Are you smarter than a gubernatorial candidate: THE ANSWERS
No one has submitted any answers for these questions, so i am supplying the answers.
1. Explain the physics of climate change.
Carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere bounce back to earth light wavelengths of 12 and 13 microns when they are on their return trip to space after bouncing off the earth. The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the more of those wavelengths that fail to get back to space. It was described as partially closing a window. I am not sure at what rate the percentage of light is bounced back, nor am I familiar with the rate that increased CO2 increases the amount of light in those wavelengths bounced back. But that it occurs has been known since 1896.
Earth has always had something of a greenhouse effect. With no CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere earth would be at least 30 degrees colder, possibly even too cold for water based life forms. What we have now is more CO2 in the atmosphere than any time in the last several million years, so we are getting more heat trapped (light and heat are two sides of the same coin) than at any time in these same last few million years, which is raising temperatures dramatically. Prior to the industrial revolution Earth;’s atmosphere had 280 PPM of CO2. Now we are over 385 ppm, and that number goes up by about 2 points each year. With more than 1/3 more CO2 in the atmosphere, alot more heat is staying earth bound.
2. Explain what happens to beaches and salt marshes when sea level rises, and what happens if beaches and marshes are backed up by hardscapes. How will you protect tourism in RI if the hardscapes interfere with the needs of a tourism underpinned by healthy landscapes?
When beaches, saltmarshes and other coastal landscapes exist in a natural system, they move back and forth with sea level. Sea level falls, the beach moves out, sea level rises, the beach moves back. major changes occur only when the rise or fall of sea level means that the intertidal zone is now falling in an area of different slope, different underlying rocks or some such feature.
Roads and sea walls present just such a discontinuity. No longer is the beach or marsh able to migrate back as sea level rises. (It would be able to migrate further out to sea if sea level fell as the hardscape is on the shoreward side). This leads to a loss of marsh and beach. RI is already reacting to this issue by making sure land purchases in key shoreline areas include uplands so that beaches, dunes and marshes can mirgrate inland over the next few hundred years.
Shoreline set backs and other parts of the environmental and building codes will have to have more of a future focus, and a commitment to allowing nature to take back the land including our roads and infrastructure, will be necessary to maintain shorelines as something other than hardscapes and protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and tourism in Rhode Island.
3. What role do forests play in alleviating flooding, and how much forest is needed to increase infiltration and alleviate run off. What program would you implement in order to save Rhode Islanders millions and millions of dollars in flood damages that would also provide for cleaner water and livelier and more abundant wildlife and fisheries?
Water quality starts to deteriorate when a watershed becomes more than 10 or 15% paved. Many of Rhode Islands watersheds are significantly more paved over than 15%. Water quality deteriorates because run off from hard surfaces like parking lots and roads goes directly into our rivers carrying all the petrochemicals, silt, salt, and trash. The run off from hard surfaces tends to travel quickly from raindrop to river, which in addition to carrying more trash and pollutants, also means rivers rise faster and ultimately higher when the floods come.
Forested uplands slow down the water rushing to the river, and hold much more of it in the tree canopy and in the ground. Because RI is subject to a wide variety of weather conditions, it is impossible to say with any certainty that even if a watershed was 100% forested that there would never be floods. Once in my life I have seen water pouring through the woods when it rained hard on melting snow. The more than 90% forested county I lived in saw a record flood that day.
But clearly the more forested a neighborhood, the more pervious surface, the better designed the human infrastructure, the better off we are: the less frequent the floods and the smaller the floods when they come. Of course with climate change the rainstorms are bigger, changing the game again in ways that contribute to flooding,
The forested wetlands along the rivers are even more important for immediate flood control. The first line of defense for RI must be to move all the vulnerable housing and businesses, those in the places that flood regularly or were built in floodplains, out of the floodplain. These areas must be reforested if they are to actually serve to protect us rather than cost us millions whenever the rains come.
4. RI receives almost all of its food from places vulnerable to climate change, and shipped here by ever more expensive and climate changing dirty fossil fuels. What would you do to increase RI’s food security, what are the inputs needed for that task, and how does this relate to your economic development strategy?
When California can no longer provide 40% of the vegetables that RI eats, when the corn belt becomes a mite too warm some year for a good harvest, (and the issue is when, not if) Rhode islanders are going to feel hunger. Of course 1 in 6 kids in RI is at risk from hunger now, but under such conditions it is going to be thousands more.
When the price of gasoline skyrockets again, the price of food will go up proportionally to how far it has to travel from where it is grown to our plates. It will not be as pretty sight.
The only solution for this is for Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders to grow a much greater percentage of their food than we do now.
In order to do this we need farmers and gardeners, access to land, and lots of compost. There are many people who would like to farm, and many more who would farm if given the opportunity, especially when there are no other jobs around. Farming it turns out is one of the few RI growth industries, with an increase of 42% in the number of farmers in the last 15 years and a major increase in farmers markets helping spread the wealth.
The reduction in fuel consumption and carbon footprint if RI grew a much larger percentage of its own food, and the increase in community resilience by basing our food security and a larger percentage of the economy on things that are already right here, would have to be a good thing. It should be possible for RI to grow 20 to 25% of our food without chopping down our forests as long as we use the currently cleared land properly. The economic benefit of recirculating that money in the community rather than exporting it will rebound throughout the economy.
In addition the benefits of healthy food will improve childhood health, saving further resources.
5. Ecosystems change over time, with much of the process either explained by Darwinian thought, or mimicking its effects in the physical universe. Pick an iconic RI landscape, beaches, saltmarshes, farm land, forests, river valleys, or another of your choosing, and describe how healing that system might help us make progress both in social and evolutionary terms. Make specific reference to Darwinian principles in doing so. Then describe the economic changes that would contribute best to the healing process and the prosperity of the community.
My current restoration project is a forest restoration alongside a river, so for my example I will use a river valley.
The actions necessary to restore the health of the river valley include creating fish passage for anadromous fish, cleaning up all pollution sources, and restoring the ability of the soils in the area to store and slow down water. This later task would be done by depaving selected areas to restore soil permeability and reforesting wherever possible.
The specific changes we might see are greater fish populations, cleaner water, additional carbon storage in the greater tree canopy, cooler water temperatures, lower floods, fewer periods of dangerously low waters.
Greater fish populations would add to the genetic material in the community, and feed a greater variety of wildlife in addition to providing additional fertilizing of the forest adjoining the river. Cleaner water would probably allow a greater variety of aquatic organisms to survive, additionally adding to the genetic material available. The greater diversity and increased productivity of the system means that the selective pressures on the various populations would change. Any time selective pressures change the specific genomes in the system provide different survival and reproductive rates than were previously found for that specific genome, which effects the long term survival/reproductive rates among the various genomes. The changes in the genomes in various species effects the genomes in other species by changing the selection pressures/reproductive/survival rates.
Reforesting would increase the diversity of trees, animals that use the trees for food, shelter, hiding, whatever, as well as the microorganisms living in the system, triggering the same changes described for fish above.
Restoring to health river valleys would provide more fish for our diets, more recreational fishing and expenditures on fishing, flood protection, cleaner water, and a reduced carbon footprint. It would keep more money circulating in the community for more transactions, and increase our resilience in the face of climate change and its more destructive rainstorms as well as providing more shade to keep our neighborhoods cooler in summer. Well placed trees and properly integrating housing into the natural systems can also reduce winter heating costs.