Climate conference in Bali (December '07)
Book - Six degrees: Our future on a Hotter Planet (November '07)
Water - bottled or from the tap? (August '07)
Meat: "murder" on the environment" (July '07)
PVC - look for the sign in this forbidden product (July '07)
What is in your sunscreen? (June '07)
An inconvenient truth critisized (March 13)
NY Times article about the carbon-offset business (February 20)
Carbon offset companies are critisiezed in Swedish research report (February 16)
$25 if you can get the green house gases out of the atmosphere (February 9)
Methane released from plants (February 9)
New energy technology available for residential heating (February 9)
IPCC - the new UN climate report released on February 2, 2007.
The 5-minute lights out action - some results and media links
Climate Conference in Bali - Way to go Australia! Thank you Mr. Rudd for ratifying the Kyoto treaty! Some links to keep you, and me, updated:
Environment News Service website
Environment News Service about Australia signing Kyoto article
Climate Conference website United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website
Swedish: Naturskyddsföreningen på plats i Bali 2007.12.07
BOOK - Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, by Mark Lynas
The IPCC reports are, so far as I am concerned, THE climate documents. You have peer-reviewed scientific work behind very carefully calculated climate predictions and effects; however, it is a hard read. In his book, Six degrees: Our future on a Hotter Planet, Mark Lynas summarizes the IPCC and others research and conclusions and tells us what will happen to Earth if the warming is 1o, 2o, etc.
The book was released in March 2007, but just recently a couple of reviews of the book caught my attention (see the links below). This is due to my recent interest in "climate anxiety", or rather, how to talk about the imminent global climate crisis without loosing hope. In the latest issue of Natur (November, 2007; Swedish Society for Nature conservation and preservation) for example, the Six degree review was followed by a story on climate anxiety. Just remember, "... Don't lose heart. Don't forget head. Get active!" (post by jo, Campaign against Climate change, http://portal.campaigncc.org/node/1880)
Mark Lynas website
Real Climate review "RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists"
The Guardian review
WATER - bottled or from the tap?
There are many opinions on bottled water and the water-drinking habits. Here I have collected a few links to introduce you to the issue bottled water vs. tap water: the source of bottled water (natural source or tap water), the cost of PVC bottles, the transportation costs of bottled water, the quality of tap water, filters, and finally the world's first recyclable bottle from Colorado!
Tap water or bottled water:
Environmental Working Group (2007)
National Geographic News (2006)
Geology.com will give you a great run-down on drinking water
National Resources Defence Council (1999, too old? ) on tab vs. bottle, nice table
FDA on bottle vs. tap water (2003)
An environmental point of view:
Trendy & bad for the environment/Trendigt miljöhot SvD article (in Swedish) (Aug 2007)
Seattle Post Intelligencer "Thirst for bottled water may hurt environment" (April 2007)
Reuters article about spelling out the source for bottled water = tap! (July 2007)
The Ecologist Online (theecologist.org) on environ unfriendly bottled water (2003)
So what can we do about it?
BIOTA - Rocky Mountain spring water and RECYCLABLE bottle of corn
EPA Environmental Protection Agency: Learn more on the tap water quality and control
Water filters: a review. Note: could be sponsored by the industry
National Resources Defence Council on water safety, filters and more (2003)
I am getting thirsty now! And I will drink a glass of cold well water, before I read the water test results...
Meat: "murder" on the environment"
Ökat köttätande skadar miljön
"A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home." This is what a Japanese study has concluded which is described in The New Scientist (July 18, 2007). Read the full story here or go to SvD for two articles in Swedish (July 26 and July 27).
We do eat less meat in our family, but when we do we "splurge" by buying it from the farmers market (click here to find one near you), or getting that organic, "happy cow" meat sometimes available in the grocery store.
PVC - look for the sign in this forbidden product (Organic Bytes #114, July 26)
PVC PACKAGING VIOLATES CONSUMER SAFETY LAWS IN 19 STATES !
A new study from a network of nine state environmental agencies reveals that over 60% of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging tested contains toxic heavy metals that violate laws in 19 states. "This new study underscores the need for a global phase out of PVC packaging," said Michael Schade, of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Due to compounding evidence of PVC's toxicity, particularly its release of dioxin (the most potent carcinogen on the planet), a growing list of manufacturers and retailers have publicly committed to phase out this toxic plastic in their packaging. Unfortunately, PVC is as equally ubiquitous in the products themselves.
Consumers can avoid PVC products by looking for the number "3", "PVC" or the letter "V" inside the recycling symbol according to Organic Bytes.
Read more on the Organic Consumer Associations website and use their links to learn more.
What is in your sunscreen? (Organic Bytes #114, July 26)
FINDING A SUNSCREEN THAT IS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE
After reviewing over 400 peer-reviewed studies and analyzing over 700 products, the Environmental Working Group has released a tool for consumers to help find sunscreen that is safe and effective. The analysis resulted in some rather disturbing results:
83% of 785 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns.
More than half of all sunscreen products have misleading labeling claims.
Fully 12% of high SPF sunscreens (SPF of at least 30) protect only from sunburn (UVB radiation), and do not contain ingredients known to protect from UVA radiation, the sun rays linked to skin damage and aging, immune system problems, and potentially skin cancer. FDA does not require that sunscreens guard against UVA radiation.
Read the study summary here (from the Environmental Work Group) with best and worst lists and additional information. The Organic Bytes summarizes the story here.
