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Rapley Gets Specific - Sea Likely to Rise 1 Meter by 2100, 1% Chance It Will Be 2 Meters

This is the third time in as many days that the Climate Seminar in Ny Alesund, Norway has made the headlines; and I still don’t see the sponsor named in any of the articles; but I think I have cracked this mystery. I just discovered that the Ny Alesund Seminars are frequent occurrences and appear to be referred to as a “Ny Alesund Seminar”. 

Before I delve further into the background of this prestigious seminar series I want to focus on the latest salvo by “outgoing” BAS Director Chris Rapley. I put outgoing in quotes because I believe it explains why he has become more forceful in his statements.

There are a growing body of scientists who are claiming that the IPCC was too timid with regards to their sea level rise forecast. Dr. James Hansen, of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has become the unofficial spokesperson for this group ever since he published: “Scientific reticence and sea level rise“, May 24, 2007 in the Science Journal, Environmental Research Letters.

Abstract. I suggest that a `scientific reticence’ is inhibiting the communication of a threat of a potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because of system inertias that could create a situation with future sea level changes out of our control. I argue for calling together a panel of scientific leaders to hear evidence and issue a prompt plain-written report on current understanding of the sea level change issue.

[Body] Scientific reticence may be a consequence of the scientific method. Success in science depends on objective skepticism. Caution, if not reticence, has its merits. However, in a case such as ice sheet instability and sea level rise, there is a danger in excessive caution. We may rue reticence, if it serves to lock in future disasters.

Concern about the danger of ‘crying wolf’ is more immediate than concern about the danger of ‘fiddling while Rome burns’.

Dr. Rapley is retiring as Director of the British Antarctic Survey this month and now that he no longer has to be worried about tarnishing the reputation of the BAS he is sharing his inner thoughts. Here are some excerpts from the Reuters article: Antarctic ice thawing faster than predicted.

A thaw of Antarctic ice is outpacing predictions by the U.N. climate panel and could in the worst case drive up world sea levels by 2 meters (6 ft) by 2100, a leading expert said on Wednesday.

Chris Rapley, the outgoing head of the British Antarctic Survey, said there were worrying signs of accelerating flows of ice towards the ocean from both Antarctica and Greenland with little sign of more snow falling inland to compensate.

“The ice is moving faster both in Greenland and in the Antarctic than the glaciologists had believed would happen,” Rapley told Reuters during a climate seminar in Ny Alesund on a Norwegian Arctic island 1,200 km from the North Pole.

“I think the realistic view is that we will be nearer a meter than the 40 cm” in sea level rise by 2100, Rapl[e]y said. The U.N. climate panel in February gave a likely range of 18 to 59 cm this century, for an average around 40 cm.

Asked at the seminar what the upper limit for the rise might be at a probability of one percent or less, he said: “At this extremely unlikely level the maximum would be two meters.”

Rapley said there were worrying signs of an accelerating thaw both in West Antarctica, where much of the ice sits on rocks that are below sea level, and on the Cook and Totten glaciers on the fringe of the far bigger ice mass to the East.

“The East Antarctic ice sheet is always dismissed as the big bit which sits on rock above sea level and so is much more stable. But the radar altimeters show significant discharge going on,” he said.

That last paragraph is dynamite. Every previous report I have ever read has stated that East Antarctica will have no appreciable effect on sea level rise, now we have the first “cry” that glaciers in that area are showing signs of ”significant” discharges.

What makes West Antarctica so dangerous and unpredictable is the potential of a catastrophic collapse since it is grounded on land which is beneath sea level. East Antarctica is mostly above sea level and since it lacks this dramatic component it is has been labeled “stable”. Dr. Rapley is reminding us that saying it is stable is not the equivalent of saying it is not melting.

East Antarctica is the “motherlode” for sea level rise, with the potential to contribute an additional 65 meters according to the USGS. If any appreciable melt is occurring in that area then current estimates, including mine, of sea level rise are woefully inadequate as East Antarctica will jump from having no influence to potentially being the largest contributing factor.

I do not know if this is a hypothesis by Dr. Rapley or a statement of fact based upon information he has been privy to as Director of the BAS.

If it is a hypothesis it contradicts widely held beliefs that East Antarctica’s ice sheet is growing due to snow accumulation, and implies that East Antarctica is suffering a net loss of ice mass, just like West Antarctica.

If it is a fact then I expect we will see some scientific evidence of this in the near future.

In either case, we have a whole new ball game if he is even close to being right (or my wild conjecture here is close to being right, depending on your point of view).

Now back to his 1% chance that sea level will rise by 2 meters due to the accelerating ice thaw in West Antarctica.

Despite my claims of his new outspokenness I believe he is underestimating the extent of the melting. My reasoning is based upon the extraordinary report delivered this May about a huge Antarctic thaw: Vast Antarctic ice melt (news.com.au),  Photo in the News: Antarctic Region the Size of California Melted in ‘05 (nationalgeographic.com), and NASA Finds Vast Regions of West Antarctica Melted in Recent Past (jpl.nasa.gov); which occurred in 2005.

I have not seen any studies which indicate whether it did or did not reoccur this past summer in Antarctica (which is our Winter), but I will keep looking for more news this season.

Here is the widely distributed photo which shows the extent of the thaw.

I have been unable to find an explanation for the range of colors but my guess is that they reflect depth with yellow being the shallowest, through orange, to red being the deepest.

This is the type of thawing which has been occurring in Greenland and which took streams like this,

(photo courtesy of NASA/GISS, article: Sea Level Rise, After the Ice Melted and Today)

and turned it into this raging river.

(photo courtesy of National Geopgraphic Magazine, The Big Thaw issue, June 2007).

This meltwater then seeps under the ice and adds extra lubrication to the ice streams which accelerates their flow and discharge rates.

No one ever thought they would see a raging river on the Greenland Ice Cap and no one ever thought an area the size of California could thaw in the antarctic. When you start to see streams appear on the West Antarctic ice sheet you know the river is coming, and that the collapse will follow relatively shortly thereafter.

I predict that the early warning sign I have been looking for, which will proceed a collapse, is the permanent appearance of seasonal meltwater rivers on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

This is also why I believe West Antarctica is going to start matching Greenland for contributions to sea level rise within the next 25 to 50 years. Now add to this equation an extra 1 to 3 meters from East Antarctica and I predict that sea level can rise over 5 meters by the end of this century.

Only time will tell who is right, but as I have been pointing out, time is one thing we can not afford to waste.

In closing, I promised to explain what I discovered about the Ny Alesund Seminars which are sponsored by NySMAC: the Ny-Ålesund Science manager’s committee. Here is how one member, the prestigious Alfred Wegener Institute, describes them:

The arctic research site Ny-Ålesund is characterised by the co-existence of research activity in a wide range of disciplines, performed by several institutions from different nations. In order to enhance cooperation and coordination amongst research activities, the institutions which have frequent research activities in Ny-Ålesund, are working together in the Ny-Ålesund Science manager’s committee(NySMAC). This committee regularly convenes international scientific seminars and workshops focusing on topics related to research carried out in the Ny-Ålesund area, and publishes the news bulletin Ny-Ålesund Newsletter twice yearly.   

NySMAC has the following list of distinguished members:

  • National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) - Japan
  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) - Italy
  • Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU)
  • Norwegian Space Centre (NSC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)/BAS - UK
  • Institut Francais Polaire, Paul Emile Victor (IPEV) - France
  • Stockholm University (SU) - Sweden
  • Korea Polar Research Institute
  • University of Groningen (UoG) - Netherlands
  • Norwegian Polar Institute
  • Alfred Wegener Institut (AWI) - Germany
  • Norwegian Mapping Authority (NMA)
  • GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ) - Germany
  • University of Tromsø (UiT) - Norway
  • Polar Research Institute of China - Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA)
  • The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) - Norway

NySMAC is holding a major seminar at Cambridge, UK, October 16-17, 2007; which is open to scientists involved or interested in research at Ny-Ålesund. This seminar will be hosted by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

For more information I recommend:

Sphere: Related Content

Scientists Call For New Cold War Against Global Warming

Today’s headlines from the summit in Nyland, Norway claim that Climate Change is the biggest Security Challenge since the Cold War.

I still can not find out the sponsor of this mini-summit of 40 scientists and policy makers, nor can I find a list of the participants, but every report that comes out of this conference shows a renewed sense of urgency. 

Now we have this amazing (and I believe striking) comparison by British Climate Change Ambassador John Ashton:

“We’re not yet collectively grasping the scale of what we need to do” … “The Cold War was the last big problem the world faced on so many fronts — economic, political, industrial …”

It fascinates me, and I do not believe it is a coincidence, that it was a British politician who made this comparison. I believe it is totally appropriate to raise the spectre of the cold war with all its connotations, and this is why.

I was instantly reminded of Winston Churchill and his famous “Iron Curtain”speech in 1946; which most historians agree marks the official beginning of the Cold War.

So I revisited that momentous speech and here are some excerpts that I think are equally relevant for our War against Global Warming.

The opening paragraph perfectly reflects our current position and responsibilities as one of the top CO2 emitters in the world.

The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done, but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining, for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the aftertime.

Here is the famous Iron Curtain Line.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.

Here is my Global Warming Equivalent.

From the North Pole to the South Pole, from the Smallest Island Nations to the Largest World Powers, we are all threatened by disasterous climate change.

He then spoke about the communist threat before issuing this line; which I believe epitomizes our present situation, and why I write this blog.

It is because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the opportunity to do so. 

Next came his call for action, which also has amazing parallels to our current situation.

But what we have to consider here today while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement.

Here is my Global Warming Equivalent (changed words in italics).

But what we have to consider here today while time remains, is avoiding the worst consequences of climate change and the establishment of conditions for reducing Greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy in which financial costs are allowed to outweigh scientific realities.

He then spoke about how easy it would have been to prevent WWII.

There never was a war in history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented, in my belief, without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honored today; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool.

My Global Warming Equivalent, if we fail to take action (changed words in italics).

There never was any other danger in history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented, in my belief, without the devastating consequences we have all just experienced, and the United States could have continued to be powerful, prosperous and honored today; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool.

He ended with this paragraph.

If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength, seeking no one’s land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men, if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.

My Global Warming Equivalent (italics again).

If we adhere faithfully to the ideal that all nations must meet mandatory greenhouse gas emissions targets and walk forward in sedate and sober strength, seeking no excuses or advantages, seeking instead to accomplish what we must to save our world, if all our moral and material forces and convictions are joined in one global fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for many centuries to come.

So why doesn’t the U.S. act when the rest of the globe is clamoring for action? Why does the U.S. continue to ignore the pleas of the vast majority of our allies? Why does the U.S. instead play the villain when we should be the hero, when we can live up to our image as the cavalry which is coming to rescue a beleaguered climate challenged world?

I think the U.S. has forgotten the meaning of global war and the need for self sacrifice in order to assure victory.

I do not mean to belittle the Iraq War and the gallant men and women in our armed forces; but the fact remains that we have now been at war in Iraq longer than WWI, WWII, or the Korean War.

While this war has had an enormous impact upon our soldiers and their families, most people, the vast majority of people, are not experiencing any hardships whatsoever; so it is barely front page news on most days. Instead it has become another one of those useless, god awful, incredibly wasteful, and hugely dispiriting wars we have been fighting since the end of the Korean War.

Look what has happened since 9/11, when we suffered the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. We have been fighting the War on Terror since 2001 but we still haven’t captured Osama Bin Laden and we can not claim that we have killed him. Fighting continues in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda is still causing trouble there, in Pakistan, and in Iraq. If you believe the current administration the threat has not been diminished, it is just as strong, if not stronger.

So what have we learned from our most recent wars? That they never end? That you can’t win?

We have had the War on Drugs since the 1970’s and the War on Poverty is more than 50 years old. Neither has come even close to their established goals, both problems are as bad as ever, and there is no end in sight.

The problem has not been with our will power although it has been sapped and diminished by these failing efforts. The problem is with our changed concept of “self sacrifice”, that noble spirit that drove us to victory in WWI and WWII.

John Kennedy announced to the world at his inauguration that the torch had been passed to a new generation and then extolled us all to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

We answered that call. We sent a man to the moon within one decade. We took a long and hard look at our society and entered a period historians call “the great society”, an era in which we undertook to fundamentally change our society to eliminate its worst ills.

We need to answer this newest call. To raise up our bowed heads, to straighten out our bent backs, to look the danger right in the eye and tackle it head on, in the same spirit that has made this country the greatest nation on the planet.

The time for debate is over. The need is crystal clear. The actions we must take are righteous and just. God will surely smile upon us for treating our planet as his temple.

I say to you, that this nation conceived in liberty, and nurtured by the blood of patriots, must honor our ancestors and live up to our fullest potential. We must gird for battle, tighten our belts, and make any and every sacrifice required; so future generations may look back at us with the same pride, honor, and respect that we have for our parents and grandparents. They have given us a world filled with wonders, a cornucopia of earthly delights. What will we bequeath to our children and our grandchildren?

We must think in terms of victory and not defeat, we must think in terms of life and not death, we must think in terms of an Eden like planet and not in terms of Hell on earth.

There has been no other time in the history of civilization in which a people had more control over their own fate, and no other time when our fate was so uncertain. One thing is certain, failure to act will not lessen the harms, but will instead make them much greater and harder to bear or overcome.

SO, for the umpteenth time again. What are we waiting for?

One last thought, I say it is time to sound the bugle call and charge! During WWI George M. Cohan, the first (and I believe only) songwriter ever to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, wrote the song “Over There” and I want to leave with a version of that chorus, slightly modified.

Every wayevery where,
Send the word, send the word every where -
That the Yanks are cutting,
The Yanks are cutting,
Emissions they’re cutting
Ev’rywhere.
So prepare, say a pray’r,
Send the word, send the word every where.
We are cutting, and we’ll keep cutting
and we won’t ever stop, till it’s over
Every where.

Sphere: Related Content

IPCC Accused of Being “Seriously Misleading” about Melting Antarctica

Dr. Christopher Rapley, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, told a seminar being held in Ny Alesund, Norway on August 20 that the IPCC was “restrained to the point of being seriously misleading” with regard to the risk posed by a melting Antarctica.

Dr. Rapley has repeatedly warned that the IPCC has seriously underestimated the impact that the melting West Antarctic Ice Sheet will have on climate change and rising sea levels, but this represents his strongest statement yet.

Here are some of Dr. Rapley’s previous statements:

February 1, 2005 - The Exeter UK Symposium: Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change [PDFs of ”Antarctic ice sheets and sea level rise” - Abstract & Presentation].

“The last IPCC report characterised Antarctica as a slumbering giant in terms of climate change. I would say that it is now an awakened giant. There is real concern.” 

As reported by Michael McCarthy of The Independent, courtesy of The Tribune.

February 19, 2006 - The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in St. Louis: “West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Waking the Sleeping Giant?”

Parts of the Antarctic ice sheet that rest on bedrock below sea level have begun to discharge ice fast enough to make a significant contribution to sea level rise. Understanding the reason for this change is urgent in order to be able to predict how much ice may ultimately be discharged and over what timescale. Current computer models do not include the effect of liquid water on ice sheet sliding and flow, and so provide only conservative estimates of future behaviour. Only five years ago, Antarctica was characterised as a slumbering giant in terms of climate change. I would argue that this is now an awakened giant and we should take notice.

Press Release by the BAS

June 12, 2006 - The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting 2006.

Recent evidence indicates that regional melting is taking place at a worrying rate, and faster than we had thought. The consequence for the future of mean sea level alone justifies the polar regions as the subject of special scientific attention.

Press Statement by Prof Chris Rapley CBE

None of the news stories reporting the current seminar, which is being held from August 20-22, provided details of the sponsoring group and the only other relevant information that I found was:

  • It is being attended by 40 politicians and scientists.
  • Ny Alesund is an Arctic Research Center.
  • The Arctic appears to be the focus of the seminar.
  • Norwegian Environment Minister Helen Bjoernoy attended, but there is no press release nor statement at the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, and her schedule was blank.
  • Kim Holmen, research Director at the Norwegian Polar Institute attended, but I was unable to find further information at their website due to the following message: We apologize, but… We are currently experiencing some technical problems with the English section of our web site. Please check back by the end of summer for a full English version of the Norwegian Polar Institute website!”
  • There was a similar meeting in Ny Alesund on March 2 - 4, 2006. Here is a list of participants.

The next major scientific meeting about Antarctica is the 10th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science (ISAES); which meets every 4 years. It will be held at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) August 26 through 31. They have an exceedingly dry agenda if you want to look and see what normally occurs at these meetings.

This will be followed by the 2007 West Antarctic Ice Sheet Initiative (WAIS) Workshop, to be held Sept. 5-8 at Algonkian Regional Park near Sterling, Virginia, U.S.A.. Here is their preliminary agenda.

For more information I recommend:

Sphere: Related Content

Hurricane Dean Inflicts Heavy Damage On Jamaica & Dominican Republic

News on Jamaica

It’s just past 10 AM and Dean is still pummeling parts of Jamaica. Dean passed just south of Jamaica but Category Four winds were recorded in Kingston.

Here is the latest MSNBC video from Jamaica, Hurricane Dean wallops Jamaica, which was made this morning in the capital of Kingston.

Caribseek, Caribbean News, ran this story which was last updated at 5 AM: Dangerous Hurricane Dean Moving Away… Gusty Winds And Heavy Rainfall Continue.

Here is the BBC’s latest report, as of 9:23 AM: Hurricane batters Jamaica’s south.

Some Relief efforts are underway: FFP[Food For Poor] Braces For Dean.

MSNBC reported a shootout between police and some looters but that no one was hurt.

Talkweather.com ran a damage report, from Mark - Flight Mechanic/Crew Chief…..403rd Airlift Wing / 53rd Weather Squadron “Hurricane Hunters”. See post #875.

Other Caribbean Islands

Here is the latest news from Dominican Today: Dominican Republic south west assesses Dean damage, which reports widespread coastal flooding; and an earlier report: Dominican Republic spared worst as Dean moves on.

This France 24 report provides some details on what Dean did to other Caribbean Islands: Monster hurricane bears down on Jamaica.

The BBC is tracking how it’s readers are (and have been) preparing for Dean - Hurricane Dean: Readers’ updates.

Sphere: Related Content

A New Focus

I began my blog in the hope of convincing people of the urgent need to spend as much time and effort on adapting to global warming as we are spending on mitigating (or fighting) global warming. I may try to kid around a little, calling myself Count Doom and creating my 4 horsemen of Global Warming; but that was an attempt to lighten up my blog and alleviate the serious subject matter.

I firmly believe - to the depth of my soul - that sea level rise is a huge threat to our coastal areas, to the people who live and work there, and to our nation’s economy. I knew I was taking on a huge burden, that it would be a long and strenuous effort, and I assure you “I have just begun to fight”. Yet, sometimes an initial plan fails and a strategic withdrawal is required in order to be able to continue to fight another day.

