Carbon Trading, “Your Money or Your Life”

23 02 2011
Biking A Dual Purpose – Reduce Carbon Foot Print and Receive Fitness Benefit in the Great Outdoors

    Carbon Trading (or emissions trading) is an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants, and is sometimes referred to as “cap and trade”.  A central authority (usually a government or international body) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted by an industrial plant.   

    Carbon Trading is also a market based mechanism for helping to mitigate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Carbon Trading markets are developed that bring buyers and sellers of carbon credits together with standardized rules of trade, where large companies or organizations are assigned a quota of carbon that they are allowed to emit.  If a company’s emissions are less that its quota then the company can sell credits, or if the company’s emissions exceed its quota, then they will need to purchase carbon credits.  Through this cap and trade, Industrial companies ensure with proper monitoring that their emission levels balance out between their allowable spent carbon and their stored or purchased credits.

     In Oregon, Governor Ted Kolongoski has an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels by the year 2020.   He believes that if done right, a cap and trade system (that is estimated to cost the state less than $10 million) could help boost Oregon’s economy, and force companies to adopt more energy efficient practices.  Part of the Governor’s plan is to create jobs through the employment of “wave energy” and to place stock in the Oregon Wave Energy Trust.  “I believe this is the best direction for Oregon.  That said, I want everyone to know that I would not move a policy forward that would have a negative effect on Oregon companies or our economy” (Ted Kolongoski).

     The opportunity exists for Oregon to establish itself as the leader in wave energy and become the national center for wave energy research and commercial demonstration.  One of Oregon’s coastal towns, “Reedsport,” has been identified as an ideal location for wave energy conversion based primarily on its tremendous wave resource and coastline transmission capacity.

     Although the subject of Carbon Trading is not new by any means, it continues to grow in public awareness and is currently a thorn in the sides of many large companies and industries.  The public sectors are more concerned on how Carbon Trading will affect the future of family generations and how those generations may prosper or fail.  Another growing concern of the public is how greenhouse gas emissions associated with human activities, are affecting the world’s climate.  Earth is facing a problem right now where human activities are emitting too much greenhouse gas, mainly CO2, into the atmosphere.  This is causing a gradual warming of Earth’s climate and it is now understood that if Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm, the consequences will be disastrous for everyone.  CO2 and other climate-altering gases pose further threat to human life, as well as all life on this planet.

 Toxic air contaminates such as lead (Pb), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), contribute to the following health effects:

 1)    Upper respiratory infection

2)    Asthma in children and adults

3)    Cystic fibrosis

4)    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

     Pollutants and chemicals can upset the balance of the atmosphere by destroying the ozone layer, which is necessary for life as we know it.  The ozone layer absorbs most of the dangerous ultraviolet radiation that is known to cause serious maladies in human tissue.  If more of this radiation gets through, it would cause an increase in skin cancer and in eye diseases such as cataracts.  It has been estimated that a one percent depletion of the ozone layer would result in an extra 70,000 cases of skin cancer ever year worldwide.

      Another reason that Carbon Trading is such a hot topic in the new millennium is that with the diversity of the carbon business, there are myriad opportunities for the individual investor to profit in the carbon market.  Investors will be able to capitalize by investing in companies that are providing technology for reducing carbon emissions as well as investing in companies that are inherently non polluters.   Carbon Trading is increasingly becoming big business, and according to a New York Times article, trading carbon “Will be the world’s biggest commodity market, and it could become the world’s biggest market overall.”

      An example of this is seen where Al Gore’s venture capital firm loaned a small California company $75 million to develop energy-saving technology.  The company, “Silver Springs Networks,” produces hardware and software to make the electric grid more efficient.  The deal appeared to pay off in a big way when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in small grid grants, where of the total; more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Springs Networks has contracts.  The move means that venture capitalists including Mr. Gore could become the world’s first Carbon Billionaires, while continuing to appear as heroes in the deep pocketed push for carbon offsets.

      Now let’s understand what carbon offsets are, and what the intended outcome is.  Carbon offset is a financial instrument representing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).  One carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide, or it’s equivalence in other greenhouse gases.  Offsets are typically generated from emissions-reducing projects where the most common types are found in renewable energy sources such as wind farms, solar arrays, algae farming, biomass energy, and hydroelectric dams.

