Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Economist: The Heat is On (Climate Change Special)

Economist climate change special.


Climate Change Action

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At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Jackie said...

This article brings up a very interesting subject in regards to global warming versus global cooling, and how the earth has been doing a balancing act with climate. It is not any easy subject to understand, but I believe the article is essentially saying that by burning dirty coal we have created particles of sulphur and other such matter, that have actually worked towards cooling the gasses that are being trapped from our greenhouse emissions.
The issue that stems from this article that is so scary to me is coal. There is a proposal being reviewed right now at Capital Hill for 150 new coal plants to be built, many of which will have this new fuel (diesel) process (supported from by such big wigs as Bob Asher and several other right winged senators) through a new technology combined with Fischer-Tropsch that helps to create a new ultra low sulphur blend. The problem is not only that coal is not a renewable source, and has many hazardous side affects, but also that it is a huge emitter of CO2. With the lack of sulphur, my fear is that this will not only increase global warming by double, but will also reduce funds towards other renewable energies that have more long term and efficient results. I believe many people are aware of the negative effects of coal (only have to look at what it has done to China and many of the surrounding countries). However, I do not believe that most people are aware of this new clean coal and what that might do to our Global Warming and CO2 problem!!

At 12:15 AM, Blogger YEOMANS said...

The solution to global warming need not and should involve requiring Western society to go on some energy starvation diet.

I maintain in my book PRIORITY ONE Together We Can Beat Global Warming that we can keep our high standard of living. (PRIORITY ONE is freely available at We can have as many cars as we want and they can be as big as we desire. Our affluent society can be even more affluent. Because fundamentally we are not short of anything, energy or raw materials, and we never will be. For us to continue, and to continue to improve our health and wealth and standard of living the only things we must change is our support for countries and industries that mine and sell fossil carbon based materials.

There are just four requirements to end cancerous climate change.

FIRST We remove the current excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere that our use of fossil carbon materials have added. We use plants to extract it, and then turn it into masses of soil organic matter - and so produce rich healthy productive soil. We do this by switching to organic type agricultural practices. Recognize that past soil fertility losses in the Great Plains contributed as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as came from all the cars Detroit ever built. We simply reverse that process.

SECOND For our mobile transport - cars trucks busses and airplanes, we switch totally to ethanol and biodiesel - produced from sugarcane and grains, and oil palms and oil seeds. Both these biofuels are economically practical and utterly feasible.

Tropical Africa could fuel Europe and Asia. Brazil could easily fuel the Americas - both north and south. America imports its petroleum fuel. So too it can import its biofuels. (And subsidize its local farmers if it wishes.) To make all this happen we must demand the elimination of all taxes and all excises on biofuels and we must set a minimum petroleum oil price of something over $60 per barrel so oil interests can not continue to juggle the oil market to kill biofuel development.

THIRD For large-scale industrial power generation we must accept, weather we like on not, the reality that nuclear energy is our only feasible option - and it's safer and it's unbelievable abundance.

Nuclear energy admittedly, is a highly emotive subject. In my book PRIORITY ONE I describe and catalogue the history and the motives behind the creation of the well funded, and vociferous anti-nuclear movement. I also demonstrate that moderate levels of nuclear radiation, (just like sunlight) are a noticeable health benefit and actually increase longevity.

FOURTH Sadly, we can no longer trust the motives of all too many environmental movements. To maintain the sale of oil fuels, petrochemicals and agrochemicals, global warming issues have to be consistently and systematically defused. It is logical and astute public relations to fund, to infiltrate and then influence and modify the aims and objectives of all major environmental movements (and governments).

If the end result of some environmental campaign results directly or indirectly in the increased sales of fossil fuels or agrochemicals, they should not be supported nor trusted. Patric Moore was one of the founders of Greenpeace. However he now believes we should adopt nuclear energy. So Greenpeace vilify him. Another example, throughout Australasia, the giant BP Oil Company was run by Greg Bourne. He moved sideways and now runs the World Wide Fund for nature, the WWF - the one with the Panda logo.
"----but you can't fool all of the people all of the time"

Global warming is happening now and is already proving enormously expensive in life and property and decreased living standards. It's frightening, and it's much worse than we are ever encouraged to believe. Being convinced is not enough. We all must convince others.

Allan Yeomans

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Calvin Jones said...

In response to Yeomans:

1. The ammount of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere is huge and sequestering it with vegitation would be practically impossible. Using biomass in conjunction with geological storage of co2, may however work to a limited degree and BECS as it is know should in my view be encouraged.