I believe I erred when I started to devote most of my energies into making this a global warming news, aggregator style, blog. I think I provided a good example of what a global warming news site should be but I must admit that it is too much work for a part time blog. Even if I could devote my full time energies to this endeavor I still believe it is more than any one person can tackle, and given the excellence of the other sites available I feel I can leave the news in their capable and trustworthy hands. I have therefore decided to reluctantly discontinue this aspect of my blog and to get back to my real mission.

It is time to recast this blog in a new and hopefully brighter light. I will now focus on the multidimensional aspects of global warming and the one issue that I think outranks every other we face in this great war: What are we doing to prepare for the consequences of rising temperatures? The same consequences we will face even if we win this battle because the changes we have already caused and the resulting warmer temperatures will be with us for centuries.

I will devote the majority of my future efforts to this topic with a primary focus on the dangers of warmer oceans. Global Warming Insurance is a critical part of my overall plan and it has components that extend beyond sea related matters to problems we face with: heatwaves and related health problems, drought and water conservation, sustainable land management, alleviating and overcoming flooding events, and preparing against the spread of tropical diseases. 

I will - of course - continue to promote, foster, and encourage plans that realistically approach the needs created by warmer oceans: to protect our vital coastal infrastructures from worsening coastal storms, to protect our coastal populations and prepare for more massive evacuation efforts from these worsening storms, to maintain our vital harbors upon which our economy (and the world’s) is based, and to plan for the permanent loss of coastal areas including the possibility of losing parts, or all, of some of our coastal cities.

I believe I have shown that we need to use every tool available if we are to have any chance to win this critical war against global warming. So I will continue to spend time on mitigation efforts and point out strategies and plans I think will enhance our chances for victory; and failing that, to at least achieve a manageable stalemate.

For those of my readers who will miss Today’s News and especially the Headline Section I thank you with all my heart and I offer you the following in consolation. First, I will continue my analysis of the news but as individual posts, so I may better concentrate on this most important aspect of blogging. Second, I will create a new page where I will provide you with a list of all the news sources I used for the Headline, Top Story, and Spotlight sections.

I hope all of my readers, present and future, will find these changes make this a more enjoyable and enlightening blog.

As I part with you, I have one last thought. As you read the news tomorrow about Hurricane Dean and the damage it caused Jamaica, imagine if that happened here. Then imagine the storm surges, that I predict devastated Kingston, had happened to one of our coastal cities.

Finally, since it would never do to post a blog without at least one hyperlink; I am referring you to some unusual sites I uncovered while researching Hurricane Dean. I highly recommend the one on the top which has some truly awesome pictures and videos of storm surges from prior Hurricanes.

Sphere: Related Content

Today’s News - August 17, 2007

Featuring the Four Horsemen of Global Warming 
Drought, Flood, Heat, & Pestilence

Top Story - I have written repeatedly about problems with the CDM, the Kyoto carbon offset trading mechanism, which has been plagued with allegations of fraud and waste in the projects it is supposed to oversee and certify. Now the European Union’s trading program is also under fire: EU emissions trading scheme an ‘embarrassing failure’, think tank says.

The attempt to create a global carbon market and a “global price for carbon” through trading is unlikely to be successful, says a think tank devoted to debating the direction of the EU in a new report published earlier this week.

In “Europe’s Dirty Secret: Why the EU Emissions Trading Scheme isn’t working”, UK-based Open Europe says that the current EU Emissions trading scheme isn’t working and that international action should focus on setting tough, enforceable national targets for greenhouse gas reduction.

The European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was set up for operations in January 2005 as the “largest multi-country, multi-sector Greenhouse Gas emission trading scheme world-wide.”

In a statement, Open Europe says:

“Almost everyone now acknowledges that the first phase of the system - running from 2005 to 2007 - has been a failure: more permits to pollute have been printed than there is pollution.

“The price of carbon has collapsed to almost zero, creating no incentive to reduce pollution. As a result, UK firms covered by the scheme increased their emissions by 3.6% in the first year alone. Across the EU, emissions from installations covered by the ETS rose by just under 1%.”

In a foreword to the study, Swedish Green MP Max Andersson writes that:

“There has so-far been limited questioning of the hazy assertion that the EU is good for the environment. This new study from Open Europe attempts to challenge this claim, arguing that real environmentalists should be very sceptical indeed of the EU’s record on this area.”

Hugo Robinson, an analyst at Open Europe says that the EU ETS is costing a lot, but it isn’t working. He thinks that member states have opted to buy in vast numbers of what are essentially carbon offsets from developing countries, rather than make real reductions in emissions.

He says: “International action should focus on setting tough and enforceable national targets for greenhouse gas reduction. How to reach those binding targets should be up to individual countries.”

The more I read about emissions trading the less I like about it. This article illustrates its chief weakness, it does not encourage fixing the problem instead it encourages ignoring it. I predict that when 2012 ends more than half of the Kyoto accord countries will have failed to meet their emissions goals due to either outright failure or through heavy reliance upon a faulty trading mechanism. I had already lost all faith in CDM and will not trust their figures until an outside auditing agency is used to verify the validity of those offsets.

Now I have to point out that setting emissions goals which are illusory by giving away too many allowances is the flip side of that coin.

Faulty offset programs and unrealistically high emissions allowances are combining to destroy any progress we are making at reducing global warming. Is it any wonder that I believe we need to plan for the worst, and why I constantly push for Global Warming Insurance.

Next month the UN and Bush will hold summits to help determine the next treaty Beyond Kyoto. It is now clear that mandatory reductions need more bite along with a possible penalty for failure to meet goals. A Fine which could be used to help those countries which have not been benefiting from the CDM programs to establish bonafide conservation and GHG reduction efforts. I envision it being based on our sports drafts were the team with the worst record gets first pick, So the countries that got the least amount of money last year get first dibs this year.

We have to start experimenting and using innovative solutions if we expect to have any hope of keeping temperatures from rising to extremely dangerous levels, such as an additional 5 to 7 degrees by the end of the century. I firmly doubt we will be able to meet the widely stated goal of keeping temperatures from rising 2 to 3 degrees, and now I doubt we can even save ourselves from hitting that higher threshold.

Top Editorials - Public Doesn’t Understand Global Warming, Good news about wind in Indiana, & Misery of flood victims

The Headline Section
Alternative Energy
Brazil [announces] conference to discuss global renewable energy
Univ. of New Hampshire, Ball State Make Green Plans - Landfill Methane
EU Releases “Concentrating Solar Power: from research to implementation” 
Solar-To-Hydrogen Technology Sold For $400 Million Euro
Working To Improve Efficiency Of Ethanol Fuel
Investigative permit for wave energy project in Canada
Geothermal energy for 700,000 more homes in Indonesia
Japan atom plant may need 1 year to restart: IAEA
At hearing, most support third reactor - MD

Business
The Global Water Tool: Making Corporate Water Data a Little Less Dry
Business World Finally Sees Potential Profits in Joining the Battle against Global Warming
Green Digital Marketing Grows Up
Best Buy To Build Only Eco-Friendly Stores
EDS Cuts Emissions From Printing Operations 72%
Rowing club’s masters regatta goes for the green this weekend
Next Generation of Business Leaders Aim to Build a Sustainable Future
Greenpeace: Indian brands not up to global standards

Climate Change
Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks to Record Low
Ecological Restoration: A Global Strategy For Mitigating Climate Change

Conservation
The Regreening Of The Himalayas - Community Forestry
Cash boost for London recyclers
 
Drought
US Drought Monitor
USA TODAY weather focus: “Excessive heat expands extreme drought”
Michigan Farmers Losing Corn to Dry Weather
Council to discuss worsening drought - NC
Extreme heat helps drought area swell - AL
Corn all but popped as drought lingers - AL
Fire Danger Worsens - MN

Energy
Bush to Create of Advanced Energy Research Agency
Part Two: A Glimpse of the Energy Future

Environment
Death Toll in Peru Surpasses 500
Peru earthquake survivors loot, fight for food
For earthquakes ’speed kills’
2007 Stockholm Water Prize Presented to American Professor Perry L. McCarty of Stanford University

Flood
UNICEF calls for aid to most affected by DPRK floods
Feds give N.C. $4 million for floodplain maps
172 trapped in flooded coal mine in E China

Green House Gases
Corporate carbon reporting needs ‘considerable’ improvement

Health
WHO chief warns of worldwide public health crisis
Tracking Fire Retardants In Humans And Environment

Kyoto & Beyond Kyoto
Green power to be more expensive than public thinks: coalition chief

Legal
First Katrina Criminal Trial Opens in La.

Lifestyles
Ecovillages not only good for environment but people too
Interest in Sustainable Furniture Increases as Chatter About IAQ, Deforestation Picks Up

Nature
What’s the World’s Cutest Animal?
Illegal wildlife trade grows in India
Climate change devastating wildlife in East Africa
Climate Change Isolates Rocky Mountain Butterflies
Backing for Pipeline ‘Endangers Whales’

Politics
New Field for Earmarks in U.S. Goals on Energy
British climate protesters set out target shortlist
Heathrow protesters glue themselves to government building
What Would You Pay To Stay Cool?
New Mission To Improve Accuracy Of Climate-change Measurements Proposed

Science
3rd Antarctic research station set to be built
Unique monitoring system for the Atlantic circulation proves its worth
Australian scientists call for ocean network probe
Russia and Australia look to fusion future
Cheap And Easy Technique To Produce Hydrogen From Visible Light Is Almost Ready
Mastering one of the biggest challenges of environment technology

Sustainable Development
How to stop eroding the planet
Remote pacific islands go green
MBAs Going Green: Marshall Goldsmith School of Management Introduces New ‘Sustainable Management’ Program

Technology

Weather
NASA eyes warm sea surface temperatures for hurricanes
Seven die after storm Erin hits Texas
Hurricane Dean Tears Through Caribbean
Hurricane Dean seen becoming Category 5 storm
Typhoon Slams Into Taiwan, 1 Dead
Typhoon Sepat hammers Taiwan, causes power outages
Super typhoon Sepat to land SE China
Weathermen fear Beijing Olympics lightning strikes

Wildfires
Wildfire North of Athens Contained
Wildfires Rage in Montana, Wyoming
Montana Wildfire Burns Homes

Other Recommended News Sources
BioFuels News
Renewable Energy News
Energy Bulletin
Sustainable Transportation Technologies
Yahoo Environment News
MSNBC Environment News
NPR Environment News
The Heat Is On: Making Global Warming a Presidential Priority
Car Lines by Michael P. Walsh 

Spotlight - Think Twice Before Buying Faded Jeans, Lego Wind Turbine, A Solar Roof on Every Home and Business, Dozens of Sleipners

1st Mini Spotlight - I normally don’t write about straight forward pollution issues but this picture shocked me so much I had to post it, from an article in the Guardian: Distressed denim trend costs Mexican farmers the earth.

That is not fabric in the stream, that is a blue junk covered stream , and here is why.

Mariano Baragán looked down at the blue-grey crust peeling off the field he irrigates from a canal. Nearby factories were the problem - dozens of them, which are dedicated to doing to jeans in hours what used to take years of wear.

“As well as being blue, it burns the seedlings and sterilises the earth,” the 67-year-old subsistence farmer said. And the cause? A wry smile hovered on his lips.

“It’s the fashion.” More recently competition from Asia and Central America has closed some factories, but Tehuacán still has more than 700 clothes manufacturers. Many of these produce jeans for big US brands as well as lesser-known local labels, which copy the new styles set by the bigger players.

Of most concern environmentally are the laundries where the clothes are sent for distressing. There, jeans are sandpapered, marked with mechanical tools and faded with large quantities of potassium permanganate - a bleaching agent once commonly used to trigger illegal abortions.

Then there is the stonewashing, fabric softening and a final crescendo of washing and rewashing. The clean garments are left ready for sale, while in many factories the chemicals used to treat them are left to flow away in bright indigo waste.

Last week inspectors sent by Gap were in town to visit Grupo Navarra - the city’s biggest manufacturer, which supplies the multinational - prompted by a dispute involving a group of workers who say they were sacked for trying to form an independent union. The company is one of the few with a water treatment plant on site.

Gap Inc. is a major fashion retailer which includes the following brands: Banana Republic, GAP, Old Navy, & Piperlime. They have a robust factory inspection program which applies a strict code of conduct. In  2004-5 they terminated their business relationship with 132 garment factories for violations of this code.

They are also involved in an AIDs relief effort in Africa with a wonderful program that donates half, yes half, of the profits from the sales of certain merchandise: GAP (Product) Red.

I learn something new everyday and I truly had no idea that the problem was this bad. That picture thoroughly disgusts me.

I will very rarely endorse a company, but if you want to buy faded/stonewashed/etc. jeans than this is the kind of company you need to do business with. The next time I buy pants, and I admit I love the faded type of jeans, I pledge they will be GAP (Product) Red khaki pants instead. I may never buy jeans again.

2nd Mini Post - After that last post I am glad to be able to provide you with this light-hearted fun picture of a working Lego wind turbine, thanks to The Sydney Morning Herald article: Toy turbines and a Third World whiz.

I think they cheated a little since that looks like a battery at the foot of the turbine, but this is actually a fairly serious article as you will see.

A FEW metres from Circular Quay stands a pearly white construction drawing interest from passing tourists.

It is not the Opera House, but a functioning three-metre tall wind turbine in Customs House Square made from 3500 white Lego bricks.

It was put there by Engineers Without Borders Australia, whose stated mission is to improve the lives of disadvantaged communities overseas by implementing sustainable engineering projects.

Todd Houstein, campaign director of Engineers Without Borders Australia, said the Lego exhibit was a fun way to highlight the group’s work.

“Lego is the reason half of us became engineers; as kids we just loved building things.

“In building this wind turbine … we are specifically trying to raise awareness on how climate change is affecting developing nations, and highlighting the work we do there.”

The Lego turbine’s blade would spin with a strong breeze, generating electricity and powering a small light display, Mr Houstein said.

Today and over the weekend Mr Houstein and his colleagues will build a second turbine while the public looks on.

“The public can provide a gold coin donation and get to add a Lego brick to the wind turbine themselves,” Mr Houstein said.

The money raised will go towards Engineers Without Borders Australia’s running costs and to its projects in places such as Nepal and Cambodia.

In recent years the group, which has more than 3000 members, has installed lighting systems powered by solar panels for villagers in the Himalayas, and created ceramic water filters to remove contaminants from the water supply in Cambodia. 

3rd Mini Spotlight- Herbert Hoover supposedly (it is not true though) ran on a campaign slogan of: “a chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage”. I think a great new political slogan would be “A Solar Roof on Every Home and Business”, at least for every new building. This article shows one California builder is already making that promise: Housing Community Makes Solar A Standard Feature.

Pinn Brothers Fine Homes has announced it is adopting a new regional strategy to standardize solar energy into its building practices. The first community where these solar electric systems will be featured is in Brentwood, Calif., where Pinn Brothers recently began construction on 455 single family homes ranging in size from 1,363 to 3,516 square feet.

Old Country Roofing (OCR) will install the solar electric systems using its comprehensive turnkey solar roofing solution. Working closely with its supply partner, BP Solar, OCR will install a BP solar electric system on each home. The homes will feature BP Solar’s premium solar products for the new home market, including BP Solar EnergyTile roof integrated solar modules and BP Solar Integra low-profile solar modules.

Robert Taylor, Mayor of Brentwood and a self-proclaimed solar advocate, says he is excited about this development. “There is no doubt that solar power is the way of the future,” he says. “Given the choice, I believe that Brentwood home buyers will choose to purchase a home that generates its own electricity versus one that doesn’t.”

This has become one of my constant themes: the need to make every home and business a micro power plant. The biggest obstacle to implementing this plan is the lack of a nationwide net metering law.

Gov. Crist of Florida has recently taken major steps to get his state on the renewables path which includes this proposal for a state net metering law, so Florida can start living up to its nickname of the “Sunshine State.”

Executive Order 07-127, which was signed on July 13, 2007, instructed the state Public Utilities Commission to:

Not later than September 1, 2007, initiate rulemaking to authorize a uniform, statewide method to enable residential and commercial customers who generate electricity from on-site renewable technologies of up to 1 megawatt in capacity to offset their consumption over a billing period by allowing their electric meters to turn backwards when they generate electricity (net metering).

As you can see this is not a complicated subject, but the current system leaves it up to Public Utility Commissions; and when they fail to act, to individual power companies; to establish net metering programs. Congress must address this problem in the same manner it is addressing the need for a nationwide renewable energy standard.

I propose that Congress adopt IREC’s model net metering rules[PDF] as a national standard. Congress must act to remove this major obstacle to renewable energy and eliminate the hodge podge of standards and laws which make it difficult, if not impossible, to utilize this major facet of renewable energy.

Once again I must point out that we are also missing the opportunity to create thousands, potentially millions of new jobs in the U.S.. “A Solar Roof on Every Home and Business” would create small and medium size businesses across the country. It would promote the growth of existing businesses, from installers to suppliers to major manufacturers. It would create abundant sources of new decentralized energy which would eliminate the need to build hundreds of new power plants.

Small scale renewable energy has the potential to meet a majority of our current electric needs and allow us the breathing space we need to transition from a dirty fossil fuel based system to a clean renewable one.

The 1960’s had a great slogan which epitomizes this idea: “Power to the People”. Let’s go back to the future - and with all due respect to Abraham Lincoln - I propose “that we here highly resolve that … this nation .. shal have a new birth of freedom and that [Power] of the People, by the People, and for the People shall [rule the land]”.

Bottom line - We need an Energy Bill of Rights. Energy is now a vital security and liberty issue for every person on the planet. It is time to end our crippling dependence on electric power companies and restore freedom of choice to the people. Energy Self Reliance should be just as protected a freedom as those in the Bill of Rights. Power to the People!!

For more information on Net Metering, I recommend:

Major Spotlight- I do not believe that Clean Coal is possible without Carbon Capture, Sequestration, & Storage (CSS); my alternative to Carbon Capture & Storage. Even though there is a great CSS program that has been working for more than a decade - The Sleipner Project in Norway - this country still feels that more research needs to be done before we can go ahead and start developing and implementing this technology. Now the IEA is getting more involved with a 2 day workshop, Aug 22-23, in San Francisco: Workshop on Near-Term Opportunities for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage.

The event is being organized by the G8, IEA, and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum.

The workshop’s goal is to foster introduction of CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technologies to the market. Its objectives include investigations and promotion of early opportunities for CCS, such as separation of CO2 from natural gas and CO2 enhanced oil recovery. The workshop will gather professionals working in these areas and serve as a platform for information exchange and as a preparatory event for a bigger dissemination and popularization workshops to be organised in 2007. 

For more information, see their Summary Report

Since I have not mentioned Sleipner in awhile I thought I should provide you with an update on the current state of CSS technology.

