Schultz Environment Blog

Environment in a broad sense,transports and energy issues. From my local point of view with a global touch!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Remember-there will be nobody to blame
Today I listen to Tony Blair presenting the most important report his government has put forward during his presidency. The report has been taken ahead by Sir Nicholas Stern a former chief economist in the World Bank. (I think it’s just a coincidence that the former boss of the Swedish secretariat for a Sustainable development in the Prime Minister’s Office was named Stefan Stern) It is one major report on the cost of the climate changes. It says that if nothing is done as much as 5-20 % of the GDP:s must be spent on mitigating the effects caused by the climate changes. But if measures are taken instantly the cost can be limited to not more than 1 % of the GDP. He points out that much depends on how much China, India and the US can decrease their emissions. You find the report in the link below.

On the Swedish news yesterday and today it’s was also discussed which geographical areas in Sweden that will be most effected by the climate changes and how. Professor Sten Bergstrand was interviewed and he pointed out Karlstad as one of the cities that could be most effected by flooding. Models show that both existing and planned buildings pose a risk of being flooded. I felt a sort of understanding that when the effects comes along there will be no one pledging guilty for the decisions taken us ahead one the road leading to these difficulties, nor globally or locally. Not even George Bush, although he has been claiming it’s too expensive for the US lifestyle to fulfil the Kyoto agreement.

Speaking of the Kyoto agreement, the European Union (the 15 states formation) seems not to fulfil their commitment decreasing their emissions of carbon dioxide by 8 % 1990 to 2008. The best results are reached in Great Britain and Sweden and you find Denmark and Spain in the bottom according the Swedish TV news.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

United States of America meet the European Union
For the first time in four years US and EU talks to each other again about climate changes and how to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases. Today the US was represented by their assisting Foreign minister in the meeting in Helsinki and several environmental ministers from Europe attended as well. It’s a step in the right direction starting up the meetings again but unfortunately they have lost a lot of time in getting results for the climate.

Yesterday the World Wildlife association, presented their “Living Planet Report 2006”, and that’s not a very pleasant reading. The report shows that mankind consumes more than 25 % over the earth’s production capacity. The ecological footprint from human beings has tripled during the last 40 years, it says. The Swedes ends up as number 8 (with 6.1 ha) in the list of leaving big ecological footprints. People in US and Canada have twice as big ecological footprint compare with an average Europe and seven times as big as an African, according the WWF report. I spent Monday and Tuesday in the Copenhagen-Malmo region which is a very expending region and you can’t miss that every region wants to develop and attract more people to go there. These urban hotspots create demands that need quite big ecological footprints.
Let us hope it is possible to handle this problem with urbanization and the fact that a small part of the population on earth consume most of the resources.

In Gristmill blog Sunday 22 October I read about Bill McKibbins new essay about how close we are to an ecological catastrophe. He writes about how, James Lovelock, a famous scientist and James Hansen, NASA:s top climatologist, looks at the earths state. Last year in December Hansen said we had ten years to reverse the flow of carbon in the athmosphere before we cross a threshold and creates a different planet and soon it's only nine yeras left. It’s interesting to read and you find it in the link below.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Public transport still popular in Stockholm
Sunday morning, been out with the dog and read the newspapers afterwards. I saw in the paper that he September figures for people going by public transport into Stockholm has risen with 12 % compared with the same period last year. The experiment with congestion charges in Stockholm started at the 3 of January this year and was finalised by the end of July this year. Perhaps so many as 12 % have stayed with their new mode of commuting? Still, one must remember that the measurement is done over a short period. To change habits one must have a rather strong influence or occasion that makes you really change your usual behaviour. The congestion cgarging scheme is that sort of strong occasion, Although, it’s a bit surprising to me that still as many as 12 % has stayed with their new mode of transport. The gas prices for example as decreased a little by the latest. This also indicates that it wouldn’t be good if the extra bus lines put in traffic for the experiment would be taken away next year. I think that many of the stockholmers would appreciate a new period with congestion charges?

Friday, October 20, 2006

The value of paying attention to the climate change issue
I read David Milibands blog about his speech in German. He spook about need for EU to handle the climate change issue. David Miliband was appointed as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 5 May 2006. Take part of his speech in the link.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Swedish environment priorities in EU 2007-2009
The Swedish Environmental Agency has released a new report about what they see to be the most interesting questions in the environmental area for the coming years. They emphasize the climate and energy issues, the protection of wild animals and vegetation as well as sustainable development. It deals about cutting the emissions of greenhouse gases after the first part of the Kyoto treatment. It’s also about stopping the depletion of the biodiversity. Sustainable ways of consumption, production and use of nature resources has to be promoted, it says in the report.

I can agree with this but there are more things which are worth mentioning. There are for example the waste handling and recycling issue, sustainable public procurement and to find the right level of details in the legislation. Most of the FN-, EU- and national strategies are actually carried out on the local level and we experience that they are not so often harmonised, which they ought to be. I will, with interest follow what the Swedish environmental department will prepare for in the environmental area, when it’s time for Sweden to be chairing the council of ministers in EU.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The new entrepreneurs has a potential
I read in the Dagens Miljö, news about sustainable business development, an interview with John Elkington, the so called sustainability guru. He is a world-renowned author and researcher in the fields of environment, corporate so­cial responsibility and sustainability. It is a long article but it ends up with that John puts a lot of expectation in the new entrepreneurs. He thinks that the new type of investors with an interest in sustainability will help to form a more sustainable world. I hope he is right about this, but I think other instruments will be needed also.

Take part in the article in the link:

By the way, have a look at the picture, a nice facing on a building in Lyon

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Where is all gained knowledge from different projects kept?
Sometimes one may wonder about where all knowledge is stored. Is the gained experience from one project used in the next one etc? Yes, there are some nice projects which gather experience from other projects and conclude what the new knowledge is. But they are quit rare. In the traffic and environment field such projects can actually be found. Sometime ago I had the pleasure to listen to some findings from the Pilot project. In that project several other projects has been elaborated and evaluated by a certain structure. The purpose is to demonstrate the preparation of Sustanable Urban Transport Plans for four European cities. I find that sort of project most useful having a great value for other projects. Have a look in the link below.
One of the most difficult parts in a successful project is to disseminate the results in a proper way.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Autumn and budget
It’s beginning to become autumn in Karlstad, Sweden. It gets dark much earlier in the evening. The Saturday night, it was a really nice sky with plenty of stars and the “Milky way” sparkled.

Today the new government presented the budget for 2007. The budget for the environmental politics is on an unchanged level compared with 2006, it says, I haven’t checked that. The climate issue is of strategic signification for both Sweden and the world it says in the press release. A control station is suggested in 2008 for the climate strategy decided by the parliament. Both the Baltic Sea and the North Sea are in question for national environmental strategies. Over 2 million euros per year in 2008 and 2009 are granted for this purpose. One good thing to see is that the government strengthens the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate with 870 000 euro a year in 2007 and 2008 and with 432 000 euro in 2009. The purpose of this is to ease the enforcement of REACH.

A Sustainable Commission is meant to look into the legislation and steering instruments and to give suggestions to simplify and make organisations more effective. And there are, of course more of measures in the budget. As usual in national budgets there are strategic plans and commissions introduced but it is more difficult to predict what the result will be in the local level.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Train versus cars
I went to Stockholm yesterday, by train. I overheard a discussion from two persons in front of my seat. They discussed how to travel to Stockholm. The man used to go by train, he thought it was convenient to go by train and do some work at the same time. The woman said she used to go by car every time, this time was an exception. She felt freer in the car, she said. Usually it’s the other way around, the man using the car and the woman going by public transports. None of them considered the environmental dimension in using the train instead of the car for this journey. Of course there are also always other prerequisites for using the car or the train.
But I think it’s a memo for us working with communication to change people’s habits and behaviour in transports. It is often a good thing to communicate the change of mode in transport in a broader manner. For example, take the train and have the possibility to do a little work or reading, having coffee and sandwich or just take a nap and at the same time do the environment a favour.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I was at the dental hygienist today…
In a paper I read that researchers at Uppsala University have investigated 12 dentist surgeries and their outlets of mercury from amalgam. It shows that as an average there is an emission of 14,5 gram per dentist chair and year. Although, these dental surgeries had an amalgam segregator installed. They are meant to stop the emission of amalgam but lets through about 20 %. Today, there is new technical solution, a metal filter which can take away the rest of the emissions. If we translate the emission of mercury from dentists in Sweden the emission to nature will be 100 kilogram per year. I wonder what the figure is for the rest of the world. Let’s hope that the pace of installation of the new metal filter accelerates.
Well this is something you may consider the next time you sit in the dental hygienist chair. I have a new appointment in next month. You must keep your teeths in good condition in spite of all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Education in Climate changes
The new majority of social democrats, the left- and the green party in Karlstad politics have a long list of activities that are meant to be carried out during the election period (the next four years). One of these is that the politicians shall be educated in knowledge about the climate. I think it is a good suggestion but as in all ordered education it takes motivated and interested participants to get a good result of the measure. The issue of climate changes now seems to turn from a more scientific matter to an issue also in the local politics. I hope that many of the politicians will participate and wonder a little about how this education shall be designed to give the best result. I will give you a review of this when the education has turned into reality.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Water shortage
Some month ago I wrote about water scarcity occurring in different places of the world and also described the good water supply here in Karlstad. The last two weeks we have experienced the really bad situation of having a break down of the main water pipe from the lake to the infiltration basin. The municipality has pledged to the citizens to be careful with the use of water but the consumption is still the same.

Why is it so hard to contribute to the common goal by saving water? Many people may be confident in that the problems are going to be solved without their involvement. Is it lack of motivation, selfishness, and lack of interest or what? Perhaps it’s because we are so used to good supplies of water so we find it unbelievable that this situation can occur here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Environmental monitoring
Another warm day in October and we have been out in the forest collecting mushrooms of different kinds; it’s a good year for mushrooms. The most unusual and good tasting today was the cauliflower mushroom. It’s one of the highlights, I think, strolling around in the forest looking for mushrooms. But you must be careful and only pick the ones you know. There are some pretty strong poisons in many of them.

Another organism is the moss. They collect all their nutrition from the rain and air, e.g. they don’t take their nutrition from the ground. Because of that they are excellent organisms to investigate for their content of heavy metals. In Karlstad we have checked the content of heavy metals in mosses since 1985 each and every 5: Th year. The trend is that the level of heavy metals in general, slowly decreases in the mosses. But there are some digression for some metals and locations.

To perform a long-termed environmental monitoring over the changes in the environment isn’t easy. The methods vary over the years and you have to be careful with documentation etc. Often the monitoring done at the local level are left out when the results are shown at regional or national level. I think the national environmental monitoring could develop more and combine the efforts made at the different levels of administration which is done poorly today.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The new minister of environment in Sweden
Andreas Carlgren, the centre party, is the new minister of environment in Sweden. I can’t remember that he has been that engaged in the environment politics in Sweden earlier. He says he will learn more about the climate changes at first. Good luck, with that Andreas.
The new trade minister, Maria Borelius, thus has experience from science journalism and is educated as a biologist. Perhaps she would have been a better minister for environment? I mean they have chosen an economist as minister of finance. But of course that’s the political dimension to think about also? Fortunately, I’m not in the position to choose amongst the ministers who does what.
It will be interesting to see what footprints Andreas Carlgren will leave in the politics of environment.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Prime minister and his view on ethanol as fuel
Yesterday I wrote about environmental friendly cars and their explosion as new registered cars and the difficult with that people fill gasoline instead of ethanol. This evening I saw reportage about the same issue on TV with questions to our new prime minister about his view on the ethanol price. He said that he didn’t think that the government should interfere in the price setting in the fuel market. His view is that the government’s task is to set up long-termed conditions for the market and not adjust the prices.

