July 24, 2016

The Science of Climate Change

For detailed disscussion on the science of climate change, check out the science blog Atoms to Zebras

Not only will you learn a lot about the science of climate change, you can read about present-day Stone Age tribes untouched by modern civilization, why drinking moderate amounts of wine may be good for your health, and other wonders of the pale blue dot called Earth.

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

Green Economic Stimulus

In most of my articles for this blog, I’ve focused on the environmental and geopolitical reasons why we need a green revolution. One aspect that I have yet to mention is the enormous economic benefit that a green revolution will fuel. Ironically, many critics of green policy proposals claim these policies will stifle the economy when actually such measures will provide much needed economic stimulus.

The Apollo Alliance (named in the spirit of President John F. Kennedy’s ambitious goal of the Apollo manned missions to the moon) is a group that put together a $300 billion policy proposal for another moon-shot: a green America.

According to studies by the non-partisan Perryman Group, the Apollo Alliance’s ambitious and very achievable plan would have the following benefits:

1. Add more than 3.3 million jobs to the economy

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

Humans are “very likely” causing global warming

“Friday, 2 February 2007 may go down in history as the day when the question mark was removed from the question of whether climate change has anything to do with human activities” — Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) [1]

In an important report published yesterday in Paris, France the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared that human are “very likely” a cause of global warming. While this isn’t exactly breaking news, what is significant is that in a 2001 report the IPCC said humans are “likely” a cause of global warming. In more concsete terms, the IPCC definition for likely is a 66-90% probability. This means the probabilty of a human effect is now greater than 90%. [2]

Another interesting paragraph of the IPCC Executive Summary read the following:
“The observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean, together with ice mass loss, support the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that global climate change of the past fifty years can be explained without external forcing, and very likely that it is not due to known natural causes alone.” [3]

Other highlights from the IPCC report:
1. By the end of the century, temperatures will probably rise 1.8-4C (3.2-7.2F) and could possible rise between 1.1-6.4C (2-11.5F)
2. Sea level likely to go up by 28-43 cm (11-16 inches)
3. By the second half of the century, Arctic sea ice will disappear entirely during the summer months.
4. Eleven of the last 12 years are some of the warmest on record
5. Changes in weather patterns will lead to longer and more intense droughts, heatwaves, and tropical storms.

The IPCC will release a full report later this year and will release reports on how to adapt to climate change and suggestions towards reducing greenhouse gases. Stay tuned for more updates.

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

1. “Analysis: Through the climate window” by Richard Black, BBC News
2. “Humans blamed for climate change” by Richard Black, BBC News
3. IPCC report (PDF), released on February 2, 2007

The first 100 hours

As Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi promised, the new Democratic House voted Thursday to reverse billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies. This move was part of the “first 100 hours” agenda to kick off the 110th Congress in the House of Representatives. While the bill passed by a vote of 264-163, the bill has two major hurdles: a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate and possibly the veto pen of President Bush.

Obviously this kind of legislation has a huge impact for the alternative energy sector, so stay tuned for further legislative updates.

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew


Rhetoric up, action down

“The gap between what the science tells us is necessary and what the politics is delivering is still significant” – David Milibrand, Environment Secretary of Britain

Check out this summary of the climate and alternative fuel debate in 2006 in a BBC article by Richard Black called “Climate 2006: Rhetoric up, action down”

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

Drilling for natural talent and energy

As discussed before in this blog, alternative energy is not only an economic and environmental issue. Ending our dependence on foreign oil is the best thing we can do for the citizens of oil-rich countries who are ruled by dictators. Thomas Friedman couldn’t said any better than this:

“As long as the monarchs and dictators who run these oil states can get rich by drilling their natural resources – as opposed to drilling the natural talents and energy of their people – they can stay in office forever. They can use oil money to monopolize all the instruments of power – army, police, and intelligence – and never have to introduce real transparency or power sharing. All they have to do is capture and hold the oil tap. They never have to tax their people, so the relationship between ruler and ruled is highly distorted. Without taxation, there is no representation.” – Thomas Friedman from The World is Flat

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

I’m dreaming of a “Green Christmas”

What do alternative energy and Christmas have in common?

LED Christmas lights. LED stands for light-emitting diode and this technology can be found everywhere from flashlights to traffic signs. For some interesting reading on LED technology, check out the Wikipedia article on the subject.

If you haven’t already put up your holiday lights yet, you should consider getting some LED lights. (I realize this article comes a bit late for many of you….I already set a reminder on my computer to post this article next year around Thanksgiving when people begin to string the lights up for the holiday season.)

