CLIMATE CHANGE ACADEMY
Across the globe many individuals ask the following questions:
What is climate change?
What does global warming mean?
Is global warming a hoax?
What is going green?
How do I know what to believe about the environment?
Does the Bible talk about Climate Change?
What is sustainability?
Do Science and Religion Agree?
One of the fundamental benefits of the Christian Bible although many times hard to understand due to translations derived from 'old english' terminology is the Bible contains all the answers to life's challenges if only we took the time to research. A May 24, 2015 Papal Encyclical, the highest teaching contributions a Pope makes for his teaching office was sent to all Bishops for world distribution endorsing Climate Change. Be careful not to conflate Climate Change with the hot button issue 'global warning.' Climate change is an integral part of the discipline of sustainability. Try not to throw out the baby with the bath water as a result of the alleged dishonest reporting of global warming data that broke in the news several years ago.
All individuals of every discipline may now use the information provided by the Climate Change Community that includes 5 international reports, National Academy of Science in the US and UK. It is appropriate for individuals and leaders to take the data provided by the climate change community, interpret it, understand the findings and assimilate the information into daily personal and corporate philosophy. From a Christian perspective for example it is in persuit of exellence in every area of life that we undertake the priciples of sustainability that is the premise of climate change. Christians should set the example.
So is a non scientist qualified to make statements about climate change? As long as we don't try to explain by stepping into the role of scientists we can state the facts to others. We can build from the scientific literature and say what the data means to us as humanity. All of us in politics, economics, religion and society in general can talk about climate change and what it means to humanity.
As an introduction the Book of Genesis is the oldest and primary source of evidence written approximately between 1440 and 1400 B.C.E. that documents sustainability showing the intrinsic workings set in place by God when He created the earth. You will see recorded that God often said after each day of creation these words "it is good." Investigations show that there is "Intelligent Design" using cause and effect as a system of evaluation.
In terms of sustainability God created the planet and the universe to be sustainable. You will hear the term green house gas as you study climate change. Green House Gases or GHG are generated naturally by nature such as carbon dioxide, water vapor from evaporation and methane a GHG from farm animals such as cows, sheep and goats, farm waste and from landfills for example. These natural GHGs can be problematic if not proactively mitigated and levels not managed. Some green house gases linger in the atmosphere much longer than others having a greater half life and do more damage long term than other GHGs.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency methane is problematic as a GHG because it traps heat increasing surface heat twenty five times more than carbon dioxide by augmenting or makes larger the suns rays increasing surface heat. Although there is more CO2 on the planet than methane, methane has a much greater environmental impact trapping hot air on the earth's surface. Both GHGs must be aggressively mitigated to lower surface heat. Methane from organic decay in farm regions needs to be decreased by sustainable strategies such as reducing and recycling organic products rather than sending to landfill or allowing to rot sending methane into the atmosphere. Older automobiles, gas and oil industry waste also produce methane as a GHG into the atmosphere. Livestock may be responsible for > 26% of the methane released into the atmosphere while emissions from older automobiles now on the decline < 29% of the atmospheric methane. Methane has a Global Warming Potential -GWP of 72 because it has an atmospheric lifetime of 12+/-3 years while Nitrous Oxide has a GWP of 289 because it has a lifetime of 114 years. "We perish for a lack of knowledge." Hosea 4:6.
The critical problems are connected with "anthropogenic" GHGs which are man-made and that linger in the atmosphere longer than natural GHGs. God created the trees and the oceans to absorb GHGs and to keep the air clean. However if we deplete the earth of adequate number of trees and place anthropogenic GHGs into the atmosphere that are synthetic to natural order then we interrupt the process leaving more GHGs in the atmosphere than needed causing the air we breath to be polluted. We compound this challenge by placing inordinate amounts of anthropogenic GHGs into the atmosphere overwhelming the natural system of cleaning the air. In other words we exceed our carbon budget by placing more GHGs into the atmosphere than the planet's trees and oceans can absorb. Genesis 2:15 says the following:
Genesis 2:15 (New International Version)
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
It was God's will from the beginning that all humans take care of the earth, become custodians of the earth and to understand how things work so we can cooperate with the systems. If we fail to understand how things work we tend to abuse the earth without being aware of what we are doing. Imagine if the earth is abused for centuries what the damage could be. Keep these basics in mind as you study climate change. Going Green is an attempt to limit the number of trees we harvest so that there are sufficient numbers to absorb toxic GHGs.
