What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

"Why We Should All Eat More Organic Food" from OCA

From the good folks over at Organic Consumers Association;
"www.whatsorganicmovie.org The organic label has swept into supermarket shelves over the last decade, but what does it mean? Through the stories of five farmers who steward land from Harlem to the foothills of the Rockies, from upstate New York to Florida, WHAT'S "ORGANIC" ABOUT ORGANIC? offers the audience a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in creating a more sustainable food system. The film is a headfirst dive into the challenges that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market."



"Organic Food is More Nutritious
  • Organic foods, especially raw or non-processed, contain higher levels of beta carotene, vitamins C, D and E, health-promoting polyphenols, cancer-fighting antioxidants, flavonoids that help ward off heart disease, essential fatty acids, and essential minerals.
  • On average, organic is 25% more nutritious in terms of
    vitamins and minerals than products derived from industrial agriculture. Since on the average, organic food's shelf price is only 20% higher than chemical food, this makes it actually cheaper, gram for gram, than chemical food, even ignoring the astronomical hidden costs (damage to health, climate, environment, and government subsidies) of industrial food production.
  • Levels of antioxidants in milk from organic cattle are between 50% and 80% higher than normal milk. Organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce have between 20% and 40% more nutrients than non-organic foods.
  • Organic food contains qualitatively higher levels of essential minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium), that are severely depleted in chemical foods grown on pesticide and nitrate fertilizer-abused soil. UK and US government statistics indicate that levels of trace minerals in (non-organic) fruit and vegetables fell by up to 76% between 1940 and 1991....

  • Organic Food Is Safer

  • Organic food doesn't contain pesticides. More than 400 chemical pesticides are routinely used in conventional farming and residues remain on non-organic food even after washing. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticide exposure. One class of pesticides, endocrine disruptors, may be responsible for early puberty and breast cancer. Pesticides are linked to asthma and cancer.
  • Organic food isn't genetically modified. Under organic standards, genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are prohibited.
  • Organic animals aren't given drugs. Organic farming standards prohibit the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified vaccines in farm animals. Hormone-laced beef and dairy consumption is correlated with increased rates of breast, testis and prostate cancers.
  • Organic animals aren't fed slaughterhouse waste, blood, or manure. Eating organic reduces the risks of CJD, the human version of mad cow disease, as well as Alzheimer's.
  • Organic animals aren't fed arsenic.
  • Organic animals aren't fed byproducts of corn ethanol production (which increases the rate of E. coli contamination).
  • Organic crops aren't fertilized with toxic sewage sludge or coal waste, or irrigated with E. coli contaminated sewage water.
  • Organic food isn't irradiated. Cats fed a diet of irradiated food got multiple sclerosis within 3-4 months.
  • Organic food contains less illness-inducing bacteria. Organic chicken is free of salmonella and has a reduced incidence of campylobacter."

Crashing the Corporate Christmas Party

Will we ever be delivered from the malfeasance of the banksters? We can't trust the government to do it, the fox is in that henhouse. Do it yourself! Disconnect from their profiteering services, cut up your credit cards, divest yourself of unethical stocks, pay off your debt and don't get into debt again, ever.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, disconnect from consumerism to whatever degree you can. The model that got us into this mess is not the one that will get us out of it.

As published over at Care2Causes by Zach Carter;

"Nomi Prins details the disconnect between Wall Street and the rest of us for AlterNet. The government’s massive giveaways to big banks did not stop with the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. In fact, earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service granted Citigroup a $38 billion tax break for, well, nothing. Like every other financial boon the Treasury and the Federal Reserve have granted banks since 2008, this special holiday gift will help boost Citigroup’s profits, but does little to boost lending to small businesses, lower credit card interest rates or help struggling borrowers stay in their homes....

Like dozens of other lenders, WaMu employed extremely lax lending requirements that encouraged outright fraud by loan officers and mortgage brokers. In Guadardo’s case, his broker falsified his income statement to indicate that he made over $8,700 a month, when in fact, he made less than $2,000. WaMu never checked the broker’s records and Guadardo couldn’t decipher the mortgage paperwork until it was too late. Now he can’t pay his mortgage and his bank has not offered him a permanent mortgage work-out that will allow him to stay in his home.....

Massive bailouts for Wall Street have helped save the nation’s largest banks from economic catastrophe. But high stock prices for banks will not benefit the rest of the economy unless the government puts the same effort into saving our communities that it put into saving our financiers."

Video - My Feelings Exactly Mr. Gelbspan!

Thanks to Joe Romm over at Climate Progress for the heads up on this video. If you have comments please leave them here but more importantly leave them there.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Thrift is truly orginal haute couture - The Thrifty Chicks

"...We need diversity. We need originals. Else-wise our culture will weaken and problems will be widely homogeneous, like mass obesity, children with brittle bones, mass home foreclosures, mass credit card debt...I truly believe a healthy culture has diversity on many levels.

If you're a parent, don't follow trends. My best advice to do is to yank the cable TV and dare your child to develop their personal inner interests. Our children really are truly individuals until commercials take hold of them. Let them decide what they enjoy and they will grow up to be originals, pioneers..."

Read the rest of this call to sanity at The Thrifty Chicks

Friday, 25 December 2009

video - Climate Change Puts Ecosystems on the Run

Have you ever been involved in preserving a habitat, a favorite green belt that shelters a unique biosystem, a tree that has stood for hundreds of years? Prepare to watch it all get swept away by climate change. Pull up a chair.



Thanks to Care2Causes for the heads up on this video.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Maybe I was too hasty to get depressed about Copenhagen.

Sounds like I might have reason for optimism. First I checked out the interview with James Hansen that I posted previously. Now I've found this post from Joe Romm over at Climate Progress.

It seems that the agreement reached in the final hours of Copenhagen, regardless of the shame of how the developing world and civil society was shut out, could end up being the best outcome we could have hoped for.

Could be.
Check it out.
What do you think?

Watch Democracy Now! interview with James Hansen.

Here's a few excerpts from the interview transcript;
"...having a cap-and-trade-with-offsets agreement, which is analogous to the Kyoto Protocol, which was disastrous. Before the Kyoto Protocol, global emissions of carbon dioxide were going up one-and-a-half percent per year. After the accord, they went up three percent per year. That approach simply won’t work....

