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ecology news archives 4

New translation, the Magna Carta
article archives at abelard's news and comment zoneecology archives
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
III-2004: 17 18 19 22 30

wasting energy

“Each year Britain wastes 12 billion pounds ($18 billion) worth of energy, amounting to a third of total consumption”

“[There is] in every business district across Britain, throughout Europe and indeed, the world - a waste of electricity that is adding billions of tonnes of harmful greenhouse gases every year to Earth's atmosphere.”

“By improving energy efficiency, you cut out energy waste, save money and help cut the carbon dioxide emissions which are a principal cause of climate change.”

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology260303

26.03.2003

 

 


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once upon a time i used to wander on this neat solid ball of mud

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green.
Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill, 1946

Now us human monkeys are beginning to wake up and look around—

Global warming, new ice ages, AIDS and ebola, great starvations and collapsed civilisations....
Then there are wandering asteroids set to wipe out dinosaurs, or us. That is, of course, if we don’t contrive to blow ourselves up first, or manage to ruin the land and water sufficiently that it will no longer feed us.

And by the way, I’ve just been told that we are blithely sitting on volcanos fit to darken the sun and moon and leave us struggling to breathe; let alone being able to continue to live our profligate lives, while waiting for the oil to run out in a few years.

I open the door and the flies swarm in,
Shut the door and I'm sweating again;
And in the process I cracked my shin,
Just one darn thing after another.
[From Life gits te-jus donít it, 1948]

So now folks, we have the ‘supervolcano’, where the earth opens up and gobbles us all down, well almost. The last one was apparently 74,000 years ago, so the wiseacres tell me. Not very long, considering that our written history only goes back about 10,000 years, and I’m told sommat like us has been around half a million to a couple of million years. So these things seem to come around every other Tuesday, whereas the last serious asteroid was around 60 million years ago—if I am to believe ‘them’.

From a longish TV interview:

“ROBERT CHRISTIANSEN: Quite amazingly we realised that there was a cycle of caldera-forming eruptions, these huge volcanic eruptions [occur] about every 600,000 years.

“NARRATOR: Yellowstone was on a 600,000 year cycle and the last eruption was just 600,000 years ago. Yet there was no evidence of volcanic activity now. The volcano seemed extinct. That reassuring thought was about to change.”

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology230303

23.03.2003

did antarctic ice collapse begin end of ice age?

“The melting of an enormous Antarctic ice sheet 14,000 years ago triggered climatic changes in Europe and North America that ultimately led to the end of the last ice age, according to a new study.”

“The new study builds on research published last year. Studying sea level changes in corals and organic materials from Vietnam and Barbados, scientists concluded that an influx of freshwater from the Antarctic 14,000 years ago increased sea levels by an average of 66 feet (20 meters) over 200 years, about 100 times faster than today.”

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology210303

21.03.2003

human-induced weather alteration?

“This is the first report of a human effect on barometers, rather than thermometers.”

“The models' predictions of air-pressure changes matched those from the real world - as long as human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions were included, the researchers found. Without these emissions, the two maps did not match.”

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology200303

20.03.2003

a crude report on the harm caused by madsam and war
I would prefer a better report, but I have as yet found nothing.

In my view, there is strong evidence of female infanticide throughout the Middle East. All figures of death rates and sanctions in Iraq are entirely dependent on figures from the Iraqi propaganda machine and, therefore, highly unreliable.

This article also does not mention the problems with heavy equipment, which cracks the hardened surface of the desert, so preparing the way for sand storms, dune formation and eventual engulfment of otherwise productive and living areas.

Further, a major unexpected problem, stemming from the oil-well damage, has been amounts of oil sinking through the earth and contaminating the aquifers/water-table.

War is yet another way in which humans damage the planet.

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology190303

19.03.2003

arctic oscillation

“For two years following the volcanic eruption, the Arctic Oscillation caused winter warming over land areas in the high and middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, despite a cooling effect from volcanic particles that blocked sunlight.”

Interesting item with some substance and useful illustrations.

ocean effects on weather

Two studies that together seem to improve knowledge of weather systems:

still struggling to understand the weather

“.... predicting drought is trickier than predicting climate. "Several things have to gang up for drought to happen" .... Other ocean factors are probably at work, including a decades-long northern Pacific oscillation that has only recently been recognized.”

gulf stream less important than previously thought?

“the new data suggests that atmospheric circulation is more important to understanding climate variability than is the ocean circulation. ”

“The Rocky Mountains play a major role. Analogous to an island in a stream, the Rockies set up a persistent wave in the winds downstream that brings cold winds from the north into eastern North America and warm winds from the south into western Europe.”

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology140303

14.03.2003

a nasty mixture....suvs, behaviour, oil, pollution and politics

“President Bush's new $674 billion economic stimulus plan includes tax incentives for small businesses to acquire SUVs - incentives so generous that many will effectively be able to acquire them free, by claiming them as a business expense against tax. Critics say this will not only boost the numbers of the biggest SUVs on the roads, but also encourage the design of even larger gas-guzzling models.”

“The charge levelled at some SUVs by Runge, head of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is that their high centre of gravity makes them prone to roll over in accidents. And their high stance on the road makes them more likely to kill people in ordinary cars struck by them. In addition, SUV roofs are more liable to be crushed in a rollover, causing horrendous injuries to those inside.”

Experience also shows that, with SUVs, there is more ‘rear-ending’—the rear of the SUV is hit by another vehicle, because drivers of other (ordinary) cars are unable to see round the SUV monsters. These accidents are worsened by the bumpers of SUVs often not being at the correct height for other vehicles.

The more that these vehicles are on the road, the more other people see it as an arms race and buy bigger vehicles themselves. This generates a typical ‘tragedy of the commons’ process.

