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What Would A Net-Zero Emission Iowa Look Like?

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Whether we see it or not, many of our daily activities — driving to work, powering our homes and grabbing a bite to eat — produce carbon or require emitting carbon. What would a low-carbon or zero-carbon lifestyle look like in Iowa.

Embodied carbon is the idea that carbon emission is not just about the exhaust from combustion engines. It thinks about all the miles traveled, refrigeration used and packaging needed to get an apple, for example, from a field to your hand.

Human-induced climate change is posing an ever-greater threat to our future. If humanity doesn’t reach a net-zero carbon emission by 2050, global temperature will rise by 1.5 degrees C. If we are going to avoid even worse weather, even hotter environs, we have to think about how carbon emissions are embodied in our lives.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with experts and enthusiasts about how carbon reduction will change our lives and importantly, how it won't.

First, we hear from Paul Erickson, an electric vehicle enthusiast, about how the adoption of this technology will change how we travel across the state and to work. Then, Martha Norbeck, a green building consultant, will talk about the ways our homes can change to be as comfortable but much more environmentally conscious. Last, Brian Green, a technology ethicist, walks through how we can keep feeding Iowans while doing something about our environment.


  • Paul Erickson, manager of commercial energy solutions for Central Iowa Power Cooperative
  • Martha Norbeck, founder of C-Wise, a green building consultant in Iowa City
  • Brian Green, director of technology ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics part of Santa Clara University
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa