Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Morning Linkfest

Good morning people. How's the environmental movement living, breathing, moving, in your world, today?

Anyway, here's some stuff I've found interesting in the past while:

  • "I think leadership starts to crumble when it becomes inconsistent. People don’t know which way the wind’s blowing. What’s the C.E.O. going to decide today? They’d rather him or her consistently be a jerk in a certain area as opposed to being inconsistent. Then they know it’s coming." (on leadership via New York Times)
  • Still, we are rapidly approaching a point of no return, cautions climate modeler Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, who participated in the study. (via Scientific American)
  • OK, for all you conspiracy theorists out there who have long known that there's a 100 mpg car out there, it turns out you just  might be right (wink, wink).
  • Need some good news on the environment and people in general? Who doesn't? Here's our highlighted link of the weekend. "Faced with the mind-numbing bad news about the environment over recent months, a couple of us at the Guardian decided to try to cheer ourselves up by finding examples of the right kind of environmental change. We set out to find 50 green pioneers, people who are making a practical difference but whose work is not yet widely known."  (via The Guardian)
  • "In just 20 years, one in every three vehicles on British Columbia's roads could be electric, according to a primer released by the Pembina Institute today, coinciding with the start of a four-day electric vehicle conference in Vancouver."  (via Pembina Institute)
  • George Monbiot says "In 2012 the only global deal for limiting greenhouse gas emissions – the Kyoto protocol – expires. There is no realistic prospect that it will be replaced before it elapses: the existing treaty took five years to negotiate and a further eight years to come into force. In terms of real hopes for global action on climate change, we are now far behind where we were in 1997, or even 1992. It's not just that we have lost 18 precious years. Throughout the age of good intentions and grand announcements we spiralled backwards." (via his blog)
  • “If you spent your entire annual income in nine months, you would probably be extremely concerned,” said Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel. “The situation is no less dire when it comes to our ecological budget. Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water and food shortages are all clear signs: We can no longer finance our consumption on credit. Nature is foreclosing.” (via Global Footprint Network)
  • "As the world gets warmer, sea levels are rising. It has been happening at a snail's pace so far, but as it speeds up more and more low-lying coastal land will be lost. ...  Throwing trillions of dollars at the problem could probably save big cities such as New York, London and Shanghai, but the task of defending all low-lying coastal areas and islands seems hopeless. Or is it?"  (via New Scientist)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Soil - the basis of all land based life

Q. What's wrong with the soil?

A. Half of Iowa's original topsoil has been lost or moved by erosion caused by agriculture. And we've lost half of our black organic matter (carbon) to oxidation from crop production. We can't keep on with this deficit spending of the ecological capital that the prairies bequeathed us, as Wes Jackson has phrased it.


Interview here

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baby thrown out with bathwater? - OR What's in the bathwater?

Alviso's Medicinal All-Salt may look like ordinary table salt, but it has a little extra pharmaceutical kick. Exactly which drugs are present is somewhat unknowable, even to those selling the product, since it depends on which ones happen to have been recently flushed down local toilets. That mysterious grab-bag aspect is all part of the fun -- unless of course, you happen to get a batch infused with industrial pesticides and flame retardants.


Man, this is pretty messed up, when we don't even have a system in place to deal with all the industrial materials, whether it's pharmaceuticals, or what have you, to avoid having them flushed down the toilet.

Story here

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Even simple things add up, collectively ...

Like, for example, the environmental consequences of using too much soap in the laudry, or dishwasher. From the creation of the resource, to the outflow of the soap-laden waste water, it all has an effect.

Washing machines and dishwashers are made to use far less water now than older models and, therefore, need less soap. And detergents have also become increasingly concentrated. So a little goes a long way. 

“Most people use 10 to 15 times the amount of soap they need, and they’re pouring money down the drain,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Story here

Monday, September 20, 2010

Second Week of Walking to and from Work - 12km / 8 miles round trip

This is the Agitated Ecoist's report of the second week of walking to and from work.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Global hunger will rise soon ...

Conundrum: fewer people are hungry, but hunger on the rise. But UN says 925 million people undernourished an ‘unacceptably high number’

Story here

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Morning Linkfest

Good morning oh fellow timid environmentalists.

What do we have on tap today? Well, it's the usual round up of suspects - things I find interesting.

As always, I am on the lookout for articles on leadership particularly, including especially ones dealing with the ability to motive people to action. This is a trait sorely needed in our general populace, as apathy and complacency are as widespread as our material wealth is deep. If you see something that fits the bill, drop me a note, and I'll include it in a future edition here.
  • A wind turbine suitable for urban circumstances is tricky, given the low wind speeds and swirling source winds inevitable in many urban locales. "Eddy is one of many vertical axis turbines vying for attention among consumers and businesses looking for on-site power options. Urban Green Energy's wind turbines have a design that makes them perform very well in changing wind conditions, said Blitterswyk. A two-axis shaft reduces strain on the permanent magnet generator at the base of the turbine and improves the performance." (via CNET - see photograph, above)
  • Another green dream - a real possibility, or simply one more blind alley of technology? You decide. "A group of chemical engineers at MIT have devised a way to collect solar energy 100 times more concentrated than a traditional photovoltaic cell. If their ’solar funnel’ venture proves to be a success, it could drastically alter how solar energy is collected in the future — there will no longer be a need for massive solar arrays or extensive space to generate significant and sufficient amounts of power." (via inhabitat)
  • Bulky and expensive photovoltaic panels are so 2008. What does the future look like? Entire buildings, rooftops and even windows spray-painted with revolutionary nanoparticle inks that channel solar power into a thin, semi-transparent and relatively inexpensive medium. Sound crazy? (via inhabitat)
  • More proof that women are smarter than men (as if I needed someone else to pile on my wife's side): more women believe global warming is real and the effects likely to be negative (via Live Science)
  • While she can show you how to lower your carbon footprint, just don't call her the "green Martha Stewart". (via David Suzuki Foundation)
  • Part of the Obama infrastructure proposed spending looks good - 4,000 miles of new railway. Could it be more than just enough to get across the country once? Seems unambitious to me. (via inhabitat)
  • Why are so many, so timid about standing up against climate change - is it because we are all complicit to some degree? "Doctors have been too timid about highlighting the risks to human health from rises in greenhouse gases," Dr. Michael Wilks, past president of the Committee of European Doctors, said in a statement." (via Daily Climate)
  • The problem is that we are now frequently seeing even the scientists surprised by the speed at which various climate change effects are occurring. Greenland's glaciers are melting "faster than expected". (via Greenpeace [3 minute video]
  • A neighborhood nuclear power plant on every corner? Sounds appealing from a carbon reduction standpoint - unfortunately, terrorists would likely enjoy the shopping convenience such a situation would provide. (via The Washington Post)
  • Carbon market: the low-hanging fruit? (via Daily Climate)
  • And our highlighted link on leadership today ... "Great leaders (there, I’ve said the dreaded word) get people to focus on the key elements of strategy – the standards on which the firm is going to compete. With a clear ideology to rally around, talented people get the choice of saying – ‘I can believe in that. I think I’ll stick around to a part of that and be a member of a society of like-minded people operating together in accordance with common values.’" (via David Maister)
  • Gary Ovitt, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, said Friday that the state's global-warming law could cost local governments and businesses dearly. The county, he said, is looking at an estimated $133 million deficit each year for the next few years. "It's clear," he said, "we can't afford higher energy costs."  (via San Bernardino Sun)  ... I would add that this is the shit that environmentalists have to deal with: people who have NO CLUE how climate change mitigation strategies will balloon wildly in cost as they are pushed ever off into the future.
  • Time is growing shorter and shorter to sustain human life on this planet, in quantities that are both here now, and capable of supporting with lifestyle changes. Only 225 months left until climate change effects are virtually irreversible. (via nef)
  • Sure, green roofs. And green walls too? But what type? (via New Scientist)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Canada drawn into climate battle?

