Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category
Back in the mid naughties, Australia and Australians were a bastion of all that is best in a people. (I know, I hired and befriended some.) A mix of the quick wit and social nature of us Brits + the industrious work ethic and love of outdoors activities of Californians. Upside of this is a people who were not only hard working, but interested in matters environmental. After all, look after Earth, and it looks after you!
Not sure what happened, but between then and a few years ago, something went wrong and the country has become obsessed with dirty energy and characterless sprawling trashy outdoor strip mall ‘neighbourhoods’ like those that cover America. (Drop a pin on a random location in the USA on Google maps and drag the yellow pegman onto a road to Streetview what I mean!)
Like most occasions when one makes a mistake, Australia has just been run over by their own karma, again.
“Don’t worry Sir, you’re safe up here. It’s only the little people who will perish.”
You may say this is only to be expected, low laying flat lands covered in water due to a periodical cyclone. Actually, not so. If you read to the end of the article, you get to the worrying part: Their food producing farmland has been devastated. Yes, for all we know, when the waters subside, it will leave behind nutritious soil (after all, that is why there are fertile lands besides rivers in the first place), but it is probably too early to tell.
The core issue – and why refusal to deal with climate change quickly should be humanity’s number one priority – is that we should not experiment with our planet’s eco system. Dabble in the lab and use supercomputers, but not outside.
I have repeatedly stated in this blog and on comments on other publications that the second the price of food rises to more than the income of more than a certain threshold of a populated area, we will have civil unrest. Food shortages caused by climate change will cause that. Have you ever been to the supermarket on a Sunday afternoon or just before the Christmas holidays? The shelves are empty because stock is cleared ready for replenishing with fresh produce the following shopping week.
It is annoying and makes you think just how reliant on the convenient availability of basics we are as a species.
The problem in the West is that we are so good at saving ourselves that few of us die when a major natural disaster strikes, unlike say in Pakistan where earthquakes and such lead to a far higher toll due to poor infrastructure design.
On the other hand, we get away with it because it didn’t hurt enough. If more Westerners were harmed directly by our self caused ‘natural’ disasters, we would do something about it quicker. For example, if a loving family member of an Australian (or other) politician was killed or injured by an event that may well have been caused by human induced climate change, being it is now ‘personal’, would they stop being pro coal and invest the nation’s billions in solar and other clean energy instead?
Fight back club: Don’t experiment with our only planet for short term capitalist or geopolitical gain.
Unless you’re well loaded, financially, things are starting to get very difficult for many people due to various factors.
This cyclical nature of the Western economy is, like the solar cycle of identical length, something we take for granted. But it needn’t be that way. Despite living in the ‘free’ West, most people are not really liberated. (This whole blog is all about such a state of affairs and is what motivates me in my work too.)
So, unless you are in absolute power, meaning you won’t have to concern yourself with such matters, I’m willing to bet your typical Brit is worrying about the following:
- Paying the mortgage
- Paying the car loan
- Paying the electricity bill
- Paying the council tax
- Paying the water bill
- Paying the food bill (How much?!)
- Paying for the kids toys
And so on, silently, like a slowly ticking time bomb.
Always hoping your ship will sail in tomorrow, such that the stress that tugs at your soul 24/7 will finally be lifted so the strain it puts on your personal relationship(s) is all gone.
Sadly, things are not engineered to occur like that. There is no Hollywood ending in reality. (As per most British directed movies that tend to feature a more realistic 3rd act.)
The part solution to this is as I have been saying for 15 years or more and why a NASA image of the sun is my universal avatar, is for as many individuals and businesses as possible (Mrs May won’t have the government do it, she’s in bed with big carbon/nuclear) to fit as many solar panels as possible to their premises or garage.
Instead of buying that 42″ LG 4K OLED TV, (next year?), buy two 150 watt solar panels (£300), a leisure battery or two (£85), two regulators (£60), and get your basic gadgets off grid 24/7. As solar panels come down in price, you’ll be able to add more, get some more batteries (maybe a Tesla Powerwall?) and then take some major white goods appliances off grid too. A solar powered fridge eh? The irony!
By doing this, you’ll spend a bit, but then reduce your power bill and even be able to feed back into the grid once your output exceeds your input. Either way, you’ll benefit the environment and be setup to survive a power cut when the End Of Days apocalypse comes to pass.
Light back club: Invest in this…
…why it is so cold everywhere these last few weeks, I will tell you. Because the polar ice caps are melting thanks to global warming, (climate change to be more accurate), the cold water is of course spreading across our oceans and cooling the air.
This was ALL predicted a long long time ago.
What the consequences will be is unknown, but coupled with the jet streams being stuck, that explains the sharp temperature differences over relatively small distances, such as Southern and Northern England last few days. Scotland was balmy whilst down south it was minus 4 or 5.
Kids: Want to know why things happen? Read your science and maths books at school and pay attention to your talkative enthusiastic lecturer as he or she waves their hands around explaining how it all works.
You’ll be primed for life!
See what I did there?
