Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Rich Are...Different

There is the expected squabbling in Copenhagen between rich and poor nations about climate justice. This is going to intensify and extend to class warfare within nations as ordinary people finally start to realize the extent to which the extremely wealthy have compromised the environment that rightfully belongs to everyone in the world. This video is an hysterically funny illustration of the typical cluelessness of the inbred upper class. Lord Monkdon, are you watching?

Leland Palmer has a terrific comment on Climate Progress along these lines:
Leland Palmer says:
December 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm
About the food shortage biofuel connection, I’m not sure the global rise in food prices was any more spontaneous than the artificial rise in oil prices we saw under the Bush Administration.

In the U.S., for example, Goldman Sachs has been accused of massive commodities trading, which has been alleged to effectively decouple price from supply and demand: politics/ story/ 29127316/ the_great_american_bubble_machine

The bank’s unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pumpanddump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere — high gas prices, rising consumercredit rates, halfeaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money that you’re losing, it’s going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it’s going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals.

The energy sources that the fossil fuel companies fear the most, and privately are the most interested in, are biofuels, IMO.

Consider ExxonMobil’s recent investments in algae based fuels, and their 600 million dollar investment with Synthetic Genomics to develop algae based biofuels that can be substituted for gasoline.
What I want to know is, what are the emissions from these biofuels and how do they affect trees and food crops? Anybody else wondering about that?

Pasted below is my latest missive, to the authors of the report (which is of huge interest to me, definitely worth checking out) linked in the first sentence, at Nasa and the US Forest Service:

Dear Dr. Hargrove, Dr. Spruce, and Dr. Lee,

I am writing you having read this article in Science Daily about the EFETAC early warning system. I would very much appreciate information that will direct me to data from the MODIS satellite, specifically about recent conditions on the Eastern seaboard of the US.

I live in New Jersey and since the summer of 2008 have been extremely concerned about the rapid deterioration of the trees. Every single species in every location of any age exhibits symptoms of severe, irreversible decline, and many are completely dead. I mean this quite literally.

Having observed the same foliar damage in trees, annuals, and even aquatic plants I am quite convinced that some sort of atmospheric pollution related to greenhouse gas emissions has spiked and is now causing widespread ecosystem collapse.

This fall, the deciduous trees lost their leaves, which never turned bright colors but mostly turned brown, at least a month earlier than normal. The conifers continue to deteriorate, starting last winter, to turn yellow and drop needles at a prodigious and accelerating rate.

Part of the rapid and remarkable change occurring is a huge increase in the spread of lichens. Foresters will usually say that lichens do not harm their host trees and that their presence is a sign of clean air. However, there are according to European and Canadian scientists some types of lichen that thrive in high levels of nitrous oxide, which happens to be a product released from the enormous amounts of fertilizer being applied to grow corn for ethanol production.

I've been writing a blog on this topic with photographs and links to research. Here is a link documenting the premature loss of leaves. If you scroll down to the bottom of this post there are links tolichen websites that describe the process of collecting and analyzing them to detect pollutants, which they conveniently absorb and retain. Alas, I do not have a laboratory and since I'm not a scientist, I'm not qualified to conduct such work, but I think this would be an excellent pursuit for a researcher at the Forest Service.

It's quite critical that this be brought to light because although CO2 induced climate change poses a long term threat, the "other" greenhouse gases - ozone, carbonyls, nitrates and so forth - appear to be a much more immediate threat. If it turns out that ethanol, growing and/or burning it, is the primary culprit, we could fix it relatively quickly and painlessly compared to eliminating all fossil fuel burning.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions. It's breaking my heart to see the landscape I love march towards inexorably towards extinction, and incredible to me that almost no one even notices. It's going to take some professional study and scientific proof for the public and policy makers to understand that we have to make radical changes if we are to save the trees that nourish and shelter us and ultimately all other terrestrial species. They are the foundation on land as coral reefs are in the sea - and we all know what is happening to them.

I am a part of the WWF climate witness program, should you be interested, my profile is here.


Gail Zawacki

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