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A Blueprint for a Sustainable Future Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs ~ The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) CHAPTER 17 We started this book with the views expressed in The Limit to Growth, which painted a pessimistic picture of the world if population and energy consumption were to continue their exponential growth. We would like to conclude the book by giving a sharply contrasting, optimistic view of how the future could be if we take the necessary actions to preserve the environment and our natural resources. This does not necessarily have to be a painful process, but can be accomplished utilizing small steps that enrich our lives as well as the lives of our children and grandchildren. We will start this chapter by discussing what sustainability is, then offer recommendations on how to achieve it on personal, national, and global levels. All it takes to achieve these goals is an open mind, a little sacrifice, and a well thought-out pathway. Sustainability The technological advances of the last few decades have provided unprecedented opportunities for greater material wealth, better health care, and a more comfortable life for the great majority of people, but have also resulted in the accumulation of a tremendous amount of waste, depletion of a large fraction of our natural resources, and the acceleration of environmental degradation. This naturally leads to the question of how to continue with economic progress while keeping environmental damage to a minimum. Two approaches to sustainability are proposed by economists. Neoclassical economists consider a sustainable environment to be that which provides an average person a future with a living standard that is better, or at least as good, as that of an average person today.1 They maintain that our children will be collectively better off if the economy expands at a faster rate than resources are depleted. After all there are no guarantees that we will ever run out of natural resources. Neoclassical economists are technological optimists; they believe that a free-market economy has the built-in mechanisms that would prevent ecological collapse, by promoting technologies that will help overcome resource scarcity and environmental damage. They cite increases in food production, discoveries of new energy reserves, and better and more efficient manufacturing technologies of the last century as proof that the overall standard of living around the globe 1 Neoclassical economics is a school of thought in which maximizing profit is the ultimate goal of any organization. has improved. They also claim that the living standard will continue to improve in the future and conclude that we are living in a sustainable environment. Ecological economists (or ecologists), on the other hand, consider an environment sustainable only if future generations can enjoy essentially the same resources and a similar environment as we do today.2 Although technological advances can help prevent resource scarcity and environmental damages in the short term, they will ultimately be used to accelerate the ecological abuses. Unlike the neoclassical economists, ecologists see material goods as only useful in serving people to a point; therefore, economic well-being alone cannot compensate for a loss of natural resources or environmental degradation. Question: Can we maintain a sustainable environment and still use fossil fuels and pollute the air? Answer: Neoclassical economists do not see continued use of fossil fuels as necessarily bad, as increases in the rate of energy consumption increase economic output and help improve living standards. By allocating sufficient resources we can develop technologies that combat environmental damage and maintain a reasonable degree of sustainability. Ecological economists believe that sustainability is possible if benefits of fossil consumption outweighs the damages it causes to the environment. To be sustainable, the noted economist, Herman Daly, set three citerias3: 1. For renewable resources, the sustainable rate of use can be no greater than the rate of regeneration. For example, geothermal hot water and steam resources are used at a rate that is being regenerated by nature. 2. For nonrenewable resources, the sustainable rate of use can be no greater than the rate at which a renewable resource can be substituted for it. For example, photovoltaic and wind technologies allow equivalent amount of energy and at comparable prices to become available, once the nonrenewable resources are exhausted. 3. For environmental pollution, the sustainable rate of emissions can be no greater than the rate at which that pollution can be rendered harmless. For example, the volume of carbon dioxide emission balances the removal of other substances that there is no net contribution of green house gases to the environment. Question: According to a study, from 1930 to 2000, the money value of the world industrial output grew by a factor of 14.4 During the same period -- because of the population growth -- the average per E cological economics is a branch of economists who see a direct link between the health of the ecosystem and that of human beings. Ecological economics is sometimes referred to as “Green Economics.” 3 Daly, H., “Toward Some Operational Principles of Sustainable Development,” E cological Economics 2 , 1990. 4 Meadows, D., et al., L imit to Growth: 30-Year Update, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004. 2 440 Chapter 17 - Sustainability capita output increased by a factor of 5. Has society’s progress been sustainable? Answer: Neoclassical economists see this data as an indication of an improved standard of living during that period and thus conclude that the progress was sustainable. The ecological economist, argues however, that if the population had been stable, the material standard of living would have grown by a factor of 14 also. Furthermore, although the cumulative wealth has been greater, the gap between the rich and poor nations has increased, and therefore we experienced an unsustained growth. Among the first to quantify the impact of increasing consumption on the environment were Ehrlich and Holdren, who proposed a simple model commonly known as the IPAT equation.5 According to this model, total environmental damage (ecological footprint) is determined by three factors: the number of people, consumption per capita, and the state of technology (damage done per unit of consumption). This is represented as: I = P . A . T Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology where: I (17-1) is the impact on the environment resulting from consumption, P is the population, A is the degree of affluence measured as consumption per capita, and T is the technological factor that accounts for both the positive and negative impacts of technology on the environment. Example 17-1: Using the IPAT model estimate what impact automobiles have on global warming. Solution: Assuming 6.3 billion people live on earth, that there is roughly one car for every 7 persons, and that with the current state of technology, each car produces 5.4 tons of CO2 per year, we can evaluate automobiles’ impact as: I = P . A . T CO2 Emission 5.4 tons of CO2 = (6.3 billion people) 1 car car year = 4.86 billion tons of CO2 / year year 7 persons This accounts for roughly 22% of total carbon dioxide emission (and thus global warming).6 5 6 E hrlich, P. R., and Holdren, J., “Impact of Population Growth,” Science 171, no. 3977, pp. 1212-1219, 1971. It is assumed that the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions will remain constant at their 2002 level of 24.5 billion tons ( 441 Population The first factor in the IPAT equation is population. The neoclassical economists see population as an asset and believe its growth can actually be a positive factor for development. Their argument is that, with the right environment and proper training, people can be equipped with the skills to produce more than they consume. In addition, having more children lowers the median age and helps to remedy the shortage of manpower which would otherwise be a major problem in sustaining economic and environmental health. Contrary to the neoclassical view, the ecologists consider population as the greatest drain on resources and the main cause of ecological degradation. This is no more evident when we consider that countries with the most population, China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil are among some of the poorest; indeed the same countries have some of the highest birth rates. Contrasting these with sparsely-populated countries such as Switzerland, Luxemborg, and Finland with the highest per capita in the world, shows that more population - means less, not more - wealth. 