THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A record leap in greenhouse gas emissions - stem the tide of global warming...

Helen Clark at United Nations...
Read this important article:

A coal-powered power plant in the notoriously polluted city of Linfen in Shanxi province. China is focusing on carbon emissions in its next five-year plan. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

The record leap in global greenhouse gas emissions last year has thrown the spotlight on the world's only concerted attempt to stem the tide of global warming – the United Nations climate negotiations.

Next week, governments will convene in Bonn, Germany, for the latest round of more than 20 years of tortuous talks, aimed at forging a binding international agreement on climate change which so far has eluded them.

Little is expected of the meeting, a staging post on the road to a bigger conference in Durban, South Africa, in December. But the data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) should shock even the most jaded of negotiators.

"I hope these estimates provide a wake-up call to governments," said Lord Stern, a London School of Economics professor and author of the landmark review on the economics of climate change. "Progress in international discussions since the modest successes [at the last UN meeting] in Cancún last December has been slow."

Tom Burke, founding director of green thinktank E3G and a veteran environmental campaigner, is even more forthright. "Be frightened – be very frightened," he said. "This rise in emissions underlines the urgency [of tackling climate change]. The politicians had better come back on this very fast, or we are all in trouble."

The contrast between the snail's pace of negotiations and the rapid rise in emissions catalogued by the International Energy Agency could scarcely be more marked. The Bonn and Durban meetings are widely expected to produce only a few clarifications of countries' emissions targets – already deemed inadequate by campaigners – and some detailed wording of the rules on issues such as forestry and carbon trading.

Yet the jump in carbon dioxide emissions comes less than 18 months after the climate change summit at Copenhagen, which was billed as the most important international meeting since the second world war but produced only a partial agreement and failed to set out a path to a binding treaty.

Another small step was taken at Cancún, when emissions-cutting targets were firmed up and financial commitments from rich to poor fleshed out, though the cash has yet to hit the streets.

"This is clearly an incremental process," said Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary. "But the steps forward at Cancún showed that the UN framework convention on climate change is capable of progress."

According to the IEA, the problem the UN process is seeking to address is growing faster than anyone predicted. If emissions this year rise at the same pace as last year, the world will exceed 32 gigatonnes of Co2 in energy-related emissions alone in a single year. This is the level the IEA had expected emissions to reach by 2020, indicating that the growth of CO2 emissions has been much quicker than expected.

Unless these rises can be turned to reductions within a few years, the world will soon be well beyond what scientists say is the limit of safety.

Stern, chair of the Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment at the LSE, said: "If we are to give ourselves a 50% chance of avoiding a warming of more than 2C, and radically cut the risk of a 4 degrees rise, global annual emissions will need to peak within the next 10 years and then fall steadily, at least halving by 2050."

Even the worst economic recession in 80 years failed to make a lasting dent in emissions. "The global downturn bought us only a very temporary and now vanishing breathing space and the need for significant cuts in emissions remains urgent," Stern added. "The window of opportunity to meet the 2 degrees target is closing, and further delay risks closing it altogether. The challenge is not simply to meet the targets agreed at Cancún but to raise our ambition from there."

While warnings grow louder, analysts say politicians are turning off. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, said governments have lost interest. "The significance of climate change in international policy debate is much less pronounced than it was a few years ago," he said. "It's difficult to say that the wind is blowing in the right direction."

This gloomy assessment was borne out at last week's summit of the G8 group of leading industrialised nations in Deauville, a two-hour train ride from the IEA's offices in Paris, where hopes that world leaders would discuss climate issues were dashed. Russia, Japan and Canada reportedly told the meeting they would refuse to join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto protocol. Greenpeace accused leaders of "gambling with our future".

Some participants remain optimistic. "The key success criteria [in Bonn and Durban] are whether we can start to deliver the Cancún agreements, as well as make progress on the difficult political issues not resolved there, such as the legal form [of any future agreement] and the level of ambition of emission reduction pledges," said Huhne.

