Monday, 30 April 2007

Birmingham celebrity photographer launches new family portrait business

Steve Gerrard becomes a ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ photographer

After working in the music industry for almost 20 years and photographing some of the world’s biggest artists and bands, Birmingham-based photographer, Steve Gerrard, is now extending his services to officially include family portraits and wedding photography. It's what one magazine editor calls the "Jekyll & Hyde" of his photography.

Steve has now set his sites on building a successful wedding and portraiture business aimed at high-end clients in the UK and internationally, looking for quality images with a dynamic and contemporary edge.

"I love the variety that my work allows me. One afternoon I went straight from photographing a gorgeous 6-week old baby to photographing the singer from heavy metal band, Slipknot!" says Steve.

Running the business with his Canadian wife, Evelyne, Steve’s approach to photographing his subjects may be different to what people are used to.

“My aim is to give people an experience which is fun, relaxed and away from the artificial confines of a photographic studio,” Steve says. “Children especially don’t always feel comfortable stuck in a white room with bright lights flashing in their faces. I always work on location, photographing people at home or in their favourite place, using natural light and aiming to capture people’s true personalities. It’s more fun for them and it’s certainly more fun for us too.”
His wedding photography mirrors this approach and produces beautiful images which perfectly capture the spirit of the big day.

“The days of cheesy, posed wedding pictures are thankfully behind us: now couples are looking for something much more natural and creative. We still make sure we have some nice posed shots of the bride and groom and their guests, but my aim is to produce an album which acts as a photographic narrative of the wedding, with candid images capturing the emotion, excitement and fun of the occasion.”

Over the last 20 years, Steve has photographed a wide variety of artists from Iron Maiden, Morrissey and Radiohead to Jared Leto, Juliette Lewis and Pete Doherty. His images have graced the pages of magazines such as NME, Rock Sound and Metal Hammer as well as Professional Photographer magazine, which also just published a 4-page feature on Steve and his photography.

Steve Gerrard is a successful photographer based in Great Barr, near Birmingham, England specialising in a variety of styles from wedding and lifestyle shoots to music and corporate photography.

For more information, contact:
Steve Gerrard
Steve Gerrard Photography
49 Jayshaw Avenue
Great Barr
Birmingham
B43 5SB

Tel: 0121 357 2229
E-mail: steve@stevegerrardphotography.com
Web: http://www.stevegerrardphotography.com

photo, photos, photograph, photographs, photographer, photographic, wedding, weddings, portrait, portraits, portraiture, family, corporate, lifestyle, great barr, birmingham, midlands, england, uk



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Tuesday, 24 April 2007

SPAMALOT - World's Largest Coconut Orchestra


We did it! All 5,567 of us, packed into Trafalgar Square yesterday (St George's Day) and issued with free coconuts, got into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest coconut orchestra!

The day was made extra special for me because both Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones were there, as well as the entire cast of Spamalot!

As you can see, Harry & I had a fantastic afternoon:







We even got on TV - on ITV London's 6pm news bulletin. They asked us if we knew what St George's Day was all about - we didn't which was exactly what they wanted to hear.

Well, Harry couldn't wait - the queue to the loo was too long!

Some peasants turned up for the event.

There's another one!

Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam encouraging us to go and see Spamalot "because Eric Idle's house in LA is very large and very expensive to maintain".

Michael England, orchestra leader for Spamalot conducts the crowd into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hannah Waddingham (the Lady of the Lake) with Terry Gilliam, the original Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, doing the face he used for the part.




Terry Jones holds up the Guinness Book of World Records certificate. We did it!

See also the following articles (can you spot Harry & I in the photos & videos?):

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Monty Python's Spamalot - our third time!


Yes, we love Spamalot so much, we've seen it 3 times now: for my birthday, for Harry's birthday party and, yesterday, for Harry's actual birthday. The show was excellent as ever.

It worked out so well as we had great seats and, funnily enough, we got to meet (and photograph) all the cast members we missed last time. And here are the photos to prove it:

In front of the Palace Theatre, moments before the start of the
3pm matinee performance, Tues 17 Apr 07.


Harry at the stage door after the show.


Harry hanging around waiting to meet the cast.


With Graham MacDuff who plays
Sir Dennis Galahad, The Black Knight and Prince Herbert’s Father.
Harry asked Graham to sing "Now we're into E!" from
'The song that goes like this" in a squeeky voice and he did!
With Tony Timberlake (left) who plays Sir Bedevere, Mrs Galahad and Concorde and Darren Southworth who plays the Historian,Not Dead Fred, a French Guard, a Minstrel and Prince Herbert.
With Robert Hands who plays Sir Robin, Guard 1
and Brother Maynard. Harry asked him not to poop his pants
- he promised he wouldn't!



Harry & me on stage, taken by Ben Jefferson himself
- the Spamalot company manager!

What a fantastic time we had - the Spamalot team are such a friendly bunch of people!

