Maybe no other speech on climate change was so expected. Climate Change activists (called Climate Hawks too) were quite disappointed with Obamas first term and not so happy with seconds beginning but this speech last week, changed this point of view as explained by Joe Romm, and many others. It was even mentioned in European newspapers, and of course, by skeptics.
After one week, the positive opinions, mixed with others asking more action.
I found Obama’s speech inspiring as the great speaker he is and important considering climate change debate in USA. Clearly it is not enough for the change we need from americans from their huge CO2 emissions (three times those of China or even some European countries). It is far for explaining how to reduce the americans 18 Tons CO2 per capita to the more or less 1 Ton target, but it was a first step and no long way has been done without starting step by step. It did not explain the scope of the change needed but it attacked the weakest part of the problem: the acceptance of the problem and the need to act. And one of the virtues of americans is that they are able to act fast once they are convinced. I hope it is so. We all need that, China and USA are 40% of the emissions in current world.
Nicaragua map from Wikipedia
This link in spanish explains these news. They will install wind power,, solar, hydroelectric and geothermal energy. It will not change the climate change game as Nicaragua is a small country of 6 million inhabitants that only emit 0.8 Tons CO2 per capita (in 2009). So they are not only well below the world average, they are even close or below the secure emission path. If we all humans would emit like them climate change problem would be close to be solved. They have not created this problem, they could feel quite reassured in their position and ask others for action with solid ethical grounds but, in the contrary, they plan to get most of their electricity from renewable sources. And these are good news because it shows that a low-carbon growth is not only meaningful for poor countries, it is also profitable and more reliable. They are not part of the problem now but can be and should be part of the solution, more if we consider that they are the countries bringing more humans to this stressed world
Carbon Bubble concept is a very interesting one, clearly supported by most climate hawks but somehow questioned too in other cases as: “Carbon Bubbles — Who’s Kidding Who?“. The concept is a translation from financial or housing bubbles. Bubbles are wonderful, the grow and grow until they explode, it is a very well-known concept in the south of Europe recently and in many other places along history.
So, what would be a carbon bubble? It is simple, even if the estimations of fossil fuel reserves are correct a great part of them should not be used if we do not want to enter in a really catastrophic climate change, so they should be useless and the companies that own them not so worthy.
Yet, this idea is not mainstream in any stock market or society and the oil or gas deposit continue to be considered as valuable as ever or more. This is a contradiction for many as climate change is widely recognized (even for oil companies) as a threat, the question is that most uf us in OCDE theoretically recognise climate change as a scientific fact but do not go further to consider it a vital challenge of our generation, and this is the problem. While this problem persists the carbon bubble will remain wandering harmless and several people will have to insist in the need of urgent action..
From honeybeesandhelium blog
My second son was born two weeks ago, so I have and will have less time to blog. But precisely because of my sons I am more and more convinced that we have to raise the consciousness of every people in the world about the dangers of climate change and the ways to fight it, because it is possible, not easy, but possible to reduce our emissions and avoid a more extreme form of change.
The recent news about passing the 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has been another expected step in this process. It was a question of time and 400 is not much more than 397 but we are used to be moved by symbolic numbers and this is one of them, in fact, the accepted “secure ” co2 concentration has moved from 350 to 450 untill 550 ppm now. So 400 is significant.
It is not the magic number that changes everything as explained here, if there is a tipping point in climate change (difficult to know) most experts locate it higher, however it is important because it shows clearly that the show is going on in the wrong direction and it is useful to make everyone more conscious of that due to the media covering. So, the question is:
Will this child enjoy a reasonable climate and future because we acted while he was young or will he witness a mess caused by our inaction?
Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to watch Promised Land in the cinema, and as going to the cinema is a rare pleasure for me I enjoyed the film.
Apart from my personal experience, the film is in this post because it is about fracking. Concretely, it is quite critical with fracking companies ppractices and reveals possible strong negative effects of fracking in the environment.
Fracking is subject that is gaining some presence here as some gas could be extracted from our lands. Oil or natural gas discovery has been one of the dremas of any world wide government, a synomnim of wealth and prosperity for the country or at least for some in the country (this depends on the sharing procedure, but it is not the object of this post). On the other side ecologists are afraid of the side effects of this technology.
In climate and energy related blogosphere it hs been discussed many times. For example, an Oli Crash post is very pessimistic about fracking possiblities. The basic argument is that its expensive, much more than accepted. Climate progress is skeptic respecting fracking too. This web is fairly optimistic. Some consider it is the only low carbon solution for China as it hahas helped the USA emission reduction. Maybe the one that I found more convincing is the numerical skepticism by David Appel. The CO2 reduction (compared to coal) could be generously compensated by methane emissions.
