Human population, led by Africa (in part through paucity of family planning), likely to be on the up and up through 2100, new analysis finds (Science):
Global Population Won’t Stabilize This Century A new report suggests that contrary to past projections arguing that global population will peak around 2050, the world’s population is unlikely to stabilize this century. The results, based on a statistical analysis of the most recent population projections from the United Nations (UN), point to Sub-Saharan Africa as the primary engine driving this unexpected growth through 2100. Patrick Gerland and colleagues applied advanced techniques to the latest UN data to estimate future demographic trends — like fertility and life expectancy — with great accuracy. They estimate an 80% probability that the world population, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by 2100. The main reason for this is an increase in the projected population of Africa, the researchers say; demographers had projected that fertility in Africa would decline, but Gerland et al.show that levels of fertility throughout the region are persistently high. Furthermore, many African women are still having larger families (median 4.6 children), in part due to lack of contraceptives. Mortality from HIV has been reduced in Africa, too, further contributing to population growth. The ratio of working age people to older people is almost certain to decline substantially as well. Because rapid population increase in high-fertility countries can create challenges ranging from depletion of natural resources to unemployment to social unrest, the results of this study have important policy implications. The projected population growth could be moderated, the researchers say, by more substantial investments in girls’ education and family planning programs that provide contraceptives; both factors influence fertility. The UN’s population reports, published every two years, feature “high” and “low” projections that have been criticized for lacking a probabilistic basis.
Article #21: “World population stabilization unlikely this century,” by P. Gerland; N. Li; D. Gu; T. Spoorenberg; J. Wilmoth at United Nations in New York, NY; A.E. Raftery; H. Ševčíková; N. Lalic at University of Washington in Seattle WA; L. Alkema at National University of Singapore in Singapore; B.K. Fosdick at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO; J. Chunn at James Cook University Singapore in Singapore; G. Bay at Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Center (CELADE), Population Division of the United Nations ECLAC in Santiago, Chile; T. Buettner; G.K. Heilig, independent consultant.
"There are a number of ways to give such initiatives a larger role in research and policy decisions. These include giving much more support to academic-industry and academic-practitioner partnerships; extending academic boundaries to encompass the entire range of human-environment interactions; breaking down the often antagonistic division between development professionals and academia; instituting a more open review process for development publications, projects, and institutions; removing the barrier between development planners and the intended beneficiaries or local populations; and addressing the frequently counterproductive tension between pure and applied research. The primary obstacles to implementing these proposals are cultural and institutional, not scientific. Expanding our commitment to mundane science requires that we overcome a Catch-22, however: Mundane issues generate little interest until a crisis emerges, at which point a solution is expected at once because the problem appears to be so simple. Unless we overcome the bias against mundane science, we will be wedded to shortsighted, partial solutions to emerging issues in development and the environment. Serious research requires a commitment to sustained periods of training, preparation, and support, which mundane science rarely receives. A valuable principle to use in the design and evaluation of sustainable development initiatives is that of use-inspired basic research, which – however basic the science involved – has a clear focus on applications…."
Algal Turf Scrubbing generates a fast growing, easily harvested, filamentous polyculture of hundreds of natural, locally adapted algae species over a new, highly efficient 3D screen surface beneath a shallow flow of water to oxygenate and purify water, produce biomass for biofuel and organic fertilizer, mitigate pollution from agricultural run-off, improve freshwater and coastal habitats, and sequester carbon and reduce fossil fuel dependency.
AskNature is an immense, web-based interactive database, learning tool, and living Biomimicry encyclopedia, which seeks to catalog and propagate solutions to the most pressing human challenges by drawing from time-tested strategies evolved by nature. AskNature aspires to make biomimetic solutions widely accessible for educational and industrial applications.
Bonobo Peace Forest is growing a network of community-managed and protected forests in remote, immense swaths of rainforest in the Congo Basin, using a “viral” conservation strategy that partners with local indigenous peoples and the government to engender sustainable prosperity while preserving the habitat of our closest genetic relative, the endangered Bonobo.
Earth Roofs for the Sahel trains members of impoverished communities in Africa’s semi-arid Sahel region to build long-lasting, passively cooled earth buildings. The codified, traditional Egyptian Nubian Vault design creates an affordable, locally sourced, environmentally sustainable built environment; the construction training generates a self-replicating cadre of skilled masons throughout the region and engenders entrepreneurship. A self-sustaining, virally expanding market results, transforming the quality of life and economic capacity of communities.
