Bill Nye’s Book on the Science of Climate Change Solutions

Science Guy Bill Nye’s new book on climate change, Unstoppable, is an outstanding and (I’m fairly certain) unique book about climate change, focusing on the science behind the many solutions available to us. With a friendly, down-to-earth, entertaining delivery, Nye provides clear and useful explanations of both current and just-over-the-horizon technologies and related scientfic phenomena. The result is a book that will appeal both to science enthusiasts and to anyone interested in a constructive, hopeful, extremely well-informed book about the science of fighting climate change.

Unstoppable

Nye for the most part takes no sides except that of the science, so that when discussing controversial topics (like nuclear energy, for instance), he provides not a prebaked opinion, but rather a careful description of pros, cons, and unintended consequences. Because he focuses on the scientific realities and near-term possibilities, his perspective is as refreshing as it is informative.

Some of the solutions Nye describes are available right now, like home energy efficiency improvements and solar power generation. Others should emerge in the next few years, like self-driving cars and widespread use of home power battery packs, which still others are only hopes for the future, like entirely new kinds of power transmission lines made from carbon fiber and truly sustainable biofuels.

One shortcoming I see in the book is an incomplete treatment of carbon footprints–although to be fair, few sources I’ve seen take an in-depth approach in calculating carbon footprints (Mike Berners-Lee’s How Bad Are Bananas? is a stand-out exception). For example, Nye more than once refers to nuclear power as carbon-free, which may be true if all you’re looking at is direct emissions from the power plant itself, but which fails to take into account the carbon footprint from construction of these extremely resource-intensive facilities or of mining their fuel (and later handling the resulting nuclear waste). As another example, when discussing self-driving taxipods, Nye doesn’t examine the extra impact of these vehicles having to drive to where their are passengers in the first place, which is probably a negligible concern in urban areas but much more significant elsewhere.

The Nye Home in Studio City, CA

The Nye Home in Studio City, CA

Another problem with the book is Nye’s multi-chapter discussion toward the end of the book about space exploration, a section has virtually nothing to do with climate change. Nye being the C.E.O. of the Planetary Exploration Society, I can well understand his support, but rocket launches (which are required even for, to give an example, the solar-powered spacecraft he discusses) are among the very worst offenders in terms of greenhouse gas emissions of any human activity. Climate impact expert Mike Berners-Lee estimates a space shuttle launch emits at least 4,600,000 kilograms CO2 equivalent, roughly similar to 200 years of emissions for an average American, 1,500 years of emissions for an average citizen of China, or 46,000 years of emissions for the average Malawian.

Space boosterism emphatically doesn’t belong in a book on climate change, but you can safely skip chapters 31 to 33 without missing anything important climate change information, or read them if you are curious about space travel (though I’d encourage everyone to think of that as something to explore further after we’ve dealt with climate change). Either way, those chapters don’t much detract from what otherwise, on the whole, is an excellent set of insights into climate change and its solutions.

115 Good Sources of Information on Climate Change and Carbon Footprint

I’ve been working on my current book project, the novel The Town at World’s End, since late 2012. The story follows climate change educator Jess Finch from tragedy in an unseasonable and outsize storm through trying to piece her life back together and make a real difference in climate change. On the way, it imparts a huge amount of specific, practical information on reducing carbon footprint–not just facts, but experiences, problems, contradictions, motivation, obstacles, side benefits … even how to make sure the wires don’t fall into the wall when you’re installing a programmable thermostat.

Anyway, it wasn’t until a good ways into the project that I realized I needed to be maintaining a bibliography. Even though this is a novel, it’s based on a massive body of research, writing, and other resources, many of which are well worth reading (or seeing, as the case may be).

