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Port of Long Beach California and the Environmental Impact of Ports

Port of Long Beach, California

Photographer Kevin Dooley took this photograph at the port in Long Beach, California. As he comments, the port is reportedly making strides to improve it’s environmental impact:

“I’ve been doing research on the environmental and social impacts of ports, and let me tell you, ports can be dirty places! The port facility itself can be energy intensive and emit pollutants, and then if you add all the ships and trucks and rail… whoa. Making ports more sustainable is an important goal for us.”

“The Port of Long Beach, shown above, is one port that is making great strides. One simple idea that cuts down pollutants and green house gases is to require ships and trucks to “plug in” for their electricity, so they’re not idling their own vehicles while waiting. “

This photograph is from Kevin Dooley who generously shared it via Flickr. It is used on EcoWorld under the Creative Commons license.

Posted in Electricity, Shipping, Water Pollution2 Comments

Antarctic Icebergs Heading for New Zealand

DUNEDIN, New Zealand, Nov. 24 (UPI) — Icebergs drifting northward from Antarctica could become a tourist attraction as they near New Zealand.

Graeme Gale, managing director of Helicopters Otago, said he might begin sightseeing flights during the coming weekend, the Otago Daily Times reported. Chartered planes could make the trip even sooner, with Phil Kean, chief pilot for Mainland Air, saying the company needs only confirmation of the icebergs’ position.

The Australian Antarctic Division reported this week the icebergs were near Macquarie Island. The division maintains a station on the island, about halfway between Antarctica and New Zealand.

Scientists believe the icebergs formed with the breakup of a 12-square-mile piece of ice calved from the Ross Ice Shelf about 10 years ago. They are becoming more numerous as they break into smaller chunks.

While the current is carrying the icebergs toward the south island of New Zealand, wind and storms could change their direction. Shipping in the area has been warned of their presence.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Shipping, Wind0 Comments

Rare Masai Giraffe Named in Honor of Boston Red Sox World Series Championship Moves to Pittsburgh to Find Mate

BOSTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) — A 2-year-old Masai giraffe has been moved from Boston’s zoo to a Pittsburgh zoo in an effort to populate the rare subspecies, officials said.

The 12-foot-tall female, born during the 2007 World Series and named Sox after the Boston baseball team, will be paired with another animal, the Boston Globe reported.

She leaves behind in Boston her parents and a younger brother, born in July. An older sister went to a South Carolina zoo in 2007 as part of the species-survival program that is sending Sox away.

The 1200-pound giraffe was placed in a special tall trailer Tuesday.

“The loading went remarkably smoothly. You always get nervous shipping animals, but especially giraffes,” said John Linehan, chief executive of Zoo New England. “With those long legs, we worry about breaking an appendage. But she went on like a dream.”

She takes a part of Boston with her, Linehan said. “She’s not only a Red Sox fan, but I don’t think she cares for the (Pittsburgh) Pirates at all,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Shipping0 Comments

Moses Project Planned to Part Venice Floods

Venice floods more than one hundred times a year. At the beginning of this month, Venice was caught in another onslaught, as the sea level around the city rose higher than most people can remember. The last time locals and countless visitors had to wade through water this deep was over thirty years ago. It is floods like the most recent one that make it clear how important a flood barrier really is.

Things were different a century ago when floods occurred at an average of ten times a year, but Venice has always been sensitive to changes in water levels because the city itself is built on hundreds of small islands. It doesn’t help that Venice is sinking a few centimeters every year, as well.

One proposed solution comes in the form of a barrier that would use hydraulic pressure to raise steel plates that cut off the rising water flow. This controversial Moses Project-named after the religious figure who parted the red sea-was originally shelved because of the 4.2 billion dollar price tag and the millions (if not billions) of dollars it would take to maintain the structure annually. The hefty price tag isn’t the only cause for concern, environmentalists worry that the artificial barriers will harm protected ecosystems. They claim that closing off the tide flow will cause water to stagnate and kill off marine life.

In an in-depth article by the Times, journalist Richard Owen explains that the project “involves 79,300-tonne hinged steel panels or “buoyancy flap gates”, which most of the time will lie beneath the water but will fill with compressed air when the high-tide alarm sounds, closing off the three inlets. There are 700 workers at the three construction sites, a workforce due to double as completion approaches in 2012. A €1.5 million simulator at Malamocco shows how the locks will allow shipping to pass when the lagoon is blocked off.”

Any barrier that affects the natural flow of floods and tides will obviously have an impact on the underwater ecosystems. The question is how much of an effect? Not only that, but shouldn’t the ancient historical architecture be protected as well? Either way, Moses is currently scheduled for completion in 2012.

Overall land subsidence in the region surrounding Venice has
been 1.5 to 2.0 meters during the past 70 years, making high
tides far more problematic (ref. Wessex Institute).

Posted in Architecture, Homes & Buildings, People, Shipping0 Comments

The Living Tower

Getting fruits and vegetables onto the kitchen table is a stressful affair. Farmers constantly deal with pests, weather changes, pesticides, droughts, increased costs of running equipment and crop diseases. For example, the moth, Helicoverpa armigera, causes crop damage in excess of 5 billion dollars worldwide per year, while the 2008 floods in the U.S Midwest have already soaked through thousands of acres of farmland.

Losing a crop is extremely frustrating; especially to farmers who excitedly bought land and then purchased the popular $110,000 180-PTO horsepower diesel tractor to maintain the now demolished harvest. Architects and agriculturalists believe that many of these issues can be solved with indoor agriculture. Not only that, but by incorporating farming into high rise buildings protected from outside variables, the volume of produce harvested increases dramatically. In fact, one indoor acre may yield up to 6 times as much of a crop as a traditional outdoor farm.

The Living Tower, a theoretical 30 floor high rise farming community designed by Paris based SOA architects, would house;
130 apartments on the first 15 floors, 9000 square meters of office space on the remaining 15 floors, a 7000 square meter shopping center, a library and even a nursery in addition to the gardens distributed throughout the building. Link to the Press Release for more information.

Living Tower architects have focused on specific crop productions and believe the following estimates will represent respective crop yields:

63000 kg of tomatoes per year
37 333 feet of salads per year
9 324 kg of strawberries per year

The building design keeps efficiency and alternative power in mind as well: two large windmills rotating on the roof will generate 200-600 KWH of electricity per annum and will assist in pumping recovered rainwater throughout the complex. Photovoltaic panels will cover the outer walls while inside the tower, ventilation shafts draw in underground air keeping temperatures comfortable throughout the year., a website devoted to vertical farming (VF) architecture, provides a list of benefits associated with the technology:

• No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
• All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
• VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
• VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
• VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
• VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of Evapo-transpiration
• VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible parts of plants and animals
• VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)
• VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
• VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
• VF creates new employment opportunities
• VF may prove to be useful for integrating into refugee camps
• VF offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropical
• VF could reduce the incidence of armed conflict over natural resources, such as water and land for agriculture

There are few things more satisfying than picking a ripened tomato from your own tree and enjoying the fruit knowing that you don’t have to worry about pesticides, importing problems or other issues involved with the agriculture business. With vertical farming on the rise, it won’t be unheard of to enjoy homegrown strawberries while snow piles up on the busy city streets below.

Posted in Animals, Architecture, Buildings, Causes, Composting, Electricity, Energy, Homes & Buildings, Office, Other, Recycling, Science, Space, & Technology, Shipping1 Comment

35 Inconvenient Truths: The Errors in Al Gore's Movie

Polar Bear
Is climate change endangering the Polar Bear?

Editor’s Note: When you strip away the ideology, the truth still matters, so not just for balance but for integrity, we continue to post features like this. The denial industry is not going to go away until the truth is known, and truth can withstand skepticism. And what if the skeptics are right?

In October 2007, a British judge ruled the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” had nine inaccuracies. And shortly thereafter, in reference to this movie, another British person, Chris Monckton, wrote “35 Inconvenient Truths,” republished with permission by EcoWorld here. Not nine, but 35 inaccuracies. In reading this compilation you have to wonder whether we aren’t getting carried away. How many sweeping political and economic mandates will come of this? How many civil suits? How many regulations, subsidies, taxes, and trades?