Statoil is the Norwegian oil and gas company which has being running Sleipner since 1996. They considered the project so successful that they have almost completed construction of a second facility in the Barents Sea. Here are some excerpts from an excellent background article: Carbon capture in Norway – Putting something back.

First, Norway’s unique position.

Norway is making itself a laboratory for technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions
The Norwegians are a wealthy people. Norway’s per capita income is the second largest in the world. The reason: the country benefits from assets few in Europe possess: oil and gas.

Despite the non-renewable nature of Norway’s natural resources, Norway’s domestic energy use is remarkably clean. Ninety-nine per cent of demand is met by hydro-power, and just 1% from fossil fuels.

This puts Norway in an odd position regarding climate change. Domestic emissions may be tiny, but as the world’s third largest oil exporter, the country’s contribution to global warming is great.

Second, Sleipner & Snohvit.

Norway has pioneered the technology at the Sleipner oil and gas field in the North Sea since 1996. Every year the project, run by state controlled utility Statoil, injects one million tonnes of CO2 into saline aquifers 1,000 metres beneath the sea. A number of other carbon capture and storage projects are scheduled to start running in the next five years.

Sleipner is the first of just two projects outside the US that have actually begun injecting CO2 into underground storage sites. BP runs the other, at the In Salah gas field in the Algerian desert.

This year, Statoil opens its second project at the Snohvit export facility for liquefied natural gas in the Arctic Circle. There a pipeline will pump CO2 into underwater storage wells off the coast.

Sleipner and Snohvit are Norway’s contribution to European attempts to showcase the clean energy potential of large-scale capture and storage projects. Olav Karstad, Statoil’s CO2 co-ordinator, told delegates at an Oslo conference on sustainable development in March that Norway could become “a CO2 laboratory for the world” to test the commercial value of the technology.

The importance of this proven technology.

The attraction of carbon capture and storage to business and governments is its pragmatism. If fossil fuels are to be used for a further 50 years, a key challenge is to make the burning of these fuels as clean, or carbon neutral, as possible. Carbon capture and storage can prevent the release of between 80% and 90% of CO2 emissions.

Svein Eggen, vice-president of Gassnova, a company set up by the Norwegian government to promote carbon sequestration, says the industry needs to reassure the public. He told the conference: “It is important to communicate and demonstrate what we are doing is safe and secure.”

Despite the high costs of capture and storage, which currently adds about 30% to the price of electricity if not subsidised, the technology has the backing of the European Commission. The commission has proposed 12 “demonstration projects” over the next decade, and plans to include capture and storage projects in the next phase of the European Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012. Making storage projects part of a post-Kyoto agreement is a priority for the industry.

The above paragraph demonstrates one of the key issues behind CSS, cost. Norway made these projects work with an excellent application of my two track approach, reward and punishment, incentives and carbon taxes.

The Norwegian government has promoted carbon capture and storage through a mixture of taxes and subsidies. Karstad says carbon taxes introduced in 1992 went “a long way to explaining what happened” at Sleipner four years later, after rates were set at $40 per tonne of CO2 emitted.

Norway’s funding of research into carbon capture and storage is among the highest, per head of population, in the world. In 2004, the government set up a €240 million fund to promote the technologies relating to natural gas. Only Canada and the Netherlands have similarly high levels of spending.

A coastal location gives Norway a strategic advantage in developing carbon storage projects. In time, the country could import its neighbours’ CO2 to store under the North Sea continental shelf. Injecting CO2 into underground aquifers also makes recovery of remaining oil and gas reserves easier. This is something BP hopes to capitalise on with its plan to store emissions from Scotland’s proposed Peterhead plant under the Miller field in the North Sea.

Including carbon capture and storage in Norway’s version of the emissions trading scheme seems only a matter of time. The scheme is much tougher than the European Union’s regime for member states.

In October, a government-appointed commission of researchers recommended a two-thirds cut in Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As Jorgen Randers, the commission’s head, said in Oslo, meeting such targets “can be done. It’s just a question of getting going.”

We have abundant off shore CSS possibilities in the Gulf of Mexico, where production facilities produce 2 million barrels of oil per day and nearly 12 Billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (see Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Production Forecast: 2004-2013).

By the way, those gas wells release millions of tons of CO2 each year and the elimination of these emissions is exactly why Statoil created the Sleipner and Snohvit projects. At a bare minimum we must implement similar programs for all our offshore gas wells. That is without a question, an absolute necessity, and technology arguments are absolutely without any merit whatsoever, end of debate.

The cost issue is the only reason gas companies are not already engaging in these elimination efforts and this must also be addressed within the near term future, but back to my primary focus which is the technology applications for oil wells.

The use of this type of technology to improve oil production is being studied as shown by this excerpt from the IEA webpage (see bottom) on current programs.

The IEA Weyburn CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project, a PTRC study, began in 2000 to monitor the progress - from its inception - of a 25-year, $1.1 billion (Canadian) commercial carbon dioxide injection venture led by EnCana Corporation in the Weyburn oil field in southeast Saskatchewan.

The primary objective of the project was to investigate geological storage of CO2 when used for an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operation.  The project focused on understanding mechanisms of CO2 distribution and containment within the reservoir and the likelihood of permanent sequestration within the reservoir.

Phase I of the project ended in June 2004.  The project has moved into Phase II where researchers will compile a best practices manual to serve as a world-class industrial reference in the design and implementation of carbon dioxide sequestration in conjunction with EOR projects.

Once again, we are attempting to prove the viability of techniques which are already proven and which are being used today, and to illustrate this point here is the background science on the geological formations beneath the Gulf of Mexico. This shows the existence of the same type of saltwater aquifers that are used in Norway’s projects and it also mentions that similar techniques are already in use.

Oil occurs in certain geologic formations at varying depths in the earth’s crust, and in many cases elaborate, expensive equipment is required to get it from there. The oil is usually found trapped in a layer of porous sandstone, which lies just beneath a dome-shaped or folded layer of some non-porous rock such as limestone. In other formations the oil is trapped at a fault, or break in the layers of the crust.

In the dome and folded formations natural gas is usually present just below the non-porous layer and immediately above the oil. Below the oil layer the sandstone is usually saturated with salt water. The oil is released from this formation by drilling a well and puncturing the limestone layer on either side of the limestone dome or fold. If the peak of the formation is tapped, only the gas is obtained. If the penetration is made too far from the center, only salt water is obtained. Since the formation may be several miles below the surface this is clearly a difficult business.

The oil in such formation is usually under such great pressure that it flows naturally, and sometimes with great force, from the well. However, in some cases this pressure later diminishes so that the oil must be pumped from the well. Natural gas or water is sometimes pumped into the well to replace the oil that is withdrawn. This is called “repressurizing” the oil well.

Oil wells may be either on land or under water. In North America many wells are “offshore” in the shallow parts of the oceans, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. The “crude” or unrefined oil is typically collected from individual wells by small pipelines.

Repressurization has been around about as long as Sleipner according to this Feb. 1999 article which credits World Oil:  Steam and thermal gas injection increase marginal well production.

Innovative thermal gas injection technologies have increased oil production on marginal oil wells operated by U.S. Crude, Ltd., headquartered in Colton, California. Prompted by the decreasing amount of production from marginal oil wells due to the lack of cost-effective recovery technologies for independent and major producers, U.S. Crude has developed thermal gas injection technologies designed to increase production from marginal wells in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The company has demonstrated its steam/thermal gas injection technologies on a portion of its marginal oil wells and realized a significant increase in production. These technologies are being sought by independent and major oil producers who need to increase production while lowering costs. The technologies are beneficial irrespective of oil prices, as they allow producers to recover oil once considered unrecoverable, and increase profit margins.

The DOE has been supporting repressurization technology for at least 5 years, according to this 2002 report: DOE Continues its Commitment to Independent Oil Producers

Oil Production Solutions- Driver Production (Okmulgee, OK) - will conduct a gas re-pressurization/well stimulation project on a six well, 80 acre portion of the Dutcher Sand of the East Edna Field, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.  The objective is to produce additional oil by repressurizing the reservoir with excess natural gas that cannot be economically delivered to local gas gathering systems.

Improved Recovery by Relocating Steamflood Injectors- Macpherson Oil Co (Santa Monica, CA) - will use improved thermal and numerical simulation techniques to better position steam injectors and producers in an existing steam injection operation.   This study should extend the economic life of the field by reducing costs and improving oil recovery.

CavaChem Remediation of Eight San Andres Wells - SED Energy Inc. - (Midland, TX) - will stimulate eight wells in the San Andres formation with an alkaline chemical in an effort to increase production.  A successful test of this chemical treatment and a demonstrated increase in the current 12 barrels of oil per day of production will defer the economic need to shut in several marginal wells producing in this formation.

MIT showed with its recent (2007) study on CCS: The Future of Coal; that using depleted land wells has some major drawbacks which do not apply to offshore projects, as Sleipner has proven. For instance, the need to cap the wells after injection and then monitor them for leakage. Leakage of CO2 into seawater is not a problem since the oceans are already natural carbon absorbers/sinks.

I hope this new workshop will get results since it is clear to me that we do not lack the technology, that this a classic red herring. What we lack is the willpower. See this May 2006 briefing paper: “Clean Coal Technologies” which mentions Sleipner.

The real problem is economics or costs. I think the Gulf of Mexico oil wells offer us an excellent opportunity and provide a win-win situation. Oil companies can use the CO2 to boost yields and productivity of existing wells while providing a ready market for the CO2 captured from Coal burning plants thus lowering the costs of CO2 capture.

Given the DOE’s existing program to support repressurization efforts I believe it should be relatively easy to also support this effort. Throw in some renewable energy credits for plants that capture CO2, and some tax incentives to companies to use that CO2 for their repressurization programs, along with a carbon tax on both of them for releasing CO2 (especially those gas wells in the Gulf), and we can have dozens of Sleipners very quickly.

For more information I recommend:

Sphere: Related Content

Today’s News - August 16, 2007

 Featuring the Four Horsemen of Global Warming 
Drought, Flood, Heat, & Pestilence

Top Story - Time to focus on another of my horsemen, Heat, which is causing havoc in the U.S. and Japan with record breaking temperatures.

First, the US: 37 Die In South, Midwest Heat Wave.

Unrelenting heat that has baked the Midwest and South for the past 10 days has killed more than three dozen people, even forcing officials Thursday to shut down part of a nuclear reactor in Alabama because the river water used to cool it was too hot.

In Tennessee, the Shelby County medical examiner’s office confirmed Thursday that heat caused the death of a 53-year-old man found in his apartment the day before, bringing the death toll in Memphis alone to eight.

In all, 37 deaths in the South and Midwest have been confirmed as heat-related, and heat is suspected in 10 more, authorities said.

In Memphis, the mercury topped out at 105 degrees Thursday, a record and the seventh consecutive day of triple-digit temperatures. Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. compared the heat wave to a devastating earthquake and set up a hotline for people to report concerns and request fans.

“This is pretty akin to a seismic event in the sense that there is no remedy, no solution that we here in this room can come up with that will take care of everybody,” he said.

Powerless in the face of heat? Comparing it to an earthquake? It shut down a Nuclear Power Plant?

The Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public utility, shut down one of three units at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Athens, Ala., because water drawn from the Tennessee River was exceeding a 90-degree average over 24 hours.

“We don’t believe we’ve ever shut down a nuclear unit because of river temperature,” said John Moulton, spokesman for the Knoxville, Tenn.-based utility.

The shutdown posed no safety threat, officials said. The TVA will compensate for the loss of power by buying power elsewhere, Moulton said.

Here are the number of deaths by state: Arkansas - 4, Georgia - 4, Illinois - 8, Mississippi - 1, Missouri - 9, South Carolina - 2, and Tennessee - 1

That is 7 states covering an area from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean.

Alabama has also been hit hard:

 In Alabama, state climatologist John Christy said the string of 10 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures is amazing. Fifty-four people were treated in Alabama hospitals Wednesday and Thursday for heat-related illnesses, State Health Officer Don Williamson said.

What causes the deaths?

Even people who consider themselves healthy can be vulnerable to heat-related health problems after an extended period of excessive heat, medical authorities say.

Emergency physicians warned that days of heat-related stress can lead to problems such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, cramps and vomiting for people who otherwise are healthy. Those symptoms are the first signs of heat exhaustion.

“It is a cumulative thing,” Dr. Franc Fenaughty, an emergency room physician in the Memphis suburb of Germantown, told The Commercial Appeal newspaper. “After four or five or six days you are going to see more people get dehydrated. And, the big problem is dehydration.”

Other recent heat waves in the U.S..

Last summer, a heat wave killed at least 50 people in the Midwest and East. California officially reported a death toll of 143, but authorities last month admitted the number may have been far higher. A 1995 heat wave in Chicago was blamed for 700 deaths.

Second, Japan: 13 dead as Japan endures hottest ever day.

The temperature hit a record high in Japan on Thursday, with the extreme summer heat killing at least 13 people across the nation this week, officials said.

The mercury shot up to a record 40.9 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tajimi city in the central prefecture of Gifu on Thursday afternoon, according to the weather agency.

The reading eclipsed the previous highest temperature recorded in Japan of 40.8 degrees set in northern Yamagata prefecture in 1933.

Five people have been killed since Tuesday in Saitama prefecture just north of Tokyo, officials said.

“Many of the victims are elderly people. They are hard hit by this heat wave as they are not so physically strong to begin with,” local disaster-prevention official Toshihiko Yamasaki said.

Plus, Japan Swelters in Record Heat Wave.

Japan sizzled through its hottest day on record Thursday as a heat wave claimed at least 13 lives and threatened power supplies strained by a recent earthquake, authorities and media reports said.

The mercury hit 105.6 degrees in the western city of Tajimi and the central city of Kumagaya, breaking a previous national record of 105.4 degrees set in 1933, the Meteorological Agency said.

In the Hachioji region of Tokyo, temperatures reached 101.7 degrees, breaking the previous record of 101.3 degrees for August.

The average high temperature in central Tokyo for the month of August is 87.4 degrees.

Ten people died Thursday due to the heat, most of them elderly, public broadcaster NHK said.

A 13-year-old boy who collapsed in Tokyo after basketball practice two days ago was also among Thursday’s dead, NHK said, adding that nearly 900 people were hospitalized across the nation. At least three people died from heatstroke Wednesday, Kyodo News agency said.

Tokyo Electrical Power Co. warned of a power shortage as people turned up air conditioners.

The company has been firing up old thermal power stations and buying electricity from rivals after a strong earthquake in mid-July ravaged its largest nuclear power reactor, reducing its electricity output by more than 10 percent.

Across the country, vacationers sought refuge indoors at the height of the summer holidays.

Rail tracks were bent out of shape in the sun, and authorities struggled to deal with fire alarms set off by rising temperatures, according to news reports.

We are not powerless in the face of heat. There are easy measures everyone can take to protect themselves. The Red Cross offers some excellent advice at: Red Cross Heat Safety Tips Help Keep People Cool.

As temperatures climb over 90 degrees (F) and stay there for several days, people, especially the very young and the very old, become susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating, and headaches. Victims of heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink, and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits, or loses consciousness, 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number should be called immediately.

Specific Tips:

  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
  • Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Stay indoors when possible.
  • Heat cramps/heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets.
  • Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs, wrap them in a cloth and place them on each of the victim’s wrists and ankles, in the armpits, and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels. (Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes the skin’s pores and prevents heat loss.) Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

Heat waves are going to get much worse as a result of global warming. They are going to occur more often (estimates range from 25% to 50%), they are going to become more severe (continuous record breaking temperatures), and they will last longer (from days today to weeks in the future) - like Alabama’s ten day streak.

For more information I highly recommend:

Top Editorials - Public Doesn’t Understand Global Warming, Good news about wind in Indiana

The Headline Section
Alternative Energy
Water for biofuels or for food: it’s one or the other
Forests beat biofuels as global warming solution, experts say

Business
REI Introduces Eco-Sensitive Icon to Identify Outdoor Products with Reduced Environmental Impact
First Shipment of Blades from Siemens’ New Wind Turbine Blade Factory in U.S.
Guests Single Out Fairmont for Commitment to Environmental Stewardship
GM Could Begin Producing Plug-in Hybrids by 2010
Sony, Waste Management to start recycling program

Climate Change
Antarctic Bottom Water Has Warmed Within Recent Decades
Environment changing for global economy

New Range Management Strategies During Climatic Changes

Conservation
DOE Considers Energy Conservation Standards for Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
EPA to Grant $1M to SMEs for Green Building Upgrades
There’s power in conservation

Drought
RECORD WARMTH IN WESTERN U.S. IN JULY, DROUGHT SEVERITY WORSENED,
GLOBAL TEMPERATURE 7th WARMEST FOR JULY
- NOAA Report
Dry spell means dry wells - MD
Manassas Under Drought Watch - DC
Wisconsin Governor seeks disaster declaration
Historic Drought Conditions Trigger TVA Fuel Cost Adjustment
Duluth announces burning ban; drought reaches historic levels
Fall rains will not solve drought problem - Turkey

Energy
Lawmakers reach agreement on energy plan[Coal Gasification Wins] - KY
Talks on Australia-India Nuclear Deal

Environment
Beijing warns of lake algae a year before Olympics
Magnitude 6.7 quake strikes Solomon Islands
Peru earthquake kills 450, bodies in streets

Flood
South Korea to send aid to flood-hit North: report

Green House Gases

Health
Flesh-eating Disease Is On The Rise Due To Global Warming, Experts Warn
Kenya Reduces Child Deaths From Malaria

Kyoto & Beyond Kyoto

Legal
Conservation Group Petitions Seven Coastal States to Address Ocean Acidification Under Clean Water Act
Lithuania decides to take EU to court over CO2 cut

Lifestyles
Rising Food Prices Squeeze Consumers
Green Investing Carries Potential Risks & Rewards
Warning over wildlife souvenirs

Nature
French alarmed as flamingos leave
Sudden Oak Death: Humans Fostering Forest-destroying Disease
Cat Disease Linked To Flame Retardants In Furniture And To Pet Food
Campaign to Save World’s Birds

Politics

Science
Capturing the Atlantic’s Capricious Currents
The Lake Didn’t Do It- Paleoclimatology

Sustainable Development

Technology

Weather
At least four dead as Erin floods Texas
Hurricane Dean poses major Caribbean storm threat
Typhoon targets Taiwan after swiping Philippines

Wildfires
Forest fire sweeps northern Athens, burns homes
Fire Crews Continue to Battle Flames, Weather

Other Recommended News Sources
BioFuels News
Renewable Energy News
Energy Bulletin
Sustainable Transportation Technologies
Yahoo Environment News
MSNBC Environment News
NPR Environment News
The Heat Is On: Making Global Warming a Presidential Priority
Car Lines by Michael P. Walsh 

Spotlight - 1934 Hottest Year in U.S., Deadly Diseases Strike Flood Victims, Nuclear Power Starts Comeback, Tipping Points - The Scales of Global Warming

1st Mini Spotlight - Only because everyone thinks this is HOT news am I even bothering to mention this story from yesterday, and that is why I am using this article; which got it right - 1934: new hottest year in U.S on record.