How long ’til doomsday? Should I replace my windows? How do I grow my own food year round in a cold climate without wasting energy? What’s biochar? How do I talk with someone who doesn’t even believe climate change is a threat? It’s all in the below, plus a lot more. Actually, it’s enormously encouraging to me to realize how many smart, dedicated, hard-working, resourceful people are out there working on all of the facets of the climate change problem. If you’re one of them, I’d like to take this moment to express my deep gratitude and to cheer you on.

I still have a lot of work to do in pulling that bibliography together, adding other items, formatting it usefully, categorizing, and so forth, but as an initial step I thought I’d share the initial bibliography notes, in case it’s helpful to anyone in finding good sources of information on climate change and carbon footprint.

How Bad Are Bananas

How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything
Mike Berners-Lee
Greystone Books, April 1, 2011

“How to Start a Shuttle Business”
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/start-shuttle-business-2080.html
by Felicia Greene, Demand Media
Retrieved 6/24/14

“Interviews with flood victims in Oxford”
http://www.climateoutreach.org.uk/portfolio-item/video-floods-and-climate-change/
Climate Outreach & Information Network
Retrieved 7/7/14

“How much electricity does an American home use?”
http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3
US Energy Information Administration
Retrieved 7/8/14

“Average Household Electricty Use Around the World”
http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/average-household-electricity-consumption
Retrieved 7/8/14

“George Marshall on How to Talk to a Climate Change Dissenter”
Climate Access
http://www.climateaccess.org/resource/tip-sheet-george-marshall-how-talk-climate-change-dissenter
Retrieved 7/16/14

Extreme Weather: Climate Change in Action?
British Library
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyZVahX87As
Viewed 7/16/14

Don't Even Think About It

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change
George Marshall
Bloomsbury USA (August 19, 2014)
(Portions of the book made available to Luc by the author prior to publication)

“Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States”
http://riskybusiness.org/report/overview/executive-summary
The Risky Business Project
June 2014

An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore
Viking Books, 4/10/07

“Global Food Waste in 8 Numbers”
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-28140395
7/3/14
Viewed 7/24/14

“Intermarché – ‘Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables'”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2nSECWq_PE
7/12/14
Viewed 7/20/14

“Deforestation and Its Extreme Effect on Global Warming”
Scientific American
Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, Nov 13, 2012
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deforestation-and-global-warming/
Retrieved 7/24/14

“Health care accounts for eight percent of US carbon footprint, calculation finds”
ScienceDaily, 11/13/2009
University of Chicago Medical Center
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110171647.htm
Retrieved 7/29/14
based on
Jeanette W. Chung; David O. Meltzer. Estimate of the Carbon Footprint of the US Health Care Sector. JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009; 302 (18): 1970 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2009.1610
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110171647.htm

“Savings Project: Insulate Hot Water Pipes for Energy Savings”
US Dept. of Energy
http://energy.gov/energysaver/projects/savings-project-insulate-hot-water-pipes-energy-savings
Retrieved 7/29/14

“Ask Pablo: Is It Really Worth It to Insulate My Pipes?”
Pablo Paster, January 16, 2012
http://www.treehugger.com/energy-efficiency/ask-pablo-it-really-worth-insulating-my-pipes.html
Retrieved 7/29/14

“This or That: Curtains or Plastic for Insulating Windows?”
Emily Main, 11/9/2009
Rodale News
http://www.rodalenews.com/insulating-windows
Retrieved 7/29/14

“Conserve Energy with Plastic Window Insulation”
Josh Peterson, Planet Green
http://home.howstuffworks.com/green-living/conserve-energy-plastic-insulation.htm
Retrieved 7/29/14

“Ask Pablo: Is Replacing Windows a Good Investment?”
Pablo Paster
August 17, 2010
http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/ask-pablo-is-replacing-windows-a-good-investment.html
Retrieved 7/31/14

“Noooo Edinburgh, Don’t Lift Ban on Changing Windows in Historic Structures”
Lloyd Alter
9/4/08
http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/noooo-edinburgh-dont-lift-ban-on-changing-windows-in-historic-structures.html
Retrieved 7/31/14

