Thursday, November 29, 2007

Malaysia Leads the World in Greenhouse Gas Emission Growth Rate

It is hard to believe that any country can outdo China in increasing the rate of greenhouse gas emissions with the Chinese building new coal-fired power plants at the rate of about one a week but it looks like Malaysia has done just that. According to the recently released United Nations Development Report, during the period of 1990 to 2004 emissions of carbon dioxide increased in Malaysia by 221%. This growth rate is tops among the 30 biggest greenhouse gas emitters. According to the Associated Press, this rapid growth in emissions has occurred even though Malaysia ratified the Kyoto Protocol and “has taken several initiatives to use renewable energy as well as ways to cut emissions.” Overall, this country of 27 million people ranks as the 26th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Based on its growth rate of emissions it appears likely to move up the list quickly. In the fight against global warming Malaysia seems to be a country that needs to be closely watched.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday a Dark Day for a Green Future

Once again another holiday season has rolled around and as reported by Reuters “Eager shoppers stormed malls and stores across the country on Friday to snap up the early-bird specials that mark ‘Black Friday,’ the first official day of the U.S. holiday shopping season.” This shopping madness might be good for the bottom line of major retailers but for the natural systems that we all depend on this consumerism frenzy is bad news. Bill McKibben has written an excellent essay on Gristmill blog called “The Problem with Christmas” about finding the antidote for this annual self-destructive ritual. McKibben argues that “our environmental problem, at root, isn't that the stuff we're buying uses too much energy or too much plastic, or that its paint has lead in it, or that it's been shipped too far. Our environmental problem is that we consume way too much because we've agreed to try and meet basic human needs -- status, respect, affection -- with material ends.” Something to think about while reading all those ads about what is on sale at the mall this holiday season.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Will the US Budge on Global Warming at Bali?

With the time window closing rapidly on taking effective action against global warming what happens next month at the world conference in Bali, Indonesia has taken on great importance. In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon speaking about the upcoming Bali meeting at yesterday’s release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, "The world's scientists have spoken clearly and with one voice. I expect the world's policy-makers to do the same.” According to the Associated Press, the report, which was basically a compilation of the three previous IPCC reports this year, stated that “carbon emissions, mainly from fossil fuels, must stabilize by 2015 and then drop. At best, temperatures will keep rising from carbon already in the atmosphere...Even if factories were shut today and cars taken off the roads, the average sea level would reach as high as 4.6 feet above that in the preindustrial period, or about 1850.”

Getting carbon emissions to stabilize by 2015 will not be easy since they are increasing globally by about 3% to 4% annually with almost half of the increase attributable to China. For any success the process for reducing emissions must start very soon, for example, in Bali. However, George W. Bush continues to reject a mandatory cap on emissions. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that an administration that has accepted large sums of money from the fossil fuel industries for campaigning, has a political base that includes Rush Limbaugh ditto heads and the global warming denying religious right, and is ideologically opposed to government regulation of business is about to change course any time soon. Bali seems likely to be one more world conference on global warming where little if anything gets accomplished.