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energy surplus generation - energy from greenhouses

“Peter van Ostaijen, director of the Wholesalers Organisation in the Netherlands, told The Times that government-sponsored trials of the new greenhouses, which began last week, were expected to show that surplus heat generated in the summer months could be conserved for the winter, or transformed into electricity using a dynamo.

“The next step would be to link sufficient greenhouses to Hollandís electricity network, which would absorb the power generated in the summer months and allow the greenhouses to feed back off the network in the winter months. In this way, Mr van Ostaijen said, Hollandís flower industry would be able to generate more electricity than it uses.”

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british bearskins attacked by animal leftists - Xavier

Since at least 1997, the British Army has been looking for synthetic replacements for the tall, black bearskin hats worn by British guardsmen on parade.

“The Ministry of Defense said Wednesday it has ordered a search for synthetic alternatives to bearskin, because of its concern for the welfare of the Canadian brown bear. Bearskin hat lovers countered that only skins from culled bears are used.

“Past attempts to produce fake bearskin have ended in disaster. "When it rained the hats became rather bedraggled -- like a bad hair day," said ministry spokesman Maj. Michael Devlin.

“They were also subject to static electricity which was rather embarrassing when they passed under (electricity) pylons."”

“The bearskins come from Canada's brown bear, culled by Inuit hunters under an agreement with the Canadian government. The army says the bears are culled anyway and that no bears are killed solely to provide the bearskins.” [Quoted from]

However, this year, as a birthday present for the UK queen, animal activists have staged various, sometimes bare if not bear, protests. They claim that the bears are being killed for their pelts, and that the bears are suffering during this cull.

The animal activists, as usual, forget reality. Firstly, the bears are culled in Canada for population control, whether or not the British Army buys some of the skins. No longer being hunted, the bear population grows beyond what the wild parts of Canada can support. Without culling, the bears would be, at best, malnourished and, at worst, they would die slowly from starvation.

“It's a renewable resource that is environmentally friendly. Synthetic materials tend not to be so good for the environment. Also, as bear populations are managed by hunting, not using the fur does seem rather wasteful. Especially when this seems to pose no palpable risk to the bear populations.” [Quoted from Chthonic Wildlife Research]

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Also from Chthonic Wildlife Research:

“John Wamsley in Australia has a nice description of how animals get 'conserved to death'. You might have a farmer with a patch of bush on his property. He might be maintaining it for a bit of erosion control or something similar. Inside are some native animals. The farmer shoots pests (foxes and the like) as they're also a threat to his stock. Based on this management, the native animals are sustained.

“Then someone works out the farmer has some threatened animals in his patch. The area is turned into protected area. The farmer stops managing the area.

“Nobody else steps up with the day-to-day management the farmer [supplied]. Weeds and pests encroach into the protected area. The native animals get wiped out. The populations have been literally 'conserved to death'.”

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joining the dots - food, fuel, water, oil and poverty Four GoldenYak(tm) award

This is a useful site for tracking grain positions:

“World grain consumption has risen in each of the last 45 years except for three - 1974, 1988, and 1995 - when tight supplies and sharp price hikes lowered consumption (See Figure). Growth in world grain demand, traditionally driven by population growth and rising incomes, is also now being driven by the fast growing demand for grain-based fuel ethanol for cars.

“ Roughly 60 percent of the world grain harvest is consumed as food, 36 percent as feed, and 3 percent as fuel. While the use of grain for food and feed grows by roughly 1 percent per year, that used for fuel is growing by over 20 percent per year.

“Although the rate of world population growth is projected to slow further, the number of people to be added is expected to remain above 70 million a year until 2020. [...]”

“The newest, potentially huge claimant on world grain supplies, the use of grain to produce fuel ethanol, is concentrated in the United States where a projected 55 million tons, or one fifth of the projected 268-million-ton corn harvest for 2006, will be used for this purpose. [...]”

“Water tables are now falling and wells are going dry in countries that contain half the world’s people, including the big three grain producers - China, India, and the United States. In China, water shortages have helped lower the wheat harvest from its peak of 123 million tons in 1997 to below 100 million tons in recent years. [...]”

“The widespread overpumping of aquifers for irrigation means we are feeding ourselves with water that belongs to the next generation. While it is widely recognized that the world is facing a future of water shortages, not everyone has connected the dots to see that this likely also means a future of food shortages.

“Perhaps the most dangerous threat to future food security is the rise in temperature. Among crop ecologists there is now a consensus that for each temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius above the historical average during the growing season, we can expect a 10 percent decline in grain yields [...] ”

related material
land conservation and food production

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bush designates largest ocean conservation area in history

“President Bush created a vast new marine sanctuary on Thursday, extending stronger federal protections to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the surrounding waters with their endangered monk seals, nesting green sea turtles and other rare species.

“The nation's newest national monument covers an archipelago stretching 1,400 miles long and 100 miles wide in the Pacific Ocean. It's home to more than 7,000 species, at least a fourth of them found nowhere else.”

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un (unep's global deserts outlook) press release - advance notice

“The Global Deserts Outlook is the first thematic report in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series of environmental assessments by UNEP.

