Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Global Warming - The Big Carbon Con?

After 10 years complaining about high and often rip-off prices in the UK - I've entered a NEW era of Worldwide concern that goes far beyond simply Rip-Off Britain - it's a clear case of Rip-Off World!!

It has much to do with Global Warming and 'misguided' World Government policies surrounding this awesome subject.

I have been closely analysing the question of Global Warming, Carbon Emissions and Energy Supply & Usage for some years now, and have come to the stark conclusion that our attempt to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the UK is, in reality, a futile exercise. Climate change, due to the burning of fossil fuels (especially OIL & COAL) over the past 400 years, is now undeniable. Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth should convince any sane person of the reality - regardless of past ice ages and so-called warming periods.

Whilst the UK produces a mere 2% of the World's carbon emissions, the USA produces around 30% in annual carbon emissions, and China which is building a new coal-powered station every WEEK, is now producing well over 15% and growing, in annual carbon emissions. It appears to me that everyone is missing the fact that climate change, which I'm certain will be traumatic for so many reasons, will NOT turn out to be our greatest challenge!

By far, our greatest challenge(s) will be the security of an energy supply in the VERY near future, and the ever increasing World Population 'created' solely by OIL has been the main catalyst in creating and maintaining our modern civilisation over the past 140 years.

At the rate of 86 million barrels of oil being currently used EVERY DAY in the World (equal to the volume of 5,700 Olympic sized swimming pools), we actually reached peak oil production in late 2003 (hence Iraq?). This fast dwindling resource will not only become quite scare within the next 15 to 20 years (or earlier if war or conflict should interrupt supplies), but easily extracted OIL and GAS will be just about exhausted by 2050/60 - or much earlier if China and India continues to grow at their current rate of GDP.

If runaway climate change triggers the irreversible melting (in our lifetime) of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and drives hundreds of millions of people from their homes, the global temperature rise must be confined to 2C above pre-industrial levels. To accomplish this would require a 60% cut in total global climate emissions by 2030, which means a 90% cut in the rich world.

The United States accounts for 5% of World Population, yet they consume over a quarter of the worlds oil each year and contribute more than 30% in CO2 emissions. China, which accounts for almost 17% (a 6th) of World population, will be using over 21,000,000 barrels of oil a DAY by 2025. In addition, China is building ONE coal-fired power station a week and is a major contributor to CO2 emissions.

Even if 'so-called' carbon-offset schemes were carried out in developing countries and every poor nation on the planet became carbon-free, we would still have to cut most of the carbon we produce at home. Buying and selling carbon- offsets is like pushing the food around on your plate to create the impression that you have eaten it! Building massive wind-powered farms and other renewal energy projects is all very well and good in the short term - but when the OIL finally runs out electricity generated from renewables, limited biofuel production or hydrogen cells will NOT power or fly aircraft, and unless some inexpensive fuel system is found to power road and rail vehicles, civilisation AS WE KNOW IT - will probably come to an abrupt and messy end.

What really annoys me is that the UK and the EU heavily promotes Home Insulation material, Solar panels, Wind Turbines, Heat Pumps and their accessories are subjected to 5% Value Added Tax. Low energy fluorescent light bulbs are 7 to 8 times more expensive than traditional incandescent light bulbs but can save up 75% in electrical energy, with each low energy light bulb saving £7 worth of electricity a year - and they last 12 times as long as traditional light bulbs.

As the Government state in their literature, “If a million of us replace 3 light bulbs in our houses with energy efficient ones, it would be like taking 100,000 cars off the road.”

If the Government is serious about helping to combat Global Warming, why is it that in 2004 the Chancellor Gordon Brown, despite being urged by Greenpeace to reduce VAT on low energy light bulbs to the lower rate of 5% VAT, the VAT rate remains at 17.5%? In light of the high cost of low-energy light bulbs, especially for low-income families who still should be replacing anywhere up to TEN low energy light bulbs - how can we trust the Government’s sincerity in combating Global Warming?

By the way - try finding low-energy light bulbs (lamps) for sale on Google.com in the USA - you'll be hard pressed!

Not content with annihilating to extinction almost every living creature, plant and forest on the planet, man's selfish actions over the past c.400 years in creating Global Warming and Climate Change will undoubtedly be a severe problem in the 21st century, especially for those living in low lying coastal areas. The eventual depletion of oil sometime this century, and the increasing World population that will increase from 6.6 million today, 10 billion in 2035 and 12 billion by the end of this century – will be a far greater catastrophe for the human race than Global Warming!

Since the World ceased using whale oil in the 1850’s (that almost decimated these fine mammals) and started using kerosene, along with coal gas that became cheaper, to light our homes, and the later introduction of the internal combustion engine, our consumption of oil has been totally responsible for the growth in population, our economy and our wealth.

Unless someone comes up with the 'next' cheap method of producing a plentiful and 'usable' energy source, wind power and related generated electricity in the future will NOT, as I've stated, fly planes, and will not efficiently motorise vehicles, drive tractors, produce or deliver food! We can't feed 6.6 billion now - so how are we supposed to feed 12 billion by 2,100 AD?

With CO2 levels at the highest in 650,000 years, when the oil dries up perhaps the Planet will start to repair itself - as it has undoubtedly done for millions of years. Ok, so you're saying there's loads of coal left! You're right! There's enough for the next 300 to 500 years! But how will it be mined and how will coal-fired power stations be built without OIL to power the construction of such a magnitude needed to supply the needs of 12 billion human beings??

Perhaps we should follow France and build nuclear - could I be wrong? And what about geothermal energy? That source of energy, if we can harness it, will last as long as the Earth! Perhaps living in Iceland or New Zealand are the future places to be.

Although I believe it totally futile, I'll continue to recycle my rubbish, replace my incandescent light bulbs with low-energy light bulbs, won't fill the kettle up, always use the shower instead of baths, ride my motorbike instead of using the car, won't fly and will spend my next holiday in the UK - and if ever the price comes down I'll install solar heating. Why? Because it seems to be the 'right thing to do'.

I wonder what my Grandchildren will think about all this in 50 or 75 years time? When do I tell them, or when will they realise, that both me and their close ancestors may have perpetrated the eventual extinction of mankind?

Thank goodness I won't be around!

Paul Meyer,

Editor, Rip-Off Britain