The Climate Is A Changin'

Quick PSA regarding a couple of article references about the warming of the planet, from the Exponential View newsletter. This week the CO2 levels as measured by the Keeling Curve measured 414.08ppm, which is up from January, 2017: 406.13ppm and 25 years ago when it was around 360ppm and from 250 years ago, where it was estimated to be at around 250ppm.

You can see the effect of carbon emissions in more stark relief by looking at the Keeling Curve over the past few hundred years, and how there is a noticeable hockey stick growth from roughly the mid 1970s through to today.

What is interesting is that while certain political leaders and others deny that the climate is changing, many cities around the world – many in Europe – are taking matters into their own hands. Cities from Amsterdam to Helsinki to Paris to Birmingham (UK) are taking steps to essentially ban cars from driving in their streets. These proposed changes address both quality of life for the city residents but also do their small part in trying to reduce their city’s ‘carbon footprint’.

Paris: On the first Sunday of each month, the heart of Paris—the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th arrondissements—shuts down to most traffic, turning streets over from cars to pedestrians and cyclists. (A few vehicles, including cars owned by local residents and delivery vehicles, are allowed to enter at access points and drive slowly.) 

Helsinki: In a new development in Helsinki’s Kalasatama neighborhood, none of the new apartments come with parking. It’s one of several ways that the Finnish city is nudging people to drive less; by 2025, Helsinki wants to make alternatives to driving appealing enough that people no longer feel it’s necessary to own a car. “It is important that more and more trips are made by using walking, cycling, and by public transport,” says Anna Pätynen, the city’s traffic and transit engineer. 

Birmingham (UK) once called itself the U.K.’s “motorway city.” Now, after joining dozens of other global cities in declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the city is working on plans to limit access to cars in its city center, creating a new network of pedestrian streets, and turning space over to bikes and public transit. One part of the strategy involves giving businesses incentives to get rid of their parking lots; the city plans to build thousands of homes on them instead. Other neighborhoods will also restrict traffic, particularly around schools. By 2030, Birmingham plans to be carbon neutral, and reducing car use will be one part of hitting that goal.

Adele Peters, Fast Company

The climate is changing rapidly right before our eyes. I live in the Northeast of the United States and it is clear that the ‘traditional’ winter months are noticeably warmer. As the United States Government so aptly proved this week, we can not rely on them to do what is in the best interest of the public and the country. People, cities, and towns need to drive change on their own.