The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for September, 2009

CO2 Is Green: Obviously This Is A Joke

Posted by keith on 29th September 2009

Did you enjoy that? Hilarious wasn’t it? So dour and pragmatic, you could almost think that the creators were being serious about the idea that CO2 wasn’t a pollutant, and that the presence of an excess amount in the atmosphere didn’t have dire consequences for the future of humanity and the rest of life.

Remember, a pollutant is simply something that is in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong quantity. The idea that carbon dioxide, therefore, isn’t a pollutant is not only physically wrong but also syntactically wrong. So it’s obviously a very clever, very funny spoof.

Leo Hickman in The Guardian, thinks otherwise.

“Is this a joke?” splutters one of the comments underneath the YouTube video of a new 30-second TV advert that has started being aired in a handful of US states over the past few days telling viewers that “CO2 is green“. Sadly not, it seems.

In a slick attempt to undermine the US Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling that CO2 should now be classified as a pollutant because rising levels of the gas in the atmosphere will “endanger public health or welfare”, a former oil industry executive has stumped up some of his cash to pay for these adverts to be shown in Montana and New Mexico. The ultimate aim of the advert, though, is to derail the forthcoming vote in the Senate on the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which now appears as if it might even impact on vital UN climate talks in Copenhagen this December.

So who’s behind “CO2 is green” and this advert? One of its founders is H Leighton Steward who, until his retirement in 2000, was the vice chairman of Burlington Resources, a Houston-based oil and gas company bought by ConocoPhillips in 2006. Steward received the American Petroleum Institute’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement in 2001 and remains an honorary director of the oil industry lobby group. In other words, we can conclude that this man boasts a particular pedigree within the oil industry.

The Washington Post (which admits it has taken a half-page advert from the “CO2 is green” group) is reporting that Steward, along with some associates, is now trying to establish the group as a charity:

Steward has joined forces with Corbin J Robertson Jr, chief executive of and leading shareholder in Natural Resource Partners, a Houston-based owner of coal resources that lets other companies mine in return for royalties. Its revenues were $291m [£184m] in 2008. They have formed two groups – CO2 Is Green designated for advocacy and Plants Need CO2 for education – with about $1m. Plants Need CO2 has applied for 501(c)(3) tax status, so that contributions would qualify as charitable donations, said Natural Resource Partners general counsel Wyatt L Hogan, who also serves on the group’s board.

The advert (which varies slightly depending on the state) is really something to behold. Here’s a transcript:

Congress is considering a law that would classify carbon dioxide as pollution. This will cost us jobs. There is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a pollutant. In fact, higher CO2 levels than we have today would help the earth’s ecosystems and would support more plant and animal life. Please take action. Contact your senator and congressman today and remind them CO2 is not pollution and more CO2 results in a greener earth. Go to CO2isgreen.com, because we all need CO2.

The advert is ripe for spoofing. It’s certainly tempting to laugh it off. (For extra merriment, visit the “CO2 is green” website and read the “Why do people believe these myths?” section: “They have been misinformed by people that benefit financially from propagating the myth.” Oh, the irony.)

But the advert is also a juddering reminder there are still powerful, influential forces straining every last sinew and dollar they possess to deny that rising CO2 levels are a problem. That such efforts should so easily be traced back to oil industry operatives is not wholly surprising, but sobering nonetheless.

Far more depressing, though, is the fact that they have produced this “Plants need CO2” website to better inform the public about the “positive effects of additional atmospheric CO2 and help prevent the inadvertent negative impact to human, plant and animal life if we reduce CO2″.

If it is real then what can we do about it?

Simply keep up the pretence that it is a spoof, and make the originators a laughing stock: everywhere it appears, in video form, or as a poster, or as an item on a web site, make sure you make a comment along the lines of “This is hilarious” or “Where can we see more spoofs like this” or “Genius, I haven’t laughed to much in ages.”

