Sunnuntai 29.8.2021 klo 20:22 - Mikko Nikinmaa
One of the forgotten players in carbon emissions is steel production. It accounts for nearly 10 % of the total global emissions. Thus, steel production is 4-5 times greater emitter than air traffic, which has received a lot of attention. Further, current steel production is still largely based on iron extracted from mined ore, and not on effective recycling of used steel products.
The technology for carbon-free steel production is available. However, as with making all environmentally friendly products, making steel without carbon dioxide emissions is currently more expensive than the traditional steel production. Traditionally, steel is made from iron ore using coal as reductant. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions are high. The environmentally friendly way of producing steel would first make directly reduced iron (DRI) from iron ore using green hydrogen (hydrogen extracted from water with energy from renewable sources). The DRI and recycled steel scrap is then melted in Electric Arc Furnace (again with energy from renewable sources) and steel is produced.As I said above, steel produced without carbon dioxide emissions is currently much more expensive than traditional coal-using production. The cost is, however, dependent on the proportion of production without carbon need. This is illustrated by the change in paper production. In 1970’s paper industry said that it would never be economically plausible to produce paper without chlorine-based bleaching. Yet, today all paper is chlorine-free and none of the paper mills have gone bankrupt because of that. Thus, once the carbon-free steel production is mainstream, the methods for such production certainly become more economical. Also, since the increased cost of steel production is directly associated with environmental actions, shouldn’t we accept it without reservations, if we say that we want sustainable economy.
Lauantai 21.8.2021 klo 17:48 - Mikko Nikinmaa
To keep temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius, the world needs to become carbon neutral by 2050. This means that the use of fossil fuels must virtually stop by that date. We have a long way to go to achieve it. The world’s energy use is still increasing, and about 85 % of it is produced using fossil fuels. What is even worse for climate is that to cover the increased energy needs also the use of fossil fuels has increased apart from the use of coal, which has decreased. In absolute terms, the total energy production using fossil fuels has increased more than that using renewable sources.
The use of energy per capita is greatest in Canada, out of which about 65 % is produced by fossil fuels. Compared to Canada, the energy use per person in India is only 1/20. However, coal use in both countries is approximately the same. Behind Canada, USA and Australia use most energy per person. And what is worse, in USA about 80 % of energy is produced using fossil fuels and in Australia more than 90 %. Australia leads the world in per capita energy production using coal. Against this, it is disappointing that the present Australian government is not planning to decrease its dependence on fossil fuels. The two countries with greatest dependence on coal energy are China and South Africa. Still, their energy use per person is only one third of that in USA, which means that total energy consumption in China and USA is about the same.
In global energy production Europe, especially the present-day EU is in the class of its own. Most EU countries produce less than 50 % of their energy with fossil fuels. Further, the energy used for a given gross national product is much smaller than in North America, China and Australia. Europe is also the only big economic area with marked decrease in energy consumption per capita. These statistics indicate that Europe is a clear front runner in decreasing the use of fossil fuels.
But even Europe has a long way to go to reach carbon neutrality. And what is worse, there are several political parties, and a lot of voters to them, who do not think that the use of fossil fuels should be restricted. If economic growth requires, we should not do any actions to decrease their use.
It is the people, who do not accept that the world climate is changing despite the wildfires, heat waves, draughts and hurricanes, that we should get convinced about the need for a change in the way we produce energy. Only that way the fossil fuel use could be phased out and climate change be combatted. The scientists are starting to be afraid that the climate of Venus represents what climate change gone awry may have in store for Earth. The thing is that we would have the means needed to prevent further climate change, but the technology is not used, because so many people are so greedy and egoistic.
Tiistai 10.8.2021 klo 12:11 - Mikko Nikinmaa
The IPCC report on the physical science basis of climate change was released yesterday. It is not likely that many people read all its 1300 pages. However, it is enough if the 65-page summary for policymakers is read through. In fact, all of the findings and information are in line with what scientists have been saying for the past 50 years: ever since the book “Limits to Growth” was published in 1972. The scientists’ warning has been repeated twice – or three times, if you take into account the recent addition to the 2019 data. This is now the 6th IPCC report. The scientists’ voices have come louder and more demanding: actions are needed. What was a worst case possibility in 1970’s has become likelihood with high probability, if drastic actions are not done.
