Costa Rica has provided all of its electricity from renewables, usually a mix of 68 percent hydro, 15 percent geothermal, and 17% mostly diesel and gas, for the first 100 days of 2015. The Tico Times reports (http://www.ticotimes.net/...)
"The clean energy streak is likely to continue. Last Friday [April 17, 2015] ICE (Costa Rica Electricity Institute) released a report estimating that 97 percent of the country’s electricity will be produced from renewables this year. This is good news for Costa Rican residents, who will see their electricity prices drop up to 15 percent starting this month."
In 2016, Costa Rica is a launching a satellite to monitor CO2 across the world tropical belt
"...the first Central American satellite, built in Costa Rica, will be launched into space in 2016. The satellite will collect and relay daily data on carbon dioxide to evaluate the effects of climate change."
Costa Rica announced in 2009 that it plans to be a carbon neutral country by 2021 and they are following through on that planning.
63% of adults in the USA think global warming is happening. In every state and every Congressional district the majority admits the existence of global warming. There are only 37 counties in 14 states, according to Yale Climate Opinion, where the majority rejects this idea. The lowest percentage, the least belief in the existence of global warming, is 46% in West Virginia's Mason and Pleasants counties. If I were running a public education campaign on global warming, I'd consider targeting the people in those counties, in those states to change the 2% here and 3% there so that there is no longer even one county in all of the USA where ignoring the existence of global warming is a majority opinion, no matter how slim that majority might be.
Here is the list of the states and counties with their respective percentages of belief:
West Virginia: Marshall 49% Putnam 48% Grant 48% Mason 46% Pleasants 46%
Tennessee: Pickett 48% Roane 49% Hancock 49% Hawkins 47% Humphreys 47%
Kentucky: Muhlenberg 49% Mercer 49% Lawrence 48% Webster 47% Hancock 47%
Louisiana: De Soto 49% St Charles 49% Point Coupee 48% West Feliciana 47%
Alabama: Washington 49% Limestone 49% Jackson 49%
Indiana: Pike 49% Vermillion 48% Spencer 47%
Texas: Kenedy 48% Freestone 48% Rusk 48%
Utah: Milland 49% Emery 48%
Wyoming: Platte 47%
Kansas: Linn 49%
Arkansas: Independence 49%
Mississippi: Choctaw 49%
Oklahoma: Noble 48% Mayes 48%
Nebraska: Lincoln 48%
Based on the county opinion map of the "Estimated % of adults who think global warming is happening, 2014" at http://environment.yale.edu/...
I was cleaning out my storeroom the other day and came across another recycled solar device that I was fooling with a few years ago. A one liter clear plastic bottle makes a good hot cap or cloche when you cut the bottom off it. Plant a seedling, pop the bottomless clear cap over it, and you protect the seedling from the cold. It probably adds between 5 and 10 degrees F over the outside temperature by protecting the seedling from the wind and by capturing sunlight in a small, closed space. My twist on this idea was to find different sizes of clear plastic bottles which could nest one inside the other making a double-glazed hot cap cloche. A double-glazed hot cap cloche might be able to protect the seedlings even better, keeping that small, closed space even warmer than the outside air.
This afternoon, I planted two tomato seedlings in my garden using this device. We'll see whether it works.
Peter Coleman, Columbia
Making Conflict Work (http://www.makingconflictwork.com) book talk
Self assessment available at
30 minute set of questions
Not outcomes but patterns and relationships over time
Hierarchical power conflicts - over power differences
3 aspects of a situation in conflict: how important is this, are they with me or against me, are they more or less powerful than me (or equal)
these interact to create 7 situations - compassionate responsibility, partnership, cooperative dependence, command and control, enemy territory, unhappy tolerance, independence
basic mindsets: benevolence, cooperation, support, dominance, competition, appeasement, autonomy
People tend to get stuck in the orientation which is most common in their experience
Planted the first bed of peas in my garden today with some lettuce and spinach sharing the space and set up a solar coldframe in which I planted cucumber, kale and rocket salad seeds. A few more beet seeds are planted outside around the bottles which act as heat storage for the solar coldframe, green water filled plastic bottles to the North, clear water filled bottles to the South. The water holds the solar heat into the night and modifies the temperature under the clear plastic bottle with its bottom cut off that sits in the center of the circle of recycled bottles.
