Terraform Earth

Global Warming Self Education Resources

Originally assembled for the Global Warming Solutions conference on 2/4/09. Any comments with additional resources may be added to the list as time allows.

Self Education Resources

Online Researching
~ Wikipedia – a communally edited encyclopedia that seems to be getting better the more people use it. Consider editing or adding an article yourself.  –  wikipedia.org
~ Google Scholar – offers searching of scholarly publications, letting the public get closer to the actual researchers and their data.  –  scholar.google.com
~ Social Bookmarking – use the wisdom of a community to quickly guide yourself to the best online resources.  —  delicious.com -or-  digg.com -or-  stumbleupon.com
~WikiHow – Want to know how to do … whatever, only sustainably? Search on this site for things like “sustainable” and “agriculture”.  —  www.wikihow.com
~ Do-It-Yourself Surveys – build your own free surveys
polldaddy.com -or-  freeonlinesurveys.com
~ Map of Flooding from Sea Level Rise – an interactive layer on top of Google Maps that will show what areas flood as sea levels rise, meter by meter.  —  flood.firetree.net
~ WattzOn – Calculate your carbon footprint using a tool that gets better the more people use it.  —  www.wattzon.com

~ iTunesU – free educational broadcasts hosted by Apple. Requires installing iTunes (also free). Searching is limited: you have to look up the host school, then subject. The Wood’s Energy Seminar series offered by Stanford is quite informative on global warming issues.  —  apple.com/itunes
One blogger made a guide to iTunesU:
~ Social Innovation Conversations – Offering lectures, debates and conference recordings on social change subjects such as sustainability, uplifting the developing nations, disaster prevention and recovery, sustainable venture capital, equality, non-profits and progressive business practices.
Some favorites speakers:  Amory Lovins (efficiency guru), Vinod Khosla (green venture capitalist), Bunker Roy (of the Barefoot College), William McDonough (sustainable design), Dean Kamen (Segway inventor), Natalie Portman (microlending),
~ NPR – Mostly a news source, National Public Radio can be a great way to keep up to date on recent global warming trends. One of their weekly programs, Living On Earth, is specific to the environment, with some great archives in audio and text formats. And Science Friday frequently discusses sustainability with working scientists.
www.loe.org – Living on Earth
www.sciencefriday.com – Science Friday
~ OCulture – University & College Podcasts – Podcasts and sometimes class materials from actual classes (7500) from schools like Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, MIT, CalTech, Yale, Harvard, UCSD, UCSF, UCD, etc. Try listening to a comprehensive energy talk at Princeton in ’06 by Steven Chu, the new Energy Secretary.
~ IT Conversations – One of the oldest podcast sources, they have a vast number of interviews, discussions and lectures. Available for immediate listening or download. Licensed under a Creative Commons license, so students and educators can sample and remix freely. Ranges from in-depth (college course level) to cursory (magazine article level).
Some favorites: Alex Steffen (edits World Changing), Michelle Kaufman (green pre-fab homes), Janine Benyus (biomimicry in design), Lawrence Lessig (of Creative Commons),  Howard Bloom (wrote Global Brain), Verna Allee (productive networks over corporations)
~ PopTech! – a conference series that hosts forward thinkers, artists, and musicians. Offers both podcasts and video clips. Saul Griffith’s energy speech may be the best ever.
Some favorites: Van Jones (of Green4All), Majora Carter (of Sustainable South Bronx),
Saul Griffith (WattzOn), Jessica Flannery (person-to-person microlending), Cameron Sinclair (Architecture for Humanity).
~ Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Corner – a lecture series by executives from successful companies, speaking on their respective industries and/or start-ups. Video and audio clips.
Favorites: Larry Bawden (new solar tech), Larry Brilliant (of Google’s philanthropy dept.), Paul Diamandis (Automotive X-Prize).
~ Commonwealth Club of California – A long-standing discussion and debate club that covers a wide range of subjects.
Favorites: Arnold Schwartzenagger (Sustainable California), Eric Schmidt (on Google’s green investing), Jeffery Sachs (Earth Institute).
~ ForaTV – A video source for some terrific lectures & panels on a variety of timely subjects, including a ‘green’ section.
Favorites: Dan Burden (walkable communities), Saul Griffith (on the future of energy), Steven Chu (US Secretary of Energy), Thomas Friedman (Author of The World is Flat & Hot, Flat & Crowded)

Newspapers & Magazines
~ San Francisco Chronicle Environment section  —  sfgate.com/news/environment
~ San Jose Mercury News –  www.mercurynews.com
~ L.A. Times/Environment Section – Current Environmental issues around the globe such as frequent articles on Global Warming. —

~ Environmental Design and Construction Magazine – As the name suggests, this magazine is about Global Warming solutions from the perspective of designing and building better residential and commercial buildings in order to reduce our Volatile Organic Compounds and our impact on our environment.  — www.edcmag.com

RSS Feeds
Most online information sources offer RSS feeds: once you subscribe, they will send you articles (in text, audio or video form) on specific subjects, such as climate change. The articles will show up as perodic emails, perhaps with files attached. Most email programs & web browsers, along with a few media players (like iTunes), will handle RSS feeds.

