Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Scalding Potato Of Shame

Hey, people of the world!
It's that exam time of the year again, which means for me, it's time to write a blog instead of revising! Today I thought I'd talk to you about... well, seeing as it's just been Christmas, I'll deliver it to you in charade form. It's two words...first word. Starts with C. Second word... starts with C...
To be honest, I think you guys could have guessed before I even started the charade. No-one wanted the charade! ... It's climate change, pretty unsurprisingly.

Now that we've cleared that up, I will launch into the main body of the blog.
I'm going to talk to you a little bit about emissions of a rather infamous gas. Gas and money, to be more specific. Let's get down to it.
Okay, so countries that emit the most CO2 are GENERALLY more economically developed countries (MEDCs). Not mentioning any names, of course. Hang on, I'm having a coughing fit... *coughs* *emits a cough that sounds strangely like "united states", then dissolves into a fit of chokes*... Phew, that was some coughing fit. Anyway, not mentioning any names, that is usually the case. They have more money, so more power. Power having a bit of a double entendre here - power in the political sense AND power in the energy sense. This, of course, leads to an insane amount of energy being consumed, and... well. Karma finally catches up with those icebergs that sank the Titanic.

However, it's not ALWAYS the case.
Perhaps I am all to keen to stick up for my people (I'm not American, but at the same time, as much as we try to deflect this on them, we're not entirely blameless either), but it's quite hard to overlook the fact that the HIGHEST CO2 emissions by country actually come from China. Which is not actually classified as an MEDC yet, although it's on its way there. Yet, whilst we're so busy throwing the blame around like a hot potato, it should be noted China has a much bigger population, and emissions of CO2 per capita (person) are actually MORE THAN THREE TIMES LESS than the USA's.

The potato is back in the USA's scalding fist.

(If that was not a dramatic sentence, believe me, there is not a sentence on this earth that is.)
And hang on, I thought you weren't mentioning any names? Shame on you!

But what about those who don't have a potato to their names? What about the really, cripplingly poor, less economically developed countries? Well, I'll lay out a few facts on the pitifully empty LEDC table. We'll pass a small potato, (perhaps a new potato) from fist to fist. 
 - On the one hand, we have the simple truth: these people do not have enough money to consume energy at the rate that MEDCs can. In metric tons of CO2 per capita, to put things in perspective, in 2009, the people of Sierra Leone had emissions of approx 0.2 tons per person. The USA had 17.3 tons each. 
 - LEDCs often have bigger populations than MEDCs - generally. The USA is something of an anomaly in this instance. India's a prime example, though. I think we can agree that it's somehow ironic that they STILL emit much less CO2 than us, can't we?

So far, the stats are looking pretty good for the LEDCs. They've barely received a glancing blow from the scalding potato of shame. But I think it's time to bring out the burn ointment now, because the potato's just landed in their hands. When these people do use energy, it's often not sourced by the most efficient or sustainable means. For those in LEDCs who don't have access to mains power supplies - 1.5bn people- often, fuels such as Kerosene/(Parrafin) are depended on to provide light and heat at night. For the amount of CO2 that's emitted by these fuels, they're not really getting the highest or most efficient energy output that they could get. And available alternatives to kerosene, like wood, is leading to forests in these areas being chopped down - and desertification happening as a result. It's a vicious cycle.

I think I've reached the general point in this blog in which the sentence '"So what shall we do?" I hear you cry' generally puts in an appearance (i.e. when the article comprises 70% ramble, 30% information).
I know you've been waiting for it, and who am I to disappoint?
"So what shall we do?" I hear you cry.
Well, now that you've so kindly asked, there IS something you can do.

As I was browsing the internet aimlessly as usual, (I'm sure you can relate), I came across this. I was so impressed that I actually 'liked' it on Facebook - probably a first for me on external links. It is genuinely a viable solution to the previous paragraph's dilemma - LEDCs have enough problems on their hands, and I'm determined that burns from the potato of climate change shame should not be one of them.
I'll give a quick summary to entice you in, but I'm not going to go to town on it, because I've already spent an hour and a half writing this.
It's called a GravityLight, and it basically uses the power of gravity to fuel an electric light. You fill the bag with rocks, hoist it up, and as the rocks are slowly pulled towards the earth, it generates electricity. No CO2. Minimal effort. Low cost. A genuine solution, n'est-ce pas?
The guys at the project need a bit of help with funding, so they've got this fundraising page-thing to collect funds. It's got all the information you'd want to know, so I'll link it.

The amount of time I've spent on this blog is getting ridiculous, and the smiling girl on the cover my Chemistry textbook seems to be staring at me in burning accusation. Ouch. I think even the potato was easier to handle than that. I think it's time to put the potato to bed now. In fact, let's just cut it up and share it. Like the famous Christmas song commands, we'll feed the world with it.

And now is the section of links:
Most importantly, here's the link for GravityLight: . Even if you're not planning on donating, all the information on there's good stuff.
As always, I like to link my good old WWF:
Earth hour is coming up again! I'll probably do a feature on it later, but for the time being, the link to the Earth Hour site: and the video:

To view the Oxford English Dictionary definition of "Procrastination from Revising", check out . You might want to share that link a few times, too. 
- SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen
(aka exam dropout of the future).

LEDC = Less Economically Developed Country. A random example would be somewhere like Ethiopia.
MEDCs = More Economically Developed Country. MEDCs are generally... YOU. Or wherever you live (I've seen my global audience stats).
I am a complete sucker for Geography, if you hadn't guessed. 

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