Further, despite the fact that many believe that these vehicles are safer, this is not the case. Work has been done that suggests people have a perceived level of risk tolerance. Thus, as they think the vehicles to be safer, they will tend also to drive them more recklessly.

The policy of subsidising SUVs is clearly nuts. Such is the situation when big business can buy politicians and the public are not adequately educated.


spoilt children —their toys start to cost them

It is amazing that so many Americans are idiotic enough to commute in what is, effectively, a small truck. Then they have the gall to whine about their fuel costs.

“The statewide average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline rose to about $1.75, up 7.9 cents from last week, AAA Michigan said Monday. Prices are at the highest level since September 2001, AAA said.

“ But nobody is screaming louder than drivers of SUVs and trucks.”

Now $1.75 per US gallon is 46 cents per litre.
In the UK, the price is currently about £0.80 per litre ($1.28) and in France it is about1.05€ per litre ($1.05).
The United States has highly subsidised oil (gasoline) prices [note: this site has several useful tables on fuel consumption costs], to which can be added the subsidies purchasers of truck-based sport utility vehicles (SUVs) receive.

The SUV info link provides a useful overview article on the environmental problems with SUVs.

The United States also heavily subsidises many other unnecessarily environmently destructive activities: mining, logging, oil drilling, through tax incentives.

Here is an interesting article that both gives examples and offers a possible solution—shift tax incentives to encourage ‘green’ behaviours.

Now, back to a SUV driver in the States:

“Agius said his commute is local, but he's still been pumping about $70 a week into his gas tank.
"It's becoming a big problem for me, because there's all these other things that I need to buy - like food and clothes and car payments and a mortgage," Agius said.”

The poor babies, not only do they want to poison the environment and their fellow citizens, but they want do it at less cost than anybody else. I want, I want, I want.

And the US administration looks to humour them by further invading irreplaceable nature environments:

“Retail gasoline prices have surged above record highs for February at $1.66 a gallon on average, while heating oil prices have hit three-year highs at $1.71 a gallon.”
[...]
“Against this backdrop, the Senate is expected to vote in mid-March on whether to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling [...]. The Bush administration is pushing to open the refuge and tap its potential 16 billion barrels of oil to reduce U.S. dependence on crude imports, particularly as fears mount that a possible war with Iraq could disrupt supplies from the oil-rich Middle East.”

“But most Democrats and environmentalists oppose drilling in ANWR and want to protect the reserve's wildlife. They say there is not enough oil in the refuge to justify disturbing the area's wildlife, and argue the government should raise fuel mileage standards for sport utility vehicles.”

In 2001, the USA burnt up 895,600,000 tonnes of oil, that is 6,448,320,000 barrels (6.4 billion barrels). The US economy would consume the amount of oil in the ANWR in about two and a half years. Not very long, is it?

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology100303

updated
14.03.2003

no ice, no ice....

In the Arctic:

“The findings, to be published later this year, show the melting of the Arctic ice has got considerably worse over the past 20 years. By 2090, there could be 80 per cent less ice than there is today.

“In addition, satellite measurements have clearly shown that the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice has shrunk on average by about 8 per cent over the past quarter century, with the biggest decline occurring in summer.

“Professor Johannessen said the marked and unprecedented thinning of the Arctic sea ice took place in the last two decades of the 20th century. He believes it is largely the result of global warming caused by man-made pollution.”

In the Antarctic:

“Parts of Antarctica's icy fringes are propping up its vast glaciers, new research confirms1. Where ice shelves have collapsed due to global warming, the continent's remaining ice is surging into the sea.”

“Researchers' biggest fear is that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, currently hemmed in by the massive Ronne and Ross ice shelves, could go the same way. That would raise sea levels by six or seven metres. "It wouldn't take a very large temperature rise to disintegrate these ice shelves," says Skvarca.

“Fortunately, the West Antarctic remains cold, for the time being at least.”

related material
ocean effects on weather

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology110303

10.03.2003

related material
ocean effects on weather

the wollemi pine

“In 1994 a bizarre-looking tree previously known only from 120 million-year-old fossil leaves was discovered alive and well in a rugged gorge west of Sydney, Australia.

“Fewer than 100 Wollemi pines exist in the wild, and scientists and horticulturists are undertaking a massive effort to cultivate additional trees to improve the species' chances of survival. By 2005/2006 more than half a million of them will go on sale worldwide as garden and indoor plants.”

(c) National Geographic Society, 2003
©National Geographic Society

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology090303

09.03.2003

trichloroethylene linked to human male infertility

“TCE is a volatile chemical used extensively in the automotive and metal industries as a de-greasing agent. It is also found in adhesives, lubricants, paints, varnishes, paint strippers, pesticides, spot removers and rug cleaning fluids, and has been detected in both underground and surface water sources.

“Already linked to liver, kidney and lung damage, TCE has not until now been linked to reproductive disorders. The National Toxicology Program in the U.S. has estimated that 3.5 million workers are exposed to the chemical.”

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology080303

08.03.2003

means of lowering bio-accessible lead in garden mud

“Even yards that were never near smelter operations can have contaminated soils because of lead-based paints from older buildings and auto exhaust from leaded gasoline. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 50 percent of inner-city children in the United States have lead levels in their blood high enough to cause irreversible damage to their health.”

Why it works is not yet understood.

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology040303

04.03.2003

humans as a factor in shrinking gastropod sizes—
problems with throwing the little ones back.

“The average size of marine snails and limpets along the Southern California coast has declined significantly over the past century and collection by humans appears to be the culprit”

Evolution in action.

the web address for this article is
https://www.abelard.org/news/ecology4.htm#ecology020303

02.03.2003

 



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