Archive for the ‘fossil fuels’ Category

One day I want to be as composed and moderate as Post Carbon Institute Fellow Bill Rees who appears in the video below. I think there is enough justification to be emotionally explosive about the dramatic reality he describes, precisely because of how real it is. Bill is a source of inspiration not just in the scientific sense but also at the emotional level. Behind his refined and corteous professor demeanor lies a visible flame of outrage, passion and justice.

The message Bill provides is liquid gold, so concentrated and rich that it becomes precious. I feel I must not allow myself to run the risk of taking away anything you may get from his discussion by adding my own thoughts. If you read me enough you will realize I am on his page. Enjoy the potent flavor of truth.

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Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. Source: Post Carbon Institute.

Despite the current complacency provided by green business, cleantech and the mainstream blind faith in the capacity of technology to save us from all global challenges (economic, environmental and social), someone needs to wake us up to the gravity of the actual reality outside of our modern life ‘bubble’. The post Carbon Institute has done a marvelous job with their wake up call. This book  is a reality check and a guide to face it. Its message is for those willing to acknowledge the extreme urgency to fundamentally phase out our unsustainable growth based, consumption driven global economy that coupled with our exponential population growth keep us in a planetary collision course. We do not have time to embellish our suicidal debt based economy with green products and services. We are in desperate need of a much deeper change. We are running out of time for a fundamental shift that if we do not take seriously ‘pronto’, it will be forced upon us by the effects our human infrastructure’s failure modes. As engineers we should have already implemented a DFMEA for modern civilization…

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13_53_21_prevGlobal warming inertia refers to the fact that if even we stopped global consumption of all fossil fuels today we have already emitted enough greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to continue global temperature  and sea level rise for at least another century. But this gloomy albeit realistic scenario must not discourage us from taking action. Neither must we put off mitigation in our efforts to discover the ‘perfect cure’ for global warming.

We just cannot afford to delay deployment of green energy because of the need for R&D to mature this technology and accelerate its market penetration. Both functions must be performed  simultaneously. The longer we wait to mitigate this issue the more the catastrophic risks will increase. We have to avoid the old intellectual trap of analysis paralysis. Our window of opportunity to prevent the worse effects of global warming is closing. This recent article illustrates how tricky the issues is.

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There is an overwhelming case, including a considerable business case for taxing carbon. However I believe it is naïve to expect Washington to bring it to fruition. The Fossil Fuels lobby has too much political influence. We need communities to drive the states into this ambitious challenge, and ultimately make them pass carbon tax policy. I respect Mr. Nader but I lost my faith in the US political duopoly a long time ago.

Just Science

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climate-pie-chartI have not yet been able to confirm the complete accuracy of the information in the recent article titled Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility – In One Pie Chart. There is however enough cumulative evidence to support the article’s general point. The author does a great job of bringing the climate change debate out of the darkness where the climate deniers community is desperately trying to keep it. The article elegantly puts this topic in perspective by looking at  the big (data driven) picture. Unlike most science reports which are filled with a myriad of complicated calculations and details, the information in this post has been made extremely easy to visualize and communicate simplifying it into what promises to become an iconic and historical pie chart where the denial has been reduced to an almost invisible line in a full mono-chromatic pie representing the consensus.

Despite how much money and power the deniers and their employers may have, fossil fuels have their days numbered and arguing the veracity of climate change is no different from arguing the evolution of species or the roundness of the earth. Disputing the legitimacy of those scientifically proven facts  is not possible in the domain of true scientific debate. Such irrational argument only occurs in the domain of ideology, indoctrination and fundamentalism.

As greedy and irresponsible the fossil fuels lobby can be with their practices and propaganda, it is a known fact that they are already looking into the replacement of fossil fuels, primarily oil. I find this extremely ironic but not without reason. They are milking the fossil fuels cow until the cow dies. Unfortunately the rationality of such strategy is dwarfed by its blind greed and lack of responsibility.

Here is the Big Concern. Such insane speculation leaves no time for any realistic transition into renewable energy or any alternative sustainable industrial model. It condemns us  to a future where we will be surprised by cataclysmic global shortages not just of energy but of all essential services and supplies. Unless society takes swift radical action we will not have the replacement energy sources or the new technology infrastructure developed in time to avoid this crisis.

This scenario will finally make us realize the cost of being reactive and complacent. We will acknowledge the immense losses and disruptions we could have avoided. Despite the likelihood for such fate, I refuse to give up the hope that ‘we’ll pull it off at the last minute’. I do however recommend we start preparing now for the already unavoidable disruptions.

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