February 16th, 2008

The floating houses

As climate changes, ice caps and glaciers melt, therefor the sea level rises and the rivers become more unpredictable and less stable, for this little flat country, which lies for almost 20% below sea level, well, things are not looking good. Well unless you go with the flow…..

Floating houses

(…) But instead of cursing their fate, architects are designing a new Holland that will float on water, and the Dutch government seems willing to try out the scheme. Holland has made other countries begin to question, too. Who says you have to live on dry land?

With the exception of the major highways, it feels like you can’t drive more than a mile or so in the Netherlands without running into water. It could be the sea; it could be a river; it could be a canal.

(…) The house hasn’t floated yet, but the prediction is that with global warming, the river will flood about once every 12 years. This ability to cope with floodwater rather than be devastated is why Smits moved here.

“In the other village we have lived, there was always the water. I was very scared,” Smits says. “Two times, we have evacuated to leave our old house. This was very scary for us. And we got the opportunity to buy this house. It’s a safe place.”

January 23rd, 2008

The global warming

While still debated, the European commission has launched a bold carbon dioxide reduction plan. From New scientist (snippet):

Plans which would make Europe a world leader in tackling climate change and renewable energy policy were released by the European Commission on Wednesday.

The proposal describes how the European Union can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.

The package has been called “brave” by the Dutch environment agency and has been welcomed by the UK government, which says the package will give industry the secure framework it needs to build a low-carbon economy. (…)

Now don’t start cheering yet. The largest party in parliament (Christian Democrats) responded “they need to study the plans carefully to determine if this is indeed a good plan” that b.t.w. will cost each European citizen approximately 3 Euro’s (a tad over $4) a week. That is jargon for opening the gates for industry lobbyists and governments, who will both desperately try to lower the standard, one reason being “others don’t either”, read US, China, India.

October 25th, 2007

The world solar challenge

My country won the World Solar Challenge this week. Wikipedia:

The World Solar Challenge is a solar powered-car race over 3021 km (1,877 miles) through central Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. The race attracts teams from around the world, most of which are fielded by universities or corporations although some are fielded by high schools.

Added: a link to a cnn report.

May 27th, 2007

The contract



Thanks Keesje on Airliners.net

April 26th, 2007

The temperature

I live in a small, rather wet, moderate climate country. While the pro’s will argue it’s all statistics, we are experiencing insanely high temperatures. See the last 3 months of my weatherstation (thanks again Great Grey).


To give you an idea, when I was a kid, January meant skating. The government agency responsible for water management (my country is for a serious part below sea level) announced it will increase the water level in the major inland water body with one inch, creating an extra 13 billion gallons of water reserve. It hasn’t rained in weeks and it probably won’t for a while. Nah, global warming is just statistics.

Mildly related: it was announced today that Boeing estimated that based on US and New Zealand studies a shalow water body of algae the size of Maryland (or Austria) in a warm climate could provide the fuel for the entire worlds aviation, essentially reducting it’s CO2 emissions to zero.

Added May 6th: We’ll have a little bit of rain tonight after a recordbreaking 30 days dry period. Ground water levels and flow rate in the river Rhine are at an all time low, water temperature at an all time high.

Added May 7th: Rain! Might even go up to 20mm (0.8 inch). That will put a little dent in the shortage, which is not only bad for nature and agriculture, but also affects the stability of the numerous dikes.

March 10th, 2007

The energy connections

In what I think is a bold move, most European leaders under leadership of CDU forewoman Angelika Merkel, agreed on a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by the entire EU by 20% in 2020, measured from the marker year 1990. That is quite a challenge and I believe the means to achieve it are somewhat dubious: France bets heavily on nuclear, the Netherlands on CO2 injection in the depleted gas fields. But at least we are getting somewhere and it seems environmental issues can’t NOT be on any political movement’s agenda anymore.

At the same time, after staring at his belly button on Iraq for 5 years, president Bush is now on a 7 days “charm offensive” in South America. The same South America which has heavily distanced itself in the last decade from the US. And of course he is only visiting the countries that have chosen “the right way” (“right” being allowed to be dual-interpreted here), in an attempt to minimize Chavez influence in the region. Interestingly enough, the “wrong” countries are the ones having oil. And the one country that REALLY matters (Brazil) was praised on their use of ethanol, thank you thank you that we can kindly use your technology, but at the same time, US ethanol import taxes will not be lowered, to protect US corn farmers.

note: Of course there was a Belgian a$$hole minister chartering an army helicopter to bring him to the showing of Al Gore’s movie (2000% more emissions than a car) and Barosso, the EU chairman, drove in his SUV to the conference, showing word and action are easily separated in politicians peoples minds.

