The reality of some "eco-friendly" alternative energy sources.


The problem we are facing regarding environmental challenges, such as climate change, is not solely the onset of such dramatic shifts in global trends, but is the ill-devised approach to dealing with these issues.

Lets take the example of carbon dioxide emissions that have been linked to climate change and may very well be the amplifier of global warming. The approach that major stakeholders are taking doesn’t seem to be so much as a move to cleaner, more sustainable fuels than it is a move from oil-reliant technologies, and the reliance on foreign energy sources. This kind of mentality seems to be driven primarily by international politics and the fact that reliance upon international energy sources is not politically or economically stable.

The question begs, why not resort to alternative fuels that will allow nations to be independent of one another? Well, with that kind of mentality driving innovation we may find ourselves falling backwards in our greenness and the greenness of our energy technologies, by resorting to less viable energy sources, that in fact can be even more harmful to human health and the environment either directly or indirectly.

One very important concept to understand before we proceed is that we will not be running out of oil any time soon (just over 42 years – not a lot though). This may come as a shock, but it is true. What we will be running out of is economically viable sources of oil and other fossil fuels. What this means is that oil will still exist past the “oil crisis”, but will not provide the desirable return on investment from extracting such fuels as oil, and tar sands. This concept is referred to as the EROI or Energy Return On Investment. In this case, investment not only means financial, but also energy investment.
After all, as it costs money to make money, it costs energy to get energy. Lets start off with oil, which has an EROI of 1:20 globally. This means that for every unit of energy spent to extract crude oil, 20 units of energy are gained. This doesn’t seem too dire, but consider that it used to get 1:60 a couple of decades ago.


With the current EROI of oil in mind, lets take a look at some of the alternatives to crude oil and how it measures up. Now, you will notice that I will not be discuss wind energy, or solar energy because neither technology is really being given much attention by the big energy companies who hold just short of a monopoly on the market. Because of that, advancement of these technologies is not moving at the speed that would be accomplished had there been a stronger focus on these truly renewable, sustainable, and unlimited sources of energy.

As for some of these new technologies that are being labeled as “green”, “environmentally friendly”, or “Eco-conscious,” in fact still derive their energy from not so green sources, or non-viable environmental resources. Lets take ethanol for example, which is an extraction of corn through a distillation process. This fuel source has an EROI of close to 1:1, which is not at all viable. We’d be better off preserving the energy that goes into growing, farming, and cultivation, which by the way is done by machines that run dirty inefficient fossil fuels. In addition to the ill-planned “greenness” of ethanol production, cutting into food staple yields for fuel production creates a tight food budget, driving up food costs, and placing a greater demand on other grains. Not to mention that these grains are often transported long distances consuming energy in the process and affecting fuel prices, and the cycle goes on.

But it’s a cleaner fuel, well not really… Continue reading

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Snow in Saudi Arabia, Global Warming or Global Cooling? PART 2

For PART 1 and other articles click here!

Now that we’ve established the way the Earth works, and a bit about what climate is, we can now talk about the occurrence of snow in Saudi Arabia as one point of data that can contribute to the hypothesis of climate change.

As we’ve established that global climate is an average measure of temperature and precipitation, we can also interpret these abnormal conditions that we are seeing in Saudi Arabia.

The simplest explanation would be that the increased temperatures of the globe overall have increased the rates of evaporation of the Earth’s water bodies. This increase in evaporation would cause increased moisture in the air. The added moisture coupled with the cold air, which is not unusual for Saudi Arabia this time of the year would produce SNOW! See how snow works.

In general there is another way of looking at the phenomenon of global warming, and that is as climate change. As mentioned in the previous article about snow in Saudi Arabia, the Earth is one system of climatic changes that over the bigger picture can be viewed as having a long time line of climate changes. What is happening in the world right now is that certain places are undergoing local climatic changes that are affecting the overall climate trend of the Earth. Places that are usually very cold are now not as cold, while places that used to be very hot are also less hot. But when trying to balance the changes in temperature in the colder regions of the world with the changes in the temperatures in the warmer parts of the world we find that there is still a positive gain. That is that even though some places are getting cooler the change in their temperature is smaller than the places that are getting warmer. For example:

Lets say that Saudi Arabia’s average temperature in the winter is around 4 degrees. With the recent drop in temperature lets say that the average will now be 3.9 degrees (This is a serious exaggeration, not to mention the use of a single data point).

Here in Canada (Ontario) lets say the average January temperature is -14 degrees With the recent increase in temperature over the last couple of years it is now -13.5 (These are not real figures, and are used for explanation only)

If you do the math you find that the change in temperature in Saudi Arabia is -0.1 While the change in Ontario is +0.5. The net change being +0.4 degrees.

Now this is not really the case. The example I’ve used, if true, would cause a lot of problems in the world as we know it. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the worries of sea level rising, and polar bears becoming extinct. But be certain that if we don’t heed these signs, we will be heading for something very serious.

Take a look at some of NASA’s videos on these factors.

Snow in Saudi Arabia – Global Warming, or Global Cooling? PART 1

For PART 2 and other related articles click here!
It has been a while since I’ve read an article that really surprised me with the amount of ignorance that spews out of some people. Newsbusters just published an article supposedly exposing the bias of climate change alarmists by not reporting on the “global cooling” that’s happening in Saudi Arabia. The recent snow fall and sub zero temperatures have disrupted the countries functioning in affected parts, and caused the death of two people.