Say it can't be so .... even peace-loving Canada drawn into conflict due to climate change? Apparently the military thinks it's a possibility.

Story here

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Arctic Sea Ice Continues Retreat

Suggestions earlier this summer that ice was recovering now ruled out, long-term decline seems to be continuing.

Story here

Monday, September 13, 2010

Food Inflation begins the inflation cycle ... starting ... like ... NOW

When does inflation start? Well, if you had to pick a point, it might be at a point when many pundits believe deflation is likely as many western-world based investment managers seem to currently.

Two to three years ago, many investment talking heads (myself included) spoke of the potential for emerging and developed countries stock markets to diverge in, at least, the strength of their upward market trend. The idea being that the developed country markets would move sideways, while emerging markets would continue to thrive.

The credit crisis which culminated in the stock market plunge of 2008/2009 of course showed how correlated these markets could be during times of panic. However, there is nothing wrong with the general divergence thesis during normal times, with many emerging markets getting close to re-testing their 2007/2008 price levels. Divergence is or will be here, and remains as real a prospect as ever.

However, there is one place where divergence currently exists: the "anticipation" of inflation/deflation. In developed nations, the worry is that future deflation will set these rich economies on a two-decade Japanese-style slump. In developing economies, the worry is the opposite and, rather than an intellectual debate about the future, the issue is immediate and proximate: inflation, which IS (t)here. Especially food inflation.

Large developing nations, such as India, China, and Russia, have all recently reported jumps in their inflation rates, headlined by significant jumps in food inflation (see here, here, and here). This has even resulted in an overall significant jump in global food inflation too (see here). This is the result of climate change generally, which of course plays out via specific "natural events", such as drought, flooding, and "rainfall dosing" (which is a term I am using to describe the phenomenon of growing season rainfall remaining relatively the same, but is concentrated in far fewer days [but does not consist of "flooding", per se]). This is in addition to the lower yields that are produced from heat-stressed plants. Climate-change induced food issues are here, and they are here to stay for some time.

The only reason that inflation remains off the radar screen of many professional investment types is that, in the western world at least, the food budget typically consists of a very low proportion of overall income. Whereas, however, the opposite is true in the developing world (or more so, even, in the undeveloped world), food budgets constitute a much higher proportion of the total income. So, food inflation has a much greater effect in those countries and feeds into the total inflation picture very quickly. In food, the principle of substitution (the idea that, during inflationary times particularly, folks substitute cheaper but roughly similar items for more expensive ones) has only limited applicability: after all, everyone needs to eat.

Food inflation also enters the general inflation cycle very quickly too (especially farther down the income ladder a country is) because, aside from an inflationary element of its own, the inflation knock-on effect is very pernicious, as the factory worker,, marches into the boss' office, and demands a raise to deal with his deteriorating ability to feed his family. This scene plays out exactly the same way, hundreds of millions times, in hundreds of thousands of bosses offices.

The dream that (some may have that) food inflation emanating in one part of the globe won't spill over somewhere else is likely to be met by the insistent ringing of the morning's alarm clock: free trade in food. As pricing for food rises - there and here - the knock-on effect will also be felt as like looking into a mirror - here and there.

Climate change, and its resultant outputs, will have effects ranging from the evisceration of the capital value of, particularly, long-dated low-yielding stripped bonds, to the more pragmatic, of the renewed popularity of the high-yielding home garden.

So, the weather issues of this summer's northern hemisphere's growing season provide a glimpse into the future: a future which is coming fast. For those who want to understand it better, there's no better place to point your binoculars than at the emerging market countries.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Amazon shapes up for intense drought?

Will the Amazon drought continue?

Scientists in Peru and Brazil say the lack of rainfall, which is typical for this time of year, should continue for a few more weeks until the start of the rainy season.

But there is some concern that the dryness could persist as what is shaping up to be an intense hurricane season in the Atlantic sucks humidity away from the Amazon.

