Renata Carlos Daou, International Politics, College of Liberal Arts
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and one of the areas that are growing the fastest in Southeast Asia. Because of the intense urban growth, carbon emissions are also growing. In 2015, the city emitted around 120,906 metric tons of CO2. To prevent a bigger raise in emissions and a bigger impact on the environment, the government aimed at a reduction of emissions by 20 percent by 2022 (Kuala Lumpur…, 2017).
This reduction is necessary to avoid the bad effects on the environment and health caused by carbon emissions. If they continue with the same intensity as they are right now, those emissions will contribute to climate change through the release of greenhouse gases that trap heat and there will be an increase in respiratory diseases from air pollution (Nunez, 2019). Without the reduction in emissions, residents of the city would be more susceptible to health complications as well as at risk of the city becoming a heat island, which is a city with high urbanization where the temperature is higher than surrounding areas. In addition to that, Malaysia’s temperature, rainfall, and sea level have gone up, threatening residents of Kuala Lumpur (Lee, 2019).
To achieve the reduction in emissions, a new program called My Carbon was created. In this program, divided into different stages, companies and organizations would voluntarily report their emissions, following a recognized standard and guidance. The objectives of the program would be to raise awareness of emissions (National Corporate…, 2012). To incentivize participation, the companies that choose to report their emissions will receive tax incentives, and hopefully, it will encourage other companies to do the same (Bernama, 2012).
Another program adopted is a LED streetlight replacement program and a plan to upgrade energy systems in inefficient municipal buildings. This will bring both economic and environmental benefits to Kuala Lumpur. It will save $18 million in energy spending as well as help clear the haze caused by air pollution (Kuala Lumpur…, 2017). When the plan comes into action, Kuala Lumpur would become a Low Carbon City. According to UNDP, if all major cities became Low Carbon Cities, 90 percent of global emissions would be cut. The investment in Low Carbon Cities such as Kuala Lumpur by creating new forms of clean energy, efficiency, and sustainable transportation would also create new career opportunities in these sectors (Lee, 2019).
Kuala Lumpur- Carbon Inventory Leads to Action Plan. (2017, September 14). C40 Cities. https://www.c40.org/case_studies/cities100-kuala-lumpur-carbon-inventory-leads-to-action-plan
Nunez, C. (2019, May 13). Carbon dioxide levels are at a record high. Here’s what you need to know. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/greenhouse-gases/#:~:text=Greenhouse%20gases%20have%20far%2Dranging,change%20caused%20by%20greenhouse%20gases.
National Corporate GHG Reporting Programme for Malaysia. (2012). MyCarbon. http://www.mpma.org.my/Documents/MYCarbon%20booklet_print%20format.pdf
Bernama. (2016, February 19). Malaysia: Companies participating in MyCarbon programme get tax incentives. Eco-Business. https://www.eco-business.com/news/malaysia-companies-participating-in-mycarbon-programme-get-tax-incentives/
Lee, N. (2019, December 19). Low Carbon Cities – Malaysia’s Response to Global Climate Emergency. UNDP. https://www.my.undp.org/content/malaysia/en/home/news-centre/articles/2019/lowcarboncity.html
John Carson, Penn State University
As has been stated before, many issues dealing with climate change will need to be addressed locally in order to have impacts globally. Due to the fact that Earth’s systems are intertwined and connected through global patterns, we cannot think of ourselves as simply citizens of a town, city, state, country, or even continent, but rather citizens of the planet Earth. Finding strategies to mitigate the harm while adapting to the changing planet must be put in place to ensure the health of the planet for the future. Morocco is a country that is taking steps to ensure it is doing its part for our planet. Their plan, as is the plan for many other nations, is to focus their strategies on reducing CO2 emissions.
When we think of melting sea ice, rising sea levels, more intense and more frequent storms, Morocco is not the country that rises to the top of the list in our minds. Although they may not feel the impacts of the items above directly, any changes in global patterns can trickle down and make their impacts felt in places all around the world. Morocco is working to be part of the solution to a problem bigger than the borders of their nation.
Morocco’s plan is to focus on reduction of CO2 emissions in order to limit the global temperature increase that is projected. Their plan aims to have 42 percent of the country’s energy come from renewable energy sources. The first step of this plan was the development of the largest concentrated solar farm in the world. This field covers the land equivalent of 3,500 football fields and can generate enough power to power two cities the size of Marrakech. It is extreme measures such as these that are believed to be needed in order to achieve the goal of a healthier planet.
Measures such as the ones taken by Morocco are needed in order to make a cumulative impact on this global problem. No single nation can reverse the damage done and change the trajectory of climatic change that is being projected. Nations must acknowledge the problem, make decisions at the governmental level, ensure those decisions can benefit their local populations, and follow through with their initiatives. Trial and error of these mitigation strategies along with risk versus reward assessments of these strategies will hopefully help create a blueprint for other willing nations to follow. If these strategies and plans are not implemented and successful, our planet will suffer in both the short term and the long term.
USGCRP. (2017). Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, 1. [Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, 470 pp.
Climate change report card: These countries are reaching targets. (2020, September 19). National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/climate-change-report-card-co2-emissions?loggedin=true.
Denton, F. , Wilbanks, T. J., Abeysinghe, A. C., Burton, I., Gao, Q., Lemos, M. C., Masui, T., O’Brien K. L., Warner, K., Dickinson, T., & Yuzva, K. (2014). Climate-resilient pathways: adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1101-1131.
Showstack, R. (2019, May 13). Study Will Examine Risks and Benefits of Climate Interventions. Eos. https://eos.org/articles/study-will-examine-risks-and-benefits-of-climate-interventions
Kaylee Foor, Psychology, Neuroscience Concentration, College of Liberal Arts
In an attempt to slow the negative effects of a changing climate, countries around the world are turning to geoengineering strategies. Initiatives such as biofuel, hydroelectric power, and carbon offsets are among the most popular and have significantly positive effects on environmental concerns. However, many of these mitigation efforts are negatively impacting indigenous communities (Abate & Kronk, 2013). One example of these groups is the Kivalina nation in Alaska. This nation is currently vulnerable to being forced to relocate as a result of climate change (Shearer, 2012). This decision is being made without the consultation of the community and without regard for the cultural and spiritual impacts this sort of migration could have on the people. However, this is only one of the many mitigation efforts that is having negative impacts on indigenous communities.
In many instances, geoengineering development projects occupy indigenous land, thus disrupting the communities and destroying their connections with the land. Indigenous communities like the Kivalina are especially impacted by this issue, as the effects of climate change negatively impact them in combination with other pre-existing difficulties such as political/economic marginalization, loss of land and natural resources, violations of human rights, and social and institutional discrimination. Indiginous peoples are uniquely impacted by environmental concerns, as their connection with the land is spiritual and cultural, rather than just merely physical. In many instances, these communities are forced to choose between migrating from their traditional views of the sanctity of the land that they occupy, or physically migrating from their homes to other areas.
Unfortunately, this issue is only expected to increase as more and more mitigation efforts are put into place. This situation can be a tricky one to navigate, as both issues dealt with are incredibly important and must be considered. However, there are ways to move forward with geoengineering while protecting the rights and freedoms of indigenous nations.
One solution is to be more inclusive of indigenous voices in decision-making conversations by governing bodies on various levels (Inter-Agency Support…, 2008). This is crucial because many non-indigenous groups are often unaware and unconcerned with the specific needs and wishes of these communities, and their involvement in decisions that directly impact them is a more ethical approach (Brugnach et al., 2014).
Abate, R. S. & Kronk, E. A. (2013). Commonality among unique indigenous communities: An introduction to climate change and its impacts on indigenous peoples. Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Brugnach, M., Craps, M., & Dewulf, A. (2014). Including Indigenous Peoples in Climate Change Mitigation: Addressing Issues of Scale, Knowledge, and Power. Climatic Change. Springer Science + Business Media.
Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues. (2008, February 7). Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/2016/egm/IASG-Collated-Paper-on-Indigenous-Peoples-and-Climate-Change.pdf.
Ramos-Castillo, A., Castellanos, E. J., & McLean, K. G. (2017). Indigenous peoples, local communities and climate change mitigation. Climatic Change, 140(1), 1-4.
Shearer, C. (2012). The political ecology of climate adaptation assistance: Alaska Natives, displacement, and relocation. Journal of Political Ecology, 19(1), 174-183.
Allison Hidlay, Labor and Employment relations, Pennsylvania State University, World Campus
In the country of Denmark, over half of the population is exposed to air pollution levels considered to be unsafe. To combat this issue, the nation has goals to have half of its energy converted to renewable resources by 2030, and to be completely free of using fossil fuels by 2050 (Kolb, 2019). Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, and is a highly populated and industrialized city; the city plans on having net zero carbon emissions within the next five years in order to combat climate change (Sengupta, 2019).
The global temperature will continue to increase until net CO2 emissions reach zero (USGCRR, 2017). It is crucial for cities like Copenhagen, who are responsible for large amounts of CO2 emissions, to do what they can to minimize and eventually eliminate their carbon footprint since they are one of the biggest contributors to this issue. One way that the city of Copenhagen has worked to minimize their environmental footprint is by developing a trash incinerator which takes garbage from the city, and even Britain, and burns it to convert the energy into a source of heat (Sengupta, 2019). A key aspect of this incinerator is that the steam released into the atmosphere has been scrubbed to remove as much of the pollutants as possible. Copenhagen has also taken strides to make it easier and safer for commuters to ride bikes or take public transportation, rather than driving themselves to work in a car that burns fossil fuels (Sengupta, 2019). While there is still a lot to be done, Copenhagen has taken massive strides in reducing its carbon footprint on the world, and the city is laying the groundwork for other cities to follow suit.
Kolb, E. & Stebbins, S. (2019, July 14). Countries doing the most (and least) to protect the environment. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/07/14/climate-change-countries-doing-most-least to-protect-environment/39534413/
Sengupta, S. (2019, March 25). Copenhagen wants to show how cities can fight climate change. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/climate/copenhagen-climate-change.html
US Global Change Research Program. (2017). Chapter 14: Perspectives on Climate Change Mitigation. Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), 1. https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/14/
Julianna Mastrorilli, Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development
There are rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human activities on the planet. Adaptation and mitigation provide the planet with different viable ways to reduce the impact climate change has on the planet by the end of the century (DeAngelo, 2017). Mitigation is largely dependent on the development of a country as it is shaped through financial, technological, and infrastructure development. The mitigation of emissions will be seen in how climate change impacts the planet. Transformational adaptation is needed to address how the fundamental causes of the current system need to be changed because of the expected impacts of climate change. This involves changing political, economic, and social systems, including the behaviors contributing to climate change (Denton, 2014).
The call for transformational adaptation is needed on the global scale. Right now, there is a call by the University of Oxford for the United Kingdom to find ways of facilitating transformation (Lonsdale, 2015). The United Kingdom has planned for anticipated transformational adaptation through the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan. The United Kingdom Environmental Agency studied the risks of flooding over the course of the next century from projected sea level rise. The Thames River in London underwent transformational adaptation as the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan implemented a movable barrier to protect from flooding and storm surges. More recent studies have revealed that this system needs to be maintained but new locations of barriers may also be needed in the future. Without these protections, flooding could cause serious damage to low income areas in London and current tidal defenses could be destroyed, causing a large economic impact to the United Kingdom (Environmental Agency, 2009). To increase the likelihood of positive outcomes, transformational adaptation needs to continue to predict how and when climate change will impact locations.
DeAngelo, B., Edmonds, J., Fahey, D.W., Sanderson, B.M. (2017). Perspectives on climate change mitigation. Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume I. [Wuebbles, D.J., Fahey, D.W., Hibbard, K.A., Dokken, D.J., Stewart, B.C., Maycock, T.K. (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 393-410, doi: 10.7930/J0M32SZG
Denton, T.J., Wilbanks, A.C., Abeysinghe, I., Burton, Q.Gao., Lemos, M.C., O’Brien, K.L., Warner, K. (2014). Climate resilient pathways: adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development. Climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: Global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of working group II to the Fifth assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Pp. 1101-1131
Environmental Agency (2009). Thames Estuary 2100: Managing Flood Risk through London and the Thames Estuary (Environmental Agency London).
Lonsdale, K., Pringle, P., & Turner, B. (2015). Transformative adaptation: what it is, why it matters, & what is needed. UK Climate Impacts Programme, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
George Paul Mendy, Penn State University, World Campus
As has been demonstrated throughout this course, especially on modules 8, 9, and 10 which dealt with the effects rising global mean temperatures have on water, food resources and rising sea levels, developing regions/countries are most vulnerable to climate change driven by human induced greenhouse gas emissions, especially CO2. However, equally as provocative is the fact that developed countries/regions are responsible for much of these emissions. The United States of America is one of these countries, being the second largest emitter of CO2 after China. It is worth noting, however, that according to the U.S Energy Information Administration, CO2 emissions decreased significantly in 2020 due to restrictions from COVID-19 which impacted fossil fuel emissions from transportation and energy generation (Sanchez, 2020). Nevertheless, the global mean temperature is expected to rise 3.6 degrees F/2 degrees C in business-as-usual scenarios (USGCRP, 2017). This means increased heat waves, water shortages, and hazardous precipitation events that affect vulnerable regions even within developed nations such as the U.S.
So, what is being done to mitigate these outcomes and reduce emissions? One state is arguably becoming one of the greatest national leaders in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and that is Washington State. A series of legislative emissions restrictions are being pioneered by the Gov. Jay Inslee. These include the zero emissions vehicle standard which requires automakers to deliver a certain number of zero emissions vehicles each year. On the energy side of things, the Clean Energy Transformation Act requires electric utilities to transition to carbon-neutral by 2030, and carbon-free electricity by 2045. The Washington State government body has also passed legislation to reduce food waste (which is responsible for a lot of the Nation’s methane emissions) by 50 percent of the 2015 levels (Reducing greenhouse…, 2020).
Now perhaps the boldest move towards reducing emissions that this state is undertaking is in the Carbon Tax. In 2018, it became the first state in the U.S to actively put a carbon tax to a vote (Washington’s 2016..., 2020). Carbon taxation is essentially an attempted solution to the tragedy of the commons problem. Which as we recall in module 12, is when individuals, acting independently and rationally, will deplete a shared resource, even when doing so is not their interest (Learn Liberty, 2011). In this case, it is the excess emission of the greenhouse gas resources due to human activity. The goal is to place more ownership of carbon emissions on those emitting it, which is essentially everyone: common citizens, business companies, agricultural sectors, and industrial entities, etc. They thus become decision makers on who will bear the direct impact of such decisions (Learn Liberty, 2011).
The Initiative 732, as the bill was called, sought to place $25 per metric ton of CO2 tax in the state of Washington. Unfortunately for advocates of this mitigation strategy, the initiative was defeated by a 59 percent to 41 percent vote in Washington state congress (Washington’s 2016…, 2020).
Sanchez, B. (2020, August 21). Monthly U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in April were the lowest in decades. U.S. Energy Information Administration. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=44837
USGCRP, 2017: Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I [Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, 470 pp. https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/front-matter-about/.
Reducing greenhouse gases. (2020). Department of Ecology State of Washington. https://ecology.wa.gov/Air-Climate/Climate-change/Greenhouse-gases/Reducing-greenhouse-gases
Washington’s 2016 Carbon-Tax Defeat. (2020). Carbon Tax Center. https://www.carbontax.org/u-s-states/washingtons-2016-carbon-tax-defeat/
Learn Liberty (2011, June 29). Tragedy of the Commons- Learn Liberty. [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLirNeu-A8I&feature=emb_title
Sophia Montanye, Broadcast Journalism, Penn State University
In this Capstone, I will be discussing the climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts being made in New York City, New York. New York City is the most populous city in America, therefore making it crucial for city officials to take proper precautions in creating a safe and healthy environment for citizens to live in. Climate change effects have the potential to increase average yearly temperatures and precipitation levels in New York City – both of which threaten the standard of life of the city’s inhabitants. The city has begun a “portfolio of programs” called OneNYC, which include “planning and policy studies, legislation, and investments in neighborhoods, buildings, critical infrastructure, and projects to protect the coasts (Cho, 2019)” and the city from the effects of climate change. Since the city is right along the coast, and is home to so many, it is crucial that proper mitigation and adaptation methods are being used to limit the effects of climate change.