7 More people mean that the already scarce natural resources and social services must spread over a larger population. This view was originally expressed by Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) who, in “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” warned that the exponential increase in population along with the linear increase in availability (consumption) of resources would inevitably lead to a massive number of poor dying from famine, disease, or war.8 Based on theory, famine and war were two necessary ingredients of any development process, a view attacked vigorously by Marx.9 In the last few years, social scientists, ecologists, and others have proposed new approaches to slowing the rate of population growth. Some, like ecologist Raymond Cowles, suggest economic motivations such as taxing large families and giving cash incentives to those who choose to have fewer children.10 Others, like Ken Boulding, take a more radical approach by proposing to introduce a “child credit,” similar to the concept of a “pollution credit” introduced in the previous chapter.11 According to this plan, every woman is allowed to have a set number of children. Those who opt for fewer children can sell their credit to those who wish to have more. Family planners can adjust the number of permits to assure that sustainability is maintained. Diamond, J., Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed , Penguin Group, USA, 2004. M althus was unable to take into consideration technological advancements such as the improvement in the quality of seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers or the effects of mechanized production and more effective irrigation methods. In addition, the recent development of biotechnology promises the possibility of genetically modified crops that will increase production and decrease infestations. He also overlooked advancements in education and the impact of women entering the workforce, two factors that reduce population growth. Furthermore, population growth in several industrialized countries has ceased and still others have achieved negative growth. From the 1950’s to 1980’s, the Green Revolution era, food production increased more rapidly than population, however it has become apparent that the use of land was excessive and the rate of crop yield has dropped significantly in the last t wenty years, falling below the rate of population growth. A copy of the original paper published in 1798 can be found at 9 Meek, R. L., . Marx and Engels on Malthus. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1953. 9 Garrett Hardin, L iving without Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos , Oxford University Press, 1993. 10 Boulding, K., Collected Papers, Vol II., Foreword by T. R. Malthus, Population First Essay, Colorado Associated University Press, 1971. 7 8 The world suffers from excessive use of resources by the West as much as the excessive population in India and Prime Minister in her 1972 address to the United Nations. elsewhere. -- Indira Gandhi, the Indian 442 Chapter 17 - Sustainability Betting on Sustainability I F YI ... n 1980, the famous neoclassical economist Julian Simon challenged his colleague Paul Ehrlich, a noted ecological scientist, to put his money where his mouth was by betting that the prices of five metals would decrease in the next decade. According to Simon, the world will never run out of any of its natural resources, including energy. By 1990, the price of the basket of metals had gone down, partly because of recession and partly because of the rapid rise in the price of oil. The lower price of metals was meant to indicate that there are no shortages of these metals. Having won the earlier bet, in 1995, Simon issued a new challenge in which he predicted that, in contrast to the doomsayers’ scenario, every trend pertaining to human welfare would get better. Rather than accepting the new challenge, Paul Ehrlich and another colleague came with their own list of 15 global indicators that, they claimed, would get worse in the decade that followed.i The list included such items as the increase in concentration of several global warming gases in the atmosphere, the decrease in area of fertile cropland per person, fisheries, plants and animals, an increase in deaths due to AIDS, and an increase in the gap between the richest 10% of population and the poorest 10% of the population. Simon refused to wager citing that he would bet only on direct measures of human welfare, such as median income and life expectancy. Ehrlich and his colleague did not agree to the change, arguing that income and life expectancy are not good indicators of environmental sustainability, and therefore only those negative environmental or social trends can truly represent whether the environment is sustainable or not. Although nobody agreed on the criteria most suitable to measure sustainability, the offer brought about public awareness of environmental issues and countered the claims made by Simon. i Ehrlich, P, and Ehrlich, A., The Betrayal of Science and Reason, Island Press, pp 100-104, 1996. Depending on how they see the population threat, different countries have opted for different coping strategies. The Vatican and a few Latin American countries do not consider over-population to be a problem and are openly opposed to abortion and any type of birth control. In contrast, Europeans, through education and by making birth control (including abortion) readily available, have succeeded in achieving a near zero population growth. Americans are divided on the question of abortion and women’s right to choose. China encourages late marriages and late child bearing by providing financial subsidies, longer maternity leaves, and better housing to couples with fewer children.12 Several developing countries have followed China’s lead by providing public subsidies for housing, health care, and insurance to families with fewer children. During the last decade, Russia actually had a negative growth rate, mainly because of a large number of emigrants leaving for other countries. As it stands, many developed countries have succeeded in stopping, or at least slowing, the growth rate of their populations. Unfortunately, population continues to increase in many poor and developing countries, and is likely to continue until it reaches equilibrium by mid-century (See Figure 17-1). As data indicates, the world population has steadily increased throughout history in a manner that exceeds simple exponential growth, as noted by shorter and shorter doubling times.13 It is expected that the world population will continue to increase to 7.2 billion by 2015 12 13 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, April 2005. Figure 17-1 Past, present, and projected population in developed and developing countries. Carnell, B., “China’s One-Child Policy,” 1977 ( A lthough the population has not always increased, when viewed over a period of many generations, it has shown steady growth. For example, the bubonic plague (“black death”) pandemic of 1347-1351 killed 25 to 50 million, almost one in every three people in Europe. Nevertheless, the population recovered shortly thereafter and has been increasing ever since. The same can be said of the temporary decreases in population resulting from major wars, famine, or even a nuclear holocaust. 443 – with 95% of its increase in developing countries – before it stabilizes to 10 billion at around 2050.14 Table 17-1 shows the expected number of people living in different parts of the world by 2050. We cannot talk about population control without looking at immigration. It has been practiced throughout the centuries, sometimes by those in search of better economic opportunities, sometimes to escape political persecution, and at times to satisfy curiosity. In any instance, immigration has promoted diversity, has caused better mutual understanding among people, and has made the world seem ever smaller. In the twentieth century, faster and more convenient means of transportation, mainly airplanes and ships, have accelerated this pattern. Oftentimes, when cheaper labor is sought, immigration has been promoted, whereas at other times economic problems at home have made foreign workers and expatriates unwelcome. What is clear is that, unless there is a more equitable distribution of wealth, a greater effort in educating the public, and better ecological policies in place, immigration from developing to developed countries will continue to be a problem. Table 17-1. Population growth rate and doubling time in 2001 Region Population in 2001 818 million 3.72 billion 316 million 525 million 727 million 31 million 6.14 billion Growth % Doubling time in years 29 50 140 41 64 54 Projected Population in 2050 1.8 billion 5.2 billion 452 million 814 million 662 million 46 million 9.0 billion Africa Asia North America Latin America Europe Oceania World 2.4 1.4 0.5 1.7 -0.1 1.1 1.3 Source: World Resource Institute ( Affluence The second factor appearing in the IPAT model is affluence. Affluence can be regarded as the increase in material gain and is usually measured as the per capita consumption of a certain good or a market activity. Neoclassical economists see more consumption and higher GDPs (gross domestic products) as indications of greater wealth, a healthier economy, and a better standard of living. The ecological footprint as a result of higher consumption is largely ignored. Consequently, these economists object to reducing consumption on the grounds that it slows down economic expansion and results in loss of jobs. Ecologists, however, disagree with this assertion on two accounts. First, material gain can bring happiness only up to a point, beyond which there is no correlation between the two. Second, higher GDP per capita is not a sign of wealth, as it includes costs associated with pollution and other environmental damage. If it were, a country could exhaust all its mineral “Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Non-government Experts”, Centeral Intelligence Agency, Report GT-2015, 2000 ( globaltrends2015). 