Our climate is changing – there is no doubt about it. No matter what some people may say! What can men do to stop heating our earth? To me even more important is what can every single person do? Why not start with everyday life.
Global consumption of proteins is covered by meat and dairy products. According to a study of the Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK) the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide arise mainly in the production of fodder by the application of synthetic fertilizers. Compared to carbon dioxide methane’s contribution to the greenhouse effect is approximateley 25 times higher, nitrous oxide at about 298 times higher.
So what are the results of this study? Firstly, if you reduce the current consumption of meat and milk to just below one third, harmful global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced significantly. Secondly, the production methods in the agricultural sector must be changed technologically. Implementing both together could reduce emissions by the year 2055 by 84 percent.
However, this should rather apply to people in industrialized nations as many people in developing countries suffer from protein deficiency and make it impossible to eat even fewer proteins.
I decided to reduce my own consumption in eating meat to decrease my personal CO2-Balance. Once or twice a month is sufficient. It is not only good for our climate, it is good for my health as well. So what about you? A meatless day a week can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to counteract global warming and thus encourage a healthier diet at the same time. Famous people like Sir Paul McCartney already do the same. Why wait? Small steps towards a more sustainable now and tomorrow.
An urgent call:
According to Greenpeace New Zealand the biggest seismic blasting vessel in the world has entered New Zealand waters. It came for no other reason than to search for oil.
Not only to talk about climate change issues due to oil usage but it’s also harmful to whales, dolphins and other marine life. The ship fires massive seismic blasts creating shockwaves that penetrate the ocean and the seafloor every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for weeks and months on end.
Whales and dolphins depend on their hearing to survive, whether it’s for locating prey or predators, or communicating with mates. Without any hearing they cannot survive.
This all is going on in an area stretching between Napier and Kaikoura – an area with pristine waters which is inhabited by thousands of whales and dolphins.
Please sign at Stop seismic blasting
The goal of the United Nations was set through the “Millennium Development Goals”: reducing the amount of people that have no access to drink water till 2015 by 50% percent. According to the U.N. this target was met. But what about the other 50 percent and how do you reach this at an affordable price, if the population will continue to rise and the proportion of clean drinking water especially in arid areas is shrinking?
A look at the world map shows that there is plenty of sea water. For a long time humans have tried to obtain drinking water from the oceans. There are two types of sea water desalination. Firstly, looking at the water cycle on Earth, the distillation. Through filtering by means of reverse osmosis, water is pushed through a membrane under high pressure. However, industrial processes of desalination is expensive due to the high energy demand – according to Solar-Institut Jülich the costs per gallon is about 0.75 to 2.50 Euros.
In arid areas you’ll get plenty of energy from the sun. So why not gain the required energy for sea water desalination by means of solar thermal energy. At our current state, there are three types of technology of sea water desalination plants using solar thermal energy. First, the small local desalination plants on the basis of a direct thermal multi-effect distillation using concentrating collectors. These systems are suitable for distributed usage in remote areas, but “not enough suitable to find a solution to the increasing water deficits in the rapidly growing urban centers”, “Aqua CSP – the use of solar thermal power plants for seawater desalination in North Africa and the Middle East” of the German Center for Aerospace (DLR) from 2007. Large seawater desalination plants for urban centers are reverse osmosis using solar thermal power generation for the desalination membrane and the combined heat and power usage for the solar thermal multi-effect desalination systems. According to the study both systems can achieve water costs below 0.3 € / m³ in medium term. Advanced systems have an upstream seabed- and nano-filtration, which avoid direct emissions in the form of chemical additives.
In the same study the following advantages of large sea water desalination plants have been identified:
• Providing continuous power by thermal energy storage and a co-firing with bio-fuels
• Possible production of up to 100.000 m³ / day
• Large solar energy potential in the Middle East and North Africa
• Energy costs with electricity costs less than 4 cents / kWh and water costs under 0.4 € / kWh
• Ending the current over-exploitation of groundwater reserves by 2030
• Reduced environmental impacts compared to conventional desalination plants
Despite of all the advantages further studies need to consider the remaining environmental impact and be introduced into the further development of the systems. For instance, the heat produced during the energy production is not used yet. Chemical additives to protect the desalination plants against encrustation, biological attack or foaming are delivered by the waste water and can damage various species. More information about the DLR study can be found under Aqua CSP.
In conclusion, sea water desalination based on solar thermal power generation, can supply a sustainable amount of drinking water in arid areas when the remaining environmental effects are eliminated.