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Author Topic: Antartica The Global Warming  (Read 30391 times)
Ray
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« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2007, 11:12:24 AM »
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To put that into perspective, the 5200 pounds of CO2 emitted by a flight from Chicago to Ushuaia is roughly comparable to the difference between switching from a Chevy Suburban to a Subaru Outback, or from the Subaru to a Prius. It's also roughly equal to the per capita emissions of China, and twice that of India. You could probably buy carbon offsets for the trip for under $100, and the high end of estimates of damage to global welfare from that much CO2 is under $1000.
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If you don't spend your money on a trip to the Antartic, what do you have in mind that you could spend it on that would be less environmentally harmful? If you leave the money with the bank, the bank will probably invest it in a factory in China which burns dirty Australian coal. If you spend it on expensive designer clothes, you are just helping to support the energy guzzling life style of fashion designers with fancy European names who own half a dozen luxury cars and live in big mansions.

If you buy a new camera.... well, what can I say. There's a whole raft of different industries involved in the production and assembly of camera components, all of which use heaps of energy.

The facts are, our civilization is totally dependent upon energy. Nothing moves without expenditure of energy. Nothing is bought which does not represent an expenditure of energy, and the amount of energy associated with anything you buy is generally proportional to the price you pay for it whether it's a trip to the Antartic or a life-time's supply of ice cream.

There's a misconception in the U.K that cheap apples from Chile and cheap lamb from New Zealand are associated with greater emission of greenhouse gasses because of the long distances these products have to travel by diesel operated ships before they reach the British consumer. Whilst it's true that one component of the total production cost, transport from Chile or New Zealand to British shores, is quite energy intensive, there are other parts of the production process that are more economical and therefore less energy intensive to a greater degree.

How could they sell these products at a cheaper price if this were not true? New Zealand can not only produce lamb more efficiently than the U.K farmer, with less consumption of energy, but so much more efficiently that they can even ship it across half the globe, sell it at a lower price and still make a profit.
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tomfid
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« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2007, 11:17:42 AM »
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Rob,
It's not so much a matter of ignoring the evidence but correctly identifying the causes of the change. The climate is always in a state of change...

We appear to be into a phase of gradual warming which probably would have happened without the industrial revolution, but which has probably been augmented by additional man-made carbon dioxide. However, there seems to be some uncertainty as to the precise effect of the additional greenhouse gasses that we produce. Some experts think that solar activity has a more significant effect on climate than anything we do and that far more carbon dioxide is produced by volcanos and earthquakes than our factories and cars produce.

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You can't claim ignorance as to cause, then assert that warming probably would have happened without the industrial revolution. By doing so, you favor a postulated unknown natural cause over a known cause (greenhouse gases) that fits the data quite well. If such an unknown cause existed, it would be measurable by now, because the observed warming exceeds known forms of internal natural variability (e.g., el Nino) and there are no external forces of sufficient magnitude affecting climate. There is no significant trend in solar output, orbital changes favor cooling (over 1000s of years), and volcanic CO2 is a trivial contribution to the atmosphere over decadal time scales.
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svein-frode
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« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2007, 11:31:56 AM »
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My experience is that without exception the people that go on these trips have a highly developed sense of responsibility and appreciation for the environment. A great many are members of The Nature Conservancy and The Sierra Club, as I am.

I also know that quite a number of photographers who have come on my trips follow up with doing slide shows, presentations to schools and clubs, helping people understand the fragile ecology and importance of Antarctica.

So "svein". I don't know who put a pickle up your butt, but your phrase " is simply wrong headed, not to mention obnoxious.
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I am sorry I come across as obnoxious, but I live in the Arctic and am close to the changing environment up here. What is taking place isn't much different from the Antarctic climate changes, although there is discovered a lot more pollution in fish and wildlife up here.

I am sure you have the best intentions and that the expeditions themselves doesn't pose direct harm to the environment. But air travel (to and from South America) is one of the worst strikes against the environment a single individual can do.

I am sure that slide shows and books created from photographers such as you create some awareness of the problems down there, but in all honesty, and with sincere intentions, I have to ask if you are not rationalising to overcome some degree of guilt, or being over confident in the effect of such efforts? Information from NASA, and other scientific organisations doing research down there are already reaching many people. Such organisations also report directly to governmental institutions, which in the end have the real power to do something.

It is my personal opinion that the greatest act of environmental care you could do is reduce travelling to a minimum, in addition to other obvious measures such as reducing shopping and use of energy. Local pollution is now becoming a global problem. The symbolism of practicing environmental concern is far more inspirational than someone preaching about it. While few can claim to be perfect, it’s worth making an effort to reduce hypocrisy to a minimum.