14 444 Chapter 17 - Sustainability resources, cut down all its trees, erode its soil, pollute its aquifers, and kill all its wildlife and fisheries, while its economy continued to grow.15 Figure 17-2 shows the per capita energy consumption versus the GDP for several countries. Although correlation between GDP and energy consumption per capita was high in the past, the higher efficiencies achieved by newer technologies along with some conservation measures and the shift toward e-commerce has decoupled GDP from energy consumption for many industrial countries. The data from the General Accounting Office (GAO) indicates that the US GDP has continuously grown by 2.5% per year since 1973, reaching 11.7 trillion dollars by 2004.16 It is also estimated that up to a quarter of the US GDP is wasted on nonproductive human activities (lost productivity due to traffic congestion, absenteeism, and costs associated with highway accidents, property damage, environmental cleanup, and maintaining law and order) where no value is generated. Table 17-2 gives the breakdown of various nonproductive expenses in the United States. In addition, many of the social costs associated with climate change, distress, illnesses, and substance abuse have not been included, but may have to be borne out by future generations in terms of increases in crime rate, mental depression, unemployment, and other social ills. If we subtract the cost of wasteful activities from the GDP, we might be surprised to find that the economy may not have grown at all! Table 17-2. Nonproductive expenses in the US Activity Highway accidents Highway congestion Driving (other) Diet Crime Cleanup of nuclear material How? Health care, repairs, loss of productivity, police, and judicial systems Loss of productivity Road repairs, pollution Obesity, heart disease, substance abuse Health, police, and prison Extraction, processing, and disposal, nuclear weapons Billion $ 150 100 1,000 400 450 500 300 600 Bahrain 500 Total energy per capita (MBTu) Kuwait Norway 400 Singapore Canada United States 300 Australia Saudi Arabia New Zealand 200 Russia France Austria Korea, South United Kingdom Germany Slovenia Spain Greece Japan Belgium Finland 100 Belarus South Africa Poland Iran Brazil China Rwanda 0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 25,000 30,000 35,000 40,000 45,000 Gross national product per capita (US $/person) Figure 17-2 Energy consumption vs. GDP for several countries. Data compiled from the World Bank. Source: Hawken, P., Lovins, A., and Lovins, H., Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Rocky Mountain Institute, pp. 57, 1999. Question: In Chapter 15, in addition to the GDP, we defined another indicator - the net national welfare (NNW) - to gauge the state of the economy of a given country. How can we use these indicators to measure the degree of sustainability? Answer: If both the GDP and NNW grow from one year to the next, no matter whether you consider yourself a neoclassical or an ecologist, Even if monetary gains were the only indicator of affluence, higher income (GDP per capita) does not signify wealth because these values are calculated based on a single currency, u sually $US, and cannot be translated to the real purchasing power of a citizen in his own country. In response to these problems economists have devised an alternative measure k nown as Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which tracks the cost of a basket of traded and non-traded goods and services across countries. 16 Bureau of Economic Accounting, US Department of Commerce ( 14 445 you will see the environment as sustainable. If GDP continues to grow while NNW falls, the environment is sustainable according to views held by neoclassicals, but not to ecologists. If both the GDP and NNW decline, then we have a non-sustainable environment. The major problem with the NNW indicator is that it is not an easy way to determine the external costs and gains resulting from non-market goods, so this type of calculation is subject to interpretation and therefore highly subjective. Effects of Affluence on Waste and Environmental Damage The affluent lifestyle enjoyed in many industrial countries, in particular the United States, comes with a price: an ever-increasing volume of waste and a rapidly degrading environment. Waste is not only a result of inefficient material and energy use, but also a consequence of our unquenchable appetite for over-consumption, due to consuming products that are either unnecessary (such as disposable products, electric toothbrushes, motorized lawn mowers, etc.) or excessive (such as large cars, excess packaging, oversized air conditioners, super-sized food portions, etc.). Waste problems in the United States became particularly severe following the Second World War, where much of its technological capability was redirected towards manufacturing consumer goods, newer drugs, higher quality cosmetics, and more potent pesticides, fertilizers, solvents, and lubricants. These products made life easier for most, but also resulted in numerous health problems and deterioration of the environment. As the economy became stronger and the average purchasing power of American families grew, so did the rate of consumption and the volume of waste. Today, according to EPA estimates, over 250 million tons of toxic waste are produced every year spread over about 50,000 toxic waste sites in the United States. Another 12 million tons of pesticides are used on crops, forests, and lakes. The cleanup and safe disposal of toxic waste has been debated between those who promote building bigger and bigger landfills and those who prefer incineration. Unfortunately, each method has certain drawbacks; landfills, even those lined with multiple layers of clay and nonporous plastics, are largely ineffective at keeping toxins out of the surrounding soil. Incineration produces significant amounts of air pollutants and is suitable only for organic matters. The best way to combat waste is to remove incentives for being wasteful and increase material and energy efficiency through better designs, more efficient utilization of materials, increasing product durability, and by recycling and reusing the scraps. Unfortunately, our economic system favors waste while discouraging efficiency. For example, commission fees charged by building contractors, architects, and engineering firms are based on the total cost of the project, and therefore the tendency is 446 Chapter 17 - Sustainability to oversize everything. The same can be said of the OEMs who furnish equipment and machinery. The sensitive alternative is to link prices and fees to efficiency rather than to a percentage of total cost. In other words, designers and engineers should be rewarded for what they save, not what they spend. Technology The third factor impacting the environmental damage is technology.17 Technology can influence the environment both positively and negatively. On one hand, technology makes it possible to design machines that have better efficiencies and make elaborate tasks much easier to perform. On the other hand, technology promotes automation, usually at the expense of faster resource depletion and additional waste. Consider, as an example, the impact of technology on automobile use. Automobiles have given us mobility by allowing us to move around faster but have also limited our physical activity, which affects our health and general wellbeing. Increased efficiency, measured as miles traveled per gallon of fuel, has not helped either, as it has only caused people to buy larger, heavier cars and travel longer distances. Fortunately, technological advances are on the horizon which, if used wisely, give us the promise of a sustainable future, affecting everything we build and consume from microchips to potato chips. The most promising innovations are in the fields of manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and energy. Consumerism and the Rat Race F YI ... T i 17 he increased pattern of consumerism in western cultures is mainly the result of inherent pressure to adapt our lifestyles to a particular social norm. The motive for this behavior might be the desire of a particular person to be similar to others (bandwagon effect), or to distinguish himself from others (snob effect), or appear to be of a higher social status than others (the Veblen effect). An example of the bandwagon effect is adhering to a brand name which has become popular with a certain age group. An example of the snob effect is a punk hairstyle, only to stress a distinction from the average person. The Veblen effecti refers to consumption of an expensive item like a Lexus (instead of a Toyota). Although each of these social behaviors can be satisfying in the short term for certain groups of consumers, in the long term and for the society as a whole, more material wealth will eventually fail to translate into happiness. If everyone races to get ahead of others by working harder, making more money, or assimilating to the social norm, then the differences in social status will eventually disappear. As a result, everybody must run faster to maintain the edge and the society as a whole becomes less satisfied. For example, since there is a limited amount of space for houses overlooking oceans, then the prices of these houses increase and one has to work harder to be able to achieve similar social status or comfort they Even by age 5, my daughter had already chosen her had with much less work and lower income. favorite store and brand name. Named after the American sociologist and economist, Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). Much of the material in this section has been adapted from Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution , Rocky Mountain Institute, 1999. (See list of additional reading at the end of this chapter). 