Archive for the ‘Climate’ 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.
…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!
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.
A few years ago, I started work on a timeline based graph that presented the parallels between the plots of various Hollywood films and current or potential future real world events. Whilst it is obvious that the Bond movies and similar productions are designed to draw upon current affairs for entertainment and light weight political purposes, a specific movie released in 2003 raised a few red flags as I sat watching it, despite the preposterous plot. Although a Science Fiction movie, there were craftily inserted references to actual political events.
That film was The Core. A big budget creation that appeared to be a propaganda vehicle, even if the motives were sound. While I will discus my observations on The Core later, the horrific tornadoes that have hit the US recently have highlighted the plot of another movie release just a year later, namely, The Day After Tomorrow.
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox
© 2011 Us?
The film features extreme weather events, including a large number of tornadoes, unlike anything that had occured before, just as is happening today in the US, even if on a smaller scale. Likewise, the other weather events the film portrayed have also occurred since the film was released – again, on a lesser scale.
What raises a flag is the producers of The Day After Tomorrow were Fox, an entity with right wing leanings.
Some speculated at the time that this film was made with one purpose only, to exaggerate the effects of climate change, such that when they began to occur in ‘real life’ (as is happening now – consider the temperature fluctuations in April here in the UK), the public would not react in such a concerned manner. And it appears to be working.
Scientists have been very accurate in predicting such changes in our weather (including those here in the UK) and it is obvious to anyone who pays attention to politics and the news, that entities with right leaning interests tend to protect their old fashioned ways when it comes to corporate interests, and in this case, we are talking about carbon fuels. Beyond lacking the intellect and imagination to consider any other path, they do know full well that the world is undergoing speedy uncontrollable climatic change, but don’t want us to upset their investments.
And that is why that movie was made. Any film with such a huge budget that lacks the sort of intellectual credibility (The Core is the other example), has to be looked upon with suspicion. Why else would someone make it? An oscar?
People need to realise this and not allow their feelings to be watered down and consider the short and long term effects any human made climate change is going to have on our food supply, human migration patterns and therefore, economic stability. The current rise in price of basic food stuffs, such as rice and flour, is directly caused by climate change. If you doubt the price rises, ask any restaurant owner, or check your supermarket bill of a year ago, prior to the fires in Russia, the floods in Australia, China – etc.
It is times like this when governments and financially strong corporations need to make Manhattan Project level investments in next generation solar, battery technology and infrastructure, with the objective that globally viable clean energy generation solutions are ready for introduction by 2016. Yes, five years, the same amount of time it took to realise the atomic bomb, and the length of World War 2, a period during which humanity was forced to invest in and succeeded in triggering a speed of technological change that has never occurred since.
Fight back club: Get proactive by making lifestyle changes, such as choosing more sustainable and pollution free products and services. My employer is doing their part by developing @lifemachine. And we power our servers using 100% solar energy.
Due to the importance of the subject, have taken 20 minutes out of work to post this. When time allows, I will move it to a permanent page and add my observations on the script of the movie, The Core, that paralleled events in the Middle East at the time. I would also like to emphasise that there is no absolute evidence the tornados in the US this week were caused by man made climate change, there was a similar event in the 1970s, however, the increasing incidences of severe unstable weather world-wide does raise yet another red flag. And yes, the sun may also be responsible, but not entirely, and it also offers us potential salvation.
During the previous cold winter at the start of 2010, and during this current cool down, one or two climate sceptics were quick to observe the temperature was not quite as warm as we had been warned by global warming theorists. There are flaws in this argument. 1) No one credible said that winters would be warmer – articles in the biased in so many other ways Independent are not to be trusted. 2) Most scientific analysis made a while back stated quite coherently that global warming (yes, warming, not climate change), could cause the gulf stream to slow down, therefore bringing Europe into the same temperature zone as Canada – a country that lies on the same parallel as the UK and other nations who are kept (relatively!) toasty thanks to the gulf stream. 3) There is another factor that is of course beyond the blame of humanity, namely the recent increased solar activity. This in turn (may) cause the Earth to almost holistically protect itself, and cool down! (Not to mention the cooling effects of high altitude pollutants and volcanic dust that deflect the sun’s rays.) 4) For some reason that I’m becoming convinced has a lot to do with genetics (controversial statement there, hmm?), those who are on the far right and often oppose any attempt to improve our lot when it comes to matters environmental seem to be both dim, selfish and wealthy. The mind boggles how they achieved the latter based on the former, beyond inheritance or outright compassionless greed.
Whilst based on years of actual studies and hands on this blog is happy to predict the technological and socio technological future ;), it isn’t experienced enough to observe that we may be living through the start of a mini ice age – predicated by aforementioned experienced scientists many decades ago.
