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Dr. Teller's Paper on Artificial Clouds
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Dr. Crutzen's and Dr. Wigley's Papers on Artificial Clouds
SuperFreakenomics
Dr. Ken Caldeira's Papers on Artificial Clouds & Carbon Mgmt.
Dr. Gregory Benford's Paper on Artificial Clouds
Clouds
SUN, COSMIC RAYS, & CLIMATE CHANGE
Earths Bio Response
Abrupt Climate Change: Oceans
Abrupt Climate Change: Permafrost
Macro Engineering: Climate
Remediation: Artificial Clouds
Remediation: Nuclear Power
Remediation: Forests, Plankton, Sequestration
Remediation: Bio Technology
Politics and Technology
Ethanol Fraud
Geo Engineering: Venice
Geo Engineering: Mississippi Delta
Geo Engineering: ! Save Earth!

See Google Tech Talk on GeoEngineering

See talk on political history of climate change.

See good Canadian discussion of geo-engineering. Eh?

 

Politics and Technology

 

Technology itself represents a major element in global ecology.

 

For example a man who drives a car that gets 20 MPG at $2.50 a gallon is in “exactly” the same position as a man who drives a car that gets 80 MPG when the price per gallon reaches $10.00 a gallon.

 

I say “exactly” and not exactly because as regular College visitors know there is nothing exactly.  And this is the Political question:  How can we, acting through government inform our public policy with respect to Technology?

 

For it is the market which intermediates between us and by our millions of decisions, value judgments, which we make  in  the market, minute by minute, in all the various respects, every relationship incorporated into a unitary whole, and by which we work out all such questions of Technology, and what is or is not “exactly” a substitution, what is or is not acceptable.

 

This interface, between Politics and Technology, is exactly what is at issue in this question of global warming, in particular, and the host of other issues we have elsewhere examined in the College and its Institutes.   Can laser disks be accepted in education?  Robots in medicine?  Modular elements in construction of homes and nuclear power plants?  For in the free market these questions are no obstacles. 

 

But in Public Policy, Politics, without the market to intermediate, we must  search, consider, reason . . .

 

 

 

An Allegory:

 

Thursday, July 28, 2005 9:27 a.m. EDT  With Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff 

Shuttle Foam Loss Linked to EPA Regs

As recently as last month, NASA had been warned that foam insulation on the space shuttle's external fuel tank could sheer off as it did in the 2003 Columbia disaster - a problem that has plagued space shuttle flights since NASA switched to a non-Freon-based type of foam insulation to comply with Clinton administration Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

"Despite exhaustive work and considerable progress over the past 2-1/2 years, NASA has been unable to eliminate the possibility of dangerous pieces of foam and ice from breaking off the external fuel tank and striking the shuttle at liftoff," the agency's Return-to-Flight Task Force said just last month, according to The Associated Press.

But instead of returning the much safer, politically incorrect, Freon-based foam for Discovery's launch, the space agency tinkered with the application process, changing "the way the foam was applied to reduce the size and number of air pockets," according to Newsday.

"NASA chose to stick with non-Freon-based foam insulation on the booster rockets, despite evidence that this type of foam causes up to 11 times as much damage to thermal tiles as the older, Freon-based foam," warned space expert Robert Garmong just nine months ago.

In fact, though NASA never acknowledged that its environmentally friendly, more brittle foam had anything to do with the foam sheering problem, the link had been well documented within weeks of the Columbia disaster.

In February 2003, for instance, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

"NASA engineers have known for at least five years that insulating foam could peel off the space shuttle's external fuel tanks and damage the vital heat-protecting tiles that the space agency says were the likely 'root cause' of Saturday's shuttle disaster."

In a 1997 report, NASA mechanical systems engineer Greg Katnik "noted that the 1997 mission, STS-87, was the first to use a new method of 'foaming' the tanks, one designed to address NASA's goal of using environmentally friendly products. The shift came as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was ordering many industries to phase out the use of Freon, an aerosol propellant linked to ozone depletion and global warming," the Inquirer said.

Before the environmentally friendly new insulation was used, about 40 of the spacecraft's 26,000 ceramic tiles would sustain damage in missions. However, Katnik reported that NASA engineers found 308 "hits" to Columbia after a 1997 flight.

A "massive material loss on the side of the external tank" caused much of the damage, Katnik wrote in an article in Space Team Online.

He called the damage "significant." One hundred thirty-two hits were bigger than 1 inch in diameter, and some slashes were as long as 15 inches.

