„The unfashionable truth is that the only way to take direct responsibility for [your] emissions is to enable an equivalent amount to be absorbed, or avoid being emitted, elsewhere. In short, to offset.” Martin Wright, (Guardian Sustainable Business)

Carbon neutrality is an inescapable element of ecological sustainability. (László A. Rampasek)

Be Carbon Neutral!

By means of a huge new installation of concentrating solar thermal (CST) and wind-power and the electrification of its transportation infrastructure, Australia plans to have a zero-carbon economy by 2020, hence zero-use of all fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil).

I have just been sent a remarkable document, entitled “Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan,” which is in fact freely available from the web-site http://beyondzeroemissions.org/zero-carbon-australia-2020.

Australia Plans to be Carbon-Neutral by 2020 - OurOffsetAs the title implies, within its pages is a description of how Australia might be run without the use of fossil fuels, including for transportation. The principal means for generating electricity is to be concentrating solar thermal power (CST), to the extent of 60%, with molten salt storage to provide a constant supply of energy. The remaining 40% is to be provided from wind-farms, along with a smaller element of biomass and hydropower as a back-up.

A wholesale electrified transportation system is to be inaugurated, with electric trains and electric vehicles, to offset the 15% of total Australian energy which is used for transport in the form of oil. Indeed, an increased overall use of electricity is planned by 40% to an annual 325 TW by 2020. The report stresses that in hand with a combination of energy efficiency and fuel-switching measures, this growth in electricity production is enough to supplant all fossil fuel use (coal, gas and oil), including that for transport and space-heating.

Biofuels will be employed on a small scale in rural areas and to run emergency services. However, by using energy more efficiently and by largely eliminating internal-combustion engines with their recognised low-efficiencies, the total Australian energy demand will decline from the 3834 Petajoules (1065 TWh) used in 2007 to 1643 Petajoules (456 TWh) in 2020. A significant contribution to energy saving is planned from the building sector by moving over to heat-pump heating and better insulation of all units, both commercial and residential.

The engineering required to bring all of this about will prove staggering in its scale. However, the report further considers the material resources that will be necessary to bring it all about. Specifically: concrete, steel and glass for CST; concrete and steel for wind-power; concrete, steel and aluminium for transmission lines (grid power-distribution).

In a sense, the scheme is similar to the Desertec project, which proposes to use CST based stations in north Africa to provide electricity for Europe. However, the Australian plan is more inclusive in attempting to satisfy all the energy requirements of a nation of just over 20 million people, which might be feasible. For the whole of Europe, or indeed a single nation the size of the United Kingdom with 60 million, it might not be.

The most difficult problem to solve on the grand scale is replacing trasnportation run on liquid fuels derived from crude-oil, by renewable electricity, and that even on the Australian scale will prove a considerable challenge.

Source: http://scitizen.com/future-energies/australia-plans-to-be-carbon-neutral-by-2020-_a-14-3583.html


American and Canadian scientists have discovered a secret garden, an extensive proliferation of blooming phytoplankton under the Arctic Ocean.

Phytoplankton is collections of unicellular that live in oceans; most of them simply drift in water currents. By photosynthesis they use sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce organic matter. They extract nearly as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as land plants and by doing so the play a vital role in regulating climate.

The scientists took part in the NASA expedition ICESCAPE, in the framework of which they examined the effect of climate change on the Arctic eco-systems on the northern and western shores of Alaska in the summer of 2010 and 2011. This is how they discovered the blooming phytoplankton under the ice of the sea the expanse of which has now reached 100 kilometres.

Ground-breaking discovery
The blooming of planktons has so far been only observed on the Arctic seas late in the summer when the process took place on the open seas through exposure to sun. The underwater garden, nevertheless, has proved to be much more extensive than the blooming phytoplankton colonies by the neighbouring open waters. “I have been conducting experiments for thirty years and based on my experience I would say that such a thing is impossible as so far we have assumed that sunlight can barely pass through the ice,” commented Kevin Arrigo, oceanographer at Stanford University.

Climate change, however, has changed the nature of the Arctic ice. The ice that had was thickened throughout years and which used to let only filtered light pass has disappeared at many places. The new ice that forms in winters is thinner and more transparent, that is, it allows more light to pass through. What’s more, warmer air melts its surface and darker patches collect and absorb light.

According to scientists more than half of the light passes through the ice.

When the ship broke the at places one-metre-thick ice and the scientists peeped into the depth with the help of their underwater cameras they observed an startling proliferation of phytoplankton. As a result of sunlight and the currents rich in organic nutrients from the Bering Sea the microorganisms thrived even in a depth of 50 metres.

Al Gore

I was excited to be a part of the “Dream” theme, and then I found out I’m leading off the “Nightmare?” section of it. /Al Gore/

Leonardo DiCaprio


… After 21 years of debate and conferences it is time to declare: no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing the fossel fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and policies that affect our future.
This is the body that can do what is needed. All of you sitting in this very hall. The world is now watching. You’ll either be lotted by future generations or vilified by them. Lincoln’s words still resonate to all of us here today, „We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honour or dishounour to the last generation. We shall nobely save or meanly lose the last best hope of Earth.”
That is our charge now. You are the last best hope of Earth. We ask you to protect it. Or we and all living things we cherish are history.
(Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech (extract) as the final speaker at the Signature Ceremony for the Paris Climate Change Agreement, UN)

Dambisa Moyo

We cannot continue to try and solve the world economic growth challenges by being dogmatic and being unnecessarily ideological. In order to create sustainable, long-term economic growth and solve the challenges and social ills that continue to plague the world today, we’re going to have to be more broad-minded about what might work.

Audrey Choi

Now, sustainable investing, the good news is it doesn’t require a magic spell and it doesn’t require some investment secret, and it’s not just for the elite.

Lester Brown


Lester Brown – Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Narrated by Matt Damon, Hungarian subtitles!

This film is based on summation of stunning and thought-provoking facts.
Contact us and learn why many people are thinking differently about the future. After watching the film you will get a picture of the world which helps you make your future decisions in another way.

MIDWAY – Plastic Beach

3200 km from any coast and civilization.

New Warning – A Possible Unprecedented Devastation

Due to the growing shortage in forest and fish supplies, intensified sweet water consumption and the lack of regulations to prevent climate change, the current course of mankind is now deemed unsustainable – warn the United Nations. According to another relevant study published in the field, the rise of the Western world has run parallel to the decline in the biological variety of poor countries exporting raw materials.

Life on Earth is heading towards irreversible changes – claims the fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) of the United Nations. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) urges for immediate steps to be taken and prompts decision makers to set forth strict goals and purposes for the Rio+20 summit due on 20-22 June. The occasion is held twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio (The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) and forty years after the first United Nations conference (in Stockholm) with our environment as subject matter.

Also an Economic Interest

Although favourable changes have been achieved through specific agreements – the report stipulates – negotiations held prior to the summit mostly focused on problem areas. States were unable to agree on basic issues such as a more strictly controlled attitude to salt water fishing or a constraint on companies to measure their ecological footprints. Surely, there is a need of an urgent and decisive change to a green economy with low carbon intensity, which is capable of using resources effectively and creating new workplaces – BBC quotes the leader of UNEP, Achim Steiner. Insofar as the current trend continues without change, governments will have to face unprecedented devastations and environmental declines – Steiner sums up. All this, by and by, is also an economic interest since, according to UNEP, air pollution and climate changes place extra burden on global economy.

The overall picture then is more than just grim. Despite the international agreement to tackle environmental decline and poverty, the outlook is far from being optimistic. The report states, among others, that air pollution can cause an annual six million premature deaths worldwide, and that the current trend in the emission of gases causing glasshouse effect could result in a 3 degrees Celsius increase of the general temperature on Earth.

In their global assessment published every five years, GEO rates improvements in ninety crucial environmental areas. According to their report, progress is detectable only in four areas: to use unleaded petroleum, to stop the destruction of the ozone layer, to improve access to clean water, and to research the pollution of the seas. Further forty areas also show some improvements, such as the slowing down of deforestation and the establishment of protected natural habitats. Yet little or no progress is visible in twenty-four crucial points; the fight against climate change is one of them. The situation has apparently got worse in eight areas, for example concerning the status of coral reefs. Due to insufficient data available, no clear conclusion could be drawn in the rest of the appointed areas.

Increasing Prosperity versus a Declining Nature

Also recently, Nature magazine published a study with a similar topic according to which the biosphere is experiencing rapid and most probably irreversible changes. A team of primarily Australian scientists calculated that more than 40 per cent of the Earth’s continental areas today are used to supply for human needs, and since our population will expand with an anticipated two billion inhabitants this rate could exceed 50 per cent. Based on the ever-growing need for power source intensive food supplies such as beef, this prognosis could happen by sometime around 2025. And if we want to avoid the worst to come, we should remain below the 50 per cent limit – said leading researcher Anthony Barnofsky (from Berkeley).
According to the study, it is global commerce satisfying the demands of wealthy countries that can be primarily held responsible for the reasons animal species are threatened. This trend could be stopped with a better management of supply chains or, for instance, with the labelling of products. Occasionally other methods can also have favourable results, like the 1970s campaign to protect dolphins, which managed to persuade Western consumers to boycott tuna fishermen ignoring such concerns. Experts say that governments should introduce commercial sanctions in favour of the cause and that they should regulate more strictly all commercial activities threatening biodiversity. There are of course favourable undertakings, such as the decision introduced by Nestlé through which the giant food industry company binds its palm oil suppliers to protect rain forests.

Devastating Export

Investigating the relations between endangered species and the global trade in goods, the study arrived at the conclusion that one of the main factors responsible for the destruction of biodiversity is the trade in goods from poorer, mostly known as developing countries to wealthy nations. Previous studies had already clarified that the demand for products like Brazilian beef, Indonesian palm oil, Mexican coffee or Vietnamese fish had been damaging effect to the environment. The study published in the columns of Nature, however, is the first to try and demonstrate the global effects of commerce on biological diversity. The study also investigates the effects of Malayan gums export, fishery in the Philippines and Thailand, Columbian banana and tobacco production, and the mining industry in Ghana.
According to the study, the rise of the United States, Japan and Western Europe has run parallel to the decline in the biological diversity of poor countries exporting raw materials. Environmentally destructive import activities are pursued by the USA, Japan, Germany, France and Great-Britain, while wildlife suffered the most destruction in Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Source: napi.hu (10th June 2012)