“This GEO report, prepared by experts from across the globe, traces the history and astonishing biology of the deserts and assesses likely future changes in deserts.” [...]

“Underground water supplies, some centred around oases and in ‘sky islands’--formed over thousands and in some cases over a million years-- are increasingly being drained of water for agriculture and settlements including retirement resorts.

“The biggest casualties may be cities in the deserts of southwestern Asia and in the southwest United States.

“Other water supplies are under threat from salinization and pollution by pesticides and herbicides.

“Rising water-tables beneath irrigated soils has led and will probably lead to much more salinization of soils as is already occurring in western China, India, Pakistan, Iraq and Australia. For example in the Tarim River basin of China, more than 12,000 square km of land has been salinized over the last 30 years or so.

“In some coastal areas ground-water supplies have been contaminated as seawater invades subsurface waters that have been over-exploited. Seawater has penetrated 20km inland into some Libyan coastal aquifers.”

Links on the page to the full report.

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mapping the diminishing extent of the world’s ancient forests

map of the last remaining intact major forests in the world. Image credit:
The last remaining intact major forests in the world. Image credit:
click on image for larger version, with further enlargeable areas

“A quarter of the forest lost in the last 10,000 years has been destroyed in the last 30 years. Forest loss has a direct link to loss of biodiversity. The current extinction rate of plant and animal species is around 1,000 times faster than it was in pre-human times – and this will increase to 10,000 times faster by 2050.”

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From another Greenpeace page giving more detailed comment on the mapping project of the remaining intact large forests in the world.

“The world's remaining ancient forests are vital to the future of the planet. Forests are home to two thirds of all known species of land plants and animals. They are also home to thousands of indigenous cultures who rely on them for food, water and basic materials of life. Forests also play a key role in regulating local and global climate.”

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growing competition between fuel and food

“The ethanol market's hunger for corn has driven up corn prices and livestock analysts believe if corn prices continue rising, US cattle, hog, and chicken producers will cut production and that could trim meat supplies and possibly mean higher meat prices in 2007 or later.”

related material
increasing pressures on food supply and arable land

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chinese worrying about food supply effects of global warming

“China's average temperature may rise by 2.8 degrees Celsius by 2030 and its crop production could tumble by 10 percent as global warming throws the climate into disarray, a senior Chinese climate official said on Thursday.”

“ And these rises threaten to overturn patterns of rainfall and slash crop output, said the official, whom Xinhua did not name.”

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updated: shareholders put pressure on exxon

“The group, comprised of pension fund trustees from eight states and New York city, as well as eight other institutional investors, said they were concerned Exxon's handling of the climate change issue left it lagging behind its oil major peers such as BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

“ "Exxon Mobil is making a massive bet with shareholders' money that the world's addiction to oil will not abate for decades," Connecticut state treasurer Denise Nappier said in a statement. "As investors, we are concerned that Exxon Mobil is not sufficiently preparing for 'tomorrow's energy' and runs the risk of lagging significantly behind its rivals." ”

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the fossil fuel industry tries to make us love their pollution

Two TV ads now set to go out in the USA [linked from page linked above]- looks like a tobacco and oil interests’ front.

With hidden funding and the eco-“villain of the month” - just who is telling us that more carbon dioxide is good?

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another typical socialist innumerate - ruddock talks absolute rot on energy

And the Fossil Times prints it!!

“The nuclear debate must be seen for what it is - a debate about electricity, which accounts for only 18 per cent of total energy consumed. As obsolete power stations are closed, nuclear’s contribution will fall from 19 per cent of electricity generated today to 7 per cent by 2020. This is the basis of the powerful nuclear industry’s campaign to "keep the
lights on". ”

In a typical modern economy, approximately one third of primary energy is converted for electricity.

This conversion is approximately 38% efficient. If Britain’s electricity consumption is, in fact, as high as 18% of energy consumed, that will be taking around 18 / .38 = 47.37% of primary power in the UK.

If, on the other hand, Joan Ruddock is claiming only 18% of primary energy is used for electricity (a ludicrous figure for an advanced economy), then Britain would be producing less than 7% [18 x .38%] of power usage in electricity.

I choose to believe the figure she is quoting, but not understanding, is this first one, that of taking nearly half UK energy for electricity production.

Britain is, in fact, obtaining over 20% of its electricity from nuclear (ok, let’s use Ruddock’s 19% figure). If 12% of that disappears, Britain will need primary inputs of 12 / .38 = 31.5% of the 47.37% of primary energy to replace it. That is 15% more primary energy from somewhere!

What does Ruddock intend to do? Import another 15% of current levels in coal or oil or gas? And that being against a world background of diminishing world supplies, and therefore at greatly increased prices? Or has she fantasies about windmills? Oh yes, of course, she has.

My own expectation is a very fast expansion of electricity ‘demands’. Therefore, it will not be just 18% by the time we reach 2020.

Ruddock’s ludicrous comments go on:

“Because even with an accelerated planning process no nuclear power stations could be built in time.”

Again, this is absolute rot. Build times in China are around 5-7 years and falling. The main reasons for long build times have been government inadequacies and lawyer feasts.