"The formation of hurricanes is very much related, more hurricanes means less rain for us," said Marco Paredes, head of Peru's meteorological service in Iquitos, some 500 miles (800 km) from the capital of Lima. "It's an inverse relationship."


Story here

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday Morning Linkfest - Mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore?

Good morning oh timid environmentalists. Question: Is it time to stop pretending this is much other than a life and death struggle now, or should we still keep quiet, maintain our western-style peer approval ratings, and not bother the neighbors? No? NO!

We need to take the fight right to the doorstep, and I mean that, right to the very personal doorstep, of those funding the fight against climate change action. We cannot allow them to dictate this. We simply cannot sit on our hands on this anymore.

Here's some stuff that I've found interesting in the past little while:
  • "I wrote the first book for a general audience on global warming back in 1989, and I've spent the subsequent 21 years working on the issue. I'm a mild-mannered guy, a Methodist Sunday school teacher. Not quick to anger. So what I want to say is: This is fucked up. The time has come to get mad, and then to get busy." (by Bill McKibben in Tom Dispatch  via Grist)
  • And our highlighted link on environmental leadership issues today. "When leaders want to influence people to make significant changes, they need to help them connect the changes to their deeply held values. This establishes a moral framework that shifts people's experience of the new behaviours. If leaders fail to engage people's values, they must compensate for a lack of personal motivation with less profound and sustainable sources of motivation, such as carrots and sticks. Although personal motivation can be powerful, it's rarely enough. Successful influencers find ways to engage personal  motivation, but then combine it with several different additional sources of influence." (How to Have Influence, from MIT Sloan Management School, via Annie Hu)
  • "Musing about what it would take to get more people in other cities to hop on bikes, Notaras mentions some of the many initiatives in Japan to promote cycling, including the Green Pedal Map, which provides information in English and Japanese "on bike lanes, danger zones, rental locations, bike parks and so on," as well as the leadership role that needs to be played by government and businesses. Cultural change is required too, so that people begin to see bicycles as the domain of "people of all ages, genders, and social statuses," as they do in Tokyo." (via treehugger)
  • Check out the PUMA Mopion bike: I'll buy their claim of a "serious cargo hold", but when they say it's "stylish", I have to ask, "Compared to what, guys in 1960s horn-rim glasses and girls in 1980s leggings?"  (via inhabitat)
  • "Technological developments [such as electric cars etc.] are welcome, but maybe it's time we started rethinking our car culture as whole. The average car in North America carries 1.5 people, which means that most cars on the road only have a driver in them. Is it really efficient to use more than 1,000 kilograms of metal to transport 100 kilograms of human?" (David Suzuki via treehuggger)
  • Nothing illustrates how we are well prepared for the past, but not preparing for the future, like the ten day traffic jam in China. In a world of seven billion people, could we purposely design a more fouled-up transport system than highways designed primarily for single occupant cars? (via The Independent or via
  • Environmentalists and environmental scientists have been punching "below their weight" for better than two decades now. Can we punch above our weight, when the chips are now really on the line? According to Forrester Research (a major consultancy), just 6% of online adults generate 80% of the online "influence impressions" (via Forrester Research blog)
  • In seeking green behaviours, another MIT Sloan Management School paper asks, "Instead of highlighting how existing practices are harming the planet, shouldn't managers focus on what employees have already been doing to preserve the environment, such as turning off lights and computers at the end of the day, recycling paper and so on?" AND ALSO "The impact of peers increases during periods of uncertainty. Intuitively, this makes sense. After all, when people are unsure what is happening around them, they don't look inside themselves for answers, because all they'll find there is confusion."  (via Carlson School of Management, University of Manitoba)
  • Finding environmentally sound products is hard, and requires lots of internet research, right? Apparently, not so much. There's an app for that now. (via GoodGuide)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cut Home Energy Use by 70%?

The goal of the DOE program is to cut energy use by 30 percent, but GE and its partners think they can reach 70 percent if rooftop solar panels are added to the mix.

