Monthly Archives: September 2016

World Passes 400 PPM Threshold. Permanently

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-11-06-44-am NASA announced a new milestone this week. Here’s a clip from Climate Central:

““At best (in that scenario), one might expect a balance in the near term and so CO2 levels probably wouldn’t change much — but would start to fall off in a decade or so,” Gavin Schmidt, NASA’s chief climate scientist, said in an email. “In my opinion, we won’t ever see a month below 400 ppm.”

The carbon dioxide we’ve already committed to the atmosphere has warmed the world about 1.8°F since the start of the industrial revolution. This year, in addition to marking the start of our new 400 ppm world, is also set to be the hottest year on record. The planet has edged right up against the 1.5°C (2.7°F) warming threshold, a key metric in last year’s Paris climate agreement.

Even though there are some hopeful signs that world leaders will take actions to reduce emissions, those actions will have to happen on an accelerating timetable in order to avoid 2°C (3.6°F) of warming. That’s the level outlined by policymakers as a safe threshold for climate change. And even if the world limits warming to that benchmark, it will still likely spell doom for low-lying small island states and have serious repercussions around the world, from more extreme heat waves to droughts, coastal flooding and the extinction of many coral reefs.

It’s against this backdrop that the measurements on top of Mauna Loa take on added importance. They’re a reminder that with each passing day, we’re moving further from the climate humans have known and thrived in and closer to a more unstable future.”

Empowered Marketing

This excerpt from Jsachs10786_300dpionah Sachs’s Book, Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell—and Live—the Best Stories Will Rule the Future puts into words what I seek to do as a career one day – use marketing to empower people to activism. This excerpt covers how the status quo of marketing falls prey on our ephemeral desires for status, sex, comfort, and convenience but the truly great timeless marketing campaigns have mobilized people to act for a higher purpose. Humans are more than consumers, we have the ability to be conscious to the problems in the world around us, as demonstrated every week in CNP. The most sustainable and long-lasting companies are the ones who’ve appealed to all the basic factors of sustainability profits, people, and planet.

In the excerpt, there are three major tactics for using marketing to empower customers rather than making them feel powerless or inadequate, which unfortunately is the message we receive too often. These three tactics include: exposing the lies of inadequacy(including living with in your means or finding real beauty), speaking to the hero and not to the child (making companies merely helpers to the client who is portrayed as a hero), and forgetting the consumer and calling on the citizen. The last tactic was a very strong point for me because in business school we always talk about increasing demand for products. If the time, money, and effort being put now into demanding more products to consume was rather put into empowering consumers to think about their impact in society, outside of the bubble of their life, many of the environmental and social problems we are experiencing today would be improved.

The excerpt ends with an example from President Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign where the slogan gives people the feeling they are making the change rather than politics as usual. For my Climate Narrative Project, I want to cover how sustainability and environmental problems are marketed to the general public. I’ve noticed a lot of shock value media when it comes to environmental issues, which is fine, but it needs to be paired with a message of action and empowerment for people to react in the way desired.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood”


Go Leo!!
Here is the link to his new documentary “Before the Flood” where he travels and talks to other countries about the United State’s big oil addiction. “The climate change documentary sees the Oscar-winner traveling around the world, giving an address an the U.N. and meeting with the likes of Pope Francis and Elon Musk”

Bringing Humor to the Climate Change Discussion

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-04-47-am Australian actor and comedian Andrew Denton says entertainment has a role to play in the climate change debate. Here’s a clip from ABC National Radio:

“Is comedy just preaching to the choir, though? No, I don’t think so. I think comedy can become a useful tool to speak across the gap, particularly if we use humour to highlight our common goals.

We all want to live in a world, as George W. Bush said, where man and fish can live together peacefully. One of the greatest primal drivers of civilisation has been the desire to protect the next generation. Even those who you despise on the other side of this argument would not argue for a polluted planet and food insecurity. So if we can agree on those things (and surely it’s possible to do that) then we can move from there.

