Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Global warming - carbon footprints and the 2 approaches..

Global warming is a fact of the present day world and we either need to tackle it effectively and constructively or go down with it.

The other day I was reading an article on Carbon footprints and after visiting the site www.carbonfootprint.com, I was just amazed to find how each of my actions is contributing to the emission of green house gases, mainly CO2 into the atmosphere and adding up global warming. GHG (green house gases, the main constitutent being CO2) is essential for the earth to be hospitable as without these gases this planet would have been inhospitable at negative two degrees C. It is too much of CO2 in the atmosphere that is causing the damage. 

I found that the daily ten km commute to my institution if taken by public transport over a year would be three times less polluting (0.5Tonnes CO2 emission a year) than when I take my own car (1.5 Tonnes CO2 emission a year). My simple and spartan life style is also contributing to another 0.5 Tonnes CO2 a year to the atmosphere. If I fly once from Mumbai to New York and back, it would already have contributed to 3 Tonnes CO2 more into the atmosphere, hastening the process of global warming that much more, contributng my mite to global degradation.

The devil is breathing down our neck and we need to take urgent actions to tackle it, the sooner the better. But how, is the great question..

There are two approaches to the problem. One is to take some precautionary measures and the other is to take some measured anticipatory action.

In West Bengal we had apprehension of bird flu spreading and as a measured anticipatory action to prevent the flu from spreading to other birds and through birds to humans and to other parts of the country, we have culled thousands of birds. Likewise we can have measured anticipatory actions to check global warming. That includes among others, developing less polluting and very efficient modern technologies using fossil fuels, or develping alternative energy sources etc..

Precautionary measures is resorted to by the affected entity, in all likelihood, the people. Like the people of West Bengal have stopped consuming chicken as a precautionary measure to check th spread of the bird flu virus HI-N5

The former approach is active while the latter is passive.We  need active policies which will  stop the harmful effects of global warming than the passive policies of taking precautions and doing nothing to check the problem at the source.

The greatest fear of global warming and the consequent rise in water levels is out of  fear of the collapse of the West Antartica ice sheets which rest on the ocean floor and protrude a km or more out of the water surface. When melted it can cause water levels to rise by as much as twenty feet, which can bring catastophic damages all over.Researcher say this may not happen this century, but, it will !! The floating huge icebergs are already part of the water level and it's melting will not lead to any rise in water levels.

What is the best constructive approach which can help solve the problem. This is bothering researchers the world over and will continue for the next many years, till a solution is found to this gnawing problem.

(part source TOI)

george easaw,

6 comments:

  1. That is an opinion.
    I think, yes, humans can have an impact on global warming, but I doubt is it is such a large way.
    The earth is covered by land only 29.2% and the 70.8% is water. Can you envision that?

    Of the 29.2%, humans inhabit only inhabit a part of it. (I dont' know exactly how much).

    So, the impact of humans on this blue planet could be not as significant as someone claims.

    We are forgetting another factor in global warming. The Sun itself. The ice caps of Mars is a lot smaller than 25 years
    ago or so. How do you explain that?

    I believe, this global warming thing is a little overblown, but that is okay, it will bring in some
    much needed awareness of our actions, but, I doubt that it is the reason for global warming.

    How about the Ice Age? What caused that?

    I think this is probably part of a cycle, and the temperature is now going up, but will come down, some time,
    maybe not in our life time, who knows.

    Hemachandran

    ReplyDelete
  2. The meltng of the ice age, happened as a natural process. The ice caps on Mars are melting again as a natural activity. Even massive volcanoes can release much more CO2 and ash into the atmosphere than any man made activities could do in hundreds of years. But we need to differentiate natural and man-made disasters. The global warming which we are witnessing now is a completely man-made activity and humans are to blame totally for it. Development happens at a price !! The responsibility for this man-made disaster is not equally shared by the human race as a whole but the end results will be . There are inequalities and unequal developments happening in diff parts of the world. Some parts of the world are contributing more to this disaster while others are contributing less. Asking less developed countries to take the blame as much as the developed countries is outright unjust and unlikely to curry flavour with the countries of the world.

    It is difficult for the developed economies of the world to go in reverse and stop polluting the world. That also explains why there is a current dissonance in the developed communities of the share of blame to this catastrophy awaiting the world. The reluctance to share the blame is but a natural response and it is to be viewed only in that angle. The urge to shift blame of global warming not just to the GHG emissions but also to natural processes without any scientific backing will only backfire in the long run.

