You have probably heard that old story before where if you stick a frog in a boiling pot of water it will try to get out. If you stick a frog in a pleasantly cool pot of water and then turn on the heat the frog will let itself get cooked because it doesn't realize what's going on. While you might quibble with some of the details of the story the basic premise I feel rings true.
We humans are animals just like that frog and we are hardwired to pay attention to sudden shocking changes in our surroundings and not things that change slowly or gradually. But eventually even things that move slowly will get our attention once they become impossible to ignore.
I think as a society we are finally reaching the point where we can no longer ignore the fact that the water is getting a bit toasty and it is time to get out of the pot. With the recent release of the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change that reviewed much of the latest research in climate science the summary is clear
Climate Change is Real and We Caused It.
Gone is the wishy washy language of the previous reports with the new report saying things like,
“Observed increases in well-mixed greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations since around 1750 are unequivocally caused by human activities. Since 2011 (measurements reported in AR5), concentrations have continued to increase in the atmosphere, reaching annual averages of 410 ppm for carbon dioxide (CO2)”
“Human influence is very likely the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea ice area between 1979–1988 and 2010–2019 (about 40% in September and about 10% in March). There has been no significant trend in Antarctic sea ice area from 1979 to 2020 due to regionally opposing trends and large internal variability. Human influence very likely contributed to the decrease in Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover since 1950. It is very likely that human influence has contributed to the observed surface melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet”
“Changes in the land biosphere since 1970 are consistent with global warming: climate zones have shifted poleward in both hemispheres, and the growing season has on average lengthened by up to two days per decade since the 1950s in the Northern Hemisphere extratropics (high confidence)”
When you start seeing language like,
That's science speak, we are pretty sure that what we are saying is true. There is no such thing as 100% certain when you talk to a scientist because they know that you can never be 100% certain about things. But you can be sure they are pretty damn sure when they start using language like you see in the latest report.
It's nice to see such unambiguous language finally coming out from this panel that has been doing these reports for 30 years and they have essentially been screaming into the void that is the governments of the world. No government has given serious credence to these reports and really taken the forecast and outlook presented in the reports to heart. There are places like Germany that have been doing some good for decades in the solar industry by providing real support to both individuals and industries in installing and paying for solar but examples like that are few and far between.
For the most part we as a species have twiddled our thumbs, had inane arguments about whether climate change was real or not and have lost decades of time that could have really been useful. This report clearly shows that our time is up and we need to make changes now that reduce our impact on the planet. The changes to the climate are obvious to anyone who is willing to open their eyes and accept what they are seeing.
The problem is big and so are the solutions
We are now facing one of those history-making problems that will either create another Greatest Generation or end with us being scorned by our descendants assuming they have the time or knowledge to scorn us.
The problems we face cannot be solved by just your or me putting solar panels on our roofs or by driving less.
The time for that approach is gone….
We now need whole systemic change from the bottom up, top down and even side to side. We need to get our governments to pass laws that will push us and the companies of the world toward a sustainable future. This is a collective need and it will require collective action from all of us to do what we need to do to keep this great experiment we call civilization going on.
We need to do things like,
And the list could go on and on and on…..
The time is now so let's get going shall we.
Another great article from Vox media that highlights the disparity of energy use between the top 10% of income earners and everyone else. Really open your eyes just how much privilege certain economic classes get in our society and what that privilege costs the rest of us.
I am going to try something a little different here at the Green Living Library. In the past I have focused on providing articles that provided practical information and how to’s on many different aspects of living a green life. I will continue to do that but every now and then when the mood strikes me I will pluck an article from the internet and analyze it from my perspective. I will tell you what I think of the article where I agree and disagree with what the author is proposing.
Please read the article at the link above before diving into my thoughts on the subject
Here it goes…
Living off the grid is a dream for many of us in America these days. The reason for this are many, some fear the collapse of modern society, others want a life closer to nature and its ebbs and flows and still others simply want a life that has a minimal impact on the environment. Whatever your reasons are many people believe that you have to give up on a modern lifestyle when you you choose to go off the grid.
Thanks to modern technology in power generation, home building and heating and cooling methods of modern life you really don’t have to give up anything at all if its done right.
Now each person's definition of what a truly modern life is will vary depending on your needs and desires so to start this off I will list what I feel like I need for a modern lifestyle.
Well that depends….
As with most things in life this is dependent on your specific situation. Factors like,
Solar power is fast becoming the go to renewable power source for those that wish to generate their own power in a clean and effective way. More reliable, less maintenance, and silent compared to wind solar can be a great option for new and already existing homes. When deciding to add solar to your home there are lots of options to consider about the system like,
In this particular article I am going to go ever the pro’s and con’s of whether or not mounting solar panel on your roof is beneficial or not.
So you have decided to add some solar panels to you home and you know you need to look at all your options to help you decide how big of a system you need. You are probably already familiar with a few of the different factors that must be considered before your first purchase.
Earth sheltering is an ancient and time honored technique for moderating the temperature of a house or other structure without any external energy. It has been used for thousands of years across many cultures starting all the way back with humans who lived in caves. To the right can see a picture of sod houses built in Iceland by some of the early settlers. They not only needed to build out of sod due to the climate of Iceland but also because it was one of the few available resources to build with.
They work off of the very simple fact that the soil maintains a certain temperature year round despite how cold or warm the air outside. This can offer you tremendous advantages when it comes to keeping your home comfortable for no extra cost in money or energy.
The diagram below illustrates what I am talking about about the soil maintaining a steady temperature. Not only do you get the climate control benefits but having a earth sheltered house can protect your home from storms and other forces that nature can throw at you. You home will also be quieter and burying your home in the earth could be a great way to escape city noise.
With properly designed house right from the start it is conceivable to get most if not all your heating needs from the sun. This of course is very dependent on your climate and requires solar design from the ground up. Most of us do not have the luxury of building a passive solar house from the ground up so we have to suffice with adding on solar heat to our house.
A masonry heater as defined by the the Masonry Heater Association of North America is
“... a site-built or site-assembled, solid-fueled heating device constructed mainly of masonry materials in which the heat from intermittent fires burned rapidly in its firebox is stored in its massive structure for slow release to the building. It has an interior construction consisting of a firebox and heat exchange channels built from refractory components.”
To put that in plainer english you could call a masonry heater a big wood stove made out of brick or similar materials that is capable of capturing heat from a burning fuel source and slowly releasing that heat into a space. There are many features that make a masonry a great choice for you home heating needs and I will touch on just a few of them with this article. But to keep things fair I will also go into a few of the cons because you can’t really understand something until you know both sides of it.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.