Sunday, March 11, 2012

Prof. James Hansen, 400,000 A-bombs, and two March events

Professor Hansen getting arrested outside the White House protesting the Keystone Pipeline

This Friday I was at a workshop on teaching sustainability organized by the Columbia University Center for the Study of Science and Religion.  It was a very interesting discussion, but the highlight was the introductory dinner the night before.  (I'm not employed to do activist stuff - I took a personal day off from work.)  We were joined by Professor James Hansen, who delivered his current TED Talk.

As a physicist, he measures how the greenhouse gases cause an imbalance between the amount of heat the earth receives from the sun, how much is reflected back into space.  Because of climate change, there is an imbalance: the Earth is absorbing much more heat than normally reflected.  How much?

Hansen told the small audience something shocking: the amount of heat imbalance absorbed daily by the world's oceans equals the energy from 400,000 Hiroshima bombs.  That's a hard number to contemplate. I wondered if I heard him wrong, but I watched
the TED talk again and he said the same thing. 

What can we do? Hansen suggested pressing for a Federal
cap and dividend.  Cap and dividend is a simple, market-based way to reduce CO2 emissions without reducing household incomes. It caps fossil fuel supplies, makes polluters pay, and returns the revenue to everyone equally.  Great idea, but considering that the national lawmaking response to climate change is being blocked by fossil fuel interests and the politicians they fund, it may be even more important to change public opinion about energy and sustainability in order for political action to take place.
I'll be presenting at two events in March.

At the monthly general meeting of NYC Friends of Clearwater, on Friday, March 16, at 6:30 PM, I'll talk about the transition to a renewable energy economy, and some ways to facilitate it.  About fifteen minutes of talking points, then facilitated discussion.  The NYCFC meeting will continue well into the evening with a potluck and live music. 83 Christopher St., NYC.  (Perhaps at St. John's Lutheran Church) 
On Thurs., March 22, I'll be moderating a panel. 

The Boiler Dilemma: Are There Renewable Alternatives to Converting to Gas?
Thurs., March 22, 6:30 – 9 PM

The Community Church of New York
40 East 35th Street (Park & Madison)
Doors open at 6

The panel will feature: Chris Benedict, Architecture and Energy Limited; Dehran Duckworth, TriState BioDiesel; and Ron Kamen, New York Solar Energy Industries Association. It will be moderated by Dan Miner, Beyond Oil NYC.

The City’s new heating oil rules require buildings to stop using heavy oils by 2030, and building owners are tempted to convert to gas, due to its current low price. But what is the true cost of “cheap” gas, when fracking could ruin our air and water, and bring radon-laden shale gas to our stoves? Are conservation, solar thermal and biodiesel realistic alternatives?

Series Co-Sponsors: The Environmental Task Force of The Congregation of Saint Saviour; The Green Sanctuary Committee of the Community Church of New York, UU; NYC Friends of Clearwater; Tri-State Food Not Lawns/Neighborhood Energy Network; NY Climate Action Group; Sane Energy Project; Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, United for Action; WBAI’s Eco logic. Suggested $5-10 donation.


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