Ecosoftt is an emerging Singapore and India-based social enterprise that is the first to develop decentralized, adaptable, chemical-free, cost-effective water systems that combine rainwater harvesting, wastewater recycling, groundwater replenishment and other technological innovations in Asia. Their systems are adaptable to both poor rural and prosperous urban contexts. They aim to revolutionize water systems throughout Asia and beyond, bring clean water to underserved communities and offer an inspiring model of social enterprise as an alternative to government or privately run water systems.
Finance Innovation Lab is a UK-based non-profit that aims to strategically shift the existing financial paradigm to one that values sustainability and resilience. The Lab works on the system from the bottom up by convening gatherings of innovators, nurturing entrepreneurs, encouraging alternative business models, and seeking to influence economic policies and financial regulation.
The Food Commons aims to transform local and regional food systems by creating larger, more highly organized and coordinated physical, financial, and organizational infrastructures for specific regions and connecting them to the global economy in order to boost and facilitate investments, encourage partnerships and cooperative ownership, and create a genuinely sustainable model of a local and global food economy.
The Force Majeure, a bold, large-scale vision of the deeply beloved and respected, world-renowned artists Helen and Newton Harrison, aims to reduce the entropy of planetary ecosystems in the face of human-induced climate change. Four sites have been proposed in which the Harrisons and scientists will experiment with methods to assist nature in its response to massive system disturbance.
Fuego Del Sol Haiti is a social enterprise that confronts Haiti’s deadly charcoal addiction through development, introduction and adoption of innovative ecological fuel briquettes, presses, stoves, and the training and empowerment of women. Fuego Del Sol, the largest upcycler in Haiti, also collects and separates a wide range of waste materials into sustainable products and plans to include farming, green building, and land reclamation.
Gardens for Health International, an NGO pioneering the integration of nutrition-based agriculture into the clinical care of malnutrition, partners with rural Rwandan health clinics to implement healthcare strategies that include nutritional education and the nurturing of home gardens of nutrient rich foods for each family. They are seeking to expand this program throughout Rwanda and into Uganda, Burundi, and beyond. This elegant model could be replicated globally to address malnutrition.
Health Promoter Practitioners seeks to transform conventional healthcare by training and empowering community members in the most remote, disrupted and underserved locales to take prevention and healing into their own hands and virally spread training in their regions. Disrupting the hegemonic concept of institutionally recognized healthcare, the organization has built local capacity, demonstrating that HPP-trained practitioners can treat 80% of primary medical cases. HPP is finalizing training manuals of best practices developed over four decades to disseminate their model.
International Bridges to Justice works tirelessly to abolish torture and assure fair judicial processes by strengthening existing legal systems worldwide. They offer in person and web-based trainings in international and local best practices and legal skills for attorneys, judges, and law enforcement officials, seek to nurture a global legal community that can be supportive and protective of lawyers and officials working in difficult contexts, and develop training modules in many languages to help propagate solid human rights-based legal knowledge.
International Youth Network for Food Security and Sovereignty trains rural youth in Mexico and Central America in a highly participatory process to develop sustainable food systems in their communities through social, ecological and technological innovation. With a broader goal of agro-ecological transformation across Central America and beyond, the network seeks to re-imbue communities with traditional ecological values while drawing from modern best practices. Trained and empowered youth leaders are the ideal vectors to propagate genuine sustainability.
Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic seeks to address the logistical problems of providing healthcare to communities in the highly underserved, infrastructure-poor Lake Tanganyika Basin region by building and deploying a floating medical and research facility. Through the growth of a radio network, collaboration with local partners, healthcare training, ecological education and more, the clinic will serve as a mobile hub of communication and cooperation between remote, vulnerable communities in one of the earth’s richest freshwater ecosystems.
Living Breakwaters is a comprehensive design for coastal resiliency along the Northeastern Seaboard of the United States and beyond. This approach to climate change adaptation and flood mitigation includes the deployment of innovative, layered ecologically-engineered concrete underwater breakwaters, the strengthening of biodiversity and coastal habitats, the nurturing and resuscitation of fisheries, and deep community engagement through diverse partnerships and innovative educational programs.
Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Restoration Plan, a comprehensive, detailed regeneration plan for the Makoko/Iwaya community in Lagos, Nigeria, which was threatened with being razed, seeks to preserve local culture and social relationships, revitalize the built environment, increase economic opportunities, and ensure disaster resilience for over 40,000 residents. Its implementation revolves around community inclusion and local leadership and the empowering of women and youth. The plan holds the preservation of traditional lagoon-front culture as a core value, presenting a compelling vision of a floating economy based on sustainable aquaculture and tourism.
