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President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

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President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

Brazil Decides to Raise Biofuel Content in Diesel

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 26 (UPI) — Brazil has embarked on a controversial plan to raise biofuel content in its diesel production amid concerns the country’s edible oils market may face supply pressures as a result.

Biofuel that is added to diesel is usually extracted from castor beans, soybeans and other oilseeds. The risk of feedstock for the domestic oil market being diverted to the new fuel was cited by biofuel experts. President Luiz Inaco Lula da Silva urged Brazilian industry to make sure feedstock for cooking oils for consumer use did not end up in the fuel.

Biodiesel will be produced by Petrobras, the state-controlled oil and gas exploration and production company. Scientists have said adding an extra 1 percent of biofuel to the diesel content will result in a higher quality product and reduce pollution. Biofuel content in diesel is scheduled to be raised to 5 percent, effective January 2010, from 4 percent at present.

Brazil, the largest country in South America, is a major consumer of diesel because its countrywide communications infrastructure depends heavily on trucking routes instead of railroads. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of more than 4,655 miles, and current projections say energy consumption is set to rise dramatically as the economy grows.

Lula has said he is keen to reduce Brazil’s carbon footprint with energy conservation measures and greener fuel uses, but analysts say the country faces an uphill task keeping that promise.

Lula indicated the increased extraction of biofuel for diesel from agricultural produce would lead to dramatic increases in agricultural production. Agriculture industry analysts say they expect huge increases in the cultivation of castor beans, dende palm coconuts, sunflower seeds, cottonseeds and soybeans. But they also warn the market can be subject to inflation as well as downward price pressures if enthusiastic farmers resort to overproduction.

Lula has said increased agricultural production will give Brazilian farmers “peace of mind” as they will be dealing with an assured customer, Petrobras.

Brazil is the world’s eighth-largest economy at market exchange rates and the ninth largest by purchasing power parity. This is likely to change in Brazil’s favor as the government attempts to steer the economy away from dependence on commodity exports to manufacturing, energy self-sufficiency and energy exports.

Not everyone is excited about biofuels usage rising worldwide. The impact on corn prices of corn-based ethanol production raised concerns across the United States. In a study for Foreign Affairs, the journal of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer warned that biofuels development had to be handled with caution as abuse or overuse of food resources for fuel production could lead to global starvation.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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India's Green Publishing

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), publisher of TerraGreen magazine, is holding a conference entitled “Pathways to Green Publishing” on Saturday, the 5th of April 2008, at the Players’ Building, Delhi Secretariat, in New Delhi.

Here is “Pathways to Green Publishing’s” program, here is an overview of TERI and the event, and here is a form to register.

It should be interesting to learn how India, a burgeoning emerging superpower, will transition to clean practices in their publishing industry, ranked 12th in the world. The one day conference will have three very practical sessions that in sum should provide a comprehensive assessment of ways to transition to clean publishing.

The Energy and Resources Institute
is one of the top green organizations
in the world. (Photo: TERI)

The first session will look at the environmental considerations in the paper, printing and publishing industry. There is the impact of deforestation for pulp, the release of toxic chemicals, water depletion, and great inefficiencies. All of these challenges are opportunities to use technology to utilize greater efficiencies and cut costs at the same time.

The second session examines solutions – surveying green publishing practices such as recycling paper, using agricultural waste for paper, enhanced toxicity testing for soy inks, silver substitutes, and of course, the internet! The session closes with presentations on the cost-effectiveness of recycling in publishing, the significance of government regulation, and the impact of incentives. By the way, watch out everyone, there are incentives and there are mandates that wear incentive clothing. It all should make for interesting and productive discussions.

The final session will have a pair of success stories, receiving presentations describing two cases international publishers went green. All in all, if your company is involved with print publishing during this green revolution, sooner or later, it will come down to adapt or die. For more information about the April 5th, 2008 one-day event in New Delhi, sponsored by The Energy and Resources Institute, here is “Pathways to Green Publishing’s program, here is an overview of TERI and the event, and here is a form to register.

The Energy and Resources Institute, or TERI, was founded in 1974 in India “with the purpose of tackling and dealing with the immense and acute problems that mankind is likely to be faced with in the years ahead, the gradual depletion of non-renewable energy and the existing methods of their use which are polluting.” Since then TERI has grown to over 700 people, headed up by Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, their Director General who recently was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in launching today’s green revolution.

“Pathways to Green Publishing” is produced by TERI’s independent publishing arm, the TERI Press, known for titles in the areas of energy, environment, and sustainable development. They also publish the magazine TerraGreen writing with a “focus on a diversity of issues including important developments in sustainable development, forestry, power and energy conservation, biotechnology, pollution and climate change, and on people trying to make a difference.”

Posted in Chemicals, Energy, Energy Conservation, Organizations, People, Policy, Law, & Government, Recycling, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

India's Hydro Power

CAN INDIA ACHIEVE ITS POTENTIAL?
Brahmaputra River
The mighty Brahmaputra courses southwest, then south,
connecting Himalayan glaciers to the Andaman Sea.

Editor’s Note: In our recent feature “Technology & Sunlight – India’s Green Future” we calculated that for India to produce half as much energy per capita as members of the European Community, its overall energy production would need to quadruple.

While India has technology and sunlight in abundance, and while these are key ingredients for a green energy future, it is daunting to think solar thermal and solar electric power can increase their share of energy production from today’s negligible percentage to provide all needed growth in energy production within a generation.

While biofuel offers potential, barring pending breakthroughs that facilitate biofuel from sources other than crops, there is a finite boundary to how much biofuel can be grown. And biofuel from crops come at the expense of food and forest, and are themselves major drivers of climate change when cooling and rain-inducing forests give way en-masse to new plantations of thirsty biofuel monocultures.

For this reason we have examined the alternatives to the alternatives; conventional energy options such as fossil fuels (including heavy oil), nuclear power, and hydroelectricity. In our report “China’s Renewable Energy,” it is clear what a nation with a strong central government can accomplish. The Three Gorges hydroelectric complex will have a capacity of 17.5 gigawatts, a staggering amount of energy – the single massive Three Gorges installation will output more than 50% of the entire output of every one of India’s current hydroelectric power stations combined! But in democratic India, projects of such magnitude take time, as they probably should. Not every gorge should be dammed.

Yet India’s compelling need to produce more energy remains. And unlike a nation like the United States, where power is already available in abundance and energy efficiency innovations can address much (some would say all) of their energy challenges, there isn’t as much time in India to debate options. Projects in the United States can take decades to gain approval through the democratic process, but the United States has decades to wait. Unlike the USA which is in a post-industrial phase, India needs more energy now to complete their process of industrialization. India needs more energy now in order for its energy infrastructure to keep pace with its burgeoning and world class scientific and technology community, and to give those communities the raw materials they need to lift India to the higher standard of living their innovations promise.