We began in 2002 to get this spectacular data from the gravity satellite, which measures the gravitational field of the earth with such a high precision that you can get the mass of the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheets. And what we see is that in 2002 to 2005, we were losing mass from Greenland at a rate of about 150 cubic kilometers per year. Well, now that’s doubled to about 300 cubic kilometers per year. And likewise, the mass loss from Antarctica has also doubled over that time period....

So we can see that we’re moving toward a tipping point where those ice sheets will begin to disintegrate more rapidly, and sea level will go up. And that’s one of the bases, and others, for saying that a safe level of carbon dioxide is actually less than what we have now.....

But if you look at what governments are doing, the reason that you know that the kind of accords they’re talking about are not going to work is because, look at what they’re actually doing. The United States had just agreed to have a pipeline from the tar sands in Canada to the United States....

They’re among the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet. There’s oil mixed in the ground with the sand. You have to cook that material to get oil to drip out of it. That takes a lot of energy to cook it. And then you end up with oil, which also has carbon. Then you burn the oil, and you get more carbon. So it’s much more carbon-intensive than oil itself....

There’s much more there in tar sands than even in Saudi Arabia....

So the point is, we’re going to have to move to the energy system beyond fossil fuels. We need to drive the economic system so that we move to a clean energy future. And there are many other advantages in doing that: cleaning up the atmosphere, cleaning up the ocean. You get—the mercury and arsenic and all these pollutants are coming from fossil fuels. So we need to get off this fossil fuel addiction. And the way you do that is to put a gradually rising price on the carbon emissions. "

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Now that's encouraging!

















Thanks to Daniel J. Weiss over at Climate Progress for the graph and the details. Here is an excerpt;
"As Climate Progress documents nearly every day, the scientific debate over the existence of global warming has been settled, despite what Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and other climate deniers might claim. Every day there is new data or evidence that global warming is here and having an impact on our planet. The only questions are the speed and severity of the impacts, and whether humans can promptly reduce their global warming pollution enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Despite this scientific consensus, big oil companies and global warming deniers are doing their best to undermine this scientific consensus by raising questions in the public’s mind about scientific uncertainty. The media has allowed this debate to focus on distractions like the stolen emails, converting the discussion to a case of “he said, she said,” rather than cover the much more relevant global warming threat and economic opportunities. The strategy of raising enough questions about settled science to cause public uncertainty is the same approach the tobacco industry employed for years to prevent adoption of restrictions on tobacco use even though scientists and doctors determined that smoking cigarettes cause cancer and other serious diseases."

Copenhagen!? I couldn't have said it better than Monbiot

As the last 2 weeks rolled by I got more and more disgusted and depressed. Now the big finish, I wanted to blog about it but Mr. Monbiot says it far better. Here are some excerpts;

" ... It’s as if democratisation and the flowering of civil society, advocacy and self-determination had never happened. Governments, whether elected or not, without reference to their own citizens let alone those of other nations, assert their right to draw lines across the global commons and decide who gets what. This is a scramble for the atmosphere comparable in style and intent to the scramble for Africa.

At no point has the injustice at the heart of multilateralism been addressed or even acknowledged: the interests of states and the interests of the world’s people are not the same. Often they are diametrically opposed. In this case, most rich and rapidly developing states have sought through these talks to seize as great a chunk of the atmosphere for themselves as they can – to grab bigger rights to pollute than their competitors. The process couldn’t have been better designed to produce the wrong results....

This idiocy has been aided and abetted by the nations characterised, until now, as the good guys: those which have made firm commitments, only to invalidate them with loopholes, false accounting and outsourcing. In all cases immediate self-interest has trumped the long-term welfare of humankind. Corporate profits and political expediency have proved to be more urgent concerns than either the natural world or human civilisation. Our political systems are incapable of discharging the main function of government: to protect us from each other."

See the previous post for a more positive note on what we all can do.


Video - English town's climate lessons from Al Jazeera

As the reality of Copenhagen's race to the bottom sinks in, here is a real solution we can all be a part of, because after all, it is up to us. Always has been.

Thanks to Rob Hopkins over at Transition Culture for this.

"Discussions on climate change at the Copenhagen Summit are drawing to a close, with a real resolution uncertain.

Totnes is a small English town in Devon, already putting it's own measures in place to protect its environmental future.

Residents use bio-fuel from recylced fish and chip oil, growing sustainable food, and even finding their own form of currency.

Emma Hayward has more. "



Monday, 14 December 2009

Who do you want to control your food supply?

The intentional ruination of small farmers and the peripheral businesses that support them, the pollution of millions of acres of farmland worldwide with GMO pollen, the corruption and control of the regulatory process through millions of dollars worth of lobbying; do you want these guys controlling your food supply?

Check out this 2 part article over at Beginning Farmer on the increasing domination of seeds by corporate interests.

Part 1

Part 2

Friday, 11 December 2009

It's up to us.

Naresh Giangrande of the Transition Network is at Copenhagen and has posted a very interesting blog post over at Transition Culture

Here is the bit that I find most interesting and distressing at the same time.
"This leads to an uncomfortable conclusion, and one which Bill McKibben of 350.org came to, that there will be no treaty to protect us against climate change. It is just too politically unrealistic. That means that if we are to create a resilient world it will be down to us, civil society to create it. It will be down to non governmental organisations, campaigners, and activists, permaculturalists and organic gardeners."

Video - The Story of Cap and Trade

"http://storyofcapandtrade.org - The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from whats really required to tackle the climate crisis. If youve heard about Cap & Trade, but arent sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you. "

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Global Warming from A to Z

It is so easy here in the affluent west to think of global warming and climate change as something to fear or deal with in the future. For billions of people in the developing world it is impacting their lives right now. These are the people who have contributed least to the problem and are being impacted the most, essentially because of us, the affluent west. This is environmental imperialism. Our desire for extreme and wasteful convenience is depriving them of the basics necessary to live the most simple and non polluting of lifestyles; water, farmland, energy. We have claimed them directly or indirectly as our own.

The good folks over at Climate Progress put together this list of impacts from A to Z.

A

East Antarctica, long stable, is now losing ice.

B

Bolivia needs $1 billion over the next seven years to build reservoirs, as the glaciers that hold the nation’s water supply are shrinking rapidly.

