Monday, May 12, 2014
I totally get this guy (picture).
On a more cereals note, there are soooo many ways to save energy, it's almost ridiculous.
I get that utility companies and energy companies provide jobs for some people and (huge) profits for others, but the thing is, do we REALLY need to keep increasing everything, as that old paradigm goes?
Where does it end? In the previous paradigm (which will not last, as it is self-destructive, and life in general isn't, so there you go), faster, better stronger was the norm. More profit. More stuff. More users.
On a finite planet? Oh, please. I should think enough people get the basic geometry of a sphere or, even simpler, a square. (Or checkboard, if you like.) When you fill it ALL UP, there's nowhere to go.
So how, I ask, can people naively think, that the companies/governments/individuals can compete and keep trying to outcompete each other? The faster they (we) do it, the faster we approach the limit.
Sadly, but also, luckily, the limit of the living (and non-living, physical) environment cannot be pushed. Sadly, and luckily, once we hit that slope downward, mmmm, it's going to be hard to stop the Runaway Train. Why? Because nature works in cycles and because we DO know of the positive (/negative) feedback loops.
It's like taking more drugs or medicines. In one day. You can take as much as you like. Low dose, you'll survive. Extreme overdose, you'll die. Just-over-the-limit-of-your-body dose, you'll die as well. (Without serious medical intervention.)
Because you see, I personally don't know many species or people or galactic creatures that I could call with Galax-Skype and say: "HEY, OUR PLANET GOT AN OVERDOSE. COULD YOU, UM ... COULD YOU COME AND FIX IT FOR US?"
Love your loved ones. And teach them to turn off the lights.
Use the bike. Eat meat and soybean a few times less per year. Do what you can.
And maybe, if enough of us do it, we make it.
Or maybe, there will be a tipping point in public opinion and push for legislators and politicians for a bigger change.
Remember, a single grain of rice can tip the scale. [Emperor in Disney's Mulan]
Got the picture from FB post, here.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
"Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production system in the world." ...
> I mean, you know what happens to ANY system with exponential growth, right? It plateaus, then levels off at a lower level.
>> Plus, if e.g., bateria do it, they're "bound by their environment" (they can only have so much impact in a human body, or a petri dish).
>>> If humans do it, on the global scale, we're influencing all of the other systems.
... "As the industry grows, so does its footprint on the environment and on local communities.
> Ah, ok. At least they said it.
>> But they're still selling fast growth as "the schabang", the reason to join the industry.
And if we incur more environmental damage along the way, it will be harder, once we reach the top ... and then face that slight decline which inevitably follows (plateau-ing),
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
The report will warn that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing.
“The evidence is overwhelming: Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are rising,” says the report, which was made available early to The New York Times. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse, as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.” (1)
But to give you the gist, the 18-page report will try and put the whole science of the last four dacades or so into crisp, clear language. And they will try to promote the science and 'What We Know' across the globe, as they say, in a 'broad outreach campaign to put forward accurate information in simple language' (1).
Like I said, time and time again: we won't need popcorn, watching the news 20 years from now. Possibly, they'll stop making any sort of movies, apart from propaganda movies.
On the other hand, there is always hope.
Even when there is no more hope, when you think all is lost, there is always hope (2).
Take for instance, this guy, Paul Rosolie, who fights in and for the rainforests in the Amazon basin (3). And he warns that even though it may seem we've lost so much and yaddi-daa [environmental scaremongering of the past], there is still so much to save and do. Right NOW. And in the future.
I'll just post an excerpt here:
While the battle is currently ongoing, it's by no means lost, according to Rosolie. He points to a flight he recently took above the heart of the Amazon: "Green. For hours. We were traveling at 140mph and all we saw were trees, interrupted by oxbow lakes and marshes, and the golden rivers that look like anacondas lying across the earth. It was incredible. And during the flight I kept thinking how we always hear about the destruction, and how time is running out. And it is true. But what we don't hear, and don't know, is that there is still so much left to save." (3)
(1) Read more here: Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate, Mar 18 2014 | Justin Gillis.
Got it via Naomi Klein's tweet, here.
(2) Losely after "Pittacus Lore, from I am Number Four. Quote here.
(3): Mother of God: meet the 26 year old Indiana Jones of the Amazon, Paul Rosolie, here.
Monday, February 3, 2014
This reading requires an open mind.