You can even join a Facebook Group about it: just make sure you make a few posts on their wall ;-)

Posted in Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy, Spoofs | 1 Comment »

Telephone Hell In The Corridors Of Power

Posted by keith on 23rd September 2009

Ed Miliband’s Phone

I was digging around for a recording of something today and found this gem from December 2008 hidden away in the dark recesses of my hard drive. After listening to it and nearly spraying a mouthful of coffee over the keyboard, twice, I felt it had to go on The Unsuitablog as possibly the best example of Un-Joined Up Government ever committed to a sound file.

Click to play file, or right-click to save

[The silence halfway through is not a break in recording, just telephone silence]

Next time you feel like calling a civil servant or a government minister, remember this recording, then get on the train and visit the Department personally. Better still, just accept that governments have no intention of making things better, and do a bit of undermining — it’s far more satisfying, and ultimately a lot more effective.

(They never did phone back, by the way)

Posted in Advice, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

General Electric: Greenwashing Experts

Posted by keith on 21st September 2009

GE Greenwashing Experts

An innocuous little email was sent to me the other day, and had it come from a small company that only makes light bulbs then I might have let it pass. But it didn’t come from a small company that only sells light bulbs; it came from the 12th largest company in the world, the fifth largest in the USA — General Electric.

GE, as they have generally always been known, are pushing compact fluorescent light bulbs as the answer to the world’s energy problems; as the email makes clear:

There’s no question that GE Energy Smart® bulbs give consumers the energy-saving benefits they want and the high-quality lighting they expect. With a complete family of different shapes and sizes, consumers have energy-friendly lighting options for nearly every room in their homes – including decorative fixtures.

If every household in the U.S. replaced ONE light bulb with an ENERGY STAR® qualified GE Energy Smart® bulb, consumers would save:


a.. A combined national total of $600 million a year in energy costs.
b.. Enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gasses equivalent to the emission of more than 800,000 cars.

Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR® is a national campaign encouraging all Americans to join with millions of others and take small individual steps, like changing a light bulb, that make a big difference in the fight against climate change. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Take the Pledge.

Apart from the bile-inducing statement, “There’s no question that GE Energy Smart® bulbs give consumers the energy-saving benefits they want”, which takes assumption to the whole new level (although, as I don’t consider myself to be a “consumer”, then maybe in a strange way, they are right…); is the statistical blunderbuss approach to this press release. For one, changing a single light bulb will reduce power consumption by a paltry 45 watts at most, which is about 15% of the power consumption of a plasma TV screen, and utterly trivial compared to the amount of energy consumed by a vacuum cleaner or oven. Second, it also waves around the “x million homes / people / cars” statistic, which always sounds impressive (yes, I was guilty of this once) but falls down as soon as you realise that they are only talking about the lighting for those 3 million homes, which also comprise only around 2% of US homes.

Then there is the “doing your bit” myth: the idea that we can all save the world by doing bugger all, like changing one lightbulb. You would imaging that GE would want to sell lots and lots of lightbulbs, but don’t forget — and here’s where it starts to get interesting — they are also an energy generation and transmission company, which makes big bucks out of providing electricity to millions of homes. If each home cut its electricity consumption by, say 50%, then it would be a financial catastrophe for the generation and transmission arm of GE.

What GE are creating is a “win-win-win” for themselves: (1) they look like a “green” company, (2) they ensure that they remain financially viable as an individual corporation and (3) they perpetuate the “doing your bit” myth which is essential to the continuation of the brainwashed consumer society.

It’s quite remarkable that I haven’t covered GE here already, but it has been excellently covered by DeSmogBlog, who paid particular attention to GE’s “clean coal” adverts:

Forget “clean coal.” Energy giant General Electric thinks coal is downright sexy.

This “coal-is-so-clean-its-sexy ad” was pulled by General Electric a while back, but it goes to show just how far some will go to sell clean coal.

Strange choice of music for the ad – “Sixteen Tons” by Merle Travis is a song about the misery of coal mining.

Why not spend a few moments reflecting on this, while you also ponder GE’s magical light bulbs…

Given that EVERYWEBSITE in the General Electric armoury appears to have “the environment” at the very top of its agenda — yes, that really does include coal, aviation and oil — I think we might be seeing more of this brutal monolithic corporation on The Unsuitablog pretty soon.

