Jun 2, 2020 at 2:13 am #3650516
Scientists pinpoint areas in boreal forests that offer refuge to plants and animals as climate gets warmer and drier
Bev Betkowski, University of Alberta : Phys.Org : 1 June 2020
North American boreal regions like this area near Fort McMurray in Alberta contain extensive, peat-forming wetlands that could offer havens for plant and animal species. Large, deep peatlands may delay the drying effects of climate change. Peatlands also provide refuge from wildfires because they burn less severely and less often, according to researchers. Credit: Michel Rapinski
North America’s boreal forests are warming and drying from climate change, but they still hold places that can offer refuge for plants and animals, according to University of Alberta scientists who have taken the lead in creating a guide to identify those areas.
The information about these sheltered places known as climate-change refugia—including large lakes, shaded slopes and ancient peatlands—can be used by regional experts to create detailed maps and management plans for conserving northern forested areas, said biologist Diana Stralberg, who led the study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
“Our framework can serve as a road map for conservation and land-use planning, and represents a tool to manage biodiversity more efficiently in a changing and uncertain world,” said Stralberg.
“We are trying to find those areas where things are changing a bit more slowly and where plants and animals have more opportunity to survive, whether they are already living there or could shift into those areas.”
The framework was created by 30 researchers from universities, government organizations such as the Canadian Forest Service and other groups across North America, who combined their expertise in everything from permafrost to wildfires to learn more about refugia.
“We looked at areas that will remain cooler and wetter in a warming world, like the shores of large interior lakes, large peatland complexes and north-facing hillsides. These are areas where we can buy time for cold-adapted species like spruce trees and caribou to adjust to climate change in the near term.”
Identifying these areas for conservation is important given that the North American boreal region, which represents 16 percent of the world’s forests and is an important storehouse for carbon, is experiencing rapid changes from wildfire, drought and permafrost thaw driven by global warming, she added…Jun 2, 2020 at 2:25 am #3650518
Pervasive shifts in forest dynamics in a changing world
Nate G. McDowell, Craig D. Allen, Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, Brian H. Aukema,
Ben Bond-Lamberty, Louise Chini, James S. Clark, Michael Dietze, Charlotte Grossiord, Adam Hanbury-Brown, George C. Hurtt, Robert B. Jackson, Daniel J. Johnson, Lara Kueppers, Jeremy W. Lichstein, Kiona Ogle, Benjamin Poulter, Thomas A. M. Pugh, Rupert Seidl, Monica G. Turner, Maria Uriarte, Anthony P. Walker, Chonggang Xu.
Science 29 May 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6494, eaaz9463 : DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz9463
Shifting forest dynamics
Forest dynamics are the processes of recruitment, growth, death, and turnover of the constituent tree species of the forest community. These processes are driven by disturbances both natural and anthropogenic. McDowell et al. review recent progress in understanding the drivers of forest dynamics and how these are interacting and changing in the context of global climate change. The authors show that shifts in forest dynamics are already occurring, and the emerging pattern is that global forests are tending toward younger stands with faster turnover as old-growth forest with stable dynamics are dwindling.
Science, this issue p. eaaz9463
Forest dynamics arise from the interplay of chronic drivers and transient disturbances with the demographic processes of recruitment, growth, and mortality. The resulting trajectories of vegetation development drive the biomass and species composition of terrestrial ecosystems. Forest dynamics are changing because of anthropogenic-driven exacerbation of chronic drivers, such as rising temperature and CO2, and increasing transient disturbances, including wildfire, drought, windthrow, biotic attack, and land-use change. There are widespread observations of increasing tree mortality due to changing climate and land use, as well as observations of growth stimulation of younger forests due to CO2 fertilization. These antagonistic processes are co-occurring globally, leaving the fate of future forests uncertain. We examine the implications of changing forest demography and its drivers for both future forest management and forecasting impacts of global climate forcing.