On and on goes the usual litany of the innumerate pseudo-greens.

No costing for anything, just arm-waving about biomass etc. Where is this alleged biomass actually going to come from? How much (more!) land is to be covered with monocultures? Where are her calculations for the fertiliser, herbicides, biocides, tractor fuel, refinery and transport costs.

Joan Ruddock goes on:

“biomass could meet 6 per cent of electricity demand by 2020”

and that is just her blue-sky claim from a ‘government task force’ and just for ‘electricity demand’.

Then there is her ‘micro-generation’. What does she expect? A generating station in every flat? or even front garden? Even if do-able, what will that cost in capital equipment for the country at large?

She still goes on:

“Germany has demonstrated what can be achieved. Its wind power already exceeds our nuclear capacity and its solar energy is rapidly catching up.”

God knows where she got this wibble. Has she the faintest idea of the efficiency and costs and natural resources required for photovoltaics? Has she the faintest idea of the level of tax subsidies to reach these results? Or does she just not care? Does she have any idea of the limits to the use of wind power, let alone ‘solar energy’ (whatever she thinks that means!) as back up to electrical power generation?

Let her produce figures that are backed in detail, not this arm-waving and innumeracy.

She arrogantly proclaims that “The Prime Minister is wrong”. No, it is she who is wrong. Wrong to write this airy-fairy waffle without detailed costing or understanding, and the Fossil Times is wrong to print this misleading dribble.

I do not have armies of researchers working for me. I do not have pseudo-green lobbyists pushing this agenda. I am not even an energy expert.

Why are we paying people like this woman as an MP to take national decisions of great import?

related material
approximately useful numbers
If you want to investigate the energy problem, start at replacing fossil fuels: the scale of the problem

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the joys of ‘development’ in spain

Southern Spain is already one of the driest parts of Europe and according to the government, a third of the country is in danger of turning into a desert.”

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bush on the environment - the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel oil age
from George W. Bush’s speech on Earth Day.

“[...] we're spending a lot of money at the federal level to encourage research and development, with the goal of getting away from oil [...]”

The Middle East loons should read that and weep. When the United States of America decides to act, the world changes.

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“I'll tell you something I find very interesting. In the 36 years since the first Earth Day, air pollution in America has been reduced by 50 percent -- yet, our economy has tripled in size during that time. And there's one main reason why, and that's because of technology. We're a technologically competent nation. We must always be on the leading edge of research and development in this country if we expect to be good stewards of the environment and make sure our people are able to find good work. That's the challenge.

“And so today we're here to honor a group of folks who are employing technology, using new ideas to help change the face of America. And it's important work we're doing here because we've got a real problem when it comes to oil. We're addicted, and it's harmful for the economy, and it's harmful for our national security, and we've got to do something about it in this country.”

“What's really going to be interesting, however, is what's called plug-in hybrid vehicles. And we're spending $31 million annually to speed up research into these battery technologies. And what this means is, is that we're trying to develop a battery that will power your vehicle, where you plug it in at night and you drive the first 40 miles on electricity alone. Now, think about what that means for big cities. A lot of people don't drive more than 40 miles a day in big cities. So all of a sudden you've now -- we're developing a technology that says you'll drive by the use of electricity, and you won't use gasoline at all.”

“ And there are a lot of E-85 fueling stations now, particularly in the Midwest where they grow a lot of corn. But the idea is to be able to use your money to figure out how to use other materials to be able to manufacture ethanol. And we're close to some interesting breakthroughs; we're close to breakthroughs to be able to make ethanol from wood chips and stalks and switch grass, and other natural materials. And it makes a lot of sense if we're trying to get off oil, and it makes sense to use taxpayers' money to research ways to use switch grass, for example, to become a fuel for your automobile. I think it does."

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living above our environmental means? - xavier

Take, for example, the United Kingdom:

“Our ecologically wasteful trading system is costing the earth: As oil prices rise and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of climate change increases, much of our trade seems highly inefficient.

“Identical products are being shipped backwards and forwards with heavy environmental costs. For example, in 2004:

  • We imported 465 tonnes of gingerbread and exported almost the same volume, 460 tonnes
  • We sent 1,500 tonnes of fresh potatoes to Germany, and brought in 1,500 tonnes of fresh potatoes back from the same place
  • We imported 44,000 tonnes of frozen boneless chicken cuts and exported 51, 000 tonnes of fresh boneless chicken
  • We sent 10,200 tonnes of milk and cream to France, and imported 9,900 tonnes from France
  • We imported 391,432 tonnes of chocolate and exported 170,652 tonnes

“UK food self-sufficiency has hit the lowest point in half a century: The UK’s food self-sufficiency has been falling steadily since the mid-1990s. According to the most recent statistics available, our domestic production of indigenous food now appears to have hit its lowest point for half a century, making us increasingly dependent on imports.

“[...] because of continuing dependence on fossil fuels, rising demand, and inefficient supply, the UK lost its energy independence in 2004, and now relies on imports to balance supply and demand.”

The New Economics Foundation has also produced a calendar [free as a 13-page .pdf download] showing when, during the year, different countries are no longer self-sufficient and start using the resources of other countries.

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