Several pieces of news have caught my attention in the last few days which have challenged my generally positive outlook on climate change issues. Despite this, I remain stubbornly optimistic about our ability to rise collectively to the challenges we face, as I will explain…. first though, the bad news…
Let’s start with the report from the BBC of a recent study by Eun-Soon Im, Jeremy S. Pal, and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir. This considered an aspect of global warming which, I must admit, has passed me by – that is the impact of temperature on human survival. Not, I hasten to add, the conventional “dry bulb” temperature measurement we are all familiar with from weather forecasts (and which are hitting all-time highs in Europe in the last few days, in excess of 43 °C in Cordoba, in the south of Spain, for example) but rather the more esoteric “wet bulb” temperature.
This measurement is the lowest temperature that can be achieved by evaporating water from a surface. In a low humidity environment, the wet bulb temperature can be considerably lower than the dry bulb temperature (as heat energy – aka latent heat – is needed to evaporate the liquid water, so lowering the temperature of the surface). As the moisture in the atmosphere rises, however, the potential for further evaporation decreases and so the wet bulb temperature approaches the dry bulb temperature until we reach 100% humidity, when both temperatures are the same. (more…)
I want to share an argument that I have used on many occasions when faced with audiences who are yet to be convinced about climate change. This is summarized by the diagram below.
This illustration reflects, in the columns, the positions that folks adopt about climate change. Some think that it is real, others not. Of course, we cannot change these columns, one will be prove to be right and the other will be wrong.
The rows, on the other hand, reflect the choices we make. We have two choices, A or B – either we take effective action on climate change, or not. That choice is under our control.
Clearly, we want to avoid the red box – where life as we know it comes to an end. Thus the only rational choice is “B”, to take action on climate change, despite some uncertainties about the consequences of inaction.
President Trump’s announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement made in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday unambiguously represents Choice A.
The statement Trump made justifying this decision relies on two central arguments, which are understood by reference to the table above.
First is the argument that the Paris Accord is not Choice B (i.e. it will do little for climate change). To quote.
Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree — think of that; this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100. Tiny, tiny amount.
Indeed, as the PolititFact site clearly elucidates, there is some truth in this statement. Scientists and climate change advocates have also been very clear that the commitments made in Paris were not enough. But they did see Paris as the framework through which countries could tighten their commitments over time. Indeed, Paris was a real milestone in that developing countries, too, agreed to targets for the first time. So saying that the first step is not enough is not an argument for stepping backwards.
The reader will note that there is no downside portrayed in the bottom left box, where dangerous climate change is not real, but we have nevertheless substantially transformed our organizations to reduce emissions and adapt to rising temperatures. While individual businesses, such as the coal industry, may well see a substantial reduction in their value unless they change the core business model, the majority of organizations will gain from resource efficiency to address climate change. That is because using less energy and creating less waste reduces costs. Delivering more efficient products will provide a competitive advantage. The new technology gold rush to mitigate carbon emissions will create countless business opportunities and thousands of jobs. Anticipating rather than reacting to regulation will create greater degrees of freedom for business operations extending, rather than diminishing, their licence to operate and innovate.
The second, essential, strand in the narrative of denial is to dismiss the notion that the lower-left box will lead to a better world even if climate change does not exist. Unless the fact that action is detrimental can be established, the precautionary principle would suggest that Choice B should be taken even if the probability that climate change is real (since the consequence of climate change is so catastrophic). To quote again.
The Paris Agreement would result in “lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.
I have had some kind feedback about my decision to give away a free PDF of my two-volume book on energy and resource efficiency, which sells for £59.99 (US$79.99) in print. Several people have commented on just how much work must have gone into the book and how useful it is for anyone in the energy and resource efficiency field. It is true that I have invested a lot into this book – over six years of weekends, evenings and holiday time writing the book between my “day job” as a consultant and Sustainability Director. And there are the direct costs in editing, images etc – which are not inconsiderable.
In some cases colleagues have asked me outright why on earth I am giving away such a valuable resource. There is puzzlement because folks who know me, know that I have quite a good “business head”. So I feel that I owe people an explanation.
The reason I am giving away my book is that I passionately believe that my profession – energy and resource efficiency practitioners – are central to solving one of humanity’s biggest challenges – how to do more with less. Over the years, I have observed that fellow practitioners often have great resources and knowledge about the technical or engineering aspects of their craft – but that there is virtually nothing that explains, with honesty, how to deal with the strategic, organisational, managerial, behavioral, financial and communications aspects. In fact, the plethora of self-congratulatory case studies from organisations would lead one to conclude that this efficiency stuff is easy.
I am giving away my book because I want to help my colleagues, because I am concerned about climate change and biodiversity, because the better we are at what we do, the better world we will leave for the next generation.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers in the book, but I do believe that there is much to support colleagues, and to train and enthuse the next generation of practitioners. I have been very lucky – I have worked for some outstanding clients in some remarkable programmes all over the world, alongside some truly amazing colleagues. Its time to give something back!
So how can you help? First of all please do share the PDF and the link to this blog (bit.ly/2qtzKPP) – the more folks that make use of the book the better. Second, if you have suggestions for improvements, additions or if you spot errors please do let me know – I am totally committed to getting the contents right.
Finally if you are old-fashioned, like me, and you absolutely must have a printed copy of the book, please order it through my store rather than elsewhere – I have deliberately priced the printed book at the lowest level possible, which means that when the retailer takes their minimum required 40% commission on the sale price, there is virtually nothing left. That is deliberate – this book is not a money-making project! However, by ordering the book through my store, that 40% contributes towards recovering some of the publication costs and towards future revisions and (possible) future books. There is a free shipping option to most countries and ordering through my site is the most sustainable way of shipping as each book is individually printed on demand and sent directly from the printer to you (there are no additional journeys to warehouses etc).
