Sunday, July 29, 2007

Research to show UK flooding is from global warming

I have just read about the fact that, for the first time, computer modelling has been able to detect a "human fingerprint" on the increased rainfall that Britain is seeing. They compare climate simulations run with and without anthropogenic GHG inputs, and the difference that shows up is our "human fingerprint". It has been seen in temperature predictions, but the research that will be published this week will be the first time the human fingerprint is said to have been detected in rainfall predictions. It is essential to note that what is happening now — and increasing trend to heavier rainfall patterns over Britain — is what is claimed to have been predicted by the research.

If this turns out to be substantial research maybe it will stop professional denialists like Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair carrying on like school kids with a fart cushion every time a cold snap ensues.

It's official: the heavier rainfall in Britain is being caused by climate change, a major new scientific study will reveal this week...

More intense rainstorms across parts of the northern hemisphere are being generated by man-made global warming, the study has established for the first time ­ an effect which has long been predicted but never before proved.

The new study, carried out jointly by several national climate research institutes using their supercomputer climate models, including the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office, does not prove that any one event, including the rain of the past few days in Britain, is climate-change related.

But it certainly supports the idea, by showing that in recent decades rainfall has increased over several areas of the world, including the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and linking this directly, for the first time, to global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

Britain's great flood a reminder of more to come

An unusual meteorological event is responsible for this summer's weather in the UK, not global warming. A shift to the south in the position of the jet stream brought a heatwave to eastern Europe and storms normally found in higher latitudes to England.

But global warming is expected to cause more and more flooding in the UK into the near future.

"Extreme rainfall events are likely to get more extreme and it will lead to flooding," he says. "Although it is hard to predict exactly where the floods will occur on a local scale, people need to start thinking about whether we are ready for more of these."
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Floods are scary things. And they are due to get a lot scarier.

Climate scientists predict that by the end of the century storms like those that have swept across England this summer will hit Britain far more frequently. National average rainfall will increase by around 20 per cent, and much of that will fall in extreme, torrential downpours bringing a month's worth of rain in a single day.

The reason is that, as the climate warms, the atmosphere above our heads will be able to hold more and more moisture which, when it is eventually released as rain, means much heavier rain, explains Peter Stott, a climate scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Change.

UK flooding predicted as a result of global warming
Potential extent of flooding by 2080: Click to enlarge
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Greening the Big Blue

Cleantechblog offer some tantalising speculation about IBMs move into the solar cell business. Greenwash, or clean-up? We will have a better idea within the next eighteen months.

We were talking on a range of topics, but one that piqued my interest was the description of IBM’s work in photovoltaics – and a few thoughts on where they were going. I did not ask, and he did not offer, any particulars on the work in progress, but he did make mention of a few points that I thought were well worth repeating:
  • IBM is expecting to be a player in the solar cell business – likely seeing commercial impact in the next 18 months to two years.
  • IBM is developing both advanced crystalline technologies and CIGS processes – relying on their semiconductor manufacturing expertise and nanotech research to make breakthroughs in controlling PV manufacturing processes.
  • You will not likely see IBM making branded modules – perhaps instead a cell production business strategy?
  • IBM sees the potential for very high efficiency multi-junction cells in foreseeable future.
The fascinating part is that IBM is not a newcomer to the game.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Greenbox turns car emissions into bio-oil

Carbon dioxide engine emissions are diverted into a Greenbox, which is about the size of, and replaces, the car exhaust system. This Greenbox traps the exhaust carbon-dioxide and holds it inert. It is big enough to capture most of the carbon dioxide emissions from a full tank of fuel. using the carbon dioxide as fuel. When a new tank of fuel is filled, a fresh Greenbox is swapped with the spent one. This is then forwarded to huge central processing tanks where algae fixes the carbon dioxide that is extracted from the spent Greenbox, i.e. it grows, to be harvested as biofuel. Great idea, if it works. Who would have predicted that mankind's future could depend on us taking up a new symbiosis with... algae?

