Now, we need to talk solutions. My first premise is that, while we bear great responsibility for the climate crisis now, effective US leadership is urgently required to convince India and China to make the necessary adjustments in their development paths to contain global warming. If so, we need to look at what sort of US response to global warming might create the momentum throughout the world to address this problem. In this post, I suggest several criteria for evaluating proposed US responses. Subsequent posts will evaluate competing proposals, including Waxman, Kerry, Bush, McCain/Lieberman, and any others that you care to nominate.
Here are my criteria:
(1) dramatic and attention-compelling
For a US program to have the desired global leadership effect, it must convince the rest of the world of the magnitude of the crisis and the US commitment to an effective response.
(2) contains incentives for global responses that mirror the level of US commitment
Americans are generally willing to do "their part" to solve problems. But, the US cannot and will not solve the climate crisis on its own. Rather than negotiate endlessly about Kyoto plus -- perhaps we should try something straightforward: a carbon tariff on imported goods and services from nations that fail to achieve equivalent improvements in their level of CO2 efficiency. Then, as we become more CO2 efficient, our goods will enjoy an advantage compared to those from nations that are not doing their part.
(3) market based
A US program largely relying market incentives approaches (e.g. carbon taxes or marketable rights) will provide a relatively economically efficient regulatory system. That economic efficiency is critical given the pervasiveness of the system throughout the US economy.
(3) grandfathers portions of existing emissions through allotments or entitlements
A US program must grandfather a portion of existing emissions by providing cost-free allotments or entitlements. Otherwise, if the full social cost/value of CO2 emissions are captured through a carbon tax or auctioning marketable rights, the transfer payments to the government will make the system wholly unacceptable.
No one will buy it unless they can understand it.
(5) effectively monitored and enforced
Whether we use marketable rights or taxes, we need to quantify existing emissions, calculate potential emissions, and monitor future emissions. Already the EU experience suggests this is more difficult than it might seem. And our experience with offsets and NSR demonstrate the potential for outright fraud. So we need to have the full array of enforcement devices...from administrative tickets to criminal enforcement available to deter the cheats.
(6) politically sustainable
There will be a moment in time when the US can create an effective response to global warming. At that moment, we can surmount the usual obstacles to change. Yet, the program enacted at that critical moment must withstand the test of time. The program does not need to be "flexible," which is frequently a synonym for ineffective and capable of manipulation by those who seek to avoid the economic impacts of regulation. Instead, it needs to be sufficiently effective in addressing a vital problem that it can withstand political pressures down the road.
So, on this barometer, how do the currently proposed solutions rate? Stay tuned.
Frazier v. Pioneer Ams. LLC (07/06/06 - No. 06-30434)
Plaintiffs have the burden to show the applicability of the Class
Action Fairness Act's sections 1332(d)(3)–(5) exceptions when
jurisdiction turns on their application. In a case involving alleged
seepage of mercury from defendants' facility, denial of putative class
plaintiffs' motion to remand to Louisiana state court is affirmed over
plaintiffs' claim that the case was not removable under CAFA. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/5th/0630434cv0p.pdf
U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Falk v. US (07/05/06 - No. 05-2566)
Judgment in favor of defendant-agency in a declaratory judgment action
challenging decisions made by the United States Fish and Wildlife
Service affecting the use of plaintiffs' land for goose hunting is
affirmed where defendant's determinations were not arbitrary and
capricious, and its interpretation of regulations was not plainly
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd. (07/03/06 - No. 05-35153)
Denial of defendant's motion to dismiss is affirmed where: 1) because
CERCLA liability is triggered by an actual or threatened release of
hazardous substances, and because a release of hazardous substances
took place within the U.S., the suit at hand involved a domestic
application of CERCLA; and 2) defendant-Canadian company's contention
that it was not liable under a particular CERCLA provision because it
disposed of hazardous substances itself is rejected. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0535153p.pdf
Oregon Trollers Ass'n v. Gutierrez (07/06/06 - No. 05-35970)
In an action brought by fishermen and fishing-related businesses and
organizations against the National Marine Fisheries Service and other
governmental entities challenging certain management measures
undertaken to protect a type of salmon, summary judgment for defendants
is affirmed over claims that the measures conflicted with a number of
substantive and procedural requirements set forth in the
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0535970p.pdf
New York Court of Appeals
In the Matter of Eadie v. Town Bd. of the Town of N. Greenbush (07/05/06 - No. 99)
In an action arising out of the rezoning of a large area of land to
permit retail development: 1) the rezoning did not require a
three-fourths majority vote of the Town Board under Town Law section
265; 2) the challenge to the rezoning under the State Environmental
Quality Review Act (SEQRA) was timely brought; and 3) the Town complied
with SEQRA. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/ny/cases/app/99opn06.pdf
G8 summit focus will be on energy supply security, not replacing fossil fuels
Planetark World Environmental News reports:
[G]lobal warming has been sidelined by concerns on how
the world can satisfy its growing appetite for energy....Russia, chairing the Group of Eight for the first time and hosting a
summit starting July 15, has been ambivalent about global warming which
leaders at last year's G8 summit called "a serious and long-term
challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the planet"...Russia has made "energy security" the main theme of the July 15-17 St.
Petersburg summit. High oil prices and a stand-off between Russia and
its European customers this year over gas supplies have thrown the
issue to the top of the agenda....an early draft of the summit declaration concentrates mostly on the
challenges of developing supplies of energy in a volatile market rather
than tackling the threat of global warming posed by an increasing use
of fossil fuels.
The draft does encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy
technologies, but not enough to satisfy environmentalists who were
appalled to see the text promoting more development of fossil fuels
including coal and bitumen, both potentially major sources of CO2.
Science today published what is bound to be an incredibly controversial study by Westerling concluding that increased forest wildfire activity in the West, with higher large-wildfire frequency, longerwildfire durations, and longer wildfire seasons, is primarily due to climate change, not land use management:
...while land use history is an important factor for wildfire risks in specific forest types (e.g. some ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests), the broad-scale increase in wildfire frequency across the western United States has been driven primarily by sensitivity of fire regimes to recent changes in climate over a relatively large area. The overall importance of climate in wildfire activity underscores the urgency of ecological restoration and fuels management to reduce wildfire hazards to human communities and to mitigate ecological impacts of climate change in forests that have undergone substantial alterations due to past land uses. At the same time, however, large increases in wildfire driven by increased temperatures and earlier spring snowmelts in forests where land use history had little impact on fire risks indicates that ecological restoration and fuels management alone will not be sufficient to reverse current wildfire trends. These results have important regional and global implications. Whether the changes observed in western hydro-climate and wildfire are the result of greenhouse gasinduced global warming, or only an unusual natural fluctuation, is presently unclear. Regardless of past trends, virtually all climate model projections indicate that warmer springs and summers will occur over the region in coming decades. These trends will reinforce the tendency toward early spring snowmelt and longer fire seasons. This will accentuate conditions favorable to the occurrence of large wildfires, amplifying the vulnerability the region has experienced since the mid-1980s. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s consensus range of 1.5C to 5.8C projected global surface temperature warming by the end of the 21st Century is considerably larger than the recent warming of less than 0.9ºC observed in spring and summer during recent decades over the western region. If the average length and intensity of summer drought increases in the Northern Rockies and mountains elsewhere in the western U.S., an increased frequency of large wildfires will lead to changes in forest composition and reduced tree densities, thus affecting carbon pools. Current estimates indicate that western US forests are responsible for 20-40% of total U.S. carbon sequestration. If wildfire trends continue, at least initially this biomass burning will result in carbon release, suggesting that the forests of the western U.S. may become a source of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide rather than a sink, even under a relatively modest temperature increase scenario. Moreover, a recent study shows that warmer, longer growing seasons lead to reduced CO2 uptake in high elevation forests, particularly during droughts. Hence, the projected regional warming and consequent increase in wildfire activity in the western U.S. is likely to magnify the threats to human communities and ecosystems, and significantly increase the management challenges in restoring forests and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Wildfire conclusions
Science also has a podcast with Dr. Westerling (the Westerling piece can be found from :50 - 8:00 of the 32 minute podcast)
Warming and Earlier Spring Increases Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity
Anthony Leroy Westerling 1*, Hugo G. Hidalgo 2, Daniel R. Cayan 3, Thomas W. Swetnam 4
Western United States forest wildfire activity is widely thoughtto have increased in recent decades, but surprisingly, the extentof recent changes has never been systematically documented.Nor has it been established to what degree climate may be drivingregional changes in wildfire. Much of the public and scientificdiscussion of changes in western United States wildfire hasfocused rather on the effects of 19th and 20th century land-usehistory. We compiled a comprehensive database of large wildfiresin western United States forests since 1970 and compared itto hydro-climatic and land-surface data. Here, we show thatlarge wildfire activity increased suddenly and dramaticallyin the mid-1980s, with higher large-wildfire frequency, longerwildfire durations, and longer wildfire seasons. The greatestincreases occurred in mid-elevation, Northern Rockies forests,where land-use histories have relatively little effect on firerisks, and are strongly associated with increased spring andsummer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt.. The greatestincreases occurred in mid-elevation, Northern Rockies forests,where land-use histories have relatively little effect on firerisks, and are strongly associated with increased spring andsummer temperatures and an earlier spring snowmelt.