In the article, it's mentioned that wind turbines do not require fuel to operate - which is true, apart from maintenance trucks and energy, stored/invested in replacement materials, if needed. And also, apart from taking up some energy of course, with their manufacture, transport and installation. (I am guessing solar panels have higher energy inputs till installation, but am not sure. Google Scholar it.)
But the author goes on to state a few troublesome things. Among them, he casually states that cats are murderers of birds, not wind turbines. Well, common sense that. Yes, of a few thousand small birds mostly. But have you ever seen a cat picking on a Golden Eagle? If anything, cats are on its diet list, not the other way around. Which is more than can be said for wind turbines, which are notoriuosly dangerous for k-strategists, long-lived, big animals with few offspring. Such as birds of prey.
Anyhow, to go back to the initial huff and puff.
You know how we, the 'developed' world, took from indigenous people wherever and whenever we could? (Sure, first it was justified by God, then by Darwin, then by neo-liberalism and whatnot.) Well, now, enter the era of too much.
We've (and I'm saying mainly ''we", the affluent ones) polluted and dirtied the world and emitted so much ... we recognise maybe ... just maybe it's time to stop. (Take, for example, annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Read partly what I mean - lots of words, no action - here, in NY Times post Let’s Change the World. Cheers! | Subtitled: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, ‘Sustainability,’ ‘Mindfulness’ and Cocktails. See also a bit more from Kumi Naidoo (Greenpeace).)
And then we have the balls to say to developing world: "Hey, um. We should all stop polluting."
"..." [muffled voices from the crowd]
"What? Yes, well, we did take the resources, but now this should all stop."
"..." [muffled angry shouting from the crowd]
"Yes, well. It would appear that we benefited ourselves, the westerners, wouldn't it. Hah hah. But really, it's not like that. See, we didn't know back then that all this pollution is unsustainable and can't go on forever. Now we do know. So, err... you should stop polluting."
"What? Oh, yes, I meant we should stop polluting. Unless we have those really costly clean technologies. But definitely no dirty technology. God, no. Clean as a glove!"
"Haven't you been listening? Yes, we did use dirty technologies, but now we know we shouldn't. So don't use dirty tech."
[And is later seen signing a contract with an African tribesman, for his company to come with machines and dig the rare ore. And is a month later seen moving the whole production of a textile industry into Asia, because the environmental standards are lower and labour force is cheaper.]
In one line: Benefiting ourselves on the account of others (and their resources), then telling them that they cannot do it - that's dirty. Nasty. [Or better yet: showing them pictures (movies, ads) of the glorious life in the west... and telling them: nope, you can't have it. Sorry. Time to stop consuming.]
In much the same way, I fear, go the wind energy developments.
First, we all (well, not really, the environmentalists/conservationists are divided) say: "oooh, that's nice. Clean energy." And it's true. It is much, much cleaner than the conventional types of energy production.
But what happens when we fight for the inches?
And the electricity consumption still rises? And the world population still rises (creating unseen pressure on the (limited) natural resources)?
Today, the electricity produced from wind grows between 10 and 20 percent per year. ["annual market growth of almost 10%, and cumulative capacity growth of about 19%", GWEC, 2014, under "Global Wind Energy: Solid Growth in 2012"] Which means, exponentially, as they calculate it often from the year before. (I think.) Okay...
So now, the wind turbines are not yet competing with arable land. Only with marine life (offshore instalments) and birds of prey in land installations.
But what happens when we reach a certain limit? When more than one study ends up showing sharp declines in raptors? Thing is: studies take time (2-5 years). Disproving them (in the interest of the investors, let's call them "Big Wind", just for fun) takes time (1-5 years). Disproving them in turn, again, takes time. All the while, huge developments are continuing and the birds will be dying.
And then ... Germany says: "Hey, um. We should all stop building wind farms."
"..." [muffled voices from the crowd]
"What? Yes, well, we did seize the schnitzel by the curve, as we say, ha ha, but khem. You zee, the land ... the birds .. this schould all ztop nau."
Who tells whom to stop? The ones with 95 % energy coming from renewable energy sources (RES)? Denmark, Germany, (by then independent) Scotland, Spain, Greece, Netherlands? And all the while, we still keep the restaints on the CO2 emissions and you know, tell the other countries they really need to stop emitting.
It's not fair. It won't be. Yet I hope that by the time I close my eyes on this world forevermore, that the world will be fairer.
And you know what? I think not long after, it will be. Because the only way is the sustainable way. Whatever you say, nature (God?) intended it so. Look, consider this one simple, true and colossal statement:
Nature does not produce waste.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Anyways, enjoy (or not): http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/07/1972581/99-one-liners-rebutting-denier-talking-points-with-links-to-the-full-climate-science/
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Got it from: Economy of Humans, here.