Why do I bother at all? Well, it’s quite simple. Emission of greenhouse gases in other parts of the world is messing up my back yard. It is rapidly changing the environment in which my relatives, neighbours and fellow citizens are going to live. Whatever happened to the nature photography mantra “Leave only footprints”?
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tomfid
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« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2007, 11:45:28 AM »
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If you don't spend your money on a trip to the Antartic, what do you have in mind that you could spend it on that would be less environmentally harmful?
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It's quite silly to claim that all economic activity is created equal. You could spend the money on insulation or efficient lighting, for example - the energy and carbon embodied in those is far less than what they save, so emissions would go down instead of up. Travel is one of the most energy intensive things you could do with the money.

However, it is tough to determine the relative merits of other options. Fortunately, we don't have to - just put a price on carbon, and let the market sort it out.

Tom
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Ray
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« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2007, 11:55:47 AM »
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You can't claim ignorance as to cause, then assert that warming probably would have happened without the industrial revolution. By doing so, you favor a postulated unknown natural cause over a known cause (greenhouse gases) that fits the data quite well. If such an unknown cause existed, it would be measurable by now, because the observed warming exceeds known forms of internal natural variability (e.g., el Nino) and there are no external forces of sufficient magnitude affecting climate. There is no significant trend in solar output, orbital changes favor cooling (over 1000s of years), and volcanic CO2 is a trivial contribution to the atmosphere over decadal time scales.
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I'm not asserting anything, just repeating the different views of scientist who know far more about these matters than I do. There are reputable scientists who are of the view that solar activity is a more powerful driving force of climate change than man-made carbon emissions. At least one Russian scientist claims that the global climate will start cooling around the middle of this century as a result of cyclical changes in solar activity which will come into play.

There are statistics of sun spot activity which corollate very well with temperature fluctuations as far back as records were kept (over 100 years I think), up to 1998. However, since 1998 there has been a marked deviation from this pattern, possibly (probably - how would I know) as a result of a delayed reaction to a build-up of man-made greenhouse gasses.

James Lovelock, renowned British scientist and author of the Gaia hypothesis takes a very pessimistic view. He thinks it's now too late.

The fact is, there's a plethora of different views out there but I sense also a lot of pressure on scientists to sing the same tune for the sake of funding and to create the appearance of unanimity and certainty which perhaps doesn't really exist.
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tomfid
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« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2007, 12:06:56 PM »
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Tomfid & svein-frode, are you trying to make the point that travel is bad for the environment and is therefore wrong, and that all right-thinking people should spend their lives sitting at home and never leave their village?  I hope not, because travel is one of my greatest joys in life and I would hate to have to give it up because some people think it's bad and "decadent".

Besides, without travel, I wouldn't have interesting things to photograph (I know that's not true of all people, who may be happy to photography their kids and their back yard, but it's true for me), so I wouldn't even be here participating in this forum.

Lisa
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Lisa -

I'm making the factual argument that your travel (and mine) has side effects that will in all likelihood harm others and destroy things I (and probably you) love. What you do with that information is up to you as far as I'm concerned. My pot is too black to criticize your kettle.

If we (globally) don't do something to change the incentives surrounding carbon emissions, we'll get a bad outcome. But the choices are hardly black and white - if the cost of travel included some assessment of its side effects, those who wished could still fly, and others would find less carbon-intensive modes or destinations.

Tom
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Ray
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« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2007, 12:15:19 PM »
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It's quite silly to claim that all economic activity is created equal. You could spend the money on insulation or efficient lighting, for example - the energy and carbon embodied in those is far less than what they save, so emissions would go down instead of up. Travel is one of the most energy intensive things you could do with the money.
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It's not as silly as you think. Insulation and efficient lighting cost an initial outlay of money (call it energy units). The object of the exercise is to eventually save money on fuel bills. You won't do it in the first few years. Energy-saving light bulbs cost about 10x the price of conventional bulbs, presumably because it takes more energy to manufacture them. If you eventually succeed in recovering the cost of the insulation and efficient lighting through reductions in your fuel bill, you will be wealthier than you otherwise would be and will presumably spend the saved money on other energy-consuming items. If not, you will probably save the money with a financial institution who will invest it in some other form of environmentally polluting economic activity.