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Three Welsh inventors are touting their Greenbox system that would replace car exhaust systems with an emissions capture system. It uses algae to absorb the emitted gases and hold them inertly so that the boxes can be easily transported for centralised processing of the car wastes.
The three [...] have set up a company called Maes Anturio Limited, which translates from Welsh as Field Adventure.

Through a chemical reaction, the captured gases from the box would be fed to algae, which would then be crushed to produce a bio-oil. This extract can be converted to produce a biodiesel almost identical to normal diesel.

This biodiesel can be fed back into a diesel engine, the emptied Greenbox can be affixed to the car and the cycle can begin again.

The process also yields methane gas and fertiliser, both of which can be captured separately. The algae required to capture all of Britain’s auto emissions would take up around 400 hectares.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kevin Rudd and Tasmanian Gunns control

He's a good 'un, that Kevin.

He definitely does not want a repeat of Howard's surprising ascendency in Tasmania with the forestry union at the last election. So he has gone to spread oil on potentially troubled waters where all the elements are at play — the loggers, the greenies, nimbys, and now a group worried about the due process — not — that the Gunns pulp mill development applications is going through.

Tasmanians could be due for another rush of blood to the head from being on the national stage once again, come the elections.

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KEVIN Rudd has announced a $20 million Labor package to support the Tasmanian forestry industry and assess the possible impacts of climate change.

Included in the package is:

$9 MILLION to boost the export of forest products through a Forest Industries Development Fund;

$8 MILLION to address major gaps in knowledge concerning the impact of climate change on the timber industry and the vulnerability of forest systems;

$1 MILLION for a Forest and Forest Products Industry Skills Council to be known as ForestWorks;

$1 MILLION to develop skills data, and;

$1 MILLION to help regional governments and the industry combat illegal logging.

Mr Lennon said.

"It gives equal weight to both sides of the forestry debate and would be welcomed by reasonable observers who believe in a balanced approach,"

Mr Rudd said his position on a proposed pulp mill in Bass would depend on environmental impact assessments.

Gunns Ltd wants to build a mill in the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston.

Business is ready to tackle climate change

Australian business CEOs, GMs and MDs are an astute lot, or at least 85.82% of them are. A survey, by Business Climate International shows that, as a group, the vast majority are overwhelmingly concerned about climate change.

With a little more education they will become a powerful environmental voice — money talks, and there's money to be saved by using energy more efficiently.

Top businesses rank their concerns in exclusive poll: To gauge what the Australian business world thinks about climate change, Business Climate International recently conducted an extensive survey of some of the country’s top CEO’s across hundreds of large, medium and small businesses. Surprisingly, results show that business leaders are overwhelmingly concerned (85.82%) and a third (33.33%)believe that hunger is likely to be the biggest by- product of climate change, while almost half (42.86%) agree that pollution is indeed the main cause.

The survey found that almost a quarter of polled recipients (21.43%) identify increasing populations as a contributing factor, whilst 14.29% believe waste adds to the problem. Erratic weather conditions (28.57%), desertification (14.29%), drought (14.29%) and flooding (9.52%) were also listed as resultant fears.

Over half (52.77%) of recipients have watched Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Australia's nuclear power created in Kirribilli

I hear John Howard will sign us up with the US in a nuclear pact. I haven't followed it, as I haven't followed any of his stunts since he jumped the shark, oh, so many stunts ago, so I am not really qualified to comment. But this does dovetail in with his ambition to make us radioactive green — the network of 25 nuclear power stations, the Switkowsky report — and his obsequious modus operandi when dealing with anything Bush. I don't have to expend too much mental energy to join the dots, especially now that his wife, Janette, has spilt the beans on his compulsive lying (I bet you she's sleeping on the couch at the moment).

Before he does sign, I hope he click this link by The Antidote. It is a catalogue of currents mishaps and disasters from nuclear installations around the globe. Would he have one in Kirribilli? Well — would he have had one if he had his time over again?

:::[The Antidote: So you like nuclear power...?!]

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Is green-washing a global phenomenon?

