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GoGreenNation News: Could Climate Change Kill Backyard Skating Rinks?
GoGreenNation News: Could Climate Change Kill Backyard Skating Rinks?

“With climate change, it’s always easier to say, not in my backyard,” said Zach Weston, referring to the ease of dismissing what can’t be seen in your own immediate surroundings. But for Weston, CEO of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, climate change is already apparent in his backyard: The backyard rink he’s built and maintained in his Ontario home for the last seventeen years is getting harder to keep running as winter temperatures become more volatile and unpredictable.Backyard rinks are common across the colder parts of North America; the combined membership of just two backyard rink Facebook groups totals over 70,000. Built from scratch in people’s yards or elsewhere in the community, these rinks provide not only a place for keen skaters to practice and have fun, but often act as hubs of neighborhood activity. Over the last ten years, Rob McLeman, professor of environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, has been running a program called RinkWatch that engages backyard rink makers and users in measuring ice and weather conditions. It’s a volunteer, citizen science project, meaning data is recorded by non-professional scientists, instead relying on everyday people to supply crucial information. Participants are located across the U.S. and Canada, including cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Montreal and Toronto.The results help identify the key temperature thresholds for a skateable rink (the colder the better) as well as creating climate models which can help predict the future of outdoor skating conditions. “The number of days each year cold enough to skate is expected to decline in coming decades because of human-induced climate change,” reads the RinkWatch website.When it comes to backyard rinks, the instability, unreliability and unpredictability of our weather and temperature makes it increasingly hard to plan rink construction and maintenance. These changeable conditions tend to lead to shorter skating seasons, though this can fluctuate year on year. Notably, in 2020, RinkWatch released a report showing that the number of quality skating days had declined in all of the Original Six NHL cities (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal and New York). These findings fall in line with other signifiers of global warming that show how the changes to our climate mean our ecosystems can no longer host our current biodiversity, maintain our weather systems and, ultimately, allow humans to survive.A lot of work goes into making a backyard rink—which, in addition to their community value, are vastly safer than local ponds in these changing conditions. “When I was a kid back in the 70s, we just waited till the ground froze and covered over in snow, then we’d pack that down with our feet, get out the hose, flood over the top of it and wait for it to freeze,” McLeman explains. “The problem is if you do it that way, and you get a warm day in January, it all melts away and you have to start over again.” These warmer days are now becoming so common that people have had to resort to a different method instead, laying out a large tarpaulin sheet held between vertically-mounted wooden boards, then filling it with water and letting it freeze over. Over the last ten years, McLeman has noticed increasingly variable weather. “You might get a really cold winter, and then three or four relatively mild ones, and then another cold one. Then within the winter itself, you get a lot of variability in terms of temperatures: in mid-January or mid-February you’ll have an unexpectedly warm day where it goes up to eight or nine degrees Celsius, which causes rinks to flood or melt down.”Despite his dedication to the project, McLeman is not naïve about the fact that melting backyard rinks is not the worst nor the most important result of a warming planet. Nevertheless, these rinks could be a window into broader issues. Much as with ski season and other winter sport projections, looking at the way changing weather affects the length and quality of the North American skating season offers data that highlights a wider problem. As many governments struggle to build support for more robust climate policy, community skating reports can have a special political function: Backyard rinks act as a microcosmic reminder of what’s at stake in real terms. The climate crisis will affect our lives in many different ways, ranging from lethal or life limiting to just small alterations—but with it being such an existential crisis, often discussed with heavy-handed, scientific jargon, finding ways to break it down and understand it in more piecemeal ways can be hugely helpful.Aric Dodd has run his neighborhood rink in Saskatoon alongside his full-time job as an operations manager for the last fifteen years. Based in the grounds of the local high school, the rink is available for anyone in the community to skate on. Most commonly, it’s used to play shinny, an informal, relaxed version of hockey. As with many makeshift rinks, Dodd’s is a hub for intergenerational socializing. “It’s a way to get people together. We’ll have our hockey teams there and we’ll get the barbecue out and serve hot chocolate—it’s just something to get us out of the house in the winter.”“Escaping outdoors is a unique experience, and it does make me sad to think that generations who will come later won’t be able to experience that.”Zach Weston, who’s built and maintained his backyard rink in Ontario for around seventeen years, says the same. “In the winter time people get cooped up in their houses and stay indoors. What I really love about having a rink is it gives us a meaningful purpose to get outside, enjoy it and embrace winter.” During the pandemic, when inside mixing was banned, the rink became especially important to local kids desperate for something to do and somewhere to go. “It would not be uncommon on any given night of the week to have 15-20 kids all playing hockey outside in my in my yard,” Weston says.Dodd and Weston are both longtime RinkWatch participants. They’ve been submitting data from their rinks for many years, predominantly for the same reasons: to keep track of conditions, to better understand how long the skating season lasts and help decide whether it’s worth all the effort to make the rink each year.However, Weston is also motivated by his concern for climate change and figured that taking part in RinkWatch might encourage his kids to become more aware of the issue. “Certainly, there are bigger and more important consequences to climate change than the loss of outdoor rinks,” he says. “But I think what Rob is really signaling here is that they’re kind of like the canary in the coal mine warning. I’m privileged enough to know that I’ve got access to indoor arenas, I can play hockey fifty-two weeks of the year. But escaping outdoors is a unique experience, and it does make me sad to think that generations who will come later won’t be able to experience that.”Losing these rinks means losing a way of life. A slight increase in temperature will render skating seasons shorter and shorter, or even totally unskateable, while not yet affecting the hostility of the winter. These central points of community activity, intergenerational socializing, and joy in difficult times are all at risk of disappearing. And these disappearing traditions, which all involved acknowledge are nowhere near as devastating as the destruction the Global North has already wreaked on the majority world, point to a more disturbing truth: while we resist changing anything about the way we live, everything about our lives is set to change.