New York City is implementing adaptation efforts to limit the effects of increased yearly temperature, and the subsequent heat island effect, by creating legislation and programs to combat it. The Climate Mobilization Act is enforcing the use of green roofs on all new residential and commercial buildings, and taxing for the installation. Programs for heat adaptation include NYC Cool Roofs – which since 2009 has made 6.7 million square feet of roof space in NYC green or light-colored – and Cool Neighborhoods, which has put $106 million towards planting trees throughout vulnerable parts of the city (Cho, 2019). By limiting the intensity of the heat island effect in New York City, many future deaths related to heat intensity within the city will be avoided.
The city is also taking several mitigation efforts and trying to eliminate their carbon footprint. City officials are instituting a combination of carbon taxation and cap-and-trade systems in their legislation. The Climate Mobilization Act is requiring all city buildings 25,000 square feet and above to limit their emissions, in hopes of cutting 80 percent of their emissions by 2050, and buildings who don’t follow guidelines will be steeply fined (Cho, 2019). The city also hosts a voluntary program called the NYC Carbon Challenge where about 100 different companies and organizations vow to cut their emissions 30-50 percent in ten years. So far, they have cut 600,000 metric tons from the atmosphere, with an end goal of cutting 1.5 million metric tons (Cho, 2019). These mitigation efforts will benefit citizens and the atmosphere with cleaner and healthier air.
Cho, R. (2019, April 26). How New York City is Preparing For Climate Change. Columbia Climate School. https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2019/04/26/new-york-city-preparing-climate-change/
Breann Mumford, Psychology, Penn State University
Climate change caused migration has changed a lot over the years, and it is only getting worse and worse. There are a lot of countries that are suffering tremendously. Most of the places that have no way to help themselves leave the situation alone. The sub-Saharan is one of the many places that is being affected and needs to work on changing things to prevent it from getting worse. Sub-Saharan Africa is only one of the many areas that are being affected. There is proof that changing climatic conditions and ecological hazards are migration drivers in sub-Saharan Africa. The conditions are worsening slowly, but this is only making people think that it is not a big issue. Some of the threats that are taking place slowly are rising temperatures, desertification, biodiversity loss, and land and forest degradation. Floods and droughts are also increasing in frequency and intensity, these then have caused even more major displacements in the more recent past years.
Climate change migration exposes households to environmental stress. Migration can be an important livelihood and adaptation strategy in rural areas. Usually individual household members migrate to open new and diversify existing income sources.
Temperatures have increased 3 to 5 deviations above the historical norm. By the year 2100 they have predicted that the summer months will be hotter than 5 sigma. This is way hotter than the global average.
Most environmentally induced migration is within a region. A large number of immigrants are turning to urban areas. This has its own risks and challenges and with sub Saharan Africa having the highest proportion of urban living. This means they are being affected the most.
There are five steps that sub-Saharan Africa is trying to take to help prevent any more climate change from taking place. They are trying to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, clean up climate finance, drive Africa’s low-carbon energy transition, leave no-one behind, and adopt new models of planned urbanization. The government is making rules to have businesses use less fossil fuels and are beginning to ban them with time. They are cleaning up climate finance by scaling up renewable energy in low income countries programs. The African government must significantly upscale their investment in renewable energy in order to unlock Africa’s potential as a global low-carbon superpower. They then need to work on not leaving anyone without energy because the wealthy have as much as they want, but then the people that are poor have very little available to them. With this being the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region, Africa has many opportunities to create better lives for themselves. They will be able to make more compact, less polluted cities, safer cities, and even better public transportation.
Hoffmann, R. (2020, November 03). Africa: Climate Change, Migration and Urbanisation – Patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa. All Africa. https://allafrica.com/stories/202011030164.html
Kende-Robb, C. (2015, December 8). 5 steps to save Africa from climate change. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/12/5-steps-to-save-africa-from-climate-change/
Kaitlin Richards, Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University
The demand for fresh water in São Paulo, Brazil has never been more urgent. Residents all over the city have had to deal with the repercussions of not only climate change, but poorly developed infrastructure. The city has had some of the driest seasons in terms of climate, as rainfall has been at an all-time low. The Cantareira Reservoirs have also significantly dried up. This reservoir is responsible for providing water to over 9 million people (Gerberg, 2015). On top of that, the city has bad infrastructure that cannot adequately get water to its residents in the first place. The group of people that suffers the most from this devastation are the people in the Periferia. These people live in the higher altitudes on the outskirts of the city, where more water pressure is needed to reach their water tanks. This neighborhood is also much poorer than the rest of the city. While many wealthier people have opted to build their own water systems and outsource water, many people do not have that opportunity (Gerberg, 2015). With that said, their infrastructure problem only gets worse as climate change poses a bigger threat with drought. Itakupe, an indigenous community within Periferia, says that the water they rarely get is not clean. It comes out a milky white instead of clear. The lack of hydration makes it incredibly difficult for schools to stay open, as kids get dehydrated and sick. Women who get dehydrated also have a higher risk of health problems, such as urinary tract infections (Gerberg, 2015). Environmentalists have realized that São Paulo has water right at their fingertips in the Amazon River and rainforests, but still does not have adequate technology and resources to get it. In the meantime, a man named Vinicius Pereira has taken matters into his own hands. He started a group which focuses on installing rainwater cisterns. Cisterns are a rainwater collecting system that is eco-friendly and cost efficient. He and his group have installed 36 cisterns, especially in low income areas. Along with installations, he has offered workshops on how to install these structures yourself. Over 200 people have taken advantage of this groundbreaking infrastructure (Gerberg, 2015). In the future, São Paulo has to develop more effective policies and infrastructure in order to utilize their water sources as best as they can to better sustain their communities.
Gerberg, J. (2015, October 13). São Paulo: A Megacity Without Water. Time. https://time.com/4054262/drought-brazil-video/
Colton Sands, PSU World Campus, Penns Valley Area High School
Climate change and its effects are putting many Americans at risk. While we each have a responsibility to do our part to help prevent climate change, the most significant change will come from government policy. That is why for this segment, where we will be focusing on adaptation and mitigation. I am going to focus on Washington D.C., the home of the United States Government. To say that the US has done nothing to help prevent climate change would be unfair. The Clean Air Act, passed in 1963 and amended many times since then, aims to help mitigate climate change by preventing excessive pollution of the air. However, we know that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has continued to go up since 1963, so the effectiveness of this program is questionable. The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, aims to prevent the pollution of America’s water supply. This is both adaptation and mitigation, as the act has led to improved water treatment facilities which helps us adapt to climate change, while also regulating pollution, preventing further negative effects. The Clean Water Act has been far more successful than the clean air act. The regulations are currently preventing about 700 billion pounds of pollutants from entering our waters, and we have seen a decline in the rate of wetland loss since the Act was passed. However, it would be untrue to say that all Americans have access to clean water, so the act has not been totally effective. While these policies are certainly progressing, they were passed decades ago. In more recent times, especially the last 4 years, US policy has been moving in the wrong direction. According to Brookings, there have been 74 actions carried out by the Trump administration that hurt environmental protection. However, the Biden administration promises to be more climate friendly. It is likely that the US will reenter the Paris Climate Accord, which has the primary goal of keeping global temperature change under the critical 2 degree threshold. In addition, there have been talks of adopting the Green New Deal, which aims to get the US to net zero emission by 2050 by eliminating the use of fossil fuels, limiting energy waste, and building renewable energy infrastructure. This proposal has been regarded by many as extreme, but scientists agree that extreme action must be taken as climate change is an urgent issue that requires immediate action. The United States needs to act to prevent climate change, and the policy that does so is going to come out of Washington D.C., making it the location of interest when we talk about how we will adapt to and mitigate climate change.
DeAngelo, B., Edmonds, J., Fahey, D. W., & Sanderson, B. M. (2017). Perspectives on climate change mitigation. Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, 1. [Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 393-410, doi: 10.7930/J0M32SZG
Denton, F., Wilbanks, T. J., Abeysinghe, A. C., Burton, I., Gao, Q., Lemos, M. C., Masui, T., O’Brien, K. L., & Warner, K. (2014). Climate-resilient pathways: adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B.,V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada,R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1101-1131.
Devine, J. (2017, October 18). Clean Water Act at 45: Despite Success, It’s Under Attack. NRDC. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jon-devine/clean-water-act-45-despite-success-its-under-attack.
Friedman, L. (2019, February 21). What is the Green New Deal? New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/climate/green-new-deal-questions-answers.html.
Goss, S. (2020, August 4). What is the Trump administration’s track record on the environment? Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/what-is-the-trump-administrations-track-record-on-the-environment/.
Newburger, E. (2020, November 20). Biden to rejoin Paris Climate Accord. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/20/biden-to-rejoin-paris-climate-accord-heres-what-happens-next-.html.
Skip Star, Security and Risk Analysis, Penn State University
The threat I would like to write about is global warming and its effects on my home city, San Marcos, CA. In all of the other capstones, I focused on areas that were highly threatened but could not achieve any negligible mitigation in effecting climate change or fighting the root causes that directly threatened them. So in this capstone I would like to focus on solutions, specifically ones that I am a part of. My city isn’t as threatened as most of the world, as we have a massive economy and the technology to help us as we fight to do our part in the battle against global warming, but since I am involved with our Climate Action Plan I would like to discuss our efforts. The forecasted climate change for our region says that by 2100 we will see an increase in our yearly average temperature from 0.8C to 2.5C, with greater warming in the summer than in the winter; our heatwave season will extend from its current range (July to August) to June through September, and our precipitation modeling says rain will likely stay the same (Messner et al., 2011). The forecasted impact on our city isn’t nearly as bad as the cities that are further inland, as we have the Pacific Ocean to buffer the effects on our Mediterranean climate. This still doesn’t stop some of our public officials from doing everything they can to combat global warming although we do have to battle the “business over climate” mentality of our mayor and a few people on the city council. Some of the measures we have developed are:
∙ Transition to a more fuel-efficient municipal fleet
∙ Require electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in all new developments
∙ Install EV charging stations at public facilities
∙ Synchronize traffic signals along major corridors to reduce vehicle idling
∙ Install roundabouts at critical junctions
∙ Participate in SANDAG iCommute Vanpool Program
∙ Develop and adopt a comprehensive mobility plan (e.g. Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans)
∙ Implement the Intra-City Shuttle System
∙ Increase transit ridership through marketing and business partnerships
∙ Requiring new residential developments to install alternatively fueled water heaters
∙ Requiring installation of PV systems at new non-residential developments
∙ Increase grid-supply renewable and zero-carbon electricity
∙ Reducing outdoor watering for existing city use areas as well as for all landscaping
∙ Increase citywide waste diversion (looking to achieve an 85% reduction in solid waste by 2030)
∙ Increase tree planting at all city parks, rights-of-way, and new developments
Since the vast majority of our emissions come from cars and energy (electricity and natural gas) one of our primary goals is to reduce our greenhouse gasses to well below our 2012 levels by incentivizing the ownership of electric vehicles. Unfortunately, we will never be able to reach our climate goals until all of our power comes from renewable resources and we are at the mercy of SDGE, our region’s primary power utility. Our best chance is implementing Community Choice Aggregation programs, which are community-owned non-profit power providers that deliver power from primarily renewable resources and give us residents more control of the energy we use. The Paris Agreement Climate Action plan is to reduce greenhouse emissions by at least 40 percent as compared to 1990 (Paris Agreement, n.d.). If we can achieve our goals by 2030, we will be the model of success for other local cities to follow.
Paris Agreement. (n.d.). European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/paris_en
Messner, S., Miranda, S. C., Young, E., & Hedge, N. (2011). Climate change-related impacts in the San Diego region by 2050. Climatic Change, 109(1), 505-531. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0316-1
Lucas A. Barnak
In the small mountain town of Kamikatsu in Japan, they have had some very questionable methods of disposing of their trash, such as literally burning it in an open fire right outside their own homes. This trash consisted of plastics, compost, and anything else the citizen wanted to get rid of. They also utilized an incinerator to practice the same method, but in a more controlled manner. Soon, the government stepped in and banned these techniques due to the harm that it was doing both the environment and the citizens as these burns produced an abundance of dioxins which were inevitably inhaled by citizens.
This city in particular is vulnerable due to both their low population of just approximately 1,717 people and their very poor practices being used to dispose of the city’s waste. With such a small population, it should be fairly simple to retire these old methods and institute more economically friendly ways to dispose of garbage. Enacting a new waste management system in such a small town could be exciting to the occupants of this rural mountain town, as not only will it benefit their own personal health, but it will also help to preserve the health of their land.
If the town was to disregard the idea of adaptation and mitigation in regard to disposing trash in a more economically friendly manner, the forecasted impacts could be detrimental to the town. For example, with the number of dioxins being inhaled from the open burns, this could harm not only the individual inhaling them, but also the animals in surrounding areas, local plants, the child being carried by a pregnant woman, and generations to come as these potential ailments get passed down.
The town has since established a multitude of solutions to these threats, and they are all centered around the concept of recycling and producing zero waste in their community. The town intends to not produce any waste by landfills or incineration of waste, rather they will reuse or recycle all items. Furthermore, they have established 34 different specifications of waste and given each a respective bin for them to be disposed of. These bins are then collected and their contents are repurposed for future use in the community. Even the compost from households is either being purchased by farm owners or the individual is using it to produce their own fertilizer.
Akira Sakano. (2021). World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/authors/akira-sakano
Sanko, A. (2015, April 19). Zero waste: a small town’s big challenge. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/04/zero-waste-a-small-towns-big-challenge/
Renewable energy seeks to solve the incredible issues associated with burning fossil fuels, creating greenhouse gases, and air pollution. Burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus heating the atmosphere, and creating a greenhouse effect. The release of carbon dioxide results in great contributions to climate change and global warming. Renewable energy methods seek to improve the efficiency of deriving energy, in addition to decreasing the impact on the environment. For example, with solar energy, there is an abundance of sunlight that can be used to create clean energy, wind energy uses wind turbines generate electricity from the amount of wind in the atmosphere, hydro energy derives energy from the water movement in water, tidal energy gets energy from tides, geothermal energy gets energy from heat, and biomass energy utilizes organisms for energy.
Reykjavik, Iceland is a city in Iceland that is responsible for energy related CO2 emissions. The city was responsible for such a large carbon dioxide contribution to the atmosphere due to energy related sources. The concentration of people in Reykjavik increased the damage associated with the release of carbon dioxide. The sources of pollution such as factories, transportation, industries and machines are all felt at a greater scale when a great amount of people are living in a relatively smaller space. In addition, the increasing number of buildings in the city doesn’t help to decrease the greenhouse effect. Most buildings still use fossil fuels, which are harmful to the environment. Cities make up roughly 70% of carbon dioxide emissions. Reykjavik, Iceland now utilizes renewable energy sources such as geothermal and hydropower. The switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources decreases the vulnerability of harmful effects of the community.
The forecasted impacts of the carbon dioxide emissions on the community causes the trapping of heat, causing the greenhouse effect. Also, they contribute to respiratory diseases from smog and air pollution. When the heat is trapped within the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels and release of carbon dioxide, effects such as the melting of ice caps, extreme weather, food supply restrictions, and wildfires occur. Too much carbon dioxide can result in the death of animals, from a decreased amount of oxygen reaching the body. It can also lead to kidney failure, or a coma. Luckily, the switch to renewable energy greatly decreased the forecasted impacts. Reykjavik, Iceland’s switch to renewable energy such as geothermal and hydropower allows for the decrease in carbon dioxide release, and a move towards clean and effective energy strategies. Solutions to the threat of catastrophic CO2 emissions include entirely switching to renewable energy. The city of Reykjavik, Iceland now attempts to convert its entire vehicle fleet to fossil fuel-free by 2040. Switching to renewable energy sources allows for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, reduction of burning of fossil fuels, reduction of air pollution, cheaper costs than fossil fuels, and there is an overabundance in supply of it.
Cities: a ’cause of and solution to’ climate change. (2019, September 18). UN News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1046662
Gustin, G. (2018, February 27). More Than 100 Cities Worldwide Now Powered Primarily by Renewable Energy. Inside Climate News. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27022018/renewable-energy-cities-clean-power-technology-cdp-report-global-warming-solutions/
Lamb, S. (2018, April 23). How Does Carbon Dioxide Affect the Environment? Sciencing. https://sciencing.com/carbon-dioxide-affect-environment-8583965.html
Types of renewable energy. (n.d.). EDF. https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/energywise/renewable-energy-sources
Luke Cantrel, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
Tocco Da Casauria, a relatively poor Italian town of 2,700 people situated in the country’s mountainous center, is in many ways an old-fashioned town. However, in regards to energy usage, it can be considered a model of the future. Like many Italian communities, Tocco suffers from incredibly high electricity rates, three times the average rate in the U.S (Rosenthal, 2010). This, coupled with the town’s meager wealth, means they simply cannot afford to pay large plants to power the whole town. As a result, the town has taken great strides towards locally produced renewable energy.
