Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Global Warming Dangers & Solutions for Older People


1. The World has already passed a key tipping point for Arctic ice melting and requisite “negative CO2 emissions” will impact all – According to top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen and colleagues, the world atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration at 385 ppm has already passed a key tipping point for the melting of Arctic sea ice, with serious implications for human mass mortality and mass species extinctions from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet melting, tundra melting, sea level rises and runaway global warming from potentially devastating “positive feedback” (worsening) effects (e.g. the “albedo flip” involving light-reflecting snow and ice replacement with light-absorbing dark water; melt water lubrication of glacier movement; release of greenhouse gases from melting tundra; burning of major tropical forests stopping CO2 sequestration and releasing CO2 ; warming-exacerbated storms limiting ocean CO2 absorption; global warming limiting phytoplankton productivity and hence diminishing CO2 sequestration and dimethyl sulphide production needed for “seeding” light-reflecting cloud formation). Dr Hansen and colleagues say that we must return atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of no more than 350 ppm through cessation of fossil fuel burning, replacement of the carbon economy with solar-based renewables and geothermal energy, decrease in atmospheric CO2 through re-afforestation and return of carbon to the soil as pyrolytically-generated biochar (see: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0804/0804.1126.pdf ; see also the latest 2007 IPCC Synthesis Report: http://www.ipcc.ch/ ).

2. Heat waves will differentially kill elderly people – In 2003 there was a heatwave in Europe that killed 35,000-50,000 in Europe and nearly 15,000 in France. Older people were differentially affected, the problems being that older people are frailer, more prone to heat stress and have diminished brain signalling of dehydration stress (see: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/elderlyheat.asp ; http://www.medindia.net/news/Brain-Malfunction-Explains-Dehydration-in-Elderly-31069-1.htm ; http://www.sfbr.org/pages/news_release_detail.php?id=15 ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_European_heat_wave ; http://www.usatoday.com/weather/news/2003-09-25-france-heat_x.htm ).

3. Retirement benefits require GDP growth, carbon-based growth is no longer possible but cheap, non-carbon energy alternatives are already developed – For people who are self-funded retirees on superannuation schemes or government pensions it is necessary for GDP growth to compensate for outlays and inflation. However, as briefly summarized in #1, the Climate Emergency requirement for urgent implementation of “negative CO2 emissions” means that the present carbon-based energy economy in which GDP is directly promotional to CO2 pollution has to STOP (for recent reviews of such already developed, low-cost, non-carbon renewable and geothermal energy technologies see items below and : http://www.newmatilda.com/node/2398?ArticleID=2398&CategoryID=213 ; http://mwcnews.net/content/view/18667/42/ ; http://www.coolearthsolar.com/ ; http://www.martinot.info/Martinot_et_al_AR32_prepub.pdf ).

4. The true cost of coal burning-based energy is 4-5 times the market cost (greater impact on investment-dependent retirees) - A study for the Ontario (Canada) Ministry of Energy has found that the “true cost” in cents/kWh of coal burning-based electricity with environmental and human impacts added is 4-5-fold greater than the “market cost”. This estimate makes all the latest renewable and geothermal energy provision technologies CHEAPER than the “true cost” of coal-based electricity. Investment-dependent retirees are differentially impacted (see: http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=8836 ; ).

5. Pollutants from fossil fuel-based electricity generation kill 0.3 million people annually world-wide (greater risk to older people) - Toxic pollutants are produced from fossil fuel-based electricity generation, notably carbon monoxide, particulates, sulphur dioxide, heavy metals (notably mercury, Hg), and volatile organics. Pollution from coal plants producing 27 TWh/year (20% of supply) kill 668 people per year in Ontario (population 12 million) suggesting coal plants producing 77% of Australia's annual 255 TWh of electricity (see: http://www.uic.com.au/nip37.htm ; i.e. 0.77 x 255 = 196.4 TWh/year) might kill about 196.4 TWh x 668/27 TWh = 4,859 people annually in Australia (population 21 million). “Annual coal-based electricity deaths” [“total annual fossil fuel-based electricity deaths”] are 170,000 [283,000] (the World), 11,000 [13,000] (India), 47,000 [47,500] (China), 49,000 [72,000] (the US), 3,400 [6,900] (the UK), 4,900 [5,400] (Australia) and 2,700 [3,800](Canada) as compared to 110 [360] (heavily renewable-based New Zealand). There is a much greater life-time and old-age impact on older people (see: http://green-blog.org/2008/06/14/pollutants-from-coal-based-electricity-generation-kill-170000-people-annually/ ; http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=8836 ).