      A fundamental example of Carbon Trading can be seen with Pacific General Electric (PGE) who, in 2003, placed 5 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere by its coal burning plant in Boardman Oregon. That same year, PGE was required to offset their emissions by investing in renewable energy sources which at that time, were primarily dominated by wind and solar generating projects.  Six years later, 82% of PGE’s “green power” came from solar energy and windmills (like the ones in Eastern Oregon), 11% came from biomass, and 7% came from geothermal.

      A different form of carbon offset is displayed by Oregon woodland owners who are considering selling off their carbon credits.  One resident, who owns a small woodland plot in the foothills of the Oregon coast range, is among the forest owners considering selling carbon credits to generate extra revenue.  Their plan is to sell off the stored carbon in old growth trees, and offer the carbon storage as carbon credit in typical cap and trade fashion.  This plan is viewed as “carbon storing,” where the offset allows polluters to emit carbon, as longs as they pay to maintain these older tree stands.  “You’re getting triple the carbon storage on our land by having these older stands.”

      Ultimately, the outcomes of these carbon reduction initiatives is for carbon neutrality or having a net zero carbon footprints or net zero carbon emission base.  This is achieved by balancing a measured amount of carbon released, with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or by purchasing enough carbon credits to make up the difference.  Individuals can work to achieve this carbon neutral concept by self-examination of one’s personal contribution to the problems of global warming.

     A few of these contributions to global warming are driving, flying, and excessive use of basic household energies.  Once you figure out where you stand, you can balance out your carbon footprint by driving less, creating a more energy efficient home, or purchasing carbon offset equipment for your home to displace energy from fossil fuels.  One way to do this is to install a 5kW rooftop solar array system for about $1.00 per watt.  However, at an estimated cost of $10,000 (solar unit plus contract installation) the payback would be in the order of 10 years, even with the aid of subsidies.

      Recently, I calculated a portion of my own carbon footprint with the aid of a “Carbon Calculator” using two different variables.  The first variable entered, was the carbon emissions factors from my car which was calculated by: mileage (75368), make (Ford), model (ZX3), and year (2003), making its carbon emission 25.76 metric tons of CO2.  The second set of variable entered concerned my choice of foods, recycling habits, and the purchase of basic needs, reflecting a secondary footprint amount of 0.14 metric tons of CO2 per year.  This combined the total from a seven yearforecast, or my “7 year profile,” at being 25.90 metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

     Based on a study conducted by a private organization who estimates that it takes 130 trees to produce the amount of oxygen needed to combat the carbon dioxide emitted from on car each year, and the statistics given about the enormous footprint of my diminutive compact car, my car is 910 trees in the hole!

      There is an urgent need for humanity to become unified and work towards a common goal, or to develop a plan that will benefit the health of the Earth, as well as the health of all its inhabitants.  We can begin the plan by first forming a world focus group designated in finding a solution for cleaning up our oceans.  Monies from deep carbon trading pockets can be used to finance a project dedicated to the reduction of the trash choking out sea life in our world’s most diverse eco system.  We need to accept the fact that sociocultural changes are a necessary precursor to obtaining this goal, and we also need to accept our own personal responsibility to end our status as being a “throwaway economy.”For example, authorities can enforce higher fines for littering, especially for violators who have no regard for sea life or the entire animal kingdom, and dispose of their plastics anywhere they wish.

      Throwing your plastics in the trash is as about as smart as throwing the rubbish right into the water systems around the world.  This indifferent attitude, has given rise to a horrible beast and phenomenon known as the “translucent soup” which floats 10 meters deep in various locations at sea.  Our focus group can start their plan immediately; right in the Pacific Ocean where the swirling vortex of trash is referred to as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a vast accumulation of an astonishing amount of debris composed primarily of polymers, and twice the width of the Continental United States.

      The filth created by our past transgressions while living in the Industrial Age, has created a monstrous predicament for humans who now live in the digital age of the Cenozoic era, a sad inheritance that no one wishes to claim.  Unfortunately, we own the beast and also own the responsibility to clean it up to hopefully bring our planet back to its pre-industrial condition.  That’s a bold and expensive concept, but with a unified plan to initiate a worldwide clean up through Carbon Trading, it’s plausible and possibly attainable.

    Extreme expense is not the only barrier for us to scale, the plans and systems of Carbon trading themselves are not impervious to fault or corruption.  Like any money making scheme, carbon credits are subject to fraud and theft, a problem realized in Germany, where computer hackers stole 250,000 carbon credit permits worth more than $4 million dollars.  Understanding the potential problems and political agendas that will follow the Carbon Trading trail, is the first step in accepting the role we need to play in order to cash in on its reward.  Developing this knowledge will empower us to take action and gain control of this problem, eliminatingthe fears and doubts we will have for spending the piles of money that will be needed in order to extinguish the billows of suffocating smoke, and exhaust the piles of poisonous trash.Hopefully, education will also keep us from compounding the problems any further.

