying types of cars seem harder -- people identify more with their cars than they do with their water heaters and furnaces. I also think it’s more common for cities to regulate buildings than to regulate types of transportation. But, yes, cities are looking at cars too.

I think the thing with all of these regulations is (a) there needs to be a sound (legal) rationale and (b) it needs to be equitable/fair (for some definition of that). That is what I expect Menlo Park is trying to figure out.

Regarding a tax vs this type of regulation, that is a great point. I think the main advantage to regulations is the speed at which they take effect, and secondarily the degree to which they can be enacted locally. For example, I understand that California’s emissions regulations have been much more effective at reducing emissions than cap-and-trade, because cap-and-trade has been slow to take effect and filled with inefficiencies and loopholes. In contrast, a regulation tends to have much less wiggle room and to take effect much more quickly. A tax would be different, but the overall concerns about directness and speed are the same.

@CO2. No, going off the grid is not necessary, though cleaning up the grid is. In previous posts, you have suggested we all need to live like the Amish. Here you suggest we need to live like the Native Americans, which you say you have enjoyed doing. Even more interestingly, you have consistently offered a wide variety of reasons why we should delay taking action on climate change. “Until we address xxx, there is no viable manner in which to combat or reduce global warming.” And for “xxx” you have offered population, underground transmission (to save the birds), giving up all worldly goods, eliminating money, or just “more research” (geo-engineering). There is also “it costs too much”. And the old chestnuts that this kind of warming/flooding happens all the time, or even just “who cares?”, species go extinct all the time. It’s been a fairly comprehensive rendering of the discourses of delay. I’m not sure what to make of it. Clearly you don’t want to address global warming, but it’s not clear why not. It’s not particularly hard for us to reduce our emissions significantly once we make up our minds to do it. But it does require some change, like water heaters, furnaces, and the type of engine your car has. Is that really so onerous?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Jul 27, 2020 at 8:54 pm

House setbacks and height requirements are absolutely appropriate for the city to regulate because they directly affect neighboring lots. Rules like these give cities different characters and enable people to choose a place that suits them (considering both cost and "lifestyle".)

Mandating the manner of my cooking for abstract future goals is much harder to swallow. I'm not at all convinced that Menlo Park is qualified to decide these matters, even if it were appropriate for it to do so. There are many, many tradeoffs to consider: ongoing costs, conversion costs, maintenance, quality loss, personal preferences, etc. Is it even clear that natural gas cooking is an environmental negative considering that electricity is commonly generated with fossil fuels such as natural gas, and that there are large transmission losses to deliver the electricity? If that's the case it might be more environmentally sound to use natural gas directly.

These are very complex matters and shooting out regulatory bans like lightning bolts may be fast and impressive, but ultimately destructive.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by CO2, a resident of Community Center,
on Jul 28, 2020 at 8:55 am

>> "It's been a fairly comprehensive rendering of the discourses of delay. I'm not sure what to make of it."

^ To clarify...first & foremost, I acknowledge ALL of the environmental & energy related concerns you have expressed to date.

On the other hand, more extreme measures will be required to make certain headways towards resolving these problems and this requires major sacrifices (i.e. the curtailment of many non-essential modern-day conveniences and material consumerism).

Most people, whether they are inhabitants of a modern industrial society or a developing nation are not willing to make the required sacrifices...chalk it up to human nature and/or upward mobility aspirations.

Applying Band-Aids to stop a hemmorhage will not curtail the bleeding.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Jul 28, 2020 at 12:08 pm

CO2, I just don't think that a major "curtailment of many non-essential modern-day conveniences and material consumerism" is going to happen on a global basis. People won't stand for it. They would rather warm the climate, and they will get a government in place to avoid that curtailment. There may be some minor and less effective mitigations around the edges.

I'm overall rather pessimistic about the future of the climate unless we see a technological breakthrough (carbon capture, low-carbon power that's cheaper than fossil fuels, or the like.) I'd like to see much more being spent on research of this nature and less time spent creating ill will from daily nuisances like paper straws and the proposed removal of natural gas appliances.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 29, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

I agree with Joseph that we do and will use technology to move to a cleaner, more sustainable world without sacrificing our quality of life (and in fact improving it in many ways). We have many instances of that, and there will be many more.

What confuses me is the resistance I sense to our adopting the solutions that we already have in hand today and that are used in much of the world. Is using a heat pump to be considered a "major sacrifice"? I understand that we aren't the "greatest generation", but I would really hope that we can be the "good enough" generation, or at least the "not entirely hands-off" generation, one that gives our kids and their kids some chance of success beyond hoping for some other kind of technical miracle.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Doubting, a resident of another community,
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:11 am

@ CO2: In answer to your question in the very top comment as to how much carbon would be reduced by in the world if everyone who drives drove a zero-emissions vehicle, the process to figure that out is not all that complicated.

Okay, so, from the PBS show "Polar Extremes," onscreen host Kirk Johnson explains in very simple terms how to determine how much carbon each fossil-fuel-powered car emits.