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions, Techno Fixes | No Comments »

Woodland Trust Welcome Disney: I Resign From The Woodland Trust

Posted by keith on 16th September 2009

Disney Woodland Blood On Hands

Something like 10 years ago I joined an organisation which I thought would be able to make a real difference; the Woodland Trust had been, and certainly for a considerable time after I joined, have been true stalwarts in the essential job of protecting, managing and replanting the native woodland of the UK. Their work on climate related phenology has been second to none; they have been responsible for bringing doomed woodlands back from the brink of destruction, and have re-established woodlands where once they had been. They have involved thousands of children in educational and practical work…the list goes on.

Then, a couple of years ago, they started ramping up the process of attracting corporate sponsors. It’s not as though money was particularly tight – between 2001 and 2006 their total income steadily rose from just under £16 million to nearly £22 million, with no sign of any financial worries; but for whatever reason, perhaps because certain trustees deemed it “the right thing to do”, they started attempting to attract corporate funding in earnest.

Back in 2001, company donations accounted for a mere £96,000, and that went down in 2002. In 2004 it was still only £140,000. After that they stopped publishing the company donations total in their accounts, but as of 2008, the combined total of company donations and the larger landfill tax and charitable trusts was £2.3 million. Of this, company donations probably still only accounted for less than a quarter of this out of a total income of nearly £30 million. Legacies and member donations, on the other hand, accounted for well over 40% of their income, compared to the probable 2% that was given in company sponsorship.

So why then, does the Woodland Trust make such relationships? Could it have anything to do with the fact that one of their trustees is the former Chief Executive of the biofuel company D1? Possibly, though maybe that trustee appointment is more to do with the general direction the Woodland Trust was already taking. Corporate sponsorship seems to be an addiction in the cut-and-thrust world of charitable fundraising, and like WWF, it doesn’t take long before your image is thoroughly tarred. At the time of writing, the Woodland Trust has corporate partnerships with companies as grossly inappropriate as BP, Ikea, Sainsburys, Ronseal (Thompson), Tesco and Hilton Hotels : all companies that have a hugely negative impact on the natural environment. You can read the full list of donors in their annual reviews, but to save you the time, here are some other choice cuts from their 2008 review:

ALD Automotive
BMW
British Land
Calor
Georgia Pacific
Honda UK

Oh, and Disney. This is no casual partnership, though: it warrants an entire page of their Autumn 2009 magazine — the one I just got through the post — plus a major news release earlier in the year. It will come as no surprise that Disney has featured on The Unsuitablog before; here’s a taster of the article:

There were all sorts of alternative images I could have put at the top of this article: sweatshop workers sewing together Disney branded clothes or assembling Disney branded toys and other consumer goods; container ships full of Disney goods, crossing the oceans with wares destined for every nation touched by the rank hand of industrialisation; airports full of people waiting for their departure to one of the Disney resorts dotted around the world, or aircraft in the air pumping out greenhouse gases directly created by the desire to travel to a Disney resort; landfill sites full of Disney goods, slowly leaching their toxins into the ground; queues of gas-guzzling traffic and hyper parking lots outside shopping malls replete with Disney Stores full of toxic, climate changing, sweatshop produced consumer items; children goggle-eyed before the latest saccharine-sweet, consumer-friendly, merchandise-linked version of the world brought to you by your friendly corporation; fast food stores full of obese families drawn towards the counters by the offer of Disney toys with every Happy Meal; a globe full of brainwashed humans, on their knees, praying in the direction of a Magic Castle, that sits at the centre of a vast concrete, brick, chrome and plastic complex that used to be a swath of pristine, wildlife-rich Everglade.

Not the sort of company that really sits comfortably with the idea of protecting ancient woodlands, educating children about the importance of a healthy ecosystem and warning about the dangers of climate change. Yet in the magazine article we see the following:

“Disney Store is the first big company to help turn our dream of making a vast new forest close to where people live into a reality,” says Sue Holden, the Trust’s chief executive. “By working closely with them [Disney], we aim to inspire thousands of children to look after the environment, as well as creating a fantastic woodland that will excite generations to come.”

