Schultz Environment Blog

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blog break
I will have a break in writing in this blog for some weeks. I'll come back later on in the end of January with some more stuff about environment. I hope you will have a nice end of this year.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lifestyles and Christmas
Over the century’s the lifestyles on Earth has changed slowly and been influenced by different currents among different kind of people. Today I read in the Swedish newspaper, DN, that Chinese student was protesting against the more and more common way of celebrating Christmas in a western way of lifestyle without knowing the background for this. Media and communications make different currents move very fast over the Globe these days. In Sweden the Christmas trade this year is forecasted to have a turnover on about 52 billion SEK. That’s about the same as Ghana’s GDP. But most people say, well it’s not because of me, I only by some little things for my family. It’s a saying that “many little streams make a big river”. It’s the same like the emissions and if you and I do something little to stop our emission it make difference. But it’s a bit naive to think that all people on Earth shall behave like environmental saints out of oneself, we have to have the rights economic and social systems in a large scale to make things happen. But do not have bad conscious for some gifts for your near and dear. Normally, Christmas is also the time when we give away money etc to relief organisations.

This year we don't have any snow here in Karlstad. The sun is warming up the temerature and there is no ice on the river. This has happened before but one can't avoid thinking-climate change. Have a nice and cosy Christmas, whereever you are on the Globe and which Christmas tradition you may have.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Aviation sector suggested being included in the trade with emission rights
According to the Swedish TV news this evening the European Commission suggests that the aviation sector shall be included in the trade with emission rights on a European level. It will be interesting to see the regulation and how the co2 emission from industry and aviation shall be modified together.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Eco-labelling and Emission rights
In the radio today the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation criticise our Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for his statement to abolish the carbon dioxide taxation if the transport sector will be included in a system for emission rights in Europe. The criticism is right if the transport sector just would be added to the present system. But if it was to be a new structure of the system with emission rights the minister could be right? In such a new system there are some challenges to handle. I’m not convinced that the tool with emission rights is that good as presumed. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation sells emission rights (in second hand) to private persons for 350 SEK per ton carbon dioxide. The idea is that by this one will keep the emission rights from being used by the industry and by that reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide. A Swede emits in average 6 ton of CO2. One ton of CO2 correspond to a 5000 km journey by car. But can you “buy a clean conscious” from the Society from Nature Conservation? I mean the system handle the industry emission, not the transport sector where the average Swede has most of his CO2 emissions. The industry has to save emission but the private person can still drive the car as much as earlier. And that’s because the transport sector isn’t included in the system with emission rights.
At the same time the European Union’s agriculture ministers have met and agreed upon a new eco-labelling of ecological food. The Swedish minister, Eskil Erlandsson agreed, although he thought it would be a burden for the Swedish small scale producers. The new eco-labelling system will be started in 2009. The association of ecological farmers has protested. The minister says there’s a worry about that the already established labelling will be affected.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Where is the snow?
Still, we get another day with some rain and flooding in the southwest of Sweden and temperatures around 10 degrees. Is it really December? The weather forecast predicts there will be a green Christmas in our part of Sweden. We have a visit in my family from France, a secondary school pupil. She stated when she arrived that the weather here and back home was pretty much the same these days. She had hoped to experience some snow here in the north. Today she and her comrades from Vier in France took the bus to Torsby and visited the Ski tunnel, so she got in touch with snow, although human made. This activity urged quite a lot of supplied energy. But perhaps the climate changes will result in a better energy balance in Sweden so we can indulge our visitors this luxury?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One uncomfortable truth too much, or…?
The author, Sir Nicholas Stern, of the Government’s report on climate change is to quit the Treasury after friends said that he was frozen out of Gordon Brown’s inner circle. This was to read in the Times last Friday.
“Sir Nicholas, 60, one of the Chancellor’s most senior officials as Second Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, is to leave in March to return to academic life, taking a chair at the London School of Economics in June. Sir Nicholas’s conclusions did have a global focus, saying that the economic costs of failing to act would, over time, far outweigh those of action now. He proposed carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes and investment in low-carbon technology. But his stark warnings of overwhelming evidence of global warming highlighted differences between Mr Brown — who wanted to avoid unpopular tax rises — and David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, who pressed for green taxes, including a big rise in tax on gas-guzzling vehicles.”
It’s not easy to tackle the global warming problem. It’s not easy to convince the machinery of power where ever. “An uncomfortable truth” is a good description of the phenomenon.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Environmental policy tending to chase its own tail?
The efficient use of resources is a basic condition for a better environment and a sustainable development. Unfortunately it also seems to create counterproductive rebound effect. Either you do more of the same or you start to satisfy new demands and you consume more. It’s also so that economic development is caught in an efficiency trap where desirable changes give damaging side effects on the environment. The rebound effect hinders higher efficiency to give progress and development. Our society has a challenge to handle the surplus created by the increasing efficiency, in an environmental friendly way. This is a super short summary of an interesting analyse by the author Christer Sanne, The Royal Institute for Technology, made for the Swedish Environment Agency in a report.

