Archive for Global Warming

Air Pollution, Global Warming and Water Contamination Versus Survival

Posted in America, Environment, Europe, Health, Toxic Waste, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , on 20/03/2012 by floroy1942

For many years the dangers of global warming have been trumpeted by scientists as the major threat to the continued existence of the human species on Earth. Now however, we are facing much more than this single danger. A new OECD report has highlighted the perils of not only global warming, but now air pollution and water contamination also. New estimates of the discharge of harmful minute particles, called particulates, indicate there is a serious danger of mass deaths before 2050. This is due to their steady increase in the air we breathe.

Los Angeles Smog

Naturally, those living in major cities and towns across  the world are most at risk, but the pollution is moving outside these areas and will eventually effect whole swathes of countryside too.  The report estimates there could be as many as 3.6 million premature deaths due to air pollution in countries like India and China, due no doubt to their increase in wealth and becoming major emerging markets in the last twenty years. This tempo of change is sure to increase in future decades.

The West is also likely to see a large increase in premature death due to its large aging population, so it follows that we can see the average life expectancy age falling once again instead of rising further as was thought.

Helping to Slowly Kill Us All?

For the last twenty years or so, governments, particularly western governments, have known about the necessity of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and some have set ambitious targets that will never be reached. For this reason it must come as a shock to find this is not the only problem. In the report they have been criticised for giving tax breaks on diesel fuel because it gives off less greenhouse gases, but the report highlights that the particulate emissions of diesel fuel is just as dangerous, though more to human health than the well-being of the planet. When this fuel is burnt in a vehicle engine minute particles of carbon, among other things, is ejected into the atmosphere and forms an invisible cloud that we breathe in constantly. In many scientists’ view this is far more damaging to human health than smoking, due purely to the amounts, and length of time, they are inhaled.

Air pollution comes from many sources and each one is having a deadly effect on us, and the planet we live on. Our enormous appetite for energy, coupled with our present methods of transportation, will eventually be our undoing in decades to come.  With the ever increasing demands for energy, and despite all measures taken by responsible governments world-wide, the levels of greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 50% by 2050. Our current pitiful efforts to curb these pollutants will be pointless.

New York Light Show

Walk the night-time streets of any city in the world and see how many skyscraper office blocks are fully lit at three o’clock in the morning. Look at how many shops leave all their lights on every night, and how many huge illuminated advertisements line the streets. It may look pretty, but its wasted energy on an inhuman scale the like of which the world has never seen.  And still we need more and more!!

London Light Show

The big problem is, we cannot afford this massive wastage of energy any more than we can afford the increases that are being demanded year on year. Somewhere, sometime, it has to stop or man will be no more than a fading memory on planet Earth in 100 years time. Remember all the sci-fi films showing the deserted rotting remains of our once great civilization?

And what about our polluting cars? Current estimates put the number of cars and light trucks on the planet’s roads at 806 million and this figure is set to double in the next thirty years! The United States alone has 254.4 million registered passenger cars on the road.

The Lungs Of A City Baby

Each one is contributing to not only greenhouse gases, but also pollutants like particulates. If the current trend continues we will not be able to breathe outside our own homes. I have seen sci-fi  movies where everyone walks outside with a mask in order to breathe. could this really become a reality? If current trends continue, it looks like it will!

Another point raised by the OECD report is water contamination, which naturally enough should be close to our hearts as we  all need it to survive. The contamination of our water supply is increasing at a steady rate and it seems we are unable, or unwilling to do anything about it. The biggest polluter is strangely enough not the oil companies as most people think, but the farmer.

Contaminated Water

Farmers cannot stay in business these days without using mountains of fertilizer on their ground. A hundred years ago the population levels were such that farmers sowed and harvested one crop a year in a field, now that has become two, and in many cases three. The ground that feeds us has lost so much of its natural nutrients that these have to be supplemented with growth chemicals, otherwise nothing grows there anymore. All these chemicals find their way into the ground water, and eventually the streams and rivers that feed off it. And then we drink it!!! It is a pattern that has developed across the whole of the 1st world and many 2nd world countries too.

