Saturday, February 7, 2009

Teach-In, smeach-in

At other colleges and universities the climate activists are busy trying to pull direct action and other protest stunts to get the administration to pay attention. So last week they held a national Teach-In.

Well, of course, we couldn't be left out. So we had to have one too. But nobody wanted to think through how redundant this would be.

So this was the situation last week at our version of the national Teach-In:

Our interim Sustainability Coordinator Aaron Witham, a former student, and the C.R.A.P. Crew and other work studies diligently put on a dog-and-pony show for the Teach In, with movies and guest lectures by prominent Unity College climate change and climate mitigation professors (me and Keven Spigel). The venue was the Student Center. And of course the main audience in the end was the C.R.A.P. crew and sustainability work studies themselves, while everyone else picked their way around the shindig to get at their lunches and coffee.

Kevin did a bonza job of explaining his lake sediment research and relating it to past climate events and methane which I liked because I hadn't seen it yet.

I did my fairly routine Peak Oil explain-and-debunk.

(Peak Oil debunk exec. summary: Hubbert's peaks work, but only at the largest possible scale, you can't use them to predict oil market behavior or even scarcity except at that scale, Peak Oil activists tend to love to scare people when the really scary thing is not so much oil use but coal use and climate change itself. We are running out of oil, but that just means the price will go up and we will use it less.)

Aaron explained the college's nascent Climate Acton Plan.

Actually, this last is not so new, since I, and former Sustainability Coordinators like Jason Reynolds, carried most of it around in our heads the many years we did what Aaron is now doing. But it's about time we wrote it down and tied it to the Master Plan and the curriculum.

Anyway, we all did our bit, especially Aaron, who was running around like a one-armed paper hanger trying to make it all work, and the collective result was a fairly journeyman-like job of explaining Climate Change to ourselves and the odd other student and faculty member.

And then we went back to our classrooms, where, for at least the ten years I've been a faculty member at Unity College, everyday is Teach-In day.

In my case I went right back to explaining the fundamentals of systems analysis to third years so they can properly understand their upcoming and mandatory eight weeks of climate change, followed by an obligatory four weeks of energy efficiency and renewable energy. This comes after the required three weeks of basic human ecology.

Actually, we don't allow any student to graduate from Unity College until they have proved they are competent in all these areas by passing an examination.

How about that for a Teach-In? Seems a little more, well, developed, to me.

And never mind Kevin's fifteen weeks of Lake Sediment Analysis related to climate change for sophomores, since that isn't technically required. The poor old sophs could have chosen to take Nancy Ross's fifteen weeks of Recycling in Local Schools. Or Jim Horan's Earth Day and Beyond instead. Never mind all the work on environmental change we shoehorn into Bio I and II.

No wonder the audience was thin! We've worn them out with this stuff. They've all had climate change, and most of them have had it two, or three, or four times over.

We should have gone to some other college to do our Teach-In. Our time would have been better spent.

What I want to know is when the elite of the climate change education world will finally turn around and realize just how much they've been following our lead for the last few years. And give us some credit for being the first college in the country to require a systematic education in climate change and climate solutions for all undergraduates.

But of course, they would never do that, since to do that would be to take some attention away from themselves.

For us, we probably don't need the attention for the sake of the college. But I want more resources to work with, and I want our students to get the credit so they can get jobs and be recognized for what they are:

Graduates of the first college in the US to require climate education for all students, every one of them trained to understand climate change and help implement solutions.

1 comment:

Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D. said...

Here is what you need to prepare for.

Global crude oil production peaked in 2008.

The media, governments, world leaders, and public should focus on this issue.

Global crude oil production had been rising briskly until 2004, then plateaued for four years. Because oil producers were extracting at maximum effort to profit from high oil prices, this plateau is a clear indication of Peak Oil.

Then in August and September of 2008 while oil prices were still very high, global crude oil production fell nearly one million barrels per day, clear evidence of Peak Oil (See Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of "Oil Watch Monthly," December 2008, page 1)

Peak Oil is now.

Credit for accurate Peak Oil predictions (within a few years) goes to the following (projected year for peak given in parentheses):

* Association for the Study of Peak Oil (2007)

* Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly” (2008)

* Tony Eriksen, Oil stock analyst; Samuel Foucher, oil analyst; and Stuart Staniford, Physicist [Wikipedia Oil Megaprojects] (2008)

* Matthew Simmons, Energy investment banker, (2007)

* T. Boone Pickens, Oil and gas investor (2007)

* U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005)

* Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Princeton professor and retired shell geologist (2005)

* Sam Sam Bakhtiari, Retired Iranian National Oil Company geologist (2005)

* Chris Skrebowski, Editor of “Petroleum Review” (2010)

* Sadad Al Husseini, former head of production and exploration, Saudi Aramco (2008)

* Energy Watch Group in Germany (2006)

* Fredrik Robelius, Oil analyst and author of "Giant Oil Fields" (2008 to 2018)

Oil production will now begin to decline terminally.

Within a year or two, it is likely that oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand. OPEC cuts could exacerbate the gap between supply and demand and drive prices even higher.

Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated building systems.

Documented here: