2012 was the second-costliest year of natural disaster in history.

2012 saw many natural disasters strike across the nation, causing the death of many American citizens and inflicting billions of dollars in property and infrastructural damage. From hurricanes and earthquakes to droughts, heat waves and wildfires, events were both widespread and severe. These events surely proves that there is climate change and it’s affecting us all.

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According to NCDC’s 2012 weather and climate disasters information, 2012 saw 11 weather and climate disaster events each with losses exceeding $1 billion in damages. This made 2012 the second costliest year since 1980, with a total of more than $110 billion in damages throughout the year. The 2012 total damages rank only behind 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages due in part to four devastating land-falling hurricanes which includes hurricane Katrina. The two major drivers of damage costs in 2012 were Hurricane Sandy (at approximately $65 billion) and the year-long drought (at approximately $30 billion.)

Droughts and other natural disasters are causing the world a lot of money, lives and properties and according to experts, it is also projected that 2013 will have more damaging drought effects in comparison to 2012. Disasters like these continue to emphasize the need to protect the earth from climate change. We as people should be ready to make sacrifices to reduce climate change as much as we can. I sincerely hope the world leaders understand the predicament we face today and make decisive moves to combat climate change. We as citizens also need to change our life style in order to have a significant impact in protecting the environment.

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Less Smog in California, despite more people and cars.

This is great news coming out of California. Californian environment is reaping the dividend of having strict environmental regulations. As you all know it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get environmental permits to build new fossil fuel power plant or industries in California.  In as much as I do not agree with all environmental regulation in California, I still believe it’s paying off now. The LA Times on June 5, 2013 published a report titled “Despite more people and more cars, California’s smog is in retreat”.

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According to the report, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado led the research, which analyzed decades of data and collected air samples from over flights in 2010. The study found that Southern California’s air chemistry has changed for the better. The amount of organic nitrates in the atmosphere which causes smog has drastically reduced. Ozone and other pollutants have been monitored in the state since the 1960s. Since then, the population in Southern California has tripled, as has the number of cars on the road. Nevertheless, tailpipe emissions have decreased.

The state of California’s stringent emission standard has been credited for this pollution reduction. But I need to remind you that this progress comes with a price. Residences of California are paying for this environment progress with their hard-earned income. And energy productions to the state are offshore from neighboring states to supplement supplies from the few power plants in the state.

Happy father’s day to all the fathers.

 

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Did John Cook really ‘cook the books’?

Few weeks ago when a posted a blog titled; “Scientific Studies Agrees on Human Caused Climate Change” based on information provided by John Cook and his colleagues, I taught I had a good piece of information. It turns out that the post was based on research that has misleading information.  Forbes online contributor James Taylor posted an article that undermines the credibility of this research and I taught it’s important for me to write a sequel on this post explaining why the information provided might be wrong.  After taking a closer look at the paper, investigative journalist report that the authors’ claims of a 97-pecent consensus relied on the authors misclassifying the papers of some of the world’s most prominent global warming skeptics. It was also alleged that the author created a meaningless survey question so as to twist the response to support their desired interest.

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Investigative journalists looked into the research data and found out that Cook and his colleagues wrongfully classified papers by prominent, vigorous skeptics as Willie Soon, Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir Shaviv, Nils-Axel Morner and Alan Carlin as supporting the 97-percent consensus. For example the paper classified a peer-reviewed paper by scientist Craig Idso as explicitly supporting the ‘consensus’ position on global warming “without minimizing” the asserted severity of global warming. When Idso was asked whether this was an accurate characterization of his paper, Idso responded, “That is not an accurate representation of my paper”. The papers examined how the rise in atmospheric CO2 could be inducing a phase advance in the spring portion of the atmosphere’s seasonal CO2 cycle. Other literature had previously claimed a measured advance was due to rising temperatures, but it’s shown that it was quite likely the rise in atmospheric CO2 itself was responsible for the lion’s share of the change. It would be incorrect to claim that our paper was an endorsement of CO2-induced global warming.”   You can find the article here for more information on why Cook’s assumptions were not necessarily all correct.

