Observations: Shift happens: Will artificial photosynthesis power the world?. There’s some interesting potential in this technology. It’s relatively cheap, seems accessible, and could serve as an adjunct to other renewable energy sources. The fact that the water need not be potable is huge, too—we’re running out of drinking water, but not water itself—so we could theoretically even use this as a form of pollution amelioration!
NASA’s site Climate Change: IMAGES OF CHANGE has some dramatic photos of Earth, past and present, showing the effects of climate change.
Pederson Glacier, 1917 and 2010.
Rachel Maddow interviews Bill Nye “The Science Guy” on climate change and how its (incontrovertible) existence has affected our weather this Winter and contributed to multiple significant snowstorms across the country in the clip below.
… and ask yourself: what will you do in response?
They remind me of rolls of insulation. Regardless of what they look like, imagine how unusual conditions must be for them to form!
(Originally shared to me by ***Dave, whose postling I wholly endorse.)
Doing more with less
Small changes on the local scale can generate big changes on the global. Western societies have largely become focused on convenience and pampering, and we’re stressing the ability of the planet to support us (not to mention the majority who live in less-fortunate circumstances). Making some relatively small adjustments to the convenience factor can have positive effect on the state of the world, though.
Fire or Ice?
Central heating and air conditioning are common inclusions in houses across the United States and in other ‘developed’ nations. They help keep us warm in winter and cool in summer, but some might argue that we’ve taken things a bit far. Where I live in the southeastern U.S., it seems like the A/C kicks on as soon as it reaches 23 ºC (about 74 ºF) and stays on until it drops below 20 ºC—at which point the heat turns on! This is especially true in public spaces, where it seems like building management is determined to reverse the seasons so it’s freezing cold in summer and boiling hot in winter.
One effect of all this over-cooling and over-heating is a huge drain on the country’s aging electrical grid (with massive draws against natural gas and oil in winter). While it’s nice to come home to a comfortable home or work in shirtsleeves all year, we could all manage a couple of degrees cooler in winter and warmer in summer without being seriously inconvenienced. Sweaters are easy ways to keep warm in winter and woolen ones are environmentally sustainable!
Take advantage of nature’s heating and cooling cycles; in summer, close the blinds in rooms that face the sun and you won’t need to run the air conditioning so much. In winter, open the blinds and drapes in those same rooms during the day and you’ll store up some heat for the afternoon and possibly even into the evening! If you have central HVAC, spend the money to have it maintained and serviced regularly and you’ll find that you’ll save some money (and relieve some stress on the planet), too.
While you’re at it, turn the heat down while you’re washing your hands, too—studies show cool water works just as well as hot and it doesn’t stress your skin as much! Turn the water off while you’re lathering and you’ll save more of a resource that’s becoming harder and harder to obtain: potable water.
Taking a vacation? Turn the water heater down while you’re gone—all you’re doing is wasting power keeping water you won’t use hot! You might even consider replacing that hot water heater with an “instant on” model like many Europeans have. Water is only heated when it’s needed, so you don’t have tens of gallons of water constantly heated “just in case.”
Putting my money where my mouth is…
Have I implemented the changes recommended above?
YES — at least, mostly. I’ve been training myself to get used to it being warmer in summer and colder in winter; my water heater is set to ‘warm,’ not ‘hot’; and I use lukewarm water when I wash my hands. Tiny steps lead to long journeys!