What do I think, What can I do?

Archive for November, 2012

COP 18: Another opportunity in Doha

COP 18 is the 18th international meeting to address the climate change problem. It is held in Doha . I listened the news in the radio this morning with quite a clear summary of the challenges involved and by the way a good explanation of climate change causes, encouraging but an exception, I would bet that most of my friends, family, coworkers have not heard about it.

This meetings should be very important as climate change problem requires global solutions to be shared by most countries. However,  the previous meetings have been at least partially frustrating as the advance is slow and the discussions are more predominant than the agreements. The figure below shows that the world emission path has continued to go upwards in spite of 17 COP meetings, so reached agreements are clearly insufficient. But we, the humans, need time to get agreements, the problem is that we are running out of the time to get a reasonable agreement for a reasonable future climate.

Graph showing CO2 emission path last years

Graph showing CO2 emission path last years, data from IEA

Media could play an important role to make those meetings more efficient and to help people know what is discussed there and how all of us are affected. A convinced world population could be a great force to seriously start climate change mitigation instead of adaptation.

By the way, the guest country Qatar is ranked 1st in per capita emissions in spite of their last year reductions (last figure). The comparison with USA, Germany, Japan or China (4 out of 5 economic powers in the world) is quite significant. If all of us would be emitting so much CO2 (I do not think it is possible) we would live  in an oven.

CO2 per capita emissions for 5 countries including Qatar (source of data CDIAC)


USA elections and Chinese change of leader

Xi Jinping leader, Source: Wikipedia

Xi Jinping leader, Source: Wikipedia

Maybe it’s to late to talk about Obama’s victory, but I don’t intend to be up to the fast pace of the news. Of course I got quite satisfied with USA elections results, due to the strong “drill baby drill” speech coming from Romey and more after the acceptance speech:

“We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet,”

This important election was extensively covered by many climate blogs as Climate Progress, or Quark Soup. Even Pieckle Sr, usually a blog without political content, mentioned USA elections comparing them to Chinese process.  And there is where I wanted to arrive, if USA elections were very important for the climate change politics due to many factors,Chinese leadership is not less and has not been covered at the same extent.

Both states are the biggest CO2 sources in the world, more than 40% of the emissions between them. And ,although far from the USA in per capita emissions China’s development has made them the leaders in this classification and it is still growing fast. It will not be possible to do something meaningful in climate change without the implication of China, so Xi Jinping¡s ideas about climate change are even more important than Obama¡s and I do not know them. Maybe, next days in COP18 we will start to see. At least I hope so.


How many changes in ten years

In NYT climate news feed they sent some old news last month I think that by error, but it has been interesting to check the change of perspective in the republican party in just ten years: He did not penalize CO2 emissions but it was in his electoral program. He even had a climate agenda and wanted to delay actions ten years for more research. Nowadays it would be considered a progressive in the republican party.
It is amazing to see how things can change in just a decade, and I cannot say it for sure but I do not think he has been the only one, the problem is that we do not have so many time to play political sports with climate change, the CO2 is rising, the temperature is rising, and the time to get a reasonable equilibrium is running out.

Ice Cube, a very strange telescope in the south pole

ice cubes

ice cubes

Recently I read some news about IceCube neutrino observatory in the south pole. It is an amazing installation looking for the secrets of those elusive particles and by extension to the secrets of distant galaxies, a kind of telescope really. It is not the only installation looking for neutrinos, but this is very special as it is built in the great ice desert of Antarctica. In fact, is uses the 3 Km of ice depth in this continent to find neutrinos.

I was amazed by the technology and imagination involved in this great telescope. Will it last when the climate changes?

I suppose so, I hope so, but did the scientific in charge consider this aspect? Too many times is not considered for medium to  long-term forecasts even in groups that do not deny it in any way


Local vegetables reduce Carbon Footprint

At home, we take part in a local group of vegetable and egg buy/sell. The idea is good and simple. A local producer grows vegetables (in this case ecological ones but it is not compulsory for this idea), it packs some bags every week with some variety of them depending on the season and leaves them on monday in one place. During that day the ten customers take the bags and discover the surprise of that week in form of fresh, healthy and local food. The payments are done for three months periods and the producer gets a fixed customer group that visit  him/her every year.

There are many advantages as promoting local jobs in primary sector, avoiding complex intermediate markets, the confidence between customer and producer,… and the reduction of Kms for the vegetables and the associated CO2, I always consider funny that the lettuce I am eating has traveled more than me in the last year.

This possibility is possible, it is reasonable and it is growing!

Senda Viva entertraining, but a lost opportunity for climate change

Photograph from Senda Viva, a flag showing environmental commintment

Photograph from Senda Viva, a flag showing environmental commitment

Last weekend, we enjoyed a very nice day at Senda Viva . A place I would define as a combination of Zoo, amusement park and small circus. It is focused on children and does its job well.

Maybe for the focus or just for the paths of my mind, I remembered my recent experience in Loro Parque. But this time I did not find the smallest mention to climate change, it is true that any other messages were scarce too so in some sense it could be too much to ask them for this kind of favored approach. However I found three small reasons to do so:

1.- The first is for survival. Senda Viva has good installations and attractions but suffers from extreme weather in summer and winter. With changed climate it can be even worse, and this can negatively affect the future of the project.

2.- When children are involved the educational point of view is always present in some sense. So it is better to remain them the challenges of their future world.

3.- The last is just a detail. There is a very nice view of the whole region in the top of a small mountain and some windmills are named along with some thermal power stations, why not other windmills of solar power stations that are an unavoidable part of Navarre’s landscape?



Hydropower conference Hydro 2012


Photograph from the conference door

This conference has been held in Bilbao these days with good coverage in the news. I was positively surprised by the media impact of this conference as hydro power was a very important power source in the past here but is not in the main discussions nowadays.

In fact, the power of the water coming from the rivers has been one of the first industrial era power sources and it is still the most important renewable energy and the most widespread, maybe its great advantage is that it is not considered as renewable sometimes or that it has not grown in the last years. Or maybe hat it is very cheap because installation investments were done many years ago. Anyway, one way or another I have always thought that it produces a considerable percentage or world energy, however , checking actual figures I was negatively surprised to discover that its 3000 TWh of yearly production only account for the 2% of world energy demand.

As I did not assist the conference I do not know what kind of subjects were discussed there. Perhaps they covered many of the questions a have about water as energy source as:

Why did they say that Europe is not so interesting for this market compared to for example South America?
What is the potential of traditional hydropower to overcome thi
Why is mini and micro hydro power so forgotten as energy source?
Are the methane production of big hydro power well determined?
How advanced is the tidal wave power?
Did they visit the small but interesting tidal power station in Motriku? (60 Km from Bilbao)
Or tidal energy was out of the scope of this conference and traditional hydro power industry?