Hundreds of children from schools within a 15-mile radius of Heartwood Forest have already attended curriculum linked woodland discovery days during which they looked at flowers indicative of ancient woodland, drew pictures and wrote poems…also popular was a brief appearance by Mickey Mouse as part of the Disney launch.

Disney have a long and tarnished record of making partnerships with organisations to gain influence over the education and other activities of children, and they have plenty of their own irons in the fire: they already owned Hyperion Books for Children, ClubPenguin and an “education” company called Disney Educational Products among many others, and only last year did they buy RaisingKids.co.uk, an online parenting forum!

In the case of the Woodland Trust, how much do you reckon it cost Disney for all this exposure to young minds?

Nothing. All the money for the £100,000 donation came from selling something to their customers they otherwise would not have bought.

As for me: well, I’m resigning from the Woodland Trust. I’ve had enough of this hypocrisy.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | No Comments »

The American Dirty Energy And Insecurity Act: Worse Than Nothing

Posted by keith on 10th September 2009

capitol-building-flood.jpg

Also known as Waxman-Markey, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA) which is currently sitting in the US Senate awaiting approval, is being hailed by the environment mainstream as a real answer to anthropogenic global warming. Anyone with half a brain will realise that this is utterly false. One group, calling themselves Climate SOS, are making this point very loudly, and have written the following article just for The Unsuitablog.

Lots of mainstream enviros, especially those involved in the US Climate Action Partnership, are promoting the recent house climate bill as a great step forward. Then there are a bunch more who think it is “better than nothing”…or “the best we can get under the circumstances…”

This would seem a bit too compromised given the near daily reports about how climate change is the greatest threat of all to national security, that methane is spewing from the seafloor beds a million times faster than expected, the Arctic sea ice is melting 80 years ahead of IPCC’s worse case scenario predictions, and may be altogether gone in just a few years, setting in place the runaway warming associated with reduced albedo….and the island nations are sinking.

Best we can get under WHAT circumstances?

As soon as Waxman and Markey introduced their bill to the House, special interests who either want to maintain their business as usual, or position themselves to benefit most from disaster capitalism, began swarming over the halls of Congress to ensure the financial flows come their way! With a carbon market estimated to be valued in billions, this should not be too surprising.

The result, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act” utterly fails to promise much, if any, significant emissions reductions. In fact, James Hansen has called it “worse for the environment than doing nothing”. The targets IN THEORY would provide for somewhere around 1 to 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 68 to 71 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. But that is only “in theory” because in reality, the huge offset provisions – 2 billion tons, annually-could actually permit an INCREASE in emissions through 2026! And even these calculations assume that offsets actually work. That assumption is not supported by number of analyses that illustrate the difficulties with determining “permanence and additionality”, not to mention actually getting accurate measurements of carbon flows. It is almost humorous to glance at the list of “eligible technologies” for agricultural offsets embodied in the Peterson amendment: special feed mixes for livestock that make them belch less (how to measure permanence and additionality here?); durable goods, like rocking chairs and tables made from wood; no till agriculture practiced by farmers growing GMO soy and using roundup instead of tilling to control weeds…Somehow this does not inspire confidence.

On top of these weak goals, the bill relies on a risky cap and trade mechanism. Cap and Trade has been the darling of US Climate Action Partnership, perhaps because they observed what happened in Europe when it was tested under the European Trading Scheme and the worst polluting industries made windfall profits, passing on the costs of carbon credits to their ratepayers. In fact, the system has been tried in a number of contexts and found vulnerable to gaming, unreliable and prone to manipulation. New market bubble anyone?

The bill also provides supports for the worst false solutions, like biomass burning. Generating enough electricity for 1 megawatt of electricity requires bout 13,000 tons of wood per year! And regrowing the trees may take decades, if at all. A recent study published in science points out that so long as we classify biomass as carbon neutral and therefore eligible for supports as renewable, while fossil fuel use is taxed, we will be right on track to turning ALL of the worlds remaining forests and grasslands into bioenergy plantations by 2065. As if protecting the last bastions of biodiversity were not difficult enough.

