350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that science and justice demand…More at http://www.350.org/mission and at http://www.350.org/multimedia
WWF has provided this pocket guide or short article on where we stand on the issue of climate change in 2009. It starts by quoting President Obama…
Climate and the economic crisis
“This is the generation that must stop the spread of the pollution that is slowly killing our planet… Rolling back the tide of a warming planet is a responsibility that we have to ourselves, to our children, and all of those who will inherit creation long after we are gone.” Barack Obama, Strasbourg, April 2009…read the rest
It is available both in a pure text HTML page or in PDF format. Well worth a read.
General Motors has claimed that the first generation of its new electric car the Chevy Volt can run on an equivalent of 230 miles per gallon (one gallon equals almost 4 litres). If this is the case this is some of the best news to come out of the auto industry in a long while, not to mention it is coming from a US big three manufacturer. Further claims are that it will cost 40 cents a day to charge it via a standard plug at home. The miles per gallon compares exceptionally well with the Prius, Toyota’s hybrid electric that is considered by many to be a good environmental alternative these days. The Prius run in the low 50s miles per gallon range.
Green Living: Improving Health Today And Tomorrow
Much attention has been paid in recent years to what seems to be a growing environmental conscience in the United States. Going green used to be considered expensive and a luxury for those who could afford the trend. Now it appears that we are learning that not only is adopting more environmentally conscious attitudes good for our economic situation, but also our…health? Yes, if we dig a bit deeper we can see that dirty industries and backwards policy is actually harming the health of the earth for our children and the health of her inhabitants today.
How Does Environmental Policy Affect Public Health?
There are two levels of health consequences associated with dirty industry, both direct and indirect. The direct consequences are examples like increased asthma rates in areas with high smog indices. Chlorofluorocarbon release into the atmosphere has shown to decrease the filter of direct sunlight on the planet, resulting in more concentrated ultraviolet light reaching the surface of the earth. Perhaps it is no surprise then that in countries with depleted atmospheric gas, skin cancer rates are among the highest in the world.
The indirect health consequences are harder to see immediately, but closer examination reveals that these are, in fact, perhaps the most hazardous. Bi-products of dirty and backwards industries, such as coal and oil processing, include cancer causing substances like asbestos and benzene. A U.K. study conducted in 2002 indicated that coal and oil industry workers are at a much higher risk of developing pleural mesothelioma (associated with asbestos exposure) and leukemia (traced to benzene and heavy-metal exposure). Dr. Valerie Rusch among many other doctors who specialize in this area understand that these are substances that can be directly traced to antiquated pre-regulation equipment in industries whose environmental hazards are even more inherent.
Can we really afford to continue on the path we were on before? Investment in clean industry means not a healthier planet for our children and grandchildren, but also a healthier place for us to live today.
—June 25, 2009 Written by Bill Hawthorne with the maacenter
One of the important but yet incomplete moves towards reducing harmful emissions has been the advent of the hybrid electric vehicle. Those include the now famous Honda Insight and Toyota Prius for example, running on a combination of the old and outdated propulsion system plus different forms of rechargeable batteries. Recently Honda Insight has for the first time been a best selling car in Japan and that in itself is an important indicator of the mood and the need of the population. While hybrids of different kind contribute well to the low emissions needs of our planet ‘full’ electric vehicles can and certainly have the potential for even better results. For the time being, although not scientifically limited, the number of choices for full electric vehicles are more limited and not fully supported by the traditional big auto makers.
Two companies that do manufactures the vehicles and are slowly gearing towards providing cars for everyday use are Miles Electric Vehicles and Tesla Motors. The former has begun launching the Coda Automotive brand which, while expensive, is targeted at the no-frills environmentalist. The company is trying to get a 5 star highway safety rating from the US government agency National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and sell the cars online. Tesla Motors has taken a more luxurious and high performance route with the likes of Tesla Roadster.
With the bigger traditional companies manufacturing their own or investing in startups, legislative bodies taking the lead in making sure cars can be made available in the market and barring ‘outside’ destructive propaganda against the developing technology the future is looking clean (poor pun intended) for electric vehicles and the health of the environment.
