Sustainable Urban Planning – The world is quickly becoming a crowded place. Countries like China are developing at a rate that could be considered dangerous. Everyone knows about their one child rule too. However, such extreme measures do not have to be put into place.
For example, there are many ways that countries can develop urban areas in a way that will help cities teeming with life. Citizens will not be forced to live elsewhere due to unsanitary conditions or overcrowding. City planners just need to implement a few planning concepts in order to make sure that a city is liveable with a large amount of people.
How is this possible? The following five ideas include ideas like growth tracking and environmental mapping in order to keep a city liveable and workable for all of its citizens.
Concepts for Sustainable Urban Planning
Environmental mapping is also known as reflection mapping. It is a computer technique that uses images to create a virtual “world” of the so called image. Special lighting and shading techniques are used to simulate the exact surface and elements of the image’s picture.
Once it is created city planners can use the environmental map of a city to play out different scenarios and elements. This helps keep a city organized and understood through the potential dangers it faces. Think of it like a controlled crystal ball- it helps city planners figure out the future if things are not adjusted properly.
Growth tracking is exactly what it suggests- the evaluation of a population’s expansion. Studies and census polls help keep city planners aware of their city’s population increase. It helps them understand which demographics are expanding and which others are diminishing.
They then use this data to help shape the city into a level playing field where all citizens have access to such things like the same health care and clean water facilities.
Architecture is one of the most important aspects of urban developing. First of all, a great architect can work together to create housing and public facilities that will make life easier for city citizens. Most cities need to build skywards in order to make space for all of the people. However, good planning can take advantage of any space and make it work for the city.
City planners need to be very strict on their zoning laws. This keeps business and residents from fighting over limited space. It also keeps a city from getting gridlocked due to a lack of parking. If zoning laws are updated regularly, then there is nothing that they cannot help a city planner fix.
New Organizational Committees
Input from citizens is a must. City planners should enlist the help of the public by creating citizen planning committees. After all, urban planning cannot be a success without every one’s help.
In conclusion, each of these concepts will help aid city planners when it comes to the urban planning of their city. Without them, cities would risk becoming unsanitary and unliveable. Thanks to each of the concepts from architectural advancements to growth tracking, the people of large cities can live in health and peace.
Guest post contributed by Sarah Rawson. Sarah is an online tutor for an online Masters in Sustainability program and is a freelance writer. Her articles appear on various health blogs.
How Much Land Are You Willing to Give Up for Clean Energy?
In an article recently released by the local Denver publication, Westword, the National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) expansion into private land is brought to light. As of the writing of this post, the article titled, “What Has NREL Done for Public Good?” is nestled next to a photo gallery of Jello-wrestling and luchadores.
While the title of the article seems to call into question NREL’s very existence, it actually mostly covers the fact that Jefferson County, in which NREL is located, used eminent domain to acquire land from nearby neighbors of the lab in order to build a necessary second access road to the expanding site.
This got me thinking that as it becomes necessary to expand solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydro sites to increase clean energy generation, how much land will people be willing to give up for clean energy? As more and more clean energy projects come online, I always notice how huge these solar panel sites are.
Many pictures show huge arrays of solar panels stretching over a countryside, which are more often than not closed off by chain link fence. For example, the Lawrenceville School, located near Princeton in New Jersey, recently added a 6.1 megawatt solar farm that covers nearly 30 acres and generates nearly 90% of the school electricity needs.
Looking at the photos of the solar farm, though, you can understand why some nearby residents would be less than ecstatic about the covering of rolling countryside in favor of metal and glass panels.
By no means am I saying that solar arrays shouldn’t be developed, but when people think about huge wind farms and solar arrays, I don’t think they necessarily consider that these huge projects may be in lots adjacent to their current places of living.
Even though solar isn’t the most productive in the state of New Jersey, an explosion of solar sites, including the one at the Lawrenceville School, have come online in the past year. This means that people living next to a countryside last year may now find themselves living next to a solar array this year.