"As recently as last September [2002], a retired engineering manager for Lockheed Martin, the contractor that assembles the tanks, told a conference in New Orleans that developing a new foam to meet environmental standards had 'been much more difficult than anticipated,'" the Inquirer said.

The engineer, who helped design the thermal protection system, said that switching from the Freon foam "resulted in unanticipated program impacts, such as foam loss during flight."

 See also:

Shuttle Tank Foam Warning Came Three Years Ago
By
John Kelly
FLORIDA TODAY
posted: 10:00 am ET
06 May 2003

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sts107_foam_ft_030506.html

Some of the issues at the heart of the Columbia investigation appeared on that 2000 list of "high risk" concerns. The list was compiled by external tank program officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, Ala. The concerns included:

. . . Environmental requirements requiring removal of freon from the process for spraying the foam insulation onto the tank. NASA has said that the freon-free application method resulted in foam that initially did not adhere to the tank as well, but changes were later made to strengthen the bond of the environmentally friendly foam.

See also:

08-08-05, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK

Is the Shuttle green?

By Zoe Smeaton
BBC News Magazine

. . . Before 1997, Nasa preferred to use freon-based foam on the shuttles, but as a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), freon is now linked to ozone depletion and so has been phased out. Opting to follow Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, Nasa switched to an environmentally friendly version of the foam.

Despite these factors, however, all shuttle launches can nonetheless have damaging impacts on the local environment.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4130980.stm

1997: US Environmental Protection Agency ordered many industries to phase out use of Freon

2001: despite an exemption from CFC ban, Nasa continued to use 'green' non-freon-based foam

2003: seven astronauts died when Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry - an investigation reported thermal protection system damage was initiated by sheared off foam striking the wing

2005: non-freon-based foam fell from the Discovery shuttle shortly after launch, and repairs were needed in space

 

See also:

The Space Shuttle Tragedy's Green Connection
By John Berlau
Insight Magazine | August 6, 2003

http://www.frontpagemag.com/articles/Printable.asp?ID=9270

Even so, NASA reportedly applied for an "essential-use" exemption from the EPA in the face of resistance from the Browner-led agency. The exemption did not come through until 2001, according to the New York Times, after President George W. Bush had taken office and Browner was out. Her EPA went beyond even what the Montreal Protocol required and gave out essential-use exemption for CFCs very sparingly. The agency even tried to ban lifesaving asthma inhalers that contained CFCs [see "EPA and FDA Put Ecology Above Kids," Oct. 20, 1997]. A NASA spokesman says he does not recall the 2001 exemptions.

The mills of the gods grind slowly. When NASA finally got its exemption, according to the New York Times, it used the Freon-based foam only "in a few spots on the shuttle fleet."

 

U.K.'s Blair Should Align With U.S. on Climate Change (Update1)

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. should side with the U.S. in the debate on global warming and lose Europe's ``obsession'' with Kyoto-style emission targets, according to a panel of lawmakers from Britain's upper unelected house of parliament.

The Lords Committee for Economic Affairs, which includes two former finance ministers, said today the U.K. should re-evaluate United Nations researchers' warnings about global warming, consider the economic costs of energy conservation and place more emphasis on investment in new technology alongside the U.S., Lord John Wakeham, the committee chairman, said.

``We think that if the British government were to take up our proposals they'd be much more likely to reach agreement with the U.S.,'' Wakeham, a former environment secretary in Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government and an Enron Corp. board member between 1994 and 2002, told journalists. ``If you rely on targets and their enforcement alone it will not solve the problem.''

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who accepts the UN's findings and endorses carbon emissions targets, is trying to reach an agreement on global warming at the Group of Eight summit starting in Gleneagles, Scotland today. President George W. Bush on July 4 ruled any accord that involves limiting emissions as a threat to the U.S. economy.

The panel's report, which was assembled from evidence submitted by experts from the U.K., U.S. and Europe, criticized research by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as ``influenced by political considerations'' and one-sided because it hadn't taken account of the ``benefits'' of global warming and the costs to economic growth of trying to curb it.

Benefits

The benefits include better crop growth, increased tourism and general improvements in wellbeing arising from a warmer climate in Northern Europe, the report said, citing academics including Yale University's Professor Robert Mendelsohn.

It called for Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's Treasury to take a larger role in evaluating the costs and the benefits.

British environmental activists said the committee relied too heavily on the views of U.S. lobby groups and international climate change skeptics.