Shell States Moral Objection to Biofuel from Food Crops
Planet Ark World Environmental News:
Royal Dutch Shell,
the worlds top marketer of biofuels, considers using food crops to
make biofuels "morally inappropriate" as long as there are people in
the world who are starving...Eric G Holthusen, Fuels Technology Manager Asia/Pacific, said
the company's research unit, Shell Global Solutions, has developed
alternative fuels from renewable resources that use wood chips and
plant waste rather than food crops that are typically used to make the
fuels...Holthusen said his company's participation in marketing biofuels
extracted from food was driven by economics or legislation."If we have the choice today, then we will not use this route....We think morally it is inappropriate because what we are doing here is
using food and turning it into fuel. If you look at Africa, there are
still countries that have a lack of food, people are starving, and
because we are more wealthy we use food and turn it into fuel. This is
not what we would like to see. But sometimes economics force you to do
The world's top commercially produced biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol, mostly used in the United States and Brazil, is produced from
sugar cane and beets and can also be derived from grains such as corn
and wheat. Biodiesel, used in Europe, is extracted from the continent's
predominant oil crop, rapeseed, and can also be produced from palm and
Holthusen said Shell has been working on biofuels that can be extracted
from plant waste and wood chips, but he did not say when the
alternative biofuel might be commercially available...
Shell, in partnership with Canadian biotech firm Iogen Corp.,
has developed "cellulose ethanol", which is made from the wood chips
and non-food portion of renewable feedstocks such as cereal straws and
corn stover, and can be blended with gasoline.
There are many obstacles to achieving the Millenium Development Goals, pessimism, inadequate financing, corruption, armed conflict, political and social instability, and global warming among them. But a recent Nature editorial on Jeffrey Sachs' Millenium Village project highlights the lack of data, analysis, and learning that has plagued development efforts. The Millenium Village project hopes to overcome that obstacle. The Nature editorial underscores the significance of the MVP data collection and analysis effort:
issues that hinder development in sub-Saharan Africa are many and
complex, but one factor that stands out for scientists is the dearth of
reliable data on the decades of development projects there. A
lack of information on what has worked and what hasn't has contributed
to a lack of accountability among donor nations, host nations and even
development professionals. Donors in particular have learnt little from
past mistakes, and are impatient. When a project fails, as so many do,
the tendency has been to move straight on to the next idea.
When a project fails, the tendency has been to move straight on to the next idea.
Development specialists know this, and today data and analysis are prized. In this issue
we examine the early progress of one notable experiment in Africa. It
involves the support of 12 African Millennium Research Villages, which
are receiving a package of interventions, at a maximum cost of US$110
per person per year, tailored to lift them out of poverty and onto a
sustainable path. The approach has won support from
the African governments involved and from private philanthropists, who
have pledged $100 million to a charity, called Millennium Promise, that
aims to expand the programme to an additional 78 villages in the next
year. The administrators of the village projects
intend to measure 27 important indicators of project performance,
mainly by closely monitoring the progress of some 300 households in
each village. They hope to learn three things:
whether each intervention works, whether the links between various
interventions can be exploited, and whether the community is ultimately
better placed to manage its own future. This last involves 'softer'
measures of capacity and sustainability, and will be the hardest both
to monitor and to achieve. It is early days yet —
the longest-running project, at Sauri in Kenya, is just two years old —
and few hard data are available so far. But it is crucial that the
schemes deliver on their research goals and that they absorb lessons,
positive or negative, from the data.
Hyacinthe Mukaritaganda of Kagenge village helped build a communal water tank, as part of the Millennium Villages project.
Ndahayo smiles broadly at me from below the corn (maize) that towers a
metre or more above him, his daughter Annalita clutching his hand. This
is the first corn harvest he has seen here in almost ten years. There
was a smaller harvest of beans and sorghum in 2001; last year there was
nothing. In the years without good rains, the people of Kagenge
(sometimes called Mayange) in Rwanda survive the best they can. Some
walk four nights and three days to reach a more productive region.
Ndahayo sometimes takes construction jobs to support his wife and four
Hyacinthe Mukaritaganda's husband is one
of those currently working elsewhere, leaving her to manage their land
and look after three children on her own. This season she planted corn
on one-fifth of their land, a short walk from Ndahayo's homestead.
Thanks to the rains, she is expecting a good harvest, which should
provide enough seeds to plant all 2.5 hectares next year. Then, she
hopes, her husband will stay at home to help.
rains, though, are not the only things bringing hope to Kagenge. In
2005, the village was chosen to take part in the Millennium Villages
project. Led by the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York,
the project is applying a range of poverty-slashing interventions to 12
sites across Africa (see map). The idea is not just to show that
interventions in a number of different areas, properly coordinated and
financed, can make a sustainable change to the lives of the world's
poorest communities. It is to show how that can be done quickly in a
way that can be replicated easily.
an agronomist trained in Uganda, is the project's agriculture
coordinator for Rwanda. He says that when he arrived in Kagenge late
last year conditions were desperate. "The villagers were emaciated."
They wanted food aid more than they wanted the agricultural advice,
drought-resistant seeds, fertilizer and new techniques that the project
was offering. "They thought we were making fun of them," Ndahiro says.
"We were telling them how to plant, how to harvest, but they were
saying they were never getting any good rains. We told them to get
seeds and advice are being given to 12 villages in Africa, to
demonstrate how properly coordinated interventions can make a
sustainable difference to people's lives.
months later and the villagers are getting organized. Ndahayo is a
member of the agriculture committee that will decide what to do with
the surplus from this year's corn harvest. Mukaritaganda is helping to
clear land for a tree nursery (villagers sometimes walk ten kilometres
to gather firewood) and was part of the team that just built a communal
tank to collect rainwater. She invites me with pride to a ceremony in
which certificates are awarded to her and the 25 other villagers who
worked on the tank.
Leading the way
Millennium Villages project aims to provide improved resources and
techniques not only in agriculture, but also in health, education,
transport, energy and water provision, and financial management. The
plan is to achieve the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals
for the 5,000 or so people in Kagenge, and for the tens of thousands of
people in the 11 villages elsewhere within 5 years — 5 years ahead of
the UN target date.
eight goals, committed to by 189 heads of state in 2000, include
halving the number of people living on less than US$1 a day and
controlling malaria by 2015. Progress so far has been limited,
especially in Africa — far too slow for the impatient economist Jeffrey
Sachs, head of the UN Millennium Project and the Earth Institute. Sachs
wants the 'research villages' and the data that they provide to offer
ways of picking up the pace: "The idea is to demonstrate a practical
path and to mobilize governments."
The man in charge
of making such a demonstration is Josh Ruxin, a Columbia University
public-health expert and the project's director in Rwanda. Ruxin,
imbued with an impressive energy and passion, was initially sceptical
of the village-by-village approach: he wanted to target a millennium
country not an isolated village. But Ruxin is encouraged by the Rwandan
government's own ambitious poverty-reduction strategy, known as Vision
The idea is to demonstrate a practical path and to mobilize governments.
Karenzi, the Rwandan health ministry's secretary general says "We
believe it's possible, especially with the focused leadership we have
and the commitment of our people, to make Rwanda a mid-level income
country by 2020." In the context of that commitment, Ruxin is confident
that with the help of the Millennium Villages project, Rwandans can
succeed in not just turning round one village, but in transforming life
for poor farmers across the country.
of Ruxin's confidence comes from an assessment of the government. In
the aftermath of the genocide of 1994 and the resettlement of some two
million returnees from neighbouring countries, 64% of Rwanda's
population was living in poverty (on less than US$1 a day) in 2000. But
despite its internationally criticized role in the Congo war, the
government of Paul Kagame is widely seen as committed to poverty
reduction, and as embodying principles of good governance from the top
down (for example, all ministers are required to declare their annual
Ruxin believes that good governance will be
an important factor in the long-term success of the millennium
villages. Those running the project have deliberately avoided what they
see as the worst African regimes. But they say that even in
corruption-prone nations, such as Ethiopia and Kenya, the research
villages so far remain free of corruption. Sachs points out that if you
focus on supplying commodities, such as seeds, fertilizer and nets for
protection against malaria, "there's very little money that changes
hands". That said, Sachs is less worried than many about corruption; he
knows people criticize this lack of concern, but doesn't care.
"Corruption is way down the list of practical issues," he argues,
Africa's miserable roads, poor soil and endemic disease burden are at
Indeed, the road from Kigali, Rwanda's
capital, to Kagenge in the Nyamata district, throws up choking red dust
in the dry season and can be impassable in the rainy season. Although
the land looks green from the air, the rains can be infrequent and
Ndahiro confirms that the soils are poor. Some 70% of the patients at
the village's clinic have malaria and the district has one of the
country's highest levels of HIV, at about 13%.
well as suffering from Sachs's top three problems, Kagenge has its own
particular sadnesses. The local mayor, Gaspard Musonera, lost
three-quarters of his family in the 1994 genocide. "Nyamata district
lost more than half of its population," he says. "The implications and
consequences of that you can imagine for yourself."
Angelique Kanyange is one of a handful of doctors working in rural Rwanda.