Yes, they are more expensive upfront, but they will save you money in the long run. They are much more durable than the incandescent lights since there are no filaments to burn out or break. Plus, color incandescent bulbs fade because the colored plastic lens degrade in the elements. Since the color of LED lights is based on the actual chip rather than a colored lens, you can maintain vibrant colors year after year.

Most of important of all, they save energy and every bit of energy matters at a time when a growing and modernizing world requires more and more energy. LED lights use a jaw-dropping 1/100th of the energy a old-fashioned incandescent light.

According to a Department of Energy study in 2003, holiday lighting costs 2.2 billion kWh (kilowatt-hours) of electricity a year. If everybody in the country switched to LED lights, we could save an estimated 2 billion kWh every year!!

Think about all the holiday lights across the world and how much energy could be saved. That’s electricity that could be used to power electric cars and replace the heating oil needed by many to keep warm this winter. That’s a lot of oil that could be saved, folks.

I don’t about you, but I’m dreaming of a “Green” Christmas!

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

We can do this

In his book An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice-President Al Gore talked about a well-respected study by Princeton researchers Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala that describes how “humanity already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical, and industrial know-how to solve the carbon and climate problems for the next half-century.”

Currently, the United States is emitting about 1.8 Gigatons of carbon every year. Mr. Socolow and Mr. Pacala concluded that a “business as usual” approach to policies such as car mileage standards and alternative energy would result in 2.6 Gigatons of annual U.S. carbon emissions by 2050.

Through six different categories of policy changes, the researchers predicted that we could lower annual carbon emissions to roughly 1.0 Gigatons by 2050. This is would be back down to the carbon levels of 1970.

What are these six different categories? They all are affordable and already-existing technologies that in combination would make a gigantic difference.

1. Reduction from more efficient use of electricity in heating and cooling systems, lighting, appliances, and electronic equipment.

2. Reduction from end-use efficiency, meaning that we design buildings and businesses to use far less energy than they currently do.

3. Reduction from increased vehicle efficiency by manufacturing cars that run on less gas and putting more hybrid and fuel-cell on the roads.

4. Reduction from making other changes in transport efficiency, such as designing cities and towns to have better mass transit systems and building heavy trucks that have greater fuel efficiency.

5. Reduction from increased reliance on renewable energy technologies that already exist, such as wind and biofuels.

6. Reduction from the capture and storage of excess carbon from power plants and industrial activities.

Conclusion: We can do this….we have to do this.

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

7.9 billion tons

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a new study from the Global Carbon Project found a sharp acceleration of human carbon emissions. Up until the year 2000, global carbon emissions rose annually 1%. Now the emissions are rising at 2.5% per year.

While these percentages seem small, consider that in 2000 we emitted 6.8 billion tons (gigatons, Gt) of carbon and 2005’s total was 7.9 Gt.

Yet another reminder that we as a planet have some serious work to do.

For further reading, check out the BBC article on this carbon emission study.

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew

Smart Cars Coming to the US of A!!

I’m happy to report a positive step in the movement to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Starting in 2008, America will be the newest market for Smart cars.

While the hybrid Prius has been my ideal choice for a future car, Prius has been officially replaced by the Smart car. I’m completely hooked and let me tell you why.

1. 60 mpg (miles per gallon)…nice! PLUS, they are developing hybrid and electric models to go along with the small, efficient design so don’t be surprised to hear about an unprecedented 100 mpg in the future.

2. Perfect for commuting to work and moderate shopping trips to the grocery store, etc. (trunk holds “approx. 8 gallons of milk”….plus there’s always the passenger side if you are riding solo)

3. Incredibly efficient for parking and city driving (the car is a mere 9 feet long!)

4. Price range for the brand will be $12,000 to $20,000

5. Yes, it’s safe. 4 of 5 stars on Europe’s car safety rating system. This is very impressive considering the weight and size of these cars. The brilliance of the design is that almost all of the strength of the car’s frame is focused to form a cage around the driver and passenger.

To compare how your current car performs in European tests (if it’s sold in Europe), click here for the section “How Safe Is Your Car?” The Smart car results are in the Supermini category on the sidebar.

6. Built for people up to 6′ 5” (At 6′ 2” myself, I was relieved to hear this)

7. The Smart brand started as a joint venture between the Swatch watch company and Mercedes-Benz, so you can count on a quality product.

8. 60 mpg

8. Oh, did I mention the fuel mileage on these cool little cars?…..60 mpg!!!

For more info, check out the United States portal for smart cars. http://www.smartusa.com/

For international readers, head to http://www.smart.com/

Posted by Tim Roth, author of the political blog Think Anew and Act Anew