GoGreenNation News: New food diets aim to reduce climate impact
GoGreenNation News: New food diets aim to reduce climate impact

Move over, locavores: A slew of new labels — from "climavore" to "reducetarian" — reflect the trend of people eating with sustainability in mind to reduce their climate "foodprint."Why it matters: Food manufacturers, restaurants, and supermarkets are racing to cater to the zeal for lower-carbon eating choices, which has people eschewing plastic packaging, ingredients flown in from afar, and foods that are environmentally damaging to produce.While there's plenty of disagreement about what to avoid, top villains include faves like red meat, chocolate, avocados, sugar, and — gasp — coffee.The "eat local" mantra is being replaced by the notion that what you eat is more important — since transportation is sometimes just a small part of your meal's carbon footprint.Driving the news: Terms like "climatarian" are getting newfound attention from corporate America as young consumers gravitate toward what they perceive as "green" diets."By 2030, our routine food choices will be climate-directed," advises a report from consulting firm Kearney. "The companies that mobilize now will win the future of food."Restaurant chains like Just Salad, Chipotle, and Panera Bread are putting "carbon labels" on their foods — and, in the case of Just Salad, adding a "climatarian" filter on its app.Supermarket chain Fresh Market is among the many food prognosticators that declared "climatarian eating" a top trend for 2023.What they're saying: "If you walk into your local Stop & Shop in the middle of January, those blueberries have been traveling for 10 days and probably started out in Ecuador," says Paco Underhill, an environmental psychologist and author of the forthcoming book "How We Eat.""There's a nascent movement, particularly anchored in younger people, that is recognizing that," he tells Axios.How it works: Climavores' rules "are not hard and fast," instead allowing "a level of flexibility, based on the preferences of those who partake," per Fresh Market's report."Participation can include everything from eating pasture-raised to buying more local and organic ingredients, to reduce carbon emissions from transport to eating a plant-based diet with crops that are good for soil."Climatarianism is "less defined by ingredients," and more by "food choices based on climate impacts, practicing climate-conscious eating based on a series of dietary trade-offs intended to benefit the planet."There's a dizzying nomenclature affiliated with climate-conscious eating, with meaningful yet hard-to-parse differences."Sustainatarians" eat some meat but filter their diet through an environmental lens.So do "climatarians" and "climavores," who tend to be concerned — as one manifesto put it — "not only about the origin of ingredients, but also about the agency that those ingredients have in providing responses to human-induced climatic events." "Reducetarians" try to eat less meat for reasons ranging from animal welfare to their health or the environment. "They might be concerned about biodiversity loss, fresh water availability, or food justice — or trying to save money," Brian Kateman, president and co-founder of the Reducetarian Foundation, tells Axios.What's trending: "Regenivore" is the latest and hottest eating label, the New York Times recently reported."A new generation wants food from companies that are actively healing the planet through carbon-reducing agriculture, more rigorous animal welfare policies, and equitable treatment of the people who grow and process food," per Times ace food writer Kim Severson.Yes, but: Eyebrows must be raised about the amount of greenwashing involved in corporate efforts to embrace climatarianism. "All food products suffer from greenwashing, including pet food," asserts Earth.org, an environmental news and data platform. The most common examples: Promoting a product as "organic" or "made from real ingredients" when it's actually from a factory farm or uses genetically modified ingredients.Class-action lawsuits have been mounting against the labeling and claims made by food companies.The European Union is cracking down on "misleading climate claims on packaging and in advertisements," focusing on phrases such as "climate neutral" and “100% CO2 compensated,” Bloomberg reported last week.Reality check: Despite the mushrooming number of calculators that help people gauge their carbon footprints, truly adhering to a climate-conscious diet takes work and restraint.While "Meatless Monday" and other such efforts have their adherents, it's unclear how big a sacrifice most people are really willing to make — like steering clear of mozzarella from factory-farmed cows or shunning almonds because they're water-intensive.The big picture: There are all kinds of vertigo in the food world over best practices — as encapsulated by the epic news of the closing of Noma, a Copenhagen restaurant sometimes considered the best in the world.On one hand, Noma fetishizes local ingredients and foraging, serving "grilled reindeer heart on a bed of fresh pine, and saffron ice cream in a beeswax bowl," per the Times, which broke the news of the closing.On the other hand, Noma was accused of exploiting workers and using less-than-humane tactics in the pursuit of fine dining.What's next: Climate-based eating "might be in its infancy" but will gain steam as younger consumers "increase their concern for the planet," Fresh Market's report predicts.The bottom line: The opacity of farming and food manufacturing procedures can make it hard to determine the provenance of one's meal or its true carbon footprint, but it may be true that every little bit helps.Jennifer's thought bubble: Throwing a dinner party has never been more of a minefield, with everyone's diet to consider (Noom? Vegevore? Ketogenic?). Best to check with your guests in advance.