Kagenge itself is a community created since the genocide. Half the households live in settlement housing — or umudugudu
— built by the government for survivors and returnees. Ndahiro is
himself a returnee, living in Nyamata near the church where 10,000
people were murdered in 1994 — the blood stains on the walls and altar
cloth remain as a memorial. He recalls how lifeless the town was when
he arrived in 1997. People were bitter, he says; some didn't want to
sees the Millennium Villages project as a sign of hope for the most
vulnerable people in his district, and a big test for poverty-reduction
measures. "If it can be done here, it means it can be done elsewhere,"
he says — and that indeed is the point. The project is not just about
breaking the cycle of poverty in 12 villages, but about learning how to
do it in 1,200 or 12,000. Sachs's plan is to show that with a five-year
investment of about US$550 per person — $50 a year from the project,
$30 from government, $20 from other donors and $10 from the villagers —
an integrated package of low-cost interventions can produce long-term
financial sustainability in a way that not only can be repeated but can
also be scaled up. The project plans to grow to 78 villages this year
by creating clusters around the 12 original research villages. The
expansion is being funded by the US Millennium Promise charity, which
has so far raised $100 million to support Sachs's vision.
everyone is convinced that the Millennium Villages project will
succeed. Ecologist Ian Scoones at the Institute of Development Studies
at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK, is a member of the Future
Agricultures Consortium, which was put together by the UK Department
for International Development to focus on African agriculture and
development. Scoones points to the Integrated Rural Development and
'villagization' schemes that tried to boost African agriculture in the
1970s and 1980s. "They created little islands of success but when
donors pulled the plug they all collapsed." Scoones says he is very
pleased that the millennium villages are putting African agriculture
back on the map, but he is afraid of old mistakes being repeated, and
worried about things moving too quickly. "India launched its green
revolution in the mid-1960s on the back of decades of solid investment
and research," he points out. "It didn't happen overnight."
his part, Sachs sees patience, like a well-developed sensitivity to the
issue of corruption, as an overrated virtue. He has no worries about
moving too fast. "It happens to be an emergency," he says. And he has
no illusions about the projects working as examples simply by word of
mouth. "This is not viral. You can't do it without resources," Sachs
notes — as ambitions grow, so must spending. The biggest risk, he says,
is for official donors to sit on their hands.
goal is not to do without large transfers of money to Africa, it is to
work out how to make those transfers more effective. After all, the
individual interventions used in the Millennium Villages project are
tried and tested methods, even if they haven't been applied all
together in one location before. Asked about the target of reaching the
millennium goals in five years, Celina Schocken, an
international-affairs fellow at the US Council on Foreign Relations,
says "I absolutely believe they will succeed. I don't see how they
But she's less convinced about how scale up
will be achieved. "What good is an island of prosperity anyway?" she
asks. Scoones agrees that the big question is: "How, without that
external support, do you replicate?"
Ndahiro, an agronomist working for the Millennium Villages project, has
helped to transform conditions in Kagenge in just five months.
is the question Sachs, Ruxin and their colleagues are trying to answer.
By documenting all the inputs and outputs for each research village
they hope to tease out the synergies between overlapping interventions.
Measuring 35 indicators for the 8 goals across several hundred
households in 12 villages is time consuming and costly, but it is
necessary to show not just that the investments work, but also how they
work, and how they can work better. Only then can they be scaled up to
the truly monumental level envisioned by Sachs, who wants to see
development aid change the course of history. "I think the biggest
challenge is the defeatist attitude of the official donor community,"
says Sachs. Such rhetoric reinforces the suspicion that Sachs is
unwilling to learn from lessons of the past. "People in the development
community see some benefit in the publicity Jeff Sachs gets," says
Schocken, who used to work with Ruxin in Rwanda, "but they've seen
these ideas before."
Kagenge, the villagers assembled for the water-tank certificate
ceremony are briefly reminded of the international debate over their
future. "This is an important day for the project," Ruxin tells them
during a short address, "You are now the teachers for us and for the
world." Some of the farmers I met in the fields yesterday have donned
suits and ties for the occasion. Each villager who received training
from visiting Kenyan water specialists receives a signed certificate —
the expectation is that they will take the skills they have learned and
pass them on to others. After many more speeches by village leaders,
the villagers distribute soft drinks and, for those who can stomach it,
fermented sorghum, the local brew.
In the weeks
before the corn is harvested, the contrast between Kagenge and the
surrounding area is already striking. An emergency feeding centre
supported by the UN Children's Fund UNICEF and the World Food Programme
was set up in Kagenge in early March, in response to reports of serious
malnutrition following last year's drought. Four hundred people from
the wider local population are still receiving weekly rations, but not
those of Kagenge. The bean crop and corn picked straight from the
fields before the harvest mean that they have enough to eat.
also have a functioning health centre, which serves Kagenge and four
neighbouring communities of similar size. The centre now has its own
doctor, Angelique Kanyange, known to everyone as Dr Angelique, and its
nursing staff has doubled in number. Dr Angelique is zealously
improving the nurses' cleaning procedures with demonstrations of the
use of a broom and disinfectant. Today, the clinic is seeing more than
35 patients a day, as well as some 50 mothers bringing children for
immunization. One of the new patients is Musabyimana, an 8-year-old boy
who is blind and in pain because of severe cataracts. His mother
noticed his poor sight when he was three months old, but this is his
first visit to the clinic. Dr Angelique is not sure what caused the
cataracts, but there is hope, she says, because Musabyimana seems to be
able to detect some light and colour. She will refer him to a
specialist for treatment. For now, the project will fund it; the
mother, a widow, could never afford it.
of Rwanda have community medical insurance schemes, but only 12% of
families in Kagenge have cover. The goal of the Millennium Villages
project is to get 100% coverage, with the hope that as the clinic
becomes more useful to patients, more will join the scheme.
From village to province
is here, though, that scaling up looks harder than it does in
agriculture. Buying more fertilizers is easier than making more
doctors. "Angeliques are hard to come by," admits Ruxin. Indeed, Dr
Angelique is the first government-appointed doctor in a rural health
centre, demonstrating the government's commitment to the Millennium
Project but also, perhaps, the project's weakness. "The president of
Rwanda says 'I want this village to work', so they are going to get the
best," says Schocken. There are currently about 200 doctors in the
country. The medical schools may be able to produce 60 or 80 a year,
but the country has a long way to go to reach the World Health
Organization's minimum recommended level of one doctor per 5,000 people.
claims recruitment problems can be overcome with decent salaries.
Although the project is mostly about spending money on physical
resources, he is in favour of top-up payments for doctors. But even
with targeted salary increases, a country such as Rwanda suffers skill
shortages in every sector.
currently has a team of ten dedicated people who work long hours to
motivate the villagers and document their progress. Detailed accounts
were not made available to Nature, but in its first year the
Kagenge project will spend as much on personnel as on materials. The
budget for the cluster villages being set up in addition to the
original 12 is smaller, and they will have much fewer support staff.
"Research on top is extremely expensive," notes Ruxin, explaining that
in future, and in villages that aren't research focused, costs should
be much lower. But Sachs's claim that "the science behind this is
broadly transferable without needing large teams" has yet to be put to
The budgets matter to Theoneste
Mutsindashyaka, a former mayor of Kigali and the governor of Rwanda's
eastern province, which includes Nyamata and covers a quarter of
Rwanda's population. He is a great fan of the Kagenge project, in part
because it fits so well with the government's Vision 2020. He wants the
figures so that he can roll out projects informed by the experience
more widely. "The documentation is very important to me because I have
to negotiate with partners," he says. He is impatient to get moving on
the next stage of the project: "We want a millennium province, not just
a millennium village," he says.
We want a Millennium province, not just a Millennium village.
Within the next year,
Mutsindashyaka wants to set up a Kagenge-like village in each of his
provinces' seven districts. "We are going to move village to sector,
sector to district, but you have to have money," he says. And he is
certain he can sell the idea to his friends all over the world, from
Quincy Jones to Donald Kaberuka, the president of the African
Development Bank. And although scaling up to 3,600 villages is
daunting, the governor says he only needs the numbers from Kagenge to
get started: "I am total 100% confident that the project will succeed."
Sachs to the president to the governor to the mayor, the ambitions for
transforming the country are vast. But in Kagenge, despite the good
rains, the villagers themselves remain wary. They are not as confident
that they will achieve rapid progress as the project leaders. Anxiety
about what to do with the harvest surplus is high. Celestin Ndahayo and
other farmers worry about whether they can really afford both to sell
corn and store enough for food security; they are not sure they believe
Ndahiro's forecasts for the yields of their smallholdings. And what if
the rains don't come next year? In his experience, says one umudugudu
farmer, when a project is here, then the rains come. Back in 2001, an
organization helped them to plant cassava and sweet potato and the
rains came. But when they left the rains stopped. So as long as the
Millennium Villages project is here he believes it will rain again. He
doesn't believe, yet, that his village can learn to flourish in the
August crude rose $1.26 to close at $75.19 a barrel in New York
Wednesday, marking the highest closing level ever for a front-month
contract. The record closing level for a front-month contract was
$75.17, which was reached on April 21. The August crude contract also
marked its loftiest close since May 11, when it finished at $75.53.
August natural gas fell 33.9 cents to close at $5.765 per million
British thermal units, its lowest close since January 2005.
For those of you teaching natural resources, the Society on Conservation Biology did a special section of Conservation Biology on 10th anniversary of the Northwest Forest Plan. The key findings of the papers are recounted here:
FROM THE JOURNAL PAPERS
Conservation Biology cover photo by K. Schaffer
Forest Plan: origins, components, implementation
experience, and suggestions for change - Jack Ward Thomas (
Jerry Franklin (
Washington), John Gordon (Interforest),
and Norm Johnson (
The Northwest Forest Plan has proven to be more
successful in achieving restoration goals for old-growth and aquatic
ecosystems than in achieving economic and social goals.
Three recommendations are made: 1) recognize that
the Plan has evolved into an integrative conservation strategy, 2)
conserve old-growth trees and forests wherever they occur, and 3) manage
federal forests as dynamic ecosystems.
Effectiveness of the
Forest Plan in conserving the Northern Spotted Owl -
and Jennifer Blakesley (
Monitoring of Northern Spotted Owls has shown a
continuing decline in the species despite a dramatic drop off in timber
harvest on federal lands.
Since enactment of the Plan, new threats have
emerged, including movement of Barred Owls into the range of the spotted
owl and loss of owl habitat from fire and logging on private lands.
Conservation of the Marbled Murrelet under the
Plan - Martin Raphael (US
Most of the higher suitability habitat for the
Marbled Murrelet, a coastal seabird that nests in old-growth forests, was
included in forest reserves called "late-successional reserves."
