Too Much and Too Little

Many people have died recently as a result of exceptionally heavy monsoon rains in Burma, Vietnam and south eastern India. The rains have caused landslides, polluted water courses and even though there is water everywhere it is undrinkable.  Continue reading

The World’s Largest Solar PV Array

While the United Kingdom’s renewable energy sector is losing business, due to uncertainty about government policy and the administration’s poor understanding of renewable energy the renewable energy sector in India looks as though it will become increasing prosperous and increasing important to the economic development of India. Continue reading

An Indian Space Rocket to Mars

In two days from now, on 5th November 2013, when people in the United Kingdom will be sending fireworks and rockets into the evening sky and when millions of Hindus will be treating themselves to fireworks displays, including the sending of rockets into the sky to celebrate the festival of Diwali, the Republic of India will be aiming a rocket at the planet Mars.  So far Russia (when it was part of the Soviet Union) the USA, Japan China and the European Union have all tried to explore Mars with unmanned devices. The USA has been the most successful; its probe is still orbiting Mars.

India is spending far less on its Mars mission than other Mars explorers have spend but is still meeting criticism about having a space programme at all. Some think that with all the problems in India, of poverty, ill health and corruption the Indians must have better things upon which to spend their hard earned taxes. Some point to the large amounts of “aid” that India receives from the world. The UK sends £280 million a year, which India has described a a “peanut” in comparison to the £70 billion a year it spends on development programmes. The UK will stop send “aid” to India in 2015. After all,, the UK points out, there is no UK space programme to explore Mars.

I think that there are two points to make about this “aid” – I have used the inverted commas deliberately. Much of the aid “spent” on India by the UK ends up in the hands of UK companies and enterprises  who supply UK goods and services out the the UK’s aid budget. This is the normal process of foreign aid; the nation that supplies the aid supplies its own manufactured equipment which is bought with the aid, and no doubt no bought at bargain basement prices.

The second point to make about the aid is an issue of justice. A hundred years ago India was part of the British Empire, a state of affairs which lasted until 1947. in 1913 the population of India was merely 300 million souls, including the nations that are now known as Pakistan and Bangladesh. Those 300 millions were controlled and managed by a hundred thousand British. Laws were enacted which sucked any prosperity and value out of the Indian economy and into the British economy. In fact the exploitation of India by the British was thought by some whom are now revered as a crime against humanity.

It certainly was; the colonial administrators lives like princes in palaces, enjoying servants who would relieve them of most of their worldly tasks. They administered justice based on beliefs that are unconscionable. Gandhi wrote “Englishmen will never see the truth as long as they permit their vision to be blinded by arrogant assumption of superiority or ignorant assumptions of infallibility”.

So it is merely just and fitting that the United Kingdom, having benefited from its exploitation of India for more than two hundred years, keeping the Mill owners rich and the mill workers employed, should pay something back, whether it is by means of so called economic aid or by providing a home and some means of economic improvements to a small number of Indians and others from the sub continent who settle in the United Kingdom.

In the historical context, an Indian space rocket to Mars is an interesting development and perhaps a sign that the former colony will soon outgrow and outshine its former colonial master. I wish India well in its space project.

Climate Change – Suspending your Disbelief

Let us all for the purposes of argument accept the view that climate change is human induced. For many that seems to be a big thing to accept. I find it odd that many people refuse to accept the advice of the majority of specialists in this field, which is that climate change is induced by human behaviour and activity. However, if you are one of those who refuse to believe the advice of experts in this matter, then please try to suspend your disbelief for the purposes of this essay.

If you have suspended your disbelief then let us see where, following the expert’s advice, takes us.

Climate change is a threat. The extent of the threat and the damage that it will produce depends upon two things. The first thing is just how much the climate will change. A warming across the world of three or four degrees Celsius will provide conditions which will seriously damage the ability of much of the world’s population to live in many places on this planet.

The second threat is the time factor; how long that human induced climate change will last is a great potential problem. If we could reverse climate change after a few decades then climate change would fall into one of those categories of things that Malthus thought were events which acted as a way of reducing human population growth. Like war, famine, drought and pestilence, climate change would wipe out a few billion people, leaving those who survived the ability to live within the resources that the earth provides, after the climate had settled into the status quo ante. Mr Scrooge was unkind when talking of removing the surplus population, but that is what nature seems to do, from time to time.

Let us imagine (your disbelief still suspended) that we all reached the conclusion that not only is the world a spherical object but that climate change is human induced by large emissions of carbon dioxide, and we actually stopped emitting carbon dioxide in a few decades time. By then the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide would be more than 450 parts per million. It may be as high as 600 parts per million depending on how quickly nations like China and India are able to grow economically. If ninety per cent of the population of those countries live in the same way as ninety per cent of the population of the developed world live, then atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide will be very high.

So we then would have very high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and would have stopped emitting more carbon dioxide, having seen the effects of the emissions that we have already created. The carbon dioxide gradually reduces in the atmosphere but the climate does not return to how it was because another factor comes into play. There would be a slower loss of heat to the ocean, which has become warmer, which would keep atmospheric temperatures high for at least another one thousand years, according to studies of the processes which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  That is simply the way the chemistry works. http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1704.full?sid=669208dd-ab62-4928-bfcb-84dab5548f65

The are other factors which delay the reversing of climate change, the most significant is probably the rainfall changes which will come with climate change. It is easy to spoil something but hard to repair the damage. You may now stop suspending your disbelief and I how that you will ask yourself “I believe that climate change is not human induced…but what if I am wrong?”

Record Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Energy in 2010

The big news of the month of May came at its very end. The International Energy Agency estimates that carbon dioxide emissions due to energy – heat and electricity – rose to a record level in 2010. In 2009 emissions from these sources fell, due to the financial crisis, but since the recovery emissions are on the rise and were 5% higher than the previous record year in 2008. These are records of shame, recording the first steps of our descent into self destruction. Continue reading

Coal Reserves – and the future of coal

Is coal the new oil? There are various grades of coal but a medium grade in North West Europe cost $29 a tonne in 1999, and today costs $149 a tonne. Most grades of coal have increased in price between three fold and four fold in the past nine years. Coal (if counted in terms of energy) is more plentiful than natural gas, oil or uranium. Fortunes will be made in coal, as humans seek more and more energy self gratification, and as their numbers multiply. Continue reading

The Minister for Energy and Climate Changes speaks

“The rich world must act first, but that won’t stop dangerous climate change unless we help the poorest countries to act too.” This was what Mr Ed Miliband said last week. You will remember that Mr Miliband, a gentleman who studied politics, economics and philosophy at university and has spent his working life in politics (apart from a brief early foray in journalism), is the Minister in Charge of the Department of Energy & Climate Change. Continue reading