This is the challenge India faces – to balance democratic dialogue, which require delays and compromise, with the need to fulfill urgent economic imperatives. To lose too much democracy or to forfeit too many innovations in an energy challenged nation are both unacceptable outcomes. There is a balance between traditional technologies for energy conservation and water harvesting and small dams, for example, and mega projects such as interlinking rivers and nuclear power plants and large hydroelectric dams. In finding that balance, not everything will be lost, but not everything will be saved, either. The only way India will find a route into the eventual solar future will be to embrace some of these alternatives to the alternatives, unpleasant though they may be, but to do this in a way that leaves enough wilderness and democracy intact to make the choice worthwhile. It can be done.

- Ed “Redwood” Ring

India’s Hydro Power – Can India Achieve its Potential?
by Avilash Roul, October 17, 2007
Jhkari Hydroelectric Plant in India
The 1,500 megawatt Jhkari Hydroelectric Plant, India’s
largest underground hydro-electric project;
Satluj River, Himachal Pradesh
(Photo: Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, India)

The Indian economist Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is eager to provide electricity to every village by 2009, thereby surpassing the official target of “power to all by 2012.”

Over 40 percent of India’s population does not have access to electricity and providing electricity for 24 hours in rural areas is a major challenge. For this the Indian government has envisioned several paths for its energy requirements, from nuclear to renewable. Despite greening its energy requirements, the government has taken various paths from bidding foreign oil well through diplomatic manoeuvring to establishing fossil fuel thermal plants. Meanwhile, hydro-power is one of the energy sources which oscillate between aspiration and achievements. But today there is a strong push for large hydro projects in India. While the pro-hydro lobby is working towards meeting India’s full potential, the anti-hydro-power groups are targeting those projects which they believe are violating environmental and human rights norms. Despite growing number of oppositions to hydro-power, the Indian government is very optimistic to achieve its potential.

By end of August 2007, the total installed capacity in India is 135,402 megawatts (MW), out of which thermal occupies 86,976 MW (64.5 %), hydro 34,131 MW (24.8 %), nuclear 4,120 MW (3.1 %), and renewable 10,175 MW (7.6 %). Out of the total thermal mix, coal produces 71,932 MW (53.4 %), gas produces 13,842 MW (10.2 %) and oil produces a mere 1,202 MW (0.9 %). In comparison with other countries like Canada (17,179 kWh), USA (13,338 kWh), Australia (11,126 kWh), Japan (8,076 kWh), France (7,689 kWh), Germany (7,030 kWh), United Kingdom (6,206 kWh), Russia (5,642 kWh) and Italy (5,644 kWh), India’s per capita electricity consumption is very low at 631 kWh at present. The National Electricity Policy envisages that the per capita availability of electricity will be increased to over 1,000 kWh by 2012. To achieve this, the government is expecting a total capacity addition of about 78,577 MW at the end of 2012 of which 16,553 MW is expected from hydro, 58,644 MW from thermal and 3,380 MW from nuclear. Although India has significant potential for generation of power from non-conventional energy sources (183,000 MW) such as wind, small hydro, biomass and solar energy, the emphasis is still going to thermal energy sources. India has at present a 7.5% overall electrical energy shortage and 11% peaking shortage.

Options for Hydropower

In the 2005 National Electricity Policy the objectives have been set as follows: provision for access to electricity for all households; demand to be met by 2012 with no energy and peaking shortages and adequate reserves to be made available and reliable, and quality power supplies at reasonable rates.

The Indian government considers hydropower as a renewable economic, non-polluting and environmentally benign source of energy. The exploitable hydro-electric potential in terms of installed capacity is estimated to be about 148,700 MW (See Table 1) out of which a capacity of 30,164 MW (20.3%) has been developed so far and 13,616 MW (9.2 %) of capacity is under construction. In addition, 6,782 MW in terms of installed capacity from small, mini and micro hydro schemes have been assessed. Also, 56 sites for pumped storage schemes with an aggregate installed capacity of 94,000 MW have been identified. The government expects to harness its full potential of hydropower by 2027 with a whopping investment of 5,000 billion Rupees.

Table 1: INDIA’S HYDROPOWER POTENTIAL
Chart of India's Hydroelectric Potential by River Basin
India has the potential to nearly triple their hydroelectric output.
Source: India Central Electricity Authority
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Stages of Hydro Power Development

In 1887 at Darjeeling, state of West Bengal, the first hydropower station in India was commissioned. At the time of independence, out of total installed capacity of 1,362 MW, hydro-power generation capacity stood at 508 MW. The share of hydropower in the country had a major thrust after Independence, when it rose from 37% at the end of 1947 to its peak share of 51% at the end of 1962/63. While there has been a continuous increase in the installed capacity of hydro power stations in India, today the share of hydro power has been reduced to only 25% of total electric power generation. The government believes the strong public opposition to dams in India is the reason for slower progress.

In India, power is a concurrent subject and the primary responsibility as far as the consumer is concerned vests with the States who have full responsibility for distribution. During 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017), the Government has identified hydro-power benefits of 38,242 MW (See Table 2). During the same period the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd., a government of India enterprise, is targeting to install 5,837 MW of hydropower in India. In the approach paper on power and energy to the 11th Five Year Plan-2007-2012, the government is anticipating in hydro capacity addition of 16,553 MW of which Central Sector will add 9,685 MW, State Sector 3,605 MW and Private Sector 3,263 MW. From 1,061 MW in 1st Five Year Plan (1951-1956), the hydro power has grown to 34,131 MW at the end of 10th Five Year Plan (See Table 3). In fact installed capacity of hydro has increased at a compound growth rate of 4.35% per annum since 1991, higher than all other power sub-sectors.

Table 2: INDIA’S IDENTIFIED HYDROPOWER PROJECTS, 2012-2017
Hydropower Projects in India
Hydropower projects possible in 12th plan (2012-2017), listed by state, then by river.
Source: India Central Electricity Authority
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Table 3: INDIA’S HYDRO PROJECTS BY 5 YEAR PLAN
India's Hydropower Projects During 5-Year Plans
Plan-wise growth of installed capacity of hydropower.
Source: India Central Electricity Authority
-

The Union Ministry of Power has taken several policy measures to accelerate capacity addition from hydro-electric projects. These include: higher budgetary allocation for the hydro sector; investment approval of new projects; identification of new projects, promoting State Sector projects which were languishing or could not progress due to Inter-State disputes; improving tariff dispensation for hydro projects; simplification of procedure for transfer of clearance; levy of 5% development surcharge to supplement resources for hydro electric projects. While the Power Ministry is responsible for the development of large hydro power projects in India, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been responsible for small and mini hydro projects up to 3MW station capacity since 1989.

Private Sector Participation:

With the economic liberalisation, the Indian government also opened up the doors in 1991 to private companies for the setting up of private hydropower projects. However, so far only about 910 MW has been commissioned by the help of private players, which constitutes less than 3 percent of the total installed hydropower capacity. The present major private developers are Malana Power Company Ltd., the Jaypee Group and S. Kumar Group. Seeing the vast potential present in the hydro power generation, Jaypee ventured into private power generation on a “Build, Own, Operate” (BOO) basis. So far Jaypee has the distinction of participating in 54% of new hydropower projects under India’s Tenth Five Year Plan.