The need for local renewable energy ultimately derives from high electricity rates, which have multiple root causes. The first of which is the fact that Italy has almost no domestic fossil fuels, leading to importation and tariffs that drive up the price for consumers. Secondly, up until 2010, there was a ban on nuclear power in Italy. As such, nuclear power plants are still in development and not yet able to efficiently provide for the country’s energy needs. Lastly, around the time of the nuclear ban overturn, the Italian Government also opened up the state electric monopoly to private industry, which like the nuclear industry, also requires time to establish a new market system (Rosenthal, 2010). Combined, these factors make it very expensive for Tocco to rely on external energy sources from large scale power grids.
In order to meet the town’s energy needs, Tocco has turned towards locally produced renewable energy sources, primarily wind and solar. So far, the town has built four wind turbines that generate thirty percent more energy than is consumed (Rosenthal, 2010). The surplus energy is then sold to power plants for profit. Additionally, more and more solar panels are being installed to provide power during times of calm winds, providing further energy independence, as well as work for electricians and other maintenance workers.
The impact of this switch to renewable energy on Tocco, as well as its future implications, are staggering. The profit from selling excess wind energy has earned the town upwards of $200,000 a year, as well as an additional $2,000 a year from solar panels. This money has been put to use for things such as renovating schools and increasing civil maintenance. In addition, individual energy bills have dropped substantially, by as much as $700 a month in some cases (Rosenthal, 2010). Beyond the immediate fiscal benefits, the transformation of Tocco’s energy market has made it something of a model for other communities. It demonstrates both the economic and environmental benefits of small-scale, locally produced renewable energy, at least for smaller communities that don’t need to provide for millions of people. As such, small renewable energy projects like the one occurring in Tocco serve as an example of one major way the world can adapt to climate change.
Rosenthal, E. (2010, September 29). Ancient Italian Town Has Wind at Its Back. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2010/09/29/science/earth/29fossil.html?searchResultPosition=14.
Nicolette Cusate, Agricultural and Extension Education, Penn State Behrend
Tonawanda, New York is a small town north of Buffalo with a population of just under 15,000 people. In 2007 and 2014, two wind farm projects named Steel Winds I and Steel Winds II were completed on the Lake Erie shoreline in Lackawanna, New York. Since the completion of both projects, the wind farm’s 14 wind turbines have generated enough energy to power 8,000 homes and prevent the release of over 125,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Upon hearing of the great strides in renewable energy that Steel Winds I and II have made, it’s easy to assume that there are no possible negative implications of the project. However, residents of Tonawanda are strongly against the expansion and addition of any wind farms in the area, for reasons that originate from Steel Winds I and II.
Tonawanda is threatened by the production of wind farms for a variety of reasons. For example, the town is located next to the Niagara River, which is a great draw for hobby fishermen and tourists. The production of wind turbines along the shore in Tonawanda is not favorable because it can drive hobbyists and tourists away due to decreased aesthetics of the river, and therefore decrease the local economy. Also, Grand Island is right across the Niagara River, which is home to many wealthy residents. The property values in both Tonawanda and Grand Island could potentially decrease for the same aesthetic reasons. Secondly, wind turbines produce a considerable amount of noise, which can be bothersome to some residents of the town. In turn, residents may feel inclined to move to a quieter location out of the range of the wind turbines, resulting in a reduction in Tonawanda’s population. Additionally, the production of wind turbines introduces a small safety risk. Even though wind turbine disasters are not common, the nearly 300 feet structures have the potential to fall, destroying homes and businesses or in the worst case, harming residents.
The local government officials of Tonawanda are fighting back against renewable energy companies, opposing the idea of wind farm production entirely. Officials are proposing laws that prevent the construction of large wind farms in the area. Most towns along the outskirts of Buffalo already have zoning laws in place that allow them to proceed with construction and energy production. Tonawanda, though, will not stand for the change. Both residents and officials claim that there is too much at risk by allowing wind farms in the area. Even though New York law states that municipalities must make an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, Tonawanda residents claim that there are other ways to do so, such as solar panels or hydro energy.
Fischer, N. A. (2017, July 2). Some towns are saying no to wind farms. The Buffalo News. buffalonews.com/news/local/some-towns-are-saying-no-to-wind-farms/article_8eb9e79e 70db-558c-9c12-5042932e29f7.html. Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.
Amelia Emahizer, University Park
Sand City, much like other cities in California, has many issues with a lack of water in the community. Sand City itself isn’t even truly a city—it has a population of just over 300. The community is particularly vulnerable due to the drought that is occurring in California. Sand City is mostly a business area, and without clean, usable water, many of the businesses struggle to run. The solution to this is the recently built desalination plant. This desalination plant provides lots of water to the city and surrounding areas. The desalination process is made easier because of the brackish waters nearby. Sand City is in an area of the ocean where the waters aren’t nearly as salty, meaning they can more easily be desalinated (Greenemeier, 2010). The process requires significantly less energy and costs a lot less than it does to desalinate regular ocean water. Currently, California is not allowing Sand City to build any more buildings or other properties without more access to water (Greenemeier, 2010). Sand City’s solution to this is to build another desalination plant, as this is in fact allowed by California. Desalination often has an issue with upsetting ocean wildlife, destroying eggs, plants, and sometimes even fish. However, Sand City is lucky enough to have their desalination plant on an aquifer. The sand that the aquifer is located beneath has a natural filter that allows it to prevent the eggs, fish, and plants from being taken with the water. The only thing in the water that is drawn up is microbes, but this cannot be avoided. It also has the issue of producing extremely salty water, and too much of this can throw off the salt balance in the body of water (Sand City…, n.d.). The city solves this issue by ensuring the water is of the same saltiness as the Monterey Bay, which is where the solution is dumped. The city also attempts to prevent wasting energy by adding methods to preserve it. This cuts down on environmental costs, along with the previously mentioned saltiness insurance. This desalination plant helps to address the issue of drought in Sand City, and with another being built, it will only continue to help.
Greenemeier, L. (2010, April 7). Coastal California City Turns to Desalination to Quench Its Thirst. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/california-desalination-reverse osmosis/.
Sand City Coastal Desalination Plant. (n.d.). Water Technology. https://www.water-technology.net/projects/sand-city-plant/.
Amelia Emahizer, University Park
Barguna, Bangladesh is a town of just over 30,000 people located on Khakdon River. Barguna is subject to many issues caused by climate change due to the unfortunate location of the town. Being directly next to a river, it is prone to flooding due to the heavier rains caused by climate change (Kabir et al., 2020). Along with that, the area is prone to cyclones, which are also being affected by climate change. This damage is devastating to a small and poor community like Barguna. On the opposite end of climate change, when the area is not being flooded, it is prone to drought. There is plenty of salt water, but nothing that a poor community is able to use. There is also the issue of saltwater intrusion, as Burguna is very close to sea level (Bangladesh, n.d.). The combination of flooding seawater, drought, and saltwater intrusion leads to food insecurity and job loss for many people. If these problems are not solved, many people will end up dying due to lack of food, money, or water. Eventually, they may have to migrate to avoid these problems. However, before they attempt to migrate, they are working on other solutions. To begin with, they are building shelters to help those who are displaced by natural disasters. They also recently began growing and developing a saltwater-tolerant rice (Bangladesh, n.d.), which will be helpful to many. Not only will it help food insecurity become less of a problem, but it will give money to farmers who are struggling due to the previously mentioned agricultural issues. Wells are also being dug in much of the country, including Barguna, to help aid with the water issues that people face. Barguna has had a very rough time with climate change, and they are working their hardest to adapt to the issues. As a poor town located in a poor country, it is definitely a struggle. With luck and perseverance, eventually their efforts will help them to survive.
Bangladesh: Building Resilience to Climate Change. (n.d.). World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2016/10/07/bangladesh-building-resilience-to-climate change.
Kabir, R., Khan, H. T. A., Ball, E., & Caldwell, K. (2016, October 27). Climate Change Impact: The Experience of the Coastal Areas of Bangladesh Affected by Cyclones Sidr and Aila. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2016/9654753/.
C. M. Erikson, Earth Sciences, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
In the parched landscape of the Arabian desert, fresh water as a resource is at a premium. Despite this, no indication of water scarcity would be given by observing King Abdullah University in Thuwal, with its green athletic fields and 5 million gallon per day water demand (Fountain, 2019). In order to supply such a large need, desalination processes are used to take advantage of the one water source which is plentiful, the ocean. Even though the ocean provides sufficient water to be desalinated, the process by which this is done is highly energy intensive. Because of this, great efforts have been spent in developing the technologies which remove salt and other dissolved minerals from ocean water and increasing the energy efficiency of the process. As development continues, such as turning this desert location into the impressive structures of the University, as the Saudi population grows, and as climate becomes harsher on that population, demand for water will only increase, and it will likely still need to be largely sourced from desalination since natural aquifers cannot sustain such fast withdrawal rates. The difficulty is that present costs limit the expansion of desalination through affordability and accessibility.
The need for desalinated water has led Saudi Arabia to achieve the highest mark of energy efficient production in the world at 2.271 kWh per cubic meter (Saudi Corporation…, 2021). This has enabled nearly two thirds growth in three years for the Saudi desalination company that achieved this, which serves as a promising sign for Thuwal as well. In Thuwal itself, at the University, efficiency increases are being gained through refinement of membranes used in reverse osmosis and finding better ways to dispose of the brine byproduct. It will be challenging to sustain this level of growth, however, with the same magnitude of recent development estimated to take another one or two decades to reach again (Fountain, 2019). It may be that the rate of increase in water demand outpaces the ability to supply it through technological advances in desalination.
If it is the case that water demand burgeons rapidly, Thuwal is not without other possible solutions. The same plant at the university which runs the desalination process also manages the wastewater, which is what is typically recycled and used to water the pristine green fields (Fountain, 2019). This reduces the need to produce more fresh water and continue to consume energy. Thuwal is also looking at changing how it sources the energy that is used to desalinate water. By using more renewable sources and transitioning away from fossil fuel driven thermal plants, the potential water stress is reduced because of the smaller contribution to climate change. While desalination is likely to still grow and be an important factor in meeting water needs, utilization of a number of smaller changes like these will help to ensure that Thuwal is able to continue to provide water for its community.
Fountain, H. (2019, October 22). The World Can Make More Water From the Sea, but at What Cost? New York Times.
Saudi corporation achieves world record for lowest water desalination energy consumption. (2021, April 5). Water Technology. https://www.watertechonline.com/industry/press-release/14200711/saudi-corporation-achieves-world-record-for-lowest-water-desalination-energy-consumption
Robert Estephan, Political Science, World Campus
Corpus Christi, Texas, is an affluent community on the Gulf of Mexico with a serious usable water shortage problem. Their ground water is salty, and they have two reservoirs that can not keep up with the increasing population and the high demand of water from both industry and residents.
The problem has become so severe that the City of Corpus Christi has written laws to create stages of required water conservation based on reservoir levels. According to Corpus Christi code of ordinances Sections 55-152 and 55-153, there are four stages that have triggers and restrictions to meet goals. The triggers are based on levels of water at the Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Corpus Christi. The triggers and restrictions are briefly outlined in the following table.
|Stage||Combined reservoir level||Consumption reduction goal||Summary of restrictions|
|Stage 1||Below 40%, when it raises to 50% the restriction will be removed.||All residents and businesses to reduce their use by 10%||Water lawn once a week. Golf course watering limited to scheduled days.|
|Stage 2||Below 30%, when it reaches 40% it reverts back to Stage 1.||All residents and businesses to reduce their use by 15%||Eliminate flushing water mains unless there is contamination. Review customer bills and possibly fine them if goals not met. Plus Stage 1.|
|Stage 3||Below 20%, when it reaches 30% it reverts back to Stage 2.||All residents and businesses to reduce their use by 30%||Water meters can be disconnected of willful violators. No washing of cars and filling of swimming pools. Plus Stages 1 and 2.|
|Stage 4||Emergency Water Shortage Condition, Water main break, pumps failure, contamination or below 10%.||All residents and businesses to reduce their use by 50% or more.||Only necessary water use. Customers not meeting the goal can be fined up to one month’s bill over the allocation. Plus Stages 1, 2, and 3.|
Currently, Choke Canyon is at a level of 33.4% capacity and Lake Corpus Christi is at 45.9% capacity. Both reservoirs are trending down, and with the warmer months ahead in 2021 it seems that the Best Practices per Stage will be enacted. It will be interesting to see the compliance as affluent people generally resist their amenities being taken away. Will the city enforce the interventions and fines, and will they work?
There is a solution that has been in discussion for nearly two decades. The city has approved the construction of a reverse osmosis desalination plant. They are seeking approval to secure a loan for 222 million dollars for the design and construction of the facility at the Inner Harbor of the Port of Corpus Christi. The plant will produce 20 million gallons of potable water per day. According to Corpus Christi City Mayor, the city is striving to have the facility fully operational by 2025-2026.
There has been controversy over putting the brine back into the ocean and increasing the salinity of the coastal waters. They are planning to use diffusers to spread out byproduct water that has a slightly elevated salinity so that it mixes more evenly with the ocean. Then the solid waste that is extremely saline will be taken to a local landfill.
This solution may not come soon enough as the reservoirs are trending to reach levels that may need to invoke stages 2 or 3 this year or next. It may be a very difficult time for the people in Corpus Christi, as limited water availability can severely alter health and lifestyles.
Cargo, K. (2020, December 28). Corpus Christi is under new water restrictions. Here’s how that will affect you. Corpus Christi Caller Times. https://www.caller.com/story/news/local/2020/12/28/corpus-christi-imposes-water-restrictions-heres-how-youre-affected/4060471001/
Choke Canyon Reservoir. (n.d.). Water Data for Texas. https://waterdatafortexas.org/reservoirs/individual/choke-canyon
City of Corpus Christi to Apply for $222M Loan for Desalination Plant. (2020, April 23). City of Corpus Christi Newsroom. https://news.cctexas.com/news/city-of-corpus-christi-to-apply-for-222m-loan-for-desalination-plant
Gonzalez, A. (2021, January 15). The latest on the Desalination Plant in Corpus Christi. KIII-TV. https://www.kiiitv.com/article/tech/science/environment/the-latest-on-the-desalination-plant-in-corpus-christi/503-09ec7eb0-6153-427d-b2f4-2f97bedf24c5
Lake Corpus Christi. (n.d.). Water Data for Texas. https://waterdatafortexas.org/reservoirs/individual/corpus-christi
Miller, B. (2016, February 3). 12 Biggest Pros and Cons of Desalination. Green Garage. https://greengarageblog.org/12-biggest-pros-and-cons-of-desalination
Sec. 55-152. – Drought management: Reservoir system stages. (2018, November 9). Municode Corpus Christi, TX. https://library.municode.com/tx/corpus_christi/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIIITHCOOR_CH55UT_ARTXIIWAREMA_S55-152DRMARESYST
Robert Estephan, Political Science, World Campus
On May 4th of 2007, Greensburg, KS was struck by a tornado that caused severe damage and destruction to the vast majority of the small town’s infrastructure, including buildings and homes. Eleven people were killed. In the prior year there were a total of 1,389 residents in Greensburg. Forward thinking Mayor Bob Dixon had a vision on how to rebuild the town. He started a long-term community recovery plan. The concept was to look 20 years ahead and create an energy footprint that was completely renewable in both the long and short term.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a designation on buildings that meet the stringent requirements to achieve this label. Greensburg built or rebuilt 10 buildings that met the renewable and sustainable energy requirements. There are four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. Eight of the buildings met the prestigious level of platinum. With so few residents and so many LEED certified buildings, Greensburg self-proclaims to have the most certified buildings per capita in the Country.
Greensburg has a rainwater harvesting system that provides irrigation and supplies non-potable water to the bathrooms of certain buildings. In addition, they utilize native plantings and low use water fixtures. This allows the town to use very little water from scarce resources. The windmills and solar panels provide enough power for the entire community and still allows them to sell back electricity to the Kansas City Power Pool. All of their outdoor streetlights are LED, making them the only city in the United States with that honor. They have reduced their carbon footprint by over 50% just by not using fossil fuels for electricity. They were able to reclaim wood and bricks from the destruction the tornado left and use them in the construction of the new buildings, minimizing the need for additional resources. They even have biodegradable fueled generators as a backup in the event of a power outage.
