The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is one the government isn’t telling you about | Science Magazine

From Science article:

 …four lifestyle choices had a major impact: Become a vegetarian, forego air travel, ditch your car, and—most significantly—have fewer children.

The top ways to reduce your carbon footprint


Credits: (Graphic) J. You/Science; (Data) Seth Wynes and Kimberly A Nicholas, Environmental Research Letters (2017)

So, I’m good on #1 (child-free by choice); mostly there on #2 (I never drive, but I do bum rides, and at times my spouse has owned a car); technically good on #3, but I have taken some trans-Pacific flights, which are even worse, so… low marks on this one; only do #4 to the extent that green energy is in the local PG&E mix (currently 33%); #5&6 presume car ownership, so they don’t really apply; about 90% there on #7 (fish or chicken maybe once or twice a week, still some dairy and eggs); #8 again presumes cars – n/a; and generally good on #9-12. I suppose I can feel pretty good about myself today 🙂

But if you’re not there yet, don’t feel bad! Just do the best you can, and keep working at it. (Of course, it’s probably too late to send back any existing offspring you may have, but you might consider carefully whether to produce any additional biological progeny in the future.)

We don’t all have to change all at once, but change is vitally necessary. The more people start to participate in, expect and demand change, the more the culture around us will transform to make those changes easier for everyone.

千里之行… or



Declaring Independent Interdependence

The 4th of July is the day the United States celebrates its independence from external tyranny. What about the forms of tyranny and oppression that are inherent in our country today? Here are a few responses I propose for 2017.

Option 1: Start a Community

One notion to fix some of what is broken in U.S. politics is to help shift the population of a swing district by encouraging progressives to move there and get active. Inspirations for a new community include Gaviotas, Occupy! and the cooperatives around the world.  I’ve created spaces where people can share and contribute their ideas on GoogleDocs and wikispaces.

Option 2: Update the Constitution

Electoral colleges, 3/5 person-hood, Prohibition… this document is really showing its age. It might be time to start a new one, keeping the best of what the US Constitution still has to offer, but clearing out the useless or dreadful junk from bygone centuries, and perhaps even getting some fresh ideas into it, like the Equal Rights Amendment (does 94 years old still count as “fresh”?).

Most liberal democracies—including the nice, stable ones in Western Europe—amend their constitutions with great frequency.

Once again, collaborative editing to the rescue! I’ve posted the full constitution as a GoogleDoc and on wikispaces.

Option 3: Declare Interdependence

As ever, with gratitude to JoodyB for all her amazing ideas: Re-imagining Independence Day invites you to celebrate, and even come up with a New Declaration.

“…a little rebellion now and then is a good thing…”
~Thomas Jefferson, 1787


Palm Oil reporting and interactive map

The  Zoological Society of London (ZSL) developed SPOTT to report on some of the main drivers of tropical deforestation and habitat loss. They’ve released transparency scores and assessments of the major palm oil producers in Southeast Asia.  Be sure to scroll toward the bottom of the page and have a look at their interactive map, to understand the extent of palm oil production in tropical Southeast Asia.


The Guardian: Rural distrust of urban elites & city bike innovations

Another look at how Americans became polarized between small-town and big-city voters and the creation of the red/blue divide in the USA, this time from The Guardian.

It’s no secret Donald Trump benefited from rural voters. But Democrat or Republican, they usually tell Katherine Cramer – who has spent a decade visiting residents of small-town Wisconsin – the same thing: it’s the cities that get all the breaks, and then have the gall to look down on them, too

Also, don’t miss The Guardian‘s many articles around Velo-City 2017 this week, including:


Project Drawdown, Part 1

Tonight I will have the great good fortune to see Paul Hawken speak about Project Drawdown (and especially the newly-released book Drawdown) at one of my favorite places in the world: Bookshop Santa Cruz.  drawdown_book_cover

Project Drawdown is an amazing effort, documenting over 80 solutions for reducing carbon emissions or sequestering atmospheric carbon to mitigate climate change and reduce global warming. Each solution is meticulously researched, with extensive references on the website. The Drawdown team provides an estimate of the potential greenhouse gas reduction, the likely net cost of implementation for said reduction, and the likely net savings from other benefits of implementation.

The book itself is reminiscent of last-decade’s beautiful WorldChanging – more like a magazine than a complete narrative, brimming with inspirations for making a positive change in the world, illuminated by compelling photos that bring delight with every turn of the page.

One thing I would have liked to see in the book, and one thing I hope to see in the future from Project Drawdown, is a connection to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. There are already efforts underway by academics to articulate the linkages and intersections of the different SDGs. Global Goals SDGsProject Drawdown clearly is focused on lucky 13 (Climate Action), but almost all of the solutions proposed have intersections with one or more other goals. It would be amazing to begin articulating the trade-offs and synergies of these in a rigorous, evidence-based way.