Small Hydro-Power: A Viable Option

Small Hydropower Project in Himachal Pradesh
Small 100 KW hydro power project in Himachal Pradesh
(Photo: MNES)

Small and mini hydel projects have the potential to provide energy in remote and hilly areas where extension of an electrical transmission grid system is uneconomical. Realising this fact, the Indian government is encouraging development of small hydro power (SHP) projects in the country. Since 1994 the role of private sector for setting up of commercial SHP projects has been encouraged. So far 14 States in India have announced policies for setting up commercial SHP projects through private sector participation. Over 760 sites of about 2,000 MW capacity have already been offered / allotted.

An estimated potential of about 15,000 MW of small hydropower (SHP) projects exists in India. 4,233 potential sites with an aggregate capacity of 10,071 MW for projects up to 25 MW capacities have been identified (See Table-4). In the last 10-12 years, the capacity of Small hydro projects up to 3MW has increased 4 fold from 63 MW to 240 MW. 420 small hydropower projects up to 25MW station capacity with an aggregate capacity of over 1,423 MW have been set up in the country and over 187 projects in this range with aggregate capacity of 521 MW are under construction.

The MNES provides various incentives like soft loans for setting up of SHP projects up to 25 MW capacity in the commercial sector, renovation and modernization of SHP projects, setting up of portable micro hydel sets, development / upgradation of water mills, detailed survey and investigation, detailed project report preparation, interest subsidy for commercial projects, capital subsidy for SHP projects in the North-Eastern region, and implementation of UNDP/GEF Hilly Hydro project. India has a reasonably well-established manufacturing base for the full range and type of small hydro equipment. There are currently eight manufacturers within India in the field of small hydro manufacturing, supplying various types of turbines, generators, control equipment, etc.

Table 4: INDIA’S SMALL HYDRO POTENTIAL
Chart of Hydropower Sites in India Capable of 25MW
Sites capable of up to 25 MW capacity,
another 5,000 MW is believed to be possible.
(Photo: MNES)
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The Role of International Agencies on Hydro-Power

Major hydro-power structures are being funded by international financial institutions like World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Export Credit Agency, and bilateral agencies like Japan Bank for International Cooperation(JBIC), and the French Government, Canada, UK, Sweden, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and the US in India. Since 1956 the World Bank has been involved in the hydro-power development in India. The Bank is looking to support India’s hydro development program (www.worldbank.org.in/hydropower) through financial assistance for up to about 1,500 MW of hydropower capacity over the next three to five years. Besides the 412 MW Rampur Hydroelectric Project approved by the Bank’s Board in early September 2007 (www.worldbank.org.in), the Bank also received a request to finance the proposed 444 MW Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydropower Project (www.worldbank.org.in/vishnugard-pipalkoti) being developed by the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation on the Alaknanda River in the state of Uttranchal. The Bank would also like to assist in the 700 MW Luhri hydro power project in Himachal Pradesh.

Similarly, the Asian Development Bank has begun its engagement in producing hydro-power in Uttranchal in India with 4 SHPs (4-10 MW). However, the Manila based-regional development bank believes that India’s vast hydropower potential can contribute to the country’s energy security in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner. The latest report of ADB (Hydropower Development in India, 2007) provides an assessment of the hydropower development potential in India and highlights how hydropower can meet the country’s goal of providing power for all by 2012. In all probability, the World Bank would like to assist in construction of hydropower structures; the ADB will lay the transmission lines from the projects to the grid.

As major rivers transcend international boundaries in South Asia, India has taken up regional (mostly bilateral) cooperation on harnessing the hydro-power potential of international river systems. At present, India has cooperation with Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar on hydro-power.

Challenges and Constraints

The hydro-power in India has always caught the imagination of people’s struggle, displacement, and submergence of large virgin forest tracts and now, the instrument of greenhouse gas emissions. The large hydropower infrastructures usually categorise with adjectives such as “temples of modern India” or “monument to corruptions” or “weapons of mass destruction” and so on. Can these perceptions be changed on the issue of large hydro-power dams?

From a hydro-engineering point of view, the immense potential of hydropower in India is yet to be harnessed. For an engineer, it’s mandatory to build a dam for producing electricity. One of my hydro-engineer colleagues in India’s government argues, “the hydro power is the best option in the Indian context considering the large volume of water going to waste. Besides, hydro-power is better than thermal power as the former is cheaper, can be generated and utilised as per the need without any overhead costs for idle runs.” “Also the thermal units take a longer time to be restarted,” adds the Engineer who is preparing mega hydro-power projects in Orissa. The Engineer tries to convince me that “there are no flaws in hydro power except building a reservoir, and sometimes commissioning of the projects takes more time. The government’s last resort is run of the river (RoR) projects which are the small ones with less producing capacity. This is explored when one does not have the other option.”

For anti-dam activists hydro-power is just an option, not mandatory. They view any estimate on hydropower – the very fact of putting a number with an electricity unit – as flawed and fraudulent. From this perspective, water-the-resource, has other utilities and needs more significant than than generating electricity. Anti-dam activists point out the centralized character of large hydro power projects, with high costs, potential under performance, violations and inequity as the basic flaws.

Hydropower provides one of the strongest examples of the close link between water and energy. Because of its link with large dam projects, which are often environmentally and socially harmful, hydropower has been the focus of heated debate for the last two decades in India. The main negative impacts of dams include displacement of local populations and degradation of ecosystems, adverse down-stream effects on rivers and threatening livelihoods of large numbers of people. Hydro-power has been contested by all except government officials for its efficiency or being green. It’s true that there is little attempt for credible assessment of performance of large hydro. Of late, the large hydro projects have been presented by neo-anti-dam experts as instruments of emission of greenhouse gases more than remedies of climate change because the large dams are the public image of environmental and social degradation in the developing world. The IPCC recognized in its 2006 guidelines on greenhouse gas inventories that reservoirs are a source of emissions, but more research is needed to be able to accurately quantify the extent of these emissions, especially of methane. So whether hydropower is green and renewable or not is gaining more heated discourse than its centralised character of production, distribution and management.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Power is taking notes of the long gestation period from preparation to implementation of the project which is actually hampering the capacity addition. The other weaknesses are duration of preparing a project report, taking an investment decision, acquiring land, getting environment clearance, placing orders for execution of the project. Also there is a great imbalance in capacity addition among the States. However, the major problem is the opposition to hydro power projects all over India.

Should India Achieve its Hydro-Power Potential?

Small Hyrdopower Station in West Bengal
Sidrapong, a small 130 KW Hydro Power Station in
West Bengal; a heritage of Hydro power in India.
(Photo: MNES)

The trust in government and its bureaucracy has been eroding in India thereby leaving more avenues for contested domains. It has been very difficult transforming the government intentions to produce electricity from the large water infrastructures after the Sardar Sorvar Project debacle in the early 1990′s. The small hydro projects are being cautiously implemented by the governments. However in some cases the adverse socio-economic and environmental impacts of large dams can be mitigated through informed decision-making, transparency and engagement of all stakeholders. In all probability, the advantages and disadvantages of hydro-power structures, large or small, have to be discussed with people transparently.

