You can recycle Tetrapak cartons
But the global plastic rubbish problem needs immediate and drastic control.

Individual action you can take:

June 2005 - JAN 31st 2012

Shortcut for those with no time to read the history of the debate even from 2005
I believe this to be a reasonable 2010 summary of the current position:
It is very close to my summary (immediately below) which started this file 5 years earlier.

JUNE 2005 [from my own notes, made since 1984, by studying the work of scientists engaged on this issue and communicating with some of them]

Human activity is aggravating and exaggerating the 'greenhouse' effect of the terrestrial atmosphere, a necessary property that has been in reasonable balance over the past millennium. This will cause rising temperatures and sea levels and unpredictably violent new weather patterns.

The advanced industrialised countries are responsible for this through the level of emissions of CO2 (Carbon dioxide) and other bi-products of  transport, energy generation, manufacturing and farming. Deforestation aggravates the issue seriously.

The United States, with 4% of the world's population is responsible for 25% of the world's CO2 emissions. The writer (JB) has been making the point since 1984 that the US must assume responsibility, along with its political and economic leadership role, for the consequences of its energy and emissions policy on the planet. That it was failing to do so, and that the domestic economy was based on a profligate use of oil and excessive personal consumption, was obvious in 1985.

President Clinton signed the US up to the Kyoto Protocol in 1998.  In March 2001 George W Bush declared the US would not ratify. By so doing the US has undermined even a modest approach to international cooperation. It has done this on the grounds that such cooperation could not be trusted or verified, and that future growth in China, India, Asia, South America and Russia will contribute far more to future emissions than the US could reduce them by without crippling its own economy,

The result has been to undermine the Kyoto Protocol. Hopes of controlling global emissions through international agreement have been significantly damaged.

The President of the Royal Society has now pointed out that in fact increased US emissions in the first Kyoto commitment period will exceed the reductions made by all other countries, and that without US support and example, international coordination is impossible.

The ultimate irony is that reducing global emissions by advances in efficiency in all processes is a win-win situation for all economies and will lead to conservation of resources to the benefit of all, but leadership and example is required. The US has been denying that the problem requires this, or that the US is the cause of the problem, or (alternatively) that any solution is possible other than keeping on the current path and learning to live with the consequences.

(as known for years)
UPDATE JULY 19th 2005
I forgot to date the entry above but I guess it was 2004 or early 2005. Since then we have had a serious blast of leadership from the PM which has at least got the Bush administration to admit (a) there is a problem and (b) human activity is certainly contributing it and (c) human action is required to counteract it. However the US is not prepared to come on board the Kyoto protocol to set a good example because Bush and his advisors reckon that to aim realistically for the required Kyoto target would cripple their economy, and it is the US economy which will power the growth in technology which alone will provide the solution. New technology applied to transport, manufacturing, emission control and energy generation and distribution is, in their opinion, the only way to prevent the emergence of developing economies in Asia causing emissions that would put even the US output in the shade. I agree, but a move toward the Kyoto target would stimulate this technology. No doubt the US will play a leading role, but the rest of the globe will in my view provide the brains that develop this technology and much of the manufacturing capability to produce it.  No doubt Bush would say that's why it's no time for him to mess about imposing regulations on American business. But this idea that the US can always be an exception because of the burden it carries as defender of the free world sure does get up the nose.

UPDATE SEPT 15th 2005
FEWER than 1 in 7 of the world's top 500 market capitalisation has reduced carbon emissions in the past year and more than 1 in 6 have increased their emissions. These figures are published today in a report by the Carbon Disclosure Project, backed by investors controlling more than 21 trillion dollars of assets. I can only assume that ths is because the job of achieving these reductions has not been allocated to a senior director in the companies examined, nor has a target been set, or strategy and tactics devised, or a budget and priorites decided. Shareholders should take note, where there is not an effective cartel of evasion, of those businesses who are preparing to avoid liabilities which will likely fall one day on the evaders.

UPDATE SEPT 29th 2005 released that the arctic ice-cap is melting uncontrollably. This is further confimation that global warming is far greater than we are appreciating. This melting will have been stabilising the temperature we experience, hiding the truth from our senses, while at the same time speeding up the process. The feed back is not stabilising, it is part of a mechanism designed to even out short-term changes. It is a mechanism we have abused, and is now working to bring about a huge change. The awful irony is that Bush will in a way be proved right. Proceeding by trial and error, we have already made the error. Now we will have to take extraordinary measures to deal with the consequences. In the long run, that will force huge evolutionary changes in our way of llfe, and this was essential for future life on this planet.

UPDATE  OCT 18th 2005.

By Jeremy Lovell 

LONDON (Reuters) - Antarctica is melting, adding to the inexorable rise in global sea levels, endangering millions of lives and whole economies, leading scientists said on Monday.

But while the effect is well known after years of monitoring from land and space, the reasons for the sea warming are not.

"We know sea levels will rise. We need to know by how much and why," Anthony Payne of the University of Bristol and one of the organisers of a major scientific conference in London, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting at the Royal Society, Britain's national academy of science.

"This has implications for the whole world -- most people and industries are in coastal areas," he added.

Payne said there was a net loss of mass in Antarctica as the snowfall in the center of the frigid landmass was more than offset by sea ice melting around the edges.

The key was to find out whether the process was accelerating, or whether it might stabilize or even reverse.

And the important factor was understanding the complex interaction between ocean and wind currents and how much -- if any -- of the warming of the seas was due to mankind's contribution to global warming.

"We know a lot more about the ice sheets than we did before," Payne said. "We know change is happening and that it is rapid. What we don't know is why or what is causing it -- what proportion is anthropomorphic."

Scientists calculate that average world temperatures -- which have already risen by 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 Fahrenheit) since 1900 -- could rise by at least two more degrees this century, due in large part to greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.


Bob Bindschadler, a glaciologist from U.S. space agency (NASA) said the West Antarctic ice sheet was reducing -- albeit patchily -- but that if it all melted it would raise global sea levels by 6 metres.

Putting it in context he said that a 1-meter rise in sea levels would cost the United States alone $400 billion -- roughly twice the estimated cost of the destruction wrought by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans last month.

"We don't want to have too many New Orleans," he told the start of the two-day conference that will pool all Antarctic knowledge and help shape the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is due in 2007.

Eric Rignot, a fellow NASA scientist, said marine ice on the world's coldest continent was in general retreat due to rising sea temperatures.

"The Antarctic ice sheet is changing at a faster rate than anticipated. The coastal changes are the most significant, with the potential to reach far inland," he told an audience of his peers from around the world.

While the vast East Antarctic ice sheet, which is more than double the size of its western neighbor, was more or less stable except at the coastal fringes, there was no guarantee it would remain so.

"The East Antarctic ice sheet is not immune to change," he said, noting that more than one third of the annual 1.8 millimetre rise in global sea levels came from Antarctica.


DECEMBER 06 2005 - As I have pointed out elsewhere some years back the refusal of Bush to deliver a federal approach to Kyoto is possibly the best way to galvanise the states, who have to bear the cost of inaction or action. It is also possible that it is a policy that had to remain unstated to be effective.

Americans take local road to Kyoto

By Mary Milliken  Decmeber 6th 10pm GMT

MONTREAL (Reuters) - While U.S. President George W. Bush refuses to accept the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions, at least 40 million Americans will find themselves bound to the international treaty to curb global warming.

Since the protocol took effect last February, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has convinced 192 cities to agree to cut emissions 7 percent from 1990 levels by 2012 -- the recommended target for the United States, which emits 25 percent of the world's heat-trapping gases.

The cities join an increasing number of states, including California and New York, and leading corporations choosing to follow the Kyoto lead even while their country doesn't.

They can act by using renewable energy and alternative fuels, placing tougher controls on auto emissions or building energy-saving green buildings.

"We reject the idea that is put forward by our national leaders in the United States that we have a choice to save the environment or save the economy," Nickels said on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 189-nation United Nations conference on climate change.

Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto in 2001, arguing that the mandatory emissions cuts for some 40 industrial nations would hurt U.S. growth and wrongly excluded developing economies like China and India.

And since then his administration has shown no sign of budging on accepting mandatory curbs, to the frustration of European leaders and environmental activists huddling in Montreal.

"Unfortunately, we are experiencing Category 5 denials by the Bush administration," said Jerome Ringo, who chairs the National Wildlife Federation in the United States and uses the term for the strongest hurricane rating.

Ringo said mayors, governors and congressmen are "filling the leadership vacuum left by the Bush administration."


Cities, states and Congress are also showing that acting on climate change is a bipartisan effort, not one restricted to the Democrats who largely stand behind the Kyoto Protocol.

California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has won environmentalists' praise at the conference with progress on his ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gases in the nation's most populous state 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

Per capita carbon dioxide emissions in California are around half of the U.S. average and have fallen 30 percent since 1975, while they have remained constant for the country.

"We are all part of the solution on climate change. The governor recognizes that, while California is only a piece of that, leadership is important and we can play that role," Alan Lloyd, California's secretary for the environment, said.

As nations debate in Montreal how to proceed after 2012, a bipartisan group of 24 U.S. senators wrote a letter to Bush on Monday asking the administration to participate in talks in a "constructive way" and not block discussions on binding emissions.

Mayor Nickels hopes results on the local and state levels will eventually lead the United States back into the Kyoto protocol for post-2012.

"It is inevitable that after the cities and states show it is safe, the politicians in Washington, D.C. will join and again the United States will take its moral responsibility," he said.