Another point to make is that we already have large areas of the world suffering from severe drought conditions brought on by changes in the world’s weather patterns. These areas are set to increase as water becomes a more valuable commodity than gold. It is estimated that if we do not find a cleaner method of producing energy, global warming will increase the demand for water by more than half. In the meantime, we are slowly poisoning what we have. Doesn’t seem to make sense does it? 

Too Many Cars

In an effort to reduce harmful carbon emissions from vehicles, it has been suggested by many that the answer is biofuels. Sorry, but it ain’t so folks! According to the OECD report, divergence into biofuels will have a major negative effect on the world in general. Not only will it use up vast tracts of land required for food production, but will also increase to a great extent water usage and promote more water contamination.

The report states that governments should start taking measures to reduce energy consumption, air and water pollution with immediate effect. The report suggests removing state subsidies on such things as diesel, fossil fuels and water to deter wastage in these three areas. These may be a step in the right direction, but you can be sure that much tougher, and altogether unpopular measures will need to be taken if we are still to be around in 100 or 150 years. There is little doubt that this ‘Golden Age’ of man must come to an end – and soon.

Roy.

Giant Balloon to Combat Climate Change?

Posted in Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Germany, Health, Modern World, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , on 15/09/2011 by floroy1942

I was amazed to read a report on a project called, the “Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering” or SPICE for short, that has scientists going ga ga at the moment (No! I do not mean the attention seeking pop singer).

How It Would Be Done

It would seem their plan is to introduce a helium-filled balloon into the atmosphere, and release particles that would reflect sunlight away from Earth, and thereby reduce global warming. The current feasibility test involves releasing a balloon that will reach a height of 1km with a hose attached. Through this hose, water will be pumped at a rate of 100 litres an hour to test the possibility of doing this at an altitude of 20km, though how they expect to vertically pump anything 20kms remains a mystery. I just hope the team members remember to bring umbrellas with them.

Mount Pinatubo 1991

The test is based on data gathered during the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Phillipines in 1991. As a result of this event, five cubic kilometres of volcanic ash and gas were released into the atmosphere which passed around the globe. The particles in the ash cloud reflected sunlight away from Earth causing a drop of some 0.5C degrees in global temperature for a short while. It is this phenomenon that the scientists wish to recreate.

The project is years away from fruition, if it ever gets off the ground, but some people are already worried by this experiment.

Our Precious Atmosphere

I have always believed that we ‘reap what we sow’, and to mess with nature to this extent could be disastrous. For many years, really since the dawn of the industrial age, we have meddled with our world, pumping ever increasing amounts of deadly cocktails into the atmosphere, caring little for the consequences. Part of the result that we are seeing now is the disastrous changes in world weather patterns. Such events as Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Japan, drought in Africa, and the major flooding in Pakistan along with vast areas of the Far East, will most probably become a regular event. All of which are a direct result of our uncaring attitude towards the planet we call home.

There have been many hair-brained schemes cooked up to combat the change in global temperatures, and I think this is one of them. Our only real chance of ‘getting things back to normal’, is to sort out ourselves, and more particularly our ‘life goals’ on this planet. Do we wish for all life on our world to be extinguished at some future date? Do we, the current generation even care? Do we really wish to pass on to our children a battle they cannot possibly win, or are we as a race, prepared to make the necessary sacrifices in our lifetime, to save our world for future generations. 

Oh Dear! That does sound dramatic, but let me put just one scenario to you.

A Lot Less Cars?

What if every family in the world were to reduce the number cars they had to just one, as it used to be? How many families in your street have two or more cars? As a ‘guesstimate’ on my part, maybe it could cut the number of vehicles on the world’s roads by half, if not more!!!  This one sacrifice would cut global warming by one helluva lot! The amount of Co2 being pumped into the atmosphere could be cut by trillions of tons!!!

Of course, it would mean major sacrifice for many people, and the car manufacturer’s would not be happy. In 2006 manufacturers produced 49,886,549 passenger cars. In 2009, even considering the economic slowdown, a total of 51,971,328 were produced in the US, Western Europe and Japan. When you add to that all the vehicles that already clog our roads, it adds up to a massive amount of Co2 being pumped into the atmosphere.

Industrial Emissions

Coupled with the savings in Co2, would come increased health, because we would not be poisoning the air we breathe in towns and cities across the world. Sure, there are other ways of  reducing carbon emissions, like industry, power generation and aircraft, and these areas must also not be forgotten. 