A slight adjustment to U.S. temperature records has bumped 1998 as the hottest year in the country’s history and made the Dust Bowl year of 1934 the new record holder, according to NASA.

But the re-ranking did not affect global records, and 1998 remains tied with 2005 as the hottest year on record, climatologist Gavin A. Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York said Tuesday.

The data adjustment changes “the inconsequential bragging rights for certain years in the U.S.,” he said. But “global warming is a global issue, and the global numbers show that there is no question that the last five to 10 years have been the hottest period of the last century.”

The re-ranking occurred Aug. 7 with little fanfare, but it touched off a firestorm among climate bloggers and commentators, who took the new rankings as evidence that global warming was a hoax.

But the uproar was really “much ado over nothing,” Schmidt said.

To all those people who are saying this is proof that Global Warming is a hoax. WAKE UP, the U.S. is not the entire planet, but a small part of it. Our temperatures are not the global temperatures. This is another example of global warming sceptics using an inconsequential fact, that has nothing to do with the real issue, to debunk a proven fact: Global Warming, I repeat Global, warming is a reality.

First, 1934 was the height of the dust bowl when entire states were covered by dust storms as a result of disastrous farming practices which saw billions of tons of topsoil become airborne. This dramatically accelerated wind borne erosion of farmlands created the dust clouds which are the main reason 1934 experienced such higher than normal temperatures, which also coincided with a major drought.

Second, now that we know how extraordinary 1934 was, let’s get the facts straight on what information was available about 1934 on NASA’s NCDC website.

The NCDC has a webpage dedicated to a comparision of 1998 and 1934. This page is dated Oct. 14 1998 ,and it has the chart below; which clearly shows that 1934 was warmer when you consider the percent of the U.S. which had above normal temperatures.

Here is another chart available through the NCDC: The U.S. Climate Extremes Index which also has the highest spike in 1934. 

 

To keep the facts straight here are the latest NCDC charts for GLOBAL temperatures. I also want to call your attention to the fact that they calculate global temperature by combining land and ocean temperatures, and the U.S. temperature charts above only include land temperatures. Notice how ocean temperatures were much cooler in the 1930’s. So to all those sceptics, I want to conclude by stating that our land temperatures are not even a true indication of global temperatures since ocean makes up the vast majority of our planet - DUH! Pardon my shouting! 

These next two charts show the profound effect a warmer ocean is having on our world. The first map is the land surface temperatures, and the second is the blended land and ocean surface temperatures.

 

One last chart; which uses information which was not even available before the late 1950’s; the Global Mid-Tropospheric Temperature. I think this clearly shows global warming in the atmosphere; with this explanation from the NCDC:

These temperatures are for the atmospheric layer centered in the mid-troposphere (approximately 2-6 miles above the Earth’s surface), which also includes a portion of the lower stratosphere. (The MSU channel used to measure mid-tropospheric temperatures receives about 25 percent of its signal above 6 miles). Because the stratosphere has cooled due to increasing greenhouse gases in the troposphere and losses of ozone in the stratosphere, the stratospheric contribution to the tropospheric average, as measured from satellites, may create an artificial component of cooling to the mid-troposphere temperatures.

2nd Mini Spotlight - Flood has been very busy the last two months and Pestilence is now settling in just liked I previously warned. There are many flood stories lately but this article illustrates the severity of the problem better than any other I have read: Villagers fight off animals in flood-hit S.Asia.

Flood victims fought off hungry animals and battled waterborne diseases in South Asia on Thursday as unrelenting monsoon rains caused fresh flooding in the region, already battered by weeks of bad weather.

The death toll in eastern India alone rose by over 100 in the past week with thousands more marooned or made homeless as bloated rivers burst mud embankments.

Authorities across South Asia — where around 850 people have drowned, been crushed by landslides or died from snakebite and waterborne infections since mid-July — said they were struggling to help millions of victims.

For some in the impoverished Indian state of Bihar, it is a struggle for survival as jackals and monkeys have attacked dozens of villagers over the past few days.

“Wild animals like jackals and monkeys are biting our wives and children and snatching bread from their hands,” said Lalan Raut from the flood-hit Madhubani district.

“They are on a looting spree and are killing our goats and small rabbits.”

Residents said the wild animals faced a shortage of prey since huge areas of the state were under water.

Doctors said they had reports of at least 60 cases of animals attacking villagers.

“We are rushing anti-rabies vaccines to every district,” said Biltu Paswan, a senior government doctor.

All schools and colleges were shut in the capital Patna as flood waters swamped low-lying areas and entered buildings.

Many in the densely populated state of 90 million have complained of poor aid efforts. On Thursday, villagers demanding more food clashed with police in some places, officials said.

Don’t think this couldn’t happen here, but instead of jackals it would be hunger crazed dogs.

If food wasn’t being delivered here I would bet every dollar I have that people would fight for it, with each other and against everyone who was denying it to them. When our lives are the stakes, the thin veneer of civilization is stripped away and the ancient rule of “survival of the fittest” takes over again.

In earlier posts I warned that Flood would open the doors for Pestilence which would bring many diseases to the victims beyond just diarrhea, like this major killer: Cholera outbreak kills 49 in Sudan.

A cholera outbreak in eastern Sudan, which has spread due to devastating floods across the region, has killed 49 people and affected some 710 others, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said.

Last year a cholera outbreak throughout Sudan killed 700 people and affected 25,000. It was the first time in many years the water-borne disease had been reported in Africa’s largest country.

WHO official Mohamed Abder Rab said all the recent cases had been reported in the eastern Gedaref state and Kassala town, with the first reported on April 19.

“The situation in Gedaref is not yet under control … Flooding is spreading the water-borne disease,” Rab told Reuters before travelling to the east to verify conditions in the region hit by the worst flooding in living memory in Sudan.

“Latrines are flooded … houses are destroyed. People are living on the fringes. They don’t have proper drinking water or latrine facilities and hygiene is compromised,” he added.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection spread by contaminated water or food. It causes vomiting and acute diarrhoea that can lead to dehydration and death within 24 hours, which if not treated can cause death within hours.

Doctor Sumaya Okud from Kassala’s ministry of health said people did not have access to clean water.

“During the first week … the floods affected the filter and tank system and all the people had to get their water from the main canal,” she said. The canal was full of muddy, stagnant water.

Rab said Sudan’s government had been reluctant to announce the outbreak as cholera.

“Unfortunately the name cholera is still associated with a lot of concern and cause fear among the people,” he said.

“Historically most governments don’t want to admit cholera because of the international ramifications and local ramifications,” he said, adding it could affect tourism.

The little tourism Sudan has is mainly to its Red Sea diving resorts in the east or for Sudanese honeymooners to the picturesque Kassala town.

He said governments are required to report contagious diseases such as cholera.

“There are certain diseases that have a potential for international spread, cholera being one of them, and they have to be reported,” he added.

Sudan borders nine African countries, with Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east.

“In Gedaref the fatality rate is about 6-7 per cent,” Rab said. “Normally we consider … anything beyond 2-3 per cent is high.

The connection between Flood and Cholera is very clear but I also want to point out to you its major cause is contaminated water and its relatively high death rate. We are also vulnerable to this disease if flood strikes our water and sewage treatment facilities; which is why I keep saying they have to be made into hardened sites in coastal and riverine flood plain areas.

 Here is another example of Pestilence at work, from the S. Asia article.

More than half the low-lying and riverine nation [Bangladesh] has been affected by the flooding, and officials said typhoid, hepatitis and diarrhea had broken out in most flood-hit areas.

So far, more than 50,000 people have been treated for diarrhea and dysentery, they added.

“Not only contamination, but waterlogging and cross-leakage of water supply and sewerage lines are also responsible for the outbreak,” said Habiba Khatun of the government’s health directorate.

These diseases are a clear and demonstrable threat to our health so what is our government doing to protect us? How many water and sewage treatments facilities are being protected? What is Homeland Security doing about this kind of threat? From all the information sources I have been able to find, the answer is the same - Nothing, None, Zip, Nada.

Remember what happened in Britain and how close they came to this disaster; proving developed nations are equally vulnerable; which is why I predict that unless the threat to our water supplies is taken seriously we are going to suffer these same devastating illnesses right here in the U.S..

For more information on Climate Change’s wide ranging health threats I recommend:

3rd Mini Spotlight - Despite the fact that they are from the “Sunshine State” and would seem to be a perfect place for a solar power plant, Florida Power & Light has decided to spend tens of millions in an attempt to seek approval for new nuclear power plants: FP&L bets on nuclear power for Florida.

Florida Power & Light said it plans to build two more nuclear reactors and expand two existing nuclear power plants in Florida.

The subsidiary of FPL Group Inc. is betting on nuclear power because it emits no greenhouse gases and will further diversify Florida’s biggest utility’s generation mix, FP&L President Armando Olivera said in a statement.

FP&L told the Florida Public Service Commission on Wednesday that it wants to build two new reactors — with 3,000 megawatts power production capacity — at its Turkey Point nuclear plant near Miami by 2018 and 2020.

The company also told the Florida PSC it would choose one of five reactor designs by early 2008.

The Florida PSC rejected earlier this year the utility’s plans for a for a 1,960-megawatt “clean” coal plant.

FP&L also wants to expand by 2012 by 400 megawatts existing units at Turkey Point and its St. Lucie nuclear plant, about 120 miles north of Miami and near Fort Pierce, Florida.

Together, the new and expanded reactors would be able to serve about 1 million average Florida homes. FP&L now has about 3,200 megawatts nuclear power of its Florida total of 21,000 megawatts of generation.

The largest utility in the Sunshine State, FP&L serves 8 million Floridians, roughly half the population.

The article points out that they are not the only utility in Florida pursuing the nuclear option.

Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Progress Energy Corp. that serves north Florida, also has plans to build two reactors in Levy County on a greenfield site — one without an existing reactor. It now has a 838-megawatt reactor, Crystal River, in Citrus County, which borders Levy.

The NRC is planning for a nuclear plant boom cycle.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects over the next two years to get licenses to build 32,000 to 33,000 megawatts of new nuclear power generation. Current U.S. nuclear power generation is 100,156 megawatts, or about 20 percent of U.S. power production.

The article concludes with:

FP&L wants to spend $80 million over the next two years in preparing its NRC license, which it hopes to do in 2009.

Nuclear power, unlike solar and wind power that also do not emit global warming carbon dioxide, is a baseload source, meaning it generates power around-the-clock most days.

That last paragraph is the reason why nuclear is looking like such a great alternative to power companies. The cleanest alternatives - wind and solar - do have major drawbacks from this perspective. Wind is intermittent at times and can stop completely, and solar power has a similar problem due to clouds coupled with the fact that it does not have any power generating capability at night.

These problems and the utility response we have just seen are the main reason I keep saying we need to start thinking of energy on a national rather than local scale.

The Southwest can power the entire country from solar power. The key to overcoming the lack of sunshine during the night is to store power in solar ponds during the day (in essence solar batteries) and then use the ponds to generate power at night. Both natural and artificial substances can be used and this is a proven technology.

Wind Power from the Great Plains states can also power the entire country, and wind is the greenest power. Combined with a solar base in the southwest, these tow ares can supply us with all the power we will need for the foreseeable future. If given a choice between a wind turbine covered plain and a solar panel covered southwestern desert, or having nuclear power plants popping up all over the country, my choice is extremely clear.

Nuclear power has proven it is not worth the risk, which is why Germany already has a plan to decommission every nuclear power plant in their country. Let’s not replace one problem with another, the environmental drawbacks to nuclear are huge while the same drawbacks for Solar and Wind are very minimal.

One final thought, small scale wind and solar can reduce our national electric power needs enough to be the equivalent of hundreds of new plants. What we need is a solar roof and wind turbine on every house and building, making each of them a miniature power plant. Take your electricity needs away from greedy power companies and put some cash back in your pocket. Why buy power when you can sell it?!

1st Major Spotlight- When scientists talk about the point of no return they usually refer to Tipping Points, which bring to mind a scale analogy- the point where the scale goes from being balanced to tipping over to one side or the other. My “Three Strikes, You’re Out” involve three tipping points but this latest article shows there are many more and they all may be occurring much faster than predicted: Climate change ‘arriving sooner than thought’.

Catastrophic flooding, famines and species extinctions caused by climate change could happen sooner than previously believed, according to new research.

A new study suggests current predictions do not take enough account of a series of key “tipping points” - apparently small transitions in the climate system that trigger cycles of change with their own momentum.

Climate change scientists who carried out a review of existing studies and a poll of 54 experts identified a series of eight fundamental changes that could bring about a 23ft rise in sea levels, rising temperatures and the flooding of coastal communities far sooner than expected.

Earlier this year the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted a 3ºC global average temperature rise by 2100.

The IPCC report highlighted the dangers posed by two tipping points - the irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the collapse of the global ocean circulation system caused by extra melted ice entering the North Atlantic.

This would lead to a shifting south of the northern part of the Gulf Stream, leading to temperatures in Britain being comparable to those in Canada.

Dr Tim Lenton, from the University of East Anglia, and colleagues, claim global warming will occur more rapidly than the IPCC believes because of six other tipping points.

These are increased El Niño water warming in the Pacific, the destabilisation of the West Antarctica ice sheet, the disappearance of the Amazon rainforest, the shrinking of the boreal forest stretching across Russia, Scandinavia and Northern America, the “switching off” of the Asian monsoon and changes to the West African monsoon.

The IPCC states it is likely to take at least 1,000 years for the Greenland ice sheet - a vast layer of ice stretching for 1,200 miles and covering 80 per cent of Greenland - to melt, raising sea levels by 23ft.

Dr Lenton, whose work is highlighted in this week’s New Scientist magazine, said the melting of the ice sheet could take as little as 300 years, and that most of the other tipping points would occur within the next century if there was a further warming of 3ºC.

He said: “We found that reading the literature there is a much longer list of things that could tip in the coming century.

“This has not been done before. There has not been a comprehensive attempt to look at these tipping points properly.

“We are close to being committed to a collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, but we don’t think we have passed the tipping point yet.”

“Most [tipping points] involve irreversible effects. Some may be reversible in principle, but in practice ongoing climate change or stabilisation would not allow them to reverse.”

The IPCC believes the critical Greenland ice sheet collapse would occur with a global average warming of 1 to 4ºC.

Dr Lenton and colleagues, whose work is expected to be published in scientific journals later this year, calculate it could happen as a result of a warming of 1 or 2ºC.

They say 0.7ºC is already “in the pipeline”, thanks to time lags in the climate system.

First, the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctica Ice Sheets are the result of having reached other tipping points, and as far as I am concerned are more properly categorized as effects and not causes. Most of the tipping points mentioned in in this article fit that criteria, that are effects and not causes. To me a tipping point is reached when an event occurs which has a profound impact on global warming: Like my three strikes- China’s CO2 emissions growing to the point where they outpace global CO2 emissions reductions; Permafrost melting to the point where they emit enough CO2 and Methane to double or triple atmospheric concentrations, and Natural Carbons reaching the point where they no longer can absorb enough CO2 to be effective brakes on global warming.

Second, the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet in 300 years is a prediction that I can agree with, if temperature rises stays at its current rate; but if it accelerates then the melting will occur faster. This 300 year prediction does however mean that sea levels will go up an additional (yes additional since the IPCC admits they did not factor this into their sea rise calculations) amount on top of the expected 1 meter rise by 2100. 

7 meters is 275.5 inches for a rate of just under an extra inch per year, or 16 inches by 2025, 38 inches by 2050, or 83 inches by 2100 (using 2007 as the starting date). This means a sea level rise of 6 feet or 2 meters by the end of the century - double the predicted rate - and when added to the previous estimates means a 3 meter rise by the end of the century.

Now I do not believe in flat line rates, they are not reality but a mathematician’s way of erasing extreme highs and lows, so we will have some periods in which sea rise is slower and some when it is quicker. My big argument is that sea rise will be a progressively worsening phenomenon which will accelerate on an escalating curve with major dumping points due to calving events and glacier collapses. These large scale events have the potential to cause in a short decadal period most of the 3oo year melting cycle.Therein lies our greatest danger, we can not afford to be lulled into thinking we have time to adjust to a slow steady rise.

My favorite example from the past is Meltwater Pulse 1A.

During this period sea levels rose 25 meters in five hundred years, or about 2 inches per year. If that was to happen today that would mean a sea level rise of 24 inches (2 feet) by 2020, 81 inches by 2050 (about 7 feet), and 176 inches (14.5 feet) by 2100. These rates would create huge disasters.

The underlying difficulty and the reason why the rate is hard to determine, there are no flow gauges with which we can accurately measure the actual rate at which Greenland is melting. That is why I have proposed using tiny spheres, based upon radio tagging technology, which will be inserted into the meltwater rivers on the Greenland ice sheet and track as they seep through the ice sheet to the ice streams below. This would provide us with some accurate time rates for water movement, as well as the provide much more detailed information about the connection between the meltwater rivers and the ice streams. One of the most dangerous events in terms of sudden sea level rise is bursting ice dams and this technique might also pinpoint ice dams developing in these ice streams.

Bottomline - We need more scientific instruments to help analyze and determine actual melting rates and water outflows from both Greenland and Antarctica. Until we get this level of accurate measurements every sea level rise estimate is based upon a guess and is subject to a wide range of possibilities.

Sphere: Related Content

Today’s News - August 15, 2007

 Featuring the Four Horsemen of Global Warming 
Drought, Flood, Heat, & Pestilence

Top Story - The Small Island Nations of the Pacific are at extreme risk due to sea level rise. Most of the time I concentrate on the most dramatic effects of sea level rise - the more powerful storms and storm surges - so it is easy to forget that it also has some less visible effects, like saltwater intrusion into fresh water supplies: Freshwater Supplies Threatened in Central Pacific.

An international team from The Australian National University, Ecowise Environmental, the Government of the Republic of Kiribati, the French agency CIRAD and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission has been studying the impacts of natural and human-induced changes on groundwater in the central Pacific nation of Kiribati since 1996.

The work was initiated by UNESCO International Hydrological Programme and supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the Government of France, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Research Council and the European Union Pacific Water Governance Programme. Their work is published in a special issue of the Aug. 2007 Vadose Zone Journal which followed an International Symposium on Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Change held in Kyoto in April 2006 and coordinated by the Japanese Research Institute for Humanity and Nature.

Very limited land areas and extremely permeable coral soils in atolls reduce surface runoff to insignificant amounts and decrease the potential for surface storages of water. This means thin lenses of fresh groundwater floating over seawater are the major source of reliable freshwater for people in many atolls. The team found that both the quantity and salinity of atoll groundwater is extremely vulnerable to frequent ENSO-related droughts. Droughts can last as long as 4 years and occur with a frequency of one significant drought, coupled to La Niña events, every 6-7 years. In long droughts domestic water wells are often too salty too drink and some communities have to rely on large groundwater lenses or on coconuts.

