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Keeping you informed about TecEco sustainability projects. Issue 65 4th February 2007
January was a record month with 73308 hits on the web site. Maybe we will get government funding when they realise that the grass roots want us to develop our Gaia engineering tececology process to sequester massive amounts of CO2!
It is important we think about the whole supply and waste chains especially as materials have a profound influence of the kind of wastes we have to deal with.
As practitioners in the supply and waste chains how often do we get to listen to Rick Fedrizzi, founding chairman of the US Green Building Council (USGBC), a UN expert on sustainable consumption with extensive experience in Asia, a leading global expert on industrial ecology, and a review of what's cutting edge in materials or how they should be rated and used by top-flight practitioners and researchers who will discuss relevant topics from nano-technology to making concrete more sustainable?
The conference has been organised by Materials Australia and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainable Materials in construction (AASMIC). John Harrison is the current chair of the latter organisation and would appreciate your support of the conference. There is a wide range of topics with places remaining - but probably not for long; so please check out the program on the conference web site.
SMB2007 will bring together the key players that make up the decision makers in the construction industry and interaction between these groups will facilitate examination of problem areas, assessment of potential solutions and pave the way for improved communications about materials in construction into the future. SMB2007 will raise the profile of materials and identify the crucial areas for product, tool and policy development, as well as move towards setting a national action agenda for the development and use of more Sustainable Materials in Construction.
To register for the conference, or for more information, please click on the following hyperlink http://www.materialsaustralia.com.au/SMB2007/
John Harrison is starting to ask himself why he keeps inventing words like moleconomics, geomimicry and now tececology.
The reason is that current language does not adequately describe many of the concepts needed by Earth Systems and Materials Scientists to describe relationships and phenomena on the planet as a whole an the paradigms needed to survive the future. Let me explain further.
A definition that is generally accepted of ecology is that it is the study of how organisms interact with each other and their physical environment.
The concept of ecology was extended to analyze production and consumption by industry, government, organizations and consumers, and the interactions between them. In this sense industrial ecologies involve tracking energy and material flows through industrial systems, e.g. a plant, region, or national or global economy. It follows that a tececology is a localised, regional network of partnered organisations benefiting from an exchange of resources, information and/or expertise. Even if we colour this definition green as Tom Graedel and others have done and say industrial ecologies involve actions taken to reduce the impact of industrial system on the environment; in particular creating a closed industrial system, analogous to a natural ecosystem, where waste from one industry can be used as input for another the definition does not anticipate ecologies designed to economically substantially reverse damaging molecular flows (moleconomic flows) outside the system.
My objective as a scientist and economist was to develop technology paradigms that substantially reversed change in the global commons. We owe it mainly to Lovelock (although he sites other earlier similar thinking) for the promotion of the idea of the the connectivity in earth systems and our Gaia Engineering Tececologies reverse the flow of CO2 and waste redefining both as resources.
Tececologies are therefore different to industrial ecologies because they are deliberately designed to economically reverse damaging moleconomic flows outside what were generally thought of as closed industrial systems. They go much beyond what the concept of a tececology embraces. Industrial ecologies recycle but do not positively reverse with a flow greater than required for their own inputs.
According to James Hansen et al. “Paleoclimate data show that the Earth’s climate is remarkably sensitive to global forcings. Positive feedbacks predominate. This allows the entire planet to be whipsawed between climate states. ….. Some forcings are especially effective at high latitudes, so concerted efforts to reduce their emissions could still “save the Arctic”, while also having major benefits for human health, agricultural productivity, and the global environment.”(Hansen, Makiko et al. 2007)
The climate during the Holocene has been remarkably stable compared to earlier epochs and has been a major factor in the evolution of civilization as we know it. We are however agents of our own downfall as emissions since the beginning of the industrial revolution are having a major greenhouse effect on climate first brought to the attention of the world by Arrhenius (Arrhenius 1896) and now confirmed by thousands of scientists in the recently leaked IPCC report which confirms in part that:
And to expect:
Climate change could be far worse than previously thought.
