Are and why Young People leaving the Cities

This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation on 19 May 2017 and written by Jason Twill, Innovation Fellow and Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney.  Are and why young people leaving the cities of the developed world ?

Would it be the same for the megapolises of the MENA region or is it already happening for other reasons? 

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As more and more young people these days are unable to afford purchasing their own home, reverting to renting as the first and only substitute is progressing.  The reasons are various and no alternative would be attractive enough to allow the “Renters Generation” to settle in as easily as more and more of these are flocking to all major cities worldwide for better life and good opportunities. This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation on 19 May 2017 and written by Jason Twill, Innovation Fellow and Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney. Are and why young people leaving the cities of the developed world ?
Would it be the same for the megapolises of the MENA region or is it already happening for other reasons?  In any case here is that interesting article of the WEF with our compliments to the writers and thanks to the publishers.
Image above is of REUTERS

This is the bright flight, or why young people are leaving the cities

If the growth of cities in the 20th century was marked by “white flight”, the 21st century is shaping up to be the era of “bright flight”. The young, highly educated and restless are being priced out of many of the world’s major cities.

They are choosing instead to set themselves up in smaller, regional cities. These offer access to less expensive housing and abundant cheap workspace. The barriers to entering the workforce or starting up a business are lower.

The “metropolitan pressure” of rapid urbanisation is generating a talent spill-over effect, which is setting the stage for a new era of urban winners and losers. This talent leakage is primarily made up of the “forgotten ones” – those who don’t qualify for social housing, but who are unable to afford market-rate housing.

In this age of of hyper-urban migration, where talent goes, capital flows. Cities need to respond to this migration trend and provide adequate housing solutions to retain talent. If not, it could shape up to be a major economic challenge as many are relying on this cohort of knowledge sector and tech-focused workers to lead them into the digital age.

Image: UN World Cities Report

Lessons from the rise of the suburbs

Many will know the urban story, or rather sub-urban story, of the mid-20th century. It was an era marked by “white flight”, the term used to describe the phenomenon of predominantly middle and upper-class Caucasians leaving urban centres to live in the suburbs.

For some, it was a chance to have their dream home in a culturally and ideologically homogeneous neighbourhood replete with white picket fences and enabled by access to cheap debt and favourable tax incentives.

From the cities’ perspective, this migration was devastating. Cities saw their tax revenues drained as higher-income earners fled to the ’burbs. At the same time, these cities required increased investment in social services, housing and education for low-income residents who largely had no choice but to stay in urban centres.

Over a few decades, this exodus led to severe economic and social decay in many of the world’s cities. By the mid-1970s, even New York was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Reversal drives an urban renaissance

This era of “white flight”, however, began to fade in the later part of the 20th century as a new generation of urbanites flocked to cities across the world.

What we are experiencing now is nothing short of a modern urban renaissance. From the very young to the very old, from singles to families, people are moving to cities in droves, drawn by the excitement, cultural diversity, eclecticism and array of employment opportunities that urban living offers.

Global cities like London and New York have rebounded from this era of urban decay better than they could ever have expected. In many ways, however, they have been too successful for their own good. The reverse migration back to the city has placed enormous pressure on our metropolitan regions.

As urban populations grow, so too does the level of investment needed for cities to function well. The investment is required to improve ageing infrastructure, expand mass transit, increase housing supply and extend capacity of civil services.

But making all these upgrades to improve and sustainably grow our cities creates another challenge: it increases competition for space. The more we increase density in our cities, the more expensive land becomes. The more expensive land becomes, the more expensive housing becomes, so people get priced out of their city of choice and move on.

Spilling over to second-tier cities

This pattern has been playing out for a some time now in the US. The spill-over of talent from top-tier cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco has flowed into more regional cities such as Seattle, Portland, Austin, Philadelphia and Denver.

Australia doesn’t have many regional cities that, like Minneapolis in the US, offer a place for talented workers to migrate within the country.

These second-tier cities have been the beneficiaries of this new wave of tech-savvy, knowledge sector workers. With all those bright workers around, companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon soon followed.