``What the Lords are saying is completely out of kilter with what everyone else is in this country, whether it's ministers, directors or the scientific community,'' Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth in the U.K., said in an interview by telephone. ``With Tony Blair championing the issue, U.S. lobby groups have really descended on us.''

U.S. Pressure

London-based International Policy Network, which gave evidence to the committee, received $165,000 from U.S. oil company Exxon Mobil Corp. in 2003 and 2004, according to company records, Juniper said. Other witnesses include Washington-based George C. Marshall Institute and Richard Lindzen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bush rejected a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas four years ago, questioning the science behind the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty on global-emissions standards that the U.S. has refused to join. His administration wants voluntary reductions, incentives for alternative fuels such as ethanol, and nuclear power and conservation. The Clinton administration agreed to the treaty but never sent it to the Senate for ratification.

Bush argues that Kyoto-like curbs will choke off growth of the U.S. economy and that China and India -- developing countries he calls ``big polluters, as well'' -- are exempt.


To contact the reporter on this story:
                                    Alexander Hanrath in London at  ahanrath1@bloomberg.net.
                                    
Last Updated: July 6, 2005 06:41 EDT

 

 

 

Editor’s Note:  12-02-04 

 

My time is running out.  So I will not be able to complete this section either.  However, let me offer a few notes.

 

I argued that rather than taking up a position in opposition to the sciences conservatives should present alternatives based not on ideology but on reality.  In the Prime Minister’s speech he argues that action must be taken before science can deliver definitive answers.  Yet this should be just our point.  The Left is latching on to certain, preferred answers, rather than considering all the alternatives.  Conservatism’s focus on the facts, the underlying reality of the situation as contrasted with the Left’s preferences with the politically correct solutions, is conservatism’s contribution to the discussion.

 

What if we could act on climate change much faster than the left claims?  Artificial clouds are only one example.  A rapid build up in bio mass through recombinant genetics is another.  Nuclear power is a third.  (Notice the Prime Minister is willing to consider nuclear.  Why only consider?  If climate change is as serious as he claims why not enthusiastically endorse it?)  And endorse nuclear now!  “Now,” because of the lag time in building plants in the numbers required.

 

But here is the hypocrisy of  the Left.  They endorse Kyoto,  urge us to commit to action now, even though they acknowledge the facts are not yet known, and yet, this action, nuclear, is not something they propose to act on.  The Prime Minister is not willing to forgo his airplane in favor of a sailing ship when he visits the Commonwealth countries.  Kyoto was purchased by exempting China and India from the agreement.  Yet this is the height of political correctness.  China’s coal use alone will cancel out all the solar panels in Britain,  all the solar panels in the world.     

 

The use of genetic engineering to take up the carbon dioxide is not up for discussion with the Left.  Nor is the use of artificial clouds to reduce sunlight by  even .25%. 

 

But rather than make these points conservatives confine themselves to denying that there even is a global warming problem.  If you deny there is a problem then you do not have to examine it much less offer alternative proposals.

 

In any case the global die off of world population, caused by bio-attacks, will make this entire question moot.  I feel a solidarity with you, even though I am forced to my death.  I am only going ahead of you, and probably not by much.  The same selfishness and ignorance and cruelty that forces death on to me also accounts for the tragedies that are soon to befall all of you.  Your tolerance of the corruption that has driven me to my grave is the same corruption which you tolerate in these other areas. 

 

The failure to control the knowledge of weapons of mass destruction, especially in recombinant genetics, is similar to the failure to control the greenhouse effect.  You know there is a problem but instead of examining it clearly, and assessing all the options, you drift along, the conservatives in denial, the Left lost in one transparent political compromise with “correctness” after another . . .  futile to discuss it further . . .      

 

 

 

 

 

The Prime Minister called climate change the world's greatest environmental challenge in a speech in London tonight.

 

"Our effect on the environment, and in particular on climate change, is large and growing; he said."

 

9-14-04    Prime Minister Blair:

 

 

The 10th anniversary of His Royal Highness' Business and the Environment Programme marks what is now recognised as the premier international forum for exploring sustainable development in the context of business.

 

Over the coming months we will take forward the wider sustainable development and environment agenda. Margaret Beckett is working on a comprehensive DEFRA 5 year programme to be released this year and a new sustainable development strategy for early next year. This will deal with, amongst other matters, issues of waste, recycling, sustainable agriculture, all aspects of biodiversity; and fishing, and will set out policies in each key area. For example, on the marine environment, I believe there are strong arguments for a new approach to managing our seas, including a new Marine Bill.

