Archive for CO2 Emissions

COP 21 – Finally Agreement, But What Now?

Posted in America, Britain, Conservation, Environment, European Union, Health, Modern World, News, Nuclear, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , on 13/12/2015 by floroy1942
COP 21 - Our Last Chance?

COP 21 – Our Last Chance?

It is good to see that almost two hundred countries have finally reached agreement on a programme to limit climate change, but will it be as empty a promise as all the others? I hope not, because the future of mankind on this planet is at stake. For twenty years nations of the world have come together in an effort to agree measures to halt climate change, but sadly all have failed until now.

Although nations agreed to take action in past conferences, none of the resolutions reached have been successfully acted upon. This makes me think that many nations will once again renege on the agreements reached this time. Why, because the necessary changes will be very expensive.

It Doesn't Grow On Trees

It Doesn’t Grow On Trees

Even most rich countries will be hard-pressed to make the necessary changes, but the majority of poorer countries simply cannot. So it remains to be seen if the rich countries can assist these poorer nations in achieving the goals set out by the conference, even though a binding agreement has been reached for them to provide $65B each to assist them. Personally, I doubt it.

Life today is all about money, and most countries will be loath to give away their riches to some poor country that cannot even feed its people, let alone make the huge changes required to stop global warming. Even if the money is given, without proper control there is no guarantee that it will all be spent for the purpose to which it was intended. As usual, the big problem is corruption, and much of it will disappear into the offshore bank accounts of corrupt politicians.

Self Explanatory

Self Explanatory

The human race has, for the greater part, become self-centred and greedy over the past fifty years, and all most people think about today is their own well-being and riches. They don’t give a damn about tomorrow and the kind of existence they are passing on to future generations. So long as they have a comfortable life and ridiculous amounts of money in their bank account that is all that counts. Even if they have a billion dollars they still want more, and to hell with the starving millions and climate change.

To me this shows a complete inadequacy in human intelligence, and unfortunately, unless there are drastic changes in our thinking mankind is doomed on this planet. It is absolutely essential that all countries and all people begin to cooperate and share the cost of changing the way we live to improve the environment.

Pollution Rise

Pollution Rise

Over the last century with the rise in technology and manufacturing, we are steadily destroying our world to the extent where if it continues, all life will end on the planet within a few generations. We are decimating the wildlife, poisoning the ground and seas that give us life, and are rapidly approaching a point in man’s history where it will be too late to go back. This is why the agreements reached at this conference are so vital to the continued existence of mankind on the Earth. Sadly few people can see how desperate the situation is, and are loath to change their comfortable lifestyle.

Main CO2 Sources

Main CO2 Sources

The two biggest polluters are fossil fuel burning power stations and the vehicles on our roads, which now number over a billion world-wide. The conference has agreed that a significant reduction in the use of fossil fuels is desperately required to slow down the contamination of our atmosphere by CO2. To limit the biggest impact will mean reducing the number of fossil fuel burning power stations and a reduction in the number of vehicles on our roads.

Today in China cities are on red alert for atmospheric contamination caused by the many coal-burning factories they have, and to save the situation many have been temporarily shut down.

China - If We Do Not Change This Could Be All Of Us!

China – If We Do Not Change This Could Be All Of Us!

This is a real indication that we need to stop using coal and other fossil fuels as a source of power and find a cleaner alternative. There are many alternatives people will say, like nuclear and wind energy, but to change to these sources will be astronomically expensive for any nation.

Wind power in particular is not as efficient as many think, for the generators are extremely costly and prone to breakdown, also relying on the weather which may or may not be suitable. Light winds are not enough and conversely, strong winds require them to be shut down to avoid major damage.

Alternatives

Alternatives

Nuclear power is the best option, but then you have the problem of disposing of the nuclear waste. Our best hope is that scientists can come up with a completely new method of power generation that is safe. I am not holding my breath on that one!

