Archive for the ‘global warming’ Category

More Bermuda Shorts

IMG_7278

This is a nice classic style which has never gone out of fashion in Bermuda and was once popular outside Bermuda. The look is:

The best quality Bermuda Shorts have a three inch hem, hand sewn, to hang correctly. Bermuda Shorts are garments for all seasons, representing a standard of turnout difficult to surpass in their originality. They are as well constructed as a good pair of trousers, complete with a proper fitted waistband or with belt loops or a self-supporting waistband and a seam in the center back. They are usually pleated for business use but a more informal variety can be unpleated. They usually have one pocket on each side and one on each side of the bottom. They are form-fitting, designed essentially for and can look very good on the slim or medium-built person. (Any with huge waists and bottoms will look far better in lightweight long trousers). Accompanying them are Bermuda hose (imported long – knee-length – socks), plus a white or blue button down imported Oxford or other appropriate short sleeved shirt and conservative Windsor knotted striped or corporate insignia or club or regimental tie, with a single or double breasted navy blue blazer or a sport coat or madras or linen jacket that contrasts with the Bermuda Shorts. The most appropriate shoes are imported loafers with tassels – from the USA – in black or brown, depending on the colour of the shorts – to compliment and complement the Bermuda Dress Shorts.

OK, one thing about real Bermuda shorts: they are expensive compared to most other shorts. Toss in that the best place to get them is in Bermuda (or do a search for Bermuda shorts on eBay or Etsy). But there is a problem with buying them online: the actual size is not what you think it would be if you are buying authentic Bermuda shorts. You will most likely get a size smaller than you expect if you buy authentic Island shorts (e.g.: English Sport Shop, Smiths, Triminghams, or Davidsons).

So, it’s best to go to Bermuda and buy them in person. The best place these days is the English Sport Shop (49 Front Street, Hamilton)DSCF1127. There are other branches, around the Island, but the Hamilton store has the best stock. This is the place to get the original Bermuda shorts since they have been making them since 1918.  I could do a post on just this store.

The other alternative in Bermuda is TABS (The Authentic Bermuda Shorts), which is the new kid in the business having only been in business since 2014, and opened their store in 2016. They do sell online and have a good selection. Drawback, their shorts are fairly pricey (about 30 bucks more than the English Sport Shop’s).IMG_7424 Also, their store is not on Front Street (12 Reid Street, which is up Walker Arcade from the English Sport Shop–they are close to each other).

There are plusses and minuses to English Sport Shop and TABS. I would suggest checking both store out before buying. The best rule of thumb is that English Sport Shop is the more traditional of the two, TABS is the more contemporary by Bermuda standards. They both make great products. A biggie for TABS is that they are closer to being true in size (ESS’s tend to run a size or two small: e.g, you would want a 38 if you wear a 36 and maybe 34). I like them both and have shorts from both companies (although partial to ESS for its being the “heritage” brand).

There are options if you don’t want to go to Bermuda to buy them. Brooks Brothers, Jos A. Banks, and similar mens stores are a good bet. Brooks does sell authentic Bermuda shorts, but their price is similar to TABS without the selection of colours. Lands End and LL Bean are also an option, but not as close to the real shorts as Brooks Brothers Bermuda shorts for shorts not sold on Bermuda.

The advantage of buying shorts locally is that you know they will fit.IMG_7245

One other point for buying Bermuda shorts in Bermuda: it’s a whole lot easier to get the socks to go with the outfit. There are some of online retailers that carry them (TABS, The Sock Company UK, and The Great Canadian Sox Company). Vagden, Glendale, and HJ Hall make ribbed, knee high (golf) cuffed socks. [1] Navy blue is a default, but there is a rainbow of colours out there if you want to add some dash to the look.

This is standard dress in Bermuda: OK, the national dress. This look will certainly get you attention if you are not in Bermuda or at a Bermuda function. The bottom line is that this is the look for you if you want to stand out from the crowd and bring some Bermudian charm to your life.

Here is a video of the owner of the English Sport Shop explaining Bermuda Shorts

Note:
[1] Vagden, which are sold by the The Great Canadian Sox Company, makes the socks sold by the English Sport Shop.  Glendale make very substantial socks.