Multifunctional Membrane: Self-Active Building Cells, Not Building Blocks are the centerpieces of a technology that could potentially provide inexpensive, biodegradable, living, breathing “skins” for buildings that would auto-regulate in response to heat, light and humidity and provide climate control, ventilation and lighting without mechanical systems, thereby radically reducing energy use and costs, especially in tropical regions under critical environmental and socio-economic stresses.
Sistema Biobolsa provides farmers in Mexico, Central America and Haiti with an on-site waste-to-nutrient ecosystem: a biomimetic, modular advanced geo-membrane anaerobic biodigester that converts organic waste into biogas and fertilizer, increasing local capacity and resiliency and boosting health and livelihoods as it provides safe, non-toxic thermal, mechanical, and electrical generation not previously affordable to small farmers. Distributed through innovative micro-financing mechanisms and entrepreneurial capacity building, this project has great potential to boost sustainable farming globally.
Slow Money catalyzes the flow of investment capital into local food economies and place-based enterprises in North America and Europe, seeking to “bring money back down to earth” through communications, education, convenings, investment clubs, liaison services, and shared learning networks. This integrated effort to restore fiduciary responsibility and nurture sustainable enterprises aims for a systemic transformation of food systems and local economies.
Thunder Valley Regenerative Community Plan, born of a collective vision, has created a comprehensive plan to build a locally owned and operated development in the geographic center of the Oglala Lakota Nation, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one of the poorest and most disenfranchised parts of the country. The goal is to resuscitate the local economy and traditional culture and provide attractive, culturally appropriate affordable housing in the context of a deeply sustainable community with a net-zero built environment that could serve as a compelling, dynamic model for the rest of Indian country and the world.
It took this long? Ford to market Prius rival in 2018. (via @thedailyclimate) Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce a new hybrid vehicle in 2018 that would compete against the Toyota Prius and help Ford meet strict federal mandated mileage standards. An executive at Troy-based LMC Automotive said the firm expects Ford to introduce a “Prius-like family of vehicles eventually.” Detroit News, Michigan
Air traffic growth set to outpace CO2 reduction efforts Carbon reduction efforts in the airline industry will be outweighed by growth in air-traffic, even if the most contentious mitigation measures are implemented, according to new research by the University of Southampton.
THE article by Graham Lloyd will likely leave a mis-impression with many of your readers concerning the substance of our paper that will appear in the Journal of Physical Oceanography (“Puzzle of deep ocean cooling”, 25/7).
We never assert that global warming and warming of the oceans are not occurring — we do find an ocean warming, particularly in the upper regions.
Contrary to the implications of Lloyd’s article, parts of the deep ocean are warming, parts are cooling, and although the global abyssal average is negative, the value is tiny in a global warming context.
Those parts of the abyss that are warming are most directly linked to the surface (as pointed out by Andy Hogg from the ANU).
Scientifically, we need to better understand what is going on everywhere, and that is an issue oceanographers must address over the next few years — a challenging observational problem that our paper is intended to raise.
Carl Wunsch, Harvard University and Massachusetts, Institute of Technology
Key point in new @yaleclimatecomm paper on US climate activism: “The threat posed by climate change should continue to be a component of climate change messaging, but should be accompanied – and perhaps even preceded – by messages on effective actions individuals can take.”
I haven’t done the numbers independently, but here’s a rough calculation:
The short answer: the rise in non-hydro renewables has been about 3x the lost output from the 6 large nuclear plants that have recently announced shutdowns.
These reactors have announced shutdowns: Crystal River (unit 3), Kewaunee (one unit), Oyster Creek (one unit), San Onofre (units 2&3) and Vermont Yankee (one unit). They add up to 4.2GW of capacity. Predicting just how much power they would deliver is tricky, but if you assume a capacity factor for nukes of 90% (a number that has varied from 86.4% to 91.8% in the last 7 years) then that’s 33.9 thousand gigawatt hours per year of lost power output. In the real world the capacity factor for these plants might have been a bit lower, but on the other hand had these units not run into trouble during major overhauls then they might have actually seen higher output—Crystal River, for example, shut due to containment damage during construction that would have uprated the plant by 20%. So treat my 90% of rated capacity as an illustrative magnitude, not the exact gospel truth of exact power output that will be lost. Other caveats include that I haven’t carefully checked net and gross outputs of each of these closed plants—I pulled the data from NEI and EIA. But to put this into context, this lost output from these units is around 4% of US nuclear output in 2012.