Reading this feature – which certainly has several valid points – presents the question of what else? Is every weather event imbued with inflections of doom and guilt, the numerical or factual basis unquestioned, the inflections informed by emotion instead of due diligence? Is climate-change alarm influencing reporting on business and politics? Should someone simply believe in anthropogenic global warming, “AGW,” because they want to believe in AGW because all the collective action we may take on behalf of AGW is good? Maybe yes, and maybe not.

Because even if AGW is real, would unleashing the power of free enterprise to adapt to changing climate realities be a better use of resources than trying to eliminate combustion through massive new transfers of wealth from the private sector to the public sector? In our view, $100 dollars per barrel of oil is a sufficient incentive for alternative energy to have a chance. Further, eliminating subsidies for fossil fuel should come before new taxes and subsidies to develop alternative energy. Reforming the public sector should come before any new taxes.

One of Monckton’s points, #30, deserves highlighting – like many of us, he rejects the position that CO2 is pollution. Without CO2 plants could not have photosynthesis, which is necessary for plants to grow and generates oxygen for humans to breath. Plants cannot breath without CO2. For such a fundamental misconception to enter into law via the U.S. Supreme Court ought to alert anyone to the fact something is wrong here. Let the gardens of private land and the gardens of public discourse adapt and benefit from this truth; CO2 is life, and airborne toxic molecules and particulates are something else altogether. In that spirit, on with the story. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

35 Inconvenient Truths – The Errors in Al Gore’s Movie
by Christopher Monckton, December 15, 2007
Al Gore Delivering Climate Change Presentation
Al Gore delivering his famous presentation.
But are his arguments really beyond debate?

In October 2007 the High Court in London identified nine “errors” in the movie An Inconvenient Truth. The judge had stated that, if the UK Government had not agreed to send to every secondary school in England a corrected guidance note, he would have made a finding that the Government’s distribution of the film to all English secondary schools had been an unlawful contravention of an Act of Parliament prohibiting the political indoctrination of children.

A Gore spokesperson and “environment advisor,” Ms. Kalee Kreider, has issued a questionable response to this news. She begins by saying that the film presented “thousands and thousands of facts.” It did not: just 2,000 “facts” in 93 minutes would have been one fact every three seconds. The film contained only a few dozen points, most of which will be seen to have been substantially inaccurate. The judge concentrated only on nine points which even the UK Government, to which Gore is a climate-change advisor, had to admit did not represent mainstream scientific opinion.

Ms. Kreider then states, incorrectly, that the judge himself had never used the term “errors.” In fact, the judge used the term “errors,” in inverted commas, throughout his judgment.

Next, Ms. Kreider makes some unjustifiable ad hominem attacks on Mr. Stewart Dimmock, the lorry driver, school governor and father of two school-age children who was the plaintiff in the case. This memorandum, however, will eschew any ad hominem response, and will concentrate exclusively on the 35 scientific inaccuracies and exaggerations in Gore’s movie.

Ms. Kreider then says, “The process of creating a 90-minute documentary from the original peer-reviewed science for an audience of moviegoers in the U.S. and around the world is complex.” However, the single web-page entitled “The Science” on the movie’s official website contains only two references to articles in the peer-reviewed scientific journals. There is also a reference to a document of the IPCC, but its documents are not independently peer-reviewed in the usual understanding of the term.

Ms. Kreider then says, “The judge stated clearly that he was not attempting to perform an analysis of the scientific questions in his ruling.” He did not need to. Each of the nine “errors” which he identified had been admitted by the UK Government to be inconsistent with the mainstream of scientific opinion.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC’s results are sometimes “conservative,” and continues: “Vice President Gore tried to convey in good faith those threats that he views as the most serious.” Readers of the long list of errors described in this memorandum will decide for themselves whether Mr. Gore was acting in good faith. However, in this connection it is significant that each of the 35 errors listed below misstates the conclusions of the scientific literature or states that there is a threat where there is none or exaggerates the threat where there may be one. All of the errors point in one direction – towards undue alarmism. Not one of the errors falls in the direction of underestimating the degree of concern in the scientific community. The likelihood that all 35 of the errors listed below could have fallen in one direction purely by inadvertence is less than 1 in 34 billion.

We now itemize 35 of the scientific errors and exaggerations in Al Gore’s movie. The first nine were listed by the judge in the High Court in London in October 2007 as being “errors.” The remaining 26 errors are just as inaccurate or exaggerated as the nine spelt out by the judge, who made it plain during the proceedings that the Court had not had time to consider more than these few errors. The judge found these errors serious enough to require the UK Government to pay substantial costs to the plaintiff.

#1 – Sea Level Rising Six Meters:

Gore says that a sea-level rise of up to 6 m (20 ft) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland. Though Gore does not say that the sea-level rise will occur in the near future, the judge found that, in the context, it was clear that this is what he had meant, since he showed expensive graphical representations of the effect of his imagined 6 m (20 ft) sea-level rise on existing populations, and he quantified the numbers who would be displaced by the sea-level rise.

The IPCC says sea-level increases up to 7 m (23 ft) above today’s levels have happened naturally in the past climate, and would only be likely to happen again after several millennia. In the next 100 years, according to calculations based on figures in the IPCC’s 2007 report, these two ice sheets between them will add a little over 6 cm (2.5 inches) to sea level, not 6 m (this figure of 6 cm is 15% of the IPCC’s total central estimate of a 43 cm or 1 ft 5 in sea-level rise over the next century). Gore has accordingly exaggerated the official sea-level estimate by nearly 10,000 percent.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC estimates a sea-level rise of “59 cm” by 2100. She fails to point out that this amounts to less than 2 ft, not the 20 ft imagined by Gore. She also fails to point out that this is the IPCC’s upper estimate, on its most extreme scenario. And she fails to state that the IPCC, faced with a stream of peer-reviewed articles stating that sea-level rise is not a threat, has reduced this upper estimate from 3 ft in 2001 to less than 2 ft (i.e. half the mean centennial sea-level rise that has occurred since the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago) in 2007.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC’s 2007 sea-level calculations excluded contributions from Greenland and West Antarctica because they could not be quantified. However, Table SPM1 of the 2007 report quantifies the contributions of these two ice-sheets to sea-level rise as representing about 15% of the total change.

Graph of Sea Level and Carbon Used

The report also mentions the possibility that there may be an unquantified further contribution in future from these two ice sheets arising from “dynamical ice flow.” However, the Greenland ice sheet rests in a depression in the bedrock created by its own weight, wherefore “dynamical ice flow” is impossible, and the IPCC says that temperature would have to be sustained at more than 5.5 degrees C above its present level for several millennia before half the Greenland ice sheet could melt, causing sea level to rise by some 3 m (10 ft).

Finally, the IPCC’s 2007 report estimates that the likelihood that humankind is having any influence on sea level at all is little better than 50:50.

The judge was accordingly correct in finding that Gore’s presentation of the imagined imminent threat of a 6 m (20 ft) sea-level rise, with his account of the supposed impact on the present-day populations of Manhattan, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, etc., etc, was not a correct statement of the mainstream science on this question.

#2 – Pacific islands “drowning”

Gore says low-lying inhabited Pacific coral atolls are already being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming, leading to the evacuation of several island populations to New Zealand. However, the atolls are not being inundated, except where dynamiting of reefs or over-extraction of fresh water by local populations has caused damage.

Furthermore, corals can grow at ten times the predicted rate of increase in sea level. It is not by some accident or coincidence that so many atolls reach just a few feet above the ocean surface.

Ms. Kreider says, “The IPCC estimates that 150 million environmental refugees could exist by the year 2050, due mainly to the effects of coastal flooding, shoreline erosion and agricultural disruption.” However, the IPCC cannot be basing its estimate on sea-level rise, since even its maximum projected rise of just 30 cm (1 ft) by 2050 would not cause significant coastal flooding or shoreline erosion. There are several coastlines (the east coast of England, for instance) where the land is sinking as a consequence of post-ice-age isostatic recovery, or where (as in Bangladesh) tectonic subduction is similarly causing the land to sink. But such natural causes owe nothing to sea-level rise.

There have been no mass evacuations of populations of islanders as suggested by Gore, though some residents of Tuvalu have asked to be moved to New Zealand, even though the tide-gauges maintained until recently by the National Tidal Facility of Australia show a mean annual sea-level rise over the past half-century equivalent to the thickness of a human hair. The problem with the Carteret Islands, mentioned by Ms. Kreider, arose not because of rising sea levels but because of imprudent dynamiting of the reefs by local fishermen.