The present social and environmental assessments of the hydro projects are flawed from many angles which triggers real and imaginary conflicts of interest. To settle the People’s concern, after two years of debate the Indian Cabinet has recently passed the National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement, 2007. In particular, there has to be clear recognition in all decision making related to dams that a balance needs to found between the needs for use of renewable energy, and the minimization of possible harmful effects on the environment – especially mountain environments where most of the hydro-potential resides. Mountain regions have particular potential for use and production of renewable energy, not only hydro, but also biomass, solar, geothermal or wind; clearly, the adverse environmental effects on fragile mountain ecosystems need to be carefully assessed and prevented before developments take place. Also, possible social issues between upstream (often poor mountain communities) and downstream communities (often the main beneficiaries of energy production) need to be addressed.

About the Author: Avilash Roul has been writing, advocating, researching, creating knowledge on Environment and Development in various English Daily media since 2000. He worked with Down To Earth (fortnightly magazine published in New Delhi, India) for the last three years. He also contributed regularly in Sundays for a column in New India Express on environment and development. More recently, Mr. Roul worked as an Assistant South Asia Regional Coordinator for the Bank Information Center (www.bicusa.org), an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization that advocates for the protection of rights, participation, transparency, and public accountability in the governance and operations of the World Bank, regional development banks, and the International Monetary Fund.

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China's Energy Demand

IMPROVING ENERGY INTENSITY IS PROVING A DAUNTING TASK IN THE WORLD’S MOST POPULOUS NATION
Boat on a Lake in China
How much of the old China will remain?

Editor’s Note: China, like India, is a nation of staggering population – well over 1.0 billion people – that is careening into the modern industrial age. In this report by Gordon Feller, it is clear that China recognizes the need to “leapfrog” the technologies of the west, in order to avoid resource scarcity and hideous pollution. But how feasible is this?

There are several measures of leapfrogging – what is China’s CO2 footprint, what is their energy intensity, and how much are they removing pollutants during energy production? Only in the past year have economists generally acknowledged that China has now replaced the USA as the world’s greatest producer of industrial CO2. Is this just the beginning?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China relies on coal for 70% of their energy needs. EIA projections indicate that consumption of coal in China will nearly double in the next twenty years, and that if anything, the percentage of energy usage represented by coal in China is going to increase. Activists who want to shut down American industry need to remember two things: Over 90% of the fuel consumed in the world requires combustion, and the Chinese (and many other nations) are not going to shut down their industries just because we want them to.

Similarly, China’s (and India’s) energy intensity – how many units of energy they require to produce one unit of wealth – is currently only 25% as efficient as the United States or the European Community. Moreover, in their headlong rush to industrialize, China’s energy intensity has actually worsened in the last year, not improved.

The average American consumes 12 times as much energy and 4 times as much water as the average Chinese person – in spite of the fact that China’s energy intensity is only 25% as efficient as the America’s. If China were able to equal the U.S. or EU in energy intensity, and perhaps they will, and if at the same time their per-capita income were to equal that of the Americans, then China’s energy production would have to increase by a factor of 8x. As it is, projections from the EIA only show their energy production doubling between now and 2020. These projections could be low.

It is in the final measure of leapfrogging where we might find the greatest reason to hope. While unenthralled by the notion that industrial CO2 causes global warming – and recent findings indicate tropical deforestation might actually be a bigger cause of global warming – the Chinese are very concerned about the dangerous criteria pollutants they are spewing into into the atmosphere. But, unlike CO2, most forms of air pollution from industry can now be effectively removed at an affordable cost. Perhaps if the western nations joined to help the Chinese develop clean burning fossil fuel, it would be a great – and feasible – leap forward. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

China’s China’s Energy Demand – Improving Energy Intensity is Proving a Daunting Task in the World’s Most Populous Nation.
by Gordon Feller, May 20, 2007

China’s energy shortage in recent years has resulted in extensive efforts to obtain additional energy supplies….

Beijing has called for domestic production to be increased as alternative and renewable energy resources are now being strongly considered. This desire for energy security has also become an impetus in China’s foreign policy, with state-owned oil majors encouraged to secure production rights at oil fields throughout the world. Conservation, however, seemed to be the key word for China’s strategy for energy security in 2006. The government set compulsory targets for the first time in history, requiring the entire country to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent in unit GDP production by 2010. Yet, the target, announced in March 2006 as a part of the 11th Five Year Economic Program, may be a long shot for a country with an overheating economy.

In a recent study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, entitled “China’s Energy Economic Situation and Policy Trends” (Woguo nengyuan jingji xingshi yu zhengce zouxiang), the authors acknowledged that little has changed in the wasteful consumption of energy in Chinese industries [1]. While China’s economy grew by 10.9 percent in the first half of 2006, coal and electricity consumption jumped by 12.8 percent and 12 percent, respectively. The energy consumption in producing every 10,000 yuan GDP did not decrease, but in fact increased by nearly 1 percent during the same period. This means that the 20 percent energy intensity reduction plan for 2006-10 already failed to achieve its target in its first year. Rather than meeting the annual energy efficiency goal of 4 percent as it had planned to do so last year, China must now reduce energy intensity by 5.4 percent per year in the next four years in order to meet the overall national energy conservation target for 2010.

KEY VARIABLES: MOST POPULOUS/WEALTHIEST NATIONS
Resource Use Among China, India, the United States, and Europe
China & India convert energy into wealth (BTUs per $1.00 of GNP)
at only about 25% the efficiency of the USA or European Community
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Structurally speaking, high-energy consuming industries are still leading the way in China’s economic development. Large-scale investments have gone into nationwide energy development projects, many of which are low-tech, high-waste ventures. Yet, they are still profitable in a country with a voracious appetite for energy. While additional energy industries are moving into other industrial sectors, profit margins continued to grow in the 2000-2005 period with the profits from the energy industry accounting for over 30 percent of the total profits in China’s industries [2]. At the same time, most of the investments are still focused on traditional energy sectors rather than on conservation technologies or “green technologies” that can conserve energy. For instance, China continues to rely upon coal for nearly 70 percent of its energy needs, consuming 22.5 percent more coal than other advanced countries [3].

CHINA ENERGY PRODUCTION BY FUEL TYPE, 1980-2015
This projection from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows
that China’s energy consumption could nearly double in the next twenty
years, and virtually all of this new energy will come from coal.
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China also set a supposedly compulsory goal to reduce industrial pollutants by 2 percent in the same five-year plan. Yet, the record in the first half of 2006 showed an increase of 3-4 percent, making it impossible for China’s industries to reach the target for the year [4]. This increase in pollutants was largely due to the rapid rate of unregulated economic growth; from January to September last year, Chinese industries grew by 17.2 percent, while heavy industries increased by 18.2 percent [5].