“Are New Windows Really Worth It?”
Reliance Capital
http://www.reliancefirstcapital.com/articles/new-windows.html
Retrieved 7/31/14

“Obama Seeks to Boost Resilience to Climate-Driven Drought Fires”
3/5/14
Mark Drajem, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-05/obama-seeks-to-boost-resilience-to-climate-driven-drought-fires.html
Retrieved 7/31/14

“Supporting fire and rescue authorities to reduce the number and impact of fires”
UK Dept. for Communities and Local Government
3/5/13
https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-fire-and-rescue-authorities-to-reduce-the-number-and-impact-of-fires
Retrieved 7/31/14

“No Single Solution”
Energy Co-op of Vermont
10/25/13
http://www.ecvt.net/blog/vermont-wood-pellets-2/no-single-solution
Retrieved 7/31/14

“This Is Why It Makes Sense to Pair Solar With Electric Vehicles”
GreenTechGrid
Tam Hunt, 7/14/14
http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/this-is-why-it-makes-sense-to-pair-solar-with-electric-vehicles
Retrieved 8/1/14

“Why heat pumps are hot in Vermont this summer”
WCAX
Julie Kelley, 8/6/14
http://www.wcax.com/story/26216622/why-heat-pumps-are-hot-in-vermont-this-summer
Retrieved 8/8/14

Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing, 3rd edition
by Doug McKenzie-Mohr (Mar 15, 2011)
New Society Publishers

The Aquaponics Cycle

Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-by-step guide to raising vegetables and fish together
by Sylvia Bernstein
New Society Publishers, 10/11/11

“Al Gore ‘profiting’ from climate change agenda”
The Telegraph
By Nick Allen in Los Angeles 7:13PM GMT 03 Nov 2009
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/6496196/Al-Gore-profiting-from-climate-change-agenda.html
Retrieved 8/12/14

“Al Gore to Donate His Half of Nobel Prize Money to Charity”
The Chronicle of Philanthropy”
10/12/07
http://philanthropy.com/blogs/philanthropytoday/al-gore-to-donate-his-half-of-nobel-prize-money-to-charity/13981
Retrieved 8/12/14

Wikipedia: Aquaponics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics
Retrieved 8/12/14

“Does Aquaponics Really Work?
Ecofilms
NOV 4, 2010
http://www.ecofilms.com.au/does-aquaponics-really-work/
Retrieved 8/12/14

“How to build a heat sink for a self-heating greenhouse”
Greenhouse Gnome
Mark Finch, 7/28/13
http://www.greenhousegnome.com/heat-sink-self-heating-greenhouse/
Retrieved 8/13/14

“Build a $300 underground greenhouse for year-round gardening”
Treehugger
Kimberley Mok, 2/22/13
http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/build-underground-greenhouse-garden-year-round.html
Retrieved 8/13/14

“Most stable year round greenhouse in 5b climate”
Permies.com (forum discussion)
8/19/12-8/31/12
http://www.permies.com/t/16911/passive-solar/stable-year-greenhouse-climate
Retrieved 8/13/14

“All About Valhalla’s Earthship Greenhouse, part 7”
Vahalla Movement, Quebec
Posted April 20, 2014
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b70f4xVOil4
Viewed 8/13/14

“Solar Passive Greenhouse for 4-Season Harvest”
PrairieComm.net
http://www.prairiecomm.net/greenhouse.html
Retrieved 8/13/14

“Passive Solar Aquaponic Greenhouse Tour 2”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li5dvZjo5qE
Viewed 8/13/14

“Greenhouse vent openers & supplies”
ACF Greenhouses
http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/vent2.shtml
Retrieved 8/13/14

“How We Designed Our Solar Greenhouse”
The Permaculture Research Institute
by Rob Avis, 2/11/11
http://permaculturenews.org/2011/02/11/how-we-designed-our-solar-greenhouse/
Retrieved 8/13/14