Learning through Games
~ Spore – a game that teaches evolution by letting players evolve their own species, from primordial ooze to spaceflight.   –   www.spore.com
~ A Force More Powerful – a game built to train non-violent protesters, contributed to by Ivan Marovic, one of the members of the student organization that helped overthrow the government of Slobodan Milosevic.   –   www.aforcemorepowerful.org

~ KQED, local public TV & radio – Recommended shows: the California report, TechNation, Quest.  —  www.kqed.org
~ Green For All – an Oakland non-profit trying to encourage green collar jobs. Founded by Van Jones. —  www.greenforall.org
~ US Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter – Research the LEED standards, get a LEED certification, attend green building gatherings, or network with the sustainable building industry.  —  www.usgbc-ncc.org
~ Silicon Valley Environmental Partnership –  www.svep.org
~ Sustainable Silicon Valley –  www.sustainablesiliconvalley.org
~ Santa Clara Valley Water DistrictThe Santa Clara Valley Water district has an entire section on Global warming on their website including the district’s perspectives and their plans for dealing with Global Warming Solutions.  They also have great links for further educating yourself on the solutions being looked at around the Santa Clara Valley and beyond.  ––  www.valleywater.org
~ Acterra – Located in Palo Alto, Acterra strives to provide answers and perform actions to help create a healthier planet.  One of the goals’ of Acterra is to bring people together to develop local solutions to Global Warming and related problems.  The website calendar is filled with events to help people find solutions to Global Warming.  There programs include training people to help others in their communities learn to led greener lives.  There informative website also has an environmental question and answer section, an Ask the Expert area and an environmental library.  —  www.acterra.org
~ PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center – offering free training classes in building efficiency, solar installation, lighting, HVAC, etc.  —  www.pge.com/pec/


~ NOAA – the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, which recently published an article in their news section saying that climate changes may not be reversible for a thousand years.  —  www.noaa.gov
Irreversible Climate Change article  —

~ Environmental Defense Fund – The Environmental Defense Fund states on their website that they are “dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people, including future generations. Among these rights are access to clean air and water, healthy and nourishing food, and flourishing ecosystems.”  They evaluate environmental problems based on science such as access to clean air and water, healthy and nourishing food, and flourishing ecosystems. They also promote solutions to the problems they evaluate.  Their website is filled with research and information related to global warming.  — www.edf.org
~ RMI – the Rocky Mountain Institute has been researching energy efficiency since the ’70s. They research and publish many reports & books on mixing sustainability with profitability.  —  www.rmi.org
~ ACEEE – the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy is a great resource for finding the most efficient appliances and the tax rebates they can get you. — www.aceee.org


William McDonough, achitect, author of Cradle to Cradle

A follow up on William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, whom I referred to in a prior post. Time magazine named him “Hero of the Planet“. I saw him speak at Stanford on Oct. 15th. He hit his main points from the earlier podcast, but with new detail and data. (Links below.) He discussed eco-efficiency within architecture, civic planning, general manufacturing processes

He states a goal we should conditionally adopt:

“Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power, economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.”

I say conditionally, because we don’t know now what we will know in the future. We may need to modify this as time goes one. And overcommitment to any one philosophy is a bad idea. It could then be called an ‘-ism’, like socialism, capitalism, or ecologism. That last one’s from McDonough, who adds that an ‘-ism’ is fundamentally out of balance, leading society inevitably towards troubles. He advocates a balance, where society maintains an equilibrium between being ecological, economical and equitable.

During the Q&A phase, I asked who he would like to see as a Presidential adviser on the subjects of sustainability and energy, he suggested John Holdren, Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center. He was also on an science advisory committee for President Clinton. My impression from casual research on Professor Holdren is that he would bring a balanced approach in advising for sustainablity while reminding everyone of the value of expertise. We need to undo and more the efforts of the Bush administration to devalue science in our culture. One of our dire needs right now is for government to get advice from true experts on how to best direct the limited resources of our declining economy towards climate change mitigation, prosperity and equality.