DECEMBER 09 2005
At the Montreal meeting on the environment Bill Clinton has pointed out today that taking action to reduce greenhouse-causing emissions would assist rather than hurt the United States economy. I have been telling them that for 20 years. There could be no clearer example of this than the failure of General Motors to lead the way, with its vehicles and its technology. It used to be a maxim that "What's good for General Motors is good for the USA". General Motors is now in a disastrous state and its parts suppliers in effective bankruptcy, because it did not lead the way. The United States has to be a leader in technology and production to meet the real challenges of the age, or it is nothing but a global liability - the drunk in the last chance saloon. It would be ironic of George W, having kicked the habit personally, has not appreciated the importance of getting the nation he leads to kick its national addiction to bingeing on fossil fuels and vomiting the dregs into the environment.
The outcome of Montreal is more hopeful than anticipated, with the United States and the large developing countries all agreeing to join collaborative talks on how to tackle climate change and if possible control it. Perhaps this is time to add here what I believe to have been behind the reluctance of the US to join any such talks. Whether targets are set or not, the stark truth is that the only way to tackle this problem is through technology - technology in energy saving and conservation, technology in the development of new energy sources and resources, technology in new methods of locomotion and propulsion, technology in new methods of manufacturing and the physical and chemical processes associated with these. As was stated forcefully in this year's Reith Lecture, this requires international cooperation. Commercial advantage is still at a premium in a world where we have not yet fully appreciated that trade need not be a zero-sum game. Indeed to reach that state there has to be a common understanding that has not yet been attained. Growth without that understanding is what is harming the planet. It is not hard to understand the reluctance of the United States to share the fruits of its top level R and D with the world when we see the results of current technology falling into the hands of terrorists and states that come into the control of religious fundamentalists or supremacists. But the only chance of success is to provide the developing nations with the mostt advanced technology that can permit them growth that is compatible with environmental sustainability. It can be done, but only in an atmosphere of trust and an agreement on the global goal. Yet at the moment there is not even a coherent domestic political and economic philosophy within the industrially developed nation states that have to reach agreement between themselves on how to tackle global problems. One reasonable outcome of the Montreal meeting is the extension of the Kyoto process, but that is peanuts compared to what we really need to get to grips with.

DEC 12th
As far as the UK is concerned, we are not making progress
Click here for the bad news

JANUARY 11th 2006
The latest research that reveals that some trees emit a significant quantity of methane doe not mean we should not replant forests. Forests absorb carbon dioxide. However it may well mean that the contribution of tree-planting to the reduction of the total greenhouse gas effect in the atmosphere will be less than estimated. The main methods of reduction remain as they have always been: reduction of energy waste, improvement in the efficiency of transport and manufacturing energy systems, replacement of fossil fuel burning by solar, wind, tide, geothermal, nuclear and such other sources as we an discover, a reduction in commuting to work, and in tourism by air, and control of the number of people on the planet. Since the US automobile industry is failing through its own stupidity it will probably be taken over by the Japanese. That should help.

JANUARY 16th 2006

Environment in crisis: 'Past the point of no return'

James Lovelock, the scientist behind the Gaia theory, now believes that climate change is already insoluble, and life on Earth will never be the same

Lovelock is almost certainly right (click the link above to read his article), but the means by which nature will react to our overpopulation and over pollution is not easy to imagine or predict. I have great confidence in the design, but to what extent we work with it or it eliminates us for not developing behavioural disciplines to match our activity and power to reproduce and burn fossil fuel, remains to be seen. Ironically, it is not the backward fundamentalists who are causing the trouble. They die in their thousands and don't cause problems of global pollution. It is the developers and scientists and builders of health, wealth and prosperity who have caused the problem and are late with the solution.

Nevertheless I have been a passionate opponent, I think, of Lovelock's basic philosophy since 1984. I agree with much of his Gaia theory, but whereas he thinks we should leave it to the Earth to control its climate, I do not. I think we are responsible and should have been far more farsighted in preparing for the consequences of our technology. If we have death control, we must have birth control. To apply death control where there is no birth control is idiocy. We have been idiots, so just for a start there are too many of us. Next, we must either travel less or travel differently, and this has been obvious since I was a schoolboy in the 1950s. All the rest is obvious so I will not bore you with it here, except to say we are now faced with incredible technological challenges and soe very painful times. So what's new? See the next paragraph

JANUARY 30th 2006

This is new as far as public discussion is concerned. Of course we have always known that in the event of a real global emergency, finance is no problem providing the world's nations can find a formula for equitable participation. Until now, peaceful competition has been the only way the wealth of nations has been a pursuit that could be followed without recourse to war and theft. It has been the only way to ensure a fair and healthy internal economy and a peaceful and rational international economy. There have of course been times when there has been some global cheating for the common good. A type of Global Keynesianism. But we have to be very careful that its is not abused or it may corrupt the integrity of the whole system.

Now that the news from the Arctic Ice Cap is beyond doubt and the result in terms of sea level mathematically of high probability, it is time to take responsibility and change the mode of operation. This is the proper move in the process of globalization predicted in SOTA in 1985. It is not as simple as set out here, but we should be grateful to The Independent for this summary.. If the EU and EMU had not been brought into being it would of course have been very much more difficult. Without our modern electronic communications, impossible.

UN unveils plan to release untapped wealth of...$7 trillion (and solve the world's problems at a stroke)

By Philip Thornton, Economics Correspondent, The Independent

Published: 30 January 2006

The most potent threats to life on earth - global warming, health pandemics, poverty and armed conflict - could be ended by moves that would unlock $7 trillion - $7,000,000,000,000 (£3.9trn) - of previously untapped wealth, the United Nations claims today.

The price? An admission that the nation-state is an old-fashioned concept that has no role to play in a modern globalised world where financial markets have to be harnessed rather than simply condemned.

In a groundbreaking move, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has drawn up a visionary proposal that has been endorsed by a range of figures including Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate.

It says an unprecedented outbreak of co-operation between countries, applied through six specific financial tools, would slice through the Gordian knot of problems that have bedevilled the world for most of the last century.

If its recommendations are accepted - and the authors acknowledge this could take years or even decades - it could finally force countries to face up to the fact that their public finance and growth figures conceal the vast damage their economies do to the environment.

At the heart of the proposal, unveiled at a gathering of world business leaders at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, is a push to get countries to account for the cost of failed policies, and use the money saved "up front" to avert crises before they hit. Top of the list is a challenge to the United States to join an international pollution permit trading system which, the UN claims, could deliver $3.64trn of global wealth.

Inge Kaul, a special adviser at the UNDP, said: "The way we run our economies today is vastly expensive and inefficient because we don't manage risk well and we don't prevent crises." She downplayed concerns over up-front costs and interest payments for the new-fangled financial devices. "The gains in terms of development would outweigh those costs. Money is wasted because we dribble aid, and the costs of not solving the problems are much, much higher than what we would have to pay for getting the financial markets to lend the money."

The UNDP is determined to ensure globalisation, which has generated vast wealth for multinational companies, benefits the poorest in society.

It urges politicians to embrace some groundbreaking schemes put in place in the past 12 months to tackle global warning, poverty and disease, based on working with the global markets to share out the risk.

These include a pilot international finance facility (IFF) to "front load" $4bn of cash for vaccines by borrowing money against pledges of future government aid.

The scheme, which is backed by the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was born out of a proposal by Gordon Brown for a larger scheme to double the total aid budget to $100bn a year.

In an endorsement of the report, Mr Brown said: "This shows how we can equip people and countries for a new global economy that combined greater prosperity and fairness both within and across nations."

The UNDP says rich countries should build on this and go further. It proposes six schemes to harness the power of the markets:

* Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through pollution permit trading; net gain $3.64trn.

* Cutting poor countries' borrowing costs by securing the debts against the income from stable parts of their economies; net gain $2.90trn.

* Reducing government debt costs by linking payments to the country's economic output; net gain $600bn.

* An enlarged version of the vaccine scheme; net gain (including benefits of lower mortality) $47bn.

* Using the vast flow of money from migrants back to their home country to guarantee; net gain $31bn.

* Aid agencies underwriting loans to market investors to lower interest rates; net gain $22bn.

Professor Stiglitz, the former chief economist of the World Bank and a staunch critic of the way globalisation harms the poor, said: "Globalisation has meant the closer integration of countries, and that in turn has meant a greater need for collective action.

"One of the most important areas of failure is the environment. Without government intervention, firms and households have no incentive to limit their pollution." He said a global public finance system would force countries to acknowledge the external damage their policies had, "the most important being global climate change".

Solving the environmental crisis tops the UN's $7trn wish-list. It calls for an international market to trade pollution permits that would encourage rich countries to cut pollution and hit their targets under the Kyoto protocol.

But - and the UN admits it is a big "but" - the US would have to sign up to Kyoto and carbon trading to achieve the $3.64trn that it believes the system would deliver over time.

"We are dealing with a global problem as pollution can only be dealt with internationally," Ms Kaul said. Richard Sandor, the head of the Chicago Climate Exchange, added: "Many encouraging signs are emerging. When the business case is clear, private entrepreneurs step forward."

But, the proposal is unlikely to get support from some green groups who believe that action to curb consumption, rather than market incentives, are the way to reduce carbon emissions.

Andrew Simms, director of the New Economics Foundation, said it left unanswered questions over how these markets would be managed and how the benefits and costs would be distributed. "We have nothing against markets so it would be missing the point to get into a pro- or anti-market stance. The point is how you distribute the benefits."

He said the Nineties, the zenith decade for globalisation, had seen just 60 cents out of every $100 worth of growth reach the poorest in society, compared with the $2.20 in the Eighties.

He said a pollution trading regime had the potential to deliver "enormous" benefits to poor countries, but said the UN report failed to show a detailed plan.

"Our view is that you have to cap pollution, allocate permits and then you can trade. But it depends on how it is set up. Because you are dealing with a global commons of the atmosphere, the danger is that you could be effectively dealing in stolen goods."

He said a system set up now to trade in pollution permits could end up permanently depriving poor countries that joined the system further down the road.

International problems - and solutions


Millions of people across the developing world have died from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, as well as from other pandemics. Vaccines needed to avert them require much-needed investment.

SOLUTION: An advance commitment by rich countries to buy $3bn (£1.7bn) worth of vaccines would be enough to encourage pharmaceutical giants to invest in finding medicines that would eliminate these pandemics.

SAVING: $600bn

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: Vaccines are needed but more should be done in the meantime. Extra aid is needed for simple tools such as mosquito nets that would curb spread of malaria.


Big business and global money ignore countries where they see the risk of conflict outweighing their potential profit margins.

SOLUTION: Guarantees by international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund to lower the cost of borrowing for poor nations by underwriting investors' loans to conflict-torn states.

SAVING: $22bn

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: Sometimes large volumes of cash are needed and this is one. Live8 showed there was huge support among taxpayers for higher aid to countries in distress.

Hitting a commitment made in the 1960s of 0.7 per cent of GDP would unlock $140bn a year.


Once great nations such as Brazil and Argentina were reduced to the status of beggars after poor economic policy combined with debts with national and international lenders.

SOLUTION: A system to enable countries to take loans linked to their average economic growth rate to ensure that they do not have to cut public spending to raise the money to borrow needed funds during the hard times.