Article here

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Week One Walking Report

In this video, the Agitated Ecoist reports on his first week of walking to work, a 12 km (8 mile) round trip.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Climate Change Solutions - depopulation?

... the most profound way a U.S. citizen can impact climate change is to have fewer children, since every American child born today will add almost 10,000 metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere under current conditions—five times more than a Chinese child and 160 times more than a baby from Bangladesh. Having one fewer child would reduce a family’s greenhouse gas impact 20 times more than driving a Toyota Prius, using Energy Star appliances and other environmentally friendly lifestyle choices combined, according to researchers at Oregon State University.


Just sayin ... via Seed Magazine

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Agitated Ecoist takes climate change matters into his own hands (er, feet I mean)

The Agitated Ecoist takes on a challenge to walk to work every day for one full year. See why in this short two minute video:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The drivers of global famine ...

This is a partial excerpt from the New York Times excerpt of Julian Cribb's book that was discussed yesterday:

The coming famine is also complex, because it is driven not by one or two, or even a half dozen, factors but rather by the confluence of many large and profoundly intractable causes that tend to amplify one another. This means that it cannot easily be remedied by “silver bullets” in the form of technology, subsidies, or single-country policy changes, because of the synergetic character of the things that power it.

To see where the answers may lie, we need to explore each of the main drivers. On the demand side the chief drivers are:

Population. Although the rate of growth in human numbers is slowing, the present upward trend of 1.5 percent (one hundred million more people) per year points to a population of around 9.2 billion in 2050 — 3 billion more than in 2000. Most of this expansion will take place in poorer countries and in tropical/subtropical regions. In countries where birth rates are falling, governments are bribing their citizens with subsidies to have more babies in an effort to address the age imbalance.

Consumer demand. The first thing people do as they climb out of poverty is to improve their diet. Demand for protein foods such as meat, milk, fish, and eggs from consumers with better incomes, mainly in India and China but also in Southeast Asia and Latin America, is rising rapidly. This in turn requires vastly more grain to feed the animals and fish. Overfed rich societies continue to gain weight. The average citizen of Planet Earth eats one-fifth more calories than he or she did in the 1960s — a “food footprint” growing larger by the day.

Population and demand. This combination of population growth with expansion in consumer demand indicates a global requirement for food by 2050 that will be around 70–100 percent larger than it is today. Population and demand are together rising at about 2 percent a year, whereas food output is now increasing at only about 1 percent a year.

These demand-side factors could probably be satisfied by the world adopting tactics similar to those of the 1960s, when the Green Revolution in farming technology was launched, were it not for the many constraints on the supply side that are now emerging to hinder or prevent such a solution:

Water crisis. Put simply, civilization is running out of freshwater. Farmers presently use about 70 percent of the world’s readily available freshwater to grow food. However, increasingly megacities, with their huge thirst for water for use in homes, industry, and waste disposal, are competing with farmers for this finite resource and, by 2050, these uses could swallow half or more of the world’s available freshwater at a time when many rivers, lakes, and aquifers will be drying up. Unless major new sources or savings are found, farmers will have about half of the world’s currently available freshwater with which to grow twice the food.

Land scarcity. The world is running out of good farmland. A quarter of all land is now so degraded that it is scarcely capable of yielding food. At the same time, cities are sprawling, smothering the world’s most fertile soil in concrete and asphalt, while their occupants fan out in search of cheap land for recreation that diverts the best food-producing areas from agriculture. A third category of land is poisoned by toxic industrial pollution. Much former urban food production has now ceased. The emerging global dearth of good farmland represents another severe limit on increasing food production.

Nutrient losses. Civilization is hemorrhaging nutrients — substances essential to all life. Annual losses in soil erosion alone probably exceed all the nutrients applied as fertilizer worldwide. The world’s finite nutrient supplies may already have peaked. Half the fertilizer being used is wasted. In most societies, up to half the food produced is trashed or lost; so too are most of the nutrients in urban waste streams. The global nutrient cycle, which has sustained humanity throughout our history, has broken down.

