Reason to be optimistic
Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen to Max Auffhammer, a UC Berkeley Ag and Resource Economics professor (College of Natural Resources). His talk was entitled "Climate Change: One economists Perspective.
I tend to avoid conversations about "climate change" because it always seems to boil down to some argument over causation. Max did a great job of clarifying there is no way to determine "causation" unless we can create a second earth as a control and not have human activity and see what happens. He then said his department didn't have the budget for that experiment. It was quite a light moment.
Anyway, through all his calculations studying all this data, his conclusions in accord with some of the scientific communities is the best guess for global climate change, with no changes to any circumstances and their expected growth, is a 2.5 degree C (4 degree F) by the year 2100. His work though, was not to calculate the climate change but to calculate "at what cost to society". In this case, his work produced a 1% loss to global GDP. He left it up to the individual to determine whether that was a lot or a little.
Then he got to the fun part. He showed an image of Mission Control in Houston on July 20, 1969, the day we landed on the moon. At the time, few people knew anything about this scientific endeavor so NASA had hired many, many younger people in order to achieve the "within this decade" goal that JFK had set back in 1961. The point......the resulting average age in the room at Mission Control watching the moon landing was 28 years old. What that means is that when JFK set the goal, the average person who would see that goal achieved was only 20 years old!!!
Climate change, figuring out what might be done and adjusting to the changes we will see this century will likely all be addressed by people who are just now in college. I know from my own studies at UC Berkeley almost 30 years ago, that we (society) have been pretty indifferent to any environmental compromises to the planet and always willing to write a check to cover it. By contrast, the air quality in Los Angeles is far, far, far better than 30 years ago. And, if a bunch of young people can put multiple men on the moon in less than a decade, then there is much hope. I left a pessimistic probability with an optimistic hopefulness. Maybe I'll even be willing to engage people on this subject now. That must be why Max won a "Distinguished Teaching Award" last year.
posted July 14, 2010 6:07 AM
Live from Copenhagen
Rachel Barge, Conservation and Resource Studies '08, is attending Copenhagen and keeping everyone updated via her blog at the Business Council on Climate Change.
Rachel won the 2007 Brower Youth Award for her work to build the campus Green Initiative Fund.
Vote Andaman Discoveries for the BBC World Challenge!
Hi CNR Students and Alums,
I started a non-profit in Thailand back in 2005, and it has gone on to do great things. Recently, we were chosen as a finalist for the BBC World Challenge. If you can, please take 30 seconds to vote for us at their website, so we can keep up the good work! The website is The BBC World Challenge.
Our connection to the villages comes from rebuilding our lives together, and our projects focus on the big picture, empowering people to define their own future. This means that, along with responsible tourism, we also support scholarships for 120 kids, reforestation, a community development network, and a lot more. Pardon the spiel if you've already heard it, but it's the real deal.
Winning the World Challenge would mean a lot: the award will underwrite our projects, and the publicity will help us spread our message, which is always a challenge with a miniscule PR budget :) If you are excited by all this, feel free to post this message on your facebook account, blog, or email lists.
With thousands of nominations annually, the World Challenge recognizes innovative business projects that increase investment into the local community and take a responsible approach to the environment in which they are operating. We were chosen by a jury of high-level executives from Shell, BBC World, the World Bank, IUCN, and Newsweek.
So, if you could be so kind as to follow the link and vote for us, it would be of great service to our projects and the people they serve.
Press Release (PDF)
posted October 14, 2009 8:27 AM
Environmental Law via CRS
After graduation (CRS, '99), I worked for Governor Davis for a year doing environmental legislation and land use work. Realizing that I enjoyed working with environmental issues at the state government level but that I was too far from my own native state, I returned to New York for law school at Pace Law School. Pace has one of the best environmental law programs in the country, and it was a great fit for me. Surprisingly, I was the first Cal grad to come through the school.
I've been with the New York State Attorney General's office for four years now, in the Environmental Protection Bureau. My job pulls on my science background, as I work with hazardous waste remediation issues, and also the policy background which was part of my curriculum in CRS. If anyone out there is considering a career in environmental law, I'd be happy to chat about it!
posted June 13, 2009 8:33 PM
Does Reusable = Green? What do you think?
There is a lot of marketing going on that spins products that are reusable as being green by virtue of the reusability. I'm wondering, how anyone feels about whether products where simply being reusable (or recyclable or natural) qualifies the product to pass the "that makes it green" test.
In case you need an example or three:
- Is a newspaper, by virtue of its ability to be recycled, green?
- Is a reusable bag you could use for grocery shopping, by virtue of its ability to be reused, green?
- Is an electric razor, by virtue of its ability to be reused, green?
- Is a bag made of cotton (plain old cotton) and not a synthetic, green just because it is cotton?
These are just the beginning. I'm wondering, what is your perspective on this murky area? None of these products are necessarily any different today than 10 or 20 years ago, yet all can or are being marketed as green or eco-friendly. Is that OK with you?
If any of these marketing positions overstep your line, who plays the role of the green-police to call the marketers on it?
It's a survey, so post your opinion in a comment at my blog, Tom Larsen, or send me an email. I'll read them all.
posted April 11, 2009 10:06 PM
Properly Managed Forests Emit Fewer Greenhouse Gases
This is a record year for wildfires in California with over a million acres burned. It would be timely to publish information on the estimated amounts of "greenhouse gases" that have resulted from these fires.
The data on emissions from fires needs to be put into perspective with overall emissions from other sources including automobiles and electric power generation.
Discussion is needed on how our timberlands could be better managed to minimize fire damage. Properly managed forests take in more carbon dioxide than mature and over mature forests that are just carbon sinks where trees die or burn and release the stored carbon to the atmosphere, rather than being harvested and utilized for forest products. Restrictions need be removed on salvage logging following fires.
Who else can better do this than UCB researchers?
This sort of information needs to be made available to the general media and is long overdue!
posted September 8, 2008 1:34 PM