Evaluating cross-sectoral impacts of climate change and adaptations on the energy-water nexus: a framework and California case study
To watch the interview and discussion video, click here on the KQED website. Fighting Climate Change Amid Wildfires, Extreme Weather and Presidential Denial On Monday, during a trip to California, President Trump refused to acknowledge the role climate change has played in generating wildfires that have burned more than 3 million acres and killed at least 26 people, including one firefighter battling the El Dorado Fire east of Los Angeles. Trump asserted that poor forest management was to blame and that the weather would get cooler. But Trump’s denial of climate change is at odds with public opinion. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, more than 70% of Americans believe that climate change is happening, and nearly 60% believe that it is mostly due to human activities. Meanwhile, California remains a leader on fighting greenhouse gas emissions, with more than 30% of its energy coming from renewables like solar and wind, a figure that is mandated to double in a decade. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would accelerate its climate change strategies, including a goal to get to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. Guests:
April 27, 2020. To watch the webinar, click here.
A panel of UC Berkeley experts discussed Monday what effect COVID-19 is having on the environment. (UC Berkeley video)
Ever so slowly, communities around the globe are cautiously easing shelter-in-place orders, and people are heading back to work — bringing with them damaging behaviors that hurt the environment and impact climate change, such as increased reliance on single-use plastic grocery bags.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, say four UC Berkeley environmental and energy experts. Instead, they say, the current COVID-19 pandemic offers lessons in how shared global solutions can help beat back the continued threat of climate change.
“We can restart the economy and put people back to work, and we have to do so in a way that we’re taking advantage of where renewable energy is today — then there’s a really positive opportunity,” said Dan Kammen, professor and chair of the Energy Resources Group and professor of public policy and nuclear engineering. “We have to put people back to work in a way that’s equitable and green.”
Disposable plastic bags have made a comeback as people have grown leery of being too close to other people and their possessions. In a number of cities and states, including San Francisco, new bans on plastic bags have been delayed or existing bans have been temporarily halted and customers ordered not to bring into shops their own bags, mugs or reusable items from home.
Kammen, along with colleagues David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources, Kate O’Neill, professor of environmental science, policy and management, and Valeri Vasquez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Energy and Resources Group, were part of a Berkeley Conversations panel that examined on Monday how the pandemic has caused seismic shifts in how we produce and consume goods and could also open a path to a more sustainable future.
“Right before the outbreak, we were actually starting to feel like we could make a real difference in terms of getting rid of single-use plastics and solving a lot of the issues with global waste streams,” O’Neill said. “But for any of us who’ve been in the Berkeley Bowl parking lot recently, one of the first things we might have noticed is a lot more litter. Plastic bags, rubber gloves, masks. This is something we’re going to have to push back on and really question. The main problem coming up is going to be reinstating zero waste policies once (the pandemic) is over.”
Vasquez underscored how the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing deep societal inequities and also demonstrating the interconnectedness of health, climate and sustainability issues.
“The public health and climate debates are really inextricably linked,” she said. “In our highly connected world, a disease that originated 3,000 or 6,000 miles away can be at our doorsteps in a day or less. So, the way that we mobilize against COVID-19 needs to be reflected in the way that we mobilize against that other big global affliction called climate change.”
Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19, are a series of live, online events featuring faculty experts from across the UC Berkeley campus who are sharing what they know, and what they are learning, about the pandemic. All conversations are recorded and available for viewing at any time on the Berkeley Conversations website.
Click here for conference details: April 26. Many in the ML community wish to take action on climate change, yet feel their skills are inapplicable. This workshop aims to show that in fact the opposite is true: while no silver bullet, ML can be an invaluable tool both in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in helping society adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate change is a complex problem, for which action takes many forms - from designing smart electrical grids to tracking deforestation in satellite imagery. Many of these actions represent high-impact opportunities for real-world change, as well as being interesting problems for ML research.
As the nation shifts abruptly into the fight against coronavirus, a question arises: could social isolation help reduce an individual’s production of greenhouse gases and end up having unexpected consequences for climate change?
The biggest sources of carbon emissions caused by our lifestyles come from three activities, said Kimberly Nicholas, a researcher at the Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies in Sweden: “Any time you can avoid getting on a plane, getting in a car or eating animal products, that’s a substantial climate savings.” Many people trying to avoid the coronavirus are already two-thirds of the way there.
Dr. Christopher M. Jones, lead developer at the CoolClimate Network, an applied research consortium at the U.C. Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, said that “all these extra precautions that schools and businesses are taking to keep people home are saving lives, and that’s clearly what’s most important.” Having said that, he added that many of the actions people are taking in response to the coronavirus outbreak could have a benefit of a reduced carbon footprint — though others would have little effect or could even expand it.
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February 24, 2020 For the UCTV video, click here.
The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.Critics of the piece were quick to assert that Franzen's argument is based upon misreading reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and prominent scientific journals like Nature. A particular sticking point for some was Franzen's assertion that roughly two degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels represents a tipping point that will push the Earth past the point of no return. Sean Hecht is the co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA Law School:
Franzen’s prescription is wrong: we shouldn’t give up hope. Success is still possible, even if it’s hardly certain. However, his assessment of human nature is something to be taken seriously and it should illuminate the way we approach climate change. Working with human nature is far more likely to produce results than fighting it, and that means finding new ways to make green energy cheap and plentiful instead of fruitlessly pleading with people to use less of it.
\Teresa Wiltz, USA Today, for the original, click here.
Last year, right before Hurricane Florence hit New Bern, a small riverfront city along the North Carolina coast, Martin Blaney rushed to the public housing complex he runs, banging on doors, yelling: “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!”
When the winds settled and the rains ended in New Bern, Blaney’s nearby offices were under 6 feet of water. Even worse: Nearly half of New Bern’s public housing stock – 108 buildings, all in a flood zone, out of 218 – was under water, too. Twelve buildings were damaged beyond repair. (A nearby public housing complex for seniors, located above the flood zones, was unscathed.)
“We didn’t know the destructive force of deep water,” said Blaney, the executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of New Bern. “It blew us away.
“All of a sudden, you’ve got 108 households that need to have a roof over their head.”
Hurricane season is underway – and storms that make landfall might further exacerbate the nation’s shortage of affordable housing, housing experts say. A new report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies said finding enough money to make housing sturdier and fix the damage done by increasingly frequent and severe storms is “an urgent housing challenge for the nation.”