SAVING: $600bn

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: A system to allow countries to seek protection from their creditors in the same way that US companies can take so-called Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


Poor countries suffer most from swings in investment tastes by the big global investors that means money can leave as soon as it arrives.

SOLUTION: Enable countries to buy "insurance policies" against big swings in growth that would ensure that they did not have to cut public spending every time. In 1997 it wreaked havoc across South-east Asia.

SAVING: $2,900bn

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: Curb speculative investment by imposing a tax on foreign exchange transactions aimed at destabilising a currency. It could directly raise funds for development while preventing the worst excesses of the markets.


Scientists believe human activity has led to climate change and disappearing Arctic ice. The world's poor also have to live with lethal storms and floods.

UN SOLUTION: A system of international trading in permits to allow pollution that would encourage countries to cut their emission of greenhouse gases so they can sell their "right to pollute" to other states. UNDP says it is more effective than just setting targets.

SAVING: $3,620bn

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: An international approach is needed but one that prevents people from causing harm by setting pollution targets rather than trying to bribe them not to. Also agree global airline tax.


Millions of skilled workers leave their home countries every year in search of a better life in the West. In some states nine out 10 professionals have left.

SOLUTION: Enable countries to borrow on the open markets against the money workers send home. The capital would be used to invest in the country to build infrastructure that would discourage people from leaving.

SAVING: $31bn

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: An international code of ethical guidelines overseen by bodies such as the World Health Organisation (for doctors and nurses) to monitor the harm that migration of professionals causes.

END OF Independent ARTICLE

But that's not all.
There is no way we can assist in either population or production expansion unless it conforms to completely new principles. All new production must use new methods that show DRASTIC savings both during manufacture and in the use for the product. I am talking 50% minimum. This can be done, using new chemistry and new physics an intelligent recycling. It will cost an absolute fortune in investment, but we can raise the money very easily providing we can establish an equitable system.

So there will have to be a way market forces fit in. Companies prepared to produce the new generation of goods and services to the standards specified will be given very large subsidies from the global fund. The profit they an make in the long run will depend on their efficiency. There will have to be agreed protectionism where required between 'blocks'. USA would be a block, EU+, China+, Russia+ etc would be artificial blocks. This will be a necessary paradox to protect the value of the investment and local employment. Once the efficiency of the new products has been proven over some years the protectionism can be relaxed just as it has been over recent decades.

The reason why agreement will be possible for such a revolutionary plan is that instead of sharing hardship and restriction, all those who participate will immediately benefit financially. Production and employment will increase. There is no down-side. Let me give you an example. General Motors would receive billions of investment, on condition they swiftly but smoothly shut down their current production of ecologically damaging products and produce vehicles with engines that are at least 50% more efficient and less polluting, just for starters. They won't have any difficuty selling them. All vehicle tyres will become part of recycling processes that will be adopted world wide. No country could afford to turn down the subsidy or fail to meet the required standards. Every old-fashioned light bulb in the world will be compulsority replaced with a new type that saves at least 75% power for the same luminosity, within 2 years. The others will not be manufactured.

It is a mistake to count on individuals to follow any optional codes to save the planet. The way forward is to cease production of products that in their manufacture and use are not compatible, if used in the expected numbers, with global stability. Stick and carrot is the way to go, but the stick on manufacturing has got to be rigorous. Battery operated toothbrushes at one end of the scale, and cars that Jeremy Clarkson likes at the other, will not be favoured. Those who produce them and use them will get no carrots, either, and these carrots will be so big that those who don't get them will, relatively, starve.

There is no alternative to this proposal, because of the hysteresis in all the systems involved. This hysteresis applies to all the human elements as well as the physical, chemical and biological systems that comprise the global environment. We either act now, to adapt our entire methodology to globalization, or we lose it. Every planet with intelligent life that achieves this level will undergo globalization. We should aim to survive it, manage our planet and our population. If not, nature will just deal with us as a failed case. Humans evolved from prehumans because of past ice ages. This new emergence is not the same though. The evolution of evolution means that we are now a conscious part of the selection process.

To get this thing on the road, there is going to have to be some very frank talking. I don't wish to be rude, but those who do not understand the reason for the European Union (like poor little William Haig) must really go back to school and study some very basic mathematics. We have to develop some coherent monetary groups of reasonable size in the developed world in order to handle the global rules that must now be applied if what we call an adequate modern standard of living is to be shared by the populace. We should also stop enlarging the EU beyond the point where it can be properly managed and run as a system, and also stop thinking that a Federation means a single state. It is right that the constituent countries retain their distictive cultures and are responsible for their own territories and how things are handled within them when these are not subject to globally necessary controls.

OK, gentle reader, so you think the above is an absurd, impossible pipe-dream with no possible practical application? The we will have to go for the alternative which to free-up intellectual and commercial property.

First a development on which to base an analogy.
Microsoft has up till now made half of a good job standardising some software we all use, making offices electronically compatible. It has used the INTERNET and WORLD WIDE WEB, the invention of which it had nothing to do, to its immense advantage. Bill Gates has used his wealth responsibly and accountably. But the Internet and web has been built by a combination of patented and open systems, government investment and private speculation, professional and amateur contributions. The next stage of development will be to provide the tools that have been developed and provided by Microsoft, Adobe, Netscape etc. on a comletely free basis.

The analogy I wish to draw is that the equivalent must now happen in the entire industrial world.
The concept of patents, which has been so important up to now, must be removed from all areas of life which are classed as truly universal needs, such as food, shelter, clothing and sustainable practises that can save the planet and its poulation from self-destruction. To avoid the impossibly complex arrangements that I suggested in the first half of the entry on this date, we must throw all our talents into the pool. It is the same philosophical lesson that is related in the Feeding of the Five Thousand. If all those present had required that the food they had brought but kept hidden had been valued and subject to inventory before being shared, thy could have gone home hungry before a method had even been agreed. The 'miracle' took place when Jesus and his disciples shared what little food they had, causing 5,000 others to do the same.

Of course before we can share, we have to develop. Tim Berners-Lee gave away the World Wide Web technology with the permission of his emloyers, but its development had been the culmination of much work that had been incentivised over the years by monetary reward in a funded environment. The development of ideas and systems and their testing can only take place in funded surroundings by people paid enough to work sustainably on research and development. But it s time we moved to a method that allowed the compulsory purchase of intellectual and commercial property rights o behalf of the planet, and there free use when this is essential. This compulsory purchase would be made by a special commission of the UN.

FEBRUARY 14th 2006.

Kyoto 2012 greenhouse gas goals still in reach: UN

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent Tue Feb 14, 11:27 AM ET

OSLO (Reuters) - Industrialized nations can reach 2012 United Nations goals for reining in gases blamed for global warming but many will have to take tougher measures, the U.N. climate change bureau said on Tuesday.

A year after the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol on reining in emissions from burning fossil fuels entered into force, it said information filed in early 2006 by rich nations showed "significant progress" in working out new policies and rules.

"Industrialized countries that have ratified the ... Kyoto Protocol can still reach their legally-binding emissions targets," the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said to mark the February 16 first anniversary.

Weakened by a U.S. pullout, Kyoto is meant as a small first step to force about 40 rich nations to cut emissions of carbon dioxide from factories, power plants and cars that are blamed for blanketing the globe and pushing up world temperatures.

Richard Kinley, acting head of the UNFCCC, said Kyoto nations were "on their way to lower their emission levels by at least 3.5 percent below 1990 levels" by the 2008-12 target.

With extra measures, they could reach the overall target of at least a 5 percent cut below 1990 levels, he said.

Extra measures include investing in clean energy projects in the developing world, ranging from hydropower plants in Honduras to solar energy schemes in China. Under such projects, firms can win credits that count against emissions back home.


Even so, Kinley said many Kyoto backers would have to "sustain or even intensify their efforts." "More is needed," he said.

Many scientists say that rising temperatures will spur an ever more chaotic climate likely to spawn more droughts, heat waves, floods and drive up sea levels by almost a meter by 2100.

The UNFCCC said last year that overall emissions by rich nations had fallen to 17.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2003 from 18.4 billion in 1990.

It warned that most of the fall was due to the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries and could rebound.

On Tuesday, it said extra measures for investment in the developing world, known as the "clean development mechanism," had the potential to cut 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by the end of 2012 or about the annual amount emitted by Canada.

It said the 15 European Union member states before the bloc's 2004 expansion to include eastern European nations, had cut emissions by 1.7 percent from 1990 levels -- roughly the equivalent of Denmark's annual emissions.

U.S. President George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying that it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly excluded developing nations from the first round of cuts to 2012.

Last month Bush stressed more spending on cleaner energy technology, including solar and wind power, to break what he called the United States' addiction to oil.

Separately, the WWF environmental group said the Kyoto anniversary and high oil prices were a chance to spur a shift to cleaner energies.

"We are still far from winning the fight against global warming," said Jennifer Morgan, head of the WWF's climate change program.

FEBRUARY 28th 2006
If we can win the battle in WOKING, we can win it everywhere providing we can create an equitable method of financing it.


As a result of the decentralised approach, Woking Borough Council claims a cut in carbon dioxide emissions of 77% in 15 years. Customers buying electricity directly from the local power systems also enjoy lower prices than those on offer from the mainstream utilities. This is because they don’t have to pay the supply margins, transmission and distribution charges that make up a third of the retail cost of conventional electricity.

MARCH 28th 2006

New drive is evident in the debate today, with admission that more needs to be done and new initiatives. The PM, in New Zealand, talks of technological solutions.

Jeremy Paxman (BBC TV Newsnight) asks Margaret Beckett  the key question; "Is a reduction in economic growth a price worth paying for the survival of the planet", This is the key question, as even our modest UK growth rate has overridden all attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so imagine the Chinese....

It took a while to get the answer. When it came, it was the right answer but not given with enough confidence.

The answer given was that we could tackle climate change without a reduction in economic growth, because there are great opportunities for growth in the new technologies that tackle the problem. Correct, but the reason why the answer was hesitant is that market forces will not drive the demand for many of these technologies.

It is ironic that at the moment in history when market forces have been welcomed by all western political parties who have had experience of government as the only basis of a sustainable economy, that market forces should be shown up as incapable of anticipating events, as unable to deal with the hysteresis in global systems.

Even the steps we can take to insulate our houses against heat loss - a vital part of the collection of essential actions to achieve CO2 emissions (our homes are responsible for 1/4 of all CO2 emissions) - even these steps are hopelessly uneconomic for householders unless they are looking 2 generations ahead.