Nonetheless, monitoring ten years after
implementation shows mostly stationary populations with predictions of
4-6% annual declines in the near future as a result of timber harvest on
private lands and changing ocean conditions that are not favorable for the
The Aquatic Conservation
Strategy of the
Forest Plan - Gordon Reeves (US Forest Service),
Jack Williams (Trout Unlimited), Kelly Burnett (US
Forest Service) and Kirsten Gallo (US
Ten years after implementation, the aquatic
conservation strategy, designed to protect key watersheds and streamside
areas from logging, appears to have halted most declines in stream and
riparian conditions, resulting in measurable improvements to 64% of
Most improvements were in riparian (streamside)
conditions, critical to stream health and a focal point for protections in
the Northwest Forest Plan.
Protecting rare, old-growth,
forest-associated species under the Survey and Manage Program guidelines of the
Northwest Forest Plan - Randy Molina, Bruce Marcot, Robin Lesher (US Forest Service):
The Survey and Manage Program sought to protect
approximately 400 little known species (e.g., amphibians, fungi, mollusks,
plants, small mammals) found mainly in older forests by creating the need
to survey for these species before logging and then protecting if found.
The program gained valuable information about
these species but created conflicts with other timber objectives of the
plan, which ultimately resulted in program changes.
Status of mature and old-growth
forests in the Pacific Northwest,
- James Strittholt
(Conservation Biology Institute),
Dominick DellaSala (World Wildlife
Fund) and Hong Jiang (Conservation Biology Institute):
Since European settlement of the
Pacific Northwest, approximately 72% of old-growth conifer forests have been lost to
logging and development, most of remaining old-growth is on public
Of the remaining old growth, nearly half is found
in the Central and Southern Cascades (Washington and
and Klamath-Siskiyou Region (northern California/southwest
Oregon) but less than 1/3 of older forests is
protected in parks and wilderness areas.
Strengthening protections for older forests in
the late-successional reserves (by eliminating post-fire logging) and
roadless areas (by reinstating the roadless rule) would protect nearly 60%
of the remaining older forests on public lands.
The Northwest Forest Plan as a model for broad-scale
ecosystem management: a social perspective - Susan Charnley (US
The Plan’s socioeconomic goals met with mixed
success and the plan never delivered on its timber harvest assumptions.
The reasons behind the mixed results were that
some key agency assumptions on socioeconomics were flawed and, secondly,
that agencies had reduced institutional capacity to achieve the goals.
Public timber supply, market adjustments, and local
economies: economic assumptions of the
Forest Plan – Thomas Powers (
Contemporary economics indicate that the economic
links between forests and local communities are much broader than simply
the flow of commercially valuable logs.
The flow of environmental services from forests
has increasingly become an amenity that has drawn people and economic
activity to forested areas and these amenities have traditionally been
undervalued by federal land managers.
Conserving old-growth forest diversity in
disturbance-prone landscapes - Thomas
A. Spies,Miles A. Hemstrom,Andrew Youngblood,and Susan Hummel (US
Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station)
A decade after its creation, the Northwest Forest
Plan is contributing to the conservation of old-growth forests on federal
land. However, the success and
outlook for the plan are questionable in the dry provinces (east of the
Losses of old growth to
wildfire have been relatively high (ranging from 1.4 to over 14% on
a decadal basis) and risks of further loss remain. Consequently, new landscape-level
strategies are needed to meet the goals of the plan in these complex and
NORTHWEST FOREST PLAN MARKS TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY WITH MIXED RESULTS
WASHINGTON, D.C./Ashland, OR - A 1994 plan intended to protect hundreds of species
associated with old-growth forests and diffuse gridlock over timber management
of America’s northwestern forests is getting a fresh look by nineteen
nationally-renowned scientists, including several of the Northwest Forest
Plan’s original architects. In the April special feature edition of the
international journal, Conservation
Biology, scientists offer their analyses of the Northwest Forest Plan’s
effectiveness in achieving its ambitious goal to balance logging with forest
protections on nearly 25 millions of acres of federal land. Advance copies of
journal articles are available online at www.conbio.org
to Jerry Franklin, University of Washington professor and principle
architect of the plan, "the Northwest Forest Plan was the first attempt
anywhere to address the many factors that contribute to forest
ecosystem health and sustainability on such a large scale. Not
surprisingly with a plan this complex, success has been mixed but has
resulted in a great deal of learning. Ecological values have certainly
been protected by the plan but there has been inadequate attention to
restoration, especially on eastside forests with uncharacteristic fuel
loadings. Timber harvest levels have been less than projected,
partially because of efforts to log old-growth stands outside of
reserves, something which is no longer socially acceptable."
Franklin added, "the Northwest Forest Plan has missed the mark on
timber outputs for many reasons, including continuing efforts to log in
old-growth forests and the need for extensive species surveys prior to
timber harvesting activities."
"We should all be proud of
what this plan has accomplished," said
a former Forest Service supervisor and senior scientist with Trout Unlimited
who helped edit the special feature. "We’ve seen real progress in protecting
old-growth species and watersheds across millions of acres of
’s forests. Stream
conditions have improved steadily, particularly where communities work
side-by-side with restoration ecologists."
Adoption of the Northwest
Forest Plan in 1994 followed years of conflict over timber harvesting on the
one hand, and protection of old-growth forests, watersheds, and wildlife on the
Covering 25 million acres of
federally-managed land in the
the plan marked a transition from timber-focused planning to forest-wide
ecosystem management. Incorporating input from numerous stakeholders, the plan
sought to balance logging of the nation’s forests with conservation of salmon
runs and other wildlife, old-growth forests, and northwestern watersheds.
While the plan has been
successful on many fronts, many scientists decry the Bush Administration’s
efforts to strip protections for millions of acres of old-growth forests in
Oregon, loosen protections for endangered salmon, and log in old-growth
reserves following fires.
"Recent attempts by the Bush
administration threaten to unravel the ecological fabric of the Northwest
Forest Plan," said
forest ecologist with the World Wildlife Fund and guest editor for the special
DellaSala added that "the Plan is working best in places where
federal managers are working with local communities to thin overly stocked
plantations for fuels reduction and restoration, such as the Gifford Pinchot
National Forests, rather
than where the agencies continue to log in older forests."
(click on Latest News) or contact Society for Conservation Biology, 703-276-2384 x101
Journal Contents and Authors
(all papers were peer reviewed):
Forest Plan: A Global Model Of
Forest Management In Contentious Times –
Jack Williams (Trout
Forest Plan: Origins, components, implementation
experience, and suggestions for change - Jack Ward Thomas (
Jerry Franklin (
Washington), John Gordon (Interforest),
and Norm Johnson (
Effectiveness of the Northwest Forest Plan in
conserving the Northern Spotted Owl - Barry
Noon and Jennifer Blakesley (
Conservation of the Marbled Murrelet under the
Plan - Martin Raphael (US
Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan - Gordon Reeves (US Forest Service),
Williams (Trout Unlimited), Kelly Burnett (US Forest
Service) and Kirsten Gallo (US
Protecting rare, old-growth, forest-associated
species under the Survey and Manage Program guidelines of the Northwest
Forest Plan - Randy Molina (US Forest Service), Bruce Marcot (US Forest
Service), Robin Lesher (US Forest Service)
Status of mature and old-growth forests in the
- James Strittholt (Conservation Biology Institute),
(World Wildlife Fund) and Hong Jiang (Conservation Biology Institute)
The Northwest Forest Plan as a model for
broad-scale ecosystem management: a social perspective - Susan Charnley (US Forest Service)
Public timber supply, market adjustments, and
local economies: economic assumptions of the Northwest Forest Plan –
Thomas Powers (
Conserving old-growth forest diversity in
disturbance-prone landscapes - Thomas
A. Spies,Miles A. Hemstrom,Andrew Youngblood,and Susan Hummel
(US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station)
Access to full text pdfs is available to SCB members by logging into your SCB Membership Homepage and to media representative who are not SCB members by calling the SCB Executive Office: 1-703-276-2384 x101
Guest Editorial: Sandra Zellmer on Rapanos, the World Cup, and Wetlands
The World Cup of Wetlands Law: Turtles-0, Developers-1
Professor and Hevelone Research Chair, University of Nebraska College of Law
Member Scholar, Center for Progressive Reform
In one of the most anxiously awaited decisions this
session, the Supreme Court struck a blow against environmental protection by ruling
for a couple of commercial developers.
The issue in play in Rapanos v. United States: can federal protection be extended to small tributaries and
wetlands near, but not directly abutting, navigable waters? The lower
court officials said yes, but the Supreme Court referees, in a 4-1-4 split
decision, disagreed and vacated the judgments against the developers.
The lead opinion by Justice Scalia, joined by Justices
Roberts, Thomas and Alito, would clear the way for development of most wetlands
and streams. According to the Court’s most conservative members,
the regulation of non-perennial streams, wet meadows and arroyos under the
federal Clean Water Act stretches the law’s coverage “beyond
parody.” But as the dissent by Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg
and Breyer noted, as the wetlands and their inhabitants go, so goes the entire
watershed. The Scalia opinion, they argued, is nothing but blatant
“antagonism to environmentalism.”
Justice Kennedy concurred in the Court’s
judgment but not in its reasoning. He opined that, to come within federal
protection, regulators must make a scientific determination that the wetland in
question has a significant hydrological “nexus” to a navigable water
Justice Scalia cavalierly dismissed the dissenters’
concerns, saving his most heated rhetoric for Justice Kennedy. In a shot
that would draw a “red card” in soccer, he accused Kennedy of
misreading the Court’s prior decisions, hiding behind the statutory
purpose of protecting water quality rather than adhering to the statute’s
plain language, and then boot-strapping his conclusion by claiming that anything
that might affect waters of the
United States bears a “significant nexus” to those waters and thus is those waters.