447 Manufacturing Manufacturing is undergoing major changes in reducing both material and energy consumption. For example, optical fibers have forty times the carrying capacity of copper, which can potentially save an enormous amount of materials and energy during extraction, manufacturing, and implementation of conventional copper cables. The same can be said of new composites that can replace heavy steels. Molded plastic parts produce far less waste than metals, potentially saving a great amount of material. More versatile design tools and better manufacturing techniques allow for the design of better and more efficient devices without sacrificing their functionality. The manufacturing practices prevalent in the past have been based mostly on the one-time use of materials, creating a large amount of waste that must be disposed. Just-in-time manufacturing and made-to-order manufacturing are two approaches being popularized in many manufacturing sectors; they use the exact amount of materials that are being delivered at the exact time they are needed. This reduces the volume of the scrap materials, eliminates the need for on-site storage, and minimizes the risk of spoilage and environmental damage. New CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) tools are available that help design products that weigh less and are stronger, while consuming less energy and material. This is achieved primarily by making them less bulky while assuring thermal and mechanical stresses in critical areas are kept below their safe limits. R apid prototyping is a relatively new concept that uses CAD software to manufacture three-dimensional prototypes of a device at only a fraction of the cost, energy, and material. The design for manufacturing is based on minimizing material and energy use during the entire chain of product development from material extraction, to processing, to manufacturing, to use, to reuse, and to disposal. Making products lighter and more durable is obviously the best choice. Proper reuse of material and recycling waste will play a large part in creating a sustainable society. For example, we can re-pulp paper products into cardboard, shred them and use them as insulation, or incinerate them to generate heat. Clothing and furniture can be reused by more needy individuals, recycled into new products, or burned to generate energy. Glasses can be refilled over and over again or be crushed and made into new products. Metals can be re-melted and reused to manufacture new products. Question: A beer canning company intends to reduce material waste by redesigning the shape of their beer cans. What do you suggest? Answer: For the same volume, beer cans that are fatter and shorter have the lowest total surface area and a smaller mass. It is left as an exercise to show that minimum surface area is achieved when a can’s height is equal to its diameter. Another factor that can affect the choice 448 Chapter 17 - Sustainability is the practicality of the design. Transportation As we discussed in Chapter 14, transportation systems are changing with major impacts on the world energy supplies. These include a complete redesign of cars using lighter and stronger materials, more efficient hybrid and fuel cell cars, maglev rail, and more aerodynamic sea and air vehicles. Development of low-cost public transportation systems, faster communications that allows efficient home offices, and new architectural concepts to build modern residential communities and financial centers will greatly reduce the driving needs. Agriculture Scientists have already developed bacteria that can absorb nutrients more effectively and a natural antifungal agent that protects wheat and other seeds staves off frost development in plants. It is predicted that by the end of this century making better farming and irrigation systems, developing hybrid seeds, producing food from municipal waste, planting trees and growing food in unfriendly climates and salty soils, and hydroponics (a method of growing plants without soil by providing food and water directly to the roots of the plant) will alleviate the food shortage in many poor countries18, eliminating the need to transport food across continents.19 Genetic engineering will also play an important role in accelerating the growth of livestock and modification of crops. Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals, and microorganisms by manipulating genes in ways that do not occur naturally. The approach, however, is highly controversial as there is not adequate scientific understanding of the impact on the environment and human health (Figure 17-3).20 Energy Figure 17-3 Corn grenade: the winning image from the Greenpeace Seeds of Trouble competition, 2002. Image courtesy: Greenpeace International. The energy industry will be affected in two fundamental ways: by finding new and alternative sources of energy and by reducing energy need through more energy-efficient designs and practices. Within the next couple of decades, innovative processes that convert coal, oil shale, and tar sands to gaseous and liquid fuels, and possibly, breeder technology will help supply our immediate energy needs. Advances in the field of synthetic biology will enable scientists to produce an artificial genome and re-engineer new organisms that efficiently, and at muchreduced cost, turn plant fiber into ethanol and other biofuels. Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have discovered new strains of petroleum-degrading bacteria that thrive with no light or water, breathe K ahn, H., et al., The next 200 years: A scenario for America and the World, Morrow Publishers, New York, 1976. Today in the United States, food travels an average of 1300 miles from farm to plate; often the energy needed to produce it is many times the energy contained in t he food itself. 20 Greenpeace International ( 18 19 449 carbon dioxide instead of oxygen, and break down toxic petroleum compounds to give off methane gas.21 These properties can pave the way to develop new and cheap class of biofuels, not to mention cleaning up oil and other hydrocarbon spills. In the near future we will witness fuel cells become ready for commercialization for providing premium electricity at efficiencies of 50-60% for building applications. The waste heat provided by hightemperature fuel cells can be recovered to produce steam that can be used directly in industrial applications or expanded in a gas turbine to produce more electricity. The waste heat from low-temperature fuel cells can be used for cooking and is ideal for hot water heating and space air conditioning. Further advances in solar, wind, wave, and ocean thermal technologies are expected to bring down prices, making renewable energy competitive or cheaper than fossil fuels or nuclear fission, alleviating many of our concerns about energy and its effects on the environment. Fusion technology, although currently not available, may prove to be our ultimate source of clean and inexpensive energy for many centuries. In the relatively near future, more energy-efficient devices are expected to flood the market (Figure 17-4). These devices operate by automatically adjusting to consume the least amount of energy required for the task they are designed to perform. Washing machines will be equipped with fuzzy controllers22 that adjust the amount of detergents, water, etc., depending on how dirty clothes are. Dryers, microwave ovens, air conditioners, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners are being designed that work based on similar principles. Lighting and illumination is making great progress toward energy efficiency. Incandescent lamps can be replaced with compact fluorescent and tri-chrome lamps with significantly higher efficiencies. An incandescent bulb contains a tungsten coil filament that turns red when electricity flows in a vacuum. Only 5% of the electricity is converted to light. The remaining 95% is used for heating the element. On the other hand, fluorescent lights operate by exciting the mercury gas through electric discharge to emit ultraviolet light, which in turn converts to visible light by phosphorous coating of the tube. Fluorescent lights are four times more efficient than incandescent lights. Compact fluorescent lights and tri-chrome lamps with rare-earth elements emitting in the visible range that increase efficiency even further are becoming available.23 New architectural concepts allow construction of “green” or ecologicallyfriendly smart buildings that incorporate many energy-saving measures at lower costs without sacrificing convenience or safety. For example, 21 22 23 Figure 17-4 Efficient appliances are authorized by the DoE with special Energy (Green Star) labels. These models can save as much as 30% in energy. Figure 17-5 Compact fluorescent lamps. (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, US Department of Energy). K im, J. and Crowley, D., “Microbial Diversity in Natural Asphalts of the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits,” A pplied and Environmental Microbiology, A pril 6, 2007. Unlike traditional on/off controllers, fuzzy controllers work by assigning a weighting function that can vary by any number between zero and one. Schuman, J., et al., “Technology Reviews: Lighting Systems,” LBL-33200, September 1992. 