McDonough also said he would like to see substantial activity at the federal level aimed towards building and vehicular efficiency, sustainable energy, improving infrastructure, etc.

Scary Facts:
~ In the North Pacific Gyre, the large scale vortex flow in the North Pacific driven by the Coriolis effect, there is a ratio of plastic to plankton of 6 to 1.
~ 48% of the anthropogenic carbon since the industrial revolution has gone into the oceans. This has dampened the atmospheric global warming effects, but we are raising the acidity of seawater. Historically, the Ph has been between 8.8 and 8.2 according to the Ross Ice Shelf cores. We are currently at 8.06 and it could reach 7.9 by 2099. At 7.9 Ph, calcium carbonate goes into solution, meaning that none of the creatures that make shells will be able to do so. This will create a huge die-off at the bottom of the food chain, creating more die-offs further along the food chain. In other words, massive extinctions and a potential end to the fishing industry.

A few of the examples he sited during his talk:

~ Better Place: CEO Shai Agassi has a vision of oil independence for Isreal by employing plug-in electric vehicles with batteries that can be swapped at service stations for trips longer than a single charge. ~ Wiki article

~ Could we just lift farmlands up onto the roofs of buildings, so that the city integrates farms rather than displacing them? McDonough + Partners worked on a plan with the city of Liuzhou in China to implement his Eco-Efficiency standards into an upcoming expansion of the city. All the new apartment buildings will have rooftop gardens & solar panels, and the local sewage treatment plant will provide fertilizer and 20% of the local cooking gas.

~ For the green roof of the Gap HQ in Redwood City, they planted native grasses of the area, taking a first step in reversing the trend of developers reducing the native habitats of local birds and incects.

~ For the roof of a Ford truck plant in Michigan, they made a 10 acre green roof that captures the rainwater that would have had to be cleaned by a waste treatment plant. They saved money immediately, and their roof is consuming CO2 and providing habitat.

McDonough + Partners, architectural firm
MBDC, a green chemistry firm

Balancing Economy, Equity, and Ecology Through DesignOct. 15, 2008 – at Stanford, audio & some video
Speech at the Feb. 2005 TED talks, MP4 download
Cradle to Cradle Design, a talk on Feb 11, 2003 at Stanford, audio

The Credit Crisis, Insurance and Sprawl

As we face this financial crisis, we can watch for at least one positive effect from an environmental standpoint: less sprawl.

Both the lending mechanisms and the insurance industry have been hurt badly. This will result in more caution on the part of developers, their investors, and their customers. They will build fewer developments due to the comparative lack of available funds. And where they do build, they will find less demand from home buyers whose agenda coincides more and more with the sustainable development movement:

– High gas prices discourage too long a commute.
– The migration of population away from remote suburbs towards more dense urban centers will mean the jobs will follow.
– If there’s too much of a threat from floods, forest fires, hurricanes, or coastal erosion, then insurance will either be too expensive or totally unavailable.

So as the population moves from owning to renting, the units closer to jobs will be in higher demand. The developers will build denser neighborhoods with shorter commutes and less insurance risks from climate change effects. And the wise home-buyer will be seeking out more sustainable homes, giving the green developer a market advantage.

And with enough of a sustainability sentiment in government, we might even see additional market incentives through a carbon market or tax breaks for LEED homes.

There will be personal hardship for many, and I don’t mean to minimize or dismiss the impending struggles of those who will suffer (probably including myself). But I am pleased that some of the market mechanisms seem to be making the more sustainable choices coincide with financial wisdom.


We need a Climate Change Design Challenge Forum

Scary Idea: Technology learns 10,000 times faster than you do (according to John Smart of the Acceleration Studies Foundation).

For example, the silicon chip industry has remained consistent with Moore’s Law, doubling almost 30 times the concentration of transistors per chip per $1000 since its invention. That means that today’s chip is about 10 billion times better than it was 50 years ago.

Since we designed our technology to get us into this ever-increasing climate disaster, maybe we should start designing our technology to get us out of it. So how do we do that? We start by specifying what is needed. Industry calls such specifications design challenges. They usually seek them out on their own, but we need solutions faster. So let’s start collecting and voting on the best ideas for improving the situation.

There are a few advantages for the marketplace specifying what is needed. One is that the design challenges remain in the public space. Patents won’t keep other companies, governments and individuals from coming up with new, better solutions. And solutions can be low budget enough to be accessible to the poor and developing country populations.

