Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TAPS Now Hiring Walk to Class Challenge Coordinator

Transportation and Parking Services is hiring a paid student intern as the Walk to Class Challenge Event Coordinator from January through late May, 2015. The Walk to Class Challenge is a peer-to-peer promotion to encourage walking as a viable, healthy, and sustainable form of transportation on our campus. The intern will be paid $10 per hour and will work approximately 10 hours per week. Main duties include developing and implementing a marketing and outreach plan to encourage more students to participate in the Walk to Class Challenge event in late April, 2015. Upper-class or student with two years experience at UCSC preferred.

For more information, please contact Teresa Buika, TAPS Planner, at tabuika[at]ucsc[dot]edu or 831-502-7941.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's getting hot in here

We’re in a pickle.

Our world is warming at an alarming rate. This means higher seas, more intense tropical storms, and an increased occurrence of droughts along with rising temperatures. And with positive feedback loops from methane gas release, receding sea ice, and decreased ability of primary producers to sequester carbon considered highly likely, it makes sense to peg the maximum allowable “global warming” at the low end of the safe spectrum so as to avoid triggering a cataclysmic tipping point.

The “2℃ limit” agreed upon by global governance has come under fire from scientists recently for being unattainable, misleading and of dubious utility to catalyze action. "Because it sounds firm and concerns future warming, the 2 °C target has allowed politicians to pretend that they are organizing for action when, in fact, most have done little," the authors of the critique write. "Pretending that they are chasing this unattainable goal has also allowed governments to ignore the need for massive adaptation to climate change."

I want to return to a previously posted quotation:
"The greater danger for us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark."
As prescient as Renaissance-man Michelangelo may have been, it is doubtful that he could have foreseen the existential threat facing humankind in our day and age. At the turn of the 16th century, theories such as a round world or a heliocentric solar system were still being vigorously debated, if not by scientists then still by the public. Beliefs change slowly, if at all. However, reason and empirical observation eventually won out, and few today would claim that the legion of scientists studying geography and astronomy are hoisting a hoax on the American public.
As for our changing climate, scientists have known about the "greenhouse effect", and the results that widespread combustion of fossil fuels would have on earth's climate, since before 1900. Global Warming made headlines in 1988 when NASA's Dr. James Hansen testified before the U.S. Congress as to the state of the science. "Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming." In more common parlance, we know what is going on. He added, "It is already happening now."

That same year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization to evaluate the physical science basis of climate change, with an eye to strategies for mitigation and adaptation. According to the IPCC, it is scientifically unequivocal that emissions from the extraction and use of fossil fuels are the number one cause of climate change.

According to numerous evaluations of the economics regarding the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change show that the benefits of strong and early action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change far outweigh the economic cost of not acting. However, the costs and benefits of action versus inaction are not evenly distributed around the world, with most of the costs of mitigation borne by developed nations and large GHG emitters, while the people most vulnerable to climate change's effects are often those who have contributed the least to the problem. In this context, it is essential to come to an equitable distribution of cost so that international action to arrest climate change can occur before it makes the earth uninhabitable.
IPCC projection of 2090-2099 temperature change from 1980-1999 baseline (Image source)

For over 25 years, however, no significant binding treaty has been ratified by the major emitters of the world. The Kyoto Protocol, conceived in 1997, mandated emissions reductions, but has fallen apart from a multitude of factors. The United States' (then the #1 GHG emitter) refused to ratify unless developing nations did, while developing nations (including now #1 emitter China) were exempted from binding targets. Without coordinated leadership on the part of major players, there is little hope of effective action.

The announcement is unambitious. The targets are close to business as usual. And the efforts don’t go nearly far enough to actually arrest global warming, says World Bank President Jim Yong-Kim. It is a non-binding commitment that could be erased with the stroke of a pen by a future U.S. or Chinese President.