Where's the net saving in energy?
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tomfid
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« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2007, 12:53:26 PM »
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I'm not asserting anything, just repeating the different views of scientist who know far more about these matters than I do. There are reputable scientists who are of the view that solar activity is a more powerful driving force of climate change than man-made carbon emissions. At least one Russian scientist claims that the global climate will start cooling around the middle of this century as a result of cyclical changes in solar activity which will come into play.
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For every scientist who holds that view there are probably 10 to 100 others who don't. Your Russians, presumably Mashnich and Bashkirtsev, have very few adherents - 1 citation on scholar.google.com vs. 20 to 80 for various Solanki papers. Solanki writes in one article that, even if solar variability explained all climate variation prior to 1970, it could explain no more than 50%, probably less than 30%, of the signal through 1999.

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There are statistics of sun spot activity which corollate very well with temperature fluctuations as far back as records were kept (over 100 years I think), up to 1998. However, since 1998 there has been a marked deviation from this pattern, possibly (probably - how would I know) as a result of a delayed reaction to a build-up of man-made greenhouse gasses.
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The solar record may correlate with temperature somewhere over that period (Armagh Observatory anyone?) but it also has been observed to correlate with the stock market. The correlation with the global record, whether temperature or tree rings, is tenuous enough to be the subject of ongoing argument. In any case, that's irrelevant, because cyclical sunspot activity around a fairly constant mean output can't explain the recent temperature trend.

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The fact is, there's a plethora of different views out there but I sense also a lot of pressure on scientists to sing the same tune for the sake of funding and to create the appearance of unanimity and certainty which perhaps doesn't really exist.
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Do you sense this by talking to scientists, or by reading State of Fear? Let's be realistic about the incentives here ... any US scientist who produced hard evidence questioning anthropogenic global warming would be handsomely rewarded under the current administration. More importantly in the long run, he'd get the glory of being right, which is the real prize in science. Banking attracts sheep; science attracts black sheep.

Tom
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michael
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« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2007, 01:14:59 PM »
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I'm not going to enter the carbon debate, but I do agree about the air travel. I have read that aircraft are one of the largest contributors, and thus air travel does have a harmful effect on the environment.

On the other hand it is, I believe, a net contributor to human trade and understanding, Frankly, if air travel were discontinued our civilization as we know it would collapse. Some might say this is a good thing, but not me.

Regrettably there is no known technology that can replace the hydrocarbon fueled jet engine, and unless there is some radical technology breakthrough we as a society are faced with some tough choices.

In the meantime, we all do (or don't) what we can to ameliorate our carbon footprint. For some people this will mean curtailing travel. For some it's a necessity, for other a luxury. There are certainly no easy answers.

Michael
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tomfid
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« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2007, 01:17:56 PM »
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It's not as silly as you think. Insulation and efficient lighting cost an initial outlay of money (call it energy units). The object of the exercise is to eventually save money on fuel bills. You won't do it in the first few years. Energy-saving light bulbs cost about 10x the price of conventional bulbs, presumably because it takes more energy to manufacture them. If you eventually succeed in recovering the cost of the insulation and efficient lighting through reductions in your fuel bill, you will be wealthier than you otherwise would be and will presumably spend the saved money on other energy-consuming items. If not, you will probably save the money with a financial institution who will invest it in some other form of environmentally polluting economic activity.

Where's the net saving in energy?
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The embodied energy in light bulbs is quite small compared to their lifetime power consumption, as is true for most energy intensive devices (cars, power plants). The extra cost is primarily capital, labor, and materials, which each have their own embodied energy, but overall energy breakeven happens much sooner than economic breakeven, hence the savings.

Your growth rebound effect argument hinges on the assumption that whatever you save from an energy efficiency free lunch will be reinvested in activities that are just as energy intensive as what you were doing before you started saving, which is exceedingly unlikely, especially as a whole economy starts moving in the same direction.

Consider a different choice: spend $5000 to fly to a remote region, vs. spend $5000 on a fancy bike and ride around your local countryside. Either way, there's no revenue stream hence no rebound effect, but the carbon emissions are vastly different.

Tom
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Rob C
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« Reply #30 on: August 28, 2007, 02:23:20 PM »
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So all in all, the new book IS having an effect.

Rob C
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gerry s
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« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2007, 02:55:43 PM »
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So all in all, the new book IS having an effect.

Rob C
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What book ?


