The Reasoned Review

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘environment

Exxon-Valdez Spill “Pales in Comparison” to Current Louisiana Spill

leave a comment »

It’s true. From the BBC:

Five times as much oil as previously thought could be leaking from the well beneath where a rig exploded and sank last week, US officials said earlier.

The slick is 45 miles (72km) by 105 miles (169km) – almost the size of Jamaica – and heading for the US coast.

A third leak has been discovered, and a fire-fighting expert said the disaster may become the biggest oil spill ever.

“Probably the only thing comparable to this is the Kuwait fires [following the Gulf War in 1991],” Mike Miller, head of Canadian oil well fire-fighting company Safety Boss, told the BBC World Service.

“The Exxon Valdez [tanker disaster off Alaska in 1989] is going to pale [into insignificance] in comparison to this as it goes on.”

Scientists say only a quarter of local marine wildlife survived the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Written by pavanvan

April 29, 2010 at 3:29 pm

The Problem With ‘Green Jobs’

leave a comment »

Bloomberg makes a lot of sense on Obama’s “green jobs” initiative. The problem? Most of those jobs are going to Asia.

Obama is giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wind and solar industries to create jobs in the U.S. even as production expands faster overseas. First Solar Inc., the world’s largest maker of thin-film solar-power modules, won $16.3 million to add 200 manufacturing jobs at its Ohio plant, yet 71 percent of its planned factory growth will go to Malaysia. The company employs 4,500 globally.

“The cost of manufacturing here is too expensive compared to Asia,” said Guy Chaffin, chief executive officer of Elite Search International, a Roseville, California-based executive search firm that has found employees for Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar and Solar Millennium AG. “As far as a flood of good jobs coming to the U.S., we’re not seeing it.”

Written by pavanvan

February 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Climate Misinformation

leave a comment »

Media Matters has a timely and thorough rundown of Mr. George Will’s fantastic assertions in the Washington Post. Mr. Will, the Post‘s resident climate change denier, willfully misinterprets data, offers baseless accusations, and generally behaves as a corporate propagandist might be expected to.

Will claimed “evidence” of climate change is “elusive.” In an October 1, 2009, Washington Post column, Will claimed that “evidence” of climate change is “elusive” and that scientists are overstating the threat of warming when they say — in the words of a September 21 New York Times article Will criticized — that a recent “plateau” in temperatures has “no bearing” on the long-term warming trend. In fact, scientists routinely present strong evidence of long-term warming and its consequences — including a September 2009 United Nations report Will himself cited that says “rapid environmental change is underway with the pace and the scale of climate change accelerating.” [10/1/09]

Will cited no evidence to claim that climate scientists are suppressing or massaging data. In his December 6, 2009, column, Will claimed that “[d]isclosure of e-mails and documents from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Britain — a collaborator with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — reveals some scientists’ willingness to suppress or massage data.” Will cited no evidence to support his claims. He also flogged an out-of-context email to falsely suggest that it made the case for global warming “less compelling.” [12/6/09]

Oh, and The Post is quite aware of their colleague’s flights of fancy:

Will columns criticized by environmental community, Post colleagues. Will’s global warming columns have been widely criticized by the environmental community and have also been criticized by Washington Post editorial board member and cartoonist Tom Toles, Post weather columnist Andrew Freedman, and Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander. Fellow editorial columnist Eugene Robinson also said that Will “cross[ed] the line” in spreading global warming misinformation.

I wasn’t aware such a line existed.

Being over the age of 50, Mr. Will enjoys complete impunity from the effects of his lies. As I’m sure as he figures it, he’ll be long dead by the time the real effects of our civilization are laid bare – the droughts, oil shortages, advancing deserts, agricultural collapse, etc. Thus he has no qualms about acting as an industry cheerleader; committing willful and wanton lies to increase their profits by just that much. If I believed in an afterlife, I’m sure there would be a special place for specimens such as Mr. Will – but since there is, after all, no justice in this world, I’m sure Mr. Will will continue to draw his fat paychecks while composing shoddy and scurrilous pap aimed specifically at deceiving the public.