For it’s flaws, it is a meaningful milestone in climate negotiations. When two of the economic powerhouses of the world come together to affirm that this is an issue that needs addressing from an international perspective, it sets the stage for coordinated joint sacrifice on a global scale. With this announcement, the top six largest economies by GDP (E.U., U.S., China, Japan, Germany, France, U.K.) have all pledged their commitment to tackling climate change. Pledges to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund (to provide transition and adaptation assistance to industrializing nations) near $10 billion. And a Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Lima happening right now should set the stage for a binding deal at COP-21 in Paris, December 2015. It’s going to be a long, warm year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Integral Group Plug-Load Study for New UCSC Coastal Biology Building

By: Samira Yitiz 

UCSC PowerSave Campus recently started collaborating with Integral Group from Oakland, CA on an equipment plug-load study. In this study we are measuring the energy usage of lab equipment in labs around Santa Cruz. The labs that are being studied are found in the Center of Oceanic Health, Earth and Marine Sciences, Thimann, Sinsheimer, and the Seymour Center. The equipment and labs at these locations are representative of what will be used in the new UC Santa Cruz Coastal Biology Building. The information attained from this study will be used to estimate the energy usage of the new building and to find ways to reduce plug load energy use and overall energy consumption of the new Coastal Biology Building. Lab equipment plug load is one of our campus’s biggest energy consumers so this project will identify areas in which we can make a change to better energy efficiency.

The whole team has been involved in installing and un-installing meters alongside Annie Mroz and Lindsey Gaunt from Integral Group. Kristiahn and I were involved in the installation of meters in a lab in Earth and Marine Sciences. We installed hobo meters on frequently used equipment such as power supplies, hot plates, refrigerators, and computers. Hobo loggers measure kilowatt hour usage by single phase equipment rated at greater than 15 amps. We will leave these meters on the equipment for at least one week to attain data that is representative of peak usage, weekends, and any other variation in usage. The hobo logger will be monitored the equipment during the thanksgiving holiday so it will be interesting to see the energy usage during unoccupied periods. We will also be installing meters in a controlled room, in this case a room used to store animal specimens that is representative of rooms that will be in the Coast Biology Building. All the data we collect will be given to Integral group so that they can properly assess the projected energy usage of the Coast Biology Building and be able to suggest energy efficient equipment and behaviors that could reduce the energy usage.

For more news related to energy efficiency on campus, visit the UCSC PowerSave website or like them on Facebook.  Contact powersave [at] googlegroups [dot] com for any questions, comments or concerns.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WADR: Here, There, & Everywhere

Hi There,

My name is Nataly and I am the team coordinator for the fairly new Water Action & Drought Response (WADR) team. We've had a busy time this summer and fall working to conserve water use on our campus, and with the holiday that just passed and more on the way, I've been thinking about water use for not just myself but for my family and friends as well.

I'm a softball player. I started T ball at the age of 5 and was forced into softball as a third grader (I never liked all the cheers the girls did). After playing sports all my life until my graduation of high school, I had to take a break. After a few years of resting, changing hobbies, and losing strength, I started to feel the pull to get back into the sport I knew so well: softball. There were a few changes for our UCSC intramural league: slow pitch, new rules. But the more exciting thing for me was that it was co-ed, so I could play with friends no matter their gender. After playing a few seasons with the same team (Sluggers), I had to be the person to announce a big let down to my friends. This Fall of 2014, one of the teammates emailed everyone, getting the spirit up and directing everyone to the new set up of registration with OPERS. Unfortunately they hadn't heard about the closure of the field and suspension of softball, so I had to reply letting everyone know and suggested that maybe a different sport could be played. It's a sad thing when fields are closed and when play is restricted, but I know from my position on the WADR team that it was a tough decision that had to be made for the safety of us players and for the future of the game.

Here's what I know:

- Starting Spring 2014, UC Santa Cruz was asked to make a 25% reduction of water usage by the City of Santa Cruz.

- The campus cutback watering of the East Field by 55%!

- During the summer, the Upper Field lost a good portion of its turf due to reduced irrigation.

-To repair the field properly, the field was closed to reduce the wear and tear on it.

- While the field looks green and safe, most of the newer growth are weeds, or varieties of grasses that are not well suited for sports.

- Water rationing will be lifted after Santa Cruz reaches 12 inches of rain.

- Once the rationing is lifted, the Office of Physical Education, Recreation, and Sports (OPERS) will work with campus grounds to repair the field.

So... Plans changed, well... plans change.

