Lifestyle, Debates, Emergencies & Carbon Sequestration
Before Class: Please arrive early in order to complete any registration information, view recommended books, and answer questions.
First Half of Class: Carbon Affecting Climate & Climate Changes Affecting Our Lives
5 Minute Pop Quiz on the Carbon Cycle – Where does coal and oil come from? What are bogs as compared to other wetlands? How can charcoal sequester carbon? Where do trees and other plants get their mass? Which tree can best sequester carbon in our environment? What does algae have to do with carbon? Where is most carbon contained in the world?
Building a Greenhouse & Reflecting Sunlight – We will bring a small greenhouse called a “cold frame” to class, and do a couple experiments with it, including measuring the temperature when black soil is in it, when green sod is in it, when water is in it, and when a white reflective cloth is placed inside. Why? Most people understand the greenhouse effect, but it’s also important to understand 1) the difference between having the polar ice caps reflect sunlight vs. blue water absorbing it, 2) the difference between having high amounts of evaporative water in the atmosphere vs. “dry” air, and 3) the difference between tarred ground and roofs vs. green green-plant-covered surfaces.
Dealing with Climate Emergencies – Humankind has always had to deal with weather disasters, but due to increased temperatures and more water in the atmosphere, we have now entered an era where we have to deal with them multiple times per year. The mega fires that came once per decade now occur 2-3 times per summer in the western US. Same with our Atlantic hurricanes, and Midwest tornadoes. No one denies that. So it is incredibly important, now more than ever, that we develop emergency response preparations as a part of daily life. At class, you will learn the best way to respond to an emergency using the Order of Survival, and the best way to prepare for climate disasters, including getting involved with CERT and other community systems.
Biodiesel Kits & Controversies – We’re going to bring along some biodiesel-making kits for students to look at, and we’ll discuss how the making of biodiesel and other biofuels have positive and negative effects on carbon emissions.
Second Half of Class: What We Can Do in WA, OR & BC To Correct The Situation With Incremental Lifestyles Changes
Working With Solar Panels – We will bring a small solar panel to class along with a battery to show how sunlight is converted to electricity, and we’ll see which appliances use the most energy. We think you will be surprised about the many ways to reduce energy consumption. Perhaps most surprising is how inexpensive it has become over the past few years to convert your home to an energy producer. In fact, many people are making money on it. Can’t afford the investment? Rent it for the same price you pay now for electricity!
Planting Cedar Trees – We believe that planting cedar trees may be the best way to sequester carbon in Western Washington, Oregon & British Columbia over the long term. Why? As you’ll learn at class, cedar trees sequester a high amount of carbon from the atmosphere, and further, it takes a cedar tree decades, if not centuries, to decompose, making it the best sequestering plant in our bio-region. During this part of class, you will learn how to plant trees so that they survive and thrive.
Making “Biochar” Charcoal – Paradoxically, a strategy to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere is to burn wood and other debris. If we burn wood at the right temperature and for the right amount of time, we can limit the amount of smoke it produces, and create charcoal or “biochar” which doesn’t decompose very well, and therefore, does not release carbon into the atmosphere for a long, long time – aka: sequestering carbon. The math on this process, including the difference between “activated” and “inactivate” biochar, is currently being researched. We will bring a small “bio-char” charcoal-making stove to class, and if we are in a location where we can fire it up, you may be able to bring charcoal home that you make.
Energy Conservation: House Auditing & Driving Differently – We’re going to bring along some simple gadgets to show how easy it is to “audit” your home for energy conservation. For instance, a laser-pointing thermometer costs $5 and will tell you in seconds where you are losing heat in your home. Even better, you can often get free home energy audits from energy companies which are mandated to do this for home owners. The idea is to save you money, especially on the west coast where much of our electricity comes from dams whose carbon footprint was expended decades ago. As such, driving electric cars is excellent for reducing carbon, and if you really can’t to change your lifestyle to drive less, then how about a hybrid gas plug-in vehicle?
After Class – Feedback & Planning: Please join Chris & Kim after class to review experiences, browse resources, discuss feedback, and brainstorm ideas for the future. Email or Call us at any time with any questions and requests.
Class Locations & Registration Link:
Next Regularly Scheduled Class: Click on Friday, November 6, 2015 at the Wolf Campus in Puyallup, WA or call 253-604-4681 with a credit card to register or to schedule a custom class at another time or location.
Other Class Topics During the Academic Year: