Why Global Warming Is Different and Harder Than Previous Environmental Problems


There’s a consensus among leading scientists that global warming is caused by human activity. What–if anything–should we do about it?


JEFFREY BALL: Global warming is fundamentally harder than past environmental problems. Unlike smog or litter or dirty rivers, it’s global, long term and largely invisible. The upshot: Solving global warming is the top priority of essentially no one (save a relative handful of scientists and environmental activists).


That suggests two basic principles for fighting global warming. First, the steps that will be most politically feasible are those that happen to curb greenhouse-gas emissions in the process of doing something that more people care more about: cleaning the air, or producing jobs or making money. Second, in contrast to the approach taken thus far, the steps that make the most sense are the ones that are most economically efficient.

A third basic principle is equally important: Technological breakthroughs are hard to predict. So it’s unwise to ground any strategy to curb global warming on the expectation that a particular technology will get big enough and cheap enough to be a main fix.


Those three basic principles are pretty general. They point to two more-specific approaches:


Focus on the biggest sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. That includes a handful of gases produced in industrial processes that, pound for pound, pack a far heavier global-warming punch than does carbon dioxide. As for carbon dioxide, it means focusing on China, the world’s biggest emitter and a place that has an incentive to clean up its energy system that most people see as far more compelling than global warming: dirty air.


And when governments around the world spend money to promote cleaner energy, it’s worth structuring those subsidies to reward not specific predetermined technologies, but whichever technologies over time end up able to produce the most environmental gain at the lowest cost.


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Problem Solving Dynamics




The psychological dynamics of problem solving are well known. When a problem is identified and assessed, and when a corrective strategy is formulated and activated, then people begin to feel better. Hope replaces the feeling of inevitable defeat that is the result of inaction. Uncertainty and procrastination are corrosive to contentment and lethal to optimism.


Optimism can’t replace pessimism until constructive action begins. This explains why increasing numbers of people are becoming gloomy about their environmental future. Those with even the most rudimentary understanding of environmental issues recognize that the problems are large, serious and complex, that they are deep and global rather than superficial and local. As the predictions of climate science become more dire, the mood darkens. The dangerous threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperature is now considered to be inevitable. The scientific models are predicting 4°C by 2060-70, and — unless we reduce emissions quickly and dramatically — at least 6°C by 2100.


The pessimism in Canada is particularly pronounced because this country has a federal government that actively subverts international efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, is silent on the ecological effects of a melting Arctic, avoids discussing the root cause of extreme weather events, systematically obstructs scientists who raise issues of environmental relevance, and blithely plots a future for Canadians that seems wholly disconnected from the most basic principles of climate science. Indeed, Canada’s government seems to be living on a different planet, oblivious to the mood of concern eroding the morale of the country. No wonder that a cloud of pessimism is darkening the emergence of optimism when our national political leadership seems numb to the catastrophic consequences of unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions.


The tragedy of this position of denial is compounded by the experience that real problems are more easily solved than imagined ones. When problems are identified and solutions attempted, we find ways to overcome obstacles that once seemed overwhelming. But worry in the company of inaction is a fatal combination that wastes energy, saps resolve, squanders creativity and produces cynicism. Instead of contemplating corrective strategies, the imagination concocts worse-case scenarios, anticipates disaster and dissolves in gloom. Passive resignation is a poor substitute for positive initiative. Without a Canadian strategy for addressing the twin threats of global warming and climate change, everyone in the country becomes a fretting victim of failure, rendered powerless about a fate they are not attempting to avoid.


To counteract this destructive effect, many provinces, cities, towns and municipalities have undertaken heroic initiatives that range from carbon taxes and bicycling infrastructure to composting projects and urban gardening. Green spaces, parks, walkways and stream rehabilitation are just a few of their initiatives to restore and enhance healthy environments. Within their limited capabilities they have attempted to increase energy efficiencies, provide rapid transit and limit urban sprawl.


Heroic as these undertakings are, their effects are relatively small without an overarching national policy that sets and coordinates clear objectives that can then be synchronized with local and international policies. The fundamental environmental threat we are facing is multinational and global. Community and individual effort is exemplary and important. But the key to eventual ecological management is a system of guiding national initiatives that concur with global principles. When such principles are clearly defined and assiduously respected, they inspire hope.