As a result, these cities now have some of the hottest property markets in the world. And they are now experiencing their own growing pains as housing prices have soared and the next wave of talent are being priced out.

And so the pattern continues and the talent spills into even more regional cities like Charlotte, Chattanooga and Minneapolis.

Read more on the original site of the WEF.
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How human error could have created the Sahara desert

After reading this interesting article of the World Economic Forum on How human error could have created the Sahara desert, one wonders if with the advent of Solar Power and its ineluctable progress throughout the world, the incriminated human beings in the proposed article of today would not take this opportunity to redress that millennia negligence tort.  We are assuming that the vastness of the Sahara would be put to good use in a scheme as already started in some parts of the MENA region.  With reference to our previous article on Solar Power plants from Morocco to Oman http://www.mena-forum.com/23067-2/ , it is clear that countries bordering the Sahara jumped on the gravy band wagon and started to develop schemes on their own.  There was however some attempts of the like of DESERTEC of Germany http://www.mena-forum.com/desertecs-difficult-path-production/ which tried to coordinate a giant development of solar power and route it back to the close by Europe.
In any case, we reproduce with our thanks, this recent article of the WEF that is recommended to be best read in conjunction with the referenced articles of MENA-Forum for a fuller picture of the on-going striving towards this form of renewable energy.  This article written by David Wright, Managing Partner, Trilateral Research & Consulting is published in collaboration with The Conversation on 16 March 2017.

Humans may have transformed the Sahara from lush paradise to barren desert.

The Image above is of REUTERS/David Rouge

Once upon a time, the Sahara was green. There were vast lakes. Hippos and giraffe lived there, and large human populations of fishers foraged for food alongside the lakeshores.

The “African Humid Period” or “Green Sahara” was a time between 11,000 and 4,000 years ago when significantly more rain fell across the northern two-thirds of Africa than it does today.

The vegetation of the Sahara was highly diverse and included species commonly found on the margins of today’s rainforests along with desert-adapted plants. It was a highly productive and predictable ecosystem in which hunter-gatherers appear to have flourished.

These conditions stand in marked contrast to the current climate of northern Africa. Today, the Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world. It lies in the subtropical latitudes dominated by high-pressure ridges, where the atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface is greater than the surrounding environment. These ridges inhibit the flow of moist air inland.

How the Sahara became a desert

The stark difference between 10,000 years ago and now largely exists due to changing orbital conditions of the earth – the wobble of the earth on its axis and within its orbit relative to the sun.

But this period ended erratically. In some areas of northern Africa, the transition from wet to dry conditions occurred slowly; in others it seems to have happened abruptly. This pattern does not conform to expectations of changing orbital conditions, since such changes are slow and linear.

The most commonly accepted theory about this shift holds that devegetation of the landscape meant that more light reflected off the ground surface (a process known as albedo), helping to create the high-pressure ridge that dominates today’s Sahara.

But what caused the initial devegetation? That’s uncertain, in part because the area involved with studying the effects is so vast. But my recent paper presents evidence that areas where the Sahara dried out quickly happen to be the same areas where domesticated animals first appeared. At this time, where there is evidence to show it, we can see that the vegetation changes from grasslands into scrublands.

Scrub vegetation dominates the modern Saharan and Mediterranean ecosystems today and has significantly more albedo effects than grasslands.

If my hypothesis is correct, the initial agents of change were humans, who initiated a process that cascaded across the landscape until the region crossed an ecological threshold. This worked in tandem with orbital changes, which pushed ecosystems to the brink.

Historical precedent

There’s a problem with testing my hypothesis: datasets are scarce. Combined ecological and archaeological research across northern Africa is rarely undertaken.

But well-tested comparisons abound in prehistoric and historic records from across the world. Early Neolithic farmers of northern EuropeChina and southwestern Asia are documented as significantly deforesting their environments.

In the case of East Asia, nomadic herders are believed to have intensively grazed the landscape 6,000 years ago to the point of reducing evapo-transpiration – the process which allows clouds to form – from the grasslands, which weakened monsoon rainfall.