 
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thewanderer
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« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2007, 04:44:36 PM »
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as a particpant on one of Michaels expeditions, i wont need to see the book,, i have seen the area in living color,  and grande color it is.  Its a spectacular place, dont need some al gore type to put up hyped dreary picutres to try and ruin it,,,and discourage others from enjoying the beauty of it.. How much gas, airline fuel, boat fuel waste etc did he use to get his shots, or did he kayak down from usuhaia after he canoed down from buenos aries and lived of the land....i often find it interesting that the al gore types say its ok for them to go to these places, violate the premises they want you to avoid, photo/video it, turn it to a book or dvd, and make money/prestige on it.   Seems a hypocrascy to me.  One would have to be living in a cave to not realize there are changes on the earth.  are they all man made? are they all natural? or combo?   there are two sides of the science, and scientist each calling each other wrong. So in my mind, i do a little to alleviate my contribution, and dont feel guilty when i decide to see what the other parts of the earth have to offer.  You think Al Gore does,, i think not,
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svein-frode
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« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2007, 04:47:45 PM »
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I'm not going to enter the carbon debate, but I do agree about the air travel. I have read that aircraft are one of the largest contributors, and thus air travel does have a harmful effect on the environment.

On the other hand it is, I believe, a net contributor to human trade and understanding, Frankly, if air travel were discontinued our civilization as we know it would collapse. Some might say this is a good thing, but not me.

Regrettably there is no known technology that can replace the hydrocarbon fueled jet engine, and unless there is some radical technology breakthrough we as a society are faced with some tough choices.

In the meantime, we all do (or don't) what we can to ameliorate our carbon footprint. For some people this will mean curtailing travel. For some it's a necessity, for other a luxury. There are certainly no easy answers.

Michael
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That is all I ask of my fellow human beings. Be informed, know the consequences of your actions and act accordingly. It is only oneself one has got to be proud of.

I don’t see the issue of air travel as black and white. There is no need to put an end to aviation altogether. It has made the world a smaller place, for better and worse. But as knowledgeable, educated and relatively wealthy individuals, I believe we have a stronger moral obligation to act responsible to make the world a better place.

This is probably not the time and place for such an exchange of opinions, but I did feel that you were throwing stones inside your glass house with that book review. You reach a lot of people with your otherwise insightful writing. It does make you a powerful individual in many ways… I’m going to leave it at that.
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paulbk
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« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2007, 05:40:12 PM »
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re: Bangladesh -- The Ship-Breaking Yards

Perhaps the most powerful image I’ve ever seen is this:


An excerpt of Michael’s narration follows. I agree with every word. And Michael was right to comment on the human condition of these people. One would have to have the sensitivity of an ice-ax to see the Ship-Breaking Yards as merely an interesting photographic opportunity without considering the world politics that permit these conditions to exist.

MR> One of the main reasons that the yards at Chittagong have been the center of this activity is that in Bangladesh labour is very cheap (the work of dismantling the ships is all done by hand) and there are few if any environmental or worker's protection laws.

I wouldn't be the bleeding-heart liberal that I am if I said that I wasn't affected by the sight of hundreds of workers climbing over these hulks without any of the safety equipment that we would consider a necessity. No hard-hats, no safety boots, no restraining harnesses, and so on. There are no statistics kept on accidents, so it's impossible to say what the record is, but just a brief look around is enough for one to know that the working conditions found there would give an OSHA inspector instant cardiac arrest.

I am not a social activist. I went to the yards with my workshop's members to simply photograph what I knew to be one of the world's most fascinating locations for unique images. But, I was deeply affected by the working conditions at Chittagong, as I was with the fact that this incredibly poor country still has child labour, and numerous other social ills, at least by the standards of advanced western countries.

There are organizations that are working with the people and government of Bangladesh to address these ills, and though it isn't the intent of this photo essay to grind any axes, maybe in its own small way it will draw the world's attention to this distressing situation.


Well done. Well said.
p
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 06:33:20 PM by paulbk » Logged

paul b. kramarchyk
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tomfid
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« Reply #35 on: August 28, 2007, 07:08:28 PM »
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When the best defense of your actions you can raise is -a- Al Gore types do it too, and -b- sh!t happens, you know you're in trouble. In my mind, the real hypocrisy is to profess to love a beautiful place, yet be unwilling to lift a finger to avoid damaging it, or even to inform oneself deeply about the scientific and social issues.

Tom
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Ray
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« Reply #36 on: August 28, 2007, 07:28:38 PM »
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For every scientist who holds that view there are probably 10 to 100 others who don't. Your Russians, presumably Mashnich and Bashkirtsev, have very few adherents - 1 citation on scholar.google.com vs. 20 to 80 for various Solanki papers. Solanki writes in one article that, even if solar variability explained all climate variation prior to 1970, it could explain no more than 50%, probably less than 30%, of the signal through 1999.

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It is not reasonable to expect the layman to spend the many years required studying environmental science and climatology in order to assess the merits of different interpretations of the data.