The economy-of-humans requires but a single step: to see ourselves reflected in others. We no longer buy in to the myth of the individual, which owes her fortune to a unique combination of talent and sweat. We see and value the merits of our shared culture, the people that raised and surround us, the bold inventions of people we do not know. We no longer value products over people, and some occupations, backgrounds and accents over others. We realise that humble, selfless contributions to the whole will make us the finest, most happy human beings.
As we went up the heavens and looked back, we suddenly saw how fragile and small our habitat is. We saw our planet with its tiny habitable landmass, sustaining life to seven billion inhabitants amidst a universe of emptiness, with boundless dimensions and unimaginable timescales. Our presence unnoticed, our struggles unheard. This blue planet that sustains and confines us, binds all of us into a species of earth-dwellers, far more common to each-other than to anything else in the entire universe. We are in this trip together.
The economy-of-humans only demands a different perspective. It doesn’t cost money, and nobody will get rich. It’s immune to financial bubbles, stagflation or even scarcity. It is as familiar to us as anything can be. And it is winning us over, one by one, at an ever-increasing pace. It might take some courage, but the gains are without borders. By taking care of, and value the others, we value, and take care of ourselves.
(This article was first published in publication 'Redefining Growth - a collection of stories on shifting values' by PICNIC during the Amsterdam Urban Innovation Week. This book was designed and made in one day by 20 participants of The Book Fab Lab on Sept19th, 2013 - edited by Michiel Jansen-Dings. It comes with a choice of 14 different covers.)
Monday, September 23, 2013
Author addresses key issues and drawbacks of the infamous Stern Review (2006). It's quite a read and does provide a nice example of how everything, every single paper, books, newsitem, ..., should be put under close scrutiny and checked for consistency and truth. (Which, with the lack of time of a single individual, can be nigh impossible.)
Below, an excerpt. Still below, the source.
"The surprises are potential scenarios which scientists can outline to the best of their ability and
which involve loss of life and human infrastructure on a grand scale; losses only precedented by the mass movement of people, death and destruction of World War II.
However, there is no enemy to defeat nor peace treaty to sign, only our own actions to control. Once the surprises start in earnest action will be too little too late. For example, ice sheet melt causing a six meter sea level rise is a scenario which would flood all the major coastal cities. A two-meter sea level rise alone will displace hundreds of millions of people and inundate low lying cities (Lenton et al., 2006: 15).
How does this get transformed into X% GDP with any semblance of meaning left in the utter disaster and human suffering which would be entailed? Indeed, there are four major problems with the whole framing of human induced climate change as GDP losses and gains."
From: Spash, C. L. (2007). The economics of climate change impacts à la Stern: Novel and nuanced or rhetorically restricted?. Ecological Economics, 63(4), 706-713.
Stern, N. (2006). Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. UK Government Economic Service, London. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm, accessed on: 23.9.2013.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
- who is the author of the claim and what his professional qualifications are (if it only says PhD or Dr., that doesn't mean the person is a climate scientist, a physicist, has extensive knowledge of meteorology, biology, ecology, is an environmental scientist or anything. And yes, sometimes, people not from these fields of science get called upon to give statements..)
- is the person citing specific scientific research or giving a 'general' claim, pointing to a myth, repetition of "what we all know" (but not really, as most of us are not scientists in the particular fields mentioned above)? *
- is this specific research even linked to, referenced in the media item?
(If not ... it means you might have to do additional research, before you could competently decide on the claims in the news item. Additional time that not many will take...)
- If you know or can figure out: who owns the particular media you are getting the news from;
- and affiliations of the owner, as well as the author of the claims to the money structures. (Looks specifically for fossil fuel industry and also for UN and government institutions, to be a bit more unbiased.)
With the above questions answered, you should be able to make a pretty good judgement as to whether the article/item in question is sound news reporting, is based on more than just speculation or belief, and whether any partial interests might have influenced it. [Unless you devote your entire week to it, you probably won't get a resounding yes! either way, but a better picture, get you will. [Yoda voice]]
*You can spice-up solving of question 2 by asking yourself, whether the title of the news item is a pompous one (though this can just point to the "sensationalism" in media nowadays) - and are the statements and claims made by the person(s) advocated in the news item also pompous and exaggerated or are they more moderate? **
Also a good read might be Edward de Bono's book: I Am Right You Are Wrong: From This to the New Renaissance: From Rock Logic to Water Logic (link to description (Amazon)).
