Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why Is Mainland China Destroying Destroying The Philippines Coral Reefs?

Even though the BBC was brave enough to broadcast this investigative report, but will it be seen by everyone in the Philippines?

By: Ringo Bones 

The BBC’s intrepid field correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was the first, and probably the only one, to uncover this tragic and wanton environmental destruction by Mainland Chinese fisherman-poachers of the Philippine coral reefs in the disputed South China Sea unprecedented since the late Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein ordered his Republican Guards to set the Kuwaiti oil fields afire and the port pipelines to leak crude oil into the Persian Gulf to choke the desalination plants of surrounding states. Brave and noble his act of journalistic bravado and environmental concern be, it is very likely that only a few, fortunate Filipinos have seen it during the past few days – i.e. those rich enough to afford cable and satellite TV subscriptions that carry BBC World broadcasts – because most major TV and radio stations in the Philippines are largely financed by Mainland Chinese companies’ advertising money. 

Even though Rupert Wingfield-Hayes probably heard of the “rumor” this wanton environmental destruction a few weeks before the December 15, 2015 broadcast of the finalized investigative report, “rumors” of illegal Mainland Chinese fisherman-poachers illegally encroaching into Philippine territorial waters had been a well known incident that’s only eye-witnessed by poor and lowly subsistence for years and way before the advent of “affordable” mobile smart-phones with video cameras. The BBC reporter was told by the mayor of one of the islands in Palawan that Mainland Chinese fisherman-poachers were deliberately destroying reefs near a group of Philippine-controlled atolls in the Spratly Islands, but he wasn’t initially convinced. 

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes initially didn’t take it seriously thinking that it might be just an anti-Beijing government bile from an over-achieving politician keen to blame everything on his disliked neighbor – especially a neighbor who claims most of the South China Sea as its own. But thanks to the BBC reporter’s curiosity and bravado, a first-hand visit to the area with everyday Filipino fishermen onboard on the same craft that they used to eek out a meager living, the intrepid BBC reporter finally saw with his own eyes and captured it on camera a bunch of Mainland Chinese fisherman-poachers illegally gathering protected coral reef fauna like giant clams and plowing the reefs using the anchors of their large boats to an extent that the reefs could take at least 10,000 years to fully recover. And the Filipino fishermen in the area even said that the Mainland Chinese troops occupying the region and building artificial islands are even actively protecting the illegal Mainland Chinese fisherman-poachers from being apprehended by the outgunned under-budgeted Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy. Given that probably none of the Philippine’s military top brass saw the BBC broadcast, talks of war with Mainland China is currently on the same level as a Gene Roddenberry science fiction work on the consciousness of most Filipinos oblivious to the incident. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference: An Uphill Battle For Environmentalists?

Despite of promises that a “new deal” could be reach, does the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference just represents another uphill battle for dedicated environmentalists around the world? 

By: Ringo Bones 

With a climate change awareness rally in Paris, France swiftly dispersed by law enforcement agencies concerned in the name of anti-terror laws a few days ago no thanks to the recent Daesh terror attacks, many now are wondering whether the scheduled 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference that will take place in Paris, France from November 30, 2015 to December 11, 2015 is nothing more than a mere “environmental lip service” for the world’s powers-that-be as opposed to a genuine global platform to discuss pressing climate change issues. Despite of the promises, it not only highlights the uphill battle faced by environmentalists around the world with genuine climate change concerns but also of developing nations unable to wean themselves from large scale fossil fuel use because energy companies – especially those based in the United States that are run by conservative right-wing Evangelicals – are using politics, religion and even economics to maintain the status quo of large scale fossil fuel use. 

The “Paris Climate Change Conference” is the 21st yearly conference where all of the world’s nations and their representatives gather to discuss on climate change issues. Philippine President Benigno Aquino, III is scheduled to attend the Paris climate conference but he admitted in a recent interview that despite of the Philippines being seriously affected by climate change, he sill gave the green light for the construction of 23 large scale coal fired power plants in the Philippines to meet the country’s current energy needs because the captains of industry in the United States has kept the costs of large scale wind turbines and solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy generation schemes out of reach of developing countries like the Philippines. The same complains are also voiced by India and the African country of Malawi. 

Even though US President Barack Obama is attending the “Paris Climate Change Conference”, it is also unlikely that he will successfully initiate climate change policies that are as revolutionary as those reached by the 1960s era civil rights movement in the United States because almost all politicians in the United States are beholden by big fossil fuel corporations. Even Pope Francis’ recent environmental concerns are labeled as “leftist” by the right-wing Evangelicals running the big fossil fuel corporations in the United States. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Are Diesel Engines More Environmentally Friendly Than Gasoline Engines?

With the recent Volkswagen emissions measurement scandal, are diesel engines really more efficient than gasoline engines? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Ever since German engineer Rudolf Diesel patented his diesel engine, the industrial world was quick to embrace it with open arms given that your typical diesel engine burn about 25-percent less fuel in comparison to a gasoline engine of similar horsepower rating, not to mention that diesel fuel, as a byproduct of crude oil refinement, is around 4 to 5 times cheaper than gasoline when a barrel of crude oil produces 19 gallons of gasoline and 12 gallons of diesel fuel when it is refined. And given this “ energy utilization efficiency”, diesel engines by their very nature only produce a quarter of the carbon dioxide produced in a typical gasoline engine – which is now of paramount importance in our increasingly climate change conscious world. But sadly, diesel engines are inherently way dirtier than gasoline engines when it comes to oxides of nitrogen and particulate emissions. 