We reviewed the literature of forest demographic responses to chronic drivers and transient disturbances to generate hypotheses on future trajectories of these factors and their subsequent impacts on vegetation dynamics, with a focus on forested ecosystems. We complemented this review with analyses of global land-use change and disturbance datasets to independently evaluate the implications of changing drivers and disturbances on global-scale tree demographics. Ongoing changes in environmental drivers and disturbance regimes are consistently increasing mortality and forcing forests toward shorter-statured and younger stands, reducing potential carbon storage. Acclimation, adaptation, and migration may partially mitigate these effects. These increased forest impacts are due to natural disturbances (e.g., wildfire, drought, windthrow, insect or pathogen outbreaks) and land-use change, both of which are predicted to increase in magnitude in the future. Atmospherically derived estimates of the terrestrial carbon sink and remote sensing data indicate that tree growth and potentially recruitment may have increased globally in the 20th century, but the growth of this carbon sink has slowed. Variability in growth stimulation due to CO2 fertilization is evident globally, with observations and experiments suggesting that forests benefit from CO2 primarily in early stages of secondary succession. Furthermore, increased tree growth typically requires sufficient water and nutrients to take advantage of rising CO2. Collectively, the evidence reveals that it is highly likely that tree mortality rates will continue to increase, whereas recruitment and growth will respond to changing drivers in a spatially and temporally variable manner. The net impact will be a reduction in forest canopy cover and biomass.
Pervasive shifts in forest vegetation dynamics are already occurring and are likely to accelerate under future global changes, with consequences for biodiversity and climate forcing. This conclusion is robust with respect to the abundant literature evidence and our global assessment of historical demographic changes, but it also forms the basis for hypotheses regarding the patterns and processes underlying the shifts in forest dynamics. These hypotheses will be directly testable using emerging terrestrial and satellite-based observation networks. The existing evidence and newly made observations provide a critical test of Earth system models that continue to improve in their ability to simulate forest dynamics and resulting climate forcing. Ultimately, forest managers and natural resource policies must confront the consequences of changing climate and disturbance regimes to ensure sustainable forests and accrue their associated benefits.Jun 3, 2020 at 7:15 am #3650647
Renewables surpass coal in US energy generation for first time in 130 years
‘We are seeing the end of coal,’ says analyst as energy source with biggest impact on climate crisis falls for sixth year in a row
Oliver Milman : The Guardian : Wed 3 Jun 2020
Solar, wind and other renewable sources have toppled coal in energy generation in the United States for the first time in over 130 years, with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating a decline in coal that has profound implications for the climate crisis.
Not since wood was the main source of American energy in the 19th century has a renewable resource been used more heavily than coal, but 2019 saw a historic reversal, according to US government figures.
Coal consumption fell by 15%, down for the sixth year in a row, while renewables edged up by 1%. This meant renewables surpassed coal for the first time since at least 1885, a year when Mark Twain published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and America’s first skyscraper was erected in Chicago.
Electricity generation from coal fell to its lowest level in 42 years in 2019, with the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasting that renewables will eclipse coal as an electricity source this year. On 21 May, the year hit its 100th day in which renewables have been used more heavily than coal.
“Coal is on the way out, we are seeing the end of coal,” said Dennis Wamsted, analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “We aren’t going to see a big resurgence in coal generation, the trend is pretty clear.”…Jun 3, 2020 at 7:33 am #3650648
Australian researchers set record for carbon dioxide capture
Monash University : Phys.Org : June 3 2020
Researchers from Monash University and the CSIRO have set a record for carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) using technology that resembles a sponge filled with tiny magnets.
Using a Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) nanocomposite that can be regenerated with remarkable speed and low energy cost, researchers have developed sponge-like technology that can capture carbon dioxide from a number of sources, even directly from air.
The magnetic sponge is used to remove carbon dioxide using the same techniques as induction cooktops using one-third of the energy than any other reported method.
Associate Professor Matthew Hill (CSIRO and Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University) and Dr. Muhammad Munir Sadiq (Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University) led this research.