Trees reproduce by seeds through pollination and by seeds carried and buried by animals that sprout. All these are part of God's system to keep an adequate number of trees on earth to keep the air clean. However we as humans can also be good custodians by planting trees and there is no conflict with the scriptures by planting seeds or trees. Managing tropical rainforests such as the Amazon, central Africa, Southern Asia and Eastern Australia is important since tropical rain forests are primary global providers of oxygen to earth's atmosphere. Just as important, rain forests also clean the air of the GHG carbon dioxide.
Genesis 8: 22 records
"As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
God set in motion sustainability as recorded in Genesis 8:22 and included mankind as vehicles by which trees could be planted and in essence lead the mission of "taking care of the earth."
Human responsibility to steward the resources on the planet began with God's blessing and commissioning of man to take rule as a steward, over all the resources on the planet, to ensure sustainability, leaving adequate resources for generations to come. When God commissioned man as earth's steward God expected man to learn about the ecological systems God set in place at creation, to respect those systems and to work with those systems. Man's responsibility to sustainability is not only moral ensuring future generations have adequate resources but also a logical responsibility given if we abuse natural systems and resources man will go without essential natural resources for a period of time.
Genesis 1:28 records "God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
When God commissioned man to subdue the earth and to rule over the resources this was a formal commission to be a steward which is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. With stewardship or management comes responsibility. For example each department head has responsibility for a fiscal budget and has responsibility for the physical assets given to that department to ensure the full life expectancy is achieved for every asset and to manage the finances well.
Matthew 25:14 expands on this moral and natural responsibility humans have towards resources given to man by God. " Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone." God has entrusted mankind with the resources of the planet to work with the systems set in place at creation to ensure sustainability. There are consequences associated with each and every action humans take. If we manage resources morally and logically the outcomes are good and conversely if we mismanage resources the outcomes are bad. Galatians 6:7 records " Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." We often mismanage resources and forget that we have and when the consequences occur many times we do not associate the consequences with our past behaviors. Whats even more helpful is God's systems can predict outcomes so that we can avoid catastrophes.
This study allows any individual to understand the topics of climate change and going green so that we can be persons of excellence with full understanding of the topics. The study provides structure to the topic of sustainability with references to the following:
I. The Three Pillars of Sustainability
1. The Financial Pillar - preserving adequate finances so that future generations may be provided for.
2. The Social Pillar - preserving, modeling and communicating acceptable behaviors to influence future generations.
3. The Environmental Pillar - ensuring our interaction with the environment is pursued with preserving the environment in mind. Going green and climate change are subsets within the environmental pillar.
II. Three Strategies of Sustainability
1. Reuse - choose processes that reduce chemical usage that may be introduced into our environment, less packaging more bulk purchasing.
2. Reduce - use products that may be reused rather than one-time usage items.
3. Recycle - find and identify recycle partners. Select products that can be recycled.
Note: The Social Pillar requires moral values shared from generation to generation or in Hebrew "L dor v' dor" and is a pillar that if not addressed will cause society to implode. Within the social pillar there are three steel rods inserted as follows:
1. Preparation and mastery of skill sets
2. Sustained good character
3. Wisdom and making appropriate decisions
To fully grasp the fundamentals of sustainability, going green and climate change the following terms and concepts must be presented:
What is Sustainability - To use resources to meet the present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, nothing wasted and using resources at a rate that can be replenished.
What is Anthropogenic - A term that is comprised of two greek words 'anthropos' meaning man and 'genesis' meaning created. Anthropogenic means created by man or man made that which is synthetic to nature and opposing natural laws and systems of creation.
What is Climate Change - Comprehensive data on climate change shows the planet earth has gone through cooling and warming periods not just a chronic increase of temperature.
What is a carbon footprint - The total set of green house gases (GHG) emitted directly by an individual, an organization, home, an event, city, state or country.
What is global warming - A measure of how much a green house gas could contribute to the increase of the earth's temperature near surface air.
What is environmental impact - The rate at which our population consumes resources given population numbers, or number of persons in a household , or an organization's employee numbers, their levels of consumption and the impact caused by technology. The half-life or rate at which GHGs linger in the atmosphere and the impact caused by each individual GHG some more unfriendly to the atmosphere than others.