This is a guest post by Dr. John Abraham, in response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by British House of Lords member Matt Ridley. How many climate errors in one article? A recent error-filled opinion piece by Matt Ridley in the Wall Street Journal…
Friday, September 20, 2013
I post part of the reply here, as the comments box is too small and I really wanted to give a comprehensive reply (that also shows the limitations of what I know (or think I know)).
The reply is whole as was meant (previous comments will be added in reverse order below later).
I totally agree with your first paragraph. Totally. It does not make any sense to stop all damaging activity (at least not without a magic wand to simultaneously address several problems).
As to the attainability of renewables, I am not so sure. Again, I don’t work in the industry, don’t have the 100% overview on ALL that is happening, but what I can tell you is that a) costs are falling rapidly, b) efficiency is going up (to a certain limit, granted) and c) environmental impact varies from tech to tech, but is generally considered lower than that of fossil fuel industry, coal and nuclear power plants. I give examples and quotes in the next reply.
I don’t feel capable on commenting on the case you build for nuclear, as I did no research in that field. As I understood, we’re not near fusion yet and fission creates waste (that to me, again, in the long run, is not sustainable. Unless we haul it into space (unethical? boomerang?, space debris).
I fully agree that wind and PV have intermittency problems, however, as you partly point out, sun does not shine ON ALL SIDES of the planet at once. With a global network, ... well, with other sources added (wind can operate at night), we can go pretty high in terms of energy self (local)-reliability.
Thanks for explaining the “Long Beach oil” and the purity of it, energy needed to purify it. Makes it more clear now. Thanks!
“Solar technology costs are falling rapidly. Chrystalline silicon PV module costs fell by 70 per cent 2008-January 2012 and are forecast to fall by another 30 per cent by 2015, without subsidies” (Assadourian et al., 2013: Loc 2067).
Energy demand estimates ... and meeting it with renewables
‘Estimates of energy required to meet the world’s continuously growing energy demand vary, and future energy use scenarios vary greatly in their outcomes. A medium scenario examined by European Union foresees doubling of current energy demand by 2050’ [“current” was 13.2 TW in 2011? and is 14 TW in 2012] (EC, 2006; Assadourian et al., 2013).
‘Instead of raising the number of nuclear power plants worldwide from 61 to 1200, based on the immense power that is radiated daily to Earth from the Sun (i.e., 5000 times the estimated requirements for 2050), if we could cover 1 % of the Earth’s land surface with solar panels operating at 10% efficiency, a rough estimate is photovoltaic power could generate around 25 TW’ (Peter, 2011).
Problem is, as Peter (2011) points out, the availability of minerals. For example, cadmium (Cd) for the CdTe solar cells, to meet this demand, one would require amount of Cd for a factor of a 100 exceeding the identified world reserves (Peter, 2011; 3). But, new ways and new cells are underway (for more, see Peter, 2011).
As to the environmental impact of Cadmium (from PV panels production) and other renewables, see Assadourian et al. (2013): they maintain (based on a number of sources) that renewables have lesser impact in total than fossil, though I would exclude biomass from it, as it appears to be the most unsustainable of the crowd.
And about meeting the energy demand in 2050, Assadourian et al. write: “Even with greatly limiting the areas for solar energy development /.../, the potential capacities are estimated at 340 terawatts (TW) for PV and 240 TW for CSP [concentrating solar power systems] – much more than projections for energy demand in 2050, even without any efficiency measures” (2013: Loc 2067).
Locally produced energy (which, granted, needs some more development and changes to the energy grids and distribution)
Another argument in favour of locally produced, renewable energy is (so I read) that of avoiding transmission and distribution costs. Renewable energy sources (e.g., wind, solar, small hydro, wave, and tidal energy), though having different impacts on the environment themselves (also in the book), “have the additional efficiency advantage of converting natural flows of mechanical energy or sunlight directly into electricity, unlike fossil fuel combustion and nuclear power, which require inherently inefficient thermal energy conversion processes.” (Assadourian et al., 2013: Loc 2053, link below).
From an abstract of a book titled Renewable revolution: low carbon energy by 2030 (Sawin & Moomaw, 2009):
Global energy scenarios offer wide-ranging estimates of how much energy renewable sources can contribute, and how quickly this can happen. Many scenarios show a gradual shift to renewables that still envisions a major role for fossil fuels for most of this century. This report examines the potential for renewable energy to provide needed energy services for all societies while lowering heattrapping emissions of greenhouse gases. It concludes that it is not only possible but also essential to effect a massive transformation of the global energy system from its current fossil fuel base between now and 2030 that continues for the rest of the century.