Misleading information like this sometimes makes me doubt the severity of global warming and its relative anthropogenic contributions.   For me, it sometimes reduces the legitimacy of many global warming researches because most of the finding where influence by the underlining ideologies and interests of the authors. I still believe that human activities influences global warming but the degree and significance of its influence cannot be ascertained for now. Remember, in as much as we cannot stop the natural contribution factors to global warming, we should try to reduce human contributions as much as we can.

Thanks.

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It’s time for family planning fellas.

This post is a continuation to my previous post titled “Climate change and overpopulation”. I believe it’s important to curb this outrageous population growth in other to make significant impact on climate change. One important tool for population control I will be talking about today is family planning. Family planning is often overlooked when we talk about climate change because we cannot easily correlate the direct relationship to climate change. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers population growth to be one of the most consistent factors contributing to climate change but technology based (and market driven) solutions continue to get more political will and attention.

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Family planning has always been a grave topic to talk about in today’s world because of its religious and political implications. I think is time for us to speak out. It’s important to manage the world’s population and have children that we truly can afford to take care of. Since the beginning of the industrial age, the benchmark widely used is the historical moment when carbon emissions began to skyrocket.The earth’s population has increased several folds. Right now, we’re growing at an average of about 78 million more people per year, and most of that growth is happening in areas where pregnancies are unplanned and often unwanted. Every year 200 million women get pregnant, and a third of those women did not plan their pregnancy.

One very important point to note is that industries will only produce products that they have market to consume. If the world’s population is reduced or the growth is curtailed, then there will be less need for mass production which will at the end force  industries to be efficient in their production line. I know population is associated with sensitive issues like sexuality, contraception, abortion, migration, and religion. But increasing women’s reproductive rights should be at the heart of the climate discussion, in the same basket as strategies like increasing energy efficiency and researching new technologies. Spread the word about family planning today.

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Scientific Studies Agrees On Human Caused Climate Change.

This is a ‘zip-it’ notice to all the climate skeptics out there (laughs…). A study from the University of Queensland is revealing an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent global warming is human-caused. Many environmental skeptics have always been arguing why we should not believe that anthropogenic climate change is real.This study puts that to rest and substantiate the reasons man-made climate change is real. The study is the most comprehensive yet, and identified 4000 summaries, otherwise known as abstracts, from papers published in the past 21 years that stated a position on the cause of recent global warming — 97 percent of these endorsed the consensus that we are seeing: human-made, or anthropogenic global warming.

John Cook who led this study said “these findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary. There is a gaYou-Control-Climate-Change-773583ping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception. It’s staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.” I think this is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they’re more likely to support policies that take actions to stop it. It also helps to reduce the criticism of the climate change regulatory programs.

It’s not only man-made effect that causes climate change, the earths itself will experience a level of change since it’s not static in nature and there is evidence of life on it. Those changes are natural and we have no control over. The most important thing to note here is that since we cannot control the nature effects on climate change, we should do something to manage those we can control. We should work together to reduce human activities the influences climate change. Talk to someone about climate change today.

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What do you think about bike sharing?

We have rental cars, airplanes, helicopter, boats…. why not bicycles?  Most times we look at the cost and think there is no need to rent a bicycle when you can easily afford one. The major reason for bike sharing is not because of the cost, it’s basically a means of reducing pollution for short trips that would have been easy to use a bike as well. Bike sharing is getting common everywhere now so why not join the group of people that care about climate change. I remember at Oklahoma state university, we used to have a bicycle network owned by the school which students can easily borrow for short trips inside the campus. Bike sharing network ensures that you always have a bicycle anywhere and anytime you need it.

 

update112_countriesToday, I read on the Earth Policy Institute website that “500 cities in 49 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of over 500,000 bicycles”, so the question you should ask yourself is why not here?  Forward-thinking cities are turning back to the humble bicycle as a way to enhance mobility, alleviate automotive congestion, reduce air pollution, boost health, support local businesses, and attract more young people.In the United States, more than two dozen cities have active public bike-sharing programs, including Washington, DC, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Boston, Miami Beach, Denver, Madison, and Ft. Worth.

On the 8th of April 29, 2013, the city of New York released the city’s first bike sharing program themed;“NYC Bike Share: Designed by New Yorkers ”. From May 2013, Cyclists will be able to purchase passes to the system which at the moment has three subscription options: a 24-Hour Pass for $9.95, a 7-Day Pass for $25, or an Annual Membership for $95. This program will definitely reduce pollution in the city and equally institute healthy lifestyle among residents by exercising with the bikes.