This community showed that construction to make a community energy efficient and resource frugal does not cost much additional money. The tornado was declared a national emergency and allowed for monetary assistance of over $100 million dollars for emergency response and the rebuilding of their infrastructure, which included government buildings and schools as well as housing. They have been saving over $200,000 in energy costs per year on just 13 buildings.
GREENSBURG, KANSAS, USA. (2020). 100% Renewable Energy Atlas. https://www.100-percent.org/greensburg-kansas-usa/
Greensburg Sustainable Comprehensive Plan. (2008, May 19). City of Greensburg, Kansas. https://www.greensburgks.org/residents/recovery-planning/sustainable-comprehensive-master-plan/view
Rebuilding It Better: Greensburg, Kansas. (2012, February). US Department of Energy. file:///C:/Users/halin/Downloads/NREL%20Report.pdf
Annie G. (2020, October 3). The Town that Built Back Green. The Washington Post.
Maggie Fechtman, Community, Environment, and Development, College of Agricultural Sciences
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia has been home to Saudi Aramco for the past 80 years. In order to contrast the large number of emissions that are created from the extraction of oil, they advertise their efforts to have zero-net emissions in oil and gas companies. Every day they capture 40 million cubic feet of CO2 (Carbon Capture…, n.d.).
Focusing on the community themselves, Dhahran has a population of 240,742 and is known most as being a hotspot for the Saudi oil industry (Dhahran, 2021). They have a desert climate that only experiences rain between November and May. Unfortunately for this community, there are multiple large oil reserves in the area, making it a hotspot for extraction. This means that Saudi Aramco’s business in Dhahran hurts their own community as they are one of the reasons why the temperature is increasing in their community and globally (Dhahran, 2021). It is ironic because the threat is also the reason why Dhahran is vulnerable. It is forecasted that eventually, the oil will run out of the many reservoirs in Dhahran, and when the business leaves, the remaining community will face increasing temperatures and droughts.
To focus on the solutions to the threat, Aramco details several different ways they are combating climate change and CO2 emissions they are creating. They pride themselves on being one of the lowest emitters in the oil industry because of their carbon capture practices. One technology they are developing is a means of carbon capture directly from the exhaust of cars. As of now, they can capture 25% of the CO2 emitted from cars before it enters the atmosphere (Carbon Capture…, n.d.). Further, they are also redesigning car engines, causing them to require less gas at the start. Aramco details how energy is wasted as heat and in the conversion of fuel into propulsion, which is one thing that they are focused on reducing (Carbon Capture…, n.d.). While these means of mitigation do reduce the amount of CO2 Aramco is contributing, the best thing they could do for the community of Dhahran and the world would be to halt oil extraction and focus on developing more carbon capturing technology.
Capturing carbon on the move. (n.d.). Aramco. https://www.aramco.com/en/creating-value/technology-development/transport-technologies/mobile-carbon-capture.
Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage. (n.d.). Aramco. https://www.aramco.com/en/making-a-difference/planet/carbon-capture-utilization-and-storage.
Dhahran. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhahran.
Nicholas F. Frederick, Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Pennsylvania State University
The town of Swansea, in Massachusetts, has suffered from insufficient water sources for decades. Between shortages and water bans, the town’s growth has been stagnant. According to the Concord Journal, about 30% of the eastern half of the town’s population were without water in 1999. Swansea needed to find the best, most feasible solution to their water shortage problem.
After exploring numerous options, such as purchasing water from neighboring communities, the solution to Swansea’s decades-long water insufficiency was finally found. Swansea was finally able to introduce a desalination plant. Desalination is the process of converting saltwater into fresh water. A plan of this magnitude is never simple. Those in charge had to work through a plethora of state legislations and strategic complications until the plant was finally complete. The project has helped change the projected fate of Swansea. A town that was left without water is now converting up to 4 million gallons of water pulled from the Palmer River into 2.2 million gallons of pure drinking water. Businesses and homes throughout the town are now benefiting from the plant, as they are finally receiving adequate water supply. It is said that Swansea will also look to benefit from the plant as surrounding communities have also suffered water shortages and will turn to the Swansea Desalination Plant as a source of water. This could potentially bring in an additional source of revenue to the town.
The establishment of desalination plants on the east coast of the United States, let alone in a rural town in Massachusetts, is unlikely. A majority of the larger-scale desalination plants are located in Israel and cities like Dubai and Singapore. The success of the Swansea desalination plant has shown promise to arid locations around the United States and provides a viable option to escape water shortages in the future.
Our View: A Toast to Swansea’s Water Desalination Plant. (2014, March 24). The Concord Journal. https://concord.wickedlocal.com/article/20140324/opinion/140328108.
Nicholas F. Frederick, Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Pennsylvania State University
A small town in northwest Missouri is now fully powered by wind energy. The town is home to 1,300 residents, and all of the citizens are now able to rely on the four wind turbines for all of their energy needs. The northwestern part of Missouri is home to a large concentration of 75 wind turbines funded by the John Deere tractor company. These 75 turbines stretch across three counties and multiple towns, including Rock Port. Four of the seventy-five wind turbines are situated in the town and are now responsible for 100% of the town’s energy. Rock Port is the first town in the United States to rely solely on wind energy. The four turbines farm wind and convert the wind power into energy. According to sciencedaily.com, Rock Port utilizes about thirteen million kilowatt-hours of energy annually. The four wind turbines are expected to create up to sixteen million kilowatt-hours of energy each year (Rock Port…, 2008). The location of Rock Port was perfect because northwest Missouri experiences high concentrations of wind year-round. The renewable energy source is benefiting the community greatly because farming wind is much more efficient than farming most crops. Natural resource engineer from the University of Missouri, Jim Crawford, talks about the efficiency by jokingly saying that farming wind is, “as simple as getting a cup of coffee and watching blades spin.”
Rock Port, Missouri could be the first of many towns in the United States to fully rely on wind energy. As a very sustainable source of energy, wind turbines could power the future of America. By avoiding gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions and helping to protect the nation’s water sources, wind energy is an economically practical route the country should consider. After realizing the success that Rock Port has displayed with its turbines, it is only a matter of time before towns across the country begin to depend on wind energy.
Morris, F. (2008, August 9). Missouri Town Is Running On Vapor – And Thriving. NPR. www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93208355.
Rock Port, Missouri, First 100 Percent Wind-Powered Community In U.S. (2008, July 16). ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715165441.htm.
Thompson, A. (2008, July 15). First U.S. Town Powered Completely By Wind. LiveScience. www.livescience.com/2704-town-powered-completely-wind.html.
Cities must take a different approach to climate adaptation. Urban areas have a much higher carrying capacity but also use more resources over a given period of time. Issues like the Urban Heat Island Effect and factory runoff present interesting and dire challenges to climate professionals working to resolve many of these newfound issues. The city of Vancouver in British Columbia is ahead of the curve in this regard, but it’s important to understand the issues that led to their overhauls.
In the early 2010s, Vancouver was emerging as a major Canadian business and finance center. The city saw massive growth and development. However, the issue remained that power generation and allocation of resources was not as sustainable as it could be. Over 2.4 million live within Vancouver’s metro area. These people, like many other city dwellers, are threatened by air quality issues and rising urban temperatures. The city was able to solve many of these problems by centralizing power and recycling efforts.
One of the ways that Vancouver was able to solve its climate issues was through power generation. Much of the electricity generation is done through hydroelectric power plants, which provided little to no drawback in terms of emission and runoff. Another contributor to higher city temperatures is car traffic. Vancouver resolved this through offering transport alternatives and disconnecting garages from housing units. More vertical housing was implemented to eliminate threats of over dense areas of the city. You won’t find landfills in or near Vancouver either. The city committed to ethical and reasonable waste management efforts to prevent trash incineration and promote recycling. Carbon capture technology is used to not only prevent methane and other gases from hurting the atmosphere, but to be used for heating greenhouses to promote plant growth. Home heating is also used thanks to underground heat generation.
Vancouver laid out plans to solve impending climate issues that threatened their city. These methods have worked so well that other coastal cities in Canada, the United States, and abroad have adopted these tactics to improve their chances against the changing climate. The issues of air quality and urban heat island have been reduced in severity thanks to preemptive measures. These measures included reducing the number of heat-producing apparatuses. Hydroelectric power generation and recycling effectively ends the threat of harmful emissions as well. Vancouver has set the example for renewables and emissions mitigation in cities.
Adler, B. (2014, March 31). How did Vancouver get so green? Grist. https://grist.org/cities/how-did-vancouver-get-so-green/
Mikhail Galperin, Business Administration, Penn State World Campus
Typically, drinkable water is thought of as the key product generated by the process of desalination. In the case of the Dead Sea, however, the salty brine produced as a byproduct of the desalination process may be the key to recovering from, or at least reducing, the rapid decline of the sea’s water level over recent decades. Ein Gedi’s kibbutz has been among the many communities impacted by the receding sea with its very existence threatened, and the hope is that desalinization could be the answer.
What was once a beautiful public beach near the kibbutz now consists of abandoned buildings swallowed by massive sinkholes. These sinkholes, caused by freshwater deteriorating the salty deposits beneath the soil as a result of the decreasing sea level of the Dead Sea, have grown exponentially in frequency over the years. Although the kibbutz is far enough away from the sinkholes and is considered safe for the time being, businesses and migrants avoid moving into the area as roads and bridges continue to be swallowed whole. An estimated 75 acres of land valued at many millions of dollars has been lost to sinkholes near the kibbutz, offering little incentive for the population to grow.
One potential solution to this problem is the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project. As part of this project, a water desalination project located along the Red Sea will transport the salty brine leftover from the desalination process into the Dead Sea. The project aims to fill the Dead Sea’s yearly deficiency of 800 million cubic meters of water, but initially will inflow only a fraction of that. It will also provide critically important drinking water to the Jordan region. However, there are several problems with this option. There are concerns that the unique composition of the Dead Sea’s water could be thrown off-balance, negatively affecting the ecosystems living within it. The project also requires a massive amount of electrical power, the costs of which were not factored in the plan. Lastly, with the success of this project being contingent on cooperation between Israel, Jordan, and nearby Palestinian territories, politics pose a major risk. If these risk factors can be overcome, however, the Kibbutz Ein Gedi could have a path to sustainability someday in the future.
Lidman, M. (2017, February 18). On land crumbled by sinkholes, Dead Sea locals try to shore up their livelihoods. The Times of Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/on-land-crumbled-by-sinkholes-dead-sea-locals-try-to-shore-up-their-livelihoods/.
Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Sea%E2%80%93Dead_Sea_Water_Conveyance.
Oliviah Gearhart, Global and International Studies, College of Liberal Arts
Recycling is an important step in adapting to and mitigating climate change. It reduces waste in landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources, prevents pollution, and saves energy (Environment Protection…, 2020). These are all essential to decrease carbon emissions and potentially mitigate the effects and severity of climate change. Indianapolis, Indiana is the worst city in the United States in terms of recycling. Only 7% of waste in this city is recycled, and the city does not have any curbside recycling program that serves every household. Unlike other towns and cities that do not implement recycling programs, Indianapolis has the funding to do so, it just lacks the policy. The community of Indianapolis is charged money if they want to recycle, rather than the government creating incentives to recycle (Bowman & Hopkins, 2019).
It may seem like there are no horrible consequences for Indianapolis if they continue on the path of wastefulness with the lack of recycling services. However, on a global scale, there are considerable consequences. If towns and cities follow Indianapolis’s lead and do not recycle, the amount of waste in landfills will increase significantly. Also, without recycling we will quickly run out of resources to create nylon and plastic, as they are made by using fossil fuels. It also would greatly increase the amount of plastic in landfills, which would threaten ecosystems (Sataksig, 2019). Indianapolis has finally agreed to make a universal curbside recycling program, yet this won’t be available until 2025. Another thing that the city can do to implement recycling is educating the community about the benefits and necessity of it, as well as how to do it correctly (Bowman & Hopkins, 2019). By providing education, the city can ensure that once recycling is provided, people will use it. Not only will Indianapolis need to create a program and provide education about recycling, but the government will need to implement policies that require households and businesses throughout the city to recycle. Without policies, people may be unwilling to change their old behaviors due to a dislike for change, even with proper education. The future of Indianapolis and the rest of the world depends on recycling as a way to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Without these efforts, the future of Earth is dismal.
Bowman, S. & Hopkins, E. (2019, Jan, 30). Recycling not for all. Indianapolis one of the most wasteful in U.S. IndyStar. https://www.indystar.com/story/news/environment/2019/01/30/indianapolis-biggest-city-u-s-without-recycling-all/1272400002/.
Environment Protection Agency. (2020). Recycling Basics: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. United States Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics.
Sataksig. (2019, Sept, 17). What Will Happen If We Stop Recycling? It Is Not Good. EarthBuddies. https://earthbuddies.net/stop-recycling/#:~:text=From%20the%20data%2C%20we%20should,but%20all%20around%20the%20world.&text=Do%20the%20math%20and%20you,produced%20by%20everyo-ne%20each%20day.
Pollution is something Shanghai, China has first hand experience fighting. China as a whole has been known for its issues with air pollution, and as residents of it’s largest city, those in Shanghai are well acquainted with the issues it causes. Since the city has been rapidly growing in past decades (the current population is around 25 million people), they have had to rely mainly on nonrenewable energy sources to support the population. While the solution worked, it was merely a short term fix. The city deals with high concentrations of hazardous particles, and this has caused the deaths of thousands of people. This community is particularly at risk due to the large population. With so many people in one area, there are naturally a lot more sources of pollution. For instance, vehicle emissions were reported to be the source for 30% of all emissions in Shanghai. Shanghai is now considered one of the most polluted cities in the world, and is steadily working towards renewable energy. If Shanghai did not begin this transition, the air quality (which is already at dangerous limits), would only further worsen with the increases in population that are projected. Even now, the transition process is slow.
In order to combat the large amounts of emissions from vehicles, cars in Shanghai are now required to have upgraded filters to prevent some of the gases from entering the air. Government vehicles in Shanghai are also beginning to be fueled by renewable energy; 30% of government cars have to use renewable energy. In 2014, the city began to transition from coal to natural gas. While natural gas is not renewable energy, it has significantly fewer negative effects than coal. China as a whole has been moving towards becoming a leader in renewable energy, so Shanghai has seen improvements in this area. Offshore wind and solar power has become increasingly used to power the city; $7 million USD were allocated towards furthering these industries to help further decrease emissions. Further reliance on renewable energy would greatly improve the situation for many people in Shanghai. Dealing with the massive population presents more challenges than usual, but this also means that Shanghai needs to act with more urgency, and this is not something the current policies represent.
Reuters Staff. (2014, March 19). China’s Shanghai aims for cleaner energy, lower CO2 Growth. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/china-energy-environment/chinas-shanghai-aims-for-cleaner-energy-lower-co2-growthidUSL3N0MG1B920140319.
Is air quality in China a social problem? (2021, February 26). ChinaPower. https://chinapower.csis.org/air-quality/.
Loughran, J. (2020, July 09). Beijing and Shanghai’s air pollution problems to blame FOR 49,000 deaths. E&T. https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2020/07/beijing-and-shanghai-s-air-pollution-problems-result-in-49-000-deaths-in-2020/ .
Murtaugh, D. & Chen, Q. (2020, June 9). Shanghai Renewable Subsidies to Support Solar and Offshore Wins. Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-09/shanghai-renewable-subsidies-to support-solar-and-offshore-wind.
Air quality in Shanghai. (2021). IQair. https://www.iqair.com/us/china/shanghai.