In the study, published in Cell Reports Physical Science, researchers designed a unique adsorbent material called M-74 [email protected] that delivered a record low energy cost of just 1.29 MJ kg-1CO2 , 45 per cent below commercially deployed materials, and the best CCS efficiency recorded…Jun 3, 2020 at 7:40 am #3650649
New material captures carbon dioxide
Kyoto University : Phys.Org : October 11, 2019
A new material that can selectively capture carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules and efficiently convert them into useful organic materials has been developed by researchers at Kyoto University, along with colleagues at the University of Tokyo and Jiangsu Normal University in China. They describe the material in the journal Nature Communications.
Human consumption of fossil fuels has resulted in rising global CO2 emissions, leading to serious problems associated with global warming and climate change. One possible way to counteract this is to capture and sequester carbon from the atmosphere, but current methods are highly energy intensive. The low reactivity of CO2 makes it difficult to capture and convert it efficiently.
“We have successfully designed a porous material which has a high affinity towards CO2 molecules and can quickly and effectively convert it into useful organic materials,” says Ken-ichi Otake, Kyoto University materials chemist from the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS).
The material is a porous coordination polymer (PCP, also known as MOF; metal-organic framework), a framework consisting of zinc metal ions. The researchers tested their material using X-ray structural analysis and found that it can selectively capture only CO2 molecules with ten times more efficiency than other PCPs.
The material has an organic component with a propeller-like molecularstructure, and as CO2 molecules approach the structure, they rotate and rearrange to permit C02 trapping, resulting in slight changes to the molecular channels within the PCP—this allows it to act as molecular sieve that can recognize molecules by size and shape. The PCP is also recyclable; the efficiency of the catalyst did not decrease even after 10 reaction cycles.
“One of the greenest approaches to carbon capture is to recycle the carbon dioxide into high-value chemicals, such as cyclic carbonates which can be used in petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals,” says Susumu Kitagawa, materials chemist at Kyoto University.
After capturing the carbon, the converted material can be used to make polyurethane, a material with a wide variety of applications including clothing, domestic appliances and packaging.
This work highlights the potential of porous coordination polymers for trapping carbon dioxide and converting into useful materials, opening up an avenue for future research into carbon capture materials.Jun 3, 2020 at 8:39 am #3650654Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
“We have successfully designed a porous material which has a high affinity towards CO2 molecules and can quickly and effectively convert it into useful organic materials,”
plants? : )Jun 3, 2020 at 7:31 pm #3650828
iCeMS Leader Interviews | Dr Ganesh Pandian Namasivayam (3/4) Q3 What is the strength of your research?
Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS)
Kyoto University was ranked 44th among the world’s best universities and 2nd in Japan and 5th in Asia in 2019 according to the Top 500 Global Universities Rankings produced by CEOWORLD magazine.Jun 3, 2020 at 10:00 pm #3650883
Climate change threatens the economy.
Here’s what regulators can do right now.
Emily Pontecorvo : Grist : Jun 2, 2020
Many of the economic risks of climate change are already crystal clear, and yet financial markets have yet to take them into account. That dangerous disconnect is the impetus behind a new report out on Monday from the sustainable finance nonprofit Ceres.
“U.S. financial regulators, who are responsible for protecting the stability and competitiveness of the U.S. economy, need to recognize and act on climate change as a systemic risk,” the report says. It calls on financial regulators across seven federal agencies as well as state agencies to do so, offering more than 50 recommendations that the authors believe are under the purview of regulators today, without the need for any additional legislation.
The report highlights three ways climate change is a systemic risk to financial markets. There are the physical risks of a warming planet — droughts, wildfires, and more frequent and intense storms will cause direct economic losses. This reality is already abundantly clear: The 2017 hurricane season caused $58 to $63 billion in damages in Florida alone. In 2018, wildfires in California burned up $12 billion in insured losses and led to the bankruptcy of the state’s largest utility, which took criminal responsibility for starting one of the fires.
Then there are socioeconomic risks, which are manifold. Industries that rely on physical outdoor labor, like agriculture and construction, will see productivity losses as temperatures rise. Economies that rely on tourism could be hurt by not only the physical risks outlined above but also by biodiversity loss. Higher temperatures will come with significant health impacts, including respiratory issues, premature deaths, and the spread of disease as carriers like mosquitos move into new habitats.