See also:

Be careful what you wish for

I make no bones about it: I hate cars.

I far prefer public transport to cars, but I currently live between two homes (the secret to a happy marriage–live separately).  I have too much crap to take on the train: toss in they are now getting crowded. Loads of other whining.

Likewise, public transportation has the same problem: especially with two dogs. Even when they in bags since you take up way more space than is acceptable. Slightly more acceptable with that much crap on a train, but not when the train is packed out.

I’m happy as heck that driving is being discouraged, but there are now too many issues to car ownership to make it worthwhile (I’ve taken up leasing the past few years for a bunch of reasons).  There’s congestion tax, parking, traffic, etc.

I live in a city which was not designed for automobile traffic and it shows. The average speed over a century ago was about 8 mph.  My new car tells me my average speed and it’s 12 mph in the city! Of course, that’s due to traffic and traffic controls.  Not to mention streets which were meant for horses, not cars.

Seriously, a trip of about 16 miles takes me an hour!

Anyway, I am currently mulling over getting rid of the car (again) for Zipcar since that takes care of most of the issues other than slow speed.

I should be happy that car ownership is being discouraged. Not to mention I’ve done pretty everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint.

But I’m not for the time being.

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Well, this is a weird way to remember the Falklands, which seemed to me that we went from Winter (Northern Hemisphere) to Winter (Southern Hemisphere).

In this case, there is snow and gale force winds hereabouts.

I’d also say it was a lot snowier here than it was in the Falklands (despite the proximity to Antarctica).

I think I’ll start a fire and watch Max Hastings on the iPlayer.

Solyndra

Solyndra has become known as a boondoggle in the US. If you haven’t heard, it’s the solar power company that got $500 million in Recovery Act loans from the Department of Energy and then went belly up a couple of weeks ago.

Conservatives have been trying to paint this as a big scandal of some kind, despite the fact that: the company had plenty of private investors too, it’s the only DOE loan that has failed so far, and there’s no real evidence that anyone in the White House did anything worse than push OMB to speed up their decision-making process a bit in 2009.

It’s often claimed that the Solyndra loan guarantee was “rushed through” by the Obama Administration for political reasons. In fact, the Solyndra loan guarantee was a multi-year process that the Bush Administration launched in 2007.

You’d never know from the media coverage that:

  • The Bush team tried to conditionally approve the Solyndra loan just before President Obama took office.
  • The company’s backers included private investors who had diverse political interests.
  • The loan comprises just 1.3% of DOE’s overall loan portfolio. To date, Solyndra is the only loan that’s known to be troubled.

The loan guarantee has been attacked as being political in nature because one of the Solyndra investors, Argonaut Venture Capital, is funded by George Kaiser, a man who donated money to the Obama campaign. What critics don’t mention is that one of the earliest and largest investors, Madrone Capital Partners, is funded by the family that started Wal-Mart, the Waltons and the Waltons have donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates over the years.

Climate Progress is publishing this timeline, verified by Department of Energy officials, that shows how the loan guarantee came together under both administrations to set the record straight. In fact, rather than rushing the loan for Solyndra through, the Obama Administration restructured the original Bush-era deal to further protect the taxpayers’ investment:

 

May 2005: Just as a global silicon shortage begins driving up prices of solar photovoltaics [PV], Solyndra is founded to provide a cost-competitive alternative to silicon-based panels.

July 2005: The Bush Administration signs the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law, creating the 1703 loan guarantee program.

February 2006 – October 2006: In February, Solyndra raises its first round of venture financing worth $10.6 million from CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and U.S. Venture Partners. In October, Argonaut Venture Capital, an investment arm of George Kaiser, invests $17 million into Solyndra. Madrone Capital Partners, an investment arm of the Walton family, invests $7 million. Those investments are part of a $78.2 million fund.

December 2006: Solyndra Applies for a Loan Guarantee under the 1703 program.

Late 2007: Loan guarantee program is funded. Solyndra was one of 16 clean-tech companies deemed ready to move forward in the due diligence process. The Bush Administration DOE moves forward to develop a conditional commitment.