Eathan R. Gottshall
The village of Jagatsinghpur, India is just one of a plethora of communities across the planet which will deal with increasing sea-levels and much higher flood hazards. The threat of more extreme flooding could lead to thousands of deaths within the small communities like Jagasinhpur. The villagers, however, have begun to do their best to mitigate the rising risks through a simple strategy that also helps to build greater sense of community and purpose through cooperation. This village and similar communities have begun planting extensive mangrove forests. These forests will act as natural storm surge walls and also bind the soil along coastal waterways to lessen the impact of erosion caused by major flooding events. The tree species villages like Jagasinhpur are planting vary, but the majority are invasive species that monopolize available resources in the ecosystems where they grow so villages never really had a reason to plant them in the past. These species have a few advantages over other possible candidates however, the species grow extremely quickly, allowing villages to grow new forests surrounding sensitive sediments and vital infrastructure, and they grow tall, which will aid in protection against extreme floods and storm surges. The group that began planting these extensive forests has spread their operation to surrounding communities and has planted close to 15 acres of dense mangrove, and is inspiring other groups to do the same. This trend is growing among other villages and communities in the area,n and advocates are urging the coastal villages to begin to take the same measures to protect their communities and families. These mangroves act as natural buffers, but they require upkeep in order to maintain their effectiveness, and future planting to expand the protected regions into more vulnerable areas. Although the future health of villages like Jagasinhpur is uncertain with the growing impacts of climate change, if measures are taken to mitigate the effects on communities, there will undoubtedly be a brighter future.
Kumar, M. (2021, May 10). Villages in Odisha Grow Mini Forests Over 50 Acres to Fight Climate Change. News 18. https://www.news18.com/news/india/villages-in-odisha-grow-mini-forests-over-50-acres-to-fight-climate-change-3625325.html
Shawn M. Jacobs
Maine Lobster is a delicacy many people enjoy; however, few understand the complexities of the Lobster industry. Sustainable lobstering relies on a full season of lobstering which produces lobsters of both the soft- and hard-shell categories. Soft-shell lobsters are ones that have molted within the past 6 months and need to be consumed soon after harvest as they are not as resilient when it comes to temperature change once out of the water. Hard-shell lobsters tend to travel better, which allows outside people to get lobsters from Maine delivered to homes and local grocers.
Molting occurs as the waters warm in the summertime and soft-shell lobsters become more abundant, driving prices down. Soft-shell lobsters also contain less meat than their hard shell friends. As the oceans warm, there are often multi-molting seasons, which decreases the number of hard-shells available to hit the market.
For years, the lobstering community in South Thomaston, Maine knew the molting schedule like the back of their hands. In 2012, there was an ocean heatwave that increased the soft-shell catch by approximately 18 million pounds. It sounds optimal, but the price dropped to depression era levels, causing severe hardships in this lobstering community. This did not go unnoticed by the lobstering community. Local lobsterman Dave Cousens realized that this is a wake-up call and that the fishing community needs to prepare for future years that will be like 2012. Sadly, several fishing communities not that far south in Massachusetts and Connecticut have already seen a 70% decrease in Lobster harvest due to warming waters.
University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea grant have partnered with local fishermen in South Thomaston to understand how climate change affects their bottom line. By adapting their fishing practices using the VACPS (Vulnerability, Consequences, and Adaptation Planning Scenarios) planning process, local fishermen can predict when they need to reduce or increase their fishing efforts based on sea temperatures and how the early molt will affect their bottom line.
This is a great example of how partnering scientists with industry can positively impact the future of communities and how we deal with the inevitable effects of climate change. Hopefully this model can transfer to other fishing communities to help them make better environmental and economic decisions.
Lorenc, A. (2015, July 6). How Climate Change Could Affect Your Lobster Roll. Conservation Law Foundation. https://www.clf.org/blog/how-climate-change-could-affect-your-lobster-roll/
Stancioff, E. (2020, February 10). Maine’s Lobster Fishing Community Confronts Their Changing Climate. U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. https://toolkit.climate.gov/case-studies/maines-lobster-fishing-community-confronts-their-changing-climate
Mary Kelly, College of Engineering
Coral reefs all over the world are suffering due to global warming, and the coral reefs in the Florida Keys are just one example. The Florida Keys are home to the third largest marine sanctuary in the world (Coral Bleaching…, 2017). Though bleaching is caused by many factors, including pollution, global warming is the leading cause. An increase of just 2 degrees could cause bleaching (Spotlight on Coral…, 2020). The marine life in the reefs is encountering great hardship, which doesn’t just affect the animals. The economy in the Florida Keys depends heavily on the coral reefs through tourism and fishing. These reefs are valued at $8.5 billion and support 70,400 jobs in the Florida Keys (Bourzac, 2020). Climate change has done immeasurable damage to these coral reefs and all of Earth, and marine cloud brightening could help to prevent further damage.
The Marine Cloud Brightening Project looks to offset the impacts of climate change in areas like the Florida Keys that are specifically vulnerable to climate change. With this solution, sea water aerosol will be sprayed into marine stratocumulus clouds, which have an altitude of 500-2000 meters. These saltwater particles in the spray must have a significantly large salt mass so that they will activate and grow in the clouds, but not too big to cause precipitation. There also must be a copious amount of particles in order to significantly enhance the cloud droplet number concentration, which makes the clouds thicker and more reflective. These two factors, the size and the amount of particles, are what make the exact technology so complex and difficult to create (Latham, 2012).
This solution works because the water vapor particles will condense on the salt particles. The cloud droplets will become smaller and more numerous, forming clouds with a higher cloud droplet number concentration, which causes the cloud’s albedo to increase (Marine Cloud Brightening…, 2021). Cloud albedo is another word for the cloud’s reflectivity, which is determined by the density of the cloud. After the aerosol is applied to the clouds, the particles will become smaller and closer together, allowing for more sunlight to be reflected. Naturally, this will result in a cooling of the area below the clouds. The exact cooling of the area continues to be studied, but in a study at the National Center for Biotechnology information, general circulation model computations suggest this solution could balance global warming until the carbon dioxide doubling point (Latham, 2012). This solution could effectively slow down the warming of the ocean near the reefs in the Florida Keys, which would also slow down the reef bleaching and devastating impacts on marine life and the economy that have yet to come.
Bourzac, K. (2020, February 10). Climate change is destroying our coral reefs. Here’s how scientists plan to save them. Chemical and Engineering News. https://cen.acs.org/environment/climate-change/Climate-change-destroying-coral-reefs/98/i6.
Coral Bleaching in the Florida Keys. (2017). Environmental Systems Research Institute. https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=39176cd0524e4d039a6ee3c8f57402bf.
Latham, J. (13 September 2012). Marine Cloud Brightening. Philosophical Transactions. Series A, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences. The Royal Society Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3405666/.
Marine Cloud Brightening Engineers Clouds to Cool the Climate. (2021, January 19). Geoengineering.global. https://geoengineering.global/marine-cloud-brightening/
Spotlight on Coral – Threats to Coral. (2020, May 31). Marine Conservation Costa Rica. http://marineconservationcostarica.org/threats-to-coral-costa-rica/
Sarah Kern, Environmental Resource Management, College of Agricultural Sciences
The threat to the community of Wolfhagen is climate change. Like many other communities around the world, Wolfhagen is concerned about the future impact climate change will have on the environment. CO2 emissions are continuing to increase the global temperature because of the greenhouse gas effect. In order to combat climate change, the community of Wolfhagen has chosen to implement adaptation and mitigation techniques such as renewable energy.
Wolfhagen is vulnerable to climate change because Germany, the country it is located in, stopped building nuclear reactors after the Chernobyl incident (Davis, 2018). Because of this, communities such as Wolfhagen have had to find renewable energy sources. The community of Wolfhagen decided to implement a mitigation strategy against climate change by fully implementing renewable resources. The community chose to become fully self-reliant.
The energy transition of Wolfhagen has had mostly positive impacts on the community. Wolfhagen’s renewable energy sources sometimes produce more than enough for the community, and the town is then able to sell excess energy to other nearby towns (Davis, 2018). This extra profit is then distributed around the community of Wolfhagen. Another impact on the community is many residents lease their land for the wind and solar farms, bringing in extra income as well. The renewable energy plants have also provided jobs for the members of the community. However, there were some negative impacts as well. Renewable energy plants are expensive, and some members of the Wolfhagen community were not supportive of the energy transition. There are also occasions where wind and solar do not produce enough energy, and the town must purchase energy from other locations.
Wolfhagen is a good example of how to use adaptation and mitigation strategies to combat climate change. This community has shown that it is possible for small communities to run completely on renewable resources. Wolfhagen no longer relies on fossil fuels or other non-renewables (WOLFHAGEN, GERMANY, 2019). Wolfhagen has been able to implement a solution to climate change on a small scale.
WOLFHAGEN, GERMANY. (2019, January 30). 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY ATLAS. https://www.100-percent.org/wolfhagen-germany/
Davis, A. (2018, May 25). Tiny Wolfhagen, Germany leads the country’s green energy transition. The World. https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-05-25/tiny-wolfhagen-germany-leads-countrys-green-energy-transition
Recycling is the process of taking waste materials and converting it into new materials and objects that can be used for further use. It can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage, air pollution, and water pollution. Materials that can be recycled include glass, paper, metal, plastic, cardboard, etc. The reuse of biodegradable waste is also a form of recycling. Our planet could face many consequences if we don’t take the proper steps in recycling.
San Jose is the third largest city in California, and since 2008 has been in the process of working toward a more sustainable system of waste management. By 2022, the city has committed to become zero waste and have zero landfill or incinerator waste diversion by 2040. San Jose, just like the rest of the world, produces waste, but the size of the city becomes a huge factor in the importance of recycling. San Jose works with two waste management companies that work with over 800 businesses in the city to collect and remove recyclables that will eventually be processed into energy or compost.
Pollution can be a result of not recycling and it can lead to the destruction of marine ecosystems and our air quality. A mass build-up of these chemicals could cause cancer. Throwing things away when it should be recycled could lead to an overflow of landfills, which is not an easy task to deal with. This build up could also create unwanted smells that could be toxic from things such as household products, batteries, cleaning supplies, etc. Recycling is not a hard thing to do, but not doing it could ultimately lead to the destruction of our planet. It’s important to reduce, reuse, and recycle, so we can live on Earth for many years to come without running out of the resources we need to survive.
Luckily, there are many steps we as humans can take to keep the Earth as clean as possible. San Jose has come up with major strategies that will help with waste management. One of these strategies is recycling and reusing end of life products while another one is expanding sustainable development and green infrastructure. To keep up with its goal of zero waste, San Jose has provided curbside recycling that has led to 68% of residential waste being recycled. The city knows there is still much work to be done in adapting to these recurring changes in recycling, but it is something that will benefit the planet and its inhabitants in the long run.
AWD Digital. (n.d.). What Happens If We Don’t Recycle? Metal Men Recycling. https://www.metalmenrecycling.com.au/what-happens-if-we-dont-recycle/
Brewer, B. (n.d.). Recycling Envy: Ten American Cities With Excellent Practices (2020). Busted Cubicle. https://www.bustedcubicle.com/outside/top-american-cities-recycling
Recycling. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling
Garret King, Community and Economic Development, Penn State University
To face the issues of changing climate and changing weather patterns, as well as combat the growing demand for water, several nations have started to use the high-tech solution of geoengineering. Geoengineering is any time people use engineering methods to manipulate the environment, mainly used to combat climate change. This is not a widespread solution due to the high cost and the relatively new technology, but it is catching on in more areas as progress is made. In the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai, they have been creating rain clouds and rain in the atmosphere to increase annual rainfall (Mueller, 2016). The normally arid region that is known for low rainfall and deserts has had a growing population over the past few decades as the discovery of oil has brought money and wealth to the region. To be able to have enough water for the growing population and the high demand for water, an average of 550 liters of water per person a day, they have been using geoengineering (Muller, 2016). The city has been using cloud seeding as a main method for creating clouds by deploying salt flares out of planes in already formed storms (Baldwin, 2017). This method has been used as it can cover a large area as well as it is cheaper than traditional methods of water creation like desalination and has less other negative environmental effects. Due to the effectiveness of this method there are around 200 cloud seeding mission flows a year in the area to artificially create around 300 million cubic meters of water (Muller, 2016). This is an effective strategy, but the region is also looking for other methods to create additional rainfall. One new suggestion that is being proposed is building an artificial mountain to catch moist ocean air and create rainfall (Walker, 2016). Building an artificial mountain would act the same as a natural mountain that blocks the moist air from moving inward and causes water to fall on only one side of the mountain. Having the concentration of rainfall makes collection then easier and cheaper than other methods. The city and region uses lots of water and plans on using more in the future, so their work on geoengineering methods will not only help their situation, but the technology they create will help others in the future.
Baldwin, D. (2017, April 24). Rain-maker goes electric in UAE, promising new technique to use drones. Gulf News.
Mueller, M. (2016, March 10). How the UAE is making it rain. Esquire.
Walker, A. (2016, May 12). Small-Scale Geoengineering? UAE’S Rain-Making Mountain. Geoengineering Monitor.
As climate change continues to affect countries and communities everywhere on earth, California, and southern California especially, has suffered from numerous droughts and a lack of rain and winter snowfall. The lack of precipitation creates water shortages throughout the entire Western region of the United States. The City of San Diego is situated in the southern region of the State of California and has especially suffered from a lack of adequate water to supply the needs of both its population and the water that is needed around San Diego to farm the very dry land. Because San Diego has a very dry climate even without drought, the city has no real available groundwater that can be used to satisfy its needs. As such, San Diego, California has turned to the idea of desalination of ocean water to attempt to deal with the threat of lack of water that the city faces due to a growing population drought and related to climate change.
Desalination refers to the process of removing salt from ocean water so that the water is both drinkable and able to be used for farming. Desalination is a solution for San Diego’s water shortage to the extent that the City is able to meet the need for water even during periods of drought. To that extent, desalination is beneficial to San Diego and the surrounding community. However, desalination has drawbacks in addition to its benefits. First, desalination plants are expensive, and the city of San Diego pays nearly twice as much for a gallon of desalinated water as it does for its other water supplies. Second, desalination is very energy intensive because force must be applied to millions of gallons of seawater to complete the process of reverse osmosis that is required to make seawater drinkable and able to be used for farming needs. Finally, the process of removing salt from seawater leaves behind large amounts of tremendously salty water that is returned to the ocean. Because this very salty water is much more saline than normal ocean water, it has a negative effect on fish and other organisms that live in areas near where such water is dumped into the ocean.
Desalination is a potential solution to San Diego, California’s water shortage. The process can provide fresh water to the City in large quantities. However, desalinization is very expensive and damaging to the environment. So, desalinization can be seen to be both a solution and problem for San Diego, California.
Robbins, J. (2019, June 11). As Water Scarcity Increases, Desalination Plants Are on the Rise. Yale Environment 360. https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-water-scarcity-increases-desalination-plants-are-on-the-rise
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the 4th wealthiest country in the middle east because they are the largest oil exporter globally (Chepkemoi, 2017 & Workman, n.d.). The problem with Saudi Arabia is not in their cash flow, but their lack of space to grow produce. With less than 2% of their 830,000 square acres being able to sustain agriculture, prime agricultural land is few and far between (Saudi Arabia Land use, 2020). Wealth is not the solution to turning Saudi Arabian deserts into lush farms, but rather using modern agriculture to support its citizens is. With over 80% of its citizens living in major cities, we will focus on Jeddah, a commercial center in Saudi Arabia (Vertical Farms, n.d.). Jeddah is located in the southwestern Arabian foothill’s savanna, between the Red Sea and Rakbah flatlands (Teitelbaum, 2021). Jeddah is an arid climate, receiving around 2 inches of rain per year (Average Monthly…, 2021)! This extremely low rainfall means growing food around Jeddah is almost impossible. Instead, Jeddah can use its revenue to build a modern indoor agriculture society. Growing food indoors saves water and can be grown in the middle of the city! Indoor gardens such as hydroponics and sky gardens are a viable solution to the growing food crisis in Jeddah. In 2011, Jeddah was seen installing their first Aero Garden units (Kraemer, 2011). Aero Garden is a vertical indoor skyscraper farming method, producing a staggering 390% food per square foot more than traditional farming methods. Also, Aero Gardens uses 95% less water than traditional farming, a scarce resource for Jeddah’s agriculture (How We Grow, n.d.). Looking into the future, predictions for Jeddah’s climate are not positive. Increasing temperatures will deepen water scarcity problems in Jeddah and will shrink the growing period for crops. These predictions indicate that there will be increased yearly rainfall, but this actually will hurt Jeddah. The increasing rainfall is from extreme storms, bringing increased flooding to the city and any crops around the city. These extreme storms will hit cities along the Red Sea, with Jeddah taking on the front of these storms (Almazroui, 2011). These devastating storms are another indicator of why indoor farming methods should be implemented in Jeddah. These indoor gardens will have a pricey upfront cost, but will be the most reliable way to grow fresh produce in Jeddah. With the global climate rising in temperature and extreme weather patterns devastating more parts of the globe, being able to grow produce will become tougher. Jeddah is one of many cities in arid climates that will struggle to find any land for growing produce. If Jeddah continues to implement these indoor gardens, the possibility of wars and famine over food in Jeddah will decrease. Hopefully, indoor gardens are one crucial way for humanity to deal with the growing food insecurity crisis.
