• Fri. May 14th, 2021

The ongoing search for the perfect climate change metaphor | CBC News

Byjuly

Apr 16, 2021

Hello, Earthlings! This is our weekly publication on all issues environmental, the place we spotlight developments and options which are transferring us to a extra sustainable world. (Sign up right here to get it in your inbox each Thursday.)

This week:

  • The ongoing seek for the proper local weather change metaphor
  • A brand new and drier dwelling for endangered giraffes
  • Renewable jet gasoline will get a authorities enhance

The ongoing seek for the proper local weather change metaphor

(Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters)

When scientists, environmentalists and entrepreneurs speak about local weather change, they usually do it metaphorically.

The ambiance is a form of greenhouse. Carbon dioxide is sort of a heat-trapping blanket. Climate change resembles a home on hearth.

Metaphors are a vital a part of speaking local weather change, mentioned Stephen Flusberg, an affiliate professor of psychology on the State University of New York, as a result of “metaphors are central to how we talk and think about a lot of aspects of our world.”

Metaphors are alleged to result in motion, and one local weather change metaphor that is gaining traction is the thought of going to warfare. 

For instance, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, made the comparability a few years in the past in her proposal for a Green New Deal, wherein she known as for “a new national, social, industrial and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.”

Flusberg mentioned warfare metaphors could be helpful in getting individuals keen on a trigger, a minimum of within the quick time period. “Wars convey a sense of urgency and risk,” he mentioned. “Whenever politicians or journalists or pundits are trying to get attention to an issue, it helps to use language that activates strong emotions — and wars do that.”

But while you promise a warfare, you are setting individuals up for disappointment, mentioned Flusberg. 

“For example, the War on Drugs in the United States, kicked off by Richard Nixon, at first really did mobilize law enforcement and the public to start to view drug problems as a serious issue to tackle. But over time, it’s been an absolute abject failure.

“It’s unclear how we win or lose that warfare. When would we are saying, ‘OK, we have executed it, we have received’?” 

Lucy Atkinson, an associate professor in communication at the University of Texas, said relying on factual information alone is just not good enough in mobilizing people to act on many issues.

 “It generally is a pitfall in that we are likely to assume, ‘Oh, it is an issue of data, it is an issue of knowledge. If individuals simply knew extra concerning the problem, then they might do one thing.’ We name that the information-deficit mannequin. And it is probably not one of the best ways to go about speaking,” said Atkinson.

“People know they should not textual content and drive, and other people nonetheless do it. So it is not nearly offering data, however offering avenues for change.”

Chris Shaw, a researcher for Climate Outreach in the U.K., says environmental advocates must remember that people are motivated by more than fear or anger.

“The tales that individuals need to hear, and local weather change, have gotten to attach. Those tales that actually matter to individuals …  [are] concerning the coronary heart.” For example, this recent World Wildlife Fund campaign makes an emotional pitch by suggesting “nature wants our love.”

Kai Chan, a professor in sustainability at the University of British Columbia, agrees that the public and scientists could learn a lot about love.

“We as scientists should be rather more in contact with our feelings and likewise our values. It’s serving to us to acknowledge that all of us do, absolutely, in a method or one other, love this planet that we name dwelling — after which asking us whether or not our actions are in step with that emotion.”

— Matthew Lazin-Ryder

  • Listen to the full episode of The Greenest Metaphor from CBC Radio’s Ideas here.

Reader feedback

Last week, Jennifer Van Evra wrote about Canada’s plan to become a world leader in the production of hydrogen energy. Here are some of your responses.

Clive Cudmore: “The article on hydrogen misses one essential supply of inexperienced hydrogen, specifically nuclear. Ontario is blessed with an abundance of unpolluted, dependable and protected nuclear vitality, from OPG [Ontario Power Generation] and Bruce Power. Nuclear energy is an important aspect within the hydrogen combine, and I’m shocked that the author uncared for it as a supply of inexperienced hydrogen.”

Note: Hydrogen produced from nuclear is certainly thought-about low-carbon, however within the EU, for instance, it’s known as “purple” hydrogen, not green. 

Mei Lin: “Thank you for the article on hydrogen gasoline — blue, gray and inexperienced. My understanding is that the one one which may very well be thought-about environmentally benign is the “green” model, however I’ve seen no exploration of the place the huge water sources it will require will come from. In the midst of local weather change, human overpopulation and consumption, is a gasoline system which makes use of as but uncounted quantities of water, and which is able to undoubtedly add stress to floor and aquifer provides, actually a superb reply?”

