Monday, October 10, 2016

Take note: Earth’s environment experiences our existence via our infrastructures

Humanity is frantically updating and building its infrastructures during Climate Change but not necessarily the right ones. Infrastructure—gas and oil pipelines, telecommunication networks, water pipes, roads and bridges, waste treatment lines, buildings etc.—is a boring term that describes human built systems that supply 7 billion of us with vital life-sustaining elements. Cave men and women didn’t need gasoline pumps, electric outlets, Internet connections, toilets, a kitchen sink with hot and cold running water, but now humanity does. However, despite the message from climate scientists and the Paris Agreement, we are still putting too much of our time and money into the very infrastructures that got us in this climate mess.

Our survival requires that we shift gears on infrastructure development immediately—if not yesterday.

World needs $90tn infrastructure overhaul to avoid climate disaster, study finds Report by Global Commission on the Economy and Climate says world needs ‘urgent’ shift away from carbon-heavy infrastructure over the next 15 years A gigantic overhaul of the world’s buildings, public transport and energy infrastructure costing trillions of dollars is required if dangerous climate change is to be avoided, according to a major new report. The study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which is co-chaired by prominent climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern, found that the world is expected to invest about $90tn in infrastructure over the next 15 years, requiring an “urgent” shift to ensure that this money is spent on low-carbon, energy-efficient projects. Such smart investment over the next two or three years could help ameliorate the climate crisis, but “the window for making the right choices is narrow and closing fast”.  (October 6, 2016) The Guardian

This week the Paris Agreement got ratified and will go into effect soon. While not perfect, as it is not legally binding and it doesn’t press hard enough for realistic carbon emission limits, the treaty does demonstrate that the world is waking up to the existential threat posed by our use of fossil fuels. That is to say, we have a real chance now that the Paris Agreement officially puts climate denial to rest.

The Paris climate agreement is entering into force. Now comes the hard part. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ratify the Paris climate accord, a move that will make the sweeping international agreement a legal reality long before even those who negotiated it expected. “We made the deal in Europe, and we make it a reality in Europe,” Miguel Arias Cañete, the E.U.’s climate and energy commissioner, said on Twitter after the vote. The Paris agreement enters into force when at least 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions, have joined it. Before Tuesday, those numbers stood at 62 nations and just shy of 52 percent of emissions, thanks to ratification by India over the weekend. (October 4, 2016) The Washington Post 

Our infrastructures, a great serpentine extension to our existence, are our environmental footprints. We are a great beast upon the planet. We share in our environmental impacts via our built conduits as we drink in humongous amounts of water from our lakes, streams, and aquifers, then excrete back contamination. We breathe in the life-giving by-product of our planet’s flora and exhale dangerous pollution that is killing millions. Our transportation systems trample and bifurcate innumerable ecosystems so we can get around.  Thousands of miles of fossil fuel pipelines network through land and water, oftentimes bleeding their contents into their hosts and poisoning them.

At the same time, all these critical infrastructures are vulnerable to the very forces they unleash— ecosystem destruction, contamination, and warming. (If you’re having a hard time envisioning how our infrastructures are impacted by Climate Change, you need to look no further than Hurricane Mathew which is (as I write) chewing up communities, highways, homes, businesses, and farms.)

To sustain our existence, we need to quickly transform our infrastructures into benign systems that operate in harmony with life. Not in a warm fuzzy way but in a scientifically rigorous way.
In part, the Paris Agreement is an attempt to shift our energy infrastructures to renewable energy, ones that don’t heat up the planet. 

In Rochester last Thursday, there was a press conference, part of a state-wide effort to get Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the Geothermal Tax Credit Bill A9925/S6249. It was an excellent opportunity to hear about the importance of this renewable energy option from an exceptional group of speakers—our representatives, installers, environmental leaders, and geothermal business people--who articulated the importance of this pivotal moment in saving a crucial part of our renewable energy mix in New York State.

But only one local media showed up so you might not have heard about this conference.

Call for tax credit bill to support the geothermal industry and jobs in New York There is a mandate in New York State to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent by Some New York State Senators, geothermal installers, and other supporters, are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign a tax credit bill to support the geothermal industry and jobs in New York.    The group came together today at a building on Russell Street in Rochester. That building is being retrofitted with geothermal heating and cooling. (October 6, 2016 WROC Rochester) 

Heating your home or business with geothermal energy can be expensive if there isn’t a tax credit to help offset the costs of installation. After an installation you’re good to go on a very inexpensive, non-polluting, non-greenhouse gas producing, and non-controversial renewable energy source for years and years. Those trying to save geothermal businesses in New York are trying to reach the public but that’s going to be very difficult if the press doesn’t show up. Our present media is an infrastructure also, an eclectic system of message magnifiers who are supposed to amplify what we need to know, not what the media wants us to know.   

The fossil fuel industry still gets billions of dollars in yearly subsidies to continue an energy option that is warming up the planet, while the geothermal renewable energy option, which can alleviate much of the greenhouse gases emissions (up to 35% in NYS) that come from warming buildings with fossil fuel, are dangling from a precipice, struggling to survive.

Alliance for a Green Economy invites you to sign a postcard asking Gov. Cuomo to sign the bill for a geothermal heating & cooling tax credit: Postcard request: Geothermal Heating and Cooling tax credit for NYS

Our infrastructures are now the way our life support system experiences our existence. This great beast, extending so many tentacles into our planet’s life-giving systems, must not be allowed to kill the host.

Time passes. 

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