With the resources we have it is clear that a massive amount of time and money needs to be spent to rid ourselves of the plague that is fossil fuel. It must be done as quickly as possible, for the longer we wait the harder it will be. I just hope that all the rhetoric passed back and forth at the conference will result in us finally saving the future of our planet and species.

Roy.

Peru 2014 – The Road To Nowhere

Posted in America, Brazil, Britain, Conservation, Environment, Europe, News, Oceans, Politics, Summit with tags , , , , on 14/12/2014 by floroy1942
Talking Shop Number ??

Talking Shop Number ??

When I read the reports on the latest Global Warming Conference in Peru it left me with a feeling of despair, for once again the conference has achieved nothing!

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “The talks were tough but the Lima Call for Climate Action shows a will and commitment to respond to the public demand to tackle climate change.” Uh Huh!

Asad Rehman Of Friends of the Earth

Asad Rehman Of Friends of the Earth

Climate activists were not impressed either. Asad Rehman from Friends of the Earth said: “The only thing these talks have achieved is to reduce the chances of a fair and effective agreement to tackle climate change in Paris next year.”

After years of these meetings, the politicians have delivered very little in concrete measures to stop global warming. Every nation is out to protect their own interests, instead of doing something positive to protect those of future generations.

Believe It - Or Not!

Believe It – Or Not!

Even among the general public there are still millions who scoff at the idea that we are slowly poisoning the atmosphere with CO2 and increasing global temperatures to the point where they could threaten the very existence of life on the planet.

Well, I am in my seventy-second year and have personally witnessed the changes throughout the world during that time, and its not a pretty picture.

Linfen - China's Most Polluted City

Linfen – China’s Most Polluted City

The biggest polluters on the planet are, as you would expect, those with the highest population, and the most advanced nations in terms of technology.  Naturally, this puts China in top spot with  the USA  not far behind. Closely following these two are the EU, and India as the largest developing nation.

It is in these countries that the most changes are required, firstly because they are the biggest polluters, and secondly they are the most technologically capable. You cannot compare the capabilities of Thailand with those of China or the USA for example.

Pollution

Pollution

It is indeed sad that all the conference could come up with after so many years of prevarication, is yet again, a ‘framework’ for discussion at the next meeting in Paris in 2015. As usual they have all made ‘pledges’ to take action, but until now little or nothing has been done to fulfil them.

The smaller nations look to the world’s largest and most advance countries to take the lead in making the necessary changes to ensure man-kinds continued presence on this planet, but sadly, in that those countries fail.

Chinese Smog

Chinese Smog

Each one is more interested in making sure nothing impacts their ability to make more money, and of course not upset their citizens. The latter because they want to be voted into power again, and the necessary measures that need to be taken would be very unpopular.

So what are the most effective measures? Not being a scientist, like you I can only guess at what is required. The most obvious would be the reduction in industrial emissions from burning fossil fuels, which means we would need to find an alternative source of power.

Vehicular Pollution

Vehicular Pollution

The second most obvious one is vehicular traffic on our roads which is increasing year on year. Thirdly, and just as important, is the destruction of the rainforests, the removal of vegetation in more northern climes and lastly, the ever-growing pollution of the world’s oceans. These four are the main contributors to global warming and the eventual destruction of life on this planet.

Chines Industrial Pollution Centres.

Chines Industrial Pollution Centres.

Let us first take a look at the effect industrial emissions have on global warming. Across the world everyone uses fossil fuels to power factories and other businesses, and even homes. For this we use coal, gas and oil products all of which pump large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

There is always talk of alternate power sources like wind and solar energy, but these are woefully inadequate. For example, you cannot power the entire world on wind energy alone for then half the globe would be covered in wind farms. The same goes for solar power. Nuclear power is one alternative but comes with its own risks.

