Emission reduction targets in the USA and UK

In the United States just before Thanksgiving President Obama set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% (from 2005 levels) by 2020. It is a very easy target. If you compare it on a like for like basis with the United Kingdom’s target of 20% cuts from 1999 levels it translates to about 3% cuts. However, while Mr Obama’s target will be easily achieved and no doubt improved upon, the United Kingdom’s target is unlikely to be met. Continue reading

Broken promises

Developed countries clearly feel guilty that climate change, for which they have largely been responsible, affects most adversely the undeveloped poorer nations. They assuage their conscious by promising money to poorer nations. In 2001 twenty of the world’s richest countries promised $410 million each year until 2008 to help the least developed countries. Unfortunately these promises, grandly trumpeted at the time, have been broken. Continue reading

Climate change is not a religion

Apparently less than half the population of the United Kingdom thinks that climate change is a problem. I suppose that we can compare the positions that people take on climate change to positions that they take on religion. There are believers, atheists and agnostics. The climate change atheists and agnostics make up more than half the population. Continue reading

Climate change and war

Many commentators have been predicting that climate change will create conflict. Most of us have envisaged that the conflict will arise when large numbers of people have to move from land that climate change will make unfit for habitation. The great river deltas of the world are home to half a billion people and if global warming continues in the way that most scientists expect then these people will have to move on, literally. Continue reading

The ice at the South Pole is melting

Humans are very clever; they have figured out that object have mass. Mass is often thought of as weight but scientifically it is more than weight. It can describe the properties of a body when it moves, or the properties of a body when it active or passive gravity is applied to it. Einstein told us that energy is simply mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light. In simple concepts mass is part of energy and energy is part of mass. Humans are also clever enough to know that it follows that we can measure mass of an object from space using satellites which can measure the gravitational mass of an object.

So, when satellites measure the gravitational mass of ice sheets at the poles than can know whether the ice is shrinking or growing or remaining stable.  They have to make adjustments for known physical reactions when ice is resting on land (isostatic rebound), but having made these adjustments they conclude that both the East and West Ice Sheets are losing mass. These measurements are to scientists simple physics and unless Einstein and a whole bunch of scientists before him are wrong, we can now know exactly whether the ice at the poles is getting thinner or not.

Traditional surface ice measurements at the Antarctic have indicated in the past twenty years that the West Ice Sheet has been melting but the East Ice Sheet seems to have remained constant or may have marginally increased. It has been one of those anomalies beloved of climate change deniers.

Now the gravity mass measurements from satellites proves that the East Ice Sheet has been losing mass (in other words melting) over the past three years. So far climatologists have calculated rising sea levels based on the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melting; those two events would raise sea level by about six and a half metres; if the West Ice Sheet is also melting then sea levels would rise by sixty metres.

There is no fear that both ice sheets will melt rapidly; the Antarctic is very cold and it is possible that the isostatic rebound adjustments are not completely accurate, but the evidence is accumulating that the ice at the poles is melting. We do not need a clearly warning.

Why news of reductions in carbon emissions is not good news

Carbon emission reductions are falling in the United States; in 2008 figures released by Celsias have indicated that as oil use fell by three percent and coal use fell by one percent, overall emissions fell by three percent. It seems that the United States is on course for further reductions in oil and coal use, which could mean a further reduction of carbon emissions over 2009. Continue reading

Barriers to installing micro generation

It has taken ten years of talking big about climate protection for the United Kingdom Government to turn its attention to removing the barriers that impede environmental and climate protection. These barriers are often imposed by the Government so correcting them is well within the gift of the authorities; when I explain the Government’s proposals you might be astonished that it has taken so long to bring these proposals forward. Continue reading

Thoughts for Copenhagen

Around fifty years ago energy was relatively expensive and formed a large part of most people’s budgets. Then in the United Kingdom there were few homes with central heating and most homes had one light bulb for each room. Water was generally heated by an electric immersion heater (usually made of copper and un-insulated) and people bathed less frequently than they do now. Most heating was by coal, which was cheap. I remember my parents having to fret over the electricity bill far more than they fretted over the coal bill. Continue reading

Vote for a steady state economy

Economic growth is assumed to be a Good Thing, by most economists but it is responsible for most of the environmental problems that affect us, because the growth is uncontrolled and rewards greed. Economic growth is presented as a benefit to society but it is actually a cancer infecting the environment which will ultimately destroy society if we are not careful. It is necessary to find a sensible alternative to economic growth and one of the ideas out there has originated in the United States by Professor Brian Czech. He calls it the Steady State Economy and founded CASSE in order to promulgate its concepts. Continue reading

Rain, rain go away

One of the fears of climate scientists was that as the planet got hotter so weather patterns would change radically and that one of the changes would be that some parts of the world would have droughts and others would experience heavier than normal rainfall. This fear has proved well grounded. Unfortunately many people only believe what they can see and experience; Hurricane Katrina made many Americans aware of the weather changes and the effects of climate change on weather. Droughts in the Horn of Africa were more severe, longer lasting and killed more people than Katrina but they were far away from the developed world and perhaps out of sight is out of mind. Continue reading