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Your short lunch break needs a bike and not your car, you quick run to the store could make use of a bike too, going to classes will be better on bikes and all other short errands will be okay with the use of a bike. I know that problem of theft and vandalism that disrupted previous programs like this will still be there, but designing a unique special bicycle that cannot be sold in the commercial market and having proper monitoring systems like the library book lending will definitely reduce or eliminate theft. This is a call to tell you council representatives that you need a “Bike Sharing” network in your city.

ACT NOW!

Thanks.

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Dubai is leading renewable energy generation in the gulf.

I was very impressed to read about the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park project flagged-off by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, (DEWA) last year. This project will be a pioneering initiative by a middle-eastern country into renewable energy production. The project costing more than Dh12 billion (3.2 billion US dollars), was launched in January 2012 and is considered the largest of such project in the Gulf region. The park is part of Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030’s target to use solar energy to generate five percent of the emirate’s total power output by 2030.

Makhtoum Solar Park

The Dubai government has earmarked 48sqkm of land for this project which is expected to be completed by 2030. The first phase will be built at a cost of Dh120 million and aims to generate 10 MW of power by the fourth quarter of 2013. The full project of 1,000 MW will be completed by 2030.The future projects will be scheduled to achieve set objectives of satisfying one percent of Dubai’s energy needs by 2020 and five percent by 2030 as per the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 targets. The park will include an R&D Centre that will run tests on solar technologies such as photovoltaic, concentrated solar energy systems, parabolic dishes etc.

I think this is a very interesting gesture by the government of UAE where oil and gas recourse is presumed to be in excess and the cost is relatively very cheap. This should send some thoughts to the rest of the world that no matter how expensive the use of renewable energy is, it’s still very important to invest in it to protect the environment and also to diversify energy needs. I corroborate the saying that “cheaper does not always mean better”. The fact that the US is enjoying the abundant natural gas resource now does not mean that it should forget its commitment to renewable energy.

The government should do more in supporting renewable energy project because it is becoming increasingly expensive to finance by private investors. Some states have proposed different renewable energy standard from power generation and I strongly believe the whole country should follow suit. These policies should be equally applied across the states and provisions to make it achievable should be provided by the government. Hope other countries in the mid east will equally follow this Dubai power park initiative and together we will reduce climate change. Kindly drop your comments below on how to increase renewable energy production in your area.

Thanks

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Its Earth’s day 2013.

Today is Earth Day! Every year, April 22 is set aside as a day to honor environmental awareness and action. This year’s theme is “The Face of Climate Change”, chosen to highlight the mounting impact of global warming on people worldwide. Year in year out, Google has been there to acknowledge the Earth day by providing doodles on its website to celebrate the day. From melting polar ice in 2007 (a prophetic nod to the record Arctic melt that year), rocks in 2008, a waterfall and marine life in 2009 to parrots in 2010pandas in 2011 and animated flowers in 2012. This year, Google is commemorating Earth Day with an animated doodle showing a cycle of all four seasons.

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Yesterday, the city of Reno also celebrated pre-earth day event with a lot of fun and glamour. This event brought hundreds of exhibitors to educate the public about clean and green technologies. It also highlighted discussions on human impact on the environment and ideas about sustainable living habit. The Los Angeles times also posted an article about seven ways to honor the planet which I think is interesting. Last week, I also posted a blog post on how the NBA is joining the climate campaign by celebration its 5th NBA annual earth week with different environmental awareness program planned for the week.

The earth day is a significant day and need to be celebrated with a level of sacrifices on our path. I have decided to celebrate today by not printing on any paper at the office today.  I am also going to buy food with little or no packaging. This is also a call to action for you too, kindly think of something you can do to celebrate the Earth day and share your comments about the day below. May sure you talk to someone about the danger of climate change today.

