Computing climate change

But you, dear reader, are indulging right now in activity that is equally as polluting as air travel: using a computer.

According to a report published by the Climate Group, a think-tank based in London, computers, printers, mobile phones and the widgets that accompany them account for the emission of 830m tonnes of carbon dioxide around the world in 2007. That is about 2% of the estimated total of emissions from human activity. And that is the same as the aviation industry’s contribution. According to the report, about a quarter of the emissions in question are generated by the manufacture of computers and so forth. The rest come from their use.

The Economist claims as its general editorial goal to “to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” They’re pro free trade and globalization. In general I’m free trade and pro a certain type of globalization – a globalization in trade and manufacturing tempered by concern for human rights and the environment. The hell is in the details as they say. Since so many of The Economists readers are well educated and hold decision making positions in the private and public sector, they’re to be ignored at some risk. This article by itself is nothing major, but is typical of some of the ankle biting they frequently do in regards to global warming. Its difficult to tell if the writer of the above editorial is lying or just lazy.

Let’s assume the numbers they’re using from The Climate Group are correct. They fail to acknowledge that the energy used by computers and other human activities are be supplemented with or replaced by greener energy. California’s private electric utilities have to generate 20% of their electricity by means of solar, wind or geothermal energy by 2010. Many industries in California, including the high environmental impact construction sector, have pledged to cut their emissions by 20 to 50 percent in the next ten years. We’re unlikely to see comparable improvement in jet emissions or conservation of fossil fuels in the aviation industry. Perhaps making a graph before hand comparing the estimated emissions of human activity versus the airline industry would have helped. Excepting increased energy usage due to population growth the Economists writer would have seen a steady tread downward on computers and related activities, if we’re successful in meeting state and country goals for conversion to green energy and conservation – the use of LED lighting alone could reduce energy consumption, and the companion emissions, for lighting nationwide by 29%. We’re not likely to see such savings in commercial jet travel. Part of the Economist’s argument is we’re just as well off using jets as staying at home and using networks to do our work; and the snark at people buying carbon offsets comes off as more an advocacy of waste and decadence then what the writer seems to think is some great insight into how the world uses energy. Its almost and apples and oranges comparison.

In a few hundred words The Economist says what could have been said in one sentence – Why bother, f*ck carbon offsets. Which, one assumes, would be how they define intellectual and progress.

goodbye summer. the text courtesy langston hughes.

proof. just as i predicted and backed up by this recently released document from the CIA, that great pioneer of aviation Amelia Earhart did not go missing, but was kidnapped by Venusian pirates. Dick Cheney’s claim that the CIA had documents that prove torture was absolutely necessary in order to save lives has not worked out so well, CIA Documents Provide Little Cover for Cheney Claims. Neither has Bernie Goldberg’s claim that George W. Bush served honorably in the TANG,

Indeed, there is a set of facts about Bush’s service that is irrefutable: Lt. Bush did refuse an order to take a required physical, and he was suspended for “failing to perform up to standards”. Moreover, the sequence of events that failure set in motion eventually ensured that Bush did not fulfill the entirety of his military obligation.

When Texas has their special textbooks that contain the truth and nut’n but the truth, no doubt Cheney, Bush and Goldberg will be in the chapter entitled America’s Biggest Serial Liars.

There Are More Slaves Today Than at Any Time in Human History

One hundred forty-three years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the slave trade worldwide, there are more slaves than at any time in human history — 27 million.

Benjamin Skinner is careful to point out its unfortunately not as simple as one person being owned by another. Such a glaring circumstance would make it a little easier to stop modern slavery,

I want to be very clear what I mean when I say the word slavery. If you look it up in Webster’s dictionary, the first definition is “drudgery or toil.” It’s become a metaphor for undue hardship, because we assume that once you legally abolish something, it no longer exists. But as a matter of reality for up to 27 million people in the world, slaves are those forced to work, held through fraud, under threat of violence, for no pay beyond subsistence. It’s a very spare definition.

TM: Whose definition is that?

BS: Kevin Bales’s. [His Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy was nominated for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize, and he is the president of Free the Slaves ] I’m glad you asked because he’s not given enough credit. He originally came up with the number 27 million, and it’s subsequently been buttressed by international labor organization studies.