C

Leatherback sea turtles that spawn on the beaches of Costa Rica are threatened with extinction by warmer temperatures and rising seas.

D

Denmark joined United States, Norway, Canada, and Russia in identifying climate change as “the most important long-term threat” to future existence of polar bears.

E

The rapidly warming highlands of Ethiopia are becoming too hot for its elite athletes, such as local-born Haile Gebrselassie, to train there.

F

Noting the unprecedented floods this year in Fiji, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama recently warned that rising sea levels affect not just the islands’ economies, but put into doubt the very existence of his nation.

G

Greece suffered through another storm of extreme wildfires this summer as heat waves and drier conditions increase.

H

Global warming-fueled hurricanes, intense poverty, and widespread deforestation combine to form a gathering storm of disasters for Haiti.

I

The deforested peatlands of Indonesia are drying, disintegrating, and burning.

J

The increasingly early arrival of cherry blossoms in Japan reflects rising global temperatures.

K

The more frequent and severe droughts that are killing off the elephants will likely trigger more conflicts in the arid lands of northeast Kenya.

L

The incidence of wildfires in the cedar forests of Lebanon has increased tremendously over recent years.

M

“If things go business-as-usual, we will not live, we will die,” Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed told the UN General Assembly. “Our country will not exist.”

N

The ministers of Nepal have held the world’s highest cabinet meeting on Mount Everest, as rapidly rising temperatures have reduced snowfall over the mountains and caused glaciers to melt.

O

More than 50 per cent of the population of Oman lives on coastlines vulnerable to rising seas, but its supplies of peridotite may help sequester carbon dioxide emissions.

P

The massive floods that killed hundreds in the Philippines this summer are becoming the norm.

Q

Petroleum-soaked Qatar emits 60 tons of carbon dioxide per person, the most of any nation on earth.

R

Increased floods and malaria outbreaks from global warming, deforestation, and unsanitary conditions have hit Rwanda hard in the past decade.

S

The inhabitants of the Alpine villages of Fieschertal and Fiesch in Switzerland have asked for the Pope to bless their prayers for the restoration of their nation’s glaciers, which shrank by 12 percent over the past decade.

T

Newly discovered, exotic species like the fanged frog of Thailand are especially vulnerable as climate change will further shrink their already restricted habitats.

U

Agriculture in the United States has been ravaged this year by catastrophic droughts in Texas and California, heat waves in Louisiana and Nebraska, storms across the High Plains and the Midwest, floods in North Dakota and Minnesota, and torrential rains in Illinois and Georgia.

V

Speaking from Vatican City on the eve of the Copenhagen conference, Pope Benedict XVI counseled “all people of good will to respect the laws laid down by God in nature and to rediscover the moral dimension of human life.”

W

Warming oceans and sea level rise threaten the coral reefs of the remote Polynesian islands of Wallis and Futuna.

X

The nomadic descendents of Kublai Khan in Inner Mongolia, where Xanadu once stood, are being driven from the grasslands as the Chinese government attempts to fight the region’s desertification.

Y

Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, may be the first capital city in the world to run out of water, as drought and overuse diminish its supply.

Z

On the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the flow of Victoria Falls is far below average, as drought and high temperatures reduce the Zambezi.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Hottest decade on record!

As reported over at Climate Progress;

While the right wing loonies are being paid to focus on irrelevant emails taken out of context in a desperate bid to cast doubt on legitimate science, I wonder if they believe in the Easter Bunny as well, the recent real science just reinforces all the hard science that came before it.

"Now, however, it is official from the World Meteorological Organization, in their news release today “2000-2009, The Warmest Decade“:

The decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990–1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980–1989).

The NYT story was based on the WMO release early today, but NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center also reports today:

The 2000 – 2009 decade will be the warmest on record, with its average global surface temperature about 0.96 degree F above the 20th century average. This will easily surpass the 1990s value of 0.65 degree F."

Monday, 7 December 2009

Fascism? Now that's the pot calling the kettle black.

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group,” - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

How stupid do these right wing corporate sponsored ideologue climate deniers think the American people are? First to obviously misrepresent comments from illegally hacked emails taken out of context and then to liken climate scientists to fascists!? Do they not realize that it is their very activities done to further the control of the US government by private corporate interests that comes the closest to fascism since the no bid contracts, theft of the commons, and disastrous financial deregulation of Bush administration?

The deceitful vitriol spewed by these corporate toadies is an attempt to stave off sensible and necessary regulation of emissions that threaten the short term profits of the modern robber barons. They see the success the banksters have had in their recent raid on the public purse and are hoping to get some for themselves. They want to keep cashing in at the expense of the worlds poor and working class.

Read more at Climate Progress.

Video - Climate Denial Crock of the Week -Smacking the Hack Attack

Thanks to Climate Progress for this:

"Climate deniers have been making a lot of noise about a set of stolen emails from one of the world's leading climate centers, The Universtiy of East Anglia.
The spin they're putting out is that the emails reveal what they always suspected, an evil global conspiracy."


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Video - Blue Gold: World Water Wars

I've just seen this documentary on the local Community Channel here in Sheffield and can't recommend it highly enough. Find a way to see this film!

"International award-winning documentary narrated by Malcolm McDowell, based on the book Blue Gold, hailed the 'Real Quantum of Solace'. Global Warming is an issue of 'how' we live, the water crisis is an issue of 'if' we live. See www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com for DVD details. "

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Climate change in 6 easy bites by Gavin Schmidt, NASA

As found over at Climate Progress

"Step 1: There is a natural greenhouse effect.

The fact that there is a natural greenhouse effect (that the atmosphere restricts the passage of long wave (LW) radiation from the Earth’s surface to space) is easily deducible from i) the mean temperature of the surface (around 15ºC) and ii) knowing that the planet is roughly in radiative equilibrium. This means that there is an upward surface flux of LW around [tex]\sigma T^4[/tex] (~390 W/m2), while the outward flux at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) is roughly equivalent to the net solar radiation coming in (1-a)S/4 (~240 W/m2). Thus there is a large amount of LW absorbed by the atmosphere (around 150 W/m2) – a number that would be zero in the absence of any greenhouse substances.

Step 2: Trace gases contribute to the natural greenhouse effect.

