Copenhagen Climate Summit Stimulates Aggressive Debate

Do you believe in global warming? Do you believe the cost of capping production of carbon dioxide is too high for our industrialized world to support? Do you believe if we do not aggressively act to stop global warming that Miami will be gone within 25 years?

It is confusing to the average American, as even our news media falls on the side of whichever political party or side of the debate is being funded by their sponsors. How do we find out the facts?

7 December 2009. Listening to Fox news, including both the O’Reilly factor and Sean Hannity’s program, the guests (Brit Hume – himself a journalist, Bernie Goldberg, Dick Morris) all openly mocked the efforts of both Americans and the global community gathering in Copenhagen for the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15).

Brit Hume frequently referred the “dogma” of global warming. He strongly emphasized that cleaning the environment is not worth the potential cost forcing changes in our “way of life.”

The segment was immediately followed by a commercial urging viewers to vote “NO” on cap and trade legislation.

Bernie Goldberg believes the “liberal” media has no stomach to “debunk” global warming.

Sean Hannity believes that global warming is “fraud.”

Dick Morris, while quick to jump on the anti-global warming bandwagon, actually had one compelling statement – if true. He mentioned that the US actually made substantial progress towards meeting Kyoto protocol targets, without resorting to government regulation. Of course it is probably not the anti-global warming crowd who forced that progress, however at least he did recognize efforts are being made to reduce carbon emissions.

Forget the Politics for a Moment

Hanoi motor scooters are primarily 2 stroke engines inefficient transportationHaving recently returned from Hanoi, where thousands of 2-stroke motor scooters pump extremely visible amounts of pollution into the air, it is hard to justify not at least considering the impact fossil fuel usage is having on the world’s environmental health.

Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in Delhi, India, said at a 2004 conference in India that “inexpensive two-wheelers form a staggering 75–80% of the traffic in most Asian cities.” Because two-stroke engines burn an oil–gasoline mixture, they emit more smoke, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter than the gas-only four-stroke engines found in newer motorcycles.

The result is that in Asian cities with high numbers of scooters, lung and respiratory diseases are prevalent at rates more than twice as high as in areas without the volume of 2 strike engine traffic.

Two-stroke engines produce a lot of pollution, primarily because the engine mixes lubrication oil with gasoline for combustion. This requires combustion of the oil during engine operation. The oil makes all two-stroke engines smoky, however an old, poorly maintained, or simply worn out engines and mufflers allow huge clouds of oily smoke into the air.

This is not just developing countries. In the US/Canada snow mobiles/machines, outboard motors, weed whackers – anything running a two stroke engine will produce pollution far exceeding the more efficient 4 stroke engine. The actual differences between engine designs are not that difficult to understand, and are clearly presented in web articles such as Wikipedia.

Coal Used for Heating in the Developing World

If you have ever been to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, during January you will have no question in your mind of the dangers human being face when living in an area with high concentrations of raw coal.

Very dense haze over Ulaanbaatar“Particulate Matter (PM), in Ulaanbaatar is estimated to be between 2 times higher in summer and 12 times higher in winter than minimum accepted standards.” (Mr. Ganbaatar B. Director, Dept of Fuel Policy and Regulation, Ministry of Fuel and Energy, Mongolia)

The main issue is the use of low grade compressed scrap coal commonly used for both heating and cooking in the “ger,” or tent communities of Ulaanbaatar. Burning the coal puts sulfer dioxide and carbon particulate matter into the air, which in Ulaanbaatar exceeds 300g2, in comparison with Oslo where the highest concentration of particulate matter is around 14g2 (Source:

Clearly, this is not a healthy environment for either human beings, or the plants and animals sharing our land. The amount of sulfur dioxide hitting the ground where we plant food, water that we ultimately drink, and air that we breathe is staggering. Author’s note: This is also from my own experience living in Mongolia.

So Make Your Own Decision

Take a walk in Los Angeles on a hot, muggy summer day. Take a look at Denver from a distance of about 100 miles. Fly over Dallas at 30,000 feet. Then consider that the brown blanket lying over each of those cities is pollution. A toxic mixture of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Coal sold at roadside in Ulaanbaatar MongoliaBrit Hume may think cleaning this mess up is going to harm his opulent way of life, however as the world’s largest source of CO2, even exceeding the lands of 2 stroke motor scooters, we owe it to ourselves to carefully consider each argument prior to voting. Consider it while standing in line at the drug store buying your child’s asthma inhaler, or when your school cancels outdoor sporting events due to the poor air quality index.

I am not convinced Cap and Trade is the best approach, however I am convinced if we do not all turn into “born again green freaks,” the next generation may be living on ocean front property in Atlanta, using an oxygen inhaler, and zipping ourselves into an environmentally sealed bubble.

There is nothing evil in diligently working towards renewable energy, clean energy, water conservation, and cleaning up our use of the environment. If the private equity companies lose a bit of profit this year because they need to re-engineer their factories or data centers – so be it. They can start off by painting their buildings white!

John Savageau, Long Beach

About johnsavageau
Another telecom junkie who has been bouncing around the international communications community for most of the past 35 years.

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