October 2008: Then Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet touted reasons for building in Silicon Valley and noted that the “company’s second factory also will be built in Fremont, since a Department of Energy loan guarantee mandates a U.S. location.”

November 2008: Silicon prices remain very high on the spot market, making non-silicon based thin film technologies like Solyndra’s very attractive to investors. Solyndra also benefits from having very low installation costs. The company raises $144 million from ten different venture investors, including the Walton-family run Madrone Capital Partners. This brings total private investment to more than $450 million to date.

January 2009: In an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy, the Bush Administration tries to take Solyndra before a DOE credit review committee before President Obama is inaugurated. The committee, consisting of career civil servants with financial expertise, remands the loan back to DOE “without prejudice” because it wasn’t ready for conditional commitment.

March 2009: The same credit committee approves the strengthened loan application. The deal passes on to DOE’s credit review board. Career staff (not political appointees) within the DOE issue a conditional commitment setting out terms for a guarantee.

June 2009: As more silicon production facilities come online while demand for PV wavers due to the economic slowdown, silicon prices start to drop. Meanwhile, the Chinese begin rapidly scaling domestic manufacturing and set a path toward dramatic, unforeseen cost reductions in PV. Between June of 2009 and August of 2011, PV prices drop more than 50%.

September 2009: Solyndra raises an additional $219 million. Shortly after, the DOE closes a $535 million loan guarantee after six months of due diligence. This is the first loan guarantee issued under the 1703 program. From application to closing, the process took three years – not the 41 days that is sometimes reported. OMB did raise some concerns in August not about the loan itself but how the loan should be “scored.” OMB testified Wednesday that they were comfortable with the final scoring.

January – June 2010: As the price of conventional silicon-based PV continues to fall due to low silicon prices and a glut of solar modules, investors and analysts start questioning Solyndra’s ability to compete in the marketplace. Despite pulling its IPO (as dozens of companies did in 2010), Solyndra raises an additional $175 million from investors.

November 2010: Solyndra closes an older manufacturing facility and concentrates operations at Fab 2, the plant funded by the $535 million loan guarantee. The Fab 2 plant is completed that same month — on time and on budget — employing around 3,000 construction workers during the build-out, just as the DOE projected.

February 2011: Due to a liquidity crisis, investors provide $75 million to help restructure the loan guarantee. The DOE rightly assumed it was better to give Solyndra a fighting chance rather than liquidate the company – which was a going concern – for market value, which would have guaranteed significant losses.

March 2011: Republican Representatives complain that DOE funds are not being spent quickly enough.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI): “despite the Administration’s urgency and haste to pass the bill [the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] … billions of dollars have yet to be spent.”

And House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL): “The whole point of the Democrat’s stimulus bill was to spend billions of dollars … most of the money still hasn’t been spent.”

June 2011: Average selling prices for solar modules drop to $1.50 a watt and continue on a pathway to $1 a watt. Solyndra says it has cut costs by 50%, but analysts worry how the company will compete with the dramatic changes in conventional PV.

August 2011: DOE refuses to restructure the loan a second time.

September 2011: Solyndra closes its manufacturing facility, lays off 1,100 workers and files for bankruptcy. The news is touted as a failure of the Obama Administration and the loan guarantee office. However, as of September 12, the DOE loan programs office closed or issued conditional commitments of $37.8 billion to projects around the country. The $535 million loan is only 1.3% of DOE’s loan portfolio. To date, Solyndra is the only loan that’s known to be troubled.

Meanwhile, after complaining about stimulus funds moving too slowly, Congressmen Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns are now claiming that the Administration was pushing funds out the door too quickly: “In the rush to get stimulus cash out the door, despite repeated claims by the Administration to the contrary, some bets were bad from the beginning.”

What critics fail to mention is that the Solyndra deal is more than three years old, started under the Bush Administration, which tried to conditionally approve the loan right before Obama took office. Rather than “pushing funds out the door too quickly,” the Obama Administration restructured the original loan when it came into office to further protect the taxpayers’ investment.

