What do I think, What can I do?

Archive for January, 2013

Are top world companies fighting against Climate Change?

img_5015These news explains some reports and surveys that state the increased compromise of World’s Top Corporations in this sense. Just three fast thoughts:

  • It shows that the economic establishment does not follow the skeptics ideas. As overwhelming amount of scientific work shows climate change is happening, it is happening because of our greenhouse gas emissions and international agencies, governments and top companies believe it. Skeptics are less than it seems from mass media and even blogs, internet,…
  • The real commitment of all this institutions has not been enough to even start decreasing CO2 emissions. So are really top companies committed to change the emission path. I would like too and I suppose that some are but not all, for example the companies that obtain great revenue from fossil fuels, or the ones worried by electricity costs. In  fact, skeptic blogs and media have many private financial sources.
  • It would be great that companies really committed to change their emissions path to obtain a prize from the worldwide customers to compensate their effort. But in that case good and reliable evaluation methods would be required, to ensure the mechanism is really working.. This way the normal citizen would have another instrument to fight against climate change.
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BBC Tomorrow’s World, were is Climate Change?

BBC  Tomorrow’s World predictions are as any other future prediction just an exercise. If anyone had the definitive crystall-ball he would do better than publish the results in a newspaper, and certainly nobody has one that works.

However, even knowing that fact, current predictions talk about the present thoughts, express the confidence level or uncertainty in many knowledge, technology or progress field. For this reason it is contradictory to see in 2016 prediction the Artic free of ice in the summer (very likely in the next decades just see the figures) and forecast a new ice age in 2090, even it the second is classified as unlikely. Certainly a huge monster of the CO2 would have to come to this planet to reverse the greenhouse effect of our fossil fuel emissions in just 75 years.

At the same time it is discouraging to read this in a media frequently criticized by the skeptics for being clear about climate change and its risks. My personal opinion after reading this, is that many times we think we are convinced that climate change is true but we haven’t really internalize the meaning it may have for future generations and the real dimension of the problem. In most of the world this is a greater problem than the skeptics.

Transportation, mainly the road

In the world the CO2 emissions corresponding to the transport sector sum a 22% of the total.

Nonetheless this percentage varies seriously from country to country. Among the top emitters (next table), China and India do not reach the 10% emissions by transport, Germany and Japan are close to 18%, the USA are around 26% and some like Mexico or  Brazil are above 35%. So transport is very important depending on the location.

Transport Emissions Road Emissions
People’s Rep. of China 7.04% 5.48%
United States 30.21% 26.09%
India 9.93% 8.90%
Russian Federation 15.30% 8.85%
Japan 19.48% 17.59%
Germany 19.11% 18.51%
Korea 15.41% 14.52%
Canada 31.62% 26.02%
Islamic Rep. of Iran 23.31% 23.07%
United Kingdom 24.67% 22.90%
Saudi Arabia 23.42% 22.93%
Mexico 36.31% 35.34%
Indonesia 25.75% 22.59%
Italy 27.13% 25.58%
Brazil 42.82% 38.22%
Australia 21.44% 18.01%
France 34.56% 33.06%
South Africa 11.01% 10.23%
Poland 15.34% 14.99%
Chinese Taipei 13.12% 12.69%
Spain 36.42% 31.73%

Next histogram includes the distribution of these topo emitters but also the whole world, and in this case the panorama is even more complex with a range from less than 10% of the share until more than 90%.

Histogram of the transport share in country CO2 emissions for two populatios: All the world and the top 20 emitters, source of data IEA

Histogram of the transport share in country CO2 emissions for two populatios: All the world and the top 20 emitters, source of data IEA

Anyway, one thing is quite regular for all of them road is the main transport emission source, a 16% around the world but up to 80% in Congo or 35% in Mexico.

Meanwhile, americans are driving less, (reducing that 26%) some also talk about peak car thereOne thing is clear, if we want to mitigate climate change, we will have to drive less (mas transit, bicycle, or just walk), do it more efficiently or change cars technology or all at the same time. In some cases it is not difficult to start saving CO2.

