Monday, 26 May 2008

You emit what you eat

I've just read this report in the Climate Change Report of the journal Nature.

The full article has appeared in the journal Environmental Science & Technology:

quoting the report:


Olive Heffernan

Environ. Sci. Technol. 42, 3508–3513 (2008)

Worried about your food miles? With rising public concern over how individual lifestyle choices affect the climate, more attention is being paid to the notion that long-distance transport of goods can harm the environment.

But a new study by Christopher Weber and Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon University in Washington, DC, suggests that a dietary shift may be more effective in reducing your emissions than eating local produce. They conducted a life-cycle analysis of all greenhouse gas emissions, not just carbon dioxide, associated with the production of food consumed in the United States, compared against those associated with long-distance distribution. Food production far outstripped transport as a source of emissions, accounting for 83 per cent of the 8.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases that an average US household generates each year by consuming food. Although transport distances were considerable, they led to only 11 per cent of total emissions.

Different food groups varied widely in their emissions, with red meat, for example, producing 150 per cent more greenhouse gases than chicken or fish. The authors suggest that eating less red meat and fewer dairy products even one day per week would do more against global warming than becoming a 'locavore' who eats an entirely regional diet.


end of quote

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Environmental refugees

I've just listened to a podcast on the BBC website, interviewing a few people who have moved with their families to New Zealand. The reason that all interviewees state is, that they've moved to lessen the effects of climate change on their families and future generations.
One of the interviewees says, that one advantage of New Zealand is that it has so few people, as compared to, say Japan, which has about the same land surface. So people consume less, they pollute less and live healthier and better lives. It's a bit ironic that if this phenomenon gets more widespread (not just among well to do westerners) this key advantage may diminish.
It may be that we're looking towards a future, where environmental migration becomes much more widespread.

Monday, 19 May 2008

A quote from Obama

In his campaign in the state of Oregon, US presidential candidate Barack Obama, has stated that:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK..."

This statement strikes at the heart of the Worlds problem: rampant consumerism, the unequal distribution of resources and most importantly of all, the attitude towards this. The attitude which in the developing world just revolves around 'not caring' and short term thinking.The World has a real energy crisis and it may be that Obama has realized this. To say this out loud is the only responsible thing to do, I have to admit, he's got guts! I sincerely hope he is not committing political suicide with his remarks. Still the problem is much more widespread than the articles in the media present it. I'm referring to the energy problem and peak-oil. The Oil Drum has a good article by prof. Fran├žois Cellier on the ties between population growth, world economics and energy demand.

Other intereting articles can be found here and a video here.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Wind Would Power 20% of America for Cost of Four Months in Iraq has run an article about a report of the Department of Energy claiming that 20% of the US electricity demand could be provided by wind power, by 2030. Provided that some $43 billion dollars of investment would flow into the sector. Which is about the same amount of money that the US is wasting on the war in Iraq. This is all great news, but I'm always a bit skeptical about the feasibility of grand projects like this. Wind power is known to be an unreliable source of electricity. It can not provide a base load for the grid (because of the unpredictability of wind patterns) and it can not provide at peak times, when the most power is drawn from the grid. I need to mention at this point, that the problem is not unsolvable, as the clever people of Denmark have found, but I wonder if this issue was addressed in the DOE report.
Still the article makes one important point. That money is being wasted on a grand scale, on meaningless endeavours.

image from wikipedia

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Crude Fact

Jeremy Leggett, writes in the "comment is free..." blog of the Guardian. He has an interesting commentary intitled: The Crude Fact which nicely sums up the problem of peak oil . The notion that, when the global extraction rate of oil reaches a maximum value and starts decreasing. Resulting in supply shortages of an ever more energy hungry world, giving rise to high oil and energy prices.
Sadly mainstream media has been ignoring the problem in years gone by. But it seems to me that the problem has seen a bit wider coverage this year. This has been helped along a lot by top oil company bosses like the CEO of Total and Jeroen Van Der Veer the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell supporting the notion that oil supplies around the world are very tight and a real supply problem exists.

Image from:

Monday, 12 May 2008

Jamais Cascio writes a very interesting article about the role of environmentalism. He clearly points out the pointlessness of the "save the planet" meme. Environmentalism should really be focusing on trying to preserve human civilisation, not the Earth and the current state of its ecosystems. As he accurately puts it: "The grand myth of environmentalism is that it's all about saving the Earth. It's not. The Earth will be just fine. Environmentalism is all about saving ourselves."
Of course preserving ecosystems and the
availability of clean water supplies, topsoil, etc. is of the utmost importance. Preserving the environment in order to support human activity on the planet, ie. sustainable living should be our greatest concern. "Human civilization could not withstand and recover from the same kinds of assaults the planet itself has shrugged off in eons past. We remain entirely dependent upon myriad Earth services and systems, from topsoil and clean water to carbon cycles and biodiversity. Activities that undermine those critical services and systems quite literally threaten the survival of human civilization."

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Manpollo Project

I have started this blog in the hopes of further promoting the ideas of a US high school science teacher regarding climate change and how the problem should be addressed. Every person should be as clear thinking as this man is. When faced with the threat of climate change and its consequences it is simply foolish and morally wrong to stop and argue about whether the problem is man made or not, assuming that you can not afford to be wrong. Fact being that the majority of people and politicians do not act in a responsible manner in advancing sustainable living. Watch the video yourself and maybe post a comment about what You thought about the arguments presented.

Sequels to the video can be found at and and on youtube.