So what is the solution? Simple: the factor that have brought us inevitable globalisation and runaway growth also give us the means to take charge of the global economy and turn that growth the climate-friendly growth. We can, through international agreement (see the UN PLAN above) and national plans, subsidise all the actions that we need to take as home owners without any danger to the economy or the environment.

The judgment that has to be made is how fast to move and how to minimize subsidising the cowboys and opportunists who pile in on any state-sponsored initiative. We also have to watch out for the experts in bureaucracy who know how to get all the government contracts, whether or not they deserve them. But what the hell, the vital thing is to get these things done to the best standard we can. Private enterprise can deliver the goods, and standards and reasonable prices can be published to advise and protect consumers.

In short, it is up to us as individuals to play our part in becoming ecologically responsible, but only government can ecologically expand our industries by penalizing out-of-date technology and subsidising the entry into environmentally sustainable living. Farmers need 4x4 vehicles, and these can be made economical for farmers by tax allowances specific to farming while being made uneconomic to suburban housewives. The latter can be incentivised, if they need a vehicle that carries 5 children in safety, to buy one that does 70 mpg. As for airlines, cheap flights should be abolished by a variety of means and airliners should not depart till all seats are full. Its a no-brainer, saving the planet.

APRIL 19th 2006

Central America eyes sweet alternative to oil - but see entry for Feb 8 2008 below

By Mica Rosenberg 

SAN ANTONIO SUCHITEPEQUEZ, Guatemala (Reuters) - At the Palo Gordo refinery two hours' drive south of Guatemala City, a Brazilian-designed ethanol processing plant hums next to decades-old machinery turning freshly cut cane into sugar.

The plant is part of a new push across Central America to reduce the region's reliance on expensive imported oil by following the example of Brazil, Latin America's alternative energy powerhouse.

Sugar-producing countries are looking to ethanol to breathe new life into the decades-old sugar industry. The fuel, also known as ethyl alcohol, is made from a sugar by-product and then mixed with gasoline to reduce pollution and lower prices.

"Sugar cane has changed its name," said Erick Perez, who manages alcohol processing at the Palo Gordo plant.

"Now we call it 'energy cane,"' he said, showing off the three-storey ovens that burn cane fibre to generate all the electricity used by the refinery.

Palo Gordo does not yet produce alcohol in a car-ready form because of a lack of demand, said Perez, but some countries in the region are trying to expand local markets for ethanol by passing laws that promote its use.

All the small Central American economies are net oil importers, and record high oil prices are causing economic hardship for local businesses and consumers in a region where a quarter of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

In Honduras, sugar producers are planting 11,000 hectares (27,200 acres) of new sugar cane to provide raw materials for two ethanol refineries.

"We need to reduce our dependence on oil by promoting the production of ethanol and biodiesel," Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said recently. "In addition to fuel, what we can generate is a number of important jobs growing sugar cane."

Zelaya's government is also promoting a four-year project to grow 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) of African palm, a tree with oil that can be converted into biodiesel.


Costa Rica's state-run national gasoline refinery RECOPE began a pilot project last month to add 7.5 percent ethanol to gasoline at 63 gas stations in the country.

The programme, funded in part by Brazilian oil company Petrobras, cost $15 million and will eventually be expanded across the country in an attempt to bring down Costa Rica's oil costs, which jumped by 45 percent between 2004 and 2005.

Oil prices and environmental concerns are expanding worldwide markets for ethanol, since burning alcohol instead of gasoline reduces carbon emissions by more than 80 percent.

Green power and nuclear energy are competing to be the solution for reducing pollution from the electricity sector, the main greenhouse gas producer.

In Brazil, three-quarters of all new cars burn either ethanol or gasoline depending on which is cheaper at the pump, and ethanol is now available at nearly all of the country's 34,000 gas stations.

The U.S. ethanol market grew 11 percent between 1995 and 2004, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. The European Union set a target for biofuels to account for 2 percent of all transport fuels used in Europe by 2005, rising to 5.75 percent by 2010. [Note the dangers here in setting a target (a) regardless of the energy required to produce the biofuel and (b) regardless of taking agricultural land out of food production. - JB]

"Central American countries can be competitive producing ethanol from sugar and there are strong groups in the private sector who are investing," said Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho, who promotes lending to alternative energy projects at the Inter-American Development Bank.

"If they don't sell it to the local market they can sell it internationally."


For those without access to massive sugar refineries, leftover grease from fast-food chains like Taco Bell is enough to run an environmentally friendly car.

Guatemalan chemist Pedro Ordonez says he powers his 2006 Lincoln Frontier on biodiesel he makes himself.

The fuel, made from almost any vegetable oil, can fill up the tank of a diesel engine or be used as an additive to diesel in the same way ethanol is mixed with gasoline.

Last year, a group of eco-minded travellers drove a 1974 bus from California to Mexico powered only by old cooking oil from taco stands and Chinese restaurants to make a point about the viability of alternative energy.

Most projects in the region are small-scale, like the grease-powered car used by Ordonez, but El Salavador last month opened Central America's first biodiesel plant with money from Finland, to produce 400 litres (quarts) of the fuel a day.

The plant will process seeds from the Higuerillo tree, commonly used to provide shade for coffee plants in the region and the fruits of the Jatropha bush, a plant native to Mesoamerica and ideal for biodiesel production.

Guatemalan entrepreneur Ricardo Asturias is also launching a biodiesel project using Jatropha plants and already has some 300,000 growing around the country in order to start fuel production next year.

"This boosts agricultural production and helps the environment," said Asturias. "Step by step, we are learning how to make it profitable."

20th APRIL
Gordon Brown:
"And this weekend we will announce details of a joint British- Brazilian-South African and Mozambican initiative incentivising bioethanol production that will cut fuel emissions."  See

Meanwhile for the bad news read this:

JUNE 10th 2006 - The Kyoto Protocol's slow but positive progress in the underdeveloped world depends on the developed world. This Reuters report explains with some useful ball-park figures

UN scheme to cut greenhouse gases

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent Fri Jun 9, 7:04 AM ET

OSLO (Reuters) - A U.N. scheme to promote renewable energy use in poor nations is growing sharply and will axe emissions of greenhouse gases by more than a billion metric tonnes by 2012, the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat said on Friday.

It said that the program, part of the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol meant to combat global warming by curbing fossil fuel use, has more than 800 projects such as wind farms in India or power plants burning sugar cane waste in Brazil.

The first project under the scheme was approved only in late 2004.

By giving rich nations incentives to invest in green energy ranging from hydro to solar power, the program aims to brake a build-up of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fuels such as coal or oil.

"The known project potential ... is presently estimated to generate around a billion tonnes of emission reductions by the end of 2012," the Bonn-based secretariat said in a statement.

That is the estimated reduction between now and end-2012.

Annual world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities -- mainly from fossil fuels burned in power plants, vehicles and factories -- exceed 25 billion tonnes. About a quarter is from the United States.

"The one billion tonne mark in emission reductions corresponds to the present (annual) emissions of Spain and the United Kingdom combined," the secretariat said. Britain emits about 650 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, Spain 350 million.

The secretariat said more than 200 green energy projects had now been approved under the program, known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), with about 600 others in the pipeline.

Under the CDM, rich nations can invest in renewable energy projects in developing nations -- such as hydroelectric power plants in Guatemala or a methane capture scheme in China -- and then claim credits back home for the emissions they save.


Those credits can in theory then be sold -- giving the rich nations the incentive to invest. Some experts say that the CDM could eventually channel more than $100 billion to renewable energy schemes from Africa to Latin America.

The Kyoto Protocol obliges 35 industrial nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. The United States pulled out in 2001, saying Kyoto would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly excluded developing nations from targets under the first round.

Kyoto is meant as a first step to slow a rise in world temperatures that many scientists say could wreak havoc by causing more heat waves, floods and droughts and drive up world sea levels by up to a meter by 2100.

But the Climate Secretariat said that the growth in the CDM had been lopsided.

"Whilst the mechanism is seeing exponential growth, the growth is still too unevenly distributed," said Richard Kinley, officer in charge of the secretariat.

Many of the projects have been in Brazil, China, India and South Korea with relatively few, for instance, in Africa. The Netherlands, Britain and Japan have been the leading investors in CDM schemes.

SEPTEMBER 20th 2006

I have paused here for 2 months as it seemed that at long last the politicians, the public, the media and the scientists had all caught up and it was now appreciated that actionis needed to change our global behaviour, and that nations must lead the political way. Unfortunately there is still much confusion in the science and economic opinion.

First it must be understood that we may stand at the point where the global system (Gaia if you will or not if you don't) has had its equilibrium disturbed and is seeking a new equilibrium. By that I mean that while up till now additions of CO2 and other gases have been compensated, absorbed, countered by the system to some extent, it may have been pushed to the limit of that particular stable model and feedback might change to positive to eliminate the cause. That might mean eliminating some of the human race to preserve life as we know it (Jim!) which will include humans but not in their current behavioural mode or number. If Nature does that for us, it's the hard way. If we step in and manage it ourselves immediately (we have to act fast) it could be less painful. Some change will be inevitable but it is a great mistake to thin we can adapt to climate change while letting it rip.

Those who say we cannot afford to change behaviour are simply wrong. We have to both change our pollution output and find technological solutions to deal wth the change we cannot stop and reverse the carbon dioxide level and if necessary reduce warming. We need to renew nuclear power in the UK for a further period because our current nuclear stations are becoming redundant. It is a very good thing that the climate change has arrived to give us this warning, as otherwise we would continue consuming oil and water till nations would all be at war for these resources. We have also to control our reproduction. And we have to understand the origin of the world's religions and figure out how they relate to truth and science (that is knowledge, rather than myth and fable). Fundamentalists like Bin Laden and Bush really do have to be dumped.

But I have to tell you that whether we take the right action or not, Nature will proceed and sort out the problem, just as it found the way to proceed from the emergence of spacetime to the universe of galaxies and planets on which there is life and individuals to appreciate all this. Upon our appreciation, or the lack of it, will depend how painful it will be.


Climate change ministry unveiled

The Press Association Friday September 22, 03:32 PM Plans for better co-ordination of Whitehall climate change policy have been unveiled by the Government.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said ministers have agreed to the new Office of Climate Change (OCC), its scope, role and initial work plan.