It is an interesting analyses but the result is quite depressing, I think. Which political assembly will decide about the necessary direction in what we are allowed to do with the surplus from efficiency? Will it be the good hearted dictator or planned economy or is our democracy able to handle this issue? What do you think?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Space fever…………
Swedish media covers a lot about the Discovery space shuttle these days. There’s plenty of reportage about the Swedish astronaut Fuglesang. Space has become interesting for media. That reminds me of the first photo of the Earth taken from space in 1968. Al Gore shows in his movie “An uncomfortable truth” another photo taken in 1972 at the last Apollo flight, when the Earth is brightened up totally by the sun. The photo’s really reveals the thin film of atmosphere that cover’s the Earth.

It’s not only the Earth we humans leave trash on, there’s also some satellite trash etc up in the space. Have you ever thought about that we are already spreading greenhouse gases up in the space but also pure scrap? I wonder if the idea about putting up space stations is that good idea. It’s like fooling kids that the candy will last forever. If we destroy the conditions on Earth for living organisms we can always start a new civilisation up in the space, seems to be the idea. Perhaps we should stay on Earth and try to tend it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Study visit from South Africa
A delegation with representatives from Eastern Cape, Limpopo North West and KwaZuluNatal provinces visited Karlstad together with Anna Backman from Sala Ida AB. They participate in a course for politicians and officers in Local Democracy and Local Governance (LODLOG). In the course there is a study visit to four different cities in Sweden with different focus for the course members. The group visiting Karlstad got the opportunity to some deeper studies in environment issues for two days. They got broad information about the environmental work in Karlstad, the environment issues in school and learned more about waste handling, waste incineration and landfill use. The picture is from the wrap up meeting earlier today.

By the way, have a look at the wall behind the group. The material is red cedar tree. That material is nothing to play around with. It’s very nice looking but not that easy to work with. The western red cedar (Thuja plicata) has been reported as dangerous in Japan as early as in the 1920: s, in California as well and this year even in Sweden. Both carpenters and sawmill workers which have been exposed to dust from fresh cedar tree has fallen ill. The mechanism behind is probably the sensitiveness to plicatineacid? Red cedar tree is resistant to micro organisms. When prepared like the wall behind the group there is no risk.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More like autumn than winter
Still raining and warm outside. Yesterday there were reports about a big catastrophe in the Philippines, due to cyclone and landslide. Around 500 have been found dead so far. A professor, Sten Bergstrand, spoke in TV about the future energy situation in Sweden. He thought that the energy will be cheaper and that we don’t need more nuclear power because the waterpower will increase and also that the needs of energy won’t be that huge as the temperature will rise. So, in an economic view the climate changes can also be good in some way for Sweden according to him. On the other hand, I heard the technical chief in Arvika, a town northwest of Karlstad, speak about their preparation for flooding of the nearby sea. They have started to build embankments to protect the city.

The winter temperature has until today been more like early autumn than cold Nordic winter. I wonder if we will see some snow this year. Cross-country skiing is something I long for…