Let’s see how things look in March/April 2011!
Remember, this isn’t about global warming. This is about climate change. Whether we roast or freeze, both are as bad as the other. But if we cannot escape either, but have a choice, what’s your poison?
[ ] Shiver
[ ] Sizzle
(Sadly no time and not geeky enough to add an actual voting widget! ‘Vote’ in comment area below.)
Fight back club: Ignore special interests. Get scientific! 2+2=4 no matter how much stock you own in big oil/coal/biofuel/static wind turbines etc
Let’s see now, left wingers are more likely to be pro green, we have an (ultra) left wing government, yet they are prosecuting some people who: a) Are a force for good. b) Harmed no one. c) Have no alternative but to protest for the good of all. Yet they are to be taken to court!
I wonder which large industries slipped some dirty money into the pockets of those in power?
Fight back club: Starve the source by walking or riding a bike to work and play. As they say, vote with your wallet. How? Don’t use it!
For those who may be convinced that the current cold weather* across Europe and the USA discredits global warming ‘theory’, note that for a while now scientists and astronomers have stated that the low sunspot activity means the Earth will in fact experience temporary cooling. This has zilch to do with the actual mean global temperature that has been rising for a while now. Once things hot up on sol, there will be a return to warmal down here too. So, watch this space – and your thermometer.
Fight back club: Research mean temperatures over the last few hundred years – and log your own outside so you can keep track over the coming years and spot any trends yourself. “OMG honey! We’re all going to fry!”
This blog posting sponsored by Oregon Scientific, although I have not actually asked them to. Is it fair to profit from doom?
Why is it that researchers, scientists and the media do not perform due diligence before they publish materials that are old news? This in today’s Guardian confirms what The Club of Rome Report concluded – back in the 1960s.
Jean-Michel Jarre, Royal Albert Hall, 30th March 2008
© Alex B 2008
Fight back club: Sustainable living, sustainable living, and sustainable living. May not save us (we will probably need to populate Mars long term), but a solar economy will make life a lot more bearable for more people because it’s clean and reliable. And the happier people are, the less likely they are to turn to crime, mass migration, war and/or terrorism. You will notice I don’t mention population control. In a well managed economy this occurs naturally – a good reason to encourage failing nations to give it a whirl. 21 years to conduct repairs people.
As a matter of interest, The Club of Rome Report was explained to my high school class and had a major effect on my choices and outlook on life. Isn’t it thought provoking to consider the impact that such events that occur in ones youth can have on your life path? Our class is so lucky to have had such an enlightened and brilliant English and Social Studies teacher who spent so much time discussing world affairs and other interesting subjects beyond the standard curicculum. Thank you, Sir!
Normally, one blogs to express (and seek) opinion. However, following in the footsteps of another blogger who I follow regularly, on this occasion, I shall simply refer you to this story in The Times so that you may respond and react accordingly.
To get you started, here are a few reactions I prepared earlier:
- Growl quietly like Clint Eastwood’s character in his masterpiece Gran Torino and stop supporting the entity mentioned in the article by buying your pollutant from a lesser evil
- If you’re not into the cleaner world thing, jump up and down with glee and show your support by shelling out for your pollutant with them
- Did Bosch make buggy whips? When paradigms shift, so do industries and brands. Start your own company and offer an alternative.
Fight back club: (Y)our planet, your call.
What are you waiting for?
The blog was conceived to be an outlet for opinion, suggestion or even some entertainment, but in general it’s a way to blow off steam.
This (© The Guardian) is an excellent example of the type of situation that triggers one to vent. We have here an organisation (The Heartland Institute – note their founders and sponsors) that typecasts those who desire an alternative to a carbon based economy. It claims we are a threat to freedom and market growth. Untrue. No matter your opinion on the causes of climate change, a few points:
1. Carbon based economies* pollute. Just wipe your finger across your window sill a week after cleaning it. Those living in or near a city will know what I mean. And to think people (and animals) of all ages are breathing that same stuff in, 24/7. Worse, travel to Africa or parts of India and other poor countries without a grid based power system and be shocked at how millions of people cook using open fires inside small tents or homes, leading to all manner of respiratory illnesses and local atmospheric pollution. Ironic, these countries are often hot and so solar powered zero carbon stoves will offer a long term solution.
2. The majority of those of us involved in the environmental movement are in fact motivated for reasons of compassion and vision. We see problems and would like to fix them. If specific companies or individuals profit from this, great! That’s precisely the sort of market driven process that will create new jobs, motivate our youth and clear the air. Examples include the increasing number of companies (already mentioned elsewhere in this blog) who are working to increase the efficiency of solar cells or developing workable sustainable energy distribution systems.
