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Are we getting it wrong? Almost everything I read today focuses on climate change and global warming and our efforts to control our nett carbon output. But…. I think our focus is in the wrong place! Let me explain. In 1970, the world population was approx 4 billion, today its roughtly 7 billion. Thats nearly a doubling of the population and I believe that population growth is the real problem we need to focus on, global warming is merely a symptom. I have yet to see a single public figure green or otherwise mention this particular engine of global warming, instead we focus on carbon emissions, replacements for oil and coal – anywhere but at the true source of the problem. One of the big difficulties is that any real attempt to control the world population will require drastic changes to the way international co-operation works, never mind the problem of getting organisations like the Catholic Church to promote the idea of birth control. However, the implications of doing nothing are pretty dramatic. Uncontrolled population growth in the natural world usualy results in an abrupt and nasty correction to reset the number back to a sustainable level. We do not have to look at the natural world; The mayan culture of South America existed aroung 2000 bc to 1500 bc. and a number of theories about their dissapearance relates to resource depletion. One theory postulates that extensive forest clearance resulted in an extended drought. The general population took this as a sign that the rulers fell out of favour with the gods and revolted, ending that civilization. Links and background http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/jul24_2/a576 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/4990704/Nobody-listens-to-the-real-climate-change-experts.html http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/roundtables/population-and-climate-change
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On June 5th 2009, a film will be released worldwide. It is being released without copyright, without restrictions of any kind – nobody is making money from this film. It is about our collective home, our planet. The person behind this film is a french photographer,one of the worlds great wildlife & natural world photographers and one of my photographic heros; Yann Arthus-Bertrand. An introduction to the project and a preview of the film is available in the embedded movie clip below. As you might expect, the photography in this is stunning and the message a stark one. The movie (and information about the movie & the project behiond it) will be available to watch on the web from tomorrow at: http://www.home-2009.com/us/index.html
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I have to say that I was always of the opinion that electric cars were not practical given current technology and that we would have a long wait to see practical applications. However, I came across this talk on TED.COM by a guy called Shai Agassi. This is probably the first practical approach I’ve seen to looking at how a whole country could convert to electric cars. He addresses issues such as affordability, conveniance and easy access to re-charged batteries – and all with current technology. For anyone interested in alternative transport possibilities, this is a must see
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(Note: this is a reprint of an post from a previous blog – just wanted to move it to this site) We are all acutely aware today that each one of us havs a carbon count and that carbon emissions are responsible for global warming, habitat loss, changing weather patterns and a dozen other ailments. I have no doubt that carbon emissions are a contributing factor to global warming and habitat loss but… Habitat loss due to population expansion and conversion to bio fuels is an even greater threat to the earths biodiversity. A simple example is the recent decision by the EU to end set aside and encourage farmers to grow bio fuels. Biofuels – saviour or another disaster The need to reduce our consumption of oil is evident, if for no other reason that this is an extremely poor use of an otherwise very valuable resource that is used in thousands of everyday items that we take for granted. I do question whether biofuels are the answer for a number of reasons. To maintain biodiversoity, we need to be reducing our land use not increasing it.
  • Converting food production to fuel production is morally questionable when there is a significant portion of the world starving.
  • The entire process from seed to fuel in your car is extremely inefficient in terms of net energy. Depending on on the crop used, 1 unit of energy might only produce 1.34 units of biofuel equivalent energy (generating carbon emissions in the process!)
  • At the end of the day, we are still burning carbon, but in some parts of the world, we are clearing rainforests to do this , or to grow food that would otherwise have been producted instead of biofuels.
We need to look for alternatives that are radically different from what we are doing today. Electric cars re-charged by the national grid are very limited and, especially in Ireland, have a large carbon footprint due to the use of coal & oil in the generating stations here – maybe the new Honda Clarity (hydrogen fuel cell) is the future! Further reading
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