CO2, our salvation? Do not save us too much

Ice Age

Ice Age in the North Hemisphere, image from http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ClimateChanging/

In a recent study CO2 appears our particular hero against the next ice-age. The study is really about the peatlands capacity to sink carbon and its influence in last glacial periods, but it have been used to weaken climate change concept.  In fact, coming ice-age is a repeated subject in skeptic blogosphere, for example here .

I am not able to judge the scientific value of the study, or have not check where it has been published, this is not the question of this post, it can be really prominent scientific work, while explained this way it is like being in a flood and thanking the river for the water that quenches one’s thirst.  The study recognizes the role of CO2 in planet climate, the peatlands are carbon sinks and in absence of human actions a new ice age would come in some moment, so, conceptually, it is not skeptic at all, but it lacks a simple sentence explaining that we are currently far from a new ice age.  Actually, if we burnt all these fossil fuel for that purpose we are done and we can stop for now. And here comes an interesting question for me (not really related to the paper):

If we had known beforehand that sending to the atmosphere all those gigatons of CO2 we would stop next ice age, would this giant transformation be OK ethically?

I am not sure, my first simple and emotional answer is a yes with many doubts.

Unfortunately we didn’t know all this 50-100 years ago so the only possible question now is: Should we stop sending tons of CO2 before going to an barbecue-age?

This answer is much easier: Yes and without delay.

This way we can even allow a future question: Should we save some fossil fuels for allowing future generations to allow controlled emission patterns to avoid future ice ages?

Certainly, I do not know what will say the grandsons of my grandsons of my grandsons. It is easier to imagine the opinions of our grandchildren: Stop and leave at least two-thirds of fossil fuels in the ground and we will think the best way to use them in the future.

 

 

The rough figure of World emissions

CO2 Emission percentaje by production sector in the world, source of data IEA.

CO2 Emission percentage by production sector in the world, source of data IEA.

I frequently think that the climate change solution is in transforming the power production sector and consumers mentality somehow. However, many times remember too that transportation is important and I got in mind the simple figure that one out of three CO2 tons comes from transport. Rough numbers help but it is always better to be more precise, and the two figures in this blog follow this purpose. They have been obtained with the open data from the Internationa Egergy Agency (IEA) and show total emissions in 2010.

The first one, at the beginning, displays the emission proportions by emission production sectors. In some cases, these divisions are not easy to understand but the main conclusion can be that electricity production is responsible for more than 40% of emissions and this is good news in my opinion because the progress in low-carbon electricity production has been much fester than in other factors and because in fact there are many countries producing most of their electricity without fossil fuels. Transport and industry account for other more or less 20% each (in industry excluding electricity use). Transport is a bit lower that the 33% that I expected and it is mainly road transport. Residential sector is surprisingly low.

CO2 Emission percentaje by consuming sector in the world, source of data IEA.

CO2 Emission percentaje by consuming sector in the world, source of data IEA.

In the other hand, the last figure classifies the same data by consuming sector. So roughly, industry is the objects we use, transport is transport and residential our houses. In this case, industry leads the figure with 36%, and transport and residential follow close to 20%.

The main reference is that we should reach 10-20% of current emissions to be on the safe side, so we have to make important effort in all areas.

CSA, Community-Supported Agriculture, a great Climate Change oriented idea

One week vegatables, or just

Vegetables for the week, or just “the bag”, Image from Wikipedia

2 months ago I wrote about a personal/familiar experience I was happy about, now I know how it is called in english: Community-Supported Agriculture. To write in English is many times a challenge for me.

I learnt the term from this post that explains the concept better than me. This is the kind of small great things that can really make a difference for the two great objectives of climate change:

 

  • Mitigation: The reduction of transport requirement will certainly help, as transport is roughly the source of one-third of CO2 emissions. But even more, local production can make better choices regarding land usage, another 10% of emissions
  • Adaptation: Some of the most terrible consequences of climate change in a world approaching 10 billion will be the pressure in food production and distribution: another word; food security. Making it profitable to produce near home will be a warranty of some food production, and, even more, a comprehensive supply chain will avoid disagreeable surprises from markets we do not understand.

Of course, I do not think this is the ultimate solution for climate change nor the only possible source of food for me or anyone close to me, it’s just a good idea, reasonable, and helps and works.