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Climate change

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Revision as of 11:57, 28 May 2008 by Chriswaterguy (talk | Contributions) (→‎Contrarian views: add Copenhagen Consensus; tweaks)
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Information on Climate change can be found at Wikipedia. What's this?

Climate change due to human influence is accepted as scientific consensus, and includes global warming and variations in rainfall patterns. Some areas will become drier, others wetter; most will become warmer, but some may become cooler; ice caps will melt (though how much is unclear) and sea levels will rise. This is expected have devastating effects on vulnerable communities.

Contents

What do we do?

The main focus of Appropedia content about climate change is finding ways to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

While technology is advancing and technologies such as thin film solar photovoltaicsW (e.g. copper indium gallium diselenideW) offer great hope. However, the rate of progress is uncertain, and as climate change is already happening, action is needed now, without waiting for these new technologies.

The logical place to start is in the area where potential gains are greatest and costs are lowest. This is energy efficiency, and it offers cost savings in many areas. Thus the most important, pressing actions to be taken can be taken immediately without economic penalty, with suitable planning. Financial planning is an important aspect of this, as investment now may be required to gain long term benefits; it may be important to have programs such as light bulb exchanges or loans for energy efficiency measures (perhaps paid off through electricity bills[1])

Another measure is renewable energy, which is more attractive in some locations than others (e.g. solar and biodiesel may be the most cost effective sources of electricity in a sunny isolated location, and solar hot water is perhaps the most cost-effective form of renewable energy in most locations[verification needed]). At this stage the majority of the population in developed countries have access to renewable energy through "green energy" offered by electricity companies (which may or may not be truly "green", to varying degrees). The cost premium for such energy is very modest compared with most people's overall living costs (and modest compared with the money that most people spend on luxuries or entertainment).

Simple living offers various ways of reducing impact as well. To have a serious impact, these need to be actions which appeal to a large number of people, which may be very difficult without changes at the community level. These include promotion of behavior changes, and changing infrastructure in ways that encourage lower-energy behavior. Building of cycleways rather than highways, making communities more walkable, making public transport a more attractive option, and introducing congestion charges (as in London) are supported by many sustainability advocates and organizations.

Ensuring that buyers of houses and other buildings have access to all appropriate information about energy costs, livability (which improves with good passive solar design) and environmental impact, could make a big difference to the building industry, and ensure that sustainability is taken more seriously by more builders.

Note that the cost balance may appear different if externalities are accounted for - e.g. deaths due to vehicles, including emissions; improved health from cycling and walking acting to reduce health costs and improve productivity; and possibly even social cohesion as a result of people mingling on cycle, foot, and public transport, instead of traveling by car.

The science of climate change

The overall effect is most accurately termed 'climate change' rather than 'global warming' as there are many changes of concern besides warming.

Global warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. Global warming is accepted as the scientific consensus.

The global average air temperature near the Earth's surface rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the last 100 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes, "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations"[1] via the greenhouse effect.

Contrarian views

Climate change skepticsDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. are a very small and decreasing minority of scientists and a relatively large number of economists. This does not require proving it beyond doubt: consider the practice of the insurance industry to plan for outcomes of varying degrees of likelihood. As the scientific consensus is that there is a very strong probability (the IPCC says 90%[verification needed]) that humans are causing significant climate change, it is vital to prepare for it.

There is less agreement over the best solutions. For example, the role of nuclear energy is endorsed by some, but opposed by many, especially envernmentalists. The relative importance of climate change as opposed to directly addressing poverty are open to debate.[2]

Critical analysis of technologies and strategies are important.

Such contrarian viewpoints and critical analysis can be found at:

Note: this is not an endorsement of arguments found at these websites. However, if a site is assessed in depth and found to be seriously inaccurate and misleading, it should be removed from this page, and the reasons given on the talk page (where the decision can be noted and reviewed by the Appropedia community).

See also

Interwiki links

Notes

  1. If the energy company benefits from people using more energy, there may be a conflict of interest, so different reward models need to be explored; when the energy company is a government-owned corporation, this may give more flexibility to apply a different model in order to encourage uptake. (See Incentives for sustainability and Incentives to pollute.
  2. Bjorn LomborgDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. and the Copenhagen Consensus.W



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