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Environmental engineer, climate hawk, scientist, parent, contemplative agitator communicating the science of the environment and the role of human stewardship.

There are many potential solutions to abate climate change, and some of them involve playing God.

Geoengineering is a weighty term that may evoke an image of massive built structures or colossal movements of soil or earth. Alternatively, it may raise a fear of chemtrails in the sky, of ulterior motives by unknown or uncontrollable forces. In the case of climate change, geoengineering, also known as climate engineering or climate intervention, is a deliberate manipulation, often on a large scale, of natural processes or systems in an attempt to stop, alleviate or avoid the destructive changes resulting from global warming. …

A global pandemic has allowed for re-shaping of where we work, which is a potential win for the environment.

A room collecting dust (Source: Unsplash, Drew Beamer)

Many of us have been following the well-worn paths of parents and grandparents and generations past. This path has led us, 9 to 5, from our front door to the car or bus, from the car or bus to the office door, and back again. Rinse, repeat, for years and years. In recent decades, some companies have tried their hand at re-inventing the traditional office space, looking beyond the four walls or cubicle, chair, computer, phone, in an attempt to re-brand as an innovative employer with a finger on the pulse of future generations. These changes have generally amounted to…

My personal story of purchasing an electric vehicle.

For most of my adult life, I didn’t give electric vehicles much thought. My first recollection of seeing any type of electrified vehicle, hybrid or otherwise, was the Prius. It seemed like the type of car bought by very serious people or by modest, well-intentioned people who wore comfortable shoes and shopped at co-ops. Climate change was a whisper in the background; such vehicles were no more than car show novelties.

A connected EV charger port (Unsplash, Vlad Tchompalov)

With the knowledge of humanity’s impact on the environment, both as an individual and as part of society, and the increase of my age and responsibilities, I started to…

Balmy days and sprouting bulbs frame a season that seems to be slipping away.

Flowering signals of spring seem to be arriving sooner (Courtesy: Annie Spratt)

When I scroll through the comments on area weather service announcements, I find myself feeling a mixture of emotions. There are the typical replies to forecasts of warmer-than-usual winter days from the “I’ll take it!” climate cheerleaders. I have the sense that I am a trespasser in their field of optimism, the unwelcome guest at a season-themed party. Increasingly, however, these cheery voices come off as projected from willful ignorance or as attempts at forced joviality. There is a growing population that mourns the dissolution of four marked seasons. It’s a gnawing apprehension of change.

The apocalyptic movie was frightening and seemingly far-fetched, but elements of the movie’s premise are true.

There is plenty about climate change that is disquieting and urgent: from droughts to floods to enhanced storms to the extinction of species. Climate modeling has been uncomfortably accurate, almost conservative in some aspects when coupled with outlying dangers such as warming methane deposits. The scientists that have done the research and routinely speak out on these concerns are alternately insulted by deniers as doomsayers and grudgingly acknowledged by the average citizen as providers of grim knowledge. My purpose, as is the sentiment among the majority of climate scientists and advocates, is not to frighten anyone, but to encourage self-education…

If panels on the roof generate energy, would panels in orbit do a better job?

Solar panels that power the International Space Station (Source: NASA, Expedition 52 crew, 26 July 2017)

On a drive through local neighborhoods, I’m seeing more and more solar panels up on roofs — or maybe I’m just noticing them for the first time. Not only is solar energy becoming more prevalent in residential homes, but more and more businesses, non-profits and municipalities are investing in electricity generation from solar sources. It takes approximately 3.4 acres of solar panels to generate a gigawatt-hour of electricity over a year — translating this to a much larger scale, we would need about 13,600,000 acres (21,250 square miles) of solar panels to meet the total electricity requirements of the United…

The notion of public ownership of utilities has been raised in the smoking specter of heightened forest fires — perhaps this is a crucial next step in abating the climate crisis.

Transmission towers and power lines (Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash)

Wildfires are once again raging in California and a state of emergency has been declared. The Kincade Fire ignited in Sonoma County on October 23 and quickly spread to an area twice the size of San Francisco while the Tick and Getty Fires have burned through nearly 5,000 acres in Los Angeles County. Over 200,000 people have evacuated their homes while hurricane-like winds blow up to 80 miles per…

The oft-overlooked gas may be a bomb about to blow.

Trapped bubbles of methane in Lake Abraham in Canada (Photo by John Bakator on Unsplash)

It’s really not fair to label either carbon dioxide (CO₂) or methane (CH₄) as criminal actors. Their function as greenhouse gases is actually to be applauded; our planet has a nice little insulating layer that has been a boon for life. However, these atmospheric gases are central players in a story of too much of a good thing. Aside from CO₂ and CH₄, the other main greenhouse gases include nitrous oxide and a group of fluorinated gases. With no regard for political affiliation or religious beliefs, these molecules wend their way through various planetary processes, including a stint in the…

To fly, or not to fly, that is the question.

The student and climate activist, Greta Thunberg, has pointedly avoided air travel, most recently accompanying a sailboat crew in a trip across the Atlantic Ocean to be received in New York City for the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Celebrities and high profile personalities have recently received criticism for jetting to destinations to discuss, of all things, the climate crisis. Climate deniers often use the tactic of pointing out how the former US Vice President and defacto climate advocate Al Gore, and climate scientists, fly by plane — as an apparent example of hypocrisy regarding the truth and urgency of…

The American relationship with the natural world has brought us to the brink.

We’ve reached a pivotal teaching moment as American economic, political and social conflict have become inseparable from global environmental concerns and crises. The state of our environment is a reflection of our national character: our struggles with greed, disinformation, intolerance, and injustice are reflected in imbalance, pollution, degradation and loss in the natural world. Modern society, however, is often either physically removed from nature or emotionally and mentally disconnected from the concept that the environment defines us and is defined by us. The seed for this disconnect between the internal and external environment was planted long ago.

Since its beginnings…

Desirée A. Rammon, PhD

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