Posts Tagged ‘carbon’

Does anyone know Professor Paul Younger? Pt. 2

August 21, 2015

Professor Paul Younger invited me to meet him in his office at the University of Glasgow after he found the blog post. We had exchanged some emails resulting from the sequence of events triggered by 350.org’s ‘Do The Math’ and the wider divestment campaign.

We discussed the reasons for the letter to The Guardian (of which Prof Younger was a co-signatory) challenging the University of Glasgow’s recently announced commitment to divestment from investments in the fossil fuel industry. From what I understand this was at least in part driven by the University’s decision to make the commitment on the basis of the student petition without recourse to any advice from the Schools or Departments which have expertise in the subject.

Prof Younger’s response to the Do The Math poster was that he agreed with all of it, apart from where on the right hand side it says, “we have the tools that we need.”

Detail of Do The Math by Rachel Schragis

Detail of Do The Math by Rachel Schragis

Although we see a lot of wind farms and increasing numbers of domestic rooftop solar voltaic installations, electricity is only a relatively small part of the fossil fuel generated energy we use. Further these forms of renewables provide neither baseload nor dispatchable capacity to the grid as it is currently configured ie they create more grid management challenges. In addition renewables development is impacting on issues of heating more slowly and on the transportation of goods at an even slower rate.

Asked the question, “How long is now?” I.e. if we are now in this transition process, how long will it take to move to a low carbon economy, Prof. Younger suggested 30 years between areas still requiring innovation such as energy storage, as well as innovations moving through development and commercialisation phases. It would be interesting to understand from his perspective where the key obstacles are and what could speed the process. I can imagine another one of Rachel Schragis’ images visualising the developmental edge, the relationships, the obstacles and the opportunities.

Reflecting on the University’s reaction to the student petition led to an interesting discussion around decision-making in different disciplines. Prof Younger offered a comparison with medicine where policy decisions are not made exclusively in response to petitions. We discussed the relationship between medical research and medical ethics (and perhaps also medical humanities). This prompted the question as to whether such a thing as a Chair in Engineering Ethics should exist? This is distinct from the existing positions focused on ‘the public understanding of…’ just as it is probably distinct from positions focused on sustainability (sustainability is already an iteration of one mode of ethical analysis, utilitarianism, rather than a primary inquiry into the grounds of thinking).

We also discovered that we had a colleague, Lucy Milton, founder director of Helix Arts in Newcastle, in common. Prof Younger had invited Helix Arts to work with him on the Seen & Unseen (1997-99) project developing a bioremediation solution to acidic run-off from mine workings focused on the Quaking Houses settlement in County Durham.

Prof Younger kindly gave me a copy of his recent publication Energy which appears in the All That Matters series. It’s a primer on current issues in energy engineering. He starts with food. It is the form of energy we consume bodily, and our discovery of cooking has increased the energy value of food to us, that most likely being one of the key contributory factors in our social cultural evolution. He doesn’t shy away from the parallel between our overconsumption of food and our equally unconstrained use of other forms of energy. Nor is the book a marketing exercise for the energy industry. Where it might be limited is in its exclusive focus on the technology of energy. The book doesn’t address the financial dimension of energy or particularly on alternative modes of ownership, both ultimately key factors in any transition to a low carbon economy.

I was able to give him copies of two of the Land Art Generator Initiative publications (New York and Copenhagen).

Does anyone know Professor Paul Younger Rankine Chair of Engineering and Professor of Energy Engineering at the University of Glasgow?

February 2, 2015

… or any of his co-authors of the letter published in the Guardian 10 October 2014 (his co-authors were Prof Colin McInnes, James Watt Chair and Professor of Engineering Science; Prof Fin Stuart, Professor of Isotope Geosciences; Prof Rob Ellam, Director, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre; and Prof Adrian Boyce, Professor of Applied Geology all of the University of Glasgow).

We are working on the principle of 6 degrees of separation, and since there are nearly 1000 people who receive ecoartscotland posts we reckon someone knows Prof Younger.  You see we sent him a piece of work by an artist and we want to know if he received it.

It started with Roanne Dods posting a story from the Glasgow Herald. Senior Engineers at Glasgow University called the University’s recently announced commitment to long term divestment from the fossil fuel industry “vacuous posturing.”  Read more about divestment here.

We were so enraged by this that we ordered a copy a poster to be sent to Prof Younger.  The poster, created by New York based artist Rachel Schragis, is distributed by Just Seeds and is part of 350.org’s Do The Math campaign.  BTW Global Divestment Day is Feb 14th.

Rachel Schragis’ fabulous mind map for the Do The Math campaign – see more of her work at http://www.rachelschragis.com/

So we’d like to know if Prof Younger got the poster, and whether he’d like to have a conversation about divestment, climate change and the role of public institutions?  Obviously ecoartscotland can only speak to issues of art and ecology, but I’m sure someone knows an economist to can talk about fossil fuels, and a behavioural psychologist who can talk about behaviour change, and a systems theorist who can talk about conflict in systems…

Come on engineers. You must be able to do the maths.

Collins & Goto at the Edinburgh Art Festival

April 30, 2013
Edinburgh Art Festival – Exhibitions – Edinburgh College of Art Tent Gallery

Eden3, Collins & Goto, 2006 ongoing

ecoartscotland is pleased to partner with Creative Carbon Scotland and Edinburgh College of Art to present Collins & Goto’s Spirit in the Air at the Edinburgh Art Festival 2013.

Collins & Goto, the eminent US ecological artists now based in Scotland, will present new work, using the Tent Gallery as a base of operations and performance to explore the actual rate and flow of CO2 in the environment in Edinburgh.  This project asks the question If humans produce gas in cities and there are no trees around to breathe it, does anyone care?


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