Using the arbitrary average vehicle mileage rating of 25 miles per gallon that Johnson used, and estimating that for a gallon of gasoline burned, five pounds of carbon is released into the air for every 25 miles driven, if it can be determined how many miles are collectively being driven the world over on a yearly basis in gas-powered cars and assuming an average 25 mpg fuel economy rating, then it can be calculated just what the yearly carbon savings would be if everyone drove a non-polluting vehicle.

I don't know about the world over, but I know in the U.S. the amount of fuel burned each year by the country's thirsty gas-guzzling cars is about 15 billion. So, if 5 pounds of carbon is released into the air for every gallon of fuel burned, multiply that times 15 billion what that results in is, domestically then a savings of roughly 75 billion pounds of carbon annually could be realized.

And, therefore, by knowing how much fuel is burned in motor vehicles all over the world annually, you would have your answer.

I hope this helps.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Doubting, a resident of another community,
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:24 am

Erratum, sorry, 15 billion gallons is the amount of gas California's cars consume annually.

Another zero should be added to that to give you what U.S. cars consume yearly.

So, the answer would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 billion pounds of released carbon for the entire country.

My apologies.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by CO2, a resident of Community Center,
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:27 am

>>"...by knowing how much fuel is burned in motor vehicles all over the world annually, you would have your answer."

>> "...the answer would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 billion pounds of released carbon for the entire country."

@Thomas Doubting

Appreciate the figures. Given mankind's overall & apparent unwillingness to make certain sacrifices while wholeheartedly embracing the material word (along with blatant conspicuous consumerism), it is safe to assume that humans are
imminently doomed unless their offspring mutate giving way to carbon-breathing life forms.

Global warming is just the tip of the iceberg and there is apparently no going back despite various 'band-aid' measures.

Back to Darwinism 101.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:52 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Here is the breakdown for California's emissions, both top-level sectors and sub-sectors. (It is from 2017, the most recent analysis of this kind. Source.)



This is why our strategies are so focused on transportation, clean power, and reducing reliance on gas for heating and industrial use.

The US is a little different -- power is dirtier, so power emissions are a larger part and a big focus. The world is also different, with agriculture and land use playing a much bigger role.

So, no surprises here. We know the major issues and have workable improvements to many of them. We need to stop delaying, implement them, and get to work on the tougher issues like industrial emissions, heavy transport, adaptation and land use, and negative emissions. Every bit we do now buys our kids time and money.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Doubting, a resident of another community,
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:47 pm

@ CO2: When you wrote: "Global warming is just the tip of the iceberg and there is apparently no going back despite various 'band-aid' measures," what do you mean?

Okay, so when analyzing Antarctic ice-core samples (tree ring and even sea shell data), for example, there is a wealth of information about the surface air temperature and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane that is revealed which tells about things like when ice ages (glaciation) and warming periods (the in-between times which are also referred to as inter-glacial periods) occurred and this over the past 420,000 years, no less.

Interesting to note during this period in history, is that surface temperature and carbon dioxide and methane plots pretty much match each other. In other words, when temperature peaked and bottomed out, so, too, did CO2 and CH4 in each cycle. The cycle repeats itself about every 100K years and in this period of time there are 4 such cycles. What could account for the cycles are what as referred to as the Milankovitch cycles, orbital forcing, axial precession and apsidal precession, etc. See: Web Link and: Web Link

Moreover, what else can be gleaned from the same plot is that warming has occurred much more rapidly than cooling. Drops in both CO2 and CH4 occurred correspondingly. From this it follows then that either temperature influenced greenhouse gas activity or greenhouse gas activity influenced temperature.

It is only recently that CO2 level rise, at least, has exceeded the limits in this plot: those limits being approximately 300 parts per million by volume (p.p.m.v.) upper and about 180 p.p.m.v. lower. Global mean surface temperature has been as high as 2+ degrees Celsius and as low as about -7 degrees Celsius from normal or 0 degrees Celsius, all of this of course based on Vostok, Antarctica ice-core sample data.

Anyway, my point is the historical record shows that the earth recovered at least 4 times during this 420K-year period. And, with temperature and presumably atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions being much higher at other times in the Earth's history and the Earth having likewise recovered (in other words, neither runaway global warming nor global climate catastrophe), there is every reason to expect that we'll survive whatever this is we're dealing with today.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:01 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

No.

Where is your reputable link (see Comment Guidelines) showing that Milankovitch cycles are responsible for the warming we are seeing today? I ask because I can show you many, many references that they are not.

More generally, you are making false (and repeatedly debunked) claims with no supporting evidence and omitting critical facts like the rate of change. This is exactly the kind of misinformation that is problematic. It sounds scientific but it is bogus and irrelevant.

The pace and scale of climate change we have seen in the last fifty years is unprecedented, is caused by humans, and is already causing damage. These are not points of scientific contention. Pretending otherwise is malicious.

I hope readers will pay attention to this. In the future I will, per guidelines, delete posts that promulgate amply debunked untruths.


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