Archive for the 'climate change' Category


The big picture: education of women

Every human being with free mental capacity does think from time to time about the future of the world in the next 100 or 200 years.

It used to be different: the world was the outside, immensely large and full of dangers, imponderables and possibilities. The largest units, whose future people were thinking about, were empires or states. Since some decades, however, the world has become our common home, or rather, our common property, where we know and can reach almost all the rooms and corners and stretches of land, and the people living on it are slowly changing into a community of fate. The world is becoming more and more “inside”, and for the “outside”, only the empty space is remaining.

One of the main concerns is, that very many people are already living on the property, and more are added every day. The question of whether the world as a whole can carry the multitude of people on it is historically new. So far, the answer is yes (with the exception of severe underdevelopment and war), and it is not unreasonable to do so for the future. But climate change is raising serious doubts about this optimism.

In the search for a means to reduce population growth, the education of women is striking. Not only have the countries with the best educated women the lowest number of births per woman, but also within the social structure of a country, the most educated women are those with the fewest children. However, the birth rate also has strong local influences: the number of children per woman is twice as high in Tanzania as in India despite the same average education .

What can we, in the western metropolises, contribute to fostering women’s education and training in less developed areas? Well, money helps, money is esteem. A Google search for “donation education of women” or similar will lead to success here.

Apart from the birth rate, education and especially that of women is very positive for themselves and their environment, so channeling means into it is a very effective aid in general.


#emissionvaluesintocarads – update 2


Yearly German emissions in the transport sector. (180 Mio. t is roughly 2,2 t per capita, or 1/5 of total emissions) (Source)

In November, I submitted this petition to the German Bundestag, to contain unmissably in each car advertising the CO2 emissions for 10,000 km drive and the production of the car. Recently it was posted on the Bundestag petition forum website (see this post). The opportunity to comment or sign up there is now over. 52 people became co-signers.

I then did some promotion work by mailing to the (German newspaper) TAZ and my local green MEP, but without noteworthy response. Apart from this, I did not have the slightest inclination to deal with the matter because of a peculiar unpleasant excitement in my stomach.

Now a letter arrived today that reads: “The investigation has now been completed. ”

I suspect that this is a text module and such petitions usually refer to any administrative action that went wrong and where the facts need to be determined.

The matter now goes to the Petitions Committee. I am really curious. Stagnation of emissions in the transport sector at a high level has been known for years. Similarly, it is known that Germany will miss its self imposed climate protection goal, because of this among other things. The general attitude of the CDU / CSU seems to be: “We want to protect the climate, but we want nothing to change” (“paradoxical conservatism”). The SPD and unfortunately and also parts of the Left are saying: “We want to protect the climate, but we want no job losses.” (“Decorated clientelism”).

Well, let’s see if Kant or Altmaier (Minister for Economy and Energy) will carry off the palm …


make advertizing (a bit) more climate friendly


Imagine, in every car advertizing, the CO2 emissions for the manufacturing (10 – 30 t) and usage (1 – 3 t / 10.000km) were presented in big letters. Wouldn’t that change the mindset of the general society in the right direction?

Last November , I got up a parliamentary petition for a law enforcing exactly this. As I am German, it has been submitted on a special website of the Bundestag. It is currently beeing made public on its petition website, where also discussions may take place. I must admit, that there are only a couple of contributions as of now, which is no wonder, as the website is practically unknown, and there are quite a few other petitions going on.

If you are interested in the text, you find it on above mentioned webpage – Google translate is delivering pretty good translations lately.

Feel free to do something similar in your country.



“Climate Leadership”

Every now and then somebody writes about “climate leadership” and how this or that country will loose it or take it over. IMHO this is bullshit.

If the term is not linked to the emissions themselves, but to some nice-sounding, but half-hearted, PR boosted measures, that let decrease the very emissions, that the very same country has insanely increased in the past, then it becomes just a joke.

The real climate leaders – if the term has any meaning at all – are the countries with the lowest per capita emissions, i.e. the developing and some of the intermediate countries, especially those, who do everything to not go the high-emissions-then-lower-a-bit path we went. Those are the leaders to follow, and when we look at the emissions spread (yearly, per capita) (source):

  • 20 t in US, Canada, Australia,
  • 7-11 t in Europe and China (with the developed part of China more in the 10 t – region!) ,
  • 3 – 4 t in Africa and Asia without China,
  • 2,5 t as longterm equilibrium emissions,
  • 0 t just to hit the break of the train running much too fast

we see, how much they are in front of us and how much we still have to achieve!

Then, to strive for “climate leadership” means to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. We should decrease our emissions because of our f***ng responsibility for the f***ng world, independently of what the others do or do not!