But tonight I want to concentrate on what I believe to be the world's greatest environmental challenge: climate change.

 

Our effect on the environment, and in particular on climate change, is large and growing

To summarise my argument at the outset:

From the start of the industrial revolution more than 200 years ago, developed nations have achieved ever greater prosperity and higher living standards. But through this period our activities have come to affect our atmosphere, oceans, geology, chemistry and biodiversity.

 

What is now plain is that the emission of greenhouse gases, associated with industrialisation and strong economic growth from a world population that has increased sixfold in 200 years, is causing global warming at a rate that began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term. And by long-term I do not mean centuries ahead. I mean within the lifetime of my children certainly; and possibly within my own. And by unsustainable, I do not mean a phenomenon causing problems of adjustment. I mean a challenge so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence.

 

The problem and let me state it frankly at the outset - is that the challenge is complicated politically by two factors. First, its likely effect will not be felt to its full extent until after the time for the political decisions that need to be taken, has passed. In other words, there is a mismatch in timing between the environmental and electoral impact. Secondly, no one nation alone can resolve it. It has no definable boundaries. Short of international action commonly agreed and commonly followed through, it is hard even for a large country to make a difference on its own.

 

But there is no doubt that the time to act is now. It is now that timely action can avert disaster. It is now that with foresight and will such action can be taken without disturbing the essence of our way of life, by adjusting behaviour not altering it entirely.

 

There is one further preliminary point. Just as science and technology has given us the evidence to measure the danger of climate change, so it can help us find safety from it. The potential for innovation, for scientific discovery and hence, of course for business investment and growth, is enormous. With the right framework for action, the very act of solving it can unleash a new and benign commercial force to take the action forward, providing jobs, technology spin-offs and new business opportunities as well as protecting the world we live in.

 

 

But the issue is urgent. If there is one message I would leave with you and with the British people today it is one of urgency.

 

Let me turn now to the evidence itself. The scientific evidence of global warming and climate change: UK leadership in environmental science.

 

Apart from a diminishing handful of sceptics, there is a virtual worldwide scientific consensus on the scope of the problem. As long ago as 1988 concerned scientists set up an unprecedented Intergovernmental Panel to ensure that advice to the world's decision-makers was sound and reliable.

 

Literally thousands of scientists are now engaged in this work. They have scrutinised the data and developed some of the world's most powerful computer models to describe and predict our climate.

 

UK excellence in science is well documented: we are second only to the US in our share of the world's most cited publications.  And amongst our particular strengths are the environmental sciences, lead by the world-renowned Hadley and Tyndall centres for climate change research.  And from Arnold Schwarzenegger's California to Ningxia Province in China, the problem is being recognised.

Let me summarise the evidence:

- The 10 warmest years on record have all been since 1990. Over the last century average global temperatures have risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius: the most drastic temperature rise for over 1,000 years in the northern hemisphere.

- Extreme events are becoming more frequent. Glaciers are melting. Sea ice and snow cover is declining. Animals and plants are responding to an earlier spring. Sea levels are rising and are forecast to rise another 88cm by 2100 threatening 100m people globally who currently live below this level.

- The number of people affected by floods worldwide has already risen from 7 million in the 1960s to 150 million today.

- In Europe alone, the severe floods in 2002 and had an estimated cost of $16 billion.

- This summer we have seen violent weather extremes in parts of the UK.

 

These environmental changes and severe weather events are already affecting the world insurance industry. Swiss Re, the world's second largest insurer, has estimated that the economic costs of global warming could double to $150 billion each year in the next 10 years, hitting insurers with $30-40 billion in claims.

 

By the middle of this century, temperatures could have risen enough to trigger irreversible melting of the Greenland ice-cap - eventually increasing sea levels by around seven metres.  There is good evidence that last year's European heat wave was influenced by global warming. It resulted in 26,000 premature deaths and cost $13.5 billion.

 

It is calculated that such a summer is a one in about 800 year event. On the latest modelling climate change means that as soon as the 2040s at least one year in two is likely to be even warmer than 2003.

 

That is the evidence. There is one overriding positive: through the science we are aware of the problem and, with the necessary political and collective will, have the ability to address it effectively.

 

The public, in my view, do understand this. The news of severe weather abroad is an almost weekly occurrence. A recent opinion survey by Greenpeace showed that 78% of people are concerned about climate change.

 

But people are confused about what they can do. It is individuals as well as Governments and corporations who can make a real difference. The environmental impacts from business are themselves driven by the choices we make each day.