In this conversation, rather than simply demonising—and, yes, the tactics are deplorable and mendacity needs to be called out—we also need to get a broader understanding of why people think the way they do”.

It Should Be Pretty Neat

Neature Walk – Episode 1

Last Wednesday the Climate Narrative crew got together and did the three things we usually do:

1) become more aware of some huge issue that seems unsolvable
2) see people who are making great strides in solving the issue
3) discuss ways we can tackle them

It changed a bit this last week, when our fearless leader, Jeff Biggers, asked us to talk about where we were on our projects. Many of us had the same topic in mind, which caused me a bit of panic BUT it also caused a surge of ideas, which brings me to my actual topic.

I plan to explore the effects of deforestation on the tree systems, surrounding animals, other plants, and air quality of the once forested area through the lens of a nature walk. Last week we discussed many issues surrounding deforestation and, like every other topic, I had a desire to learn more.

I have always had a small fascination with congregations of trees. Forests and I have a beautiful connection, in that I have never spent any time in a true forest. Being from the deserts of Southern California does not lend itself to much forest time, but I have longed for the lush green scene. Maybe that is why I came to Iowa.

Green Gold – Documentary by John D. Liu

“It’s possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems.” Environmental film maker John D. Liu documents large-scale ecosystem restoration projects in China, Africa, South America and the Middle East, highlighting the enormous benefits for people and planet of undertaking these efforts globally.

Follow John D. Liu’s work:

Environmental Education Media Project:
What If We Change restoration media project:
Restoring Large Scaled Damaged Ecological Systems:
Research, Training and Innovation Centers for Ecological Restoration:…
Papers and other documentaries:

New Study on Soil Carbon Sequestration Limits

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-9-55-07-am The Guardian highlighted a new study on soil carbon sequestration, concluding that “widely assumed potential for carbon sequestration to combat climate change has been overestimated by as much as 40%.”

Here’s a clip:

“Scientists from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) found that models used by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assume a much faster cycling of carbon through soils than is actually the case. Data taken from 157 soil samples taken from around the world show the average age of soil carbon is more than six times older than previously thought.

This means it will take hundreds or even thousands of years for soils to soak up large amounts of the extra CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by human activity – far too long to be relied upon as a way to help the world avoid dangerous global warming this century.

“A substantial amount of the greenhouse gas that we thought was being taken up and stored in the soil is actually going to stay in the atmosphere,” said study co-author Steven Allison, UCI associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and Earth system science.

CO2 in Atmosphere down to Preindustrial rates in Greenland

At last, some good news about the environment.

A recent analysis of core samples taken from Greenland’s ice sheet shows that levels of a common form of air pollution have dropped almost to preindustrial levels. Just take a look at the graph below:

This graph of acid content in Greenland ice cores shows how the acidity of the atmosphere rose from the 1950s through the 1970s before declining sharply.

However, these graphs do not account for the world atmosphere and it is unlikely that the USA has close to preindustrial rates.

Why Are Millions of Trees Dying in the US?

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-8-18-23-am A new oped in the Guardian, An American Tragedy: Why Are Millions of Trees Dying in the US, looks at the rate of decline of American forests, from Hawaii to California to Appalachia.

Here’s a clip:

“Five years of drought in the west have not only starved trees of water but weakened their defenses and created conditions for “insect eruptions” across the US, said Diana Six, an entomologist at the University of Montana. Bark beetles and mountain pine beetles, usually held in check by wet winters, now have more time to breed and roam. The latter have already expanded their range from British Columbia across the Rockies, to the Yukon border and eastward, into jack pine forests that have never seen the bug.

The outbreak is “something like 10 times bigger than normal, I would argue a lot more than that,” Six said. “Basically a native insect is acting outside of the norm, because of climate change, and become an exotic in forests it’s never been before. We haven’t seen very good outcomes of exotics moving into native forests.”