With the wildfires raging throughout the world, many massive heat waves, heavy rains causing floods and droughts in various parts of the world one would think that people accept that climate change is taking place, and demands global action. Hot temperature extremes and heavy precipitation have increased frequency in most places, and there is not a single area in the world where their frequency would have decreased. Similarly, droughts have increased in many parts of the world, but decreased only in one: Northern Australia. Despite this, a significant proportion of people think that climate change is a hoax, and many politicians are of the opinion that one must not do any environmental actions if they interfere with economic growth and decrease the economic competitiveness.
Quite often those, who deny climate change, say that for example last year it snowed in Spain and Texas, and that very high temperatures have been reported earlier, e.g. in 1998. That one year is climate denials’ favourite, since having that as a basis, there has hardly been any change in average global temperature afterwards. However, it is known and repeatedly pointed out by climate scientists that natural variability dampens or accentuates changes in the short term. In fact, the probability of most types of extreme weather increases with climate change: the likelihood of both droughts and heavy precipitation doubles even if the temperature increase can be kept at 1.5oC; if drastic climate actions are not done, droughts become 5x more common, and heavy precipitation occurs 3x more frequently than now.
The climate problem is global. Thus, we cannot say that our country is doing its share, now the other nations should do the same. Combatting climate change in developing countries should be a primary focus of the rich countries, and rich individuals: what is the point of spending billions to military or space flights if the world is in peril. Even if the report is gloomy, we have all the technology and other means to still prevent the climate catastrophe. What is required is that we start to think globally instead of nationalistically.
Maanantai 2.8.2021 klo 18:22 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Scientists have been trying to alert the public about how the present way of life is not sustainable ever since 1970’s. A very strong message with more than 10000 scientists endorsing the publication of data was written in 2019 indicating that unless strong measures are taken, many tipping points leading to drastic environmental deterioration are reached in the near future. After 2019 the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world, and the lead authors of the 2019 paper thought that it is good time to see, if any measures have been taken to heed the warning. In BioScience this July 28 (https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biab079), Ripple et al. estimated what has happened during the pandemic time. For the most part the findings are bleak: the temperature, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide levels continue to increase, Antarctic, Greenland and overall glacier ice mass continue to decrease at a similar rate as before. What is almost worse is that although many climate-friendly changes took place as a result of the pandemic, almost all have started to revert to pre-pandemic levels. For example, the number of livestock has continued to increase, and all the media are just saying how we need to get the economic growth back to pre-pandemic track.
In the overall gloomy picture there are, however, a couple of bright spots. The first is that the number of births per woman continues to decrease. For ending up with sustainable human population, this is probably the most important trend and should be supported by improving the education of women. The second is the marked decrease in subsidies to fossil fuels. It has been quite funny that the same groups, who have been very vocally against any subsidies to green energy production, have wanted and accepted billions of dollars/euros in subsidies to oil and coal industries.
Stabilizing and reducing the human population by voluntary actions is the key behind making the life sustainable for all citizens of the world. Only with decreasing population can enough environment be kept in natural state to maintain biodiversity and to reduce the risks of new pandemics. Life in the globe with limits requires social justice, not that some superrich burn a lot of money to a few hours space travel.
Torstai 22.7.2021 klo 13:25 - Mikko Nikinmaa
“Hot down, summer in the city…” Town building has traditionally maximized the concrete housing and the asphalt streets and parking lots. The area allocated to trees and parks has usually been minimized. This has two major consequences. First, the temperatures in the towns without green areas can be up to 5-10oC higher than in parks. Second, the rainwater cannot be removed from the asphalt streets leading to flooding whenever heavy rain sets in. If the town is at the coast, and the vegetation and floodplains in the coastline have been removed, any rise of water level will cause flooding.
All of these problems could be remedied. First, instead of building towns for cars, they should be built for people. The streets should be boulevards with trees between the car lanes and pavements. Further, the proportion of land that is park in towns should be maximized. This would both decrease the temperature and combat floods, as the water would be sucked in soil. To decrease the temperature further, apartment blocks could have green roofs. The park areas and green roofs would also increase insect diversity.