 

To make serious headway towards smarter lifestyles, we need to start with clear and consistent policy and messages, championed both by government and by those outside government. Telling people what they can do that would make a difference.

 

UK Action

 

I said earlier it needed global leadership to tackle the issue. But we cannot aspire to such leadership unless we are seen to be following our own advice.

 

So, what is the UK Government doing? We have led the world in setting a bold plan and targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 

We are on track to meet our Kyoto target. The latest estimates suggest that greenhouse gas emissions in 2003 were about 14% below 1990 levels. But we have to do more to achieve our commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010.

 

Our targets are ambitious and we must continually review and refine how we can meet them. In 2000, we published our Climate Change Programme, which set out a comprehensive range of policies aimed at reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Tomorrow, we'll be setting out the details of this review to see if it is achieving the necessary progress towards our short-term and long-term emissions targets, and if not, to see how we can do better.

 

In the longer term, The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's seminal report on energy concluded that to make its contribution towards tackling climate change, the UK needed to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050. This implies a massive change in the way this country produces and uses energy. We are committed to this change.

 

There are immense business opportunities in sustainable growth and moving to a low carbon economy.  The UK has already shown that it can have a strongly growing economy while addressing environmental issues. Between 1990 and 2002 the UK economy grew by 36%, while greenhouse gas emissions fell by around 15%.

 

But business itself must seize the opportunities: it is those hi-tech, entrepreneurial businesses with the foresight and capability to tap into the UK's excellent science base that will succeed. Tackling climate change will take leadership, dynamism and commitment - qualities that I know are abundantly represented in this room.

 

As part of next year's G8 process I want to advance work on promoting the development and uptake of cleaner energy technologies begun under the French Presidency in 2003 and continued by the US this year.

 

We need both to invest on a large scale in existing technologies and to stimulate innovation into new low carbon technologies for deployment in the longer term. There is huge scope for improving energy efficiency and promoting the uptake of existing low carbon technologies like PV, fuel cells and carbon sequestration.

 

This technology is coming out of the laboratory and becoming reality in new fuel cell cars, combined heat and power generators and in new low carbon fuels. The next generation of photovoltaics are unlikely to need the now familiar panels: smart windows could generate the power required for new buildings. And carbon sequestration: literally capturing carbon and storing it in the ground, also has real potential. BP are already involved in an Algerian project which aims to store 17 million tonnes of CO2.

What we need to do is build an international consensus on how we can speed up the introduction of these technologies.  And there are already many great examples of companies here in the UK showing the way:

- Ceres Power based in Crawley and utilising technology developed at Imperial College have developed a new fuel cell that has unique properties and is a world leader, and

- just a few weeks ago Ocean Power Delivery transmitted the first offshore wave energy from the seas off Orkney to the UK grid.

 

And these are not isolated examples.

 

Understandably, climate change focuses minds on big, industrial, energy users. But retailers are also working with suppliers to reduce the impacts of goods and services that they sell. I want to see the day when consumers can expect that environmental responsibility is as fundamental to the products they buy as health and safety is now.

 

Government has to work with business to move forward, faster. For example, we will help business cut waste and improve resource efficiency and competitiveness through a programme of new measures funded through landfill tax receipts. We will follow up the report of the Sustainable Buildings Task Group to raise environmental standards in construction.

 

The Carbon Trust is helping business to address their energy use and encourage low-carbon innovation. In total, efficiency measures are expected to save almost 8 million tonnes of carbon from business by 2010, more than 10% of their emissions in 2000.

 

Our renewables obligation has provided a major stimulus for the development of renewable energy in the UK. It has been extended to achieve a 15.4% contribution from renewables to the UK's electricity needs by 2015, on a path to our aspiration of a 20% contribution by 2020. In the short term, wind energy - in future increasingly offshore - is expected to be the primary source of smart, renewable power.

 

Our position on nuclear energy has not changed. And as we made clear in our Energy White Paper last year, the government does "not rule out the possibility that at some point in the future new nuclear build might be necessary if we are to meet our carbon targets."

 

In short, we need to develop the new green industrial revolution that develops the new technologies that can confront and overcome the challenge of climate change; and that above all can show us not that we can avoid changing our behaviour but we can change it in a way that is environmentally sustainable.

 

Just as British know-how brought the railways and mass production to the world, so British scientists, innovators and business people can lead the world in ways to grow and develop sustainably.

 

I am confident business will seize this opportunity. Cutting waste and saving energy could save billions of pounds each year. With about 90% of production materials never part of the final product and 80% of products discarded after single use, the opportunities are clear.

