Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Human Being Burden

I have watched extensive coverage of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I see the horrible images of wildlife soaked in crude oil and blobs of oil washing up on beaches and suffocating the wetlands, yet I turn off the TV and I continue my normal activities. Unfortunately or fortunately, there is an underlying emotion of guilt in these activities. I continue to drive my car to work and purchase my morning coffee,which comes in a Styrofoam cup. Status quo. I am not effected by the oil spill. In fact, the gas prices have not even skyrocketed. So I or many others do not see any of the effects even though we see it on the television. That is the problem. It seems to me that in order for the US and the rest of the World to take action, it has to be effected in its entirety. Unfortunately, you do not want a global impact that becomes irreversible because then it would be too late. How do we get it in our thick heads that we are damaging the planet? The signs are there from the 1000 year drought in Australia or to the last decade being the warmest ever or the more frequent El Nino effect. Then there is the oil spill in the Gulf. Once again, it is out of sight out of mind. Is the problem that we look at all these events independently and not together? I am not sure what would make us change our habits. I know I need to change mine. I just hope the rest will follow.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Australian-Chinese Partnership could be bad for Australia and the rest of the World

Australia has just come out of the worst drought in over 1000 years. The country has become the present example of the future impact that global warming will have on the rest of world. Yet, the country has been unable to get a carbon cap/credit legislation passed and it continues to export the largest carbon emitting energy resource, coal, to other countries to support their energy needs. In fact, coal is the major export for Australia and one of its primary recipients of this exported energy resource is China.

Although China is making great strides to shift its energy resources to renewable ones, its infrastructure is outdated and incapable of transmitting that energy to power its cities and factories. Unfortunately, it is years away from upgrading its infrastructure. As a result, coal remains and will remain its primary energy resource. In fact, China this past year was facing potential power outages at many of its power plants due to dwindling supplies of coal. As a result, China opened up many coal mines that were shut down for safety violations even though the existing safety issues were not remedied. If China is willing to risk the lives of its own citizens to avoid blackouts, what would China do if its actions threaten the citizens of other countries.

This creates a problem for Australia and the rest of the world. Australia's economy is largely dependent on this energy export; however, the environmental impact caused by coal is not restricted by a country's boundaries. The immediate benefit for Australia and China may result in a long term detriment for all of the world.

The immediate solution is for China to develop and incorporate more energy efficient solutions in its economy. This means developing energy efficient buildings and infrastructure. China continues to put up buildings that have inadequate insulation; as a result, these buildings require a significant amount of heat (energy) during the winter time. China should continue to develop alternative renewable energy resources and update its infrastructure as an intermediate and long term solution.

Unfortunately, the world's second largest economy will continue to use coal as its main energy resource and many countries will continue to supply that appetite for their own immediate economic benefit without considering the long term cost to their own and the world's economy.