Black and White Tree

In the Maldives, a detailed recent study showed that sea levels were unchanged today compared with 1250 years ago, though they have been higher in much of the intervening period, and have very seldom been lower.

A well-established tree very close to the Maldivian shoreline and only inches above sea level was recently uprooted by Australian environmentalists anxious to destroy this visible proof that sea level cannot have risen very far.

#3 – Thermohaline circulation “stopping”

Gore says “global warming” may shut down the thermohaline circulation in the oceans, which he calls the “ocean conveyor,” plunging Europe into an ice age. It will not. A paper published in 2006 says: “Analyses of ocean observations and model simulations suggest that changes in the thermohaline circulation during the last century are likely the result of natural multidecadal climate variability. Indications of a sustained thermohaline circulation weakening are not seen during the last few decades. Instead, a strengthening since the 1980s is observed.”

Ms. Kreider, for Mr. Gore, says that “multiple scientists” have claimed that we cannot exclude the possibility of the disruption or shutdown of the Conveyor. Disruption, perhaps: shutdown, no. It is now near-universally accepted that the thermohaline circulation cannot be and will not be shut down by “global warming,” and the film should have been corrected to reflect the consensus.

#4 – CO2 “driving temperature”

Gore says that in each of the last four interglacial warm periods it was changes in carbon dioxide concentration that caused changes in temperature. It was the other way about. Changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 concentration by between 800 and 2800 years, as scientific papers including the paper on which Gore’s film had relied had made clear.

Ms. Kreider says it is true that “greenhouse gas levels and temperature changes in the ice signals have a complicated relationship but they do fit.” This does not address Gore’s error at all. The judge found that Gore had very clearly implied that it was changes in carbon dioxide concentration that had led to changes in temperature in the palaeoclimate, when the scientific literature is unanimous (save only for a single paper by James Hansen, whom Gore trusts) to the effect that the relationship was in fact the other way about, with a carbon dioxide feedback contributing only a comparatively insignificant further increase to temperature after the temperature change had itself initiated a change in carbon dioxide concentration.

The significance of this error was explained during the court proceedings, and was accepted by the judge. Gore says that the 100 ppmv difference between carbon dioxide concentrations during ice-age temperature minima and interglacial temperature maxima represents “the difference between a nice day and a mile of ice above your head.” This would imply a CO2 effect on temperature about 10 times greater than that regarded as plausible by the consensus of mainstream scientific opinion (see Error 10).

Ms. Kreider refers readers to a “more complete description” available at a website maintained by, among others, two of the three authors of the now-discredited “hockey stick” graph that falsely attempted to abolish the Mediaeval Warm Period. The National Academy of Sciences in the US had found that graph to have “a validation skill not significantly different from zero” – i.e., the graph was useless.

#5 – Snows of Kilimanjaro “melting”

Gore says “global warming” has been melting the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. It is not.

The melting of the Furtwangler Glacier at the summit of the mountain began 125 years ago. More of the glacier had melted before Hemingway wrote The Snows of Kilimanjaro in 1936 than afterward.

Temperature at the summit never rises above freezing and is at an average of 7 Celsius. The cause of the melting is long-term climate shifts exacerbated by imprudent regional deforestation, and has nothing to do with “global warming.”

Ms. Kreider says, “Every tropical glacier for which we have documented evidence shows that glaciers are retreating.” However, a recent survey of the glaciers in the tropical Andes shows that they were largely ice-free in the past 10,000 years, except on the very highest peaks. The mere fact of warming or melting, therefore, tells us nothing of the cause.

Ms. Kreider says, “Global warming exacerbates the stresses that ecosystems (and humans) are already experiencing.” However, since the temperature at the summit of Kilimanjaro remains below freezing and has not risen in 30 years, “global warming” is not “exacerbating the stresses” at the summit of Kilimanjaro.

#6 – Lake Chad “drying up”

Gore says “global warming” dried up Lake Chad in Africa. It did not. Over-extraction of water and changing agricultural patterns dried the lake, which was also dry in 8500BC, 5500BC, 1000BC and 100BC. Ms. Kreider says, “There are multiple stresses upon Lake Chad.” However, the scientific consensus is that at present those “stresses” do not include “global warming.”

#7 – Hurricane Katrina “man made”

Gore says Hurricane Katrina, that devastated New Orleans in 2005, was caused by “global warming.” It was not. It was caused by the failure of Gore’s party, in the administration of New Orleans, to heed 30 years of warnings by the Corps of Engineers that the levees dams that kept New Orleans dry could not stand a direct hit by a hurricane. Katrina was only Category 3 when it struck the levees. They failed, as the Engineers had said they would. Gore’s party, not “global warming,” was to blame for the consequent death and destruction.

Graph of the Number of Hurricanes that Make Landfall from 1900 to 2000

Ms. Kreider says, “Mr. Gore has never addressed the issue of climate change and hurricane frequency.” What Gore actually says, however, addresses the frequency not only of hurricanes but also of typhoons and tornadoes

“We have seen in the last couple of years, a lot of big hurricanes. Hurricanes Jean, Francis and Ivan were among them. In the same year we had that string of big hurricanes; we also set an all time record for tornadoes in the United States. Japan again didn’t get as much attention in our news media, but they set an all time record for typhoons. The previous record was seven. Here are all ten of the ones they had in 2004.”

Graph of Hurricane Wind Speed and Number of Hurricanes that Make Landfall

For the record, however, the number of Atlantic hurricanes shows no trend over the past half century; the number of typhoons has fallen throughout the past 30 years; the number of tornadoes has risen only because of better detection systems for smaller tornadoes; but the number of larger tornadoes in the US has fallen.

#8 – Polar bear “dying”

Gore says a scientific study shows that polar bears are being killed swimming long distances to find ice that has melted away because of “global warming.” They are not. The study, by Monnett & Gleason (2005), mentioned just four dead bears. They had died in an exceptional storm, with high winds and waves in the Beaufort Sea. The amount of sea ice in the Beaufort Sea has grown over the past 30 years. A report for the World Wide Fund for Nature shows that polar bears, which are warm-blooded, have grown in numbers where temperature has increased, and have become fewer where temperature has fallen. Polar bears evolved from brown bears 200,000 years ago, and survived the last interglacial period, when global temperature was 5 degrees Celsius warmer than the present and there was probably no Arctic ice-cap at all. The real threat to polar bears is not “global warming” but hunting. In 1940, there were just 5,000 polar bears worldwide. Now that hunting is controlled, there are 25,000.

Ms. Kreider says sea-ice “was the lowest ever measured for minimum extent in 2007.” She does not say that the measurements, which are done by satellite, go back only 29 years. She does not say that the North-West Passage, a good proxy for Arctic sea-ice extent, was open to shipping in 1945, or that Amundsen passed through in a sailing vessel in 1903.

#9 – Coral reefs “bleaching”

Gore says coral reefs are “bleaching” because of “global warming.” They are not. There was some bleaching in 1998, but this was caused by the exceptional El Nino Southern Oscillation that year. Two similarly severe El Ninos over the past 250 years also caused extensive bleaching. “Global warming” was nothing to do with it.

Ms. Kreider says, “The IPCC and other scientific bodies have long identified increases in ocean temperatures with the bleaching of coral reefs.” So they have: but the bleaching in 1998 occurred as a result not of “global warming” but of a rare, though not unique, severe El Nino Southern Oscillation.

#10 – 100 ppmv of CO2 “melting mile-thick ice”

Gore implies that the difference of just 100 parts per million by volume in CO2 concentration between an interglacial temperature maximum and an ice-age temperature minimum causes “the difference between a nice day and having a mile of ice above your head.” It does not. Gore’s implication has the effect of overstating the mainstream consensus estimate of the effect of CO2 on temperature at least tenfold.

Temperature changes by up to 12 degrees C between glacial minima and interglacial maxima, but CO2 concentration changes by no more than 100 ppmv. Gore is accordingly implying that 100 ppmv can cause a temperature increase of up to 12 degrees C. However, the consensus as expressed by the IPCC is that 100 ppmv of increased CO2 concentration, from 180 to 280 ppmv, would increase radiant energy flux in the atmosphere by 2.33 watts per square meter, or less than 1.2 degrees Celsius including the effect of temperature feedbacks.

