Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change - history (#BAD09)

Last but not least. Today's Climate Change may be unique in that it is the first global and human induced change. Man has, however, caused environmental change throughout history. Also, periods of rapid climate change have also occurred before.

The field of environmental history studies these subjects, how man has affected his environment and how man has adapted to environment, including changing climates. One podcast that pays attention to this throughout is the Exploring Environmental History podcast by Jan Oosthoek. Also on the podcast New Books in History by Marshall Poe we have seen attention to the field of environmental history.

Exploring Environmental History:
An applied science,
Defining Environmental History with Marc Hall,
Defining Environmental History - Paul Warde,
Defining Environmental History - Donald Worster,
Natural Disasters.

More environmental history:
Donald Worster about environmental history (New Books in History),
Environmental History Vodcast.

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the adaptations (#BAD09)

After we have touched on the terrible dangers implied in climate change, it is time to look at what can be done about averting the fatal disaster.

First of all we have to change our way of life. For the rich parts of the world; we have to change our production, so that we pollute less and extract fewer resources. We have to change our consumption, for the same aims. In the developing parts of the world, also carbon dioxide emissions and other destructive production and consumption methods must be adapted, but also, natural resources must be carefully managed, as to prevent waste, pollution and destruction. Also, the population growth must be controlled. Podcasts that touch upon this are:
Natural Resource Management (LSE podcast)
Downshifting (changing consumption) (Ganz einfach leben),
Population control (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment),
Electric Cars (TED Talks),
We need energy revolution (LSE podcast),
Wildlife control and poverty (EconTalk),
Waste management (Distillations) (Social Innovations Conversations).

Second of all, and part of changing our way of life, we need to investigate into technical solutions to climate change itself and to its effects. Above I already mentioned electric cars, waste management techniques and we can add techniques to reduce emissions, techniques to deal with sea levels and with changed agricultural circumstances. A very unexpected, to me, approach, are techniques to affect the climate itself and thus mitigate the change. This seems out of reach, but not entirely as one podcasts teaches. Relevant are:
Technological interference with climate (UChannel Podcast),
Organically grown and genetically engineered food (The Long Now podcast),
Population control (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment)
Electric Cars (TED Talks),
Waste management (Distillations) (Social Innovations Conversations).

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the implied dangers (#BAD09)

What will go wrong with Climate Change? A multitude of things. Not only are there dangers directly caused by climate change, there are also many that come along within the package and chain of events.

First of all, the kind of climate change that we currently think of is global warming. This will cause the ice caps to melt, the sea level to rise, the ocean currents to change and the warmer places on earth to become uninhabitable. Directly, but also indirectly, it will cause mass extinctions of species which is undoubtedly extremely harmful, although the effects are rather unforeseeable as to the exact outcomes. The climate change is also expected to cause more harmful weather conditions and thus natural disasters. The warming will also enlarge disease areas such as that of malaria. Implied in this is that there will less potable water and less food. In short, life will become cramped, unhealthy, dangerous and undernourished.

Factoring into these problems are pollution and the rise of population. Not only is pollution significantly responsible for global warming, it also speeds up the effects of specie extinctions, unhealthy living conditions and narrowing down of the habitable environment. Similarly, the rise in population will exacerbate the reduction of habitable living space for each individual and the dangers of disease spread as well as the food and water shortages.

Many of the bad effects of climate change, have the quality of a time bomb. A growing deterioration of our planet that heads towards an irretrievable collapse of the environment. The melting of ice caps on mountains will cause rivers to run dry and arable land to go to waste. Extinction of species can cause entire biospheres to disintegrate. And the overall increased tensions on human life and society can result in anarchy and war.

Many of the details of these dangers are discussed in a wide variety of podcasts, many of which I have reviewed:
Bee colonies collapse (Science Talk),
Mass extinctions (Making History with Ran Levi),
Population growth and health (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment),
Fish Depletion (ABC Rear Vision),
Easter Island example (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment),
Disasters and war (UChannel Podcast),
Hot, Flat and Crowded - Thomas Friedman (LSE podcast),
The Malthusian trap (Berkeley's Geography 130),
Stern Review (UChannel Podcast).

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the battle of the price (#BAD09)

The majority of podcasts related to climate change dwell about the implications, the dangers that come with the phenomenon (on which next). My previous subject, the battle of the facts, pops up, over and over again, especially on the details, as there are so many conjectures, that little has been decided rather than largely and broadly, that the climate changes and we are responsible.

The seriousness of the implications carry a dimension with it that also explains why the battle of the facts is frequently to vehement, so political and that is simply this: climate change has a price. The price is going to be considerable. How high is hard to determine and if we are at all going to be able to handle the change, we must deal with paying the price. And if the rich of the world are not going to pay it with money, the poor are going to pay it with lives and the whole world with disasters.

I have yet found only one podcast lecture that explicitly took the price of Climate Change and the allocation of the costs as its subject: Controversies in the Economics of Climate Change, at the LSE podast lecture series.

A lecture by Professor Geoffrey Heal held on May 6th: on the economic cost climate change will cause. His starting point is that the scientific question about Climate Change has largely been decided. There is wide consensus the climate is changing. Heal's subject is to take these established facts and evaluate, as well as possible, what the cost of these changes are. He emphasizes that these issues are still widely debated, hence the controversies of climate change, but the way he deals with them is by suggesting that only the size of the cost is debatable. There will be costs and they are enormous.

His analysis range from rather accurate like his esteem that the costs of the rising sea level will go over 1% of GDP, to completely unknown. The damages to the ocean, the warming of the climate are factors that he thinks are hard to enumerate. natural disasters and the disappearance of a multitude of species are impossible to range. On all accounts the costs are gigantic. It is not a happy lecture for the worried. Yet one, I feel, you must have heard.

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the battle of the facts (#BAD09)

The choice for Climate Change as the subject on Blog Action Day implies there is consensus about climate change, at least that the climate is actually changing to an extent it is affecting our world. There is no full consensus though, nor has there been in the past. There is and has been always, a battle of facts.

A good source for getting informed on the issue, unfortunately, is a podcast lecture series from UCSD, that has been taken off line. It will be back though at some time in the future and therefore I'd advice you to keep your eyes open for it: BILD 18, Human impact on the environment. Last summer, when the course ran and the lectures were available, lecture 10 paid attention to the problems the early believers in climate change had to get their voice heard. Even today, the speaker notes, speaking of climate change and the specifics of fatal pollution, will find politically and ideologically motivated blockades.

Alternately, now that there is a much wider consensus the climate actually IS changing, those who are not so convinced are finding it difficult to be heard. And just as the previous speaker marked how political, ideological and mostly business interests battled the facts, the other side speaks of alarmists. On the UChannel Podcast, one such speaker was Lord Lawson and he not only downplays the actual change of the climate, also he claims that whatever change is there is not human caused change, nor is it as harmful as usually is projected.

Next, I will write about the battle of the price - how much is climate change going to cost and who will pay?

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - Blog Action Day 2009

Today is Blog Action Day 2009. Today we will pay attention to Climate Change.

I will be writing a comprehensive post about the subject and point to the various podcast sources that supply the relevant information. Until I do, you can look around the blog for yourself in search for reviews of podcasts about Climate Change and related subjects. You can use the search field on top of this page, or you could filter posts by using the environment tag.