The third category is transition risk — the idea that the transition to a carbon-neutral economy is inevitable, and that companies in denial about that are setting themselves up to lose money. Transition risk includes possibilities like a carbon tax, changes in consumer sentiment, or the loss of investments in fossil fuel assets with long lifespans, like pipelines, that could end up out of commission before they are paid off.
The report calls on the Federal Reserve System, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Housing Finance Authority, and insurance regulators, among other financial regulatory bodies, to first and foremost acknowledge that climate change poses a systemic risk to financial market stability. Veena Ramani, Ceres’ senior program director for capital markets systems, said in a press call that once these agencies publicly affirm this fact, that will mean acknowledging that it’s within their mandate to address climate risks in their rulemaking…Jun 3, 2020 at 10:09 pm #3650889
NM. (Video won’t play)Jun 4, 2020 at 2:57 am #3650905
Climate change is the most important mission
for universities of the 21st century
Lauren Rickards and Tamson Pietsch : The Conversation : June 4, 2020
This essay is based on an episode of the UTS podcast series “The New Social Contract” that examines how the relationship between universities, the state and the public might be reshaped as we live through this global pandemic.
Universities are confronting the possibility of profound sector-wide transformation due to the continuing effects of COVID-19. It is prompting much needed debate about what such transformation should look like and what kind of system is in the public interest.
This is now an urgent conversation. If universities want a say in what the future of higher education will look like, they will need to generate ideas quickly and in a way that attracts wide public support.
This will involve articulating their unique role as embedded, future-regarding, ethical generators of crucial knowledge and skills, well-equipped to handle coming contingencies and helping others do the same.
And this means higher education changes are entangled with another major force for transformation – climate change.
How can universities credibly claim to be preparing young people for their futures, or to be working with employers, if they do not take into account the kind of world they are helping to bring about? …Jun 4, 2020 at 3:55 am #3650906
It has frequently been said that in many areas of study change or new theories comes only as fast as the funerals of the senior staff.
I can see this applying to Universities too.
CheersJun 4, 2020 at 7:43 pm #3651016
Depending on their field, researchers need a certain autonomy to concentrate on and perform their research, and to develop their ideas, which may well be at odds with and challenging to the status quo. There is an ongoing dialectic between social control and the independence needed for creative revisioning of a research field. (As you (Roger) must be well aware of).
Universities are certainly not perfect institutions, but they and research institutes fulfill a critical need for the advancement of human knowledge.Jun 4, 2020 at 7:57 pm #3651017
Demands grow for ‘green industrial revolution’
Justin Rowlatt : BBC News : 4 Jun 2020
Greenpeace has joined a growing list of organisations demanding that the UK government puts protecting the environment at the heart of any post-Covid-19 economic stimulus package.
The campaign group has produced a detailed “manifesto” with measures to boost clean transport and smart power.
The document follows a comparable call from some of Britain’s most powerful business leaders earlier this week.
Last week, the prime minister also expressed a similar ambition.
Boris Johnson said he wanted to see a “fairer, greener and more resilient global economy” after Covid-19 and that “we owe it to future generations to build back better”.
The manifesto also contains measures to support the protection of nature, green buildings and the creation of an economy in which virtually everything is reused.
Greenpeace says the crisis has given Britain a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to transform life, travel and work.
It added that the plan would create hundreds of thousands of secure jobs.
On Monday, more than 200 chief executives of some of the UK’s top firms – including HSBC, National Grid, and Heathrow airport – signed a letter to the prime minister asking him to use the Covid-19 lockdown as a springboard to “deliver a clean, just recovery“.
Many people may be surprised how similar the recommendations of these two very different interest groups are.
- Both Greenpeace and the chief executives are asking the government to prioritise investments in low carbon technologies and calling for the decarbonisation of the British economy to be speeded up
- Both say they want to see a focus on sectors that best support the environment
- Both are demanding that financial support for ailing businesses must come with a requirement for them to commit to take action to reduce their impact on the environment.
