[GWSG] Unity's new program; food prices rise; CHP's place in admin cc effort; drainage redo in Miami Beach; slr in N FL

Tilley, Al atilley at unf.edu
Fri Sep 7 08:19:28 EDT 2012

1.  Stephen Mulkey presents the case for putting a transdisciplinary Sustainability Science program at the center of the undergraduate curriculum.  What else is so urgently needed, and so important to the futures of students?  I was glad to be part of a transdisciplinary set of climate courses at the U of N FL before I retired (hi, , Aileen; hi, Henry) and am convinced that Stephen’s curricular innovation at Unity deserves wide emulation.  I know that many people on our list are in a position to do some emulating, and would like to hear reactions to his essay and, particularly, accounts of curricular success elsewhere.  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/30/773581/crisis-and-opportunity-in-the-environmental-century-inspiring-a-generation-to-greatness/

2.  Three spikes in basic food prices over the past five years, along with population growth, lead the Guardian to meditate an end to cheap food.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/sep/02/era-of-cheap-food-over

3.  President Obama’s executive order to increase combined heat and power generation (CHP) by 40 gigawatts by 2020 will affect 6% of the power produced in the US, significantly increase efficiency and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save tens of billions of dollars for the targeted industries.  http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chp-industry-hails-white-house-executive-order-supporting-combined-heat--power-167992516.html  The White House press release states that the emissions savings is equivalent to the emissions of 25 million cars.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/08/30/president-obama-signs-executive-order-promoting-industrial-energy-effici  The initiative is the latest in the administration’s three pronged attack on emissions: a program of research into renewable energy technology based on the National Renewable Energy Laboratories; an initiative moving branches of the military to renewable energy, which has the effect of creating an enormous new market to spur the development of renewables; and a program of regulation of greenhouse gasses in which the new CHP regulations play their part.  Given the refusal of congress to deal with climate change and the propaganda effort by fossil fuel interests, the President is doing all he probably can to confront the problem, and having a great deal of success.

4.  Miami Beach is proposing a $206 million overhaul of their drainage system to adapt to the sea level rise expected by 2030.  Coping with drainage problems already underway and growing, it is the first such adaptation in Florida.  The article makes it clear that as times goes on, or as the planning horizon increases, adaptation in low lying regions will become increasingly difficult and more prohibitively expensive.  http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/01/v-fullstory/2980388/rising-sea-come-at-a-cost-for.html  This story is the first to my knowledge to present the climate adaptation predicament of Florida beach communities to the general public in such detail.  Thanks to Howard Denson for sending the link.  (One thing the story does not seem to recognize is that the permeable limestone base of Miami will simply convey sea level rise to the other side of a sea wall.  And the mayor of Miami Beach does not seem to know that some of Miami’s streets are already under water at high high tides—she believes that climate change is her grandchildren’s problem.  We did used to think so, but it is ours, and will be theirs too.)

5.  The St. Johns River Water Management District, a state agency, presented to the Environmental Symposium an analysis of the impact of withdrawals from the river based partly on a “conservative” estimate of 14 cm (5.5”) in sea level rise by 2030.  It was the first public recognition of sea level rise in planning for Northeast Florida.  Other reports and planning efforts are in process.  The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve will present its first report on its study of sea level rise in the Matanzas Basin this fall.  The Board of the Regional Council of North Florida has charged its associated Regional Community Institute with investigating and planning for climate change.  The report of the Ice2Sea project of the European Union and other countries on the contribution of polar ice sheets is due this fall, and should aid planning here and generally.  Our region and many others are beginning to face the future.
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