That’s the catch phrase I have been using for ages now when mentoring wannabe entrepreneurs or those complaining about something, such as their council, badly run transport infrastructure or other matter.
In a nutshell, if you don’t do anything, nothing happens.
Which leads me to the outcome of the useless time wasting Climate Change Jolly* in Paris, #COP21. No doubt short for Cop Out No. 21.
So lets see now, to keep global temperature rises at no more than 2 degrees:
- Encourage carbon capture
- Focus on nuclear energy
Both of these technologies are sweeping a problem under the carpet for future generations to deal with, the former longer into the future than the latter.
Carbon Capture is tantamount to admitting that we have failed, so we’ll bung all the excess CO2 into a cave, seal it tight, and pretend it isn’t there. Which begs the question, what happens when it begins to seep out again, or it is accidentally released by future generations unaware of it’s existence or a natural disaster?
Next up we have nuclear energy. Agreed, it is the most effective alternative to carbon fuels, in particular if safer next generation reactors are used, (which they are not unfortunately). However, Chernobyl, and in particular Fukushima, have proven that unpredictable incidents and the one thing that worries me, entropy, can lead to catastrophe. And the latter is THE biggest threat to the use of nuclear energy, even fusion.
To see the effects of entropy, (the way chaos springs from order once there is loss of control), either visit (do don your pritective garb Bond!) the uninhabited town of Chernobyl** or watch the movie, “I am Legend” and other post apocalyptic films where mankind has been wiped out, letting nature and chaos take over. Once tough concrete and brick buildings crack and crumble thanks to a mix of weather and intruding vines.
My banner at the climate march in London Nov 29 2015 – Geddit?
Likewise, over time, nuclear reactors and their associated components require maintenance, and once in a while there is catastrophic failure. And that is without human error or natural disaster as was the case with Fukushima. Even ignoring entropy, there is what to do with nuclear waste, the real elephant in the room. As you read this, we have only been using nuclear energy for about 40-50 years, so the problem is still something for future generations to deal with. Beyond the risk of the stuff being used in a terror attack, (dirty bomb), as per carbon capture, if we don’t use nuclear by-products to produce nuclear weapons, we have to store it somewhere! And then what? What if entropy takes over in 100 or more years?
Few other potential sustainable energy sources suffer this issue. Solar, hydro and wind (in particular the former) are based on none destructive ‘clean’ technologies. Yes, batteries require polluting materials to manufacture, but they can be recycled safely, and already are, meaning there is no risk of landfill being polluted.
The You factor
We all know in our hearts that the solution to the frustration at these useless self serving conferences is the private sector. Tesla have just opened showrooms in London and Scotland, some smaller nations are now almost running 100% on solar energy, and that’s thanks to a mix of government funding of entrepreneur ‘powered’ innovative companies run by people with a conscience and compassion, rather than an interest in protecting their stockholders. As Apple and Tesla have proven, a company that is run that way will attract customers over a competing company with similar products but little concern for the environment. The public prefer clean products if given a choice, but if not, they will have no option but to take the dirtier path. (Hence most of us still drive gasoline powered vehicles because an affordable practical cleaner alternative does not yet exist, other than the bicycle.)
Your job is to start your own business offering people a 100% sustainable product, from biodegradable children’s toys (#SayNoToPlastic) to solar panel installation. Or how about personal mobile wind turbines that keep your gadgets topped up as you go, without any need to connect to the polluting grid? When you plug your laptop/phone/tablet into that socket in Starbucks, you have no idea where the electricity is generated!
I took this shot at the Climate Change march. (It’s blurry because it was SO windy that day, I could not hold my phone still. Ironic, all that wasted energy!) There were several people with these spinning turbines strapped to their backs, but they were not generating power, which gave me an idea...
The more we/you! do to get off the grid, the less there will be a need for carbon capture, nuclear energy and anything else you feel uncomfortable with unintentionally supporting.
Fight Slack Club: Just do it.
*Sorry. Damned autocorrect!, that should have read ‘Conference’.
Oh one more thing: When I was a lad, we were taught that a rise of even 2 degrees would be catastrophic, leading to unpredictable weather amongst other threats to the status quo. Well, our weather has become that way already, and we have not even got to 2 degrees yet.
This week there was some good news during a period when most news has been bad, from horrific terrorist attacks to acceptance that the 6th Extinction is no longer theory, but underway. No surprise there, and yes there is a connection between the two.
The good news is that an application to frack was unexpectedly rejected by a council despite said council being almost ‘threatened’ to vote in favor. (And the frackers have not given up yet!) We are all in agreement that an alternative to oil and coal is vital if we are to reduce pollution and extract our soldiers from nations that provide us oil but where there are cultural differences.
However, taking a harmful short-termism path is typical of an industry that would rather consume the whole bar of chocolate than avoid greed and temptation by putting it back in the cupboard. Effectively, the carbon fuel industry would rather suck the Earth dry at any cost than invest their billions in a whole new ecosystem of technologies and subsequent business opportunities – including building huge solar farms in Australia, a Western nation that will not require a military presence.