Written by pavanvan

January 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Russia: Nuclear Dumping Ground?

leave a comment »

Greenpeace with some great original reporting:

Last night three teams of Greenpeace activists blocked a train transporting nuclear waste to Cherbourg, the heart of the French nuclear reprocessing industry. From Cherbourg it was due to be loaded onto the transport ship Kapitan Kuroptev, destination Russia.   We’ve taken action to tell them that “Russia is not your dumping ground.”

Six Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the railway, at two locations en route to the fuel reprocessing facility. A third team of Greenpeace activists placed a truck on the rails in the centre of Cherbourg, along with a banner saying “Russia is not a nuclear dumping ground”. The train came to a halt just 50 meters short of our activists. For delaying the transport of the illegal nuclear waste they were taken into custody by the police.

The blocked train was carrying 500 tonnes of depleted uranium, just a fraction of what has already been dumped in Russia. The French nuclear companies AREVA and EDF claim there is nothing wrong with these transports, that the material is not waste but a resource that will be processed in Russia, and returned to France as fuel. Unfortunately that’s just not the case.

France is running into the same problem we all will if we begin switching our electricity production from coal to nuclear. What to do with the waste?

Written by pavanvan

January 26, 2010 at 11:11 am

Lithium! We Need Lots of it

leave a comment »

Lithium is a key component in “hybrid” and electric car batteries, and is also extraordinarily rare. It’s already evident that not enough lithium exists to replace the world’s existing internal-combustion fleet (more than 1,000,000,000 automobiles and counting) with electric technology.

In a bit of divine irony (god does play dice) most of the world’s lithium lies under South America – mostly under Bolivia’s famous salt flats, with some in Argentina. Car manufacturers and would-be industrial giants (Japan and China) are already trying to corner the market.

Now Toyota wants in, and has reportedly signed a major deal with Argentina to mine its lithium:

A key supplier of Toyota Motor Corp. has formed a partnership to mine lithium in Argentina, securing greater access to a metal critical to the production of future hybrids and electric cars.The partnership, announced late Tuesday, includes Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Australian miner Orocobre Ltd. They will develop a lithium mine in northwestern Argentina, and the project is expected to cost about $100 million, Orocobre Chairman James Calaway said.

So next time you see someone driving a hybrid car, ask them where they got the battery. My guess is that the emissions from mining all that lithium more than make up for the gas they save themselves from burning. (And don’t forget all our electricity comes from coal anyway. You know that ain’t clean.)

Written by pavanvan

January 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm

24/7 Factories Can’t Meet Chinese Demand

leave a comment »

Bloomberg with a terrifying report:

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) — Nissan Motor Co.’s factory in central China is making cars almost 24 hours a day, yet Pan Xiaowei still waited three months for her new Tiida compact to arrive at the dealership.

“It wasn’t like this a couple of years ago,” said Pan, 34, whose husband runs a property development company in Shandong province. “We used to buy and get a car straight away, and now you have to pre-order and wait.”

China overtook the U.S. last year as the world’s largest automobile market with sales surging 46 percent to 13.6 million, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Nissan, Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. are running their Chinese factories at full capacity, with overtime and weekend shifts, and still can’t deliver enough cars.

“Based on our current growth rate and planning assumptions, the capacity of our two facilities will not be able to accommodate the expected future demand for our products,” Nigel Harris, general manager of Ford’s venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., said in an e-mail.

This is not good. The article also mentions that cars are “ceasing to be a luxury item and are instead becoming a standard consumer product.” And there’s 1000 million of them.

Incidentally, China is already dealing with some major traffic issues, as the Daily Mail demonstrates:

I imagine they’ll be seeing more of this. A few weeks ago, The Nation ran a correspondence piece from Christopher Hayes in China entitled “The Great Leap“. In the opening paragraphs he lets us in on the magnitude of China’s automobile frenzy:

At a tour of a car factory in Chongqing, the guide from Chang’an Motors pointed to the boxy gray minivans rolling off the assembly line and, beaming, said, “There are 800 million Chinese peasants who need these cars!”

He’s right, of course. China “should not be expected to stay forever as a bicycle kingdom,” as Yu Qingtai, special representative for climate change negotiations, told us. But 800 million new cars–think about that for a moment.

Until we shake off this neo-imperial paradigm of “development”, I fear the “third-world” will forever be deceived into chasing an impossible dream, and irrevocably poison themselves in doing so.

