by Ole A. Seifert
We can already reduce our consumption. Less meat production / consumption and cultivation of hemp is also easy available methods to create a better and cleaner future, beside the focus on renewable energy. Livestock, especially cattle raising, accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and agriculture accounts for 80% of the world’s water consumption. World Watch Institute states that a drastic cut in meat consumption is the only thing that can be secure enough food for a growing population. We can also work to get through greener solutions, whether it is better at handling of sewage, better insulation, green roofs, use of bamboo and hemp etc. etc.
BAMBOO AND HEMP
Both bamboo and hemp has a lots of usages and is growing incredibly fast, as “weeds” like to do, and can save many trees and deforestation and also reduce the water-and energy-intensive, not to mention far less pollution compared to for instance cotton production. Hemp cultivation can be done almost anywhere and with a limited use of fertilizer. Bamboo does not require much, other than the right climate, so it is unlikely to be profitable in our (norwegian) latitudes in the overall environmental accounts.
The vegan Apu in the Simpsons had a living, green roof already in ’90’s. A haven for Paul and Linda McCartney where everything was grown biodynamic. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) is an organization that had its first conference in 2003 in Chicago, a city where even the massive City Hall roof is a green oasis. This year’s conference will be 30 November to 3 December in Vancouver, Canada . But long before GRHC saw the light green roofs was already a major industry in Europe. In 1994 this industry had a turnover of 500 million DM in Germany, which increased to 700 DM in 1997. France, Switzerland and Austria have also been involved in this trend. In Basel in Switzerland, all new, flat roofs are required to be green. Support and stimulation schemes in these aforementioned countries, has made it both acceptable, attractive and not least efficient. Besides simply creating green spaces, especially in urban areas, they have many other positive aspects. They are used to collect rain water and has fabulous properties to prevent a lot of water falling into the streets when it is really pouring down.
The roofs are also more viable, as they both provide for diversity and that the roof’s life expectancy increases by almost the double, besides of the cleaning and improving the air quality. Although China does not have the same professional approach to its green roof, these are in expansive growth. The Chinese are generally good with green spaces almost everywhere it is possible in large cities, in addition to using the roofs. Although admittedly not all green roofs are completely legitimate, they are common in cities, not least for nouveau riche who have their party book in order. China has also generous subsidies that make it to attractive to install solar panels or solar hot water systems. Many places in the countryside, they make this very simple. They have flat roofs with edges, as a small water pool. The sun does the rest. If green roof would spread globally, there is also potential for cultivation of cannabis for recreational use when it becomes legal.
By focusing more on cleaner energy sources, it can slow down on oil and coal production and of course on the use of nuclear power. Oil production stands for even one quarter of the Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions and emissions are increasing and almost doubled in less than 20 years. Emissions from the oil industry was about 90 percent higher in 2008 than they were in 1990. We must also prevent Statoil from engaging in oil sands extraction in Canada, preferably in stopping the whole thing. The norwegian state owns 67% of Statoil and the state, that´s us. The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has intensified the fight against offshore drilling, especially in the United States. Organization repower america, has had several direct mail campaigns against prominent politicians.
Wind and sun are there, waves and tides equally and other sources continue to emerge, such as the Statskrafts osmotic power plant at Hurum, Norway.
In all these areas are developing is growing fast. Wind power plants got new and better, gearless turbines and one can safely say they have the wind in the sails with big projects both inland as well as offshore. China’s investment in offshore wind farms are formidable. Their first offshore wind farm to consist of 34 units that will provide 3MW each when they are put into full operation later this year. United States recently announced its first offshore project, but has many land-based and also the world’s largest inland facility in Texas. They are still the world’s leading on wind power, ahead of Germany and China. Just last year alone, the U.S. installed wind turbines that produce over 10MW. Together they produce 35.000 MW of wind power, enough to supply 9.7 million families on this also led to a saving of 57 billion gallons of water, which would be used if the power would come from power plants that use fossil fuel and water for cooling. China is still the greatest in terms of total investment in facilities with renewable energy sources, mainly wind, solar and biomass to account for 8% of their total consumption in 2020.
China is now equal the United States, with 4% of renewable energy. Still, it will be coal, nuclear and hydropower making up the majority of China’s power generation. But China is already the world’s largest producer of solar panels. Norway by Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, is out with windmill ships that serve as platform, which will withstand heavy sea. They have 70 meters long legs that can be lowered into the sea. The first two ships, with an option for more, being built in Dubai (probably by migrant workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India on slave contracts, deprived of their passports). Otherwise, it is Spain, Denmark and Germany which are leading wind turbines nations of Europe. Amazingly enough, it is Germany who is in the lead in terms of solar power and accounted for nearly half the world’s solar power in 2007. This has lowered prices dramatically, by half from 1997 to 2007 in Germany.
Yet we must also have an eye for an unwanted use, particularly in the industry, and be a driving force to improve conditions. More and more we can read reports of natural phenomenas that are out of control. The Greenland ice is melting faster than anyone had imagined, and only now in the summer , two giant floe broke off and is drifting with the risk of ship traffic, oil and land impacts. The first floe that was fell off and is drifting, is more than four times larger than Manhattan and the largest in the Northern Hemisphere since 1962. Maybe someone should tow it to a fresh water poor area?
Shocking satellite images were made public in late May and shows that the landscape rises. In an increasing pace. This could have unforeseen consequences for a rising sea as well.
The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was totally out of control. Even after “successful” sealing, there are enormous quantities of oil under water. It was recently discovered an undersea oil slick consisting of tiny oil droplets in the Gulf region, invisible to the naked eye. This slick is 35 km long. If it moves with the Gulf Stream northeast and out in the open sea, it may have undesirable effects in Europe. Since the discharge is in deep water, it mixes the oil into the sea and kill large areas of underwater fauna, not just the birds that we see in the pictures, but far down the food chain. The damage will be long lasting.
However, it is now discovered a new type of oil-eating microbe that thrives in cold water down to 5 ° C. One assumes that this microbe has evolved such because of repeated oil spills in the Gulf. The advantageous of this newly discovered microbe is that it absorbs less oxygen than other oil-eating microbes, which in itself can damage water quality. Maybe something for Norway to have in stock, so just in case?
The global community is you and me, even as we may seem insignificant among the 6 billion others. In many of life’s mysterious ways, it is more useful to search for solutions than focusing on the problems alone. With today’s access to information, we have the opportunity to be updated, while also adding pressure on authorities. At all time a number of petitions takes place, supporting campaigns and direct inquiries to the politicians the world over every day. It is important not only to scamp away with a few Facebook groups, which of course also counts, though not as much, but use a minute or two during the week and support directly via e-mail campaigns and petitions. Avaaz.org is one of the better to keep updated through, but there are a number of other small and large, local and global web-based action groups who do a good job.
Δ In the period 1973 – 1982 there were 1500 worldwide natural disasters.
Δ In the period 1983 – 1992 there were 3500 worldwide natural disasters.
Δ In the period 1993 – 2002 there were 6000 worldwide natural disasters.
Δ In the period 2002 – 2012 … … …
(Published in the paper issue of Gateavisa # 189, 2010 and http://www.gateavisa.no/2011/04/02/værutsiktene-for-de-neste-20-ar-sol-sol-og-jevn-vind/)