#11 – Hurricane Caterina “manmade”

Gore says that Hurricane Caterina, the only hurricane ever to strike the coast of Brazil, was caused by “global warming.” It was not. In 2004, Brazil’s summer sea surface temperatures were cooler than normal, not warmer. But air temperatures were the coldest in 25 years. The air was so much colder than the water that it caused a heat flux from the water to the air similar to that which fuels hurricanes in warm seas.

#12 – Japanese typhoons “a new record”

Gore says that 2004 set a new record for the number of typhoons striking Japan. It did not. The trend in the number of typhoons, and of tropical cyclones, has fallen throughout the past 50 years. The trend in rainfall from cyclones has also fallen, and there has been no trend in monsoon rainfall.

#13 – Hurricanes “getting stronger”

Galveston Hurricane of 1900

Gore says scientists had been giving warnings that hurricanes will get stronger because of “global warming.” They will not. Over the past 60 years there has been no change in the strength of hurricanes, even though hydrocarbon use went up six-fold in the same period. Research by Dr. Kerry Emanuel, cited by Ms. Kreider, has been discredited by more recent findings that wind-shear effects tend to nullify the amplification of hurricane strength which he had suggested, and, of course, by the observed failure of hurricanes to gain strength during the past 60 years of “global warming.”

#14 – Big storm insurances losses “increasing”

Hurricane Chart

Gore says insurance losses arising from large storms and other extreme-weather events are increasing, by implication because of “global warming.” They are not. Insured losses, as a percentage of the population of coastal areas in the path of hurricanes, were lower even in 2005 than they had been in 1925. In 2006, a very quiet hurricane season, Lloyds of London posted their biggest-ever profit: £3.6 billion.

#15 – Mumbai “flooding”

Monthly Total Rainfall Over Santa Cruz

Gore says flooding in Mumbai is increasing, by implication because of “global warming.” It is not. Rainfall trends at the two major weather stations in Mumbai show no increase in heavy rainfall over the past 48 years.

#16 – Severe tornadoes “more frequent”

Graph of the Number of Severe Tornadoes in the United States

Gore says that 2004 set an all-time record for tornadoes in the US. More tornadoes are being reported because detection systems are better than they were. But the number of severe tornadoes has been falling for more than 50 years.

#17 – The sun “heats the Arctic ocean”

Gore says that ice-melt allows the Sun to heat the Arctic Ocean, and a diagram shows the Sun’s rays heating it directly. It does not. The ocean emits radiant energy at the moment of absorption, and would freeze if there were no atmosphere. It is the atmosphere, not the Sun that warms the ocean. Also, Gore’s diagram confuses the tropopause with the ionosphere, and he makes a number of other errors indicating that he does not understand the elementary physics of radiative transfer.

#18 – Arctic “warming fastest”

Ice Breakers

Gore says the Arctic has been warming faster than the rest of the planet. It is not. While it is in general true that during periods of warming (whether natural or anthropogenic) the Arctic will warm faster than other regions, Gore does not mention that the Arctic has been cooling over the past 60 years, and is now one degree Celsius cooler than it was in the 1940s. There was a record amount of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere in 2001. Several vessels were icebound in the Arctic in the spring of 2007, but few newspapers reported this. The newspapers reported that the North-West Passage was free of ice in 2007, and said that this was for the first time since records began: but the records, taken by satellites, had only begun 29 years previously. The North-West Passage had also been open for shipping in 1945, and, in 1903, the great Norwegian explorer Amundsen had passed through it in a sailing ship.

#19 – Greenland ice sheet “unstable”

Greenland Change in Ice Sheet Elevation
Colors indicate ice-sheet elevation
change rate in cm/year, based on satellite
altimeter data, 1992-2003. The spatially
averaged increase is 5.4 +- 0.2 cm/year

Gore says “global warming” is making the Greenland ice sheet unstable. It is not. Greenland ice grows 2in a year. The Greenland ice sheet survived each of the previous three interglacial periods, each of which was 5 degrees Celsius warmer than the present. It survived atmospheric CO2 concentrations of up to 1000 ppmv (compared with today’s 400 ppmv). It last melted 850,000 years ago, when humankind did not exist and could not have caused the melting. There is a close correlation between variations in Solar activity and temperature anomalies in Greenland, but there is no correlation between variations in CO2 concentration and temperature changes in Greenland. The IPCC (2001) says that to melt even half the Greenland ice sheet would require temperature to rise by 5.5 degrees C and remain that high for several thousand years.

#20 – Himalayan glacial melt waters “failing”

Gore says 40% of the world’s population get their water supply from Himalayan glacial melt waters that are failing because of “global warming.” They don’t and they are not. The water comes almost entirely from snow-melt, not from ice-melt. Over the past 40 years there has been no decline in the amount of snow-melt in Eurasia.

#21 – Peruvian glaciers “disappearing”

Gore says that a Peruvian glacier is less extensive now than it was in the 1940s, implying that “global warming” is the cause. It is not. Except for the very highest peaks, the normal state of the Peruvian cordilleras has been ice-free throughout most of the past 10,000 years.

#22 – Mountain glaciers worldwide “disappearing”

Graph of Glacier Length and Metric Tons of Carbon Used

Gore says that “the ice has a story to tell, and it is worldwide.” He shows several before-and-after pictures of glaciers disappearing. However, the glacial melt began in the 1820s, long before humankind could have had any effect, and has continued at a uniform rate since, showing no acceleration since humankind began increasing the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere. Total ice volumes in three of the last four Ice Ages were lower than they are today, and “global warming” had nothing to do with that.

#23 – Sahara desert “drying”

Sand Dune

Gore says terrible tragedies are occurring in the southern Sahara because of drought which he blames on “global warming.” There is no drought caused by “global warming.” In 2007 there were record rains across the whole of the southern Sahara. In the past 25 years the Sahara has shrunk by some 300,000 square kilometers because of additional rainfall. Some scientists think “global warming” may actually mitigate pre-existing droughts because there will be more water vapor in the atmosphere. Before 1200 AD there were frequent, prolonged and severe droughts in the Great Plains. Since 1200 AD, there has been more rainfall. Likewise, the US has had more rainfall since the 1950s than it had in the earlier part of the 20th Century, when the great droughts which were then common were described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath. South African rainfall was also more stable in the second half of the 20th Century, when human effect on climate is said to have become significant, than in the first half.

#24 – West Antarctic ice sheet “unstable”

Antarctic Ice Sheet

Gore says disturbing changes have been measured under the West Antarctic ice sheet, implicitly because of “global warming.” Yet most of the recession in this ice sheet over the past 10,000 years has occurred in the absence of any sea-level or temperature forcing. In most of Antarctica, the ice is in fact growing thicker. Mean Antarctic temperature has actually fallen throughout the past half-century. In some Antarctic glens, environmental damage has been caused by temperature decreases of up to 2 degrees Celsius. Antarctic sea-ice spread to a 30-year record extent in late 2007.

#25 – Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves “breaking up”

Gore says half a dozen ice shelves each “larger than Rhode Island” have broken up and vanished from the Antarctic Peninsula recently, implicitly because of “global warming.” Global warming is unlikely to have been the cause. Gore does not explain that the ice shelves have melted before, as studies of seabed sediments have shown. The Antarctic Peninsula accounts for about 2% of the continent, in most of which the ice is growing thicker. All the recently-melted shelves, added together, amount to an area less than one-fifty-fifth the size of Texas.

#26 – Larsen B Ice Shelf “broke up because of ‘global warming’”

Gore focuses on the Larsen B ice shelf, saying that it completely disappeared in 35 days. Yet there has been extensive ice-shelf break-up throughout the past 10,000 years, and the maximum ice-shelf extent may have been in the Little Ice Age in the late 15th century.