The above examples represent renewable projects being built nearby private land. It is a very different scenario when developers forcibly take land from private owners for construction. The Westword article about NREL refers to an example of eminent domain being used to construct a new road, but eminent domain is already being used by oil and gas companies to build wells and pipelines existing within or crossing through private land.
I suppose I could say lucky for us oil is relatively energy dense and doesn’t require nearly the amount of land coverage that renewable energy projects will require. Of course, the case can be made that in the quest for oil, we have “used” much land. Two examples of this are the digging of Canadian oil sands and the destruction of Gulf Coast waters from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
What I’m wondering about when it comes to using eminent domain for renewable projects, though, is how people will respond if it is determined that their land is highly productive for solar or wind, and the government forcibly takes this land in order to build solar arrays or wind turbines. Can people be forced to install solar panels on their homes?
Will tax subsidies or the opportunity to sell excess electricity to utility companies be enough of a benefit for homeowners to willfully install rooftop solar panels, allow construction of ground-mounted solar arrays or wind turbines? Or will there eventually be a mandate to force installation? Many of the most productive areas for solar energy are within tribal reservations in the American southwest.
This means people living in these areas have the opportunity to make a lot of money selling land to renewable developers, but no one can blame them if they would rather keep rolling countrysides or untouched landscapes.
As I stated in my past article about renewable project scales, if we are going to maintain the current energy-guzzling living standards of the average American, renewable projects are going to need to be large and intrusive. I wonder if this means we will eventually have to force the acquisition of lands in order to build solar arrays, wind farms, geothermal wells, or biofuel croplands.
Hospitals Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly
As the clamor for a sustainable future gains momentum, industries are focusing on showing their commitment to the cause. One of the industries that have come under the radar for contributing toxic waste and pollution is the healthcare sector. Significantly in recent years, hospitals in the United States have stepped up efforts to cut down on their waste and pollution to contribute to a greener world.
How Hospitals Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly! Some of the ways in which the healthcare industry is adopting green practices include the following.Hospitals Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly
Hospitals Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly Safer Waste Disposal
One of the biggest challenges for healthcare units and hospitals today is safe disposal of equipment that leads to a release of hazardous substances. Cathode ray tubes (CRTs), LCD displays, computers and cable wiring are some of the most common carriers of toxic substances that affect humans.
To prevent improper disposal of waste materials, hospitals are adopting new dumping technologies. Many hospitals are sterilizing items and installing waste disposal systems to minimize the impact on environment. These new methods and disposal systems are being taught to the upcoming health care professionals
Reduced Fuel Consumption
Many American hospitals are cutting down on their overall costs by opting for local sourcing and procuring. By partnering with local manufacturers and providers, hospitals are reducing transportation and fuel expenses. Further, local sourcing enables hospitals to provide fresh food to the patients and deliver a better experience to them.
In other notable instances, some hospitals have themselves started producing fresh herbs and vegetables to meet their demands and bring down transportation costs.
Hospitals Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly Green Architecture and Design
As need for more specialized care grows in the country, hospitals and healthcare units are under a lot of pressure to address their infrastructural challenges. To accommodate more patients and deliver better care, hospitals have to expand their capacity.
While building their new facility, many hospitals are using green design principles and sustainable raw materials. Recycled glasses, organic compound paints and jute fibers are some of the most popular sustainable materials that hospitals are using these days.
Efficient Energy Generation
The healthcare sector is one of the largest energy consumers today. Reducing energy consumption is, therefore, a big priority for this industry. To meet this goal, hospitals across the United States are focusing on both energy conservation and power generation.
Many well-known hospitals have started their renewable energy projects that turn waste biogas into electricity for day-to-day use. Automated energy controls, energy-efficient motors and lamps are also helping healthcare units to curb their energy requirements.
