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/ .

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