Svante Arrhenius (Feb. 19, 1859 – Oct. 2, 1927) was a Swedish scientist and Nobel Prize winner in 1903. His earliest works were on electrolytes and later in life he turned to astronomy and origins of life but along the way he worked on predicting the effects of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) on the Earth’s atmosphere.
He studied the works of French scientist Joseph Fourier, who had earlier predicted surface temperature increases, and worked on predicting how much they would affect the Earth. He even went as far as saying that it may possible to prevent the next ice age with the increases in emissions. One of his main conclusions was that doubling CO2 levels, plus the water vapour that will be held in the atmosphere partially as a result, could cause a 5 to 6 degree centigrade rise in surface temperatures. His conclusions were long term, he had cited 3000 years as a time line for example, and he even viewed it as a positive because the Earth’s climate would be less harsh or cold as a result. In the late 20th century his work has had him called the father of climate change for the predictions that he made and is one of the basis for the more modern and accurate climate change models.
The world is slowly and surely pushing ahead with green and sustainable technologies. Wind power, using turbines, is growing and is one way to generate electricity using the second most abundant source of energy after sunlight.
Today there is news that China plans to increase its existing wind power output threefold by 2020. The original plan was to have a 30 Gigawatts output by then but that has been increased to 100 Gigawatts and plans to forge ahead even further after 2020.
China is one country that has realized coal is not the way to go and as the second most polluter in the world is taking some steps necessary now.
In an earlier post here on RGdot I wrote about the initiative set up to fight climate change by pledging to be smarter in use of technology. The University of Maine at Farmington has beat out several other colleges with the most number of pledges on it campus. Read below for the details courtesy of Enviromedia and also about the video portion of the competition whose winner will be announced on May 4th.
Honor Given to Top U.S. University Fighting Climate Change Through Smart Computing
The University of Maine at Farmington beat out 18 other colleges nationwide in a competition to recruit faculty, students and staff to pledge to commit to sustainable computing practices. The university won with more than 24 percent of the campus community pledging to power down their computers and support the Climate Savers Computing Initiative’s mission.
The first-of-its-kind contest significantly helped the environment by collecting more than 17,000 pledges that will offset more than 3,000 tons of carbon per year and save 4.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy. Cost savings will collectively top more than $450,000 a year.
“The University of Maine at Farmington won by getting the highest percentage of their campus to pledge,” said Pat Tiernan, executive director of Climate Savers Computing Initiative. “Their commitment means they’ll offset 125 tons of carbon per year, save 164,000 kilowatt-hours of energy and more than $17,000 in energy costs.”
Climate Savers Computing, an international nonprofit organization committed to reducing IT-related energy waste, collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program to present the pledge challenge called Power Down for the Planet. All university pledge rankings can be viewed at http://www.powerdownfortheplanet.org/view-all-pledge-drivers/.
“Our success was the result of students talking to other students, faculty spreading the word in classes, student organizations hanging up posters, and so on,” said Tom O’Donnell, Manager of UMF Computer Center’s Network and Server Systems. “Farmington is a close-knit community, and people pull together for a good cause. In fact, environmental stewardship is written right into our mission statement. Winning the Power Down for the Planet contest is another exciting example of our dedication to the environment.”
Nineteen universities competed, with Jackson State University coming in second, and the University of Iowa coming in third. The University of Iowa also received honorable mention for garnering the highest number of total campus-wide pledges with 6,013.
“Most importantly, there are only winners here because each university’s administration stepped up to join the challenge and implement broader energy-saving measures,” said Tiernan.
Other participating universities included: Adelphi University; Arizona State; California State University, East Bay; Cornell University; Furman University; Montclair State University; Ohio State University; Pennsylvania State University; Portland State University; Purdue University; UCLA; University of California at San Diego; University of Florida; University of Maryland; University of Michigan; and University of Mississippi.
Each university is now a Climate Savers Computing member, and participating universities also agreed to make a commitment to use power management on university-owned PCs and agreed to incorporate energy efficiency criteria for future PC and server purchases. Climate Savers Computing, along with each university, is also now a pledge driver with the EPA’s Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR campaign.