In this regard, the Canadian government is guilty of neglect, abject failure and even subversion. While Ottawa has just started to consider carbon taxes, Norway is increasing its levy from $33 to $72 per tonne to add an extra $1.6 billion to funds that will increase energy efficiencies, combat climate change, encourage renewable energy, enhance food security, reduce deforestation and help eveloping countries convert to low-carbon energy sources. Norwegians are debt free, with $720 billion in savings to safeguard their security and the ecologies on which they depend. Britain is actually meeting its 1990 Kyoto Protocol target for greenhouse gas emissions, an objective that Canada dismissed as being impossible for itself — subsequently withdrawing, for the first time in its history, from a legally binding obligation to the international community.


While some countries struggle bravely to reduce their greenhouse gases, Canada’s contribution has been dismal. Our bewildering negligence has branded us a pariah state that is undermining the world’s environmental security.


The effect on the Canadian psyche of our national inaction and the resulting international censure is corrosive.This explains why doomsday scenarios are becoming a preoccupation of our imagination. If Canada’s government were to methodically address environmental problems in a manner proportional to their actual severity, and if it were to actively solicit and encourage public dialogue, participation and innovation, then the Canadian collective mood would brighten. The focus of our attention would shift from helpless worry to actual solutions — of which there are many — and optimism would begin to replace pessimism. When, however, our national government is not even capable of acknowledging a problem as fundamental and obvious as global climate change, then the effect is sufficiently poisonous to prevent us from proceeding to hopeful and practical solutions.



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Benefits of biomass boiler at showcase environmental farm


As a multi-faceted 118-acre organic agricultural site, Highfield Farm in Topsham runs not only as a fully functioning farm, but also as an established campsite and well-known local educational facility.


So, when its owners, Ian and Lyndsay Shears, started working towards an even more environmentally friendly agricultural establishment, there were many elements to consider in their long-term plans.


They began their eco-systems by installing 42 PV panels throughout the farm. Having already started to see the huge benefits associated with creating their own electricity, when the time came to replace the old gas-fired boiler, they were already considering the installation of a replacement, environmentally friendly and renewable energy-sourced biomass boiler.


Mr Shears explained: “We’d been considering biomass for a couple of years. We are Soil Association-certified and we installed solar PV panels to create our own electricity harnessed from sunlight, which also meant a lot of economic sense.


“When we converted some of our barns, an additional heat requirement was created that our old gas boiler simply could not cope with efficiently. So, we decided biomass was the way forward.”


Exeter-based renewable firm Fair Energy provided the new biomass heating and water system, not least because, based in Exeter, they were the most local to his farm too.


“Our conference facility accommodates up to 50 people. Rain water from our barns supplies the loos, and the 10kW solar PV system provides the electrical power,” Mr Shears added. “So, we felt that to be able to heat it and the water with a renewable energy source – our own wood from the farm – would really enhance the whole building itself, particularly in relation to our organic, environmental status.”


The installation at Highfield Farm took place in August and the 90kW biomass boiler was installed and sized to cope with both the immediate and future requirements. Already covering 2,000 square feet, the system will cope with an additional 3,000 square feet when all the buildings are converted.


At first, the biomass boiler ran on wood chip pellets, but now Mr Shears is sourcing wood chippings locally in Newton Poppleford. Next year, Highfield’s fuel will be totally self-sufficient as he intends to use the farm’s own coppice, which will be cut next summer in time for use in the autumn.


He explained: “We’ve been really impressed with the biomass installation and feel it might also eventually help us with the campsite facilities. We’re currently installing a new shower block that will initially run off the solar panels next year, but also have the option with the new biomass system to consider linking the showers to the mains if necessary.


“It’s estimated that our new biomass boiler will save us a massive £12,500 with RHI and fuel savings annually.”


Highfield Farm has already run an event about renewable energy and, with its weekly visits from local schools, who help with all sorts including the kitchen garden, sewing seeds, soil preparation, weeding and harvesting, the Shears feel that if renewable energy gets included on school curriculum’s, they are well placed to talk about and demonstrate the benefits of biomass.