      The plan may seem overwhelming and impractical, it will weigh heavy in logistics, and a great deal of our own money will be at stake.  But it is not so much the fact that our money is at stake here, our own health and longevity is in jeopardy too, which exceeds any amount of money in anyone’s bank account.  As humans, it’s our choice.  Pay now, and live a long and rewarding life, or pay later, and suffer a long and costly death.

  

  Resource:  “Carbon Trading “Your Money or Your Life,” Author, Ronald M. Murray, Original Research Paper Written on 7 June 2010.    Author Approved for publication 21 Feb 2011 @ Mirror Athlete publishing center.  2011 Copyright, All rights reserved. 

Reference-List 

  1. Broder, John M. The New York Times (2009, November, 2).  Gore’s Dual Role: Advocate and Investor.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/business/energy-environment/03gore.html
  2. Cutting Carbon – Delivering Value: Carbon Footprint Carbon Footprint Calculator. Retrieved from http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
  3. Herrick, Jack.  WikiHow (2010, April, 24). How to buy Carbon Offsets.
  4. Lacy, Rebecca.  Oregon Local News, The Oregonian (2009, April, 03)
  5. Sickinger, Ted.  Oregon Business News, The Oregonian (2010, May, 15)
  6. Zetter, Kim. THREAT LEVELPrivacy, crime, and security, online (2010, February, 3).  Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/02/hackers-steal-carbon-credits/
  7. Sickinger, Ted.  Oregon Business News, The Oregonian(2010, May, 15)

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COPD Is Serious and Will Kill You!

23 02 2009

CODP (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a disease by which breathing becomes very difficult without assistance from an oxygen tank once the disease has progressed and will eventually kill you!  It is well know that smoking is a major culprit behind COPD.  The smoke causes and creates permanent damage to the lungs air-sacs.  There are other inhaled elements that can put you at risk.  1) Chemical Fumes.  2)  Dust 3) Air Pollution 4) Second hand smoke.  After years of one or more element exposures, it can take years for this disease to present itself.   COPD is most commonly found in people 60 and over, those that have had lung infections as a child, those that got emphysema in their 30-40’s, or families where this disease manifested itself.  Symptoms – Chronic cough and/or mucus when coughing, shortness of breath, especially during exercise, weight loss and weakness.  As the disease progresses exacerbation flare ups can be mild to life threatening by suffocation, or drowning in your own mucus fluids.

Smoking is a leading cause of preventable CODP.  What chemicals in cigarettes are responsible for causing CODP?  This is a good question, The National Cancer Institute states there are over 4,000 chemicals released from tobacco smoke.  The tar residues by-product that enters your body includes such poisons as arsenic and cyanide!  The American Lung Association shows each year 400,000 Americans die from lung disease.  There are 35 million more Americans in any given year that are now living with chronic lung disease!  Even with these unbelievable statistics American smoking consumption is as strong as ever, “Nicotine has the addictive power of heroin and cocaine.” (Dr. C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General).

It is also known that second hand smoke gravely impacts others around them.  Many smokers do not believe their habits impact anyone else but themselves.  The American Heart Association secondhand mortality statistics:  Secondhand smoke is directly responsible for 37,000-40,000 cardiovascular and 3,400 fatal lung cancer victims per year. And according to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke is responsible for over 150,000 lung infections and 750,000 middle ear infections within our children each year.  There are basically two diseases associated with COPD.  1)  Chronic Bronchitis – When airways that carry oxygen from the lungs to the body get inflamed producing mucus, this makes it hard to breath.  2)  Emphysema – This is where the lungs air sacs become inefficient at intake and pushing air.  Once these air sacs become damaged the body begins to starve and die due to lack of oxygen-enriched blood.  At this point the patient always feels short of breath with a constant feeling of suffocation.  Over time COPD gets worse.  The damage to your lungs at this point is permanent.  However, you can take steps to stop further damage to your lungs and body.

Recommendations 

-See a physician if you smoke, or a cough that will not go away, or mucus when coughing.
-Medication will boost your chance 50% to quit smoking for good (American Cancer Society).
-Ask a physician for other tests if you suspect exposure to other things in your past.
-Request a doctor to listen to your lungs and a spirometry breathing test.
-Request chest X-rays to rule out other potential problems, or pathologies.
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