What actually happened, how it could have been prevented and who’s responsible, are these things are orthogonal to the battle taking place in political circles. That battle has nothing to do with the facts.

For a mix of financial and ideological reasons, U.S. conservative movement activists, operators, and politicos hate clean energy. They don’t believe in climate change, they love fossil fuels and fossil-fuel campaign donations, and they think, or want the U.S. public to think, that clean energy is weak, unreliable, marginal, and dependent on government subsidies. They have been trying to make that case for a long while.

What Solyndra gives them is a symbol, something to use as a stand-in to discredit not just the DOE loan program, but all government support for clean energy and indeed clean energy itself.

Cons understand post-truth politics. They understand that truth is utterly inert in an era when mainstream institutions are viewed with hostility and skepticism, the media is fractured, and there are no shared norms or referees to enforce them. The side that wins is the side that plays to its audience’s existing preconceptions with a simple message repeated over and over and over again in multiple venues.

That’s what is happening now around Solyndra. The right is going after this whole hog, trying to make the name synonymous with clean energy boondoggle. And the left is flailing around, throwing out this fact and that fact with no coherent message. Additionally, the right pretty much has a lock on the US media so that the message that this was yet another Obama and environmentalist failure is repeated over and over.

That works with the Low Information Voters who believe that global warming is a hoax, or in some way a disputed theory. Unfortunately, they are the people who need to be reached with better information rather than fed more of the corporatocratic propaganda.

See also:

24 Hours of Reality

Climate Change Denial Ends 14 September 2011

See also: http://climaterealityproject.org/

How We Know We’re Causing Global Warming in a Single Graphic

From: http://www.skepticalscience.com

Fashion for a changing climate

A friend of mine told me that British Foreign service workers used to receive hardship pay to live in Washington, DC at one time due to the hot summers. Now that the Earth is warming, we all need to think about more comfortable work attire for hot climates. Part of me wishes that the Continental Advocat’s robes were long enough to hide that one is wearing shorts. Of course, the alternative is to wear Bermuda Shorts as they do in Bermuda.

The real Bermuda shorts, worn three inches above the knee and they are correct national day and evening attire for any non-formal occasion including meetings on the Island of Bermuda. The correct mode of dress is Bermuda hose (imported long – knee-length – socks), plus a white or blue button down imported Oxford or other appropriate short sleeved shirt and conservative Windsor knotted striped or corporate insignia or club or regimental tie, with a single or double breasted navy blue blazer or a sport coat or madras or linen jacket that contrasts with the Bermuda Shorts, and tassel loafers. While dressy, They are not formal wear. There is no such thing as black formal Bermuda shorts. When invitations state formal wear on the Island, they exclude Bermuda Shorts and instead mean a dinner jacket, with matching long trousers and bow tie.

If you are tempted to go the route of wearing the Bermuda shorts attire, the proper hose can be found by googling “Bermuda Socks” or “Men’s Long Golf Socks”. The proper Bermuda hose is similar to kilt hose in that it comes almost to the knee and then folds over. The socks are thin knee-highs. The tops fold down 4 inches; the top of the fold ending at the top of your calf. This ebay seller carries this type of sock at a reasonable price, but you can expect to pay anywhere from £2.25-9.99+.

Proper Business shorts are made of finer fabrics, traditionally linen or wool blends, usually in subtle shades such as gray, beige or navy blue. But you will find them also in tropical color including pink, green and yellow. It seems to me that cotton would also work provided it is in a conservative colour (khaki, stone, etc.). The US Company Lands End has been trying to bring the Bermuda short fashion to the States and sells what appears to me to be an acceptable pair for business attire. You are also looking for a 23 CM (9 inch) inseam if you are of average height for that proper Bermuda Shorts look.

the Real Deal (English Sports Shop Linen!)

If you are willing to travel to Bermuda to buy REAL Bermuda shorts, the best place to buy Bermuda Shorts is the English Sports Shop (49 Front Street, Hamilton City, Phone: (441)295-2672) or Aston & Gunn (2 Reid Street, Hamilton HM 11 Phone: (441) 295-4866) At least you will know that you are being truly authentic in your attire.