I merely point out that there are differing points of view. I would also point out, from my own personal experience, that I have observed that meteorologists often get local predictions of weather change wrong (ie. the weather forecast). Ask them to predict weather patterns a few weeks or months in advance and they can get it very wrong.

It would not surprise me if the predictions for global climate change 10, 20 and 50 years into the futue, from the current crop of scientists singing the same tune, also turn out to be inaccurate and even way off the mark. I understand a lot of these predictions are based on computer models from very incomplete data.

The best argument for taking action now, despite our apparent inability to grasp the whole picture and understand all the causes, effects and consequences of our contribution to greenhouse gasses, is that nothing is lost if the scientist predictions turn out be largely wrong, but something might be gained if their predictions prove to be accurate.

However, as I've mentioned before, one of the most well known authorities in environmental science, Dr James Lovelock, believes it's already too late.
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Ray
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« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2007, 08:52:00 PM »
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The embodied energy in light bulbs is quite small compared to their lifetime power consumption, as is true for most energy intensive devices (cars, power plants). The extra cost is primarily capital, labor, and materials, which each have their own embodied energy, but overall energy breakeven happens much sooner than economic breakeven, hence the savings.

Tom,
There are certain new technologies that are spectacularly efficient compared with the old technology. The energy saving light bulb which produces significantly less heat is one of them and I'd expect you to recoup the higher initial cost of such bulbs within a year or so, provided they are used several hours a day.

This is why we've legislated in Australia to phase out the old-fashioned filament bulb which produces far more heat than light. Nevertheless, heat is often required to warm up your living room in winter, so one has to presume that those who live in cold climates who are using energy efficient light bulbs which generate less heat will have a proportionally higher heating bill in winter.

I think the fundamental point I'm making, which you seem to have missed, is that the only major impact we can possibly have on slowing down this current warming phase we are into is to simply stop pouring carbon dioxide, monoxide, methane etc into the atmosphere, and we simply can't do that because there'd be a world-wide depression far greater than the 1929 economic collapse.

It's not enough to just create ways of using our existing energy supplies more efficiently, from coal and oil powered electricity generators, power plants and motor cars etc. We actually have to change the ways we produce base load electricity and stop driving cars which burn gasoline and stop travelling in planes which use oil based aviation fuel.

We simply can't do it because our economic prosperity is totally dependent upon the cost of energy and the efficiency with which we use that energy. In an expanding and growing economy, the energy savings resulting globally from the widespread use of a more efficient form of lighting (the energy saving light bulb) will not have the effect of shutting down power stations, but rather that same amount of saved energy will be used elswhere, on other development projects.

The power stations spewing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere will continue doing that. If they are sending less electricity to you (because of your more efficient lighting), they'll be sending more electricity somewhere else. This is the nature of economic growth.

There are hundreds of new coal-fired power stations in the planning stage, around the world, most of them in China and India. They are needed, in part to produce energy efficient light bulbs.
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thewanderer
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« Reply #38 on: August 28, 2007, 11:19:57 PM »
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"In my mind, the real hypocrisy is to profess to love a beautiful place, yet be unwilling to lift a finger to avoid damaging it, or even to inform oneself deeply about the scientific and social issues."

Sounds like yo want the world to stop to me.  People are gonna go to these places,,like it or not,, Maybe if people do go and appreciate them, more efforts to protect whats there can be made, .  You want to disparage people to go visit beautiful places, or try to make them feel quilty for it.  No one has given definitvie data as to what needs to be done to reverse the trends, lots of ideological stuff that sounds good but no bite or teeth,, even the scientist argue, so depending on whether you believe al gore as th mouthpiece for the end of the world and his pov or the other sides less dramatic pov is your option.   I ride a bike when i can,  i avoid using weedeaters and gas mowers, all two strke units, and can put as much pollution in the air in one hour as a car can in a 24 hour day, they may be small and simple efforts to alleviate stresses on my enviroment, but at least i try,,  so there is no hippocrasy here, Chief!
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Rob C
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« Reply #39 on: August 29, 2007, 03:12:29 AM »
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Boy, if ever a topic managed to polarise (really, no pun intended) opinion this one is it! Unfortunately, even this one sems to have been hi-jacked by the unthinking and yes/no arguments that terminate good discussion.

As for the ship-breakers: they only exist because they have nothing more lucrative to do; if they weren´t doing it we´d have an even greater amount of pollution lying around the globe. Never forget: one man´s ceiling is another man´s floor, as the man sang.

I shall withdraw now.

Rob C
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 02:46:33 PM by Rob C » Logged

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