In the past year, the central government attempted to curb pollution and encourage energy conservation by implementing a number of top-down measures:

March 2006 – Accompanying the announcement of energy intensity targets, the National People’s Congress began to draft the Energy Conservation Law.

April 2006 – Multiple government agencies launched a conservation campaign in 1,000 enterprises belonging to major high-energy consuming industrial sectors.

May 2006 – Beijing announced an ambitious plan to conserve and better utilize energy in nearly 1,000 categories.

June 2006 – Relevant government agencies set the unit GDP energy consumption standards for all provinces.

July 2006 – The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) held a national energy conservation conference, signing energy target responsibility agreements with local governments.

August 2006 – The State Council issued a new directive for strengthening energy conservation.

October 2006 – China Coal Industry Association held a conservation conference.

November 2006 – NDRC distributed provincial quotas for energy conservation targets in the 11th Five Year Program.

Such extensive administrative regulations and guidance have produced notable achievements. Shandong Province, for example, has implemented 100 large conservation projects. Hebei Province, ranking second nationwide in heavy industrial energy consumption, has added “energy conservation” as a category in its cadre performance evaluation. Ningbao, a major industrial city in the eastern part of China, has reported the reduction of energy intensity in all of its industries by over 10 percent in 2006 [6].

These are nonetheless isolated achievements. For most of the country, conservation remains a low priority. Many of the administrative announcements and measures are lost in the convoluted bureaucracy. Even for those local governments wanting to do more, concrete directions from the central government are unclear. Moreover, the market still favors traditional (and unclean) sources of energy, such as coal, and for many, achieving high GDP numbers through large-scale investments in energy, construction and other heavy industrial sectors remains the priority.

The Great Wall of China
China’s first major civil engineering project…

China’s domestic efforts in conservation have also extended into the foreign energy policy area. For years, Beijing has called on its major energy and resource companies to engage in a “go-out” strategy. Chinese firms have traveled around the world searching for oil and gas fields, securing exploration rights and purchasing multi-year contracted supplies. Under this plan, Africa has quickly become a major provider, supplying nearly a third of China’s imports last year (AFP, June 20, 2006). Large Chinese oil majors have negotiated $70 billion in energy exploration deals with Iran, purchased large assets in Kazakhstan and sealed multi-billion dollar, multi-year natural gas supply commitments from Australia.

Recently, though, there are some indications that the Chinese are looking beyond their borders in acquiring and developing conservation technologies and strategies. At a World Bank workshop with China’s State Council last June (at which this author was a part of the World Bank expert team), the consensus after two days of closed-door discussions was that China could not sustain itself if it continued to consume energy at the same rates as advanced industrialized countries. Neither the Chinese environment nor the world ecosystem is capable of supporting massive large-scale waste or pollution related to energy consumption. The workshop called for China to pursue innovative technologies, develop alternative and renewable energy sources and ultimately use “technology leapfrogging” to solve China’s future energy requirements. For that purpose, the Chinese government is eager to examine, evaluate and import advanced technologies from abroad.

Sino-Japanese relations offer an example of China’s changing priorities in international energy cooperation. Until last fall, Sino-Japanese relations were in a deep chill due to former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s insistence on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. At the time, Beijing and Tokyo were also engaged in a bitter dispute over the potential oil and gas deposits in the East China Sea. Yet, when the NDRC organized an energy conservation and environment forum in Kyoto in May 2006, it attracted 900 participants, far exceeding initial expectations. Even Shinzo Abe, then Chief Cabinet Secretary and a contender to replace Koizumi, attended the conference. When Abe became the new Prime Minister in September, he made improving Japan’s relations with China a top priority and proactively propositioned to the Chinese leaders that both countries establish a “reciprocal relationship based on mutual strategic interests.” When asked to elaborate on his comments, Abe explained that the core of such a reciprocal relationship would consist of cooperation on environmental concerns and energy conservation, a message that rang sweetly in Beijing’s ears (Asahi Shimbun, October 9, 2006). While Beijing remains concerned with Abe’s nationalist tendencies on a range of defense-related issues, it is willing to engage Tokyo on projects of “mutual strategic interests.”

WHAT IF THE CHINESE HAD AN AMERICAN LIFESTYLE?
Chart of Energy and Water use by different parts of the World
In the late ’90′s Americans used, on average, 12 times as much energy and 4 times
as much water per person, compared to the Chinese during the same period.
-

China has also exhibited its willingness to work in multilateral settings as demonstrated by the recent second annual East Asia Summit. On January 15, the ten ASEAN countries as well as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand gathered in the Philippines to sign an energy security pact. The 16-nation group called for decreasing the dependency on oil; reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; promotion of bio fuels, hydropower or nuclear power; and enhanced cooperation among the participating parties for energy conservation and efficiency [7]. Although the meeting did not produce any hard targets in terms of emission reductions, it was nevertheless a good start for a region containing half of the world’s population and many major energy-consuming powers.

It will be a welcoming sign if China makes the decisive shift in its global quest for energy security from focusing on traditional energy supplies to seeking alternative and renewable energy sources as well as new technologies from other countries. This would enable China to greatly improve its domestic efforts in conservation and environment protection. In that regard, the United States, other advanced industrialized countries and the international community may play positive roles in encouraging China’s move in the direction of becoming a greener energy consumer.

Notes:

1. Available online at: http://www.cass.net.cn/file/2007011785915.html.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Available online at: http://www.zgxxb.com.cn/news.asp?id=6078

5. Ibid.

6. Available online at: http://www.sdpc.gov.cn/mtbd/t20070118_112022.htm

7. Available online at: http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&click_id=143&art_id=qw1168851060307B225.

About the Author:
Gordon Feller is the CEO of Urban Age Institute (www.UrbanAge.org). During the past twenty years he has authored more than 500 magazine articles, journal articles or newspaper articles on the profound changes underway in politics, economics, and ecology – with a special emphasis on sustainable development. Gordon is the editor of Urban Age Magazine, a unique quarterly which serves as a global resource and which was founded in 1990. He can be reached at GordonFeller@UrbanAge.org and he is available for speaking to your organization about the issues raised in this and his other numerous articles published in EcoWorld.

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Supply Side Environmentalism

Environmentalism today is generating more interest in the world than at any time since the 1970′s, but environmentalism today is very different from the modern movement that began on Earth Day nearly 36 years ago.

When comparing the environmental movement today to environmentalism back then, two things are evident: First, important goals have been accomplished in the last thirty years. Our air and water are cleaner, wilderness and wildlife have been preserved in great abundance, land development has become a far more thoughtful process, pollution from all sources is drastically reduced, and impressive gains in energy conservation and energy efficiency have occurred. Overall, environmentalism has been a huge success.

The second thing to recognize about environmentalism now as compared to then is that today environmentalism is an institution. It is taught in our schools, it is a given in political campaigns, it is a value that pervades every public bureaucracy, and the fledgling environmental nonprofit groups of thirty years ago are now powerful organizations. Their budgets, collectively, amount to hundreds of millions per year, and their influence within our public institutions amounts to power over public opinion and policy that is immense and defies valuation.