Almazroui, M. (2011, May 1). Sensitivity of a regional climate model (RegCM3) on the simulation of high intensity rainfall events over the Arabian Peninsula and around Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 104(1), 261-276. 10.1007/s00704-010-0387-3
Average Monthly Snow And Rainfall In Jeddah (Makkah Al Mukarramah Province) In Millimeter. (2021). Weather & Climate. https://weather-and-climate.com/average-monthly-precipitation-Rainfall,jeddah,Saudi-Arabia
Chepkemoi, J. (2017, August 1). The Richest And Poorest Economies In The Middle East. World Atlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-richest-and-poorest-economies-in-the-middle-east.html#:~:text=The%20Richest%20And%20Poorest%20Economies%20In%20The%20Middle,%20%20%2454%2C100.00%20%2011%20more%20rows%20
How We Grow. (n.d.). Aero Farms. https://www.aerofarms.com/how-we-grow/
Kraemer, S. (2011, January 24). First AeroFarms Unit Installed This Week in Jeddah. Green Prophet. https://www.greenprophet.com/2011/01/saudi-arabia-pioneers-aerofarms-jeddah-aw/
Saudi Arabia Land use. (2020, November 27). index mundi. https://www.indexmundi.com/saudi_arabia/land_use.html
Teitelbaum, J. (2021, July 24). Saudi Arabia. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Saudi-Arabia
Vertical Farms. (n.d.). Saudi Arabia’s Food Future: Cost Effective and Eco-Friendly Solutions. https://sites.google.com/site/saudiarabiasfoodfuture/process
Workman, D. (n.d.). Crude Oil Exports by Country. World’s Top Exports. https://www.worldstopexports.com/worlds-top-oil-exports-country/
Human consumption is built around convenience. This means there is a lot of waste building up. The United States alone creates 250 million metric tons of waste per year. The United States is an especially bad case because it produces the most amount of waste per person, averaging around 4.5 pounds of trash per day. The United States used to send it to China because China would incinerate or use the materials in their economy. In 2018, China banned The United States from sending its waste to Southeast Asia countries. This not only pollutes and harms those that accept the waste but makes the US dependent on these countries. The United States is currently at a crossroads of waste; Should the United States continue to send its waste overseas or develop a recycling program that promotes recycling and minimizes waste. San Francisco is the first city in the United States with the plan to navigate recycling. A city of 800,000 people squeezed together means efficiency is key. Finding ways to remove waste out of the city is essential in maintaining a clean atmosphere. Like most countries, people are migrating into cities, putting stresses on waste and waste management. San Francisco has been taking a bold stance on waste for decades, with banning plastic bags and Styrofoam back in 2007, years ahead of the rest of the country. What makes San Francisco’s waste management unique is their three different containers to deal with waste recycling, composable, and trash. San Francisco can boast that 80% of its waste is either recycled or compostable way ahead of the US’s 32% average. San Francisco implemented a plan where businesses and residents have to recycle and compost. SF is also charging businesses a price for the amount of waste they create and putting a tax on single-use items to try and deter people from using these items and choosing a more sustainable route. What makes San Francisco different from other cities in the United States is that it has implemented a system to move the city towards its zero waste goal. San Francisco, the only city in the United States to boast a zero waste goal, is putting the economy ahead of other cities like New York City and Chicago who send their waste outside of the city, not a sustainable solution. Waste is never going to go away. Countries and residents have to deal with their waste or have to send their waste to others. The United States’ waste management is an abomination and a disgrace to this great nation. Fortunately, the United States can look to cities like San Francisco and countries in Europe that have developed waste management solutions. Every country has a form of waste management, but not all are alike. Having a system to deal with waste and repurpose materials is half the process. The other half is educating residents to live a life with reduced waste.
Brigham, K. (2018, July 14). How San Francisco sends less trash to the landfill than any other major U.S. city. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/13/how-san-francisco-became-a-global-leader-in-waste-management.html
Cho, R. (2020, March 13). Recycling in the U.S. Is Broken. How Do We Fix It? Colombia Climate School. https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2020/03/13/fix-recycling-america/
National Overview: Facts and Figures on Materials, Wastes and Recycling. (2021). EPA.gov. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/national-overview-facts-and-figures-materials
Polystyrene Foam and the Food Service and Packaging Waste Reduction Ordinance. (2020). SF Environment. https://sfenvironment.org/polystyrene-foam-food-service-packaging-waste-reduction-ordinance
Indonesia is an Island located just northwest of Australia. Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and is located in the northwest part of the country. Jakarta is home to 10.56 million people and lies at a low elevation. With ongoing over pumping of its aquifers, Jakarta continues to subside, with increasing risk of sea level rise and flooding, but this is not the only ecological issue that they face. Jakarta is home to one of the world’s largest landfills named Bantar Gebang. This landfill is more than 200 football fields in size and accepts 7,000 tons of waste per day (Dean & Paddock, 2020).
The landfill has a lack of proper management, so medical equipment is interlaced throughout the landfill including syringes, gloves, tubes, masks, and others. The landfill is easily over capacity, yet trash is processed upward by giant excavators, packing the trash more than 150 feet above. The landfill has swallowed nearby rice farms and has ruined much of the land. Despite the harmful living conditions, villages have sprung all around the landfill of people in search of recycling the landfill contents for money (Dean & Paddock, 2020).
Bantar Gebang continues to grow, and Indonesia has become one of the biggest contributors of plastic pollution to our oceans. Bantar Gebang not only poses a health threat to those who choose to scavenge the landfill, but also to those living in Jakarta. Runoff from rain pollutes the ocean and groundwater, rotting trash pollutes the air with methane gas, and disease and skin conditions run rampant. Runoff flows to paddy fields and destroys crops, not to mention nearby rivers. There is a lack of water treatment facilities in Indonesia and therefore tainted water is affecting the community of Jakarta (Paulo, 2020).
Bantar Gebang grows day by day with no resolution to fix the problem of an ever-growing waste problem. The root of the issue is the lack of guidelines and management of waste. Bantar Gebang in Jakarta has an open dump policy. There are no limits or reservations on how much waste citizens can dump. Governmental plans of installing incinerators to reduce the waste are in place, but have made little headway due to the thousands of people who rely on the landfill for recycling and earning a living (Paulo, 2020). Plans have been entertained to expand the landfill by nearly three times its size. The forecast of this waste management problem does not seem to have an end in sight.
Luckily, the realization of an ever-expanding landfill of Bantar Gebang has come to a head. Landfill mining is a solution that is being studied. In short, the waste that is buried deep in the landfill has been tested many times to see if it’s viable in creating renewable energy. By using landfill mining as a potential solution, Jakarta could reduce the pollution of its ground water, reduce the size of Bantar Gebang, and could create a sustainable, renewable energy source. Projects of landfill mining have been successful in the United States. This solution could prove too advanced or difficult for the community of Jakarta. Only time will tell.
Gabriel Andari Kristanto, A. J. (2020). The Potential of Landfill Mining in Two Inactive Zones of the Bantar Gebang Landfill in Jakarta, Indonesia. IJTech Journal of Technology, 11(7).
Paulo, D. A. (2020, March 22). Indonesia stands at the crossroads of a waste crisis and plastics problem. Channel News Asia. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/indonesia-stands-crossroads-waste-crisis-plastics-problem-12564234
Dean, A. & Paddock, R.C. (2020, April 27). Jakartas’ Trash Mountain. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/27/world/asia/indonesia-jakarta-trash-mountain.html
Eric Myskowski, Meteorology, College of Earth and Mineral Science
One city that will need to adapt to climate change is Phoenix, Arizona. It is facing a couple of major threats. The first is heat. Phoenix has had record breaking heat in the previous years, setting a record of the highest number of days with highs above 110 degrees last year by a lot. This is causing heat stress and driving up energy demands due to even more reliance on air conditioning. Since the city is in a desert, green buildings are not practical because they are too water intensive. This will require other solutions like building lighter colored buildings and building them more efficiently. However, any solution can only lower the temperatures by at most a couple of degrees, not enough to prevent this extreme heat from occurring.
However, the main threat to Phoenix is water supply. Phoenix currently gets its water from two main sources, the Salt River and the Colorado River. While the Salt River has held up to droughts surprisingly well, the Colorado River is in trouble and mandatory water cuts are forecast by 2022, and this will only become worse in the future as the region dries out more. This will force the city to have to adapt.
One of the main things that will have to be implemented is requiring the use of desert landscaping instead of turfgrass in many areas to save water. Desert landscaping rarely has to be watered, while turfgrass has to be watered multiple times a day in the climate. Agriculture will also have to adapt. This will involve replacing current irrigation systems with drip irrigation, something that prevents a lot of the water from being wasted. Canals can also be covered to inhibit evaporation. Farmers will also have to switch to less water intensive crops. Currently in the Phoenix area, the main crop grown is cotton, a very water intensive crop. This may have to be switched to something different like alfalfa. Also, as a worst case scenario, farmers might have to leave some of their land permanently fallow. Also, with rapid development of the area, the farms in the Phoenix area are quickly being converted to suburban sprawl, so by the end of the century, there will probably be few farms left in the area.
While it is likely that Phoenix will adapt to climate change, it will not come without sacrifices like decreased water usage, newer building codes, grass restrictions, and other adaptations to live with the realities of climate change.
Budryk, Z. (2020, August 11). Phoenix breaks its record for most 110-degree days in a year. The Hill. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/511504-phoenix-breaks-its-own-record-for-most-110-degree-days-in-a-year
Davis, T. (2021, April 18). First mandatory cutback of CAP water now likely in 2022. Tucson.com. https://tucson.com/news/local/first-mandatory-cutback-of-cap-water-now-likely-in-2022/article_9f7aec9a-9e50-11eb-babd-df8247d1bfd6.html
Chris Nicola, Civil Engineering, Penn State University Park
Today, climate change is becoming a serious issue in light of the excessive burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is the main culprit, as large amounts are released in the process of burning these fuels. Greenhouse gases are responsible for trapping heat in our atmosphere, leading to periods of increased warming. Global average surface temperatures have already risen roughly two degrees (F) since the pre-industrial era. Clearly, climate change will inevitably take its toll, but cooling the planet may mitigate such drastic effects. One solution, geoengineering, has the potential to limit warming. This can be seen in Cape Town, Africa.
Geoengineering includes two main processes: carbon dioxide reduction and reflection of sunlight. By reducing the insolation received through reflection processes, less heat will be absorbed. One process involves setting up sun disks in the atmosphere to cause diversions of air particles, increasing the albedo of clouds (Temple, 2020). Solutions such as these are desired in Cape Town, where reductions in annual rainfall and season variability of rainfall are likely. Drought and availability of water has become a serious issue for the population. Again, supply and demand is a critical concern where both excess and shortage o water exist around different parts of the globe. An increase in mean annual temperature, increased intensity of storms, and heat waves are all consequences of climate change that will be seen in Cape Town.
Cape Town, having one of the longest coastlines, is exceptionally vulnerable to the indirect consequences of climate change. For one, it is susceptible to rising sea level as it is located in a low-lying region. Also, the El Niño Southern Oscillation primarily affects the annual rainfall distribution across southern Africa. The El Niño events in particular are more pronounced during summer rainfall and lead to excess drought (Nash & Pribyl, n.d. ).
Unfortunately, emissions -and temperatures- are set to dramatically rise by the end of the century. This means that drought will become increasingly likely in Cape Town. In fact, the occurrence of drought will rise by up to 80% by 2100 for the region. Variations in rainfall will become more pronounced as warming reaches unprecedented levels. As for commitments made by countries in the Paris Agreement, global temperatures are still projected to rise 3 degrees (C) by the end of the century, and this will only exacerbate the ongoing issues in southern Africa.
As for presented solutions, solar geoengineering has the potential to reduce the risk of droughts in CapeTown by more than 90% in the case of a high emission scenario by the end of the century. Here, the injection of sulfate aerosols into the troposphere would be responsible for reflecting a percentage of sunlight back into space. This process may cause shifts in precipitation patterns, bringing more rainfall to Cape Town. Although implementing solar geoengineering techniques seems most suitable in the case of underlying drought and increasing temperatures, other methods can also be applied. For example, sequestration of carbon, the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide underground, can reduce anthropogenic CO2 and mitigate warming.
Odoulami, R., Trisos, C., & New, M. (2021, February 5). Dimming the sun could reduce future drought risk in Cape Town – but there’s a catch. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/dimming-the-sun-could-reduce-future-drought-risk-in-cape town-but-theres-a-catch-150870.
Pearce, F., Mingle, J., Jones, N., & Welz, A. (2019, May 29). Geoengineer the Planet? More Scientists Now Say It Must Be an Option. Yale E360. https://e360.yale.edu/features/geoengineer-the-planet-more-scientists-now-say-it-must-be an-option.
Temple, J. (2020, April 2). What is geoengineering-and why should you care? MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/08/09/615/what-is-geoengineering-and why-should-you-care-climate-change-harvard/.
Shepard, D. (2018, December). Global warming: severe consequences for Africa | Africa Renewal. United Nations. https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/december-2018- march-2019/global-warming-severe-consequences-africa.
Nash, D., & Pribyl, K. (n.d.). ENSO Africa. University of Brighton. https://www.brighton.ac.uk/research-and-enterprise/groups/past-human-and-environment dynamics/enso-africa.aspx.
Climate Change – City Of Cape Town. (2018, April 19). Saving Electricity. https://savingelectricity.org.za/climate-change/.
Rebecca, L., & Dahlman, L. A. (2021, March 15). Climate Change: Global Temperature. NOAA Climate.gov. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global temperature.
Emma Richardson, General Arts and Sciences, Penn State Behrend
The town of Greensburg, Kansas switched to renewable energy after a devastating tornado nearly wiped out the entire town in 2007. It took the town a few years before the switch was finalized, but they were smart about how they transitioned the town to this new energy source, which is wind. They converted old businesses that were destroyed by the tornado into the managers and maintainers of the town’s renewable energy source, keeping the residents engaged and employed at the same time. Because Greensburg is so small, they relied on aid from the state of Kansas and from federal aid funding in addition to all the work the residents put into rebuilding their town.
Greensburg is not the only place in the U.S. to adopt renewable energy and make it the primary source of energy for residents. It may be the smallest town, but it was also the first. Burlington, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado are following a similar path toward sustainable forms of energy that also provide more stable situations during natural weather events that could seriously damage electrical grids and the like. Greensburg, however, relies solely on wind energy, whereas Burlington and Aspen use a combination of renewable energy sources to meet the demands of their significantly larger populations.
Even though wind energy is renewable, there are some major drawbacks, primarily the impact on animals that live in the areas around the windmills. Birds and bats are the most heavily affected because they can collide with the turbines and can be killed. Carefully planning the location of the windmills to avoid migration paths can help alleviate some of the problem, but will not entirely protect these animals in the future. It’s important to try and anticipate the new problems we will face transitioning to renewable, but also sustainable forms of energy. Greensburg is small, but it is not alone on the journey to towns powered by cleaner energy.
Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy. (n.d.). Energy.gov. www.energy.gov/eere/wind/advantages-and-challenges-wind-energy
Quinn, P. (2013, April 25). After Devastating Tornado, Town Is Reborn ‘Green’. USA Today. www.usatoday.com/story/news/greenhouse/2013/04/13/greensburg-kansas/2078901/
Watson, K. (2016, August 18). These 3 US Cities Are Powered by Renewable Energy. Global Citizen. www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/three-us-cities-run-on-clean-energy/
Geoengineering is a series of methods that have the goal of reversing the effects of climate change. This is achieved through two different categories, insolation reduction and CO2 removal. There are several different types of geoengineering including solar geoengineering, also referred to as solar radiation management. This type of geoengineering is a tool that works to reverse the effects of rising temperature. An example of this is a launch plan in Tucson, Arizona. A geoengineering collaborative called Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, or SCoPEx, is in the works with the goal of launching a balloon-type structure into the atmosphere to detect aerosol microphysics and the chemistry of the atmosphere. These measurements are uncertain, the hope of this is to improve the overall understanding of the climate change risks that are present in the atmosphere.
