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benedict preaches the environment - and new theory on the petm

“ [...] A survey by US bank Citigroup found that the 11 major faiths now embrace 85% of the world's population and are the world's third largest group of financial investors [...] ”

“Observers said yesterday that the Catholic church is no longer split between those who advocate development and those who say the environment is the priority. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, head of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, said: "For environment ... read Creation. The mastery of man over Creation must not be despotic or senseless. Man must cultivate and safeguard God's Creation."

“According to Vatican sources, the present Pope is far more engaged in the green debate than John Paul. In the past year Benedict has spoken strongly on the need to preserve rainforests. In the next few weeks he visits Brazil.”

“The Catholic church is just one major faith group now rapidly moving environment to the fore of its social teachings. "Climate change, biotechnology, trade justice and pollution are all now being debated at a far higher level by the world's major religions," said Martin Palmer, secretary general of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (Arc).”

“Many evangelical leaders say they are still not convinced that global warming is human-induced and have argued that the collapse of the world is inevitable and will herald the second coming of Christ.

“But most younger leaders have broken ranks. About four years ago the progressives began to argue strongly that man had a responsibility to steward the earth. Redefining environmentalism as "creation care", they are now lobbying President Bush and the US administration to take global warming far more seriously.

“ "They are the most effective lobby," said one observer yesterday. "They represent the conservative vote so Bush has to listen to them.”
[Quoted from guardian.co.uk]

marker at abelard.org

“Michael Storey at Roskilde University in Denmark and colleagues have found evidence that a huge volcanic eruption, 55 million years ago, unleashed so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere that world temperatures rose by as much as 8°C - with the Arctic ocean reaching a toasty 25°C.

“ "It was already a warm Earth, and it got a lot warmer," says Storey. The climatic turmoil that ensued was disastrous for most life, he says, killing off many deep-sea species.

“Ancient ocean sediments that record this episode, called the Palaeocene-Eocene Temperature Maximum (PETM) [...] ”

“Whatever the ultimate cause of the Eocene meltdown, a link to greenhouse gases seems highly likely. "There are obvious lessons from this," says Storey. "The rate at which greenhouse gases are now being added to the atmosphere exceeds by far the rate of 55 million years ago," he warns.”
[Quoted from newscientist.com]

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#eco_catholism_270407





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germany, energy architecture, and what god could do if only he had money

Photovoltaics are heavily subsidised in Germany, and much interesting, energy-efficient construction and conservation are underway.

Here is the site of a German architect busily involved in these activities.
He has built this impressive, high-tech, experimental mansion.

“The column of the Heliotrop® is standing on a ring gear with a swinging element which is run by an electric motor and thus makes it possible to focus the building according to the circuit of the sun. The cylindrical Heliotrop® has triple heat-absorbing glazing on one side (U-value = 0,5) and high heat insulation on the other side (U-value = 0,12).

“During the period of heating, the house can be turned to make its glass-façade face the sun or turned out of the sun in times of great heat. The panoramic view in each room changes with the hour of the day as the house is rotating, which creates a living experience of a very special kind.”

“A photovoltaic solar plant of biaxial tracking, which generates five to six times more energy than is consumed in the building itself, is solar/photovoltaic panels for the Disch rotatng buildinginstalled on a central column above the roof terrace and serves the purpose of sun and rain protection. By mounting such a system.”

rotating solar house Heliotrop
Rotating solar house Heliotrop®. Image source: Rolf Disch
Solar/photovoltaic panels for the Disch rotatng building
Image source: Rolf Disch

from the Solarsiedlung project

“When we came to have a look at the premises in June, we immediately thought it was pretty exciting. Evi is quite enthusiastic, not so much about the technology, but rather about the design of the houses, the rubber floors, the timber ceilings, the snug atmosphere.”

Photovoltaic panelled roofs. Image credit: Rolf Disch Solarseidlung project. Image credit: Rolf Disch
Above: The Solarseidlung project.

Left: Photovoltaic panelled roofs on the Solarseidlung project.
Image source:
Rolf Disch

You can explore around his interesting site starting from this page

related material
architectural wonders and joys at abelard.org

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#energy_architecture_160407

second part of IPCC 4 report, part 2 now published
[23-page .pdf file]

the clarity of the English in this second tranch of the UN report on climate change is much clearer, and so easier to read and understand.

Global temperature changes, 1970-2004. Image credit: IPCC
Global temperature changes, 1970-2004. Image credit: IPCC
The dots indicate observations - the larger the dot, the larger the study.
Blue = physical observations, green = biological ones.

Climate Change 2007:
Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Summary for Policymakers
(to be copy edited)”

North America
Moderate climate change in the early decades of the century is projected to increase aggregate yields of rainfed agriculture by 5-20%, but with important variability among regions. Major challenges are projected for crops that are near the warm end of their suitable range or depend on highly utilised water resources.