This little video on Recycled Solar explains how to make a three toned tuned solar cloche from recycled plastic bottles. Been using the solar coldframe/cloche/hotcap for years. Wish I could figure out how to embed the actual video in this dkos posting.
Tuesday, March 31 I saw Andreas Kraemer, International Institute for Advanced Sustainability in Pottsdam, founder of the Ecological Institute of Berlin, and currently associated with Duke University, speak at both Harvard and MIT. His subject was the German Energiewende, energy turnaround, energy tack (as in sailing), or energy transition, and also the title of a book published in 1980 (Energiewende by Von F. Krause, H. Bossel and K. F. Müller-Reissmann) 1980 which described how to power Germany without fossil fuels or nuclear, partially a response to the oil shocks of the 1970s, and probably the beginning of the nuclear phase-out. Chernobyl in 1986 gave another shove in that direction and continues to do so as Chernobyl is still happening in Germany with radioactive contamination of soils, plants, animals, and Baltic Sea fish.
In 1990 the feedin tariff began but it was not started for solar. It was originally intended to give displaced hydroelectric capacity in conservative Bavaria a market and a bill was passed in Parliament very quickly, supported by the Conservatives (Blacks) in consensus with the Greens and Reds as they all agreed on incentizing renewable, local energy production through a feedin tariff on utility bills. Cross party consensus on this issue remains today. This is not a subsidy but an incentive with the costs paid by the customers. The feedin tariff has a period of 20 years and some have been retired.
Solar began with the 1000 roofs project in 1991-1994. There are 1.7 million solar roofs now although, currently, Spain and Portugal have faster solar growth rates than Germany. Renewables provide 27% of electricity, have created 80,000-100,000 new jobs directly in the industry, up to 300,000 if indirect jobs are added, and is contributing 40 billion euros per year to the German economy. By producing energy domestically Germany has built a local industry, increased tax revenue and Social Security payments, and maintained a better balance of trade through import substitution. During the recession that began in 2008, Germany had more economic stability and was even able to expand the renewable sector because steel for wind turbine towers was available at lower prices and financing was forthcoming.
For the past year, the Cambridge, MA city government has had a Getting to Net Zero Task Force studying the implications of a net zero energy building requirement. They finished the draft report on March 16, 2015 and will have an open forum to introduce the study to the public on Wednesday, April 8.
The Task Force defined net zero as "an annual balance of zero greenhouse gas emissions from building operations citywide, achieved through improved energy efficiency and carbon-free energy production," applying it to the net zero target at the community level (citywide).
Net zero new construction (at the building level as opposed to citywide) is defined as "developments that achieve net zero emissions from their operations, through energy efficient design, onsite renewable energy, renewable energy infrastructure such as district energy, and, if appropriate, the limited purchase of RECs [Renewable Energy Credits] and GHG [Greenhouse Gas] offsets."
The objectives for the proposed actions from 2015 to 2035 and beyond include
(a) ...target of Net Zero Emissions for new construction: New buildings should achieve net zero beginning in 2020, starting with municipal buildings and phasing in the requirement for other building types between 2022-2030.
(b) targeted improvements to existing buildings: The Building Energy Use and Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) will provide the information necessary to target energy retrofit activity, including, over the long term, the regulation of energy efficiency retrofits at time of renovation and/or sale of property.
(c) proliferation of renewable energy: Increase renewable energy generation, beginning with requiring solar-ready new construction and support for community solar projects, evolving to a minimum requirement for onsite renewable energy generation.
(d) coordinated communications and engagement: Support from residents and key stakeholders is imperative to the success of the initiative.
You can read the full report at http://www.cambridgema.gov/...
and access other information about the Task Force at http://www.cambridgema.gov/...