Well, it’s a thought for hot weather business attire! If we can’t do something about climate change, then we will have to do something about dressing to survive the hot weather that comes with that change.

See also:

And special thanks to Denise for coming up with the Real Deal (English Sports Shop Linen!) for me at a bargain basement price! Now, I’m officially dressed!

Mark Hertsgaard, Climate Cranks, and Stupid Yanks

This little factoid really bothers me:

There is a major paradigm shift in the climate story, in the climate problem. What changed, sometime around the turn of the century, was that global warming triggered outright climate change, and it did so a hundred years sooner than scientists expected. And so that huge shift in the problem – the fact that now we’re locked into a significant amount of climate change, even if we do everything rightMark Hertsgaard



UK Conservative Party (You know, the Party that produced Margaret Thatcher) Policy on Climate Change:

Climate Change and Energy

The Government believes that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and support the creation of new green jobs and technologies. We will implement a full programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy.

* We will push for the EU to demonstrate leadership in tackling international climate change.
* We will seek to increase the target for energy from renewable sources, subject to the advice of the Climate Change Committee.
* We will continue public sector investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for four coal-fired power stations.
* We will establish a smart grid and roll out smart meters.
* We will create a green investment bank.
* We will retain energy performance certificates while scrapping HIPs.
* We will establish an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient carbon capture and storage.
* We will cancel the third runway at Heathrow and refuse permission for additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
* Through our ‘Green Deal’, we will encourage home energy efficiency improvements paid for by savings from energy bills.
* We will reform energy markets to deliver security of supply and investment in low carbon energy, and ensure fair competition.
* We will give an Annual Energy Statement to Parliament to set strategic energy policy and guide investment.
* We will work towards an ambitious global climate deal that will limit emissions and explore the creation of new international sources of funding for the purpose of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

See also:
Generation Hot
Mark Hertsgaard
Generation Hot on Facebook
Why Are Republicans Against The Science?
The Conservative Party | Policy | Where we stand | Climate Change and Energy

Beware of the Enviro-Nazis!

We’re coming to get you!

From The Armstrong & Miller Show:

I really want to find their origins of Charity sketch and post it: annoying buggers.

Climate Change–it’s not just for Lefties!

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-scientist-climate-20110105,0,6481221.story

Kerry Emanuel is a highly regarded professor of atmospheric science at MIT. Based on his work on hurricanes and the research of his peers, Emanuel has concluded that the scientific data show a powerful link between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. He also sees himself as a conservative. He believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He backs a strong military. He almost always votes Republican and admires Ronald Reagan.

Texas Tech atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian who travels widely talking to conservative audiences and wrote a book with her husband, a pastor and former climate change denier, explaining climate change to skeptics.

A physicist by training, John Cook is an evangelical Christian who runs the website skepticalscience.com, which seeks to debunk climate change deniers’ arguments.

Barry Bickmore is a Mormon, a professor of geochemistry at Brigham Young University and the blogger behind Anti-Climate Change Extremism in Utah, where he recently rebuked Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) for his climate views and posted editorials mentioning his Republican affiliation.

Paradoxically, over the last 40 years, it was conservative Republican administrations that pushed through the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act. Yet, for some reason, Conservativism now dislikes the environmentalist movement.

“I’ve always rebelled against the thinking that ideology can trump fact,” said Emanuel, 55. “The people who call themselves conservative these days aren’t conservative by my definition. I think they’re quite radical.”

If you think environmentalism is bad, then drink some toxic waste!

Since I realised I am a “green” prior to Christmas, I can say the views presented by the “Christian” conservative groups is total rubbish. Environmentalism is in no way a religion. For that matter, they aren’t Christians either, but that’s a lot of other posts.