February 20th, 2007

The end of the incandescent lamp

Australia is planning on banning the incandescent lamp by 2010. Although the Australians are not known as being very energy efficient (they did not sign the Kyoto protocol, and they use more energy per capita as the Americans), and as this can be seen as easy green windowdressing, I say: good on them. It’s a start.

I have replaced almost all bulbs in my house with CFL ones.

added: with the new legislation, the incandescent lamp will die off slowly here too.

February 4th, 2007

The climate change

Fokke en Sukke

In todays newspaper cartoon “Fokke & Sukke” (yes, you read that right)

Title: Fokke & Sukke are leaking the next UN climate report already

Fokke: Global warming…

Sukke: … is rather very much most probably caused by humans.

July 4th, 2006

Inconvienient Truth: time to wake-up

Inconvient truth

Go see this movie NOW and then get other people go see it!

In the film Inconvenient Truth former Vice-President and popularly elected candidate for President of the United States Al Gore makes the case for why global warming is something we should all pay attention to. Gore lays out the issues and facts in a way that might even sway skeptics – if the skeptics can be convinced to go see the movie. Gore takes the evidence that has been produced by science and puts it into a format that almost anybody can understand. He addresses, head on, the issues raised by skeptics, debunking the myths put forward by the oil companies and their paid cadre [my words, not his]. FWIW Gore points out that there are, for all practical purposes, no skeptics in the scientific community, only in the popular press.

Second only to a nuclear conflagration, I think the causes of global warming and the changes that global warming will force us to face is the greatest challenge facing all of us and our continued existence on this planet. For me, all doubt ceased when the Larsen-B ice sheet (1250 sq. miles of 650 foot thick ice) slid into the ocean in 2003. Gore argues that the same processes that caused Larsen-B’s surprising demise are “at work” on much larger ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica; sheets of ice large enough to raise ocean levels around the world by 20 feet (that’s not a typo) should either of them melt.

Here in Alaska folks who are skeptical that global warming is man-made abound and come from all corners of the political spectrum. I suppose that’s not surprising given the influence that “big oil” has in my state. The most often cited reason I’ve heard here for why global warming is not the result of our use of fossil fuels and other damaging technologies is that the warming is simply a a cyclical trend. Gore makes mince-meat out of this argument pointing out that data shows that the CO2 levels are higher now than they ever have been in the past 600,000 years (as far back as scientists can measure) and correlating that data with a sustained temperature rise that exceeds that of any period for which we have knowledge.

When challenged by “global warming” skeptics the first thing I point out is that 10 years ago they would have claimed that there was no global warming (the oil company experts were calling it the “myth of global warming” at the time). Hell, the first glacier I ever saw, from the ground, was the Matanuska Glacier, east of Chickaloon off the Glen Hwy. That was in 1997 when we stopped there for a rest. I drove past that same spot 2 weeks ago on the way to Chitina to fish for salmon and there is nothing there but till – gone, zip, nada, nothing, no ice. Same goes for the Portage Glacier off the Seward highway on the way to the Kenai Peninsula. The glacier isn’t all gone yet, it’s just not visible from the million dollar visitors observation center that was built some years back. Anybody living in Alaska that has ventured more than 50 miles from their front door knows that something has changed.

Pragmatists (as in philosophers) argue that the “state of belief” is one in which the believer no longer asks questions or seeks information – the believer opting for the bliss that comes with belief. I can’t help but wonder how many of my fellow Alaskans are in a blissful state believing that global warming is nonsense and how many are just not aware of the consequences we will all face if we do not, or can not mitigate the causes of global warming? Gore points out that while global warming skeptics are virtually non-existent among scientists 56% of the global warming stories in the “popular press” highlight skepticism of the global warming phenomena. How many members of the Anchorage Assembly have studied the issue, how many of Alaska’s Legislators have seen the movie or studied the issue? Do my states’ elected U.S. Congressional Reps: Lisa, Ted, or Don give a shit or are they being careful not to offend corporate donors?

Good luck to us all!