The fact that different absorbers contribute to the net LW absorption is clear from IR spectra taken from space which show characteristic gaps associated with water vapour, CO2, CH4, O3 etc (Harries et al, 2001; HITRAN). The only question is how much energy is blocked by each. This cannot be calculated by hand (the number of absorption lines and the effects of pressure broadening etc. preclude that), but it can be calculated using line-by-line radiative transfer codes. The earliest calculations (reviewed by Ramanathan and Coakley, 1979) give very similar results to more modern calculations (Clough and Iacono, 1995), and demonstrate that removing the effect of CO2 reduces the net LW absorbed by ~14%, or around 30 W/m2. For some parts of the spectrum, IR can be either absorbed by CO2 or by water vapour, and so simply removing the CO2 gives only a minimum effect. Thus CO2 on its own would cause an even larger absorption. In either case however, the trace gases are a significant part of what gets absorbed.

Step 3: The trace greenhouse gases have increased markedly due to human emissions.

CO2 is up more than 30%, CH4 has more than doubled, N2O is up 15%, tropospheric O3 has also increased. New compounds such as halocarbons (CFCs, HFCs) did not exist in the pre-industrial atmosphere. All of these increases contribute to an enhanced greenhouse effect.

Step 4: Radiative forcing is a useful diagnostic and can easily be calculated.

Lessons from simple toy models and experience with more sophisticated GCMs suggests that any perturbation to the TOA radiation budget from whatever source is a pretty good predictor of eventual surface temperature change. Thus if the sun were to become stronger by about 2%, the TOA radiation balance would change by 0.02*1366*0.7/4 = 4.8 W/m2 (taking albedo and geometry into account) and this would be the radiative forcing (RF). An increase in greenhouse absorbers or a change in the albedo have analogous impacts on the TOA balance. However, calculation of the radiative forcing is again a job for the line-by-line codes that take into account atmospheric profiles of temperature, water vapour and aerosols. The most up-to-date calculations for the trace gases are by Myhre et al (1998) and those are the ones used in IPCC TAR and AR4.

These calculations can be condensed into simplified fits to the data, such as the oft-used formula for CO2: RF = 5.35 ln(CO2/CO2_orig) (see Table 6.2 in IPCC TAR for the others). The logarithmic form comes from the fact that some particular lines are already saturated and that the increase in forcing depends on the ‘wings’ (see this post for more details). Forcings for lower concentration gases (such as CFCs) are linear in concentration. The calculations in Myhre et al use representative profiles for different latitudes, but different assumptions about clouds, their properties and the spatial heterogeneity mean that the global mean forcing is uncertain by about 10%. Thus the RF for a doubling of CO2 is likely 3.7±0.4 W/m2 – the same order of magnitude as an increase of solar forcing by 2%.

There are a couple of small twists on the radiative forcing concept. One is that CO2 has an important role in the stratospheric radiation balance. The stratosphere reacts very quickly to changes in that balance and that changes the TOA forcing by a small but non-negligible amount. The surface response, which is much slower, therefore reacts more proportionately to the ‘adjusted’ forcing and this is generally what is used in lieu of the instantaneous forcing. The other wrinkle is depending slightly on the spatial distribution of forcing agents, different feedbacks and processes might come into play and thus an equivalent forcing from two different sources might not give the same response. The factor that quantifies this effect is called the ‘efficacy’ of the forcing, which for the most part is reasonably close to one, and so doesn’t change the zeroth-order picture (Hansen et al, 2005). This means that climate forcings can be simply added to approximate the net effect.

The total forcing from the trace greenhouse gases mentioned in Step 3, is currently about 2.5 W/m2, and the net forcing (including cooling impacts of aerosols and natural changes) is 1.6±1.0 W/m2 since the pre-industrial. Most of the uncertainty is related to aerosol effects. Current growth in forcings is dominated by increasing CO2, with potentially a small role for decreases in reflective aerosols (sulphates, particularly in the US and EU) and increases in absorbing aerosols (like soot, particularly from India and China and from biomass burning).

Step 5: Climate sensitivity is around 3ºC for a doubling of CO2

The climate sensitivity classically defined is the response of global mean temperature to a forcing once all the ‘fast feedbacks’ have occurred (atmospheric temperatures, clouds, water vapour, winds, snow, sea ice etc.), but before any of the ’slow’ feedbacks have kicked in (ice sheets, vegetation, carbon cycle etc.). Given that it doesn’t matter much which forcing is changing, sensitivity can be assessed from any particular period in the past where the changes in forcing are known and the corresponding equilibrium temperature change can be estimated. As we have discussed previously, the last glacial period is a good example of a large forcing (~7 W/m2 from ice sheets, greenhouse gases, dust and vegetation) giving a large temperature response (~5 ºC) and implying a sensitivity of about 3ºC (with substantial error bars). More formally, you can combine this estimate with others taken from the 20th century, the response to volcanoes, the last millennium, remote sensing etc. to get pretty good constraints on what the number should be. This was done by Annan and Hargreaves (2006), and they come up with, you guessed it, 3ºC.

Converting the estimate for doubled CO2 to a more useful factor gives ~0.75 ºC/(W/m2).

Step 6: Radiative forcing x climate sensitivity is a significant number.

Current forcings (1.6 W/m2) x 0.75 ºC/(W/m2) imply 1.2 ºC that would occur at equilibrium. Because the oceans take time to warm up, we are not yet there (so far we have experienced 0.7ºC), and so the remaining 0.5 ºC is ‘in the pipeline’. We can estimate this independently using the changes in ocean heat content over the last decade or so (roughly equal to the current radiative imbalance) of ~0.7 W/m2, implying that this ‘unrealised’ forcing will lead to another 0.7×0.75 ºC – i.e. 0.5 ºC.

Additional forcings in business-as-usual scenarios range roughly from 3 to 7 W/m2 and therefore additional warming (at equilibrium) would be 2 to 5 ºC. That is significant." - Gavin Schmidt

And Mr. Romm adds his 7th step;

"And let me add Step 7: On our current emissions path, we’re going to blow past 550 ppm, a doubling of CO2 (See U.S. media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: “Recent observations confirm … the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” — 1000 ppm and M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F)."

