The buildup of greenhouse gases will take hundreds (link) to possibly hundreds of thousands of years (link) to breakdown and return the atmosphere to levels that we have been used to during our years on earth as human civilizations. The climate changes are also likely to affect the oceans for hundreds of thousands of years. (link) The graph of the increase in the main greenhouse gases is fairly level and then exponentially increases in the recent past: The Big Picture Breakdown of Greenhouse Gases.
Passive Energy Building, links for more information
Climate change is not just about increased temperatures on a global average it is about increased extremes in temperature and increased risk of severe weather conditions. Architecture in many areas is not suited to extreme changes in outdoor temperatures and often glass is a major building material for aesthetic reasons. Glass walls and large windows can make buildings overly cold during cold weather and overly warm during hot sunny conditions. Passive energy architecture tends to use smaller windows that can be shaded during warm conditions and walls may be made of wider materials that provide better insulation during hot or cold weather.
There is no question of the reality – human use of fossil fuels has been warming the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution started over one hundred years ago. The ozone layer depletion was addressed successfully with more study and political bipartisan work in the 1970’s and 80’s. Increased use of solar power was also begun at that time but who to blame and loss of fossil fuel profits became more of a concern and disinformation and denial took place after the initial progress with reducing ozone depletion. The history in a long read is available, the introduction and epilogue discuss the current situation and possible directions we are headed as a species and planet inhabitants. “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” by Nathaniel Rich, The New York Times Magazine, August 2, 2018, (Losing Earth/NYTMagazine).
Summary points from the introduction:
Limiting warming to two degrees: tropical reefs will become extinct, sea levels will rise several meters and we will lose the Persian Gulf. This “long term disaster” has become the best case scenario we can hope for if we manage to stop producing greenhouse gases.
Three degree warming, possibly the realistic minimum we can expect: “short-term disaster” – loss of forests in the Arctic and loss of most coast cities.
Four degree warming: permanent drought in Europe; desertification of large areas of China, India and Bangladesh; Polynesia covered by sea waters; Colorado River reduced to a tiny creek; American Southwest largely uninhabitable.
Five degree warming: some leading climate scientist’s consider this level to place human civilization at risk of survival.
Summary take home point – we need to change our civilization in revolutionary ways now – and invent ways to remove greenhouse gases from the air in addition to decreasing adding more to the atmosphere. We need to stop using modern agricultural methods that don’t recycle phosphorus and allow it and other chemicals to run-off into groundwater and coastal waters. (Losing Earth/NYTMagazine).
A free course was available that provides more information about climate change effects that are already occurring and strategies that have been found helpful around the globe: From Climate Science to Action, by The World Bank Group, Coursera.org, resources provided for additional reading are included at the end of this post. A course being offered on the site by the University of Michigan can be enrolled in now which begins August 20th: Act on Climate: Steps to Individual, Community, and Political Action, coursera.org.
This is an area of interest for me but not my area of expertise. Preventative health education is my area of expertise and treating a growing population of humans with more effective methods would also be good for planetary health. Toxic medications eventually add to groundwater pollution and medical equipment and supplies is also adding to pollution.
See these resources for more information about Passive Energy Building and how modifying architecture methods now can help us in the future (I am not affiliated with any of the resources, this information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use; it is not an inclusive list, just a few resources from a brief search or ones of which I was aware from other reading.):
The problem of architecture and changing climate described:
A few photos of a passive energy rest area can be viewed in this collection of images of rest areas and travel photography: Where’s that rest stop?
Providing energy in sustainable ways at the community level is a strategy being used in one area of the U.K.:
Chelwood Comm Energy – Community energy group, developing and operating solar power for the local community – chelwood.org
/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes. — *Passive Energy Building is a health issue because the very young, the elderly, and the chronically ill are more at risk from excessive heat exposure or extremes in temperature and climate change is making extremes in temperature more common in many locations globally. Reducing use of fossil fuels for air conditioning or heating will ultimately help protect against the long term risks of increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Resources on climate change from: From Climate Science to Action, by The World Bank Group, Coursera.org.
Tis the season for snow tires and driving more slowly. Slick roads makes it take longer for your own and other cars to stop and trying to stop to abruptly can increase the risk of skidding or swerving into other lanes of traffic or off the road. Staying home can be a good idea even if you are familiar with driving safely in snow conditions – others on the road may not be used to the difference. If weather conditions are severe in larger urban areas where roads tend to be congested and travel fast then it would be helpful for businesses to close early or start late and allow workers to avoid more dangerous driving. Fewer drivers on the road is safer when roads are slick and/or visibility is poor.
Having windshield wiper fluid and an interior defroster that functions well is important for visibility when snow is icy or sleet like. Turning on your headlights even during the daytime is helpful during snow or foggy or other poor visibility weather conditions in order to help other drivers see your vehicle. If you are traveling significantly slower than typically posted speed limits it may also be helpful to turn on your Hazard light which makes both turn signals flash on and off and increases visibility of your vehicle.
Driving slower is the easiest way to help maintain control of your vehicle during slick conditions which can include heavy rainfall. Driving 55 instead of 70 is sensible with any snow conditions, add ice or heavy rainfall and driving 35 may be safer. If that is still feeling like the car is ice skating then pulling over and waiting out the weather may be safest. Hydroplaning of the tires can occur when there is a lot of water on the road and it makes the tires lose contact with the road and the road surface will act like a slick ice surface. Pulling over and stopping is safest during very heavy rainfall or when the roads are too icy. Snow itself can give some traction to the tires but if there is blowing snow or heavy snowfall then pulling over is also wisest as it can be difficult to see where the lanes are or even where the side of the road is located. Pulling over is more fun then spending time in a ditch or in a hospital. /Disclosure – I have driven in a lot of bad weather and slid off the road a couple times, pulling over and waiting is more fun./
Additional emergency equipment that can be helpful where snowfall is frequent is to keep a small garden shovel and bag of cat litter in the trunk of your car. They can be very helpful for getting the vehicle unstuck from minor snow bank or snowy parking lot type issues, the shovel helps you dig out around the tires and the cat litter adds traction to the slick areas under the tires. Over spinning your tires tends to create icy areas under them and make it more difficult to gain traction. A driving companion or passerby can be helpful to be able to push the car out of the snowbank.
The supermoon was a bright companion on a recent journey, helpful for lighting the road:
/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./