Population growth due to natural increases, inward migration and urbanization mean that fresh groundwater sources are reaching their limit of sustainable supply in urban South Tarawa in Kiribati. Groundwater can become salty due to over-pumping or inappropriate methods of pumping. Long, horizontal infiltration pumping galleries or “skimming wells”, placed just beneath the groundwater table (the top layer of soil and rock that is saturated with water) provide the best method of skimming off lower salinity groundwater. The study team tested the impact of infiltration galleries on lowering the watertable and on salinity. The researchers also used the results to examine how the permeability of the coral sands varied across islands and found that surface contaminants could reach shallow fresh groundwater within an hour of being split on the soil surface.

The team proposed a number of strategies to help increase the resilience of small island communities to water–related climate and human changes. These included: providing a sound institutional basis for the management of water and sanitation; improving community participation in water and related land planning and management; increasing the capacity of villagers and local agencies to manage water and sanitation under variable climates; improving knowledge of available water resources and demand for them; improving water conservation and demand management and reducing leakages; increasing the use of rainwater by households and communities; protecting groundwater source areas from contamination; improving sanitation systems to minimize water use and groundwater pollution; and ensuring that water aid programs are long-term partnerships that foster local engagement and ownership of solutions.

Saltwater intrusion will also effect other flat and low lying areas, especially Florida and the Mississippi River Delta. drinking water supplies are at risk but so are the coastal fresh water marshes and swamps like the Everglades as this article in LaCoast shows:

Saltwater intrusion is the movement of salt water into a non-salt water environment, such as a freshwater marsh. This intrusion may occur as the result of a natural process like a storm surge from a hurricane. More often, however, saltwater intrusion results from human activities such as construction of navigation channels or oil field canals. These channels and canals provide conduits for salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to reach deep into interior marshes.

Saltwater intrusion can be detrimental to these marshes because water with high salt concentrations can adversely affect vegetation in the marsh. For instance, when highly saline water enters a low-saline or non-saline area, most or all of the native plant life will be destroyed. And because plant root systems are essential in holding the marsh soil together, loss of plant life eventually leads to rapid erosion. What was once a wetland soon becomes open water.

Many of these marshes act as natural barriers to storm surges and the recent issue of Time Magazine, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just responded to (see Top Story - August 13), documented the fact that New Orleans is losing this buffer zone and becoming even more vulnerable. The loss of the Everglades is another unfortunate reality of sea level rise; whether through saltwater intrusion as a result of sea level rise without a storm or in combination with a storm surge; and its loss will make Miami even more vulnerable. When the Everglades become open water that means that Miami will become a peninsula with salt water on three sides. If this occurs before a major storm hits Miami, then Miami’s drinking water supplies will suffer from severe salt water intrusion and everything in the top article will apply her also but unlike a small island nation with a small population Miami has a huge population (over 2 million people live in Greater Miami) which needs huge drinking water supplies.

The effects of saltwater intrusion are also going severely effect the $130 million dollar Tropical Fruit crops industry in Miami-Dade County.

So, this is what I predict will occur before 2025 as a result of salt water intrusion:

  • The Everglades and the marshlands that act as a buffer zone protecting New Orleans & Miami are going to die off.
  • The drinking water supply for Miami (and possibly New Orleans as well) is going to be severely contaminated resulting in an inability to sustain current population levels.
  • The thriving Tropical Fruit industry around Miami is going to be devastated with the most likely result being the total destruction of this industry.
  • Miami will become a peninsula making it even more susceptible to storm related effects.

For more information I recommend the following documents:

Top Editorials - Biofuel potential

The Headline Section
Alternative Energy
Survey: Leadership on Cape Wind, Other Clean Energy Solutions to Global Warming Seen as Path to New ‘Massachusetts Miracle’
Calpine to Increase Renewable Energy Production at The Geysers; Calpine and Santa Rosa to Expand Geysers Recharge Project
New dam to power Sudan from next year
China, India face water risk from biofuel: IWMI
Nuclear Power Industry Poised To Meet Challenges to Expansion

Business
Carbon caps to spur nuclear industry: ETF fund
Chubb Assembles Team to Focus on Green Energy Insurance Solutions
International Association of Conference Centers forms Green Task Force

Climate Change
Climate change adds to Africa cotton farmers’ woes

Conservation
The new public enemy Number 1: bottled water
Brita, Nalgene Launch Plan to Promote Less Wasteful Water Use

Drought
Governor Rendell Seeks Federal Aid for Drought-Damaged Crops
New infrastructure projects for drought-hit areas - Australia
Farmers anxious for more rain

Energy
Tepco’s oil use triples after nuke plant shutdown - Japan
Coal-to-Liquids Quietly Becoming a Reality in U.S.
Foster Wheeler Awarded Study for Advanced Coal-Fired Power Plant Using IGCC Technology
Manchin Gains Bill Clinton’s Ear on Coal’s Future: ; Governor Has Held Long Talks With Ex-President
Oil Tops $73 on Supply, Gulf Storm Fears
Storm Erin heads for south Texas refining hub: NHC
PW residents testify about power lines

Environment
Study Shows Dredging Harming Great Lakes
Lake Superior might hit record low levels

Flood
North Korea suffers ‘largest ever’ floods, hundreds dead, missing
Up to 300,000 may be homeless in North Korea floods
Deadly floods, diseases afflict arid Sahel
Water woes continue for Pakistan flood victims
Philippine capital paralyzed by floods
Bangladesh flood damage to agriculture estimated at $84 mln

Green House Gases
Aviation greenhouse curbs may fall short: experts
NYC Gets $354 Million in Federal Funds for Traffic-Toll Plan to Reduce Manhattan Traffic
Warren Wilson College to Partner with Asheville on Climate

Health
Flood-related cholera outbreak kills 49 in E.Sudan
Cambodia dengue toll rises above 300

Kyoto & Beyond Kyoto
Rainforest coalition proposes rewards for ‘avoided deforestation’

Legal
U.S. appeals court blocks Shell drilling in Arctic
Houston Pipeline Company Fined $2.8 Million For Dumping Oil, Gas Into Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma Waterways

Lifestyles
Part 1: A Glimpse of the Energy Future

Nature

Politics
British climate bill nearing completion
Denmark Scoffs at Rival N. Pole Claims
CARE Says No Thanks to US Food Aid

Science
Australia discovers ocean current “missing link”
Bones Beat Trees as Markers for Environmental Change
Revolution in Solar Hydrogen on the Horizon

Sustainable Development
Building for more sustainable cities
Beverly Hills Benefit for a Sustainable Sudan

Technology
Silicon Nanocrystals for Superefficient Solar Cells
Solar sensors could monitor bridges

Weather
Heatwave bakes Japan amid worries of power shortage
Typhoon Sepat skirts Philippines, heads for Taiwan

SEPAT strengthened to become a super typhoon
Tropical Storm Erin Threatens Texas
Storm Erin takes aim at Texas as Dean strengthens
Storm may not reach the Gulf of Mexico: forecasters
Flossie Downgraded to Tropical Storm

Widfires

Other Recommended News Sources
BioFuels News
Renewable Energy News
Energy Bulletin
Sustainable Transportation Technologies
Yahoo Environment News
MSNBC Environment News
NPR Environment News
The Heat Is On: Making Global Warming a Presidential Priority
Car Lines by Michael P. Walsh 

Spotlight - It rained, and rained, and rained!; China Releases Disaster Plan; Emergency Broadcast System For Sale, July NCDC Weather Report

1st Mini Spotlight - This very short news item from the World Meteorological Organization tells about an unprecedented storm in China:

The China Meteorological Administration[CMA] declared today that the three-day severe thunderstorm, which hit the coastal province of Shandong on Thursday last week was the longest ever since records began, affecting more than 700 000 people, directly. A total of 2.43 million people in 12 cities suffered as a result of the violent rainstorms that started in early July.

Wow! The longest storm ever recorded, 3 straight days. I immediately wanted to know just how much rain fell and here is what I found on the CMA website:

August 10-12,  The combined effects of Tropical storm WUTIP’s peripheral warm-wet air currents with a cold air of westerly trough caused Yantai’s first ever recorded continuous three day thunderstorm, accompanied by lightning strikes and strong winds. The average citywide precipitation was 7.66 in, five other cities experienced over 7.87 in of precipitation with the greatest amount of precipitation reaching 16.3 in.

16.3 inches, oh my! To put that in perspective in 2005 the NCDC reported these extreme rain events:

  • Los Angeles having its wettest (37 inches) water year (Oct-Sep) in 121 years and 2nd wettest water year on record. Rainfall for the city totaled 16.97 inches from December 27th 2004-January 10th 2005, making it the wettest 15 days on record for Los Angeles.

  • Over 17 inches of rain fell in Millbrook, NY during October.

Then I checked further and found a document titled: Record Maximum 24-Hour Precipitation By State (Thru 1998)[PDF]. I was amazed to find these even higher record rainfalls (in inches, * is estimated)

  • 43.00* - Texas - July 25-26, 1979

  • 38.70 - Florida - Sept. 5, 1920

  • 38.00 - Hawaii - Jan. 24-25, 1956

  • 34.50 - Pennsylvania - July 17, 1942

  • 32.52 - Alabama - July 19-20, 1997

  • Another 10 states have records which are over 16.3.

Now for another comparison, the storm that flooded out the New York’s Subway system: “All it took was about three inches of rain in three hours to bring the nation’s largest mass transit system to its knees.” 

I have mentioned how vulnerable New York is to a one hundred year storm especially the storm surge, this information above is more proof of that. I also kept researching and here is an excerpt form a July 10, 2006 article in the New York Sun: Inside the MTA’s Fight Against Subway Flooding.

The worst condition Mr. Velasquez has seen was in Harlem in the early 1990s, where a broken water main flooded a station at 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue up to the stairwell. … It took an entire weekend to pump out the water, Mr.Velasquez said.

This is what they say about a Hurricane.

Thunderstorms they can handle, Mr. Velasquez said. It’s the unexpected and the expansive disaster that he fears most. A hurricane could cause massive flooding throughout the subway system.

“At some point, it would be too much to handle,” he said. “You’ve got rain plus wind. It basically would shut down the system. You hope not. You pray that it doesn’t.”

There is one absolute truth that I know, if it happened before it can happen again.

I found this next excerpt in a June 1, 2005, Live Science Article: History Reveals Hurricane Threat to New York City.

Scary New York Moments

Some of the worst hurricane-related effects in New York’s history:

1821: The only hurricane in modern times known to pass directly over parts of New York City pushed the tide up 13 feet in one hour and inundated wharves, causing the East River and the Hudson River to merge across lower Manhattan as far north as Canal Street. Deaths were limited since few lived there at the time.

1893: A category 1 hurricane destroyed Hog Island, a resort island off the Rockaways in southern Queens.

1960: Hurricane Donna created an 11-foot storm tidein the New York Harbor that caused extensive pier damage. Forced 300 families to evacuate Long Island.

1999: Floyd, weakened to a tropical storm, brought sustained 60 mph winds and dumped 10-15 inches of rain on upstate New Jersey and New York State.

2004: The remains of Hurricane Frances in September flooded city subways, stranding some passengers aboard trains that had to be stopped by flooded tracks.

SOURCE: New York City Office of Emergency Management, LiveScience reporting (emphasis added)

I hope I have made my point.

Now back to that Chinese storm and the report by the CMA, on the damages.

This severe storm has caused flooding over large portions of cropland in some counties. The storm has also caused some civilian houses to collapse, individual sections of roads were washed away, and caused severe loses to local area crop yields and life. According to statistics the city population hit by the disaster is 711,440 people. Due to the disaster 3546 people were displaced, 80,504 acres of cropland were hit by the disaster, 1253 buildings collapsed, and 3385 buildings were damaged. The disaster caused a total direct economic loss of approximately $61,415,333 with the largest portion being the agricultural sector, which lost $47,514,667.

$61 Million in damage in a mostly rural area. You can figure on billions of dollars of damage if a hurricane hit Manhattan nowadays. Now consider that sea level rise makes this flooding possibility a certainty, it is just a matter of time - if I am right, about 25 years; if the IPCC is right, by the end of the century.

 

Is it sinking in yet? Are you beginning to truly understand the enormous problem we face in protecting our largest city, and the third largest city in the world with a population of 18.3 million. Worst of all, it won’t be possible to protect some parts; or more accurately put, it will be too expensive to protect all of the city, we are going to have to sacrifice part of it to protect the other part. What parts you ask? I don’t know, but this is exactly what we need to find out! SO, one more time, what are we waiting for??

 

2nd Mini Spotlight - I missed this release which was yesterday: China sets plan to cope with disasters caused by global warming.

BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) — Victims of China’s increasingly frequent natural disasters will be guaranteed medical aid and relief supplies within 24 hours under a new government plan released on Tuesday.

 

The 11th five-year plan (2006-2010) for disaster relief outlines a range of measures to improve the natural disaster response system to cope with the “more frequent” calamities caused by global warming.

 

“It must be guaranteed that all people who are affected by disasters have access to enough food, drinking water, clothes, shelter and medical aid within 24 hours,” it says.

 

“A variety of natural disasters have affected 300 million people, destroyed three million homes, and caused 20 million yuan of direct economic losses every year to China over the past 15 years.”

 

“With the accelerating trend of global warming, the frequency and intensity of natural disasters will both increase,” said a senior official with the National Disaster Reduction Commission.

 

“Natural disasters have become an important factor restraining China’s economic and social development,” he said.

 

Under the plan, the government will establish a coordination platform to share information on natural disasters, and national surveillance, early-warning, emergency response systems will be established and improved.

 

The plan also sets a target for economic loss control: “Direct economic losses caused by natural disasters should be contained at less than 1.5 percent of the country’s annual GDP.”

 

The document said that global warming could cause more frequent typhoons, floods, rock-mud flows, droughts, and heat waves. Desertification, forest fires, plant diseases and algae blooms would be more common.

 

More than 70 of China’s cities and more than half the population were in areas susceptible to natural disasters.

 

The government will establish the central and local networks of disaster relief material reserves, improve the standards of disaster relief facilities, give more training to the disaster relief personnel from the armed forces, fire brigades and civil affair departments.

 

Non-governmental disaster relief forces, such as the Red Cross Society, would be fully mobilized for natural disaster prevention, donations, medical aid, epidemic quarantine and psychiatric counseling.

 

Campaigns would also be run to raise public awareness of natural disaster prevention and safety through TV and radio programs, advertising, free booklets and audio-video products.

 

The official from the National Disaster Reduction Commission said the government aimed to set up an Asian regional research center to simulate disasters and responses, and formulate strategies and policies.

 

It would also establish specific disaster prevention and response plans for its populous and prosperous regions, such as the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Bohai Sea, the official said.

 

Around 1,279 Chinese died and 239 disappeared in natural disasters in the first seven months of 2007. More than 1,600 Chinese died of natural disasters in 2006.

This is an outline of their plan but it has several facets I want to emphasize:

  • That incredible 24 hour relief guarantee - remember Katrina and the Superdome - we did not deliver one of these essentials until days had passed and people were dying. Can FEMA match this?
  • They are establishing central and local networks of disaster relief material reserves. What does FEMA have to help the coastal cities? It took days to get materials to New Orleans. We need major supply depots within hours of the major coastal population centers, not days.

  • They are improving the standards of disaster relief facilities. Do we even have such a thing? FEMA is not a first responder, that is left to local authorities who will be in the flooded areas and unable to act. Once again remember New Orleans and how Police and Firemen abandoned their posts to care for their families. We need to provide hardened sites which contain shelters and first responder facilities.

  • Give more training to the disaster relief personnel from the armed forces, fire brigades and civil affair departments. Thanks to the war in Iraq our National Guard units are stretched to the breaking point and many of their transportation assets have been moved to Iraq. We need to create an engineer corps within the National Guard specifically trained for disaster relief and which can not be mobilized for any event other than disaster relief. Each state should be required to create such a unit and provide it with facilities and storage depots which are within hours of major coastal population centers. We can’t afford the luxury of having these disaster troopers learning on the job. They have to become experts at what they do before the first disaster strikes which means extensive training and drills.

  • Campaigns would also be run to raise public awareness of natural disaster prevention and safety through TV and radio programs, advertising, free booklets and audio-video products. Prior to disasters we need to reeducate people about the need to evacuate and provide better means for the poor and the elderly to get evacuation transportation. Every hospital and care facility must be required to file an evacuation plan. We need to fully involve the media and make sure that programs will be preempted for disaster warnings with detailed instructions and videos including block by block evacuation details.

  • They are also establishing specific disaster prevention and response plans for its populous and prosperous regions. Where are our plans? Does FEMA even have a playbook? We need to establish plans based upon priorities and the unfortunate need to triage so we can save what we can and not sacrifice more than we need to. We need public input and comment on these plans.

  • We need the public to fully understand that in the event of a disaster warning we will enforce mandatory evacuations. We must make it clear to people that failure to evacuate will cause other people to risk their lives to save you, and that any loss of life will be your fault criminally and civilly. We also need to charge people the cost of their rescue to drive that point home.

This is just an outline and we need the input of professionals to flesh it out, and the sooner we get started the better. Congress needs to act and hold hearings. Governors and state legislatures need to start planning and so do the mayors of coastal cities. Every area that has a plan needs to pull it out and evaluate it again. We don’t need more disasters like New Orleans, and as I have pointed out we need to prepare for the worst in the two biggest cities on the East Coast: NYC and Miami.

 

3rd Mini Spotlight- Now that I have just finished telling you how we need to warn people of impending disasters and preempt programming with detailed information about evacuation plans, I have to tell you this: Private Funds Needed for Safety Network. I have included the entire article which I find so disturbing all I can say is: Heaven help us all, will we have to watch commercials in order to receive warnings?? I can see it now “Storm Sponsors” or better yet “This Disaster brought to you by …”.

The nation’s emergency communication system is inadequate, and the government has come up with a solution - a nationwide wireless broadband network that will operate on a highly valuable portion of the publicly owned airwaves.

While legislators and bureaucrats have embraced the idea, they haven’t dedicated funds to pay for it. For that, the plan depends on private investors.

If the plan succeeds, it will bring the benefits of modern communications technology to the nation’s police and firefighters, all without putting a dent in the U.S. Treasury.

If it fails, it will delay a meaningful solution to the nation’s emergency communication woes for years to come.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the plan July 31. It calls for the creation of a network shared by public safety officials and commercial users. The cost - as much $10 billion, according to one potential investor - would be footed by private investors who, in the long run, hope to turn a profit.

“We kind of rolled the dice when we approved that,” said Michael Copps, a Democratic member of the FCC. Copps would have preferred “by a long country mile” that the network were federally funded, but realizes options are limited.

“It’s the only viable choice still remaining if we’re going to get this built any time soon,” he said in an interview.