With regard to coastal towns, one should have green area between the town and the sea. No wonder that mangrove forests grow by the seaside in the tropics. They effectively prevent coastal floods, but have been cut down and replaced by concrete and asphalt. Also, overall human handling of rivers, drying of marshes etc. almost always cause reduced retention of water, with the result that floods become more severe and droughts set on more rapidly.
The above changes in town and watershed planning are both possible and necessary. It should be quite obvious given the floods in Germany and China and heat waves in American West. One cannot but wonder, why towns are planned for cars and not for people.
Torstai 15.7.2021 klo 19:23 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Both European Union and USA are planning to introduce carbon taxes on imports from third countries with more lenient standards in coal use in production. Since these two areas are the most important users of, e.g., steel, which is among the products that will be taxed for coal use, also production in third countries will certainly soon fulfill US and European standards to avoid taxation.This is a first step, which is hopefully followed by taxing all imports to Europe, which do not follow European environmental standards. Such measures will also affect companies having headquarters in Europe, as a lot of production has been relocated to areas with less strict environmental standards and lower wages. Such a change would be beneficial both to the third countries, as the environmental impacts of factories remaining there would be markedly reduced, and to the European countries, as some production would certainly return Europe because the costs in the “cheap countries” would increase towards European costs.
Maanantai 12.7.2021 klo 18:49 - Mikko Nikinmaa
A change is the most terrible thing that the human mind can envision. This is actually the reason, why climate actions are so difficult to carry out. Many if not most people think that we cannot accept changes to our way of life, since they would mean that things will become worse. Whenever questionnaires about climate attitudes are made, they show this resistance to change to be a problem even to the people making the questions. Generally, a question asked is: “Do you think you have been required to give up something because of climate actions?” This question as such indicates that change is negative, and the best thing would be if one could continue with the old ways. Instead, the question should be: “Do you envision that combatting climate change have or will require changes in your way of life?”
The times they are a-changin’. But the changes do not necessarily mean that the quality of life decreases, maybe it would improve; a little less hurry, a little less competition, a little more time to do whatever one wishes. Maybe we could use less resources, buy only one third of the clothes we buy today etc. This may sound socialistic, but it is difficult for me to see that some companies earn billions (in €, £ or $) yet out of those profits only 1-2 % is tax revenue, while at the same time a person earning 50000 pays often 30-40 % of the income in taxes. And both the income differences have increased and taxes of the rich generally decreased while those of the normal taxpayer have increased throughout rich countries. If one required the richest 1 % of population to spend 5 % of their yearly profits to climate actions and if 20 % of the world’s military spending was used to improve the quality of life of poor people, most present problems would be solved. The likelihood that military force would be required anywhere would be markedly reduced.The times they are a-changin’. What was good in 1960’s is not appropriate now. We have the means to combat climate change and social inequality of people, but to do that a radical change in our attitudes is required.
Torstai 1.7.2021 klo 18:58 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Cities in the Northwest of USA and Canada have had deadly heat. Temperatures above 40 C (more than 104 F) have been recorded in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. It would be very hot even for San Diego, but those, up to now, cities with mild summer temperatures with heat waves being temperatures between 25 and 30 C really suffer. It would not be incredibly bad if one could say that this is an once in a thousand years occurrence in only one place in the Earth. However, one has had stationary heat wave reaching above the Arctic Circle in Siberia, with air temperature above 30 C and land surface temperature between 35-50 C.
In a way those temperatures are even worse than the heat wave in the American Northwest. Although many people do not live there, and thus the acute death toll caused by the high temperature remains small, it is permafrost area. As the permanently frozen soil (permafrost) melts, craters are formed, from which huge methane leaks enter the atmosphere. The gas is much worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Despite these huge changes, which occur in several places, and despite the years from 2000 to 2021 making up most of the years with globally highest temperatures, there still are people who deny climate change. Their attitude can be summarized by the following sentence: "Ok, world, which becomes uninhabitable because of heat, is the price we have to pay for having a growing economy."
The heat brings with it a couple of serious other problems. The agricultural areas in, e.g., California have serious lack of water, whereby crop yields start to decrease markedly. Further, wildfires probably increase in severity. Already in last year the Siberian forest fires caused more carbon dioxide release than was the whole decrease of carbon dioxide production in Europe.
The continuation of climate change is irritating, because we would have the means to stop it, and it could be done without serious harm to even us, the rich of the North. However, it would require changes in attitude, and that appears to be impossible.