 

Local, practical sustainability: new schools, new housing and re-invigorating 'Agenda 21'

But Government can give a lead in its own procurement policy.

 

New sustainable schools

 

There is a huge school building programme underway. All new schools and City Academies should be models for sustainable development: showing every child in the classroom and the playground how smart building and energy use can help tackle global warming.

 

The government is now developing a school specific method of environmental assessment that will apply to all new school buildings. Sustainable development will not just be a subject in the classroom: it will be in its bricks and mortar and the way the school uses and even generates its own power.

 

Our students won't just be told about sustainable development, they will see and work within it: a living, learning, place in which to explore what a sustainable lifestyle means.

 

Housing

 

The economic and social case for new housing is compelling. But we must also ensure that our approach is environmentally sustainable. This means action at both the national and local level. Heating, lighting and cooling buildings produces about half of total UK carbon emissions.

 

In 2002 we raised the minimum standard for the energy performance of new buildings by 25%. And next year we'll raise it by another 25%. The challenge now is to work with the building industry to encourage sustainability to be part of all new housing through a new flexible Code for Sustainable Buildings.

 

The new developments proposed in specific parts of the south east including the Thames Gateway represent a huge opportunity for us to show what can be achieved in terms of modern, smart, 21st century, sustainable living: not just in terms of reduced energy use, but also through better waste management, sustainable transport and availability of quality local parks and amenities.

 

Re-invigorating Agenda 21

 

Many local communities understand the links between the need to tackle national and global environmental challenges and everyday actions to improve our neighbourhoods and create better places to live.

 

In 1997, I encouraged all local authorities to work with their communities and produce Local Agenda 21 plans by 2000.

 

There was an overwhelming response: from County Durham to Wiltshire and from Redbridge to Cheshire, local people showed what could be done. Next year, as a key part of our new Sustainable Development Strategy, I want to reinvigorate community action on sustainable development.

 

Action in the EU

 

From this base, of domestic action we move out to action Europe-wide.

 

We believe, as I know many of you do, that trading is the most cost effective way to reduce emissions. The emissions trading scheme which we have advocated and pushed in Europe is of great importance to our goals, and to those of Europe. The establishment of a carbon trading market throughout the world's most important economic area next year will be an enormous achievement, and will change the way thousands of businesses think about their energy use. Cutting carbon emissions is the way the future will be, and we have repeatedly said that there are advantages to British industry from early action.

 

In Britain and throughout the world, the expected rapid growth in demand for transport, including aviation, means that we must develop far cleaner and more efficient aircraft and cars.

 

I am advised that by 2030, emissions from aircraft could represent a quarter of the UK's total contribution to global warning. A big step in the right direction would be to see aviation brought into the EU emissions trading scheme in the next phase of its development. During our EU Presidency we will argue strongly for this.

 

And the UK is taking a strong lead globally

From Europe, we need then to secure action world-wide. Here it is important to stress the scale of the implications for the developing world. It is far more than an environmental one, massive though that is. It needs little imagination to appreciate the security, stability and health problems that will arise in a world in which there is increasing pressure on water availability; where there is a major loss of arable land for many; and in which there are large-scale displacements of population due to flooding and other climate change effects.

 

It is the poorest countries in the world that will suffer most from severe weather events, longer and hotter droughts and rising oceans. Yet it is they who have contributed least to the problem. That is why the world's richest nations in the G8 have a responsibility to lead the way: for the strong nations to better help the weak.

 

Such issues can only be properly addressed through international agreements. Domestic action is important, but a problem that is global in cause and scope can only be fully addressed through international agreement. Recent history teaches us such agreements can achieve results.

 

The 1987 Montreal Protocol - addressing the challenge posed by the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer - has shown how quickly a global environmental problem can be reversed once targets are agreed.

 

However, our efforts to stabilise the climate will need, over time, to become far more ambitious than the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto is only the first step but provides a solid foundation for the next stage of climate diplomacy. If Russia were to ratify that would bring it into effect.

 

We know there is disagreement with the US over this issue. In 1997 the US Senate voted 95-0 in favour of a resolution that stated it would refuse to ratify such a treaty. I doubt time has shifted the numbers very radically.

 

But the US remains a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the US National Academy of Sciences agree that there is a link between human activity, carbon emissions and atmospheric warming. Recently the US Energy Secretary and Commercial Secretary jointly issued a report again accepting the potential damage to the planet through global warming.

 

Climate change will be a top priority for our G8 Presidency next year.