Another advantage would be shifting of some of the market research out of the hands of the short-term profit oriented corporations and into the hands of the community. We can ask for solutions that won’t be huge sellers in Walmart in the next quarter. (See Chris Anderson’s notions on ‘the Long Tail’ and ‘Free’ –
http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail3328.html )

Our technology development cycles will seek to solve these design challenges, treating the victims of the unresolved issues as an unserved market eager for a solution in the form of a product or service. Why? Because these are ripe market opportunities. As Vinod Khosla, the founder of Sun Microsystems and Khosla Ventures said, “No one will pay you to solve a non-problem.” “Every big problem is a big opportunity.”
(video clip: http://edcorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=26)

A third advantage is that the community would do it’s own marketing for the best solutions. A voting process would show companies and inventors both what the solutions were the most demanded (what they should be working on) and which solutions were the best (how each solution performs). This would encourage industry, technologists, and Do-It-Yourself types to design better solutions faster.

Google has made something of a start along this process. Their “10ToThe100” contest (which just stopped accepting submissions, dammit!) is looking for the best ideas based upon how many would be helped. They are in a narrowing phase right now and will offer the 100 best ideas for public voting on Jan. 27th. So make sure you vote.

I missed the deadline, so I will post a few of my ideas over the next few days. And I make no apologies if they are a bit out of reach of current technology. Remember these are design challenges, and technology is a fast learner.

10-22-08   >>>Dan

References & Inspirations:

~ Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, Author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, and Disrupting Class
Podcast: http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail135.html
Book purchase: The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business (Collins Business Essentials)
The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

~ John Smart of the Acceleration Studies Foundation
Site: http://www.accelerating.org/
Podcasts: http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail729.html

~ William McDonough of William McDonough + Partners, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), and author of Cradle to Cradle
Site: http://www.mcdonough.com/
Podcast: http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail3142.html
Book purchase: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

~Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems and Khosla Ventures
video clip: http://edcorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=26

~ Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, author of The Long Tail and Free (being published in ’09… for FREE!)
Book purchase: Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

EDITT Tower in Singapore

“The EDITT Tower (Ecological Design In The Tropics) is set to be built in downtown Singapore. It’s design integrates a gray water system, central recycling, passive heating and cooling and solar panels. Half of the surface area of the building will be covered in local, organic vegetation. If that isn’t enough, sewage from the building’s inhabitants will be converted into biogas. Go Poo Power!”

via 2Modern Design Talk

Holy Shit…

Mark Lakeman of City Repair Interview

Highlights starting from:   6:28    12:10    16:05    21:35

Educating the public about the Water Cycle…

Waterblogged is now my favorite water site… lol

“Below, Waterblogged.info presents the proud winners of the future coveted Waterblogged.info Excellent Trophy for Truly Inspiring Excellence, informally dubbed the Wettie, soon to be a word in a household near you.”

Category: Best Inevitable Use of Rap in a Video about the Water Cycle

The Winner:

“The Water Cycle Jump” by Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

“Your mind must be on vacation if you don’t know about evaporation.”

Category: Best Well-meaning Public Service Animation about the Water Cycle Gone Terribly, Terribly Wrong

The Winner:

Groundwater Animation produced for the King County (Oregon) Water and Land Resources Division.

Honorable Mention: “The Water Cycle,” produced for NASA. Why?

Honorable Mention: Protect Your Water – Groundwater – Video 9, produced for the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is unintentionally unintentionally funny.

Category: Best Use of Minimalist Claymation in a Video about the Water Cycle

The Winner: “Bob and the Water Cycle.”

Bob is a blob.”

Category: Best Video about the Water Cycle Created by–We Guess–a Science Teacher Whom Students Either Love or Consider Weird, or Both

The Winner:

“The Water Cycle” by Mr. Davis.

“Somewhere, out there, the sun is shining on a little puddle. That’s just part of something we call the water cycle.”

Category: Best Tortured Use of Anime in a Video about the Water Cycle that Rips Off the Above-cited Mr. Davis’s Song

The Winner:

Fruits Basket Science Theater’s “The Water Cycle”

In all seriousness, I think they should regularly air some of these on t.v.

The Real Cost of the Beijing Olympics

This Friday, in Beijing, begins the 17 days of international competition that countries take years to prepare for. It is easy to carried away with the Olympics. Over ten thousand athletes from two hundred and five countries will compete for the gold in 28 sports. The games will be covered by every major media outlet in the world. NBC alone is planning over 3,600 hours of programming across its sister stations. In every sense of the word, the games will truly be a spectacle. China sees the Olympics as its official arrival unto the international stage and has been busily preparing since it was chosen to host the games in 2001. The Olympics are not often held in developing countries. 