Maanantai 28.6.2021 klo 12:02 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Carbontech means technologies that use more carbon dioxide than is released to the environment, thereby acting as carbon dioxide sinks. There are already many such applications, one being producing carbon-neutral concrete. This application is very significant as presently building using concrete causes 5-10 % of all carbon dioxide production. In the carbontech concrete production carbon dioxide is bubbled in the material. Virtually all the applications depend on being able to utilize the carbon dioxide produced in energy production thus cleaning the chimney fumes. Although this can be done, at present the carbon dioxide capture is relatively expensive and thereby the products made are not pricewise very competitive in the market. This will naturally change with increasing use of the technologies.
However, although carbontech solutions may become important with regard to sequestering carbon dioxide, other problems with our overuse of the earth remain. Biodiversity loss, increasing land use and degradation, environmental pollution etc. are all questions that require increased attention. The present way of life in developed world requires too much resources and generates too much waste. The population growth, although it is decreasing and may completely stop during this century, leads to need of increased land use and, unfortunately, decreased land productivity. While we are presently 7.8 billion, it is estimated that sustainable population on earth is 2-3 billion provided that people in rich countries allow their standard of living decrease somewhat in favour of poor people in developing countries, who then should stop population growth more rapidly than the present estimations suggest.
Population must actually be decreased, and to do this we require a change in thinking everywhere. It is invariably shown that when women's schooling and position in society is improved, population growth decreases markedly. Thus, one needs to change patriarchal societies to gender-equal ones. Also, in rich countries one needs to change the notion that they need population growth. In addition to carbontech we need controlled population decrease to enable sustainable life
Torstai 18.2.2021 klo 12:16 - Mikko Nikinmaa
A real winter throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Or actually worse that that. It has snowed in Madrid and the weather has been colder than ever in Texas. The climate change deniers say, pointing to this one incidence, how the whole concept is faulty. However, unexpected cold spells are something that is predicted based on an overall warming of the globe. The worming of the areas near the poles pushes the cold air south in the northern winter.
In Texas the energy production has stalled in most places. The Governor of Texas has claimed that this shows how green energy, wind and solar power, do not function when it is cold. As for many fossil fuel lobbyists, this is a lie. Out of the energy produced in Texas, wind and solar energy account for approximately 1/10. Energy is produced using mainly oil and natural gas. The reason for the huge power outages in the extreme cold was largely that the natural gas could not be pumped from the wells because of the extreme cold. That is actually due to the fossil fuel and economic lobbyists. If , instead of the need to pump natural gas from wells, there had been storage of the natural gas, energy could have been produced even in the cold. Now it was not possible. It was cheaper not to have natural gas storage, so since the likelihood of natural gas distribution because of extreme cold was not likely, storing was not done.
So the fossil fuel lobbyists claim that the problems they have themselves caused are caused by the environmentalists. The ways of oil industry remind me of how tobacco industry claimed for many years that tobacco didn’t cause any problems – against all scientific evidence. Now fossil fuel lobbyist are doing the same – lying against all the scientific evidence.
Tiistai 26.1.2021 klo 18:04 - Mikko Nikinmaa
In the age of Coronavirus Pandemic, the news has virtually nothing else now that Trump is not in the White House any more. In the news it is completely forgotten that environmental scientists warned about pandemics becoming ever increasing threat because of population growth and increased land use already 25 years ago (Daily, G. C., and Ehrlich, P. R. 1996. Global change and human susceptibility to disease. Ann. Rev. Energ. Environ. 21, 125–144). However, the link between environmental distraction and human diseases is rarely brought forward in media, although presently three quarters of new human diseases result from microbes being transferred from animals to humans.
Bradshaw et al. (Bradshaw et al. 2021. Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future. Front. Conserv. Sci. 1:615419. doi: 10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419) have recently written a perspective article about the environmental problems we currently have. The major point is that, although the scientific evidence clearly shows that the present environmental actions are not adequate to enable sustainable development, the political and economic circles still think that environmentalists are overblowing the problems. In fact, the populists everywhere have gained ground everywhere by saying that nothing needs to be done. As they say: “The predominant paradigm is still one of pegging “environment” against “economy”; yet in reality, the choice is between exiting overshoot by design or disaster—because exiting overshoot is inevitable one way or another.” Overshoot means that at present the planet’s resources are overused, human population is too big, and land use causes biodiversity decrease.The economic and political circles are very worried about leaving monetary debt to future generations, although that is just numbers on databases, and can be cancelled if one so wishes. In contrast, environmental destruction can make life of future generations very difficult, yet policy makers do not think that the life of future generations needs to be thought about by carrying out environmental actions.
