Global Warming and Transport 2

Photo; Fotosearch

"The climate crisis is, indeed, extremely dangerous. In fact it is a true planetary emergency". Former vice president of the USA - Al Gore (4).

Life has evolved in a delicate balance with the biosphere and today that balance has been broken. Global temperature is rising faster now than at any time in the planets known history, temperatures will rise in lockstep to carbon levels and carbon levels are higher now than at any point in the previous half million years and they are rising fast (5).

We pump 7 billion tons of carbon into the biosphere each year while the ability of our ecosystem to absorb CO2 stands at 4 billion tonnes (6). These gases are suspended in the atmosphere for up to 200 years (7) while temperature rise relentlessly behind them. Worse still we are approaching a tipping point where natural processes will trigger the release of carbon deposits currently locked in frozen land and dying rainforests (8). Scientists believe this process will be triggered at 2C adding another 2C on to rising temperature, an effect which could trigger the long term destruction of the arctic continent and sea level rises of 20 to 40 foot (9).

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Photo; Au_tiger01- Creative Commons, Flicker.com

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Photo; Au_tiger01- Creative Commons, Flicker.com

We are playing Russian roulette with nature, temperatures have climbed .6C and continue to rise. Scientists in Potsdam University predict that even at current greenhouse levels there is a 30% chance that we will hit the 2C trigger (10) - while the pace of temperature growth is slow when measured in our years it is a problem our children will have to contend with and they may well wonder why our society chose to knowingly damage the biosphere on which it depends.

At least 150 thousand people are dying each year as a result of global warming (11), scientist warn that between 20% and 50% of all land species face extinction (12). This may sound like science fiction but it is the reality that underlies today’s scientific consensus.

Road transport uses 57% (13) of the worlds oil. Globally transport accounts for approx. 25% of all carbon emissions directly, however it is much more when you factor in the automobile culture and the infrastructure that follows it. It is among the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gases as the current 800 million plus vehicles (14) surge towards one billion with emerging economies locking into the automobile culture (15). In the USA transport accounts for about 2/3rds of the US’s oil use (16). By 2050, as much as 30–50% of total CO2 emissions are projected to come from the transport sector (17).

But fear not, the automobile industry is on the case.

GM have declared that the average fuel consumption of their automobiles will rise to 80 mpg within ten years; there is just one small problem, they declared that in 1929 (18) - Today In the USA the average vehical manages only 20 mpg (19) - 5 mpg lower than Henry Fords model T.

But 1929 was a long time ago and things have changed :-

The big three USA car makers have declared a commitment to rolling out zero emission cars in 8 years with these vehicles growing to 10% of all cars sold in smog choked California within 13 years. Only one problem though, they said this in 1990. Today these same producers are locked in a headlong fight with the state of California to prevent the establishment of any emission standards at all - and still no sign of zero emission cars (20).

However today is the hydrogen age, Daimler Benz have predicted that in only 8 years 1/7th of their vehicle production will be driven by hydrogen - only one problem, that was in 1997 - the actual percentage of hydrogen cars sold in 2005 - Zero (21).

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Photo; Mussels, Creative Commons, Flicker.com

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Photo; Pictoscribe, Creative Commons, Flicker.com

So what is really happening - At every major motor show the industry rolls out its latest futuristic prototype - "trust us they say, we’re solving the problem on our own" - but behind its PR smokescreen lies a very different reality..

Exxonsecrets.org, using data found in the company's official documents, lists 124 organisations that have taken money from the company or work closely with those that have. These organisations take a consistent line on climate change: falsely claiming that the science is contradictory, that scientists are split, and that environmentalists are charlatans or extremists.

The oil, road & auto industries finance hundreds of organisations which work to block action on climate change - in effect they are working to promote dangourous climate change.

To kill off the Kyoto agreement corporate interests created the "Global Climate Information Project (GCIP)", organised and financed by - the American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, Chrysler, Exxon, Ford, General Motors, Shell oil, Texaco, and the American Association of Automobile Manufacturers and American Highway Users Alliance, among others. According to the Los Angeles Times (December 7, 1997) the GCC spent $13 million on its 1997 anti-Kyoto ad campaign. The group common cause has documented more than $63 million in contributions to politicians from members of the Global Climate Coalition from 1989-1999 (22) .

The auto and oil industry were so powerfully connected with the Bush administration that it was  difficult to see where one stoped and the other begin, (Bush & The Road Gang)

One hundred years ago the oil industry faced bankruptcy as electricity replaced lamp oil. Today the oil industry is the richest industry on the planet with known reserves of 900 billion barrels, each valued at about 70 $ (Aug 07). When you are sitting on assets worth sixty three thousand billion dollars the last thing you want is some smartalec coming up with a new clean fuel. The industry is walking a fine line. With demand exceeding production on the one side and the treat of a clean fuel on the other, the industry has a primary goal, to dig every barrel out of the ground as quickly as possible so someone can set fire to it - and that someone is the automobile industry who account for aprox. 57% of oil used. 

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Photo; bcmom, Creative Commons, Flicker.com

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Photo; iStock

The oil industry make up one of the big three, oil, cars, roads - with a combined annual income in the region of five trillion US dollars they have a larger GDP than most nations (23) and they use this for political influence (24) - any attempt to deal with global warming will face a hail storm of lobbying that few can withstand. They also contribute to organisations that declare there is no proof that global warming is man made: that claim there is no scientific agreement or that even suggest that the UN and the Kyoto agreements are a communist plot to redistribute wealth.

The following is from the UK guardian, Dec. 12, 2006.

“the European commission, fed up with the industry's predictable failure to hit voluntary targets for cutting co2 remissions to 140 grams per kilometre by 2008, will likely propose fresh laws to force even lower emissions (120g) by 2012. Many meps, and not just greens, are already lining up to back Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner.” (25)

And just 4 weeks later - Jan 2007,

The EU decided not to announce legally binding targets for improving fuel efficiency in cars "following high-level intervention by the German car industry”. (26)