Fair Energy’s Director, Kirsten Parrick, commented: “Highfield Farm is an extremely proactive farming site in terms of its environmental awareness, eco-systems and renewable energy. Ian and Lyndsay display a clear understanding of all the benefits as well as a deep-rooted environmental conscience”.


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Crown Capital Eco Management Indonesia Fraud





The Vermont Times Argus published a spot-on review of a new book by Bill McKibben -one of many who made a career out of jetting between conferences about the environment.


It’s written by Suzanna Jones, described as “an off-the-grid farmer living in Walden.” She does not object to local power – but disagrees with McKibben about the trend towards industrial scale renewables. It is, she says, part of the mainstreaming of the environmental movement.


“In his 2008 book “Deep Economy,” Bill McKibben concludes that economic growth is the source of the ecological crises we face today. He explains that when the economy grows larger than necessary to meet our basic needs – when it grows for the sake of growth, automatically striving for “more” – its social and environmental costs greatly outweigh any benefits it may provide.


Unfortunately, McKibben seems to have forgotten what he so passionately argued just five years ago. Today he is an advocate of industrial wind turbines on our ridgelines: He wants to industrialize our last wild spaces to feed the very economy he fingered as the source of our environmental problems.


His key assumption is that industrial wind power displaces the use of coal and oil, and therefore helps limit climate change. But since 2000, wind facilities with a total capacity equivalent to 350 coal-fired power plants have been installed worldwide, and today there are more – not fewer – coal-fired power plants operating.


(In Vermont, the sale of renewable energy credits to out-of-state utilities enables them to avoid mandates to reduce their fossil fuel dependency, meaning that there is no net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.)


At best, industrial wind simply adds more energy to the global supply. And what for? More! More energy than the grid can carry, more idiotic water parks, more snowmaking, more electronic gadgets, more money for corporations.


Why should we spend millions of dollars to destroy wildlife habitat, kill bats and eagles, pollute our headwaters, fill valuable wetlands, polarize our communities, make people sick, mine rare-earth metals – just to ensure that we can consume as much or more next year than we did this year?


The costs of industrial wind far outweigh the benefits – unless you are a wind developer. Federal production tax credits and other subsidies have fostered a gold rush mentality among wind developers, who have been abetted by political and environmental leaders who want to appear “green” without challenging the underlying causes of our crises.


Meanwhile, average Vermonters find themselves without any ability to protect their communities or the ecosystems of which they are a part. The goal of an industrial wind moratorium is to stop the gold rush so we can have an honest discussion on these issues.


Why does this frighten proponents of big wind? Because once carefully examined, industrial wind will be exposed for the scam that it is.


McKibben’s current attitude toward the environment has been adopted by politicians, corporations, and the big environmental organizations. Environmentalism has been successfully mainstreamed, at the cost of its soul.


This co-opted version isn’t about protecting the land base from the ever-expanding empire of humans. It’s about sustaining the comfort levels we feel entitled to without exhausting the resources required. It is entirely human-centered and hollow, and it serves corporate capitalism well.


In “Deep Economy,” McKibben points out that the additional “stuff” provided by an ever-growing economy doesn’t leave people happier; instead, the source of authentic happiness is a healthy connection to nature and community. As Vermonters have already discovered, industrial wind destroys both.




The Crown Capital Management Jakarta International Relations: Indonesia protested over China passports



Indonesia has revealed that it protested to Beijing about China’s publication in its passports of its “nine-dash line” claim to almost the entire South China Sea.


Beijing’s decision to print the new map last year prompted protests from the Philippines and Vietnam, which also claim large parts of the South China Sea. India, which has a border dispute with China, also criticised Beijing’s move.


Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia’s foreign minister, told the Financial Times in an interview that Indonesia lodged a protest with Beijing several weeks after the new passports were issued,


“We said that usage of that passport should not be inferred as being a recognition of that claim,” he said. “We exercised nice low key diplomacy but getting our point across.”


At the time that the dispute arose last year, Mr Natalegawa said China’s move was “disingenuous” and that Beijing was “testing the water to see its neighbours’ reactions”, according to the Jakarta Post.


