Aug 21: Sustainability Salon on Climate Modeling

Torrential floods in Europe recently killed hundreds and displaced thousands.  A "heat dome" over the Pacific Northwest this June brought record temperatures (121F in British Columbia?!?) and led to something like a thousand deaths (more like a billion, if you count marine animals).  Wildfires out west and in Canada are sending smoke all across North America.  Climate change is not the only cause of these fires, but is certainly an extremely important factor -- less-frequent but more-intense rainfall leads to landslides instead of recharging aquifers, shorter winters yield less mountain snowpack to melt into rivers,  hotter temperatures draw more moisture out of the soil (turning vegetation into tinder), and stronger storms create more lightning to spark fires.  As summarized in the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report released this month, all of these events (and more) are predicted to become even more common into the future.  How do we know this?  Scientists often use models to understand and predict how conditions will change in complex systems.  

The 115th Sustainability Salon will be all about climate modeling.  We'll learn about the history of climate modeling, the latest IPCC report, types of models, radiative forcing, climate feedbacks, uncertainties, policy factors, and how we can test models with field measurements, satellite observations, and other data.  We'll be meeting via Zoom, and speakers will include:

Chris E. Forest is a professor of Climate Dynamics and the director of the Penn State Center for Earth System Modeling, Analysis, and Data;  he was also a lead author on the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report.  His research focuses on climate dynamics, quantifying uncertainty in climate predictions, and assessing climate risks.  

Hamish Gordon is an assistant research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, studying the interaction of atmospheric particles (both natural aerosols and pollution) with clouds and climate. 

L. Ray Roberts, a longtime local leader for Citizens Climate Lobby, will demonstrate MIT's En-ROADS interactive modeling tool -- which anybody can use to quantify the effects of different climate policies.  

Joining us for a panel discussion about all these approaches to understanding and predicting climate will be Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, a climate dynamicist whose current research focuses on renewable energy forecasting.  

Following the panel, Ray will lead an interactive En-ROADS Climate Workshop in which you’ll be able to explore the merits of different climate solutions like energy efficiency, carbon pricing, fossil fuel taxes, reducing deforestation, and carbon removal.  The experience will be scientifically-grounded, action-oriented, and eye-opening!

A few other items of note:  

•  We've talked a lot about the impacts of fracking, plastics, and the petrochemical industry on air, water, climate, and the health of humans and other living things.  Next Tuesday, the DOE will be holding a virtual public meeting to discuss those impacts.  There will be invited speakers and an opportunity to ask questions, but even just attending should be informative -- and will send the message that people care.  Sign up by this Friday (Aug 20th) to attend!  Visit NoPetroPA for more information.  
•  On September 25th, an intrepid group of activists will set out from Beaver (where Shell's ethane cracker plant is nearing completion) and head toward Belmont County, Ohio (where PTT Global Chemical wants to build another one), to raise awareness about the hazards of these industries -- among the people who will be most affected, and the policymakers elected to represent them.  If you're interested in participating in part or all of the multi-day march, or if you can support the effort in other ways, please fill out this form
•  Speaking of climate and air pollution (as we often do), conventional lawn care produces something like 5% of the air pollution in the U.S., as well as considerable greenhouse gas emissions and runoff that pollutes our waterways.  Larger plants, especially natives, would instead sequester carbon, need less maintenance, hold more water in place when it rains, increase biodiversity, and benefit the local ecosystem in many other ways.  Wild Ones is a national organization promoting native plants and environmentally-friendly landscaping practices;  there's a new chapter starting up in our region!  Email Tamara for more information.  
•  Mask update: I have distributed all of the Breathe99 masks (featured at November's salon on Pandemics and Air (video), and one of TIME's 100 Best Inventions of 2020) from my bulk orders, but the masks are currently on sale directly from the company at a similar discount.  I also still have some of the foam liners that address the condensation issue associated with a well-sealed mask, and a few boxes of filters (please email me with mask in the Subject line if you're interested).  
•  We cover a lot of important topics at Sustainability Salons.  If you're looking to get involved in any of them, feel free to connect with me (email with "salon" in the Subject is always a good method) and I can probably find a good match!  I also often post job opportunities on the Resources side of MarensList.  

Talks and discussion will run from 4 p.m. to 7:30 or so on Zoom (sadly, no potluck supper these days).  You're welcome to join the call for informal conversation after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the main program right around 4.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  If you RSVP via Eventbrite, you'll receive the Zoom registration link right away.  If you're not already on my Eventbrite list, please email me (maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to be added -- and let me know how you heard about salons!
For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  it's a mini-conference;  it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  it's a house party (if there weren't a pandemic) with an environmental theme.  Each month we have featured speakers on various aspects of a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening (though the potluck and the music are on hiatus during the pandemic;  you're on your own for the delectables).
Past topics have included approaches to pipelinespipeline hazardsthe legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disasterthe judiciary and fair electionsconsumptionpandemics and air,  election law and activismair quality and environmental justicesocial investment,  local economies, the economics of energymutual aid networksocean healththe rise of the radical rightthe back end of consumptionapproaches to activism on fracking & climateair quality, technology, and citizen sciencesingle-use plasticselection activismelection law, whether to preserve existing nuclear power plantsadvanced nuclear technologiespassenger and freight trainsconsumption, plastics, and pollutionair qualitysolar poweryouth activismgreening businessgreenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/peoplefracking, health, & actionglobalizationecological ethicscommunity inclusionair quality monitoringinformal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakersgetting STEM into Congresskeeping Pittsburgh's water publicShell's planned petrochemical plantvisualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiativesfossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politicscommunity solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (beforeduring, and after), air quality (again, with news on the autism connection), reuse (of things and substances), neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actionMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policyregional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food SystemsClimate Adaptation and MitigationPlastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceTriple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous GameA Fierce Green FireSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfood, food, foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand more food (a recurrent theme;  with California running out of water, we'd better gear up to produce a lot more of our own!).

Coronavirus update:   As you know, people in Pittsburgh and around the world are sequestered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Social distancing is still the rule for most Americans.  That's a bit of a misnomer, though -- we need physical distancing to flatten the curve, but technology now allows for rich interactions even so!  I believe that community is one of our greatest strengths, so in March as events began to be cancelled, I hosted the first virtual Sustainability Salon via Zoom teleconference -- rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space.   It went quite well (even engaging participants from hundreds of miles away), and we're looking forward to June's salon!  Please be sure to RSVP (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.  

If you haven't been here before, you may enjoy checking out our roof garden and solar installation (and now apiary!) as well as the many other green and interesting things around our place.  If interested folks are online and everything is working smoothly by around 3:30, perhaps I can conduct a virtual tour.

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, think back to our evening sings -- we typically ran the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time was had by all.  Folks would bring instruments, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations would continue through the evening, as well.  With a virtual event this is less likely to happen, but we can share music by turns, reminisce, chat online, and look forward to the post-COVID era!

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