Now, I read in several newspapers that Volvo will stop production of the Volvo Bifuel V70 and S60. That’s a pity I think. It’s almost worse than that people fill gasoline instead of ethanol. The reason is said to be because it is not economical to go on producing it because the biogas vehicles are not bought in the same rate as ethanol fuelled cars. With a better infrastructure and better conditions for production the biogas vehicles they ought to gain market from the ethanol vehicles. Volvo now has plans to produce ethanol vehicles instead, perhaps. The government should draw up sustainable politics for taxation on fuels and vehicles so the market can adjust to that. In that politics there should be nice if biogas could be favoured in more ways, because it’s the best fuel from an environmental view today.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Do statistics make a better world?
I read an article in the Miljoaktuellt, published by the Swedish Environment Agency, about “green roofs “in Basel, Switzerland. In Basel it’s obligatory to construct a green roof if you want to get a building permit. Marcel Matthuiet, a representative for a company constructing green roofs was interviewed. He stressed the importance of doing it the right way. In order to fulfil the law in the cheapest way, and use materials too thin which means that the vegetation will die, the green roofs just become statistics. In Basel 10 % of all roof area is green. The owner of the house must really have an interest in that the green roof works in a longer time than when it’s installed.

I read another figure in the newsletter from the green motorist’s organisation. Read more about the organisation on; .
This year, so far, there has been 27 022 environmentally friendly cars registered in Sweden, which is about 12, 9 % of all cars registered. This is a raise with 245 % compared with 2005. Most of these cars were flexible fuelled, gasoline or ethanol. Unfortunately, I suspect that many of the flexible cars are filled with gasoline rather than ethanol. The reason for this is that the cars take a little more ethanol than stated and that the ethanol price is to high compare with gasoline. Where does that leave us with the environmental profit, other than statistics? You always have to look behind the figures. It takes a lot of sincere fieldwork to fulfil the aims of laws, goals, economical means of control etc.
Don’t misunderstand me, of course it’s good with the green roof regulation in Basel and of course it’s good with more environmentally friendly cars registered, but, there is always a but, it’s the final results that counts.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Kings speech to the parliament
Today, at the opening of the parliamentary session, the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav expressed his worries about the climate changes. He stressed the significance of action now and that we must elaborate more about how our habits of life affects the environment. We must find effective measures to secure good conditions for all living organisms on Earth, he said.
It feels good that the King takes the climate changes seriously and also puts the issue on the agenda for the new parliament. I'm curios to see what measures the new parliament and government will suggest on the national level.

Monday, October 02, 2006

“The Planet”, coming up on Swedish TV
“The Planet” starts at the 9: Th of November this year and it’s the first of four programmes in the series about the Earth. During two years of time the film team has visited 25 countries and made interviews with researchers, such as Herman Daly, Will Steffen, Lester Brown, Gretchen Daly, Norman Myers and Jared Diamond. The documentary shows that humankind now is in a critical phase and the future depends on what decisions now is made. The issue must involve several more disciplines than environment if the problems shall stand a chance to be solved. The programmes try to answer questions as; who is to trust, will the catastrophe come, is the humankind to blame for that the Earth is out of order etc.
About ten other European countries have bought the documentary and the Swedish Charon Film AB says they will give away the television rights to the countries that can’t afford the series.

I’m curios about the programmes. I hope they will be able to explain this difficult issue in a way easy to understand. The Heads of Environmental Agencies in Sweden have got a bunch of questions in a questionnaire from the Swedish Televison, concerning the measures taken in the environmental field. I hope all others answer the questions; I have.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mobile phone logics?
Why is it so difficult to have good coverage of the mobile phone net on trains compared with the situation in the car on a motorway? Could it have anything to do with how the operators have placed the mobile masts along the motorways and not along the railroads? It’s a bit funny because we know that it is not appropriate to speak in the mobile phone whilst driving but you can easily do that on a train. So, why is it so necessary to have good coverage on the motorways but not on the railways? Is it due to technical problems, or…?