Thursday, April 26, 2007

A new passing fad?

Global warming has become such the flavour of the moment. Everyone wants to be seen to be doing something, but no one is willing to take the steps needed locally.

What can local governments do? First and foremost increase the density in the city. In the case of of Victoria this means higher density in the areas with the fewest people. Broadmead and Uplands is where it needs to start.

Where do you start? Make the minimum requirements for a lot in all areas of greater Victoria that is already covered with housing to be 4000 sq feet. You then assess the value of all lots over 8000 sq feet as if they were subdivided.

You also need to change the set backs for houses to streets. There is no reason why you should not be able to build right up to the street's edge.

You also need to make it easier to make houses into strata subdivisions.

Just one idea

CRD mulls new climate-change department

Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2007

Capital Regional District directors inched closer yesterday to establishing a new department to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But members of the CRD environment committee stopped short of adopting a consultant's Community Energy Plan report or recommending that hundreds of thousands of tax dollars be spent to meet greenhouse-gas-reduction targets.

Instead, committee members directed staff to report back on steps the CRD has to take to establish a Climate Change Service. That move would put greenhouse gas in the same category as sewage or garbage and create a CRD department to manage it.

Directors also asked for a cost/benefit analysis of developing an aggressive Community Energy Plan strategy for the capital region.

The report, developed by the Sheltair Group, estimates if the CRD invested between $990,000 and $1.3 million a year in greenhouse-gas reduction, it could leverage between $6.8 million and $15 million in partnership funding from senior governments, agencies like B.C. Hydro and the private sector.

The report, prepared last year but just received by the committee, envisions the new CRD service working with municipalities to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

It sees a Climate Change Service as a natural offshoot of the Regional Growth Strategy, with six goals, including:

- Improving energy efficiency in buildings

- Increasing transportation efficiency

- Encouraging energy-efficient land use planning

- Diversifying the energy supply

- Educating residents and businesses

- Demonstrating local government leadership.

Dean Murdock, representing a coalition of environmental advocacy groups, businesses and faith-based groups calling itself the Cool Capital Coalition, urged the committee to recommend the board adopt the plan.

But the committee wanted to see more details of how local tax dollars would be spent before committing them, although chairwoman Susan Brice said a vital first step was taken.

While some committee members, such as Central Saanich Coun. Chris Graham and View Royal Mayor Graham Hill, support the principle of reducing greenhouse gas, they said detailed cost-benefit figures are needed before they could defend to taxpayers establishing a new service.

"This is a huge whale and we've got it by the tail and we're just trying to figure out where to go with this," said Graham.

Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff said a new service would be more akin to "a secretariat" than a new CRD department. It would not duplicate existing municipal services, but be a facilitator, she said.

The public is ahead of local governments in demanding action on climate change, Brice said, adding it wouldn't surprise her to see the province mandating regional governments to take action.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007


By Brennan Clarke
News staff

Apr 25 2007

Options outlined to cut local greenhouse gases

Capital Regional District environment committee members will be presented today (Wednesday) with four options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and local environmentalists will be on hand to ensure they make the right choice.

Dean Murdock, head of a group of advocacy organizations dubbed the Cool Capital Coalition, called the first option a “do nothing” approach, while options 2 and 3 call for incremental steps. Option 4, the most ambitious plan, proposes reducing greenhouse gases more than 15 per cent below 1995 levels over the next five years. Energy-saving measures over that time would reduce consumption by 2.84 gigajoules at estimated savings of $55 million a year to residents and businesses.

“The comprehensive plan is really the only one you can pursue if you’re going to take meaningful action,” said Murdock, a director of the Sierra Club’s Victoria chapter. “We don’t think the plan is perfect, but we think it’s a great first step and we want to make sure the CRD agrees and supports it. The targets in the comprehensive plan are ambitious, but they’re necessary for regional sustainability and to achieve the provincial target of a 30 per cent reduction by 2020.”

While the four options haven’t been officially released, coalition members that sit of municipal advisory committee have gleaned many of the pertinent details, he added.

Conservation measures would be targeted in six key areas: improving energy efficiency in buildings, increasing transportation efficiency, encouraging efficient land use, diversifying energy supplies, public education and government leadership.

Coalition members include representatives from churches, water conservation groups, green business owners and environmental watchdogs such as the Sierra Club, Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Friends of Bowker Creek Society.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The 787

One of the major sources of emissions into the atmosphere is from air travel. The expansion of air travel has been wildly quick over the last two generations. I went to Europe with my parents in 1975 for the first time and the scope and scale of the travel at time was much smaller than today. The flight was not direct as there was not enough demand. The Airport in Vancouver was 1/4 the size of today. The Calgary airport was almost nothing. Frankfurt Rhein/Main was much smaller.

The planes of the 1970s were much less efficient in fuel usage. In the early 1970s the expectation was still that we would shortly be going to supersonic airplanes such as the Concorde. The thought made sense when one looked at the previous 30 years. In 1945 only relatively small prop transports could cross the Atlantic with maybe 80 passengers in 16 hours - something like the DC 4. By the late 1950s there were jets crossing the Atlantic with 180 passengers and covering 6000 km in just over six hours. By 1970 the 747 was in service with a seating capacity of 370.