Tucson, like other places in this region, suffers from extreme heat. This could be a result of a variety of things such as ozone depletion or climate change in general. SCoPEx will work like many other options, it will inject the atmosphere with aerosol and sulfur to detect certain patterns that might be causing harm overall. The question that geoengineers are trying to answer is whether it is possible to reduce the risk of these climate factors with the SCoPEx without causing a separate global risk.
General geoengineering does involve risks of its own. What scientists have found is that most climate systems are more complex than they are thought to be. By cooling the climate in one area of the world, there is a change that another area may suffer from patterns of floods and droughts. There is a gentle balance when it comes to climate and to interfere with it will take severe care. Because of this, it is stressed that this experiment will be on a small scale, so as to not release sulfates into the atmosphere. Leading scientists believe that, in the event of extreme global temperature rise, geoengineering development and deployment should be crucial.
The forecasted impacts rely on the overall well-being of the atmosphere as a result of this experiment. Though it is small-scale, there is still high risk involved. If the scheme were to fail, for some reason, the climate would warm at a far faster acceleration as a result.
Chen, S. (2017, October). Helping Hand or Hubris? APS News, 26(9). https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201710/hand-hubris.cfm
Climate engineering. (2021). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_engineering#Risks_and_criticisms
Dunne, D. (2018, January 22). Geoengineering carries ‘large risks’ for the natural world, studies show. Carbon Brief. https://www.carbonbrief.org/geoengineering-carries-large-risks-for-natural-world-studies-show
SCoPEx: Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment. (n.d.). Keutsch Group at Harvard. https://www.keutschgroup.com/scopex
The emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is one of the largest components contributing to the changing climate of the globe. As we have learned in the materials of this course, there are many ways the concentration of greenhouse gasses fluctuates, including things like albedo, absorption of CO2 in the oceans, and burning fossil fuels. Because of the growing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, scientists and researchers have been trying to find new ways to reduce carbon emissions. One way is through carbon capture. One power plant in Tuticorin, India has taken it upon itself to use this new technology to capture the carbon dioxide they are emitting from their power plant. The plant runs on coal energy, then the carbon dioxide that is collected as a byproduct of the burning CO2 is made into baking soda (Harrabin, 2017). As a result, this energy plant has zero emissions.
Another important aspect of this story is that this energy plant isn’t even subsidized, meaning they are not getting money as an incentive to decrease their emission of CO2 and are collecting the carbon dioxide without losing money. They apparently have a new technology that makes carbon capture more affordable and possible without subsidy. The power plant uses a different CO2-stripping chemical that is more efficient than the current chemical, amine. The company also says that this new chemical is also cheaper, uses less energy, is less corrosive, and does not require as much equipment, therefore making it overall a cheaper and more efficient way of capturing carbon (Harrabin, 2017).
It is believed that using carbon capture will decrease the emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal by 5-10% (Harrabin, 2017). This might not seem like a lot, however, every little bit counts, and if power plant companies can sustainably collect the carbon they are already emitting to be turned into a new product without subsidy, then this is a step in the right direction in reducing the carbon footprint.
Harrabin, R. (2017, January 4). Indian firm makes carbon capture breakthrough. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/03/indian-firm-carbon-capture-breakthrough-carbonclean
The location chosen for this script is Windhoek, Namibia. The topic for discussion is adaptation and mitigation with the focus on the recycling of water. Windhoek resides in one of the most arid countries in Africa where the average rainfall is 250 to 370 mm per year, but due to high heat, 83 percent of the rainfall evaporates and only 1 percent of the rainwater infiltrates into the ground. This community’s water supply is dependent on boreholes and three dams which are located 60 and 200 km away from the city. Due to low rainfall, they are often faced with shortages in water resources. Due to this issue of drought, the country has declared two states of emergencies in the last six years. Droughts are forecasted to become longer and more intense as a result of climate change which Windhoek is likely to face due to being a part of an extremely arid country. The solution is recycling water from wastewater. For the past 50 years, Windhoek has been producing drinking water from the wastewater of their 350,000 residents out of the Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant. Water recycling is extremely helpful to this community in aiding themselves against climate change because it benefits their environment in two ways: it avoids tapping into natural resources and significantly reduces pollutant discharges. The First Direct Water Reuse project demonstrated that wastewater should not be considered a waste product but can be viewed as a special resource that can satisfy human needs through specialized treatment. In this respect, wastewater should be compared in similarity to seawater, which also requires specialized treatment for use as potable water. The Goreangab Plant features state-of-the-art “multi-barrier” including ozone treatment, ultra-membrane filtration, and residual chlorination. Within this process, all pollutants and contaminants are eliminated, guaranteeing the water to be high quality and safe to drink. This form of water recycling has been extremely beneficial for the community in their battle against drought, rendering this form of adaptation and mitigation to be a global benchmark due to Windhoek being one of only two cities in the world that produce drinking water from their wastewater alongside Singapore.
FRACTAL. (2017). Ensuring Future Water Security through Direct Potable Reuse in Windhoek, Namibia. weADAPT. https://www.weadapt.org/placemarks/maps/view/36681
Gross, D. A. (2016, December 15). Recycling sewage into drinking water is no big deal. They’ve been doing it in Namibia for 50 years. The World. https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-12-15/recycling-sewage-drinking-water-no-big-deal-theyve-been-doing-it-namibia-50-years
Namibia: Windhoek has been producing drinking water from its wastewater for 50 years. (2018, October 18). Veolia. https://www.veolia.com/en/newsroom/news/drinking-water-recycling-wastewater-windhoek-namibia
Waste not, want not: Water resource management in Windhoek, Namibia. (2019, February 11). Water Security Solutions Center. https://globalwatersecurity.org/content-hub/2019-02-11/Waste-not-want-not-Water-resource-management-in-Windhoek-Namibia#:~:text=Water%20is%20inherently%20scarce%20in,runoff%20in%20surface%20storage%20facilities
Jacob Ehrbaker, Biochemistry, Penn State Eberly College of Science
The entire state of California is under extreme drought. There is limited water availability in communities all over, but drought impacts communities differently. One community that has been struggling, in particular, is Sand City, CA. Water is only available in a limited quantity, making it more challenging to maintain a lifestyle even before the drought. There are many restrictions on residents, such as when they can water their lawns (California American Water, n.d.).
Sand City can have difficulty getting water from California American Water since they have a smaller population. Because the drought is a state-wide issue, there are specific ways to allocate the water. Sand City has a smaller population which means there is a smaller water allotment available to the residents. This community has water delivered via the pipeline that supplies the majority of California with its water (Seaside Post, 2010). Sand City was heavily reliant on outside sources for water, which can be unstable. With drought increasing, there is only a growing water demand, so Sand City must receive freshwater locally.
As climate change progresses with time, one of the most notable changes is dry regions becoming even drier than they already are. Where there is already drought, it will worsen with time. For Sand City, that means that they might not still have access to the California American Water source that supplies their drinking water. Without an alternate water source, it is unlikely that the community would remain in Sand City.
Sand City has already taken the first step to combating the future water shortage; building desalination plants. With desalination plants, the community will have a local source of fresh water, giving them better stability. The broader availability of water has already allowed the city to expand (Sand City, n.d.). The drought will continue, and Sand City will be one of the few water sources left for the surrounding area. The best way for Sand City to prepare for the future is to work on improving desalination technology and expanding the plant they already have.
California American Water. (n.d.). Monterey. American Water Amwater.Com. https://www.amwater.com/caaw/Conservation/District-Resources/Monterey
Sand City. (n.d.). Engineering and Public Works Departments. Sand City, CA. SandCity.Org. https://www.sandcity.org/government/city departments/engineering-and-public-works-departments
Seaside Post. (2010, June 2). Desal Plant Means More Water. Seaside Post. https://www.sandcity.org/home/showpublisheddocument/30/637190810298270000
Chris Annear, Industrial Engineering, Penn State Behrend
Changing climate conditions causing both extreme droughts and flooding have been devastating to agricultural communities. This is especially the case in tropical regions or regions that are semi-arid and prone to drought. Additionally, the increasing prevalence of cash crops and industrial agriculture has wreaked havoc on soil quality, water supplies, and crop biodiversity.
Less affluent communities such as the Khasi have little material wealth and depend heavily on agriculture to produce their own food. As climate change worsens, the community is expected to experience crop failures which could result in farmers taking out loans or having to sell off their land. This would erode traditional values of the community and economically devastate it. In addition to climate change, farmers growing cash crops such as broom has stressed local water supplies (Ghosh, 2021).
Without intervention, the land could potentially become infertile, and the community would have to sell off farms and change their ways of life to survive. Additionally, the loss of these agricultural lands would further put stress on India’s food systems, potentially leading to starvation or conflicts.
Luckily, this community has many strategies to combat the impending effects of climate change. The first of these strategies is called jhum agriculture, which involves rotating lands between mixed fields and wild brush (Ghosh, 2021). This practice allows the soil and ground water to recover when not in use. Additionally, this community has 50+ species of plant with thousands of varieties they grow regularly (Ghosh, 2021). The rich biodiversity in the crops they rely on prevents widespread crop failure that occurs typically in monocultures. The variety of crops doesn’t deplete the soil of a particular nutrient or mineral improving long term soil health. Finally, the community government has intervened to limit the growth of cash crops. This will allow water supplies to recover, which will be helpful in the case of a drought (Ghosh, 2021).
Ghosh, S. (2021, December 13). An Indigenous Community in India’s Meghalaya State Offers Lessons in Climate Resilience. Mongabay Environmental News.
Amelia Arthur, Pennsylvania State University
Penn State’s University Park campus generates an obscene amount of waste. Students, as busy as they are, are always on the go and often purchase carryout food and drink which is put in plastic containers. There are numerous places on and around the campus like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Irving’s that keep the hardworking students caffeinated through carryout coffee, but when the weekend comes, it’s time to party. Beer, hard seltzers, and other alcoholic beverages help the students to wind down. Fraternities are a big part of the culture at Penn State and their notoriously large parties often produce a lot of waste. That waste consists of aluminum cans, glass bottles, and plastic water bottles. The plastic cups from all the coffees, plastic bottles from the water bottles, and aluminum cans from the alcoholic beverages are often not recycled properly and end up in the surrounding Pennsylvania landfills. Considering the magnitude of waste that is generated from students on campus, it takes up a lot of space in the landfill that could have potentially been used for waste that cannot be recycled. Increasing the amount of waste in landfills is harmful for a multitude of reasons including contamination of groundwater and other local bodies of water. In addition to this, plastics and aluminum take centuries to decompose.
The Penn State chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) has a plan to change that and ameliorate another local issue in the process. Food insecurity impacts a lot of low income residents in State College and the surrounding area. There are numerous on campus organizations like Lion’s Pantry that raise donations, collect groceries, and other personal hygiene products to help those in need. The Student Farm at Penn State grows a plethora of produce to help reduce food insecurity as well, however, growing seasons are only so long. ESW has a plan to help tackle both issues. The team of student engineers have devised a way to collect the plastic cups, bottles, and aluminum cans from the fraternities by incentivizing donation. By doing this, we keep all those cans, cups, and bottles out of the landfills and help to turn them into purposeful and impactful structures. The recyclables are then sent off to a facility where they are melted down, treated, turned into usable materials, and then constructed into high tunnels (similar to greenhouses). The high tunnels not only help to reduce a great deal of the recyclable waste generated on campus, but they help to extend growing seasons and allow for additional space to grow produce to reduce food insecurity in State College. The high tunnels do not destroy any kind of land as they would just be constructed on top of land that would be used to grow produce. In order to make the project as sustainable as possible and create a circular waste economy on campus, a student-run compost has also been introduced to help minimize organic waste generated by the dining commons and markets. The high tunnels are expected to be installed on campus in the spring of 2023. In the meantime, the project’s social media accounts help to promote sustainability, update on the project, and teach individuals on their impact on Earth and their role in the climate crisis. Fall of 2023 is anticipated to be the first harvest season for the high tunnels! Sustainability is a huge passion of mine and I am excited to help lead a team of brilliant student engineers through this project and leave more on this campus than I will take from it throughout my academic journey here.
Engineers for a Sustainable World. (n.d.) Sites.psu. https://sites.psu.edu/eswpsu/
Laura Guay, Biobehavioral Health, University Park
I decided that looking at renewable energy would be a great way to dedicate an entry to how a community is responding to climate change. I selected Kodiak, Alaska. It is a small island town in Alaska that runs almost entirely on renewable energy, combining the effects of wind and hydro energy. Given the cost of diesel, it was a better move for the economic success of the town (Waldholz, 2017). However, in addition to this economic interest and desire to stop relying on other areas (given their remote location) for energy, this is a town that widely commits to environmental causes (Wheels on Wind, 2018).
As well as the community being vulnerable to the economic hits of fossil fuels, they were also directly experiencing the impacts of climate change. Although widely considered a climate resilient town (Yeo, 2018), particularly in the sense that they have seen dramatic changes in air temperature (U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d.), they are facing the impacts of climate change in the fishing industry. Although previously ranked 4th in the entire US for the number of fish they caught and sold, they are beginning to see a decrease in the diversity of fish that used to be in the waters, due to increasing ocean temperatures. It is expected that one of the major forecasted impacts on the community will be a continued decrease in the diversity of fish in their waters, serving as a call for action with the wind turbines (The powerful…, 2020). In order to combat ocean warming, however, global action is required.
This is also a case that shows how a community is in a particularly privileged situation in comparison to many other remote Alaskan towns. For many towns, constructing the materials for wind turbines is extremely difficult, given that it often requires an expensive crane for installation. Fortunately, Kodiak was able to afford this type of crane (now running entirely on renewable energy) to build its wind turbines on the mountain, since the crane also benefits their fishing economy and shipping industry (Rosen, Y). Still, in order to stay running on fully renewable energy, they need to continue investing in the upkeep of the wind turbines, since it is projected that the blades of wind turbines will freeze over in winter (Rosen, Y). Therefore, there are still some projected impacts that still make such an endeavor challenging for communities.
Some solutions to ensure Kodiak continues to advance with using renewable energy and respond to other climate change-related issues is by better observing the changes they’re seeing in species diversity and water temperature. There are currently discussions about ways to fight potential food insecurity and economic disparities that may arise through producing and growing more food locally, rather than relying completely on fishing. Moreover, although they’re almost meeting 100% of energy needs through renewables, they’re looking to add wind turbines to fishing boats to further reduce their use of fossil fuels (Adapt Alask, n.d.).
Holen, D. (n.d.). Adapt Kodiak Report final – adapt Alaska. Adapt Alaska. https://adaptalaska.org/wp-content/uploads/Adapt-Kodiak-report-Final.pdf.
The powerful impacts of climate change on fisheries. (2020, July 20). Alaska Marine Conservation Council. https://www.akmarine.org/post/the-powerful-impacts of-climate-change-on-fisheries.
Rosen, Y. (2020, September 16). Alaska’s experience shows benefits – and challenges – of wind energy in the Arctic. Arctic Today. https://www.arctictoday.com/alaskas-experience-shows-benefits-and-challenges-of-wind-energy-in-the-arctic.
U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Climate change impacts. National Parks Service. https://www.nps.gov/kefj/learn/nature/climatechangeimpacts.htm.
Jezierski, C., R. Loehman, & Schramm, A. (2010). Understanding the science of climate change: Talking points – impacts to Alaska Maritime and Transitional. Natural Resource Report NPS/NRPC/NRR-2010/223. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. https://www.ktoo.org/2017/09/15/kodiak-almost-100-percent-renewable-power-took-sci-fi-tech-get/.
Wheels on Wind. (2018, August 30). How Kodiak Island became 100% renewable powered. https://wheelsonwind.com/index.php/2018/08/30/how-kodiak-island-became-100-renewable-powered/.
Yeo, S. (2018, March 1). As climate change intensifies, here are the most-and least-resilient counties in America. Pacific Standard. https://psmag.com/environment/the most-climate-resilient-counties-in-america.
Clare Gibson, Atmospheric Sciences, Penn State University
Energy sources with fossil fuels are not renewable; they release greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. These greenhouse gases being emitted are contributing to climate change. Renewable energy sources are an important way to combat anthropogenic climate change. One US city, Burlington, Vermont, can boast that one hundred percent of its grid’s electricity comes from a few combined renewable energy sources (Burlington…, 2017). Ideally, every city in the United States would follow Burlington’s lead and transition to renewables.
