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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Heat stress in the Global South

https://www.scidev.net/global/energy/news/billions-at-risk-from-heat-stress-at-home.html

Some 1.8–4.1 billion people living in the developing countries of South Asia, South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are vulnerable to heat-related stress, and lack access to technology to cool their living spaces, according to new estimates.

“Addressing the lack of access to thermal comfort has important implications for reducing the risk of heat-related deaths and dysfunction and improving the well-being of billions of people in the Global South,” Alessio Mastrucci, an author of the study and researcher at the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), tells SciDev.Net.

The authors note that as health risks rise with global temperatures, the need for air conditioning is expected to add to global energy demands.

Universal access to electricity and adequate and affordable housing are prerequisites to accessing cooling technologies, and are closely linked to meeting several of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the UN, the study notes. According to Mastrucci, filling this “cooling gap” links with the SDGs on affordable and clean energy, poverty reduction, health and wellbeing, and sustainable cities and communities.

Clinton Andrews, professor of urban planning at Rutgers University in the United States, says that the study shows that “even after accounting for longstanding adaptations that people living in hot climates have made to local conditions, the poor who lack access to electricity, and therefore air conditioning, are at increasing risk of health problems due to heat stress”.

Although previous studies have estimated demands for cooling on a global scale, few have focused on developing countries, and more specifically where adverse climate conditions and poverty converge.

The researchers looked at the energy needed to meet cooling needs of populations exposed to heat stress by taking into account climatic conditions, type of housing, access to electricity and ownership of air conditioners.

energy infographic

“We estimate that between 1.8 and 4.1 billion people in the Global South — with a median of 3.7 billion for 26 degrees Celsius set point threshold and at least five days of annual exposure — are potentially exposed to heat stress in their homes,” says Narasimha Rao, co-author of the study and assistant professor of energy systems at Yale University in the United States.

Closing the cooling gap would mean a rise in energy demand of 14 per cent above current global consumption of electricity in homes, their model suggests. This demand is expected to be met mainly by using air conditioning, which is costly and environmentally damaging.

The authors note that timely policies to make air conditioning technologies efficient and affordable, and to improve the design of residential areas in order to reduce heat island effects, would benefit both the climate and development.

With acknowledgements



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ExxonMobil’s alleged role in climate change misinformation to be scrutinised by EU politicians

For a long time ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest international oil company, has been accused of spreading misinformation about climate change and the role that fossil fuels play in this.  It is alleged that they knew about the effects of fossil fuels on the climate as long ago as 1977, before it became a public issue, as reported by Shannon Hall in Scientific American and cited in my book (Chapter 4 and page 76).

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

According to Hall, the company then spent decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoted climate misinformation.  Hall likened this approach to the lies spread by the tobacco industry regarding the health risks of smoking.  Exxon became a leader in campaigns of confusion and helped create a Global Climate Coalition to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change.  It also lobbied to prevent the USA from signing the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 (to control greenhouse gases), also influencing other countries, such as China and India, not to sign as well.  It has spent $30 million on think tanks that promote climate denial, according to Greenpeace. Hall’s article provides data that suggests that half of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere have been released since 1988.  If ExxonMobil had been upfront about the issue in those early years, there could have been so much more progress on climate change than there has been.  The company obviously had vested interests in opposing the scientific evidence but they now have a lot to answer for.   Their campaign was so successful that many people still believe today that climate change is not happening, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Now, the EU is turning its attention to ExxonMobil’s presence in Europe, especially through the Groningen gas field, a giant natural gas field located in Groningen province in the northeastern part of the Netherlands. Discovered in 1959, it is the largest natural gas field in Europe and the tenth-largest in the world. Other oil and gas fields in the North Sea will also be included in the EU scrutiny.

groningen gas field

Groningen Gas Field

There is an EU hearing on 21st March 2019, in response to a petition organised by Food and Water Watch, asking for a closer look at the information the company “wants to withhold from us now”. The hearing will be jointly held by the petitions committee and MEPs on the environment, public health and food safety committee will quiz a series of speakers on misinformation campaigns on climate change, which could include representatives of the company. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch Europe, said, “ExxonMobil has misled the public on climate change for over 40 years. Now it’s time to correct the record and hold them accountable… The weak outcome of the climate negotiations in Poland show that we can’t wait – leaders everywhere must take climate denial and climate action seriously.”

Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, agreed that lobbying of EU institutions by companies that had been linked to climate denial should not be permitted.

She said: “Exxon has a shameful history of funding climate change denial – paying for fake science and dangerous lies that have prevented us from taking timely action on climate change and forcing the world into the current climate crisis.”

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Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for South West England

In recent years the company has softened its approach to climate change, possibly because it has been targeted by its shareholders to set Carbon targets by the next AGM.

For the full story on this see:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/17/meps-to-scrutinise-exxonmobil-alleged-role-in-climate-change-misinformation