"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Friday, September 2, 2011

Foley says the same thing twice

My classmate Jon Foley has an interesting presentation, and it's mostly true and important, so admittedly everything actually should be said at least twice.

So he does.

I wonder about the presentation. Which is more effective, the twelve minute talk with images or the four minute screed-toon without much evidence. Or both? Is it really better to present exactly the same thing twice?

Personally I'd have liked more evidence, and links to literature.

PS - Is the part about the 30% greenhouse footprint true?


Dan Satterfield said...

The choice of which is more effective depends on the audience I think. For the general public, and especially those under 25, the screen toon is the winner hands down. For a highly educated crowd (college grads at least) both.
Just my opinion, but I am certain about the younger than 25 crowd, and fairly certain about the rest. 30 years in TV have taught me something (but unfort. not that much).

I tried to pass some of this on to two semesters worth of env. sci students at our local junior college using Micheal Pollan's writings.

muoncounter said...

For a high school science class, I'd consider showing the cartoon part first. Verification on a point-by-point basis would make a decent class research project. Showing the more detailed (and drier) first 12 minutes could follow once the students have begun their research and are beginning to develop their own questions.

We see the 'TV effect' on a widespread basis in high schools. You've got a 50 minute class period for an audience with a 20 minute attention span - and they expect that problems will be resolved by the end of that time (as it is in Simpsons episodes). I dread having to teach the generation fully raised on iTunes videos in place of TV; their attention span will peak at 3 minutes or less.

David B. Benson said...

Everybody belives Beavis & Butthead, don't they?

Ronin Geographer said...

Re the 30% footprint: I think he is adding up the IPCC FAR numbers for emissions from deforestation 17% (which is mostly clearing for agriculture) with the numbers from agriculture itself, estimated at 14%. What he did not discuss is the mitigation potential in this sector which could be higher, with an appropriate price on carbon. In other words, offsets could be funding a green green revolution, and quite a bit of ecological restoration, while creating incentives to reduce emissions in other sectors and buying a bit of time with which to make that transition.

David B. Benson said...


Say it often; keep it short.

Niclas Mattsson said...

PS - Is the part about the 30% greenhouse footprint true?

When this kind of question pops up, just consult this Sankey diagram by the WRI. It's absolutely brilliant.

Anonymous said...

re: agricultural footprint 30% - I think that Ronin and Niclas have the more traditional numbers. Part of the discrepancy with Foley may have to do with where you define boundaries. Do you count shipping, refrigeration, packaging, etc.? I have seen numbers for agriculture energy use that include these and thereby end up higher.

re: Ronin's point about agriculture's potential for ghg mitigation. My reading on this concludes the opposite. I.e. that we will have considerably more difficulty cutting these emissions below some baselines for some time.

For instance, the Tyndall Centre's Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows asserted in 2008:

"Given that the majority of the non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food production, it is not possible, with our current understanding of the issues, to envisage how emissions could tend to zero while there remains a significant human population. The 7.5 GtCO2e figure used in this paper, assuming a global population in 2050 of 9 billion (thereafter remaining stable), is equivalent to approximately halving the emission intensity of current food production. While a reduction of this magnitude may be considered ambitious in a sector with little overall emission elasticity, such improvements are necessary if global CO2e concentrations are to be maintained within any reasonable bounds."

The stark implication of having the agriculture achieve less than the 80% or 90% or 95% reduction in emissions we need by 2050 or so is that other sectors - energy, processes, transportation, etc. - will have to decline by MORE than those amounts to keep us within our cumulative emissions budget. Which speaks again to the urgency of getting on with that task.

I still think Kevin's presentation to the 4 degrees conference at Oxford in 2009 is one of the most sobering - yet obvious and entertaining - things I have ever seen.

If someone has pointers to studies that indicate that agriculture can actually help in leading our ghg emission reductions, I'd love to see it...

Ronin Geographer said...

re pointers to studies.... "lead" might be too strong a word but definitely an important role. I want to reread the following paper and consider how it fits with Anderson's scenarios but Rattan Lal is the one who has done the numbers on potential for carbon sequestration in soils and vegetation. The most recent one that I know is: Lal (2010) Managing Soils and Ecosystems for Mitigating Anthropogenic Carbon Emissions and Advancing Global Food Security. Bioscience 60:9.

Aaron said...

Reducing CH4 from rice wetlands is a large opportunity. Rice does not really like having its feet that wet.


Aaron said...

Reducing CH4 from rice wetlands is a large opportunity. Rice does not really like having its feet that wet.


Ronin Geographer said...

The opportunity with SRI rice is huge. Other important opportunities to sequester carbon while reducing the use of water and other inputs, and increasing resilience and food security,include the development of perennial crops, agroforestry, bioenergy from perennials grown on marginal and degraded land that does not compete with food production, no-till, biochar from agricultural "waste".... I recently visited a walnut farm that was producing biochar from walnut hulls and using the offgas along with solar panels to power the freezers. There is a lot of potential for innovation in agriculture. So many working in the land use sector see carbon credits as a way to encourage and jumpstart the process. But it is hardly a substitute for reductions in other sectors.

Jay Alt said...

30% is close. Livestock clearly have a big footprint. A common Rejectionist take on this is that trying to reduce Agri. GHGs must lead to mass starvation.

See 'Livestock's Long Shadow'

For a broad review of measurements and studies of how we're affecting the planet, (ca 2001) see book -
The World According to Pimm: A Scientist Audits the Earth

With accelerated ecosystem decline since publication, it could've been be called:
Man eats Earth: details at 6 & 11 & next year . . .