At Bonn, a sticking point is whether there will be a second phase to the Kyoto protocol, the 1997 pact in which developed countries agreed to cut their emissions by about 5% by 2012. While the EU is on track to meet its commitments, other countries are not and some – including the US, which opposes Kyoto – would prefer to discuss a replacement. Developing countries refuse to countenance this, insisting Kyoto must continue as the prerequisite for continuing talks.

To an outside observer, this argument over the legal status of a 1997 agreement that has never been enforced, has been rejected by the US and that puts no obligations on the world's biggest emitter and second biggest economy, China, may seem arcane. But this debate has been the bread-and-butter of the UN talks.

Since Copenhagen, some countries have suggested another approach may work better – agreement among key countries that would bypass objectors, for instance, or a "bottom-up" approach where countries invest in renewable energy to cut emissions. All such attempts have been rejected by developing nations and green groups, who say only an international treaty will deliver accountability.

Huhne believes the UN negotiations can still deliver. "The UK has no intention of letting up in its efforts to get a legally binding agreement," he said.

Britain's adoption of ambitious carbon targets for the mid-2020s, as well as pushing the EU to take a tougher line on emissions, "shows we are serious about meeting the climate challenge, not just arguing for it."

There are signs of progress among emerging economies. Stern said. "China is now really focused on this issue [of emissions] via its five-year plan published in March, covering 2011-2015, and the country hopes to learn enough in the next five years to exceed and perhaps tighten its Cancún target for 2020."

Stern says the key to progress is to see tackling emissions as an economic growth opportunity, rather than a curb. "All countries, particularly in the rich world, should now be taking still stronger action to tackle climate change and to embark on the transition to low-carbon economic growth. This will be a new energy-industrial revolution and full of creativity and innovation and great benefits beyond simply cutting the risks from climate change. We can see its beginnings – it is time to accelerate."

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yorkshire Rainforest Project...

Welcome to the Yorkshire Rainforest Project...

The Green Planet presents...

We’re the tea and coffee company that loves trees.

Twenty years ago we launched our Trees for Life appeal with a pledge to plant one million trees. With the help of our customers and staff we reached that milestone in 1999 – but didn’t stop there. Two million trees came and went, and in 2007 we planted our 3 millionth tree on Blue Peter, the children’s TV programme.

Of course there are still more trees to plant, but for now, with an acre of rainforest destroyed every second and half of the world’s rainforest already lost, there’s a new commitment. We’re asking our customers and the whole of the Yorkshire community to help us save an area of rainforest the size of Yorkshire … welcome to the Yorkshire Rainforest Project.

To start our campaign we’ve joined forces with the Rainforest Foundation UK to save an area the size of the Yorkshire Dales in Peru’s Amazon rainforest – one of the most threatened rainforests on the planet.

Yorkshire Rainforest Project

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Optical Battery Discovery Could Mean Solar Power Without Solar Cells...

Optical Battery Discovery Could Mean Solar Power Without Solar Cells...
From EarthTechling's Caleb Denison:
Researchers at the University of Michigan have made a scientific discovery that is intriguing all on its own but it is the breakthrough’s potential applications in solar power generation that have them excited.

According to Stephen Rand, a professor at the university and author of the paper that discusses his team’s discovery in the “Journal of Applied Physics”, the researchers found a way to make an “optical battery” which harnesses the magnetic attributes in light that, until now, scientists didn’t think amounted to much of anything.

The report explains that light has both electric and magnetic components but, until now, scientists believed the magnetic field effects were weak enough that they could be ignored. Rand and his fellow researchers, however, found that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than thought possible. Under these circumstances, says Rand, the magnetic fields become similar in strength to a strong electric effect.

William Fisher, a doctoral student in applied physics, says that what makes this possible is “a previously undetected brand of “optical rectification.” In traditional optical rectification, light’s electric field causes positive and negative charges to be pulled apart in a material. That sets up voltage, similar to a battery.
Read more here:

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

The little Firefly out- performs humans as a light producer


The little Firefly out-performs humans as light producers...

By Peter Petterson

First Published at Qondio:

Only a little being, the common firefly or lightning bug can be found in both temperate and tropical regions of Planet Earth. There are 2,000 species of this insect. Their larvae also emit light and are known as glow-worms.