#27 – Mosquitoes “climbing to higher altitudes”


Gore says that, because of “global warming”, mosquitoes are climbing to higher altitudes. They are not. Most recent outbreaks have been at lower levels than those of a century and more ago. He says that Nairobi was founded 1000 m above sea level so as to be above the mosquito line. It was not. In the period before anthropogenic warming could have had any significant effect, there were ten malaria outbreaks in Nairobi, one of which reached as far up as Eldoret, almost 3000 m above sea level. Malaria is not a tropical disease. Mosquitoes do not need tropical temperatures: they need no more than 15 degrees Celsius to breed. The largest malaria outbreak of modern times was in Siberia in the 1920s and 1930s, when 13 million were infected, 600,000 died and 30,000 died as far north as Arkhangelsk, on the Arctic Circle. There is no reason to suppose that malaria will spread even if the climate continues to become warmer.

#28 – Many tropical diseases “spread through ‘global warming’”

Gore says that, as well as malaria, “global warming” is spreading dengue fever, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, arena virus, avian flu, Ebola virus, E. Coli 0157:H7, Hanta virus, legionella, leptospirosis, multi-drug-resistant TB, Nipah virus, SARS and Vibrio Cholerae 0139. It is doing no such thing. Only the first four diseases are insect-borne, but none is tropical. Of the other diseases named by Gore either in his film or in the accompanying book, not one is sensitive to increasing temperature. They are spread not by warmer weather but by rats, chickens, primates, pigs, poor hygiene, ill-maintained air conditioning, or cold weather.

#29 – West Nile virus in the US “spread through ‘global warming’”

Gore says that West Nile virus spread throughout the US in just two years, implicitly because of “global warming.” It did not. The climate in the US ranges from some of the world’s hottest deserts to some of its iciest tundra. West Nile virus flourishes in any climate. Warming of the climate, however caused, does not affect its incidence or prevalence.

#30 – Carbon dioxide is “pollution”

Gore describes carbon dioxide as “global warming pollution.” It is not. It is food for plants and trees. Tests have shown that even at concentrations 30 times those of the present day even the most delicate plants flourish. Well-managed forests, such as those of the United States, are growing at record rates because the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is feeding the trees. Carbon dioxide, in geological timescale, is at a very low concentration at present. Half a billion years ago it was at 7000 parts per million by volume, about 18 times today’s concentration.

#31 – The European heat wave of 2003 “killed 35,000″

Gore says, “A couple of years ago in Europe they had that heat wave that killed 35,000.” Though some scientists agree with Gore, the scientific consensus is that extreme warm anomalies more unusual than the 2003 heat wave occur regularly; extreme cold anomalies also occur regularly; El Niýo and volcanism appear to be of much greater importance than any general warming trend; and there is little evidence that regional heat or cold waves are significantly increasing or decreasing with time. In general, warm is better than cold, which is why the largest number of life-forms are in the tropics and the least number are at the poles. A cold snap in the winter following the European heat wave killed 20,000 in the UK alone. Though the IPCC says 150,000 people a year are being killed worldwide by “global warming,” it reaches this figure only by deliberately excluding the number of people who are not being killed because there is less cold weather. In the US alone, it has been estimated that 174,000 fewer people are being killed each year because there are fewer episodes of extreme cold.

#32 – Pied flycatchers “cannot feed their young”

Gore says “The peak arrival date for migratory birds 25 years ago was April 25. Their chicks hatched on June 3, just at the time when the caterpillars were coming out: Nature’s plan. But 20 years of warming later the caterpillars peaked two weeks earlier. The chicks tried to catch up with it, but they couldn’t. So they are in trouble.” Yet adaptation is easy for the flycatchers: they merely fly a few tens of kilometers further north and they will find caterpillars hatching at the appropriate time. Besides, though Gore does not say so, what is bad news for the pied flycatchers is good news for the caterpillars, and for the butterflies they will become.

#33 – Gore’s bogus pictures and film footage

In the book accompanying Gore’s film, the story of the pied flycatchers and the caterpillars is accompanied by a picture of a bird feeding her hungry chicks. However, closer inspection shows that the bird is not a pied flycatcher but a black tern; and that she is not carrying a caterpillar in her beak, but a small fish. Gore similarly misuses spectacular footage of a glacier apparently calving off enormous slabs of ice into the sea footage that is often shown on television to accompany stories about “global warming.” However, the glacier in question is one that is known to be advancing and to be doing so more rapidly and more often than previously. It is in southern Argentina, where its snout crosses and eventually dams, Lake Argentino. Water builds up behind the ice dam and eventually bursts it, causing the spectacular collapse of ice into the lake that is so misleadingly used as the iconic image of the effect of “global warming” on glaciers. The breaking of the ice dam used to occur every eight years or so: now, however, it occurs every five years, not because of “global warming” because of the regional cooling of the southern Atlantic.

#34 – The Thames Barrier “closing more frequently”

Gore says that rising sea levels are compelling the operators of the Thames Barrier to close it more frequently than when it was first built. They are not. The barrier is indeed closed more frequently than when it was built, but the reason has nothing to do with “global warming” or rising sea levels. The reason is a change of policy by which the barrier is closed during exceptionally low tides, so as to retain water in the tidal Thames rather than keeping it out. Yet even the present leader of the official Opposition in the UK Parliament recently used a major speech as the opportunity to mention today’s more frequent closing of the Thames Barrier as though it were a matter of grave concern.

35 – “No fact…in dispute by anybody.”

Gore says that his prediction that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide will rise to more than 600 parts per million by volume as soon as 2050 is “not controversial in any way or in dispute by anybody.” However, not one of the half-dozen official projections of growth in CO2 concentration made by the IPCC shows as much as 600 parts per million by 2050.

Christopher Monckton

About the Author: Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (born 14 February 1952) is a retired British international business consultant, policy advisor, writer, and inventor. He served as an advisor to Margaret Thatcher and has attracted controversy for his public opposition to the mainstream scientific consensus on global warming and climate change. This story was originally released in October 2007 on the website of the Science & Public Policy Institute, among other places, and is republished here with permission.

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Posted in Birds, Causes, Drought, Effects Of Air Pollution, Energy, Fish, Global Warming & Climate Change, Literature, Other, Regional, Shipping, Solar, Tidal, Wind6 Comments

First Solar & Thin Film

First Solar, the first company to set up volume production of thin-film photovoltaics, has just gone public, and the market loves them. According to Morningstar, by mid-day on Monday 11-20, First Solar’s stock (FSLR) has rallied 24% after their IPO on Friday 11-17.

While the U.S. has fallen behind in production of crystalline silicon photovoltaics, it appears the U.S. manufacturers are poised to take the lead in worldwide thin film photovoltaic production.

DayStar Technologies
The photovoltaic tidal wave gathers…
Photo: DayStar Technologies

Along with First Solar, U.S. companies already shipping thin film photovoltaics include DayStar Technologies, and Unisolar. Joining them soon are silicon valley debuts Nanosolar and Miasole, who both have thin film manufacturing lines under construction.

If the forecast manufacturing levels of just these five U.S. companies are to be believed, by early 2008 they are going to be producing nearly 1.0 gigawatts of photovoltaics per year, and that is just the beginning.

This compares to the entire world production of photovoltaics in 2005 totalling only 1.6 gigawatts, and thin film only accounted for about 100 megawatts of that total. Photovoltaic manufacturing using both conventional means, using silicon ingots, and using thin film technology, is about to explode.

For photovoltaics to contribute significantly to global energy production, sustained exponential growth is necessary. But this appears possible, given the number of credible entrants into the thin film photovoltaic market, and the apparent ability of these companies to quickly establish production lines that within 18 months could easily double the manufacturing output of photovoltaics worldwide.

Moreover, the supply and the cost of raw materials necessary to manufacture thin film photovoltaics does not appear to be a constraint, as it is with with those relying on crystalline silicon. As a result, thin film photovoltaics are cheap and getting cheaper. In First Solar’s S-1 Statement, filed prior to their IPO, they state “During the three months ended September 30, 2006, we produced approximately 18MW of solar modules at a manufacturing cost per Watt of $1.42.” This cost includes about $.07 for expensed stock options, which the accountants among us know is a theoretical cost at best.

First Solar claims they could soon be the first company to manufacture photovoltaics at a cost that would be competitive with conventional electricity, which would require their costs to get down to around $.75 per watt. They are well on their way, and if the claims of newcomers such as Nanosolar come to fruition, they won’t be alone.