From 2007 to 2012 (five years) non-hydro renewables have risen from 105 to 218 thousand gigawatt hours—a net increase in output of 113 thousand gigawatt hours per year. Nearly all of that rise has been wind (105 thousand gigawatt hours). People seem particularly excited about solar—witness a column by Paul Krugman presaging the new CAA rules that has a special shout out to solar—but wind is doing essentially all the work right now.
Solar PV and Solar Thermal together are 4.3 thousand gigawatt hours in 2012, which is a grand total of 0.11% of US net electricity generation. Hardly a revolution—yet.
Wind is 3.5% of US net power generation in 2012, up from just 0.8% in 2007. It has exploded. Whether that is sustainable remains to be seen. I worry a lot about the sustainability of the subsidy regime and grid operations with such large amounts of variable and intermittent supply, but that’s another topic.
I use 2012 data above because that’s the latest data set from EIA—where possible, I have relied on EIA data. See table 3.1.A in particular of the Electricity annual along with table 3.1.B
This is a rough-sketch recording of my new song “A Prayer and a Toast,” which will be on my next CD, tentatively titled “A Long Short Story” (after this song). Learn more about my music here, and explore my debut CD, “A Very Fine Line.” Here are the lyrics to “A Prayer and a Toast”:
In @newyorker, @nijhuism points to studies showing story beats data in conveying climate change calamity. But African example problematic. Enormous implicit variability and clashing models mean local narratives of change/hardship are not valid reflection of greenhouse-driven climate change. See here, here and here. Sub-Saharan Africa response to greenhouse forcing still unclear:
@KeithKloor weighs in on @RogerPielkeJr flogging. All happening on a tiny corner (attribution debate) of the head of a pin called climate change discourse. All serving those hoping the public stays confused about climate consensus. Rope-a-dope.
Q: Your political views and involvement seem to garner the most headlines nationally these days. Why continue those investments, given the type of coverage it seems to have sparked?
A: It’s like Lee Trevino used to say, somebody asked him, “How are you winning all these golf tournaments?” and he said, “Well somebody has got to win them and it might as well be me.” That’s the way I am on this. There doesn’t seem to be any other large company trying to do this so it might as well be us. Somebody has got to work to save the country and preserve a system of opportunity.
The recent slowdown (or ‘pause’) in global surface temperature rise is a hot topic for climate scientists and the wider public. We discuss how climate scientists have tried to communicate the pause and suggest that ‘many-to-many’ communication offers a key opportunity to directly engage with the public.
Observational data show a continued increase of hot extremes over land during the so-called global warming hiatus. This tendency is greater for the most extreme events and thus more relevant for impacts than changes in global mean temperature.
It is time to acknowledge that global average temperatures are likely to rise above the 2 °C policy target and consider how that deeply troubling prospect should affect priorities for communicating and managing the risks of a dangerously warming climate.
The role of genetic engineering in agriculture is particularly contentious, with assertions about huge promise or perils often obscuring science. This panel discussion will aim to inform rather than inflame by bringing together a chef focused on conscious cuisine, a food journalist who spent six months investigating claims and counterclaims about GMOs, a law professor and a plant geneticist. The discussion will be moderated by Pace Academy Senior Fellow Andrew Revkin, who has explored the future of food repeatedly on his New York Times blog, Dot Earth.
The discussion will review the science on health and environmental questions, the legal issues related to food labeling and the realities of feeding not just a growing global population, but also one that is becoming more prosperous.
Can GMOs be a part of our vision for a sustainable, equitable, and healthy world?
Adding new @UCSusa book on Fukushima nuclear calamity and lessons for US @NRCgov to my reading heap. Here’s UCS release:
Today is the official publication date for Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (New Press, $27.95), the first comprehensive account of the March 2011 Japanese catastrophe, and it has already elicited glowing reviews. Kirkus Reviewscalled it “a gripping, suspenseful page turner.” Booklist, in a starred review, described the book as “thriller-like” and “a cautionary analysis of the perils of nuclear power the world over.” And Publisher’s Weeklycalled it an “eye-opening exposé …[that] points to the scary fact that America can suffer a Fukushima-type event if critical steps are not taken.”
Co-authored by two of America’s leading nuclear power experts and an award-winning journalist, the book provides the most authoritative analysis to date of what happened during one of the worst nuclear disasters of all time. The book, which took nearly two years to research and write, is based on technical analyses, interviews with the principal players, and information gleaned from thousands of pages of documents obtained from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other federal agencies, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)—the plant’s owner—and independent Japanese commissions.
