2014/02/06

Reducing emissions - it starts at home.

I getting rather tired of well-meaning agencies and individuals calling for us to protest at big oil drilling more wells, big coal ripping our more coal, more nuclear plants being built (insane anyway you look at it) and new power stations being built.  Their ostensible objective is (I assume) to see global emissions of greenhouse gasses decline, to avoid catastrophic changes to our climate and the biosphere.  (Or is it their objective just to stick their heads in the Bear's mouth, and then complain bitterly about the resulting bad smell - the smell in Mr Putin's prisons?)

This is an attempt to put all the blame for our emissions onto the providers of the energy.  Its the same as putting the blame for problem drinking onto the bottle stores.

Folks, the problem is not with the pushers of this deadly CO2 drug, its with the users, us.  We have to kill the market for greenhouse gas emitting products and systems by reducing the demand, not by trying to attack the supply side.

Every man and woman on the planet Earth has to reduce their emissions to a level that will give Mother Earth the ability to return the concentration of greenhouse gasses to pre-industrial levels;  to around 250 ppm.

How much can we emit?

http://www.manicore.com/anglais/documentation_a/greenhouse/quota_GHG.html

The answer is 1700 kg of CO2 per person per year  (1.7 tonnes of CO2 per person per year.).  This equates to 141.7 kg CO2 per person per month.

How do you calculate your CO2 emissions?

Your own version of the following sum will give you an idea.

(Litres of petrol x 2.39) + (Litres of Diesel x 2.64) + (Kilowatt-hours of electricity x 0.7) = kg CO2.

Note that the factor of 0.7 kgCO2 per kWh for electricity use is based on New Zealand's comparatively low-carbon electricity (64% hydro, wind and geothermal), so you may need to find the correct factor for you own electricity provider.

I calculate the emissions for our three-person household.  Over the last three months our emissions averaged 204 kg per person per month (53% from electricity use the remainder from diesel).  This is 144% of our allowed 141.7 kg emission target so we have to cut back some more- but we are doing much better than we were a year ago.  So we have just moved to a different dwelling right in the middle of town to cut our emissions back some more by living in a smaller and more energy efficient place, and reducing the need to drive the car or use the bus to get to shops, entertainment and university, and to business appointments.

So when we have our emissions down close to 1.7 tonnes per person per year we will then (and not until then) start to suggest that others do the same.

Let me know how you get on.

V32079

2013/11/09

National Geographic Map of Sea Level Rise

National Geographic http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/rising-seas/if-ice-melted-map 

National Geographic Map of Sea Level Rise

'The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas. There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58 degrees F.

The Nat Geo Map referenced in the NZ Herald also:

Polar-melt map shows disaster for coastal NZ

5:30 AM Saturday Nov 9, 2013

'Much of northern New Zealand, including Auckland, and parts of the South Island would be almost wiped out by rising sea levels if all the world's ice melted, according to new mapping by National Geographic magazine.
New Zealand would be among many countries to lose vast amounts of their landscape if the polar ice caps melted, the nature publication said.'
'Niwa chief climate scientist Dr David Wratt ... ...said the IPCC report indicated global warming above a threshold of a few degrees could lead to the near-complete loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet over a millenium or more, causing a global sea level rise over that 1000-year period of about 7m.'

Current CO2? 
http://co2now.org/

Yes indeed. We are still on track for very 'interesting times'.





2013/02/12

Ten Non-Surprises


Ten Non-Surprises

To stop my mind from flying around in circles worrying about ‘everything’ I have decided to record the things that I know are going to happen anyway – no matter how hard we try to avoid them.  That way I can stop wondering if I can or should do anything to divert these bundles of sadness from their destined trajectories and instead carry on with preparations to make the best of the coming times.

The occurrence of the following ten things in various forms global and local will not surprise me in the coming decades.  In fact, after much contemplation about New Zealand's social and political position and the inertia of vested interests including the majority of elected 'representatives' and professional advisers at all levels of public and private affairs I have satisfied myself that what ever efforts we may apply to these matters we are unable to turn sufficiently away from our present path to avoid these Non-Surprises.   

I am content that I am unable to make any suggestion to anybody else that will make any material difference to the course New Zealand and Humanity generally are pursuing.  Therefore this post is not to be taken in any way as a criticism of efforts being made by others, rather it is a statement of my own belief.  