Proper Packaging Strategy
Hospitals that have not yet become self-sufficient in producing essential materials are finding ways to buy recycled and green stuff. For instance, many hospitals and healthcare units are using recycled paper, which is a better option than chlorine-bleached paper.
Many hospitals are also developing green packaging strategies. These strategies are aimed at reducing packaging, increasing bulk buying and using more Mercury-free products.
Decreased Use of Chemical Pollutants
In recent years, many chemicals that were once considered safe in hospitals have been found to cause health hazards. The Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), in particular have been found to adversely affect human beings.
These chemicals are sustained in the environment for longer periods of time and cause allergic reactions in most people. To mitigate their impact, many hospitals are adopting non-toxic approaches such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Although the medical industry has started taking the green cause seriously only recently, the steps taken in the direction are commendable. Several exclusive conferences are being held to discuss ideas for green practices and healthcare professionals are seen taking an active interest in such initiatives.
With a more eco-centric approach and efficient technology, the healthcare sector can bring more changes and benefit patients in a number of ways.
Green Technologies In The New One World Trade Center
The new One World Trade Center in New York City is an incredible piece of green architecture. The improvements over previous high-rise buildings in the United States are astounding and the potential impact this center has on the environment is something to consider. There are several different aspects of this LEED Gold certified building to consider. It has not yet opened and is still receiving acclaim over the environmental considerations made.
The overwhelming intelligent use of water in this building allows, by itself, an incredible amount of saved electricity and products. The One World Trade Center will conserve water in every sense of the word.
The first and most visually apparent use of water is in the rain collection. This comes in the form of the waterfalls to commemorate 9/11 victims, as well as an extensive irrigation system to water the landscaping. With over sixty inches annually raining in New York City, finding an intelligent way to gather rainwater is an excellent idea. All of this water also assists in cutting cooling costs and in protecting the building from fires.
The Hudson River
Cooling can be a big problem for larger buildings like this. The designers have come up with a unique solution to this problem. They are piping water from the Hudson River to help with cooling of several parts of the building. This green solution will circulate thirty thousands gallons of the river water every minute. This ingenious way of using a natural feature to cut cooling costs is a notable green amenity to the One World Trade Center.
The extra steam from the fuel cells in the building is even reused. This steam is re-purposed to work in either the heating or the cooling systems. The steam functions significantly more efficiently in the heating system, providing 70,000 BTUs of high-grade heating and 50,000 BTUs of low-grade heating.
The ability to transfer the waste from one system in the building to power another system is the epitome of sustainable green energy. This is reusing energy at its best, and is perhaps the best sign of re-purposing in the entire building.
One World Trade Center will have one of the largest fuel cell installations in the world. This makes recycling its steam waste even more important. The fuel cells are, however, a clean energy source in themselves. This is something not to be overlooked. They will end up providing 4.8 million watts of electricity per hour, which will significantly cut down on energy costs.
The very construction of the New World Trade Center is akin to a green initiative. The incredible ways that the builders have found to reduce their waste is incredible. They reuse practically everything. The very first place this can be observed is in the building materials. Over seventy percent of the materials used for building come from recycled material. This makes the building itself a recycled work.
The construction workers are also using composting toilets. This allows for the reuse of the physical laborer’s waste. It is much more environmentally friendly, lighter, and oftentimes can smell better. This allows for waste to be re-purposed into soil, which is a significantly better option than a landfill or waste treatment facility.
All of these factors culminate into making the One World Trade Center an environmentally conscious building. With they help of engineers, such as those holding a civil engineering master’s degree , this impressive addition to the skyline of New York City has been constructed using a blend of green and environmentally friendly means.
7 Ways Technology is Helping Hospitals Go Green
Like all other organizations, hospitals are becoming caught up in the “go green” movement that is sweeping the world. And rightly so; for the green way of life is often, physically and mentally, the healthiest, and who has a higher interest in that fact than those who work in hospitals? The advance of technology is helping them in their green quest in many ways, of which seven will be outlined below.