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WildAid Fights Animal Trade to Help Save Endangered Species

Bear in Cage
Caged helplessly, with permanent catheters,
Bears can yield gall bile for decades before dying.
(Photo: International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Editor’s Note: If we can cage our tigers and bears, and breed them for the slaughter, why do we need wilderness? If we have game parks, why have wilderness? Hunting elephants and mountain lions according to a strictly regulated program of limited licensing and seasons, for example, can save the wilderness. Turn them all into safari parks.

We can create aquaculture and theme parks on a scale to rival the wilderness itself, or we think we can – or perhaps we should? Because today more than ever, everything on earth is encroached upon. Everything is globalized. Artificial environments and alien invasions are now ubiquitous. Today within humanity there are confluences of cultures and peoples on a global scale as never before, and this mirrors and is mirrored by the unprecedented transmigrations of countless plant and animal species

Is the desire to hunt big game any better than the belief that certain wild animal parts offer energy, healing, taste, wealth and prestige? So we take their heads and pelts, stuff them as trophies, harvest their bile, their bones, their organs. But when any hunt turns into a genocidal slaughter the killing must stop. And when killing for the hunt or the harvest is replaced by cruel, tortuous captivity, then traffic in animal parts must stop.

When only hundreds of humans were rich, and the wilderness spanned far beyond our reach, it didn’t matter quite so much that animals were killed for sport or superstitions. But now hundreds of millions of humans are rich, and the last wildernesses are melting away like butter in the sun… And we’re often well-meaning, when, for example, we help cut good second-growth forest where wildlife might return, so we can turn “carbon-neutral” biofuel monocultures into a commodity. The prognosis for this world’s wildlife is as tenuous as ever.

The only way to save wilderness-born, charismatic fauna from slaughter is to raise consciousness, everywhere in the world. If our global communications revolution can spread anything, and it can, then it can spread this. is a San Francisco based organization who has enlisted many globally recognized people to campaign to stop trading in animal parts by reducing demand. They say “when the buying stops, the killing can too.” WildAid also supports recruiting and training for teams who hunt down and prosecute traders in animal parts. These courageous warriors for the wilderness operate all over the world. Their intervention was probably decisive, for example, in saving the Siberian Tiger who still only number in the hundreds. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

Save Endangered Species – When The Buying Stops, So Can The Killing
by Daniela Muhawi, October 28, 2006
Armed Forest Rangers in African Preserve
Rangers provide protective cover
(Photo: IFAW/Richard Sobol)

A person will do anything to feel better when they are sick.

While in Korea, one might find themselves sipping Asiatic Black Bear bile to cure an ailing liver. In China, ground tiger bone has been used to treat arthritis for centuries while a tiger’s penis makes a soup believed to work as an aphrodisiac. A rhino horn is believed to cure everything from fever to convulsions.

With a price tag of over $5,000 dollars for a bear’s bile producing gall bladder and up to $400 for a bowl of libido inducing soup, these are extremely costly remedies. Not to mention the cost of losing yet another wild animal to harvest its parts.

Billions of dollars worth of animal parts are bought world wide on a yearly basis. Traditional medicine is a major reason for the illegal trade of wildlife, a taste for the exotic is another. It might seem like a good idea to try some of the delicacies made from wild meat, but even if one finds shark fin soup, snake fillets, or pangolin (Asian ant-eater) steaks appetizing, it is important to realize that an animal (often endangered or threatened) was killed unnecessarily for the experience.

Illegal animal trade is most acute in Asia, and this is where one of the most successful environmental groups, WildAid, has managed to make the biggest difference. WildAid fights illegal trade aggressively by working with the local governments, communities and celebrities. The organization’s website explains that their “programs disrupt the trade at every level by reducing poaching, targeting illegal traders and smugglers, and drastically lowering consumer demand for endangered species parts and products.”

Co-founder of WildAid, Peter Knights, travels the world in an effort to help governments protect the endangered species of their country from poachers by any means necessary. In the past, it was not unheard of for Knights to expose poachers by taking the dangerous role of an undercover buyer. Most of WildAid’s current work, however, involves more traditional methods such as training the local rangers or educating the public.

Dead Rotting Elephant Carcass in African Stream
Once majestic and fearless, this Congolese Elephant was
no match for guns and the huge market for his ivory.
(Photo: IFAW/Richard Sobol)

WildAid is unique on its focus on addressing world demand for animal parts.

“Over 80 celebrities, mostly Asians, have recorded public service announcements that they have stopped buying wild caught products. Top advertising agency J. Walter Thompson has produced amazing Nike quality commercials pro bono,” says Knights with pride, “and most importantly our message goes out all over the world to up to 1 billion people a week. We’ve had a tremendous response from Bollywood in India and great support from stars and the media in China, the largest source of demand. Our messages have aired prime time on the main government TV stations. Last month Yao Ming [the 7"5 foot tall basketball player famous for being the best and most dedicated player in China and welcome addition to the NBA], held a press conference for WildAid and vowed never to eat shark fin soup again.”

Jackie Chan, arguably the most famous celebrity in the world, known for his action packed Kung-Fu movies, is also a representative of WildAid. As one of the International ambassadors for WildAid’s ‘Active Conservation Awareness Program’ (ACAP), Jackie delivers WildAid’s message. A variety of Media Partners such as CNN, Discovery, National Geographic, StarTV, CBS, NBC, Fox, Bloomberg and China’s CCTV, provide WildAid with free air-time where celebrities can voice their opinion on wildlife trade.

“It is basically analogous to the drug trade,” Knights continues to explain, “law enforcement alone is not going to make the problem go away. If people want to buy drugs and enough people have the money to do so, then there will be people willing to grow, smuggle and sell the stuff no matter how many coca fields you destroy. The long term solution is for people to stop buying products. We need to stop demand. To do that you need to raise awareness and make it socially unacceptable.”

ACAP Active Conservation Awareness Program Logo

Shark fin is the most widely spread product in China. One can even purchase prepackaged, ready made soups that contain shark fin at most grocery stores. The sharks harvested for their fins are not classified as endangered largely because fishing records are too poor to document the declines. These sharks will eventually reach the endangered list if current trends continue. Knights explains why shark fin is so popular: “It is a prestigious thing to eat shark fin in China. It is a sign of respect because people know it is expensive. Wild animal meat is seen as an exotic luxury&We did a survey and 35% of the surveyed urban Chinese reported having eaten it in the last year. The Survey included 24,000 people in 14 cities. Snakes are another wild animal often eaten and China has recently banned the eating of snakes to discourage this. So there is hope that the government will act as well as supporting the education efforts.”

Stack of Dried Seal Penises
Dried Seal penises such as these await buyers
succumbed to promises of traditional medicine
(Photo: IFAW)

Various surveys were taken before and after WildAid launched their campaign to stop shark fin soup consumption, and the results are promising. “We don’t know the exact number of other illegally traded goods, “says Knights, “In Thailand, 30% of those surveyed said they stopped eating shark fin altogether. In Taiwan, 38% of the public said they ate less shark fin and 15% stopped completely. Another sign that our campaign has made a difference is that in Thailand, people of the shark fin trade actually tried to sue us.”

Wildlife poachers and traders are not too happy about WildAid reducing the appeal of their product, but Knights insists that they will be out of work shortly anyway if they continue their activities. “Finding alternative income sources for poachers is part of the solution, as is beefing up law enforcement,” he says.

What many people don’t know is that eating wild meat is risky. Many diseases are found in wild animals. What is worse is that illegally traded meat does not undergo a real health inspection. The meat from a tiger looks the same whether the animal is sick or not, and a poacher will get paid either way.

“There is a high risk of disease transmission,” says Knights, “the risk is also increased because it is unregulated. SARS was thought to initially be related to the trade and many are unaware of the anthrax and Ebola transmissions that could occur through bush-meat trade; there have been cases in Africa where animals have died from anthrax and this bush-meat was still sold for consumption. The most likely source to new disease outbreaks to which we have no immunity is from wild animals that haven’t been in close contact with humans previously. As deforestation goes on, new areas become accessible and bush meat hunters follow, shipping potentially tainted meat to cities and even internationally…You couldn’t find a better way to spread disease.”