Just like life changes, which it did in one major way when I came to school here at UCSC. I learned, I grew, I learned some more, and I practiced. I still practice integrating what I learn into my everyday life, and I can say affirmatively that things have change since I've moved to Santa Cruz. The biggest shock is when I go back home or travel. It's interesting how things are different. Sometimes it's frustrating. For my hometown of Long Beach, I wish they and other cities like it would pick up the slack when it comes to being mindful about our natural resources. I come from a background where 45 minutes showers are "natural". Sure, I learned how to take the quickie when in special circumstances, but life was an indulgence of water (without consciousness) back then.

What city are you from? 
This short article puts some things in perspective here in California, especially between the north and the south. Even more relevant to us individually, to you and to me, though, is our personal use. To calculate your water footprint, go here, and please take the pledge. We are already witnessing the effects of the drought. I feel like Mother Earth is calling us to action, but more than just a few need to respond. With a community consciousness of conservation we can significantly improve our environment and situation. This is an official call to action that I hope you accept and share.

California Water Consumption: Gallons Per Person Per Day

 If you have questions that I didn't answer about the field, you can contact:
Todd Hammonds (Associate Director of Facilities and Operations at OPERS) 
(831) 459-4378 or tmhammon [at] ucsc [dot] edu

For more information on the WADR Team, click here.

UC Divesting from Fossil Fuel

By Alden Phinney

Fossil Free UC (FFUC) is a student and stakeholder campaign to divest the UC from fossil fuels. In accordance with international efforts to arrest climate change, FFUC advocates that the UC freeze and drop investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies ranked by largest carbon reserves, and reinvest that money towards sustainable and just climate solutions.

If we intend to secure a habitable world for future generations, the "burn it all" business plans of energy corporations must not come to fruition. However, these companies' lobbying and influence are some of the leading obstacles to the enactment of restrictive legislation and a just transition to a low-carbon society. Fossil Free UC seeks to advance the clean energy economy by stigmatizing association with fossil fuel companies and reinvesting capital towards a just transition away from dirty energy.

FFUC is now concentrating on building campus and coalition power across the state, as well as advocating within the UC system to ensure the Environmental Social Governance investing framework is more bite than hype. They are working with Academic Senates to craft resolutions endorsing divestment from fossil fuels and start the conversation among pensioners regarding what their investments are supporting. Get involved by signing a petition at (or faculty open letter if applicable), liking them on Facebook, or coming to Fossil Free UC's meetings on Fridays at 3:30 in the International Living Center apartment 5204! If you have any questions, comments, or want to get involved, don't hesitate to email aphinney [at] ucsc [dot] edu.

Alden Phinney is the Sustainability Office Climate Action Analyst through the Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program; a member of the Campus Sustainability Council; and a coordinator for Fossil Free UC Santa Cruz.

Sustainability Office Hiring for Winter

The Sustainability Office is currently hiring for winter quarter. Please help us spread the word by sharing these images and information via social media channels or email. If you have questions, please contact the staff supervisors listed on the applications, linked below.

Water Positions Available in the Sustainability Office: Deadline December 4
The Water Action and Drought Response (WADR) Team is dedicated to water conservation and aids UCSC in meeting water rationing goals during this time of drought. They work directly with water fixtures to assess and report for changes, and with student and University staff to promote wise water practices and educate about the seriousness of the drought. The WADR Team is looking for two new students to join a four-person team starting winter quarter. The deadline to apply is December 4, and interviews will happen the following week. View the requirements and application on the Employee Request system here (ER 7324).

The Sustainability Office is looking for an exceptional leader to oversee the Green Office Certification Program. Lead a team of students to work with staff across campus to improve their business practices and to adopt sustainable behaviors. Full job description and application are available on the UCSC Employment Request system here (ER 6682).

Advocate for Sustainable Development in West Campus Housing Study

Want to advocate for sustainable development at UCSC? The campus is embarking on a UCSC Future Campus Housing Study to define a plan that will guide the development and redevelopment of student housing facilities over the next ten years. The November workshop presentation is available here, and there will also be future opportunities to share your input.

Sign up for email updates here to get details about the study, including ways to get involved and share your opinions. The next workshops will be held February 3rd and 4th, 2015 at the University Center.