The OCC will support ministers as they decide future UK strategy and policy on domestic and international climate change, providing high-level management and reporting on progress on existing commitments.

It will consolidate existing analysis to develop cross-government consensus on current progress and outstanding issues.

The OCC will also identify short and medium term goals for particular sectors and areas, and consequent priorities for action.

The new body will carry out time-limited, policy-focused projects where ministers agree that this adds value.

It will promote understanding of climate change across government and supporting departments and encourage them to adapt their policies.

Mr Miliband said: "Climate change is one of the biggest problems facing the UK and the world and we need to ensure that the action we are taking as a Government is co-ordinated and as effective as possible. The new Office of Climate Change will help us meet that challenge.

"The OCC will be a key resource to help us achieve the challenging targets we have set to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050.

"The office will co-ordinate climate change activity across government based on sound, objective analysis and drive forward progress on climate change policy and strategy."

OCTOBER 4th 2006   The front page story in The Independent

The century of drought

One third of the planet will be desert by the year 2100, say climate experts in the most dire warning yet of the effects of global warming

By Michael McCarthy, Environmental Editor

Published: 04 October 2006                           

Climate inaction 'has high cost'

: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 01:58 GMT 02:58 UK

Climate inaction 'has high cost'
The world must act now to curb climate change, as doing nothing will cost more long-term, UK officials have said.

British government official and former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern said pursuing alternative energy made economic and environmental sense.

He was addressing a closed-door meeting in Mexico of representatives of 20 of the world's most-polluting nations.

The above news report is basically pessimistic, but Sir David King, the UK Government Chief Scientist and foremost establishment promoter of urgent action on climate change was more optimistic that at last a full realistion of the dangers had been grasped by the international community.

OCTOBER 10th 2006

UK planning law on climate change
A climate change bill which could see regular targets put in place to cut UK carbon dioxide emissions is being considered by the government.

An independent system to gauge progress in reducing greenhouse gases is also likely to be included, BBC political editor Nick Robinson said.

The move follows a campaign by Friends of the Earth - supported by the Tories and Liberal Democrats - for such a law.

A Nasa study says the world is the warmest it has been for 12,000 years.

Pace of change

The climate change bill is likely to be included in next month's Queen's Speech.

Mr Robinson said a proposal, from Friends of the Earth, that ministers should be fined for missing environmental targets, would not be included.

Last month, Environment Secretary David Miliband said people "should be scared" by global warming and that more were recognising that "something funny is going on with the weather".

He has warned that the pace of action has to be much faster or carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 will be 137% higher than in 2003.

A Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said he could not comment on what would be in the Queen's speech.

But he added: "However, we think on big issues such as tackling climate change, we need to look at all the options.

"We are not interested in aspirations, but action. We are looking at whether legislation could help meet the global challenge of climate change."

Nasa scientists said last month that the world was at its warmest for the last 12,000 years as a result of rapid changes over the past 30 years.

The average temperature had increased by about 0.2C (0.4F) in each of the last three decades.

Pollution from human activity was pushing the world towards dangerous levels of climate change, Nasa warned.

Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "We need rolling annual carbon reduction targets to be agreed in parliament; an independent body to assess the science and make recommendations as that science evolves; and an annual report to parliament to ensure that ministers and civil servants are accountable."

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said: "The Climate Change Bill must include annual targets for cutting carbon emissions so that the government's efforts can be assessed, while an independent scientific body should report each year on progress.

"Climate change matters because if we don't tackle it quickly it will cost far, far more later on."

OCTOBER 17th 2006
Carbon Offsetting
The principle of Carbon Offsetting is this: of you carry out an activity that causes CO2 emission, you pay an amount into a fund which saves CO2 emissions somewhere else. Of course this will not solve the climate change problem at all. It will leave things as they are. Instead of NOT flying to somehwere on holiday, you fund CO2 saving somewhere else. That encourages people NOT to change their habits, rather to keep going. The planes will fly because the demand remains. We need the planes to remain grounded when people can take the train or holiday in their own country. I am glad to see that Newsnight made the point. Aviation is grossly subsidised.

EU sets 'ambitious' energy goals
An action plan to cut Europe's energy consumption by 20% before 2020 has been outlined by the European Commission.

More than 75 "ambitious" measures include tougher energy standards for electrical goods, a low-energy building strategy and more fuel efficient cars.


OCTOBER 25th 2006

It has taken a long time for the media to wake up to this.

The amount of energy consumed by not just data centres but by the Internet and its transmission of data, plus all the personal and business computers connected to it, is growing at an extraordinary rate. The use of ICT should save energy but instead is adding to energy consumption as it fails to reduce travel, printing or lighting requirements.

This article from The Independent is welcome even if long overdue.

UK data-centres use more power in a year than city of Leicester

By Nic Fildes

Published: 25 October 2006

The UK is heading towards energy shortages because of companies' burgeoning use of IT, according to new research yesterday that called on companies to overhaul their IT systems radically and install eco-friendly technology.

UK companies are using vast amounts of electricity to power the country's 1,500 data-centres that support the UK's growing IT needs. An average UK data-centre uses more power in a year than the city of Leicester.

Steve Prentice, the chief of research at Gartner, said: "IT's age of innocence is nearing an end. Technology's clean and friendly 'weightless economy' image is being challenged by its growing environmental footprint."

Power-hungry data- centres could result in electricity shortages unless energy-reduction is made a core priority within IT departments, according to new research from BroadGroup.

Companies using huge amounts of computer power will also come under increasing pressure to cut energy consumption as a result of spiralling energy costs.

"The data-centre is environmentally unfriendly," Keith Breed, a research director at BroadGroup, said. "The IT department has been divorced from reality as hardware costs have come down rapidly while computing power has risen dramatically. However, higher energy costs have not been factored in."

He said that the biggest consumers of IT power - financial services companies, internet gaming firms and internet service providers - may start to look at factoring rising energy costs into prices, a move that could mean the consumer ends up footing the ball.

Mr Breed estimates that a single UK data-centre's energy costs will more than double to about £7.4m a year by 2010, making the UK the most expensive place for IT in Europe.

One of the problems that companies face is that the servers needed to support current IT usage use about between three to four times the power of traditional servers. A similar amount of electricity is also required to dissipate the heat generated by high-end servers. Gartner estimates that energy costs represent about 50 per cent of a company's IT budget over the next few years, compared with about 10 per cent currently.

Hardware companies are looking at tackling these problems by designing technology that can run more applications with less power. However, Mr Breed said companies need to tackle the problem by investing in such technology and looking at better ways to utilise IT in a more efficient way.

Some companies have already moved to improve power consumption related to IT. BT is to include energy-saving equipment at five of its 12 data-centres and is considering ways to reduce its overall power consumption

AND HERE IS THE PARADOX - of course the only solution is massive and continuous investment in energy saving IT hardware and lighting and in sources of power that do not emit as much CO2.

Britons told to log on and leave car at home

Reuters Wednesday October 25, 09:47 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - People could save energy, cut pollution and reduce deaths if they logged onto the information superhighway and left their cars at home, the RAC Foundation said on Wednesday.

The motoring organisation said the average commuter travels nearly 3,000 miles a year and spends 47 working days going to and from work or travelling on business trips.

"Many ordinary people spend large chunks of their working week stuck in traffic jams while driving to work or to business meetings, and equally large amounts of their salaries on fuel bills, " said the RAC Foundation's Sheila Rainger.

She said taking advantage of technology gains and considering working from home or remote working could help save the planet as well as making everyday life a bit easier.

"The e-highway has a vital role to play in curbing congestion chaos on the real highway," she said.

The call to consider ditching the car comes after the Energy Saving Trust on Monday said British people rank bottom in energy efficiency versus France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The trust has calculated that if all British commuters left the car at home one day a week it would reduce the country's CO2 emissions by almost one percent.

According to the RAC Foundation around half of Britons in employment are now classed as "information workers" who do not need to be in a specific location to do their jobs.

Nine million homes in Britain now have broadband and new mobile systems such as wi-fi now make it possible to securely access business networks from almost anywhere.

OCTOBER 26th 2006
Here is another paradox. Most new vehicles designed to emit less CO2 are highly sophisticated compared to older vehicles. Their manufacture consumes much more energy.  Anyone who has a vehicle which is simple and reasonably economic and unpolluting should be making sure it lasts as long as possible and is in excellent condition rather than buying an expensive new-technology energy-saving model.
This is the point raised in this website on November 11th 2004 on the subject of ENERGY SUPPLIES.
Energy conservation and the efficiency of the production of materials in the coming century will be key to both the consumption of energy and the emmission of damaging waste and bi-products.

Readers will notice (below) the apparent inconsistency between the proposal for taxes (government intervention) and:

<< Changing people's behaviour is only achieved by "market forces and price signals," Mr Miliband wrote. >>

unless in this case 'price signals' just means taxes and government intervention. Of course people's behaviour can be radically changed by enforceable and enforced law - see Hobbes on The Social Contract. To affect global warming the developed world has to (1) set an example, regardless, as individual nations (2) set and agree international standards to avoid taking or losing advantage and (3) assist the developing world with technology transfer to leapfrog the 20th century methods of industrialisation and wasteful consumerism.

All in all not  one of Mr Milibands more edifying or exciting contributions. We await The Stern Report. I like the name!

Miliband 'draws up green taxes'
The environment secretary is proposing green taxes designed to change people's behaviour to offset global warming, according to a Sunday newspaper.

The Mail on Sunday quotes a leaked letter from David Miliband to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Proposals include "pay as you drive" and cheap flight taxes and levies on energy-wasting appliances, it says.

Meanwhile Conservative leader David Cameron has told the BBC he would be prepared to tax air travel.

This comes ahead of a report expected to warn climate change may cut global annual economic output by up to 20%.

The influential report by economist Nicholas Stern is due to be published on Monday.

Ahead of this, the Mail on Sunday says the leaked letter from 18 October calls for urgent action in next month's public spending review and next year's Budget.

In the letter to Mr Brown, Mr Miliband calls for measures to combat "car use and ownership", and a "substantial increase" in road tax, the paper claims. He also calls for a new pay-per-mile pollution tax.

The paper said leaked proposals suggest families with big cars could end up paying more than £1,000 a year in additional tax.

'Tax flights'

Changing people's behaviour is only achieved by "market forces and price signals," Mr Miliband wrote.

He added: "As our understandings of climate change increases, it is clear more needs to be done."

The minister also suggests making flights subject to VAT, for either domestic flights or "better still all EU flights," the Mail says.