In a parting shot, Scalia disparaged Kennedy’s
logic as unsubstantiated “turtles all the way down.” The turtle metaphor refers to a
fictional exchange between an astronomer and a little old lady in a lecture
hall. The astronomer described how the Earth orbits around
the sun. The lady
remarked: "That’s rubbish. The world is a flat plate supported on the
back of a giant tortoise."
When the astronomer, humoring her, asked what the tortoise was standing on, the
lady replied, “Why, it's turtles
all the way down.”
of Scalia’s metaphor is palpable. According to Conservation
International, 40-60% of all turtles in the world face extinction.
United States’ populations reflect this trend: around half of our
are imperiled. Freshwater fishes are in equally bad shape. The
primary culprit: habitat loss. In the last 200 years, the U.S. has
lost over half of its original wetlands, the equivalent of 60 acres of
every hour. California, Iowa and Ohio have fared even worse than
90% of their wetlands have been lost to development.
If Scalia had convinced Justice Kennedy to join in his
opinion, many – in fact, most – wetlands and streams would be
excluded from federal protection. Many of the remaining wetlands are not
adjacent to navigable waters, and the National Hydrology Dataset shows that
nearly 60% of the total stream miles in the U.S. are non-perennial. In arid
western states like Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, the figure is much higher:
80-90% of their streams flow only in wet weather.
Will states step up to the plate? It seems
unlikely. Although Justice Scalia expressed his concern for preserving
“primary state responsibility for ordinary land-use decisions,” 33
States and the District of Columbia filed “friend of the court”
briefs on behalf of the U.S., seeking to maintain broad federal jurisdiction
over wetlands and tributaries. In their view, wetlands preservation
– a political “hot potato” if ever there was one – is
best accomplished by the feds.
Confusion reigns. The impasse between the most
conservative justices who champion laissez-faire, pro-development interests
under the guise of federalism and the moderates who believe that government can
and should serve the public interest demonstrates a new level of acrimony on
the Court. The result: an erosion of the goals of the Clean Water
Act – chemical, biological and physical integrity – and, quite
possibly, many other environmental laws.
Yes, it could’ve been worse for conservation
interests. As a result of the split, Justice Kennedy’s concurring
opinion will likely become the law of the land. But his opinion places
the burden of proving a “significant nexus” squarely on the
shoulders of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, who itself is experiencing a crisis
of legitimacy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It isn’t
unreasonable to question whether this beleaguered agency, subject to an array
of contradictory statutory mandates from wetlands protection to dredging
navigational channels and constructing flood control levees, is up to the task
of going toe to toe with well-heeled developers in this resource-intensive,
At least the U.S. soccer team’s tie with Italy was enough to keep it alive in the World Cup, albeit briefly. As a result of
the Court's 4-4 "tie," the turtles (and wetlands) hang in the
balance while more legal skirmishes ensue. Let’s hope that the
Corps and the lower courts are vigilant referees.
WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog. Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.
The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water. This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals. Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs. Even now, they are watching....
Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality.
Stratospheric Ozone -- hole expected to close by mid-century....well, 2068
Science Daily reports on further delays in closing the hole:
The Antarctic ozone hole's recovery is running late. According to a new NASA study, the full return of the protective ozone over the South Pole will take nearly 20 years longer than scientists previously expected. Scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., have developed a new tool, a math-based computer model, to better predict when the ozone hole will recover....For the first time, a model combines estimates of future Antarctic chlorine and bromine levels based on current amounts as captured from NASA satellite observations, NOAA ground-level observations, NCAR airplane-based observations, with likely future emissions, the time it takes for the transport of those emissions into the Antarctic stratosphere, and assessments of future weather patterns over Antarctica. The model accurately reproduces the ozone hole area in the Antarctic stratosphere over the past 27 years. Using the model, the researchers predict that the ozone hole will recover in 2068, not in 2050 as currently believed. "The Antarctic ozone hole is the poster child of ozone loss in our atmosphere," said author Paul Newman, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. And lead author of the study. "Over areas that are farther from the poles like Africa or the U.S., the levels of ozone are only three to six percent below natural levels. Over Antarctica, ozone levels are 70 percent lower in the spring. This new method allows us to more accurately estimate ozone-depleting gases over Antarctica, and how they will decrease over time, reducing the ozone hole area." International agreements like the Montreal Protocol have banned the production of most chemicals that destroy ozone. But the researchers show that the ozone hole has not started to shrink a lot as a result. The scientists predict the ozone hole will not start shrinking a lot until 2018. By that year, the ozone hole's recovery will make better time.
original 8/23/05 post: The World Meteorological Organzation reports that even though the winter ozone hole above Antarctica is larger than last year, it is still smaller than the largest hole recorded in 2003. With ozone-depleting substances banned and concentrations of those substances leveling off, the hole is expected to grow bigger for a few more years and then gradually disappear by mid-century.
Habitat conservation plans are intended to achieve a balance between development and the long-term conservation of species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Developers seeking permits for the incidental take of listed species often include multiple species in their plans, both listed and nonlisted, because if a species not in the plan is subsequently listed under the act, the continued activities of the permittee could be jeopardized.
[The study] analyzed 22 multispecies plans approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service before 2005. On average, 41 percent of the species covered in the plans had not been confirmed as present in the planning area, a finding the authors describe as "alarming." Furthermore, most of these unconfirmed species lacked any species-specific conservation measures, which means that a multispecies habitat conservation plan could represent a danger.
Rahn and colleagues argue that "assumptions of occurrence should be justified" in multispecies conservation plans. They suggest that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been inclined to issue permits for multispecies conservation plans in the absence of data, relying instead on professional judgment. Rahn and colleagues call that a "dangerous practice" and suggest that it may help explain why species in multispecies habitat conservation plans fare poorly compared with species with dedicated plans.
Multispecies habitat conservation plans that permit the incidental "take" of threatened or endangered species often include species whose presence in the planning area has not been confirmed... The result, the article argues, is that some species that are present but unconfirmed are placed in greater danger.
EnergyNorth Natural Gas, Inc. v. Century Indem. Co. (06/28/06 - No. 05-2149) Judgment as a matter of law for plaintiffs in a suit over excess liability coverage for plaintiff's potential liability for environmental contamination is affirmed where the district court did not err in refusing to allow the case to go to the jury, in excluding some evidence, and in ordering defendant to reimburse plaintiff for certain costs and fees. http://laws.lp.findlaw.com/1st/052149.html
U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Save Our Cumberland Mountains v. Kempthorne (06/29/06 - No. 05-5663) In an action brought by environmental groups challenging an agency's environmental assessment and decision-making in connection with a coal mining permit, summary judgment for the agency is affirmed over claims that: 1) an environmental assessment was deficient in failing to consider sufficient alternatives to a proposal; 2) the agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing a finding of no significant impact; and 3) the agency should have made the environmental assessment available for public comment 30 days before its final decision. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/6th/055663p.pdf
U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
The Ecology Ctr., Inc. v. US Forest Serv. (06/29/06 - No. 05-4101) Dismissal of a complaint, challenging a project which would allow logging in a certain area and claiming that the project's Record of Decision did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Forest Management Act, and the APA, is reversed in part as to the National Forest Management Act claim where defendant's "exclusive application of the 1982 Rules and the failure to consider or mention the 'best available science' standard amounted to conduct that is arbitrary and capricious." http://laws.lp.findlaw.com/10th/054101.html
The "hockey stick" reconstruction of surface temperature data in the 2001 IPCC report has long been controversial. However, an NRC report published today verified that the rapid rise in temperature represented by the "blade" of the "hockey stick" is accurate, even if we can only be confident about 400 years of the "stick" data.
The NRC panel expressed a high level of confidence that the planet is warmer than it has been for 400 years after a thorough review of scientific studies. Average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree F during the 20th century. "The numerous indications that recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia, in combination with estimates of external climate forcing variations over the same period, supports the conclusion that human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming,” the panel wrote.
Movie Reviews: Tom Brokaw's Global Warming: What You Need to Know and Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth
On July 16, 2006, 9-11 pm ET/PT, Discovery Channel, BBC News and NBC News present a two hour special on global warming hosted by Tom Brokaw.
On Friday, I previewed the Discovery Channel special and saw An Inconvenient Truth. Below I review both from a teaching perspective.
The bottom line of both Global Warming and An Inconvenient Truth are the same -- global warming is threatening to massively change our planet with severe impacts on our lives and the rest of creation; we have the knowledge and technology to reduce those changes; the real question is whether we have the collective will to do what we need to do before it is too late.
Both Global Warming and An Inconvenient Truth seek to acquaint the audience with the fundamentals about global warming: the causes of global warming, the evidence that convinces scientists why this is not simply part of a natural cycle of warming and cooling, the magnitudes of impacts that we can expect, the technical solutions that can slow global warming, the outrageously large contribution of the U.S. to the problem, and the loomingly enormous potential of China and India if they pursue our development path.
Neither program makes the mistake of trying to be "balanced" in presenting the "skeptics" point of view. Brokaw notes the change in scientific opinion over the last two decades and the agreement of 99.9% of scientists that global warming is real. Gore uses the results of the sample of scientific literature on climate -- where the score is roughly 978 to 0 -- every study assumed that global warming is occurring.
Global Warming is a powerful statement in three respects. First, it is presented by a respected journalist rather than a respected, but partisan, politician. Second, it has an absolutely amazing, all star cast of scientists to help narrate the story. Third, it has some great footage of glacial rivers, rainforests, pacific islands doomed to disappear, and most of all, cute, little polar bear cubs who, along with the rest of their species, are destined to die within the next few decades as the polar ice disappears.