Greenpeace’s manifesto is, however, considerably more detailed.
It is a 62-page document with specific policy, spending and tax measures covering most of the British economy.
It calls on the government to deliver its 2050 net zero emissions goal before 2045…Jun 4, 2020 at 10:11 pm #3651037
Last week, the prime minister also expressed a similar ambition.
Boris Johnson said he wanted to see a “fairer, greener and more resilient global economy” after Covid-19 and that “we owe it to future generations to build back better”.
Next week Boris will doubtless be having a private dinner with some of the coal barons of the UK, after which he will explain that retaining all those coal jobs is vital for social security and the economy.
Does ANYBODY trust him?
CheersJun 4, 2020 at 10:18 pm #3651039
I’m not a fan-boy of society at the best of times, but at all costs we must avoid the breakdown of society. There is no way that crises such as the Corona pandemic, global warming, mass extinction of species etc. (not to mention the US disintegration) can be mitigated without joint global action. I’d light one up now, if only I could…Jun 10, 2020 at 5:30 am #3652034
Hmmm, fragmentation, not disintegration.
In any event,
ticians!Jun 10, 2020 at 5:38 am #3652036
The world must seize this opportunity to meet the climate challenge
Andrew Bailey, Mark Carney, François Villeroy de Galhau, Frank Elderson : The Guardian : 5 June 2020
As current and former central bankers, we believe the pandemic offers a unique chance to green the global economy
We are currently in the midst of the most severe macroeconomic shock since the second world war. The disruption to our daily lives and subsequent impact on our economies has been enormous. We are seeing first-hand that a collective response is needed to defeat a common enemy, as authorities across the world courageously mobilise all available resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
This crisis offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild our economy in order to withstand the next shock coming our way: climate breakdown. Unless we act now, the climate crisis will be tomorrow’s central scenario and, unlike Covid-19, no one will be able to self-isolate from it.
In the immediate response to the pandemic, governments have taken measures of unprecedented scale to keep economic and financial systems afloat. The IMF estimates that approximately $9tn of fiscal support has been provided across the world. This is necessary to limit acute and permanent damage. But as we consider the next stage of recovery, we must look beyond the immediate crisis and think more strategically about how we do it.
Collectively, countries around the globe are still far from meeting climate crisis goals, most notably the Paris agreement to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2C, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5C. Over the last year, we have seen record temperatures across Europe, extreme rainfall in the US and wildfires in the Arctic. The effects of the climate crisis are irreversible, so the severity and frequency of these extreme weather events will only increase – by how much depends on our success in transitioning to a net-zero emission world. Recognising this risk, the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) – a coalition of 66 central banks, and supervisors – has been working to “green” the financial system to reduce the costly financial risks that these developments create…Jun 10, 2020 at 5:44 am #3652038
Solar, Wind, Storage Link Arms in Push for ‘Majority Renewables’ by 2030
With the 2020 election drawing closer, the solar and wind sectors announced a joint push to quadruple their combined share of the U.S. power mix by 2030.
Emma Foehringer Merchant : GreenTechMedia : June 04, 2020
The U.S. solar, wind, energy storage and hydropower industries announced a new era of cooperation between their sectors, with the goal of bringing renewables to constitute a majority of electricity generation sources by 2030.
While the American solar and wind industries have long fought for many of the same policies on the national stage, the two markets are largely supported by different mechanisms at the federal level, and a policy victory for one industry has not always meant a victory for the other.
But the two industries have grown increasingly blended, particularly among development companies. Utility-scale solar now competes strongly in many of the wind industry’s strongest markets, from Texas to the Midwest. Last year the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced it would transform its flagship annual Windpower conference and exhibition to a “Cleanpower” event designed to incorporate solar and storage.
“What’s good for wind is not always good for solar,” said Chris Brown, president of Vestas Americas and AWEA board chair, speaking this week at the first Cleanpower event, held virtually because of the ongoing pandemic. “But we didn’t come to the industry to wall ourselves off and fight with each other. We came to this industry to fight against climate change.”Jun 10, 2020 at 5:49 am #3652041
Read Up on the Links Between Racism and the Environment
Somini Sengupta : The New York Times : June 5, 2020
This week, amid a surge of protests over police violence against black Americans, there’s been renewed scrutiny on the links between racism and environmental degradation in the United States.