The Day After Tomorrow (movie)

Hollywood Global Warming Dramas Can Be Misleading”
Seán Ó Heigeartaigh
Nytimes.com, 8/4/14
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/07/29/will-fiction-influence-how-we-react-to-climate-change/hollywood-global-warming-dramas-can-be-misleading
Retrieved 8/17/14

“Climate Fiction Will Reinforce Existing Views”
NYtimes.com
George Marshall, 7/29/14
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/07/29/will-fiction-influence-how-we-react-to-climate-change/climate-fiction-will-reinforce-existing-views
Retrieved 8/17/14

“Personal Stories About Global Warming Change Minds”
NYtimes.com
Heidi Cullen, 7/30/14
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/07/29/will-fiction-influence-how-we-react-to-climate-change/personal-stories-about-global-warming-change-minds
Retrieved 8/17/14

“George Marshall on communicating climate change following extreme weather events”
TransitionNetwork.org
Rob Hopkins, 3/20/14
https://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2014-03/george-marshall-communicating-climate-change-following-extreme-weather-eve
Retrieved 8/18/14

“Sleepwalking into Disaster: Are We in a State of Denial about Climate Change?”
George Marshall, 9/22/05
http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/climate/marshall.htm
Retrieved 8/18/14

The Aquaponic Gardening Community (online forum)
http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum

Essex Farm: About Us
(this is the farm that offers its members a CSA that can provide all of their food)
http://www.essexfarmcsa.com/portfolio/about-us/
Retrieved 8/24/14

“3-D Printing Will Be a Manufacturing Engine for the Economy”
Daniel S. Hamermesh, 8/12/14
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/08/11/will-3-d-printers-change-the-world/3-d-printing-will-be-a-manufacturing-engine-for-the-economy-20
Retrieved 8/26/14

“3-D Printers Are No Rival for Mass Production”
Nick Allen, 8/12/14
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/08/11/will-3-d-printers-change-the-world/3-d-printers-are-no-rival-for-mass-production-6
Retrieved 8/26/14

“With 3-D Printers Comes the Possibility of Medical Miracles”
Mick Ebeling, 8/11/14
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/08/11/will-3-d-printers-change-the-world/with-3-d-printers-comes-the-possibility-of-medical-miracles
Retrieved 8/26/14

“3-D Printers Allow Designers to Go to a New Level”
Kacie Hultgren, 8/11/14
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/08/11/will-3-d-printers-change-the-world/3-d-printers-allow-designers-to-go-to-a-new-level
Retrieved 8/26/14

“Space Travel Will Be Easier and Less Costly With 3-D Printers”
Alison Nordt, 8/11/14
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/08/11/will-3-d-printers-change-the-world/space-travel-will-be-easier-and-less-costly-with-3-d-printers
Retrieved 8/26/14

“3-D Printers Mean More Plastic in Landfills”
Luke Heemsbergen, 8/11/14
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/08/11/will-3-d-printers-change-the-world/3-d-printers-mean-more-plastic-in-landfills
Retrieved 8/26/14

“Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan”
City of Arcata, CA
http://www.cityofarcata.org/filebrowser/download/15824
August 2006

“Assessment of Arcata’s Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan”
Fall 2009
http://humboldt.edu/sustainability/sites/default/files/envs411_080009-11.pdf
Hackett, John et al

Zero Energy Homes presentation

“Zero Energy Homes”
Presentation by Li Ling Young, Efficiency Vermont
for Net Zero Montpelier
Thu, Nov 13, 2014
Montpelier, Vermont
A similar presentation by Young at a different location can be viewed online at http://www.brattleborotv.org/efficiency-vermont/path-zero-energy-homes-li-ling-young-hd

“The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate”
Al Gore, 6/18/14
Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618
Retrieved 11/9/14

