Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 32

CLIMATE FEEDBACK LOOP
SOURCE: NAS-SITE.ORG

Methane is a greenhouse gas,
one that is far more potent
than carbon dioxide and
water vapour. Methane can
be released from several land
uses including landfills and
agriculture. Tropical wetlands
are a larger source of methane
as is peat stored in northern
wetlands and arctic tundra
permafrost. These regions are
warming faster than anywhere
else on the planet (Goldblatt
and Watson, 2012) and releasing massive stores of methane.
Forests and woodlands, but
natural ecosystems in general,
are still the most effective
"technology" for sequestering
carbon (removing it from the
atmosphere). Forests contain
40 per cent more carbon that
fossil fuel deposits, which
suggests the need to protect
existing forests, regenerate
and restore degraded forests
and conserve other natural
ecosystems (Federici et al.,
2017). The rate of forest loss
per second is estimated to be
equivalent to one soccer field,
or an area the size of Italy,
every year (Monument, 2018).

In a presentation at CitiesAlive in Toronto, Professor
Marco Schmidt argued that
this loss was 350 km2 per day,
and it was accompanied by
other changes in land cover:
the daily growth of cities contributes another 150 km2 and
ongoing desertification of 300
km2 (Schmidt, 2009). Schmidt
argued that the annual latent
heat flux from the planet's surface - i.e. evaporative cooling
- accounts for approximately
75 per cent of the solar energy
reaching the earth's surface
every year. Hence, the massive
decline in vegetation from
deforestation, the growth of
cities and desertification has a
tremendous impact on surface
heating as well as precipitation.
In addition to the reduction of surface vegetation,
cities also play a role in
increasing GHG emissions,
and Taylor (2017) argues that
climate change is a result of
the demands of urban populations. Global urban population increases by 1.5 million
migrants every week, and

LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR / SUMMER 2019 / 32

meeting their needs for infrastructure will require one-third of
the global carbon budget (Kinney, 2015) citing the C40 Cities
Climate Leadership Group). Globally, the total consumptionbased GHG emissions are larger than sector-based emissions
for 79 cities (Doust et al., 2018). The C40 Group argues that
green infrastructure would avoid 45 Gt CO2 by 2030, eight
times the current US annual GHG load to the atmosphere, and
would be one-quarter the cost over the next five years when
compared to what the C40 calls high-carbon infrastructure.*
In order to reduce the threat of runaway climate change, it
is necessary to slow down the feedbacks in the climate system
that are pushing the system toward tipping points. One such
feedback occurs with the removal of vegetation.
Our city-regions afford many opportunities for green
infrastructure investment that will not only reduce GHG emissions, but will also reduce stormwater runoff and retain more
moisture within the urban fabric, one of the keys to stabilizing
global temperatures.

FIND OUT MORE

Although green infrastructure usually refers to infrastructure with a
significant vegetative component that in most cases is responsible for the
benefits, the C40 group also refers to high and low-carbon infrastructure,
and low-carbon might include other types of low-energy infrastructure.
Dr. Brad Bass is a Status Professor with the School of the Environment
at the University of Toronto. Dr. Bass founded the University Research
Experience in Complex Systems, providing opportunities to any researcher
to study complexity and nonlinearities in their systems through computer
simulation. He was a member if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change's Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and
Climate Analysis, and in 2012 was awarded a lifetime achievement award
for his contributions to green infrastructure research.

*

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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019

Table of Contents
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - IP
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Cover
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Cover 2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Table of Contents
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 3
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 4
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 5
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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 36
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - M1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A3
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A4
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A5
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