Finally, ACESA would repeal EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. This would essentially remove one of the only regulatory tools we have at our disposal for reducing emissions. Does that make any sense at all?

Let’s face it, with somewhere around 90 million dollars spent by lobbyists in association with the climate legislation so far, we should not be too surprised at how concessions were handed out to virtually all who asked. Like greedy children bashing open a piñata, all the special interests scrambled for their share in one of the most horrible demonstrations of “failure to lead” imaginable! With the entire future of life on earth at stake, this is the best we can do?

Utterly disgusted, a band of activists, calling itself “climate sos”, is mobilizing to oppose the bill, yes oppose the bill; same “ask” as the American Petroleum Industry astroturfing “energy citizens”, but very different reasons. They state that the bill is worse-than-nothing, should be defeated, and they are prepared to employ nonviolent civil disobedience to make their point. Policy makers, they say, must go back to the drawing board and come up with a REAL bill, one that rises to the challenges we are facing rather than pandering to special interests. The international negotiations in Copenhagen are around the corner, and Obama has stated his determination to demonstrate “strong leadership”, but the U.S.will have to dish up something quite a bit more serious than a Senate bill that uses ACESA as its’ model. People in the US. and abroad who are already coping with the disastrous impacts of climate change are not likely to sit quietly accepting this dismal lack of leadership much longer.

Very thought-provoking, and worrying. Thanks to Rachel for the words.

Posted in Government Policies, Offsetting, Political Hypocrisy, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

CompassPoint Embrace Chevron, Destroyers Extraordinaire

Posted by keith on 8th September 2009

CompassPoint Chevron

I admit to being a bit behind the curve on this one, but like I did, I recommend you get up to speed on the appalling human rights and environmental abuses carried out by ChevronTexaco in Ecuador, all in the name of industrial “progress”. The campaign currently being jointly run by Amazon Watch and the Amazon Defense Coalition is being organised under the appropriate banner of ChevronToxico, and is fighting against the might of this corporate behemoth on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorian people.

This is from the ChevronToxico campaign site:

For over three decades, Chevron chose profit over people.

While drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon from 1964 to 1990, Texaco – which merged with Chevron in 2001 – deliberately dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, spilled roughly 17 million gallons of crude oil, and left hazardous waste in hundreds of open pits dug out of the forest floor. To save money, Texaco chose to use environmental practices that were obsolete, did not meet industry standards, and were illegal in Ecuador and the United States.

The result was, and continues to be, one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. Contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface streams has caused local indigenous and campesino people to suffer a wave of mouth, stomach and uterine cancer, birth defects, and spontaneous miscarriages. Chevron has never cleaned up the mess it inherited, and its oil wastes continue to poison the rainforest ecosystem.

Today, 30,000 Ecuadorians are demanding justice in a landmark class action lawsuit. Despite Chevron’s repeated efforts to sabotage the trial, an independent court-appointed expert recently deemed Chevron responsible for up to $27 billion in damage.

ChevronToxico

While this unequal fight (by which I mean 30,000 ordinary people against the might of a corporate entity that has the ear of the world’s governments) goes on, Chevron as a company are continuing to push their “caring side” both to the public in general and to a swath of non-profit organisations who might one day be tempted to act against them. If Chevron can win the PR war by brainwashing enough well-meaning people into thinking that, actually, maybe they aren’t such a bad company after all, then their activities in sucking even more oil and gas from delicate ecosystems and cultural centres will be able to continue without too much interference.

Step forward CompassPoint, a company that has a slick line in helping Californian non-profit organisations get the best out of their finances and management structure. Their big selling point is, apparently, working “with community-based nonprofits”, which would seem to rule out having anything do do with a corporation that have gone out of their way to systematically destroy communities in Ecuador.

