It’s Complicated (The Green Thing)
This post discusses in layman’s terms Global Warming. Always a vex topic and I’m hoping I’ll start some healthy blog responses.
Humans – Can We Believe in Global Warming?
We are all different. Our ability to believe anything is a mixture of hard wiring, how we’ve been nurtured during our child hood, our working experiences and what we need to believe (to fit in to our social or work life).
So you can talk all day about the science of global warming and you might be right, but that only ticks a % box in an individual’s decision matrix.
Further the science of global warming whilst many say is settled, just isn’t. So a rational decision based on science cant be made.
If Global Warming is occurring and all the predictions are true a slow creep to extinction is occurring. However to most of us its not real yet. The human decision matrix hasn’t got to; let’s say, to a required 60% certainty level. It will take natural world wide event(s) to get to ‘oh we need to do something moment…it is real’.
At a corporate level (and this is where most of us are, plying our skills and trades in the construction industry) there’s another level of thought process. Decisions are made on financial models, with the aim of growth or profit.
Summary: Generally, ‘head in the sand’ prevails, mixed with ‘there’s enough market out there to make some money’ or ‘I think people will like us more if we are a bit greener’.
From a simple cause and effect basis, I haven’t seen sea levels rise in Sydney Harbour yet.
ACADS BSG (local weather data provider for Australia) has recently updated their temperature files….they have not seen any temperature rises (the opposite).
What Can Be Done?
Again, lots of ‘science’ is out there. Some positive (we can fix things) and some negative (it’s too late). Some saying CO2 level increase is actually a good thing.
- The planets systems are to complex and massive
- It’s a cyclic event in our planets history, it can’t be stopped
- Stopping or reducing CO2 levels is a waste of time.
Many use the analogy of the massive ball rolling down a hill. It’s too late, the ball has started moving and we can’t stop it. At best we might deflect it a few, years.
It is interesting to hear our worldwide leaders already planning for a 2+ oC temperature rise…’read my lips’, global warming can’t be stopped in their opinion, for at least, this first big temperature increase.
The positive view comes down to believing global warming is due to man-made CO2 and if we can stop this, our planet will be able to recover. It assumes our best scientists know how the planets systems work and interact and their modelling is infallible. My experience with modelling is ‘rubbish in rubbish out’.
So, where are we at?
We have reached a status quo. Believers, non-believers and those who haven’t decided. Much of the undecided may well be down to the complexity of the data out there. It’s a hard slog to read it.
Our government (Australia) appears (at 2015) to not believe in global warming, but is providing some funding for greening.
There is still no massive climate events happening and weather data now appears to show we are in a cooling period.
Our industry, ran head long into the Green movement (getting star rated buildings everywhere), the industry wanted to pay for it (saw a marketing potential). That rush is now over. Many in the industry have ended up disillusioned with ‘green’ and its cost (to some extent) and its compliance requirements (to a large extent). I’ve been made aware of a lot of ‘green infrastructure’, now sitting idle. Was this infrastructure installed simply to get ‘green points’?
[See my previous posts about green points. For me it’s about reducing energy consumption and getting lower bills an dyes this removes CO2].
In typical human decision making process when you are unsure we get a compromise :
The compromise: We undertake CO2 reduction in a manner the nation can afford. (This is where the Australian government is presently at)…. you could be cynical and say this is to keep both sets of voters on board.
What will happen, however, due to politics, is that we will flip (with each government) to ‘Spend to save the planet’, to ‘we are in debt and the country’s going down the gurgler’.
For now, we will go with the compromise:
- we will keep complying with the BCA (Building Code of Australia)
- where mandated we will use the various rating schemes
- where a marketing potential exists we will again use the various rating schemes.
- industry suppliers will continue to improve their equipment efficiencies and we will reward them with sales.
- New technology will be found to create electricity without CO2 emissions
Where I’m at?
Global Warming: I’m still undecided (or is that head in the sand), but leaning towards a naysayer. I’m struggling with the belief that man-made CO2 is the only reason for the alleged warming and that stopping CO2 emissions will stop the warming. Don’t forget we are now allegedly in a temporary a cooling period.
The real elephant in the room, on this subject, is population growth. Australia’s population growth I understand is at c.400,000 per year (a new Canberra to be built each and every year). This is horrifying and the physical impacts are huge.
Energy Reduction: Being practically minded I’d like to see the following:
- BCA efficiency increase for plant and systems
- BCA Fabric thermal performance increase
- BCA mandated leak tests for new buildings
- BCA mandated maximum watts per square for lighting and equipment
- Industry standards being changed to mandate minimum and maximum room temperatures (lower in winter and higher in summer. Try 18 oC and 25 to 27 oC).
- A reduction in fresh air supply rates for occupants, in air conditioned spaces.
With the above points I’d like to see an agreed ‘bar raising’, year on year. These simple points will do as much, or more than any rating systems to save energy (thus CO2). It will also give manufacturers, and the like, a clear instruction to get innovating. If we accept a 2 oC temperature rise is correct, we should be designing (preparing) for this now.
The little extra for me would include:
- More money (with payback on sales) for new technology – to the private sector
- More government co-owning/ partnerships with new technology companies associated with CO2 and energy reduction
- More government co-owning/ partnerships with new technology companies associated with alternative forms of energy creation.
- Tax free status for approved research and company development associated with CO2 and energy reduction.
- Mandated 100% use of renewable fuels (fuels that can be grown). Obviously this comes with some practical issues to be resolved.
What Impact Can we have?
This is annoying. In our industry we can only impact global energy consumption and global CO2 in a small way.
The following link is a great source on our impact on the Construction industry. The link states “Construction produced 7.1% of total indirect greenhouse gas emissions in 1994-95”.
So are best efforts will not eliminate all the 7.1% and on a world basis anything we do will have negligible to zero impact…add in population growth and we can rightly start to feel useless.
This post has not gone into the detail or science of global warming from the various points of view. The web is chock-a-block with it. I recommend you get googling. Some great sites I’ve looked at are:
Author: Jorgen Knox
Last Updated: 10/08/2015