This is where we find ourselves in 2007 – environmentalism has become a powerful force with a legacy of improvements to our quality of life, our health, our planet. But what direction should environmentalism take today – with energy independence becoming an important priority for all nations, new concerns about global warming, ongoing challenges to preserve wilderness, and unfinished business with respect to air and water pollution?

At a time like this, where the momentum to do anything to achieve energy independence dovetails fitfully with the momentum to do anything to reduce CO2 emissions, policymakers pressured by environmentalists may enact sweeping legislation that could completely change our way of life. But there are two ways environmentalists can go to pursue their core values in the 21st century, and they represent very, very different choices. One of the most fundamental areas where these two choices diverge concerns energy and water policy.

A “supply side” environmentalist – for lack of a better term – would argue that the priority should be to achieve energy and water abundance. To do this, for example, they would advocate construction of nuclear powered desalinization plants, as well as pumping stations and aqueducts. They would advocate increased production of fresh water from seawater, and they would advocate distributing this water to restore every depleted aquifer on earth.

A “demand side” environmentalist, by contrast, would argue that conservation of energy and water is the only approach that could possibly make sense. They would argue that it isn’t possible to produce enough energy for everyone at current levels of consumption. They would fight for energy and water rationing, with punitive fines and even criminal penalties for overuse of these resources.

The supply side environmentalist, in rebuttal, would argue that anyone overusing water and energy could simply pay a small but fair premium for their excess consumption, causing more revenues to accrue to the water and energy companies, who could then use those surpluses to invest in additional energy and water production facilities. A supply side environmentalist would argue there is abundant energy and always will be, because the market sets the price, and as soon as one energy source becomes scarce, the price of all energy rises somewhat, stimulating more investment in these energy alternatives.

Another critical choice for environmentalists is what sort of land use to advocate. A demand side environmentalist would say we don’t have enough land for new homes, so everyone must live in high-rises, or if they’re lucky, “cluster homes.” A demand side environmentalist would say we don’t have enough land for freeways, or enough energy for personal transportation devices (cars), so road construction must be curtailed in order to force people to choose mass transit.

A supply side environmentalist would say we have plenty of land, and the problem with suburban sprawl is it doesn’t sprawl enough – if homes on the outskirts of cities were “ranchettes” with very large lots, then wildlife could pass through these neighborhoods, and big trees could grow, and the roads would be uncongested, and sprawl would be beautiful instead of ugly. A supply side environmentalist would say there are now cars that emit virtually no pollution and are incredibly energy efficient, and eventually cars will use energy from cheap photovoltaics mounted on everyone’s roof, so build more cars, and double the mileage of roads to encourage car travel.

A demand side environmentalist would say that we need to ration energy and water and land because there are too many people on earth, and that we’ve outgrown our planet’s “carrying capacity.” A supply side environmentalist would say it is rationing that perpetuates poverty, and poverty delays female emancipation, and prosperity accelerates female emancipation, which always results in dramatic lowering of birthrates.

Obviously both approaches – managing demand while also increasing supplies of clean water and energy – is the solution to environmental challenges today. But it is vital to maintain this balance, and not dismiss the perspective nor the projects coming from the supply side.

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Global Warming Skeptics are Deconstructing Al Gore's Inconveinient Truth

Mauna Loa Observatory
Since 1958, the observatory at Mauna Loa has
tracked concentrations of atmospheric CO2
(Photo: NOAA)

Editor’s Note: People who have abandoned all interest in questioning global warming theories and the facts behind them should beware. It is the duty of any environmentalist to leave their skepticism intact – skepticism is healthy, and is one of the primary emotions that helped give rise to environmentalism, along with many other illustrious movements in history. By blindly joining the movement to curtail CO2 emissions at any cost, it isn’t a bandwagon environmentalists have hopped onto, it is a juggernaut, gathering momentum and carrying the potential to crush everything that gets in its path.

Like many historical movements, it is a simplification to attribute the resonance global warming alarm has suddenly found in America, and has held for over a decade in Europe and elsewhere, to cynical motives and conspiracies. But this is somewhat beside the point. Wouldn’t it be tragic if the momentum of the global warming juggernaut, along with causing extreme economic sacrifice, severe loss of liberties and dangerous international tensions, might actually trigger more global warming?

Thanks to the anti-CO2 juggernaut we are already seeing the acceleration of deforestation everywhere in the world, especially in the tropics. We can fret all we like about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet sliding into the South Atlantic (unlikely to say the least), or Greenland’s Ice Cap melting away (virtually impossible), but meanwhile the tropical forests of the world are about to dissolve before our eyes. Why? To grow biofuel crops so western oil companies, adhering to environmentalist-influenced government mandates, can earn their “carbon credits.”

Don’t underestimate the potential of biofuel as a cash crop to decimate the world’s forests, and in the bargain drive up food prices in places where food is already way too expensive for the urban poor. The process has already begun. From Cassava in Nigeria to Sugar Cane in Brazil, to Jatropha in India, biofuel crops are on the march, and forests are the victims. There are 18 million square miles of forest left on earth, and less than one third of those are in the tropics, where forest canopy is green and growing all year around. Tropical forests are crucial regulators of global climate, and they also are the best places to grow biofuel – at least until their fragile topsoil is destroyed due to the absence of forest canopy overhead. Biofuel can augment world energy supplies at best, but should only be grown in regions where these crops are not replacing farms or forests.

If you believe atmospheric CO2 needs to be reduced, then also be aware that the most imminent manifestation of the movement to fight global warming on earth, right now, is deforestation to grow biofuel. What if forests bring rain, and deforesting causes drought? What if forests regulate global temperatures, and deforestation is a greater cause of global warming than anthropogenic CO2? – Ed “Redwood” Ring

Deconstructing Al Gore’s “Truth”
by D. James Guzy, November 15, 2006
Weather Balloon
What’s up there? A weather balloon ascends
to add another piece to the puzzle.
(Photo: NOAA)

The facts are in the figures – and the figures don’t support the ex-vice president’s dire predictions about global warming

According to Al Gore, if we don’t take action to prevent global warming over the next 10 years, we will have pushed the earth into a climatic and environmental tailspin that will by the end of the century have caused sea levels to rise; ice caps to melt; and hurricanes, droughts, and floods to increase in both strength and frequency. And that’s just the beginning. Gore and others who warn of global warming – including organizations such as the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) – predict that all of these catastrophes will occur as a result of rapidly rising global temperatures caused primarily by emissions of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2).

With Gore’s views front and center via his new book and documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, it’s time to take a closer look at the global warming/greenhouse gas prognostications – particularly when one considers the massive amounts of money governments are committing to solving the perceived problem. Consider this as you think about the statistics revealed in this article: The Kyoto Accord is anticipated to cost the participating Western nations a whopping 2% of their GDP per year. Is it worth it?