Steam boiler technology
One area in which hospitals can save on energy is in the boilers. Many institutions are now pioneering in the use of multiple installments that can be switched on and off as necessary. They are also considering replacing their 400BHP fire tube units with 200 BHP units; both types are used in pairs, but with the latter a third can be added that is kept cold until it is needed.
Such a system can reduce a hospital’s energy costs by about 20 percent, and in consequence many of the country’s major health care centers, including Duke Raleigh Hospital in North Carolina and Bryce State Hospital, have already implemented it.
Hospitals Go Green Shutting off things
Often, the best solutions are the simplest ones. As children, we learn to turn off anything that is not in use; and hospitals, too, can adopt this practice. They are full of machines that use large amounts of energy, so turning them off when they are not being used can, again, reduce the amount of money spent on utilities expenses.
Sewage treatment machines
Numerous machines are being created to treat the waste that comes from toilets, and hospitals and other facilities can have their own sewage treatment plants. The rotating biological filter is one of the most commonly- used machines of this type; the rotator brings in oxygen which nourishes bacteria that break down the sludge. A way might even be found to refine waste in such a way that it can have medical value.
Air cleaning machines
Hospitals can also benefit greatly from machines that make the internal atmospheres of buildings healthier by removing germs and toxic chemicals from it, much in the way that fish tanks can be equipped with apparatuses that detoxify the water in them.
Air conditioning systems
In the same way, the air conditioning system in a hospital (or any building) can be used to make the internal environment less of a breeding ground for disease- causing bacteria. Food stores have such cooling systems. An additional health benefit is that people sweat less in an air- conditioned space.
Automating all of the hospital’s functions that can be, is another big way in which technology can help the institute to go green. The lights, for instance, can be timed so that they go on when the sun goes down, and go out when it comes up. The temperature and the air flow can likewise be controlled through the use of automated equipment. Again, this way of working saves power and money.
Reuse of medical equipment
The amount of waste produced by hospitals amounts to over four billion pounds, and the amount of money this wasted equipment costs is even greater. It is possible to reuse many kinds of medical tools and equipment, such as oxygen sensors and electric bandages.
There are health care facilities that buy used medical equipment that their erstwhile owners had labeled as “single use” but which the FDA still approves of. They then clean the machines, test them to see that they are still useful, and re-sterilize them.
Saw blades, scalpel handles, drills, gowns, surgery clamps, and compression stockings are among the most common items that are recycled in this way.
It is not just that saving energy is good for the environment; the earth is not really fragile, after all. But the less money the institute has to spend running its machinery, the more it has available for research on the diseases that still claim millions of lives each year.
About one fifth of all the hospitals in the United States belong to an organization called Practice Greenhealth, which was founded in 1998 from an agreement between the American Hospital Association and the EPA.
Environmentally Friendly Sports And Fitness Facilities
If you run a gym or sports center, you know how much it costs to run. First of all, there is all the ongoing power and maintenance costs, as well as the cost of buying new equipment and replacing old equipment.
Therefore, if you can reduce these costs, it makes a lot of business sense. At the same time, you will reduce your environmental impact. This is not only something that will make you feel good – it is something that you can use to market yourself as a green business and attract additional clients.
If you want to do this, the first thing to look at is your lighting. While you obviously want your facility to be well lit, there is no reason to keep the lights on if there is no one around. Install motion sensors on stairwells and in storage rooms so that the lights only turn on when someone is there.
Also, make sure that you install energy-efficient light bulbs wherever possible, rather than inefficient incandescent ones – this alone can reduce your lighting power consumption by 75%. Also, consider making use of natural light by installing skylights – not only does this cut down on power, it also creates a more welcoming and uplifting atmosphere.
You may not pay for the water you use, but you do pay for heating it, so the less you use, the more energy and dollars you save. Put in low-flow showers in the locker rooms, since these can save up to 2.5 gallons of hot water a minute. Also install efficient EnergyStar washers and wash things like used towels on a cool wash. Finally, make sure that all your hot water pipes are properly insulated, and that your water heater is operating efficiently.
