Thought provoking articles and debate
Opinions expressed in ‘Think Tank’ do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sustainable Wales.
Nuclear Energy?: One strand of hope for environmental and social justice on a crowded planet? Steve Harris, January 2012. A Schumacher Institute Challenge Paper published here with permission. (PDF version 109kb)
Steve Harris is a Research Fellow at the Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems, Bristol, UK, where he investigates the social, technical and economic challenges of climate change and the transition to post- carbon living
Interesting article in the NY Times: Let’s be less Productive (May 26 2012)
But the relentless drive for productivity may also have some natural limits. Ever-increasing productivity means that if our economies don’t continue to expand, we risk putting people out of work. If more is possible each passing year with each working hour, then either output has to increase or else there is less work to go around. Like it or not, we find ourselves hooked on growth.
… here’s another view:
RSA Lecture: Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith explains why the environment must be considered as a strategic priority in reviving economic growth.
USA 2012 Drought implications:
US farms are already crippled: the Department of Agriculture says the corn (maize) crop is likely to be the worst since 1995. As a result, the Food Price Index (FPI) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization rose 6 per cent in July, to 213.
That is dangerously high, says Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Massachusetts. He has found that if the FPI goes above 210, riots and unrest become more likely around the world. Both the 2011 Arab Spring and the 2008 riots in places such as Mexico, India, Russia and Belgium may have been partly triggered by high food prices.
New Scientist 17 Aug 2012 full article
So is it time to consider something a little more radical? Specifically, the family of ideas for restraining climate change captured under the rubric of geoengineering? Or, as the U.K.’s Royal Society puts it: the deliberate, large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment. As the guest editors of a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A note: “Geoengineering is no longer the realm of science fiction.”
The science fiction-y schemes vary from proposals to block out the sun viamimicking volcanic eruptions to massive machines the size of power-plant cooling towers to strip CO2 from the air at an accelerated rate. Or maybe you prefer creatingCO2-storing peatlands by raising water tables, or engineering Sphagnum moss to better fend off microbial decomposition when dead. While we’re at it, the crops that cover 11 percent of Earth’s continental surface could be engineered to reflect more sunlight, or the ocean near Antarctica could be fertilized with iron to promotediatom blooms that ultimately bury carbon at sea.
Scientific American August 15 2012 full article
Climate modeler Ken Caldeira of Stanford University discusses in the September 2012 issue of Scientific American in his article “The Great Climate Experiment,” we are now effectively setting the temperature of the planet for the next several millennia. See our blog article “Croeso to the Athropocene”