“Americans Still Favor Energy Conservation Over Production”
Gallup
http://www.gallup.com/poll/168176/americans-favor-energy-conservation-production.aspx
4/2/14
Retrieved 12/5/14

Americans Want More Emphasis on Solar, Wind, Natural Gas
Gallup
http://www.gallup.com/poll/161519/americans-emphasis-solar-wind-natural-gas.aspx
3/27/13
Retrieved 12/5/14

Energy Star

Energy Star Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.EnergyStar.gov

Dishwashing
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
http://www.aceee.org/consumer/dishwashing
Retrieved 12/21/14

Dishwashers
Efficiency Vermont
https://www.efficiencyvermont.com/For-My-Home/ways-to-save-and-rebates/Appliances/Dishwashers/General-Info/Overview
Retrieved 12/21/14

“Do Space Heaters Save Money and Energy?”
Kiera Butler, 1/10/11
Mother Jones
http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/01/will-space-heater-save-you-money-and-energy
Retrieved 12/30/14

Dauncey, Guy
The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming
New Society Publishers, 2009

Gore, Al
Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis
Rodale, Inc., 2009

“Study provides new metric for comparing the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide”
Apr 28, 2014 by David L. Chandler
http://phys.org/news/2014-04-metric-greenhouse-gases-methane-carbon.html
Phys.org
retrieved 1/1/15

“Climate impacts of energy technologies depend on emissions timing”
Morgan R. Edwards & Jessika E. Trancik, 25 April 2014
Nature Climate Change
abstract at http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n5/full/nclimate2204.html
retrieved 1/1/15

“Evaluation of Net Metering in Vermont”
Vermont Public Service Dept.
10/1/14, revised 11/7/14
http://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/psd/files/Topics/Renewable_Energy/Net_Metering/Act%2099%20NM%20Study%20Revised%20v1.pdf
retrieved 1/4/15

“Solar”
U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
http://energy.gov/eere/renewables/solar
Retrieved 1/5/15

“Want to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? Choose Mackerel Over Shrimp”
NPR
April Fulton, 7/29/14
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/29/336301714/want-to-reduce-your-carbon-footprint-choose-mackerel-over-shrimp
Retrieved 1/8/15

“Going Green: Carbon footprints revisited”
SeaFood Business
Lisa Duchene, 5/1/09
http://www.seafoodbusiness.com/articledetail.aspx?id=4294994142
Retrieved 1/8/15

“Fueling the Fleet, Navy Looks to the Seas”
(about synthesizing jet fuel from the carbon in seawater)
US Naval Research Laboratory
Daniel Perry, 9/24/12
http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2012/fueling-the-fleet-navy-looks-to-the-seas
Retrieved 1/17/15

“US navy synthesizes jet fuel solely out of seawater; costs $3-6 gallon”
ZME Science
by Tibi Puiu, 4/14/14
http://www.zmescience.com/research/us-navy-synthetic-jet-fuel-seawater-0423432/
Retrieved 1/17/15

“Can ‘Green Cement’ Make Carbon Capture and Storage Obsolete?”
New York Times
John J Fialka, ClimateWire, 8/13/10
http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/08/13/13climatewire-can-green-cement-make-carbon-capture-and-stor-9325.html?pagewanted=all
Retrieved 1/17/15

“Frequently Asked Questions About Biochar”
International Biochar Initiative
http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar/faqs
retrieved 2/1/15

biochar

“What Is Biochar?”
International Biochar Initiative
http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar
retrieved 2/1/15

“Heat & Cool Efficiently”
US Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac
retrieved 2/3/15

“A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling”
US Environmental Protection Agency
August 2009
http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf?6752-4ef7

“Savings Project: Lower Water Heating Temperature”
US Environmental Protection Agency
http://energy.gov/energysaver/projects/savings-project-lower-water-heating-temperature
Retrieved 2/3/15

“How to Clean a Clothes Dryer Vent”
wikiHow
http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Clothes-Dryer-Vent
Retrieved 2/3/15

“Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Heating”
US Dept of Energy
12/16/13
http://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-heating
Retrieved 2/26/15

“#AskEnergySaver: Home Energy Audits”
US Dept of Energy
1/24/14
http://energy.gov/articles/askenergysaver-home-energy-audits
Retrieved 2/26/15

“Home Energy Audits”
US Dept of Energy
http://energy.gov/public-services/homes/home-weatherization/home-energy-audits
Retrieved 2/26/15

“Energy Audits”
Efficiency Vermont
https://www.efficiencyvermont.com/For-My-Home/ways-to-save-and-rebates/audits-insulation-air-sealing/Audits
Retrieved 2/26/15

Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds
David Gershon
Empowerment Institute, 2006

“Average Daily Media Use in the United States from 2010 to 2014”
Statista.com
http://www.statista.com/statistics/270781/average-daily-media-use-in-the-us/
Retrieved 3/12/15

“Do Energy-Efficient Appliances Add Up?”
by Craig Guillot
Bankrate.com
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/do-energy-efficient-appliances-add-up-1.aspx
Retrieved 3/12/15

“Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator”
US Department of Energy
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/do-energy-efficient-appliances-add-up-1.aspx
Utilized 3/12/15

“Adding Wall Insulation Has a Lengthy Payback Period”
Jeanne Huber, 12/14/2010
Houselogic
http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/insulation/adding-wall-insulation/
Retrieved 3/30/15

“The Potential of Biomass to Curb Global Warming”
May 2014
Alliance for Green Heat
http://www.forgreenheat.org/issues/cooling_climate_change.html
Retrieved 3/30/15

“Bulletin #7217, Maine Home Energy: Options for Home Heating Fuels and Energy Systems — An Overview”
(includes chart rating each option on e.g., convenience, cost, efficiency)
The University of Maine Extension
http://umaine.edu/publications/7217e/
Retrieved 3/31/15

“Home Energy Sources”
(list of emissions by fuel source, but not compared to each other with equivalent units)
Carbon Independent
http://www.carbonindependent.org/sources_home_energy.html
Retrieved 3/31/15

“Carbon emissions of different fuels”
(deals with fuels for heat and transport, thus doesn’t include non-fuel renewables)
Biomass Energy Center
http://www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk/portal/page?_pageid=75,163182&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
Retrieved 3/31/15

“How We Calculate”
Carbonfund.org
http://www.carbonfund.org/how-we-calculate
Retrieved 3/31/15

“Implications of Shale Gas Development for Climate Change”
Richard G. Newell and Daniel Raimi
American Chemical Society
April 22, 2014
Published in Environmental Science Technology, August 5 2014
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es4046154?source=cen

“Georgia Mt. Community Wind Open House draws over 750 local visitors”
originally published in Vermont Business Magazine, June 2013
http://georgiamountainwind.com/georgia-mt-community-wind-open-house-draws-over-750-local-visitors/

“After the Flood: Vermont’s Rivers and the Legacy of Irene”
(YouTube playlist of program in 4 parts)
November 26, 2013
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX5V6zW7pAiYEC3bIrK3ymOegGrPwg0xT

“Cheap, Abundant Shale Gas Won’t Significantly Cut U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions”
Janet Pelley, Chemical & Engineering News
May 2, 2014
http://cen.acs.org/articles/92/web/2014/05/Cheap-Abundant-Shale-Gas-Wont.html

“Climate Change: 10 Years to Cut Off Nuclear War, Plagues”
(no longer available online)
Fairfax Climate Watch
April 2013
http://www.fairfaxclimatewatch.com/blog/2013/04/climate-change-10-years-to-cut-off-nuclear-war-plagues.html

“Carbon Cutoff Point ‘Is 27 Years Away'”
Alex Kirby
Climate News Network, 10/27/2013
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/carbon_cut-off_point_is_27_years_away_20131027