6. Already developed renewable and geothermal energy is CHEAPER than the “true cost” of coal-based electricity – Some 2007 figures in Australian cents/kWh for tradable electricity: 4 (coal “market cost”); 8 (likely coal-based under an ETS or emissions trading scheme); 16-20 (coal “true cost” taking environmental and human cost into account); 15 nuclear (via the UK's newest Sizewell B plant); 5 (geothermal); 8 (wind power); 15 (concentrated solar); 25-45 (standard silicon-based photovoltaics or PVs) (http://www.newmatilda.com/node/2398?ArticleID=2398&CategoryID=213 ). However sliver technology will reduce PV costs 3-fold (http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2006/1805365.htm ) and tidal and wave power are established local possibilities. CIGS non-silicon thin film (http://www.globalsolar.com/content/view/25/49/ ; http://www.thinfilmsblog.com/2007/12/157-efficient-thin-films-cigs-solar.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_indium_gallium_selenide ), thin balloon-based concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) (http://www.coolearthsolar.com/ ; http://www.businessweek.com/investing/green_business/archives/2008/05/rethinking_the.html ) and large-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) with efficient energy storage (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/04/14/solar_electric_thermal/ ; http://www.ausra.com/news/releases/080306.html ) are CURRENTLY approaching cost-competitiveness with the “market price” of coal-based power. Plus plug-in electric cars, local electricity plus usable heat generation, energy efficiency, vast energy solar resource …

7. Older people want to leave the world a better place (but see #1); 8. Older people must be acutely concerned over the fate of their children and grandchildren (see #1); 9. Older people have enjoyed the benefits of the profligate carbon economy and are obliged to “put back” (see #1); 10. Older people have the accumulated experience, money and time to make a differenceCONTACT: Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG): mawj@bigpond.com ; Climate Emergency Network (CEN): http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/ .

Monday, June 23, 2008

Man-made, CO2-driven Global Warming Science Info


1. The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is now about 385 parts per million (ppm) by volume and increasing at about 2.5 ppm per year but “positive feedback” can increase this rate (e.g. the white ice to black water “albedo flip”; release of methane and CO2 from melting tundra; lubrication of glacier movement to the sea; loss of CO2 sequestration by oceans, phytoplankton, forests) (see: http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/ , http://www.ipcc.ch/ and http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/12/nasas-james-han.html ).

2. Coral reef death above 450 ppm CO2 – at above about 450 ppm CO2 (26 years’ time at current rates) the world’s coral reefs – including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – will start dying because of ocean acidification as well as from bleaching due to photosynthetic symbiont expulsion from increased ocean temperature. Top coral scientists say the “tipping point” for world coral death is in the 450-500 ppm atmospheric CO2 zone

Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5857/1737 ; http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2007/2115399.htm ; http://www.exeter.ac.uk/cornwall/about_the_campus/latest_news/coral.shtml ; http://green-blog.org/tag/the-great-barrier-reef/ ; see: also the latest 2007 IPCC Synthesis Report: http://www.ipcc.ch/ and http://green-blog.org/2007/11/21/summary-of-the-summary-of-the-2007-ipcc-ar4-synthesis-report/ ) .

3. Phytoplankton, Greenland Ice Sheet go above 500 ppm CO2 - Atmospheric CO2 concentration will reach 500 ppm in. 46 years’ time at current rates assuming no acceleration of CO2 accretion in the atmosphere due to “positive feedback” effects (500-385 =115 ppm; 115ppm/2.5ppm per year = 46 years). At 500 ppm there is huge damage to the ocean phytoplankton system (crucial for ocean food chains and for global temperature homeostasis (balance) by sequestering CO2 and for light-reflecting cloud formation through production of cloud-seeding dimethylsulphide) and the Greenland ice sheet melts with a huge attendant circa 7 meter sea level rise (see: James Lovelock “The Revenge of Gaia”, Penguin, London, 2006; http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0119-01.htm ; http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7074/abs/nature04245.html ).