The above video was put out by the Cornwall Alliance. The real fear is that true Christians are beginning to wake up to the facts of the Green Movement. The Conwall Alliance has deep ties to the oil industry and the climate science denial machine. The ultimate source of money for many of these groups comes from a few main sources: the Scaife foundations (Carthage, Sarah Scaife, Scaife Family), the Bradley foundation, and the Koch foundations (Charles Koch, David Koch, and Claude R.Lambe). These often fund in apparent coordination with ExxonMobil. Such foundations specialize in providing seed money for what later go on to become self-supporting propaganda operations, that raise money to support themselves as “non-profits” often, or sometimes as outright for profit astroturf businesses.

Anyway, the Conwall Alliance uses the work of “lord” Monckton (Kinda like Lord Sutch) to refute climate science–gimme a break!

And I have to agree with Mojo that “Of course, if the environmental movement was actually as strong as the Christian right seems to think it is, we would have quite different politics on this issue.”

And they’d be building their homes on toxic waste sites if we were wrong.

Anyway, I’m glad these people are scared of the truth.

See also Resisting Cornwall Alliance Evil Anti-Green Propaganda

And further laughs at: Richard Dawkins Interviews Creationist Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America

Walking in a winter wonderland!

OK, Europe is having an incredibly cold and snowy “winter” (even though it hasn’t passed the Solstice–meaning it’s still autumn).  That has the climate change deniers saying things such as “how can there be global warming when it’s this cold?”

The problem is that this is a misunderstanding of the topic since it isn’t as much global warming as it is climate change.   The real proof that this is happening is in the extremes in temperature,  which is what I pointed out in my White Christmas, weather anomalies, and General chaos post. While I can get into all the snow and the incredibly likely possibility of a white christmas, there is the extreme heat we see in summer time as well. Unfortunately, people aren’t taking the proper notice when they read stories such as this one. People should be noticing that the real issue is “climate change” not “global warming” and stop fixating on all the “nice” snow.

Especially since the “nice” snow is disrupting the hell out of transportation in Europe (and this too!). Climate change is going to effect everyone, especially economically.

The most troubling aspect is that there is a batch of climate change deniers who have been elected to the US legislature. The hope is that they will have hearings where the evidence will be shown and explained in a way that these idiots will understand it. Although, the real fear is that there will be more talk when now is a time for action to be taken. Of course, that action needs to be a drastic change in lifestyle.


Blair’s a weasel, but…

White Christmas, weather anomalies, and General chaos

One of the issues in the green community is how to impress the people who doubt the reality of climate change: that is the “well, the other day it was colder in southern Florida than northern Maine” type of person.

Countries covering one fifth of the planet’s land saw record high heat. Drought altered the world’s food trade. Floodwaters inundated parts of the U.S. and Asia with frequency that defied statistical expectations. Thousand year flood events are happening every few years. It’s exactly those changes in extremes where we notice the climate change. Droughts and floods and heat waves that are outside the bounds of what we’d normally expect. The global warming component is rearing its head in that way.

Increased precipitation events, whether rain or snow, are just what computer models of climate change predict. This is because they are a symptom of warmer sea temperatures off the coast that are providing extra moisture to produce that huge amount of snow. It’s not a sign that global warming is not here, quite contrary in fact. That extra moisture and warm temperatures kept feeding severe storms in the U.S. Nor’easters soaked New England in late March; a deluge hit coastal North Carolina in October; record rains fell in Oklahoma City in June; and, in May, disaster struck Tennessee.

In 2010, the record heat concentrated in mid-Atlantic region, so not only did they have “snowmageddon” (The monster storms dumped record piles of snow on the mid-Atlantic, including Washington D.C.), but they had their hottest summer on record in the DC area.

Through October, more than 41 hundred record highs were reported around the U.S. About 15 hundred record lows were posted in the same time, a high-to-low ratio of about two point five to one. But the U.S. heat wave paled compared to what much of the rest of the world endured this summer. Moscow had never before hit 100 degrees. This summer, it hit that mark 5 times in ten days. Eighteen countries set records for high temperatures. The warm temperatures covered a record amount of the earth’s surface. Never before has 20 percent of the earth’s surface experienced all-time record highs in one year. In Pakistan they hit 128 and a half degrees Fahrenheit, which is the hottest ever recorded in Asia. And, Southeast Asia hit its highest with Burma over 116 degrees this summer.