Airbus A380 - The World's Biggest Passenger Plane

Airbus A380 – The World’s Biggest Passenger Plane

Next is our international transport systems, trucks, cars, aircraft and trains etc. In this area we can do a lot by drastically reducing the number of vehicles on the world’s roads by passing such laws as one car per family, and perhaps using larger aircraft like the A380 for example to carry more people, thereby reducing the number of flights needed.

It will surprise many that with emerging nations like China and India the number of vehicles on the world’s roads has increased from 980 million in 2009 to 1.02 billion last year, and is still increasing. Experts say that by 2050 there will be 2.5 billion vehicles on the world’s roads. By that time the CO2 emissions will be close to, or even exceed those of industry.

China - Guangzhou Traffic Jam

China – Guangzhou Traffic Jam

Currently China, the fastest developing country, has 78 million cars on its roads, a drop in the ocean when compared to the USA with 239.8 million. It is common these days for there to be two, three or even four cars per family in the affluent west, especially America.

The subject of the rain forest destruction has been discussed for decades and yet little or nothing has been done to stop it. Year after year there have been environmental conferences but none have come up with a plan to stop the destruction in countries like Brazil, Indonesia etc.

Amazon Forest - One Of The Few Surviving Places Of Natural Beauty And Essential To Mankind.

Amazon Forest – One Of The Few Surviving Places Of Natural Beauty And Essential To Mankind.

What the average citizen seems to forget is that these huge forests are to a great extent ‘the lungs of the planet’. They absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and replace it with life-giving oxygen, and by destroying them we cut off a large part of our ‘air supply’.

Yet Another Source Of Ocean Pollution

Yet Another Source Of Ocean Pollution

The same can be said for the oceans which again absorb CO2 and replace it with oxygen. Currently they are being polluted at a fast rate with among other things, plastic. I have written before about the ‘Plastic Islands’ to be found in all our oceans across the globe. Recent reports have highlighted that now even the Mediterranean is heavily polluted with plastic.

There can be little doubt that unless all nations come to such conferences with the idea of making the necessary sacrifices to get the world’s climate back on track, future generations will curse this period in man’s history until the day they die.

What Are You Doing To Us?

What Are You Doing To Us?

We have to forget our petty differences and make the people understand that unless something is done quickly the lives of our children, and their children, will be a living hell on earth.

People must be made to realize that our current over-indulgence has to come to an end and we have to start seriously thinking about the future of humanity on this planet of ours, for if we do not, then in a few generations life on Earth will become impossible.

Roy.

Associated Posts:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/plastic-may-kill-you-in-years-to-come/

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/welcome-to-plastic-island/

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/the-plastic-island-part-2/

Hastening The Death Of Our Planet

Posted in America, Britain, Children, England, Environment, Europe, Health, Modern World, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 22/08/2013 by floroy1942

Global Footprint NetworkI doubt if many people will have taken much notice of a warning issued this week by the Global Footprint Network when it hit the news. Most will consider it doesn’t concern them, or has nothing to do with the way they live their lives, but in truth it affects everyone of us and in particular future generations, i.e. our children and their children. When viewed with a critical eye it is of the utmost importance and is symptomatic of the devil-may-care attitude of folks today. So what you may be wondering am I going on about.

The Global Footprint Network reported this week that mankind has once again used more of the world’s natural resources than the planet itself can replenish in a year, and its still only August. Now, this sounds quite far-fetched and may be hard to understand for some, so bear with me while I give you a simple explanation.

Humanities Footprint

Humanities Footprint

If you have ten female fish in a tank and one male, disregarding the male, you eat five of them that leaves five. These five will have one young one apiece which means at the end of the test period there will once again be ten fish plus the male. The consumption is therefore finely balanced with the ability of the fish to maintain their numbers. However, If we eat seven fish that will leave three and will result in only three new fish being born, so now we are down to six fish. What this means in global terms is that we are consuming more of the world’s resources than it can replace.