“Global warming’s new frightening deadline”
Pete McMartin
Vancouver Sun, 3/9/13
http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Pete+McMartin+Global+warming+frightening+deadline/8071552/story.html

“New global warming deadline: Reverse it in 8 years or it’ll be too late”
Doug Powers
MichelleMalkin.com, 3/28/12
http://michellemalkin.com/2012/03/28/new-deadline/

“Climate change deadline 5 years – IEA”
News23.com, 11/10/11
http://www.news24.com/SciTech/News/Climate-change-deadline-5-years-IEA-20111109

“We already blew the deadline to avoid dangerous climate change”
Christopher Mims
Quartz, 12/6/12
http://qz.com/34443/we-already-blew-the-deadline-to-avoid-dangerous-climate-change/

“The Deadline for Global Warming: Reversing the Effects of Climate Change Before 2017”
Luisa Crisostomo
International Business Times, 11/16/11
http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/250465/20111116/deadline-global-warming-reversing-effects-climate-change.htm#.UqMZqvRDs24

“Carbon Footprint Of Best Conserving Americans Is Still Double Global Average”
MIT
ScienceDaily, 4/29/08
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428120658.htm

How to Live a Low-Carbon Life: The Individual’s Guide to Stopping Climate Change
Chris Goodall
Routledge, 3/30/07

Building Powerful Community Organizations

Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide to Creating Groups that Can Solve Problems and Change the World
Michael Jacoby Brown
Long Haul Press (September 28, 2007)

Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living
The Union of Concerned Scientists, Seth Shulman, Jeff Deyette, Brenda Ekwurzel, David Friedman, Margaret Mellon, John Rogers, Suzanne Shaw
Island Press; 6th edition (April 3, 2013)

The Burning Question: We Can’t Burn Half the World’s Oil, Coal, and Gas. So How Do We Quit?
Mike Berners-Lee, Duncan Clark
Greystone Books (September 21, 2013)

Flight Behavior: A Novel
Barbara Kingsolver
HarperCollins, 11/6/12

The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience
Rob Hopkins
UIT Cambridge Ltd. (April 1, 2014)

“Clean Break: The Story of Germany’s Energy Transformation and What Americans Can Learn from It”
Osha Gray Davidson
InsideClimate News (November 8, 2012)

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
Bill McKibben
Times Books (April 7, 2010)

Why Do People Ignore a Catastrophe They Know Is Coming? This Book Explains and Provides Solutions

In his deeply researched and surprising book Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change, author George Marshall helps us understand the true nature of climate change and why it’s so hard for us to act on something that threatens to destroy us.

Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate ChangeHis points are surprising and force us to reframe our entire understanding of the issue. Here are a few examples, many of which don’t make sense until you get the benefit of Marshall’s full explanation:

  • Climate change is not a tame problem, but a “wicked” one.
  • Climate change is not an environmental problem.
  • Fossil fuel companies must be stopped, but they are not the enemy.
  • Polar bears and our grandchildren are not the ones who need to be saved.
  • Conservatives are not the enemies of climate change action, but essential allies.
  • Guilt over our personal contributions to climate change and fear of what will happen are our biggest opponents.
  • Climate change is not in any sense a religion, but evangelical churches may be our best models for learning how to communicate about it.

I had some anxiety as I read this book, not so much because it’s about climate change, but because for the first 40 chapters or so, Marshall tells us only how NOT to communicate about climate change: why politically loaded messages hurt the cause, how making the problem scarier encourages us to ignore it even more, and how the science isn’t going to convince much of anyone, for instance. I was afraid that I was going to get to the end of the book and find out that his conclusion was “So basically, we’re f***ed.”

Thankfully, it wasn’t. At the end of the book, Marshall revisits all his key points and turns them on their heads, showing how the things we’re doing wrong in communicating climate change can maybe be done differently and effectively. It’s not that those of us who are working to solve the climate change problem aren’t trying hard enough to communicate: it’s that there’s an entirely different and unexpected way for us to go about it that is likely, based on a great deal of research and investigation, to do a much, much better job.

