Friday, April 30, 2010

10 Indicators of Sustainable Development in the European Union

Several days ago, I wrote about the 24 indicators of climate change in United States.
I happened to find a kind of its European equivalent, "10 indicators of sustainable development."
They are,
Main indicator: growth of GDP per capita
Main indicator: greenhouse gas emissions
Main indicator: consumption of renewables
Main indicator: energy consumption of transport relative to GDP
Main indicator: resource productivity
Main indicator: abundance of common birds
Main indicator: conservation of fish stocks
Main indicator: healthy life years
Main indicator: risk of poverty
Main indicator: employment rate of older workers
Main indicator: official development assistance

You can access each indicator's raw data by clicking on each theme or by visiting its website at
There is a summary of the indicators published last year, too. Its bibliographic information is,

Eurostat. (2009). Sustainable development in the European Union: 2009 monitoring report on the EU sustainable development strategy. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. [Full-text at]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Infant Cancer Rates near Nuclear Power Plants

In 2008, a German study reported a 60% increase in solid cancers and a 120% increase in leukemias among children living within 5 kilometers of all German nuclear power stations. After reading the study, the German government stated as,
"The present study confirms that in Germany there is a correlation between the distance of the home from the nearest NPP [nuclear power plant) at the time of diagnosis and the risk of developing cancer (particularly leukemia) before the 5th birthday."

After reviewing more studies with the original German study, the author reasons that radionuclides seem to be causing malformations in fetuses in mothers living near nuclear reactors and that might be the cause of the observed high rates of infant leukemias. He argues that embryos and fetuses are more vulnerable to doses and risks from environmental emissions than formerly thought.

Most propaganda from pro-nuclear people say the average radiation near nuclear power plants are as low as or lower than that of other regions. However, this article argues that even ephemeral spikes of nuclide emissions from nuclear power stations would be very dangerous.

Source: Fairlie, I. (2010). Childhood Cancer Near German Nuclear Power Stations. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part C, 28, 1-21. Retrieved from

US EPA Selects 24 Indicators of Climate Change

The U.S. EPA published a report to interpret 24 indicators of climate change it has picked out.

The 24 indicators are tracking quantifiable causes or effects of climate change and divided into five big categories.

1. Greenhouse Gases
1) U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
2) Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions
3) Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases
4) Climate Forcing
2. Weather and Climate
5) U.S. and Global Temperature
6) Heat Waves
7) Drought
8) U.S. and Global Precipitation
9) Heavy Precipitation
10) Tropical Cyclone Intensity
3. Oceans
11) Ocean Heat
12) Sea Surface Temperature
13) Sea Level
14) Ocean Acidity
4. Snow and Ice
15) Arctic Sea Ice
16) Glaciers
17) Lake Ice
18) Snow Cover
19) Snowpack
5. Society and Ecosystems
20) Heat-Related Deaths
21) Length of Growing Season
22) Plant Hardiness Zones
23) Leaf and Bloom Dates
24) Bird Wintering Ranges

Every chapter for each indicator offers exact sources of data sets. Explanation can be different from person to person. Reliable data sources are good for everyone from every environmental entity.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2010). Climate Change Indicators in the United States (EPA 430-R-10-007). Washington, DC: United States Environmental Protection Agency. [Full-text and Technical Information at]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Current Embargoes on Cuba and North Korea are pictures of Future Peak Oil

Anyone who thinks peak oil is inevitable, if not imminent, will find this article interesting.

Friedrichs, J. (2010, In Press). Global energy crunch: How different parts of the world would react to a peak oil scenario. Energy Policy,

At first when I read its title, I thought the author had run a model simulating countries' responses to assumed crude oil depletion. I was wrong.
The article tells stories of three countries that had confronted or have been confronting embargoes or economic sanctions imposed upon them: Japan during the World War II, and modern days' North Korea and Cuba.
The author labels each country's reaction to their predicament as,
  • Japan, 1918-1945:   predatory militarism
  • North Korea, 1990s: totalitarian retrenchment
  • Cuba, 1990s:        socioeconomic adaptation
According to the author, Cuban socioeconomic adaptation is desirable. He reasons that the virtues of Cuban experience in the middle of energy crisis come from the power of local communities and subsistence-based lifestyles. He sees even the industrialized countries will have to rely on Cuban approaches when they face up to peak oil.

In this regard (that I agree with the author), I want to introduce my small paper written a few years ago. (If you are looking for a quality paper, do not click on the link below!!! It was just my homework for a class.)

Park, H. (2007). Cuba’s Response to Energy Crisis. Working Paper. Retrievable at

By the way, I think the following publication is the best review of peak oil so far.

Sorrell, S., Speirs, J., Bentley, R., Brandt, A., & Miller, R. (2009). Global Oil Depletion: An assessment of the evidence for a near-term peak in global oil production. London, UK: UK Energy Research Centre. [Full-text at]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How to reduce GHG emissions in transportation sector; Is it possible?

The U.S. Department of Transportation published a report of strategies to reduce the United States' greenhouse gas emissions in transportation sector.
The report comprises two volumes of about 600 pages. The first volume is a synthesis report and the second volume is a technical report.