In remarks approving the concept, Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that he would “have supported a network exclusively for the use of public safety,” but “the simple reality is that there is no way to fund such an enterprise.”

The plan the commission approved was adapted from a proposal by Frontline Wireless LLC, a new company loaded with former senior government officials and backed by a who’s who of technology industry luminaries.

Frontline wants to combine 10 megahertz of ctrum dedicated to public safety with another 10 megahertz of commercial spectrum, set for auction early next year, to create a shared national network.

The public safety portion would be managed by a nonprofit board consisting of members of public safety organizations. The private portion would be put up for bid. The winning bidder and the public safety board are required to reach a network sharing agreement.

Public safety gets first priority for traffic on the network. Any room that remains will be used for commercial services.

The minimum bid on the spectrum block is $1.33 billion, according to the rules guiding the auction, which were released Friday. The rules are vague about what happens if the reserve price isn’t met.

While the FCC adopted the major elements of Frontline’s plan, it did not agree on one key issue. Frontline wanted the winner of the commercial license to be required to offer “wholesale” access to the network, leasing network space to potential competitors. Such a requirement would have discouraged the dominant wireless carriers from bidding.

Frontline CEO Haynes Griffin said the company will ask the FCC to reconsider its decision. The company contends the existing auction rules present obstacles to newcomers who want to participate.

Despite the disappointing decision on wholesaling, the company will still bid, although it may ask others to pitch in.

“Frontline will bid in the auction,” Griffin said. “But we think a consortium is likely to be the preferred path to success.”

The company certainly has plenty of deep-pocketed friends who might help out. Among them are former Netscape CEO James Barksdale, venture capitalist John Doerr and Ram Shriram, a founding board member of Google Inc.

Google is a major proponent of the wholesale concept.

Frontline’s management includes former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, who is the company’s vice chairman, and Janice Obuchowski, a former assistant secretary of commerce in charge of telecommunications policy, who is chairwoman.

Regardless of who submits the winning bid, construction of the network will be a major undertaking. According to the auction rules, it must cover 75 percent of the population within four years and 99.3 percent within 10 years.

Unlike a regular wireless network, it must be “hardened,” meaning it must be able to withstand rough weather conditions. It will require thousands of new cell towers plus a satellite backup system in case the primary network goes down.

Frontline estimates the cost at around $10 billion, not including the cost of the spectrum.

To date, the public safety network proposal has been framed from the perspective of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the federal government.

The real question for public safety professionals is, what specifically will this do for us?

It seems counterintuitive, but the most advanced services - like streaming video and data - will come on line first. Voice communications will take much longer as emergency workers in thousands of local jurisdictions migrate from trusted, existing voice systems to new, interoperable voice networks on a common network.

Washington, D.C., has been operating a wireless broadband pilot program for three years. The technology allowed U.S. Park Police to monitor the Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall using live streaming video shot from a hovering helicopter and fed to a mobile command center, according to Robert LeGrande, deputy chief technology officer for the District of Columbia.

He said the technology, when fully deployed, will allow firefighters to access building plans from a central database before charging into a raging fire and give police instant access to drivers’ information and bulletins on wanted fugitives.

“I think the broadband technology is the new platform that public safety needs in order to provide next-generation communications where voice, video and data can come together on single devices,” he said.

The auction, by law, must take place by Jan. 28, 2008.

On the Net: Federal Communications Commission: http://www.fcc.gov

1st Major Spotlight - The NCDC just released the July report and: Earth records 7th warmest July on record.

Scientists said the month of July brought record and near-record warmth to the Western United States and was the seventh warmest July in recorded Earth history.

But, paradoxically, the Eastern and Southern U.S. states experienced lower-than-average temperatures, said scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Below-average rainfall, combined with scorchingly high temperatures, helped put 46 percent of the contiguous states in some stage of drought by the end of July, resulting in numerous wildfires.

The global average temperature was the seventh warmest on record for July, and the presence of cooler-than-average waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific reflected the possible development of a La Nina episode, climatologists said.

Within the contiguous United States, July 2007 was the 15th warmest July since records began in 1895. But Florida was the only state warmer-than-average east of the Mississippi River.

Here are the Highlights of the NCDC report: Climate of 2007 - July in Historical Perspective.

RECORD WARMTH IN WESTERN U.S. IN JULY, DROUGHT SEVERITY WORSENED, GLOBAL TEMPERATURE 7th WARMEST FOR JULY

July 2007 brought record and near-record warmth to the western United States, while much of the eastern and southern U.S. experienced cooler-than-average temperatures, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Below-average rainfall, combined with scorching temperatures, helped put 46 percent of the contiguous U.S. in some stage of drought by the end of July. The global average temperature was the seventh warmest on record for July, and the presence of cooler-than-average waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific reflected the possible development of a La Niña episode.
U.S. Temperature Highlights for July

For the contiguous United States, July 2007 was the 15th warmest July since records began in 1895. The monthly mean temperature was 1.4°F (0.8°C) above the 20th century average of 74.3°F (23.5°C).

Twenty states from the eastern seaboard to the Midwest and southern Plains were cooler than average for the month. Florida was the only state warmer-than-average east of the Mississippi.

The persistent atmospheric pattern that brought cooler-than-average temperatures to the East contributed to record and near-record warmth in the West. It was the warmest July on record in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Boise, Idaho’s average temperature of 98.6°F (37°C) was more than 9°F (5°C) above average, and made July 2007 its warmest month ever.

There were 11 days of triple digit temperatures in Missoula, Mont., almost double the previous record of 6 days for the month.

The cooler-than-average July temperatures in the heavily populated eastern U.S. helped push down residential energy needs for the nation as a whole. Using the Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI - an index developed at NOAA to relate energy usage to climate), the nation’s residential energy demand was approximately 4 percent lower than what would have occurred under average climate conditions for the month.
U.S. Precipitation Highlights for July

The record warmth and drier-than-average conditions in the northern Rockies led to rapidly worsening drought conditions and helped give the western wildfire season an early and extremely active start. By early August more than 5 million acres had burned in the contiguous U.S, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Drought conditions worsened in parts of the northern Rockies, northern Plains, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic. At the end of July, 46 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-exceptional drought, an increase of 12 percent since June. Eighty percent of the Southeast was in drought, with the most severe drought in the nation concentrated in the northern half of Alabama.

July precipitation was near average for the contiguous U.S., but there were sharp contrasts between areas that received above average rainfall and other areas that were drier than average.

It was the third wettest July on record in Texas and Louisiana, the second wettest for the region that includes four neighboring states. The Northeast was also wetter than average along with six western states: Wyoming, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and California.

Drier-than-average conditions stretched from parts of the mid-Atlantic and Southeast to the Midwest and northern Plains. Rainfall was also below average in Montana, Idaho and Nevada.

Rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Cosme eased dry conditions on the eastern end of the Big Island of Hawaii, but moderate-to-severe drought continued to affect several of the Hawaiian Islands at the end of July.

Global temperatures were seventh warmest:

Based on preliminary data, the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the second warmest on record for the January-July year-to-date period and the seventh warmest for July.

Here are the latest anomalies maps.

The same trend of extreme warmth is continuing for the Arctic circle which means even more melting in Greenland and the permafrost.

This year is starting to look like another record breaker:

The global surface temperature for the combined January-July year-to-date period tied with 2002 and 2005 as the second warmest January-July on record, while the global land surface temperature ranked warmest on record for January-July 2007.

This next map clearly illustrates the problems with Floods and Droughts.

Sphere: Related Content

Today’s News - August 14, 2007

 Featuring the Four Horsemen of Global Warming 
Drought, Flood, Heat, & Pestilence

Top Story - Although it might seem like the top story should be something about floods with all the breaking news, I thought I have covered floods enough to make my major points clear; that we need to prepare for similar problems here, that we have already had problems here - Texas and NYC, and that we can expect much worse. Drought on the other hand, is something we underestimate in this country and it is already having a huge impact in other areas. Then I saw this headline and I knew I had to write about it: China studies humble potato as way to beat drought.

Chinese farming experts are considering planting potatoes instead of rice and wheat as a way to beat crippling drought each year, state media said on Tuesday.

But the government would have to provide subsidies to persuade farmers to make the switch, they said.

“The potato is more drought-resistant than rice and wheat, which suits China better as 60 percent of the country’s arable land is dry,” Qu Dongyu, a potato farming specialist with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

China, widely hit by summer floods, also suffers from a shortage of 30 billion cubic meters of water for irrigation every year.

“The potato is not only more nutritious, potato yields per hectare weigh three to four times more than other crops,” said Chen Fan, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology.

“The yield per unit of rice, corn and wheat is not expected to increase due to technology limitations, which means the potato is a better option to meet the food demand of 1.3 billion people.”

Her are some interesting facts I pulled from the website: The Healthy Potato.

  • Potatoes contain many of the essential nutrients that the dietary guidelines recommend Americans increase in their diet.
  • Potatoes eaten with the skin provide nearly half of the Daily Value for vitamin C and are one of the best sources of potassium and fiber.
  • One medium-sized potato has 100 calories.

Here is some background history from an article in The Hindu: Potato, diet and you.

IF VEGETABLES could sue, the potato would be in court filing and pursuing damage claims for slander and mistreatment.

Thousands of times. Everyday. Apart from being spurned, with a shudder, by anyone who wants to announce to the world that s/he is on a diet, it also suffers linguistic abuse institutionalised by phrases like couch potato (a slob glued to the TV), hot potato (a messy, unwelcome problem) and small potato (trivial person or issue).

In contrast, nearly two thousand years ago, the Ayamara and Nazca Indians of the Peruvian-Bolivian Andes, who first cultivated it at elevations above 10,000 feet, worshipped it. The Incas so adored this energy-rich, easily storable food that even their units of time corresponded to how long it took to boil a potato to various consistencies.

Discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors hunting for gold and silver in South America, it made its way to European farms by the middle of the 16th century.

Some people were wary of it because of its poisonous leaves, but they soon set their fears aside when they realised that this high-calorie, disease-resistant crop could make famine a thing of the past. Over-dependence on this crop was common: by the 1800s, the Irish were getting 80 per cent of the calories in their diet from the potato, which was also a major cattle-feed.

By now I bet a lot of people are saying, its just a potato dude. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t appear to be a big deal but relying on any one crop for the majority of your nutritional needs can lead to a real disaster, and that is exactly what happened in the Irish Potato Famine; and it could happen again.

Here is an excerpt from Digital History:

During the summer of 1845, a “blight of unusual character” devastated Ireland’s potato crop, the basic staple in the Irish diet. A few days after potatoes were dug from the ground, they began to turn into a slimy, decaying, blackish “mass of rottenness.” Expert panels convened to investigate the blight’s cause suggested that it was the result of “static electricity” or the smoke that billowed from railroad locomotives or the “mortiferous vapours” rising from underground volcanoes. In fact, the cause was a fungus that had traveled from Mexico to Ireland.

“Famine fever”–cholera, dysentery, scurvy, typhus, and infestations of lice–soon spread through the Irish countryside. Observers reported seeing children crying with pain and looking “like skeletons, their features sharpened with hunger and their limbs wasted, so that there was little left but bones.” Masses of bodies were buried without coffins, a few inches below the soil.

Over the next ten years, more than 750,000 Irish died and another 2 million left their homeland for Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. Within five years, the Irish population was reduced by a quarter.

The Irish potato famine was not simply a natural disaster. It was a product of social causes. Under British rule, Irish Catholics were prohibited from entering the professions or even purchasing land. Instead, many rented small plots of land from absentee British Protestant landlords. Half of all landholdings were less than 5 acres in 1845.

Irish peasants subsisted on a diet consisting largely of potatoes, since a farmer could grow triple the amount of potatoes as grain on the same plot of land. A single acre of potatoes could support a family for a year. About half of Ireland’s population depended on potatoes for subsistence.

China appears poised to make the switch to potatoes for a very good reason, drought; but I am not sure that they are not replacing one problem with another. Will we be reading about the China Potato Famine in the future?

The world is experiencing food disruptions as a result of both drought and flooding, and unless we concentrate on sustainable development of food sources we will continue to have this problem. Now this situation is being worsened by the switching of staples like grain and corn from food to ingredients needed to make ethanol. There are abundant alternative sources for ethanol production, and this move has already caused price hikes in other foods such as eggs, milk, and meat - all industries that depend upon these grains as feed stock.

Yes, that is the point I wanted to make with this post. Drought will hit this country also and if we put too much reliance on grains to produce ethanol, and then become dependent on that source for ethanol, what will happen when drought hits our grain supply areas? Then we will have two disasters rather than one: we won’t have enough food and we won’t have the ethanol we depend on to combat global warming. Ethanol from food supplies is not the answer, we need to switch to waste materials - the corn stalks, ears, and cobs - for instance; or other materials like sawgrass. Let’s stop burning food and stockpile it instead. Let’s use some biblical wisdom and take the seven years of plenty to prepare for the seven years of lean.

Drought is going to hit our breadbasket areas. The only question now is will we be prepared or will we find that we have cut off our nose to spite our face, and have two disasters rather than one?

For more information I highly recommend:

Top Editorials - A place for wind, The editorials urge us to cut emissions, but the ads tell a very different story, Public interest in global warming still very high, & from the other side Wrong on Roan - Like it or not, “old energy” is still economy’s lifeblood. Here is one I missed from yesterday - Pulling the plug on wasting water.

The Headline Section
Alternative Energy
The Case for Natural Gas
Huge China wind deal
BWEA: UK Can Meet EU Target with More Wind
European giant purchases power from USA wind farm
Traveling in green circles: Ski resort builds windmill
Wind energy town meeting packs house in Nags Head
Residents of Inner Mongolia Find New Hope in the Desert
New Financing Options for Akeena Solar Customers
German solar firms boost capacity to meet demand
Harness the Sun to Save Money, Save the Earth
Gulf Ethanol Completes Site Selection for Ethanol Production Plant
Production Costs Of Advanced Biofuels Is Similar To Grain-ethanol
Biodiesel has arrived
MSU Revs Up Efforts to Get Biofuels in Gas Tanks
Finavera to Evaluate BC Wave Energy Potential
Safety plan worked at quake-hit Japan reactor: U.N.

Business
ASES Wins $100,000 Award From American Express
Chicago Prepares to Welcome Corporate Climate Leaders
The future has to be ‘green’, says construction industry
Morgan Stanley’s Carbon Bank To Provide Offset Services
India Inc gives thumbs up India-US nuclear deal: ASSOCHAM Survey
The Simple Leaf Offsets its Carbon Emissions with Carbonfund.org
Aveda, BP, Cone, GAP, GE, HSBC, Landor, JWT, Sun, Wal-Mart and more join growing list in NOLA to share green/CSR brand knowledge

Climate Change
At Australia’s Bunny Fence, Variable Cloudiness Prompts Climate Study
Antarctic Bottom Water Has Warmed Within Recent Decades

Conservation
Builders attack green homes rule - UK
Building Green For Less Green: Design Team Plans Lower-cost, Energy-efficient Housing
School: The New Jersey Global Warming Summer Challenge For Youth and Families
South Africa: Government Rejects Used UK Computers

Drought
Australia told to prepare for water crisis
Local govt joins call for rate relief for drought-hit farmers - Australia
Thirsty cities ‘will need new water sources’ - Australia
CSU scientists cultivate drought-resistant grass
Drought is straining trees in Minneapolis

Energy
The European Union Looks to North Africa
Daily Power Generation Output Surpasses 10 Billion kWh in China
Nigeria: NERC Canvasses Electricity Subsidy
Increased gas production during cold snap - Australia

Environment
Water Levels in 3 Great Lakes Dip Far Below Normal
Asia Cooperates to Prevent Millions of Environmental Deaths
China river pollution kills 88,000 pounds of fish
Volcano spews ash and rocks on Indonesia’s Sulawesi

Flood
Flood victims loot food in rain ravaged South Asia
UN agencies increase relief effort in South Asia after devastating floods
Sudan needs funds for worst floods in living memory
Senegal: Rains Come Late, Cause Widespread Flooding
Chad: People Flee Villages as Lake Lere Overflows
Hundreds Dead, Missing After NKorea Rain
North Korea seeks help after massive flooding

Green House Gases
Eminent visitor to the world’s largest coal methane power plant
Plane truths: Aviation’s contribution to climate change
Road traffic increases ozone levels even in remote regions
More small thermal power plants closed - China

Health
Kenyan fish joins fight against malaria
Cases of blood-sucking bedbug soar in S California

Kyoto & Beyond Kyoto
Experts prepare for UN conference on global warming
New study warns limited carbon market puts 20 percent of tropical forest at risk

Kyoto protocol ‘promotes deforestation’

Legal
BLM Exempts Oil and Gas Exploration from Environmental Review
Retail Development Challenged In Court For Not Addressing GHG Emissions
Wal-Mart Challenged in Court : New Supercenter Fails to Evaluate Greenhouse Gas Pollution
Buddhists in Hot Water for Animal Ritual

Lifestyles
Lonely Planet Survey Results Show Increased Interest in Green Travel
Building Green: The EcoManor
What’s in Homes’ Crystal Ball? ; More Solar Power, Fewer Living Rooms Are in Their Future
Shades Of Conservation
Households switch on to green power
Humane farming eases pangs for some vegetarians

Cleaning with toxins isn’t really cleaning

Nature
Global Warming Threatens Moose, Wolves
Science Ignored In FWS Spotted Owl Recovery Plan
Researchers seeking to understand consequences of unintended releases of H2

Politics
Russia’s seabed flag heralds global ocean carve-up
NYC Gets $350 Million Congestion Grant
Heathrow climate campaigners deny hoax bomb claim

Science
Man-made storms to test houses
Rainforest Biodiversity Shows Differing Patterns
Eye on Estuaries: Where the buoys are

Sustainable Development
UN official sounds warning about worldwide supply of clean water
AOL Co-Founder to Build Sustainable Luxury Resorts
Fund boosts sustainable energy initiatives

Technology
Waterless car wash
Toshiba First Manufacturer with Five EPEAT Gold Status Laptops

Weather
Temps Hit Century Mark in South
Hurricane Flossie Storms Toward Hawaii
Tropical Storm Dean could become Atlantic hurricane

Wildfires
Tester, Baucus focus on global warming issue

Other Recommended News Sources
BioFuels News
Renewable Energy News
Energy Bulletin
Sustainable Transportation Technologies
Yahoo Environment News
MSNBC Environment News
NPR Environment News
The Heat Is On: Making Global Warming a Presidential Priority
Car Lines by Michael P. Walsh 

Spotlight - World Energy Statistics, Are you Green-less or a Green-thusiast?, Too Hot for Rainforests?, Making It Easier for Businesses to go Green

1st Mini Spotlight - The International Energy Agency released a new report: Key World Energy Statistics 2007 (PDF) that mostly compares 1973 to 2005-6. Here are a few facts I thought best illustrate today’s challenges.