Burlington uses several different renewable energy sources to fully power itself (Burlington…, 2017). They use biomass, wind, solar, and hydroelectric. For biomass, local wood is planted and used to power a generating station in the city. The name of the generating station is the McNeil Generating Station (WHERE WE…, n.d.). Using wood from within their own area is even better for cleaner energy as they do not have to transport the wood over long distances. Burlington has placed wind turbines on the nearby mountain, the Georgia Mountain, and solar panels on multiple buildings including their airport (Burlington…, 2017). The fourth energy source is hydroelectricity. Burlington has a hydroelectric power plant on the Winooski River at the edge of the city (Burlington…, 2017). Hydroelectricity is produced by the flow of water.
Burlington’s key industries are tourism and agriculture, which are both being affected by extreme weather events due to climate change. Their hydroelectric power is particularly at risk due to the Winooski River being prone to floods (Burlington…, 2017). Hurricane Irene in 2011 was very damaging to infrastructure and homes and cost the community both time and money. However, switching to completely relying on renewable energy is an effort that requires the support of every citizen in the community. Burlington is currently looking at electric vehicle charging stations, mass plantings of trees, and creating plans to transport steam through pipes from the biomass plat (Burlington…, 2017). It is unclear how a transition to all renewable energy sources would scale for a larger city, but it is certainly worth the effort for the sake of reducing emissions.
Burlington: 100% renewable electricity city. (2017, September). CDP. https://www.cdp.net/en/articles/cities/burlington-100-renewable-electricity-city
WHERE WE GET OUR ENERGY. (n.d.). Burlington Electric Department.
Mike Johnson, Energy and Sustainability, World Campus
The village of Srekor in Cambodia has become completely submerged by the rising floodwaters of a newly erected dam, a collaborative project between Chinese, Cambodian, and Vietnamese companies (Medallo, 2018). The dam was erected to provide hydroelectric power, but in so doing a massive reservoir was needed. The surrounding farmlands and villages were submerged, and over 5,000 people displaced.
Small, rural villages such as Srekor are vulnerable not only because they can be flooded, but because the people who inhabit them are typically fairly poor and reliant upon government assistance with their relocation. The government does relocate these displaced people, but very often the conditions they place them in are much worse than they had before in their villages. Some of the villagers who were relocated from Srekor mentioned that the water quality in the new location they were moved to is not healthy (Medallo, 2018). Without wealth, these people are forced to comply with whatever the government decides for them. They don’t even typically have the means to appeal to international organizations to work on their behalf.
The push for renewable energy sources as the main source of global electricity generation is typically viewed as a huge positive, but there can be negatives associated with it as well. As rivers are dammed or diverted for hydroelectric generating stations, areas can become flooded and villages such as Srekor submerged, and its people displaced. These people who could have been living in the same area for generations, and who have holy sites dotted throughout the area, are forced without recourse to move to a location decided upon by the government. This will only continue to get worse as the world closes the tap on fossil fuel powered electricity generation and opens the tap on renewable energy sources.
It’s incredibly important that we continue to migrate away from fossil fuels as our primary electricity generation sources. Villages like Srekor all over the world will be threatened if we have unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions causing runaway greenhouse effect. However, we also need to make sure that we are properly accommodating those who are being displaced by our efforts to “green” our energy systems. Having the spotlight on villages like Srekor can help bring awareness to the issue, and hopefully our country and others can put pressure on countries like Cambodia and China to properly care for the people who are displaced by these hydropower plants.
Medallo, J. (2018, February 2). Cambodian village now fully submerged by lower sesan 2 dam. EarthRights International. https://earthrights.org/media_release/cambodian-village-now-fully-submerged-lower-sesan-2- dam/.
Noah Leedom, Mathematics, Penn State University
Global warming and climate change, being pervasive threats, will likely require communities from around the world to enact mitigation strategies while simultaneously learning to adapt to climate changes that are already underway. Of course, the question is how to achieve this goal. It may be helpful to consider a sort of ‘case study’ in community based renewable energy. To that end, consider the town of Wildpoldsried, Germany.
Wildpoldsried fundamentally altered its energy infrastructure in 1997 to be based almost entirely on renewable energy sources. The key to Wildpoldsried’s success was the diversity of energy solutions implemented. The town uses a combination of wind energy, solar energy, hydro plants, and biofuels to be able to meet their energy needs. Because the town is almost entirely independent of fossil fuels, their carbon footprint has decreased by 65% compared to their 2011 rate (Wildpoldsried , 2021). In fact, not only does Wildpoldsried meet its energy needs, but produces nearly 500% more energy then required. This surplus of energy is then sold to nearby towns resulting in a profit of 5.7 million U.S dollars per year (Cameron, 2017).
Based on the above facts, it is not hard to believe that all signs point to Wildpoldsried’s experiment with renewable energy being an astonishing success. Despite this success, it is important to consider a few caveats. Wildpoldsried, as part of Germany, is part of the developed world and has access to far more resources than other communities around the world. Likewise, Wildpoldsried is a fertile farming town with plenty of access to food (Allen, 2011). This means that they can afford to use technologies like biofuel generators while other communities may need to prioritize having food above energy production.
While not every community may have the perfect conditions that have allowed Wildpoldsried to become a renewable energy powerhouse, it provides a model for communities similar to Wildpoldsried to follow. Indeed, many German communities are imitating Wildpoldsried’s success – encouraged by the German government. Germany is projected to have 30% of its total power output produced by renewable energy sources. Compared to the United States at 15%, this is quite remarkable (Cameron, 2017). Regardless of climate agreements among nations, there is hope that local communities may be able to effectively mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change on a small scale.
Cameron, C. (2017, April 5). This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs. Inhabitat Green Design Innovation Architecture Green Building. https://inhabitat.com/german-village-produces-500-of-its-energy-from-renewable-sources /.
Allen, C. (2011, August 16). German village achieves energy independence… and then some. BioCycle.
Wildpoldsried. (2021, July 30). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildpoldsried.
Kaitlyn Potucek, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Harmful greenhouse gasses and additional aerosols from industrialization and production pollute the air around the globe. One way to combat this is by using renewable energy; in the southwest United States, communities in Nevada, Arizona, and California use the Hoover Dam, a hydroelectric power source, for their power needs. Hydroelectric dams operate utilizing water turbines; as water pushes through the turbine, it rotates the shaft which then causes magnets within the rotor to spin and yield an electric charge. Turbines are completely emission-free, and hydroelectric power is domestic, it does not require international connections or imports to operate. The added benefit of hydroelectric dams is that they are low cost to operate – they rely solely on water flow rates, which are a natural resource.
Hydroelectric dams being low cost to operate and environmentally moral makes them a great alternative to burning fossil fuels and natural gasses, however, they do have their drawbacks. The dams themselves are difficult to build. Water must be redirected and the foundation for the dam must be deemed stable before building the dam itself. After the dam is built, it still poses a threat for the surrounding ecosystems.
The Hoover Dam has disrupted the Colorado river ecosystem in many ways. While it prevents major floods from happening in the Grand Canyon, it also disrupts sediment and nutrient flow downstream. Blocked sediment and nutrient flow makes the waters south of the dam much less habitable and rich. The dam also significantly cools what used to be warm water, making it harder for native fish to thrive. The water on the south side of the dam is cooled to 47 degrees Fahrenheit, making it more favorable for non-native fish such as rainbow and brown trout. This causes invasive and native fish to fight for resources.
Although hydroelectric dams may seem favorable for the environment and economy in the short term, their effects on local ecology pose a much larger threat than most people realize. Many groups have petitioned the government and large corporations to take down the dams and thousands of dams across the country have been taken down. The Hoover Dam is a source of energy for much of Nevada, Arizona, and California, but companies are looking into less harmful off-river alternatives instead of large scale dams like the Hoover Dam. Changes like off-river alternatives could ultimately help salvage the Hoover Dam itself, but since its effects are so large scale, it will take a long time to fully recover, if at all.
Benefits of Hydropower. (n.d.). Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/benefits-hydropower
Hoover Dam. (2018, August 1). Bureau of Reclamation. https://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/faqs/powerfaq.html
Poelking, C. (2018, May 16). Minimizing Hydropower Impacts on Ecosystems. MacArthur Foundation. https://www.macfound.org/press/perspectives/minimizing-hydropower-impacts-ecosystems
J.M.K.C. Donev et al. (2021). Hydroelectric dam. Energy Education. https://energyeducation.ca/encyclopedia/Hydroelectric_dam.
Negative Impacts. (n.d.). The Power of Dams. http://thepowerofdams.weebly.com/negative-impacts.html
Addressing Challenges to Native Fishes. (2021). National Parks Service. https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/nature/fish-threats.htm
Plumer, B. (2020, October 13). Environmentalists and Dam Operators, at War for Years, Start Making Peace. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/climate/environmentalists-hydropower-dams.html
Dalton Carey, Chemical Engineering, Penn State University
The topic of this entry is not a threat, but rather a focus on a community that has been a global energy hub for many decades that now needs to shift its focus from nonrenewable energy that is harmful to the environment to renewable energy resources that will offset the harmful emissions the city has been putting off. This is an important topic in the global shift to renewable energy as it shows the willingness on the large scale to move away from profitable, yet harmful energy ventures in natural gas and petroleum processing to developing and utilizing the technology to make renewable resources like hydroelectric and solar power economically viable.
The community that I will be focusing on for this entry is Houston, Texas. Houston has been known as the energy capital of the world for many decades and its success has been entirely due to its large-scale production of hydrocarbon products. These processes emit a very significant amount of CO2 and equivalent gases into the atmosphere which contributes greatly to global climate change. The city and the many oil and gas corporations headquartered in the city have begun investing in the technology to not only shift to renewable energy sources, but also have invested in making their existing processes sustainable in the interim until they can fully commit to shifting to renewable energy. Houston has the unique opportunity to see itself be a leader in two global energy eras – the fossil fuels of yesterday and the renewable resources of tomorrow.
If the shift in energy sources is successful, Houston will be economically poised to continue its reign of being the energy capital of the world. In addition, thanks to the investments that the city and its corporations are making, the barrier-to-entry of renewable energy production will be lowered significantly and thus making it easier for the rest of the world to begin contributing to the global energy grid.
Buckley, K. (2020, December 13). The World Is Shifting to Clean Fuels. Can Houston Still Be a Global Energy Leader? Houston Public Media.
Katelyn Ellery, Advertising and Psychology, Penn State University
Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, is home to just over 600,000 people, mostly wealthy, who care a lot about climate change. The city has a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and relying primarily on renewable energy. Previously, Copenhagen was a factory city. The air was polluted with smog, the harbors were stained with oil, and the city was run on coal-fired power plants. Hundreds of residents moved away from the city’s polluted streets and headed for the suburbs. Today, the population of Copenhagen is predicted to grow 20% over the next two years, and the city hopes to set an example of how to progress and grow while mitigating climate change. Thus far, Copenhagen has cut emissions by 42% since 2005 by using renewable energy like windmills, to generate heat and electricity. Even though half of Copenhagen’s residents utilize the three-line-wide bike paths to get around the city, the local government is having problems persuading the national government to get on board with these mitigation initiatives. This is specifically important for transportation, which accounts for one third of the city’s carbon footprint, because it is difficult to impose restrictions on gas vehicles without the help of larger government entities. However, Copenhagen’s high number of wet and windy days has played a big role in what the city has done so far. The city’s electricity is generated by wind power, and buildings are heated by burning garbage that is not recycled in incinerators. Rising sea level as a result of increased rainfall also poses a threat to Copenhagen, but the city has remained one step ahead by building parks and ponds to collect and drain water in the most vulnerable areas. As the world continues to feel the effects of climate change, people from rural and tropical areas are migrating inwards to the city, and Copenhagen is setting the standard for the world on how to manage a influx of people without worsening the problems that drove them there.
Sengupta, S. (2019, Mar. 25). Copenhagen Wants To Show How Cities Can Fight Climate Change. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/climate/copenhagen-climate-change.html
Stratton, M. (2020, Mar. 16). Carbon-Free Copenhagen: How The Danish Capital Is Setting A Green Standard For Cities Worldwide. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2020/03/carbon-free-copenhagen-how-danish-capital setting-green-standard-cities-worldwide
Anton Fatula, Environmental Resource Management, Pennsylvania State University
A fundamental problem for the world today is the amount of carbon we have released into our atmosphere. The science will tell you that there is no way around that. Global plans, like the Paris Agreement that was adopted in 2015, attempt to halt or significantly reduce our emissions within the current century. Though ambitious, this may not be enough to reverse the expected effects climate change will have on our globe (some which are already setting in). If we want to avoid many of the problems we expect to see in the near future, we may need to start physically pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. This is where carbon sequestration comes in.
Many technologies have been developed to extract CO2 out of thin air, but by far the most popular method of doing so has been to plant trees. Trees use CO2 from the atmosphere to make the sugars they use to grow. Additionally, tree planting projects are low cost, media friendly, and easy to run. Take The Nature Conservancy, an environmental non-profit. They have a campaign aimed at planting one billion trees around the globe. You simply donate on their website, and they plant the trees. They are one in a sea of other organizations striving to do the same thing, and that is amazing, but where are these trees going to go? Could this pose a problem for certain communities?
The unfortunate answer is yes, and we can find that by visiting the nomadic Gujjar people of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwest Pakistan. Here, landowners have historically rented their land to the Gujjar people for grazing sheep, a practice that has established the Gujjar people’s way of life. Though now, a deal with the government called the “Billion Tree Tsunami” has made it more lucrative for these landowners to plant healthy groves of alien eucalyptus trees than to rent to the Gujjar people. As a result, these sheep ranchers have been forced to sell their flock and accept low paying laborious jobs to survive, effectively destroying their traditional livelihoods.
The problem here is not the concept of planting trees, but rather, the importance of being mindful of where we plant them. For instance, replanting old logging sites is much more sustainable than using up grazing or agricultural land. Additionally, even though planting trees can play a role in cutting down carbon emissions, putting too much social weight on tree planting projects distracts people from real and important issues that need to be addressed while, in a small way, giving high-emitting companies a tool to make themselves look greener without actually being greener.
A Billion Begins with One. (n.d.). Plant a Billion Trees. https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/plant-a-billion/.
Welz, A. (2021, April 8). Are Huge Tree Planting Projects More Hype than Solution? Yale E360. https://e360.yale.edu/features/are-huge-tree-planting-projects-more-hype-than-solution.
Ashraf, U. (2018). Marginalized by Conservation: The Billion Tree Tsunami Project. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327041190_Marginalized_by_Conservation_The_Billio n_Tree_Tsunami_Project/
Jason Langland, Architectural Engineering, Penn State University
At its prominence in the 15th century, Timbuktu was a thriving city with an abundance of agriculture, trading bazaars, and scholarly texts. Estimates at the time report that the city was home to between one hundred and two hundred thousand people. The city, located within the Sahara Desert, is now home to just over thirty-two thousand people (2018). Five thousand years ago, Timbuktu received ample rainfall throughout the year that provided substantial fresh water for the region’s agriculture; the city currently receives less than twelve inches of average annual rainfall. The cause of the population decrease through the centuries has been strongly correlated with the African rain belt shifting slowly southward over the past few millennia. This essay will explore two perspectives of geoengineering in the region and its effects: the Met Office Hadley Center warns that particulates released into the atmosphere may cause severe drought in Timbuktu, while researchers from the Community Earth System model correlate a cooling effect of the Indian Ocean with increased rainfall in the same region. These are two different geoengineering methods that suggest two very different results.
Firstly, the team from the Met Office Hadley Center correlated large volcanic blasts between 1900 and 2010 with three of the four driest summers in Timbuktu. Volcanic eruptions generally provide a cooling effect on the climate, but these researchers suggest that the correlation between the eruptions and extreme droughts in Timbuktu paints a stark warning for the general use of aerosols to combat climate change. The team from the Community Earth System model proposes a correlation between sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean and increased precipitation in Timbuktu. Geoengineering is able to cool the surface of the ocean by using long pipes to grab water from the cold depths of the ocean and transport it to the surface. The researchers provide a computer simulation that demonstrates a cool surface ocean temperature is correlated with reversing a drought in the Timbuktu region in the 1970’s. They concede that to make this type of geoengineering feasible on a wide scale, millions of pipes would be needed to cool the surface of the ocean.
Ricke, K., Ivanova, D., McKie, T., & Rugenstein, M. (2021). Reversing Sahelian droughts. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL093129. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL093129
Radford, T. (2013, February 4). Geoengineering could cause drought in Sahel. Climate Home News. https://www.climatechangenews.com/2013/04/02/geoengineering-could-cause drought-in-sahel/