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Creeping Green Growth Overtakes Cities!

27/01/2010 Leave a comment

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Toronto will require all new buildings over 2000 sq/ft to include Green Roofs !

The Urban Heat Island effect can be reduced in the very near Future, if actions are taken immediately to seek out all the available options, rather than balking at the most costly solutions.

The first significant signs of a cooler, more ecologically sound Future are now becoming a reality in Toronto Ontario, because as of January 31st 2010, all new building permits issued for buildings over 2000 sq.ft. will also require Green Roof construction in the building plans. (UPDATE:  See Note at bottom for a loophole that’s been discovered by some clever property developers though!). Nevertheless, however brief the Summers may be in these Northern climes, there are still all sorts of other steps that we can take to help cool our cities and reduce the enormous emissions produced by all the cooling energy that we collectively consume during hot Summer months. In fact, it’s been estimated that we could reduce the ambient temperature of our cities by as much as 3 degrees C (5degF), just by putting a few relatively simple measures into place, and reap enormous health, energy, and ecological savings immediately!

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Carbon Capture: A Solution in Stasis?

25/01/2010 2 comments

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Worldwide adoption of Carbon Capture and Storage solutions have been delayed by an announcement at the Copenhagen Conference

The link to this News Event is no longer available at COP15.dk but it has been cached at Google!

The primary thrust of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change was to implement an accord of limiting CO2 emissions worldwide, and thus necessitate various regulatory solutions which would have required industry to either reduce their emissions, or face stiff financial consequences. This is where Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) would have liked to step in with some immediate industrial-grade solutions, presumably while the rest of us continued to consider the enormous challenges of actually reducing and eliminating our reliance on carbon emitting fossil fuels as a Society. As mentioned previously however (COP15.dk is History), the committee under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had discussed the issue of CCS during the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, but delayed any decisions on the subject until future summits. The committee contended that some countries had concerns over the long-term viability for the storage site, including liability for any seepage. Thus the larger challenges of capturing CO2 have seemingly become stuck behind a roadblocking question of legal liability in the ‘storage’ component of this much larger process.

Deja Vu

Proponents of Nuclear Energy will no doubt see a parallel in the bitter irony of yet another Green industry being hindered by the wasted energy and by-products of bureaucratic finagling and legal wrangling over questions of waste storage…Rather than getting on with the business of refining the existing (and already adequate) processes, while continuing to develop new and improved waste management solutions, and effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions IMMEDIATELY, rather delaying movement until later, once the technical details and legal liabilities of any unforeseen accidents have been ironed out to the Nth degree. Carbon Capture Left Out in the Cold

What did Copenhagen teach us about CCS

In it’s search for an accord, Copenhagen seemed like a direct precursor to establishing and implementing Carbon Cap/Trade/Tax solutions, that would place financial burdens on all CO2 emitters, and incent the development and application of CO2 capture technologies to reduce such burden. Although the COP15.dk site is now dead in the water, there are still “selected” pages made available by the Danish Government, which may cast light on what the Conference organizers wished to present as their lasting legacy from this historic conference, or at least demonstrate where the organizers left things on the rather important subject of CCS. A search for “Carbon Capture” yields only four (yes, 4!) results on this rather critical next step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Click Here, if you’d like to consider what these meagre results say about the Future of CCS from the POV of those who selectively transplanted the entire the COP15.dk site less that a month after the Copenhagen Conference closed.

CCS…Does green Energy hurt the Carbon Market?

In a short blogpost at Envirogy (derived almost entirely from Spiegel Online), we can clearly see how Green (or low emisions Renewable) Energy sources have actually hurt the price of carbon at the European Climate Exchange (and thus the cost incentives for implementing CCS), and in fact the entire system can be proven to have not reduced European carbon emmisions by a single gram!