Meanwhile Mr Cameron spoke about green levies in a pre-recorded interview for the BBC One's The Politics Show.

He told the programme: "Some green taxes do hit the poorest in our society, so we have to think about that very carefully before we make taxation decisions.

"If it means putting a tax on air travel, then yes, that's something we'd be prepared to do."

But he said budgetary decisions should be made closer to budgetary times.

Mr Cameron also gave his backing to Liberal Democrat-controlled Richmond council's plans to charge the drivers of the most polluting vehicles higher parking fees.

Economic impact

Elsewhere, ex-cabinet minister Stephen Byers has said there may be need to introduce green taxes, according to the Observer newspaper.

The paper said he told an audience of businessmen in China this weekend that: "For the Labour party there must be no no-go areas for policy debate.

"We should consider how we can change the structure of our tax system in a way which benefits the lowest-paid and penalises environmentally damaging activity," it quotes him as saying."

The Stern Review, due out on Monday, will examine economic, not environmental, arguments of global warming.

Sir Nicholas's report is expected to claim that at the very best the cost of tackling global warming would be 1% of annual economic output.

The report looked at the impact of global warming on economic output, or gross domestic product (GDP), until 2100.

Climate change fight 'can't wait'
The world cannot afford to wait before tackling climate change, the UK prime minister has warned.

A report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern suggests that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20%.

But taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, the 700-page study says.

Tony Blair said the Stern Review showed the scientific evidence of global warming was "overwhelming" and its consequences "disastrous".

Chancellor Gordon Brown promised the UK would lead the international response to tackle climate change.

We have the time and knowledge to act but only if we act internationally, strongly and urgently
Sir Nicholas Stern

The report says that without action, up to 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood.

"Whilst there is much more we need to understand -- both in science and economics -- we know enough now to be clear about the magnitude of the risks, the timescale for action and how to act effectively," Sir Nicholas said.

"That's why I'm optimistic - having done this review - that we have the time and knowledge to act. But only if we act internationally, strongly and urgently."

'No time to wait'

Mr Blair said: "Investment now will pay us back many times in the future - not just environmentally but economically as well."

"For every £1 invested now we can save £5 - or possibly more - by acting now". "We can't wait the five years it took to negotiate Kyoto - we simply don't have the time. We accept we have to go further (than Kyoto)."

Sir Nicholas, a former chief economist of the World Bank, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "Unless it's international, we will not make the reductions on the scale which will be required."

He went on: "What we have shown is the magnitude of these risks is very large and has to be taken into account in the kind of investments the world makes today and the consumption patterns it has."

The Stern Review forecasts that 1% of global gross domestic product (GDP) must be spent on tackling climate change immediately.

It warns that if no action is taken:

  • Floods from rising sea levels could displace up to 100 million people
  • Melting glaciers could cause water shortages for 1 in 6 of the world's population

  • Wildlife will be harmed; at worst up to 40% of species could become extinct
  • Droughts may create tens or even hundreds of millions of "climate refugees"

The study is the first major contribution to the global warming debate by an economist, rather than a scientist.

Mr Brown has recruited former US Vice President Al Gore as an environment adviser, while Environment Secretary David Miliband is considering a range of taxes designed to change people's behaviour to offset global warming.

"In the 20th century our national economic ambitions were the twin objectives of achieving stable economic growth and full employment," Mr Brown said.

"Now in the 21st century our new objectives are clear, they are threefold: growth, full employment and environmental care."



Carbon pollution by industrialised countries still rising : UNFCCC

AFP Monday October 30, 06:43 PM
BONN (AFP) - Greenhouse-gas emissions by the industrialised world are still rising, with the United States firmly entrenched as the biggest polluter, a UN report has said.

In an annual update on global-warming pollution, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said that, compared with the benchmark year of 1990, the 41 industrialised countries it monitors trimmed their emissions by 3.3 percent by the end of 2004.

But this was mainly due to the slump in the former Soviet bloc economies in the 1990s, which forced the closure or overhaul of thousands of power stations and factories that spewed out carbon dioxide.

Because of that historic change, countries in eastern and central Europe had a decrease in emissions from 1990-2004 of 36.8 percent. But from 2000-2004, they in fact increased their pollution by 4.1 percent as their economies emerged from the post-Soviet crash.

In contrast, the other industrialised countries saw an increase in pollution of 11 percent from 1990-2004. From 2000-2004, the increase was two percent.

The UNFCCC's executive secretary, Yvo de Boer, called on the world to heed the top scientific body on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"It's telling us is that we need to act on climate change very urgently or else it's going to get very expensive. It's showing us that by the middle of the century, emissions probably need to be reduced by 60 or 80 percent, at least by industrialised countries," he told a press conference on Monday.

De Boer added, though: "The encouraging thing is that some of the political signals in fact are going in that direction."

The new report applies to so-called Annex 1 countries of the UNFCCC, the offshoot of the famous 1992 Rio Summit on the planet's environmental future and parent of the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gases. Annex 2 parties are developing countries and the poorer ex-Soviet republics.

The report showed:

-- the United States remains by far the world's biggest polluter.

Of the 17.931 billion tonnes emitted by Annex 1 countries in 2004, 39.4 percent was emitted by the US alone. With 7.067 billion tonnes, the United States accounts for nearly a quarter of the global total of greenhouse-gas pollution, i.e. from Annex 1 and Annex 2 countries together.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, which President George W. Bush abandoned in 2001 because of what he cited as its cost to the US economy, the United States pledged to reduce its emissions by six percent by 2012 compared to 1990.

In 2004, it was 21.1 percent above the benchmark year, the UNFCCC said. The increase from 2000 to 2004 was 1.3 percent.

-- The Kyoto Protocol ratifiers have pledged to cut emissions by on average five percent by 2012 compared with 1990. In 2004, they were 15.3 percent below the 1990 level, although this figure masks the effects of the economic post-Soviet slump in eastern and central Europe and some hugely varying performances.

Japan, for instance, pledged a cut of six percent by 2012, yet in 2004 it already had an increase of six percent over 1990. Spain is pegged to a rise of only 15 percent by 2012 but in 2004 was already 49 percent over the 1990 target.

De Boer was upbeat, though, holding up the performance of Britain and Germany as countries whose economies have expanded but whose emissions have fallen sharply.

"It is possible to decouple economic growth and climate change," he said.

-- Emissions by Annex 1 countries from agriculture fell by 20 percent from 1990-2004 and from industry by 13.1 percent. But pollution by transport rose by 23.9 percent, reflecting that reductions in this sector "seem to be especially hard to achieve," the UNFCCC said.

De Boer pointed out that the 2004 figures do not take into account the effects of the Kyoto Protocol, which took effect in February 2005.

That treaty includes an array of market incentives, including a market in carbon emissions and credits for transferring cleaner technology to poorer countries. Already, 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon would be eliminated by Kyoto countries by 2012 under this credits scheme, he said.

Greenhouse gases are so called because, as in a stuffy greenhouse, they linger invisibly in the air. Instead of letting solar radiation bounce back into space, the gases trap it, thus warming Earth's surface.

Scientists say there is mounting evidence that the world's climate system is starting to be affected by the warming and are demanding quick, deep cuts in the gases to avert what could be a catastrophe.

The big culprits for this carbon-based pollution are oil, gas and coal -- the fossil fuels on which today's prosperity was built and on which every economy still depends.

Curbing the pollution carries an economic and thus political cost, because it requires users of these fuels to be more efficient or switch to cleaner alternatives.

NOVEMBER 03 2006

We are still living in a fantasy world. Read the following news item. Apparently voters "Do not trust Green Taxes" because they think they are 'to raise money' and will 'hit the poor'. Of course they will raise money and of course they will hit the poor, if the poor can't find something less destructive to do. We have fostered the pathetic fallacy that the poor can afford to fly away for fun and drive around in cars, when any fule kno that unless these privileges are reserved for a few, or for very few occasions, the planet and its economy are doomed and this has always been obvious. Even if cars were dirt cheap and not rationed and did not cause the destruction of civilisation there would be permanent gridlock every day unless every individual's movements were controlled 24/7/365. It is time to get real and realise we have become travel junkies. There is no hidden agenda. It is just what the public think it is and very open. Their fears are entirely justified. But the real point of Green Taxes is not to hit the poor but to get very large amounts off the rich who do not adapt their polluting ways. This money can be used to develop new technology, to pay teachers salaries, to educate and to train 'the poor' for new and worthwhile, better paid employment. But neither rich nor poor can, in ever increasing numbers, go on globe-trotting in aircraft that cause environmental collapse or commute or tour in cars that do the same..

On the other hand, certain people must travel quite a lot for the rest of us. Politicians and national representatives of many sorts must travel internationally by air. There is no reason for them to forego this - quite the reverse. They are the people who have to coordinate to heal the world. Some working for the media need to travel unless they are permanently positioned as correspondent in a foreign country, to bring us news and images precisely so that most of us do NOT need to travel. Modern communications can bring us together much more easily, by broadcast, narrowcast, conferencing, email, webcams, texting and ordinary telephone

2000 years ago some fishermen complained that they often caught no fish, and life was not easy. They asked a miracle man to fix it. Instead he showed them why things are as they are. He showed them that if the world had been constructed along the lines they wanted they would not know where to stop, and it would destroy them. We need to understand that. The world will teach us to understand it, by our adapting and changing and learning and discovering. That is what the World is doing now. That's what the world is for. What did you think it was for?
We can have more when we know how to handle what we have got. We haven't even learned the lesson about the fish yet, so that's why the world is taking a Sterner line (pun intended).

But you had better read this stuff below anyway.

Voters 'do not trust green taxes'
Most voters believe "green taxes" are more about raising money than helping the environment, a BBC poll suggests.

All three main parties say they want to use the tax system to encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviour.

But the Populus poll suggests they may have a fight on their hands convincing voters there is not a hidden agenda.

Some 62% of those polled said they thought green taxes were just a revenue-raising measure and nearly half were against the idea altogether.

This week the Stern report warned of disastrous consequences if no immediate action is taken against climate change.

We can't wait the five years it took to negotiate Kyoto - we simply don't have the time
Tony Blair

The Stern review claims the world's economy could shrink by 20% while droughts and floods displace up to 200m people.

Prime Minister Tony Blair responded to the 600 page report by pledging urgent action.

"For every £1 invested now we can save £5, or possibly more, by acting now," he said.

