Monday, April 07, 2008

A Willing Spirit

Over the weekend, I finally got a new bike. This one is totally way cool. It feels a lot like a motorcyle, except I'm the motor. Basically, its a cruiser with 21 gears and a big fat seat. I think the guy at the bicycle shop called it a semi-recumbant.

I want this thing to be a transportation device, not some hobby, or toy. However, I didn't take it to work today, so we'll see if the spirit is able to conquer the flesh or not.

Based on these two stories, I would certainly hope so.

Scientist turns up the heat with new alert on warming
The Age
Ed Pilkington, New York
April 8, 2008

A LEADING climate scientist says the European Union and its international partners must urgently rethink targets for cutting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of fears they have grossly underestimated the scale of the problem.

Dr James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, calls for a sharp reduction in carbon dioxide limits.

Dr Hansen said the EU target of 550 parts per million of carbon dioxide — the most stringent in the world — should be slashed to 350 ppm.

He said the cut was needed if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed". (clip)

Instead of using theoretical models to estimate the sensitivity of the climate, the (Hanson's) team used evidence from Earth's history, which they contend gives a much more accurate picture. They studied cores taken from the bottom of the ocean, which indicate carbon dioxide levels millions of years ago. They show that when the world began to glaciate at the start of the ice age around 35 million years ago, the concentration of carbon dioxide was about 450 ppm.

"If you leave us at 450 ppm for long enough, it will probably melt all the ice — that's a sea rise of 75 metres," Dr Hansen said. "What we have found is that the target we have all been aiming for is a disaster — a guaranteed disaster." clip

Dr Hansen said his findings were not a recipe for despair. The good news, he said, was that reserves of fossil fuels had been greatly exaggerated, so an alternative source of energy would have to be put in place rapidly in any case.

He proposed a range of measures. A moratorium on coal power stations would bring carbon dioxide levels to below 400 ppm. Reforestation coupled with innovative agricultural methods such as the use of bio-char, a form of biomass charcoal that can store carbon in the soil, could then get closer to his new 350 ppm target"more

I suspect that the reporter failed to see that Hanson's tongue was firmly implanted in his cheek with the "good news" remark. And even though I have, on occasion, said a version of the same thing, "running out of affordable energy supplies is good news ONLY if everyone understands that we must now retool with an intensity equal to the last great global war, and move beyond these fuels which threaten our very existence on this planet.

And obviously, we are not there yet. According to this story, the world continues to spew more and more carbon into the biosphere:

World fossil fuel energy use growing: study
The Financial Express
Monday , April 07, 2008

Renewable energy is not replacing fossil fuels as quickly as scientists have been forecasting, leading to a serious underestimation of what still needs to be done to stabilise the world’s climate, according to a new analysis.

Enormous advances in energy technology will be needed to stabilise atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations at acceptable levels,” wrote Roger Pielke Jr, a University of Colorado Boulder political scientists and his co-authors in an article in a recent edition of Nature magazine.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, expected that people around the world would begin using more renewable energy, reducing global dependence on the fossil fuels generating greenhouse gases.

Instead, people are using more oil, gas and coal than ever before, pumping more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, said Tom Wigley, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and co-author of the Nature article.

“The US government is putting some money into renewable energy, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to what’s necessary,” Wigley said. "

Wigley said it is time to take serious action, with research investment and the development of climate policies—from improving mileage standards for cars to a tax on carbon or a cap and trade programme. " more

World Oil production is actually on a plateau right now, but the use of coal is increasing, if for no other reason than China is starting up a new coal plant every week.

China is willing to do its share they say, but they want the West to take climate change seriously.
Perhaps we will,

With a willing spirit.

If an elephant can learn to paint with his nose,
all things are possible.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your new person transpoter.

Dan Crow

The Unassuming Patriot.
He was squinting as he looked into the late afternoon sun. Traffic was heavy and mean as he pushed off into the intersection at 1st and Oltorf choosing to live or die based on his skill with the pedal bike he was riding.

At that moment I realized that I had just seen a real hero and real patriot , but one that probably would be utterly astonished to be so named merely because he was riding a bicycle. Consider however, that he was doing his part to thwart terrorism by helping to free his country of the use of foreign oil. Freeing his country of the need to meddle in mid-eastern affairs and the need to trade blood for oil. He was not being complicit in exporting his country's wealth to the sheiks of the oil producing nations that will take that money and buy huge hunks of the American infrastructure including our largest banks.

No one was going to die as the end product of his patriotism, no enemy soldier would meet their death by the actions of this unassuming hero, yet he is helping to keep us all safe from killer weather patterns that are resulting from too many people going too many miles on too much oil.

He is not contributing the nations debt, deficit or trade imbalance and is doing his part to maintain a healthy body that will not require public funds for his medical care. Nor is he endangering the life or limb of anyone else that otherwise might get injured and end up burdening society in so many ways. He is not burdening the infrastructure that is in existence nor implicitly making demand for more roads, more cement and less trees, grass and farm land. And last he is not starving anyone who can no longer afford sustenance because the food they used to eat is now being used to run cars.

I really hope he made it home alive in that traffic and I wish he knew that he was appreciated.

2:36 PM  

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