Torstai 7.1.2021 klo 11:26 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Suggested social media post copy: Despite promising developments, the need for climate action has grown even more urgent this year - read “The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review”: https://bit.ly/3nk4QXt
Suggested social media post copy: Climate action is needed in 2021 – watch this video on “six steps” for climate mitigation https://youtu.be/sEHot7F_dnI
Tiistai 29.12.2020 klo 16:28 - Mikko Nikinmaa
A temperature increase will affect fish populations everywhere. Depending on the species, the depth of the aquatic body and its accessibility the effects can be drastic – the most extreme outcome being the total disappearance of the fish from the habitat. Because of this, the research on temperature biology of fish has become an important field of study in climate change research. The importance of fish studies is strengthened, as they can be an primary source of animal protein in food.
Fish can be either stenothermal or eurythermal. The definitions indicate the phenotypic plasticity of species with regard to temperature. Stenothermal species tolerate only small temperature changes, whereas eurythermal species can live in wide temperature range. It should be noted that most of the preferred fisheries species have narrow genotypic temperature tolerance. If they live in environments with different temperatures, their genotypes are different, each still having narrow temperature tolerance so that the cold-temperature genotype would not be able to tolerate the temperatures that the warm-temperature genotype lives in and vise versa. Although a temperature increase may actually increase the amount of fish flesh produced per unit time, the species accounting for the increased productivity are not preferred catch or food.
The roles of phenotypic plasticity and the speed of heritable genetic adaptation to temperature changes has been surprisingly little studied.
Further, it is almost completely unknown, if the temperature tolerance is affected by environmental contaminants. One important recent study with zebrafish (Morgan et al. PNAS 2020: https://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2011419117) suggests that the genetic adaptation to increased temperature is not fast enough to keep pace with the temperature increase that is currently occurring. It also appears that the plasticity of tolerated temperatures decreases, when the population adapts to increased maximal temperature.
So, this is bad news throughout. The fish that we like to eat are stenothermal. The eurythermal species could substitute for them, but even they have problems in genetic adaptation. Furthermore, it seems that tolerance to reduced temperature evolves faster than that to increased temperature. All of these points make the case for markedly slowing down and stopping the current temperature increase stronger. If we want to eat fish, climate change must be stopped.
Perjantai 11.12.2020 klo 13:08 - Mikko Nikinmaa
In the 20th century, finding oil made you rich. The prosperity of many people and nations has been generated with oil profits. Oil as a source of wealth is now rapidly becoming to its end, although oil companies still try to maintain their status. Their methods remind me very much of what tobacco industry did in the latter part of the 20th century: although the scientific community has been quite unanimous about Climate change and the role of burning oil in generating it since 1970’s, the oil lobby has denied Climate change and presented pseudoscience suggesting that there is no interaction with oil burning and temperature change.
However, the oil companies are now seeing the end approaching. As a major indication is that investment companies are advising against buying oil stocks. As the latest big institutional investor, the New York Pension Fund (226 billion dollars) has indicated that it will sell all its oil and coal company stocks by 2040. Because oil use has dropped, so has oil price. Denmark just recently indicated that it will stop oil drilling by 2050 and also stop oil prospecting. In Finland, the national oil company is closing its second oil refinery next year.
Whenever any oil refinery, coalmine or power plant using fossil fuels including peat is closed, the local media are full of news complaining about the employment losses. It is naturally sad that people lose their work, but since the use of fossil fuels is not sustainable, it must be done. If the oil-dependent companies had prepared for the future, they would have started to develop commerce, which is not oil-dependent.
So big oil is past. What happens to the Middle Eastern countries, which are in the desert, but have become rich drilling oil?