An Inconvenient Truth, on the other hand, has other wonderful qualities. First, it gains traction from Al Gore's droll sense of humor (yes, really) as well as his deep, visible commitment to the issue. Second, it has some incrediblely vivid footage interspersed between the Gore narrative of his life and the Gore global warming slideshow. Third, it conveys the scientific information in more depth, addressing the questions that people have, and illustrating answers with extremely sharp graphics on how temperature tracks CO2, the 650,000 year natural cycles of both temperature and CO2 and how dramatically the present CO2 levels and temperature exceed historical levels, how hurricanes and other natural storms gain intensity from warming temperatures, how global warming can bring both droughts and floods, how El Nino works, how the ocean conveyor belt works, and how the North America glacier melt affected Europe's climate. Fourth, it has some unforgettable visual models of the 2002 collapse of Larson B in Antarctica and what will happen to sea level in NY, Florida, Shanghai, Bangladesh, and elsewhere if either a significant portion of Greenland or Antarctica melts [in the only obvious scientific error of the movie, Gore mixed up the sea level change expected from Greenland melting with that of the Antarctic].
So, which one would I have my students see? Both...they both have unique aspects that are worth a student's while. I'd give An Inconvenient Truth an edge on content, but only if students can get past the fact that An Inconvenient Truth is a great commercial for why we should all wish that the Supreme Court had selected Al Gore, instead of George Bush as our President.
What I wish someone would do is blend both -- take Gore's slideshow, the great scenic footage from both, the Hansen discussion and other scientists from Brokaw and put them together...but, lacking that, see them both!
Scientists Galore in Global Warming
The Discovery Channel special presents an impressive array of international experts discussing the current realities of global warming and the future of the planet, featuring Dr. James Hansen, Chief, NASA Institute for Space Studies; Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Princeton University; and Dr. Stephen Pacala, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University.
Hansen is the world's most prominent climate modeler. He is perhaps best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s, which helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. Dr. Hansen was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and he received the prestigious Heinz Environment Award for his research on global warming in 2001. The Bush Administration recently created an outcry when it attempted to rein in his public appearances.
Oppenheimer has researched potential effects of global warming, including the impact of warming on atmospheric chemistry, ecosystems, the nitrogen cycle, ocean circulation, and the ice sheets. Oppenheimer and other scientists organized two UN workshops that helped catalyze negotiations on the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. He co-founded the Climate Action Network and co-authored Dead Heat: The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect.Pacala has focused on problems of global change with an emphasis on the biological regulation of greenhouse gases and climate. He is co-director of the Princeton Carbon Mitigation Initiative and directs the Princeton Environmental Institute. His writing includes research on maintenance of biodiversity, ecosystem modeling, ecological statisticsand the dynamics of vegetation and animal behavior.
Other scientists presented in the special include: Dr. Daniel Nepstad, Ecologist, Amazon researcher, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center; Dr. Mark Serreze, Senior Research Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Dr. Greg Holland, Director, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, NCAR; Dr. Nick Lunn, Research Scientist, Canadian Wildlife Service; Dr. Stephen Harrison, Director, Climate Change Risk Management, Glaciologist/Senior Research Associate, Oxford University Centre for the Environment; Professor Bob Spicer, Director of the Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space, and Astronomical Research; Professor Peter Cox, Science Director, Climate Change, Center for Ecology and Hydrology, Execter; Dr. John Hunter, Researcher, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania; Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Marine Biologist, University of Queensland; Professor Lin Er Da, Director, Agrometeorological Institute, China Academy of Agricultural Sciences; and Hila Vavae, Senior Meteorologist, Director of Meteorolgy Office, Tuvalu Island.
The Contents of Global Warming
The Discovery Channel special aims to
"decode the buzzwords and arm viewers with an arsenal of clear definitions and visual depictions to explain the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide emissions, CFCs, and effects on weather and rising sea levels. Visceral CGI and cutting edge climate computer models will help viewers see into the future at a world significantly changed by unchecked global warming."
The special features global warming hot spots most affected by climate change: sub-surface rivers in Patagonian glaciers, the drought-stricken Amazon river basin, and the Great Barrierl reef. The special presents a graphical timeline of global warming throughout history, addresses the contention that current global warming is simply part of the natural warming and cooling climate cycles, and demonstrates the contribution of the average American family to global warming. It identifies the mega-technical solutions from ocean CO2 injection to building green cities or "ecopolis." It also address the small fixes -- what ordinary Americans can do to slow global warming.
Here's an interesting perspective on Gore from a conservative Christian perspective: God, Gore and Global Warming
by Ken Connor
Posted Jul 03, 2006 in Human Events
It is pretty rare for a documentary to make a million dollars at the box office, so the fact that Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" has already brought in more than $10 million is impressive. Not only that, but Gore's movie will probably be one of the five best-selling documentaries of all time by the end of its run. The former Vice President clearly sees himself as a prophet, and he is warning Americans that the end is near.
Is it true? Are we living in the end times—not so much because of an impending Rapture, but because of melting ice caps? At CJS, we certainly don't have the scientific expertise to assess rival global warming claims. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: the debate should be settled on the basis of merit, not personality. Some conservatives will dismiss Al Gore's arguments simply because he is Al Gore. That would be a mistake.
Christians are often concerned about the lazy relativism that has become so popular in America. To compete against the post-modern mentality, we often talk about "truth-claims," and challenge others to take our truth-claims seriously. Al Gore is making a set of truth-claims, and many scientists support his theories. That does not necessarily mean Gore is right, but we should also resist the urge to let politics get in the way of an honest assessment.
Our responsibility as citizens is to look at all the evidence and make the best assessment we can. After collecting and interpreting the data, what if we determine that global warming is not a threat, or that humans are not responsible for increased temperatures? Does that automatically mean that we should proceed with the environmental policies we have now?
Not at all. Whether or not we face impending doom, Christians need to remember that human beings have a responsibility toward the environment. In the last few decades we certainly have not been as conscientious about taking care of our natural resources as we should be. Like it or not, Al Gore is helping to remind Christians of an important duty.
The great evangelical apologist, Francis Schaeffer, wrote a book in the 1970s called Pollution and the Death of Man. In it, Schaeffer carefully analyzes the claims of the environmental movement. Basing his arguments on some profound theological truths, Schaeffer argues that Christians have an important obligation to the environment.
For example, Schaeffer reminds Christians that God created the material world—including trees and chipmunks and flowers and whales—and that upon creating these things he called them good. In other words, God saw something worthwhile in these things, in and of themselves. The material world is valued in God's eyes, it ultimately belongs to Him, and therefore we should treat it with a measure of reverence.
Schaeffer recognizes that the environment, along with everything else, has suffered as a result of the Fall. Pollution, disease, and even global warming, are evidence of a fallen world. However, we should keep the three-part Christian worldview in mind: Creation, Fall, Redemption. Christians are always and everywhere called to be agents of Christ's redemption. Though the earth groans, we have an opportunity to work with a resurrection mentality, for Christ has made all things new.
Along the same lines, Schaeffer reminds us that mankind has a certain union with the creation, since we are actually a part of the creation. Along with sparrows and lilies, we are all the handiwork of the same God. For this reason, we ought to have some sense of solidarity with the created world. Beware, however: this point can be abused, as we've seen with the Spanish effort to confer fundamental human rights upon apes.
While we enjoy exalted status as creatures made in God's image (Gen. 1:27), we also have a sobering responsibility that accompanies this status. Under the so called "dominion mandate" (Gen 1:28), God has placed His global garden in our hands, and he has given us the charge: "Take good care of the world until I return." That is a major responsibility, and Christians should be especially concerned about disappointing the Gardener who created this garden in the first place.
We live in a consumer driven age, and selfishness abounds. It is easy to fall into the consumer mentality ("me, me, me, take, take, take"). Even Christians have been tempted to consume resources without considering future generations or our responsibility to God. Al Gore's prophesies may or may not be true, but they do provide us with an opportunity to stop and think about whether or not we—individually and collectively—have been faithful stewards of the environment. This is a discussion worth having, and at the very least we can thank Al Gore for inspiring it.
Mr. Connor is chairman of the Center for a Just Society. He is a trial and appellate attorney, known for his successful representation of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. He is a past president of the Family Research Council.
Some of the Materials from Global Warming
The Facts About Global Warming
WHAT IS IT?
Global warming is the gradual rise of the earth's surface temperature, thought to be caused by increased emissions of greenhouse gases (the “greenhouse effect”), specifically from human activities. -Environmental Protection Agency
A mere six degrees of global warming was enough to wipe out up to 95 percent of the species alive on Earth 251 million years ago. -Peopleandplanet.net, Bristol Univ.
Sun provides the Earth with the heat it needs to support life, but a drop of only 1/10th of 1% of the amount of the Sun’s energy reaching the Earth can spawn an Ice Age.
THE HEAT IS ON
·The average temperature in the U.S. in 2005 was almost one degree above the 1895-2004 mean, which will make 2005 one of the 20 warmest years on record for the country. -NOAA (based on preliminary data)
·Of the top 20 hottest years on record, 19 have occurred since 1980.
·Computer models suggest that average global surface temperatures will rise between 2.5°F and 10.4°F by the end of this century, a rate much larger and faster than any climatic changes over the past 10,000 years. -National Academy of Sciences
·Many scientists believe that temperatures are rising so fast, the Earth’s climate may reach a threshold – the tipping point – when there will be nothing we can do to ‘undo’ global warming.
AROUND THE WORLD
·In 1980, sea ice covered nearly 1.7 billion acres of the Artic, about the size of the
. In the last two decades alone, the Artic has lost an area roughly twice the size of
. If the melting continues at this rate, computer models predict that by 2060 there will be no sea ice at all during the Artic summer.
·One hundred years ago, there were more than 150 glaciers at
Glacier National Park in Montana. Today there are fewer than 30.
·The Patagonian glaciers at the Southern tip of South America
have lost 10% of their ice in the last seven years.
·If just the Greenland
icesheet melts into the ocean, it could raise global sea levels by 23 feet over the next few hundred years. Coastal cities, including New York and London, would be completely flooded. Low lying countries such as Bangladesh – with much of its land mass at sea level – would be nearly wiped out.
