Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Solar power cuts down pollution, and is part of the answer to Third World energy poverty.

The sun provides enough energy in one hour to supply the needs of the earth for one year. Those in most need of energy are those in the Third World, yet in the main they are in the areas where there are the most sunlight hours.

Solar lighting enables hospitals, homes and businesses in the third world to operate in safer conditions when it gets dark, as often the only other available source of light is from paraffin lamps which are fire hazards and give off toxic fumes. In India alone the average household without access to electricity uses around 120 litres of expensive paraffin a year, which equates to around 310 kg of carbon released into the atmosphere, multiply this by millions and I am sure you will get the picture. In the poorest and remotest areas of the world, where paraffin is not available, the inhabitants have to use wood for lighting as well as cooking and these are usually the areas where wood is a now a scarce resource. Were you aware of the fact that inhaling smoke from indoor fires is the fourth greatest cause of death and disease in the third world?

A UK based charity, Solar Aid, has the aim of fighting both global poverty and climate change by bringing clean, renewable energy to the world’s poorest people.

Please play the above video and see just what can be done for so little cost and wonder, perhaps, why governments are not involved.

Deuteronomy 4:19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

So the power of the sun is for all people and for such little cost, they can be enabled to share it...

Friday, 24 July 2009

This video was made in the Antwerp , Belgium Central (Train) Station on the 23rd of March 2009.

With no warning to the passengers passing through the station, at 08:00 am a recording of Julie Andrews singing 'Do, Re, Mi' begins to play on the public address system. As the bemused passengers watch in amazement, some 200 dancers begin to appear from the crowd and station entrances.

They created this amazing event with just two rehearsals.

If you have had a bad day or feel down or jaded, this will make you smile, and when it does, pass it on. After all, if you were in a group headed by someone that could turn water into wine, you would smile a lot.

Job 8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

“Why are you still an environmentalist?”

The question to me was well meant, after all I have been shouting about the environmental problems for well over 25 years now, but the next remark made me think deeply.

“Don’t you see that it is almost hopeless?”

My answer was that at first I thought that I could change people before it was too late for the environment, but even when I realised that this was a near impossibility I still had to go on.

“Why?” was the next question.

My answer surprised me; I had to carry on because even if I could not change people, what I certainly did not want, was for them to change me.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Funding for Climate Change and Global Warming deniers

Imagine the situation. YOU are the director of a large multi-national company that relies on the use or sale of of fossil fuel, say coal or oil, in order to pay your salary when along comes someone that points out that what you are doing, business wise, is destroying the future environment. What do you do, do you say ‘quite correct’, change things and risk shareholders wrath and risk losing your profitability, bonus and lifestyle, or do you rubbish the messenger calling him, her or them ‘long hair hippies’, ‘bleeding hearted tree hugging environmentalists’ or ‘religious creationist nutcases?’

OK, so you have taken the line of least resistance and gone the second route, after all, you have the advertising revenue and so control over much of the media. It all works to your plan, then along comes respected and influential Al Gore and says that the long haired tree huggers etc are right... what next?

Easy, you rubbish Al Gore and that way you also rubbish all those that agree with him!

Do you remember the cigarette industries promotion of those that said that smoking did not harm your health and criticism of those that said it did? Don’t lose sight of that image and read on.

To directly oppose the climate change lobby would seem, for an fossil fuel reliant company as being a tad incorrect, but how about funding bodies that oppose them? For instance, in the UK there was a film on TV called the ‘Great Global warming Swindle’ that was peddled as the answer to Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. This argued that most global warming over the past century occurred between 1900 and 1940. A pivotal point in the film was the use of a graph showing that there was a period of cooling between 1940 and 1975 when the post-war economic boom was under way. This showed, according to the film, that global warming had little to do with industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.

The program makers labeled the source of the world temperature data as "NASA" but it turned out that the graph was drawn from a 1998 diagram published in an obscure journal called Medical Sentinel. The authors of the paper are well-known climate skeptics who were funded by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and the George C Marshall Institute, a right-wing Washington think-tank.