All these things combined could save our planet without having to mess with Mother Nature. For we can be sure, no matter what we do, like seeding the atmosphere, she will have the last word

Roy. 

‘Car-less’ Cities By 2050? A New EU Plan.

Posted in Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Germany, Government Spending, Modern World, Spain, Traffic, Travel, UK with tags , , , , , , , , on 28/03/2011 by floroy1942

A possible solution to the problem of cars in city centres has been put forward in the latest report from the European Commission. They suggest that all petrol and diesel cars should be banned from european cities by the year 2050. This would suggest that if you have an all-electric car there should be plenty of parking spaces!

Paris Traffic Madness! 

http://www.youtube.com/embed/TTtsmBYIShATransport

Siim Kallas - A Man Of Vision?

Commissioner Siim Kallas is of the opinion that apart from banning these cars in cities, he would like to see what he calls, ‘middle-distance’ journeys moved from road to rail. He states that all journeys of more than +/- 186 miles could be made by train instead of by car. 

The Commissioner also advocates a 40% reduction in shipping emissions, which he suggests when combined with the saving by vehicles, would reduce carbon emissions by around 60% and reduce our dependence on oil. Without doubt, a lofty target but is it possible? Hmmm! Doubtful!

London Traffic:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/XRh6_D3hslA

The only trouble is, it would take an unprecedented amount of coöperation from governments (something they have never gotten used to), and a major shift in public behaviour (which I doubt will ever happen). At the moment, to travel by train, or even bus, costs an arm and a leg so that is the first hurdle. Second is the fact that with the buses in particular, they don’t pick you up at your door and drop you outside your favourite shop or  bar, and most irritatingly, after a night out they stop running about an hour before you need to journey home. Typical!

People have an aversion to using their legs these days, a fact you can see every day by the lazy so-and-so’s who double park three car lengths from an empty slot or block an exit: “I’ll only be a minute” says he/she! There is little doubt that for many legs are going out of fashion. This has led, inevitably, to our current dependence on the car.

Rome Traffic:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/PyqWPdXZCpc

Damn! Damn! A Jam!

So, first things first! To begin with, bus and train companies would have to lower their fares to such an extent that the general public find it cheaper to use these forms of transport than their own car. It really is a basic economic exercise, if you increase the turnover you can make the same profit achieved by high prices (i.e. 2×50 = 100/10×10 = 100). The only problem with this scenario is that it takes time to generate the numbers that compensate for the reduced prices. During this period it is most likely bus companies would be running at a loss until people took up the offer. Dangerous ground!

Secondly, the logistics surrounding bus routes and train stops would be a major headache in more ways than one. Let us deal with buses first. How do you plan your bus routes, not only through the city, but more importantly the residential areas outside the centre to maximise passenger pickup? If someone lives half a mile from the nearest bus stop they will use the car. Logical! The same goes for anyone who has a long walk to the office once in the city, as few people like to change buses to get to their destination.

In answer to this problem, many major cities like London and Paris have a Metro system which compliments the buses very well, so for this plan to go ahead a massive investment in such a system would be necessary. Whoops! Now we are talking about spending money!

Other cities have tram systems that serve the inner city quite well, but how far would you want to extend the tram network, and how costly would it be?

Bucharest Traffic:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/rzV1LLXOZcc

With train services we have a similar problem. If a train stops at every station to provide the necessary links to the city, the journey becomes intolerably long. If the train does not stop at every station many would-be passengers will use the car. In this day and age, many people travel 30 to 50 miles to work each day, a result of people wishing to live outside the city in surrounding towns and villages. It is a fact that many City of London workers actually live in Northern France and travel daily to work on the Eurostar!

Eurostar

The one thing the report has failed to mention, which has surprised me somewhat, is getting the long distance trucks off the road. Huge 25 ton HGV’s are travelling the length and breadth of Europe 24 hours a day (I hate 24/7) and yet they seem to have been overlooked in the study. It would without a doubt be a huge relief to see all these 16/18 wheel monsters disappear off our motorways, which is something I covered in a post a couple of years ago:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/truck-rail-a-way-to-beat-congestion/

There is little doubt such a move would certainly prompt people into buying electric cars for their daily commute into the city, but therein lies a beast waiting to pounce. Should we see a predominance of electric vehicles, which by necessity will be in their tens of thousands for every major city in Europe, we will without doubt run out of power generating capacity, i.e. electricity!