Next, although it is sometimes tempting, it is a false economy to use low-grade materials in your facility just because they are cheaper. For example, you might put in a cheap surface on your basketball court, but it is probably going to wear out in a year or two. On the other hand, if you install a high-quality, high-performance surface, it will come with a 15 year guarantee and is likely to last 25 years. You will save considerable money in the long term, and also eliminate the environmental impact of having to dispose of the court material every few years.
Finally, the machines in your gym are likely to account for a significant proportion of your overall energy consumption. Anything you can do to reduce this is going to have significant benefits. For example, there are a number of companies that manufacture eco-friendly ellipticals, climbers, rowers and cycles – these don’t require any external power at all since they are driven entirely by muscle power. Even if you do decide to keep powered machines, you can still find ones that are more efficient – for example, there are some treadmills that consume 30% less power than traditional ones.
How to keep your campus looking its best
The university or college that you have chosen to continue your education after graduating from high school, wherever it is located, is built on attractively landscaped grounds. Some universities, in fact, have become models of architectural design—Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia, is one.
Unless all the people who regularly use the campus make an effort to keep it clean, however, it can begin to look disorderly, just like your room or any other place that is frequented by human beings. Here is how you can contribute to maintaining the beautiful appearance of your college campus.
Importance of campus cleanliness
A college or university is, above all, a place to study and learn. If the physical environment is not an attractive one, then studying and learning become less pleasant and students’ grades suffer as a result. New students may also be less willing to attend classes here and new professors less willing to come and teach.
Outsiders are also less eager to come to the campus to use the library or to attend lectures, performances, sports events or other university activities. Even the search for funding may be adversely affected by a disorderly campus.
What is involved in keeping the campus clean
Elements of campus cleanliness include:
- disposing of garbage and rubbish in waste disposal containers
- taking care of the gardens and trees, keeping the plants well trimmed and watered and free of weeds, insects and diseases that make them look unsightly
- mowing the lawn
- trimming the grass around the borders
- raking the fallen leaves
- keeping the statues well polished and invulnerable to moisture
- mopping and vacuuming the floors and carpets inside
- cleaning the walls, windows and other surfaces
All of these tasks except the first are, of course, taken care of by professionals hired and paid by the school to do them. It is up to you to avoid littering the halls and walkways with your trash.
Hiring the right companies
If you are a permanently employed by a college or university, then you should do some research to find out which are the best companies to hire to do the work of campus upkeep. For exterior work few companies are better than SavATree Landscape Professionals, who serve eight states along the Eastern Seaboard and the District of Columbia.
They can help their clients to establish their tree and lawn care needs and set up a plan that revolves around them. They can provide emergency tree treatment, insect, mite & tick control, tree pruning, fertilizing and removal, disease treatment and lightning protection. They also do lawn work, including mowing, weed control, lime application, disease treatment, insect and grub control, and soil analysis and aeration.
The people who work here are also experts in the use of organic substances, which can be especially valuable in keeping ticks away. Other areas in which they work include turf management, lawn seeding, irrigation (spring start up, system maintenance and wintering), lime application and fungus control.
For interior maintenance there is ABM, a business that was founded over a hundred years ago. During that time they have worked with almost every type of company that has wished to hire them, from banks and hospitals to golf courses, private houses, aviation facilities and everything in between.
ABM can help you with issues regarding your electrical, lighting, plumbing and HVAC systems. They are also good at establishing plans that save money spent on energy. For this purpose ABM has set up something called GlidePath which they tailor to meet the specific needs of every client.
Used in this way, GlidePath can help calculate savings in five areas—guaranteed savings, innovation, wages and inflation, proposed operating costs and transition costs. Finally, ABM provides solutions for time card management, accounting and reporting, and other aspects of management.
