Carbon Dioxide

ENVS 160 lecture, Lewis & Clark College, Portland OR.

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Carbon Dioxide von Mind Map: Carbon Dioxide

1. …as a biophysical entity

1.1. Milankovitch cycles…

1.1.1. Precession: Changing time of perihelion/aphelion

1.1.2. Obliquity: Wobble in axis

1.1.3. Eccentricity: Shape of orbit around Sun

1.1.4. ~15-100 x 10^3 year periodicity

1.1.5. Also, solar (& sunspot) cycles: ~11-90+ year periodicity

1.2. …result in glacial cycles!

1.2.1. Function of differences in insolation (incoming solar radiation)

1.2.2. A recent solar-induced phenomenon: Little ice age ~1550-1850. Are we still on rebound from LIA?

1.3. But there's the greenhouse effect!

1.3.1. Some visible light absorbed

1.3.2. Infrared radiation emitted

1.3.3. Some IR radiation trapped by GHGs (CO2, CH4, H20, CFCs, etc.)

1.3.4. Thus a positive feedback loop btw GHGs and surface temperature…though there are other feedbacks & lags

1.4. Recent history: the Keeling curve…

1.5. …and slightly less recent history: The climate hockey stick!

1.5.1. RealClimate ("Climate science from climate scientists"): Believers!

1.5.2. Climate Audit "hockey stick" studies: Disbeliever!

2. …as an institutional dilemma

2.1. Prisoners Dilemma?

2.1.1. Why act if other countries don't? plus…

2.1.2. …different development histories…

2.1.3. …and no global authority to enforce action

2.2. Climate treaties

2.2.1. UNFCCC

2.2.1.1. Kyoto Protocol (1997–)

2.2.1.1.1. Text: "…it might largely be viewed as a failure" (p. 151)

2.2.2. Subglobal efforts

2.2.2.1. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement

2.2.2.1.1. Text: "…other kinds of more ad hoc, local, and regional efforts…may be more important than anyone has previously predicted" (p. 152)

3. …as a market opportunity

3.1. Green carbon consumption?

3.1.1. …and in the same spirit of offsetting, we present CheatNeutral!

3.2. Cap and trade?

3.2.1. …and its detractors

4. …as a political-economic challenge

4.1. Green (uneven) consumption

4.2. Carbon trading as greenwashing

5. …as green rhetoric

5.1. Carbon "pollution"

5.2. Climate "neutrality"

6. …as a catalyst for change?

6.1. Foley (2013): "The change we believe in, but never test."

6.1.1. Examples

6.1.1.1. Social movements create change (e.g., McKibben & 350.org)

6.1.1.2. Deepening our ecological values creates change (e.g., Naess & deep ecology)

6.1.1.3. Technological development creates change (e.g., Shellenberger & Nordhaus)

6.1.1.4. Etc…there are many others!

6.1.2. Problems

6.1.2.1. Most have little or no empirical evidence of success: "when was the last time a social or political movement caused a major environmental policy change in Washington? [answer: the early 1970s...>40 years ago]

6.1.2.2. The “tribalism of ideas” (groupthink): "We tend to surround ourselves with the people who share our theory of change, creating an inadvertent echo chamber, reinforcing our core beliefs and assumptions, rarely letting new ideas in."

6.2. So…how do you assemble the puzzle of CO2 as a hybrid object of concern? Based on how you assemble this puzzle, what forms of action make sense to you?