4. World has passed “tipping point” for sea ice loss - at current 385 ppm CO2 we already have passed a “tipping point” for the complete loss of Arctic summer sea ice that may be completely gone within a decade (see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7461707.stm ; http://nsidc.org/news/press/20070430_StroeveGRL.html ; http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17782 ; ) – with huge implications for polar warming, Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheet melting, tundra melting (see: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/06/11/seaice-permafrost.html and http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0611-arctic.html ) and sea level rise (see also: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0804/0804.1126.pdf ; http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/07/climatechange.carbonemissions ; http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080401_DearPrimeMinisterRudd.pdf ).

5. Record species extinctions - at current levels of human impact (e.g. 10C above pre-industrial, current 385 ppm CO2 ) we already have an animal extinction rate that is one thousand (1,000) times greater than that of the fossil record (see also: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html ; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0107_040107_extinction.html ).

6. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is rising rapidly – it is currently about 385 ppm but is increasing at a rate approaching 3 ppm per year corresponding to the very worst scenario envisaged by the IPCC i.e. of unaddressed carbon pollution; temperature increasing by 0.3 0C per decade (see: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10507-carbon-emissions-rising-faster-than-ever.html and http://www.climatecodered.net/ ).

7. Less than 350 ppm CO2 safe - top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (Head, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, GISS, New York) says that we have gone too far: "The evidence indicates we've aimed too high -- that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is no more than 350 ppm", and wants a “negative CO2 emissions” policy of cessation of CO2 pollution and reducing atmospheric CO2 pollution (e.g. by use of renewable and geothermal energy, re-afforestation, returning carbon as biochar to soils) (for recent articles about or by Dr Hansen and his colleagues see: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0804/0804.1126.pdf ; http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/07/climatechange.carbonemissions ; http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080401_DearPrimeMinisterRudd.pdf ) .

8. Global warming destruction of ecosystems is un-economic as well as irreversible vandalism - It has been estimated by Balmford et al in the prestigious scientific journal Science that for a variety of “biomes” (ecological systems) the total economic value (TEV) is about 50% greater when the resource is used sustainably as opposed to destructive conversion. Further, these scientists have found that the economic benefit from preserving what is left of wild nature is OVER 100 TIMES greater than the cost of preservation (see “Economic reasons for preserving wild nature”: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5583/950 ).

9. Biofuel diversioin and famine - crop-based biofuels are highly CO2 polluting, the global food price crisis (driven in part by US-, UK- and EU- mandated food diversion for biofuel, oil price rises, globalization, global warming and speculation) threatens “billions” with biofuel-driven famine according to UK Chief Scientist Professor John Beddington FRS (see: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23336840-11949,00.html ; http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/ ; http://www.liberalati.com/?q=node/261 ).

10. Climate change famine and mass mortality - unaddressed climate change already threatens billions and will kill over 6 billion people this century according to Professor James Lovelock FRS) (see: http://royalsociety.org/news.asp?id=7226 ; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/16956300/the_prophet_of_climate_change_james_lovelock ; http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html ).

CONTACT: Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG): mawj@bigpond.com ; Climate Emergency Network (CEN): http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/ .

Tuesday, June 3, 2008



1. Australia is the world’s #1 Developed Nation CO2 polluter

Consulting the US Energy Information Administration database (see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ) we obtain the following information on “annual per capita fossil fuel-derived carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution” in “tonnes (t) per person per year” for Australia and other major polluters (2004 data): 19.2 (for Australia; 40 if you include Australia’s coal exports), 19.7 (the US), 18.4 (Canada), 9.9 (Japan), 4.2 (the World), 3.6 (China), 1.0 ( India) and 0.25 (for Bangladesh).

2. Germanwatch index places Australia #54 in the list of the worst CO2 polluters (#56 being worst)

Of course “annual per capita fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution” is but one – albeit a very important – indicator of climate impact. The Germanwatch Climate Change Index 2008, a comparison of the 56 top CO2 emitting nations (see: http://www.germanwatch.org/ccpi.htm ), takes other parameters into account in ranking. In this ranking of 56 top CO2 emitting nations, Sweden and Germany are #1 and #2 for greenhouse responsibility, while shale-oil-rich Canada (a US ally), coal-rich Australia (a US ally), the USA and oil-rich Saudi Arabia (US-linked) rank #53, #54, #55 and #56, respectively (see: http://www.germanwatch.org/ccpi.htm ) .