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/electric-cars-a-viable-alternative/

I must admit, I think the basic plan has many good points and may be some sort of blueprint for the future, but its implementation will be a major headache for governments across the continent, and it will probably never leave the drawing board.

Pity, for at some time in the future the oil will start to run out and then only the mega-rich will be able to afford the luxury of a car. For the rest of us it will gather dust in the garage and become a fading memory of the good times.

Roy.

Update 28/03/2011 1900hrs:

Norman Baker Says: On 'Yer' Bike!

Since posting this article more information has come to light via the BBC. It would seem that although this is only a proposal, it has been rejected ‘out of hand’ by the UK Transport Minister Norman Baker who said: “We will not be banning cars from city centres anymore than we will be having rectangular bananas.” In his rejection he said that the EU Commission should not be involved in “individual cities transport choices”. He stated that the UK is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by investing £400m to support electric cars (oops), and by promoting walking and cycling! (Wow Norman, that’ll certainly help!!!)

This attitude doesn’t surprise me, because british politicians have never been able to decide if they want to be ‘in’ Europe or not. Whatever comes out of Strasburg or Brussells is usually met with scepticism and distrust, mainly due to the the negative spin put on it by the British press. It never ceases to amaze me that the idea of a united Europe works for everyone except the bloody British!

 

The Hypocrisy of Government and Global Warming

Posted in Atlantic, Britain, Budget Cuts, England, Environment, Europe, Forests, Government, Government Spending, Insanity, Modern World, MP's, Parliament, Senior Citizen, Summit, Traffic, Travel, UK, United Nations, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 06/12/2010 by floroy1942

Britain Needs Leadership. Not Hypocrisy!

Governments the world over are often accused of hypocrisy, but none can surely be as blatant as that of the British government. Two months ago I reported on a decision by the Tory-Liberal Coalition to sell off Britain’s forests (26/10/2010 – Death Knell for Britain’s Forests) for development to help in cutting the budget deficit, now it appears they have reversed direction, but not as you would expect.

A new government initiative is being trumpeted to spend £4.2 million on planting trees in urban areas. Called the ‘Big Tree Plant’ campaign, it aims at planting 1 million trees in Britain’s towns and cities over the next four years. They claim it will not only be “good for our bank balance but good for our well being“.

Preferable to Concrete!

As a project, I applaud it wholeheartedly but then if planting trees is such a good thing, why do far more damage to “our well being” by turning our forests into holiday parks and golf courses. To me it just doesn’t make sense and I am sure most people will fail to understand the logic.

It is true that people will feel happier walking down a tree-lined street than through a concrete jungle, because trees break up the monotony of bricks, mortar and glass shop fronts. But there is a far more urgent need for trees in an urban area, one that most should know, but few think of: Air quality!

It is no secret that trees, and indeed all plants, feed on the CO2 we pollute the atmosphere with and replace it with life-giving oxygen. In all things there is balance in Nature!

Flooding on the Increase

Check out the news on any day and you will find reports of landslides, flooding, hurricanes and typhoons, drought and severe storms across the world. Anyone over the age of thirty will be able to recall that these phenomena have increased dramatically over the past 15-20 years, and by all accounts are set to get even worse as the years go by.

I have consistently demonstrated on this blog my deep concern for the future of mankind, and the way we are destroying our habitat with harmful emissions and razing the one thing that will keep future generations alive even with global warming, the worlds forests.

I am 68 years old and will not have to suffer the disastrous consequences of our actions today, but I fear for future generations who will. It is not until ALL people realise just what we are doing to our planet, that we will eventually come out of the current global warming tragedy that is overtaking us now.

Of course, apart from the rain forest destruction there is the quantity of emissions we pump into the atmosphere that contribute to global warming. This is another problem requiring drastic action, but sadly, one that no nation seems to want to do more than talk about. They have held Global Warming Conferences now for some years, but as we all know, nothing concrete comes out of them because all countries put their own interests before those of the planet.

Is your Car Journey Really Necessary?