GoGreenNation News: How the Meat Industry Undermines Effective Climate Policy
GoGreenNation News: How the Meat Industry Undermines Effective Climate Policy

For years, meat producers have worked furiously behind the scenes to keep meat reduction out of discussions on climate policy. The first draft of the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on climate change mitigation recommended shifting to plant-based diets and agricultural systems. Delegates dispatched by then-Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro—who presided over a mass burning of the Amazon rainforest, in part by beef producers—helped get that phrase removed. The IPPC flinching in the face of lobbying meant that same ambivalence toward agriculture could carry over into that year’s Conference of the Parties for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was focused on establishing a framework to reduce methane emissions: Despite the fact that animal agriculture emits a third of global methane and that it is impossible to meet emissions targets without addressing the food sector, the question of the industry’s contribution to anthropogenic climate change was conspicuously left off the policy menu—even though food options offered to conference attendees were paired with a carbon calculator.The public is well aware, at this point, of fossil fuel lobbyists’ obstructionism on climate policy. We know, for instance, that there were more fossil fuel lobbyists than delegates for any country at COP26, and that the number has increased further at this year’s COP27. It’s harder to run the numbers on those representing the meat industry. Their influence, however, is evident.As criticism of animal agriculture and its contribution to climate change has ramped up in recent years, so has the industry’s counter-offensive.The plan President Biden announced on Friday at this year’s COP27—which to its credit is putting food on the agenda—set specific goals for energy, but was conspicuously vague on agriculture. The president merely said he intended to expand the country’s domestic programs for “climate-smart” agriculture globally—domestic programs that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has previously said would not require any reduction in meat production. This is in line with last year’s methane pledge, which set strict new standards for energy and waste sectors, but approached agriculture “through technology innovation as well as incentives and partnerships” with corporations like Bayer and JBS, a double standard celebrated by meat industry lobbyists.     As criticism of animal agriculture and its contribution to climate change has ramped up in recent years, so has the industry’s counter-offensive. Drawing on the playbook developed by the fossil fuel industry during its fifty-year campaign to sow doubt about the role of fossil fuels in climate change, the meat industry is now using dodgy science paired with savvy public relations  to convince everyone, from the public through to world leaders, that we should do anything other than the one thing scientists agree we need to do: scale down the meat sector.One of the most effective tactics employed by the meat lobby is the use of creative accounting methods to obscure its climate impact. Because some greenhouse gases are stronger than others, when quantifying emissions, climatologists use a quotient called global warming potential (GWP) to boil everything down to a single figure: carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Since gases like methane contribute to rapid heating but break down in the atmosphere, GWP changes depending on the time frame. For instance, while the global warming potential of methane over 100 years (GWP100) is 28 times that of CO2, over 20 years, methane is approximately 86 times as powerful as CO2. The 100-year figure is what’s typically cited, but many climatologists assert that this downplays the importance of reducing methane and nitrous oxide pollution in the immediate future, as we don’t have a century to stop climate change. Methane’s biggest emitters, including the meat industry, don’t stop there in downplaying methane’s damage. Rather than use the GWP100 figure, which already underestimates heating from methane, they prefer a different one: GWP*. GWP* was developed because although GWP is the universal tool for counting emissions from a country, industry, or company, it doesn’t work well for modeling, since it can’t capture the transience of gases like methane. The new quotient, GWP*, is instead a tool for predicting global temperature change. Since the planet doesn’t heat more when methane levels are stable, the GWP* of a constant methane level is zero. The meat industry quickly realized this meant that as long as methane emissions didn’t rise they could claim they weren’t contributing to global warming, and began lobbying for its use as an accounting metric—not what it was designed for at all. Funneling millions of dollars through backchannels, the animal agribusiness lobby has financed the promotion of GWP* as the new greenhouse gas accounting standard through groups ranging from U.C. Davis’ CLEAR Center to the lobbyists at COP. Challenging the conventional climate calculus not only helps the meat industry to downplay its emissions, but to seed the suspicion that IPCC statistics unfairly malign the industry. The second line of defense that the meat industry has been promoting are technological fixes for the environmental damage caused by livestock. In the case of methane, the industry has rushed to fund research into seaweed-based feed additives for cows, aimed at reducing the methane produced by their digestive systems. But while industry pilot studies estimated the emissions-reduction potential of such additives as high as 80 percent at the feedlot stage, they didn’t mention that this translates to life cycle emissions cuts of only around 9 percent. The industry is quick to drum up positive press to suggest that all it will take to make cows climate-friendly is some algae or methane-capturing masks for cows, but these fixes are far from being widely viable or scalable. In all these cases, the needed environmental improvements can’t be achieved by quick fixes. Yet by aggressively pushing