“Warming in western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources.

“Disturbances from pests, diseases, and fire are projected to have increasing impacts on forests, with an extended period of high fire risk and large increases in area burned.

“Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of heat waves during the course of the century, with potential for adverse health impacts. The growing number of the elderly population is most at risk.

“Coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly stressed by climate change impacts interacting with development and pollution. Population growth and the rising value of infrastructure in coastal areas increase vulnerability to climate variability and future climate change, with losses projected to increase if the intensity of tropical storms increases. Current adaptation is uneven and readiness for increased exposure is low.”

marker at abelard.org

Europe
For the first time, wide ranging impacts of changes in current climate have been documented: retreating glaciers, longer growing seasons, shift of species ranges, and health impacts due to a heat wave of unprecedented magnitude. The observed changes described above are consistent with those projected for future climate change.

“Nearly all European regions are anticipated to be negatively affected by some future impacts of climate change and these will pose challenges to many economic sectors. Climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in Europe’s natural resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash floods, and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to storminess and sealevel rise). The great majority of organisms and ecosystems will have difficulties adapting to climate change. Mountainous areas will face glacier retreat, reduced snow cover and winter tourism, and extensive species losses (in some areas up to 60% under high emission scenarios by 2080).

“In Southern Europe, climate change is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydropower potential, summer tourism, and in general, crop productivity. It is also projected to increase health risks due to heat waves and the frequency of wildfires.

“In Central and Eastern Europe, summer precipitation is projected to decrease, causing higher water stress. Health risks due to heat waves are projected to increase. Forest productivity is expected to decline and the frequency of peatland fires to increase.

“In Northern Europe, climate change is initially projected to bring mixed effects, including some benefits such as reduced demand for heating, increased crop yields and increased forest growth. However, as climate change continues, its negative impacts (including more frequent winter floods, endangered ecosystems and increasing ground instability) are likely to outweigh its benefits.

“Adaptation to climate change is likely to benefit from experience gained in reaction to extreme climate events, by specifically implementing proactive climate change risk management adaptation plans.”

related material
February 2007 UN IPCC report 4, part 1 - links
Emission Scenarios of the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES)

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#ipcc_part2_120407

pollution in new zealand - local yak report by invincy

An English bloke was telling me today about the pollution problem in winter in Christchurch. He says you can smell all the wood fires, and pollution from these fires is causing asthma. I’ve just brought the washing in before it’s dry so it doesn’t get smelly!

The council is trying to encourage people to change to pellet fires, heat pumps and other cleaner alternatives, and they gradually change the rules on what kind of fire you are allowed. Pellet fires burn a special pellet produced from wood, and they have an electric fan to help the fire burn more efficiently.

A small electric fan like you’d find in a pellet fire, say 100-200W, uses an order of magnitude less power than an electric-fired heater would. (The heater might produce up to 10kW.) So I would expect moving to more efficient burning would outweigh the costs. The main cost is you can’t burn your own scrap wood, you have to buy special pellets. Here’s some more information.

There is a lot of talk about global warming here in the papers and possible solutions, such as the proposed fart tax (should be burp tax - the methane comes out the mouths, not the bottoms). Apparently cows and sheep are the biggest warmers here.

Most of our electricity is hydroelectricity, I think just over 60% at the moment. If this were not the case, I don’t think NZ would have its anti-nuclear stance. As it is, they are able to pretend to have the moral high ground on nuclear power, but only because they happen to have such good mountain resources. The energy demand is growing all the time, but people are aware that a new coal-fired power station may not be the best choice.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#nz_pollution_prevention_120407

ignore the end of oil - the socialist uk ‘government’ does

“By now the people of Lampeter, from ageing hippies to young activists, were shifting in their plastic seats (made with oil) and drawing anxiously on their water bottles (made with oil) if not reaching for their medicines (made with oil). Hopkins told them they were likely to experience a range of common symptoms that accompany initial peak oil awareness.

“One might be an irrational grasping at infeasible solutions. At hydrogen, for example. No good, running the UK's cars on hydrogen would need 67 Sizewell B nuclear power stations or a wind farm bigger than the south-west region of England. Or what about biofuels? No again, it would take over 25m hectares of arable land to run the UK's vehicles on biodiesel, and the UK only has 5.7m hectares of arable land. We need to eat too.”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#end_of_oil_110407

the deadly toll from the filth of fossil fuels - and yet people fear nuclear power!

“Two explosions at the Chernobyl reactor killed three people immediately and more than 30 died from acute radiation poisoning, but the radioactive plume released from the reactor spread over most of Europe and is estimated to have caused up to 16,000 deaths.

“The latest study follows a report last month from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution which said air pollution was responsible for 24,000 premature deaths in Britain every year.”