Our Spamalot adventure is still not over yet because we are going to see the cast again and break a world record with them on St George's Day (23 Apr 07) in Trafalgar Square.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Internet Portal for Literary Agents & Publishers is Launched

An opportunity for literary agents and publishers to find the talent they seek

Today sees the launch of a new website offering magazine editors, literary agents, and publishers the opportunity to find the talented writers and authors they are looking for.

“Every author knows how hard it is to find a good literary agent or publisher,” says Nigel Edwards, founder of Let’s Get Published, “and a major reason for this is the lack of time that good agencies and publishers have available to explore new writing.”

Literary agents and publishers are busy people. They actually want to discover and promote successful writers. A major reason cited for not taking on new talent or accepting new manuscripts (MSP’s) for review is the lack of time available; and the biggest reason for that lack of time is the sheer volume of reviews that agents and publishers are asked to conduct. Imagine the mountains of packaged (frequently unsolicited) MSP’s that land on their desks every day.

There is a real barrier, where agents and publishers in their offices are surrounded by walls of paper that prevent new authors from getting in! And what do the authors, do? They send them more paper! Day after day after day. So what can be done to ease the situation?

Instead of writers sending out manuscripts to agents and publishers, why don’t the agents and publishers go directly to the manuscripts? Absurd? Not at all; the medium to do just that exists with the world wide web. Writers could publish work samples on their own websites – but how are the agents and publishers to know where to look? There are millions of writers and thousands of agents worldwide. What’s needed is a common portal, or meeting place, which is exactly what www.letsgetpublished.com provides.

It’s simple: authors present up to three chapters of text plus a short synopsis to Let’s Get Published, who display the submission on the internet; copyright, of course, remains with the author. Literary agents and publishers can then browse the categorized submissions at their convenience, without having to battle with reams of hard copy, without having to waste time unwrapping parcels of MSP’s and dividing them up between the available genre specialists in the office. They don’t even need to be in the office, since the web is universal. The benefits don’t end there, though. Agents and publishers can look for and find authors when they want. There’s no more need to rewrap MSP’s to return to sender, or write the obligatory note of rejection.

Nick Daws (http://www.mywritingblog.com/writer/), author of over 40 publications says “I think Let’s Get Published offers a useful alternative to the regular methods for publishers and authors to find each other. It allows literary agents to quickly and easily assess an author's skill-level and the marketability of their writing in a neutral and objective arena.”

For more information, contact:

Nigel Edwards
U.K.

Phone: +44 1908 563442
Mobile: +44 7799 623736
E-mail: nigel@letsgetpublished.com
Web: http://www.letsgetpublished.com
Blog: http://wildlegends.wordpress.com

Internet press release, publishing, authors, authoring, submission, writers, writing, novels, fiction, non-fiction, literary agents, publishers, magazines, editors



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Internet Portal for Authors is Launched

An opportunity for authors to promote their talents

Today sees the launch of a new website that offers both published and unpublished authors the opportunity to present themselves directly to the desktops of editors, publishers and literary agents. Let’s Get Published is a free-to-use service for writers, where they can submit samples of their work for publication on the world wide web.

“It’s a cliché to say that everyone has a book inside them,” says Nigel Edwards, founder of Let’s Get Published, “but I happen to believe it’s true. There are untold numbers of people out there in the world who have already written their stories but have not, as yet, managed to achieve the delightful aim of seeing their work in print. Let’s Get Published is one way of making that goal a little easier to accomplish.”

The biggest hurdle budding authors have – and this can apply to published authors as well – is coming to the attention of a suitable editor, agent or publisher. These are very busy people who are presented daily with ream after ream of manuscripts passing across their desks, or as attachments to their emails. How much time they must waste just sorting through this volume, never mind actually reviewing it!

Let’s Get Published offers a solution by providing a common portal where the talents of authors can be displayed for publishers and agents to review at their convenience. Consider the benefits:
  • authors no longer have to look for agents, agents can find them;
  • there’s no more need to enclose postage for returned manuscripts – in fact, the service is free full-stop!
  • Plus, the author has the pleasure of seeing their name next to their work, and knowing that they have a potential audience of millions.
Sandy Mather (http://www2.blogger.com/www.writingtoinspireyou.com), author of numerous published articles and features says “Let’s Get Published has all the possibilities for offering a really useful service to authors looking to make the jump from just being a writer to being a published writer.”

As for publishers and agents, they also receive great benefit. By encouraging authors to present through Let’s Get Published they can reduce the costly time needed to unpack, sort and categorise received manuscripts, because that’s all done by Let’s Get Published. Instead, they can browse through http://www.letsgetpublished.com/, select the genre of their choice, scan the submissions and contact Let’s Get Published for the submitters' contact details. Simple!

For more information, contact:

Nigel Edwards
U.K.

