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  • Showing only topics with the tag "environment". Back to normal view
    1. Ignoring initial construction costs, what takes less of a toll on the environment: a human-powered bike or an electric bike?

      What’s up tildorans, This is more of a thought experiment then anything else, is the impact of consuming calories more or less impactful then producing the electricity needed to power the bike?...

      What’s up tildorans, This is more of a thought experiment then anything else, is the impact of consuming calories more or less impactful then producing the electricity needed to power the bike? And I also understand this is extremely affected by circumstance. Let’s say you eat beef 3 times a day and live in a part of the world where power is mostly generated via nuclear or hydroelectric. At that point, would the impact via electricity be less then the one via calories? What if you flip the spectrum and you’re a vegan living somewhere that produces all its energy via coal and oil, how does that affect the equation? Thanks

      5 votes
    2. Suburbs and car centric urban design is the worst mistake in modern history

      Designing our countries to accommodate cars as much as possible has been one of the most destructive things to our health, environment, safety and social connectedness. The damage has spread so...

      Designing our countries to accommodate cars as much as possible has been one of the most destructive things to our health, environment, safety and social connectedness. The damage has spread so far and deep that it has reached a crisis point in most developed cities in almost every country. The suburbs we live in are subjected to strict zoning laws baring any form of high density building and any form of mixed zoning. As a result our houses are spaced so far away from each other and from the essential services we need that unless you own a car you are blocked from having a normal life. The main streets full of independent stores and markets have all been killed by megamalls 30km away from where people live with carparks bigger than most park lands. All of this was caused by car usage pushing our societies further and further apart to the point where many people find it acceptable and normal to drive 40km each direction to work each day.

      One of the more devastating effects of this urban sprawl is the supermarket has been moved so far away that most people avoid going as much as possible and limit it to a single trip every 1-2 weeks. Fresh food does not last 1-2 weeks which leaves people throwing out mountains of spoiled food that wasn't eaten in time as well as the move to processed foods packed full of preservatives. As well as a shift to people buying dinner from drive through takeaway franchises because their hour long commute has left them with little time to cook fresh and healthy foods.

      Owning a car in many countries is seen as the only way to get a job. This locks the poor from ever regaining control of their life because the cost of owning and maintaining a car is higher than most of these people get in an entire year. Our city streets which should be places of vibrant liability have become loud, unsafe and toxic.

      Elon and his electric cars solve none of these issues. Electric cars are not the way of the future. They don't even solve air pollution issues entirely because a large part of air pollution is brake pad fibres and tire wear which is proportional to the vehicles weight. And these Teslas are not light.

      The only solution is reducing personal vehicle usage as much as possible in urban areas. Of course there will always be some people who will genuinely need vehicles such as in rural areas but there is simply no reason to have the average person drive to and from their office or retail job every day. Its wasteful and harmful in so many ways.

      There needs to be a huge push to reclaim our cities and living spaces to bring back the liveability that we could have had. In my city some of the side streets were closed to cars and the change was incredible. Plants and seating filled the spots that would have once been a row of free parking. The streets are filled with the sounds of laughter instead of the roar of motors. The local pubs and cafes have benefited hugely. They didn't benefit at all from street side car parks that were always filled by people who have done 5 laps of the city looking for an empty park and do not intend to shop there.

      What is everyone's opinion on this topic and what can we do about it?

      64 votes
    3. What are the primary pressures leading us towards collapse?

      I’m trying to organize a series of statements which reflect the primary pressures pushing civilization towards collapse. Ideally, I could be as concise as possible and provide additional resources...

      I’m trying to organize a series of statements which reflect the primary pressures pushing civilization towards collapse. Ideally, I could be as concise as possible and provide additional resources for understanding and sources in defense of each. Any feedback would be helpful, as I would like to incorporate them into a general guide for better understanding collapse.

      We are overwhelmingly dependent on finite resources.

      Fossil fuels account for 87% of the world’s total energy consumption. 1 2 3

      Economic pressures will manifest well before reserves are actually depleted as more energy is required to extract the same amount of resources over time (or as the steepness of the EROEI cliff intensifies). 1 2

      We are transitioning to renewables very slowly.

      Renewables have had an average growth rate of 5.4% over the past decade. 1 2 3 4

      Renewables are not taking off any faster than coal or oil once did and there is no technical or financial reason to believe they will rise any quicker, in part because energy demand is soaring globally, making it hard for natural gas, much less renewables, to just keep up. 1

      Total world energy consumption increased 15% from 2009 to 2016. New renewables powered less than 30% of the growth in demand during that period. 1

      Transitioning to renewables too quickly would disrupt the global economy.

      A rush to build an new global infrastructure based on renewables would require an enormous amount resources and produce massive amounts of pollution. 1 2

      Current renewables are ineffective replacements for fossil fuels.

