Ticking Time Bomb

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Third world cookstoves major E problem PDF Print E-mail
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 KOHLUA, India — “It’s hard to believe that this is what’s melting the glaciers,” said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, as he weaved through a warren of mud brick huts, each containing a mud cookstove pouring soot into the atmosphere.As women in ragged saris of a thousand hues bake bread and stew lentils in the early evening over fires fueled by twigs and dung, children cough from the dense smoke that fills their homes. Black grime coats the undersides of thatched roofs.

At dawn, a brown cloud stretches over the landscape like a diaphanous dirty blanket. In Kohlua, in central India, with no cars and little electricity, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, are near zero. But soot — also known as black carbon — from tens of thousands of villages like this one in developing countries is emerging as a major and previously unappreciated source of global climate change.

Obamas solution to global warming PDF Print E-mail
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President Barack Obama is considering a radical plan to tackle global warming by firing  pollution particles into the stratosphere to deflect some of the sun’s heat.

The controversial experiment was touted yesterday as a possible last resort to help cool the Earth’s air by the president’s new science advisor John Holdren.‘It’s got to be looked at. We don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the table,’ said Mr Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology.Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, outlined the idea of shooting either sulphur dioxide particles, aluminium oxide dust or specially designed aerosols into the stratosphere - the upper level of the atmosphere between ten and 30 miles above the Earth's surface.It is hoped that this would cool the planet by artificially reflecting sunlight back into space before it can be absorbed.

Naval guns, rockets, high-flying aircraft and even hot air balloons have been put forward as possible ways of firing the agent into the air. Mr Holdren admitted the scheme could have grave side effects and would not completely solve all the problems from soaring greenhouse gas emissions. But he said he had raised the idea with the Obama administration and added: 'We might get desperate enough to want to use it.' Mr Holdren insisted that dramatic action is needed to halt climate change which he compared to being 'in a car with bad brakes driving towards a cliff in a fog'.

There has been widespread resistance in the scientific community to attempts to deliberately modify the environment on such a large scale. Opponents fear that tampering with the atmosphere's delicate balance could have consequences that would be even worse than global warming. But Mr Holdren suggested time could be running out. He outlined several 'tipping points' involving climate change that may be fast approaching, such as the complete loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic.

He said that once such milestones are reached it increases the chances of 'really intolerable consequences'. Mr Holdren also proposed the option of developing 'artificial trees' that would suck carbon dioxide - the chief human-produced greenhouse gas - out of the air and store it. The synthetic tree, described as looking like a goal post with Venetian blinds, would draw carbon dioxide out of the air, as plants do during photosynthesis. The idea seemed too costly at first, and is only on the drawing board, but Mr Holdren said it was feasible.

Empire State to get eco update PDF Print E-mail
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It’s not every day you find $4.4 million lying around at the Empire State Building. But that’s how much former President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg today said they expect the Empire State Building Co. to find in annual energy savings after the skyscraper undergoes a green retrofit, slashing energy needs by an estimated 38 percent.

Scheduled for completion by the end of next year, the $20 million upgrade rests in the hands of Milwaukee, Wisc.-based Johnson Controls.If a $20 million investment can deliver savings of this magnitude, why has it taken so long to start plugging the energy drains in the 78-year-old building? Clearly this will do a lot more on the climate and environment front than turning on green-colored lights does.Part of it has to do with technology.

Working with the Clinton Climate Initiative, Jones Lang LaSalle and the Rocky Mountain Institute, Johnson Controls used some new modeling and measurement tools in what the group envisions as a road map for future commercial building retrofits, the Milwaukee Business Journal reports. The team considered more than 60 upgrades for the skyscraper, and ultimately chose eight projects (detailed here on the Johnson Controls site), including window upgrades, daylighting and web-based energy management systems for each of the 302 office tenants.

Perfect storm of shortages PDF Print E-mail
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Global population growth will create a “perfect storm” of food, water and energy shortages by 2030, according to the UK government’s chief scientist. By 2030, world population is expected to hit 8.3 billion, causing a 50 percent increase in the global demand for food and energy and a 30 percent increase in the demand for fresh drinking water—a resource that is already in short supply for about a third of the world’s people. Climate change will complicate things even further, and in unpredictable ways, Prof. John Beddington told a London conference on sustainable development.

"It's a perfect storm," Beddington said. "There's not going to be a complete collapse, but things will start getting really worrying if we don't tackle these problems."

Population is the one critical aspect that governements do not want to discuss due to the growing political correctness to all ethnic groupings. Many religions see children as a benefit to their beliefs and nurture the idea to their followers. The concern of the planet does not play a role in this doctrine. Sadly children are seen as warriors to promote the more fundamental beliefs.

So what’s the solution? It will be essential to develop better water storage and cleaner energy supplies, Beddington said, and to improve crop yields and agricultural productivity through a combination of genetic modification and conventional plant breeding to create crop strains that are resistant to drought, salinity, diseases and pests. While developing countries will experience the most dire consequences of the predicted shortages, and contribute the most to population growth over the next two decades, every nation will exacerbate the problems and feel the effects.

In the United States, for example, new births hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007—the highest number of births since the previous record was set in 1957 at the height of the post-World War II baby boom—according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control. Despite the recent high birth rate, the U.S. population is growing more slowly than those of most nations. Yet, even though the United States has fewer people than many other countries, Americans use more resources per capita than any other nation on Earth. We have a vested interest in taking a leadership role in helping the nations of the world create a sustainable balance between population and the availability of life-giving resources

Saudi's looking for eco help PDF Print E-mail
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CALGARY — With a world-wide recession continuing to deepen and large multinational energy companies continue to scale back there may be "billions of dollars" in opportunities for Canadian businesses possessing environmental technology.

An official with Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company by production and reserves, is spending the next few days in Calgary on a drive to recruit companies that may be willing to invest their environmental technology know-how in Saudi Arabia.

"In the environmental area - the recession will never hit especially in a country like Saudi Arabia where the environment is essential," said Ramzi Hejazi, general supervisor for the state-run oil giant's environmental engineering division.

"We need to ensure our water is clean and if there is any contamination we need to clean it. Water, oil and soil those are essential things so the government has made sure that the environment will play role number one," he added.

Hejazi, who made a presentation to about 20 business leaders Monday, said there are 11 refineries in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco has more than 100 facilities that need constant supervision.

He said environmental regulations in the country only lag slightly behind the Environmental Protection Agency standards in place in the United States and will likely become stricter.

Hejazi said Saudi Arabia is in need of wastewater treatment plants, recycling depots, landfills, water purification plants and needs to clean up existing groundwater contamination and keep the air clean.

The recession isn't going to stop Saudi Aramco from pressing ahead he said.

"We're still producing a fair amount of oil and $40 is still not bad for us - we'll survive," said Hejazi who encouraged Calgary businesses to be aggressive in seeking to do business with Saudi Aramco.

"The economic situation is down right now but it's a cycle and we know it's going to go up. We are telling people to be ready and prepare for it and make the foundation for it because in a couple of years you'll be ahead of the game."

John MacDonald, CEO of Calgary-based Brimrock which provides technical expertise on sulphur including how to design facilities and operational expertise, is looking at approaching a Saudi company for a joint-venture project to get its foot in the door.

He said many Canadian companies don't realize what kind of opportunities are out there.

"With the Canadian oil and gas guys - it's been pretty good in Alberta - all boats float in a rising tide. The guys who are comfortable having coffee with each other - they don't want to step outside their comfort zone - even though they've got some really good technical expertise and technologies that are applicable down there," said MacDonald.

"These guys come into Calgary looking for good companies and the guys here have this whole perception of what goes on in Saudi Arabia but there's a tremendous amount of opportunities."

MacDonald said the one thing not in short supply in Saudi Arabia is ready cash.

"When you go down and spend a couple of weeks down there people talk about money in terms of B's. You know a billion here or two billion there," he said.

"They've got a current expansion program with their refining and gas base of $60 billion to spend just on new facilities."

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