“ [...] However, radiation exposures experienced by the most exposed group of survivors [at hiroshima and nagasaki] led to an average loss of life expectancy significantly lower than that caused by severe obesity or active smoking," the report states.”

related material
fossil fuel disasters - briefing document

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#radiation_v._fossil_fuels_040407

outline un analysis of energy efficiency in buildings
[87-page large print .pdf with the usual generous allowance of 10-20% blank pages!]

A highly illustrated document, with many statistics and notes from around the world. It’s worth a scan, but not much more. I wonder how much carbon it cost to produce!

The difference between Kyoto targets and reality. Image credit: United Nations Environment Programme.
The difference between Kyoto targets and reality.
Image source: unep.fr

“The pattern of energy use in buildings is strongly related to the building type and the climate zone where it is located. The level of development also has an effect. Today, most of the energy consumption occurs during the building's operational phase, for heating, cooling and lighting purposes, which urges building professionals to produce more energy-efficient buildings and renovate existing stocks according to modern sustainability criteria. The diversity of buildings, their distinct uses and extended life cycle pose a challenge for the prescription of energy conservation measures. Specific solutions are needed for each situation, such as for the construction of new buildings, for the renovation of existing ones, for small family houses and for large commercial complexes. Energy consumption can be reduced with thermal insulation, high performance windows and solar shading, airtight structural details, ventilation and heat/cold recovery systems, supported with the integration of renewable energy production in the building. These strategies apply to buildings in both warm and cold climates. Site and energy chain planning also influence the energy efficiency of the individual building. However, technological solutions will only be helpful when building occupants are committed to using energy-efficient systems in an appropriate way. There are many factors that influence the energy consumption behavior of individuals, such as gender, age and socio-demographic conditions. Educational and awareness raising campaigns are therefore crucial in the process of ensuring the energy efficiency of buildings.”

“At the same time, the building and construction sector accounts for the largest share in the use of natural resources, by land use and by materials extraction. Energy use, liquid and solid waste generation, transport of construction materials, and consumption of hazardous materials are other examples of negative environmental impacts from this sector. In OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, buildings are responsible for 25-40% of total energy use. In Europe, buildings account for 40-45% of energy consumption in society, contributing to significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The building sector thus offers the largest single potential for energy efficiency in Europe: more than one-fifth of the present energy consumption and up to 45 million tonnes of CO2 per year could be saved by 2010 by applying more ambitious standards to new and existing buildings. This would represent a considerable contribution to meeting the Kyoto targets and is also an important contribution towards securing the energy supply of the European Union.”

A Chinese market solution:

“Another way to improve the energy efficiency in new buildings discussed in China is to apply 'feebates' for energy hook-ups, just as for efficient cars. Under the feebates system, you either pay a fee or receive a rebate when you connect to gas or electric system. The amount paid or received depends either on the size of your subscription or on how efficient your building is. The fees pay for the rebates, which make this system cost neutral and politically attractive. The main difference between building codes and appliance standards systems on one hand, and the 'feebates' on the other hand, is that the first one does not offer any incentive to exceed the requested efficiency level, while the second one drives continuous improvement: the more efficient you are, the bigger rebate you get. The 'feebates' approach encourages making decision at the very beginning of the design process. Feebates to save energy have been tried only in small-scale U.S. experiments but are already successfully used by some water and wastewater services providers [...] ”

marker at abelard.org

“In the United States, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners worked on a task force to change the profit rules of utilities, in order to reward investments in Demand Side Management (DMS) projects. Beyond premium rate of return on efficiency investments, utilities would also start to engage in 'shared-savings' systems. For every dollar saved from the customer, the utility was allowed a small rate of participation in the saving, allowing its stockholders to earn an extra 0.15 dollars, while the customer remained with the saving of 0.85 dollars (Rosenfeld 1999). In this case, 'teaching' the market - including companies - how to be more efficient in energy consumption has become a sound economic solution [...]”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#building_energy_saving_020407

maybe your last chance to see a blue whale - on your computer - xavier
[needs Flash7]

the eye of a blue whale - actual size, from whales.org
the eye of a blue whale - actual size, from whales.org [this image: 786 x 689 pixels]

As blue whales - the largest living mammals on our planet - near extinction, a whaling charity offers an opportunity to see (and hear) one of these amazing beasties full size drifting past on your computer screen.

The screen shot above has not been rescaled, the red box - top right - shows the position of the larger image.

“In the twentieth century, whaling pushed many species to the very brink of extinction. In the Antarctic alone, between 1904 and 1978, 1.4 million whales were killed. This number includes the 350,000 blue whales taken by whaling fleets during that time. Thousands more were killed and not reported. With populations slow to recover, these giant creatures are now classified as endangered with some populations in the Antarctic numbering just a few hundred. Many other populations of whales were similarly decimated.”