As I have said before, I believe that the time for attempting to plug the holes in the sinking ship is now behind us, and we should devote our remaining resources and energies to building life boats to carry us in as much comfort as possible to our new future.  

I therefore relieve myself of my previous duty of trawling the global media for signs of change for the better and for blogging and petitioning the 'powers that be' to seek change to the current course.  Instead the only ‘news’ concerning these matters that is of any interest to me is that either these things have somehow been permanently avoided (say; a Grand Power assumes total control of global fossil fuel production and resource extraction and immediately institutes a 10% reduction in global production every year for the next seven years), or are likely to be much worse or occur much sooner than expected (say; rising Arctic ocean and air temperatures lead to abrupt releases of calthrates and tundra methane, collapse of Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets). 

I would like to know about Black Swan events and no doubt I can rely on friends (or the appearance of fire and brimstone on the horizon) to appraise me of these as and when they occur.

Climate
1    Air temperatures will continue to rise. (Some locations become uninhabitable.  For example towns in central Australia where temperatures of 48°C were recently recorded. Changes in crops grown/not grown in many areas, inability of many crops to cope with higher temperatures or frost-free growing seasons. Failure to establish heat-resistant crops in time to replace lost production.  Insect issues including increased crop damage, loss of pollinators. Reduced food production and higher food costs.  Draconian and misplaced controls on food production, distribution and storage.  Relocation of populations. Civil unrest.)
2    Droughts will become more extreme and frequent. (Impacts on public water supplies, farm production and viability and on frequency and extent of fires. Failure to develop water saving schemes to serve key food production areas.  Miss-allocation of funds and resources to poorly chosen agricultural pursuits. Failure to develop and utilise all available public lands including National Parks and reserves as forest food gardens where some portion may survive climate change to provide useful food production on the 'commons'.  Increasing cost of food. Abandonment of farms and towns. Unemployment and population relocation.)
3    Storm events will become more extreme. (Damage to and eventual abandonment of storm and flood-prone areas, increased damage to land and soils impacted by drought, unaffordable insurance policies and hence inability to obtain finance to build or rebuild, reclassification of land to prevent development. Loss of property values. Inability to afford repairs to important infrastructure or to build works to withstand storms.)
4     Predictions of end-of-century sea level rise moving to substantially higher values than the current 1.5 metres.  (Refusal of insurance for coastal areas and consequent collapse of coastal property markets. Impact on coastal food production areas [delta areas producing rice, for example]. Relocation of populations, Civil unrest and increased pressure on remaining land and food production areas.)

Economy
5    Increased fragility of financial systems and ever-increasing risk of progressive and sudden collapse of key components of the system.  (Higher rate of failure of major financial institutions and big and small businesses.  Failure of some businesses and systems to recover from collapse cycles.)
6    Increasingly frequent malfunction of local banking systems due to electricity or internet failures. (Cashflow machines empty, banking system disabled, commerce ceases or becomes cash- and paper-based.  Inability to buy or trade fuel due to cash purchase requirements on service stations by their fuel suppliers.  Failure of ‘farmers markets’ to provide food supply due to reliance on financial and energy systems. Food riots. Breakdown of law and order. ‘Arab Springs’.)

Energy
7    Progressive increases in cost of energy – especially oil.  (Reduced operating margins for businesses, reduced spending power for households, spiralling economic and business failure and unemployment.)
8    High risk of sudden failure of oil supply to New Zealand due to increased demands of ChIndia and other remaining production hubs, corralling of global oil supplies by major importers and increased internal consumption of exporters.  (Failure of national and international public and private transport systems. Abrupt disruption to commerce and food production and distribution. Breakdown of law and order. Use of the armed forces against the people.  Repressive but ineffective responses to the demands of the population including takeover of privately stored supplies.)
9    Increased burning of coal to fuel power supplies and industry - mostly overseas but partly using coal exported from New Zealand. (Failure to develop and install local demand reduction and energy storage solutions that would cope with energy supply variations arising from 100% renewable energy sources.  Failure of raw material supplies for development of renewable energy sources. Continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions and thus temperatures - see above.)