Grist is featuring a breezy piece on 15 Green Cities. Sydney gets a gander, and this gets up the nose of GrantNW of Sydney:

Sydney green? You've got to be kidding

I hope the rest of your green cities aren't as full of hot air as Sydney. The skies ain't blue in Sydney any more and the rail system is on its last legs. Green Square is green only in name and is just a property development. And our national environment minister's plan to phase out electric light bulbs was made with an eye to an election this year, sounds implausible given the 'plan' to phase out disposable plastic bags in supermarkets has been going on for about ten years, is left up to industry, and has achieved little.

It also pales into insignificance from an Environment Minister who steadfastly refuses to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

by grantnw at 10:26 PM on 20 Jul 2007

I confer. We are good at green-washing only. We are a city ever-more dependent on the car and PPP roads infrastructure.

Funny, the majority of the commenters said similar things about their cities.

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Lil Peppi tells it like it is

From Grist:

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India to develop climate change mitigation policy

Global warming is a quantifiable problem — at it's most reduced it is directly related to the amount of previously sequestered GHGs entering the atmosphere minus the amount of carbon that is being sunk — and to tackle it you need a quantifiable solution. That is, you need carbon emissions reductions targets.

While it is theoretically a strong argument that it is India's turn to grow their economy so they should not have to tax their cheap fossil fuel energy, it is a short-term view. India is also one of the first-in-line, down-the-line, to pick up the real global warming tab which, in their case, is a not-so-mighty Ganges.

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India has taken the first steps towards developing a national plan on tackling the effects of climate change.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting of top government officials and environmental experts which agreed to draft a national policy by October.

India and China are among the world's largest polluters and are coming under international pressure to agree to mandatory emission cuts.
A recent report by environmental experts said India would be among the countries worst affected by climate change.
In his opening remarks at the meeting of India's National Council for Climate Change, Mr Singh acknowledged the scale of the problem.

The council will work on a strategy to offset the impact of melting Himalayan glaciers which feed many of the country's rivers and are a major source of water and power.

A tree planting programme will also be launched to replenish 15m acres of degraded forests.

But no mention was made of cutting carbon emissions.

World Wide Weird Weather #2

Didn't England experience similar flooding a month or so ago? Weird.

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THOUSANDSs of people awoke in makeshift shelters in southern and central England after abandoning their cars on flooded highways or leaving trains disrupted by torrential rains.
At Bampton in the west of Oxfordshire more than 300 homes flooded and 1200 left without power.
Helen Rossington of MeteoGroup UK said: "Average rainfall for the whole of July is about 35 millimetres. But some places have had as much as 85 millimetres in a few hours."
RAF troops from Kinloss, in Scotland, helped evacuate 60 people from Sedgeberrow in Worcestershire who were stranded after the River Isbourne burst its banks.

Many motorists were stranded in the south-western areas of Worcester and Gloucester. Some were forced to remain in their vehicles overnight and others chose to abandon their cars.

In Gloucestershire, around 2000 people spent last night in emergency shelters after being forced from their cars or homes due to the flooding.

Ad Hominem

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Argumentum ad hominem literally means "argument directed at the man"; there are two varieties.

If you refuse to accept a statement, and justify your refusal by criticizing the person who made the statement, then you are guilty of abusive argumentum ad hominem — the truth of an assertion doesn't depend on the virtues of the person asserting it.
To reject a proposition based on the fact that it was also asserted by some other easily criticized person is another form of abusive argumentum ad hominem.
Try and persuade someone to accept a statement you make, by referring to that person's particular circumstances, and you are also an abuser.
It's not always invalid to refer to the circumstances of an individual who is making a claim. If someone is a known perjurer or liar, that fact will reduce their credibility as a witness.

Ban Ki-moon calls for UN action on climate change

Moving the climate change debate, which has settled down into a consensus on AWG, out of the scientific body advising the UN — the IPCC — and into the General Assembly seems like a good idea.

Even better, Ban seems to expect results coming out of his attempt to bang heads together:

He said that the outcomes from this meeting would feed into the UN climate negotiation process.