Recently Al Gore, (and by implication all that agree with him) has been again attacked by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (a think-tank that had close links with the Bush administration) in the US with misinformation, ‘Greenwash’ and adverts in that fly in the face of the facts about the problems of Global Warming. With more than a $3 million annual budget, CEI is supported by both conservative foundations and corporate funding. Known corporate funders in addition to ExxonMobil include the American Petroleum Institute, Cigna Corporation, Dow Chemical, EBCO Corp, General Motors, and IBM.

Company accounts have shown that ExxonMobil handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to such lobby groups. In 2008 recipients included the National Centre for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas, which received $75,000, and the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, which received $50,000.

According to Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics, both the NCPA and the Heritage Foundation have published "misleading and inaccurate information about climate change." Examples given by Ward include a Heritage Foundation report that said: "Growing scientific evidence casts doubt on whether global warming constitutes a threat, including the fact that 2008 is about to go into the books as a cooler year than 2007". Scientists, including those at the UK Met Office disagree with this. Ward also cited that an NCPA comment that "while the causes and consequences of the earth's current warming trend is still unknown, the cost of actions to substantially reduce CO2 emissions would be quite high and result in economic decline, accelerated environmental destruction, and do little or nothing to prevent global warming regardless of its cause" was misleading and inaccurate.

For over a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming. While it did its own scientists were advising that the evidence was exactly the opposite. William O’Keefe, at one time a leader of the Global Climate Coalition was a senior official of the American Petroleum Institute, the lobby for oil companies.

Scientists and economists were offered $10,000 each by the AEI to undermine a major climate change report. Letters sent by them offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.

The UN report was written by international experts and is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science. It will underpin international negotiations on new emissions targets to succeed the Kyoto agreement, the first phase of which expires in 2012.

A passage from the UN Development Program's 2007 Human Development Report stated that "Climate change is the defining human development challenge of the 21st Century. Failure to respond to that challenge will stall and then reverse international efforts to reduce poverty. The poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem."

CEI adverts state that a robust climate bill would cause "death on a massive scale" and "absolute disaster" in developing countries...

The words of Psalm 5:9 come to mind “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A dummies guide to Climate Change. (Even I can understand it)

The Earth's climate has always varied, so the term climate change is now generally used to describe the changes caused by human activity - specifically, greenhouse emissions such as carbon dioxide and methane, which build up in the atmosphere and trap heat.

Is it the same as global warming?

As human activity increases the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere far beyond their natural levels, means that much more heat is trapped. Hence, the term climate change is often used interchangeably with global warming but the term 'global warming' is most certainly not a technicaly accurate term, because 'global warming' causes more extreme weather conditions and these will vary depending on the location. The winters may be longer and colder in one country or countries while rain becomes heavier, causing floods in others. At the same time droughts will take place in other parts of the world. The problem is that people confuse 'weather' (local) with 'climate' (world-wide).

Can it be explained by natural causes?

Earth's surface measurement show that average temperatures have increased by 0.4C since the 1970s, scientists are confident this change can be blamed on human emissions because the increase cannot be explained by natural causes. Although natural factors such as changes in the sun and large volcanic eruptions are known to have warmed and cooled the planet in the past, these effects are not powerful enough to explain the rapid warming seen recently. Only an increased greenhouse effect caused by higher amounts of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere can explain it.

What is the main greenhouse gas?

Surprisingly for many, water vapour in the atmosphere produces the strongest greenhouse effect, but it has been in balance for millions of years. Human emissions have tipped that balance, think of it as being the last straw. Carbon dioxide is the chief greenhouse gas produced by human activity. It is produced when we burn the fossil fuels: oil, gas and coal and the carbon dioxide locked in them is released. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million (ppm). Before the industrial revolution, the carbon dioxide level was about 280ppm; we know this because of ice core analysis. It is now 386ppm and rising by 2-3ppm each year. When other greenhouse gases such as methane are included, the total level in the atmosphere, known as the carbon dioxide equivalent, is closer to 440ppm.

What future temperature rise is expected?

Scientists say continued emissions will cause the planet to heat up further. To work out how much, they use computer models based on the programs used to predict the weather. These models are certainly not perfect. The more we know the more we realise that we have a lot to learn, but running different models and taking an average of the results, the predictions are that with emissions increase at the present rate, average temperatures will most likely increase by 4C by 2100. There are uncertainties, though - for example, the planet's oceans, forests and soils, such as the permafrost tundra could release their massive stocks of methane as the world warms, leading to much greater temperature rises than human emissions alone..