When you help to keep your campus clean, you are not just making the learning environment more pleasant for yourself and all the others who study and work there. You are also showing your pride in the school where you attend classes.
New Eco-Friendly Advancements in Civil Engineering
As the world finds ways to build cities that can have more people and better facilities, so too do civil engineers work in order to join the green movement and utilize fewer resources for habitation. While they may not be as well-known or productive as massive solar grids, they offer a means of reducing or even eliminating a carbon footprint or utilizing less power and water in order to get the same value from habitation.
The Three R’s of Site Design
Any time that a city needs to construct a new block, a row of homes, a hospital, or any other new project, they are sure to come across a huge amount of trash and debris in order to get the project done. The sites that build up massive civil engineering projects like airports and dams produce refuse in staggering quantities, ranging from the concrete that is no longer necessary to the runoff when precipitation hits the build site.
Recycling construction materials is no new process, but never before has it been possible to do so on site, until now. Civil engineers can use green concrete recyclers without having to expand the time and energy needed to transport large quantities of the bricks and rubble to a facility. These individual recycles are about the size of a dumpster and cannot go through more than about a ton of concrete per day, but ends up with a new lump of concrete instead of throwing out an old one to get a new one.
Driving On Green Roads
There is enough asphalt on American roads to reach to the moon and back three times. This much asphalt — as well as gravel, cement, and other materials — takes a huge toll on the environment. A new project by the Asphalt Research Consortium, however, is spending five million dollars in order to figure out how to make asphalt more green and sustainable.
One major area of research is “cold mixing” asphalt, using a process popular in under-developed nations to pour asphalt without needing to expend a huge amount of energy to heat it up first. Since all asphalt needs to come from refined oil, furthermore, heating it up creates the carbon byproduct that creates choking greenhouse gases. Why have US roads refrained from using cold mixing? In general, because they have not had to. As the cost becomes more expensive, however, the green factor applies to both energy and money.
Green Roof, Green Walls
There are parts of the world that are attempting to turn the clock back on technology to create green resources. As in, so far back that there is no technology. The 1050 K Street project by Timmons LEED is an example of projects that are literally green: this building is constructed with plant roofs and sidings in order to absorb moisture and UV light, cool down the interior, and develop a carbon-neutral structure. While this building can look a bit odd from far away — like a gardener had planted trees and shrubs into the side of the building — it offers a new chance to create projects that incorporate the environment directly.
Few phrases make the rounds in the green sphere more than sustainability. For some, this means being sustainable in your very house. New building projects are incorporating urban farming into their list of features. These small areas allow an individual to raise everything from a vegetable patch to a chicken coop in their own (or a communal) part of a building. This effort in sustainability not only ensures access to organic food, but does so at a much lower cost than most of the options you would purchase at the grocery store.
With millions of construction project occurring weekly across the United States, it is in the hands of civil engineers and construction crews to minimalize their carbon footprint. Those in the decision-making positions, such as individuals with an engineering management degree, should consider the new green technologies and trends available in their field. Building sustainable structures and cutting emissions in the process should be the goal of civil engineers worldwide.
Immorality of Geoengineering
Immorality of Geoengineering – James Carroll almost never writes a column that I disagree with. but today he did. He strayed a bit from his usual subjects into the murky world of geoengineering.
The Immorality of Geoengineering
Even if carbon emissions were dramatically reduced all over the planet (including in China, India, and Africa, where fossil fuel engines are just firing up), the biosphere is already facing catastrophe. The greenhouse effect is self-compounding, and scientists tell us that atmospheric temperatures will continue to rise even without more pollution. However difficult it has been to launch a real discussion of the causes of global warming, an even-larger controversy looms now, as problematic attempts to mitigate warming through “geoengineering” are forced onto the human agenda.
He is quite correct to say that geoengineering is even more controversial than global warming. The controversy over global climate change is concocted up by those ideologically opposed to taking action now at whatever it would cost because it might threaten their wealth or power.
