June 20, 2012
Posted by orrinj at 5:11 AM
DEVELOPMENT, THEN FASHION:
Rio+20: Right sentiment, wrong problems, poor solutions: World leaders gathered in Rio for the Rio+20 Earth Summit are looking at the wrong problems (Bjorn Lomborg, 6/19/12, The Telegraph)
Much of Rio+20 has focused on making the third world part of the 'green economy', as defined by Europe and the US. But developing countries are right not to be lured into this beguiling notion'. Today's green economy policies only make miniscule carbon reductions at an extremely high cost. They promise jobs, but only with huge subsidies - and this raises costs for the rest of the economy, causing an equal or greater number of job losses elsewhere.Most of the world's poor people are focused on making a living, let alone a 'green living'.Likewise, for most poor people, there are far more immediate problems to confront. Nine hundred million people are malnourished, one billion lack clean drinking water, 2.6 billion lack sanitation, and 1.6 billion lack electricity. Every year, about 15 million people die from diseases that would be cured easily and cheaply.Crucially, while rich countries are worrying about global warming and enamoured with alluring solutions like the green economy, there are far more important environmental issues at stake for the third world. Each year, 13% of all deaths in the developing world come from old-fashioned air and water pollution. In comparison, even if we unrealistically attribute all deaths from flooding, droughts, heat waves and storms to global warming, it causes about 0.06% of all third world deaths. Air and water pollution kills 210 times as many.By focusing on a green economy, the first world might help prevent one person from dying. That sounds good until you realize it means that 210 people in poorer countries will die needlessly - because the resources that would have saved them were spent on biofuels, solar panels, windmills and other rich world obsessions.
Posted by orrinj at 5:06 AM
WHEN THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD:
Our Streets Aren't Hard Enough (to Save Fuel) (Rachel Swaby, 6/18/12, Pacific Standard)
The roads are getting some heat for their interactions with our tires. The problem? Pavement has gone soft--or rather has been too soft from the beginning.Researchers at MIT, who recently conducted a study looking at the space between the rubber and the road, compare the present interaction to walking barefoot in the sand. The vehicle's load ends up trailing behind the travel path due of the way the energy is dissipated. But by swapping in stiffer materials, the researchers found, the United States could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 3 percent--a savings of more than 250 million barrels of crude oil annually.