their message to journalists and businesses, the meat industry has prolonged the debate over the environmental sustainability of meat by suggesting that the environmental impacts of animal agriculture aren’t fundamental features, just inconvenient bugs.But perhaps the most egregious tactic of the meat lobby is to sell itself as the solution to the problems it creates. Factory farms and industrial feedlots, by concentrating thousands of animals in confined spaces, also create massive manure lagoons that both generate methane and leech or are outright dumped into waterways, contributing to the so-called dead zones expanding from river deltas. But while scientists stress the need to reduce animal waste, the industry has succeeded in securing lucrative tax exemptions for increasing it, touting the ostensible environmental benefits of refining manure into methane biogas, turning waste into an income stream. Due to successful lobbying, methane digesters have been classified under Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act as renewable energy generation, complete with huge tax credits incentivizing expansion of factory dairies, who have excitedly projected that “milk has become the byproduct of manure production!” Similarly, so-called carbon farming has become a cash cow for the ranching sector. While international panels of experts and even the industry’s own research shows that sequestering carbon in soil can’t persist for any meaningful time-scale, the industry still insists that ranching can become carbon negative with proper management. Carbon credits are now traded like stocks in speculative markets, with both agribusiness and oil backing them as a tool for emissions reduction. The USDA provides carbon credit calculators to assist ranchers in qualifying and buying in—helping them, or whomever buys their credits, to erase their emissions with carbon offsets based on sketchy assumptions and self-reported data. Like seaweed additives, carbon farming generates reams of good press for the industry. And by greenwashing their operations as climate solutions, the meat and dairy sectors can frame their critics as hostile not just to their industries, but to climate progress itself.In this battle over policy and public opinion, scientific claims are wielded as weapons and the industry is itself a weaponsmith, funding the research and scientists that fight in its corner. Both the tobacco industry and the fossil fuel industry have spent heavily on scientists and experts who would push out research and arguments to defend their interests—sometimes even using the same experts. The meat industry—which starts with the advantage of already having close links with land-grant university agriculture and animal science programs—invests in research under the banner of reducing its carbon footprint. Yet this research is also used—arguably, designed, in fact—to challenge critique in the court of public opinion. One recent bombshell investigation from Greenpeace Unearthed, for example, detailed how a livestock feed lobbying group conceived and financed a communications center at U.C. Davis and used it to spread disinformation on the meat industry’s impact on climate. On the global stage, the livestock sector wields considerable influence within international organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which promotes the industry pursuing public-private partnerships for agribusiness development, unlike other UN organizations’ approach to energy.In 2017, industry finance overtook public grants to fund the majority of research in the United States for the first time in almost a century.This problem goes beyond one single scholar or even one single academic center. In 2017, industry finance overtook public grants to fund the majority of research in the United States for the first time in almost a century. The corporate long game to supplant public science has succeeded in transforming not only the output, but the culture of academia. Researchers become reluctant to criticize even the most egregious science corruption scandals when they know their own grants come from private institutions as well. This pattern erodes public trust in scientific institutions, which in turn benefits industry: By creating space for uncertainty, corporations funding misinformation about their products can then demand seats at the political table and the representation of “both sides” in media.When the science became unequivocal that cigarettes and their second-hand smoke were carcinogenic, the tobacco industry sought to challenge these findings, funding its own research and lobbying to cast doubt on the emerging scientific consensus. This delay in meaningful regulation likely caused millions of avoidable deaths. These tactics of delay and agnotology—deliberate ignorance, rather than the organic absence of knowledge—were picked up by the fossil fuel industry, which has regularly employed lobbyists and scientists to challenge the consensus on the role of fossil fuels in driving climate change. These ongoing delay tactics have helped prevent binding regulation and set us on a course to miss the target of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees. The historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway dub those who challenge scientific consensus and muddy the public discussion on behalf of harmful industries “merchants of doubt.” Their game is not necessarily outright denial, but active, perpetual equivocation. The goal is to drag out the debate and introduce doubt where there shouldn’t be in order to defend the status quo.Amid global climate and extinction crises driven in part by animal agriculture, the meat merchants of doubt have thoroughly succeeded at this goal: Their interests have infiltrated the highest echelons of global politics and their ideas have taken root in public discussions about the food system. In recent years, activists have made progress identifying and abating the influence of the fossil fuel industry from media and academia—through campaigning for divestment, tracking political contributions, demanding news coverage, and more. Now we must do the same for meat. The good news is that we know their strategy. The bad news is that we’re running out of time.

Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 2 - Forests
Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 2 - Forests

Past Presentation | The world’s forests are responsible for removing a quarter of all human carbon emissions from the atmosphere and are essential for cooling the planet. But that fraction is shrinking as the three major forests of the world—tropical, boreal, and temperate—succumb to the effects of climate feedback loops. The resulting tree dieback threatens to tip forests from net carbon absorbers to net carbon emitters, heating rather than cooling the planet. Subtitled in 23 languages and narrated by Richard Gere, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops is a series of five short films, featuring twelve leading climate scientists, that explores how human-caused emissions are triggering nature’s own warming loops. We submit the five shorts to your festival (total 57:44) for screening of any or all of the films. The film series had its official launch with the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and world-renowned scientists in a webcast, “The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops.” While scientists stay up worrying about this most dangerous aspect of climate change, the public has little awareness or understanding of feedback loops. Climate change discussion at all levels of society largely leaves out the most critical dynamic of climate change itself. It is urgent we remedy this. The first film in the series, Introduction (13:09), provides an overview of the feedback loop problem. The four other short films explore important climate feedback mechanisms: Forests (14:10), Permafrost (10:55), Atmosphere (8:45) and Albedo (10:35).Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are warming the planet. This warming is then setting in motion dozens of feedback mechanisms, which then feed upon themselves, as well as interact with each other and spiral further out of control. These processes are rapidly accelerating climate change. An example of a climate feedback loop is the melting of the permafrost. In the Northern Hemisphere, permafrost makes up nearly 25% of the landmass. As heat-trapping emissions warm the Earth, this frozen tundra is melting. As it does, large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released, which further warm the planet, melting more permafrost in a self-perpetuating loop. Human activity kicks off these feedback loops, but once set in motion, they become self-sustaining. The danger is that this process reaches a tipping point beyond which it is extremely difficult to recover. This is why it is urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can slow, halt and even reverse these feedbacks and cool the planet.

Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 4 - Atmosphere
Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 4 - Atmosphere

Past Presentation | Global warming is altering Earth’s weather patterns dramatically. A warmer atmosphere absorbs more water vapor, which in turn traps more heat and warms the planet further in an accelerating feedback loop. Climate change is also disrupting the jet stream, triggering a feedback loop that brings warm air northward, and causes weather patterns to stall in place for longer. Subtitled in 23 languages and narrated by Richard Gere, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops is a series of five short films, featuring twelve leading climate scientists, that explores how human-caused emissions are triggering nature’s own warming loops. We submit the five shorts to your festival (total 57:44) for screening of any or all of the films. The film series had its official launch with the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and world-renowned scientists in a webcast, “The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops. ”While scientists stay up worrying about this most dangerous aspect of climate change, the public has little awareness or understanding of feedback loops. Climate change discussion at all levels of society largely leaves out the most critical dynamic of climate change itself. It is urgent we remedy this. The first film in the series, Introduction (13:09), provides an overview of the feedback loop problem. The four other short films explore important climate feedback mechanisms: Forests (14:10), Permafrost (10:55), Atmosphere (8:45) and Albedo (10:35).Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are warming the planet. This warming is then setting in motion dozens of feedback mechanisms, which then feed upon themselves, as well as interact with each other and spiral further out of control. These processes are rapidly accelerating climate change. An example of a climate feedback loop is the melting of the permafrost. In the Northern Hemisphere, permafrost makes up nearly 25% of the landmass. As heat-trapping emissions warm the Earth, this frozen tundra is melting. As it does, large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released, which further warm the planet, melting more permafrost in a self-perpetuating loop. Human activity kicks off these feedback loops, but once set in motion, they become self-sustaining. The danger is that this process reaches a tipping point beyond which it is extremely difficult to recover. This is why it is urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can slow, halt and even reverse these feedbacks and cool the planet.

Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 1 - Introduction
Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 1 - Introduction

Past Presentation | Fossil fuel emissions from human activity are driving up Earth’s temperature—yet something else is at work. The warming has set in motion nature’s own feedback loops which are raising temperatures even higher. The urgent question is: Are we approaching a point of no return, leading to an uninhabitable Earth, or do we have the vision and will to slow, halt, and reverse them? Subtitled in 23 languages and narrated by Richard Gere, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops is a series of five short films, featuring twelve leading climate scientists, that explores how human-caused emissions are triggering nature’s own warming loops. We submit the five shorts to your festival (total 57:44) for screening of any or all of the films. The film series had its official launch with the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and world-renowned scientists in a webcast, “The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops. ”While scientists stay up worrying about this most dangerous aspect of climate change, the public has little awareness or understanding of feedback loops. Climate change discussion at all levels of society largely leaves out the most critical dynamic of climate change itself. It is urgent we remedy this. The first film in the series, Introduction (13:09), provides an overview of the feedback loop problem. The four other short films explore important climate feedback mechanisms: Forests (14:10), Permafrost (10:55), Atmosphere (8:45) and Albedo (10:35).Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are warming the planet. This warming is then setting in motion dozens of feedback mechanisms, which then feed upon themselves, as well as interact with each other and spiral further out of control. These processes are rapidly accelerating climate change. An example of a climate feedback loop is the melting of the permafrost. In the Northern Hemisphere, permafrost makes up nearly 25% of the landmass. As heat-trapping emissions warm the Earth, this frozen tundra is melting. As it does, large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released, which further warm the planet, melting more permafrost in a self-perpetuating loop. Human activity kicks off these feedback loops, but once set in motion, they become self-sustaining. The danger is that this process reaches a tipping point beyond which it is extremely difficult to recover. This is why it is urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can slow, halt and even reverse these feedbacks and cool the planet.

Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 5 - Albedo
Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 5 - Albedo