Political and Social
10  On-going efforts to solve problems by increasing rather than reducing the complexity of local and national governments, infrastructure and social support systems.  (Increasing cost of government and development, higher taxes and rates, transfer of subsidies and support from programmes supporting underprivileged and disadvantaged people to funding the operation of the increasingly irrelevant bureaucracy,  increased ‘mindlessness’ of law-making and enforcement.  Dissemination of misinformation about the cause and effect of the crisis.  Further reduction in effectiveness of representation and democratic process, increasing instances of non-compliance with ‘bad’ laws and rules, increasing separation between policy directions and the actual condition of the people.  State assuming more local powers to support failed councils (e.g Christchurch). Increased spending on projects and services that exacerbate already-bad conditions [e.g. Roads of National Importance]. Increased un-democratisation and privatisation of key public service utilities and functions.   Failure to allow domestic rain water collection and use, composting toilets and domestic greywater re-use in all areas currently served by expensive and poorly-performing water supply and sewage systems..  Failure of utilities including energy suppliers to provide required services and of councils and government to restore useful control and function of utilities to the people. Increased civil unrest concerning representation and governance and increasingly heavy-handed anddesperate responses by local and national government agencies.)

So:

None of the above will surprise me, and unless the biggest possible Black Swan event of all occurs (viz.; a complete change of mind-set by every human being on the planet Earth to restore and operate the Earth as a ‘commons’ for the gentle benefit of all) I do not see any of these issues being avoidable.

Thus I choose to watch with interest the coming times, while focussing my attentions fully on making all possible preparations for me and mine to deal intelligently with whatever comes to give us the best chance for some of our DNA to make it though.

Nigel Williams
12 February 2013

2012/11/16

The Cost of Oil

The IEA has just published its World Oil Outlook.

http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2012/november/name,33015,en.html
http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/

It presents an amazingly optimistic perspective.  The charts show continued growth in production and continuing increase in price.

So the chart I present here shows how much oil will cost the world each day, based on the IEA's own charts of production and price - assuming the current policies scenario is follows, and why not. 


The curve shows the cost of oil to the world each day.  The red line marks 2012.
So oil is not expected to cost the world less for quite a while.  Remember the cost of oil in 2008 was largely responsible for the global economic crash.  Today (2012) we are struggling, and its going to cost us more for many years to come.

Interesting.

2012/03/12

Greenland - ready to rumble!

http://grist.org/list/study-even-a-small-temperature-increase-will-obliterate-greenland-ice-cap/


With continued growth in coal consumption the return to 350 ppm CO2, and staying below 2 degrees C increase are now both unlikely.
http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-03-12/peak-oil-review-mar-12


And Hansen reinforces the simple truth:  If we dont divert from our present path then we could get 5 metres sea level rise this century.  Listen to his latest message on:
http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html


Nothing here gives me any cause to change my view about the likely rates of sea level rise.


2011/10/19

Sea levels to continue to rise for 500 years? Long-term climate calculations suggest so

ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) — Rising sea levels in the coming centuries is perhaps one of the most catastrophic consequences of rising temperatures. Massive economic costs, social consequences and forced migrations could result from global warming. But how frightening of times are we facing? Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute are part of a team that has calculated the long-term outlook for rising sea levels in relation to the emission of greenhouse gases and pollution of the atmosphere using climate models.
...
In the pessimistic scenario, emissions continue to increase. This will mean that sea levels will rise 1.1 meters by the year 2100 and will have risen 5.5 meters by the year 2500.
...
For the two more realistic scenarios, calculated based on the emissions and pollution stabilizing, the results show that there will be a sea level rise of about 75 cm by the year 2100 and that by the year 2500 the sea will have risen by 2 meters.
...
 it would be 2-400 years before we returned to the 20th century level of a 2 mm rise per year,
---
OK, so its another 'official' view that sea levels will continue to rise for a long time, and even if things 'stabilise' at the 20th century rate of 2 mm per year, its going to keep on keeping on.


Also check out:


Rising oceans: Too late to turn the tide?
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110718092220.htm



ScienceDaily (2011-07-18) -- Melting ice sheets contributed much more to rising sea levels than thermal expansion of warming ocean waters during the Last Interglacial Period, scientists have found. The results further suggest that ocean levels continue to rise long after warming of the atmosphere levels off.
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Keep building your arks and planting your spinach!!