Their burning and land-clearance practices were so unprecedented that they triggered significant alterations to the relationship between the land and the atmosphere that were measurable within hundreds of years of their introduction.

Similar dynamics occurred when domesticated animals were introduced to New Zealand and North America upon initial settlement by Europeans in the 1800s – only in these instances they were documented and quantified by historical ecologists.

Ecology of fear

Landscape burning has been occurring for millions of years. Old World landscapes have hosted humans for more than a million years and wild grazing animals for more than 20 million years. Orbitally induced changes in the climate are as old as the earth’s climate systems themselves.

So what made the difference in the Sahara? A theory called the “ecology of fear” may contribute something to this discussion. Ecologists recognise that the behaviour of predatory animals toward their prey has a significant impact on landscape processes. For example, deer will avoid spending significant time in open landscapes because it makes them easy targets for predators (including humans).

If you remove the threat of predation, the prey behave differently. In Yellowstone National Park, the absence of predators is argued to have changed grazers’ habits. Prey felt more comfortable grazing alongside the exposed riverbanks, which increased the erosion in those areas. The re-introduction of wolves into the ecosystem completely shifted this dynamic and forests regenerated within several years. By altering the “fear-based ecology”, significant changes in landscape processes are known to follow.

The introduction of livestock to the Sahara may have had a similar effect. Landscape burning has a deep history in the few places in which it has been tested in the Sahara. But the primary difference between pre-Neolithic and post-Neolithic burning is that the ecology of fear was altered.

Most grazing animals will avoid landscapes that have been burned, not only because the food resources there are relatively low, but also because of exposure to predators. Scorched landscapes present high risks and low rewards.

But with humans guiding them, domesticated animals are not subject to the same dynamics between predator and prey. They can be led into recently burned areas where the grasses will be preferentially selected to eat and the shrubs will be left alone. Over the succeeding period of landscape regeneration, the less palatable scrubland will grow faster than succulent grasslands – and, thus, the landscape has crossed a threshold.

It can be argued that early Saharan pastoralists changed the ecology of fear in the area, which in turn enhanced scrubland at the expense of grasslands in some places, which in turn enhanced albedo and dust production and accelerated the termination of the African Humid Period.

I tested this hypothesis by correlating the occurrences and effects of early livestock introduction across the region, but more detailed paleoecological research is needed. If proven, the theory would explain the patchy nature of the transition from wet to dry conditions across northern Africa.

Lessons for today

Although more work remains, the potential of humans to profoundly alter ecosystems should send a powerful message to modern societies.

More than 35% of the world’s population lives in dryland ecosystems, and these landscapes must be carefully managed if they are to sustain human life. The end of the African Humid Period is a lesson for modern societies living on drylands: if you strip the vegetation, you alter the land-atmosphere dynamics, and rainfall is likely to diminish.

This is precisely what the historic records of rainfall and vegetation in the south-western desert of the United States demonstrates, though the precise causes remain speculative.

In the meantime, we must balance economic development against environmental stewardship. Historical ecology teaches us that when an ecological threshold is crossed, we cannot go back. There are no second chances, so the long-term viability of 35% of humanity rests on maintaining the landscapes where they live. Otherwise we may be creating more Sahara Deserts, all around the world.

 

 

A Clean Energy Revolution is Underway

A clean energy revolution is underway all over the world. As an example amongst many, and according to Algerian media, solar-generated electricity in private habitations or business premises is now feasible in technical and financial terms.  “Installation of a solar system to supply electrical power is now affordable, even for middle-income families”, explains the Director of the Center for development of renewable energies (CDER) to the Algerian Press Service.

Sadiq Khan to kick start a ‘clean energy revolution’ after London mayoral win was the title of SOLAR POWER PORTAL back in May 9, 2016.  Excerpts of this article are noted below as:

London was recently ranked the worst city in England and Wales for its use of renewable energy in a study by think tank Green Alliance, which found that just 0.05% of electricity consumption in the capital was met by renewables.

It also found that less than one per cent of its households were equipped with PV panels, which is the worst proportion of solar roofs in the 20 largest cities in England and Wales by population.

report published before the election by a coalition of environmental groups called for the new mayor to increase London’s solar capacity tenfold by 2025, rolling out solar across an area equivalent to around 200,000 London rooftops.