    For the common welfare of humanity, it is necessary that humans as a whole understand this predicament and try our level best to control GHG emissions than contribute to it. Pointing fingers at others will only result in people coming up with lame excuses but working collectively and actively to tackle this global crisis is the need of the hour and let us do that selflessly !!

    thanks,
    george..

    ReplyDelete
  3. George, I understand the insinuation. :-)
    I didn't intend to be mirroring George Bush's policy, I am far away from it.
    Unlike what you think about the American President, the whole people in US
    is for emission reduction, withdrawing from war, etc. If you come to this
    country you will see how they implement what they desire. Of course,
    American consumption is too high for the number of people here and it can lead
    to trouble.

    There are very strict laws here as well, I have never seen a polluting smoke stack
    in US, (maybe my travel experience is limited). Please don't decide your opinion
    on American president's attitude and the government, the people's desire is very
    different from his. Here they go extreme lengths to reduce the carbon footprint.

    Actually, one of my interesting areas, since I am in real estate is looking to see
    how to create 'zero carbon footprint' homes. Houses are now advertised here
    on energy efficiency etc. Commercial buildings are now declaring their LEED levels.

    In contrary to what you think, America strive for low carbon foot prints, all that
    old folks who refuse to sign Kyoto protocol and all will be gone very soon.

    See, when time changes, various things are in fashion, now global warming is more in people's mind.

    Hemachandran

    ReplyDelete
  4. On Jan 30, 2008 1:27 PM, Hem Ramachandran wrote:

    George, I understand the insinuation. :-)
    ----------------
    That is not to be publicised, though ..
    -------------------
    I didn't intend to be mirroring George Bush's policy, I am far away from it.
    Unlike what you think about the American President, the whole people in US
    is for emission reduction, withdrawing from war, etc. If you come to this
    country you will see how they implement what they desire. Of course,
    American consumption is too high for the number of people here and it can lead
    to trouble.

    There are very strict laws here as well, I have never seen a polluting smoke stack
    in US, (maybe my travel experience is limited). Please don't decide your opinion
    on American president's attitude and the government, the people's desire is very
    different from his. Here they go extreme lengths to reduce the carbon footprint.

    You are very much agreeng that Americans do pollute the globa max.
    ----------------
    Even a school boy will tell you that Americans are the greatest polluters in the world. That is how snobbish they have been brought up and they think they are. Very true.

    They are privately smart but publicly dumb, excuse me for being frank.. In one of the global climate conferences held in Beijing in 2006, it was discused that if all the people in this world were to live like the americans, we would require five planet earths to satisfy their fouling of the environment.
    ----------------
    Actually, one of my interesting areas, since I am in real estate is looking to see
    how to create 'zero carbon footprint' homes. Houses are now advertised here
    on energy efficiency etc. Commercial buildings are now declaring their LEED levels.
    ----------------
    The people elect the governments and as long as that govt does not believe in beng straighforward and frank regarding their polluting of the environment and comes up with specioius, cockeyed excuses, citing natural occurences, and does not sign the Kyoto protocol, it does not make any sense harping that Americans individually are a peaceful lot. The problem only comes up when they become a mob. Mob psychology is unpredictable.
    ------------
    In contrary to what you think, America strive for low carbon foot prints, all that
    old folks who refuse to sign Kyoto protocol and all will be gone very soon.

    See, when time changes, various things are in fashion, now global warming is more in people's mind.
    ----
    And from the people's mind, let us hope it reaches the leaders' minds . They can do away with the hypocrites and elect sensible people.

    I believe truth cannot be distorted, however inconvenient it be !!..

    george..

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, Easaw,
    You are talking like a teenager with full of angst and rebel against the world.
    Unfortunately you seem to have the mindset of a guy who is protesting at a UN conference
    or something like that. I would say 'Chill out!', Americans are not as bad as you think!
    I invite you to visit here, and see for yourself. Plan a vacation here - if you can get the tickets, I will take care of your
    US expenses. What do you say?
    Hem

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Hemachandran,

    that was a real cooool response.. !! Really, you have taken the steam out of the discussion.

    Thanks for the wonderful "open" offer and I would like to reciprocate it to help you understand the difference between the two systems... Not that you are unaware of the systems here or lost the power to discern, but am concerned how you have comfortably compromised for private comforts and compulsions, the greater public good..

    If, any day, the rupee could buy 40 dollars, I too may glib likewise, extolling the virtues of life out here... Who knows !! From all indications, I think that day is not far away !!

    Even then mother earth would continue to get raped, waiting patiently for good sense to prevail.. !!

    Thanks for taking part in two days of discussions .. enjoyed..

    george..

    ReplyDelete

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