Video - Justice Now - Chevron Texaco in the Amazon Rainforest

"Justicia Now! is a documentary about Chevron Texaco's toxic legacy in the Northern Ecuadorian region of the Amazon rainforest - and a courageous group of people called Los Afectados (The Affected Ones) who are seeking justice for the ensuing cancer, sickness and death in the largest environmental class action lawsuit in history. "

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The 7 Things Scientists Want You to Know About Climate Change.















99% of Climate scientists and 84% of all scientists agree, if that isn't consensus to you I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

Check out detail on the 7 points over at Care 2 Causes.

1. Greenhouse gas emissions are surging:

2. Recent global temperatures demonstrate human-based warming:


3. Melting of ice-sheets, glaciers and ice-caps is accelerating:


4. Rapid Arctic sea-ice decline:


5. Sea-levels are rising more than predicted:


6. By delaying action, we risk irreversible damage:


7. Peak carbon needs to happen soon:

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

It's Always Christmas Time for Visa!

Watch the animation with music by the Austin Lounge Lizards and then,
Speak out on Credit Card reform.

"It's always Christmas time for Visa
Mastercard gets presents every day
They're happy as can be when we Discover 'neath our tree
The finance charge that never goes away
It's always Christmas time for Visa
The lenders feel the splendor and the cheer
The interest that they're making is the gift that keeps on taking
And leaves us buried deeper every year"

Canada going off the deep end!

Please read this post from George Monbiot on the considerable potential for damage posed by Canada.

The Urgent Threat to World Peace is … Canada

Video - COPENHAGEN Lord Monckton rap battles Al Gore

"Al Gore finally accepts Lord Monckton's challenge to a highly uncivilized debate over the issue of anthropogenic climate change, in a special extended edition of RapNews, as we count down to the Copenhagen Climate Conference - aka COP15.

Is it all just a lie spread by the NWO so that Obama can sign a treaty to cede US sovereignty and usher in a one-world government to Cap-&-Trade tax innocent carbon emitters and SUV drivers like you and me? Or are we truly fucked, as the latest science seems to suggest, and feedback loops will bring about environmental, social and economic meltdown and collapse before the next season of Sex and the City? Explore these issues, and more, with your charming host - Robert Foster."


Will Allen's Good Food Manifesto

As the "recovery" continues to make the banksters rich, foreclosures grow more and more common, unemployment rises above 10%, and a new Department of Agriculture report finds that 1 in 7 of Americans and nearly a quarter of all American children are struggling to find enough to eat, that is 49 million of us!

Meanwhile President Obama, who promised there would be no lobbyists in the White House, has appointed top pesticide poison lobbyist Islam Siddiqui to the position of chief Agricultural negotiator in the office of US Trade representative. This guy is about as far under the sheets with corrupt agribusiness as one can get. He is currently VP at Crop Life America the very organization that attacked Michelle Obama for going organic in the White House garden.

It is past time to reclaim control of our food system.

The following is such a wonderful statement of purpose towards that end, from our leading light of Urban Agriculture, MacArthur Fellow Will Allen, that I had to put the whole thing here from Mr. Allen's Blog Growing Power



"I am a farmer.

While I find that this has come to mean many other things to other people – that I have become also a trainer and teacher, and to some a sort of food philosopher – I do like nothing better than to get my hands into good rich soil and sow the seeds of hope.

So, spring always enlivens me and gives me the energy to make haste, to feel confidence, to take full advantage of another all-too-short Wisconsin summer.

This spring, however, much more so than in past springs, I feel my hope and confidence mixed with a sense of greater urgency. This spring, I know that my work will be all the more important, for the simple but profound reason that more people are hungry.

For years I have argued that our food system is broken, and I have tried to teach what I believe must be done to fix it. This year, and last, we have begun seeing the unfortunate results of systemic breakdown. We have seen it in higher prices for those who can less afford to pay, in lines at local food pantries, churches and missions, and in the anxious eyes of people who have suddenly become unemployed. We have seen it, too, in nationwide outbreaks of food-borne illness in products as unlikely as spinach and peanuts.

Severe economic recession certainly has not helped matters, but the current economy is not alone to blame. This situation has been spinning toward this day for decades. And while many of my acquaintances tend to point the finger at the big agro-chemical conglomerates as villains, the fault really is with all of us who casually, willingly, even happily surrendered our rights to safe, wholesome, affordable and plentiful food in exchange for over-processed and pre-packaged convenience.

Over the past century, we allowed our agriculture to become more and more industrialized, more and more reliant on unsustainable practices, and much more distant from the source to the consumer. We have allowed corn and soybeans, grown on the finest farmland in the world, to become industrial commodities rather than foodstuffs. We have encouraged a system by which most of the green vegetables we eat come from a few hundred square miles of irrigated semi-desert in California.

When fuel prices skyrocket, as they did last year, things go awry. When a bubble like ethanol builds and then bursts, things go haywire. When drought strikes that valley in California, as is happening right now, things start to topple. And when the whole economy shatters, the security of a nation’s food supply teeters on the brink of failure.

To many people, this might sound a bit hysterical. There is still food in the suburban supermarket aisles, yes. The shelves are not empty; there are no bread lines. We haven’t read of any number of Americans actually starving to death.

No, and were any of those things to happen, you can rest assured that there would be swift and vigorous action. What is happening is that many vulnerable people, especially in the large cities where most of us live, in vast urban tracts where there are in fact no supermarkets, are being forced to buy cheaper and lower-quality foods, to forgo fresh fruits and vegetables, or are relying on food programs – including our children’s school food programs – that by necessity are obliged to distribute any kind of food they can afford, good for you or not. And this is coming to haunt us in health care and social costs. No, we are not suddenly starving to death; we are slowly but surely malnourishing ourselves to death. And this fate is falling ever more heavily on those who were already stressed: the poor. Yet there is little action.

Many astute and well-informed people beside myself, most notably Michael Pollan, in a highly persuasive treatise last fall in the New York Times, have issued these same warnings and laid out the case for reform of our national food policy. I need not go on repeating what Pollan and others have already said so well, and I do not wish merely to add my voice to a chorus.

I am writing to demand action.

It is time and past time for this nation, this government, to react to the dangers inherent in its flawed farm and food policies and to reverse course from subsidizing wealth to subsidizing health.

