I gave up my keys over a year ago. Whenever I am near a highway, I thank my lucky stars that I'm not driving. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to safety concerns such as falling asleep at the wheel but even more to the sheer volume and movement of trucks, vans and cars racing at break neck speeds. No Scotty here to beam us up to wherever. Is it just a dream that someday getting around will be easier, safer and cleaner? A Catch-22 dilemma: we can't live with our vehicles and can't live without them. But we are powerless to stop supporting the production of internal combustion engines, blinding ourselves to the consequences.
Aside from vehicles, over one-third of the GHG (Green House Gases) produced come from burning fossil fuel (coal) mainly in the northern hemispheres to produce electricity (remember acid rain?). "Greenhouse effect" refers to heat retention of trace gases and water vapour in the lower atmosphere. Some CO2 is natural and crucial in insulating the earth from dangerous temperature differences, but more heat is trapped and less lost into space leaving concentrations of CO2 and other gases to grow from 300ppm to 400ppm during the last 100 years. Just two degrees temperature increase of air and ocean at the earth's surface sets a dangerous precedence. It is predicted we face catastrophic drought, flash floods, extreme weather, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, disappearing coastlines, and many more undetermined events.
COP-21 (Conference of Parties) meeting in Paris this month is the 21st of the series. 195 members will attempt to facilitate binding agreements and commit to a plan and invest. Success or failure of the talks rests on those investing. President Barrack Obama of the United States, Xi Jinping of China and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India will be present - leaders of three countries having the most GHG. Nations agree on the fact that GHG's will circulate the world, so every country's CO2 problem will be everybody's problem.
The buzz word is "renewable energy" which is energy that generates from natural resources and supplied for human lifespan and is not at risk of depletion.
When water flows at the blades of a turbine, making it spin the turbine generates hydroelectricity which is a major renewable source of energy.
A biomass is a biological material in a solid, liquid or gaseous form that has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. Wood is an example. Costa Rica and Brazil have increased forest areas by 10% the last decade and aim to be carbon neutral (no GHG by 2021). 90% of their electricity comes from renewable sources, and they've reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as well which has opened the potential growth of biofuels for reducing emissions from vehicles.
In 2011 Canada had 3,094 wind turbines operating on 152 wind farms totalling an installed capacity of 5,265 megawatts, compared with only 60 wind turbines, eight wind farms and 23 megawatts in 1997. A good wind source is required. Some are known to cause ill health to residents due to repetitive noise.
The sun’s radiant energy can be used to provide lighting and heat for buildings and to produce electricity. Of course, it only works when the sun is shining.
Technologies have been developed to convert the energy of ocean waves and tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. Technical, economic and environmental barriers are impeding this; as a result, ocean energy is currently not a widely exploited energy source in Canada.
Energy for Humanity claims that organizations excluding nuclear energy are being irresponsible. Nuclear power is, according to studies, one of our safest ways to produce energy.
An authority on climate change James Hansen worked for NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies explains:
So our best-case scenario, based on our most optimistic forecasts for renewable energy, would still result in severe climate change, with all its dire consequences: shifting climatic zones, freshwater shortages, eroding coasts, and ocean acidification, among others. Our reckoning showed that reversing the trend would require both radical technological advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering the carbon
Mr Hansen makes some predictions about a future filled with unimaginable circumstances. Can we prove him wrong?
“ If all power plants and industrial facilities switch over to zero-carbon energy sources right now, we’ll still be left with a ruinous amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It would take centuries for atmospheric levels to return to normal, which means centuries of warming and instability. ”
It's early in December. Canada and Europe are experiencing record temperatures so why should I care about global warming? Who doesn't love these pleasant forecasts until they change? Change is imminent, and I still get a premonition staring at the traffic rushing by more madly it seems.©