 

Recently, I announced that together with Africa, climate change would be our top priority for next year's G8. I do not under-estimate the difficulties. This remains an issue of high and fraught politics for many countries. But it is imperative we try.

I want today to highlight three key parts of my G8 strategy.

 

First, I want to secure an agreement as to the basic science on climate change and the threat it poses. Such an agreement would be new and provide the foundation for further action.

Second, agreement on a process to speed up the science, technology, and other measures necessary to meet the threat.

 

Third, while the eight G8 countries account for around 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is vital that we also engage with other countries with growing energy needs - like China and India; both on how they can meet those needs sustainably and adapt to the adverse impacts we are already locked into.

 

Given the different positions of the G8 nations on this issue, such agreement will be a major advance; but I believe it is achievable.

 

The G8 Presidency is a wonderful opportunity to give a big push to international opinion and understanding, among businesses as well as Governments.

 

We have to recognise that the commitments reflected in the Kyoto protocol and current EU policy are insufficient, uncomfortable as that may be, and start urgently building a consensus based on the latest and best possible science.

 

Prior to the G8 meeting itself we propose first to host an international scientific meeting at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter in February. More than just another scientific conference, this gathering will address the big questions on which we need to pool the answers available from the science:

-What level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is self-evidently too much?; and What options do we have to avoid such levels?;

This can help inform discussion at the G8.

Conclusion

The situation therefore can be summarised in this way:

 

1 If what the science tells us about climate change is correct, then unabated it will result in catastrophic consequences for our world.

 

2 The science, almost certainly, is correct.

 

3 Recent experience teaches us that it is possible to combine reducing emissions with economic growth.

 

4 Further investment in science and technology and in the businesses associated with it has the potential to transform the possibilities of such a healthy combination of sustainability and development.

 

5 To acquire global leadership, on this issue Britain must demonstrate it first at home.

 

6 The G8 next year, and the EU Presidency provide a great opportunity to push this debate to a new and better level that, after the discord over Kyoto, offers the prospect of agreement and action.

 

None of this is easy to do. But its logic is hard to fault. Even if there are those who still doubt the science in its entirety, surely the balance of risk for action or inaction has changed. If there were even a 50% chance that the scientific evidence I receive is right, the bias in favour of action would be clear. But of course it is far more than 50%.

 

And in this case, the science is backed up by intuition. It is not axiomatic that pollution causes damage. But it is likely. I am a strong supporter of proceeding through scientific analysis in such issues. But I also, as I think most people do, have a healthy instinct that if we upset the balance of nature, we are in all probability going to suffer a reaction. With world growth, and population as it is, this reaction must increase.

 

We have been warned. On most issues we ask children to listen to their parents. On climate change, it is parents who should listen to their children.

 

Now is the time to start.

 

G8 agree on need for climate action, but no targets
Fri Jul 8, 2005 2:10 PM ETBy Kevin Liffey

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (Reuters) - The Group of Eight powers meeting in Scotland declared Friday that global warming required urgent action, but set no measurable targets for reducing the greenhouse gases that trigger it.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the deal was important because for the first time it involved both the United States and emerging economies in efforts to curb climate change.

But environmentalists said the initiative was worthless without specific pledges to cut the carbon emissions that many scientists say are warming the planet.

Blair made climate change a priority for the Gleneagles summit, and the final communique said G8 leaders recognized that it was "a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the planet."

The statement acknowledged that human activity contributed in large part to global warming, and said there was a need to reduce greenhouse gases -- mostly the product of the fossil fuels that power much modern industry.

The leaders also pledged to "act with resolve and urgency" to tackle the problem, but unlike the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, their text did not set any firm goals to cut harmful carbon emissions.

Kyoto has been ratified by all G8 members except the United States -- the world's biggest polluter.

President Bush has argued that Kyoto would not only hurt the U.S. economy, but is also hopelessly ineffective because it exempted rapidly industrialising emerging economies, notably India and China.

EMERGING ECONOMIES

Blair, who invited India, China and three other major developing countries to Gleneagles, said he had wanted to overcome this impasse for the time after Kyoto expires in 2012.

"I'm not overselling this. What we haven't done is renegotiate a different treaty or set a new set of targets. What we have done, however, is to establish a pathway back to an international consensus."    

Blair said this new dialogue, encompassing climate change, clean energy and sustainable development, would begin in Britain on Nov. 1 and be reviewed at future G8 summits.

France, which has championed Kyoto and wanted concrete cuts in emissions, gave the deal a limited welcome.

