It's been many years since toxic and VOC emitting products have been available to the construction industry. Long before COTE's call for a stronger stance. (I'm glad car designers haven't been subjected to similar pressures… We'd miss that new-car-smell!) But you're right… they've appeared in my older projects.
I agree with your admonition that we can all do better. However, in a profession where details and accuracy count, I take issue with misrepresenting carbon dioxide as "carbon." They're two different things. (It's the specifier in me talking.)
A 100% non-toxic built environment will be a wonderful thing. We'll probably get there someday. However, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and "zero-carbon" is the angel of a false religion. It's a laudable goal to steer architecture toward minimal environmental impact, and I practice doing so. I just prefer to do it in a more intellectually honest way.
You must admit you miss that new-building-smell! (Sorry for not drinking the cool aide.)
I accept that "pollutant" has a broad definition. (National Geographic has also probably said that water is the main pollutant to a drowning person.)
You're right to say there's much we still don't know. One of the many things we still don't know is, what portion of total planetary CO2 production is anthropomorphic? Ned Cramer recently said: "Even if humanity was to immediately stop releasing CO2, the climate would continue to change because the greenhouse gases that we have already dumped into the atmosphere could take millennia to dissipate." ARCHITECT OCT. 2017
I'm proud that the architecture community is finally beginning to shift its focus from prevention to preparation ("resiliency"). Why waste valuable resources to prevent the unpreventable? Yes, it still makes sense to reduce toxicity, increase sustainability, and strive toward architectural utopia. But those things won't affect climate change. Net-Zero is a laudable concept that's good for the environment, but ineffective in preventing climate change. It's much smarter to prepare for the impending changes. Let's be honest with ourselves.I agree with you that our profession is still in a primitive stage of development. A hundred years from now they'll be saying: "…it's amazing they wasted so much time and effort trying to stop climate change!"
Mr. Holtz with due respect to the great work you've done over the decades in our field, you aren't really any more qualified to be so reflexively opposed to any skeptical scientific inquiry either.I see no critique or even argument against the notion of "climate change", here or anywhere. Nobody denies the climate changes. Some are skeptical that there is ample evidence to conclude the earth is experiencing a significant warming shift. Some who aren't are skeptical that it is CO2 driven. And some of those are skeptical that it is anthropomorphically driven. There is a continuum of scientific skepticism on the subject. Denying *that* is the overtly unscientific act."Belief" and "denial" are not words of science, but of faith. The whole "debate" about "climate change" becomes a purely political if not religious one whenever the charge of "denier" is made.
To do so is a direct violation of the fourth of Merton's norms of science, namely of "organized skepticism." Merton was very clear that the most common failure in science on this fourth norm is "whenever other institutions extend their control over science. In modern totalitarian society, anti-rationalism and the centralization of institutional control both serve to limit the scope provided for scientific activity."Think: Al Gore, Tom Steyer, and the UN.
Architecture is first rational, then emotional. Let's not lose touch with our rational side lest we thoroughly relegate our profession to history's dustbin. And let's not succumb to the overtly political balkanization of society by turning on each other or turning each other against each other over what ought to truthfully be a debate of a variety of differing opinions and theories on a subject.
Excuse me for being rational… If a hurricane destroys your house, is it smarter to build a hurricane resistant house, or attempt to prevent hurricanes? It's settled science: If 100% of man-caused CO2 were eliminated, climate change would still occur. If humanity were terminated, climate change would still happen.
Sorry to challenge the gospel, but our net-zero efforts will not prevent climate change. We're chipping away fractional amounts of CO2 when elimination of the WHOLE amount wouldn't do the trick. Our ignorance is almost funny. Blind faith.
Instead of feeling good about reestablishing destroyed neighborhoods below-sea-level in New Orleans, wouldn't it be smarter to relocate to higher ground? Let's use our brains. If your roof is leaking, do you repair the leak, or prevent rain? (Where is Sam Kinison when you need him?)
But net-zero is valuable. It has many positive environmental results… slowing climate change just isn't one of them. Preparation, "resilience," is infinitely smarter than prevention. I'm glad that the AIA is addressing it. If we know all this nasty stuff is going to result from climate change, aren't we be remiss to ignore it?
I do have grandchildren. When they ask me what to do about climate change, I say "adapt."(If my comments are worrisome, maybe I should be sent to a re-education camp!)
Thanks for your message. (And let me say I'm one of your earliest fans. It must have been in 1979 when I devoured your Passive Solar Energy Book. It was a game-changer. I still have the marked-up and tattered remains, along with the clear plastic inserts. Thank you for your excellent work!)
My statement didn't have a source. I thought we didn't know the answer, though I did assume that humankind's CO2 contribution didn't outweigh nature's contribution. After a bit of research, I found the answer: We only contribute a small percentage of total atmospheric CO2 (see attached graphic).
It seems that even if we eliminate 100% of the little red chip (looks black on the attached graphic), it wouldn't change the big picture, so why spin our wheels?