Under this general umbrella are of course natural resources such as minerals, coal, oil and gas, trees and forests that are being decimated, and the steady erosion of the soil used to grow crops because we need more and more food. Coupled with this is our ‘rape of the seas’ causing devastation to fish stocks.

The Amazon - The Lungs Of The Planet

The Amazon – The Lungs Of The Planet

On the other hand it also means we are pumping more gases like CO2 into the atmosphere and have reached beyond the limit where the world’s vegetation can absorb it and turn it back into oxygen. What exacerbates the CO2 problem is our destruction of the rain forests, which many people think of as only wood to burn or to make furniture etc. What is sad is that most people do not think of the fact that trees across the world are literally the ‘lungs’ of the world. They consume all the CO2 we put into the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen that we need to survive. Tests on trees in many areas have shown that most are now saturated with CO2 which means they have become less efficient in their function of producing oxygen. Bad news for us oxygen breathing folks.

So far as the other resources like coal, oil and gas are concerned many people seem to forget the fact that they are ‘finite’ i.e. they will not last forever and will eventually run out. We have already begun to drill for oil and gas in the oceans of the world because the land resources are steadily running dry, so what happens when they too run dry? Every year we see more and more cars and trucks on the roads world-wide as countries like China and India catch up with the more developed nations.

Historical   trend of worldwide vehicle registrations
1960-2010 (thousands)

Type of   vehicle

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2005

2009

2010

Car registrations

98,305

193,479

320,390

444,900

548,558

617,914

684,570

707,764

Truck and bus registrations

28,583

52,899

90,592

138,082

203,272

245,798

295,115

307,497

World total

126,888

246,378

410,982

582,982

751,830

863,712

979,685

1,015,261

In 1960 there were an estimated 126,888 vehicles on the world’s roads, but in 2012 this has risen to over 1 billion.  What is also interesting is that the number of people per car has drastically fallen over the past forty years. Instead of three and four people per car we now have most vehicles with only the driver. From this you can imagine that oil production over the past few years has gone through the roof compared to 50 years ago. Naturally oil and gas are in huge demand by the ever-growing industrial sector so our annual consumption is huge. The sad fact is, it won’t last forever, and the more we consume now the more we accelerate the time to when there is nothing left.

So what do we do when that time comes? A sticky question, because most people are of the opinion that ‘something else’ will come along to power our world, and maybe they are right for science is making huge strides in development, but what if they are wrong? Will we end up going back to the horse and cart to get around? Many aficionados today think that wind power for example will replace all our nuclear powered facilities, but if we covered the entire landmass of the globe in wind farms it would not be enough at todays rate of consumption, which I might add is still climbing at an alarming rate.

Home Appliances

Home Appliances

We love our electrical gadgets in the home like iPads/fones, juicer, toaster, microwave, fridge, washing machine, TV, music centre and even an electric toothbrush, all of which consume lots of power. There are the advertising signs in cities, the office blocks etc that add tremendously to the overall consumption per day. Naturally the consumption per home is minute compared to the wasted energy in cities, but it all adds up. The energy consumption of many Far Eastern cities, like Shanghai for example, has gone up perhaps 1,000 times in the last fifty years as China has developed, and this is being reflected all across the world as more and more countries catch up with the West.

The Statistics Don't Lie

The Statistics Don’t Lie

China itself is the largest energy user on the planet but this is due to the size of its population, but Qatar, one of the smallest nations has the largest consumption of anyone per person. America is the largest consumer of power after China. It is interesting to note that scientists estimate that the USA alone would need four planet earth’s to successfully replenish all that the country uses in a year. At our present rate of consumption of the world’s resources mankind would need one-and-a-half planets to replenish what we currently use.  Food for thought!