Instead of going to the supersonic planes, as everyone thought would be next, the focus over the last 30 years has been on reducing the cost per passenger mile. This has been done by carrying more passengers on planes, owning only one type of plane (such as WestJet and their all 737 fleet), and improving fuel usage. As an example, the 1970 747 used 18.7L/km for 366 passengers and the latest uses 14.6L/km for 466 passengers. That is 300 litres per passenger for a 6000 km trip in 1970 to 188 per passenger for the same trip in the latest model.

The newest Boeing, the 787 will be able to carry 232 passengers on the long range version. It uses about 9.2 L/km - or in terms of the above calculations or 240 litres per passenger for 6000 km. It has a range of over 15000 km.

The other direction is the Airbus A380. It can carry up to 853 people 15 000. A fully loaded A380 would use under 140 litres per passenger for a 6000 km trip. A 737 can not go as far, but its fuel consumption per passenger km is about the same.

Can airplane efficiency be increased faster than the demand for air travel rises? The goal is another 25% more efficient by 2020. As it stands, the most efficient planes are now more fuel efficient than cars when fully loaded. If one assumes the airplane is 70% full, the newest airplanes are still under 4.5L/100 km - roughly the same as a Prius.

Airplanes will remain a major source of emissions, but they are clearly not as bad as cars and seemingly as an industry it would be easier to replace the old with new in a more effective manner than cars.


7.2.4. Summary of Aircraft Fuel Efficiency Improvements

Significant improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency have been achieved since the dawn of the jet age in commercial aviation. Historically, these improvements have averaged 1-2% per year for new production aircraft (Koff, 1991; Albritton et al., 1996; Condit, 1996). These advances have been achieved through incorporation of new engine and airframe technology. Changes have included incremental and large-scale improvements. Examined over several decades, however, they represent a relatively steady and continuous rate of improvement. A similar trend is assumed when fuel efficiency improvements are projected forward to 2050.

Table 7-1:Percentage production fuel-efficiency improvements (ASK kg-1 fuel).
Time Period Airframe Propulsion Total Aircraft
1950-1997 30 40 70a
1997-2015b 10 10 20
1997-2050 25 20 45 (40-50)c

a) To date, approximately 3/7 of the total fuel efficiency improvement of 70% is attributable to advances in airframe technology.

b) Based on improvement records to date and the discussion in Section 7.3.7, it is reasonable to expect an airframe production average fuel-efficiency improvement of ~10% by 2015. This percentage improvement is further substantiated in other reference material (Greene, 1995). Similarly, a 10% propulsion production average fuel-efficiency improvement is considered feasible in this time frame.

c) In the longer term (2050) compared to 1997, a total aircraft production average fuel-efficiency improvement of 40-50% is considered feasible (ICCAIA, 1997g). These levels of efficiency improvement are assumed in the 2050 technology scenarios described in Chapter 9. The ratio of airframe to propulsion production average fuel-efficiency improvement over the period 1997 to 2050 is projected to be 55/45 in favor of airframe technology developments. This is equivalent to a 25% airframe fuel-efficiency improvement.

Friday, April 20, 2007


One thing that gets more than anything else with the science of climate is how much we do not know.

All the projections into the future are based on data that has significant margins of error. The projections also make assumptions that are good guess work, but only guess work.

What I think we should first figure out is if the global climate system is one that resists change and only transitions slowly after a lot of effort to shift it, or if we have a climate that is easily changed.

It seems to me that the models and implications of what the impacts will be of the sort of changes that the models suggest are all more dramatic than is likely to occur.

What will it take to reach an equilibrium?

This week there was an interesting model released - they wondered what would happen if all the boreal forests were cut down. The impact of this action was a net cooling of the earth.

With work like this still being done, I do not think we are in a position to be able to make real projections of what may or may not happen in 50 to 200 years time. We need to have a lot more work done on climate research so that we have the data to understand what actions might make sense.

As an example, changing your light bulb in BC will not have any impact on climate change because our power is all green. But the public is still being told that they should change to fluorescent bulbs to stop global warming.

If human society were to stop using internal combustion engines, would we have any effect of climate change?

How much of the global warming is due to methane gas - cow farts? Should be end all meat consumption?

We do not have the data to make intelligent decisions and taking action without knowing is more than likely to more harmful than not taking action.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Rain and climate change

I have been reading through as much stuff as I can find on the climate models, what I am not finding is anything that is predicting what will happen with precipitation over time.

With a higher temperature, there should on average be more evaporation of water and therefore more precipitation.

With a rising sea level, there will be a larger surface area to evaporate. A one centimeter rise in the oceans should lead to a significant increase in the water surface area.

With melting sea ice, there will be an increase in open water surface area and therefore more evaporation.

The increased evaporation should lead to increased cloud cover - what effect will this have? On the one hand it can trap heat on the other hand it reduces the solar radiation reaching the earth's surface.

Global warming should lead to a lot more rain over time, how will this rain distribute itself. It should lead to a higher degree of rainfall in a number of areas that currently are marginal or worse for rainfall. This could be a huge boon for the Sahel and even extend the Sahel northwards into the Sahara.

The higher rainfall should also be beneficial to a number of areas that have very marginal snowpacks at the moment. The higher temperatures and higher precipitation will in part manifest itself as a lot more snow in the boreal forest and tundra. Most of the tundra is a desert at the moment in part because it is too cold to allow for a lot of snow.