To help readers understand those links, I put together a quick reading list about climate change and social inequities. These suggestions are meant to be starters, laying out a few entry points. I hope you will share these and suggest more.
Articles and Essays
One notable article this week came from the independent news site Grist. It linked the response to protests against environmental degradation with protests against police violence.
Dany Sigwalt, a co-executive director of an umbrella group of activist organizations called Power Shift Network, argued in an essay published on Medium that “the way that we win on mitigating climate change is to enforce government accountability to its citizens and right now, that means fighting for justice for George Floyd.”
The Twitter list called Green Voices of Color, curated by the writer, Mary Annaïse Heglar, is a good place to find writings by people of color.
The marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, writing in the Washington Post this week, urged her white colleagues in the climate movement to challenge the racial inequality intertwined with the climate crisis. “I need you to step up,” she wrote. “Please. Because I am exhausted.”
These connections are not new…Jun 10, 2020 at 5:59 am #3652042
Warmest May on record, Siberia 10C hotter
Kelly MacNamara, Marlowe Hood : Phys.Org : June 5 2020
The risk of wildfires increases with warm, dry conditions
Temperatures soared 10 degrees Celsius above average last month in Siberia, home to much of Earth’s permafrost, as the world experienced its warmest May on record, the European Union’s climate monitoring network said Friday.
Large swathes of Siberia have been unusually warm for several months running, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported.
“The really large anomalies started during January, and since then this signal has been quite persistent,” C3S senior scientist Freja Vamborg told AFP.
Temperatures reached close to 10C above the 1981-to-2010 average over parts of the Ob and Yenisei rivers, which have seen record-early break-up of ice, C3S said in a statement.
The collapse of a reservoir some 800 kilometres (500 miles) further north last week—leading to 21,000 tonnes of diesel fuel polluting a river near the Arctic city of Norilsk—has been linked by Russian officials to melting permafrost.
Globally, Earth’s average surface temperature for the 12 months to May 2020 is close to 1.3C above preindustrial levels, the benchmark by which global warming is often measured, according to the new data.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, nearly 200 countries have pledged to cap the rise in Earth average surface temperature to “well below” 2C, and to 1.5C if possible.
The heatwave across parts of Siberia and Alaska will cause particular alarm in regions that were engulfed by huge forest fires last year fuelled by record heat, and where Copernicus has warned that “zombie” blazes smouldering underground may be reigniting.
Globally, May was 0.63C warmer than the average May from 1981 to 2010, with above average temperatures across parts of Alaska, Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Antarctica…Jun 17, 2020 at 3:48 am #3653441
Covid-19 pandemic is ‘fire drill’ for effects of climate crisis, says UN official
Lise Kingo says social equality issues must be part of sustainable development agenda
Fiona Harvey : The Guardian : Mon 15 Jun 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is “just a fire drill” for what is likely to follow from the climate crisis, and the protests over racial injustice around the world show the need to tie together social equality, environmental sustainability and health, the UN’s sustainable business chief has said.
“The overall problem is that we are not sustainable in the ways we are living and producing on the planet today,” said Lise Kingo, the executive director of the UN Global Compact, under which businesses sign up to principles of environmental protection and social justice. “The only way forward is to create a world that leaves no one behind.”
She said there were “very, very clear connections” between the Covid-19 and climate crises, and the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, which she said had helped to reveal deep-seated inequalities and “endemic and structural racism”.
“We have seen illustrated to everyone that social inequality issues are part of the sustainable development agenda,” Kingo said.
Human rights were “inseparable” from dealing with climate breakdown, she told the Guardian in an interview. “This horrible racism [seen in the killing of George Floyd] is about human rights. We have to make sure that we give the social part of the agenda equal focus.”
She called on business leaders to take heed. “We want all chief executives to become social activists – to understand social equality,” she said. Not only was this the right thing to do, but “it creates stable markets for companies around the world” and reflects the desires of young people.