Fran Bazos: “I’ve been interested by hydrogen vitality, however like most individuals know not almost sufficient about what our authorities is planning and which applied sciences are being promoted. What I do know is that we’ve got to maneuver shortly and make the precise selections.”

Old issues of What on Earth? are right here.

There’s also a radio show and podcast! From divestment pledges to sustainable portfolios, it appears the finance industry is acting on climate change. But research shows Canadian pensions and other funds are still heavily invested in fossil fuels. What on Earth follows the money Sunday at 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m. in Newfoundland. Subscribe on your favourite podcast app or hear it on demand at CBC Listen.

Plus, a bit of happy news for our friends producing the radio show they are the first recipients of the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s award for climate solutions reporting. Congratulations.


The Big Picture: A new — and drier — home for endangered giraffes

Water levels have been rising for some time in Lake Baringo in the Rift Valley of Kenya. But last year, increased flooding threatened the lives of a small group of endangered Rothschild’s giraffes, prompting a rescue effort to relocate them to Ruko Community Conservancy. Here, Noella, a five-month-old Rothschild’s giraffe, gets her feet back on solid ground after a rescue effort to relocate her from a disappearing island. The relocation of the giraffes was completed on April 9, says the Northern Rangelands Trust.

(Northern Rangelands Trust/The Associated Press)

Hot and bothered: Provocative ideas from around the web

  • We may be staying close to home because of the pandemic, but a new educational mobile game gives players a chance to travel the world, this time as animated characters finding various species of birds and doing conservation quests to improve the health of their habitats. Game developer Adam Dhalla hopes it will help connect with “the following technology of potential conservationists.”

  • The pulses of those who favour a flexitarian diet could be racing at the thought of eating more peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas and having farmers grow more of them. And it could all have nutritional and environmental benefits, scientists have found.  Don Smith, a crop ecophysiologist at McGill University in Montreal who was not involved in the research, says it should “present some very helpful steering to the general agri-food sector with regard to enhancing sustainability.”


A boost for renewable jet fuel

(Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Almost 20 years of research to create renewable jet fuel from agriculture and forestry waste in Alberta has received a big boost from the federal government.

A group led by University of Alberta professor David Bressler has received a $2.89-million grant from Natural Resources Canada. The group has been working on a project to convert renewable materials — that are often already turned into biodiesel fuel — into fuel that can be used by jet engines.

Biodiesel is a fuel substitute made from sources such as plant oils, waste cooking oil or animal fats. The result is a sustainable alternative with a lower carbon footprint than traditional fossil fuels.

Bressler, a professor of bioresource technology and fermentation, says biofuel is a quick and effective way to immediately meet increasing emission standards in the aviation industry.

“The aviation house is about two per cent of our carbon footprint on the market, and it actually has nothing within the quick time period that may assist them cut back their carbon footprint,” mentioned Bressler on CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active on Monday. 

“As we’re creating this, not solely does it create that chance to mix with conventional fuels into conventional engines, it really has higher emissions standards than a few of the conventional petrochemicals.”

The funding has allowed them to collaborate with researchers, engineers and students, and to invest in infrastructure such as pilot plants. Currently, the group is working on scaling up biojet fuel to be ready for commercialization.

Bressler’s group already has one potential site to develop biojet fuel. Forge Hydrocarbons, a company based on Bressler’s research, is building a $30-million commercial plant south of Sarnia, Ont., to produce renewable gas and diesel.

Biofuel for jets would be a timely advancement with the aviation industry facing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint. The industry has a goal to cut total CO2 emissions, which have been escalating for decades, in half by 2050. 

Newly manufactured planes now often have a lifespan of 35 to 40 years and are difficult to retrofit, Bressler said. This makes renewable fuels an easy way to cut into emissions.

Bressler has been working with industry and government partners to convert waste fats and oils into biofuel since 2003. His hope is this effort will also create a market for agricultural and food producers to sell waste lipids like crop-based oils and corn oil.

“What actually bought me into this 20 years in the past was creating new worth pathways for agriculture,” said Bressler, a professor in the agricultural, life and environmental sciences faculty.

Bressler will be watching the Sarnia plant’s success in producing fuel at a commercial scale. If that plant does well, he said he hopes it will lead to many more facilities including in Western Canada.

“Hopefully, Plant 2 lands in Alberta with the biojet module able to go,” Bressler said.

— Andrew Jeffrey

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