In praise of China

China is not only doing R&D in technologies such as solar, wind & nuclear, it is also developing the legal framework to move to a sustainable society. This ties in well with the previous post Sustainability

‘My job is to clean up the environment. China really wants to do that’

Environmental lawyer James Thornton says China’s ‘ecological civilisation’ concept is the best response to the world’s environmental crisis

First invited to Beijing in 2014 to help implement China’s new law allowing NGOs to sue polluting companies for the first time, Thornton has seen how serious the world’s biggest polluter is about addressing its environmental problems. He believes their concept of “ecological civilisation” is the best formulation he’s heard for the new environmental story we must tell.

“Facing the ruin of their environment, the Chinese looked hard and amended their constitution. This core document now calls for the building of an ecological civilisation,” he says. “We built an agricultural, then an industrial, and now must build an ecological civilisation.”

“I have no cynicism about whether they mean to do it. My job is to try and clean up the environment for future generations. The Chinese really want to do that.” This task, apparently insurmountable for the west, is made possible by China’s 2,500-year tradition of centralised government.

Sustainability

This is an inspiring business.

Chinese textile business booms after betting on sustainability

But neither Lingyong nor Lingyan were satisfied with solely improving their own environmental performance. They realized that collective action is the only way to really mitigate water-related risks to their business so they teamed up with the Industrial Park Committee and WWF to take the next critical steps on the path to water stewardship — engaging with other water users in the same industrial park and river basin to take collective action.

versus, the non-sustainable:

Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals

Mahon said there were two principal concerns: very small plastic particles and the chemicals or pathogens that microplastics can harbour. “If the fibres are there, it is possible that the nanoparticles are there too that we can’t measure,” she said. “Once they are in the nanometre range they can really penetrate a cell and that means they can penetrate organs, and that would be worrying.” The Orb analyses caught particles of more than 2.5 microns in size, 2,500 times bigger than a nanometre.

Microplastics can attract bacteria found in sewage, Mahon said: “Some studies have shown there are more harmful pathogens on microplastics downstream of wastewater treatment plants.”

I hope that Lingyong and Lingyan will look into this, there is clearly an enormous opportunity for new technologies.

Denial Hotspots and the facts

Vast majority of UK accept climate change is real

So most people in the UK do know that we have caused a problem.

But – Old men in the East Midlands are less likely to accept scientists’ evidence than young women in the South-east

But P.S.
How our desires shape our beliefs

Well, you can imagine my dismay when I discovered that all these experiments pointed to the reality that people are not driven by facts. They are not enough to alter beliefs, and they are practically useless for motivating action. Consider climate change: there are mountains of data indicating that humans play a role in warming the globe, yet approximately 50% of the world’s population doesn’t believe it.

The problem with an approach that prioritises information is that it ignores the core of what makes us human: our motives, our fears, our hopes, our desires, our prior beliefs.

“Why should the Devil have all the best tunes?”
We need to work on some tunes. This is why religions do so well, they have deep history, community and good stories. Some sects have wonderful tunes.

Externalise costs

Industrial farming is driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth

That dead zone isn’t an accident. It’s a requirement of industrial agriculture to get rid of the shit and the run-off elsewhere because you cannot make industrial agriculture workable unless you kick the costs somewhere else.

The story of industrial agriculture is all about externalising costs and exploiting nature.

Professor Raj Patel, The University of Texas at Austin, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy

How to deal with weather extremes

I know developments in virtual reality are big in the United States, but –

The Trump administration’s solution to climate change: ban the term

In real reality –

Climate change to cause humid heatwaves that will kill even healthy people

The new analysis assesses the impact of climate change on the deadly combination of heat and humidity, measured as the “wet bulb” temperature (WBT). Once this reaches 35C, the human body cannot cool itself by sweating and even fit people sitting in the shade will die within six hours.

Largest dead zone ever hits the Gulf of Mexico

While this year’s dead zone is record-shattering, it’s likely that these zones will only increase in size in the future, as climate change drives more intense precipitation and, in turn, more nutrient pollution. A recent study in Science found that increased precipitation from climate change would translate to a 19 percent increase in nitrogen — a nutrient found in both manure and agricultural fertilizer — in Americans rivers by the end of the century.

Are we being too timid in telling people how bad it might be?
The Uninhabitable Earth

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.

Worth a debate,
Or is it too late?
A Defense of Climate Tragedy, or What the Scientists Got Wrong about “The Uninhabitable Earth”

This is an essay about the furor over David Wallace-Wells’ New York Magazine article “The Uninhabitable Earth,” which conjures a specter of a planet so ruined by global warming in our children’s lifetimes that it no longer sustains, but destroys human life. By his own account, Wallace-Wells (DWW from here on out) wrote “The Uninhabitable Earth” to frighten people out of their complacency and to inspire them to clamor loudly for immediate action to halt climate change in its petrifying tracks.

New storage technologies

Here is an example of creative thought in battery technology. I expect many thousands more of such new technologies to help us stop emitting CO2.

Longer-lasting batteries get a boost from molecular pulleys

Abstract from Highly elastic binders integrating polyrotaxanes for silicon microparticle anodes in lithium ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries with ever-increasing energy densities are needed for batteries for advanced devices and all-electric vehicles. Silicon has been highlighted as a promising anode material because of its superior specific capacity. During repeated charge-discharge cycles, silicon undergoes huge volume changes. This limits cycle life via particle pulverization and an unstable electrode-electrolyte interface, especially when the particle sizes are in the micrometer range. We show that the incorporation of 5 weight % polyrotaxane to conventional polyacrylic acid binder imparts extraordinary elasticity to the polymer network originating from the ring sliding motion of polyrotaxane. This binder combination keeps even pulverized silicon particles coalesced without disintegration, enabling stable cycle life for silicon microparticle anodes at commercial-level areal capacities.

Collective action

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals

The email in my inbox last week offered thirty suggestions to green my office space: use reusable pens, redecorate with light colours, stop using the elevator.

Back at home, done huffing stairs, I could get on with other options: change my lightbulbs, buy local veggies, purchase eco-appliances, put a solar panel on my roof.

And a study released on Thursday claimed it had figured out the single best way to fight climate change: I could swear off ever having a child.

These pervasive exhortations to individual action — in corporate ads, school textbooks, and the campaigns of mainstream environmental groups, especially in the west — seem as natural as the air we breath. But we could hardly be worse-served.

While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives, fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71 percent. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.

It’s happening anyway

Whatever the climate deniers are doing & saying, the change over to renewables is happening anyway.

States betting on giant batteries to cut carbon

A growing number of states are requiring large batteries to be used to store electricity to help expand wind and solar power. The trend is catching on quickly as at least three states have created energy storage targets or incentives so far this year.

Lawmakers in New York passed a bill last week requiring the state to create an energy storage target. Nevada passed a bill incentivizing energy storage in May, and Maryland passed an energy storage tax credit in April. Those measures follow California, Oregon, and Massachusetts, which have mandates for electricity storage in batteries.

Trump that!