  • Fossil Fuels provided 81% of the Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) in 2005 - Gas was 20.7 % TPES, Oil was 35% TPES, and Coal was 25.3% TPES.
  • Hard Coal-In 2006 China provided almost half of the world’s Hard Coal Production - 46.2%. To put this in better perspective here are the top 5 coal producers - China 2,481 Mt, U.S. 990 Mt, India 427 Mt, Australia 309 Mt, and South Africa 244 Mt. This clearly indicates the great difficulty we are going to have in weaning China away from Coal.
  • Hydro Power- In 2005 China was also the world’s largest producer of Hydro Power - Top 5: China 397 TWh, Canada 364 TWh, Brazil 337 TWh, U.S. 290 TWh, and Russia 175 TWh. By percentage of Total Domestic Electricity produced by Hydro the top 5 are: Norway 98.9%, Brazil 83.7%, Venezuela 73.9%, Canada 57.9%, and Sweden 46%.
  • Electricity Generation- In 2005 Coal accounted for 40.3%, followed by Gas 19.7%, Hydro 16%, Nuclear 15.2%, Oil 6.6%, and Others 2.2%. Renewables have a very long way to go before they can even get a place on this chart.
  • Coal for Electricity Generation- In 2005 the U.S. was still the biggest user of Coal for Electricity Generation, but China is catching up. Here are the top 5 in this category: U.S. 2,154 TWh, China 1,972 TWh, India 480 TWh, Japan 309TWh, and Germany 305 TWh. This clearly shows how coal use is making the U.S. and China the top CO2 emitters.

The Report is 82 pages long and has hundreds of charts and diagrams making it an easy to read document for anyone interested in learning more.

2nd Mini Spotlight - A new poll indicates that more than half of all consumers are taking measures to change their lifestyles, despite this misleading title: Consumers Pass On Green ‘Kool- Aid’.

Only 34 percent of consumers feel much more concerned about environmental issues today than a year ago, according to Going Green, a new report from Yankelovich. And only 22 percent of consumers feel they can make a difference when it comes to the environment.

“Consumers are not drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to green,” said J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich. “While they’re highly aware of environmental issues due to the glut of media attention, the simple fact is that ‘going green’ in their everyday life is simply not a big concern or a high priority.”

Yankelovich illustrates the degree to which all consumers - from “Green-less” to “Green-Enthusiasts” - are currently likely to buy a product based on its green features.

    * Green-less (29%) Unmoved by environmental issues and alarms.
    * Green-bits (19%) Don’t care but doing a few things.
    * Green-steps (25%) Aware, concerned taking steps.
    * Green-speaks (15%) Talk the talk more than walk the walk.
    * Green-thusiasts (13%) Environment is a passionate concern.

Despite this, Smith says that companies can exploit the “green-ness” of their products:

    * First, while the environment is not a mainstream consumer concern, it does represent a niche opportunity in the marketplace, with just over 30 million Americans (13 percent of the 234 million people 16+) “strongly concerned” about it.
    * Second, if organizations are required to meet strict federal and state environmental regulations - often at huge expense - it makes sense to try and leverage the ‘new and improved’ green product to consumers.

I see this as 53% of the poll respondents are concerned enough to be taking some measures to change their lifestyles. This poll also indicates that even when it is not a priority or they say they don’t care, still all but 29% care enough to at least take small steps. I disagree with the tile of this article, I see this poll as indicating that 70% of consumers are willing to except changes which means the government has underestimated the willingness of the people to accept government mandates like renewable energy standards and, dread the thought, carbon taxes.

The Bottom Line - If you word the poll questions in the right way, you will find that most people care about global warming and want to do something, but they still have trouble making changes in their lifestyles. Give them an incentive, some positive (credits/rebates) and negative (taxes/fees) reinforcement and that change will accelerate. People are ready for change, what we lack is leadership.

The constant debate has just served to muddy the water, and when people aren’t sure they are doing the right thing, that’s when they hesitate. Given black and white alternatives, people will make the right choice. This poll proves that we need to stop advising people and start telling them. We need to establish clear cut choices and then show them how to make that change. This is good, that is bad, period. The time for wishy washy measures is over.

3rd Mini Spotlight - This next article, which I just found (from Aug. 10) really surprised me. The Equator is the hottest area on the earth and while we often think of global warming and climate change in terms of their impacts in temperate and arctic zones, this clearly shows it is also dramatically effecting the tropic zone: Rising temperatures “will stunt rainforest growth”.

Global warming could cut the rate at which trees in tropical rainforests grow by as much as half, according to more than two decades’ worth of data from forests in Panama and Malaysia. The effect — so far largely overlooked by climate modellers — could severely erode or even remove the ability of tropical rainforests to remove carbon dioxide from the air as they grow.

The study shows that rising average temperatures have reduced growth rates by up to 50% in the two rainforests, which have both experienced climate warming above the world average over the past few decades. The trend is shown by data stretching back to 1981 collected from hundreds of thousands of individual trees.

As bad as that sounds this next paragraph shows the truly devastating impact this may have on global warming.

If other rainforests follow suit as world temperatures rise, important carbon stores such as the pristine old-growth forests of the Amazon could conceivably stop storing as much carbon, says Ken Feeley of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum in Boston, who presented the research at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in San Jose, California.

So now we have two major menaces to the tropical rainforest carbon sink, deforestation and global warming itself; and combined they spell BIG trouble.

The article goes on to explain the science behind how forests act as carbon sinks, and the role that tropical forests play, but the chilling last paragraph sums it up best.

So far, the Amazon rainforest — the world’s biggest — has not suffered significant climate warming. But with even the most optimistic predictions of climate analysts asserting temperatures are to rise by 2ºC over the coming century, most rainforests could feel the effect before too long.

I believe this proves that the temperature threshold is more crucial than ever, and that this is an indication that even a 2 degree temperature rise may have more unforeseen negative consequences. equally true will be the fact that going past this threshold could be produce consequences much worse than those predicted, including a greatly accelerated rate of global warming as one of the largest natural carbon sinks - the rainforests - shuts down.

This is the second in my “three strikes you’re out” analogy, and since I haven’t mentioned them in awhile; here they are: 

  • Strike One - Melting Permafrost - Permafrost is one of the largest carbon sinks. Due to global warming it is melting and this has the potential to double the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 as it releases the thousands of years of CO2 it has captured. It also has a even more serious consequence as melting swamps and bogs are now releasing huge amounts of methane, a GHG 40 times more powerful than CO2. 
  • Strike Two - Losing our Natural Brakes-The rainforests and oceans act as carbon sinks, performing the vital role of the natural brakes on global warming. Recent studies have indicated that some ocean areas (the great Southern ocean in particular) may be absorbing less CO2 than ever before, and scientists are studying acidification of oceans to get a better idea of just how bad this problem has become. Deforestation (and now global warming) are reducing the carbon sink abilities of forests and if calculated into CO2 emissions would place Indonesia as the 3rd largest emitter in the world. Releasing the brakes on global warming will cause it to accelerate much more rapidly.
  • Strike Three - China (and to a lesser extent India). This is why I call China “the Weakest Link” in the War against Global Warming. China has the potential to emit enough CO2 to offset all the CO2 reduction efforts of the developed nations. If China continues on its present path it can double or triple CO2 atmospheric concentrations even if the developed nations become carbon negative.

1st Major Spotlight - I am a big advocate of small scale wind and solar applications, but there are many roadblocks to wide spread use such as the lack of net metering and of a uniform building code/zoning law; but Britain is easing the business side of this problem and we need to follow suit: Government to make it easier for businesses to go green.

The government has undertaken to change planning rules and make it easier for retail, office and leisure businesses to install green technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has asked environmental and planning consultancy Entec to draw up new planning rules that will ensure the system encourages the use of renewable energy.

The plan is to look specifically at removing barriers to installing small-scale renewable and low carbon technology equipment that can currently lead to increased costs and lengthy delays.

Blears has asked Entec to investigate how renewable energy equipment can be included as ‘permitted developments’, meaning that changes can be made without the need for specific planning permission.

At the same time, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has asked the UK Green Building Council to set out a ‘route map’ for improving the overall energy efficiency of non-domestic buildings with the aim of delivering substantial reductions in carbon emissions from new buildings over the next decade.

Explaining the plans, Blears noted that estimates suggest 30-40% of the UK’s electricity could be met by installing microgeneration equipment to all types of building by 2050. The technologies range from wind and water generation to ground sources like heat pumps and biomass boilers.

Reports from Entec and the Green Building Council are expected before the end of the year.

Any business in the U.S. which is interested in using wind or solar power must first check with their local town or city zoning board which may prohibit that application.  This problem makes it difficult for the average business to install small scale renewable energy projects.

I propose a national bill of energy rights. We have freedom of travel, of speech, of religion, and I say we need a national right of unrestricted access to small scale renewable energy. This bill of rights will allow every business and home to install a wind or solar project as part of the normal building or renovation process, subject to a hearing upon objection by an abutting landowner, who must show that this installation will deprive their property of equal rights (blocking their sun access for instance). 

Some day soon, hopefully, this will occur; in the meantime the first step for everyone will be checking with the local zoning board to see if it is even feasible. Most solar and wind power installers are aware of this problem and will be able to guide a prospective purchaser through this process.

What we have been able to do in the U.S. is establish an excellent nationwide green building code standard under the U.S. Green Building Council which developed LEED:

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

LEED provides a roadmap for measuring and documenting success for every building type and phase of a building lifecycle. Specific LEED programs include:

USGBC is also developing LEED for Healthcare, and LEED for Labs.

We also have the LEED Resources page which has informative PowerPoint presentations, brochures,  and case studies,  as well as LEED News and LEED-Online sample credit templates.

Any business contemplating building a new facility or renovating an existing facility should coordinate their activities with the LEED system in order to insure maximum efficiency and the lowest environmental impact.

This is my checklist for any renovation or building project:

  • passive solar design for heating and cooling,
  • active solar systems - photovoltaic for electric generation and hot water to supplement or replace a hot water heater,
  • geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling,
  • small scale wind for electric generation, and
  • small scale hydro in the roof drainage system.

Sphere: Related Content

Today’s News - August 13, 2007

Featuring the Four Horsemen of Global Warming 
Drought, Flood, Heat, & Pestilence

Top Story - Time recently blasted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the problems in preparing New Orleans for Katrina and the repair effort afterwards, and now the Corps is firing back: Response to Aug. 13 Time Cover Story: “The Threatening Storm”.

TIME magazine’s Aug. 13, 2007, cover story, “The Threatening Storm,” contains many errors and misrepresentations of facts with respect to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hurricane Katrina, and ongoing efforts to improve hurricane and storm damage reduction for southeast Louisiana.

“The misrepresentation of the situation in Louisiana by TIME magazine is damaging to efforts to get essential, factual information to the people and community leaders of New Orleans,” said Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley, Director of Civil Works for the Corps. “The article’s reckless disregard for the truth undermines the real science and risk information citizens need to make informed decisions about rebuilding.”

At TIME’s request, the Corps spent a week providing the author with interviews and detailed engineering and scientific information about what we have learned and accomplished in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Corps also provided information about the ongoing and planned work the Corps and its partners are doing to restore and improve regional protection.

Much of the engineering and scientific information provided to TIME by the Corps was based on the work done by the independent Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET). Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, then the Corps commander, commissioned the IPET to analyze the performance of the hurricane protection system during Hurricane Katrina. IPET comprised more than 150 national experts from eight government agencies, 25 universities and 23 private firms. Dr. Ed Link, IPET chair, was interviewed by TIME during the preparation of the article and provided information on the hurricane threat and reliability analysis.

All IPET work was reviewed by two separate panels of national experts: the American Society of Civil Engineers’(ASCE) External Review Panel and the National Academies — National Research Council?s Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects. Their reports are available at www.asce.organd www.nationalacademies.org.

Here are the facts according to the USACE:

TIME magazine’s Aug. 13, 2007, cover story, “The Threatening Storm,” contains many errors and misrepresentations of facts with respect to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hurricane Katrina, and ongoing efforts to improve hurricane and storm damage reduction for southeast Louisiana.

Among the significant errors and misrepresentations in the article that need to be publicly corrected are the following:

“The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn’t a natural disaster” and “Katrina wasn’t even close to the Big One”— Hurricane Katrina was an extremely large and powerful storm — the most severe storm in recorded history to hit the Gulf Coast from storm surge and wave generation perspectives. Katrina reached Category 5 strength in the Gulf of Mexico before decaying in intensity as it approached the coast. The hurricane created the highest storm surge to ever hit North America (28 feet) and tied the highest significant wave height ever recorded by a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) buoy in North America (55 feet in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands). Downplaying the severity of Katrina based solely on wind speed (”it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans”) does not equate to what has been learned in the last two years in hurricane modeling and the understanding of storms. Katrina overwhelmed many sections of the protection system, and had the floodwalls not breached up to one-half of the area would still have flooded from overtopping and rainfall alone.

The Category 1 — 5 hurricane scale— The Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale (e.g., Cat 1, Cat 3, Cat 5), developed in 1969, focuses on maximum wind speed as a measure of storm strength. It is valid and useful in respect to hurricanes as meteorological events, but is not adequate to describe the potential surge and wave generation capacity of hurricanes. Hurricane Camille hit Mississippi in 1969 as a Category 5 with 24 to 25 feet of surge while Katrina, a Category 3 storm at landfall, devastated the Mississippi coast with up to 28 feet of surge. Storm size, direction and speed of track, continental shelf complexity and topography, and other factors are important in determining storm surge, waves and damage. This knowledge will influence future project designs.

MRGO greatly intensified storm surge – An oft-repeated yet unsubstantiated statement, also included in the article, is that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet channel intensified Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge in the metropolitan New Orleans area. The assertions in the TIME article that the MRGO’s presence increased the peak surge by 2 feet and velocities by tenfold around St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward are simply not true based upon the most advanced, sophisticated storm surge model and wave modeling available. IPET researchers found that the MRGO channel had very little, impact on amplifying storm surge (https://IPET.wes.army.mil, Volume IV — The Storm Appendix 6). A separate study commissioned by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and performed by URS Corp. found basically the same thing. The Corps has recommended the closure of the MRGO, but the recommendation is based upon economic and environmental considerations, and not for any reason related to Hurricane Katrina.

Louisiana protection compared to Netherlands 10,000-year-storm protection — The Netherlands faces a very different threat (no hurricanes) and a very different environment than New Orleans. The difference between 1:100 and 1:10,000-year water levels in the North Sea against non-hurricane type storms is quite different than in New Orleans where the additional height of structures required to protect against a 1:10,000 chance of hurricane water levels and accompanying waves is impractical anywhere along the Gulf Coast. The Corps is working with experts from the Netherlands to benefit from their ideas and experience.

“100 yards of cypress trees can reduce wave energy 95%” and “We found that none of the levees that failed were protected by wetlands or trees” - These claims in the article are not substantiated by any rigorous scientific analysis or hard data. The post-Katrina photo below shows a buffer zone of trees (perhaps 50 yards wide) fronting a devastated levee in St. Bernard Parish (the pot holes show where the levee was). Clearly this buffer zone of trees in front of the levee did not prevent its failure due to storm surge and wave overtopping.

The Corps acknowledges that wetlands have a beneficial role in storm surge and wave dissipation, but adequate quantitative information about that role has not been developed. Experts are working with advanced models now, and initiating controlled field and laboratory investigations, to definitely show the value of wetlands. Additionally, cypress trees cannot tolerate the high salinity levels (saltwater) where waves and surge normally occur. Sustainable plant species that can withstand the constant pounding of hurricane winds and waves at elevated surge levels for extended periods of time must be used. We are currently designing experiments to evaluate native vegetation for this purpose.

“Levees sagged as much as 5 ft.” – IPET studies found that due to elevation survey datum errors and subsidence that some levee areas were up to 2.5 feet lower than thought. From the IPET report (Volume II, Geodetic Vertical and Water Level Datums, available at https://IPET.wes.army.mil), the following are the maximum elevations below the design level that were physically measured — Orleans Canal, 1.5 ft; London Ave. Canal — 2 ft; 17th St. Canal — 2.3 ft; IHNC — 2.5 ft. Subsidence, or the gradual sinking of the area, has to be planned for and accommodated in all future projects. Any drop in design elevation is a problem, and IPET work supplied the new, accurate vertical datum for surveying future projects. Louisiana and Corps officials are using emerging science and engineering measures to address this in future projects.

“The truth of the situation in southeast Louisiana is very different than the TIME article would lead readers to believe,” said Riley. “The Corps and our many federal, state, local, and private partners have made great progress in enabling the rebuilding of New Orleans, and IPET’s state-of-the-art risk modeling shows that the hurricane protection system is now more effective than it was pre-Katrina.”

Riley added, “The Corps is committed to providing quality science and engineering, and to transparently communicating to the people of Louisiana about what coastal restoration and protection will, and will not, do for them in future storms. Our intent is for the public to know their risks and be able to make their own, well-informed decisions about where and how they want to live and work.

We stand firmly behind our work in Louisiana, and we want the citizens of southeast Louisiana to know that the most advanced engineering and science available is being used as the Corps and its many partners move forward in providing hurricane and storm damage reduction for the region.

“TIME’s readership, the nation and the citizens of southeast Louisiana would have been much better served had “The Threatening Storm” been published as a more accurate, factual and balanced article.”.

For additional Corps comments on the errors and misrepresentations in the TIME article; web links to the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force’s post-Katrina analysis and the Hurricane Protection Decision Chronology; and information about the work being done in southeast Louisiana, please visit www.usace.army.mil.

I do not believe that New Orleans has better protection now than before Katrina, but no one will know until after the next storm hits. If any additional levees fail or the publicized “faulty” water pumps fail, then the USACE will also have failed; and that failure with have massive repercussions as the public confidence in the USACE will be severely shaken and undermined.

Instead of spending time on what can not be proven, I want to call your attention to the most important part of this reaction piece and the one problem I also had with Time Magazine: The underestimation of damage from storm surges and wave over-topping; two of the most devastating consequences of any ocean storm, especially a one hundred year storm. Remember the Union Of Concerned Scientists says these storms are going to become much more frequent (up to 2 or 3 per decade by 2050) and other recent articles have shown that atypical storms are becoming the norm.

In the first two paragraphs the USACE points out exactly why storm surges from even smaller storms will still be devastating, especially for flat coastal areas. Here are a drawing and two movies; I found at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) - Louisiana; and some accompanying facts from their Storm Surge webpage.

The greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is from the storm surge, which historically has claimed nine of ten victims. Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level 15 feet or more. In addition, wind waves are superimposed on the storm tide. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides. Because much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level, the danger from storm tides is tremendous.

The level of surge in a particular area is also determined by the slope of the continental shelf. A shallow slope off the coast [top or right picture] will allow a greater surge to inundate coastal communities.  Communities with a steeper continental shelf [bottom or left picture] will not see as much surge inundation, although large breaking waves can still present major problems. Storm tides, waves, and currents in confined harbors severely damage ships, marinas, and pleasure boats.