What is Global Warming Potential GWP - A measure of how much a GHG could contribute to warming the earth's surface. The earth's surface temperature is affected by a GHG's atmospheric lifetime. GHG molecules may be highly destructive to the atmosphere short term while other GHG molecules with longer life spans destroy the atmosphere at a slower rate.
What is Cap-N-Trade - To cap how much carbon dioxide any company may generate, charging companies for every portion of CO2 released into the atmosphere.
Globalization and Sustainability - Globalization is an interdependence of industrialized nations to work together to achieve both economic and political benefit. As a result sustainability has become an agenda item on every desk of every world leader, corporation and household.
Polution Prevention (P2) - Reducing waste at the point of origination by analyzing your current waste process and making process changes such as using less chemicals that are toxic to the environment and reusing materials rather than sending them to the landfill.
Climate Change Tipping Points - weather and climate thresholds that when transgressed or crossed over will cause hard to reverse semi-permanent climate conditions such as frequency of storms and new means or average heating levels for the planet.
Astronomy and Climate Change - Approximately every 405,000 years the planets Jupiter and Venus exert gravitational pulls that incrementally affect the earth's climate. Also as the earth orbits the sun just neglegeble variations of sunlight reaching the earth leads to climate changes and ecological changes. Astronomy is an important variable when comprehensively discussing climate change.
Feedback Loops - An example of a climate related feed back loop is arctic ice reflects sun rays back into the atmosphere due to its light color resulting in very little melting. However over time as ice melts and becomes darkened and exposes soil that is also dark in color the sun's rays are absorbed heating the air. This leads to more surface warming that comes full circle to melt the ice.
Climate Equity - is a strategy to evenly distribute the financial strain of mitigating climate change challenges especially for developing countries and developing local communities. Because the climate change carbon budget is a global burden with specific cities contributing vasts amounts of CO2 and other cities showing great responsibility climate equity has to be considered when implementing every project. All countries rich and poor must realize they have a moral responsibility but interms of financial ability and technological ability many countries are lagging behind. Climate equity realizes these developing communities will need help. Although poorer countries must exhit responsible behavior implementing technological programs to mitigate climate change may be too costly and could destroy their economy.
How best to steward an environmental sustainable lifestyle - be certain all three pillars of sustainability are functioning together not just one or the other. Are the changes you implement draining your budget, if so the financial pillar has been omitted. Choose to implement changes incrementally rather than all at once. Are the end users edified by the product selection or by the proposed changes of behavior, if not the social pillar of sustainability has been omitted. Are the selected products decomposing when sent to the landfill, if not the environmental pillar is not in effect. There must be a balanced well thought out approach to sustainability to achieve effectiveness.
Creativity and innovation can be used to prevent polution, reducing waste at the point of origination, mitigating environmental impact, decreasing carbon footprint, decreasing the amount of waste sent to the landfill and decreasing the amount of GHGs released into the atmosphere from organic waste. Some examples already implemented by environmental champions are as follows:
1. Instead of sending wastes to landfills several companies turn their waste stream into a revenue stream. Companies reduce the waste they generate by turning their waste streams into profit streams.
2. Rice bran that rots quickly when separated from the kernel is converted into a meat preserver thus zero waste, zero GHG and zero chance of disrupting the environment. A profit is made from the rice bran as well.
3. Cranberry seeds converted to powder form for a profit and is added to food and beverages as an enhancer.
4. Egg shell membranes converted to egg shell calcium to enhance bone and joint health converting a waste stream to a revenue stream.
5. Wastes that comes from olives when processed at an olive mill rots quickly. Olives are 20% oil and 50% water and the water putrefies quickly releasing methane as a GHG . To prevent methane polution the water is freeze dried to a powder form and added to pasta, mayonnaise and beverages. The waste is turned into a profit stream and never reaches a landfill or any waste stream.
6. Grape seeds are processed and the extract used to develop skin and potable minerals again as a revenue stream while eliminating the waste all together.
7. Plastic bottles from bottled water and other plastic containers recycled into fabric used to make professional clothing lines such as dress slacks and jackets. Plastic bottles instead of going to a landfill or to a designated waste stream these plastic bottles are converted to a profit stream while saving the environment.
