Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Have you ever hated to be right?

The Wilkins Ice Shelf covered an area of 16,000km2 (the size of Northern Ireland). Having been stable for most of the last century it began retreating in the 1990s. A major breakout occurred in 1998 when 1000km2 of ice was lost in a few months.

Satellite images processed at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed that the retreat began on February 28 when a large (41 by 2.5 km) iceberg calved away from the ice shelf's south-western front. In a series of images, the edge of the shelf proceeded to crumble and disintegrate in a pattern that has become characteristic of climate-caused ice shelf retreats throughout the northern Peninsula, leaving a sky-blue patch spreading across the ocean surface compose of hundreds of large blocks of exposed old glacier ice (see pictures). By 8 March, the ice shelf had lost just over 570 km2, and the patch of disintegrated Antarctic ice had spread over 1400km2. As of mid-March, only a narrow strip of shelf ice was protecting several thousand kilometres of potential further break-up.

The recent break out leaves a thin strip of ice between Charcot and Latady islands on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Climate warming has increased the volume of summer meltwater on glaciers, which has weakened ice shelves. Sea ice, which protects ice shelves from ocean swell, has reduced also as a result of warming temperatures.

The collapse of the 32502 Larsen B Ice Shelf took place in 2002. During the past 40 years the average summer temperatures in this region of the north-east Peninsula has been 2.2°C. The western Antarctic Peninsula has showed the biggest increase in temperatures (primarily in winter) observed anywhere on Earth over the past half-century.

The Antarctic Peninsula is an area of rapid climate change and has warmed faster than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere over the past half century. Climate records from the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula show that temperatures in this region have risen by nearly 3°C during the last 50 years – several times the global average and only matched in Alaska.

Ice sheet – is the huge mass of ice, up to 4 km thick, that covers Antarctica's bedrock. It flows from the centre of the continent towards the coast where it feeds ice shelves.

Ice shelf – is the floating extension of the grounded ice sheet. It is composed of freshwater ice that originally fell as snow, either in situ or inland and brought to the ice shelf by glaciers. As they are already floating any disintegration (like Larsen B) will have no impact on sea level. Sea level will rise only if the ice held back by the ice shelf flows more quickly into the sea.

Regular satellite images of Wilkins Ice Shelf were obtained using NASA's Modis instruments and the International Polar Year 'Polar View' project which uses the European Space Agency Envisat satellite. Polar View operates to provide timely images of the Antarctic sea ice and shelves to assist science and operations in the Southern Ocean. Further information and images are available at

This discovery follows the recent UNEP report that the world's glaciers are continuing to melt away. Data from 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges show that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 the average rate of melting and thinning has more than doubled.

The Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is a world leader in research into global environmental issues. With an annual budget of around £40 million, five Antarctic Research Stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft BAS undertakes an interdisciplinary research programme and plays an active and influential role in Antarctic affairs. BAS has joint research projects with over 40 UK universities and has more than 120 national and international collaborations. It is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council.JIM ELLIOT, BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Depression? Oh, you mean THIS depression...

It’s seems that 2008 will be the year the year the Second Great Depression began.

It all started with the US subprime mortgage fiasco where money was lent to NINJ's (people with No Income and No Jobs) assuming that when they defaulted the value of the property would have increased and the banks would make a profit upon its repossession... wrong! The total value of all US$-based mortgage bonds is $10.4 trillion, of which 30 percent is now expected to be lost in defaults and property devaluation. That’s $3.2 trillion in losses. When this happened in the past there were bank runs, (remember the recent queues outside Northern Rock in the UK?) a stock market collapse, (seen the latest figures?) and, perhaps, (next?) a money panic.

Such things have happened in the past but this time its very different. Now the problem is not just financial mismanagement, there is a deeper instability. We have to face the fact that the global economy is based on a fundamentally unsustainable exploitation of depleting creations resources.

The economic bubble that lifted the stock market to its heights was sustained as much by cheap oil as by cheap mortgages and cheap credit. The Oil Age opened 150 years ago, releasing a flood of cheap energy, such that today’s production is equivalent in energy terms to 22 billion slaves working around the clock. The resulting economic prosperity allowed the banks to lend more than they had on deposit, yes, that's right, they were lending more than they had, (which is why they now need the bank of England or the US Reserves to help them out) because they were confident that tomorrow’s expansion was collateral for To-day’s Debt. It sounds a strange way of doing business to me but it worked well enough during the first half of the Oil Age allowing at least some countries to reap great prosperity.

We are now in the second half of the Oil Age and the falling oil supply, effectively removes the collateral for debt, which is why the Middle East invasion took place, the West needed the oil. You don't think for one moment that if the major production from Iraq was carrots the invasion would have taken place do you? So, as the oil drains away, the view is all downhill from here. A depression is, well, lets face facts, depressing even to think about but it seems that we are going to have to live through one.

So what do we do? it is obvious that creation's resources are becoming depleted and that our techno-industrial society has become pathologically parasitic on nature. If we are to survive as a species and if there is to be hope for millions of other creatures then we need to shrink the human enterprise. Economic contraction must be the major part of the cure for what ails our planetary home.

However, we can manage this contraction either foolishly or intelligently.

A FOOLISH management of economic contraction would entail burning the biosphere for alternative fuels, (Bio Diesel and so on) carrying on propping up the banks and other financial institutions that created the mortgage mess in the first place without ever re-examining the wisdom of 'everlasting' growth-based economics and to continue to respond human deprivation and misery with repression and war.