Energy dilemma. Advanced farming depends entirely on fossil fuels, which are likely to become very scarce and costly within a generation. At present farmers have few alternative means of producing food other than to grow fuel on their farms — which will reduce food output by 10–20 percent. Many farmers respond to higher costs simply by using less fertilizer or fuel — and so cutting yields. Driven by high energy prices and concerns about climate change, the world is likely to burn around 400 million tonnes (441 million U.S. tons) of grain as biofuels by 2020 — the equivalent of the entire global rice harvest.

Oceans. Marine scientists have warned that ocean fish catches could collapse by the 2040s due to overexploitation of wild stocks. Coral reefs — whose fish help feed about five hundred million people — face decimation under global warming. The world’s oceans are slowly acidifying as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels dissolves out of the atmosphere, threatening ocean food chains. Fish farms are struggling with pollution and sediment runoff from the land. The inability of the fish sector to meet its share of a doubling in world food demand will throw a heavier burden onto land-based meat industries.

Technology. For three decades the main engine of the modern food miracle, the international scientific research that boosted crop yields, has been neglected, leading to a decline in productivity gains. Farmers worldwide are heading into a major technology pothole, with less new knowledge available in the medium run to help them to increase output.

Climate. The climate is changing: up to half the planet may face regular drought by the end of the century. “Unnatural disasters” — storms, floods, droughts, and sea-level rise — are predicted to become more frequent and intense, with adventitious impacts on food security, refugee waves, and conflict.

Economics, politics, and trade. Trade barriers and farm subsidies continue to distort world markets, sending the wrong price signals to farmers and discouraging investment in agriculture and its science. The globalization of food has helped drive down prices received by farmers. Speculators have destabilized commodity markets, making it riskier for farmers to make production decisions. Some countries discourage or ban food exports and others tax them, adding to food insecurity. Others pay their farmers to grow fuel instead of food. A sprawling web of health, labor, and environmental regulation is limiting farmers’ freedom to farm.

The collapse in world economic conditions in late 2008 and 2009 has changed the prices of many things, including land, food, fuel, and fertilizer — but has not altered the fact that demand for food continues to grow while limits on its production multiply. Indeed, the economic crash exacerbated hunger among the world’s poor, and has not altered the fundamentals of climate change, water scarcity, population growth, land degradation, or nutrient or oil depletion.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Morning Linkfest - Power to the People

Good morning Vietnam (as Robin Williams said ...)

PICTURE: There's no better example of the energy past and present, meeting its future: Gas station in Nags Head, NC that fell victim to Hurricane Earl's winds.

Here's some articles I've found interesting in the past little while:

Blame the damn plankton for creating those hurricanes and typhoons. (via New Scientist)

The Salt Palace convention center in, where else, Salt Lake City, is getting a rooftop full of solar (America's largest rooftop installation) - enough to supply fully one-quarter of its electrical needs. The convention centre is more than 700,000 sq.ft. in size, including the exhibit and meeting space, and the grand ballroom. (via Solar Feeds)

Are huge solar panel efficiency gains just around the corner? We've all heard that "green is the new gold", but maybe black is the new green. (via inhabitat)

Thorium nuclear reactors? "There is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power.  Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal ... produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week." Apparently the stuff also "eats its own hazardous waste". Sounds too good to be true?  (via Telegraph)

Another Pollyanna take on infinite energy production? "Take sunlight, add water, and there you have it: free energy. Plants have been doing this for quite some time, splitting water's hydrogen apart from its oxygen, but our efforts to turn water into a source of free hydrogen fuel by mimicking them have borne no fruit. The problem is that splitting water takes more energy than conventional solar-cell technology can realistically deliver. But now we may be tantalisingly close to having economically viable sun-powered water splitters, and with it all the clean-burning fuel we want." (via New Scientist)