The internal combustion engine of the future

In the not-too-distant future, we will have had to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to near zero (see, for example, here). Fuel for internal combustion engines will then only be regeneratively produced, which means, that there will be little of it. At that point in time, combustion engines must be extremely efficient to squeeze the last mile out of what little fuel is left for the 10 Billion we will then be on earth.

The most efficient engine configuration is the opposed-piston engine (see, for example, here and here), and the most efficient number of cylinders is 1.

Therefore, under the condition of extreme emission limitation, the single-cylinder opposed-piston engine will prevail.

It might have a smaller and a larger cylinder, with the former used for small and medium speed and the latter for higher speeds or uphill, but will generally run on only one of them.

Exergy and Economy

(This post is a reaction to “The Physics of Energy and the Economy” on “Our Finite World” by Gail Tverberg)

Dissipative systems use exergy, which might be just a nitpicking, but I think not: to use those words make the process of dissipation more palpable.

I see the economy as a net of pathways, consisting of production units (from big companies down to single crafts(wo)men), which works most effectively in a semi-stable environment, i.e. no big fast changes. Then, the units can develop routine and skill in their respective task and the net does not suffer high transaction losses. Parameters change all the time: some production units become more effective than others, the amount of work to get raw materials changes, sometimes to lower, sometimes to higher levels, demand structure changes, the terms of exchange (aka prices) change and so on. To a certain extent, the net can rearrange, its elements can learn new skills, so that the overall efficiency does not plunge.

I support here the Marxian notion, that the relative value of anything on the market is in the long run defined by the amount of human work put into it.

So, to be more precise in definition, a collapse of the economy can be seen as the net beeing ripped apart, which leaves some chains of production more or less intact, while others, neighbouring to the rip, “die from starvation”, so to say. The overall production falls to the level of what is delivered by the relatively intact part.

Now enter two characters on the stage: productivity gains by investment, which is investment of work of course, reflected by a money stream, and information loss about the environment, aka negentropy loss, or entropy increase. They are somehow distant relatives of one another.

Productivity gains by investment decrease more and more, reflecting the fact, that human needs stay – more or less – the same, while the production process is approaching the most effective way to fulfill those needs.

OTOH, negentropy loss places a growing strain on the production system. Lower and lower concentration levels of raw materials can be compensated for by higher and higher exergy use for their concentration. A bigger and bigger part of our yearly exergy budgets is directed to raw material extraction, while the exergy stream is itself beeing limited by external factors, most prominently global warming, and secondly the growing scarcety of high concentration exergy itself.

Can the economy deal with this strain? My answer is: yes, if, and only if, the changes, which are undoubtedly profound, don’t come at too fast a pace, and if the economy is made deliberately more resilient.

What is a resilient economy? One with a little bit less specialization and more general skills, one with sounder financing to prevent one mesh of the net cracking to initiate a rip across the system.


The Web Of The Good

picture: NASA

picture: NASA

In November, the next, that is the 21st, UN Climate Conference will take place in Paris. It is a highly complex event with thousands of participants within the UNFCCC – the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its goal is to set mandatory emission limits for all member states. Predictably, this will be a difficult task (even given, that climate change and its consequences are hardly disputed any more – except in the US of A).

The EU created with its cap-and-trade-system the biggest tool globally to decrease GHG emissions. But it went to work too faint-heartedly from the beginning. This is why the system is currently in the process of being reformed, concerning the rate of decrease as well as some modalities.

Meanwhile, under the radar of the mass media, a global emission alliance is forming from the bottom up.

It all started with single cities and regions which decided to put their own house in order first and give themselves their own emissions cap. This happened (and in some cases will happen soon) in Australia, New Zealand, California, Quebec, Tokyo, Kasakhstan, Mexico, Washington (State), Ontario, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative with 9 east coast states in the US, South Korea, some Regions in China.

California and Quebec have now joined their emissions allowances systems. This means, that a power plant in California, which did not use its bought allowances, can sell it to another in Quebec, which needs more than expected, et vice versa.

And this is just the beginning. More and more regions with local certificate systems will connect with each other and make their allowances mutually tradeable. The EU is no exception: expanding the certificate trade region is woven into its program, first with Australia.

The advantage of this approach: a big single global treaty is not necessary. The regions can follow individually their moral aspirations or not. Each region joining increases the factual and moral / normative power of the movement.

It is a bottom – up – process. The participants feel much less alienated compared to a process, where the formation of will must first rise to the very top, where some regulations are adopted, which subsequently take effect on the lower, local institutions. This whole process can easily be blocked by the unwilling. With the bottom – up – process, the unwilling become mere bystanders and will be bypassed.

Feels good.

(translation from my german blog post)

July 2018
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