In a related contest, Climate Savers Computing also issued an open call for videos that would help tell the Climate Savers Computing story of efficient computing through power management. The winners of the Grand University Prize and Grand Prize will be announced May 4 at http://www.powerdownfortheplanet.org/video/. All Power Down for the Planet Video Challenge submissions can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/group/powerdown.
For Earth Hour (www.earthhour.org/home/) , Climate Savers Computing held a weeklong promotion starting March 23 and culminating March 28. It resulted in 1,080 new individual Climate Savers Computing pledges. The Climate Savers Computing Web site had more than 19,000 unique visitors on March 28, accounting for the highest single-day count in 2009.
Climate Savers Computing also helped present an IT Power Management Summit to share how businesses of all sizes can eliminate wasted energy and cost. A recording of the Webinar is available in the Press Room section of the Climate Savers Computing Web site under the Video and Audio section: http://www.climatesaverscomputing.org/news/latest-news/.
About Climate Savers Computing
The Climate Savers Computing Initiative is a nonprofit group of eco-conscious consumers, businesses and conservation organizations dedicated to reducing the energy consumption of computers. More than 450 companies and organizations have joined the Initiative since its launch in June 2007, and thousands of individuals have pledged their support. The Initiative is led by Dell, Google, HP, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, and World Wildlife Fund. Sponsors include Acer, AMD, Delta Electronics, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Intuit, Lite-On, NEC, Sun and Supermicro.
For more information and to pledge your support, visit www.climatesaverscomputing.org
Carbon Neutrality is a concept of reducing or balancing the amount of greenhouses gases released into the atmosphere. Massive evidence points to fossil fuels causing extreme harm to the environment and while some voices of propaganda or even legitimate scientists do not agree the evidence seems to confirm extreme dangers. Even if the dangers are overblown there is no denying that city life where fumes and other pollutants are very much present has detrimental effects on each human’s health.
Many worldwide or United Nations (and other organizations) sponsored meetings and summits have been convened to reach a worldwide (or close to worldwide) agreement on controlling the release of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and other so-called greenhouse gases that at the very least have local health effects. The Kyoto Protocol is the most famous and perhaps the most criticized. It is however local governments and nations that have taken things into their hands and try to do their part in virtual unilateral fashion. Over the past few years Costa Rica, Norway, Maldives, New Zealand and Maldives and some others have set their own targets of becoming carbon neutral under an UN initiative called the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While some concepts such as selling carbon credits might be questionable as to shift the problem elsewhere for cash it is still commendable and necessary that some form of concrete action is being taken by countries that may not even be the richest.
Costa Rica’s example seems to be the most ambitious by setting a target of 2021, the country’s 200th anniversary, for becoming carbon neutral. Others like Norway have set dates like 2050 as a target. Such things as moving forward and increasing existing hydroelectric power generation, starting or adding to wind power and solar power generation projects are all steps that help and have long term and short term benefits. Other steps such as halting deforestation add to the arsenal by adding carbon consuming plants. Removing pollutants from the assembly lines and the roads help as well.
As one concrete example one can look to the the introduction of electric cars into a market place. Recently the India based REVA Electric Car Company (RECC) entered the Costa Rican market and will sell its electric car in that country. Initiatives like this that include profits will help bit by bit and the chances of improving our health and most certainly the well-being of the planet are increased.
A video, not recent but interesting, created by Greg Craven weighs the risks and possibilities of inaction on climate change. It is done from a science teacher perspective and lays down in, an admittedly, simplistic fashion the debate in the form of risk management and calculation. More similar videos and the complete series on the issue of climate change is on youtube and the accompanying site.
It is clear, in many respects, that the time for debate is long over but convincing those who dissent will probably have to continue for the foreseeable future. In some of the upcoming posts here on RGdot and using the Green category I will attempt to collect evidence, links and opinion showing the reasons why. I will also attempt to present a few dissenters, which include such scientific minds as Freeman Dyson.