Monday, October 30, 2006

Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming


“Houston,” Charles F. Kutscher, chairman of the Solar 2006 conference, concluded in a twist on the line from Apollo 13, “we have a solution.”

Hold the applause. For all the enthusiasm about alternatives to coal and oil, the challenge of limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, which traps heat, will be immense in a world likely to add 2.5 billion people by midcentury, a host of other experts say. Moreover, most of those people will live in countries like China and India, which are just beginning to enjoy an electrified, air-conditioned mobile society.

The challenge is all the more daunting because research into energy technologies by both government and industry has not been rising, but rather falling.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

China: Largest Urban Migration In History

Recently I came upon a startling fact. China is in the midst of a vast urban migration. It seems that Chinese peasants are flocking to industrialized areas in the search for higher income and opportunity. As a result, China now has over 200 cities with 3 million inhabitants or more. Cities have sprung up out of nowhere as companies relocate to China to capitalize on the cheap labor.

China is also in a huge growth spurt and its energy useage is soaring as a result. From reports, there seems to be little in the way of pollution control. This disturbing trend is occurring as people in the US are starting to come out their deep sleep about global warming. The implications appear grave.

One question to think about is this: If we in the United States are able to control our carbon release, what about developing countries such as China? Clearly the US with 5% of the world's population using 25% of its energy any reduction we make will be extremely helpful in preserving the planet's future. What about China? China continues to depend a great deal on coal and reports indicate that they continue to build vast numbers of new ones. Will are actions in curbing our carbon releases be dwarfed by China's march into modernization?

I am also concerned about what might happen to the rural people's attachment to nature as they leave their close relationship with the earth behind in search of the good life and consumption that urban living might promise them. Removing themselves, as many Americans have done, from a bond with the natural world will not support them in to coming to terms with the choices that must be made if we are to survive industrialization. In the terms of human history, industrialization has been an experiment. The word is not in yet on whether or not it has succeeded. Clearly, it has ravaged our world in gargantuan ways. A burning question that will be addressed whether we like it or not is: will our addiction to money and power prevent us from taking the necessary steps in preserving our future?

Ticonderoga Burn

I guess the test burn is likely to happen at the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga New York. The state environment board authorized a two week test burn of tires which could provide about 10% of the energy needed by the plant. As the plant is located just across Lake Champlain, the prevailing winds will carry the emissions to Vermont locations. Bad enough, International Paper has declined to outfit the plan with state-of-the-art pollution control technology (electorstatic precipitatior) that would filter out toxic particulate matter. It is my understanding that Vermont has offered to help pay for this equipment, however, there ain't no takers at International Paper.

According to the NY state Waste Tire website, there are about 24.7 million waste tires in landfills throughout the state and that these comprise about 85% of all discarded tires in the state. What is not clear, is just how many tires are discarded in the empire state on a yearly basis, where will they go, and what are the plans to get rid of them? It might appear that perhaps that State of New York has a strong and powerful vested interest in the burning at Ticonderoga.

This additional insult to breathing Vermonters is nothing new. In previous articles, Vermont has been identified as the "tailpipe" for the industrial midwest carrying toxic chemicals and particulate to our bucolic state. And it goes way back........ If you research the nuclear testing in the early decades of the nuclear bombs, they have wind patterns showing the path of the fallout. The path is concentrated just before hitting the western part of Vermont as it flows "through the tailpipe" across Vermont.

So I guess we can't think that coming to a rural state of Vermont, with "clean air", no billboards, loads of farmland, and plenty of open land can remove us from contamination. Truth be told, we do have better outcomes in regards to cancer rates that our city cousins, however, the industrial creep cannot be avoided.

So, should you think that this piece is a bit of overeaction, how would you then describe the reaction of Vermont Department of Health? They will be tracking healthy statistics from Rutland,Addison and Burlington Counties, prior to the burn,during the burn and after the burn to monitor any health problems. There is serious concern that this release could erode the quality of Vermont air and water.

I just have to wonder what the long term effects will be if this burning continues. Unfortunately, history has shown too often, that when a business makes decisions about its bottom line versus the health of the community, that powerful feduciary responsibility to its stockholders wins out.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Law to Cut Emissions? Deal With It

by Jane L Levere, NY Times

In August, Peter A. Darbee, chairman, chief executive and president of PG&E, owner of Pacific Gas and Electric, broke rank with his peers by supporting a measure in California that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are widely blamed for global warming. Mr. Darbee discussed his decision and other initiatives in an interview on a recent visit to New York.

"Rather than sitting there and denying that global warming is a problem and climate change is a problem, my reaction was to accept it and to go with the flow to understand the trend, and then say, how can I position PG&E to deal with that challenge, and then how can I turn a challenge into an opportunity."

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Global Warming Study Predicts Wild Ride

By Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, posted on Commondreams

In a preview of a major international multiyear report on climate change that comes out next year, a study out of the National Center for Atmospheric Research details what nine of the world's top computer models predict for the lurching of climate at its most extreme.

"It's going to be a wild ride, especially for specific regions," said study lead author Claudia Tebaldi, a scientist at the federally funded academic research center.

...."The changes are very significant there," Tebaldi said. "It's enough to say we're in for a bad future."

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Climate Change Inaction Will Cost Trillions: Study

by Jeremy Lovell, Reuters

Failing to fight global warming now will cost trillions of dollars by the end of the century even without counting biodiversity loss or unpredictable events like the Gulf Stream shutting down, a study said on Friday.

But acting now will avoid some of the massive damage and cost relatively little, said the study commissioned by Friends of the Earth from the Global Development and Environment Institute of Tufts University in the United States.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The 'Poison Plastic' Retailers Won't Talk About

By Lois Gibbs, AlterNet

PVC plastic (commonly used in toys, shower curtains, bags, shoes and more) has been linked to cancer and birth defects -- so why won't big-box stores like Target stop selling it?

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