Why are warmer temperatures bad?

Most plants and animals live in a narrow ecological niche. Some are able to adapt or move to find their desired conditions, those that cannot will perish. Some animals, such as the penguin and polar bear, will have nowhere to move to. A warmer climate will affect agriculture and water availability. Increased temperatures are also expected to limit rainfall in some regions and bring more extreme weather events such as storms to others. Sea levels will rise - gradually at first as the extra warmth works its way into the oceans and makes them expand; more quickly if the gigantic ice sheets in Greenland and west Antarctica start to break up.

How can we tackle Global Warming?

It takes time for the heat to build up in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a long time and so there is a lag in the system, which means the effect of any changes will not be felt for decades. Put bluntly, we are headed for about another 0.5C of warming whatever we do. The global warming supertanker is, at present, still running on. Scientists say the only realistic way at present is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. How to do that - and where - is a political hot potato as this will involve unpopular government action and just how unpopular will be shown at the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, The Copenhagen Climate change talks.

So what are the Kyoto protocol and the Copenhagen climate talks?

The world's only existing treaty to limit emissions, the Kyoto protocol, had very limited success, and expires in 2012. Politicians are working to develop a replacement that would include countries excluded from Kyoto, such as China, and those that refused to join, such as the US. The Kyoto agreement was continually watered down and was eventually known as ‘Kyoto Light’. From December 7, environment ministers and officials will meet in Copenhagen to agree out a successor to Kyoto. This two week event is the crucial opportunity to create an international agreement on meaningful cuts in emissions that will prevent the worst consequences of climate change. This event is the world wake up call.

Can renewable energy help?

Yes! We already have the vast majority of the technology we need to bring down emissions significantly. These include renewable energy sources such as windmills, geothermal and solar panels, as well as more efficient cars and power stations.

What about carbon trading?

The idea of Carbon Trading is that a country or a group of countries (i.e. the EU) agree a maximum emissions level and companies are then given, or must purchase Carbon Credits. If a company does not use their Carbon Credit to the full, by cutting down on their pollution, they can sell the unused Credits on the open market. This may sound good, but in the EU the number of permits issued was so high that the resale value was minimal and so there was no incentive for business to cut down on pollution.

What about carbon offsetting?

I regard this as an excuse not to change our behaviour. The idea that you can pollute by flying then remove the effect of the high level pollution by paying someone to plant a tree is Alice in Wonderland environmentalism! In addition this is, in the main, an unregulated market.

What about storing the CO2 underground or blocking the sun?

One technology that would allow us to continue burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil without increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere is carbon capture and storage (CCS). This involves extracting CO2 at power stations then pumping it underground. OK, this sounds good, but does not, at yet, exist other than in small scale testing situations, although to listen to UK government ministers you may assume that it is already in place. A more drastic approach is so-called geo-engineering. These are major technological fixes such as seeding clouds to bounce some of the sun's radiation back into space or stimulating the growth of algae in the oceans to soak up CO2. These are much more speculative, but John Holdren, Barack Obama's scientific adviser, is contemplating them.

What do the real experts say?

The leading UK scientists are at the Met Office, and you can find their Climate Change information HERE, the Climate Projection page will show you what your children/grandchildren will inherit from this generation. The leading US scientists are at NASA and you can find their information HERE, and while you look at the NASA site, run you curser over the 'Vital signs of the planet'at the top of the home page.

What can I do about it?

Act locally, think globally. Turn off lights when you are not in the room and use energy saving bulbs. Turn off standby appliances, insulate, buy local produce from local providers and local shops. If you are in the UK do you really need green beans from Kenya in January or strawberries from Egypt in March?

If at all possible, grow your own food, cut down on car mileage, cut down on plastic packaging, avoid ready meals and the associated manufacture, packaging, storage and transport environmental costs. Recycle, Repair, Reuse, and Respect God's amazing creation, because when He first made it, it was good.

Just those few items above will make a huge difference to the environment, both local and worldwide, to your pocket, and to your health.

PS. The next post will be about the multinational companies that finance climate change denial groups, misinformation adverts and greenwash...