We have to stop paying the largest farm subsidies to large growers of unsustainable and inedible crops like cotton. We have to stop paying huge subsidies to Big Corn, Big Soy and Big Chem to use prime farmland to grow fuel, plastics and fructose. We have to stop using federal and state agencies and institutions as taxpayer-funded research arms for the very practices that got us into this mess.

We have to start subsidizing health and well-being by rewarding sustainable practices in agriculture and assuring a safe, adequate and wholesome food supply to all our citizens. And we need to start this reform process now, as part of the national stimulus toward economic recovery.

In my organization, Growing Power Inc. of Milwaukee, we have always before tried to be as self-sustaining as possible and to rely on the market for our success. Typically, I would not want to lean on government support, because part of the lesson we teach is to be self-reliant.

But these are not typical times, as we are now all too well aware.

As soon as it became clear that Congress would pass the National Recovery Act, I and members of my staff brainstormed ideas for a meaningful stimulus package aimed at creating green jobs, shoring up the security of our urban food systems, and promoting sound food policies of national scope. The outcome needed to be both “shovel-ready” for immediate impact and sustainable for future growth.

Centers for Urban Argriculture

We produced a proposal for the creation of a public-private enabling institution called the Centers for Urban Agriculture. It would incorporate a national training and outreach center, a large working urban farmstead, a research and development center, a policy institute, and a state-of-the-future urban agriculture demonstration center into which all of these elements would be combined in a functioning community food system scaled to the needs of a large city.

We proposed that this working institution – not a “think tank” but a “do tank” – be based in Milwaukee, where Growing Power has already created an operating model on just two acres. But ultimately, satellite centers would become established in urban areas across the nation. Each would be the hub of a local or regional farm-to-market community food system that would provide sustainable jobs, job training, food production and food distribution to those most in need of nutritional support and security.

This proposal was forwarded in February to our highest officials at the city, state and federal level, and it was greeted with considerable approval. Unfortunately, however, it soon became clear that the way Congress had structured the stimulus package, with funds earmarked for only particular sectors of the economy, chiefly infrastructure, afforded neither our Congressional representatives nor our local leaders with the discretion to direct any significant funds to this innovative plan. It simply had not occurred to anyone that immediate and lasting job creation was plausible in a field such as community-based agriculture.

I am asking Congress today to rectify that oversight, whether by modifying the current guidelines of the Recovery Act or by designating new and dedicated funds to the development of community food systems through the creation of this national Centers for Urban Agriculture.

Our proposal budgeted the initial creation of this CUA at a minimum of $63 million over two years – a droplet compared to the billions being invested in other programs both in the stimulus plan and from year-to-year in the federal budget.

Consider that the government will fund the Centers for Disease Control at about $8.8 billion this year, and that is above the hundreds of millions more in research grants to other bio-medical institutions, public and private. This is money well spent for important work to ensure Americans the best knowledge in protecting health by fighting disease; but surely by now we ought to recognize that the best offense against many diseases is the defense provided by a healthy and adequate diet. Yet barely a pittance of CDC money goes for any kind of preventive care research.

In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security approved spending $450 million for a new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University, in addition to the existing Biosecurity Research Institute already there. Again, money well spent to protect our food supply from the potential of a terrorist attack. But note that these hundreds of millions are being spent to protect us from a threat that may never materialize, while we seem to trivialize the very real and material threat that is upon us right now: the threat of malnourishment and undernourishment of very significant number of our citizens.

Government programs under the overwhelmed and overburdened departments of Agriculture and of Health and Human Services do their best to serve their many masters, but in the end, government farm and food policies are most often at odds between the needs of the young, the old, the sick and the poor versus the wants of the super-industry that agriculture has become.

By and large, the government’s funding of nutritional health comes down to spending millions on studies to tell us what we ought to eat without in any way guaranteeing that many people will be able to find or afford the foods they recommend. For instance, food stamps ensure only that poor people can buy food; they cannot ensure that, in the food deserts that America’s inner cities have become, there will be any good food to buy.

We need a national nutrition plan that is not just another entitlement, that is not a matter of shipping surplus calories to schools, senior centers, and veterans’ homes. We need a plan that encourages a return to the best practices of both farming and marketing, that rewards the grower who protects the environment and his customers by nourishing his soil with compost instead of chemicals and who ships his goods the shortest distance, not the longest.

If the main purpose of government is to provide for the common security of its citizens, surely ensuring the security of their food system must be among its paramount duties. And if among our rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we are denied all those rights if our cities become prisons of poverty and malnutrition.

As an African-American farmer, I am calling on the first African-American president of the United States to lead us quickly away from this deepening crisis. Demand, President Obama, that Congress and your own Administration begin without delay the process of reforming our farm and food policies. Start now by correcting the omission in your economic stimulus and recovery act that prevented significant spending on creating new and sustainable jobs for the poor in our urban centers as well as rural farm communities.

It will be an irony, certainly, but a sweet one, if millions of African-Americans whose grandparents left the farms of the South for the factories of the North, only to see those factories close, should now find fulfillment in learning once again to live close to the soil and to the food it gives to all of us.

I would hope that we can move along a continuum to make sure that all of citizens have access to the same fresh, safe, affordable good food regardless of their cultural, social or economic situation."

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Video - Contraction and Convergence animation from "The Age of Stupid"

This animation from The Age of Stupid is a quick and concise explanation of the concept of Contraction and Convergence, a framework for the equitable powerdown from our disastrous oil dependence.



Here is the blurb from the Global Commons Institute website;
"Contraction and Convergence, C&C, is a scheme to provide a framework for a smooth transition to a low level of CO2 emissions from human activity. It can either follow or replace the Kyoto protocol. The first step in C&C, 'Contraction', is based on agreeing a safe target concentration level and the determination of global annual emissions levels into the which should take the atmosphere to that target. We assume that what is 'safe' would be determined by an international agreement, probably by the UNFCCC acting under guidance from the IPCC. A profile of plausible annual emissions levels can be set by GCI's CCOptions model. We project forward to 2200.
Having defined a global budget, the second step, 'convergence' defines allocations to each country. CCOptions assumes that each country is assigned annual allowances which vary, per capita, linearly, starting from actuals in 2000 and converging to a common level of per-capita emissions in a target year. This target year need not be the same as the contraction target year and is a likely topic for political negotiation.
A cap year can be set so that population growth after that year does not accrue additional emissions rights.
The C&C package is expected to be completed with an emissions-trading mechanism and with a governance framework including penalties for non-compliance."