"We can't wait the five years it took to negotiate Kyoto - we simply don't have the time. We accept we have to go further."


Talks are being held on using environmental taxes - a Climate Change Bill is expected to be unveiled in the Queen's Speech next month, the government has said.

Environment minister David Miliband has said any changes to the tax system would be "fair".

But he has stopped short of a commitment to offset any increases in "green taxes" with reductions elsewhere.

Both the Lib Dems and the Tories have also said they back the use of green taxes in some form, possibly including aviation tax and congestion charging.

Both parties stress they would not want to see the overall tax burden increase.

But of the 1,002 people interviewed by Populus on 1 and 2 November for the or BBC Two's The Daily Politics, 45% were against the idea of higher taxes on activities that cause pollution.

This is a similar figure to those polled a month ago, before the Stern report was published.

'Substantial increase'

Nearly 70% said green taxes would unfairly hit poor people, while the rich would continue to drive and fly as much as before.

The Mail on Sunday published what it described as a leaked letter from Mr Miliband to the chancellor, Gordon Brown, calling for measures to reduce car use, a "substantial increase" in road tax, a pay-per-mile pollution tax and VAT on some flights.

The paper said proposals suggest families with big cars could end up paying more than £1,000 a year in additional tax.

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies published on Thursday said green taxes account for a lower share of the UK's total tax take than when the government came to power in 1997. It found green tax receipts had peaked in 1999 but had fallen since then.

NOVEMBER 17th 2006
There have been rumblings from some commentators criticising politicians and even climate change activists for flying all over the world to discuss the problems and thereby adding to the carbon dioxide. We really need people to understand the mathematics of this. All the travelling by people working on getting international agreement would not add .001 percent to the result and could save 50% by 2050. Aviation is needed for the proper meetin and coordinating of society. A certain amount of social tourism is also beneficial. What cannot be absorbed is the result of the indulgent and unnecessary travelling of a few continuing with current technology and becoming the escapist habit of the many. Economic growth, if kept as the basis for survival, must be coupled with and harnessed to completely new technology and production methods. As we can see from the news below we are still in the stage of preliminary discussion. Progress will be slow initially, then it can accelerate in a non-linear fashion so that by 2030 there will be amazing changes in what we do, what we buy, and yes - what we all think. If not, we will be forced down the other route, where there will be survivors but the world's population will be drastically reduced.

Post-Kyoto UN deal out of reach - Miliband

Hélène Mulholland
Friday November 17, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

A global post-Kyoto agreement is still out of reach as the UN summit on climate change concludes its final day of talks in Nairobi, David Miliband admitted today.

Speaking exclusive to Guardian Unlimited on the closing day of a fortnight of talks, the environment secretary said the summit had failed to gain sufficient momentum to agree a deal on greenhouse gas emissions because of a glaring "gap" between science and politics.

Mr Miliband lauded the significant progress made over adaptation funding for developing countries, and what he called a vigorous commitment to a works programme. But he said some "very difficult discussions" were still under way over the strength of international commitment to a deal.

"Where the final drive of negotiations needs to take place over the next few hours concerns the ability to inject a new momentum in the long-term discussions of a global emissions deal," he said.

Mr Miliband held out little hope that a firm international commitment would be ratified on the final day of talks. "That is where we have a real crunch point on some of the issues we have been discussing," he said.

Mr Miliband refused to name recalcitrant countries, but he hinted that industrialised and developing countries alike were hesitant. The latter group feared they would be expected to make the same level of contributions as their wealthier neighbours, he said.

"There are some richer countries who are concerned that that no country can have a free pass on this, and although not all countries will take on hard targets, every country needs to play some role.

"That is the essential balance. The need [is] for a global deal in which every country plays a part, but the fact is that richer countries are going to be able to contribute more.

" I am confident we can offer two cheers for this process. But the third cheer is going to rely on a real drive over the next year because 2007 is going to be a critical year for putting urgency and momentum into the drive for a global emissions deal."

The environment secretary added: "One of the reflections we will have is about the size of the gap between science and politics."

It was a "real issue" that only the UK and Germany had set binding, long-term targets for reducing carbon emissions.

Mr Miliband said the forthcoming G8 talks in Germany would provide an opportunity to revisit the need for "urgency and drive" in moving towards a new climate change agreement to operate after the current Kyoto commitments end in 2012.

The environment secretary declined to say whether a specific adaptation funding deal had been struck to help African countries cope with climate change, but he said general overseas aid should also be "carbon-proofed".

"We have to make sure there is an adaptation fund, but we also have to make sure that aid policies are generally sustainable", he said.

Mr Miliband, who is due to close the Commons debate on the Queen's speech this Monday, said he would tell government colleagues they all had a "part to play" in delivering the climate change agenda.

"From the prime minister to the chancellor and the foreign secretary, and me as environment secretary, every member of the cabinet has a role to play."

Earlier this week, Mr Miliband scotched rumours of a rift with the chancellor, Gordon Brown, over planned environmental policies targeted at business.


Mr Barolo, the current EU President, is in London to discuss EU measures on Carbon emissions.

It is obvious that regardless of the details of the actual Carbon Trading format adopted, enforcement must be firm. Countries must first set ambitious carbon reduction targets. There is sufficient data that has been gathered over the past decade to have a good idea whether or not the figures submitted by industries for current levels of emissions are reasonably accurate. They must therefore set realistic but ambitious targets, and if they do not these must be set for them. The EU has the power to enforce compliance. Any EU member not in compliance should be penalised heavily and if it offends repeatedly should be excluded progressively from EU entitlements, benefits and freedoms. The UK is likely to perform well, as we take the Climate Change problem seriously. Others apparently do not. They expect others to deal with it (so they won't have to) or they expect others will NOT deal with it, so they won't either. They must be made to. and the only way to do that is to have the ultimate sanction of ejection from the EU, and enhanced advantages to EU members to enable them to both move forward on CO2 reduction and protect themselves in a world where climate change might become unstoppable. It is time to get real. The EU was set up amongst other reasons to prevent European Wars. A failure to use the EU and its great potential to be a model for the the management of global problems will lead to war. This does not mean enlarging the EU, it means setting the example and doing the spadework.

NOVEMBER 29th 2006       Perhaps the world's most litigious nation can bring itself to order by suing its own government.

Bush faces legal action over global warming

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

Published: 29 November 2006     - The Independent

The Bush administration could be forced to take action on global warming using a 30-year-old piece of legislation to control the nation's vast emissions of greenhouse gases.

The US Supreme Court will today be asked to force the government to order its environmental regulatory body to control, as a matter of the public health, the amount of carbon dioxide pumped out by vehicles.

Amid a growing disparity between the Bush administration and many US states on the issue of global warming, it will be the first time the country's highest court has heard a case relating to climate change.

A number of environmental groups have joined with a dozen US states and several cities to try to force the government to make the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate carbon emissions under the framework of the Clean Air Extension Act. This legislation, passed by Richard Nixon's administration in 1970, requires the EPA to develop and enforce regulations to protect the public from exposure to airborne contaminants.

The Bush administration has argued that the EPA lacks the authority under the act to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. The agency has argued that even if it had the authority, it would still have the discretion not to impose emission controls.

Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases pumping into the atmosphere that a broad majority of scientists believe are responsible for raising the planet's temperature. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that most of the planet's warming over the past 50 years has been the result of human activity.

The US, with 5 per cent of the world's population, is responsible for 25 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 37 per cent of the world's vehicles. The Bush administration has repeatedly refused to agree to limits on emissions, saying it would damage the economy. It has instead proposed developing better technology to limit emissions. One of the first things George Bush did on taking office in 2001 was to signal that the US would not support the Kyoto treaty.

A divided lower court had ruled in favour of the government in this test case, but the Supreme Court has agreed to a request, filed by the State of Massachusetts, to consider an appeal.

The Massachusetts attorney general, Thomas Reilly, said "global warming is the most pressing environmental issue of our time and the decision by the court on this case will make a deep and lasting impact for generations to come".

In his filing to the court, he added: "Delay has serious potential implications. Given that air pollutants associated with climate change are accumulating in the atmosphere at an alarming rate, the window of opportunity in which we can mitigate the dangers posed by climate change is rapidly closing."

In papers filed with the Supreme Court, the government has argued that the EPA should not be required to "embark on the extraordinarily complex and scientifically uncertain task of addressing the global issue of greenhouse gas emissions" when there were other ways to tackle climate change.

The Associated Press reported that James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters: "We still have very strong reservations about an overarching, one-size-fits-all mandate about carbon."

The government is being supported by a number of industry groups representing car makers and manufacturers. Quentin Riegel, a lawyer with the National Association of Manufacturers, said dealing with climate change required a global response that was enforced fairly. "It's not a problem you can solve unilaterally," he said. "We want a system where everyone shares the burden."

DECEMBER 12 2006           AS I have proposed over many years, I believe the stable mode we have been in (more or less) through historical times can retain that stability by self-correction unless forced beyond a certain limit. Once the forces challenging that stability exceed the limits of the the self correcting ensemble of systems, the whole will seek a new stability, to which it will move quite quickly. The new stability will either correct the source of excess, or accommodate it at a new level. Typical options could be to either kill off off 50% or more of the human population so that a smaller population could manage better and longer on the remaining resources, or to encourage humans to use the extra thermal energy provided by global warming to do the work we currently use fossil fuels to provide. There cannot possibly be a real problem, only ones we bring on our own heads. There are probably a near infinite number of solutions. What is happening now has been obviously coming for over 20 years. US scientists seem to be the last to know. Now of course pre-humans and primitive humans could not have stopped the ices ages, nor should they have. The ice ages created humanity. The Global Warming stage will force a new change but this time there is a big difference: we will be playing a conscious role. We can cause Global Warming, we did not cause the Ice Ages. We will also be reacting consciously, knowing what is going on and what we are doing to escape the consequences.

Arctic sea ice 'faces rapid melt'
By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

The Arctic may be close to a tipping point that sees all-year-round ice disappear very rapidly in the next few decades, US scientists have warned.

The latest data presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting suggests the ice is no longer showing a robust recovery from the summer melt.

Last month, the sea that was frozen covered an area that was two million sq km less than the historical average.

"That's an area the size of Alaska," said leading ice expert Mark Serreze.

"We're no longer recovering well in autumn anymore. The ice pack may now be starting to get preconditioned, perhaps to show very rapid losses in the near future," the University of Colorado researcher added.