To add to our fears according to a CSIRO report for the NSW government released today (31 January 2007) Australia will be hotter and 40% drier.
Some governments are in fear of change yet modern economic theory (evolutionary economics in particular) is based on the fact that change is the major driver of economic growth. This process, called creative destruction by Schumpeter (Schumpeter 1954), is whereby new innovation destroys old and less efficient process and is the drive engine of modern economies.
The Australian and US governments have failed to recognise the urgency of global warming, the economic truth that that change is a driver not a brake and have denied innovative Australian businesses the opportunity to participate in the growing international market for carbon credits.
As custodians of the future it is the responsibility of governments to do something about anthropogenic forcings of climate. The paper discusses policy misunderstandings and basic failures in the political and economic system in the way of the vital role of planetary maintenance.
The role of governments is to add value to change that maintains homeostasis in planetary systems and for the same reasons that we require a national system for carbon trading in Australia we need a global system.
The Earth is a complex system of interacting physical, chemical and biological processes, and provides a natural laboratory whose experiments have been running since the beginning of time.
It was probably Buckminster Fuller who got us all thinking of earth as a connected independent entity requiring maintenance. His story is a fascinating one as throughout his life he was concerned with the question "Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?"
James Lovelock in his various books on Gaia theory brought to the attention of many the importance of viewing earth in such a holistic way and he discussed some of the other earlier proponents of what we now call earth systems science in his Gaia books.
Earth systems science treats the entire Earth as a system in its own right, which evolves as a result of positive and negative feedback between constituent systems and is being confirmed by computer models which are giving scientists the tools to develop and test hypotheses that explain the past and possible future behaviour of the Earth system.
The Earth system is often represented by interlinking and interacting "spheres" of processes and phenomena. The atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere form the simplest collection, though some would add the cryosphere as a special element dealing with polar regions and processes, and others would add the anthroposphere emphasizing human dimensions and impact on the planet.
The difficulty with simplistic representations such as the one above is that they divide the system artificially continuing a deconstructed perception of the what is in reality a more holistic total Earth system in which no part should be considered in isolation from any other part.
Chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and applied sciences are all drawn upon in our attempts to understand Earth as an integrated system.
John Harrison has drawn attention to the important role of materials science because of the impact of their underlying molecular flows, the moleconomics of which have strong interactions with Earth Systems.
For more information, contact Brad Collins, 303/443-3130 x102,
On Wednesday morning, January 31, 2007 at a press conference in Washington, D.C., ASES unveiled a 200-page report, Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030. The result of more than a year of study, the report illustrates how energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies can provide the emissions reductions required to address global warming.
The press event included remarks from report editor Chuck Kutscher, ASES Executive Director Brad Collins, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) climate scientist James Hansen, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, Senator Jeff Bingaman, and Congressmen Henry Waxman and Christopher Shays. According to Hansen, “We must begin fundamental changes in our energy use now in order to avoid human-made climate disasters.”
To develop the report, ASES recruited a volunteer team of top energy experts. These experts produced a series of nine papers that examined how energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies can reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions—the main cause of global warming.
ASES collected the nine papers together and added an overview of the studies to create the report. It covers energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industry, as well as six renewable energy technologies: concentrating solar power, photovoltaics, wind power, biomass, biofuels, and geothermal power. The results indicate that these technologies can displace approximately 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions annually by the year 2030—the magnitude of reduction that scientists believe is necessary to prevent the most dangerous consequences of climate change.
The report illustrates how energy efficiency measures could keep U.S. carbon emissions roughly constant over the next 23 years as the economy grows, and how renewable energy technologies could make deep cuts below today’s emissions. Wind energy provides about 35% of the renewable energy contribution, while the rest is divided about evenly among the other technologies. “Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies can begin to be deployed on a large scale today to help save us from the worst consequences of global warming,” said Kutscher. “With continued R&D to lower costs and a reasonable level of policy support, they have the potential to meet most, if not all, of the carbon reductions that will be required in the future.”
The report is available as a free download at www.ases.org/climatechange. High-quality graphics showing the various emissions reductions and deployment locations are also available at that site.