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

My permaculture education begins!

As most of my regular readers know, my wife and I are planning on setting up an off grid permaculture lifestyle with a attached community education project when we get to the states in the spring. This, of course, necessitates a thorough understanding of permaculture. I hope to take a permaculture design course, probably in Asheville, while my wife would like it if we could avoid that and rely on our own study. This necessitates owning the right books. So....

Since I got back to England I've been trolling the used book shops for books on Permaculture. I finally found one at my friend Brian's bookshop yesterday and what a find! "Permaculture: A Practical Guide for a Sustainable Future" by Bill Mollison, a tome, large hardbound 579 pages.

So my plan is to spend an hour every morning studying and keeping notes, particularly as they apply to our specific project. I will endeavour to post occasional updates on what I'm learning and the development of the plan.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Video - Ted Talks - Rob Hopkins - Transition to a world without oil

"Rob Hopkins reminds us that the oil our world depends on is steadily running out. He proposes a unique solution to this problem -- the Transition response, where we prepare ourselves for life without oil and sacrifice our luxuries to build systems and communities that are completely independent of fossil fuels."

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Videos - Tim Jackson - Prosperity without growth

I remember a debate I had as a young man with a friend of mine who was making his living in the stock market. He advised me to invest in banks and to learn the ways of the trader. I admonished him for being involved in an industry that rewarded companies for firing people, for putting people out of work when they had families to feed, all in the interest of short term profits. I felt, as I still feel, that an economy that grows by reducing jobs was nonsensical, unethical and unsustainable. I wanted no part of it. For all the years in between, endless growth as an economic model has been gospel and any attempt to discuss the obvious fact that we live on a limited world of resources upon which our economy and our very survival is completely dependent was met with looks of disbelief. One never heard any mainstream discussion of this problem, until now.

Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at University of Surrey and Economics Commissioner to the UK Sustainable Development Commission, (click here for bio) is advising the Labour Government, at their request, that we need to redefine what we call prosperity and find a new path there, one that doesn't involve consumerist materialistic growth! You can download his report here, the most downloaded report in the history of the Commission.

Meanwhile the fox still owns the henhouse in the US, the banksters remain firmly in control, steering the debate away from any serious discussion that the entire foundation of the economy is built on sand. Like Zombies in a Romero film, arms raised intoning "must protect the rich, must protect the rich...."

"Is our economy fit for purpose in a low carbon world? Can economic growth deliver us from the threat of catastrophic climate change, or is it the engine thats driving us relentlessly towards it?

Speaking today at a high-level debate in central London to mark the publication of his controversial new book Prosperity without Growth, Tim Jackson argues that building a new economic model fit for a low carbon world is the most urgent task of our times.

The current model isnt working, says Prof Jackson, a top sustainability adviser to the UKs four governments. Instead of delivering widespread prosperity, our economies are undermining wellbeing in the richest nations and failing those in the poorest. The prevailing system has already led us to the brink of economic collapse and if left unchecked it threatens a climate catastrophe.

Prosperity without Growth substantially updates Jacksons groundbreaking report for the Sustainable Development Commission. Launched earlier this year to great acclaim, the report rapidly became the most downloaded document in the Commissions nine year history and in recent weeks has contributed to a burgeoning debate about economic growth and its consequences for people and planet.

As world leaders prepare to meet in Copenhagen to forge a new climate deal, Jacksons analysis provides a salutary warning against complacency. Global carbon emissions have risen 40% since 1990 and will continue to rise inexorably unless action is taken urgently. By the year 2050, the carbon content of each dollar of economic activity will need to be a staggering 130 times lower than it is today, if we are to make room for much-needed development in the poorer nations and remain within a 2oC warming.

By the end of this century, well need an economy in which each and every dollar of economic activity is taking carbon out of the atmosphere, says Jackson. What does such an economy run on? What does it look like? What kind of economic activities take place in such a world? Nobody knows the answer to these questions. But its fanciful to suppose we can achieve such a transformation without seriously examining the dynamics of the growth-based model.

Jackson admits the task is not a trivial one. We are caught in a profound dilemma, he suggests. Economic growth is the default mechanism for achieving social stability. And at the same time it drives the scale of ecological damage. Whats needed now is an urgent commitment to building a different kind of economic system, one which puts people and planet at its heart, Jackson claims. For the advanced economies of the western world, prosperity without growth is no longer a utopian dream. It is a financial and ecological necessity.

Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (Earthscan, £12.99) is available from all good bookshops and www.earthscan.co.uk "




Friday, 20 November 2009

Video - Ted - Rachel Pike: The science behind a climate headline

....36% (of Americans) say warming is occurring “mostly because of natural changes in the atmosphere.” ...(11%) say “there is no solid evidence that the earth is getting warmer.”

...84% of scientists say the earth is warming because of human activity. Scientists .... regard(ing) global warming as a very serious problem: 70% ... compared with 47% of the public. ."- Pew Research center for the people and the press

Why is that?

"In 4 minutes, atmospheric chemist Rachel Pike provides a glimpse of the massive scientific effort behind the bold headlines on climate change, with her team -- one of thousands who contributed -- taking a risky flight over the rainforest in pursuit of data on a key molecule."

Video - FAIR FOOD: FIELD TO TABLE

"FARMWORKERS TODAY: Approximately 2-3 million farmworkers feed our nation every day, working under some of the harshest and most dangerous conditions found in any industry. This is a glimpse into the hard realities that a vast majority of these workers face on a day-to-day basis. For more information on the fair food movement in the US and to see other chapters of this project please visit: fairfoodproject.org. "



Who puts the food on your table? Take action on this issue over at Organic Consumers Association.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The climate train has left the station.

A train loaded explosives and toxic chemicals pulls into a lonely country station outside a major metropolis. It is midnight. The engineer steps off to get a cup of tea, when he returns he sees that the train has started rolling down the line and is just going out of sight around a bend. Now he knows this stretch of track well. Up ahead, the grade continues to steepen, downward toward the sleeping metropolis. He knows that the train will continue to pick up speed unless it is derailed soon. He also knows that the longer he waits to do something the deeper into settlements it will get and therefore will cause much more damage and loss of life when it does finally crash. What should he do? What would you do?