Getting started as a good custodian or as a good steward of the earth's resources requires some concrete steps and the following formulas may help you get started. Estimation of the waste you generate individually, as a household, as a Church or as a business is the starting point. The formula for businesses uses 250 days/year having deducted 11 holidays and all weekends. The formula for Churches uses 156 days/year meeting in the facility an average of three times per week. Large Churches may need to use the formula for businesses to calculate the waste generated by employees in addition to calculating the waste generated by parishioners. Add the results from both formulas to obtain a more comprehensive estimate. The formula for individual households does not deduct any holidays nor weekends using 365 days/year. For all formulas feel free to adjust the days spent at home if you travel much, the days used by businesses and Churches in order to arrive at a more accurate estimate. 1.6 pounds as a variable is used as a statistical estimate for waste generated by the average individual. We divide by 2,000 to convert pounds to tons. If you're not comfortable with formulas simply contact your waste stream vendors for actual data. To estimate the waste you generate use the following formulas:
Estimate of Waste Generated For a Business
Number of employees x 1.6 pounds x 250 days/year
Estimate of Waste Generated For a Church
Number of parishioners x 1.6 pounds x 156 days/year
Estimate of Waste Generated For a Home
Number in your household x 1.6 pounds x 365 days/year
Here is a sample problem using the formula designed for a home.
A family of 6 consisting of a father, mother, two children and the parents of one spouse live at home year round. How much annual waste can be estimated for this family in pounds and tons?
ANSWER 6 x 1.6 pounds x 365 days/year = 3,504 pounds annually or 1.752 tons when divided by 2,000
If you would like to estimate your carbon footprint or environmental impact, how much polution is generated or to measure the amounts of GHGs you are responsible for here is a formula to use to get started. We all have an impact on our environment at varying degrees some more than others. Individuals and households have an impact on the natural environment. Events such as July 4th celebrations, the Olympics, large national events have their own carbon footprints as they generate anthropogenic GHGs into the atmosphere. Large corporations and large Churches have their own carbon footprint based on the number of employees, parishioners, habits, management and use of technology. Countries and nations also have their own carbon footprint based on habits, management, consumption and use of technology. The formula is as follows:
E = P x L x T
E = Environmental Impact
P = Population (use household number, parishioner number, employee number, which ever is applicable)
L = Level of consumption (electricity, chemicals, all products purchased from all sources, food, clothing, cosmetic etc.)
T= Technology( including automobiles, appliances etc.)
Sustainability is an esoteric discipline and the basic structure has to be understood before manipulating any sustainable green project. There are 3 pillars that hold up the discipline of sustainability along with 3 strategies.
1. Economic/Financial Pillar
2. Social Pillar
3. Environmental Pillar - Going green is an off-shoot of the environmental pillar.
If any GREEN project is implemented all three pillars must be engaged simultaneously in tandem to achieve effectiveness. Ignoring one or more of the three pillars when executing any green project will cause inevitable failure. As a checklist always consider the following action items:
1. Are the 3 pillars of sustainability being engaged?
2. Financial pillar - is the cost of going green going to break the bank, cause collapse to an industry, city, state, demographic or region. If so consider incremental implementation. If the financial pillar collapses your project will also collapse.
3. Social pillar - are end users edified by the concept, the process and will the project leave society better off for future generations with inaccurate concepts, predictions, prognosis, expectations, apathy and straddled with debt as a result.
4. Environmental pillar - is the research thorough and comprehensive and tested for efficacy? Are the targeted reduction benchmarks of green house gas emissions realistic, are new green products tested to be compostable, will breakdown at landfills and are processes viable.
Because sustainable projects on a national and international level involve major moving parts especially economically, socially and environmentally execution has to be moderated carefully, never emotionally. Sustainable projects are always zero sum and will only be successful if all 3 pillars are respected in tandem. Ignoring just one of the three pillars inevitably results in failure.
We must be armed with the fundamentals of Sustainability to educate the national constituency and to move forward with respect to all three pillars.
2016 Update - Presidencies event: taking stock of progress made during the Bonn Climate Change Conference - May 26, 2016
2015 Update - UNFCCC COP 21/ CMP 11 - Twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
As decided at COP 19, Paris, France
2014 Update - UNFCCC COP 20/CMP 10 - Twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties and the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
December 1 - 12, 2014 - Lima, Peru
2013 Update - 19th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)