Archive for the ‘Earth & Environment’ Category

Science or science fiction? Professionals’ discursive construction of climate change

March 19, 2013

From Organization Studies

Is it possible that modern society’s bitter political divisions over belief in anthropogenic climate change is distracting decision-makers from the far more practical and urgent matter of confronting the risk that it presents, directly or indirectly, to businesses and the economy? Based on a survey of 1,000 professional engineers and geologists in Alberta, this paper suggests this may be so. It examines the different viewpoints these experts hold concerning climate change and possible ways forward. Five frames that differ with regard to the cause of climate change, its implications and impacts, and especially the necessary steps, including regulation, to attend to the problem are identified. The paper also offers insights on the different ways in which adherents of these frames justify their views, legitimate themselves as experts in the matter, and try to mobilize others to support them.

Exploring the link between position within corporations and government and the frames used, the study indicates that those who are more defensive occupy more senior organizational positions and are much closer to decision-making than pro-regulation activists. Despite the current scientific dissension, declining public interest and political intransigence, the paper concludes by outlining an opportunity to ‘broker’ dissention between these groups.

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Climate change and the emergence of new organizational landscapes

December 11, 2012

Special Issue

From Organization Studies

Climate change for many is a critical issue. There appears to be a general consensus among the countries that constitute the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that a 2° Celsius warming of the planet will have dangerous, perhaps even catastrophic, consequences. More than 20 years after climate change was recognized as a critical problem, efforts to address it show a record of failure. Despite high-level efforts by states under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, there is still no legally binding agreement to effectively cut carbon dioxide emissions globally.

This special issue recognizes that climate change is not just an environmental problem requiring technical and managerial solutions; it is a political issue where a variety of organizations – state agencies, firms, industry associations, NGOs and multilateral organizations – engage in contestation as well as collaboration over the issue. Given the urgency of the problem and the need for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy, there is a pressing need for organization scholars to develop a better understanding of apathy and inertia in the face of the current crisis and to identify paths toward transformative change. The seven papers in this special issue examine strategies, discourses, identities and practices in relation to climate change at multiple levels.

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Supporting adaptation decision making in response to a changing climate

August 7, 2012

Special Issue: Adaptation and resilience to a changing climate: Supporting adaptation decision making

From Building Services Engineering Research and Technology

This special issue provides an overview on the development of weather data based on the UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) to support modelling of buildings and services. UKCP09 offers a range of possible climate outcomes and the probability of those outcomes, based on our best understanding of how the climate system operates and how drivers of change can affect those outcomes. It is this offering that provides both the challenges and the opportunities to practitioners and provides the focus for research presented in this Special Issue.

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Climate change link to war remains tenuous

February 15, 2012

Special Issue: Climate change and conflict

From Journal of Peace Research      

Does climate change sow the seeds of war? Until recently, most answers to this political question have been based on speculation. This landmark issue investigates a host of potential causes for conflict. Many other factors have a far greater influence than climate change on peace and stability, most of the studies conclude. On balance, the authors only find limited support for an influence of climate change on armed conflict. But this does not eliminate the possibility that when climate issues are framed as a security problem, this may influence actor perception and contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In the largest collection of peer-reviewed writings on the topic to date, the authors employ systematic climate data and climate projections. Most of the articles deal with civil war, a few with international war, and several studies go beyond state-based conflict to look at possible implications for communal conflict and other kinds of violence.

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Health and environmental consequences of illegal residential marijuana grow operations

January 10, 2012

Consequences of large- scale production of marijuana in residential buildings

From Indoor and Built Environment

North America is one of the largest industrialized nations involved in marijuana production, although it is illegal to produce and sell this plant in that nation. This demand has caused an increase in the number of illegal ‘‘marijuana grow operations’’.  This study considers the health impacts when living in or near the conditions required for the cultivation of marijuana. There are risks involved with the inevitable moisture, damp, mould, and fungi, plus there are potential hazards associated with pesticides, carbon monoxide and unvented combustion appliances.

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Is exportation of hazardous waste the future solution, in the face of unsustainable methods?

July 6, 2011

Review article: Persistent organic pollutants and landfills – a review of past experiences and future challenges

From Waste Management & Research

The landfilling and dumping of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other persistent hazardous compounds can have significant adverse environmental consequences. POPs will persist in landfills for many decades and possibly centuries. The build up in the food chain can ultimately reach humans, causing health impacts for current and future generations.