Written by pavanvan

January 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

If a tree falls in a forest…

with 2 comments

1.5% – overall percentage of media coverage devoted to the environment in 2009.

A whopping 0.8 percent of cable news coverage went to the environment.

For real.

Written by pavanvan

January 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Copenhagen Finale

leave a comment »

Well, the Copenhagen Climate Conference is just about over, and the amount of “binding agreements” which have so far been enacted would cause an impassioned observer to weep. The airplanes used by the delegates to get to Denmark probably emitted far more carbon than their collective agreement will cut.

Furthermore, a memo intercepted by (you guessed it) The Guardian expresses in stark detail just how far the goalposts have moved.

As they say:

The draft says countries “ought” to limit global warming to 2C, but does not bind them to do so. Rises of 2C and above are the levels scientists say would result in catastrophic consequences in many parts of the world.

It does not give specific targets for emissions cuts or a peak year for global emissions but says only that “deep cuts” are required and that emissions should peak “as soon as possible”. However, the text makes it clear that this subject is still under negotiation.

The text, drafted by a select group of 28 leaders – including UK prime minister, Gordon Brown – in the early hours of this morning, proposes extending negotiations for another year until the next scheduled UN meeting on climate change in Mexico City in December 2010.

So the world went (in three short days) from demanding that global temperatures rise only 2 degrees C to making that number “more of a guideline”. No binding emissions cuts have been agreed upon, and the world has decided, in essence, to procrastinate yet another year.

I have always thought that if our leaders weren’t so implacably old, we would have gotten on climate change much more vigorously. After all, if one is older than 50, greenhouse gases, emissions cuts, and sea-level rises don’t really mean that much. Those over 50 will be dead long before the effects of climate change make themselves known. Those between 10 and 35 years old, however, will have a front row seat for the havoc our short-sighted leaders will wreak. I, for instance, at age 22, will be quite alive during the doomsday year of 2050, and will likely see the sea levels rise, the deserts encroach, the rains dry up, the ice caps melt. The ones making these decisions, however, can rest assured that, after having lived a fruitful and extravagant life, they will sleep the great sleep before things become too hairy.

No wonder they don’t care!

Written by pavanvan

December 18, 2009 at 7:17 pm

CO2: Black, not Green

with 2 comments

The Center for Media and Democracy turns us on to a thoroughly scurrilous attempt on the part of Big Gas and Oil to downplay the negative effects of CO2 output.

“CO2 is Green”, a new Montana-based advocacy group, derives its dollars from the Coal and Oil Industry and has the sheer audacity to claim that “There is no scientific evidence that CO2 [carbon dioxide] is a pollutant. In fact higher CO2 levels than we have today would help the Earth’s ecosystems.” without breaking into guilt-induced conniptions.  Here we have yet another example of “The Big Lie” technique. If you can make a such a statement as above on television with a straight face, many people will conclude that it must be true. No one could possibly be audacious enough to repeat such a patently absurd claim unless there was some truth to it of which the public is not aware. Thus, the idea that “CO2 is not a pollutant” will likely enter into mainstream discourse, despite the fact that almost every scientist declares the opposite.

Some of you may recall this is not the first time our oil companies have undertaken such an advertising campaign. Indeed, as Greenpeace revealed earlier this year, Exxon-Mobil secretly funded much of the Global Warming denial we saw earlier this decade. On podium after podium, cable news show after fabricated report, their hired “scientists” spread the claims that (a) Global warming doesn’t exist and (b) even assuming it does, Global Warming isn’t man-made. Now, of course, we see both of those statements for the patent falsehood  they present, but at the time they proved quite influential and likely set us back years in dealing with this problem.

Today, a new generation of pseudo-scientists, such as our friend H. Leighton Steward, a former executive of Enron, wish to spread the message that CO2 is a “net benefit” for the planet – and, presumably, that we are doing our earth a huge service by burning coal and oil.

Please watch their commercial. It gives an excellent overview of the false populism and junk science employed by the coal and oil industries to defend what remains, in the last analysis, a thoroughly indefensible business. And I would encourage everyone to do precisely what they suggest at the end by contacting your Senator, except instead of agitating for even more pollution, ask them to clear our airwaves of deleterious propaganda.