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31 October 2006

Kim Jong-Il, Hezbollah, George Monbiot, kiwifruit

waterboardc/o bartcop
"In his speech, the President called Kim Jong-Il 'evil,' 'wicked,' 'immoral' and 'iniquitous,'" Snow said. "The message is clear: the United States has a thesaurus and we're not afraid to use it."
the victory of Hezbollah in its recent conflict with Israel is far more significant than many analysts in the United States and Europe realize. The Hezbollah victory reverses the tide of 1967 - a shattering defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan that shifted the region's political plates, putting in place regimes that were bent on recasting their own foreign policy to reflect Israeli and US power. That power now has been sullied and reversed, and a new leadership is emerging in the region.

George Monbiot
Heat: How to stop the planet burning. ©2006
An oddly disappointing book. Chiefly because GM talks mostly about the UK, not the planet. Its reminiscent of the Arthur Mee's childrens encyclopedia my parents bought in 1959, after Suez, when the English empire was already a joke. Blurry b&w photos of foreign parts.
I guess GM isnt flying 'abroad' much these days, as jet aircraft are the most noxious carbon emitters he has discovered.
His columns pack a wallop, they are diffused in his book.
However, it is likely one of the most important books around.

.......... T CO2 per person
china..... 2.7
UK........ 9.5
USA....... 20.0

"micro wind turbines a waste of time and money"
I recall staying in a hippie hovel on Great Barrier Island. On the roof was a bicycle wheel with a hub generator. Pieces of tin as vanes, in the spokes. Fantastically inefficient, but on an island miles from any grid, a zero-cost way to run a radio, or charge a cell phone (which didnt exist then).
Tens of thousands of outback farms used small windmills to pump water. Way less investment than pv/electric.

GM reckons that emissions trading is like shoving food around your plate & pretending its eaten.
Taxes are unfair. What we need is rations & regulations. I cant fault him, but on my bicycle in clouds of carbon, it seems unlikely.
Huge subsidies to carbon, falling investment in alternatives.
GM scatters mentions of good things being done in Germany & Sweden & Switzerland etc.
Then he returns to Leaky houses in gloomy England venting scads of carbon.
Giant Plasma TVs 5x crt
Vacuum panel fridges 12% of current fridge energy use.

Smart meters: an idea he doesnt develop.
We have the smart sensors to turn streetlights, roomlights on only when something moves nearby.
Water heaters should heat water just before its needed (they could learn)
Dimmed lights until you need to find something.

Burying CO2: GM is bullish, although he admits the maps of suitable strata arent available.
I fear this is a boondoggle.

Worlds powerstations: 10.4E9T/yr (nice to see a 'world' figure)

He mentions 'underground coal gassification' but omits the more realistic CCCGassification, which SciAm claims may be the only realistic way to capture CO2.

Uranium. The blatant unreality of the situation where the State agrees that nuclear power doesnt need to insure against disaster. The constant leaks. Every reactor sits beside a pool cooling spent fuel. If the pool dries, tens of thousands die, cities become wastelands.
The good ore isnt plentiful.

Highvoltage DC cables (1700 in DRCongo) mean that wind etc can be spread about.
"In Helsinki 98% of heating comes from district schemes" - we need another book maybe "New Energy schemes in continental Europe" , GM's book begins to seem like "dreary failure of Englands energy vision"

GM rabbits on about Hydrogen "fairly cheap" (sic) - I fear he has bought into another big-carbon boondoggle.

On Land transport, GM reckons that buses are best. I regretfully must concur. I hate the things, from a bicycle seat they are unhuman scale. The answer seems to be to give them special lanes. Fine on Freeways, but in the city, the kerbmost lane is designated bus-only. Guess where bikes go?
Buses are ten times more efficient than cars.

GM doesnt bite the bullet and recognise that we meed micro-transport; 30kph electric cars, more like golf carts than current cars. We could drive one to the bus stop, then use another (hired) to drive around town.
Europe features briefly again: "Holland,Germany,Switzerland & Denmark several different kinds.. vehicle tracking systems, gps, call centres, shared taxis. I await the European Energy book for more details.. this isnt it.
Fast trains: above 180kph they use huge amounts of fuel.

Shop and shopping trips are a huge waste. GM's obvious answer is delivery. My idea is to have shared local bins which act as "Post boxes" You make your order, get a code in your phone, and a bin number. You trundle your handcart or bike trailer to the neighbourhood "bin" centre where your phone code opens your bin. This means you dont have to wait around home for the delivery truck.
The bin centre doesnt need one bin per citizen, as their use is rotated. Some bins could be refrigerated. Obviously a regular reliable cleaning service is required. That goes for any public facility (buses, hired electric cars..)

Air travel: There is no solution, we just must stop flying. I personally vote to allow GM to fly to conferences anywhere in the world. He deserves the break.
Hydrogen airships at 130kph are ok but dodgy in strong winds.

Some of the things GM attacks seem perverse. He criticises tree planting for offsets, but I reckon tree planting per se is a darn good thing. GM also hits out at the 'rebound' effect whereby increase in efficiency is followed by increase in use such that more energy is used. GM may be correct in saying that regulation is required, but its hardly an argument against efficiency.

Read this book, but keep an eye out for the real book on 'how to stop the planet burning'

My opinion is that energy is interwoven to densely into our civilization that we have no hope of extricating ourselves. Its not just one thing, 100kph+ cars, for example that we have to give up. Fast cars are less than 20% of the problem there are ten or more major features which require radical change. Big Carbon industry has control of the reins, they control the media/propaganda, they control the military. They will not go without a fight. We wont fight them until the deserts are at our back door,and the rising tides are at our front door.

Peak oil only means that BigCarbon will turn to Coal. They will insist on huge State subsidies, which will cook us all. The only hope is an immediate failure of nerve on a world-wide depression scale, such that economic activity almost ceases. But since most people are now city dwellers and truck fed on urea forced rice, we are staring at major starvation either way.

I look at my friends with their profligate lives, and their intense concern for their children's success. Every time they start that pseudo-truck engine, every time they switch on the electric clothes dryer, they are pouring molten lead into the throats of their grandchildren. How fantastic is thedesire for excess, that they deliberately turn away from this obvious truth.

New Zealand shocked by Stern Repor
In it he states that flying one kilogram of kiwifruit from New Zealand to Europe causes five kilos of carbon to be discharged into the atmosphere.

But Anderton says it is misinformation as all kiwifruit is shipped to Europe. He says it is an attempt to protect the British market.

Anderton says New Zealand kiwifruit growers are some of the most efficient horticulturists in the world

Some points about New Zealand:
1) due to oceanic buffering, NZ is among the least affected by RCC (Rapid Climate Change)
2) nevertheless, property near the wooden ship wharves should be discounted now.
3) NZ has lotsa grazing, but very little good arable land (0.27ha/person = China cf. Australia 1.2ha?)
without superphosphate, they gonna get hungry. They have a little gas, but enough urea factories??
4) NZ will need to take most of the Pacific islanders from low islands, but thats only a few hundred thousand
5) NZ emits little carbon, has a bunch of hydro dams, and not many people.
but note, Auckland, the biggest city, has the worst public transport I've ever come across.
6) NZ will squeal as loud as anyone else at the slightest suggestion that they must change their lives
7) A lot of ex-hippies went into kiwi-fruit growing. They were appalled at the huge amounts of toxic pesticides & herbicides they were required to pour onto their crops. Most of them abandoned their green principles, kicked all their hippie freeloader friends out of the barn, went into town and loaded up the land-cruiser with all the poisons that miniAgFish told them they needed.

puf4blast gratuitous scarification for October