"I have been advised by many experts that if we act now - since we have the resources and heightened awareness - we can reverse it," he said.

"Then we can give a much more prosperous planet Earth to our great, great, grandchildren. "

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The international climate debate needs to embrace a "new way of thinking" to tackle the problem, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged. He called for both industrialised and developing nations to focus on limiting future global greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Ban added that he would convene a climate summit to help reach consensus on a global climate action plan.

The idea of making developing nations enforce emissions caps has also faced opposition.

Recent attempts to reach a global agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, have ended in failure.

The global climate treaty requires industrialised nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% from 1990 levels, but the US and Australia have refused to ratify it.

"To build on the current momentum, I am going to convene a high-level UN General Assembly debate on 24 September."
"Business as usual is no longer an option - we must reach complete agreement," he told the audience in central London.
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Albrechtsen externalises, but not on externality

Janet Albrechtsen of the Australian newspaper shamelessly channels the spirit of Edmund Burke during the French Revolution when she laments that Howard's good work on climate change is just not understood by the Australian public. :::[Now for some sensible talk on climate change]

I love the way the headline implies that the talk up to now has been insensible. There's more irony in store — what follows is barely sensible in itself:

It's easier to listen to Missy Higgins, Wolfmother and Sneaky Sound System than read a copy of the Government's report from the Task Group on Emissions Trading.

It's boring to learn that Australia's economy and abatement challenges are different from those of many other industrialised nations, particularly those in Europe. And that our natural resources and access to low-cost energy are integral to our international competitiveness. And that any model for long-term emissions reductions must take account of the need to protect that prosperity.

Her reference to "access to low-cost energy" is were the flaw in her logic lives. Fossil fuels are not low cost fuels that protect our "prosperity" if the real cost is externalised into the future, and onto the generations to come, making that prosperity short lived. Leaving a tab to be picked up by our grandchildren in the the form of a debilitated climate. Albrechtsen's argument needs to address this to have any merit. Especially since it protects those who benefit now from leaving us with a debilitated climate, and all the implications.

What's so wrong with Wolfmother, anyway?

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Global warming: Beat the heat, eat less meat

Hmmm. Hard one for me to give up entirely, but there are a host of good health reasons to reduce meat intake.

On the other hand, all species are in this global warming boat together. Maybe cattle need to rise above their usual bovine selves, stop farting around and show some initiative for once by sourcing locally grown food — just like I do — and stop passing their food miles on in my thick, juicy, tender, steaks. Or I'll stop eating them.

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A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of beef causes more greenhouse-gas and other pollution than driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home, according to a Japanese study.

That one kilo (2.2 pounds) of beef also requires energy equivalent to lighting a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days. The energy is needed to produce and transport the animals' feed.

A personal emissions reduction lifestyle guide

I enjoy seeing global warming related material on Clipmarks and other social networking sites. It's validation that there are a bunch of people out there that are conscious and care. Anyway, here's Lubaska's clip:

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Use and lose less energy by doing any or many of these easy things.

Turn your heating down
Turn your heating down

An average family can save 400kg of CO2 a year and a lot of money

Take a stand against standby

An average family can save 150kg of CO2 a year

Unplug that charger
Unplug that charger

An average family can save 7kg of CO2 a year

Don't boil over
Don't boil over

An average family can save 45 kg of CO2 a year

Try not to fly
Stay grounded

An average family can save 700kg of CO2 a year and a suitcase full of cash

Turn out the bright lights
(Don't) see the light

An average family can save 100kg of CO2 a year and a lot of money

Use better energy
Use better energy

An average family can save 1.7 tonnes of CO2 a year

Take a low-power shower
Take a low-power shower

An average family can save 290kg of CO2 a year and a lot of money

Buy better bulbs
Buy better bulbs

An average family can save 200kg of CO2 a year

Stuff the freezer
Stuff the freezer
Don't drive
Don't drive
Wrap up your home
Warm up your home
Lower your laundry
Lower your laundry
Buy local food
Buy local food

An average family can save 4 tonnes of CO2 a year