They summarized the strategies in six categories:
  1. Introduce low-carbon fuels (ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, synthetic fuels, hydrogen, and electricity)
  2. Increase vehicle fuel economy (increased fuel economy in light-duty vehicles; retrofits; fuel economy improvements in rail, marine, and aviation sectors)
  3. Improve transportation system efficiency (lowering speed limits on national highways; traffic management and bottleneck relief; direct routing and more efficient takeoff and landing in aviation)
  4. Reduce carbon-intensive travel activity (a fee per vehicle-mile of travel (VMT); an increase in the motor fuel tax; significant expansion of urban transit services; land use changes; pedestrian and bicycle improvements)
  5. Align transportation planning and investments to achieve GHG reduction objectives
  6. Price carbon (a cap and trade system or carbon tax)
To make the strategies come true, the U.S. DOT suggests five policy options.
  1. Efficiency standards (fuel economy standards, low carbon fuel standards, and GHG emissions standards)
  2. Transportation planning and investment (Federal technical assistance in integrating transportation and land use planning, and ensuring integration of climate change considerations into transportation planning and funding programs in order to prioritize GHG reducing strategies)
  3. Market-based incentives (tax credits, feebates, subsidies, and vehicle miles traveled fees)
  4. Research and development (research on advanced vehicle and fuel technology and research to develop data, tools, and decisionsupport to inform transportation planning and investment processes)
  5. Economy-wide price signal (a cap and trade system or a carbon tax to establish a carbon price)
The report says,
"Confronting climate change is a top priority for the Obama Administration."
It is true. However, GHG emissions reduction is just 'a' priority, neither 'the most import' nor 'the most urgent' priority. The hegemony fight in politics, dis-information among voters, hardly-changing economic theories, fluctuating weather (not climate) events, survival wars between nations or companies in ever-growth-pursuing economy, ... These things make solutions unforeseeable in the real world.

Source: Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting. (2010). Transportation’s Role in Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Volumes 1 and 2). Washington, DC: U.S Department of Transportation (DOT). [Full-text at]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Latest Report on Ecological Reserve/Deficit of Nations

On April 20, the Global Footprint Network has updated their 2009 report, "The Ecological Wealth of Nations."
The key indicator of the ecological wealth of nations is the "ecological reserve (or deficit)".
When the value is positive, it is the nation's ecological reserve.
When the value is negative, it is the nation's ecological deficit.
Its calculation is as follows:

[Ecological Reserve/Deficit] = [Biocapacity] - [Ecological Footprint]

Both the [Ecological Footprint] and [Biocapacity] are measured in standard units called "global hectares (gha)". One gha represents a hectare of forest, cropland, grazing land or fishing grounds with world average productivity.

Source: Global Footprint Network. (2010). The Ecological Wealth of Nations: Earth’s biocapacity as a new framework for international cooperation. Oakland, CA: Global Footprint Network. [Full-text at; Spreadsheet data at]

Let's take a look at countries' rankings.
The left column is the half of world countries with better ecological reserves.
The right column is the half of world countries with worse ecological deficits.

Country Ecological Reserve/Deficit (gha per capita) Country Ecological Reserve/Deficit (gha per capita)
Bolivia 16.929
United Arab Emirates -8.927
Congo 12.238
Kuwait -7.389
Canada 11.320
Qatar -5.769
Finland 7.480
Israel -5.050
Paraguay 7.437
Belgium -4.610
Central African Republic 6.977
United States -4.588
Namibia 5.712
United Kingdom -4.543
New Zealand 4.469
Singapore -4.469
Argentina 4.050
Greece -4.394
Mauritania 3.191
Switzerland -4.309
Latvia 2.638
Spain -4.307
Estonia 2.573
Ireland -3.928
Angola 2.413
Italy -3.902
Guinea-Bissau 2.350
Netherlands -3.557
Peru 2.281
Japan -3.496
Papua New Guinea 2.035
Korea, South -3.440
Madagascar 2.001
Portugal -3.185
Colombia 1.990
Czech Republic -2.685
Congo 1.927
Slovakia -2.268
Norway 1.907
Saudi Arabia -2.183
Russia 1.887
Germany -2.169
Zambia 1.692
Poland -2.048
Chad 1.621
Denmark -2.006
Guinea 1.476
Austria -1.904
Solomon Islands 1.475
Jordan -1.779
Liberia 1.436
France -1.770
Nicaragua 1.025
Lebanon -1.758
Chile 0.994
Bosnia and Herzegovina -1.738
Eritrea 0.967
Iran -1.669
Cameroon 0.941
Libya -1.608
Côte d'Ivoire 0.708
Albania -1.552
Mali 0.682
Mexico -1.552
Sudan 0.589
Croatia -1.536
Myanmar 0.587
Slovenia -1.523
Ecuador 0.404
Turkey -1.369
Botswana 0.390
Azerbaijan -1.305
Laos 0.343
Cuba -1.252
Lithuania 0.339
Fiji -1.207
Venezuela 0.319
Algeria -1.100
Niger 0.240
Iraq -1.086
Kyrgyzstan 0.232
Egypt -1.078
Panama 0.229
South Africa -1.021
Sierra Leone 0.226
Oman -1.008
Senegal 0.118
China -0.997
Gambia 0.102
Armenia -0.902
Somalia 0.078
Costa Rica -0.887
Cambodia 0.050
Korea, North -0.845
Burkina Faso -0.026
Belarus -0.828
Djibouti -0.090
Uzbekistan -0.810
Kazakhstan -0.149
Dominican Republic -0.798
Tanzania -0.153
Syria -0.740
Benin -0.228
Tunisia -0.733
Haiti -0.242
Nigeria -0.710
Honduras -0.251
Thailand -0.659
Zimbabwe -0.297
Hungary -0.650
Yemen -0.308
Guatemala -0.630
Pakistan -0.372
Moldova -0.615
Tajikistan -0.374
Bulgaria -0.597
India -0.397
Sri Lanka -0.572
Romania -0.401
Ghana -0.482
Turkmenistan -0.434
Viet Nam -0.465
Morocco -0.439
Ukraine -0.446

World -0.787
World -0.787