450 Chapter 17 - Sustainability passive heating and cooling systems, solar walls and roofs, solar collectors deploying newer phase change materials, window overhangs, improved insulation, double-glazed air-tight glass, low-emissivity window coatings, windows with aerogel glazing, and better sensors are some of the technologies that are finding their way into average households.24 Photovoltaic cells can eventually be shaped to directly replace walls and windows, or rolled out like a blanket, or layered like paint onto curved surfaces. Wind turbines can be designed as an integral part of future buildings, making these buildings a net exporter of energy (See Figure 3-15). Future communities can be designed to eliminate repeat trips and reduce commuting, both of which are essential for designing a sustainable future. A Blueprint for a Sustainable Future Throughout the ages civilizations have risen and crumbled, many times as a result of their own mistakes and those of their forefathers. Many of these mistakes were, of course, inevitable, because they lacked the necessary technological know-how, and their immediate survival depended on the unsustainable exploitation of their natural resources. In addition, the population was relatively small and natural resources were abundant, so they moved to more fertile lands and friendlier environments and set up new centers of civilization. Because of the availability of a vast amount of resources and the relatively small population, the ecology remained to a great extent sustainable. It has only been in the last century that accelerated growth in technological innovation, along with exponential growth in population, the rapid pace of economic expansion, and a lack of respect for the environment, have brought about conditions that could put us at risk for ecological disaster. As Diamond asserts, the main problem is not the world population itself - although it has been named most often - but the total population impact. If all people living in the third world were to raise their standard of living and adopt the life styles of inhabitants in the first world, we would need twelve times the resources we are consuming and inflict twelve times the environmental damage we are causing today, something the earth can certainly not sustain.7 In an excellent book called Natural Capitalism,25 published by the Rocky Mountain Institute (a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable alternatives) Hawken and Lovins propose a new system in which resource productivity rather than human productivity drives the new economy. By increasing resource productivity, the same output is achieved but less material and energy are consumed. The authors question the widely accepted assumption that what is good for us must also be good for the world, proposing instead a radically new and contrasting paradigm which proclaims what is good for the world will be good for us. To make our lives better we must strive to make the world better, and to make the 24 25 Rosenfeld, H., et al. “Technologies to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Next Decade,” Physics Today, Nov. 2000, pp 29-34. H awkens, Paul, Lovins, A, and Lovins, L. H., Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution , Rocky Mountain Institute, 1999. 451 world better we must first understand it more. The new economy will contrast modern capitalism in that economic prosperity is not measured by gains in material well-being, but by natural capital that includes all the familiar resources used by humans: water, minerals, oil, trees, fish, air, soil, etc., and encompasses all living organisms, humans, animals, plants, wetlands, oceans, and marshlands.26 Furthermore, unlike “industrial capitalism” that considers only human financial and manufactured capitals as important in creating wealth, “natural capitalism” also keeps stock of natural capital (natural resources, living systems, and ecosystems) and includes them in determining wealth. Whether we follow a sustainable or a non-sustainable future depends largely on how we preserve our biological diversity, how much we increase resource productivity, how much of the natural resources we exploit, and how much we leave for our children. According to many environmentalists and ecological economists we have been, and unfortunately still are, continuing many practices that are unsustainable. To assure sustainability, policy makers, economists, and educators have much work to do. Today’s economy is driven by maximizing profit with little regard to natural capital. Many policies are in place that tax innovation and resource productivity, but encourage waste and inefficiency. For example, we continue to support fishing fleets, even though existing fishing capacity far exceeds the sustainable yield of oceanic fisheries. Subsidizing forest industries by building roads for transporting wood has increased logging. Similarly, subsidizing agricultural farms to cover irrigation and pesticide costs has resulted in large-scale land abuse and salinization. As we discussed earlier, sustainability cannot be achieved unless poverty Did You Know That ...? Sustainability: The Facts • To travel one kilometer by bike requires approximately 5-15 watt-hours (Wh) of energy, while the same distance requires 15-20 Wh by foot, 30-40 Wh by train, and over 400 Wh in a singly occupied car.i • Air-, water-, and food-borne diseases are spreading. • Almost one half of the planet’s tropical forests have been destroyed or severely degraded. • Most of our medicines are extracted from plants, many of which are now endangered. • Ninety percent of all large fish have disappeared in the past half century. • 70% of all people do not have access to fresh water and 20,000 die each day as a result of contaminated water. • Because of the climate change, it is expected that over one million species will be lost in the coming 50 years. • At the current rate, world population is increasing by 80 million people every year. • Since the mid-twentieth century, the population has doubled, while at the same time grain consumption has tripled, seafood harvest has increased four times, paper use has increased six-fold, and consumption of fossil fuels has increased by a factor of four. • 16% of the world’s population is consuming some 80% of its natural resources. • The world’s 500 largest corporations control 25% of the world’s economic output. Bouwman, M. E, An environmental assessment of the bicycle and other transport systems, University of Groningen, Netherlands, 2000 ( i Swamy, M, and Kumara, R., “Does Non--Inclusion of Intangible Asset Values Lead to Distortion of Financial Statements and Mislead Judicious Financial Decision Making?,” Journal O f Financial Management & Analysis Vol 17, Iss 1, Jan-Jun 2004. 26 452 Chapter 17 - Sustainability is eliminated. Many developing countries have been borrowing heavily to subsidize basic necessities and much of their economic development needs. The total external debt of these countries has grown tenfold during the past three decades, from $245 billion in 1970 to more than $2.4 trillion in 2005.27 These countries’ poverty cannot be eliminated unless there is a sincere effort and a substantial commitment from richer countries in the form of debt relief, transfer of clean technology, international development aids, and reduction of trade barriers on goods imported from poorer countries. Educators also have a great degree of responsibility for introducing their students and the public to issues related to energy and the environment, and for advising them on policies and practices that discourage wastes and promote sustainability. Unfortunately, even many consumers who claim to favor environmentalism are not willing to pay more, accept the loss of some comfort, or forfeit minor customary features to buy more environmentally friendly products. The number is growing, however, as the sales of consumer products that carry labels identifying them as environmentally-friendly products by such internationally-recognized organizations such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is gradually increasing.7 We believe consumer attitudes will significantly change as health effects associated with increasing pollution, global warming, and depletion of natural resources become more apparent. Below are some guidelines for what we can do as small steps to move toward a sustainable future or at least reduce the environmental footprint and slow down the damage we are already causing to the environment. On the Personal Level Simplify your life – Use simpler machines. Use