Bennett - Editor
Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
This week we review what happened at the recent COP17 talks in Durban, South Africa. Well, depending on which camp you are in, the talks resulting in what is now known as the ‘Durban Platform’ were either: 1) a pragmatic success (if you are a politician or a financier) or 2) a disappointing failure (if you are a climatologist or an environmentalist).
I think Carl Pope of the Sierra Club summarised it very well – ‘Looking back, the Durban Climate Conference, I think, can best be summed up "the world lived to fight another day." Climate diplomacy neither broke through nor completely broke down. The US hid behind China; India hid behind the US. China, seemingly more skilled at these things, managed to hide behind itself. All three governments ignored what they know about the urgency of the problem’.
As China is now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, we take a closer look at some trends there. These three articles all have a common theme in that China’s growth would appear to be built on the unsustainable use of resources and a scant regard for environmental concerns. The first of these examines how China, despite the widely publicised concerns in the Western world, is rapidly embracing hydraulic fracturing or fracking as it is commonly termed, as it seeks to expand its indigenous energy sources. The second article discusses how Chinese citizens are finally venting their anger and frustration at the Chinese Government over the state of the worsening environmental conditions. I truly believe none of us living in NZ can even imagine how nasty it must be to live in a pressure cooker of smog, toxic poisons and fouled water.
The third, and in my opinion the most thought provoking, discusses the likelihood of an impending financial crash in the Chinese economy and cites underlying problems, such as the massive housing bubble, environmental degradation and unsustainable debt. And with China being the largest purchaser and owner of US Treasury Bonds, this is sure to impact on us all if and when it comes to pass. In other words take the Eurozone and US financial woes and multiply everything by ten.
Our next set of articles examines how we all rely on a reliable supply of water to sustain our way of life. The first two of these look at the drought in the USA, most notably in Texas, but really impacting on all of the mid-west and the steps that communities are having to take to cope with ongoing and deepening water shortages. The next article is closer to home, where plans to save the Murray-Darling Basin, the size of France and Spain combined and known as Australia’s Food Bowl have met with criticism from both farmers and environmentalists. A perfect example of how we all have to juggle limitless expectations with what are finite resources.
Next up is the quirky Tata Motors Mini CAT Air Car. This car, which runs on compressed-air will have a range of 300km between re-gassing (which can be accomplished in four minutes at a cost of $2.00 or 0.67 cents per km). With a possible retail price of US $13,000, this is sure to be a game changer.
Our last article this week examines the greenest way to dry your hands – which is using an electric hand dryer. And the greenest of the green is the Dyson Airblade, which uses 80 percent less energy than conventional hand driers, through its use of high speed cold-air technology to displace excess water.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.
As this is our last issue of Snippets for 2011, we would also like to use this opportunity to wish you all the best for your Christmas and the New Year. 2012 certainly looks like its going to be a challenging and very interesting year. Any bets on the predictions surrounding the end of the Mayan Calendar coming to pass?