Frankly, I think the IPPC's goal is to bring America back to pre-industrial conditions and let China and India run wild (which are predominately pre-industrial). I've heard that their projected increases in CO2 emissions are larger than even the most optimistic possible decreases in the US and Europe. Seems like an uphill battle. That's why I think we should promote preparation, resiliency, and adaptation in architecture… not prevention. If the ship is sinking, fix the ship, not the ocean!
However, I'm guessing your RCP Graphs prove differently. Let's assume it's possible to reach RCP6.0 or 4.5 via a concerted, global effort. I would then agree that Net Zero architecture could contribute to that effort. But global warming will still progress. Resilient planning and architecture will be more valuable to us in the long run.Ed, I'm just an architect... I'm not a minion of the fossil fuel meanies. I'm asking genuine questions and using my own logic and reason. As stated above, I'm open to learning. Your accusations make me sound like a mind-numbed-robot, and make you sound like a group-think alarmist. If the COTE can't accommodate thought diversity, I'll be happy to leave...
Thanks for your reply.
First, as far as I'm concerned, an honest dialog on this subject is healthy.
Regarding your comments. I'd consider myself a realist; "alarmist" is a loaded word. I don't think I made any accusations in my last post (sorry you took it that way). What I did write was that:
"Your statements on this thread seem to be right out of the fossil fuel playbook on climate change."
I used the qualifier seem, because it did seem that way to me.
FYI, the graphic you posted as a justification for
"even if we eliminate 100% of the little red chip (looks black on the attached graphic), it wouldn't change the big picture, so why spin our wheels?"
was created by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) and published by the Heritage Foundation (in the Daily Signal). The NCPA, was (now defunct) a climate denial organization, and the Heritage Foundation is a conservative think-tank notorious for undermining the science behind climate change. I find the graphic misleading. Why?
CO2 fossil fuel emissions are indeed just over 3% of the total CO2 emissions by all sources annually (the little red chip you refer to) – there are about 26 GtCO2 of emissions from burning fossil fuels, and 770 GtCO2 of natural emissions from land and sea (plus very small amounts from land use and volcanoes).However, what the graph intentionally leaves out is that natural emissions are balanced by natural absorption annually. So, what happens when more CO2 is emitted from fossil fuels outside of the natural emissions cycle? While the 26 GtCO2 is tiny compared to the 770 GtCO2 emitted naturally each year, it adds up, because about 15 GtCO2 remains in the atmosphere (not absorbed), and as a consequence, atmospheric CO2 has increased 45%, or130ppm, since the Industrial Revolution, and is now at 410ppm, something not seen in 15 to 20 million years.
We have upset the natural balance of the carbon cycle. Man-made CO2 emissions has created an artificial forcing raising global average temperature and with it an increase in flooding, heat waves, drought, coral bleaching, air pollution, sea level rise, etc. As I said in my last post, there is still time to address climate change if we peak global CO2 emissions by 2020 and phase out all fossil fuels by 2050.I believe these are more accurate graphics:
Peaking the global CO2 emissions by 2020 seems achievable. According to this graph, it has already peaked in several countries. China appears to be the problem child. The US is already on the downhill side. The declining use of coal and increasing use of natural gas is having a positive effect! Shouldn't we be promoting nuclear energy with the same fervor as wind and solar? Why is the sky still falling?
If CO2 is on the decline, why must all fossil fuels be phased out by 2050? Why 100%, and why 2050? That's unrealistic isn't it? (75% by 2048 has a better ring to it.) Either one seems to be a good motivation to substantially expand nuclear energy. Are we against nuclear energy? Honest questions.
Thanks to your explanations, I now understand that we have upset the natural balance of the CO2 cycle. I get it. (Though I wish everyone would stop calling it "carbon.") But the good news is it appears to be headed in the right direction. Let's hope we don't have a flurry of large volcanic eruptions or increased sun activity!Now for a hard question. It's not a trick question: What are some of the positive aspects of global warming? You've listed a lot of negative things that could happen, but none of the positive. I'm not suggesting that the positive outweighs the negative… I'd just like to exercise your intellectual honesty.
You're a real sport for putting up with me. All this back & forth has been very valuable. It's caused me to do a lot of reading and study that I otherwise wouldn't have done. I like your concept of "2030 Districts," and plan to explore it in more depth!
Thanks for your indulgence.
Here's a good place to walk through the CO2 natural vs human influence. https://www.skepticalscience.com/human-co2-smaller-than-natural-emissions.htm
Margaret Montgomery, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP Principal NBBJ 223 Yale Avenue North SEATTLE WA 98109 Direct: 206.223.5230 Mobile: 206.200.4526 www.nbbj.com / @nbbjdesign / http://meanstheworld.co
Dennis,Hat's off for trying. And for taking a rational approach to a rational subject. Who'd think that would be considered so radical?
For what it's worth, unanswered questions like the one you pose driving at the unspoken purpose the AIA seems to have set for itself outside of the field of the actual practice of architecture are why my AIA renewal still sits on my desk today. As it does every year.