Meanwhile, a clean energy revolution is underway per the World Economic Forum announcement in its article published in collaboration with The Conversation on May 4, 2017.

The authors are Andrzej Ancygier, Climate Policy Analyst, Lecturer, New York University and Markus Hagemann, Researcher Energy and Climate policy, Utrecht University.

We reproduce here the said article for its quality and comprehensiveness make a must read for all concerned.

The image above is titled The most progressive field in the power sector is renewable energy and is f REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissie.

A clean energy revolution is underway. This is why

In 2016, more renewable energy was added to the global grid than ever before, and at a lower cost. A global energy revolution is clearly underway.

What catalysed this transformation?

In our latest study, Faster and Cleaner 2: Kick-Starting Decarbonization, we looked at the trends driving decarbonisation in three key sectors of the global energy system – power, transportation and buildings.

By following the emission commitments and actions of countries, we examined what forces can drive rapid transition through our Climate Action Tracker analysis.

It turns out that, in these fields, it has taken only a few players to set in motion the kind of transformations that will be necessary to meet the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping the global temperature increase to well below 2˚C, ideally to 1.5˚C, over its pre-industrial level.

Renewable energy on its way

The most progressive field in the power sector is renewable energy. Here, just three countries – Denmark, Germany and Spain – were able to show the way and start an international shift.

All three introduced strong policy packages for wind and solar that provided clear signals to investors and developers to invest in these new technologies. Renewable energy targets and financial support schemes, such as feed-in tariffs, were central to them.

By 2015, 146 countries had implemented such support schemes.

Next, we established that the United Kingdom, Italy and China, along with the US states of Texas and California, pushed bulk manufacturing of solar technology even further and provided the kinds of economies of scale that led to this massive increase in renewable capacity globally.

Between 2006 and 2015, global wind power capacity increased by 600%, and solar energy capacity increased by 3,500%.

Image :  Climate Action Tracke

Solar is projected to become the cheapest energy generation source by 2030 in most countries. In some regions, renewables are already competitive with fossil fuels.

Information released this month by the United Nations Environmental Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance confirms that, in 2016, the rate of renewable take-up rose yet again, with clean energy providing 55% of all new electricity generation capacity added globally. This is the first time there was more new renewable capacity than coal.

Investment in renewables doubled that of investment in fossil fuels. Yet clean power investment dropped 23% from 2015, largely because of falling prices.

To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to fully decarbonise the global energy system by mid-century. That means the historic trends in the energy sector – 25% to 30% annual growth in renewables – must continue for the next five to ten years.

This will require additional policies and incentives, from increased flexibility in the energy system to new regulatory and market approaches.

Electric vehicles poised to take off

A similar trend is beginning to transform the transportation sector. In 2016, more than one million electric vehicles were sold, and new sales continue to exceed projections.

Again, our research tells us that it took only a few players to kick off this trend: Norway, the Netherlands, California and, more recently, China.

Their policies focused on targets for increasing the share of electric vehicles for sale and on the road, campaigns to promote behavioural change, infrastructure investment, and research and development.

The European Union saw sales of electric vehicles pick up in 2013. And in the US, their market segment grew between 2011 and 2013, slowed down slightly in 2014 and 2015, and bounced back again in 2016.

China’s market took off a little later, in 2014, but sales there have already surpassed both the US and the EU.

Though, to date, it lags behind the renewable power sector, the electric vehicle market is poised to see a similar boom. Current sales numbers are impressive, but we are still far from seeing a transportation transformation that would allow us to meet the Paris Agreement targets.

For the world to meet the upper limit of 2°C set in Paris, half of all light-duty vehicles on the road would need to be electric by 2050. To reach the 1.5°C target, nearly all vehicles on the road need to be electric drive – and no cars with internal-combustion engines should be sold after roughly 2035.

To get us going down that path, more governments around the world would need to introduce the same strict policies as those adopted by Norway and The Netherlands.