·Every year, nearly a thousand square miles of farmland in China
turns to desert. Since the 1950s, the rate has doubled.
·In a study of the polar bear population in the Arctic town of Churchilll,
Manitoba , the number of bears has declined from about 1200 back in the 1980s to less than 950 today. This 22% decline is directly related to early break-up sea ice in the region.
FACT OR FICTION:
·Some scientists argue that the increase in greenhouse gases has not made a measurable difference in the temperature. They say that natural processes have caused global warming. –World Book Encyclopedia
·“There is no reason to believe that this 10,000-year-old cycle of solar-induced warming and cooling will change, said Dr. Sallie Baliunas, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “I believe that we may be nearing the end of a solar warming cycle. Since the last minimum ended in 1715, there is a strong possibility that the Earth will start cooling off in the early part of the 21st Century.” National Center for Public Policy Research
FUELING THE FIRE: GREENHOUSE GASES
·Earth’s greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon that helps regulate the temperature of our planet. The sun heats the Earth and some of this heat, rather than escaping back to space, is trapped in the atmosphere by clouds and greenhouse gases, keeping the Earth at a sustainable temperature for human life.
·While many greenhouse gases occur naturally, human activities are adding gases to the natural mix at an unprecedented rate.
·More than 5 million acres of Amazon rainforest are lost every year to loggers and farmers.
·In the century between 1850 and 1950, human activities burned up 60 billion tons of carbon fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas. Today we burn the same amount every 10 years.
·The United States pumps more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country in the world. Each of us contributes about 22 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, whereas the world average per capita is about 6 tons. - Environmental Protection Agency
·Right now the U.S.makes up only five percent of the world’s population, yet we are responsible for a staggering 25% of the carbon dioxide that’s released into the atmosphere.
·Unless we reduce emissions and develop new energy alternatives, the blanket of greenhouse gases that surrounds the planet will double in the next 50 years, and triple in the next hundred.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
·Alternative energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide include the wind, sunlight, nuclear energy, and underground steam. Alternative sources of energy are more expensive to use than fossil fuels. However, increased research into their use would almost certainly reduce their cost. -World Book Encyclopedia
oHigh-efficiency appliances can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 450 pounds a year.
oRecycle aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic, cardboard, and newspapers. Recycling can reduce your home's carbon dioxide emissions by 850 pounds per year.
oWhen running errands, combine trips so that you are not using your car for single-purpose trips.
oCarpool: Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds per year. - Environmental Protection Agency
oTurning the thermostat down three degrees not only saves money – it keeps one ton of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
oIf every American household switched just one traditional light bulb to a long lasting energy-efficient fluorescent bulb, it would be the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.
Global Warming Timeline
254 Million Years Ago
Global warming of just a couple of degrees at the end of the Permian era led to mass extinction.
55 Million Years Ago
A several degree warming period at the end of the Paleocene era triggered a mass extinction.
10,000 Years Ago
During the last ice age, the Earth was just 9-16 degrees cooler than it is today.
A Swedish chemist named Svante Arrhenius coined the term “greenhouse effect” when he hypothesized in an article that global temperature is related to the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Climatologist Charles Keeling was the first to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on a continuous basis, and he was the first to report that global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were rising. His documentation was graphed, and became known as the Keeling Curve.
At this time, the science of global warming consisted of a few determined scientists whose predictions about the fate of our planet were either furiously debated or widely ignored.
The four strongest El Niños on record have all happened since 1980.
Temperatures in Chicago reach over 100 degrees and kill 739 people in five days
Larson B is the largest expanse of ice on earth, located on the eastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula. This plate of ice has been in deep freeze for the last 12,000 years. During periods of warmth, parts of the shelf have melted away, and small icebergs have splintered from its edges. But in the summer of 2002, something unprecedented happens. A chunk the size of Rhode Island falls into the sea.
Northern China has been gripped with severe drought since 2002.
China inhabits 21% of the Earth’s population, yet the country only has 7% of the world’s water.
More than 30,000 perish when a record-breaking heat wave grips an ill-prepared
January 1: Across Southern Australia, the New Year blasts its way into the record books. In the capital of
Sydney, temperatures top 113 degrees. By the end of January, the most destructive brush fires in 20 years rage throughout the country, killing nine people.
August 29, 2005: Katrina is the strongest hurricane to ever hit the
Gulf States reaching speeds of 175 miles an hour and ravaging 100 miles of coastline. In only a few hours, the tourist town of Gulfport,Mississippiis nearly leveled by the category 4 storm. Nearly 80% of the city of New Orleans floods. Thousands are killed.
Australia recorded the hottest year on record.
The Amazon rainforests recorded the driest year on record.
The worldwide record for number of hurricanes is smashed with 28 officially designated storms, including the most deadly to hit the U.S. in nearly 100 years.
The Kyoto Protocol is ratified by more than 160 nations. It sets legally binding target dates for many industrialized countries to cut their global-warming emissions. Despite the UnitedState’s role in drafting the treaty, the current administration has yet to sign the Kyoto treaty. Also reluctant to sign is Australia, the 14th largest producer of greenhouse gases, and the world’s largest exporter of coal.
February: The island ofTuvalu in the South Pacific saw the highest tide they’ve ever seen at 11 feet. If the oceans continue to rise, many of these small island countries will simply vanish into the sea.
April 16: A sandstorm blows more than 300,000 tons of sand on the capital of Beijing
May: Canadian wildlife officials were astonished to find the first polar bear/ grizzly hybrid in the wild.
National Park in northern MT is seeing the ice melt faster than at any time in recorded history. As the ice melts, more ground is exposed. That ground absorbs more of the sun that used to be reflected by the ice. As the ground warms up, the ice melts even faster.
The Great Barrier Reef experiences the third bleaching event in the last eight years. Three thousand individual reefs join together to cover more than 135,000 square miles of the ocean floor. Currently, the warm temperature of the water is preventing the algae from provided the nourishment and protection the corals need. The coral is repelling the algae, resulting in a colorless, dying coral reef.
Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere today are higher than anything we’ve seen in the past 600,000 years. Never, since human beings first walked the Earth, have carbon dioxide levels been this high. This shows that the present day climate is very unusual.
If temperatures continue to rise at their current rate, in 2100 the Earth may hit the 4-degree mark, known as the tipping point. This is the point at which Earth’s climate will reach the threshold of no longer being able to ‘undo’ global warming. [see Tipping Point post]
Energy folks might be interested in reading this four part series of articles by Michael Kane on Renewable Energy. Kane is a peak oiler with a decidedly pessimistic view of the promise of renewables. Part 1 discusses the problems of centralized power systems. Renewables Part 1 Part 2 focuses on the wind and importance of proximity in renewable energy. Renewables Part 2 Part 3 discusses renewable finance. Renewables Part 3 Part 4 deals with the prospect for replacing oil with solar. Renewables Part 4
[The ironies of the Bush-Cheney energy policy are too many to count, but Mike Kane's research on renewable energy has found a few big ones. For instance, domestic energy demand is growing fast. So are the energy alternatives, but unlike natural gas, coal, and oil, the sun and the wind are not always available. Dependence on renewables will require a back-up system running on the old hydrocarbons, or it will face frequent voltage drops and outages. If demand were to remain static, the old hydrocarbon capacity could serve as the backup; but because demand is surging, wind and solar are just supplements, not replacements. And since the existing hydrocarbon capacity is already in use, new renewable capacity is going to need new hydrocarbon capacity to back it up on windless, cloudy days.
This problem could be solved by a massive decentralization program to replace our national power grid with a multi-centered system that would be much more efficient and therefore less vulnerable to voltage drops (it would allow local consumers to use renewable energy for the actual replacement of hydrocarbon-driven electrical capacity, rather as a mere supplement). And here's another big ugly irony: whereas national rural electrification was achieved through a massive federally funded program comparable to Eisenhower's National Highway System, there is no government left to implement the opposite program which we desperately need for its replacement. As real wages collapse and viable jobs are lost by the millions, a grand-scale public works project would be an ideal way to slow the economic decline before it reaches the point of no return. Such a flicker of rational planning might even restore a shred of confidence in the dollar before that, too, becomes irretrievable. But that, says the devil on the screen, would be Big Government. -JAH]
PART 1 The problems of centralized power systems
Can Wind Replace Hydrocarbon Consumption?
Military & Intel Publicly Back Renewable Energy
Proximity & Money
March 18, 2005 1200 PST (FTW) – Wind turbines are being built at an accelerated rate across the globe, in Europe, North America, China and other Asian nations. Hydrocarbon depletion will be felt sooner rather than later largely due to politics, and the planning elites are well aware of this.
Many wind farms are currently in operation with plenty more planned to come online within the next three years. Renewable energy is certainly important for sustainable energy systems, but no one - including the environmentalist community - seems to be scrutinizing the social facts surrounding this fairly recent boom in renewable energy projects.
Can Wind Replace Hydrocarbon Consumption? The answer is no. Not even close.
In fact, renewable energy is not being looked upon as a means to replace or even move away from hydrocarbon consumption. Rather it is being utilized to supplement growing demand. This will ultimately result in the burning of more hydrocarbons than we currently consume.
Why is that?
Germany is further along in utilizing wind energy than any other nation. A report from E.ON Netz - Germany's second largest private energy provider - on the country's total wind capacity recently concluded 60% to 80% of Germany's energy must come from traditional sources (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric) to ensure there is enough supply to meet demand. Windmills don't always spin, which leads to voltage fluctuation, and that will make any centralized grid unreliable. 1
To keep a centralized grid running, a constant and ever expanding stream of hydrocarbon and nuclear energy is required no matter how many windmills come online.
Centralized grids waste energy.