Denying the existence, magnitude, or causes of the tragic changes we are already experiencing and arguably know will be visiting us more and more is reprehensible. The consequences predicted by honest scientists are of the order of those of a large-scale war with an important difference. The enemy, as Pogo says, is us.
Technology has enabled the United States to fight wars without mobilizing the nation as we had to in previous wars. We waged two recent wars without a call upon all of our young to serve, and without any sacrifice in our consumption. The deficit problem is larger than it would have been in the absence of these conflicts, but we have yet to do anything about it.
Now with serious environmental and associated socio-economic impacts coming, we are being tempted to use technology to avoid being called to duty. Not to serve under arms, but to alter the life styles that are the cause of the upsets we are more and more worried about. Worried, but not convinced that they are so serious that we all have to join the fray.
Still hoping that the engineers will do the job for us. The picture I get is that of a technician sitting in a far away van, directing a drone with a joystick. The only difference is that he is aiming at an enemy, a geoengineer would be aiming at Mother Nature.
This call on technology is much like situation that spawned sustainable development, a technocratic and technological solution to the growing environmental and social deterioration that became noticeable 30-40 years ago. Use technology to produce and consume more efficiently, so that we could continue to grow our materialistic economies and avoid more damage at the same time.
It hasn’t worked. Every assessment of the state of the environmental and social world shows that we have dug even deeper holes. Climate change is just the latest insult to nature we are starting to worry about.
As and Ronald Reagan famously said, “There you go again.” We haven’t learned much from our futile attempts at eco-efficiency, but here we are trying the same old thing, another technological fix, another Band-Aid. Carroll, ignoring the past several decades of avoiding, thinks we are facing a moral cliff.
Once again, we humans find ourselves at a moral threshold, where technology poses unprecedented challenges to our capacity for ethical choice. Biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, genetic modification of agriculture, cellular manipulation for reproductive “enhancement”: These frontiers of science are also boundaries of wisdom. What is the right thing to do?
In the case of the environment, though, the pressures come not from newfound capabilities, but from a doomsday clock that we ourselves set ticking. Having only now approached a broad popular consensus that climate change is a problem, we must promptly imagine far more expansive solutions. Reducing fossil fuels is urgently necessary, but probably insufficient. Let sensible discussion of creative interventions begin. For Mother Earth, and all her children.
I would agree with these possible outcomes, but he has the players and the choices all wrong. I strongly disagree with his suggestion to start a “discussion of creative interventions [of geoengineering].” This is like Congress kicking the can down the road, applying fiscal Band-Aids to staunch the bleeding. The moral choice does not involve giving the energy companies a parole as he writes.
It would have that effect, but that’s not the more serious problem. It would give us, the consumers, a parole which we are not ready for. A parole board with Mother Nature at the head would send us back to our cushy cells, arguing we have not become rehabilitated. We haven’t begun to accept any responsibility for our “crimes” against the Planet. We haven’t changed our ways or done anything that justifies a parole.
I respect Carroll as a writer, especially when he writes about ethical or moral issues, but he hasn’t cast a wide enough net in this case. His moral gaze is turned in the wrong direction, looking outward instead of inward
. It may seem like a suicidal choice to turn away from a promising (?) technological solution for an existential threat, but the real suicidal choice is choosing that path while ignoring or excusing our central role in the matter.
We, the global community, faced with a less threatening situation—the depletion of the ozone layer—made the right choice back then. We stopped producing the bad stuff, going cold turkey. Of course we had a substitute in the wings. We can and should make the same choice today.
We have an alternate technology choice in the wings—renewable energy. We learned to live without aerosol cans. It will be more difficult, but we can learn to live without lots of things that, if anything, fail to contribute to or even lessen our real well-being.
Taking on the responsibility for the problem and learning to live so as to avoid contributing to climate change is the correct moral choice. Only after we have made this move, should the use of geoengineering as a temporary measure be considered as a moral possibility.