Buildings come in last

The third sector we examined is buildings. Though higher energy efficiency standards in appliances are really starting to curb emissions, emissions from heating and cooling buildings have been much more difficult to phase out.

There are proven technological solutions that can result in new, zero-carbon buildings. If designed correctly, these constructions are cost-effective over their lifetime and can improve quality of life.

In Europe and elsewhere, there are some good initial policies on new building standards that make new constructions more environmentally friendly, and some EU states – the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands among them – are also beginning to mandate that older buildings be retrofitted.

Still, the rate of retrofitting falls well short of what is required to substantially drop building emissions.

Innovative financial mechanisms to increase the rate of retrofitting buildings, along with good examples of building codes for new constructions, would go a long way to drive adoption of these technologies.

And, as our study showed, only a handful of governments (or regions) would need to make a move to kick-start a transformation. It worked for energy and transport – why not buildings, too?

The more governments work together sharing policy successes, the bigger the global transformation. With collaboration, we can meet that 1.5°C goal.

 

 

OPEC and others’ oil and gas uncertain future

According to the Saudi ARAMCO chief saying on Thursday, that the oil market is moving towards a balance between supply and demand with the help of an agreement reached between OPEC and others to cut production and to maintain it further.  Our article today follows on yesterday’s The United Kingdom gave up its use of coal and is about OPEC and others’ oil and gas uncertain future.
Meanwhile, what this person does not say is best covered by The Banker of April 3rd, 2017 article on Kuwait undertaking strategic changes with respect to its economic standing are very illustrative on the going-ons of all MENA’s oil producing countries with regard to their respective future.
We reproduce excerpts of this article but it is recommended to read the whole article of Kit Gillet for a better view of the country’s many challenges it is confronting.

Kuwait’s oil and gas faces an uncertain future

Like many oil-reliant countries, Kuwait has faced a challenging few years. The drop in global oil prices hit the country hard: Kuwait derives about 60% of its gross domestic product and more than 90% of its exports from hydrocarbons. It was therefore a welcome development when an international deal was finally struck in November 2016 to temporarily reduce oil production with the aim of rebalancing the market as well as drawing down existing stockpiles.

The deal, the first production cut in eight years, saw oil-producing countries agree to reduce global supply by almost 2 million barrels per day (bpd). By late January 2017, the 13 members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as 11 non-OPEC countries, had cut daily output by more than 1.5 million barrels, out of a total of 1.8 million barrels that was agreed, according to the Saudi Ministry of Energy and Industry. OPEC compliance was more than 90%, while for non-OPEC countries it was estimated at about 50%.

A level of optimism returned to the market, though prices are still below the break-even level in many Gulf countries.

For its part, Kuwait agreed to cut production by 133,000 bpd, though the country may end up seeing overall output fall by between 146,000 bpd and 148,000 bpd, according to oil minister Essam al-Marzouq, who says Kuwait is using this period to carry out maintenance on existing facilities. “We used this opportunity to do maintenance at some wells, whether they were at Burgan field or the northern fields,” Mr al-Marzouq told Sky News Arabia in early March.

 

Fossil loaded Urbanisation of the Gulf Desert Shoreline

For the few oil & gas exports economies, these resources exploration and trade have as we all know, brought a wealth that has never been known before its advent but with it a lot of disagreements as well. Unfortunately not only to them. The results are also “renowned for their pedagogical prowess” and the gains could be seen as merely crazy fossil loaded urbanisation of the Gulf desert shoreline and a most affordable fill up at the petrol station.

Fossil loaded Urbanisation of the Gulf Desert Shoreline ?