tools that require more of your muscle power, like bicycles, manual hacksaws, etc., which are also good for your health. Find a hobby – Participate in leisurely activities like music, sports, arts and crafts. They tend to enrich your life and are relatively nonconsuming and non-polluting. Minimize your energy losses – Repair leaky faucets and water pipes. Replace incandescent lights with fluorescent lights, insulate walls and roofs, and replace old appliances with energy-saving appliances. Use ecologically friendly (green) materials – Consider using natural or recycled materials when buying new homes or remodeling your existing house. Buy only materials that meet environmental and safety 27 Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity ~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) The CIA Fact Book, ( 453 standards. Change your diet – Eat more vegetables and less meat. Consume organic instead of processed foods. Reduce, reuse, and recycle – Reduce material consumption by extending products’ useful lives. Don’t buy new products unless you absolutely need them; share or repair whenever possible. When it is necessary, purchase only durable and energy-efficient devices. Replace disposable with reusable products. Manufacturers do not pay your energy bills. In fact, to reduce costs and expand their market base, they have every incentive to make their devices less efficient and less durable. Reuse items (for other applications) instead of buying new ones; upgrade to a newer model and give the old one to a needier owner. Recycle only if the options for repair, reuse, and upgrade are no longer available. Educate yourself – Learn about people and their cultures, travel to foreign countries, and explore the beauty of their land, language, religion, and cultural heritage. On the Community and National Levels Promote sustainability – Restore the environment to the condition of equilibrium by planting new trees, cropping native species, protecting wildlife, and enhancing fisheries. Reward efficiency and not waste by cutting subsidies to polluting industries, and giving rebates to manufacturers, builders, and those who save material and energy. Be proactive – Don’t wait until the environment is so stressed that the damage done has become irreversible; look for signs of stress, and act to resolve the problem in a timely fashion. Empower individuals – Encourage individuals to practice conservation. For example, city planners can build convenient bike routes and transit authorities can subsidize bikes costs. Companies can institute flextime, allow employees to work from home, build shower facilities for bikers, and partially subsidize rent for employees who live nearby. Deploy empowering technologies – These help increase productivity while preserving natural resources. Examples are those that improve irrigation, reduce pest damage, and encourage soil conservation and enrichment. They also accelerate research and development of renewable energy sources. Revamp manufacturing practices – This can minimize energy and material use during the entire life of the product. Design for durability, reusability, recyclability, and for manufacturing practices that promote energy efficiency and allow for easy repair, dismantling, reuse of scrap materials, and disposal of wastes. 454 Chapter 17 - Sustainability Eliminate subsidies – Subsidies to industries that promote inefficient and unproductive use of materials and energy and agricultural companies that produce products that degrade soil fertility, pollute the environment, or waste a large amount of water should be eliminated. Internalize the externalities so that the price of a product reflects the full cost including health costs and costs of cleaning the environment. The only exception is to subsidize those industries and products that are beneficial to society, but need help to overcome initial market barriers. Reform tax laws – Reduce or eliminate income tax and substitute it with environmental and carbon auctions and carbon taxes. Carbon taxes are levied against individuals and corporations in proportion to the amount of petroleum they consume. In carbon auction, companies bid for the right to pollute. This makes sense because labor earns income from productive work, whereas polluting corporations and energy inefficient industries profit by being wasteful and nonsustainable. Industries should be taxed on the amount of raw material and energy they use and the toxic pollutants they release into the atmosphere in order to cover health costs, environmental cleanup, and restoration of the environment to pre-release conditions. Higher taxes will increase cost to polluting companies and result in a loss in sales. This forces companies to make their products safer, more efficient, and produce less waste.28 Proceeds should be reinvested towards projects that promote sustainability – for example, use the carbon auction and carbon tax to build hydrogen infrastructure. The proceeds from pollution tax can be redirected as subsidies to clean and make industries efficient, or used to spur research and development in resource productivity. Income from parking rentals and toll roads can be used to pay for efficient public transportation, and savings from dematerialization can foster more efficient manufacturing. The interest on car loans can be increased while decreasing mortgage interests for community housing. Those with too many children can be penalized; the proceeds can help improve education, provide better health care, and to build playgrounds for children. Participate in local and national politics – Support politicians who advocate and promote realistic sustainable environmental policies and short–term goals that are consistent with long-term objectives. Doing so also reduces political tension and instability in the world, which is often caused over control of foreign natural resources. Educate – Teach the public environmental and energy literacy, the need for proactive practices and social activism. Universities should integrate energy and environmental courses in the liberal arts and Th is point has been refuted by some economists who argue that for a purely efficient market, a shift from income tax to pollution tax will have a net negative i mpact on the economy .Others argue that the conclusions are made based on false assumptions and that the net effect is indeed positive. [See for example, E conomics and the Environment, 3rd Ed. by E. S. Goodstein, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002, pp. 170-173.] 28 455 engineering disciplines. This book is aimed as a small step toward this direction. On the Global and International Levels Support democratic governments – W hen these governments work to reduce poverty, support human rights, provide education, protect the environment, and promote sustainable economic development, they should be given support. Empower the grass root activists and microenterprises – Give loans and technical assistance to millions of tiny family-owned businesses or microenterprises with only a few employees. These small businesses are more flexible, lack the bureaucracy, have strong ties to their local community, can bring social benefits at only a fraction of the cost, and help more effectively protect their immediate environment and thus global ecology. Oppose war and military intervention - Securing the flow of oil and other natural resources by force is neither the answer to our short-term energy needs, nor is it in our long-term interest. Military interventions will undoubtedly antagonize people, encourage extremism, foment terrorism, and cause political instability that eventually reverberates throughout the world and daunt us in our home. Support the elimination of economic inequality – Forgive debts to poorer nations, transfer sustainable technologies to developing nations, and support globalization efforts, but only as much as it reduces the gap between industrial and poor nations, helps maintain peace, and encourages disarmament. Help to eliminate poverty by providing free education, jobs, and basic health care. We’re not passengers on Spaceship Earth: We’re the crew. We’re not resident; we’re citizen. The difference, in both cases, is responsibility. ~ Rusty Schweikart, Apollo astronaut (1946- ) Concluding Remarks In this text we covered different aspects of energy and problems associated with the uncontrolled consumption of raw materials and nonrenewable energy resources. Thus far, we have been abusing the environment and exploiting our natural resources in an unsustainable way. The choice to continue on this path or to take steps in modifying our living habits to follow a sustainable path is up to us. If we use history as evidence, unless we make a deliberate effort in reaching sustainability, we will have to fight many more wars over the control of natural resources -- land, water, mineral, and especially oil. What is clear is that the longer we wait to introduce meaningful changes in the way we are currently using our natural resources and treating our environment, the more difficult it will be to achieve a sustainable future. Technological advances can help sustainability for as long as the society as a whole makes a concerted effort to direct them toward this goal. Short of this commitment, technology will only serve to promote its implicit goal of unhindered growth at the 456 Chapter 17 - Sustainability expense of increasing stress on the environment and its eventual collapse. The major challenge of our times is how to improve the standard of living of the average person without putting undue pressure on the resources at our disposal. The highly industrialized countries, the United States in particular, have the largest economies, the most access to technology, and vast intellectual and financial resources. They are also the biggest polluters and producers of wastes and have the moral responsibility to lead the world toward practices that enable our children to enjoy a sustainable future and a healthy environment for many generations to come. Additional Information Books 1. Hawkens, P., Lovins, A, and Lovins, L. H., Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Rocky Mountain Institute, 1999. 