It seems not:

San Francisco – Chevron, a company facing widespread criticism by many Bay Area organizations for human rights abuses and environmental destruction, is the primary sponsor of CompassPoint’s “Nonprofit Day”. CompassPoint Nonprofit Services is a consulting, research, and training organization, that provides tools to the very same non-profits fighting the likes of Chevron. Chevron’s donation is the latest in a string of good-will gestures intended in deflecting attention from a $27 billion dollar lawsuit in Ecuador. Amazon Watch called upon CompassPoint and all the non-profits participating in the event to demand that Chevron fund a full-scale clean up of its toxic waste in the rainforest.

In a letter sent to CompassPoint, Amazon Watch voiced concern towards CompassPoint’s conflicting relationship with Chevron:

“We believe that as Chevron’s very prominent sponsorship of the event publicly associates your name with Chevron’s corporate brand and image, you should know what the Chevron brand has come to represent in the Ecuadorian rainforest and beyond.

“Your organization represents the best of the Bay Area. We hope that you will join us in using Chevron’s association with Nonprofit Day as an opportunity to press the company to do the moral thing in Ecuador.”

“Our concern is not in the intention of CompassPoint, rather that Chevron’s participation in Non-profit day dilutes the mission of the organization. This is typical Chevron spin, throwing peanuts to a good cause, while throwing punches at communities where they operate,” said Paul Paz y Miño, Managing Director at Amazon Watch. “This is the very same corporation that attacked last year’s Goldman Environmental Prize winners with a full page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle.” The Goldman Prize and its associated family fund are two of the most respected non-profits in the San Francisco Bay area.

Chevron has seen a wave of negative press in the past months, primarily focused on the company’s dumping of more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water into Amazon waterways and abandonment of more than 900 unlined waste pits filled with oil sludge. In the past months, Chevron has launched its PR crisis team to new levels by hiring online bloggers, paying for bloggers to attend Chevron-chaperoned trips to Ecuador, and hiring three giants in the PR world (Edelman, Sard Verbinnen & Co., and Hill & Knowlton) to develop a crisis plan for the company.

A verdict in the $27 billion lawsuit in expected later this year or early 2010.

Sadly, the letter to CompassPoint had no effect, and their sponsorship of Non Profit Day went ahead, with Chevron being the lead sponsor and, notably, providers of a $10,000 dollar prize:

One organization will leave Nonprofit Day with a $10,000 capacity-building contract with CompassPoint. This prize, sponsored by Chevron, will be awarded during the luncheon. Your organization will be automatically entered when you register.

I love the idea of registering as an earnest non-profit, then finding you have won a prize paid for by a truly evil corporation — I wonder what the winner said:

“Thank you to CompassPoint for this wonderful prize, and also Chevron for sponsoring it. I accept this gift on behalf of 30,000 sick Ecuadorian people and the dying ecosystem, which without Chevron would not have been possible.”

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | No Comments »

Can’t Reduce Emissions? Find Some Other Way To Screw It Up.

Posted by keith on 4th September 2009

sulphur-cloud.jpg

Civilization has singularly failed to reduce its emissions, and so the planetary climatic, oceanic and biological systems are running into repeated and major tipping points, plunging us into increasingly dire trouble. No, this is not the future, this is now – there is nothing we can do about the greenhouse gases that Industrial Civilization has so far poured into the atmosphere, and there is very little indeed we can do to reverse the widespread effects of deforestation, marine ecosystem plundering and the multitude of different persistent chemicals currently polluting the food chain.

But we can stop things getting worse than they might. According to the Royal Society, what we need to do is to geoengineer the climate. The following story from The Independent outlines the “Plan B” project that is being drawn up by the Royal Society; see what you think:

Some of Britain’s most distinguished scientists have put their names behind controversial proposals to engineer the global climate with highly ambitious technology projects if international attempts to control man-made emissions of greenhouse gases show serious signs of failing.

The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, has warned that if political leaders fail to reach agreement and enforce a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions following the climate conference in Copenhagen this December there may be no other option left than to introduce drastic measures involving the “geo-engineering” of the global climate.

A group of eminent scientists appointed by the Royal Society said in a report published yesterday that future efforts to reduce greenhouse gases needed to be much more successful than they had been so far if geo-engineering was to be avoided as a way of cooling a dangerously overheated planet.