Seriously, urbanization we could say is in the Gulf States not much more than the rapid extension of the existing cities of the region and are therefore at the centre stage of their development. They also have a definite impact on the region’s environment and its sustainability. Honorable attempt at green development and sustainability was undertaken as in Masdar City but conventional urbanization development acceleration was, to put it simply, a response to the huge demand for  housing and all related facilities as induced by the fossil oil industry. Time has elapsed and things seem to have gone full circle and the world energy is getting cleaner and cheaper but not quickly enough, lots of people were heard as saying. This is mainly our reason of committing to this movement Fossil Free UK.
We, this site team, have just sign in this petition and join in the support of this campaign in which we believe that the majority of the MENA countries should ascribe too, petro and non-petro economies alike.
We republish excerpts of this article of the Fossil Free campaign that is gaining momentum by the day. So apart from this fossil loaded Urbanisation related issues, here is :

How we win

The Fossil Free campaign is just one part of the global movement for climate justice. As long as we weaken acceptance for the industry and keep escalating pressure, we’re on the right track and gaining strength.

This is how we win.

Overthrowing the most powerful industry in history

Fossil fuel companies have arguably become the most powerful corporations in history. But their power is dependent on being seen as legitimate actors in our society.

There’s a reason why they invest millions and billions to maintain a respectable brand image through advertising and sponsorship deals.

  • They need to be able to recruit and keep qualified workers.
  • They rely on workers and sometimes the state police or even the military to cooperate to keep their operations going.
  • They need to have access to and influence over academic research, specific knowledge and expertise.
  • They need permits from various levels of government and courts.
  • They need investors and have to be able to get loans.
  • They need insurance companies to back their projects.
  • They rely on suppliers and business partners.

…. They need enough public acceptance to maintain a favourable legal and political framework that allows them to pollute our atmosphere unrestricted and for free, while harming our health, destroying our environment and trampling on human rights.

If governments withdrew the billions of dollars of subsidies the industry enjoys, fossil fuel companies could by now barely survive.

Photo: Babawale Obayanju

The more people see that the rogue business model of the fossil fuel industry for what it is – one which relies on destroying the climate and environment to achieve profit, the harder it will be for them to keep drawing on the support they need.

The fossil fuel industry knows this. Just recently, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said that waning public acceptance was the biggest challenge his company faces. The chief executive of Total, Patrick Pouyanné also recently complained that oil and gas companies were ‘accused of being the villains’ and that investments in renewables were a tool to ‘make [the] oil and gas business acceptable’. (He was quick to note that these only made up a fraction of their investments and reasserting that Total was an oil and gas company.)

Our pathway to transformation, winning over popular opinion

Instead of trying to use institutional influence to achieve incremental gains, a transformational approach aims to move the broader public on an issue to make much bigger changes possible than what may seem politically feasible at a given point in time.

When the public debate has shifted, enough people sympathise and lend their support to the cause, and a strong movement of people builds enough sustained pressure for change, decision makers will find themselves with no choice but to catch up.

The success of this pathway to change relies on stories, wins and demands that bring the moral urgency to address an injustice into the public spotlight. Immediate impacts on policy or actual enforceability can be less important on this trajectory than the symbolic value of achievements. In that sense, divestment commitments are less about money being moved but the symbolic value of institutions distancing themselves from the industry.

Instrumental gains are important to build and keep momentum going (speaking of momentum, check out how much we have achieved already). However, the success of the Fossil Free campaign depends on how successful we are in swaying public opinion and growing stronger as a movement.

Whether or not an institution divests,, we achieve our goals when campaigns successfully create public battles that win over public opinion and weaken acceptance of the industry.

When students at UCL in London escalate actions on campus highlighting the conflict between the university’s research and its investments, and exposing the close connections of university council members to fossil fuel companies; when pressure from scientists, climate activists and museum employees force oil mogul David Koch to step down from the board of New York’s American Museum of Natural History; when the City of Cape Town comes under pressure to divest from the companies at the root of the city’s water crisis; when Nobel Prize winners urge the prestigious Nobel Foundation to cut their financial ties to fossil fuel companies, we have exactly the kind of impact we aim for with the Fossil Free campaign.

Lessons from history

Transformational change rarely happens in a linear way. The status quo can seem untouched for a long time while the pillars of support upholding it start to crumble. When a campaign reaches a tipping point, the system can seemingly all of a sudden collapse.

Many social movements we look back on as being hugely successful, have for the longest time had very little instrumental achievements like big policy or legislative changes to show for. It is in fact not unusual for social movements to go through a stage where they feel they are failing before they actually win, as Bill Moyer’s analysis of movements shows.