Sending energy over long distances consumes energy in the process just to keep the grid functioning. This is called 'reactive power.' Additionally, the gigantic grid system that connects all of America - with one sub-national grid for the West, one for the East, and, remarkably, one for Texas - often experiences congestion and bottlenecking resulting in energy loss. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), transmission bottlenecks cost consumers more than $1 billion in the summers of 2000 and 2001 alone. 2
Let's analyze one American state leading the renewable energy wave, New York. Governor Pataki has set a goal for 25% of New York's energy to be renewable by 2013. 19% of the state's energy already comes from renewable hydroelectric power, much of which will be included in New York's RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standards). 3
There is limited additional capacity to increase energy production in that area, so wind turbines are hoped to fill the bulk of the 6% gap. They currently produce a total of 49 megawatts in all of New York, while NYC alone requires a constant stream of 5,000 to 10,000 MW of energy.
Regardless of the Governor's fairly realistic goal, as more wind turbines come online an increase in hydrocarbon consumption will be required to ensure the reliability of our inefficient centralized grid as demand grows. As wind turbines approach 30% of New York's energy supply, more hydrocarbon resources will be needed to avoid voltage fluctuation. That is why both an LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) storage facility and new wind farms are currently being considered as projects for Long Island Sound. New York needs both of them to continue its massive, and increasing, over-consumption. As these projects are completed, the grid will need upgrades starting with new, expensive, transmission lines.
The perverse and unfortunate reality is that, provided that overall energy demand rises as it is projected to do, additional wind turbines will require the burning of more hydrocarbons and the production of more nuclear power over time to ensure the grid continues to run efficiently. Most likely, within the context of hydrocarbon depletion, this will lead to the eventual downfall of centralized power systems.
Since 1970 America's energy consumption has grown 30% in little over 30 years. Now our consumption is expected to grow a whopping 20% in only 7 years - between 2003 and 2010. 4Our grid is not equipped to handle this, and has led many individuals in the wind energy boom to say an overhaul of the grid needs to happen simultaneously with new turbines coming online.
The only solution that will be sustainable and palatable for everyone is to reduce consumption in a coordinated national program before the effects of hydrocarbon depletion worsen. There is no "renewable fix" to our energy problems without massive conservation efforts. Such a program should have begun long ago. But with Dick Cheney stating, "The American way of life is not negotiable," it is clear that over-consumption will remain America's national energy policy. As George W. Bush has plainly stated: "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."
Meanwhile George W. has a PV solar system on his Texas ranch whose rain run-off is used to water the surrounding garden. Think about that for a minute.
It's up to individuals to learn and teach about renewable power systems that can be sustained. Renewable energy sources offer solutions in small cooperative settings, but not within a big centralized grid of over consumption. Decentralized power structures - in every facet of human life - are crucial for a sustainable, survivable future, and no one is going to do it for you. While there have been government funded grants for the study of decentralized micro-grids, there's little evidence of the political will to build them. And given the current administration's will-to-disaster, that particular snowball in hell has just about melted.
Perhaps America's "solution" will be the continued exchange of our youth's blood for the blood of mother Earth, as we are unsuccessfully attempting to do in Iraq. That game can't last. But it won't stop anytime soon, because the military-intelligence complex regard renewables as a way to cope with surging demand while avoiding conservation efforts - and peace.
Small cooperatives aren't on the minds of renewable energy's newest public supporters. On December 6th and 7th, 2004, in Washington, D.C., the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) held a conference where the American Military and Intelligence community came out in unprecedented support of renewable energy sources. Only a few renewable energy press wires reported the event, and the mainstream media has thus far remained completely (and eerily) silent about this high profile conference. A summary of the event can be read here:
Speakers included Frank Gaffney and Bud MacFarlane - both former NSA Advisors to President Reagan, as well as Admiral Dennis McGinn and James Woolsey. Woolsey is a former CIA Director under Bill Clinton and VP of the military industrial giant Booz Allen Hamilton. Woolsey is chairman of the advisory board for both the Clean Fuels Foundation and the New Uses Council; he is a member of the National Commission on Energy Policy; and he sits on the advisory board of ACORE.
At the conference, Woolsey stated that a major component in the war on terror is oil.
"I fear we're going to be at war for decades, not years," Woolsey said. "It will last a long time and it will have a major ideological component. Ultimately we will win it but one major component of that war is oil." 5
Woolsey drives a hybrid-electric Toyota Prius and has a PV solar system on his home. In his speech, he stayed away from the cruel myth that hydrogen technologies create energy and instead focused on ethanol and biodeisel. According to Woolsey, if a new generation of electric cars could plug in, they would be able to take advantage of solar and wind energies on the grid.
But plug-in cars will further drain our already over-used grid requiring not only more renewable, but more non-renewable consumption as well. Within the reality of a centralized power system this will cause an increase in hydrocarbon consumption for every windmill and electric plug-in car brought on line. Not to mention the fact that windmills and cars are made with two main ingredients - steel and oil.
Woolsey is also an advisor to "Changing World Technologies," a company that can make anything into oil in a process called thermal depolymerization. If you put something in one end of this machine, it comes out the other as oil. For example, if you were to put a 175 lb man in, he would come out the other end as 38 lbs of oil, 7 pounds of gas, 7 lbs of minerals, and 123 lbs of sterilized water. 6
The Military and Intel "coming out party" for renewable energy is designed to stimulate Wall Street to invest in this direction. While this has the appearance of being a good initiative, the question we need to be asking is who is going to pay for the energy, and who is going to benefit from it?
Proximity and Money Electricity travels the path of least resistance, which means it flows to the closest and easiest destination possible.
Our grid has no storage capacity. It is designed only to transport and consume energy.7 This is relevant to individuals with PV solar systems on their homes that are hooked up to the grid. When their PV systems produce more energy than they consume it is not stored for a rainy day when the sun doesn't shine. 8It's sold off through the grid, and because less travel distance means less energy loss, the additional energy sold will go to the nearest users - likely a neighbor.
In other words, whoever is closest to the electricity, gets it.In Cape Cod the nation's largest off shore wind farm is being planned. The wind rating in the Cape and Islands area is among the highest in the nation that can be commercially utilized. The proposed project by Cape Wind Associates would consist of 130 wind turbines with a total maximum output of 420 MW - enough to provide 75% of the Cape and Islands power needs. This includes one of the Clintons' favorite vacation spots, Martha's Vineyard.
Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates, told FTW that the energy produced by Cape Wind would flow only to the Cape and Islands. When asked if it was possible in case of an emergency to divert the energy elsewhere, Gordon responded, "No, there would have to be some type of transmission trick to do that, and I just don't see that happening."
So it will be the residents of this predominantly rich area who will have renewable wind energy running into their homes. The Cape project is unique in that it sits entirely on federal land, so State oversight has been minimal. The Army Corp of Engineers is in charge of the project.
Cape Wind Associates is taking advantage of a tax credit offered by the federal government to encourage renewable energy projects. Federal funds come from all taxpayers, but only those close to the projects will consume renewable energy. In a natural gas and/or oil crisis, proximity to renewable energy sources would make the difference between having power and getting blacked out.
Another source of funding for these projects are green credits, or REC's (Renewable Energy Credits). These are purchased by consumers and represent nothing more than your support for the concept of renewable energy. On the energy bill of those who participate, a charge is placed for the REC purchased, and is given to the renewable energy provider of your choice. This does not mean you are purchasing renewable energy - not at all. The only way that can happen is if you are located close to renewable energy sources, being fed by a substation collecting that energy.
So these green credits equate to paying for other people's energy.
There are those who argue if enough REC's were purchased, every home would be consuming renewable energy within a decade. That has been proven false by the recent report out of Germany cited earlier showing the more renewable energy utilized, the more non-renewable fuel is required for a centralized grid to function properly.
The REC concept is billed as a socially responsible one. You can become the "proud owner" of green credits. "Offset up to 100% of the emissions from your home by buying REC's."
This is claimed to be a way of increasing the demand for renewable energy. But in reality, your home never sees one single watt of renewable energy, unless it is near a substation supplied by renewable sources. But what if we hit the natural gas cliff and oil prices spike? Will that "green credit" keep your home warm? No. That green credit will have already gone to a renewable producer - likely far away from your home producing energy for other people.
Is this yet another form of economic warfare?
ACORE purchased enough green credits to cover the amount of hydrocarbon emissions produced by their D.C. conference, including hotel accommodations for guest speakers. This was an obvious PR stunt, intended to portray green credits as the way responsible citizens counterbalance the carbon emissions produced by their oil and gas consumption.
But REC advocates never address the fact that increasing renewable energy sources will require more coal, oil, gas and nuclear consumption to sustain a centralized grid as demand escalates. Until a policy of decentralized energy cooperatives is implemented, renewable energy will only increase the consumption of, and reliance on, finite resources. In some remote corners of the globe decentralized cooperatives are already the norm, and these are the models FTW will be looking at as this series continues.
Meanwhile, those who can afford to build renewable energy projects are doing so, as close to their own living space as possible.
7 The fact that centralized grids are designed only to transport and consume energy leads renewable energy sources feeding the grid to cause voltage fluctuations. The amount of energy consumed by the grid must equal that which is being provided to it at any and every moment in time; otherwise blackouts can result. Renewable energy sources produce energy at inconsistent rates, depending upon variables such as sunlight and wind velocity. This is why 60% to 80% of energy fed into the grid must come from traditional sources, which do not cause voltage fluctuations.
There is an evolving computational method called "grid computing" that is speculated to be a possible solution to voltage fluctuation problems caused by renewable energy sources feeding a centralized grid. Such a system is currently being worked on, funded by the European commission and led by the Italian academic institution INFN and other organizations such as IBM Israel. Researchers say they may have a product ready for demonstration in two years. FTW will be watching developments in this area.