We tend to understand climate change in limited ways, each of us confined to some extent by our peers and expectations. Marshall’s book helps us break out of those limited understandings to see the big picture, and in the process to find new resolve, new allies, and new hope for immediate change.

The Hidden Climate Benefits of eBooks

Paper books vs eBooks

I’m reading a book by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) called Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, and by and large I recommend it. They start with the biggest impacts and work their way down to less important ones, offering a lot of sound advice on the way.

However, there are some errors and oversights in the book, and one of these underscores how eBooks can be much more climate-friendly than paper books. It’s important to stop here and mention that book-buying accounts for only a tiny proportion of our individual carbon footprints, but enough people changing their book-buying habits can have a significant impact.

Here’s what UCS has to say about eReaders versus paper books:

When analysts crunch the numbers, they estimate that the emissions caused in manufacturing an electronic reader are about the same as those caused in manufacturing 20 to 40 books … What the debate obscures, however, is that a standard paperback book is responsible for around five and one-half pounds of carbon emissions in its manufacture and transport to your local bookstore. But we are each responsible for more carbon emissions than that when we drive six miles round-trip alone in a typical car to the bookstore [emphasis theirs]. The point is this: don’t waste time worrying about the carbon footprint of the way you read.

OK, raise your hand as soon as you see their mistake. Yes, you got it: buying an eBook doesn’t require any travel. Of course, you can also order your paper books to be delivered to your door, and in most cases that’s likely to save emissions compared to you driving a car to the bookstore, but there’s still a noticeable impact for the transportation of the book from the store to your door–not to mention from the pulp source to the paper mill, the paper mill to the printer, the printer to the publisher, the publisher to the distributor, the distributor to the retail hub, and the retail hub to the retail store. Additionally, any book that ends up in a landfill is all set to add yet more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as it decomposes, probably anaerobically (without access to air) and therefore producing methane, a greenhouse gas 20-25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

I may be objecting too much about too small a thing, but I’ve seen enough poorly-reasoned claims that eBooks are worse for the climate than paper books that it seemed worth taking up.

Of course, using an eReader or tablet requires electricity, but the amounts are quite small and aren’t likely to have nearly the impact of the manufacturing or transport. If I wanted to be snarky, I could also point that reading a paper book often requires electricity too, but since it’s possible to read by sunlight, and since people usually don’t read eBooks in dark rooms, I’m going to try to leave that one alone.

One more point that was missed about eBooks: often people read them on devices they purchased for other purposes. If you would have a smartphone or tablet regardless of whether you read eBooks on it, then it’s really inaccurate to count the emissions from manufacturing that device as being due to the eBooks that are incidentally being read on it. If you are buying a new tablet or eReader, though, please consider a used model rather than the latest, greatest thing. A tablet that’s saved from gathering dust or being dumped into the landfill and that thereby prevents a new one being manufactured reduces your carbon footprint by (depending on the tablet) around 130 k-coes, according to this article. Since a sustainable individual footprint is only about 2,000 k-coes per year (compared to the average American footprint of 28,000 k-coes!), that 130 really counts.

So it’s true that if you only read a few books a year and you purchase a brand new tablet or eReader primarily to replace paper books, you are probably pissing Mother Nature off. If you’re a heavy reader and/or already have a tablet or smartphone (or buy one used), however, the advantage is strongly on the side of eBooks.

To be responsible about this post, I need to bring it back in the end to the very solid point UCS brings up in their book (which I bought as an eBook and read on my 5-year-old Kindle Keyboard, by the way). The most important climate change choices and actions have to do with the biggest areas of emissions: travel, home heating and cooling, electricity, and food (in that order). In the grand scheme of things, books–e or otherwise–make only a small difference. Now that you know, though, why not make that difference in the right direction?