Awareness of Early warnings of an out-of-control climate

An article about climate change concerns published by EINNews of NEW YORK, USA, on April 16th, 2017 gives us in more alarming details the latest intellectual as it were developments of the thinking in the domain of climate change control and awareness to its occurring before our eyes.  These are about and as title of this new book as the Awareness of Early warnings of an out-of-control climate .
First let’s get the basics such as by The European Commission in one of its numerous pages declares that :
Humans are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth’s temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests and farming livestock.
This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Greenhouse gases

Some gases in the Earth’s atmosphere act a bit like the glass in a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat and stopping it from leaking back into space.
Many of these gases occur naturally, but human activity is increasing the concentrations of some of them in the atmosphere, in particular:
  • carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • methane
  • nitrous oxide
  • fluorinated gases

Early warnings of an out-of-control climate

— Global warming is edging perilously close to out-of-control, according to a growing number of scientific reports from round the planet, a leading science writer has warned.
“Time is running out if we want to preserve our world in a stable, healthy and productive state, capable of feeding and supporting us all,” says Julian Cribb, author of ‘Surviving the 21st Century’, a book on the ten greatest challenges facing humanity and what we can do about them.
“The great concern is the rapid rise, over the last three years, in methane levels in the atmosphere. Methane is a gas with 28 times the planet-heating power of carbon dioxide. Scientists estimate there may be as much as 5 trillion tonnes of it locked in permafrost and seabed deposits.
“There is mounting evidence that, as the planet warms due to human activity, these vast reserves of greenhouse gas are now starting to thaw and vent naturally. The Earth’s past history indicates this could unleash runaway global warming, driving up planetary temperatures by as much as 6-9 degrees Celsius.
“At the upper end of such temperatures, some scientists consider there is a high risk the planet would become uninhabitable to humans and large animals,” Mr Cribb says.
“Runaway heating and nuclear war are the two most likely triggers for human extinction – and it is time everyone took them both a lot more seriously.”
Reports of methane escaping into the atmosphere have been growing steadily, ever since a group of students demonstrated the risks by setting fire to venting Arctic gas in 2008. However, scientists report a sudden surge in global methane emissions in the last three years, 2014-16.
“So far the rise in methane has been attributed mainly to cattle raising, rice farming and gas extraction – but there is now disturbing evidence that more gas is emerging from Arctic soils as the permafrost melts, and from the seabed where methane has been trapped as ice for millions of years.
“Russian scientists have reported the discovery of thousands of potential ‘methane-bombs’ – frozen gas-filled mounds – across Siberia, primed to erupt as the ground thaws out. A one degree increase in global temperature is enough to thaw out an area of permafrost the size of India.
“Swedish scientists have observed the waters of the Arctic ocean ‘fizzing like soda water’ as the currents warm, causing frozen seabed methane to turn back into gas and erupt.”
Mr Cribb says that so far humans have released about 2 trillion tonnes of CO2, which has warmed the planet by one degree C. By 2040, we will release another trillion tonnes and push the planet’s temperature up by 2 degrees or more.
“This we can possibly control, by cutting back on our use of fossil fuels and by ceasing to burn coal,” he says. “However, there is no way to stop the methane venting naturally from the seabed and permafrost once it starts – and there are potentially 5 trillion tonnes of it.
“This phenomenon is known to scientists as the ‘clathrate gun’. If it fires, the fate of the entire human species is in question.”
Mr Cribb said that technical difficulty in measuring the Earth’s natural methane emissions and estimating the size of its reserves has until now led to the gas being discounted, or downplayed, in warnings about dangerous climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other agencies.
“That time is over. We are now witnessing early warning signs of major methane release. If it gets out of control, there will be nothing humans can do to prevent the planet overheating quite rapidly.”
Mr Cribb said it was more urgent than ever that governments and corporations of the world unite to combat climate change. “The recent Climate Turning Point report says the world has until 2020 – just two and a half years – to reverse global carbon emissions by cutting fossil fuel use. Time is running out – and the methane gun makes matters all the more urgent.
“This means that countries like America and Australia have to cease their dangerous do-nothing policies, countries like India and China need to stop building coal-fired power stations immediately – and every country and business needs to make a far greater effort to scale back its carbon emissions.
Surviving the 21st Century (Springer International 2017) is a powerful new book exploring the main risks facing humanity: ecological collapse, resource depletion, weapons of mass destruction, climate change, global poisoning, food crises, population and urban overexpansion, pandemic disease, dangerous new technologies and self-delusion – and what can and should be done to limit them.