Wind power takes an upgrade, both visually and on the efficiency front, via a "wind lens" that boosts wind speed. (via inhabitat)

'The average American (just one of 309 million) uses up some 194 pounds of stuff—food, water, plastics, metals and other things—per day, day in and day out. We consume a full 25 percent of the world’s energy despite representing just 5 percent of global population. And that consumerism is spreading, whether it be the adoption of cars as a lifestyle choice in China or gadget lust in the U.S. “Consumerism is now spreading around the world,” says Erik Assadourian, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute. “Is this going to keep spreading? Or are countries going to start recognizing that this is not a good path"?' (via Seed Magazine)

In the totally underwhelming category: "Australia's leading energy [retail] companies today added their voices [by open letter] to calls for the next government to introduce a carbon pricing mechanism as soon as possible, joining a coalition of civil society groups which yesterday issued a statement demanding the introduction of a new climate change bill. The letter said a price on carbon is required if Australia is to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020." (via BusinessGreen)

There's something rotten in Denmark Greenland. Arctic ice melting is slower this year than the record-setting year of 2007. "This low has yet to be surpassed, but the extent of sea ice is not all that matters, as Barber found. Look deeper and there are even more dramatic changes. This is something everyone should be concerned about because the transformation of the Arctic will affect us all."  (via New Scientist)

Sure our brains are huge - but are they large enough to figure out we must change - change or die? Green bikes in London start taking off. But all is not smooth sailing. (via Business Green)

Sometimes it's the really simple things we forget to change - the poorly weatherstripped door for instance, leaks out a lot of hot or cool air, and therefore wastes energy. Ever wonder what that annoying water drip wastes and the cost? Apparently, "there's a [free] app for that". (via inhabitat)

Passivhaus meets solarhaus. The result? Four times the energy you need to run the house. (via inhabitat)

And finally, I thought I'd close with this one - an attempt to "depower the people". Changing behaviours via incentives - nine ideas. Workable? Some are already. (via greentechmedia)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hungry Millions on the move, not too far in the future now ...

People don't understand that famines will impinge on them personally. It will affect the prices they see, the taxes they pay, and they will get flooded with immigrants. Think of the Irish Potato Famine. A quarter of the country departed for Canada and American and Australia. A population that's starving will move.


No one will be untouched by it. No person, no country.
- Julian Cribb

Mr. Cribb's book, The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It,   highlights the serious global food situation. It can be thought of this way: dire. There's no need for me to mince words about it, or pretend it's anything other than what it is: dire. The future is coming hard and fast folks, climate change crunches with global wealth creation (and accompanying dietary changes) to produce the upcoming situation: dire.

Longish excepted article, is here.

Interview with author, is here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Climate Math - 80% cut in emissions far too low

(Energy use per capita: Click this link for ginormous diagram)

You don't have to be a genius or climate researcher to figure out that the widely targeted 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (of 1990 levels), proposed to be reached by 2050, isn't going to cut it.

Here's my math - about one-fifth of the planet has been the heavily-industrialized leading edge for let's say 100 years and contributes about 60-80% of total emissions. Assuming that the rest of the planet aspires to energy use and the wealth of that one-fifth (in other words, eventually adding another four-fifths at similar greenhouse gas emissions), then pealing back everybody to one-fifth of what effectively amounted to almost all the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, means that the total emissions in 2050 will about equal all the emissions in 1990.

So, what are collective political global "leadership" is effectively proposing, is to continue 1990 level emissions. And as we are just beginning the earliest phases of really experiencing that reality, via Russian heat wave and forest fires, Canadian and Californian forests on fire, Pakistani floods, early signs of potentially runaway food inflation, etc. does anybody really think the global ecology can handle that kind of continued annual load?

No? Me neither.

For one creditable plan to reduce the load far, far, more, please read Mr. Monbiot's book, Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Climate Change Apathy must be overcome

Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.

Arnold J. Toynbee

Question - what "definite intelligible plan" have environmentalists consistently/uniformly articulated to deal with climate change?