Sitting on the Border Fences

Meanwhile, in North America, the open markets for carbon at the Chicago Climate Exchange is still awaiting the kinds of regulatory and political pressures that will kick things into a higher gear, and properly comodify Carbon in the U.S. and thus at least make select financiers, investors, and other assorted Middlemen rich in the process, if not at least repeating the lessons already being learned in Europe.

Meanwhile in the Oilpatch

Even though Copenhagen squashed any immediate hopes for Carbon Cap/Trade pricing, and delayed it’s pronouncements on teh future of CCS, searching the transplanted COP15.dk site yields a link to shipping giant Maersk’s role in bringing CO2 to oilfields in the North Atlantic, and there are examples all over the world where CO2 is pumped down into older oilwells to force out remaining oil, and maximize yield.  In fact contrary to popular belief, CO2 has already been getting stored in large quantities within used up gasfields, with the only concerns so far being in small amounts of CO2 re-escaping via carbonated water in the formations, and the possible formation of carbonic acid within any porous water areas. The fixation in carbonate minerals is playing only a minor role, so the search to chemically ‘fix’ CO2 into a more neutral and stable state will continue.

TBC…This is a work in progress

Please feel free to add to this Report Stub via the Comments Section below

Worldwide adoption of Carbon Capture and Storage solutions have been delayed by an announcement at the Copenhagen Conferenc

IR: Subtle Effects of Global Warming

17/12/2009 Leave a comment

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IMPACT REPORT: More Subtle Effects of Global Warming

We all know the Earth is warming, but it’s getting harder to get a clear reading on exactly what the causes and effects are of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) because of all the polarized rhetoric in the Media around the “man-made” aspects of this question. Obviously decisive precautionary actions must be taken to immediately reduce greenhouse gases while we sort out the rest of society’s environmental ills, but what if the Science behind AGW has somehow become too skewed by political or funding pressures? What if the need and desire to create a unified and global movement against Climate Change has now also became a leveraged force that can be managed to produce new political alignments, financial vehicles, and world banking results as well? As Environauts, we can start our search for answers by looking at the Present for signs of possible Futures. Let’s begin the process in Copenhagen.

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SR: Global Warming is just the Beginning

17/12/2009 Leave a comment

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Recent events around the uber-hyped Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen may be overshadowing the entire Green Movement, and casting a pale pallor of doubt over our entire outlook on the Future of our Environment. The faint silver lining to these looming storm clouds however, is that by now we should all have a much more realistic sense of what we can expect from the political processes and backroom shenanigans involved in addressing Climate Change via the United Nations. What we can also take away from things (after the DanishText leak, and ClimateGate scandals, right-wing Media backlash, etc..) is a more personally resolved understanding of Global Warming, that isn’t dependant on spoon-fed Media pablum for it’s vitality. We might also feel ready to resign any false expectations that we may have placed in the dubious value of Eco-Stunts, Public rallys, citizen marches, internet petitions, and other publicity hungry fabrications built upon good intentions, and amounting to little more than fodder for the Media, and some personal catharsis.

Instead we’re now better prepared to at least accept (if not undertake) an ongoing, and longer-term outlook on the real and genuine grass roots solutions that will be required, long after everyone has flown back home from Denmark and unpacked their souvenirs. Unfortunately, the road map to sustainable change is no less clear now, than it was when we embarked on what we had collectively hoped would’ve been a much more visible and direct route to the more immediate resolutions we’d all hoped for in Copenhagen.

Let’s first consider how we got here, as we re-plot our course towards a more sustainable Future. One where we don’t just wait for politically driven bureaucratic processes to come to the rescue, and somehow reduce one particular (CO2) by-product of an unhealthy civilization. Rather, let’s shelf the idea of simply delegating our environmental responsibilities to representative politicians long enough to consider what would happen if we were to personally hold established Environmental and Ecological principals as our highest standard in forging a better Future for us all

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Climate Change: Gaming the Odds

07/12/2009 1 comment

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Take a spin...

