Answer to Energy Crisis? Waste Not, Want Not

By Stephen Leahy*

BROOKLIN, Canada, Oct 23 (IPS/IFEJ) – Soaring worldwide demand for energy is driving climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions dangerously higher, and even as investments grow in new “clean” energy sources, existing technologies to reduce energy use are being neglected.

Energy remains crucial to economic development in a world where over 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity. While the media and government focus has been on greener and cleaner ways to generate power through renewable sources like biofuels, wind, solar and hydrogen, experts say that major improvements in energy efficiency could dramatically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, save money and provide the breathing space needed to improve and develop new energy sources.

Scientists estimate that to avoid dangerous climate change (generally viewed as a two-degree rise in global temperatures), world greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by about 60 percent from today’s levels by 2050.

At the same time, world energy demand is projected to increase by over 50 percent between now and 2030, and that will raise energy-related carbon dioxide emissions 52 percent higher than they are today, reported the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2005 World Energy Outlook, considered the definitive report on global energy.

That energy path is unsustainable, warns the IEA, which is calling for major changes.

“The need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions means a drastic overhaul of how we produce energy,” said Christopher Flavin, president of the Worldwatch Institute, a U.S. environmental group.

“We are facing the biggest economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution,” Flavin told IPS.


CARBON FORESTS: Can the Free Market Slow Deforestation?

Sumatra burning forest courtesy of Kim Worm Sorensen sml

By Stephen Leahy

IPS 28/10/2006

Tropical forests’ ability to store carbon dioxide and mitigate climate change makes them more valuable than alternative uses like pasture or lumber, and rich countries ought to pay tropical countries to preserve their forests, the World Bank says.

However, some environmentalists caution that while reducing deforestation is vital, a so-called carbon trading system is the wrong approach and too complicated to implement.

The world’s tropical forests have been shrinking at a rate of five percent per decade since the 1950s. In the past five years, more than 50 million hectares of tropical forest have been lost — an area nearly the size of France. Aside from the loss of biodiversity, destruction of ecosystems and other negative impacts, deforestation is a major source of human-made emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In fact, deforestation contributes almost twice as much GHGs as does all road transport around the world.

“The trees are worth more alive, storing carbon, than they would be worth if burned and transformed to unproductive fields,” said Kenneth Chomitz, lead author of the World Bank report released Monday. Continue reading

Free Markets Cause Chronic Hunger in Africa — There’s Plenty of Food but No Money

By Stephen Leahy

BROOKLIN, Canada, Oct 20, 2006 (IPS)

[World Bank and International Monetary Fund free-market doctrines responsible for much of Africa’s hunger experts say]

It is a world of paradox and plenty:

852 million people are starving while one billion people are overweight, with 300 million of them considered medically obese.

And the numbers of people whose health are at serious risk due to starvation or from obesity is rising rapidly.

While what the World Health Organisation calls a global epidemic of obesity is a health issue of the modern world, hunger and malnutrition are old and bitterly intractable problems.

More than 50 million Africans currently need food assistance, according to the U.N. World Food Programme. More than 120 million Africans are living permanently on the edge of emergency food aid, says the British charity CARE International.

Why is hunger chronic in Africa?

“There is enough food, but people don’t have enough money to buy it,” says Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, a U.S.-based policy think tank on social, economic and environmental issues.

“Sixty-three percent of people in Niger live on less than a dollar a day,” Mittal told IPS.

Hunger is mainly the result of poverty.

Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that th

ere is enough food to give everyone in the world more than 2,700 calories a day, she says. Continue reading

CANADA BAD: New Environment Policy Ignores Science

Critics Say New Environment Policy Ignores Science

By Stephen Leahy

Canada has officially turned its back on the Kyoto Protocol and climate change in its new “green plan” introduced Thursday, environmentalists say.

The new Conservative government’s environmental legislation called the Clean Air Act does not offer specific reduction targets other than a goal of cutting emissions of greenhouse gases 45-65 percent below 2003 levels by 2050.

“It’s a green scam, a delaying tactic that involves three more years of consultations,” said Claire Stockwell of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition.

“We have already had six years of consultations and under existing legislation we could regulate emissions of greenhouse gases tomorrow,” Stockwell told IPS.

About 40 youth groups formed the non-partisan coalition this past September because of the realisation that the Conservative government will not comply with Canada’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, she said.

The coalition organised mock “funerals for the future” in 14 Canadian cities last week to protest the lack of urgent action on “the most pressing issue of our time”.

IPS News – published October 20 2006

Russia Leads the Most Poisonous Places on Earth

dzerzhinsk-factories[I have added more of the story in this post but the full article remains for subscribers only, sorry.]

By Stephen Leahy

Russia tops the list of the 10 most polluted places on the planet, while more investigation into Latin American and African pollution sites is needed, according to a U.S. environmental group.

Lead and other heavy metals, along with buried chemical weapons and radiation hazards from sites like Chernobyl in Ukraine, are the main sources of pollution affecting the health of 10 million people in different locations around the world.


“These extremely toxic areas are mostly unknown even in their own countries,” said Richard Fuller, director of the New York-based Blacksmith Institute.

Continue reading