Saturday, November 04, 2006

Warming World, Cooling Profits?

Climate change could send the global economy into a serious recession, according to a report released today by United Kingdom chief economist Nicholas Stern. The study also makes recommendations on ways to slow and potentially stop further climate change.

Most studies on the effects of global warming have predicted that the detrimental effects on the world's economy will be minimal to modest. Those forecasting a more radical impact assume that changes in weather patterns will wreak havoc on fishing and farming and will displace millions of people via hurricanes, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events. Yet even these studies don't go far enough, according to Stern's report. Part of the problem, he and colleagues note, is that previous economic studies underestimated the rise in global temperatures caused by climate change. Using a more accurate estimate, the group predicts that climate change could slash the global gross domestic product by 5% to 20%.
On the positive side, countries could reduce this loss to 1% by investing in more environmentally friendly technologies, according to the report. Toward that end, Stern's team calls for an integrated international approach to tackling global warming. But it also reminds rich nations that they have to bear the brunt of the economic investment, especially those in Europe and North America that are responsible for 70% of all carbon dioxide emissions to date.
"There is much in the report that most people can agree with, such as sustained investment in research on developing new carbon free technologies," says economist Richard Richels, director of global climate change research at the Electric Power Research Institute, a non-profit based in Palo Alto, California. But he notes that the report makes certain assumptions to calculate the costs of curbing global warming, such as assuming that countries will adopt the cheapest ways to reduce emissions. This might not always prove feasible, he says, in which case he says the costs would be much higher. "This is not an argument for inaction, but can affect what is realistic in the short term."



Friday, November 03, 2006

Solar Powered City

Australian Solar Cities: Adelaide and Townsville

November 1, 2006 5:30 PM - Warren McLaren, Sydney


We’ve been a bit slack in updating progress in the Australian Solar Cities, a $75 million AUD initiative to trial solar power and energy efficiency programs in four grid-connected metropolises.

Fitting though that the first official designated city would be South Australia’s capital, Adelaide—it was founded 170 years ago by Colonel William Light! The nitty gritty? 1,700 solar photovoltaic panels will end up on homes and commercial buildings — a doubling of South Australia’s current photovoltaic capacity. 7000 smart meters will be installed that, “together with fairer pricing structures, will help people monitor their energy use and save electricity.” 40,000 energy efficiency and information packages to be distributed. If all this comes to pass, they expect a 9 megawatt cut in peak electricity demand, meaning less power plant capacity requiring funding. This is said to represent $5 million AUD a year in lower electricity costs. A reduction 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, with a further cut of more than 500,000, should a take-up of Green Power is achieved. Apparently this will be equal to taking 80% of the area’s car fleet off the road. Can’t be bad. Meshes well with Adelaide’s companion plan to be recognised as a Green City, of which the above pictured solar-powered street lighting form a part.

The second city announced as a Solar City is Queensland's Townsville. They’ll get $15 million AUD from the Australian Government to instal solar panels on 500 homes and businesses, which when combined with other measures its figured to
cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50,000 tonnes. ::Solar Cities.



Tuesday, October 31, 2006

PARKing day protests campus congestion

Members of Students for Environmental Action said the prevention of driving is the best solution to the parking congestion at K-State at a protest Monday.

Adrienne Stolwyk, fourth-year student in architecture and member of Students for Environmental Action, occupies a parking stall in the K-State Student Union parking lot Monday morning as part of the organization's protest event, People Advocating Renewable transit at K-State. The event aimed to raise consciousness about parking problems.
Media Credit: Steven Doll
Adrienne Stolwyk, fourth-year student in architecture and member of Students for Environmental Action, occupies a parking stall in the K-State Student Union parking lot Monday morning as part of the organization's protest event, People Advocating Renewable transit at K-State. The event aimed to raise consciousness about parking problems.

More than 20 members of SEA presented PARKing (People Advocating Renewable transit at K-State) day Monday in the K-State Student Union parking lot. The protesters used club funds to pay the meters of the parking stalls they occupied.

The goal was to inform students of the need for renewable and mass transportation options.

"Building parking garages is addressing the parking congestion problem too late," said Becky Clark, SEA president and senior in biology.

"We want to see increased discussion on campus about parking. When SGA (Student Governing Association) pushed for the parking garage, most people were for it, but I think most of those people want a parking garage because they have been told by SGA to want one," Clark said. "There are four pages in the university's master plan, and parking is mentioned 47 times, and mass transit is only mentioned once."

SEA conducted a survey of residents of the Chase Manhattan and Founders Hill Apartment complexes and learned that, of those surveyed, 70 percent would use mass transit if it was available. The survey also found students in those areas spend an average of $20 a week in gas, or $1,040 a year.

The bio-diesel mass transit buses that have been proposed by SEA would cost a student taking 18 credit hours for three semesters, or 54 credit hours, $81 a year.

SEA also proposed other solutions. Members want K-State to follow examples set by other universities, like the University of North Carolina, and limit parking permits to students who live outside a preset boundary. UNC sets this limit 2 miles from the bell tower at the center of campus. Ideally, SEA would like K-State's boundary to be set 1 mile from Anderson Hall.

Hailey Petersen, freshman in biology, proposed a different solution.

"Underclassmen, particularly freshmen, shouldn't have cars," she said.

SEA liked Petersen's proposal.

"My father graduated from K-State in 1981, and he said he wasn't allowed to have a car as a freshman," said Jamie Gentry, freshmen in animal science and pre-veterinary studies.

Go see it at the source!