Friday, August 28, 2015

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is an Atmospheric Scientist originally from Canada, now a Professor in Texas. She consults with cities and municipal governments about climate change actions as well as giving public talks. She was in Portland this summer speaking at the World Affairs Council International Speakers Series.

"When Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor in the political science department at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and director of the school’s Climate Science Center, speaks to community groups, she often opens with a statement of faith. This 42-year-old atmospheric scientist is deeply religious and married to an evangelical Christian pastor. But she also begins that way because she finds it helps her connect to her audiences. “People will listen to you if they see you as someone who shares their values,” she notes. “I try to illustrate how if you are a person of faith, you should also care about climate change. It’s not always an easy argument to make. People think you’re asking them to join the Church of Al Gore. I try to show how this is about caring for others and protecting our families, communities—our way of life.” Hayhoe’s consulting work involves helping municipalities plan for climate change. After record heat waves in Chicago, for instance, her report to city officials prompted them to initiate a green-roof program, which saves money and alleviates the urban heat-island effect."

“I feel climate scientists are similar to physicians. We’ve determined the climate is running a fever. We know if nothing is done, there will be serious consequences. For me, my faith takes me further. This affects God’s creation, which is people and the earth, which we are commanded to love.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

Leverage Points in the System

From a Systems Thinking and System Dynamics perspective, The 4th Turning crisis era escalates from using low leverage changes to high leverage. Two high leverage points include changing the goals of the system, and then changing the mindset or paradigm from where the system arises.

Millennials bring a new set of goals and mindset to the current system creating a gap or difference between the past and the future expectations.  Any difference becomes information included in narratives/stories.  The narratives/stories told by Millennials will change from low leverage changes to the system (like who they vote for) to high leverage changes.

The Pope’s Encyclical marked a pivot toward a high leverage action. Intervening in the current system to change the goals and change the present mindset or paradigm of why the present system exists.  POTUS Clean Energy Plan and COP21 are weak leverage points in the system.  They deal with constants, parameters and numbers.

Here is an example of a systems perspective:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Step Up

When we need to step up and be an advocate for a loved one with medical issues, we do whatever is required. My brother could not drive after having a brain operation to remove a tumor and then another to remove scare tissue from the first operation.  My sister stepped up and was his advocate with the medical professionals. I volunteered to drive him to appointments, the grocery store and other errands. After I retired, and my brother developed leukemia, I drove him to regular blood treatments.  We stepped up when we were needed. Sadly, my brother died from complications due to the leukemia.

There are many stories of people stepping up to advocate for a loved one. A child needs an advocate with teachers and administrators at school. An elderly parent needs an advocate with medical professionals. Volunteer advocates help children in Family Court cases. Children left with their grandmother need an advocate everyday for everything. Non-profit organizations advocate for special constituents that might otherwise not get their basic needs met so that they have access to clean drinking water, food safe to eat, shelter and security.

On a global scale, there are many non-profit organizations advocating for the poor, low-income, refugees and disaster victims. The Catholic Church is an advocate for the poor.  Pope Francis was born in Argentina and witnessed first hand the suffering of the poor.  On June 18, 2015, the first ecological encyclical “LAUDATO SI’ “ was published to advocate for the poor who now and will continue to suffer the worst consequences of climate change.  In paragraph 105, Pope Francis wrote, “Our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.”

Living in America, how can I be responsible for the poor in Pakistan or France? The poor who die from complications caused by high summer temperatures. The poor in Asia who die from flooding caused by typhoons with higher than average rainfall.  The refugees from Syria driven from their homes by civil war that started after farmers had moved to cities because of drought.  The refugees dying while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Greece or Italy. How can I be responsible for the deaths of poor people worldwide that are a consequence of climate change?

Extreme weather events have driven food prices to record highs.  For example, on August 6,  2010 Russia banned the export of wheat after drought reduced the harvest and wildfires burned many acres. The price of food in Tunisia and Egypt increased dramatically in a short time, and that led to food riots. Rising food prices destabilized governments in the Middle East and resulted in the Arab Spring.

What happens in China affects the air pollution in America.  Pollutants travel in the wind over the Pacific Ocean and are detected on the west coast of America.  Pollution from coal plants in China can be measured in America.  CO2 emissions from America can be measured in the worldwide increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.  The heat absorbed by the atmosphere increases when there is more CO2 and the poor worldwide suffer the consequences.

Therefore causality, a long chain of cause and effect, links my CO2 emissions with the death of poor people worldwide. What can I do? As an individual, I can not shutdown the coal plants in America nor convert the transportation industry to zero emission buses, trucks and cars.  I can join with others to advocate for the reduction of CO2 emissions and support the new EPA Clean Energy Plan of 2015. 

First, for many years we have paid extra on our electric bill to purchase 100% renewable energy and we use a high efficiency heat pump for heating and air conditioning. Second, we replaced a car with a Prius to use less gasoline and we are planning on buying an electric car in the near future.

We reduced our purchases of consumer goods and other polluting activities.  We have reduced our waste at home.  We reuse items, donate items for reuse, and give away items to family, friends and neighbors.  We recycle everything possible every week.

Oregon was the first to announce the shutdown by 2020 of a coal plant.  In December 2010, the state's environmental protection agency approved the plans for the 2020 closing of the 550MW Boardman Coal Plant. The summer of 2015 saw the announcement of the 200th coal plant planned for shutdown.  

Also, President Obama and the EPA announced on August 3, 2015 the Clean Power Plan that will increase the number of coal plants that shutdown.  Total CO2 emissions need to be reduced in the present and then faster over time so that eventually, we have zero CO2 emissions.  The Clean Power Plan is only catching up to what the States have already done and will not get us to zero CO2 emissions.  We need to do more faster.

As an advocate for the poor, Pope Francis implied we ought to ask ourselves: 
  • How might I support development in human responsibility, values and conscience to change the structure of the system we have in America? 
  • How might I accept responsibility, advocate values and express a conscience that supports America developing human responsibility, values and conscience to deal with climate change?

It Can't Be Done

It Can’t Be Done

Easter, Fifth Avenue, 1900.One car visible, coming towards foreground.

Oakman (1899–1900)
Packard Model A (1899–1900)

Lozier (1900–1915)
Packard Model B (1900–190)
Skene (1900–1901)

The Belmont Coach, 1905, four horses pulling coach. Dogs run free.

1902 - First Cadillac
1903 - Ford Model A

Eight new models introduced in 1904 and eight more in 1905.

Herald Square, 1909. Skyscraper beyond is NY Times Building in Times Sq. Cars have replaced horses.

Fifteen new models introduced 1906 to 1909.