As you can clearly see, flat areas are extremely vulnerable which is why coastal cities like New York and Miami, with major seashore developments, are going to experience unprecedented damage.

We can build earth barriers to create a hill like you you see in the second movie, but they can be over-topped or even crumble under the wave assault. The also can be eaten away by erosion cause by higher tides. Only a reinforced concrete barrier with be effective and it must be accompanied by drainage channels and pumping stations just like the system in New Orleans. Unfortunately, we can not afford to build these systems in Miami and New York City at least not without a massive taking of private land in the most expensive use of eminent domain in the history of our country. We will have to prioritize and save what we can afford to save and resign ourselves to losing the rest.

The USACE decision making and review process outlined in this post can provide us with a basic blueprint for an evaluation, risk assessment, and action plan. We need to start now while we still have some time, but the window of opportunity is shrinking and soon we will have to abandon areas we could have saved, and needlessly lose lives because we failed to take elementary precautions.

For more information on the USACE efforts in New Orleans, I recommend:

 

Top Editorials - Carbon Challenge(free registration required & for more see Dingell’s July 2 Op-Ed: The Power in the Carbon Tax) & from the other side, Newsweek Burns Truth in Global Warming Story.

The Headline Section
Alternative Energy
Renewable Energy Focus Of BEnA Debate Semi-Finals
Chevron Expands Geothermal Operations in Indonesia
Corn-Fed Ethanol Production Fuels Controversy
Alternative Fuel Research Addresses Nation’s Energy Independence
Virgin, Boeing, GE Near Biofuel Selection for Flight Test
Minnesota Boosts Biodiesel Initiative from 2 to 20 %
Finavera Renewables Receives Investigative Permit for Wave Energy Project in Ucluelet, British Columbia
U.S. nuclear deal protests disrupt Indian parliament
The Appeal of Animal Waste
East River Fights Bid to Harness Its Currents for Electricity

Business
Internet Visionaries Betting On Green Technology Boom
Interview: Atlas Venture dismisses talk of clean tech bubble
TXU woes investors to back bid
Yellow Cab Thinks Greener With Hybrids
Styrofoam bans fuel Pleasanton firm’s growth
Thermal Remediation Services, Inc. Offsets its Carbon Emissions with Carbonfund.org

Climate Change
Irrigation may not cool the globe in the future
Huge Dust Plumes From China Cause Changes in Climate
Change on the Range
Ice cores and climate: Patterns and causes of change

Conservation
Texas power grid braces for record electric use
Record Downloads for The Renewable Energy Centre’s Guide to Home Energy Saving - UK -see www.therenewableenergycentre.co.uk/home-energy-saving/

Drought

Energy
Study says low-carbon research offers big payoff - see Green House Gases
Asia Coal-Prices hit record high on supply concerns
Coal boom carries high price as accidents rise
Marubeni Eyes to Commercialize Coal Gasification Biz in Vietnam
Centrica plans new power plants - UK 
Net Energy — A Useless, Misleading And Dangerous Metric, Says Expert

Environment
Reward offered for China cities curbing pollution
New Zealand Environment Agency OKs Continued Use of 1080 Pesticide
Pesticides still pouring into reef waters - Australia

Flood
More floods, deaths add to misery in S.Asia
Vietnam rushes aid to flood victims, 74 have died
NKorea: Hundreds Dead, Missing in Rain
Rain floods southern China

Green House Gases
Study: Global warming costs - see Energy
Mud Volcano Thrusts up from the Sea, Drawing Sightseers and a Sense of Foreboding
States plan to expand emission trading - Australia
4 Lawmakers Doubt Need to Cut Gases - Australia
DiCaprio brightens up on gloomy green outlook

Health
Bangladesh cancels hospital leave to combat disease
Beach Sand Can Harbor Bacteria
Scientists Seek Better Tests for Lyme
Pollution Causes 40 Percent of Deaths Worldwide

Kyoto & Beyond Kyoto
London profits while Africa awaits Kyoto benefit
Kyoto projects harm ozone layer: U.N. official
Carbon market encourages chopping forests: study
Sweden PM urges pressure on U.S., China over climate
EU’s climate targets ‘ambitious’ - UK
Environmentalists urge Brown to overhaul Britain’s energy policy to meet EU targets

Legal
Whistle-blower in China faces prison
Schuylkill Ethanol Plant Facing Citizens’ Challenge

Lifestyles
Builders attack green homes rule

Nature
Illegal poison kills golden eagle
Officers nab cougar in Santa Fe Plaza shop
Australia holds the world’s last great savanna
‘Mahogany Tide’ Algae Hits Va. Rivers
World’s Birds on Death Row Special Report: Wildlife at Risk

Politics
Rendell’s Global Warming Plan Delayed
Police on alert as climate camp sets up at Heathrow
BAA and police draw up Heathrow battle lines
After Russia and Canada, U.S. ship headed for Arctic
Chile envoy to Peru called home amid fishing row
Heat on Australia PM over climate skeptic MPs

Science
Tipping Elements in the Earth System
Focussing on the peripheral: grounding lines, coastal stress-boundaries, and the inside-out ice sheet.
‘HYPER’ Initiative Places International Focus on Hydrogen Research
Nano-boric Acid Makes Motor Oil More Slippery

Sustainable Development
Scientists, U.N. Agencies Meet to Discuss World’s Water Needs
Have a say on the issues impacting our water environment - UK
Bay fish stock survey - Bay Of Bengal
Managing Ecological Investment Risk

Technology
Researchers Turn Everyday Paper Into Resilient, Rechargeable Energy Storage Device
Laser monitors exhaust emissions

Weather
Hurricane Flossie Headed Toward Hawaii
Atlantic depression forms, another eyed in Gulf: NHC

Wildfires
Spreading Utah Wildfire Spares Homes

Other Recommended News Sources
BioFuels News
Renewable Energy News
Energy Bulletin
Sustainable Transportation Technologies
Yahoo Environment News
MSNBC Environment News
NPR Environment News
The Heat Is On: Making Global Warming a Presidential Priority
Car Lines by Michael P. Walsh 

Spotlight - Newsweek Fried by Global Warming Mistakes; Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Greenest of Them All?; Sand Wars, China Builds New Great Wall - Against Mice

1st Mini Spotlight - Newsweek has already been blasted for it’s cover which seemed to ridicule the reality of global warming and now they are being called on their factual errors - Scientists: Newsweek Erred in Global Warming Coverage.

A recent Newsweek magazine cover story on global warming contained significant errors and used outdated scientific material in its representation of global climate data collected by satellites, according to the scientists who maintain that dataset at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Dr. John Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, who created and maintain the global temperature dataset, are available to answer questions about how instruments aboard NOAA satellites collect temperature data, and about the accuracy of that data. The most recent monthly update of global temperatures shows a warming trend of about 0.25° Fahrenheit per decade (about 0.14 C) since satellites started collecting the data in late 1978.

“One of the more egregious errors in the Newsweek article is the misrepresentation of the satellite data relative to a January 2000 report from the National Academy of Sciences,” said Christy, who is director of UA-Huntsville’s Earth System Science Center and who participated in writing the 2000 NAS report. “That report did not ’skewer’ the satellite data, as the Newsweek article contends. Instead, it found that the apparent disagreement between surface temperature records and the satellite record was not so significant as to invalidate either dataset.

“There were also at least two major Newsweek errors relating to research that helped us correct an error caused by degrading orbits. First, that research (which was done by scientists and not by ‘engineers’) did not prove the satellite data are wrong while the surface data are accurate. It did help us correct a problem we had noticed but whose cause we had not identified. That is how the scientific process works. The resulting corrections, rather than being major, were rather minimal and were within our previously published margin of error.

“The other Newsweek error, which has unfortunately been widely repeated, is that the satellite data were showing no warming at the time that research was published,” Christy said. “That is not correct. By 2000 the satellite temperature dataset was clearly showing a long-term global warming trend, albeit a trend that was slightly less than the warming seen in surface data. That is still true today.”

“There has been significant research since 2000, continuing to both refine and confirm the accuracy of our satellite dataset,” said Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center. “This research has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and is part of the public record. It is troubling that a major news organization devoting significant resources to a story about an important environmental issue would choose to cite data from seven years ago rather than current data, and would still get it wrong.”

The gist of Newsweek’s coverage was the apparent aim of supporting global warming by putting the sceptics under a glaring spotlight; but instead of ending the debate they seem to have added more fuel to the fire. Getting the science facts wrong does not help. Now they seem to have supported some of those sceptic claims they were trying to refute. To get a real sense of the sceptics reaction see the Editorial section above.

2nd Mini Spotlight - It’s official, Wind & Geothermal are Greener than Solar: Do the benefits of renewable energy sources stack up?

Increasing energy consumption and a growing world population implies shrinking reserves of fossil fuels. While the use of fossil fuels brings with it the problem of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. Our continued dependence on fossil fuels coupled with the pressing global issue of climate change has pushed the concept of renewable energy sources to the top of the agenda.

In looking for alternative energy supplies, there is more to simply adding up the outputs, according to Christopher Koroneos and Yanni Koroneos of the Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering, at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. They argue that a whole life cycle assessment of any environmentally friendly energy supply must be carried out to ensure its green credentials are valid.

Writing in Inderscience’s International Journal of Global Energy Issues, the researchers point out that land use and materials employed are just two aspects of renewable energy development that can have an adverse impact on the otherwise positive environmental picture.

There are three viable renewable energy resources, say the researchers - solar energy, wind power and geothermal energy. They have applied the techniques of life cycle assessment (LCA) to each in order to determine the total environmental impact and to compare this with the effects of equivalent energy release from fossil fuels.

The LCA approach allows an assessment to be made of the flow of material and energy used in the construction, operation and ultimate decommissioning of a renewable energy supply. It also takes into account the manufacturing of components, the possible extraction and supply of fuels as well as waste generated in these processes.

The researchers demonstrate that some renewable energy systems based on wind power and geothermal energy do have valid green credentials in electricity production. The efficiency of these systems is comparable over the complete life cycle than the equivalent fossil fuel system. However, the conversion of solar energy to electricity using photovoltaic solar cells is less efficient in terms of materials production, running, and recycling than non-renewable energy. However, economies of scale come into play with solar power and a large enough area of solar cells would outstrip the fossil fuel system. The team also points out that the life cycle pollution of solar systems is much, much lower than any conventional system although thermodynamic efficiency is lower.

“A significant advantage of the use of renewable energy systems,” say the researchers, “is that they are environmentally friendly because overall they result in lower dangerous pollutant emissions, this and one other major factor, they are essentially inexhaustible.

I think this analysis has validity for industrial and large scale power production, but if you include the micro level then small scale hydro power is more than likely the greenest of them all. When it comes to homes and businesses they can take advantage of all four sources:

  • Solar - Photovoltaic arrays are still the biggest source of alternative electricity. Solar hot water systems are a better alternative to a fossil fueled water heater. Passive Solar (which must be designed into the building at the construction stage) can provide superior heating and cooling capabilities.
  • Geothermal - Heat pumps and related hose systems will provide the greenest heat and cooling systems.
  • Wind - small wind turbines of all designs will provide another excellent source of electric power.
  • Micro Hydro - usually used in small streams this same technology could be adapted to roof drainage systems to generate electricity from rainfalls.

3rd Mini Spotlight - The earliest signs of Sea Level Rise are already being felt in some communities with greater beach erosion and higher tides. Faced with the loss of their homes the oceanfront property owners in this article are fighting over the new hot commodity, beach sand: Reeves digs his heels in.

On Sunday, Norman Reeves dismissed threats of arrest and prosecution for his involvement in moving sand from La Lucia beaches to an area in front of his home, saying: “If they wanted to charge me they would have done it already.”

Instead he launched a verbal attack on national Environment and Tourism Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, saying the minister would be better served deciding on his political allegiance than worrying about coastal matters.

Reeves dug his heels in over the ongoing sand saga after provincial Agriculture and Environmental Affairs spokesperson, Mbulelo Baloyi, on Sunday confirmed that the monitoring and compliance section officials had approached the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for a decision on whether to charge Reeves.

Baloyi said the charges relate to Reeves operating or hiring vehicles to retrieve sand on the shoreline, and unauthorised work he had done to prevent his home from being washed away by freak high tides.

His run-in with the authorities also comes as Bridget Oppenheimer, widow of former mining magnate Harry Oppenheimer, served court papers on Reeves and two other Eastmoor Crescent residents, interdicting them from removing sand from the beach bordering the Oppenheimer mansion, Milkwood.

A bulldozer hired by Reeves was spotted moving sand from the vicinity of Milkwood recently, prompting the court action.

Several Eastmoor Crescent residents, including charismatic church leader Ray McCauley, have since last September resorted to using conveyor belts, bulldozers and gabion baskets in a last ditch effort to save their homes from waves.

An initial grace period in which emergency work could be done was soon replaced with threats of legal action and condemnation from council and provincial authorities, when residents defied officials and continued without environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval.

Baloyi said a DPP decision was imminent.

The department has, meanwhile, initiated a province wide emergency scheme to deal with continuing erosion along the coast.

Newly appointed HOD Modidima Mannya was tasked with the job of dealing with the erosion after a government delegation did an aerial survey of the coast last week.

Mannya is expected to liaise with various coastal engineering and environmental institutions, including the Oceanographic Research Institute, to help mitigate the effects of the erosion.

Stealing sand from a neighbor, shame on you, especially a member of the church! For more see: Super-rich in beach battle.

All kidding aside, this goes hand in hand with yesterday’s Top Story about Sandbanks, Britain’s seaside millionaire’s row on the Dorset coast. Today’s story takes place over 5,000 miles south; just outside of Durban South Africa, on the Indian Ocean. In both areas we have millionaires, likely billionaires, faced with the certain destruction of their homes; and nearly powerless in the face of sea level rise. You can’t build a fortification, a dike, or other barrier if the foundation is sand; the waves will just eat it away. All these properties are doomed and if a billionaire, like Mrs. Oppenheimer, can’t save her retirement home how can we expect to do any better.

There are many areas we will not be able to save, and we are going to have to abandon those areas. Other areas that we can save, might have to be abandoned because we can’t afford to save them. The longer we wait, the more it will cost, the more area we will have to abandon. We need to start prioritizing now. We need to start planning now. We need to start building barriers now.

We are going to be faced with some extremely difficult decisions: What we can save and what we can afford to save. As for priorities try to answer these questions. Do we spend billions to save the homes of a select few, or billions to protect our most vulnerable cities? Do we try to save coastal cities on flood plains, potentially wasting billions of dollars in a futile exercise which may result in an even bigger disaster when the water breaches those barriers (like New Orleans and Miami)? Do we instead, fight a rearguard action, keeping the water at bay with smaller barricades in order to give people time to evacuate in a phased long term withdrawal? What can we do to help New York City with its huge coastline? Is there anything we can do to save NYC; our largest, most populated city? Where are all these people going to move?

All of this is going to take years of planning, a huge debate, and an effort equal to fighting WWII. So, when is our government going to wake up and start planning for this imminent disaster? What the **** are we waiting for?

1st Major Spotlight- Pestilence has two faces, disease and animal pests. Everyone has heard about the  effects of a Locust Plague, but few people realize that the common mouse can be just as devastating: China Builds New Great Wall to Defend Against Mice, Not Mongols.

China is building a new Great Wall — a relative miniature at 1 meter (3.3 feet) high — to guard against hordes of pillaging mice.

Lujiao, a town in central Hunan province that was overrun by field mice last month, is erecting a 40-kilometer (25-mile) barrier around Dongting Lake to defend against the rodents.

About 2 billion mice nesting on the shores of China’s second-largest freshwater lake gnawed their way through 520,000 hectares (1.3 million acres) of crop land when rising water drove them from their burrows. Such plagues underline China’s growing struggle to maintain a stable environment, said Yang Hualin, director of the Chinese Pest Control Association in Beijing.

“These are alarm bells amid China’s economic development,” Yang said. “Ultimately, the original ecological balance needs to be restored, but at the moment that’s going to be hard.”

China must build up numbers of predators, such as owls, snakes and weasels, which have dwindled because of farming and the use of poisons to contain pests, he said.

“At the moment, this is the only thing that can be done,” Yang said of the wall.

Walls won’t shield farmers from the next mouse plague, said Wen Bo, director of the China program at Pacific Environment, a conservation group in San Francisco. Mice will find holes in the cement-and-rock fortification and resume their assault, he said.

“The wall is a symbolic gesture to quiet public concern,” Wen said. “It’s not going to work in the long run.”

The Hunan government was proactive “before and since the incident,” said a government spokeswoman, who gave only her family name, Liu. “If that’s not enough, then we’ll continue our efforts.”

Bamboo Sticks

In Binhu, a hamlet administered by Lujiao, Zhang Shouliang said she and her neighbors used bamboo sticks to kill thousands of mice that invaded their homes and crops. Her extended family of 13 lost its entire harvest of corn, peanuts and watermelon, worth 10,000 yuan ($1,300).

“We put up nets to keep them out of the fields, but they just ate right through them,” said Zhang, 62, pointing to plots riddled with mouse holes. “They were everywhere.”

Climatic conditions aggravated this year’s plague, said Zhang Meiwen, a Hunan-based researcher from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dongting’s waters receded to lower-than-usual levels after a dry winter, giving mice more room to breed.

After authorities at the Three Gorges Dam opened sluices to alleviate flooding upstream in the Yangtze River in mid-June, Dongting Lake began rising by as much as half a meter a day, driving mice into 22 surrounding communities, Zhang said.

Prelude to Battle

“This is the prelude of a battle between mice and men,” the Institute of Subtropical Agriculture said in statement about Hunan’s plague, posted July 11 on the academy’s Web site.

Lujiao’s government is raising 6 million yuan for its wall, the state-run Xinhua news service reported July 13. It will be built atop flood levees that surround the lake.

While Dongting is surrounded by 3,747 kilometers of levees, only 1,100 kilometers are fortified against mice, Xinhua reported July 19. Those bulwarks didn’t stop this year’s surge, said rodent expert Zhang.

China’s Great Wall, built from about 220 B.C. to fend off pillaging tribes from the north, extends more than 6,400 kilometers. The brick, stone and earth wall, which stands 8 meters tall in some parts, didn’t halt Mongol Genghis Khan, who sacked what is now Beijing in the early 13th century.

In Binhu, villager Zhang remains optimistic about the local fortifications.

“Once they get the wall built, we’ll be better off,” she said.

This is much more serious than it sounds. In 1993 Australia had an epic mice plague that lasted a full year, and this was for the second year in a row. Here is a You Tube link showing you just how nasty such a plague can be to humans caught up in it. This was followed by another mice plague in 1999.

For more Information I recommend the CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems website which explains exactly how big a problem this is and can become.

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