2.We have nowhere near enough land on this planet for this second suggestion...just nowhere near. Using biomass as a straight swapp for gasoline is utterly irresponsible and threatens to damage the planets biodiversity, cause more co2 emmissions due to deforestation and encourage the belief that business ans usuall is an option.

3. Nuclear is more expensive than renewables when decomissioning is considered so it dosent make financial sense.

Nuclear energy produces only 7% of world energy consumption. To keep this relative ammount level with increading energy demand would be impractical given the limits of uranium ore available.

4. We can't trust environmental movements?

I have been volunteering with one environmental organisation and have spoke to people in many others. On the whole the motivation of us working on such matters is protecting the planet, but primarily its people. Ideology can sometimes get a more prominant position than it deserves but this does not mean that people will argue against facts if they are clearly demonstrated.

You seem to have a very distored view of tackling climate change, this problem is not simple and cannot be devided into 3 steps of action and one step of cynasism.

There are many good books describing some of the options for a low carbon future but perhaps one of the best pieces of reading i could suggest would be:

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Allan Yeomans said...

In response to Calvin Jones

Fertility enhancing agriculture, such as used in organic farming procedures can easily
extract out the excess carbon dioxide in the air, causing global warming. The CO2 is converted into stable soil organic matter, not "vegetation". Of course the process of forming soil organic matter does go through a vegetation phase.

In my book PRIORITY ONE Together We Can Beat Global Warming the numbers and quantities are spelt out. The arithmetic is simple. (Google Priority One and Yeomans and you can read the whole book on line, or go to )

Geological sequestration is feel-good Harry Potter science. Mine a ton of coal and three and a half tons of carbon dioxide has to buried somewhere very, very deep and stay safe forever.

Apart from hydroelectric systems (and most of the good ones are taken) no renewable energy system is cheaper than nuclear energy, and decommissioning is now generally factored into the price of nuclear electricity. Nuclear energy and its history are also discussed in PRIORITY ONE.

The statement, "given the limits of uranium ore available" is absolutely not a "given".
One gram of uranium supplies as much energy as two tonnes of coal. There is enough easily mineable uranium and thorium to power the world for at least a thousand years, and that's with the entire world's people living an affluent Western life style. In addition there is three tonnes of available uranium in every cubic kilometre of seawater. Given a thousand years of R&D, that too should be easy to extract. That gives us another million years or so. Contrary to what the pro-fossil fuel lobby preaches; nuclear energy is very definitely sustainable.

The so-called "waste disposal problem with nuclear energy" is an anti-nuclear cliché. Your lifetime accumulation of high level nuclear waste would be about one coffee-cup full, and every fifty years it loses about 90% of its radiation emissions. The next fifty years it loses 90% of what's left. You could put the whole worlds high-level nuclear waste in the Titanic. But there are even better and cheaper options mentioned in PRIORITY ONE.

The "" web site recommended to us as a guide for a "low carbon future" is all about "responding to climate change", not stopping it, and then only after the year 2012. So I personally wouldn't recommend it.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its close ally, the Natural Resources Institute, are responsible for developing most of the major environmental policies now being enforced or promulgated by the United Nations. There are over 800 conservation organizations listed as members of the IUCN all the major ones are in it. Friends Of The Earth International, for example, is a member of the IUCN.

The IUCN Mission is: "To influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable." It was appropriate at the time, but fifty years ago nobody had heard of global warming. The IUCN is thus, not in any way chartered to have an interest in global warming and climate destabilization. Their Mission, coincidently, beautifully aligns with the marketing strategies of the fossil fuel industries. And those people are great at exploiting opportunities. For example:-

The WWF, (Worldwide Fund for Nature) and here in Australia, the ACF, (Australian Conservation Foundation) are intimately associated with the IUCN. The CEO (Chief Executive Officer), of WWF Australia was, until very recently Regional President Australia and South Asia for BP (British Petroleum) and Amoco (America Oil Company). We can see why the ACF has stated, "The ACF would welcome the opportunity to play a constructive role in investigating the possibility of developing biofuels." But this tongue-in-cheek support for biofuels is qualified by them insisting that only existing farmland be used to grow it. Hence the structured PR criticism that large biofuels production would mean hardship and starvation to the world's poor. Third World wet tropical countries could easily grow all the world's transport fuels, if allowed.

It is sad but true. In many ways we can no longer trust the underlying motives of many environmental movements. Their members should seriously question who is influencing their policies. Does what they demand ultimately lead to continued or increased sales of oil or fossil fuels, agrochemicals or plastics? If so start worrying. Global warming, with its horrendous and cancerous climate change is by far the greatest threat, life as we know it on our planet, has ever faced. Allan Yeomans.


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