Thanks

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Lessons from Euro carbon market

Last November, California Air Resources Board flags off the first carbon market program in the United States of America despite the US senate’s 2010 failure to pass a national program. Given the state’s history of implementing environmental regulations that later becomes national policy, a successful cap-and-trade system could serve as a federal model in the future. I think the cap-and-trade idea is to make it more expensive to emit CO2, and to make green technologies-including renewable fuels, and carbon capture and sequestration-that are initially expensive more competitive with fossil fuels.If cap-and-trade in California fails, then that could be a big blow to its consideration as a national policy instrument in Washington.

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The European carbon program is going through some hard times. last week, the European parliament  voted 334-315 (with 60 abstentions) against a controversial “back-loading” plan that aimed to boost the flagging price of carbon, which since 2008 has fallen from about 31 euros per ton to about 4 euros (about $5.20).  This blog post is to make a quick assessment of the European carbon program and highlight some lesson the world could learn from its mode of operation.

I believe that what really plummet the European carbon market were the 2008 economic Recession and the subsequent anemic recovery that still lingers on till now. Due to the slow economic recovery, the demand for carbon reduces and the supply continues to increase; forcing a bad economics of scale. Tomas Wyns, director of the Center for Clean Air Policy Europe, a Brussels-based nonprofit said there should be a price-stabilization reserve that buys up allowances when prices are too low. The EU should have introduced a back-loading system that will take a chunk of the excesses out of the market creating an artificial scarcity that would have boosted the price of carbon.

The major opponents to the carbon market program are the major industries ranging from the steelmakers to beer brewers who argue that if the price of carbon goes up they will not be able to compete against competitors from other countries that are still benefiting from the already cheap energy sources like the shale gas in America. While I think it is a legitimate argument especially with the fragile state of European economic, it equally important to think about its potential risk

Although the US senate voted down the 2010 cap and trade proposal, I hope the European experience will not be a deterrent for future consideration.  I believe the complexity of European politics has contributed to the European carbon market problem and that with a stable political system and support, the US will definitely gain from a thoroughly planned emission trading program. The California carbon market is relatively young and will appreciate your positive criticism and comments below in order to make it better.

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Is ground level ozone really falling faster than predicted?

The general believe that “every good thing has a bad flip side” also hold for ozone. Ozone is a reactive gas molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. It occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ozone can be either good or bad, depending on where it is found.  The “good” ozone occurs naturally in the Earth’s upper atmosphere (stratosphere), 6 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface.  Ozone at this level helps to protect the earth from the harmful ultraviolent rays of the sun. While the “bad” ozone occurs near the ground surface (troposphere), this ozone is formed from photochemical reaction of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. It is the primary ingredient of smog air pollution and very harmful because it attacks the lung tissues.

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During my Environmental Engineering postgraduate degree at Oklahoma State University, I worked on a creative component research that studied the spread of ground level ozone.  One of my advisorscould not agree with the idea of using a box model analysis to predict ozone transport because we had to assume it’s a completely mixed condition in a hypothetic unit constrained area which in reality does not happen like that. But this was the basis for most ozone transport model.Since there is no technology to practically predict the ozone plume concentration we had to finally agree to use this method. Although I did not use any of the current commercial based photochemical models at that time, my mathematical analysis was based on the same general methodology.

Last month, Daniel Cohan, Wei Zhou and Sergey Napelenok published an article from rice university research works that substantiate the fact that ground level ozone is difficult to accurately predict,  the article said that the  “model widely used to predict the impact of remediation efforts has been too conservative” and there are discrepancies between the model to actual analysis.  The EPA cap-and-trade program of 2002 known as the NOx SIP helped to reduce emissions of ozone-forming NOx from industries especially in the Eastern states. This dramatic reduction in emissions over the yearsprovided a real-world data for the researchers to test how well computer models predict improvements in air quality.The research found out that even after trying to model with the best meteorological and emissions data, there seem to be a gap between what the model predicted and the real life results.

This research does not by any means undermine the results from the previous works, but it makes us to understand that we still have a lot to do to fully understand ground level ozone transport. Despite the fact that the analysis shows the flaws of the current models, I still thinkthismodel analysis brought us closer to this discovery. Further research into this model will help fine tune it andfix it for future use. Remember that the fact that the ‘weather’ man’s prediction isn’t always right doesnot mean we should forsake his advice. Kindly leave a comment below as we continue to look for more accurate method to predict ground level ozone.

Thanks.

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