But Indonesia made no public statement at the time about the fact that the nine-dash line cuts through its Exclusive Economic Zone in the gas-rich Natuna Sea, where international energy companies such as ExxonMobil and Total are operating.


Indonesia has long tried to play down its territorial dispute with Beijing for fear of upsetting relations with China, which is a key trade and investment partner.


“We believe that by doing quiet diplomacy we get a better result,” said Evi Fitriani, an international relations expert at the University of Indonesia. “So I’m quite surprised that the foreign minister admitted making this protest.”


Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto, a maritime security analyst at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said Indonesia was reluctant to increase tensions with China for fear of inflaming public opinion and risking a damaging economic backlash from Beijing.


But he argued that there was an “increasing risk that Indonesia will be drawn into the fray” as China’s navy continues to grow at a much faster rate than Indonesia’s already inferior maritime forces.


As a thriving, young democracy and a member of the Group of 20 world’s largest economies, Indonesia is keen to play a more active role in regional and global diplomacy. But the rise of China and the recent US “pivot” to Asia have made it more difficult for Jakarta to maintain its traditional position of not aligning with any major powers while remaining friends with all.


“Indonesia is worried about China but they are more worried about being seen to be in any particular camp,” said a senior western diplomat in Jakarta.


Mr Natalegawa has spearheaded Indonesia’s rise on the world stage since he was appointed as foreign minister by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2009.


“We’ve been trying to be the country that connects the dots and brings different elements together in an appropriate and measured way,” he told the FT interview, citing Indonesia’s efforts to convince southeast Asian nations to form a united position on how to resolve maritime disputes with China and to encourage the repressive military junta that ruled Myanmar until 2011 to open up.


But, despite his hopes for collaborative, multilateral diplomacy, the foreign minister accepted that the peace and stability that has allowed Asia to become a key driver of the global economy could come under threat because of the emergence of China as a major power.


“China’s rise, how it transpires, how it plays out, will really determine the state of the region, whether it’s part of the solution or part of the problem,” he said.


But, with some in Beijing fearing that the US rebalance toward Asia is designed to contain China, Mr Natalegawa warned that countries should be careful not to antagonise China unnecessarily.


“In Indonesia on the whole we see China’s rise as an opportunity rather than a threat,” he said. “It’s how we respond to it that could become a threat.”






Natural Awareness Campaign Crown Capital Eco Management: Why fibres of the future?


Stringent environmental legislation and consumer awareness are driving the transition to a bio-based economy and models of sustainable development which offer high perspectives for natural fibre markets. Moving to a bio-based economy requires substitution of many common raw materials that are currently largely produced from fossil (petrochemical) or mineral resources, with products produced from renewable (plant and animal based) resources.


Substitute to synthetics

Natural fibres are increasingly being recognized as a favorable substitute to synthetics which use unsustainable inputs. Aside from technical and cost advantages, such products have the added attraction of meeting growing consumer awareness with respect to environmental, sustainability and social standards contributing to:


• Encouraging the growth of sustainable agriculture

• Uptake of environmentally friendly production and processing technologies

• Fostering economic development

• Strengthening the participation of smallholders in the value chain


The hard fibres: Acaba, Coir and Sisal, and bast fibres: Jute and Kenaf, are all natural fibres which have various and multiple end uses. Their versatility and environmentally friendly characteristics are strong advantages over synthetic alternatives. Each of the fibres has their particular strengths but all have the benefit of being naturally derived and increasingly recognised as a sustainable choice.


Technical and economic benefits

Research is increasingly demonstrating the technical and economic benefits of including natural components in industrial products. Therefore, competitive products based on the natural fibres are being developed that show excellent technical performance and harm the environment less than current products based on petrochemical materials. Fibre composites can be found in packaging, building, and furniture materials in addition to the traditional products such as rope, twine and carpets. The economic value of the fibre crop depends on its end-use market and costs of production.


New opportunities

As the popularity of natural fibres in industrial uses expands there are new opportunities for hard fibres and jute to reach high end value markets. The scope of possible uses of the future fibres is enormous. This has been recently highlighted by the declaration of United Nations for 2009 as International Year of Natural Fibres (IYNF).