Risking “Catastrophic Disruption”

The New York Times has reported on the draft of a new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a panel of climate experts that won the Nobel Peace Prize), here’s the hook: “Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report.”

The first segment of this report, published in September, found a 95 percent or greater likelihood that humans are the main cause of climate change.

From the report:

  • Governments of the world were still spending “far more money to subsidize fossil fuels than to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy, thus encouraging continued investment in projects like coal-burning power plants that pose a long-term climate risk.”
  • “…the political willingness to tackle climate change is growing in many countries and new policies are spreading, but the report said these were essentially being outrun by the rapid growth of fossil fuels.”
  • “…the real question is whether to take some economic pain now, or more later.”
  • “Nations have agreed to try to limit the warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. Even though it will be exceedingly difficult to meet, this target would still mean vast ecological and economic damage, experts have found. But the hope is that these would come on slowly enough to be somewhat manageable; having no target would be to risk catastrophic disruption, the thinking goes.”

New Life to Library Discards

Library Journal has turned the spotlight on the efforts of a Nova Scotia Sustainability Center that worked with Dalhousie University’s library system to find new purposes for library discards. Building and inventor David Cameron stacked a wall of books, and covered the result with a mixture of clay, sand, and straw, called earth plaster to provide insulation for the re-purposed schoolhouse:

building-book-wallPhoto credit: Library Journal

The “Es” of Sustainable Libraries

Random-ish thought: Environmental sustainability is defined by “the three Es,” in order for something to be truly sustainable it must address all three: environment, economics, and social equity. [Read more about this definition of sustainability here.]

Here are three possible Es for a Sustainable Library:

A place where patrons are:

  • Empowered
  • Engaged
  • Energized

Sustainable Thinking in 2012

2012 has me broadening the scope of my thinking when it comes to how I define a  Sustainable Library. When I was writing the LJ article on Integrated Building Design last year I kept thinking: “why don’t we apply this type of thinking throughout our organizations?”


If we take the definition of sustainability as “the capacity to endure” and thread that throughout our organizations, not just our facilities – the policies we write, the customer service expectations we have of our staff, the technology we deploy, the messages we send, all can contribute to having a sustainable library.