The row over whether diesel engines – as in diesel fueled cars and trucks – are really more environmentally friendly than their gasoline engine counterparts recently came to light in the form of the recent Volkswagen emissions measurement scandal where the famed German automaker was caught by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back in September 21, 2015 when Emissions Analytics, an internal combustion engine / automotive emissions testing lab recently uncovered that the latest models of diesel fueled Volkswagen cars sold in the United States employ a “cheating software” on its electronic engine management system that automatically reduces the engine’s power output and thus the resulting emissions output when it detect that the car is mounted on a tachometer – a device used to statically test the power output and combustion byproducts of cars under test. The Volkswagen “cheating software” allowed their late-model diesel cars to produce up to 40 times less oxides of nitrogen and particulates in a lab testing setting when compared to being actually driven on the road. 

Whether the “cheating” is deliberate or not, from a scientific viewpoint, diesel engines still produce less carbon dioxide – a potent greenhouse gas and the primary cause of the ongoing climate change – than their gasoline counterparts, but the oxides of nitrogen and particulates produced by diesel engines also have a deleterious effect on our environment and of human health. The oxides of nitrogen produced by diesel engines can promote the formation of smog and increases the acidity of rain and can also do nasty things to our lungs due to its corrosive nature. And also oxides of nitrogen, the same one that gives a nuclear blast mushroom cloud its orange-brown color, are usually produced by extreme high-temperature processes that occur in the earth’s atmosphere both man-made and natural like lightning and the since retired supersonic airliner Concorde’s Olympus jet engines which can also deplete ozone in the Earth’s ozone layer giving everyone a higher risk of getting skin cancer. Particulates that are the byproduct of diesel combustion can increase anyone with a compromised immune system to catch pneumonia. Diesel engines may be more fuel efficient and produce less carbon dioxide than gasoline engines, but clean they are not. Another “environmental fallout” of the recent Volkswagen Emissions Measurement Scandal is that it could empower climate change skeptics like the U.S. Republican Party which will eventually point out that the supposedly earth friendly commercial institutions – like the German automaker Volkswagen – cheated in order to bolster its green credentials.   

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Earth Friendly Fashions, Anyone?

Despite the fashion world’s reputation of fickleness, would an article of clothing that last 30 years a more environmentally friendly option? 

By: Ringo Bones  

Fashion designer Tom Cridland of UK’s men’s wear brand known for luxury clothing had recently developed fashions and T-shirts that lasts at least 30 years. Article of clothing that lasts at least 30 years can be beneficial not only to customers and manufacturers but also to the environment as well because it won’t be ending up in the nearest municipal landfill in 6 months time says Cridland. In June 2015, he managed to raise 80,000 US dollars via the online crowd sourcing site Kickstarter to fund his newest line of environmentally friendly fashions. Cridland’s current celebrity clients include Daniel Craig – the current James Bond and singer / songwriter Elton John. Tom Cridland had been a fashion designer since he was 18. 

Cridland’s recent batches of environmentally friendly fashions are manufactured by traditional Portuguese tailors in which he ethically pays and he started his business via a government start-up loan. Cridland has been inspired by his long-lasting fashions after witnessing some Brits wearing anoraks that are more than 50-years-old due to their durability and best of all –they still look good. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Has China’s Carbon Dioxide Output Been Overestimated?

Even though the country has been blamed as the world’s number one contributor of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions has China’s carbon dioxide emission’s been overestimated?

By: Ringo Bones 

As an incident that will undoubtedly be soon exploited by climate change skeptics, scientists may have been overestimating China’s emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving global warming, by more than 10 percent, because of inaccurate assumptions about the country’s coal-burning according to a study published in August 19, 2015. The study’s findings - as published in the journal Nature, does not mean that the total level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is any lower than scientists had thought. That accumulation is measured independently. Rather, the finding may affect discussions of how much responsibility China bears for global warming in comparison with other nations during the upcoming climate change conference in Paris later this year. 

“This doesn’t change the fact that China is still the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world”, said Dabo Guan, a professor of climate-change economics at the University of East Anglia in England who is one of the paper’s two dozen authors in a telephone interview from Beijing. The study looked in detail at the coal used as fuel in China and found that it is generally less rich in carbon and is burned less efficiently than scientists had assumed. That means that each ton of burned coal yields less carbon dioxide that had been previously thought as well as less energy and more ash. 

China does not publish official data on annual greenhouse gas emissions, so “international organizations have to make large assumptions” than are required for other major countries, said another author of the study – Glen Peters – a senior researcher at the Center For International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo. These assumptions often rely  on coal carbon content and combustible data collected in the United States and Europe, said Zhu Liu, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University and another of the paper’s authors. But China’s rapidly growing economy mainly uses cheaper, less pure coal from local mines, often burned in less efficient furnaces and boilers in comparison to typical ones in the West, Dr. Liu said.