3. Any dubious behavior by those exploiting environmental issues should not be used as an excuse to criticise people with genuine concerns who base such concerns on valid scientific evidence or common sense observation. And even if they are wrong about some threats, few of the incentives being taken do any harm and are a wise investment. This is little different to the moon missions of the 1960s that lead to major technological advances, new industries and job creation – even if the reasons for the missions was controversial.
*All economies are currently based on carbon. Some (Australia, Dubai, Israel and one or two others) are working to wean themselves away completely.
As hinted at in my ‘We’re not in a recession’ post of a few weeks ago, there are two types of human: Those stuck (financially and by tradition) in the past, who possess an ingrained inability to ‘see farther’ and those who sense that something’s definitely wrong and it needs dealing with or improving. It is critical not to let the former disuade the latter.
Fight back club: Ignore the terrified traditionalists and continue to lead an environmentally responsible lifestyle by investing in companies that are doing their part. Here is another incentive (1). And here is a great introduction to a product that will help get the ball rolling (2).
(1) © 2009 The Guardian. (2) © 2009 The Daily Telegraph.
If I may be a little cruel, the hype over all this is odd. Australia, like certain areas of California, is almost all reclaimed desert or fairly inhospitable land. We silly white Westerners bring our cold weather architecture and transport over to the colonies and wonder why it doesn’t really work. In 1992 I witnessed (live on TV and from my room) the burning of the hills and homes in Berkeley, California, where over 30 people died.
Seems a little more common sense and a lifestyle more in tune with nature is called for.
a) Low lying stone homes self insulate, requiring less or no external energy that may be a cause of these fires if climate change is (even partially) responsible. Like animal tunnels. semi subterranean homes are far more likely to survive even the most intense inferno. b) Cars based on the internal combustion engine include parts that get very hot that have been known to cause fires when parked with the engine running over tinder dry twigs, leaves etc.
Fight back club: Humankind needs to life closer to nature through imaginative architecture and a more robust search for an alternative to the internal combustion engine.
More about the above eco home when LifeMachine.com goes live.
…we’re in a correction. And it’s a biggie. Unlike the actual recessions of the 1970s and 1980s that came about as part of an approximate 11 year cycle, the current correction covers more than just matters fiscal. Yes, the dubious investments helped bring about the current financial woes, but it also (thankfully) exposed flaws in other areas of life and society – everywhere! Any entity built upon a lie or unstable foundations will eventually collapse or be forced to re-boot. It’s not all bad news, we just messed up in some areas and need to make ammends.
Lack of credit had pulled away the supports that propped up businesses that should have adapted or died earlier. For example, a major high street music and video store here in the UK is shutting up shop. How did they expect to compete against online media and ‘survive’ as long as they did? Another sold trashy goods that can be purchased in other more versatile branded supermarkets or online. The branded coffee shops are suffering too – no wonder, £2 for what would buy a months worth of ground coffee. No surprise people are in debt, that’s over £500 a year! A dumbing down of youth (in particular here in the UK) has lead to a whole generation of people who lack the intellect to create anything with value to themselves or society. And with nothing to sell, our nation is forced to raise ‘taxes’ through collective punishment of the middle classes (very very dangerous) with insipid fines and pointless (& sometimes callous) politically correct laws or attitudes. High street banks have imposed crippling fees on consumers for minor oversights. Said fees cause cheques or direct debits to be returned which in turn sometimes incurs a fee, causing things to spin rapidly out of control. So the bank is swimming in consumer fees, but the consumer has no money to spend and oil the wheels of the economy! We have also spent the last 50 to 60 years being sold products that are not only pointless, but over the long term exceptionally damaging to our health and that of the planet. For example, everyday household cleaning goods, industrial pollutants, medications and more collect in our bodies, groundwater and oceans. Deteriorating environment aside, all the resultant weird and unwonderful illnesses effecting people of all ages today are costing our health services and/or individuals a fortune – if one may set asside the suffering for a moment. The media exaggerate everything too, for example, a day after I made this post (this is an addition), snow covered much of the UK and the press made it out to be a disaster, when in fact, it’s fun (for kids and kidults like me), clears the air, looks lovely and happened frequently a decade and more ago. And if America can keep going in 5 feet of snow, we can handle a foot or less. We were given plenty of notice by the weather forecasters. Finally, we have failed to invest (on a Manhattan Project scale) in practical, commercially viable and efficient alternatives to a carbon energy based economy. If we have, when – and where?
Why did this happen? Greed and lack of vision aforethought. Basically, we’ve made a number of naive or nefarious decisions, depending on who we are. So, we’re in a complete mess and are now going to be forced to think carefully, plan wisely and act with an affirmation and confidence before losing the resources and guidance necessary to complete the tasks at hand.