This paper reviews past experiences with such disposal practices and highlights their unsustainability due to the risks of contamination of ecosystems, the food chain, together with ground and drinking water supplies. This review highlights the necessity for alternative disposal methods for POP wastes, including destruction or complete removal from potential environmental release. There are further complications on a global level as developing and transition countries do not have appropriate technology or capacity to manage and destroy their hazardous waste.  This means in the future such waste may need to be exported to countries with appropriate destruction capacity. 

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Is the BP Oil Spill a ‘cultural anomaly’ pushing for alternative solutions to an environmental problem, shaping policy and legalistic approaches?

June 16, 2011

The BP Oil Spill as a cultural anomaly? institutional context, conflict, and change

From Journal of Management Inquiry

The BP Oil Spill off the Gulf of Mexico that started in April 2010 and lasted 88 days was, in terms of volume, the largest accidental spill in history. As the world looked on angrily, in the public media, there were multiple attributions of accountability for the disaster. When an event or issue poses a potential challenge to a dominant technological or economic institutional order, conflict ensues over the nature, meaning, and response to the event. If this challenge is significant enough to generate substantial conflict, the event can become a “cultural anomaly” for the current order. Cultural anomalies create a crisis and these result in the exploration of alternatives to long-held, taken-for-granted assumptions.  In the past some oil spills have supercharged policy and legalistic approaches to environmental regulation. This article considers if the BP Oil Spill has become a cultural anomaly, leaving a lasting legacy on our society’s views toward fossil fuels, environmental management, and energy use.

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Better alternatives to tackle the road dangers of winter snow and ice?

June 8, 2011

Plexiglas-roofed city highways/roadways can eliminate snow/ice/ rain-associated deaths, deicing salt-induced environmental damage, and hypertension-promoting salinization of water

From Public Works Management & Policy

Since the severe winter of 2009-2010, which brought snow and ice to 49 states of the US there have been great concerns for future safety, commerce, and mobility. Snowstorms and ice storms cause road deaths, property damage, and environmental damage amongst many other problems. Currently the cheapest and best means to keep roads safe in winter is by salting or gritting. 18 million metric tons of rock salt is spread on US highways each year. This method does however have environmental and health implications. This article examines the limitations of the current methods of salting/gritting and ploughing/hauling, and considers the advantages of alternatives such as snow melting machines and a new technique using a ventilator-fitted Plexiglas roof. This study suggests that covered highways will be a very cost-effective long-term arrangement significantly eliminating snow/ice/rain driven accidents, deaths, delays, the need for salting or snow removal, water contamination, and environmental damage caused by salting.

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Do the benefits of nuclear power outweigh the risks?: A time for Japan to review its policies?

March 23, 2011

The Challenge of Climate Change and Energy Policies for Building a Sustainable Society in Japan

From Organization & Environment 

In response to last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the role and safety risks of nuclear power are being reassessed globally. The 1990s witnessed an unprecedented recognition that environmental problems were occurring at a global level. Demonstrating Japan’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol it switched from fossil fuels to nuclear power as its primary energy source. Nuclear power has become central to its climate change and energy policies. The shift to secure increasing energy demand instead of reducing energy consumption has been widely criticised. Through an in-depth analysis of Japan’s climate change policy, this study assesses to what extent Japan has succeeded in environmental reforms without generating other environmental impacts to provide insight into this debate. Are the recent devastating events in Japan a warning to review its nuclear policies?

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100 cities ranked according to greenhouse gas emissions

February 1, 2011

Cities and greenhouse gas emissions: moving forward

From Environment and Urbanization

This study examines greenhouse gas emissions for over 100 cities in 33 countries and suggests 28 policy tools that city governments can use to take action on climate change. It looks at who produces the most, and urges a new look at cities and climate change. This paper finds not only variations between countries but within countries and even within cities. Lifestyles and consumption patterns are key drivers of greenhouse gas emissions .“This paper reminds us that it is the world’s wealthiest cities and their wealthiest inhabitants that are to blame for unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions, not cities in general,” says Dr David Satterthwaite, Journal Editor. “Most cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America have low emissions per person. The challenge for them is to keep these emissions low even as their wealth grows.”

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