Photovoltaic cells and panels have a CO2 release of one fifth of that of an average emission rate of conventional fossil fuel-generated electricity. This was calculated for DSCs, with a premise of an efficiency of 8 per cent and lifespan of 5 years, but the number grows even five times smaller for CdTe PV modules (Peter, 2011). Therefore, though not ‘carbon free’, the carbon of PV panels is small enough that a large scale implementation of PV can substantially provide for the world’s energy needs and at the same time addressing some of the problems of climate change (Elliston et al., 2013; Peter, 2011).
Assadourian, E., Prugh, T., Adamson, R., & Starke, L. (2013). State of the world 2013: is sustainability still possible?. Washington, DC [etc.]: Island Press.
(Assadourian et al., 2013: Loc 2053 : https://kindle.amazon.com/post/Sdj9B8pvQ-C70-q3GkZt0Q).
EC (2006). European Commission: World energy technology outlook 2050: WETO-H2. See
Elliston, B., Macgill, I., & Diesendorf, M. (2013). Least cost 100% renewable electricity scenarios in the Australian National Electricity Market. Energy Policy [In press]. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.03.038.
Peter, L. M. (2011). Towards sustainable photovoltaics: the search for new materials. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 369 (1942), 1840-1856.
Sawin, J. L., & Moomaw, W. R. (2009). Renewable revolution: low carbon energy by 2030. Worldwatch Institute.) Link: http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20103141191.html;jsessionid=623D63DEC4D6A3DFBDF201E7C4390340?freeview=true
Thursday, September 19, 2013
I write about it extensively in the last weeks, as I’ve come to realisation that discussing* how much the world is warming up, and if it’s at all caused by humans, is IRRELEVANT. The climate debate aside, human society and production systems have such a great impact on the planet, that we’ve practically begun to terraform-it. As it was written before, human society has “become a geological force to reckon with”, thus, the term ‘anthropocene’ some people are giving the current era (See the Economist (2)).
Gist: we need to change. And change is hard. But necessary. Otherwise, the planet (so not the garden, not the local shop, not your country or the continent you are living on, but the PLANET will not be able to take it. And come ecosystems collapse, mass extinctions and decades of economic, cultural and other stagnation of human society. See below.
"The Cost of Ecological Overspending
Throughout most of history, humanity has used nature’s resources to build cities and roads, to provide food and create products, and to absorb our carbon dioxide at a rate that was well within Earth’s budget. But in the mid-1970s, we crossed a critical threshold: Human consumption began outstripping what the planet could reproduce." (1)
* [Referring to the IPCC AR5 media pomp, at the time of writing, yet to come.]
(1) See more: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/gfn/page/earth_overshoot_day/
(2): The Economist: The geology of the planet. Welcome to the Anthropocene. (May 26th 2011 |From the print edition):: http://www.economist.com/node/18744401
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
[It's about] Social and economic change towards a new future. The young always complain about the old (but maybe quietly), the old about the young. But in the case of transition to the new world economy and arrangement, one must be at least willing to transcend some of the old views and values.
As to the Climate science: I'm NOT a climatologist, nor a meteorologist, geologist, physicist, mathematician or geo-chemist. Unless you yourself are, there's a chance we both don't understand ALL the science and data, all the models behind the whole climate change schabang. But we might be both concerned about the future of the (ONE!) planet we have ... and the environmental degradation we ARE causing and strain we ARE putting on the natural system.
I think - no, I know - there are limits to how much people - who consume a given amount of resources and energy, and produce a accompanying waste - there can be on this planet. And I am pretty sure about our survival depending on the ecosystem services, who in turn depend on the working ecosystems, of which various life forms are a big part (and that's an understatement).
So, is climate changing? It appears so. Are anthropogenic emissions a driving cause of it? I am not so sure anymore, but neither do I care - for the moment. But I do care of the equitable production, sustainable living (in cities and elsewhere), minimizing waste, increasing efficiency and _decreasing_ energy use, as well as making sure we don't poison our food, air and water.
You know, survive with a smile, that sort of thing.
Climate Change: Debate, Science or Outdated mastodonts?
Get it here: https://www.facebook.com/aljaz.gabersek/media_set?set=a.10151564622597644.1073741837.563837643&type=3