More information:
Publisher: Dr Sher Saini, Springer International, New York,
email: Sherestha.Saini@springer.com
Author: Julian Cribb, +61 418639245 or Julian.cribb813@gmail.com
http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319412696

Further reading as recommended by EINNews :

 

Julian Cribb

+61418639245
email us here

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Sustainability concerns is not about Green Building only

As Green Building are more than just a Trend . . . In the MENA countries, some concerns about sustainability started to be heard of back in the 1970s; in fact it was more of a follow-on trend than anything else. With the region’s increasing urbanisation impacting the environment, Green Building became an option for [ . . . ]

As Green Building are more than just a Trend . . .

In the MENA countries, some concerns about sustainability started to be heard of back in the 1970s; in fact it was more of a follow-on trend than anything else. With the region’s increasing urbanisation impacting the environment, Green Building became an option for the real estates developers and management more particularly in the cities of the Gulf region where it somehow turned into a Trend, but Sustainability concerns is not about Green Building only, as reported by Top 10 GCC green building projects .

Consultants started indeed ringing the bell about the influencing factors that lie behind the lack of progress but that have to be addressed at the earliest. Lack of adequate legislation, due basically to the limited awareness of environmental issues generally could be the main reason.

Nevertheless some legislation that was sporadically taken in certain countries, apart from not being regionally coordinated, did not also confront the real issues and for lack of not taking account fully of the reality as it stands on the ground was across the board fairly ineffective.

The truth is that people slowly come to realise that we are having a devastating impact on the planet that we live on. In less than 2,000 years, human kind has led to the extinction to more species from the face of the earth than its entire existence. Considering that this is just a tiny bit of the overall time for which our planet exists, this is something that raises a lot of concerns. It’s obvious that people start to take initiatives through different LEED programs, sustainable development and through prioritising investments in different green initiatives. One of the most impactful fields is the construction. With this in mind, some things need to be pointed out.

Green Building – The Things to Consider

The truth is that green building, especially in Europe, has become something far more than just a simple development trend. And, of course, this is quite logical. It has paved the way for an approach which entails building homes and commercial constructions tailored to the demands of their time – not just to the demands of the occupants. And this is something that has to be particularly appreciated. The advantages are multiple.

Water Conservation

It’s worth mentioning that it’s estimated that the lack of fresh drinking water is going to be one of the tremendous burdens for future generations, should we keep wasting it with the temps we are right now. Recycling rainwater, for example, can preserve potable water and yield tremendous amounts of water savings which is definitely to be considered.

Emission Reduction

Fossil fuel emissions contribute to development and furthering of the biggest environmental burden of our times – global warming. Harmful emissions directly impact the quality of the breathable air and bring in a lot of different threats to human’s health such as lung cancer and other respiratory issues.

Storm water Management

This is also something that you might want to account for. Green building as defined in the majority of the LEED Programs can help manage storm water runoff. The latter can cause waterway erosion as well as flooding. The most troublesome thing, however, is that it could introduce potentially dangerous pollutants to water sources, hence incentivising potential diseases outbreaks.

Sustainable development

In any case, Europe is definitely riding the wave when it comes to sustainability, and you can easily observe this in a range of national and multinational projects. What is more, the Union is leading active policies, and it is actively funding initiatives in this particular regard through a range of different grants targeting both individuals and corporations. This is something particularly important. However, the same needs to be employed throughout the rest of the world as well. We can observe companies pioneering the field of sustainable development, and the examples here become more and more. This is definitely something particularly important, and it needs to be taken into proper consideration when it comes to it.

Sustainability