Besides the absurdity of the idea that “global” change of any sort is limited to a particular locale, in this case Saudi Arabia, these “liberal investigators” are absolutely ignorant of the way climate change works. This doesn’t really matter to them since the average person doesn’t know who climate change works either. So they don’t really need to understand anything beyond their own view point in order to propagate their anti-liberal slurs. (For the record I’m neither conservative nor liberal).


That being said, the one thing that the “reporters” at Newsbusters were right about was that there was no reporting of the anomalies in Saudi Arabia’s weather by the North American News Media until a few days after. This is not to say that the “liberal media” is trying to hide the facts, but simply that the media in general is not a perfect entity in reporting on the happenings of the world.

Before we start, I think we can safely establish that snow in Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean the entire world is going to freeze. No where in the hypothesis of climate change or global warming, or any science for that matter, do we rely on a single point of data for testing the truth of a phenomenon. To explain a bit about how Global Change happens we need to lay down some principals on how our world works.

First of all, The source of the energy on Earth is oil, right? Wrong, the source of the Earth’s energy is the Sun. The Sun’s heat reaches the Earth driving the basic mechanism of converting this energy into organic life in plants, all the way to driving the movement of the ocean current and the atmospheric currents. Now, when the energy from the Sun reaches the Earth a large portion is reflected back to outer space and a portion is absorbed by the atmosphere. The Heat that does reach the Earth’s surface is absorbed during the day and is re-emitted into the atmosphere over night (and is why it is cooler at night). As you may know the gases that make up the atmosphere are responsible for retaining some of this heat so that the ambient temperatures are tolerable for life (otherwise it would be too cold to live on Earth, like Mars).

Credit: NASA

Secondly, the atmosphere is contiguous. That means that all geographic parts of the atmosphere are connected and are dynamic in their interactions with each other. In other words it’s all one bunch of air that moves around depending on the over all climate, and the weather at the time. It’s important to clarify that climate and weather are too different things. Climate is the average temperature and precipitation of a particular part of the world all year round for many years. While weather, on the other hand is a short snap shot of the temperature that occurs in a day or a few days, in a small area of the globe. So when we talk about global warming, we are referring to the global climate, since you can’t have a one uniform weather condition all around the world for an extended period of many years (at least not yet). What you can observe is a global climate; an average of temperature and precipitation over a long period of time all around the world. This is what we refer to when we talk about climate.

Thirdly, there are dynamic mechanisms in the oceans that play an important role in maintaining the global climate. These mechanisms can be offset using the right magnitude of change. What is known as the Oceanic Conveyor Belt, is driven by salinity changes in the oceans’ waters, as well as temperature gradients. These current distribute heat to different parts of the world.

Credit: NASA

To be continued…(coming next how climate change works, and how snow in Saudi Arabia can be reason for concern)

Greenhouse Gases from Your Broccoli – Buy Local – Support the Environment and the Community

Greenhouse Gases From Your Broccoli
“Buy Local”
Support the Environment and the Community
(Appearing in the Muslim Link newspaper – by Omar Mahfoudhi)

On average the fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and poultry we consume travel between 2,400 to 4,000 kilometers from the farm to your home. This long-haul transportation of our food is quite energy intensive considering the volumes being transported and the required refrigeration of perishable goods during transport. This is referred to as the food carbon footprint.

The concept of reducing our food’s carbon footprint is becoming a commendable endeavor that communities can collaborate on to reduce greenhouse gas emission from their daily practices. The carbon footprint of our food is the amount of carbon dioxide produced from processing, transporting, and storing the food we eat. Buying local is a simple concept, but in practice it may not be that attainable on an individual level. Soon you will understand why this needs to be a community endeavor.

Buying local means committing to buying produce and meats cultivated within 100 kilometers of your city. Not only does this reduce environmentally harmful emissions, but it also reduces the waste generated from packaging, the food remains fresh, and of course reduces the cost, which is passed on to the consumer.

So why don’t we just buy from our local farms? Well this is where it gets interesting. On a broad scale the evil of globalization has masked the true cost of the food we eat, and most large cities are ecologically dead since they no longer produce the goods needed to sustain themselves. On a more manageable scale, there are challenges that can be addressed with social awareness and community collaboration, which is the case here in Ottawa. As it happens, Ottawa has the largest local agro-economy of any major Canadian city. But there are some hindrances to committing to a dynamic market of locally produced meat and vegetables. Some salient hindrances are:

• Inconvenience/not consistently available
• Lack of awareness – where/how to access the food
• Lack of variety
• Lack of consumer support/demand
• Labour and financial constraints

There are already local organizations who are committed to promoting and facilitating the distribution and sale of locally grown produce. Community Shared Agriculture (CAS) is an approach to growing and purchasing food products in which the farmer and consumer are working cooperatively. Along with CAS is the Ottawa Buy Local Project, which also supports and advertises the wholesale component of the Ottawa Farmers’ market with businesses. Moreover, the Ottawa Buy Local Project delivers “Buy Local” presentations that highlights what is needed for a healthy food system in Ottawa.
A quick survey of some of our local halal grocers yielded that most of the halal grocers already provide locally raised meats and some provide locally grown produce. There was also a willingness of grocers to place signs that their foods are locally cultivated.

Here is where this endeavor becomes a communal effort. Encourage your local grocer to buy locally grown produce, and make a commitment to buy your fruits, vegetables and meats from them. This way the grocers can offset the cost and effort it takes to seek out locally grown produce with a committed market for this environmentally righteous source of food we would be buying anyway. This will also, create this demand that will motivate other halal grocers to enter the market of locally cultivated foods.

In this way we can support both environmentally righteous consumerism and our local Muslim businesses.

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