Richmond Vale

Global Goal 7: Affordable, Reliable And Clean Energy For All

There are several clean energy options available for implementation on small and large scales. There are countries now that give incentives –in the shape of loans and discounts—to citizens who decide to go solar. Recent biomimicry research on humpback whales has allowed to increase efficiency of wind turbines and hydroelectric power has been widely implemented around the globe. Clean energy is a fact, it is happening and science is moving towards more efficient, cheaper ways of producing and consuming it. However, traditional, polluting ways of producing electricity are still a major obstacle. [caption id="attachment_4557" align="aligncenter" width="500"] China is one of the largest producers and consumers of coal. This has lead to the thick smog that blackens the sky of some Chinese cities - Photo Credit: Wikipedia In 2014, the coal industry met 40% of the global energy demand. It also produced 39% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Put into perspective, the 572 operative coal power plants in the United States release as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as trains, planes and cars. Combined. Furthermore, the production of coal energy causes contamination and depletion of water sources --many of the power plants use a once-through cooling system, which causes massive water withdrawals. Moreover the productive process counts toxic heavy metals --such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead—among its byproducts, which unequivocally end in water sources and...
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Richmond Vale

2016: The Year of Living Sustainably

[caption id="attachment_4404" align="alignleft" width="340"] Photo Credit: YouTube The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the agenda of the people. It is comprised of goals and targets to improve the lives of all of us and to secure the existence of an Earth we can live in centuries from now. Hence why it is not enough to sit back and watch politicians sign agreements and engage in strategic partnerships. You and I are people just like our representatives and it is our duty, to ourselves, future generations and every form of life who inhabits this Earth along us, to do something. To engage. 2016 is the Year of Living Sustainably . It marks the start of an era in which every human being starts living in a sustainable way, and while it may seem like a herculean task, it is not! First of all, we do not have to do it all at once, but it is important that we embark on this journey. If we —the civil society, business owners and our representatives— take conscious steps towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a positive change will start happening soon. Some of the things we, as citizens, must do to develop a sustainable lifestyle most likely are things we already do . And if not, adopting a healthier, cleaner and more efficient lifestyle will help ensure our happiness...
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Richmond Vale

What Happens if the World Warms Up by 2°C?

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference saw 147 countries agree to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global warming below 2°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. This pledge is the first move towards the development of plans and policies that seek to tilt the global economy towards cleaner, more sustainable ways of living and doing business. However, as climate experts point out, this effort might not be enough. In a previous article, it was mentioned that most countries that attended COP21, including major polluters like the United States, lack the capacity to start reducing their emissions immediately, as they do not have a set strategy for the near or long term regarding this matter. [caption id="attachment_3875" align="aligncenter" width="500"] A 2°C warming over pre-industrial levels would threaten food security for the world's population - Photo Credit: Wikipedia The issue is made more alarming when taking into account that the proposals submitted by attending countries were deemed insufficient by scientists. An article on the topic published on The Guardian ’s website, says that global emissions are currently rounding 50 billion tons a year and they are set to keep increasing, even if all the proposed measures are implemented. The increment is estimated to reach 55 to 60 billion tons by 2030. This significantly diverges from the 14 billion tons reduction required to attain a...
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Richmond Vale

How To Prevent Global Warming: Handy Tips

[caption id="attachment_4246" align="alignleft" width="352"] Photo Credit: Flickr Disney Pixar’s Wall-E, and more recently, Paramount’s Interstellar, show a future in which mankind no longer has an Earth to call home . Years ago, a prospect like this might have seemed far-fetched. However, scientific studies have shown that if the human race doesn’t curb its emissions of greenhouse gases, not too long from now we will find ourselves in a planet that doesn’t support life as we know it. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the global temperature is expected to at least double in the next century. This makes the need to take measures on how to prevent global warming very urgent. Also, predictions show an increase in temperature of 1.5ºC above today’s values if mankind drastically lowers its greenhouse emissions. This increment would be of 6ºC if we carry on with a business-as-usual mindset. A warming of this scale could potentially erase mankind and other lifeforms off the face of Earth, because of the warming itself or its aftermath. For example, if emissions continue on their current trend, sea levels could rise up to 6 meters in the future and 0.94 meters by the end of this century. This would place coastal cities worldwide under an emerging flooding crisis and at risk for storm damage ( Scientific American , 2015) It is worth noting...
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Richmond Vale

Lionfish Spread in the Caribbean: "A Looming Crisis”

Their numbers continue to expand. They are spreading throughout the Caribbean Sea. Eradication appears almost impossible. It is very difficult to control them and right now the best available plan is to capture and eat them. [caption id="attachment_4227" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Red Lionfish. Photo Credit: Wikipedia “This is a new and voracious predator on these coral reefs and it’s undergoing a population explosion,” said Mark Hixon, an OSU professor of zoology, expert on coral reef ecology and leader of the research effort. “The threats to coral reefs all over the world were already extreme, and they now have to deal with this alien predator in the Atlantic. Lionfish eat many other species and they seem to eat constantly.” “ Native fish literally don’t know what hit them .”  OSU research has already determined that within a short period after the entry of lionfish into an area, the survival of small reef fishes is slashed by about 80 percent. Lionfish have virtually no natural enemies in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Whatever is keeping them in check in the Pacific – and scientists are trying to find out what that is – is missing here. In the Caribbean, they are found at different depths, in various terrains. They are ignored by local predators and parasites and they eat very fast their way through entire ecosystems. A primary concern, according to local experts, is the...
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Richmond Vale