2. Meadows, D., Randers, J., and Meadows, D., Limit to Growth: 30-year Update, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004. 3. Diamond, J., Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Penguin Group, USA, 2004. Periodicals 1. Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society, JPE is produced at the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, the University of Arizona Library, Tucson, Arizona. The journal covers research articles into the linkages between political economy and human environmental impact. 2. World Watch Magazine ( Non-Government Organizations and Websites 1. World Bank ( 2. United Nations Environment Program ( 3. Rocky Mountain Institute ( 4. Greenpeace ( 5. Green Seal ( 6. Nature Conservancy ( 7. The Sierra Club ( 8. Friends of the Earth ( 9. Women’s Environment and Development Organization (http://www. 10. World Wide Fund ( Exercises 457 Exercises I. Essay Questions: 1. How do neoclassical and ecological economists differ on what sustainability means? In what points do they agree? 2. What are various factors that limit world population? 3. Do the different views expressed by ecologists and economists represent their widely different value systems? 4. Why is GDP a bad measure of sustainability? List at least two problems. Does a better index of sustainability exist? 5. Compare the GDP and NNW data for your country and conclude whether consumption is on a sustainable path. 6. What does the word “development” mean to you? W hat do you mean by land development? Human development? Economic development? Are these concepts compatible with ecologically sustainable development? What is viable global development? 7. What is the significance of IPAT Equation? Define terms and give examples of how this equation is used. 8. Define “Sustainable Energy” and give some examples of sustainable and non-sustainable energy use. 9. What strategies governments and individuals could use to adapt to global climate change? 10. Visit the websites for the non-government organizations (NGO) listed above and make a summary of the mission and activities carried out by each organization: a. What are the mission, goals, and objectives of each organization? b. Where do their budgets come from? c. What have their major accomplishments 458 been and how have they impacted world sustainability? Explain. d. Do any of these organizations appeal to you and your philosophy? Are you willing to perform some volunteer work or contribute financially? e. Do you know of any other international organization that has had significant success in helping stop environmental degradation? II. Multiple Choice Questions: 1. What name is given to the global ecosystem? a. Atmosphere b. Biosphere c. Hydrosphere d. Lithosphere e. Mesosphere 2. Which of the following factors limits the ultimate population of the world? a. The size of the earth b. The area of the arable land c. The amount of available food d. Environmental factors such as global warming and pollution e. All of the above 3. Sustainability implies a. Using natural resources as slowly as possible b. Using only as much as is replaced by natural processes c. Not introducing new technology too quickly d. Discovering new resources to allow maximum economic growth e. All of the above 4. A sustainable society is not achievable unless a. There is public awareness of the fragility of the environment b. More citizens participate in political process. c. Individuals evaluate the impact of his/her actions on the world as a whole d. We consider the planet earth and not necessarily the country where we were born as our home e. All of the above Chapter 17 - Sustainability 5. To make earth sustainable, we need to devise strategies that a. Keep human birth and death rates in balance b. Assure soil erosion does not exceed the natural rate of new soil formation c. Assure enough trees are planted to offset deforestation d. Use renewable energy at a rate that is slower than its sources are regenerated e. All of the above 6. Which type of light bulb has the highest efficiency? a. Halogen b. Incandescent c. Fluorescent d. All are equally efficient 7. The higher the efficiency of an electrical appliance, a. The faster it uses energy b. The more energy it uses c. The cheaper it is d. The shorter the payback period e. All of the above 8. According to the data published by the World Bank, what share of the world’s income does the richest 20% of the population receive? a. Less than 10% b. 32% c. 55% d. 86% e. More than 95% 9. According to the data published by the World Bank, what share of the world’s income does the poorest 20% of the population receive? a. About 1% b. 5% c. 10% d. 15% e. More than 15% 10. The best philosophy for dealing with the increasing volume of garbage is to a. Reduce material consumption as much as possible b. c. d. e. Recycle Reuse Increase the number of landfills Incinerate 11. Which of the following statements is true? a. Populations increase in the United States at a faster rate than in Europe. b. Population growth is higher in poorer countries. c. People with less education are likely to have more children. d. Africa has the largest percentage of population growth. e. All of the above. 12. The main reason why many US manufacturing firms relocate their plants to developing countries is because a. Immigration policies have practically shut off the flow of immigrant workers to the United States b. The environmental regulations are less stringent in developing countries c. Labor costs are lower in the developing countries d. a, b, and c e. b and c, but not a II. True or False? 1. Roughly one quarter of the US GDP is wasted on nonproductive human activities. 2. Just-in-time manufacturing is the process by which a manufacturer can deliver their product without delay. 3. Design for manufacturing is the process by which material and energy consumed through the product life-cycle is minimized. 4. “Natural Capitalism” is the doctrine practiced in all capitalist countries. 5. Sustainable development requires new resources to be found as fast as they are consumed. 459 6. The neoclassical economists see population as an asset. 7. According to Lovins, human productivity, rather than resource productivity, will fuel the future economy. 8. The best approach for minimizing waste is recycling. 9. The IPAT equation states that the impact of technology on the environment will increase proportionally to the rate at which the technology grows. 10. The snob effect applies to those who live in Beverly Hills more than to those who live in the neighboring Hollywood. III. Fill-in the Blanks 1. The largest number of humans that the earth can sustain indefinitely at the current rate of per capita consumption of natural resources is known as the earth’s holding _________. 2. According to the World Resource Institute, by 2050 roughly one of every two persons will live in ________. 3. Being stylish by following latest fashion is one example of the _____________ effect. 4. The US produces roughly ___________ million tons of toxic wastes every year. 5. OEM is the acronym stands for the “Original ______________________.” 6. Unlike _________ who consider population as the main cause of the environmental degradation, ______ economists see population as an asset and a necessary component for a sustainable economy. 7. The consumption of expensive material goods instead of the less expensive goods of similar utility is called _________________. 460 8. _________ can have either positive or negative impact on the environment. 9. Using CAD software to manufacture threedimensional prototype of a device is called _______________. 10. __________ lights are a lot more efficient than __________ lights. IV. Project I - Life Cycle Analysis: Electric versus Conventional Bikes In this project you are asked to carry out a simple qualitative life-cycle (cradle-to-cradle) comparison of the energy expenditure between electric and conventional bicycles. 1. What assumptions are you making in carrying this comparison? 2. Which one consumes more energy per kilometer of travel? What form of energy is used by an electric bike? By an ordinary bike? 3. What are the differences if an individual pedals faster than an electric bike? If the rider travels twice as fast by an electric bike than a conventional bike? 4. Which one takes more energy to manufacture? Describe what each component does and what forms of energy it requires to operate. 