Maanantai 7.12.2020 klo 15:52 - Mikko Nikinmaa
There are currently 7.8 billion people on Earth. Recent data suggest that the population peaks 2064 at a little less than 10 billion and thereafter slowly decreases so that in 2100 the population is 8.8 billion. This is taken by some people to indicate that the warnings of overpopulation were too hasty. However, it is estimated that these population sizes far exceed what is sustainable: if the European style of living was aimed for by the whole Earth’s population, the planet could sustain 2 billion people, if rich countries would decrease their consumption allowing the poor countries to increase the standard of living considerably, the planet could have about 3 billion people and if the present economic inequality persisted, 4-5 billion people could exist without clear deterioration of the planet.
The world population has started to increase markedly only a couple of hundred years ago. In the beginning of 1900’s there were much less than 2 billion people. In 1960’s and 1970’s the possibility of overpopulation was brought forward by environmental scientists, but was not taken in serious consideration in economics and politics. In fact, it presently appears that if one says that a major environmental problem, also feeding climate change, is population growth, one is immediately labelled a racist. It is often considered that the problem is really overconsumption of resources by the rich, who are then the crooks and racists immediately if they say anything about the high birth rates in Africa and much of South America and Asia even though it is clear that even the present population size in those areas is not sustainable.
Washington et al. just wrote in Journal of Future Studies 25, 93-106: Why Do Society and Academia Ignore the ‘Scientists Warning to Humanity’ On Population? They brought forward all the points that also I think are important. The overuse of the Earth has three components: overpopulation, overconsumption, and the concept of unlimited growth. All three need to be considered together. There is also the point that the rich countries naturally cannot demand that poor people of the South are not allowed to improve their standard of living. This necessarily causes increased resource use per person.
A major question affecting the population growth is the standing of women. It has been shown that if women’s standing increases, population growth decreases. Washington et al give the following points as ways to combat population growth:
1. Assure universal access to a range of safe and effective contraceptive options and family planning services for both sexes.
2. Guarantee education through secondary school for all, with a particular focus on girls.
3. Eradicate gender bias from law, economic opportunity, health, and culture.
4. Offer age-appropriate sexuality education for all students.
5. End all policies that reward parents financially if they are based on the number of their children.
6. Integrate teaching about population, environment, and development relationships into school curricula at multiple levels.
7. Put prices on environmental costs and impacts.
8. Adjust to population aging rather than trying to delay it through governmental incentives or programs aimed at boosting childbearing.
9. Convince leaders to commit to ending population growth through the exercise of human rights and human development.I agree with all of these, and if they are thought to be racist, then striving for improving education and for gender equality is racist.
Maanantai 30.11.2020 klo 15:07 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Climate Change has an anthropogenic component: the use of fossil fuels increases the carbon dioxide level, which has an increasing effect on the temperature of the Earth’s surface. It should always be kept in mind that this is an overall effect. In a specific location temperature can even decrease, because the flow of air becomes unpredictable, i.e. cold air from the poles can flow to completely new directions. Also the present extinction wave is largely human-induced, and is caused largely by increased human land use, pesticide use, overfishing etc. In both the large human population and the strive for economic growth are decisive. Greed is the main fuel for destroying the world. “I want more, and others may not share what I have got.” This attitude keeps pushing us towards a catastrophe.
People denying human role in climate change always point out that there have been temperature variations already earlier without any human influence. This is true, but in most cases they have been much slower than the presentone: what happened in 10000 years millions of years ago takes place in a 100 years now. The people denying human influence on climate change often deny also the existence of extinction wave, there have been five extinction waves before, and they have all been caused by natural catastrophes: meteors colliding to Earth or volcanic activity.
In Geology, Kaiho et al. recently wrote an article “Pulsed volcanic combustion events coincident with the end-Permian terrestrial disturbance and the following global crisis” (https://doi.org/10.1130/G48022.1), which tries to put together the events which were associated with one of the mass extinctions in Permian period. It appears that during that time the temperature was elevated. The extinction wave started, when an intense volcanic activity started. However, it would possibly remained much more reduced than it came to be, if there had not been large fossil fuel deposits close enough to land surface to start burning as a result of volcanic eruptions. The fossil fuel fires have much higher temperature than normal wood fires with the result that a specific molecule accumulates much more. The authors made their conclusion about volcanic eruptions causing significant fossil fuel fires on this. So fossil fuels may have played a role in extinctions already before.