Effects of Climate Change in The Future

[caption id="attachment_3889" align="aligncenter" width="358"] Arctic sea ice melting: the lighter blue areas are ponds, while the darker ones are open sea - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Despite the fact that global warming and climate change are not the same , people out of the global scientific community often use both terms interchangeably. This is often employed as an awareness strategy by mass media outlets, as studies have shown that people are more responsive to “global warming” than they are to “climate change”. The main reason behind this is that the laypeope associate global warming to impending catastrophe, while climate change is relegated to natural shifts in weather. This may be fundamentally wrong, but it makes information regarding the topic much easier to assimilate. Also, upon further inspection of the effects of climate change and global warming, it is evident that they are so deeply related that talking about one of them necessarily encompasses talking about the other. In a previous article, the effects of global warming were discussed in detail. What is interesting is that those same problems are listed in several official websites, including the one of the World Meteorological Organization , as the effects of climate change. The reason behind this is that global warming and climate change act like a matryoshka doll. Global warming causes climate change, which in turn causes sea level rise,...
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Richmond Vale

Global Warming and Climate Change

A press release from the World Meteorological Organization describes the global average temperature in 2015 as “likely to be the warmest on record and to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era”. The WMO also states that the years spanning 2011-2015 are bound to be the warmest five years in history and ascribes this to extreme weather and “human-induced global warming”. [caption id="attachment_3820" align="aligncenter" width="517"] Lake Powell at 42%, 2014 - Photo Credit: Flickr This “extreme weather” encompasses an unusually strong El Niño in 2015, which led to a global coral bleaching event and below-average rainfall in countries across Central America, the Caribbean and Asia. The latter saw its opposite in the United States, Mexico and several South American countries, as well as Southeast Europe, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where instances of 24-hour totals exceeded normal monthly means. These unusual precipitation patterns caused severe drought in some countries and floods in others. Other effects are the rise in ocean heat and sea level, as well as heatwaves and an increase in regional temperatures affecting South America, Eurasia, the west of North America and Africa. Tropical zones such as the Northwest Pacific, South Pacific and Northern Indian Ocean saw an exorbitant amount of cyclones, while there was a decrease in sea ice extent in the Artic. The opposite happened in Antarctica, where...
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Richmond Vale

Exxon Denying Climate Change

Exxon knew about climate change Exxon replaced the Esso, Enco and Humble oil companies in 1973, but its history goes back to 1859, where Standard Oil of New Jersey was founded. Exxon and later ExxonMobil has since grown to become the largest and most powerful oil company in the world, with a value of 360 billion USD, nearly 20 times that of Mozambique’s GDP. Exxon knew everything about climate change, and denied it. The Los Angeles Times, in cooperation with the Columbia University School of Journalism and a prize-winning website called Inside Climate News, have after months of thorough investigations reported that as early as 1979, top scientists at Exxon predicted quite accurately how carbon dioxide was accumulating in the atmosphere, and that the main culprit was the products sold by Exxon and the other big oil companies. Exxon scientists continued their research, and through the 1980s they developed climate models that all showed how the burning of fossil fuels influenced our climate by raising the temperature, which would cause serious climate change. It is now clear that the predictions made by Exxon scientists 40 years ago were very accurate compared to the actual rise in global temperatures since then. In the mid-1980s, these scientists laid out their predictions before top executives at Exxon; that temperatures on Earth would rise by up to 6 degrees Celsius...
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Richmond Vale

Local communities taking action against Climate Change

Taking action against climate change Where many governments have been slow to act against climate change, cities and localities where the community has more direct influence on politicians have started to act to limit greenhouse gasses. In July 2015, Pope Francis gathered mayors from big cities around the world, who discussed how they could make cities sustainable such as planting trees, providing public transportation, making room for bicycles, installing solar panels etc. Because local communities for some time have acted on their own, this has started to push national governments towards more action. We see a change where cities and local communities are taking action for climate change. Financial capitalists begin to see the writing on the wall The pressure to move away from fossil fuels is finally having an effect on the financial capitalists, who are the major force behind the capitalist system. The governor of the Bank of England that issues the British currency warned investors in September 2015. He simply said that the vast reserves of fossil fuels could never be burnt and thus investors will end up owning useless oil or coal reserves and making huge financial losses. Goldman Sachs, the leading investment bank in the USA and the ultimate insider whose chief executives go on to become leaders of government agencies and central banks in North America and Europe, announced in...
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Richmond Vale

Climate Change in St. Vincent

[caption id="attachment_4178" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Infrastructural damage in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines town of Georgetown, following the Christmas Eve 2013 storm. Photo Credit: trust.org In a lot of developed countries, and especially those in temperate climates, it is easy to think of climate change as something that is going to happen. A threat that will influence the lives of our children or grandchildren. However, in a lot of places people are already experiencing a lot of the negative effects of global warming . Particularly developing countries around the equator are seeing the impact and if you happen to live in a small island state you are facing an even higher risk. St. Vincent & the Grenadines , unfortunately, fits perfectly into all these categories. At  Richmon d Vale Academy we went out into the local communities to observe and talk to people about their experience with living in a place that is changing rapidly. Not all of the people we met were familiar with the concepts of Global Warming or Climate Change  but everyone could tell that their country was acting differently than it used to.       The consequences of Global Warming and Climate Change in St. Vincent and the Grenadines Rising sea levels. As glaciers and icecaps are melting the sea level is rising. A group of older Vincentians we met told us...
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