"Even if it does not go as far as we would have liked, it has one essential virtue in my eyes -- that is, to re-establish a dialogue and cooperation between the Kyoto seven and the United States on a subject of the highest importance," French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday.

Although it only paid lip-service to Kyoto and delivered no emission goals, the G8 declaration went some way to meeting other demands from the Kyoto signatories.

In particular, they had been concerned that the Bush administration remained skeptical to the view of most scientists, including American experts, that global warming is largely man-made and is affecting the climate.

The G8 statement said that while uncertainties remained in understanding climate science, enough was known to act now to "put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases."

G8 leaders also agreed a wide-ranging "Plan of Action" to promote energy efficiency and the use of cleaner fuels.

Faryar Shirzad, the senior U.S. negotiator at the G8 summit, said the final statement was "very much along the lines of what the president has talked about for a long time on this topic."

Environmental groups also saw no shift in the U.S. position.

"The search for consensus means we have ended up with a bland statement without targets and timetables and without recognition of the urgency of the situation," said Greenpeace climate campaigner Stephanie Tunmore.

For the full G8 declaration on climate change, visit: http://www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/PostG8_Gleneagles_CCChapeau.p df

For the full G8 Action Plan, visit: http://www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/PostG8_Gleneagles_CCChangePla nofAction.pdf

Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

2.30pm update

PM issues blunt warning on climate change

Matt Weaver
Monday January 30, 2006


A massive tabular iceberg
                                    adrift in the Weddell Sea off the Antarctic peninsula
An iceberg adrift in the Weddell Sea off the Antarctic peninsula. Photo: British Antarctic Survey/C Gilbert, PA
 


Tony Blair warns that the impact of climate change may be more serious than previously thought in a new government report on global warming published today.

The report raises fears that both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are likely to melt, leading to a devastating rise in sea levels.

It warns of large-scale and irreversible disruption if temperatures rise by more than 3C (5.4F) - well within the range of climate change projections for the century.

Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change is published as a book and collates evidence presented by scientists at a conference hosted by the UK Meteorological Office last February.

The conference predicted that greenhouse gases would raise global temperatures by between 1.4C and 5.8C over this century.

"It is clear from the work presented that the risks of climate change may well be greater than we thought," Mr Blair wrote in the forward to the book.

"It is now plain that the emission of greenhouse gases, associated with industrialisation and economic growth from a world population that has increased six-fold in 200 years, is causing global warming at a rate that is unsustainable."

The book includes concerns expressed by the head of the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Chris Rapley, that the huge West Antarctic ice sheet may be starting to disintegrate.

Scientists believe such an event would raise sea levels around the world by almost 5m (16 ft).

Prof Rapley writes that a previous report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dismissing worries about the ice sheet's stability had to be revised: "The last IPCC report characterised Antarctica as a slumbering giant in terms of climate change. I would say it is now an awakened giant. There is real concern."

The report also warns that the EU may have to adopt tougher climate change targets. It is committed to preventing global temperatures rising by more than 2C, but the report warns that such a rise would trigger the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, prompting the extinction of the polar bear and the walrus.

The environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, said today's report highlighted the "tipping point" beyond which climate change could be expected to become irreversible.

This made it even more urgent to halt the change quickly, and meant that current targets - such as reducing carbon emissions by 60% by the middle of the century - may not be ambitious enough, she said.

"What is disturbing about the Exeter report is that it suggests that what has been a long-term policy framework, maybe even that is something that is going to cause more major difficulties than people imagined," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mrs Beckett said she hoped to publish the government's climate change strategy - initially pencilled in for last year - in the near future, and certainly by the end of 2006.

She denied that the government had already decided to invest in new nuclear power stations as a way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but said the option had to be considered because of the role it could play in meeting the UK's long-term climate change targets.

"The reason we need to look at it very seriously is that the one thing you can say about nuclear power is that, once you have put in all the energy required to construct the nuclear power stations, it is actually a low-carbon form of energy," she said.

Friends of the Earth called for urgent action to cut greenhouse gases.

"Despite Tony Blair's concerns about climate change, UK emissions have risen under Labour," said FoE's climate change campaigner, Roger Higman.

"He should now support mounting calls for a new law requiring the government to make annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, and make Britain a world leader in the development of a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy."




Related article
30.01.2006:
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Interactive guides
Global warming
The slowdown of the Gulf Stream

Special reports
Special report: climate change
Special report: G8

Useful links
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UN framework convention on climate change

 
 
 
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