Global environmental challenges
Organisers of an annual “Clean up the World” campaign say that up to 35 million volunteers in more than 110 countries will be cleaning up trash, planting trees, working out better ways of recycling and taking part in other ways to stop pollution.
Of course it will take a lot more than just the Sept. 19-21 blitz but beaches from Vanuatu to Brazil, or cities from Buenos Aires to Sydney may benefit a bit.
And it illustrates a wider problem about the environment – nothing much happens unless a lot of people get involved in sorting out problems such as piles of stinking rubbish or global warming.
“We are faced with a unique challenge…about how we get practical about climate change,” said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme which backs the clean-up campaign. “Climate change is not just something that others have to address.”
Is this the silver bullet everyone’s been waiting for? Or just pie in the sky? Is capturing and storing carbon dioxide the technology breakthrough to cut greenhouse gas emissions without getting in the way of economic growth and industry’s “addiction” to fossil fuels? Or is it just a “greenwash” — a token gesture by some of the utilities responsible for so much of the world’s CO2 to try to persuade an increasingly green public that the great emitters are doing something to fight climate change?
Those are the questions that were hurled at Vattenfall executives on Tuesday when the Swedish-based utility opened the world’s first CCS plant in a small town south of Berlin called Schwarze Pumpe. The company believes it will be economically feasible before long to capture carbon, liquify it, and store it permanently on a large scale underground. This is only a small pilot plant producing enough power for a town of 20,000. But if it works, Vattenfall plans to build two conventional power plants 10 times larger in Germany and Denmark by 2015 and from 2020 they hope CCS will be a viable option for large-scale industrial use.
“They’ve been attracted by all the delegates falling asleep inside,” one official joked.
They were lobbying delegates at 160-nation talks to do more to combat climate change. For the story, click here
It’s true — elephants never forget. And that may mean the difference between life and death for herds coping with climate change.
That is one of the findings of a recent study by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London, which suggests that old females may have long memories of distant sources of food and water.
Read my colleague Pete Harrison’s fascinating feature about how automakers fear tougher restrictions intended to slow global warming could mean the end of the road for supercars such as the Aston Martin DB9, Ferrari F430 or Porsche 911.
It may be a distinct miniority opinion, but if you were to ask me, I’d say I think they’re not high enough — and I sincerely hope they keep rising. It may be the only way the world wakes up to the perils of climate change — hitting people in their pocketbooks where it hurts most.
The higher energy costs are truly a blessing in disguise for anyone concerned about climate change and worried about the inability of world leaders to take any tough measures to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With the growing scientific evidence that global warming has been happening, there’s no excuse for this generation’s inaction.
And with the WTO talks ending in abject failure, who could possibly be optimistic about the world ever agreeing on taking the costly, pain-inducing steps necessary to at least slow global warming in our time?
So it is the soaring energy prices are filling the void the cowardly political leaders have left. Rising prices for petrol, natural gas and electricity are causing pain and leading to conservation — and reduced emissions of carbon dioxide It’s a good thing.
Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.
Often when seeing anti-environmental commentary about global warming in the media, I feel like the first question I would like to ask these commentators is: “Why do you deny that carbon dioxide (CO2), which is increasing in an unprecedented way in the atmosphere, is a greenhouse gas?”
When Al Gore challenged the U.S. to produce all of its electricity from renewable sources in 10 years, his aggressive plan to combat climate change was pitted against another recently-unveiled proposal, from Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Gore, a former Democratic vice president and Nobel Prize-winning crusader on climate change, announced his plan last week and has since promoted it on U.S. television. Expected to cost between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion, Gore advocates investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy, energy efficiency and a national power grid. He also wants to retain energy production from nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, and invest in technology to store and capture carbon dioxide from coal and gas.
Japan budgeted $283 million for security at the summit and $30 million to build a temporary, low-emissions media centre far from where the G8 leaders are meeting in a luxury hotel.