Should he say, "not my problem" and just sit and quietly drink his tea? Should he walk to the station office and try to raise someone else to deal with it? Should he use his cell phone to call his superiors to determine the best course of action? Or should he immediately call emergency services and mobilize quick and decisive action to derail the train as soon as possible?

Now imagine you are one of the folks living near a sharp bend a few miles down the track at the bottom of the grade, comfortably snoozing away as the train hurtles your direction. What would you like him to do?

Of course, the train is the climate and we are watching it roll around the bend. The folks sleeping near the tracks are our children. What do we do? What will you do?

I can suggest several things you can do;
1. Contact your representatives in Washington, including president Obama, and vigorously support a binding and comprehensive climate agreement in Copnhagen. Sign this Petitition
2. Detach from consumerism, we are literally consuming the support systems upon which we all stand and the waste products are killing us as we fall.
3. Learn to live more sustainably, set an example for your neighbors. Reduce car driving, meat consumption, flying, use of palm oil, the human population. Increase local organic food consumption, how much food you grow, your production and conservation of energy, use of public transit or even better, human powered transport, the efficiency of your home.
4. Get involved in the climate change work being done in your community, start or join a transition initiative, write to your local paper, get active in preventing deforestation.

Thanks to Professor Richard Leakey for the train analogy. He used it in a lecture entitled "Climate Change and the Future of Life on Earth" delivered on May 30th 2009 at the Royal Ontario Museum and broadcast on Big Ideas.

Video - Princes Rainforest Project - Prepare for Crash Landing!

"This clip explains what is happening to the planet as a result of rainforest deforestation. Using images and graphics this film explains the importance of the forests and why we must stop destroying them before its too late. "

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Video - California could dry up and blow away

Thanks to Climate Progress for the heads up on this video. Click on the link for more detail from Mr. Romm



"A July 2009 study, “Impacts of climate change from 2000 to 2050 on wildfire activity and carbonaceous aerosol concentrations in the western United States” finds a staggering increase in “wildfire activity and carbonaceous aerosol concentrations in the western United States” by mid-century under a moderate warming scenario: We show that increases in temperature cause annual mean area burned in the western United States to increase by 54% by the 2050s relative to the present-day … with the forests of the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains experiencing the greatest increases of 78% and 175% respectively. Increased area burned results in near doubling of wildfire carbonaceous aerosol emissions by mid-century." - Joe Romm

Transition Bermuda solar batch heater wins an innovation award!








































I spent most of the last 6 months in Bermuda volunteering with a group of locals to get a Transition Initiative going while my wife was working in the local schools doing supply work, substitute teaching. In February I built a solar batch heater from recycled materials and installed it at the guest house where we were staying. When I tested it, in October on a partly cloudy day, I discovered that it was reducing electricity demand for hot water by an average of 25%. With electricity approaching 50¢kWh on the island that represents a significant savings and means that the unit will pay for itself in under two years as the only costs were the plumbing supplies.

Recently, the local environmental group Greenrock, ran an innovation in sustainable construction competition as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. We entered the unit as a Transition Bermuda project. Our hope being that at the very least it would help gain publicity for the initiative and might even win. In the final judging it was up against some stiff competition, several by professional architects; wood housing to reduce concrete use, prefab housing made from shipping containers, and a device that is used to determine site suitability for solar PV and microwind installations.

But we won! Last night my wife did the presentation at the final judging and it won $1500. The money will go to the initiative, hopefully to fund classes to teach folks how to build the units.

The design needs much refining but works as is.

The plumbing diagram indicates that the unit is plumbed into the cold side of the immersion heater which sees hot water coming in so needs not come on as often. It is lower than the main tank as well which enables a thermal convection loop, circulating hot water out of the solar tank as it heats. This means the immersion heater stays warm longer as it doesn't rely exclusively on the main circulation pump for the system to deliver hot water to it.

Here is the text from the entry document with more details about the project.

A Greenrock Innovation Tournament 2009 entry


DIY Passive Solar Batch Heater made from recycled materials
A Transition Bermuda prototype project installed at:
Denevon Guest House #11 Woodbourne Crescent Pembroke

Transition Bermuda seeks to increase the resiliency of Bermuda by fostering and promoting a reduction in fossil fuel dependence, a return to local economy and self sufficiency, and the rebuilding of healthy community that comes with self reliance and local interdependance.

The prototype as built was designed according to the materials available at the time and tools available to be borrowed.

• How well does it respond to Bermuda’s unique building environment?
The salient point about Bermuda’s building environment that it is almost totally unsustainable. It does not use any significant amount of local materials. As buildings and appliances from buildings are replaced there is no significant recycling system for the materials. This valuable resource ends up in the land fill or up the incinerator stack. Built with very little mandated attention to efficiency, buildings here are completely reliant on imported energy. Additionally, construction labor is very expensive due to the high cost of living.
This project addresses all those issues, it reduces the reliance on imported energy by reducing electricity demand for hot water. It is constructed of recycled materials, thus reducing imports and waste to the dump. It is powered renewably and passively by the sun. It is easily built by anyone with a modicum of skill with tools thus reducing the cost of deploying renewables.

• How much does it contribute to energy savings?
Unit as built was measured to reduce electricity usage for hot water by 25% over 24 hrs on a partly cloudy day as compared to usage with solar batch heater out of the plumbing circuit. Water usage on both days was comparable relative to time of day and quantity used. Clearly on cloudy days performance suffers but this is more than offset by number of full sun days. I predict for the guest house where it was built, a savings of at least $115 per year thus paying for itself in 1.5 years.
Day one with SBH in circuit = 1.98 KWh used for hot water Day two with SBH out of circuit = 2.61 KWh used for hot water .63KWh x .50¢/KWH = 31.5¢ saved per day on average 31.5 x 365 = $115

• How broadly can the idea be applied?
There is no reason this type of solar batch heater could not be deployed on the majority of homes and businesses in Bermuda. The only limitation is the supply of old immersion heaters, glazing, lumber, and styrofoam packaging currently going to waste.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Video - Cole's Carbon Credit Clearing House

a satirical look at the burgeoning business of carbon credits, as sold by Biff Blingsley, star of this local TV commercial