As the effects of global warming start to really bite I can see laws passed world-wide that will for example, limit all families to one car. Currently it is not uncommon for a single family have three and four cars because the parents and their offspring need individual transportation. It is still true today that more than 90% of vehicles on the road have only one occupant!

On the Ground and In the Air!

Air travel may also be restricted to essential journeys only. Gone will be your holiday flights to far-off destinations!

In my opinion, all the wild weather we are currently experiencing is due not only to global warming, but also the irresponsible destruction of the world’s rain forests. In Brazil recently it was reported that the Great Amazon Rain Forest was suffering its first major drought in history. Something must be badly wrong when a rain forest experiences drought.

A Target For Greedy Men.

To me there is little doubt that the Amazon Rain Forest is the main ‘powerhouse’ of weather patterns in the Caribbean, America and Europe. As it has shrunk over the years, so has the weather changed proportionally.

The sad fact is, the Amazon is not the only place under threat, for an identical situation is taking place in Africa and the Far East. There too forests have been decimated, and the weather patterns have changed as the destruction has progressed.

The Scale of Destruction

I am sure the trend can be reversed, and it would not be so difficult if only the will were there. Instead of continuing the wanton destruction of the world’s forests and the ceaseless pumping out of greenhouse gases, we should be doing our level best to reverse the damage we have done.

Many will say; “we need wood” and they are right, but there is nothing wrong in expanding the idea of “Sustainable Forests” that is already working in many countries.

Tackling the greenhouse gas problem is more complicated, but measures such as restricting the number of cars, unpopular as it may be, could help to tip the scales in our favour.

Natural Balance Will Return - But Will We Be Here?

There seems little doubt that Nature will return eventually to a state of balance, but the over-riding factor is, will WE still be here? Food for thought!

Roy.

Haiti – What Happened to All the Money?

Posted in Britain, Environment, Haiti, Insanity, Modern World, Somaila, UN, United Nations with tags , , , , , , , , on 18/07/2010 by floroy1942

In times of crisis countries and governments are quick to offer aid and funds to people inflicted with disaster, as happened in Haiti on January 12th of this year. But now, six months on, has the lot of the Haitian people improved much? The sad answer is; No!

Devastation to Port Au Prince

Devastation to Port Au Prince

Country after country that has suffered a natural disaster, and the indescribable hardship to its population, face the same barren fact that the rich countries seldom live up to their promises. People made homeless, such as the Haitian population of Port Au Prince, continue living in makeshift shanties made of cardboard and wood scraps. So why are the Haitian people still living in shanty towns?

1 Billion Dollars

The EU promised $474m; Brazil $210m; The UK $32.7m; France $10.4m; the USA $100m, and Canada $131.5m. This is only the tip of the iceberg, for many smaller nations also pledged money for the relief of the suffering in Haiti.

In total, some $5.3 billion from 60 nations was pledged to help the Haitian people get their infrastructure back in some sort of working order, of that only 10% has actually been delivered, and most of that as cancelled debt. This means that very little has actually arrived to repair the devastation to the country’s infrastructure, in which little has changed. So why have the pledges not been fulfilled?

It would seem that after the disaster dropped from the world headlines, many governments took a second look at the huge amounts of money they had donated in haste, and the whole question of paying the pledges dropped into the quagmire of politics and bureaucracy, and will of course in time, be totally forgotten. 

Shanty Town

In the last 50 years the world has reeled to 33 natural disasters, everything from famine, drought, earthquakes, hurricanes and epidemics and the total number of casualties registers in the billions. When disaster strikes it is natural for countries to seek outside help, for no one country has the money or resources to battle such an event alone. Even the United States was offered, and accepted, outside help for Hurricane Katrina.

Haiti Tent City

I am still of the opinion that an international organisation should be set up for the immediate, and long-term recovery of nations struck by natural disasters (I refer you to my blog Haiti Earthquake – Why Was the World Not Better Prepared? of 25 January 2010).

A Caribbean Hurricane

We are of course to blame, for our reliance on fossil fuels and our desperate need to own a car will be our undoing.

Meanwhile, the people of Haiti, Bangladesh, Africa and many others, continue to survive in squalor because nations cannot live up to their promises.

It is time for a change of strategy for YOU may be next!

Roy.


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