Barren Farmland Worked To Death

Barren Farmland Worked To Death

However, we have not covered all the danger areas as yet, for apart from the world’s forests and the oil and gas reserves there is also the problem related to the growing of food. Up to the 1960’s farmers had lets say six fields in which to grow crops. Each year they would rotate the crops per field but always leave one fallow i.e. without crops. This gave the soil the chance to renew its nutrients over the year it was fallow and would be highly productive the next year. Over the last forty years that system has died a tragic death as farmers must grow more crops to feed the people, and to make more profit. In effect it means that the soil has never had the chance to regenerate itself ready for the next crop, and on many farms some crops are being grown twice a year instead of the standard once.

Spreading Chemical Fertilizer

Spreading Chemical Fertilizer

As you would expect, we have used up all the natural elements in the soil that give us a healthy harvest and for this reason we have been forced to supplement them with chemical fertilizers by the ton per acre. Chemicals in the ground essential for growing are ending up in the water supply through the streams and rivers on agricultural ground, and so this practice is poisoning our water also. It is all a vicious circle from which there seems no escape as the world population continues to expand and we need more and more food.

Just Remember, Superman Is A story And He Will Not Turn Up To Save Us From Ourselves

Just Remember, Superman Is A Story And He Will Not Turn Up To Save Us From Ourselves

There are many individuals who think all this is utter bull, and it probably won’t affect their lives one iota, but what they fail to recognise is that the burden of our selfish extravagance, and there is no other word for it, will be felt by future generations, and when it comes it will be disastrous.  The world cannot possibly sustain the current population growth, oil and gas consumption, deforestation and farming techniques without eventually failing us completely. We cannot continue to rape our planets resources at the current rate and hope to survive as a race. It is only a matter of time before mankind disappears from our world, and for sure the Earth will recover from our extravagance in time and then perhaps the cycle of evolution can begin again.

Roy.

Future Transport: Electric, Hybrid, Hydrogen or Bio?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Nuclear, Radioactive Waste, Traffic, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 19/12/2009 by floroy1942

In 2020 the number of cars in the world is expected to reach 1.1 billion, based on the current annual increase. For years the buzz has been about what will replace the petrol/diesel engine in the future. What will finally condemn them to history in this increasingly environmentally conscious world?

For many our current vehicles will be replaced with electric cars, and there are already some models on the market. Some experts believe the future lies in hydrogen-powered cars, which are infinitely cleaner. There are people who swear by bio-fuels and the hybrid, but what is the most realistic alternative?

In my opinion, electric cars are a non-starter for several reasons. Firstly, they do not have the range and sustainable speed of the current power plants, and the battery banks are large, heavy, expensive to manufacture and dispose of. World-wide, the national power grids could not hope to handle the huge demands made upon them by a billion cars that require regular battery charges. Imagine any country, where millions of electric cars would be plugged into the mains supply every night to charge the batteries for the following day. There isn’t a national system in the world that could cope with such a demand. It would require massive investment in new power stations all over the world, which in turn would cause more pollution. It is fairly certain that to minimise any environmental impact they would all need to be nuclear, which then provides a massive headache and poses the problem of what to do with huge amounts of spent nuclear fuel rods. No, I think our attention should not be distracted to this non-starter.

Many believe in hybrid cars where the vehicle has both petrol and electric power and doesn’t need an external electrical supply. This would go a long way to reducing the environmental emissions for a while, but it would not get rid of them. There are claims by the manufacturers that a 40/60% saving on petrol consumption is possible. These vehicles are still dogged by the battery manufacture and disposal problems mentioned earlier. They are not the answer, but could be a stop-gap until a real alternative comes along.

Another major commodity in the equation is hydrogen power, but this too has its drawbacks. It is clean, easy to produce and its only emission is water, but, it is highly explosive. When mixed with air, the result is a highly inflammable gas and when heated, say in an accident where the vehicle catches fire, the result is a major explosion. These traits do not really make it a safe candidate to replace the petrol/diesel engine either.