Here's the text of a presentation I did today at Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Building Energy conference. This was the first time they addressed urban agriculture.
Everybody eats and it's primarily solar powered. We are all solar powered through the food that we eat. Officially, we produce between 95 and 100 quadrillion btu's of energy per year in the US, an amount that's remained steady for the last 15 years or so while the GDP has continued to increase. However, we don't count any of the sunlight that powers photosynthesis on the crops we consume. All that sunlight is "free" and not included. A back of the envelope estimate is that there's at least 300 quadrillion btu's of sunlight required for the photosynthesis that grows our food. Our world is solar powered, has always been solar powered, will always be solar powered until the sun dies out.
Everybody eats and, by last count, 35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in the last five years. Gardening for food tends to go up in times of economic distress. Add those households which grow flowers or have a houseplant and I'd estimate about half of us garden.
Everybody eats, half of us garden, and everybody poops. In a fully functioning ecosystem "waste equals food." Cities, neighborhoods, and buildings are all beginning to be seen and designed as metabolisms, taking in raw materials, processing them, and producing wastes which can then be used as a feedstock for other processes. We are becoming biomimetic and learning from such fellow creatures as termites how to control heat and cold and humidity. Termites also "garden" and keep livestock, one of the ways that the temperature and humidity remains constant within their mounds. We are also learning how we can design ecological systems to process our own wastes safely into fertilizer and food.
Cities scale is where real climate change adaptation is taking place, now, whether or not we have national or international agreements on greenhouse gases. Cities and regions have to deal with weather emergencies and, it turns out, preparing for weather emergencies and other natural disasters is very much like adapting to climate change. The best of it can be climate mitigation, too.
One way cities are climbing the learning curve is by holding design competitions. In Boston, the city, the Harbor Association, the Redevelopment Authority, and the Society of Architects are hosting the Boston Living with Water, an international call for design solutions that create a "more resilient, more sustainable, and more beautiful Boston adapted for end-of-the-century climate conditions and rising sea levels." They will be announcing the finalist on Thursday, February 26 but you can vote on which of the 49 different plans you like until 12 pm (EST) on Wednesday, February 25 at http://www.bostonlivingwithwater.org/...
The contest is based upon the recent reports by the Harbor Association on sea level rise and the Building Resilience in Boston by the Green Ribbon Commission. Supporting documentation also includes "Designing with Water: Creative Solutions from Around the Globe" which presents twelve case studies from around the world:
World-wide networks and best practices case studies can be very helpful.
Eradicating Child Homelessness in MA
Monday, March 2
9 – 5 PM
Lesley University, University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Good on Lesley University, one of the other institutions of higher education in Cambridge, MA, for hosting this conference.
At the risk of being thought simplistic, I'd like to point out that Utah’s cut its homeless population considerably simply by giving people housing. LA and other cities are suing to use public health money to house the most at risk homeless on the basis that it reduces health care costs for the community. MA should do the same. How many empty buildings and how many unhoused people?
Eradicate child homelessness in Massachusetts? Make damn sure everybody has access to a roof over their heads. We know it can be done.
Pollster Peter Hart spoke at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on February 3, 2015 to a small group of people in the regular Tuesday noon conversation. He brought slides from the recent NBC/WallStreetJournal poll done just prior to state of the union
The major point was that the Michigan consumer index is well up over 85% and his own polling shows that people are more satisfied with the economy (45% to 55%) than they have been before. The recovery is still not complete but people seem to be feeling better about their economic future.
Creating jobs, defeating ISIS, reducing the deficit are the top three issues, in different order, for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents but people, in general, hate the government and, in particular, loathe Congress.
Hart related how in one a focus group, a Republican woman, Jenny, said the politician she'd most like to spend an hour with is Elizabeth Warren. She was mad at Boehner because he said everyone who needs a job has one. As her husband has been out of work and looking for 18 months, she knows that's not true. She also feels caught since she went back to school for more training and to advance in her job. Now she has student loans that amount to about $1300 a month, nearly twice her monthly rent.