An INTELLIGENT management would start with an explicit commitment to redesign the global economy to run with and to run on less. It CAN be done. We would assess the remaining resources of God's creation and identify a humane, workable path toward a reduction in both population and consumption levels. We would focus on those aspects of life that bring us increasing satisfaction without requiring more inputs of energy and materials recognising that the bottom line is NOT all that really matters. We would re-acquaint ourselves with the values and virtues of community and self-sufficiency. We would redesign our cities to minimise the need for cars, while developing renewable energy sources and educating a new generation. If this is handled corectly then the medicine of contraction will leave nature intact and humanity in a state of greater happiness, equity, and peace.

One way or another, we don’t have a choice regarding whether a depression will ensue, but when it does, a great deal depends on our response. It’s not too soon to act on this knowledge and to start a discussion on the way forward. Are YOU joining in?

Monday, 17 March 2008

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Bio-Fuels from Palm Oil, Wheat and Corn, and the Rising Price Of Bread: The Truth!

Palm Oil is present in one out of every ten supermarket products and now it is being used for car diesel fuel. The development of Palm Oil plantations has so far been responsible for nearly 90% of deforestation in Malaysia, in Sumatra and Borneo four million hectares of Rain Forest are being cleared and in Indonesia sixteen million hectares are being cleared. Prior to the planting of the Oil Palms, the felled trees are often burnt, releasing carbon and usually covering the areas in smog. The dryer lands in the regions are rapidly being used up, and so the swamp areas are being drained and cleared. these swamp areas are mainly peat, and as they dry they release the carbon locked into them.

As the clearing of the Rain Forests occurs the thousands of indigenous people that live there are evicted and in Indonesia some five hundred people have been imprisoned and tortured when they tried to resist the clearances. In addition to this many of the animals that live in these areas are facing extinction. The main Palm Oil refineries will be making Biodiesel from Palm Oil sourced from Malaysia and Indonesia, but there is yet another problem when this happens. The GM companies are reinventing themselves on the back of Palm Oil 'development.' The worry is that the GM Bio diesel Palm Oil plants will either cross over to the food palm by 'accident' or design!

I have an engineering background and often have mentioned to me that the production of Diesel fuel from recycled vegetable cooking oil could be an answer. This is, sadly, not the case. For example. if all the vegetable cooking oil in the UK was recycled and use as fuel for Diesel cars them it would provide only one 380th (.26%) of the UK's transport needs. Another alternative fuel (for petrol cars) is Bioethanol E85, so called because it is a mixture of 85% ethanol with 15% petrol. This is mainly produced by corn distillation providing alcohol, but has resulted in a world corn price increase and food shortage problems for many Third World countries as due to crop shortages because of Global Warming they rely on imported grain to feed their populations. We should be concerned about feeding people, not feeding cars!!! We do not need fixes that will enable people to imagine that they are 'doing the right environmental thing,' we need the realisation to dawn that in order to combat Climate Chaos our comfortable and wasteful way of life is simply not sustainable.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Be afraid, be very, very afraid for ALL of creation

PLEASE, PLEASE play the above Video. 99% of it is in English. then log on to Thankyou.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

So 'scientists' and 'experts' say global warming is a myth...

My father, who was a heavy smoker, (I haven't even tried one) died from smoking induced lung cancer in 1965. For many, many years afterwards 'scientists' and 'experts' were telling us that "there was no link between smoking and lung cancer." The same popular and widely promoted 'scientific' and 'expert' attitude applies to GM, (read my note on the right) saturated fats, childhood cancer clusters around nuclear power stations etc, etc. To put it simply some 'scientists' and 'experts' are telling us now, as we were told then, to ignore the results of our own eyes, but as the old saying goes, if it looks like a cow, moo's like a cow, and smells like a cow then it is a cow. This time I hope and pray that as far as Global Warming is concerned and GM as well, people in general won't be fooled by 'scientists' and 'experts' who have accepted the pieces of silver again.

Earthship UK. A simpler way of living comes to England.

The concept of an ‘Earthship’ is one of complete sustainability, an independent building that is able to produce it’s own energy and clean water. Pioneered by Michael Reynolds, author and builder of self-sufficient homes the ‘Earthships’ are built using recycled materials and can be constructed without any specialist expertise. These low impact buildings have already been built in the United States and Scotland but for the first time an ‘Earthship’ is being built in Brighton, a city on the South Coast of England.

Consisting mainly of car tyres packed with soil the structure of an earthship is virtually indestructible as well as being a highly effective insulator. The interior walls are constructed with a mixture of cement, bottles and tin cans and the south-facing wall is normally glassed, all ways in which the eathships design reduces the need for heating.

The Brighton earthship is the first of it’s kind in England and was created by the Low Carbon Network, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness about ways to reduce carbon emissions. Built in Stanmer Park it’s is completely self sustainable and is designed as an example of ways to combat both the rising carbon emissions levels and the problem of disposing with car tyres. I think that the man who had 'no place to lay his head' (Luke 9:58) would approve.

To learn more please contact the Low Carbon Network.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Food for thought...

Our children and grandchildren will inherit an Earth with less than 20 per cent of its original forests still intact, with most of the readily available freshwater already spoken for, with most of the wetlands and reef systems either destroyed or degraded. Sooner or later a more frugal lifestyle will not only be desirable it will become an imperative.