Scientific data indicates that the earth has warmed by approximately 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century, and that man-made CO2 has contributed to global warming since World War II. Meanwhile, the net earth warming since World War II has been 0.4 C. The debate among experts boils down to the following issues: How much global warming occurs naturally, and how much can be attributed to human inflicted change? And how much effect to CO2 gases – by themselves – have on temperature increases and other predicted climate change?

Proponents of global warming theories predict that temperatures will rise 5.8 C (IPCC, 2001) or more this century. Let’s take a closer look. For the earth to experience a growing greenhouse effect and linear rising temperatures, CO2 levels must increase exponentially. If CO2 levels increase only linearly, the increase in temperature flattens out. Water vapor, the main greenhouse gas, acts in the same way. Well, guess what? CO2 emissions have been increasing at exponential rates since World War II, fueling the warnings of those pointing to the dangers of climate change.

ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CONCENTRATIONS SINCE 1958 – PARTS PER MILLION
Chart of CO2 in the Atmosphere
CO2 in our atmosphere has increased from around 315 PPM in 1958 to
about 370 PPM today. Note the annual drop of 5-10 PPM caused during
spring and summer in the vast forests of the northern hemisphere.
(Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center)

Digging a little deeper, though, a study of the CO2 atmospheric content data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reveals that since the late 1970′s – the start of the modern-day energy conservation movement – CO2 levels have only increased linearly (at approximately 1.5 ppm per year).

What’s more, since the late 1970′s, the global temperature has been increasing at a constant rate of 0.17 C per decade. Add to this information data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing that the annual per-capital CO2 global emissions rate has flattened out since the early 1980s, and you begin to see the problem: Based on these facts, no one can predict exponential increases in man-made CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. And if there’s no exponential increase in CO2, there can be no global warming.

Still need convincing? Consider these facts: Per GDP dollar, we’re currently using only 60% of the energy we used in 1980. In addition, recent upper-atmosphere weather balloon and satellite temperature measurements show no net upper atmosphere warming since 1970. There are also plenty of studies predicting that warming in the next 50 years will amount to less than 1.0 C. In fact, even most climate models referred to in the IPCC study from 2001 predict warming to be around their low value of 1.4 C.

So how does Gore come to his conclusions? In his movie, he points to a global temperature model reflecting 1,000 years of temperature history to support his thesis. The graph shows a flat temperature range for 900 years and a dramatic rise over the last 100 years. Since human-produced greenhouse emissions have only existed since the last century, Gore deduces, they must be the reason for the warming during that same period. This graph, however, is controversial for a couple of reasons: 1) Many believe it should show temperature fluctuations starting earlier in the last millennia; and 2) it depends solely on tree-ring analysis, which provides accurate documentation of temperature variances over decade-long periods but is far less accurate for long-term variance.

THE ATLANTIC MULTIDECADAL OSCILLATION (AMO)
20th Century Sea Surface Temperatures
If historical trends hold, by around 2025, sea surface temperatures
will decline again, and Atlantic hurricanes will diminish in intensity.
(Source: NOAA)

Various studies show that mean global temperatures rose and fell long before man-made greenhouse gases existed. The sun’s energy is the main determinant for the earth’s varying temperature; earth axis rotation and other systemic cycles also have an effect. Man, in contrast, has a minor effect.

Take hurricanes: Gore believes that the recent increase in hurricanes is a result of human activity and the global warming that has resulted. But the recent upsurge in hurricanes is consistent with observed trends since 1850.

The main forcing function for hurricane formation is the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Every 25 to 40 years, the warm Gulf waters and the Caribbean currents oscillate northward or southward to or from the upper Atlantic Ocean. Sure enough, observed hurricane activity and intensity since 1850 have increased and decreased in tandem with this oscillation. In contrast, recent studies show that increased sea surface temperatures have only added to storm intensity by a couple of percentage points.

Or take Mr. Gore’s prediction that sea levels will rise 20 feet by the end of this century. For the last few thousand years, the sea level has risen at a steady rate of 1.5 mm per year. The 6 inch increase in sea level during the last century is consistent with that rate. In addition, Greenland ice levels have been constant over the last few decades as well. While it’s true that ice cleaving and ice flow rates at the coast have increased in recent years, these shifts are due to the AMO – and will abate once the AMO oscillates southward. What the global warming theorists fail to mention in their findings is that the increased ice and snow pack on Greenland is balancing out the coastal melting. And what’s creating the increased ice and snow pack? Warmer sea surface temperatures: The increased temperatures create moisture, which in turn causes additional snowfall.

Mt. Kilimanjaro from Space
Is it global warming, or deforestation, that shrinks
the glacier? Mt. Kilimanjaro from outer space.
(Photo: NASA)

Similar observations have been made in the Antarctic. Although proponents of the global warming theory refer to a study showing reduced ice content at the tip of one peninsula, they ignore the snowfall data from several Antarctic continental stations showing increasing ice packs from the extra sea moisture.

Finally, climate data indicates that the ice cap on Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro depends on localized temperature-independent precipitation levels. Based on simple observations of the melt rate on Mt. Kilimanjaro, we can see that ice was actually melting at a higher rate early last century than it is today because of less precipitation.

Given this data, one has to question the motives of climate change theory proponents: Could they be after the $4 billion in government grants available to scientists studying climate change? With policies such as the Kyoto Accord’s CO2 emission control goal offering no apparent discernible temperature reduction, it’s imperative that a debate on global warming ensue.

This article was originally published in AlwaysOn Magazine, and is republished with permission.

Related Feature Reports:

  • Global Warming Facts
  • Climate Catastrophe
  • Global Warming

Related Editorial Commentary:

  • Global Warming Postulate
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  • Greenland’s Ice Melting Slowly
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  • Additional Facts and Commentary on Global Warming
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Posted in Causes, Drought, Energy Conservation, Global Warming & Climate Change, History, Organizations, Other, People, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

Asia's Embattled Tigers, a Species Facing Extinction

DESPITE ENCOURAGING PROGRESS TO SAVE TIGERS, THEIR FATE STILL HANGS IN THE BALANCE
Bengal Tiger
The Bengal Tiger
Fighting for a slice of earth to call its own

Editor’s Note: At the turn of the 20th century, over 100 years ago, there were over 100,000 tigers living in the wild, in an area that spanned most of eastern and southern Asia. Today fewer than 7,500 tigers remain in the wild, and of the eight subspecies of tiger, three are already extinct. In China there are only a few dozen South China Tigers left; in Siberia only a few hundred Siberian Tigers are left; in Indonesia, only a few hundred Sumatran Tigers still live in the wild.

Encouraging progress towards safeguarding tiger habitat has been made, if not, certainly these three most endangered subspecies would already be extinct, and the other two would be far closer to extinction. But groups such as WildAid, who sponsors education campaigns to discourage consumer demand for tiger parts, as well as organizes operations to hunt down and prosecute tiger poachers, have been effective in slowing the rate of tiger slaughter.