Keskiviikko 25.11.2020 klo 14:19 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Despite the fact that Trump tried to steal the presidential election (what else can one say, when he got 6 million votes less than Biden, and has not accepted defeat – claiming fraud without any evidence), President-elect Biden has gone forward with his transition team.
What he has done so far indicates that we are changing from environment-hostile to environment-friendly government in USA. It is quite clear that climate change is an important focus of government. This is shown by the appointment of a climate envoy, John Kerry, in the government. It is notable that as a State Secretary John Kerry signed the Paris Climate Accord. It appears that the Biden government has already realized that it cannot continue the “living in the past”-mode of USA, since it would also mean that the competitive edge of American industry decreases. Even the car industry has started to realize this. General Motors reversed its position in the Federal (Trump) Government vs. California court case, where the government says that California may not impose stricter environmental standards for exhaust fumes than are the legislation elsewhere in USA.
These positive changes have happened already, before Biden administration has started. So, one can have high hopes that in the next four years USA resumes its standing as one of the nations trying to be forward-looking in environmental questions.
Lauantai 7.11.2020 klo 19:58 - Mikko Nikinmaa
From the environmental point of view, the presidential election of USA was the most important ever for the world. There can hardly be a bigger difference than there was between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in environmental affairs. President-elect Biden has said that in the first day of his presidency he will return USA to the Paris Climate Accord. Although many states (and companies) have voluntarily remained in the accord, it is conceptually very important that the USA as a nation returns to the Accord.
So, welcome back, America
Maanantai 2.11.2020 klo 15:44 - Mikko Nikinmaa
The time of becoming rich on oil is beginning to be past. The use of oil will rapidly be diminishing with energy and electricity production, and car industry turning to alternative fuel sources. In the short-term heavy road traffic, ships and planes will continue to use oil fuels, and oil remains as the major ingredient of plastics, but the amount of oil needed will decrease certainly hundredfold. This is bad news for Putin and the oil sheikhs of Middle East, who are almost completely dependent on oil revenue.
In contrast, the ongoing climate change has increased arid land area, and the number of people living in dry areas, markedly. Whereas people in parts of temperate world complain about the frequent rain, many people virtually never experience the luxury of raindrops falling on their hair. Even though the majority of Earth’s surface is water, it cannot be utilized for irrigation or as drinking water, as its salt content cannot be tolerated by plants or animals. Of all the water available, only a couple of percent is freshwater. The biggest amount of freshwater is bound on Antarctic and Arctic (mainly Greenland) ice, and all the freshwater lakes and rivers, and the groundwater make up only about a percent of total water area. Although presently a large proportion of the freshwater rains and flows in the tropical rivers Amazon and Congo, the areas with the largest water resources are the rich temperate and boreal European and American areas.
This being the case, there is a possibility that the inequality between different parts of the world further increases as a result of water resource inequality. We in the rich world have caused most of the climate change, which dries up most of the poor world. We now sit on the water resources, which also the poor people need. If we behaved like the oil sheikhs, we – water barons – would take further riches for ourselves. I am afraid, though, that such behaviour would end up in total chaos with hordes of immigrants coming to the water-rich areas. In view of this, we should start planning a global distribution system of water with pipe network from moist to arid areas. This would certainly be doable – there are roads and railways all across the world. The global water distribution system, which should be supervised by UN, would be a massive step for decreasing world inequality and thereby reducing migrations of people. Further, since it would be an international collaborative effort, it would certainly promote world peace.
Torstai 22.10.2020 klo 11:04 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Avocados are grown in arid areas for consumption mainly in the rich countries in Europe and North America. Cultivation of avocados requires a lot of water, four times as much as orange cultivation. Since the cultivation is done in dry areas, cultivation of avocados essentially makes the area infertile for subsistence crops of local people. The reason for continued avocado cultivation is that the grower gets a lot of cash from selling avocados, undoubtedly because they are mainly eaten in rich countries.
Eating avocados is not necessary for us. I remember getting my first avocado: I was quite disappointed of the taste. Still, the fruit has come to be a usual constituent of salads in European and North American households. In the interests of saving water for agriculture in arid areas, we should start boycotting avocados. If nobody bought them, they would not be grown, and the extreme water use of growing avocados would go to more important crops for local people.