When visiting the US, where there is a lot more space, anywhere there is a carbon fuel extraction or processing plant is polluted, noisy and unpleasant to live around. A while back I remember driving past a plant not far from San Francisco and feeling immensely sorry for the poor people (mainly Mexicans) living near the refinery. Their standard of living and health is horrible. Environmental prejudice comes to mind.
Having lived in and travelled to many of the UK’s village communities, it is an almost idyllic existence. Quiet, clean and almost crime free. Never mind the ground water pollution and risk of small quakes, having large tanker trucks and associated paraphernalia passing through our communities is just not worth it.
As some communities around Oxford have done, way better to invest in solar farms and Tesla household battery packs and get our villages off the grid altogether bit by bit. The reduction in consumer demand for electricity sourced from carbon and nuclear power stations will free up energy resources for heavy industry that will continue to require carbon and nuclear energy until solar and other clean low accident risk sources can generate enough kilowatts.
As this blog has stated before, a Manhattan Project / Apollo Space Program level investment in clean sustainable non nuclear energy is the way forward, not harmful controversial short term solutions that are little more than shoving the problem under the carpet for another day.
Fight frack club: Done! (I know, I have used that pun before.)
Remember all those years ago, when the sparkly new ultra liberal President was elected with much fanfare and ‘hope’? “Finally, someone who will deal with race issues! Represent ‘us’.” Could have fooled me! “He’ll save the environment!” Where? Whose? Which one? “He’ll bring world peace!” A Nobel Prize was awarded too – before he had even done anything! And there are even more wars now, just about everywhere. Really Mr. P?
Well, here at Vision Aforethought towers, we don’t like to dabble in politics – it’s an effective way to achieve little, slowly, but we do care for the environment, because while Presidents come and go, life full planets shouldn’t.
Over the years, having had his blinkers removed by applying research and observation to rumour and hearsay, this blogger has validated that the well known but little discussed concept that THE most powerful force on Earth is not God, nor a fully equipped American Aircraft Carrier or even the crafty security services. No, it’s the carbon fuel industry.
Everything that happens, from where ISIS try to take control, to which US States try to ban the sale of Tesla cars to where the West fights wars to who we make friends with (even if despising said friends behind their backs, deservedly so in some cases), is based on the awesome all reaching power of big oil.
I know, readers know this, but you also like a warm house – as do the Russians who have the people of Siberia to keep warm, so it DOES make sense to retain control of (current!) energy resources to a limited extent. However, for a leader to get into a position of power based on specific promises and values, and then once firmly embedded in the system but no longer able to be reelected – betray his voters and hopers by sleeping with the devil proves it was all just politics as usual. He could have taken a cleaner more visionary long term approach by forcing the industry to invest in sustainable and related technology.
Mr. President, with evidence of climate change occurring all over the world now (here in the UK too, 17 degrees last week, 1 degree this week!), you had a chance to really make a difference and stand your ground, backing up your empowering rhetoric and promises with actions.
Those of us over here on the more cynical less dupable side of the Atlantic, whilst also quite hopeful, now know our underlying feeling that you were just there to fool your gullible people and continue the status quo wasn’t just a hunch.
Fight Barack club: Support these guys via Greenpeace.
So the UK’s (uhm, Scotland’s?), North Sea oil production is under threat due to the falling price of crude. Good news for the consumer and businesses of course, but not for the oil rig employees who are about to be laid off, not to mention the environment as people fill up en masse at 99p a litre.
However, if like more forward looking businesses, BP (‘Beyond Petroleum’, hah, don’t make me laugh) and others had in advance used their once huge financial might to invest in practical sustainable clean energy solutions, such as…
- Tidal barriers, like the superb one proposed across the Severn Estuary
- Large scale solar fields in Saudi Arabia, Australia etc
- Next generation battery technology for efficient storage and distribution
- (Electrical) energy ‘transportation’ infrastructure and management
…then, by now, these companies would not only be able to retain their employees and contractors, but help contribute to a reduction in carbon fuel pollution.
They have had years to begin this bridge building in advance (like Rank Hovis Mcdougall: Movies > Bread), but greed and the human desire to always consume the whole bar of chocolate/apple/planetary resources rather than leave the rest ‘in the ground’, means that we’ll now go through a period of energy insecurity and unemployment. This is exceptionally dangerous with the world already in a very fragile position (yes, the terrorists attacks are related to oil – just use a map) but it’s not a surprise.
It’s controversial to say so, but as I have hinted at before on this blog, the types of people who run carbon energy companies lack the vision, imagination and pragmatic compassion essential to bring about change. Just visit a filling station, they are dirty, clunky and smelly, the only major change since the very first pump was installed being a switch from mechanical clickity whiz digital readouts to LCD. Whoopie doo!
Compare to the imaginative efforts from companies like Tesla and Gogoro.
Fight back club: Don’t put more gas in your tank just because it’s cheap – force the industry to invest in the future before it’s too late by maintaining your frugal less polluting lifestyle. Be Pushy.