The sea ice reached its minimum extent this year on 14 September, making 2006 the fourth lowest on record in 29 years of satellite record-keeping and just shy of the all time minimum of 2005.

'Feedback loop'

Dr Serreze's concern was underlined by new computer modelling which concludes that the Arctic may be free of all summer ice by as early as 2040.

This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region
Marika Holland
The new study, by a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, and McGill University, found that the ice system could be being weakened to such a degree by global warming that it soon accelerates its own decline.

"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice," explained Dr Marika Holland.

"This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region."

Eventually, she said, the system would be "kicked over the edge", probably not even by a dramatic event but by one year slightly warmer than normal. Very rapid retreat would then follow.

Locally, this would have major consequences for wildlife in the region, not least polar bears which traverse ice-floes in search of food.

Loss of summer ice would seriously compromise the lifestyles of the region's indigenous peoples, though it could also bring new trading opportunities as sea routes opened up.

On a global scale, the Earth would lose a major reflective surface and so absorb more solar energy, potentially accelerating climatic change across the world.

Sooner or later

In one of the model's simulations, the September ice was seen to shrink from about 5.9 million sq km (2.3 million sq miles) to 1.9 million sq km (770,000 square miles) in just a 10-year period.

By 2040, only a small amount of perennial sea ice remained along the north coasts of Greenland and Canada, while most of the Arctic basin was ice-free in September.

"We don't think that state has existed for hundreds of thousands of years; this is a dramatic change to the Arctic climate system," Dr Holland told the BBC.

Dr Serreze, who is not a modeller and deals with observational data, feels the tipping point could be very close.

"My gut feeling is that it might be around the year 2030 that we really see a rapid decline of that ice. Now could it occur sooner? It might well. Could it occur later? It might well.

"It depends on the aspects of natural variability in the system. We have to remember under greenhouse warming, natural variability has always been part of the picture and it always will be part of the picture."

The average sea ice extent for the entire month of September this year was 5.9 million sq km (2.3 million sq miles). Including 2006, the September rate of sea ice decline is now approximately -8.59% per decade, or 60,421 sq km (23,328 sq miles) per year.

At that rate, without the acceleration seen in the new modelling, the Arctic Ocean would have no ice in September by the year 2060.

Story from BBC NEWS:

                                           ANY CIVILISATON THAT IS SEDUCED BY IT DESERVES DESTRUCTION.

UK hooked on 'essential' gadgets
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

British consumers will buy about 30 million electrical and electronic items over the coming six months, according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST).

Its research shows many Britons regard items such as cordless phones and electric toothbrushes as "essential".

Electrical consumption by consumer gadgets is expected almost to double over the next five years.

The trust is calling for gadgets to carry labels warning shoppers how much they will cost to run.

It believes labelling might persuade shoppers either to buy less or to choose more energy-efficient models.

This increase in electricity consumption would result in greater carbon dioxide emissions
Philip Sellwood

"We don't want to be saying 'don't have it' - a lot of it is about information and choices," said EST chairman Edward Hyams.

"On televisions, for example, we would like to see labels saying 'if you watch it, it will cost x pence per hour, if you leave it on standby, it will cost y pence'. Then you can present the environmental cost in monetary terms," he told BBC News.

More juice

Research carried out for the trust suggests Britons are increasingly regarding electrical and electronic items as indispensable.

Two-thirds of people planning to purchase a cordless phone said it was an "essential item", while a half of those intending to buy an electric toothbrush said the same.

Over the next six months, Britons intend to buy:
digital cameras - 2.5 million
mobile phones - 2.5 million
televisions - 2.25 million
computers - 1.75 million
cordless phones - 1.25 million
DVD players/recorders - 1.25 million
microwave ovens - 1.25 million
mp3 players - 1.25 million
electric kettles - 1.25 million
hairdryers/stylers - 1 million

A quarter of those intending to buy juice-makers and coffee machines also regarded them as essential.

Newer appliances are generally more efficient than old ones; so in principle, purchasing new goods can reduce energy demands.

But many gadgets are not bought as replacements, but as additions to the household. By 2020, British households are forecast to contain 2.6 televisions on average.

Televisions are an exception to the trend of rising efficiency. Modern plasma screens can use four times as much electricity as a conventional cathode-ray set, though exact comparisons are difficult because plasma screens tend to be much bigger.

The trust describes plasma TVs as "a prime example of gadget addiction".

And Britons are clearly becoming more voracious addicts. Over the past 10 years, the trust says, electricity use by electrical and electronic gadgets has risen by 47%; but the next five years will see an increase of 82%.

"This increase in electricity consumption would result in greater carbon dioxide emissions, one of the major causes of climate change," observed EST chief executive Philip Sellwood.

Market leading

The trust is working with manufacturers to increase the efficiency of their product lines and to develop labelling, and says that some are responsive.

"A number of manufacturers are interested in the area and are wanting to develop differentiated products," said Mr Hyams. "Some think regulation will come, and are waiting for it to come.

"It's a bit like food labelling - those who did it early were able to have a more decisive voice in how it looked and how it worked."

But even if gadgets are labelled, even if each one becomes more efficient, that does not mean the power used by gadgets overall will decline.

The efficiency of refrigerators has increased markedly, so that the least efficient new fridge freezer on sale today consumes only half as much energy as the least efficient products available eight years ago.

However, so many houses now have two fridges that the total energy consumed by home refrigeration has gone down by only 2% over the same period.

Increases in consumption are keeping pace with increases in efficiency.

DECEMBER 28th 2006
Oh yes, George W Bush has been told that climate change is giving Polar Bears a problem, might put them on the list of endagered species. He's checking, we are told. This could be how he sells a change of heart?  Or maybe see if a little more global warming might do the trick - no bears, no problem.

JANUARY 5th 2007
An argument between the Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson and Michael O'Leary of Ryanair is at cross purposes. Mr O'Leary has made sure of that. Everything O'Leary has said in his defence is true, but it in no way defends him againts refusal to join the EU Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme, which is the vital issue. It is absolutely essential that all airlines join the scheme as their minimum contribution towards preventing an increase in emissions in the future, let alone reducing them. That means ALL airlines. The improvement in performance efficiency by Ryanair's aircraft is already taken into account in such schemes. I am glad they are the greenest in Europe, that wil be to his benefit and the planet's. O'Leary understands that full well, but he's full of the Blarney. As for Caroline Lucas' comment below, 'incredible' does not indicate whether she agrees with Ian Pearson or not. Maybe she is just amazed at his bluntness. There are two other factors to consider: (i) should aviation be in a 'closed' emissions trading system or be allowed to buy emission allowance from other industries and (ii) aviation is responsible for more damaging high level emissions, emissions other than CO2, and for increasing high level cloud cover. For these reasons the sooner we get aviation into some form of trading the better, and the sooner it can then be closed the better. O'Leary's Blarney should be dismissed as just that. The idea that any industry should be guided by 'giving the public what it wants' regardless of the consequences is ridiculous.

Ryanair hits back in 'green' row
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has hit back at criticism from the climate change minister, saying his airline was "the greenest in Europe".

In a broad attack on airlines' efforts to tackle carbon emissions, Ian Pearson said Ryanair was the "irresponsible face of capitalism".

But Mr O'Leary said Mr Pearson was "silly" and "hadn't a clue what he is talking about".

Mr Pearson also said the attitude of US airlines to emissions was "a disgrace".

In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Pearson said: "When it comes to climate change, Ryanair are not just the unacceptable face of capitalism, they are the irresponsible face of capitalism."

He also attacked British Airways, saying it was "only just playing ball" on environmental regulations, and Lufthansa, the German airline.

Ian Pearson's comments are absolutely incredible
Caroline Lucas, Green MEP

Mr O'Leary defended his company and the industry as a whole.

''We are the greenest airline in Europe but you know being savaged by a dead sheep - as we were by this minister this morning - is like water off a duck's back.''

"What he should be attacking is the power generation stations and the road transport who between them account for over 50% of emissions."

'Wrong target'

He said the "silly" minister and "eco-lunatics" were targeting the aviation industry when it accounted for 2% of the problem.

Even though his company was growing, the new planes it had invested £10bn in the last five years had cut its emissions and fuel consumption by 50%, Mr O'Leary said.

He added: "He hasn't a clue what he's talking about and is attacking the wrong target in the airlines."

But Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas said Mr Pearson should resign or scrap the government's aviation expansion plans.

"Ian Pearson's comments are absolutely incredible," she said.

"If anyone other than a government minister had made them they would have been a useful contribution to our efforts to tackle climate change.

Airlines have been and always will be a soft target
Jack Kilms, Turin, Italy

"But for someone with collective responsibility for the government's support of the biggest expansion of the aviation industry in a generation to do so is nothing less than a deceptive admission of failure."

Chancellor Gordon Brown attempted to boost the government's green credentials in his pre-Budget report by doubling air passenger duty from £5 to £10 on short haul flights. Passengers on long haul flights could pay up to £80 extra.

But green campaigners said the increased levy would make little difference to emissions.

Friends of the Earth said if the government was serious about fighting climate change it should scrap airport expansion plans and tax breaks for the air industry.

EU scheme

Ryanair has opposed efforts by the EU to control aviation carbon emissions by including them in a trading scheme, saying it would discriminate against low-cost airlines.

Intriguingly Labour are not alone in taking on the low-cost airline
BBC political editor Nick Robinson

The EU's scheme will see airlines pay for exceeding their current level of emissions.

Flights within Europe will come under the jurisdiction of the Emissions Trading Scheme by 2011.

The scheme would be expanded from 2012 to include all international flights that arrive at or depart from an EU airport.

Airlines would be issued with pollution permits - those that cut emissions would be able to sell their surplus while an airline that increased its emissions would have to buy more permits.

The US has already questioned whether it would be legal within global trading rules to force airlines flying into the EU to take part in the scheme.

And there are reports that US airlines are considering legal action to overturn the EU's efforts.

Easyjet support

In a statement, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Urgent progress is needed to ensure that aviation addresses its climate change impacts."

Toby Nicol, spokesman for Budget airline Easyjet, said the company "stands full-square with the government" on the proposal to include EU internal flights and international flights in the carbon trading scheme.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said Mr Pearson's focus should be directed at the chancellor to encourage him to make "the right framework to ensure that airlines are sustainable in the long run so the planet is there for our children and our grandchildren rather than whinging about the airlines."