It can be recognised by the flashing light it uses to attract a mate, or confuse a potential predator.

Reportedly, and interestingly enough, the firefly's light is actually superior to the incadescent and fluorscent lights produced by humankind. In fact the next time you have a look at your power bill, which always seems to be increaing these days around the western world, consider just what this little insect can do. It is actually quite amazing.

1/ An incadescent lightbulb emits only 10% of its energy as light, the other 90% is wasted as discharged heat.

2/ A fluorescent lightbulb is vastly superior, emitting up to 90% of its energy as light, wasting a mere 10% as discharged heat.

However, neither of the above are in the same league and fail to match the little firefly. With very few ultraviolet or infared rays,this insect emits almost 100% of its energy as light - cold light!

The Firefly's secret actually lies in the chemical reactions of the substance luciferon, the enzyme luciferase, and oxygen. Special cells called photocytes use the luciferase to trigger this process, with oxygen as fuel.

The result of this process is called cold-light - so named because it produces virtually no heat. Light-bulb inventer, Thomas Edison must have been envious of this little insect.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

New Zealand Maori tribal protest action against foreign oil survey ship...

New Zealand Maori tribal protest action against foreign oil survey ship...

Whakatāne, Saturday 23 April 2011: Today in the face of navy warship HMNZS Taupo, the crew of te Whānau ā Apanui’s fishing boat San Pietro went fishing at a safe distance in front of the deep sea oil survey ship, Orient Explorer. The longline with visible buoys was deployed within te Whānau ā Apanui ‘s customary fishing grounds.

A navy tender carrying police moves in to apprehend the "Stop Deep Sea Oil" flotilla vessel, the Te Whanau a Apanui fishing boat San Pietro, from under the bows of the seismic survey ship Orient Explorer off East Cape today. Saturday April 23, 2011

From onboard San Pietro, te Whānau ā Apanui tribal leader Rikirangi Gage radioed the Captain of the Orient Explorer and said, “You are not welcome in our waters. Accordingly and as an expression of our mana in these waters and our deep concern for the adverse effects of deep sea drilling, we will be positioning the te Whānau ā Apanui vessel directly in your path…We will not be moving, we will be doing some fishing. That’s what our waters are for, not for pollution… This is not a protest. We are defending tribal waters and our rights from reckless Government policies and the threat of deep sea drilling, which our hapū have not consented to and continue to oppose…” (1)

The Orient Explorer did not stop as police on two inflatables boarded the San Pietro.

Mr Gage said, “Te Whānau ā Apanui oppose Petrobras’ deep sea oil prospecting and drilling for good reasons. Our ancestors didn’t instruct us to be selfish in the way that the Government is thinking, risking so much and thinking of so few. A longer term perspective shows that bringing up oil from under the deep sea floor to be burnt will cause harm to ourselves, our resources and the world around us.”

“The Government have abused their power by first ignoring us, then apologising to us, now blaming the people out here with their heads on the line who want this to stop. Our mana is not for sale. What kind of people are we if the gifts we give to the next generations are beaches covered with oil and a dead sea? Or big floods, storms and droughts? The first thing we must always do is protect our food resources. Survival comes first.”

“Today a net of a new generation goes fishing, one that will catch the lies and one we intend to stop deep sea oil prospecting in its tracks.”

“Our ancestors did not agree to a Treaty that would ignore the wishes and needs of future generations and our environment. They carefully positioned us to continue to make good decisions that would enable the future of our peoples and our cultures.”

San Pietro, is the longliner owned by East Coast iwi, Te Whānau ā Apanui and is part of the flotilla including Greenpeace and the Nuclear Free Flotilla, in its third week of opposing deep sea oil drilling.

Contact details:

Dayle Takitimu, spokesperson of te Whānau ā Apanui for interviews in English: 021 378 770

Dean Baigent-Mercer, to organise satellite phone interviews with Rikirangi Gage: 0226 730 572

Faulty links: Google story

(1) Link to sound file recording of Rikirangi Gage’s message to the Captain of the Orient Explorer:

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