“Geo-engineering the Earth’s climate is very likely to be technically possible. However, the technology to do so is barely formed, and there are major uncertainties regarding its effectiveness and environmental impacts,” the report says.

Geo-engineering projects range from schemes to fertilise marine plankton with iron powder to injecting sulphate particles into the atmosphere in order to simulate the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions. All are controversial and none are without some risk but they should nevertheless be taken seriously if conventional measures to limit carbon dioxide emissions fail to stop potentially dangerous climate change, the Royal Society said.

Professor John Shepherd, an earth scientist at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, who chaired the Royal Society’s working group, said that geo-engineering had to be prepared as a backup in case the “plan A” discussed in Copenhagen fails. “[Geo-engineering] is a plan B, but a very real plan B that has to be taken seriously,” Professor Shepherd said.

“It is an unpalatable truth that unless we can succeed in greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions we are headed for a very uncomfortable and challenging climate future, and geo-engineering will be the only option left to limit further temperature increases,” Professor Shepherd said.

“Our research found that some geo-engineering techniques could have serious unintended and detrimental effects on many people and ecosystems yet we are still failing to take the only action that will prevent us from having to rely on them,” he said. “Geo-engineering and is consequences are the price we may have to pay for failing to act on climate change.”

The report recommended that Britain should spend £10m a year on research into geo-engineering schemes, which is about a tenth of the Government research budget on climate change.

The Royal Society’s report, which took 18 months to prepare, was welcomed by Professor John Beddington, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, who said that it was time to treat geo-engineering seriously. “Some kind of modest investment in geo-engineering is what we should be thinking about now,” Professor Beddington said.

“There are going to be emergencies that we did not expect and we need to think about how to deal with them. Geo-engineering techniques are not the solution but they are part of the solution.”

In the past decades, geo-engineering has gone from almost pariah status to a subject that scientists can talk about in public without fear of ridicule. However, many climate scientists are worried that political leaders will use the debate to suggest that there is a workable alternative to deep and painful cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.

“Geo-engineering is creeping on to the agenda because governments seem incapable of standing up to the vested interests of the fossil fuel lobby who will use it to undermine the emissions reduction we can do safely,” said Doug Parr, from Greenpeace. “Intervening in our planet’s systems carries huge risks.”

‘Plan B’: The weapons in science’s armoury

Spraying seawater into the air to generate clouds and injecting sulphate into the atmosphere to simulate the cooling effects of volcanic explosions are two geo-engineering ideas considered by Britain’s leading scientific body. A Royal Society report defines geo-engineering as the deliberate, large-scale manipulation of the environment to counteract climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The report divides geo-engineering schemes into two categories: techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air to counterbalance emissions directly, and projects to offset the warming effects of increased greenhouses gases by reflecting sunlight into space. In terms of solar radiation, the report reviews ideas ranging from painting roofs white to space-based mirrors. It says these technologies are cheaper and faster-acting than carbon dioxide removal but have several drawbacks: they don’t address the root cause of global warming or ocean acidification.

It says methods to remove carbon dioxide would be preferable to solar radiation management methods, because “they effectively returned the climate system to closer to its natural state” and involved fewer uncertainties and risks. The problem with many carbon-reduction schemes that do not involve reforestation is that they are largely unproven and expensive. One idea is the enhanced weathering of silicate rocks, a natural process where carbon dioxide in the air reacts with silicate minerals to form carbonate rocks which effectively trap the gaseous carbon dioxide. Another is the capture of carbon dioxide by devices that can filter the air, perhaps using solar energy to power the process.

A variation on this theme is the proposal to fertilise the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms that could in theory capture carbon dioxide and convert it to solid material which would fall to the seabed. But the Royal Society warned of that project’s possible unintended consequences for the marine environment.

Let’s get this straight, as Doug Parr said, geoengineering is an excuse for corporations and governments to do nothing. Worse than that, by producing this report the Royal Society have, in effect, announced that “even” if business and governments don’t manage to reduce emissions sufficiently (which they obviously have no intention of doing), there is something waiting to take up the slack at the end of the rainbow. Cue even more reasons for everyone to do absolutely nothing – hooray, technology will save the day!