“Young people are so engaged, so dedicated to this agenda, they don’t want to work for companies that do not have a solid responsibility strategy,” she said…Jun 17, 2020 at 5:55 am #3653448
Three ways blockchain could get the world to act against the climate crisis
The Conversation : June 11, 2020
The world has failed to halt global warming. Four years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, most experts predict global warming will exceed the agreed thresholds, with disastrous consequences. As much as the world faces a climate crisis, it also faces a climate governance crisis: we know what must be done to halt climate change but we do not know yet how to get there.
New mechanisms are evidently needed. Blockchain is one technology that has the potential to boost global cooperation for climate action, as I explore in new research. Blockchain is a data structure that stores information as a series of cryptographically linked blocks, which are distributed simultaneously to all participants in a network. The information stored on a blockchain is tamper-resistant. This is useful for generating a single source of truth for any kind of information.
Blockchain technology provides the building blocks for what are known as decentralised autonomous organisations, which have been discussed (and criticised) as potential alternative governance mechanisms at the national level. But the benefits of such a decentralised organisation at the international level would be much higher.
Imagine a decentralised climate organisation, based on blockchain, in which states, companies, and individuals participate and whose interactions are facilitated by so-called smart contracts. These contracts are pieces of computer code running on top of the blockchain, which makes them virtually unstoppable. A common token — let us call it greencoin — allows climate commitments by states to be linked with the flourishing ecosystem of transnational climate initiatives and individual climate action…Jun 17, 2020 at 3:43 pm #3653571
Sadly, I have to totally disagree with The Conversation. Their idea is simply farcical. Blockchain has zero to do with political will (or maybe political won’t).
Countries like America and companies like coal and oil are fundamentally opposed to the whole movement – and never mind their GreenWash. The companies fear their loss of profits, and the politicians are in their pockets.
CheersJun 17, 2020 at 5:30 pm #3653617
I think the article was simply exploring the notion that the technology might be applicable, resting on the author’s research. It strikes me as an example of adapting newish technology to conceive of and implement creative solutions, recognizing that so far, existing proposals are proving inadequate. Another more general source of solutions would likely be the various techniques of machine learning, which strike me as being all but essential to the handling of new and qualitatively greater complexities of information. These models hold enormous potential.
Although at times I share somewhat of a cynical attitude to our survival in the face of the relentless pursuit of profit by big business, it is important not to get trapped in the inevitability of doom and gloom, and the narrative of humanity’s (effective) demise, which is disempowering.
Creative thinking and solutions are needed, and in that context, critical analysis needs to be suspended; also, I am mindful of the tantric teaching of that by which one is brought down is that by which one rises again. Maybe big business will prove the solution.Jun 17, 2020 at 5:46 pm #3653622
Fully-automated liberalism? Blockchain technology
and international cooperation in an anarchic world
Bernhard Reinsberg (a1) (a2)
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2020
A recent wave of scholarship attests that the liberal world order is under threat. Although there is disagreement about the underlying reasons for this diagnosis, there are few attempts to further our understanding of how the liberal order can be reinvigorated. This paper probes the potential of blockchain technology to promote international cooperation. Blockchain technology is a data structure that enables global governance stakeholders to establish decentralized governance systems which provide high-powered incentives for enhanced cooperation. By outlining the contours of a blockchain-based global governance system for climate policy, the paper illustrates that blockchain technology holds theoretical promise to foster cooperation in three ways: leveraging new sources of information through blockchain-based prediction markets; allaying coordinating problems through reducing the cost of transactions for side payments; and allowing states and other global governance actors to make more credible commitments given guaranteed execution of blockchain-enabled smart contracts. By empowering local knowledge holders and non-state actors that traditionally lacked the means to coordinate efforts to influence global politics, blockchain technology also promises to advance an international order based on liberal values. In actuality, however, emerging blockchain-based global governance systems will fall short of the libertarian ideal of ‘fully-automated liberalism’ as their design and operation will remain under the shadow of power.
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