For more information.

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#blue_whales_220307

saving energy in fridges

“The patented cube mimics food and is designed to fit around a fridge's temperature sensor, which usually measures the temperature of the circulating air.

“Because air heats up much more quickly than yoghurt, milk or whatever else is stored inside, this makes the fridge work harder than necessary. With the cube fitted, the fridge responds only to the temperature of the food, which means it clicks on and off less often as the door is open and closed.

“Trials are under way with supermarkets, breweries and hotels. One of the largest, the Riverbank Park Plaza hotel in London, fitted the device to each of the hotel's 140 major fridges and freezers. David Bell, chief engineer, says energy use decreased by about 30% on average - enough to slash the hotel's annual electricity bill by £17,000. The Park Plaza group plans to fit them throughout its UK hotels, and to recommend them overseas."”

Note that, in their article quoted above, the Guardian mis-reports the pricing of the eCube. One eCube costs £40, reducing to £30 each if you buy a hundred. Further, the company recommends that the eCube be installed by a professional refrigeration engineer, so his call-out and labour charges probably should be included in the cost of the eCube.

What the Guardian fails to say is that there is no good reason for these devices not to be built into every new refrigeration machine, whether fridge, freezer or even air-conditioner. Energy savings data from eCube.

marker at abelard.org

Assuming that there is some exaggeration, and taking account of the fact that the claims from eCube are for open supermarket fridges and high-traffic catering industry fridges, I think it unlikely that a domestic fridge would save more than 10 to 15% with this technology. As a normal, modern domestic fridge-freezer uses about 400 kWh a year, and electricity costs roughly 0.1 € a unit (1kWh). This means a saving in the very approximate region of 4-6 euro per year, and so would save 40-60 euro or more over the life of the machine. It doesn’t look like something to rush out and buy, but it does look like something worth building into new fridges in future at a cost of a few pence. As for claims for air-conditioning, that looks very optimistic to me.

marker at abelard.orgmarker at abelard.orgmarker at abelard.org

“Background to the eCube
The eCube was originally designed to accurately monitor refrigerated food storage temperatures in response to EU food safety legislation. In the early stages of development it was realised the eCube was delivering substantial energy savings, as well as providing efficient temperature monitoring.”
[Quoted from cost-cutting-cube.com]

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#fridges_energy_savings_190307

for those scaredy cats who believe green policies are the crack of doom

Waste is not profitable.

It would take less effort to piss in the street. It would take less effort to keep externalising the fossil fuel industry filth.

So why all the indoor toilets?

Why all your central heating, Why not live like the third world and cut down the trees in Hyde Park to cook your supper?

Sure, energy will cost you a bit more. But you’re wealthy enough to afford it.

Here’s a useful short item on the reality of coming changes.

“Our members see this not just as an issue of moral responsibility but a chance to take a lead. It is a business opportunity," said programme spokeswoman Emma Dowen.

“In boardrooms, being seen to be green has become a selling point, an investment in public relations, as well as helping the bottom line by trimming costs.

“ "Some of this is based on wanting to do the right thing for the environment. But handily for businesses, most of the initiatives they are undertaking have the impact of lowering costs as well," said analyst Bryan Roberts of Planet Retail.”

“Britain's third biggest retailer, Marks & Spencer Group, announced a 200 million pound (US$386 million) plan to make the firm carbon neutral, stop sending waste to landfill and get key raw materials from sustainable sources.

“Not to be outdone, Britain's biggest retailer, Tesco, said it would quantify and display the carbon footprint -- the amount of carbon gas generated in the production, packaging and transport -- of every product it sells.

“Retailers have also announced plans to cut the 13 billion plastic bags used in Britain each year.”
[Quoted from planetark.org]

related material
fuel inefficient cars, a worldwide disgrace

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#green_doom_170307

old russia turns over in energy sleep

“[...] Moscow's streets: billboards urging people to switch to energy-saving light bulbs.

“But Muscovites are not being encouraged to go green to save the planet. Moscow's government has realised that the country's wasteful ways with energy could mean that before long there will not be enough fuel to go around.

“ "It's all about conserving energy supplies and nothing to do with the environment," Igor Bashmakov, head of the independent Center for Energy Efficiency, said of the campaign, launched at the start of the year." ”

“Poorly insulated Soviet-era apartment blocks leak heat through draughty windows and thin roofs. When ice and snow cover the streets, drain covers and gutters are ice-free because of the heat escaping through them.

“City apartments are heated by municipal boilers which pump hot water into buildings through poorly insulated pipes that often run above the ground.

“The temperature, controlled centrally, is usually high. The standard way for people to turn down the heat in their homes is to open the windows, sending clouds of steam out into the freezing air." ”

the web address for the article above is
http://www.abelard.org/news/ecology0703.php#old_russia_020307

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