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Alex Steffen: Where We Are And Where We’re Going (video)
As many of our readers know, Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen has brought the message of big-picture, bright green change to audiences around the world, from Toronto to New Zealand. He has held the attention of world leaders, businesspeople in suits, students in sweatshirts, and many others in between (including the distinguished audience members at TED).
Last spring, Alex delivered the keynote at the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival here in Seattle. Though this intimate event was more informal than most, it’s one of the few presentations from which we have a recording in full. We’re happy to have the chance to share it with you here:
(13 January 2009)
Posting of the full talk. Original talk was given in May 3, 2008.
Reality Report: Bill McKibben
Jason Bradford, Reality Report via Global Public Media
The Reality Report talks to Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: TheWealth of Communities and the Durable Future and co-founder of the climate change group 350.org.
Over the past year or so, much of the thinking about the severity and timeline of climate change has undergone a major shift. In the fall of 2007, a report titled The Big Melt came out that reviewed the rapid loss of polar ice and its likely implications. In December 2007 James Hansen presented a paper at the American Geophysical Union in which it was argued that safe levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were at least below 350 parts per million, and in fact may be less than 300 ppm. For anyone familiar with climate science and policy this was a stunning conclusion because current levels of CO2 are over 385 ppm. During the winter of 2008 a new report titled Climate Code Red was released that greatly expanded upon The Big Melt and delved into the socio-political implications of the new scientific information, essentially framing the issue in terms of survival requirements on a damaged spaceship Earth. Soon afterwards, a climate activist group called 350.org was formed by Bill McKibben and friends to spread the message that policy targets need to reflect the scientific imperative.
This show brings us up to date since those developments–and a lot has occurred, including international climate change policy meetings in Poland, more information from scientists, a new U.S. president, and major disruptions to the global economy.
I am very pleased to have Bill McKibben on the program. Bill has been along-time champion of ecologically grounded economies, a safe climate campaigner, a popular writer, and teacher to many.
See the Post Carbon Institute’s Energy Scarcity and the Path to Energy, Economic, and Environmental Recovery for our recommendations on carbon and energy policy.
(12 January 2009)
The Effect of Natural Gradients on the Net Energy Profits from Corn Ethanol
EROI Guy, The Oil Drum: Net Energy
Scaling biofuels from the level of the laboratory or pilot-plants to commercial production is the Achilles’ Heel of almost all biofuels. One major problem is that biofuels use feedstocks that are invariably less energy dense than their fossil fuel counterparts. For example, there are approximately 45 MJ per kilogram contained in both the finished product of gasoline and crude oil, while ethanol has an energy density of about 26 MJ per kilogram and corn has only 16 MJ per kilogram. In general, this means that large amounts of corn must be grown and harvested to equal even a small portion of our gasoline consumption on an energy equivalent level, which will undoubtedly expand the land area that is impacted by the production process of corn-based ethanol.
The primary message to be gleaned from this post is that “scaling-up” corn-based ethanol or other similar biofuel projects usually have complications, such as lower corn yields on marginal lands, and these complications tend to increase the costs, not the gains, associated with converting feedstocks with low energy densities to final products with higher energy densities.
(13 January 2009)