Sustainable News

Have you ever heard about Geoengineering?

By Marcia Booth – president and founder, Recycle Brevard and Sustainable FloridiansSM graduate

This week I was introduced to the term. For the ones who are reading about it for the first time, it is defined as “intervention via technology in the climate system itself” and it was suggested for the first time to President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. While reading about it, it sounded just like a science fiction story. A bad one.

“With climate change accelerating and little being done to curb the greenhouse gas emissions, some scientists have resurrected the idea of ‘deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment,’” as the article on Scientific American informs on April 6, 2010.

Another article much more recent published by the Guardian goes on to try to answer the question: Is geoengineering a bad idea?

I do not know much about it and am in no way an expert on any of that, but as soon as I read the things that scientists would try to do, I cringed. “Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques would suck the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere and lock it away underground or in the oceans. Albedo modification (AM) involves increasing the reflectivity (albedo) of the earth so the warming effect from the sun is diminished. […]If the global community were to engage in AM, the most likely way would be to send sulphur-burning planes into the stratosphere or within clouds. The compounds released, known as aerosols, absorb and scatter sunlight and affect the brightness of clouds. Modelling suggests that enough aerosols could have a substantive cooling effect. The NAS warned the side effects of such a programme were unpredictable and there could be far reaching human and environmental impacts, including further depletion of the ozone layer and changes to rainfall.”

“Yikes!” was the only thing I could say.

This kind of solution sounds like one of those magic diets -- you just need to take a pill and it will do it all for you; no exercise or sensible eating needed. And of course, who knows what happens after you take the pill.



Seeing Systems - Peace,Justice & Sustainability

By Chris Kane, Sustainable FloridiansSM graduate

I just completed the Northwest Earth Institute’s first on-line course entitled “Seeing Systems:  Peace, Justice & Sustainability”.  If you remember, Northwest Earth Institute put together our “Choices for Sustainable Living” discussion course.  The course was $39 which included the course book and was held once a week for three weeks.  We only covered three of the sessions included in the book.  I believe they said we had about 40 people participating in the course – 15 were actively on line and the rest listened to the recordings of the sessions.

I thought it was a great course, although I wish we would have had more on line discussion time because it was so interesting to hear everyone’s perspective on the subject matter.  Terry will be glad to know that they referenced the “iceberg” many times.

The course primarily talked about systems in place and how to deal with them; earth justice and co-creating lasting peace.   The viewpoints of participants were varied and diverse.

My takeaway moments were our discussion on earth democracy (“earth democracy evolves from the consciousness that while we are rooted locally we are also connected to the world as a whole, and, in fact, to the entire universe”) and learning what the phrase “the commons” means.  I won’t keep you in suspense – the commons is defined as:  “…resources shared by all members of a society, and are not privately owned.  The commons can include natural resources like water, air, and public land; cultural resources like software, literature and music; and public goods like public education and public infrastructure. “  Annie Leonard’s work on sustainability was discussed many times and since I am an admirer of her work I enjoyed that, and lastly when we were discussing peace building they used this to remind us of the steps:

P Practice  Peace is about behavior.  We need to practice peace.
E Engage Engage with our environment (people, places and things).
A Allow Allow for differences and different perspectives.
C Create Create and seek out opportunities to build peace.
E Emerge Emerge transformed as a peace opportunist.

I’m hoping that they’ll be offering more on-line courses in the future or that we can somehow hold another one here.  While for some reason new folks aren’t knocking down the doors for a new “Choices for Sustainable Living” class, I think our core group would be interested in another course along the same lines.  Food for thought people………..