5. What are the total energy costs to manufacture different batteries? Compare four types of batteries, Li-ion, NiCad, NiMH, and lead-acid. You can consult the paper by Rydh, C., “Life Cycle Inventory of Recycling Portable NiCad Batteries,” Resource Conservation, and Recycling, March 2002, Vol 34, 289-309, to find energy costs to manufacture and ship various types of batteries. Which battery is the most energy-efficient? 6. What is the energy cost associated with the production of food necessary for delivery of muscle power to operate the conventional vehicle? 7. Does it make economical sense to buy an electric bicycle? In terms of energy efficiency? In terms of convenience, health benefits, etc.? Chapter 17 - Sustainability Project II - Biosphere II In 1991, to simulate ecological processes on earth and asses the possibility of life within a closed system, eight scientists, four men, and four women, entered a tightly sealed glass and steel greenhouse structure named Biosphere II (Biosphere I refers to the earth itself). The structure, located near Oracle, Arizona, was 3.5 acres – the size of three football fields – and became home to the scientists for two years. The experiment was originally designed to last 100 years, with scientists rotating every few months or years. All air, water, and nutrients were recycled within the system, which was almost entirely isolated. Sunlight and electrical power were allowed into the dome, and every two weeks samples of soil, air, and other species were sent outside through an airlock for further tests and analysis. The building housed a diversity of ecosystems or biomes including a desert, a tropical rainforest, a savanna, a marsh, a field for farming, and an ocean with coral reef. The scientists were accompanied by insects, pollinators, fish, reptiles, and mammals that were supposed to replicate the earth and its ecosystem. 8. from Earth’s atmosphere? Could the environment be maintained? How high did the level of carbon dioxide rise? How did the quality of water, air, and soil change? Was the ecosystem capable of repairing and maintaining itself? How did plant and animal lives flourish under these conditions? Did any of its species become extinct? Do you consider the experiment a success? Was it worth the amount of time and money spent? What were the lessons learned? What is the status of Biosphere II today? Do you have suggestions for further experiments or a better utilization of the resources and facility? 9. 10. 11. 12. Project III - Sustainable Village (Groups of 3-5 students) A group of 10,000 families are planning to design a completely self-sufficient and sustainable community for themselves and their children. As a consultant, you are asked to develop a blueprint of how such a community would be built. You are going to advise the villagers on: 1. What source of energy they should use? Where should they find the resources, and what advantages and disadvantages will various energy options have? 2. What kind of food should be produced and how should the villagers produce it? 3. Assuming that the villagers have the option to devise their own tax laws and enact their own environmental regulations, what kind of tax structure do you recommend? 4. How should the community pay for public goods such as health care costs, cleanup cost, and salaries of police, teachers, etc.? 5. What would schools look like, and who would pay for the education? 6. What sport facilities and entertainment facilities do you recommend? 7. Are there going to be any restrictions on the type of activities they can take or the number of children they can have? What kind of incentive should they offer for family planning? For keeping the environment clean? How should they handle wastes? 461 In this project you are asked to research the results of these studies, the follow up experiments and the lessons learned by answering the following questions: 1. Why was the project called Biosphere II? 2. How much did the project cost? 3. What were the primary goals of the project? Did the project achieve its goals? 4. How did the scientists maintain their diets? Where did food and water come from? 5. What were the main complaints of the inhabitants during the two year incarceration? 6. What species survived the experiments and which perished? Why? 7. How different was the atmosphere of Biosphere II 8. Assuming the villagers have access to limited amount of oil and other fossil resources at reasonably cheap prices, how would you use these resources? 9. What would the villagers use for transportation between their homes and work? For taking long trips and for vacations? Project IV - Sustainability and social responsibility In this project you are asked to analyze the pattern of energy use in your household in order to investigate ways of reducing fossil fuel consumption and help the environment. First you are asked to estimate the annual energy consumption in your household by adding up the energy 1) spent to produce your food, 2) needed for lighting, 3) required to run your electrical and gas appliances, and 4) used to meet your transportation needs. Then you are asked to estimate the potential savings in fossil fuel consumption if you make slight modification in your lifestyle. Please start by answering the following questions: a. How many people live in your household? What are their ages and genders? b. Is any member of your household a vegetarian? c. List all electrical and gaseous appliances in your house. How many hours is each appliance used in a typical day? d. How many lights are usually on? What kind are they? e. How many cars do you have in your home? How many miles is each car driven? What are their fuel efficiencies? Now calculate the following: 1. Total food calories consumed in your household each day. 2. Gallons of fossil fuel needed to grow the food you need. (It takes roughly 10 fossil fuel calories to produce each food calorie in average American diet. This number may vary widely in different countries.) 3. Energy used for lighting. 4. Total electrical energy used to operate the appliances and for lighting. Compare this to the actual energy used as indicated in your electricity bill. 462 5. Total thermal (natural gas) energy used in your household (cooking, heating, etc.). Compare this to actual energy used as indicated in your gas bill. 6. Total energy needed for transportation. 7. Add items 1-6 to find the total annual energy consumption in MJ. How many barrels of petroleum do you use to meet your annual energy needs? (1 bbl = 6.1x109 J) 8. Explain sensible approaches to cut your total energy use without significantly changing your lifestyle. You may consider some changes in diet, buying more energy efficient appliances, switching to alternative sources of energy, turning off the air conditioner, lights, and other appliances when not needed, carpooling, taking public transportation, replacing your cars with more fuel efficient vehicles, etc. Be careful to make adjustments that you can actually make with little effort, cause no discomfort, and requires no or only minor sacrifices in your standard of living. 9. How much fossil fuel can you save by making these changes? How much money can you save? 10. How much can the US save in fossil fuel imports if all Americans were to make similar adjustments? W hat would be the impact on the environment? On the US economy? Project V - Sustainability and Religion: Was Jesus an Environmentalist? In the 2008 US presidential election, there is a debate among the religious right groups on whether or not they should endorse the fight against the global warming and other environmental pollution. One group argues that God created the Earth and expects that its inhabitants to protect the earth and its environment. If God saves humans, then he must also save the environment. It is thus a religious duty to do everything possible to sustainable the environment and all its species . Another group sees this only a tactical move by liberal groups to divert the debate away from issues such as abortion and gay marriage. After all the same science that promotes evolution over creationism, is also promotes environmental protection. Since science is wrong as how the world works, then it cannot be trusted in deciding what is good for the environment. What do you think? Chapter 17 - Sustainability Work Sheet for Project IV Food Daily food calories Energy to grow food (kcal/d) Total annual food energy Appliances TV Refrigerator Microwave oven Electric oven Gas range Others (list) _________ Total annual energy by appliances Lighting Incandescent Fluorescent Others Total annual energy for lighting Transportation Model Annual mileage Fuel efficiency (mpg or 100 km/lit) Gallons (liters) of gasoline Total annual transportation energy Household total US total Savings by a. Changing diet b. Energy efficient appliances c. Lighting d. Transportation e. Others (list) _________________ Total household saving Total US savings Impact on US economy Environmental impact Barrels of oil Barrels of oil Proposed action MJ MJ MJ MJ Saved Watts Number Hours on Total Person 1 Person 2 Person 3 Total MJ MJ MJ Car 1 Car 2 Car 3 Total Barrels of oil MJ Billion barrels of oil Quad The US will save $ __________ billions from reduced dependence on the foreign oil. Reduction in greenhouse gases: ____________ million metric tons of CO2 463 464