Above all please do use the book! You can get the free PDF here – simply select the free PDF on the left, add it to your cart, and checkout as normal.
Hopefully, there is something there to help us all do more with less.
All the best,
As part of SustainSuccess’ contribution to sustainability the book, all 840 pages, is being made available FREE, in the Adobe PDF format.
I have been humbled by the outstanding reviews that leading folks in the efficiency world have give to the book:
- “…the definitive source or making sense of energy efficiency and all of its attendant benefits.” [Christopher Russell – Visiting Fellow, Industrial Programs, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, author of “Managing Energy from the Top Down“];
- “For anyone interested in a practical guide to improving resource and energy efficiency, this is the one and only book you need to own” [Dr Steve Fawkes – Managing Partner, EnergyPro, author of “Energy Efficiency“];
- “A very practical book which covers all the bases for practitioners and students of energy and resource efficiency alike.” [Tim Sullivan – Director Energy & Property Compliance, Rolls-Royce.];
- “An authoritative and comprehensive book that will help any organisation justify and implement an effective energy and resource efficiency programme” [Ray Gluckman – former President of the Institute of Refrigeration]
- “Niall Enright has produced a remarkably comprehensive manual for energy efficiency, which combines high-level insights and practical tips for developing and implementing projects and programs” [Donald Gilligan – President NAESCO]
You can get the free PDF easily. Simply go to the store, add the book to your basket and check-out. You will not be charged for the book, and on completing the check-out process, will received a download link to the PDF (17 MB).
The combined print version retails for £59.99 in paperback and £79.99 in hardback – including free postage options to most markets. The print versions also include free access to the companion files, for which there is a very modest charge for PDF version readers.
Please do feel free to:
- Share the link to this post on your own social media pages. The shortened link is: http://bit.ly/2rqzfL7
- Share the PDF with others (although it is better that folks download the file from the shop as they can be informed about updates to the text or additional materials)
Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on the book. The beauty of print on demand (and PDF) is not only that this is a resource-efficient method of publication but also that the content can easily be updated regularly. You can also award the book between 1 star and 5 stars in the store, so please do come back and give it a rating!
All the best,
Niall Enright’s contribution and achievements in energy efficiency have been recognised with his election as a Fellow of the Energy Institute and the award of Chartered Energy Manager status.
This is Niall’s reaction to the awards: “It is a real honour to receive this recognition from an organisation that is doing so much to promote the profession of energy management, and I want to thank the folks who supported my application. For my part, I hope that I can encourage others to participate in the work of the Institute and achieve the continuous professional development that is the key to success in this rapidly moving field. I know that some people may be put off by the idea of getting membership – with the need for sponsor recommendations and evidence of competency – but I would urge them to see these as opportunities. The real reward for me is not the letters after my name, but the ability to connect with fellow professionals worldwide and the reminder that investing time and money in my own development is valuable”.
Follow this link for more information about the Energy Institute.
I was thrilled to see this stunning image of Japan’s largest Solar Photovoltaic plant. This consists of 240,000 Kyocera panels providing a massive 70MWe capacity which should produce 78,800 MWh of electricity. The plant is set in 127 acres on a purpose-built island in the city of Kagoshima on the Southern Japanese island of Kyushu. If you want to see it on a map and appreciate its true scale, click here (although the satellite image is from before the completion of the plant).
Impressive thought this is, it pales by comparison with some of the mega-solar plants in the pipeline. India, for example, has just announced a 4GW scheme in Rajasthan to be built on a 23,000-acre (9308 ha) site close to Sambhar Lake, about 75 km from Jaipur, the state capital. This will potentially triple current solar PV output for India, although it remains to be seen if the plant goes ahead as planned. (more…)
Paul Gilding’s blog has an optimistic take on businesses’ response to climate change, which I would like to share:
I have previously reviewed Paul’s book “The Great Disruption“, which I though was very good.
What gives us the right to declare ourselves “Sustainability Practitioners”? Is is our technical understanding that lifts us above narrow domain experts – e.g. climate change or energy efficiency or corporate reporting practitioners? Is it the level of people we engage with in our client organisations? Is it the multidisciplinary change management approach we employ?
The more I think about this the more I am drawn to a much more fundamental definition: a Sustainability Practitioner is someone who delivers greater sustainability.
Sad to say that much of the environmental and social consulting profession – if we are honest to ourselves – is about enabling a status quo that is unsustainable. (more…)
In my experience many energy and resource efficiency audits are rushed. I plead guilty to multiple counts of the the most common cause: designing the budget to meet the client’s expectations rather than the engineering or technical requirements of the job. The question is: Is this approach correct? (more…)
The only measure of our progress on climate change with any integrity is the record of atmospheric concentration of CO2. None more so than the series of readings that have been taken in the middle of the Pacific Ocean at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii which have been taken uninterrupted since 1958. This is the Keeling Curve, named after Charles Keeling who initiated the measurements. On May the 9th these readings passed a milestone – they reached 400 parts per million for the first time.
The last time atmospheric CO2 was at this level was some 3M years ago in the Pliocene geologic era. At that time the temperatures were 2-4 degrees C higher than today and sea levels were between 5 and 40 meters higher. The geological record gives us an insight into the long-term physical outcome of current CO2 concentrations. What is does not tell us is the impact on our biosphere, the countless living organisms on which we depend and which is facing an unprecedented rate of change in temperature. (more…)