Archive for the tag “Japan”

News update

OMG… Greenland’s ice sheets are melting fast
The Guardian UK
An urgent attempt to study the rate at which Greenland’s mighty ice sheets are melting has been launched by Nasa. The aim of the six-year project, called Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG), is to understand how fast the world’s warming seas are now eroding the edges of the island’s vast icecaps. Warming air temperatures are already causing considerable glacier loss there, but the factors involving the sea that laps the bases of its great ice masses, and which is also heating up, are less well understood.

Snatching Defeat
Albert Bates, The Great Change
Last week we concluded our post on climate change with a quote from James Hansen, the matter is urgent and calls for emergency cooperation among nations. All this year we have been leading up to our collective fin de seicle moment in December, the grand denouement of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol in Paris. At this late date, we are frankly pessimistic for the outcome there.

Undamming Rivers: A Chance For New Clean Energy Source
John Waldman & Karin Limburg, Yale Environment 360
Many hydroelectric dams produce modest amounts of power yet do enormous damage to rivers and fish populations. Why not take down these aging structures, build solar farms in the drained reservoirs, and restore the natural ecology of the rivers?

The Devil in Obama’s New Emissions Target for the US Lies in Base Year Details
Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire
The US’s carbon dioxide emissions peaked in 2005, at 5,828.63 million metric tons. This convenient choice of a base year allows the US a leeway that’s 18.64% higher than its 1990 emissions – 1990 being the year that the Kyoto Protocol uses as a base. The absence of any rules on what can or can’t constitute base years is leveraged by many countries. In Europe, for example, the base year is 1990 because that’s when emissions peaked followed by a steady decline in industrial activity as well as a growing adoption of renewable energy options.

Japan restarts first nuclear reactor since Fukushima disaster
The Guardian UK
Japan has begun a controversial return to nuclear power generation with the restart of a reactor in the country’s south-west, four and a half years after its faith in atomic energy was shattered by the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. Kyushu Electric Power, the operator of the Sendai plant, said it had restarted one of the facility’s two reactors on Tuesday morning, in defiance of strong local opposition. The move marks the first time Japan has generated nuclear power since a post-Fukushima shutdown of all its 44 operable reactors two years ago.

Space mining is closer than you think, and the prospects are great
Andrew Dempster, The Conversation
Recently, the American cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson gushed about the prospects of mining in space, and the benefits that might afford humanity. Is this really plausible? What can we mine in space? And will it really deliver world peace, or just another realm for competition and conflict? Perhaps a look at the immediate past and near future may help us answer some of these questions.

Sustainable development is failing but there are alternatives to capitalism
Ashish Kothari, Federico Demaria and Alberto Acosta, The Guardian UK
In the face of worsening ecological and economic crises and continuing social deprivation, the last two decades have seen two broad trends emerge among those seeking sustainability, equality and justice. First there are the green economy and sustainable development approaches that dominate the upcoming Paris climate summit and the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs). To date, such measures have failed to deliver a harmonisation of economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection. Political ecology paradigms, on the other hand, call for more fundamental changes, challenging the predominance of growth-oriented development based on fossil fuels, neoliberal capitalism and related forms of so-called representative democracy.

News update

Green energy: Unrealistic targets
Pandurang Hegde, Deccan Herald
Recently the Minister of Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal reassured the commitment of the Central government in achieving the target of 1,75,000 MW of green energy by 2022. The performance of green energy projects needs to be assessed in the light of ground level experiences and the targets need be set realistically. By setting up unrealistic targets, the green energy is bound to attract those who are keen to reap the windfall profits rather than generating power.

A ‘Dashboard’ for the Indian Energy Sector (PDF)
Ashok Sreenivas, Rakesh K. Iyer EPW
A first approximation of a multidimensional index assessing the energy sector in India would be a dashboard that would measure trends through fi ve summary dimensions. Such a dashboard provides revealing insights, even in their condensed form.

Japan uses climate cash for coal plants in India, Bangladesh
Cadillac News
Despite mounting protests, Japan continues to finance the building of coal-fired power plants with money earmarked for fighting climate change, with two new projects underway in India and Bangladesh, The Associated Press has found. The AP reported in December that Japan had counted $1 billion in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, angering critics who say such financing should be going to clean energy like solar and wind power.

The hidden reasons behind slow economic growth: Declining EROI, constrained net energy
Kurt Cobb
the growth in net energy appears to have slowed while EROI of fossil fuels continues to fall. That has led to greater competition for the available net energy and a general rise in fossil fuel prices from 2000 onward. There have been fluctuations, sometimes violent ones, tied to the so-called Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 and to the softening of the world economy in the past year which led to steep declines in oil prices (something which may be telling us there is another recession in the offing).

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?
Cheryl Katz, Yale Environment 360
The main reason soaring greenhouse gas emissions have not caused air temperatures to rise more rapidly is that oceans have soaked up much of the heat. But new evidence suggests the oceans’ heat-buffering ability may be weakening.

Despite decades of deforestation, the Earth is getting greener
The Conversation
While the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade. Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and Southeast Asia, we found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Species extinction and the Competitive Exclusion Principle
Ron Patterson, Peak Oil Barrel
The competitive exclusion principle usually describes the competition of animals for a particular niche. But humans are animals also. We have been in the competition for territory and resources for thousands of years. And we have been winning that battle for thousands of years. But it is only in the last few hundred years that our complete dominance in this battle has become overwhelming. We are winning big time, we are quite literally wiping them off the face of the globe.

It’s Time to Get Serious About Systemic Solutions to Systemic Problems
Gar Alperovitz
It’s getting harder and harder to be an optimist. A deep economic crisis has given way to a profoundly unequal recovery. Climate catastrophe is steadily unfolding across the globe. All of this in an age of unprecedented technological progress, which has manifestly failed to keep its promises. If there is one saving grace, it is that the pain caused by these interconnected failures make it possible — for the first time in modern history — to pose the question of system change in a serious fashion, even in the United States, the faltering heart of global capitalism.

Book: Just Enough lessons in living green from traditional Japan

Rob Hopkins, originally published by Transition Culture  

edo

One of the most extraordinary books I have read in recent years is Just Enough: lessons in living green from traditional Japan by Azby Brown. Brown is director of the Konazawa Institute of Technologies Future Design Institute and has lived in Japan for the last 30 years.  It is a beautiful analysis of the integrated, mindful and design-driven way in which one traditional society worked and embodied the principles of sustainability.

Here is a TEDxTokyo talk Brown gave about this:

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Hopkins interview with Brown.
Visit http://www.indiabookstore.net/ to compare prices for Just Enough.

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