Category Archives: Environment

IMF Warns Underpricing Water Is Fostering Shortages

Remember that video that went around a few months back about the CEO of Nestles declaring water is not a human right? He was probably correct. How can I have a right to something that may not be available?

The IMF is now chiming in with a decree that water is underpriced and that underpricing of water is causing shortages.

Governments should be charging consumers higher prices to encourage more sustainable water use and improve access for the poor, the IMF says in its latest staff discussion note.

Source: IMF Warns Underpricing Water Is Fostering Shortages – Real Time Economics – WSJ

Right pricing water is going to be critical to sustaining our potable water supply.

While this sounds green and all….

Happy Earth Day!

There is good news on the renewable energy front. Tesla is announcing the release of batteries for the home and for utilities. Great news, eh?

As battery technology evolves, it could pave the way to cost effectively store both wind and solar-generated energy and connect to electrical power grids. The technology also could be used by businesses and homes, which could virtually remain off the power grid except in emergencies. The grid, essentially, would be the backup.

via Tesla to announce home and utility-scale batteries that offer energy independence | Computerworld.

While this sounds like wonderful news and all how many of you have thought of this, it is will become possible to have an all-electric home out in the wilderness far, far from power lines and utilities. Just think of all the development of wilderness area we will be able to complete. Power and people where they never were before.

Climate Change Will Turn The Arctic Green – Business Insider

So it appears that as the Earth grows warmer we will have a greener Arctic and possibly even green in the Antarctic which will cause even more global warming.

A warmer world means more environments that can support plants, which will now be able to grow at higher latitudes than they currently can. This changing environment will also impact the rest of the world, because its new color scheme will absorb more heat from the sun.

via Climate Change Will Turn The Arctic Green – Business Insider.

So I’ve got to wonder about if this new environment will actually be more conducive to human life on this planet? After all, a greener planet suggests a planet capable of growing more food for us to eat and places that are currently too cold for comfortable human habitation will warm up enough for us to now live there.


My Carbon Footprint

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot lately about “carbon footprints.” I’m not sure who coined this term but I began hearing it about a year ago. I started looking into what this meant and trying to figure out if my carbon footprint was something I really needed to be concerned about or was it just some new fad designed to make a group of people feel good about themselves while fleecing them of every penny one could fleece from them.

What I found out was mixed. You see this carbon footprint issue falls under what we once called global warming but no, more accurately I suppose, call climate change and there are plenty of shysters on both sides of this issue. There is both money to be protected and money to be made being an activist in the global climate change discussion. When money is at stake credibility comes into question.

I trust the actual research scientists looking into global climate change but, as a lay person, I can’t fully understand their papers. I look for papers that can summerize what the researchers’ papers are saying in laymens terms and warning bells start going off telling me these guys don’t understand what they are trying to summerize any better than I do and I may have a foot up on them.

What I finally came up with is that I do need to be concerned with my carbon footprint because the bigger it is the more money it is costing me. This is money I could use to pay off bills and put toward my retirement, which the eventuality of keeps getting closer and closer. I have little concern about global climate change because, as I see it, there is little actual effect I can personally have on affecting the outcome of it one way or another. I can do what I feel is a moral obligation that I have in not being wasteful and to conserve natural resources as best as I can.

To that end I boarded a bus this morning. That bus, in turn, took me to a train station where I caught a train to the airport. From there I got on another bus which dropped me off at least a mile and a half from my office. The total cost of the trip was $1.75. The total leangth of the trip was something like 44 miles. My savings? ~$5.75 or $11.50 for the round trip. If I can do this just twice a week that’s $1,150/yr. In my mind that’s all the reason I need to reduce my carbon footprint.

Other things I’m trying to do is to convert to CF lighting where possible. The problem I’m having with this is that the lamps I’ve been using are not giving me the lifespan promised. However, I have noticed that there has been a reduction in my electricity usage that corresponds to my replacing several incandescent lamps with CF lamps.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t know if global climate change is real or just another scare but I do know that by using less energy and reducing my waste I can save myself some money and that isn’t a bad thing.

Small, Safe Nuclear Reactor

It looks like someone has come up with a nuclear power generating plant that’s just the right size.

The Galena design is part of a new generation of small nuclear reactors that can be built in a factory and transported by barge, truck or helicopter. A federal study, funded at Stevens’ request and published in May 2001, found they are inherently safe and easy to operate, resistant to sabotage or theft, cost effective and transportable.

Toshiba Corp., the Japanese electronics giant, calls its reactor the 4S system: super-safe, small and simple.

Washington, D.C., attorney Doug Rosinski, who represents Toshiba, calls the reactor a “nuclear battery,” although it has nothing in common with the typical AA cell. The power comes from a core of non-weapons-grade uranium about 30 inches in diameter and 6 feet tall. It would put out a steady stream of 932-degree heat for three decades but can be removed and replaced like a flashlight battery when the power is depleted, he said.

The reactor core would be constructed and sealed at a factory, then shipped to the site. There it is connected with the other, nonnuclear parts of the power plant to form a steel tube about 70 feet long with the nuclear core welded into the bottom like the eraser in a pencil, Rosinski said. The assembly is then lowered into a concrete housing buried in the ground, making it as immune to attack or theft as a missile in its silo.

The reactor has almost no moving parts and doesn’t need an operator. The nuclear reaction is controlled by a reflector that slowly slides over the uranium core and keeps the nuclear fission “critical.” If the reflector stops moving, the reactor loses power. If the shield moves too fast, the core “burns” more quickly, yielding the same amount of power but reducing the reactor’s life, Rosinski said.

I like this. I like this a lot. When you consider the environmental risks involved in transporting all the diesel fuel now used to generate power for only a few hours a day in these remote Alaskan villages you can quickly see how this nuclear reactor can be deemed very environmental friendly.

Sustainable Whaling?

The whaling industry is often villified just for doing what they are in business to do, afterall there just can’t be a whaling industry without whaling. I’ve got to wonder just how justified this condemnation of an entire industry is. Jonathon Delacour got me thinking about this with a recent article of his. It seems that there are two reasons that most people think that whaling is wrong, because we are about to hunt whales to extinction and whales are just too intelligent for us to be killing. However, to say that all whales are intelligent or that all whales are on the verge of extinction ignores the diversity of the group Cetacea.

I also have to question the idea of an animal being too intelligent to treat as a crop to harvest. There are a number of intelligent animals that we use as food. Right off the top of my head I think of pigs. Pigs are very intelligent yet they have been domesticated for the sole purpose of slaughtering for their meat and hides.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully agree that if any species, regardless of intelligence, that can’t stand the pressure of hunting or harvesting that species needs to be protected. However, if whaling can be done in a sustainable fashion I think we need to rethink how the whaling industry is treated.