The future of life on Earth

This article is not on what we are thing about as environmental issues, but it is pertinent.

Yuval Noah Harari: The age of the cyborg has begun

The author of the bestselling Sapiens says that the future of life on Earth is now, worryingly, in the hands of a very small group of entrepreneurs

I see entrepreneurs as essential for the speedy development of solutions we need.  My view: Do you agree. But there are damaging entrepreneurs too, especially in fossil fuels.

Secrecy over fracking chemicals clouds environmental risks

A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month found that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas can lead, and has led, to the contamination of drinking water. It was the first time the federal government had admitted such a link. [USA]

Even if the EPA was able to compile a list of 1,076 chemicals used in the fracking process, the list is incomplete, with businesses involved in fracking able to cite some components as amounting to confidential business information, and therefore not subject to release to the public

We need to know. Health critical information cannot be secret.

Carbon tax repeal sparks jump in Australia’s electricity emissions

A carbon tax works so it has to be removed!

Temperature Anomalies

The term temperature anomaly means a departure from a reference value or long-term average. (from National Centers for Environmental Information)

Five-Year Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2013

NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record.

Yes, it really is getting warmer.

Out of sight, out of mind

Our life depends on it, but who grasps that fully? What’s to add? This is the real deficit for which there will be no bailout. We are heading for the rocks.

Oceans face massive and irreversible impacts without carbon cuts

massive and irreversible

Co-author Dr Rashid Sumaila, director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at University of British Columbia in Canada, said: “From looking at the surface of the ocean, you can’t tell much is changing. The oceans are closely tied to human systems and we’re putting communities at high risk.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch we are cutting The Deficit :

Decc faces 90% staff budget cuts that risk UK’s climate plans

Someone else’s problem?

This is a sad message for sustainability and dealing with climate change.

Glastonbury’s rubbish: going against the green ethos ruins it for everyone

As the 800-strong litter-picking crew begin the mammoth task of clearing an estimated 1,650 tonnes of waste – including 5,000 abandoned tents, 6,500 sleeping bags, 400 gazebos, 54 tonnes of cans and plastic bottles, 41 tonnes of cardboard, 66 tonnes of scrap metal, 3,500 airbeds, 2,200 chairs and 950 rolled mats

The tonnage looks stunning, but as about 177,000 people attended that averages 9 Kg per person. About 3% of people abandon tents and sleeping bags. Will our attempts at sustainability forever be sabotaged by this 3% ?

Technologies that will help sustainability

This is fascinating. Though you cannot change peoples’ beliefs quickly sometimes you can change the object that is coveted for something less destructive. Who would have thought of this eco-spinoff for 3D printers?

Synthetic rhino horns are being 3D printed in an effort to defeat poachers

Some inventions quickly find multiple new uses – graphene is one. This could lead to faster lower-power computers saving a lot of energy.

Scientists use graphene to create the world’s smallest light bulb

The Independent science correspondent never gives the proper source, so here it is: Bright visible light emission from graphene

The ‘green’ diet

I don’t think that eating ‘healthy’ will save the planet by itself but it is a component of the solution especially as it changes the arena of discourse from the ‘agricultural industry’ to agriculture and farming.

How to eat healthy and save the planet

I am not anti-technology but currently it seems to be for the profit of a few.

Even the green diet will not save us from asteroids, but technology may:

Search for deadly asteroids must be accelerated to protect Earth

Asteroid Day falls on the anniversary of an asteroid strike in 1908 that saw a 40 metre-wide lump of space rock enter the atmosphere over Tunguska in Siberia at about 33,500 miles per hour. The rock exploded mid-air and released the energy of a large hydrogen bomb, which flattened 2000 sq km of conifer forest.

Were an asteroid of the same size to slam into the atmosphere over London, the blast could destroy much of the capital within the M25. People in cities as far away as Oxford could be burned by the intense heat released in the explosion. In Scotland, the same blast would still have the force to blow peoples’ hats off.

Politics and decisions

Comment would be superfluous.

Fracking: Energy Secretary’s advisor received £5,000 election donation from company set to benefit from controversial technique

EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP

The ‘Right Side Of History’ is a cliché I don’t like, but this time it fits. We don’t know if the fracking lobby will get it overturned but it is a start:

Fracking application rejected by Lancashire county council

Extreme weather

Although we are not able to do simple cause and effect for a system as complex as the climate, we do need to develop faster assessment of probabilities that what we experience has a significant connection with global warming (or not).

Scientists to ‘fast-track’ evidence linking global warming to wild weather

Then we may be able to separate the global warming from the weather in what we suffer this year.

Thousands of people killed by extreme weather in 2015 as El Nino arrives to bring more chaos

Spill, baby, spill

“There’s no sugarcoating this. If you ask me will there will ever be spills, I imagine there will be spills. No spill is OK.” Pete Slaiby, vice-president of Shell in Alaska

The Alaskans sitting on billions of barrels of oil

Pete Slaiby does not “believe” a spill will have an impact on peoples lives.

Let’s have a big investment in solar and leave any untapped oil in the ground, there is enough that is easier to get that we cannot burn all of anyway.

Gates to a solution?

I hope we don’t leave this just to the capitalists. Even Bill Gates says governments must invest in R&D and we need to own some of the technology too. There is a lot of creative thought on energy without CO2 emission. We need investment, say a faction of what the fossil-fuel companies invest in exploration.

Bill Gates calls for Manhattan Project-style renewable energy drive

Mr Gates highlighted several areas of research that could prove promising, including technologies that would harness the power of the wind at altitudes of about 20,000 feet. These could involve kites, kite-balloon hybrids known as kytoons or flying turbines capable of harnessing the energy of the jet stream.

“Capturing that energy is very difficult. It’s classic capitalism. There’s some wild-eyed companies, but it’s great. I wish governments would help those guys out because there’s a 10 per cent chance it’s the magic solution,” he said.

And Mr Gates has invested several hundred million dollar in “nuclear recycling”, which sees reactors powered by waste uranium from existing power plants as well as their own waste. “Nuclear technology today is failing on cost, safety, proliferation, waste and fuel shortage, and so any technology that comes in has to have some answer to all of those things,” he said.