      Energy can only be substituted by other energy. Conventional economic thinking on most depletable resources considers substitution possibilities as essentially infinite. But not all joules perform equally. There is a large difference between potential and kinetic energy. Energy properties such as: intermittence, variability, energy density, power density, spatial distribution, energy return on energy invested, scalability, transportability, etc. make energy substitution a complex prospect. The ability of a technology to provide ‘joules’ is different than its ability to contribute to ‘work’ for society. All joules do not contribute equally to human economies. 1 2 3

      Best-case energy transition scenarios will still result in severe climate change.

      Even if every renewable energy technology advanced as quickly as imagined and they were all applied globally, atmospheric CO2 levels wouldn’t just remain above 350 ppm; they would continue to rise exponentially due to continued fossil fuel use. So our best-case scenario, which was based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change, with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others. Our reckoning showed that reversing the trend would require both radical technological advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering the carbon. 1

      The speed and scale of transitions and of technological change required to limit warming to 1.5°C has been observed in the past within specific sectors and technologies {4.2.2.1}. But the geographical and economic scales at which the required rates of change in the energy, land, urban, infrastructure and industrial systems would need to take place, are larger and have no documented historic precedent. 1

      Global economic growth peaked forty years ago.

      Global economic growth peaked forty years ago and is projected to settle at 3.7% in 2018. 1 2 3

      The increased price of energy, agricultural stress, energy demand, and declining EROEI suggest the energy-surplus economy already peaked in the early 20th century. 1 2

      The size of the global economy is still projected to double within the next 25 years. 1

      Our institutions and financial systems are based on expectations of continued GDP growth perpetually into the future. Current OECD (2015) forecasts are for more than a tripling of the physical size of the world economy by 2050. No serious government or institution entity forecasts the end of growth this century (at least not publicly). 1

      Global energy demand is increasing.

      Global energy demand has increased 0.5-2% per year from 2011-2017, despite increases in efficiency. 1 2 3

      Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use. 1 2 3 4

      World population is increasing.

      World population is growing at a rate of around 1.09% per year (2018, down from 1.12% in 2017 and 1.14% in 2016. The current average population increase is estimated at 83 million people per year. The annual growth rate reached its peak in the late 1960s, when it was at around 2%. The rate of increase has nearly halved since then, and will continue to decline in the coming years. 1 2

      Our supplies of food and water are diminishing.

      Global crop yields are expected to fall by 10% on average over the next 30 years as a result of land degradation and climate change. 1

      An estimated 38% of the world’s cropland has been degraded or reduced water and nutrient availability. 1 2

      Two-thirds of the world (4.0 billion people) lives under conditions of severe water scarcity at least one month per year. 1

      Climate change is rapidly destabilizing our environment.

      An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree humans are the primary cause of climate change. 1

      A comparison of past IPCC predictions against 22 years of weather data and the latest climate science find the IPCC has consistently underplayed the intensity of climate change in each of its four major reports released since 1990. 1

      15,000 scientists, the most to ever cosign and formally support a published journal article, recently called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” 1

      Emissions are still rising globally and far from enabling us to stay under two degrees of global average warming. 1 2

      Climate feedback loops could exponentially accelerate climate change.

      In addition to increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, many disrupted systems can trigger various positive or negative feedbacks within the larger system. 1 2 3 4 5

      Biodiversity is falling rapidly.

      The current species extinction rate is 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than the natural background rate. 1 2

      World wildlife populations have declined by an average 58% in the past four decades. 1

      The marginal utility of societal complexity is declining.

      Civilization solves problems via increased societal complexity (e.g. specialization, political organization, technology, economic relationships). However, each increase in complexity has a declining marginal utility to overall society, until it eventually becomes negative. At such a point, complexity would decrease and a process of collapse or decline would begin, since it becomes more useful to decrease societal complexity than it would be to increase it. 1 2 3

      25 votes
    4. If human population stops rising or decreases, what will be the negative effects for people?

      From the environmental standpoint shrinking of human population is often quoted to have desirable effects, and that's reasonable. But from the point of view of our daily lives and functioning of...

      From the environmental standpoint shrinking of human population is often quoted to have desirable effects, and that's reasonable. But from the point of view of our daily lives and functioning of the human society, what negatives could we then expect? (I mean a soft decline due to lower birth rates, not some abrupt events.)

      For example, with smaller population fewer music albums could be made every year than some time before, and people would maybe feel less inspired and satisfied. Less scientific research, less choices for relationships... and maybe other things? Would being more technically advanced compensate for the issues? Won't we feel ourselves in oblivion and romanticize the "numerous" past?

      15 votes
    5. What are you doing to reduce your impact?

      Impact can be in many different areas (carbon emissions, energy use, water, plastics, land use, advocacy etc etc). I just want to know something you're doing that helps the environment. It can be...

      Impact can be in many different areas (carbon emissions, energy use, water, plastics, land use, advocacy etc etc). I just want to know something you're doing that helps the environment. It can be big or small, something you've done for a long time, just started or want to implement soon.

      I'll start, about 18 months ago I bought a bike and started cycling again. Most of my shorter journeys are now by bike and I'm looking at cycling to work.

      Environmental news is often really bleak, lets hear some positive efforts!

      27 votes