Past Presentation | The reflectivity of snow and ice at the poles, known as the albedo effect, is one of Earth’s most important cooling mechanisms. But global warming has reduced this reflectivity drastically, setting off a dangerous warming loop: as more Arctic ice and snow melt, the albedo effect decreases, warming the Arctic further, and melting more ice and snow. The volume of Arctic ice has already shrunk 75% In the past 40 years, and scientists predict that the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free during the summer months by the end of the century. Subtitled in 23 languages and narrated by Richard Gere, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops is a series of five short films, featuring twelve leading climate scientists, that explores how human-caused emissions are triggering nature’s own warming loops. We submit the five shorts to your festival (total 57:44) for screening of any or all of the films. The film series had its official launch with the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and world-renowned scientists in a webcast, “The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops. ”While scientists stay up worrying about this most dangerous aspect of climate change, the public has little awareness or understanding of feedback loops. Climate change discussion at all levels of society largely leaves out the most critical dynamic of climate change itself. It is urgent we remedy this. The first film in the series, Introduction (13:09), provides an overview of the feedback loop problem. The four other short films explore important climate feedback mechanisms: Forests (14:10), Permafrost (10:55), Atmosphere (8:45) and Albedo (10:35).Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are warming the planet. This warming is then setting in motion dozens of feedback mechanisms, which then feed upon themselves, as well as interact with each other and spiral further out of control. These processes are rapidly accelerating climate change. An example of a climate feedback loop is the melting of the permafrost. In the Northern Hemisphere, permafrost makes up nearly 25% of the landmass. As heat-trapping emissions warm the Earth, this frozen tundra is melting. As it does, large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released, which further warm the planet, melting more permafrost in a self-perpetuating loop. Human activity kicks off these feedback loops, but once set in motion, they become self-sustaining. The danger is that this process reaches a tipping point beyond which it is extremely difficult to recover. This is why it is urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can slow, halt and even reverse these feedbacks and cool the planet.

GoGreenNation News: The secret weapon in fighting climate change? Data.
GoGreenNation News: The secret weapon in fighting climate change? Data.

By 2007, Microsoft had come under increasing pressure to commit to sustainable practices, something the company had never done before. The scrutiny—from both stakeholders and environmental organization Greenpeace—prompted a lot of internal questions. “How do we monitor all our carbon and electricity use around the globe? What systems must we put in place to get a handle on that?” asked Robert Bernard, who’d been at Microsoft for about a decade before becoming the company’s chief sustainability officer that year. Microsoft had loads of data, but without hard numbers detailing the company’s climate impact, it would be impossible to make demonstrable change. Bernard and his team needed to apply the best technology for collecting its data and use it to decrease negative environmental impacts across Microsoft’s entire ecosystem, including its partners and suppliers. Using technology including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to learn from its climate-related data, Microsoft became “the first company to implement internal carbon taxes and become carbon neutral at scale globally,” Bernard says. Since then, other companies have followed suit thanks to their own data collection practices, an effort made ever more urgent as severe and deadly weather events grow increasingly detrimental to their ecosystems and the environment. Governments, companies, and individuals are finally taking meaningful steps to address this climate crisis, but change is hard and, so far, slow. That’s why many companies are looking closely at how technology and data can not only keep them on track, but also push them forward—to a place where they can eliminate their negative impact on the planet while still making employees, shareholders, regulators, and customers happy. AWARENESS LEADS TO CHANGE Decarbonizing the economy won’t be cheap. Consulting firm McKinsey estimates the effort will cost $9.2 trillion per year to reach this goal by 2050. Katie Stein, chief strategy officer at professional services firm Genpact, says that technology plays a key role in helping companies solve this crisis in three ways: “One is decarbonizing the technology footprint, which includes the move to the cloud. The second  is investing in greener technologies and energy sources. And the third is rethinking business and operating models to have sustainability at their core.” Tackling these issues requires data collection. But aggregating data across global companies isn’t easy. For instance, many organizations must track multiple supply chains, while working with numerous partners that also have their own ecosystems. In addition, they operate out of multiple buildings in different countries, full of employees with a variety of commutes and business trips. That’s why companies tend to break data into subsets, observing how each aspect affects the environment before looking at their operations as a whole. At the employee level, for example, some businesses give individuals the tools to track their environmental impact at work. “Our employees [want us] to reduce our company’s carbon footprint, but many of them also want to participate in it,” says Kimberly Evans, EVP, head of corporate sustainability, inclusion, and social impact at financial services company Northern Trust. The company works with Climate Vault and Genpact, which have come together to help organizations both reduce and remove their carbon emissions. Climate Vault purchases the corresponding number of credits from compliance carbon markets that are then funneled into the most effective carbon-removal technologies. Since it was founded in 2021, Climate Vault has reduced roughly 820,000 metric tons of carbon emissions on behalf of companies including Northern Trust. Genpact is using digital technologies to help Climate Vault scale, giving more organizations and people access to the solution. For Northern Trust, that could mean making it available to employees, who can use it to, say, determine the potential environmental impact of a business trip. This information empowers employees to use data in all climate-related work decisions. “We can drive behavior change through awareness,” Evans says. THE TECHNOLOGICAL EDGE Awareness alone, however, isn’t enough. Data must also be easily accessible and digestible to drive change. Using cloud technology, for instance, companies can store vast sums of data that can be integrated with external sources, allowing the information to drive a company’s decision-making. From there, AI and ML can uncover more advanced insights to guide practices like energy management. Bernard followed this model at Microsoft when gathering 500 million data points per day across the 125 buildings the company operated. By running algorithms against the data, the company could diagnose about 50% of incoming information in less than 60 seconds—rather than hours or days. Over time, the accuracy of the algorithms and pattern detection improved, identifying faults and assessing climate impacts like a building’s ultimate cooling load. “By using data and machine learning, the company reduced energy consumption by over 20%,” Bernard says. AI processes data that is too robust to examine manually. Bernard cites the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay, which has more than 3,600 species, as an example. Using AI to process information gathered from aerial images and water-flow sensors, researchers have mapped the region to better understand how climate change and water pollution affect it, how best to manage the area, and where to leave it alone—a daunting task without such technology. EFFICIENT SUPPLY CHAINS The emissions a company produces indirectly through its value chain, known as Scope 3 emissions, are particularly difficult to track. For instance, some vendors might not want to share data, resulting in an incomplete picture of their impact. Genpact, for example, used digital technologies to help an online fashion retailer screen suppliers to identify vendors that did not meet its financial, ethical, and operational standards, including its sustainability objectives. It found that 20% fell into medium- or high-risk categories, which helped the business act. “We automated processes so that when someone in the business places an order to a supplier, they’re only served suppliers that meet that gold seal of approval,” Stein says. “The fashion retailer could then say to its customers, ‘All our products have been sourced responsibly.’ ” Supply chains have changed in other ways since the pandemic started, as more people now rely on online shopping, adding more endpoints (individual consumers’ addresses) to supply chain journeys. Transportation is responsible for one-third of all U.S. carbon emissions, 50% of which is freight. “Using customer location data can help companies designate pick-up spots for products to shorten journeys and cut emissions,” Stein says. “This allows companies to set up a kiosk pick-up site in your neighborhood, enabling them to reaggregate products and ship once.” Ultimately, we’re living in a global economy. Every company’s ecosystem is, in some way, interconnected, informing not just its own operations but how everyone—from the heads of governments to individual consumers—make environmentally sound decisions. “We can’t manually get our way to a decarbonized economy,” Bernard says. “We’ve got to take these massive data sets and processing power [and] transfer that information across not only companies, but also research institutions and everything else with APIs,” Bernard says. “[Then], the data flows seamlessly and everybody understands their climate impact.”

Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 3 - Permafrost
Cinema Verde Presents: Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops Part 3 - Permafrost

Past Presentation | Permafrost, an icy expanse of frozen ground covering one-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, is thawing. As it does, microscopic animals are waking up and feeding on the previously frozen carbon stored in plant and animal remains, releasing heat-trapping gases as a byproduct. These gases warm the atmosphere further, melting more permafrost in a dangerous feedback loop. With permafrost containing twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, its thaw could release 150 billion tons of carbon by the end of the century. Subtitled in 23 languages and narrated by Richard Gere, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops is a series of five short films, featuring twelve leading climate scientists, that explores how human-caused emissions are triggering nature’s own warming loops. We submit the five shorts to your festival (total 57:44) for screening of any or all of the films. The film series had its official launch with the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and world-renowned scientists in a webcast, “The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops. ”While scientists stay up worrying about this most dangerous aspect of climate change, the public has little awareness or understanding of feedback loops. Climate change discussion at all levels of society largely leaves out the most critical dynamic of climate change itself. It is urgent we remedy this. The first film in the series, Introduction (13:09), provides an overview of the feedback loop problem. The four other short films explore important climate feedback mechanisms: Forests (14:10), Permafrost (10:55), Atmosphere (8:45) and Albedo (10:35).Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are warming the planet. This warming is then setting in motion dozens of feedback mechanisms, which then feed upon themselves, as well as interact with each other and spiral further out of control. These processes are rapidly accelerating climate change. An example of a climate feedback loop is the melting of the permafrost. In the Northern Hemisphere, permafrost makes up nearly 25% of the landmass. As heat-trapping emissions warm the Earth, this frozen tundra is melting. As it does, large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released, which further warm the planet, melting more permafrost in a self-perpetuating loop. Human activity kicks off these feedback loops, but once set in motion, they become self-sustaining. The danger is that this process reaches a tipping point beyond which it is extremely difficult to recover. This is why it is urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can slow, halt and even reverse these feedbacks and cool the planet.

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