It is important to stress the comments in this article, by Royal Society members, about the inherent dangers of geoengineering — they cannot be stated strongly enough:

“Geo-engineering the Earth’s climate is very likely to be technically possible. However, the technology to do so is barely formed, and there are major uncertainties regarding its effectiveness and environmental impacts”

“Our research found that some geo-engineering techniques could have serious unintended and detrimental effects on many people and ecosystems yet we are still failing to take the only action that will prevent us from having to rely on them”

But those, deeply important statements will be conveniently swept under the carpet when the shit hits the fan, as suggested by John Beddington, Chief Scientist for UK Government Incorporated. And the Royal Society themselves are so obviously in thrall to the lie that there is only one way to live, as evidenced by the statement: “geo-engineering will be the only option left to limit further temperature increases”.

So, when I said at the beginning of this piece that we could stop things getting worse than they might, what was I thinking about? Certainly not geoengineering, which is the last catastrophic hoorah! in the civilized world’s great toxic party. Something far more radical in civilised terms, yet completely logical:

Getting rid of Industrial Civilization.

If you consider the alternative, then that doesn’t sound too bad at all, does it?

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Ecosmart: Why Not Just Wear A Sweater?

Posted by keith on 3rd September 2009

Ecosmart?

It’s a chilly autumn evening and you have some friends round for dinner. A beautiful cloudless night reveals the Milky Way in all its splendour, spreading a dusty arc across the sky. The chatter turns to nature, and the mention that it would be nice to spend some time outdoors now that the rain has cleared.

Your guests move to put on their coats, but you stop them: “No need to wrap up,” you call in the direction of the hallway, “it can be just as warm outside.” Of course! You had heaped scorn upon the neighbours with their patio heaters and the stack of butane heated air being released to the atmosphere; and then you chanced upon the Designer range of products from Ecosmart…

EcoSmart Fire (www.ecosmartfire.com) today announces their lower price-point Outdoor Range product line that will include four new fireplace models, which can be used interchangeably between indoor and outdoor spaces. As with all EcoSmart Fire products, the new Outdoor Range models are environmentally-friendly, designer fireplaces that are fueled by a renewable, modern energy (Denatured Ethanol) so they burn clean and are virtually maintenance-free.

The new Outdoor Range products include three new freestanding models – Cyl, Mini T and Lantern, and one new burner – Around Burner. Details about the new Outdoor Range products follow:

. Around Burner: Around Burner offers the ultimate flexibility due to its modular design, allowing you to create an open fire just about anywhere. The lowest priced EcoSmart Fireplace currently available, Around Burner retails for $990.
. Cyl: Cyl is a cylindrical shaped “tea light” inspired fireplace. Cyl features a stainless steel base and a cylindrical glass surround made of toughened glass panels which embrace the flame. Cyl retails for $1,990.
. Mini T: Mini T is a smaller version of its “big brother” Tower. Mini T features a brushed stainless steel base and a solid plinth, made from four toughened glass panels, which encloses the central, elevated flame. Mini T retails for $1,990.
. Lantern: Lantern is constructed from mild steel with a bronze patina. Each side is decorated with an abstract cut-out pattern so that when the Lantern is lit, the pattern is enhanced by the flame, creating a visually dramatic fireplace. Lantern retails for $3,990.

Through December 2010, the purchase of any EcoSmart Fire product qualifies for Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency, with customers receiving up to 30% or $1,500 in tax credits, making the cost of an EcoSmart Fire considerably less.

Yeah!

Sucks to all those coat-wearing losers: let’s get outdoors and heat the air guilt free with this eco-friendly denatured ethanol stuff. No way is ethanol a greenhouse gas; it just comes like magic fairy dust from the big ethanol tree in the pixie forest, or maybe from the vast ethanol fields of no use for anything else.

Hey guys! Where are you going?

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Political Hypocrisy, Techno Fixes | No Comments »