A rescued Chimp in Northern Zambia
whose parents were killed for bushmeat
(Photo: IFAW/John Hrusa)

Commando, a rescued baby chimp, at Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Northern Zambia. Commando was orphaned as a result of illegal bushmeat trade in Central African Republic. Photographer: Jon Hrusa

Pets can also harbor dangerous diseases: The monkey-pox outbreak that affected dozens of people in the U.S who bought prairie dogs was traced back to a Gambian rat imported from Africa that was caged with the prairie dogs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that macaques can transfer the herpes B virus to humans and imported parrots carry psittacosis and reptiles salmonella. It can also be a threat to domestic livestock: Newcastle disease, carried by smuggled parrots, resulted in the deaths of millions of chickens and turkeys in the past decade.

Apparently, with illegally traded and wild caught animals, you never know what you’re going to get. You might have purchased an exotic virus to go along with the exotic animal. Importing wild animals and their parts is not just harmful for the species in question, but also for the consumer. In a bizarre way, these animals are retaliating.

Things are not just risky when it comes to eating wild animal meat, but can also be a waste of money. With the knowledge that a bowl of exotic tiger soup can bring in $500, restaurant owners will obviously try and sell that product whether the ingredients are at hand or not. Consumers will not be happy to know that the tiger penis soup they enjoyed earlier that evening actually contained a donkey tendon marinated in tiger urine instead of the main ingredient they had paid so much for.

Local populations are not the only ones that provide the demand for illegally traded products; Tourists have a major impact on wildlife trade. Tourists are drawn to remote locations where a variety of products can be bought from local merchants. Some of the most popular items sold are made from turtle shells, reptile skins, animal fur or ivory. The coasters, combs, forks, carpets or jewelry might look beautiful, but purchasing these items only encourages poachers to continue killing the animals that supply the necessary parts.

Rhino Horn in Silk Box
In a beautiful silk box, Rhino horn
and Rhino horn medicine.
(Photo: IFAW)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s brochure ‘Facts about Federal Wildlife Laws’ includes a large list of items sold to tourists worldwide. Items falling into the endangered species category which are commonly sold abroad but are prohibited entry into the U.S [and most other countries] include:

Whole shells or “tortoise” shell jewelry made from shells of sea turtles.

Sea turtle soup and facial creams.

Rugs, pelts, hunting trophies, and a wide variety of manufactured articles (such as handbags, compacts, coats, wallets, key cases etc.) made from the skins and/or fur of endangered or threatened animals.

Asian elephant ivory and whale teeth decorated with etchings (scrimshaw) or made into figurines (netsuke), curios, pendants, and other jewelry.

African elephant ivory, both raw and worked.

Sea turtle and some crocodile leather shoes, handbags, belts, wallets, luggage, and similar articles.

Sealskin toys, purses, wallets.

Whalebone and whale and walrus ivory.

Elephant Foot Footstool
Rescued too late – an elephant-foot footstool
comprises part of an IFAW exhibit.
(Photo: IFAW)

One of the more obvious and tasteless items sold abroad is a stool made from an elephant’s foot, cushioned with zebra hide.

“Many species are close to extinction, and many more may become endangered at a faster rate than ever before sometimes while the trade is still legal. Illegal trade is causing a decline in certain species, but the problem is that with globalization and economic growth trade has spread to different species sourced from all over the world. China’s middle class of potential consumers has grown to 250 million people in the last decade and is projected to double in another decade. So today’s legal wildlife trade can soon turn into tomorrow’s endangered species.

The illegal animal trade is a moving target. There are definitely areas where the situation has improved; elephant ivory poaching has decreased since the trade was banned in 1989, rhino horn poaching has gone down since major awareness efforts in 1993, but other animals like sharks are being hunted unsustainably now with some populations declining 80% in fifteen years. Tiger poaching is still a major problem and as some animals disappear new species replace them because there is a demand.”

According to the State Department of China, the United States is the second largest importer of illegal wildlife in the world. Knights attributes this to the countries’ wealth and ethnic diversity: “A lot of these trades are derived from specific areas and peoples of the world,” says Knights, “So while smuggled Russian caviar may be a rich Caucasian delicacy, shark fin soup is largely an East Asian dish. Rhino horn, tiger bone, bear bladder and sea horses are imported for Chinese health remedies, while sea turtle eggs is served in some Hispanic bars, and bush meat is served in some African restaurants.”

WildAid Logo

Sea horses are more appealing swimming in the ocean than in a pot. Rhino carcasses are left to rot for a horn that has not been proven to cure any illness. Massive flocks of colorful parrots are netted in the wild and only a few survive the trip out of the country hidden in tires and pipes. Protecting a habitat means nothing without protecting its wildlife. State parks exist all over the world, but they are meaningless if they are empty. The illegal wildlife trade needs to be stopped, and this is where WildAid comes in. As the only group that focuses on stopping the role of demand, they are protecting the parks and the animals that reside within them, too. Their slogan says it best: “when the buying stops, the killing can too.”


- Shark Trust

- SeaShepherd (various Marine fish and mammals)

- White Shark Trust

- Shark Project

- Bear Bile Farming Info

- Earth Trust – Bear Farming

- Allied Effort to Save Other Primates

- MonkeyLand

- National Wildlife Federation

- Elephant Protection

- International Rhino Foundation

- Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network

- World Wildlife Fund

- The Humane Society of the United States

- Wildlife Conservation Society

- International Fund for Animal Welfare

- World Conservation Union

- Conservation International

- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

- Wildlife Protection Society of India

- Defenders of Wildlife

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Posted in Animals, Conservation, Consumption, Education, Energy, Fish, Mammals, Other, Reptiles, Shipping2 Comments

Jatropha in Africa

Jatropha Nursery in Zambia
A Jatropha Nursery in Zambia

Editor’s Note: When this article was originally posted, in 2005, we were just becoming aware of the potential of biofuel. We had published
Hope in Jatropha about a year earlier, a thrilling story that described how this tough perennial tree could survive in the desert, and could actually stablize soil and combat desertification, at the same time as its beans could be refined for diesel fuel.

Then a few months later we posted the feature Europe Adopts Jatropha which described what seemed to be hopeful momentum towards increasing use of biofuels by the European Community. Since this time we’ve become concerned about the level of deforestation caused by biofuel. It’s one thing for biofuel to exist because of a competitive market, but quite another to allow subsidies and credit offets finance deforestation for biofuel. If you farm biofuel, beware, these subsidies and offset credits will go away the moment the Europeans realize they are financing destruction of forests.

The article to follow is valuable because it goes into some technical detail on Jatropha. But the yields claimed in this story have been challenged by many of our readers, and the author may have been optimistic. When you review the tables, insert your own assumptions regarding yield – consider these ultra best cases, if that. Rather than remove this feature, we’ve left it up because there is a lot of practical information that can help aspiring Jatropha farmers to consider. But where do you wish to plant the fuel crop? Somewhere it can fight the desert, or in a former rainforest? Because Jatropha in the desert will not yield much fuel per acre, and Jatropha where rainforest was will produce much better, at least at first. Eventually loss of the forest reduces precipitation, and these Jatropha crops will require more and more expensive irrigation. Do you want to fight deserts or create them?

We have removed the glowing enthusiasm of the ingenue that informed the first editor’s note to this feature. We scrapped the whole thing and replaced it with this cautionary note. Carbon offset credits are fueling the rainforest burning. In our opinion, continuing to destroy the tropical rainforests is far more harmful than, say, extracting heavy oil from Orinoco and burning it clean. If you want a few jatropha plants to attain energy independence for your farm or village, or are advancing into the desert with life, grow jatropha. Jatropha may or may not be such a good idea if you are looking to make tons of profit; there are many remaining technical hurdles to lower refining costs, and the money from subsidies and credits may stop. – Ed “Redwood” Ring, August 2007

Jatropha in Africa – Fighting the Desert and Creating Wealth
by Keith Parsons, August 21st, 2005

Jatropha curcus is unusual among tree crops.

Perhaps its most unusual feature is its modular construction. The dry fruits and seeds will remain on the tree for some time, before falling to the ground, especially under dry conditions. Benefits include but are not limited to:

Oil as raw material: Oil has a very high Saponification value and is being extensively used for making soap in some countries. Also, the oil is used as an illuminant as it burns without emitting smoke.

Medicinal plant: The latex of Jatropha curcas (VanaErand or RatanJyot) contains an alkaloid known as “jatrophine” which is believed to have anti-cancerous properties.

Raw material for dye: The bark of Jatropha curcas (VanaErand or RatanJyot) yields a dark blue dye which is used for colouring cloth, fishing nets and lines.