Yet another NY Times story highlights some of the criticism to the movieAn Inconvenient Truth. Some scientists are coming forward and Al Gore and others reply. Read the full storyhere. (March 13, 2007)
The NY Times story"Guilt-Free Pollution. Or Is It?" aboutcarbon-offset companies shed light on the effectiveness of carbon dioxide reducing investments. To sum it up: It raises public awareness, which is great. But it may also provide an indirect support for the continuing use of fossil fuels, by letting the users of gas guzzlers and air plane passengers pay for not feeling guilty about it. Because it is a multi million dollar/pound/euro industry, I hope the carbon-offset company investments will be based on current research and geared toward a cleaner air. Read the whole article in New York Times here.
Carbon offset companies are criticized in Swedish research report
The best way to reduce emissions from air planes is naturally not to fly at all. But for those who cannot choose this option, a popular option is to balance the emissions with a donation to various projects. This is facilitated by companies that, via the internet, offer air travelers a way to compensate their carbon emissions by investing in different projects.
A not yet released research report from LundUniversity is investigating these carbon offset companies. The report will be published in Journal of Sustainable Tourism in June 2007. Below is a translation of parts of the article by Susanna Baltscheffsky, Svenska Dagbladet, SvD.se. February 16, 2007.
Many travelers choose to offset their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This is commonly done by going to one of numerous websites where the trip's carbon impact is calculated. Then one can pay an equivalent amount to invest in different projects (often in developing countries) that lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions.
There are about 40 companies out there providing this carbon offset service. But according to a new study there are many question marks regarding the calculations, the choice of projects, and how effective the projects are.
It has been shown that different sites calculate the carbon dioxide differently. For example, a return trip Amsterdam - Barcelona differed between 0.3 to 0.74 metric tons per person when calculated on two different sites. The cost to neutralize a ton of CO2 also differs between companies. You pay anything between SEK 20-200/metric ton CO2 ($3-30)! To compensate air travel has become very popular. Al Gore, Tony Blair and the World Soccer Championship in Germany are examples of individuals and organizations that purchased carbon offsets.
Dr. Stefan Gössling, one of the authors of the report at Lund University in Sweden, does not oppose these climate initiatives, but he is criticizing the fact that most of these companies invest in different forestry projects. Trees take CO2 from the air, which is good. But to really have an effect, about 29,000 km2 of trees would need to be planted every year, and the trees must not be cut for a long period of time.
The group behind the report rather endorse projects that work with new, energy efficient technology, or replaces the fossil fuel derived power generators (e.g. with bio fuel or wind power). Only 10 of the 41 companies scrutinized in this study invest in projects like these.
READ MORE: Tufts University's (Massachussets, USA) Climate initiative has a great site that provides much information, but related to this article read the excellent "Climate change and air travel" section. In Swedish: SvD'sklimat artiklar.
$25 million if you can develop a method for reducing greenhouse gases
Al Gore and Richard Branson announced yesterday this initiative to get the research and development going in an effort to reduce global warming. Read more on BBC or New York Times.
Methane also released from plants
(one of my students told me of this discovery - news to me, but published in 2006)
Scientists from Germany, the Netherlands, and Northern Ireland discovered that plants contribute to atmospheric methane. They published their findings in Nature in January 2006 (Frank Keppler, John T. G. Hamilton, Marc Brass and Thomas Röckmann: Methane emissions from terrestrial plants under aerobic conditions). The preliminary findings were that living and dead leaves also release methane.
Before this report, methane, or natural gas, was mainly believed to be the byproduct from microorganisms when they feast on organic material in oxygen-free environments. The main natural sources (graph) of Methane was thus from wetlands, termites, oceans, and methane hydrates (buried deep in sediments in the polar regions and in the oceans). Anthropogenic sources (humans involved) are livestock, coal mining and petroleum industries, livestock fermentation and manure, wastewater treatment, and rice cultivation contribute to the human induced global warming. (More information)
The report was first misinterpreted and thus the second press release (link below) that explained that the findings still were preliminary, and that human related release of methane is one of the culprits in global warming, not plant emissions.
Scientific American, February 2007 issue
EPA (US Environment Protection Agency)
Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Germany
press release January 11, 2006
press release January 18, 2006
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA
New energy technology - co-generation/combined heat and power or CHP
(February 9) NewsTarget.com reported Wednesday that there has been a positive outcome of testing of this (to residential customers) new techniqe in the US. UK has used co-generation technology for many years. While burning of natural gas, as any other fossil fuel, emits green house gases, the method seems very nice if it involves more efficient burning, energy saving and thus less emissions. The full story was found at NewsTarget.com. I will provide more info on the US application when I find them!
Wikipedia explains: "Co-generation (also combined heat and power or CHP) is the use of a heat engine or a power station to simultaneously generate both electricity and useful. heat. MicroCHP, or MicroCogeneration, is on the scale of one household or small business. Instead of burning fuel to merely heat the house or hot water, some of the energy is converted to electricity in addition to heat. This electricity can be used within the home or business, or (if permitted by the network owner) sold back into the network." See Wikipedia for more information on this.
IPCC (February 2)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of the fourth assessment on Global Climate change. They have a great website with all the info you could possibly want!
In the news:
New York Times
The Christian Science Monitor
Lights-out protest (February 2, 2007) Lots of people joined L’Alliance pour la Planète and switched off lights or powered off their appliances during 5 minutes on February 2.
The NYT article had the best spread I have found so far with reports from Spain, Greece, Paris (even the Eiffel tower!). I must say it feels great to know that there are so many out there thinking about these issues and that so many are willing to participate in a small action like this.
Le Monde (if you can read French) writes that the electricity consumption went down with 1% in France. This equals the electricity use of the whole city of Marseille!
New York Times is reporting via Reuters where the action was noticeable or carried out.
Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish) shows a before and during picture of the Tour Eiffel and reported that the action was not noticeable in Sweden.
Sydsvenskan (Swedish) reported no noticeable effect in southern Sweden, but has a fun cartoon.
Aftonbladet (Swedish) included a more nuanced interview with Swedish Greenpeace than what SvD did.