Go ahead...Take a spin...but only ONE spin

Much like the frog who will happily sit in a steadily warming pot until he boils to death, a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, finds that 3/4 of Americans think that Climate Change is an important issue, but don’t perceive it as an immediate threat. This Washington D.C based think tank tasks itself with gathering data and providing correlative info behind the issues, trends that shape attitudes in the United States and thus affect the rest of world. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, it turns out that Climate Change has ranked at the very bottom of a list of 20 issues that included Terrorism and the Economy.

The Environment rated abit better in this same 2009 report, at 16 out of 20, but also saw a 15 point decline from 2008.

Of course it stands to reason that building a better future requires a solid foundation, and it’s understandable why Americans would want to get their own household affairs in order before trying to reinvent the wheels of their economy and social fabric. But before a greater vision of the future can even begin to be shared, let alone put into motion, it seems that there are basic credibility issues to be ironed out on the subject of Climate Change.

Americans seem rather divided on the whole issue of Global warming with only 49% believing that it is the result of man-made factors and activities.

36% say warming is occurring “mostly because of natural changes in the atmosphere.” About one-in-ten (11%) say “there is no solid evidence that the earth is getting warmer.” There’s also a strong correlation between the results and respondents political ideology, with only 21% of conservative Republicans saying the earth is warming due to human activity, compared with the nearly three-quarters (74%) of liberal Democrats who see humans as a root cause of Climate Change.

Is this a cognitive disconnect caused by a partisan political outlook? Or are there other more deeply rooted Sociological or even Psychological issues at play here? Could there be a tendency for humans to cower in denial at the prospect of issues that they feel powerless to change? Or are we just incapable of grasping the big picture long enough to see alternate possibilities, and deeper causes ?

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Carbon Credits: The House Always Wins

07/12/2009 1 comment

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…Unless of course the “House” gets shut down on charges of corruption, fraud, bribery, price fixing and graft. At which point the rest of the story just recedes into fading history.

Nobody gives much thought to Enron anymore these days…

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Cloudy Coverup for Climate Change

02/12/2009 2 comments


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In an effort to wrap our collective heads around all the Causes that can Effect Climate Change, perhaps we could go up into Space to gain some seriously wide-angle perspectives on the subject, and then come back down to Earth with a more grounded view of what’s driving this change.

noc_strange_clouds_ISSThe first layer of atmosphere that we encounter upon re-entry is the Mesospehere, and it’s a frontier zone that’s only now being better explored for it’s peculiar properties. What’s driving this curiosity are visible signs of changes going on up there, which are impacting some wild theories about geo-engineering the skies, to counteract climate change down here.

More than 120 years after their discovery, Noctilucent Clouds (from the Latin words for “Night Shining”) remain a mysterious enigma that only appears up at the very edge of space – or about 75-85 kilometers (50 miles) straight up! This area is called the Mesosphere, and it’s not only very cold (-193F/-125C), but it’s also incredibly dry. Studies show that the mesosphere is about 100 MILLION times drier than the Sahara, so one of the questions that we find 80 kms above us is: just how do these eerie clouds form under such poor conditions? Just to contrast abit, the highest clouds that we normally see are called Cirrus, and form at only about 11 km (36,000feet) where it only gets down to about -40C.

NCLs over northern Europe  Credit: Pekka Parvianien.

So…Let’s consider what makes clouds to begin with? Basically ice crystals, or rain need to two things to form. A dust (1)particle that allows (2)water vapor to collect/condense around the particle in a process called “nucleation”. The theories on Noctilucent Clouds are that the dust required to form them at that altitude is either coming from space, or somehow coming up from the surface far, far below. Water vapor is also incredibly scarce at that altitude, which suggests theories that the water is actually coming from rocket exhaust. An even more fascinating theory suggests that oxidized Methane* is at the supply base for the components of water since atmospheric methane levels have been increasing since the 19th century, and have more than doubled in the past century! So we might be just seeing the early signs of some new form of climate change at work up there at the edge of space…

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