Yes, we have started a divestment campaign on our campus! It’s going really well so far. We have a steady following on Facebook and Twitter, and so many students and staff have already signed our petition.
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Join the Sierra Club and Princeton University’s SURGE (Students United for a Responsible Global Environment) to answer such pressing questions and help us raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief. The event will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 12th at 6:30pm in McCosh 46.
We’ll begin with a screening of the riveting documentary Cape Spin, about the trials and tribulations of the Massachusetts offshore wind pro
Suggested donation of $10 – Free SURGE mug and raffle ticket included with your donation! All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy Relief.
**Raffle Prizes Include**
– a $50 gift card to Blue Point Grill/Witherspoon Grill
– a $20 gift card to Mehek
– a $10 gift card to Slice Between
Following the film will be a panel discussion featuring leaders in our clean energy future. Featured panelists are:
– Former Governor James Florio
– Research Meteorologist Tom Khutson
– Offshore MW CEO, Peter Giller
– Cape Spin filmmaker, Robbie Gemmel
– Former Sierra Club president, Robin Mann
SEE YOU THERE!
Thank you to our sponsors: Blue Point Grill/Witherspoon Grill, Mehek, and Slice Between!
Watch a video of the climate debate that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama avoided. Featuring Obama campaign surrogate Kevin Knobloch vs. former Republican Congressman and Governor of Delaware Mike Castle.
You may have heard of the upcoming self-driving car. If you haven’t: Google is prototyping self-driving cars. They are now legal in California and Nevada. These cars will let passengers spend less time looking at the road (and therefore more time looking at Google ads), but they could also help reduce carbon emissions. Computerized “hypermiling” could increase fuel efficiency and decrease time and gas spent idling in traffic.
But cars cause only a part of transportation carbon emissions. Another large chunk of CO2 comes from jets. So could networked, self-flying jets cut emissions from air travel as well? Airbus thinks they could. In a vision for air travel in 2050, Airbus suggests planes flying common routes could eventually fly in formation, drafting off each other to save 10-12% on fuel costs. Planes need better sensors and automation to fly so close together safely, but considering recent advances the idea isn’t just pie in the sky. Self-flying jets could save even more fuel by tracking weather conditions and adjusting routes on the fly.
Mighty Ducks flying in formation to save fuel.
Of course, just to keep this post well-grounded, slight improvements in fuel efficiency won’t be enough to make flying an eco-friendly endeavor as Airbus might want us to think. Eventually, renewable fuels will have to replace fossil jet fuel. However, it’s very encouraging that industry leaders are coming up with outside the box, blue sky ideas to cut emissions that make equal sense for both balance sheets and the environment.
- Robert Cooper
Google News fed me an interesting article last week, a Sunday op-ed in the Philly Inquirer by Jim Geraghty (Climate change offers us an opportunity, 8/28/2011). The author accepts that climate change is real, but argues that we should welcome it because it will only harm those he does not care about (“those in the poorer, developing world”), while bringing only good to the United States. Even setting aside, for now, advocacy of more famine in the developing world, that analysis was simply too one-sided and ignorant for me to ignore. Worse, for someone who takes Geraghty’s claims at face value and isn’t familiar with the real research, he makes a potentially compelling argument and raises an important question: why do we care about climate change? I decided to take advantage of my hurricane day and draft a response, which the Inquirer promptly ignored. However, because it’s important to think about why climate matters, I’m posting a version of my response here.
The most obvious problem with Geraghty’s op-ed is that completely ignores the threats posed to America by climate change. Would climate change swallow America in a giant fireball? Of course not – we will survive and the Earth will survive – but climate change would cause a heck of a lot of avoidable damage, suffering, and economic losses along the way. Perhaps more importantly for the short term, even while Geraghty invents an economic opportunity from climate change, his analysis overlooks the true opportunity for American prosperity this century.
Geraghty’s first argument is that America would see increased crop yields. While it may be true that some crops grow better with more CO2, crops and livestock are generally not fans of extreme heat and droughts. Just ask Texas, which has lost $5.2 billion to heat and drought so far this year, making 2011 the fourth time in six years that the state’s farmers and ranchers lost $1 billion or more. The more greenhouse gases we emit, the hotter and drier the Western U.S. will become. This is not a good thing in states already struggling to find enough water.
Climate change doesn’t just make America warmer, it shifts rainfall around the country. As the West dries, northern states will see more rain. Unfortunately, precipitation will shift in intensity as well as in space, with fewer light rains and more heavy downpours or intense snowstorms. That means more record floods like those that recently devastated Americans living along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
It’s not just the nation’s heartland that would suffer from climate change. Since Hurricane Irene is the news of the day, consider that her storm surge of around 3 feet could be considered a normal tide by the end of the century. That would mean large-scale losses of coastal property. We would have to move entire neighborhoods of coastal cities to higher ground, at huge expense. In cities, hotter summers would mean even worse air quality, causing more asthma, lung disease, and heart attacks.
Returning now to the claim that climate impacts might be worse in other countries, let’s remember that we live in an interconnected world. Crop failures elsewhere drive up food prices here too. And given the spread of nuclear weapons and terrorist proselytizers, do we really want to foster global instability? The Pentagon doesn’t think so. Besides, if the rest of the world is flooding and starving, who are we going to sell our products to?
In my opinion though, the truly scary danger from climate change is in the unknowns. A look back at the climate over the past million years shows a history of huge fluctuations and inhospitable conditions over much of the globe. Over the past several thousand years, coincidentally just when human civilization arose, the climate has been unusually stable and human-friendly. So at the moment, the climate system is a sleeping dragon. Do we really want to keep poking it in the eye and see what happens?
Fortunately, America does have a huge opportunity this century, if we have the will to seize it. No, that doesn’t mean waiting a decade or three until “the harmful effects … force the hands of governments, NGOs, and businesses” into the last-ditch crapshoot of geo-engineering, so we can sell cloud-sprayers or giant orbiting mirrors as Geraghty suggests. Our real opportunity is here and now. We can take the lead in developing clean, safe energy that poses no threats and is immune to price fluctuations. We can use American innovation and entrepreneurship to create jobs developing and installing real solutions that will prevent the harmful effects of climate change, and export these to the rest of the world.
All we need is for our leaders to create energy policies that provide long-term support to help renewables make their final push to prices cheaper than fossil energy. And don’t believe renewables aren’t close – why else would fossil energy be protesting so loudly? This doesn’t mean we all have to drive Priuses and turn off our heat and A.C. This just means ensuring stable markets and credits for renewable energy, and providing appropriate market signals to help the innovation happen. American ingenuity created the light bulb, let’s help American ingenuity come up with the next way to power it.