Soil enrichment: Jatropha curcas (VanaErand or RatanJyot) oil cake is rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and can be used as organic manure.

Feed: Jatropha leaves are used as food for the tusser silkworm.

In addition to these benefits, scientists at Perdue University in the U.S. and elsewhere are working in the extraction of usable pharmaceutical derivatives from Jatropha Curcas while others are attempting to grow non-toxic plants (Mexico).

Preliminary research indicates Jatropha may display certain Anti-Tumor properties, Anti Malarial properties and research is advancing related to HIV/AID’s and immune system response enhancement. There are other levels of use that can be exploited. Direct fermentation of seed cake and pulp delivers an organic fertilizer that has a high potential for export to developed countries.

It is in the field of Bio Diesel fuel, however, that Jatropha’s properties are the most exciting. At same power output, Jatropha curcas oil specific consumption and efficiencies are higher than those of diesel fuel. Tests conducted show that out of these various vegetable oils including copra, palm, groundnut, cottonseed, rapeseed, soya and sunflower – the lowest exhaust gas emissions were obtained with copra and Jatropha Curcas crude oil.

Areas in Africa Suitable for Jatropha
Over 50% of Africa’s land has the
right climate for growing Jatropha


In a survey conducted by Dr. Guy Midgley, Chief Specialist Scientist of the Kirstenbosch Research Center of of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Cape Town) over 1,080 million hectares land Africa could be termed prime growing regions for Jatropha Curcas on the African continent. A further 580 million hectares could be used making a total of 1,660 million hectares suitable for the growing of Jatropha Curcas.

On the map of Africa the dark areas represent prime Jatropha growing regions in Africa. These areas, comprising over 1,080 million hectares, or 10.8 million square kilometers, are ideal because the average annual rainfall exceeds 800 mm, and the minimum temperature of the coldest month is greater than 2 degrees centigrade.

The light green areas of the map are areas with average annual rainfall in excess of 300 mm, with the minimum temperature of the coldest month greater than 2 degrees centigrade. These areas, comprising over 580 million hectares, or 5.8 million square kilometers, are also viable regions for growing Jatropha.


Jatropha Facts
Jatropha Facts

Referring to the table, the yield per hectare per year is up to 8.0 tons of Jatropha seed, which contain over 30% oil. At $320 (US$) per ton, this will translate into sales of Jatropha crude oil of $768 per hectare per year. Of potentially equal or greater value is the yield from Jatropha seeds of glycerin. Up to 7% of Jatropha seeds are made up of glycerin, which sells for up to $2,000 per ton. This translates into glycerin sales of up to $1,120 per year per hectare, or total sales of up to $1,888 per year per hectare.

Editor’s note: In subsequent investigations we have not been able to corroborate the author’s claim of 8 tons per acre. Jatropha yields vary widely, but in no other example has such a high yield been reported.

Imagine, if only 3% of the land in Africa that is considered viable land to grow Jatropha was actually planted with Jatropha, with a yield of 8 tons per hectare per year and an oil content of 30% some 119 Million tons of Jatropha crude oil would be produced per year. The glycerin content at 7% of the 119 M tons would produce an additional 8.366 M tons. Glycerin is indeed a valuable by product.

In terms of annual revenues, if only 3% of the potential Jatropha growing regions in Africa were planted with Jatropha, based on a Jatropha crude oil price of $320 per ton and with glycerin selling at $2000 per ton a total sales value of $55 billion per year would be generated. Processing the crude oil into Bio Diesel would on average in Africa add a further 15% to the sales value. This sales value excludes other byproducts of Jatropha. Most African countries are oil dependent and foreign exchange expenditure would be reduced.

Jatropha farming could be an incredible contribution to economic development in Africa. Feasibility however is problematic due to the difficulty sourcing suitable financing. The two main reasons for failures to source funding are:

1) Land in many countries in Africa is not owned but leased. This effectively eliminates land being used as collateral by funders.

2) Start up agriculture projects are generally among the most difficult projects for which to obtain funding.

Moreover, financial models show that an assured supply of feed stock is required from a central area to ensure a viable project. Only when this is assured can out growers be considered to supplement the main supply chain. Projects where only marginal land is to be used will be very border line and unlikely to financially succeed. Good yields on marginal land are highly unlikely to be obtained.

Jatropha Plantation
Jatropha seedlings grown by
Stancom Tobacco in Malawi


There are still some inherent problems with Jatropha and research work is still required. We are learning more and more about the properties of Jatropha. These potential problems include:

1) Jatropha oil is hydroscopic – absorbs water and needs nitrogen blanketing on steel tanks. One issue that is quite clear is because Jatropha is high in acid, it has the tendency to degrade quickly, particularly if not handled properly through the supply chain.

2) Right from the time of expelling, the oil needs to be kept in storage conditions that prevent undue degradation. Exposure to air and moisture must be minimized – hence the need for nitrogen blanketing on the tanks.

3) The range of fatty acids present in the various seeds will differ but the oil and biodiesel that is produced must be acceptable. However, this assumes that that oil is fully degummed. The degumming may well be more of a problem than making biodiesel!

4) The phospholipid, protein and phorbol ester contents in edible Jatropha seem to be quite different compared to these contents in non-edible Jatropha. It needs to determined if this affects the degumming method. The degumming removes lecithin and other related compounds, so if these are high than a modified degumming method may be needed. If the oil is properly dried after degumming and kept under nitrogen blanketing this may suffice. Biodiesel companies are investigating storage requirements and the oxidative stability of Jatropha.

5) Seeds degrade as soon as they are picked and so careful storage and handling is required. In the warm humid atmosphere in countries such as Ghana the degradation of seeds can be rapid. Even in the U.K. seed storage is a problem. Recently a U.K. importer had samples of rapeseed that had been harvested and stored in wet weather. The analysis showed that they had 28% of free fatty acid! The free fatty acid must not increase above 2%.

6) There has never been a highly commercial group handling Jatropha Curcas harvest and derivatives.

BioDiesel 1Group Logo
The BD-1 Group, located in Durban,
South Africa, with a 12,000 hectare
farm in Ghana, is an African
pioneer in Jatropha cultivation

Rubber Nitrile tanks are perfect for container shipping as there is no exposure to the atmosphere or the air, this is because they are collapsible and always work in a vacuum. They can be fitted in a 20ft – 30 ton container. Each container would hold about 22.4 tons Jatropha Curcas crude oil. Their use would prevent the problem of water absorption.

World Wide manufactures of Bio Diesel processors are beginning to recognize the need for their units to be able to accept more than one variety of vegetable oil. The pre-processors, (de-gumming units) must be designed to be “multi disciplinary”. Commercial Bio Diesel processors are expensive and it is financially essential for feed stock to be available on a continuous basis. Harvesting is seasonal and storage time has to be minimal due to the free fatty acids having to be no more than 2%.

National Biodiversity Institute SANBI Logo
South African

Feasibility studies ideally need to be done but this is far too time consuming. The bio-diesel entrepreneur would need to take some statistical chances. By growing at the same time alternative crops to Jatropha curcus the problems may be somewhat reduced.

It makes sense that a bio-diesel entrepreneur should focus on the promotion of partnerships and in-house activities that support multiple crop development and improvement activities as well as seeking the add on values that are available.

Climate change will grossly increase African’s poverty levels. A Bio Diesel 1 Group initiative introduced Stancom Tobacco to the benefits of growing Jatropha curcas for conversion into Bio Diesel. The photos in this article show the Stancom Tobacco’s nurseries in Zambia. The harvested seed will be collected by BD1 Malawi and processed into crude oil.


—–Original Message—–

From: ATTMA []

Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2005 7:32 AM


Subject: Jatropha vs Pongamia


Your article is excellent. Certainly we should go in for Bio-Diesel. My point is which is most suited for Indian Conditions. Jatropha or Pongamia. Pongamia is native to India whereas Jatropha is an Imported one. Why not we encourage Pongamia cultivation. Is there any other problem or issues involved in it? Please do reply.


Karuppan Gnanasambandan



I have forwarded your inquiry to some people involved in jatropha production and indeed Pongamia is already well known as a plant to cultivate for bio-fuel. We will investigate this further and hopefully have some reports for you on the differences between these plants.

Thank you for your email,

Ed Ring

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