See http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2010november/
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100310_cooler.html

On a more personal front, the UK is having snow storms which has tied up air travel in the UK since late November. While I like the concept of a White Christmas, the reality is much more of a concern. Icy roads affect much of the UK. There was an extreme weather warning today for Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders, with some 15 to 20cm (6-8in) of snow expected between 1100 and 1800 GMT. Up to 10cm (4in) are expected in other snow-affected areas, with up to 20cm on high ground. Temperatures struggled to get above -5C (23F) overnight. The BBC said there were lows of -19C (-2F) in parts of Worcestershire and Shropshire. The temperatures are likely to stay below freezing throughout the day.

Airports are knocked out all through the country. Edinburgh airport was closed until 1430 GMT and then opened for departures only on Sunday. Rail and road travel is suffering from the weather. The more personal side of this is that we sent a package out to the US on the 23rd of November and it got “lost” in the system until it appeared on the 17th. Ultimately, it was delivered on the 17th, but usually it only takes a week for small parcels to make their way between the US and UK.

But this is just a small indicator of larger economic issues related to climate change. Unusual weather causes significant negative economic impacts: Many work weeks were cut short, businesses were closed, and deliveries. Airlines had to cancel flights and then struggle to get back to normal–as was the case with other forms of transport. Emergency crews worked overtime to restore downed power lines and trees, as well as other weather-related accidents. Cleanup efforts also are quite costly to those areas with historically little expectations of heavy snowfall.

So, people can make idiotic and ignorant comments on the topic of climate change, but the ultimate upshot is that it is indeed happening. Unfortunately, people are no longer as in touch with nature to be aware of the change. Another problem is that it will take a drastic change in lifestyle for some people to reverse years of neglect toward this issue. The, there is a part of me that believes in the Gaia Theory, which holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system so as always to be as favourable as possible for contemporary life.

Is this weird weather a warning of more drastic weather as the planet seeks to keep its stasis? The planet’s homeostasis is now being disrupted by our brief binge of fossil fuel consumption, which has released a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Indeed, we have already pushed the planet over the brink, and that we will soon see remarkably rapid rises in temperature, well beyond those envisioned in most of the computer models now in use. Because the earth is already struggling to keep itself cool, our extra increment of heat is particularly dangerous, and we will soon see the confluence of several phenomena: the death of ocean algae in ever-warmer ocean waters, reducing the rate at which these small plants can remove carbon from the atmosphere; the death of tropical forests as a result of higher temperatures and the higher rates of evaporation they cause; sharp changes in the earth’s “albedo,” or reflectivity, as white ice that reflects sunlight back out into space is replaced with the absorptive blue of seawater or the dark green of high-latitude boreal forests; and the release of large amounts of methane, itself a greenhouse gas, held in ice crystals in the frozen north or beneath the sea. Some or all of these processes will be enough to tip the earth into a catastrophically hotter state, perhaps eight degrees centigrade warmer in temperate regions like ours, over the course of a very few decades, and that heat will in turn make life as we know it nearly impossible in many places.

Will the Earth make it so obvious that climate change is a reality that no one but the most foolish can ignore?

The Centre for Alternative Technology is in financial straits

I just received a message from The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales asking for money. The Centre has been around since 1974 and I’d like to say its the oldest centre for information about green technology. If it’s not the oldest, it is one of the oldest centres, which makes me want to help pass around the hat. Thousands of people visit the Centre from around the world since it was founded. There is quite a difference between the Centre and Doncaster’s Earth Centre was founded in 1999, but went bankrupt in 2004 due to a poor business plan (The Earth Centre was used in the remake of the Survivors and now houses an airsoft centre).

The problem is that environmental issues are slipping down in their importance for the international agenda. The issues of climate change, environmental justice and biodiversity loss are loosing momentum. In Britain we watch with dismay as one environmental public body after another closes. The international climate change negotiations in Mexico in December are shakey. And all the while, across the world, people are suffering the effects of climate change, their homes destroyed and their voices drowned out. The Centre can can adjust and diversify for the long term, but in the short term it faces the looming threat of job losses and shrinking departments, just when the message of sustainability is needed more than ever.