One of the things that surprised me in the film is that theydid not even mention renewables, as if they were not present in the USA. I think we are too late to think about provisional solutions or fracking bridges. We need clear emission reductions and renewables are far better for that than fracking, in fact gas is a fossil fuel, maybe cleaner or maybe cheap sometimes (or not), but a CO2 producing fossil fuel, and this is not a solution to climate change, it is a problem. Natural gas could the the last fossil fuel to sustitute but not the prefered to install.
This study published in Nature is very interesting because makes numbers about emission targets, the peak emission year and the consequences up to 2100. The study recognizes the great grade of uncertainty in some aspects as the absolute amount of consequences and this in my opinion gives it more credibility.
On the other hand it states clearly than the date and the amount of the peak of emission is more important than the later reduction rate. It says that even if it very difficult to know what will happen exactly the proportion of it will be much lower if we peak our emissions fast.
I find this result interesting, important and encouraging at the same time. Because it would not be so difficult to peak world emissions:
- Most European nations and maybe the USA have done so
- The BRICS, concretely China and India had better add new power by renewables than coal, it makes sense in many aspects.
- The poorest countries do not have much influence in the decisions nor in the emissions, but for them too renewables with help of richer countries make more sense.
Going further to the 80% reduction from current emissions as the final target seems much more difficult but this study finds we have some extra time for that. So let’s start with the first step: the world emissions peak.
Last saturday was again the earth hour or planet hour. In the day itself and later it was funny to read many skeptics fight against it as here, or here more aggressive. There were favorable posts too.
My personal balance this year was worse than last year because we forgot about it until last 30 minutes, so I did not help much in spite of being convinced. And a more general balance? WWF shows a nice gallery of images that demonstrates at least some action arround the world.
Like last year I have collected the electrical demand data from REE (the official source), and even if the consumption was higher than las year, 31600 MW, it was 2000 MW lower than the previous saturday, more or less like the last year. Not so bad but not impressive as I would like, but this figure is only about a very small part of the world, we have to remember that this is a world-wide problem and a world-wide action in this case. Anyway, I agree with my ideas from last years post.
This is not going to change hour emission path but coordinated global citizen action is very important and could be very helpful to push the different policy makers to endorse the solutions we have, because it is possible to reduce hour emissions without going to the caves again.
Spanish electricity consumption on 23/03/2013, from REE
Among my blogs-to-read it is one from peak oil movement or thinking current. The peak oil concept is easy to explain and really logical at least in the initial concepts:
The oil is a finite substance and consequently someday it will wear out. The second idea is that that day it is not so far and for this reason we have reached the maximum oil production of our history: the peak oil. The next step is that this concept is applicable to many other important substances to our civilization as gas, uranium, coal, copper,… The last one is that it does not have reasonable solution, the only way is to degrowth in an ordered way or do it in a chaos. However the final positive message is that the final world we can reach, doing things well, will be very austere but satisfying in many senses.
I read them with interest although I am not convinced of many of the steps like the inevitability of the strong degrowth or the grade of depletion of many energy sources. So, I was surprised to discover a strong critics to peak oil concept in another blog I read. A stronger grade of critics than mine really, and this helps me notice again how ideas that are different could share common goals, at least for some time, but do not for our strong sense of …
Peak oil and climate change fight are different concepts, in one sense peak oil forecasts a time without oil and will miss it a lot and climate change would like to forecast a time with the oil inside the ground as a synonym of healthy climate. However the current goals are not so far: change the energy production system and make it renewable to a great extent, the hopes or forecasts are not so common but this should not be a problem to find allies in this difficult task..
Many people in the maritime transport industry is thinking about the possibilities of using the shorter northern passage to go and come from Asia. Even the north pole could be reachable by 2050 with a small icebreaker. This can be considered a positive consequence? I think so, as it will make easier, shorter, cheaper and less carbon intensive to transport many goods in the northern hemisphere.For climate change itself the negative impact is much bigger than the positive as the albedo, or reflectiveness of the ice is greater so more sun energy will be absorbed.
But above all, in my opinion, it is agreat prove that something really important is changing in our planet in spite of all skeptics comments, because the ice shells are a first order displays of the heat content in our planet surface. The averages of the temperatures measured in many weather stations over the world are not so easy to see but a clear ocean in the north pole is something very very expressive. What will skeptics invent then? Will they still be skeptics then?