The first half of the book provides the riveting details of the March 11, 2011, disaster triggered by the one-two punch of a magnitude 9 earthquake, which caused Fukushima Daiichi’s six boiling water reactors to lose off-site electric power, and a 50-foot tsunami, which knocked out back-up diesel generators supplying power to five of the reactors and much of the facility’s electrical distribution system. Co-authors David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) Nuclear Safety Project; Edwin Lyman, a UCS senior scientist; and Susan Q. Stranahan, the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, take readers on a guided tour of the harrowing events that followed over days, weeks and months. Along the way, they supply lucid explanations of how the disaster happened and how it could have been averted, profiling the people who went to heroic lengths to try to take control of a runaway catastrophe that still reverberates today. Radioactive contamination has displaced more than 80,000 people, the cost of cleanup and victim compensation could swell to $125 billion, and radioactively contaminated water from the site continues to leak into the ocean. Over time, Fukushima-related cancer deaths are expected to number in the thousands.
But the book is more than a disaster diary. It also provides a clear-eyed look at the Japanese regulatory regime that helped make the disaster all but inevitable, and makes a strong case that U.S. oversight is plagued by the same complacent attitude and undue industry influence. Indeed, the chapters that focus on the NRC’s shortcomings are as disturbing as the Fukushima calamity itself.
“The NRC hasn’t heeded all the lessons of Fukushima and is slow-walking post-Fukushima regulatory changes,” said Lyman, a physicist. “Likewise, the agency has failed to address a number of longstanding threats, including the risks of overcrowded spent fuel pools, unenforced fire protection standards, and inadequate emergency planning.”
Lyman and his co-authors warn that if NRC commissioners insist on watering down the agency post-Fukushima task force’s recommendations for strengthening safeguards, it will only be a matter of time before a similar event happens in the United States. They point out that: • U.S. nuclear plants are vulnerable to catastrophic natural disasters, multiple system failures, and terrorist attacks; • U.S. nuclear plants are not much better equipped than Japanese plants to cope with severe accidents; and • U.S emergency plans are not designed to protect the public in the aftermath of Fukushima-scale accidents or fully address the problem of long-term land contamination.
“Fukushima wasn’t a ‘Japanese’ nuclear accident,” said Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who worked in the industry for 17 years before joining the UCS staff. “It was an accident that happened to occur in Japan. Japanese and U.S. regulators share the same mindset that severe, supposedly ‘low probability’ accidents are unlikely and therefore it is not worth the time and money to protect plants from them. How many Fukushimas will we have to go through before NRC commissioners get it through their heads that it could happen here?”
The next GreenBiz Forum will examine ”how NGOs and companies interact, in a number of sessions. At the event, we’ll be launching the ‘GreenBiz NGO Report,’ the first annual rating by companies of environmental nonprofits. It will assess which ones are the most credible and the most effective, from the viewpoint of several hundred companies we’ve surveyed.
"We’ll bring that report to life with a panel featuring senior leaders at three NGOs spanning the spectrum of activism, from collaborative (Environmental Defense Fund) to confrontational (Greenpeace). There will also be a mainstage conversation among Asia Pulp & Paper, Greenpeace, and The Forest Trust, which culminated an adversarial campaign one year ago with a breakthrough agreement. (Learn more in this week’s Exit Interview with outgoing Greenpeace USA executive director Phil Radford.)
"There’s more: Neil Hawkins from Dow will discuss it’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy; separately, TNC’s head, Mark Tercek, will talk about its work with Dow and other companies on biodiversity and business opportunity. And a number of other sessions will feature NGO-company partnerships.
"Clearly, these relationships are going to be around for a while, so we might as well get good at them."
To me, it still seems clear that China, with India and others, were far more adept than the United States at manipulating the proceedings to guarantee no shift toward a binding global commitment to decarbonization. Read Mark Lynas and Der Spiegel.
Can anyone imagine why President Obama would have committed to going to the meeting in person if the administration knew the outcome would be weak gruel?
Postscript 3: Lisa Friedman has an excellent Climate Wire piece noting how inconsequential any NSA monitoring was even if it ended up taking place. Yvo de Boer makes a good point in that piece: ”There is a much bigger debate going on about who is spying on who. But in the climate change negotiations, we should be very much focused on looking forward and building trust, not looking back, not on rehashing things that may or may not have happened in the past,” he said.