Bio-fuels have oft been quoted as an alternative, but they too are not practical. There are already areas of the world where a shortage of many crops exists because farmers have turned over their land to growing the plants required for bio-fuels. No, bio-fuels as a replacement would mean many having to choose between keeping the car on the road or eating.

There is however one alternative that is cheap to run, has no effect on the environment, and any and all waste is extremely good for the roses. The horse!

Whichever way it goes, not much will happen for a long time to come because most of the patents for alternative power sources seem to be owned by the petrol companies, and they are not likely to want to see advancement in this field until the oil runs out.

May your journeys be short, and safe!

Roy.

Truck Rail – A Way to Beat Congestion?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Traffic, Travel with tags , , , , , on 05/12/2009 by floroy1942


It really doesn’t matter which country you are in, roads everywhere are clogged with traffic, and it will only get worse. So what can we do about it?

I have seen the ever growing number of heavy goods vehicles on the roads, and because of their mass and speed limit of 80kph they are constantly holding up traffic on the major arteries of the  world’s road networks.

I do not blame the majority of drivers for they can do little about it, although there is an increasing number of ‘cowboys’ who have no thought for other road users.

The trucks have got bigger with much heavier loads over the past two decades, resulting in heavy goods vehicles being responsible for the majority of resurfacing work carried out in both town and country.

It costs local authorities billions every year to keep the roads in a safe condition, and the life expectancy is small before they have to do it again. Nobody wants to drive on roads with holes or indentations caused by heavy trucks.

Why should it be necessary for a truck to move goods from New York to California, from Quebec to Vancouver or from Lisbon to Warsaw? Some journeys take days, some a week, and it can be done in a much shorter time at less risk to the environment.

The answer perhaps is to get as many heavy vehicles off the road onto an alternative form of long distance transport.

While driving through Austria one day I saw a train pulling flatcars loaded with trucks, and I thought at the time, what a brilliant idea. In many European countries, the rail network shuts down at night, I am thinking of, for example, Holland where all train activity ceases at 01.00hrs until 06.00hrs the following morning. There are many countries that do this, so why not use the night hours to transport trucks?

Any goods vehicle that needs to travel more than, lets say 100km, could be loaded onto a train at specific depots and transported at night to a place near its destination.

Travelling between Holland and Spain in the past I saw countless trucks thundering down the motorways day and night. Sometimes convoys of ten or fifteen vehicles. They were all travelling between North and Eastern Europe and Spain, Portugal, and the south of France. I saw trucks from all over Europe, Sweden, Latvia, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, you name it. Of course it was the same going North too.

So what if all these trucks travelled by rail? Why should a truck from Poland not be carried by rail to say Madrid if that is his destination? Imagine a single train moving thirty or forty goods vehicles at a time from Poland to Spain. It is quicker, and could be a lot cheaper than by road with the cooperation of the rail companies.

In the long term, it would be advisable for local authorities to invest in such a scheme using the billions they save in road repairs. I am sure trucking companies could reduce their overheads ‘Going By Rail’.

Imagine the affect on the environment with the removal of the majority of long distance trucks from the European and North American road networks. The World’s politicians are arguing over CO2 cuts to stop global warming, and all the while this scheme could make a major contribution. Makes you think doesn’t it!

It will mean major investment on the part of all countries concerned, and a lot of international cooperation, but that doesn’t make it impossible!

The basic infrastructure is already in existance, but would require some investment  in flatbed rail cars and perhaps making changes to some of the goods depots to allow for the truck traffic. Timetables would need to be generated for ‘short haul’ and ‘long haul’, but that is a matter of an international group of people working them out. After all, it’s not rocket science! Using the existing rail network across, say Europe, thousands of trucks could be moved across the continent in a single night.

I am of course aware that this system would not work for all countries, but in the congested West it would certainly be of great value. I do not know how bad things will need to get before someone thinks of putting such a plan into action, but I hope it doesn’t take too long.

I will not live to see the day, but I hope you do!

Roy.

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