Category Archives: Environment

Environment stuff

The environment is the biggest political issue the world faces.  There are several fundamental problems which make co-operation and action difficult.

Vested interests:  this is economic.  Here are some examples.
Oil
GMOs.  Democracy at work.

Various people have various ideas on how to solve things.
Farming
Building using hi-tech stuff
Bioplastics
Carbon capture

But until we change our entire economic system, I don’t believe it possible to deal with climate change and related environmental matters.  We probably need to halve the human population, too.

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Environment podcasts

Why is climate change so difficult to deal with, when the ozone was a global success?

The science of climate change:
Inconvenient facts?
IPCC report discussion

Ozone:
How did we save the ozone layer?
The Ozone 30 years on

What we need to do:
A Resilient World?
Interview with David Attenborough 

Deep/ shallow ecology
Beyond green
Satish Kumar

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Explain the implications of the idea of sustainable development.

From the mark scheme:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is therefore based on the idea of cross-generational justice and the notion that future generations are entitled to living standards at least as prosperous as those enjoyed by present generations.

The principal implication of sustainable development is that economic and environmental goals should be considered in conjunction with one another. In particular, limits must be placed on economic growth to ensure that the ecological costs of growth do not threaten its long-term sustainability. This means, in effect, getting richer slower. As far as energy resources are concerned, sustainability has been associated with attempts to slow down the exploitation of finite fossil fuel resources and to increase investment in renewable sources of energy. For some, sustainability can be achieved by substituting human capital for natural capital, implying that improved technology can compensate for environmental degradation. For example, better roads or a new airport could compensate for the loss of habitat or agricultural land.

It has been suggested that sustainable development has been used as a tool by the developed world to limit growth in the developing world.

An implication is that significant debate has opened between deep and shallow ecologists.”
Circular Ecology has a good equation at the bottom
Hans Rosling – let’s play some videos

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Climate Change – what to do?

Aware of the carbon footprint created by this page, and by your looking at it…

Mitigation
Stop using coal:  currently, 30% of Britain’s energy is from coal.  Coal-fired power stations will be phased out.  Germany, on the other hand, is building more coal-fired stations.  Nuclear power.  Renewables:  a European super grid could help the use of renewables
Farming; also here and here
Women’s education
Buildings
Afforestation – projects like this one
Transport
Waste
Industry

One thing we must do is be mindful of what we use.  Cheap flights are great for tourism, but terrible for the environment.  The internet is a fabulous thing – but it, too, has a big carbon footprint.

Adaptation

Here’s something to listen to.

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The Copenhagen COP – a COP-out?

The Copenhagen COP of 2009 is seen as a failure, and the pressure was on Paris 2015 to get right what Copenhagen had got wrong.

Here are some sites about Copenhagen.
Independent

That Copenhagen Accord in full..
1. CC is ‘one of the greatest challenges of our time’
2. cut in global emissions
3. help vulnerable countries
4. emissions targets by developed countries
5. mitigation by developing countries
6. REDD+ and forest stuff
7. use markets to help mitigation
8. funding for Copenhagen Green Climate Fund etc of $100bn by2020
9. have a panel to discuss stuff
10. waffle
11. mechanism for including new technology
12.  can change according to new scientific knowledge

erm… that’s it.

The Edexcel markers say this:

  • The 2009 Copenhagen conference on climate change was called to formulate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Views about its success and failure have diverged dramatically, however. The conference has been viewed as a success for a number of reasons, including the following:
  • The so-called Copenhagen Accord, through which the USA, China and other major developing countries committed themselves to cutting greenhouse gas emissions marked a significant advance over Kyoto, which imposed no obligations on developing countries to curb the growth of their emissions.
  • Similarly, the USA’s support for the Copenhagen Accord was an advance in the sense that the USA remained outside the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Many argued that Copenhagen was a ‘meaningful agreement’ in that it was a step on the road to more concerted action on the issue of climate change. It should be judged in terms of preparing the ground for subsequent action, not in terms of its own specific achievements.

However, the Copenhagen conference has widely been considered a failure for a number of reasons. These include the following:

  • The conference did not result in a legally binding agreement or any clear commitment to reach one in future.
  • The Copenhagen Accord does not set even non-legal targets for states to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and there if no global target for emissions reduction by 2015.
  • The Accord is vague as to how the $100 billion fund for supporting developing countries in reducing emissions will be achieved.
  • The Copenhagen conference is widely viewed as having become the victim of both the reluctance of governments generally to take bold action on climate change in the context of a global recession, and of great power politics, with China taking the opportunity to demonstrate its burgeoning influence in the light of the shifting balance of global power.
  • analyse and explain the decisions and agreements made at the Copenhagen conference. 
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the Copenhagen Accord in dealing with the issue of global climate change. 
  • recognise rival views about the extent to which Copenhagen marked an advance on Kyoto, reflecting competing positions on its success or failure.

COP21 Paris, 2015.

The outcome was a legally binding agreement, although this has yet to be formally signed (April) or ratified by each country.

The Paris Agreement recognizes that things as they stand, don’t ‘fall within least-cost 2C’ but will churn out 55 gigtaonnes 2030 – needs to be 40 gig.  It establishes an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions scheme in which each country says how it is going to reduce emissions.  (The EU counts as one entity.)  The Green Climate Fund will support least developed countries.  It ‘Recognizes the need to strengthen knowledge, technologies, practices and efforts of local communities and indigenous peoples…establishes a platform for the exchange of experiences and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation in a holistic and integrated manner’.

And there are lots of things like this – ‘Requests the Adaptation Committee and the Least Developed Countries Expert Group to jointly [sic] develop modalities to recognize the adaptation efforts of developing country Parties’… Meaning what, exactly???

Friends of the Earth are less than impressed with COP21.

Paris – Guardian summary here.

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