The progress in Beijing has been dramatic as China has sought to make bold statement about the progress it has made as a country economically, technologically, and even ecologically. In anticipation of the Olympics, Beijing became a massive construction site. Its stadiums and buildings are an impressive site. A 91,000 seat stadium wrapped in tensile like steel dubbed the bird’s nest and a giant cube of plastic bubbles mimicking water molecules surrounding the Olympic swimming pool are but a couple of examples that have been applauded by the architecture and design community for their design and innovation. Architects have seen in China the chance to try anything: the chance to build the gargantuan and the outlandish, to leave an indelible impression in the history of Architecture, to build modern monuments. It works. The stadiums are well suited to the role of being China’s opportunity to promote its image abroad. But what can you truly say about an architecture that is said to be only able to exist in China, an authoritative state?

Not only did  the stadiums and other Olympic venues need to be built, but so did the infrastructure needed to support them. New roads have been constructed and old roads repaved. Sidewalks have been added and so have parks. Flowers raised specially to bloom in August and trees have been planted. Subway and rail lines have been built. New housing has been constructed and the buildings surrounding the Olympic venues and transit routes have been upgraded. Bejing looks now not like a modern city, but a city of the future, at least on the surface. What we may call progress has been made, but at what costs? Financially the cost are tremendous. The costs for the games is expected to top 44 billion dollars. The new stadium cost around $500 million dollars and the new airport over 3 billion. The costs itself is several more times the cost of the 2004 games. And though this is a small portion of China’s national economy, hundreds of millions are still mired in poverty. As spending on the Olympics has increased, social spending has faltered. “Until there is a full, accurate, transparent accounting for the full Olympics expenditures — not just estimates and budgeted figures — you can’t really argue anything about…costs being reasonable,” says Sharon Hom, the executive director of Human Rights in China, based in New York.

The social costs (links to PDF) too have been high. To make room for development, people have been forced from their homes and property often with little or no compensation, not enough to provide for them the life they had worked to accomplish. Evictions have been forced and often violent. The threat of violence, torture, and prison keep most from protesting. Estimates for the amount of displaced people because of the Olympics are estimated to be as high as 1.5 million. What the land is used for often profits those in power. After their homes and property are stolen, they are often demolished to build in their place more profitable developments: luxury high rises, golf courses, and shopping plazas. Those forced off the land often end up meanwhile in shanty towns.

These were to be a green Olympics. The different Olympic venues have made efforts to incorporate some sustainable building practices. China has made an effort to improve its environment. As a response to concerns about the air quality in Beijing, car usage has been limited, steel mills have been retrofitted or shut down, and factories have been relocated. They were needed efforts, if done for perhaps the wrong reasons. The scale of China’s ecological problems are huge, and exist far outside of Beijing. The majority of its rivers are polluted making potable water inaccessible to nearly half of the population. And since Beijing was awarded the Olympic games, birth defects, which many have linked to the pollution in China, have increased 40 percent. Together, it seems like a very steep price for just 17 days of the Olympic games. 

Additional Information: What will China do for the Gold?

DIY Home Energy

Quest, a science program that airs on KQED public television in San Francisco, recently ran a program featuring three Bay Area individuals whose homes make extensive use of alternative energy. Here is a summary. Chris Beaudouin, a resident of the Castro district, at the recommendation of California’s Department of the Environment, contacted Blue Green Pacific, the wind generation start-up company of another San Francisco resident, Todd Pelman, who is a marine and energy engineer. Soon to be on top of Chris’s garage (only one has been installed), looking as he describes it like two pieces of sculpture, will be two vertical wind turbines. He is anticipating that his experiment with micro-wind generation will reduce his energy bill 20-30%. The target price for one of the systems is $5000 dollars. Pelman estimates the payback period to be 8-10 years. Gavin Newsom, recently encouraged home owners to experiment with wind energy.

The second home featured is the home of Lisa and Michael Rubenstein, a 6,000 sf single level home in Hillsborough. Despite its size, the average monthly energy bill is $8. The Rubensteins wanted their dream home to be as sustainable as possible and so invested in a geothermal system as well as PV cells. The home is 41 percent more efficient than state Build It Green Standards. (The home was built before a residential LEED program was in place.) Other eco-friendly measures include: graywater recycling, reclaimed wood floor, insulation made from recycled denim, dual flush toilets, and fly-ash concrete. 

The third home was the remodeled Victorian home of Dixon Beatty and Stephanie Parrot. They remodeled the home to use solar thermal energy to provide hot water and heat to their house and photovoltaic cells to meet most of their electricity needs.