When one considers the habitat of tigers, intersecting with some of the most densely populated regions on earth – southeast China, India, Sumatra – the fact that the tiger does still endure is testament to the resilience of this species as well as to the myriad of efforts by conscientious humans to preserve some remnants of these majestic animals.

In very recent years however the decline of the tigers has accelerated again. Population growth, economic growth, and growing international turmoil threaten to once again make preserving the tiger a lower priority. But once the tigers are gone, they can never come back. Against this momentum there can be no rest. There are dozens of effective international organizations and tens of thousands of dedicated people who are fighting to save the tiger. With eternal vigilance, we may yet see this noble species rebound. – Ed Ring

Humans admire tigers as much as they fear them, and the animals figure prominently in Asian myths, religion, arts, and imagination.

Tigers were once found throughout the forested regions of tropical and temperate Asia. Excessive hunting and destruction of tiger habitat have now narrowed the tiger’s range to a few isolated patches. According to estimates, at the beginning of the 20th century over 100,000 tigers flourished throughout Asia, from eastern Russia and Korea through eastern and southern China, South-east Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and into Pakistan, with separate populations around the Caspian Sea and on the Indonesian islands of Bali, Java, and Sumatra. But less than 20% of todays tiger habitat is located in national parks or other protected areas, which means that the majority of the areas where tigers live could be lost to other uses.

Bengal Tiger in Captivity
A Bengal Tiger in captivity
Are their days numbered, living in the wild?

Large carnivore populations like tigers are highly vulnerable to extinction in small and isolated reserves. According to a recent study, tiger habitats worldwide have shrunk 40% in the past decade – they now reside only in 7% of their historic range – and their survival depends on cracking down on poaching, working to reduce conflicts with humans, and protecting key ranges. This landmark study, produced by some of the world’s leading tiger scientists at theWorld Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park and Save The Tiger Fund, calls for specific international actions to safeguard remaining populations. The worldwide tiger population has steadily declined to about 7,500 globally, and the big cats continue to face many threats including the trade in tiger parts to meet demand for traditional medicines in China and South-east Asia.

The study, entitled “Setting Priorities for the Conservation and Recovery of the World’s Tigers 2005-2015,” identified for the first time 76 areas, mostly in Asia, that have the best chance of supporting tiger populations. Large carnivore populations like tigers are highly vulnerable to extinction in small and isolated reserves. About half of the 76 areas can support 100 tigers and “offer excellent opportunities for the recovery of wild tiger populations.” Researchers are focusing on few key regions in India, Russia’s far east and parts of South-east Asia. The group’s key conclusion from the study is that to safeguard the remaining tigers, increased protection of the 20 highest priority tiger conservation landscapes is required. The group also stands ready to support the 13 countries with tigers in a regional effort to save the species.

Conservation efforts have so far helped stabilize certain tiger populations, but many initiatives were “ad hoc” and “did little to stem the crisis,” the study found. Tiger breeding areas must be protected and efforts to link different tiger habitats need to be improved, as per the study. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, tiger conservation requires commitment from local groups, governments, and international donors to “bring the species back to all parts of its biological range.” Groups said authorities must curb the demand for the skins and parts of tigers, and other Asian big cats as also strengthen enforcement efforts along trade routes.

In the words of an official at the WWF-UK, “as tiger range spans borders, so must tiger conservation. Asia’s economic growth must not come at the expense of tiger habitat and the natural capital it protects.”

Reprinted with permission. This article was previously published in TerraGreen, edited by R.K. Pachauri and published every two weeks. TerraGreen, headquartered in New Delhi, India, is an online magazine that reports on sustainable development, forestry, power and energy conservation, biotechnology, pollution and climate change, and on people trying to make a difference. For further information, contact: Editor, TerraGreen, TERI, Darbari Seth Block, IHC Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, India. Telephone 91-11-2468-2100, 11 Ext. 2421/2422, Email terragreen@teri.res.in.

INFORMATION ABOUT TIGERS AND HOW TO HELP THE TIGERS SURVIVE:

Turn in Tiger Poachers: Contact information is provided on the Forever Tigers website including agencies to contact to turn in Tiger poachers; click here:

http://www.forevertigers.com/organizations.htm

Map of Tiger Ranges: From the World Wildlife Fund website a map showing original and current 2006 ranges of Tigers; click here:

http://www.worldwildlife.org/tigers/images/tcl_web_lg.jpg

Photographs & Information on Tigers & Other Big Cats:

EcoWorld – Big Cats

GROUPS ACTIVELY HELPING TIGERS TO SURVIVE:

Wildlife Conservation Society

Centre for Wildlife Studies

823, 13th Cross,

7th Block West, Jayanagar,

Bangalore, 560 082, India

Tel: 080-2671-5364

Fax: 080-2671-5255

Email : info@wcsindia.org

http://www.wildlife.in/

The Corbett Foundation

405 International Trade Tower, Nehru Place,

New Delhi, 110 019, India

Tel: 91-11-4160-8505

Fax: 91-11-4160-8506

Email: corbett_foundation@yahoo.com

http://www.corbettfoundation.org/

WildAid – India/WPSI

D 923 New Friends Colony (2nd floor)

New Delhi, 110 065, India

Tel: 91-11-5166-5049

Email: askacapindia@wildaid.org

http://www.wildaid.org

WildAid – China

Beijing Gateway Building, Suite 1202

No. 10 Yabao Road, Chao Yang District

Beijing, 100020, China

Tel: 86-010-8562-6337

Fax: 86-010-8562-6336

Email: askacapchina@wildaid.org

Save China’s Tigers

P.O. Box No. 4877

General Post Office, Hong Kong

Tel: 852-2525-8786

Fax: 852-3171-1971

Email: info@savechinastigers.org

http://www.savechinastigers.net/

Save The Tiger Fund

1120 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 900

Washington DC, 20036, USA

Tel: 202-857-0166

Fax: 202-857-0162

http://www.savethetigerfund.org

The Tiger Foundation

Suite 1780 – 999 West Hastings St.

Vancouver, British Columbia, V6C 2W2, Canada

Email: action@tigers.ca

http://www.tigerfdn.com/

INFORMATION ABOUT THE EIGHT SUBSPECIES OF TIGERS:

Source: The Tiger Foundation

Indochinese Tiger

Panthera tigris corbetti

(1,000-1,500 survive in the wild)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/indochineseframe.html

Sumatran Tiger

Panthera tigris sumatrae

(400-500 survive in the wild)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/W3A1.html

South China Tiger

Panthera tigris amoyensis

(less than 50 survive in the wild)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/southchina.html

Bengal Tiger

Panthera tigris tigris

(3,000-4,500 survive in the wild)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/W3A4.html

Siberian Tiger

Panthera tigris altaica

(about 500 survive in the wild)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/W3A5.html

Balinese Tiger

Panthera tigris balica

(extinct)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/balineseframe.html

Javan Tiger

Panthera tigris sondaica

(extinct)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/javanframe.html

Caspian Tiger

Panthera tigris virgata

(extinct)

http://www.tigerfdn.com/Tigerworld/caspianframe.html

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