Fight back club: Banks, think about lending to viable businesses that generate capital assets from effort and intellectual property – not consumers who want a nice sofa or plasma TV that devalue the moment they are purchased. People, consider studying science and technology in depth and work towards a solar economy based on market driven concepts. Try to wean yourself off buying all those plastic and processed goods. You don’t need it. Use honey instead of sugar to help save the bees – it’s good for you anyway. Avoid dwelling on the past or allowing those with interests in it to attempt to stop you. These are the essential corrections that will get the ball rolling.
“I think we agree, the past is over”
– George W. Bush
On the food front, Jamie Oliver is doing much to improve things and his efforts to replace crapfluff with goodstuff are paying off already. Way to go.
The enlightened amongst you who question everything, will have known that issues such as this (© The LA Times 2008) would rear their ugly head once the effects became mainstream. (I have been warning my friends about plastics for over 10 years.) Likewise, the events in the financial markets are unsurprising, not due to capitalism (a force for good), but because any entity that goes too far and relies on greed rather than common sense ethics is liable to collapse when the rotten foundations give away. This writer has no experience of the corporate world – being an every day consumer – however, if the big financial houses attempt the same shenanigans as the hight street banks, one cannot imagine the level of hardship some individuals or businesses must be put through. A recent example that has lead to some successful consumer lead lawsuits of late is that high street banks will intentionally or through incompetance ignore any courtesy warning from a customer who knows he or she may slip into the red while some payments clear. The bank will subsequently impose a fee for even the smallest oversight, for example, a £25 charge for an overdraft (OD) of £10. So, you are now £35 over. And guess what? A few days later, a pre-arranged small payment of £15 automatically direct debits from your account (mobile phone? sports club? etc), so you are fined another £25 for that breach of your increasing OD! And so on until it steamrollers out of control. At the end of the month, you are dealing with fees of anything from £50 to £300. No wonder people are strapped for cash and cannot feed the economy! This is fairly common, but most Brits are too embarassed to say anything and the process of challenging that huge electronic entity in the sky is too complicated, with real sit down and chat managers surplanted by overseas call centres manned by pre-programmed staff who are unable to stray from the beaten path. (Effectively, they are robots.) On a more serious scale, and of course, this is why the banks are also in meltdown, why did building societies both sides of the Atlantic offer mortgages to people who had no hope of repaying them?
We are also seeing more and more services whose essential telephone lines begin with 084X, 087X, 09XX etc, leading to unexpectedly large mobile and landline bills from ‘trapped’ or unsuspecting consumers. Just today, I called an 00800 number for what appeared to be a UK based company (UK prices, Union Jack on their home page!), and ended up talking to an office in Canada – on my mobile! (I await my bill.) Finally, there is the massive dumbing down of society across the planet, denial of climate change (it’s real) and invasion of privacy by terrified governments who are actively attempting to destroy the intelligent, thoughtful and vital middle classes – who are the greatest threat to all this nefarious behavior.
Each issue has been discussed on my older blog for years and will be imported to these here pages in due course, with external links to provide vindication of most pertinent matters.
I am sure many of you have seen films, read books, or even thought about the writings in the leading religious texts that discuss multiple threats to humanity arriving simultaneously, followed by significant changes and then, well, things get better. This time may well be upon us. The way forward is for people to revolt against any entity that it is plain obvious is a threat to our freedom. Start by ceasing to do business with them and if you are really feeling brave, start your own venture to offer a superior more considerate alternative. Don’t forget that the main focus of my blog is to highlight the usurping of democracy by technologically ominpresent and callous ‘corporations’. Cut off their income and they will die. That’s capitalism at its finest!
P.S. Remain optimistic.
This article in The Independent is why if Mr. McCain’s VP ever gets into a position of power, America is going to further isolate itself from the rest of the world and undo so much progress when it comes to preserving our dwindling areas of outstanding natural beauty. Her stance is the very opposite of what we need right now when it comes to forward looking energy and pollution policy. To trash Alaska for a few more years of filthy oil is an appalling scenario to consider. Whatever you do America, never allow McC VP to influence McC or become President – no matter her foreign policy. If you want an example of what big oil does to an area, visit Houston, Texas – as I have. The people are horrifically overweight and the city is polluted. They just don’t give a damn. Tag: Selfish. Hardly characteristics encouraged by the bible that so many of her supporters follow.
I normally reserve my comments on this subject for major writings away from this postings column, however, for those with interests (financial perhaps?) in those corporations who are cleverly attempting to distort scientific evidence of climate change, a quick viewing of this video may raise an eye brow or two. © CNN 2008.
And a few weeks later, we have this in India. © CNN 2008.