Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

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An Inconvenient Truth

October 18, 2006

‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.’  This was said by Upton Sinclair and possibly one of reasons why the concept of climate crisis has not sunk into the human psyche. There are a lot of things that we hear and think that we understand without ever really being able to comprehend what we are understanding. Examples of this are the fact that a particles can be in 2 places at the same time, that space is expanding at the speed of light, that there are billions of galaxies etc.. Climate crisis is another and because of its apocalyptic potential end state people’s minds are not able to properly deal with the information and even though they may know the facts and even see the consequences they will fail to see their part in what can be seen as nature’s cycle (although not by any serious scientists or commentators)

The film sets out very clearly the evidence with Al Gore achieving a charismatic charm that he always lacked when he was a politician. It is as if he leaving politics has freed him to be himself. It is expertly put together and the switching between shots of the changing world climate and Al Gore presenting was brilliantly done. The content was also very good. Having seen Fahrenheit 911 which dumbed down to its American audience (or maybe just Michael Moore’s level) here he does not mince his words or patronize his audience. He starts be confirming that all the evidence suggests that we are causing the huge rise in CO2 in our atmosphere and that this is not part of a natural cycle but something that the world has not seen in the last 650000 years, not even close as it turns out. He also shows that fluctuations in CO2 are closely linked with huge shifts in the temperature of the earth, inducing both ice age and drought on most of the world.

The film highlights the potential consequences of inaction namely the melting of the ice in the Artic but more dangerously the Antarctic and Greenland  because the are land ice masses. This could lead to a big rise in sea levels and possibly also more worryingly it could stop the gulf stream which ironically could cause an ice age in Northern Europe. Thankfully he ends with some ideas on what WE can do to make a difference such as conserving electricity, consuming with a conscience, and reducing air miles. He believes that if we all make small adjustments now that we will be spared the worst effects of climate change but also continue to enjoy our current lifestyles. 
 

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National Climate March – November 4th

September 25, 2006

Rally at US embassy 12 Noon

This will be part of A Day of International Climate Protest the Saturday before the Nairobi Climate Talks with demonstrations demanding urgent action on climate all round the world. There are now more than 40 countries where plans are being made: http://www.globalclimatecampaign.org/ 

Speakers at the
US embassy Rally so far: 
George Monbiot, Colin Challen MP, Caroline Lucas MEP, Norman Baker MP, Zac Goldsmith. 

The Programme includes and Protest Bike ride starting at 10am from Lincoln’s Inn Fields followed by the main rally at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square at 12 and the I-Count Mass Gathering in Trafalgar Square at 2pm 

More info as it becomes available : http://www.campaigncc.org/ 

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Nuclear Power Debate

September 19, 2006

‘We must embrace nuclear power to solve global warming’

 

Yesterday I went to a very interesting debate on nuclear power and the role that it should play in the future of Britain’s energy supply. The debaters were Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and Tim Jackson of the Sustainable Development Commision speaking against the need for nuclear. Speaking for were Paul Domjan, an expert on energy security with the pro business think tank and Dr Patrick Moore co-founder of Greenpeace (yes sounds incredible but more later)

 

I feel that I should declare myself straight away and say that I am dead against the building of more nuclear power and that its use should be phased out as much as possible. The debate was lively and the audience distinctly pronuclear which made things even more inciteful as they tried to convince themselves that they were right, and succeeding in the great part.

 

Dr Patrick Moore cofounder of Greenpeace and now working at his own consultancy firm, Greenspirit, has an amazing past and holds very controversial positions given his environmental background. He was on the original Greenpeace boat that sailed out and started the organization, ironically to try and stop the
US testing nuclear bombs in 1971. He now believes in nuclear, GM, deforestation, increased use of plastics and the list just goes on. To find out more go to
http://www.greenspirit.com. He was at pains to remind everyone that it was a moral and proper decision to go for nuclear to avoid climate change, that it was cost effective by citing some disputed examples, that most fuel being used was in fact recycled fuel and that there would not be the mountains of waste the alarmist were predicting. The other main argument put forward for nuclear were that it was essential to develop to ensure that we were no longer totally reliant on our gas from places Russia and oil for the middle east and other unstable areas (mainly due to western involvement).

 

Caroline Lucas made a very impassioned case against the need for nuclear power in the energy mix of a future Britain. She stressed the very sensible proposition that the future should be a combination of energy efficiency, both in the home and business, which would reduce our carbon emissions by 40%, combined with a focus on renewables and making our existing power stations greener by carbon capture and storage. However she did not say exactly what technology she thought would be most viable to replace our existing power generation, nor any assurance that carbon storage was close to being a realistic proposition in the near term. The most convincing arguments for me came from Tim Jackson who delivered the performance of the night. He has just completed one of the most comprehensive reviews of the feasibility of nuclear power which you can read by clicking here. He focused on the white elephant of nuclear energy which is that noone know how much it really costs. No nuclear power plant has ever been decommissioned so that the land can be used again, no nuclear fuel has yet been stored in a permanent location (all English nuclear waste is still stored temporarily while the government decides what to do with it) let alone actually rendered safe to people. And for the moment the technology does not exist to dispose and process the waste of nuclear power. Also no nuclear power plant has yet been run without huge amounts of government subside and British Nuclear Fuel has sucked about 70 billion pounds over the last decades and have yet to dispose of waste. Finally he emphasised that even if we did build lots of new nuclear it would not dramatically reduce our carbon emissions (only 8% he claimed) so why bother with all the investment and risks of decommissioning.

 

At the end of the debate despite what I saw as convincing arguments from the anti nuclear side that audience for 75% in favour. I suppose this was not too surprising given that it was hosted by a conservative journal and business friendly think tank.