3. In 2004 Australia (0.3% world population) gave 3% total fossil fuel CO2

Consulting the US Energy Information Administration database (see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ), in 2004 Australia (0.3% world’s population) yielded 1.4% of world’s fossil fuel-derived CO2 (3% including coal exports). The World’s 27,043 Mt fossil fuel-derived CO2 (2004) comprised 10,850 Mt (petroleum), 5602 Mt (gas), and 10,592 Mt (coal) with the Australia breakdown being 810 Mt (total), 117 Mt (petroleum), 52 Mt (gas), 217 Mt (coal, domestic), 424 Mt (coal exports).

4. Australia world’s largest coal exporter (30% total world coal exports)

From Australian Coal Association (see: http://www.australiancoal.com.au/exports.htm ) Australia maintained its position as the world's largest coal exporter with exports of 233 Mt in 2005-06 ($A24.5 billion) or 30% of the world total (777 Mt) (M, G, T = million, billion, trillion).

5. Australia produces about 6% of world hard coal (black coal)

From World Coal Institute (see:

http://www.worldcoal.org/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=188 ) total World: hard coal consumption 5339 Mt (2006); coal production 5370 Mt (2006); World brown coal 914 Mt ; Australia 309 Mt hard coal (5.8% of World production; used for thermal electricity and as coking coal for steel production).

From Australian Minerals Index (see:

http://www.australianminesatlas.gov.au/build/common/siteindex.jsp ) Australia produces about 6% of the world's saleable black coal and is ranked fourth after China (45%), US (19%) and India (8%).

6. Australia has 24% of World’s brown coal and produces 8% of World’s

From Australian Minerals Index (see:

http://www.australianminesatlas.gov.au/aimr/commodity/brown_coal.jsp )

Australian brown coal production for 2005/06 was 67.7 Mt (valued at $849 million) - all was from Victoria and used to generate electricity. Australia has about 24% of World recoverable brown coal and is ranked first. However, Australia produces about 8% of the World's brown coal and is ranked fifth largest producer after Germany (22%), Russia (10%), USA (9%) and Greece (8%).

7. Australian coal reserves

Australia has about 77 billion tonnes of coal resources

http://gc3.cqu.edu.au/modern-world/index.php . There are 909 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves worldwide (see: http://www.worldcoal.org/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=100 ). The price in 2006 was about US$100/t but is expected to reach US$300/t in 2008.

8. Coal to CO2 and coal to kWh conversions

Carbon (C, atomic weight 12) to carbon dioxide (CO2, molecular weight 44 ) conversion involves a stoichiometry of 12 g C -> 44 g CO2 i.e. 1 g C to 3.7 g CO2. 1 g coal yields 1.85 g CO2. In a coal-fired power station 0.327 kg coal yields 1 kWh. (kilowatt hour).

9. Australia gets 77% of its electricity from coal, 92% from fossil fuels

According ot the Australian Uranium Association (see: http://www.uic.com.au/nip37.htm ) electricity generation in Australia involves about 51 billion W (51 GW) capacity; the price varies during the day etc at about 4 c /kWh; in 2006 Australia's power stations produced 255 billion kilowatt hours (trillion Wh = TWh) of electricity; the energy source breakdown was 92.2% Carbon-based (black coal 54.8% , brown coal 21.9%, oil 1.3%, gas 14.2%, hydro 6.8%. and renewables 1%; 77% is coal-based electricity.

10. The true cost of coal energy is 4 times the market cost (Ontario Government study) – 4,860 Australians killed by coal annually @ $1.6 million each?

In Ontario (see: http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=8836) the cost/kWh jumped from $0.04 to $0.164 with environmental and human impacts added; pollution from coal plants producing 27 TWh/year (20% of supply) kill 668 people per year in Ontario (population 12.2 million) suggesting coal plants producing 77% of Australia's annual 255 TWh of electricity (see: http://www.uic.com.au/nip37.htm ) i.e. 0.77 x 255 = 196.4 TWh/year might kill about 196.4 TWh x 668/27 TWh = 4,859 people annually in Australia (population 21 million); in Australia 255 bn kWh x $0.04/kWh = $10.2 bn; 0.77 (coal-based) x $10.2 bn = $7.85 billion; $7.85 bn /4,859 deaths i.e. Australian electricity consumers pay for electricity @ $1.6 million per fellow Australian killed by coal.

CONTACT: Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG): mawj@bigpond.com ; Climate Emergency Network (CEN): http://www.climateemergencynetwork.org/ .