Written by Rafael Reyes Friday, 14 December 2007 23:02
The issue is water.
For the first time, scientists have linked several specific trends in a regional water cycle to global climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 1950, the Sierra snowpack has decreased by about 20 percent, the temperature in the Rocky Mountains has gone up 3 degrees and spring water flow in the Columbia River has decreased significantly.
"These signals are the same no matter where you go in the West," marine physicist Tim Barnett of Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. "We've got a real serious problem."
By scaling down global climate models to bring greater detail of the region, a team of scientists led by Barnett and atmospheric scientist Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory projected these trends into the future and found a grim picture for the West. By about 2040, the Colorado Rockies will be nearly barren of snow as early as April 1 each year. And a similar story will play out in the Sierra.
This affects not only the total volume of precipitation but also the rate and manner of precipitation. More rain, faster melt and runoff, and proportionately much less available water in the dry months.
As if that were not bad enough we have to further consider that most of the major models have underestimated the rapidity of climate change. Last year estimates about disappearance of Arctic summer ice put it at 2050 then early this year at around 2030. The most recent estimates put it at 5 years from now with serious consequences for global climate.
There is great urgency for all climate plans in the state and region to not only address efficiency and renewable energy but also water conservation. Unfortunately, the major water providers like CalWater have little incentive to promote water efficiency. Unlike California electrical utilities, water utilities make money in proportion to how much water they sell. The more that is wasted - the happier they are. Looks like it's time to "decouple" the water utilities - restructure their income model so income is not a direct function of volume sales - in much the same way electrical utilities are decoupled to create an incentive for the utilities to promote efficiency.
Written by Rafael Reyes Thursday, 13 December 2007 17:38
Cool Cities had a presence in Bali, Indonesia!
7:15 PM (6:15 AM EST) Bali, Indonesia
Folks, I am sitting in a huge hotel room here in the Bali Convention hall 20 minutes from when Al Gore will address us live. The UN Conference is winding down or heating up—one day remaining. The outcome is not clear as the US, as you might expect, is disrupting the negotiations at every turn. It has been a very educational two weeks. Carl Pope arrived two days ago and has been busy with press events, meetings and speaking engagements. The lobbying is intense with delegates from all over world—I have not really participated in the lobbying. I have been making many contacts with activists from all over the world.
The most compelling stories hear are of the people most vulnerable to climate change. People from small island nations like the Maldives and Tuvalu which are only a meter or two above sea level—they ask what will happen to our people. People from Africa, Asia, South America (the South) who are already bearing the brunt of climate and who are demanding action by the North—the rich countries (us)—action on mitigation (reducing GHGs), action on adaptation (addressing the changes occurring and to occur) on technology transfer and financing to provide the less developed countries with the technology and the funds to mitigate and adapt—simple justice!
When Tyla and I return, we will have a far deeper understanding of climate change and all its elements—geo-political; sociologically, ethically and the science. The world is demanding action and, sadly, the US, the Bush Administration, is further eroding our standing in the world. But Al Gore is getting the rock star treatment—and many people seem to understand that change is on the way. But the world can’t wait! All our work is worth it; is making a difference. Keep fighting. Failure is not an option.
Glen and Tyla
Glen heads up regional Cool Cities efforts in the Appalachian region and Tyla is a volunteer city lead in Richmond, Virginia which is doing lots of Cool stuff.
Written by Rafael Reyes Sunday, 09 December 2007 00:23
Through December 10th, Mtn View is accepting applications for people to join
a new Sustainability Task Force which will be in place for 6 months to
recommend actions to the city council. Details here.
Also, check out a mini report on Mt. View's Nov. 3rd Step It Up event. Beth and Dave put on an awesome event. And photos by Tian.
Sunnyvale is also forming a taskforce.
Written by Rafael Reyes Tuesday, 04 December 2007 20:14zero emissions building in San Jose. Believed to be first building of kind in the U.S.
Friday, November 16, 2007
San Jose, CA
Updated: More on the building at IEEE
Written by Rafael Reyes Tuesday, 04 December 2007 19:55climate neutral by 2030. Whether by accident or by design, this parallels the Architecture 2030 initiative led by American Institute of Architects, US Green Building Council, Pacific Gas & Electric and numerous others. The city of Santa Barbara had just passed an ordinance to implement Architecture 2030, the first public ordinance implementing the 2030 goals, almost simultaneously the CPUC decided to stake it’s claim on similar ground.
More in my post at ecoAmerica's blog