SingaporeAlleyDrawdown is a book that is meant to be flipped-through rather than read sequentially. In one of those moments of odd serendipity, the first page I flipped to had a picture of air conditioners in Singapore, similar to this one that my husband had taken in an alley between Circular Road and Boat Quay. The solution in question was actually the one they rated #1 for its potential to reduce global warming: Refrigerant Management. Air conditioning is ubiquitous in burgeoning tropical cities like Singapore, a symbol of prosperity.

When I was there at conferences earlier this month (Education for Sustainability in Asia and the Singapore Sustainability Symposium), someone joked that Singapore has two seasons: outdoors and indoors. Outdoors is always steamy and usually approaching 30°C (86°F). Indoors is very chilly, requiring jackets and therefore comfortable for men in business suits. When I first arrived in Singapore, I noted that a big part of their energy cost is the culture of business attire. Part of refrigerant management may in fact be a change in that aspect of culture – completely inappropriate for equatorial climates. 2015-02-02 14.03.57Of course, places like NTU generally prioritize technological fixes over social ones, but at least they were making some progress on that path. The Hive at NTU features passive cooling and a silent, fan-less, convection-based chiller for the classrooms. Such engineering-oriented solutions have the benefit of providing locked-in infrastructure for reliable savings, but they are more expensive and potentially much slower to implement than changing behavior.

I’m sure I will have more to say about  Project Drawdown soon after tonight’s event – stay tuned…

[minor updates May 26th: “Only” 80 solutions are fully researched and documented, plus there are descriptions of many “coming attractions.” I was able to ask Paul Hawken about the connection to the SDGs – his reply was mainly that there wasn’t sufficient room in the book to get into those. More to come…]

Earth Day & March for Science

I’m heading to the lovely Santa Cruz March for Scienceonlinesquare and Earth Day celebration, and wanted to share a song to celebrate that:

(You can also see the lyrics to IFLS hereHank Green has lots of other nerdy science songs, plus SciShow and Crash Course, and I guess I’m a fangirl.)

Happy Earth Day!

The Education and Sustainability book is in press

In case you’ve been wondering why you haven’t heard much from me lately, for the last few months I’ve been busy preparing the manuscript that just went to the publisher.  I can now officially say the following are “in press” (and not just “in preparation”):

Merrill, M.Y., Burkhardt-Holm, P., Chang, C.H.., Islam, M.S., Chang, Y. (editors), Education and Sustainability: Paradigms, Policies and Practices in Asia.  (edited volume at Routledge, Singapore, due out mid-2017)

Merrill, M. Y. Introduction: Education for Sustainability in Asian Contexts, (Chapter 1). In M. Y. Merrill, P. Burkhardt-Holm, C.-H. Chang, M. S. Islam, & Y. Chang (editors), Education and Sustainability: Paradigms, Policies and Practices in Asia (pp. tbd). Singapore: Routledge.
Chang, Y., Dang, T.Q.T., Merrill, M.Y.  Economics Approaches to Sustainability: Methods and Applications, (Chapter 3) in M. Y. Merrill, P. Burkhardt-Holm, C.-H. Chang, M. S. Islam, & Y. Chang (editors), Education and Sustainability: Paradigms, Policies and Practices in Asia.  (pp. tbd). Singapore: Routledge.
Merrill, M. Y., Chang, C.-H., & Burkhardt-Holm, P. Conclusion: The Current State of Higher Education for Sustainability in Monsoon Asia, (Chapter 17).  In M. Y. Merrill, P. Burkhardt-Holm, C.-H. Chang, M. S. Islam, & Y. Chang (editors), Education and Sustainability: Paradigms, Policies and Practices in Asia (pp. tbd). Singapore: Routledge.

The book emerged from the conferences and community of practice I helped to organize around themes of Education for Sustainability in Asia. We had chapters that were submitted by authors in Singapore, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Thailand, China (mainland, Hong Kong and Macau), Indonesia and the Philippines.

More than half the world's population lives within 4100km of Guiyang, Guizhou Province, Southwest China.

There are more people living inside this circle than outside of it.
You may remember that putting this book together was a process I started a couple of years ago, not long after I started my job in Singapore:

For the Introduction to the book, I updated and reconsidered these comparisons (for the countries that are actually included in the book).  The conclusion then looks at how those contexts relate to the differences described in the preceding chapters. It also makes some comparisons between those efforts toward Education for Sustainability (or Education for Sustainable Development) in these countries of monsoon Asia, and some examples from Europe (the Master’s in Sustainable Development program Patricia Holm chairs at University of Basel) and North America (the Sustainable Cultures class I designed and taught at Cabrillo College).

It’s so good to have this stage of the project done! Now, back to that job search