It would be a shame to see the Centre go the way of the Doncaster Earth Centre. So, please consider giving:

http://www.cat.org.uk/donate

Ruining your Christmas spirit!

What is Christmas without alcohol? Forget putting Christ back in Christmas since he has never really had anything to do with the date, but drunken revelry–that’s another thing. Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis tried to sample every Christmas tipple in a BBC Christmas special last year.  And the institution of Christmas drinking is enshrined in all those Wassail songs.  Too bad actual wassail is pretty revolting.  Mulled wine is far more of my fav for the season.

The problem is that the process of making alcohol is fairly environmentally unfriendly as a recent Mother Jones article, An Inconvenient Vermouth, points out. In terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, alcoholic beverage production in the US alone results in a carbon footprint which is the annual equivalent of 1.9 million households. Not great news if you want to be green and know that EVERYBODY has to start reducing their carbon footprint.  But, don’t worry about that too much since the MoJo Article talks about which forms of alcohol are environmentally friendly.

Wine, for example, is fairly environmentally friendly with most of its carbon footprint coming from transportation.  You can also be more environmentally friendly by using wine that comes in cartons rather than bottles.  Beer is fairly environmentally friendly as well with most of the carbon footprint coming from refrigeration and glass production.  Surprisingly enough, kegs are the most efficient method of packaging beer with cans coming in second.  While aluminium production is an environmental horror, cans are recyclable and cost less to transport.

The spirits industry comes in for a serious beating with Gin, tequila, and rum being the worst for the environment.  The problem is that the distillation process requires loads of energy.  American bourbons are aged in virgin-oak barrels that are used only once, most of those barrels end up being reused by other liquor makers.  And while some of those liquor makers may produce single malts, think of the energy involved in distilling the liquor and transporting it.  In terms of distillation, vodka requires more energy and water than most spirits.

Rum is made from molasses or cane juice, and its fibrous leftovers can throw off the microorganism balance in waterways. In 2001, the EPA sued Bacardi for illegally dumping 3,000 gallons of of mostos, an industrial waste from its rum processing plant, into a river near its Puerto Rico plant. Although, that does mean that many major rum distillers now treat their water. Additionally, sugarcane is also a notoriously destructive crop, producing massive amounts of wastewater and greenhouse gases. Tequila also has a pretty bad waste problem. For every liter of tequila, you get about 11 pounds of pulp and 10 liters of vinazas, or acidic waste—which ends up befouling soil and water in Mexico’s Jalisco state, where most tequila comes from. Blue agave farmers, meanwhile, have used more and more pesticides since their crops were chewed up by insects during the 1990s.

So, it sounds as if this is a victory for the slow food crowd who prefer beer and wine that is locally produced.   Steer clear of distilled spirits since they require loads of energy to produce with Rum and Tequila being down right environmentally unfriendly!  It also sounds as if the best way to drink is to go to a local pub that serves locally manufactured beer or wine!  While you are at it, take public transportation to reduce your carbon footprint.  Also, using public transportation means you won’t get busted for drunk driving: making it an environmentally, legally, and financially wise decision to use public transportation.

There are ways to make the distillation process more environmentally friendly, but most distillers don’t practise them. MoJo does mention which distillers use environmentally friendly practises. I strongly suggest buying their products if you choose to drink spirits. It also might be a good idea to write your fav distiller and ask them what they are doing to cut their carbon footprint?

I leave you with Charles Dickens’s Smoking Bishop recipe which is mentioned at the End of “A Christmas Carol”:

5 unpeeled oranges
1 unpeeled grapefruit
36 cloves
1/4 pound of sugar
2 bottles of red wine
1 bottle of port

— Wash the fruit and oven bake until brownish. Turn once.
— Put fruit into a warmed earthenware bowl with six cloves stuck into each.
— Add the sugar and pour in the wine – not the port.
— Cover and leave in a warm place for a day.
— Squeeze the fruit into the wine and strain.
— Add the port and heat. DO NOT BOIL!

Serve “smoking” warm. Yield: 15 to 20 servings