Phone: +44 1908 563442
Mobile: +44 7799 623736
E-mail: nigel@letsgetpublished.com
Web: http://www.letsgetpublished.com/
Blog: http://wildlegends.wordpress.com/

Internet press release, publishing, authors, authoring, submission, writers, writing, novels, fiction, non-fiction, literary agents, publishers, magazines, editors



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Monday, 9 April 2007

The environment is going to hell, and human life is doomed to only get worse, right? Wrong.

Meet Julian Simon, the Doomslayer
1932-1998

This is the litany : Our resources are running out. The air is bad, the water worse. The planet's species are dying off - more exactly, we're killing them - at the staggering rate of 100,000 per year, a figure that works out to almost 2,000 species per week, 300 per day, 10 per hour, another dead species every six minutes.We're trashing the planet, washing away the topsoil, paving over our farmlands, systematically deforesting our wildernesses, decimating the biota, and ultimately killing ourselves.

The world is getting progressively poorer, and it's all because of population, or more precisely, over population. There's a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our small and fragile tiny planet, and we're fast approaching its ultimate carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and we're living on borrowed time. The laws of population growth are inexorable. Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty, famine, starvation, and death.

Time is short, and we have to act now.

That's the standard and canonical litany. It's been drilled into our heads so far and so forcefully that to hear it yet once more is ... well, it's almost reassuring. It's comforting, oddly consoling - at least we're face to face with the enemies: consumption, population, mindless growth. And we know the solution: cut back, contract, make do with less. "Live simply so that others may simply live."

There's just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false. Incorrect. At variance with the truth.

Not the way it is, folks.

Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian L. Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard state university. Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the human condition circa 1997.

"Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way," he says. "Just about every important long-run measure of human material welfare shows improvement over the decades and centuries, in the United States and the rest of the world. Raw materials - all of them - have become less scarce rather than more. The air in the US and in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe. Water cleanliness has improved. The environment is increasingly healthy, with every prospect that this trend will continue.

"Fear is rampant about rapid rates of species extinction," he continues, "but the fear has little or no basis. The highest rate of observed extinction, though certainly more have gone extinct unobserved, is one species per year ..."

(One species per year!)

"... in contrast to the 40,000 per year that some ecologists have been forecasting for the year 2000.

"The scare that farmlands are blowing and washing away is a fraud upon the public. The aggregate data on the condition of farmland and the rate of erosion do not support the concern about soil erosion. The data suggest that the condition of cropland has been improving rather than worsening."

As for global deforestation, "the world is not being deforested; it is being reforested in general."

Still, there is one resource that the world does not have enough of, that's actually getting rarer, according to Julian Simon. That resource: people.

"People are becoming more scarce," he says, "even though there are more of us."

Hello?

Simon started off as a card-carrying antigrowth, antipopulation zealot. He'd been won over by the conventional reasoning; he regarded the central argument as absolutely persuasive. And indeed, if we rehearse it now, it sounds like a faultless proof, clear and compelling, even watertight.

The classical case against population growth was expressed in 1798 by Thomas Malthus, the British economist and country parson who wrote in An Essay on the Principle of Population: "Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second."

As a point of abstract mathematics, there is no way around the conclusion that a geometric progression, if carried on far enough, will eventually overtake an arithmetic progression, no matter what. If population increases geometrically while "subsistence," or food, increases arithmetically, then sooner or later the population will run out of food. End of story.

Or so it would appear, except for the following embarrassing fact: "Population has never increased geometrically," says Simon. "It increases at all kinds of different rates historically, but however fast it increases, food increases at least as fast, if not faster. In other words, whatever the rate of population growth is, the food supply increases at an even faster rate."

These, he says, are the actual and empirical facts of the matter, information available to any inquirer. Simon first got a taste of those facts while studying the data amassed by the economic demographer Simon Kuznets (winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in economics) and by economist Richard Easterlin, in the mid-1960s. Kuznets had followed population growth trends that went back 100 years and compared them against standard of living, while Easterlin analyzed the same data for selected countries since World War II. The studies showed that while population growth rates varied from country to country and from year to year, there was no general negative correlation with living standards. People did not become poorer as the population expanded; rather, as their numbers multiplied, they produced what they needed to support themselves, and they prospered.

The trends were the same for food supply. Rising population did not mean less food, just the opposite: instead of skyrocketing as predicted by the Malthusian theory, food prices, relative to wages, had declined historically. In the United States, for example, between 1800 and 1980, the price of wheat plummeted while the population grew from 5 million to 226 million. According to Malthus, all those people should have been long dead, the country reduced to a handful of fur trappers on the brink of starvation. In fact, there was a booming and flourishing populace, one that was better-fed, taller, healthier, more disease-free, with far less infant mortality and longer life expectancy than ever before in human history. Obesity, not starvation, was the major American food problem in 1980. Those were the facts.

Nor should they have come as any great surprise, once you gave the matter some thought. Plants and animals used for food constitute "populations" just as human beings do, and so they, too, ought to increase not arithmetically, as Malthus claimed, but geometrically. The food supply, in other words, ought to keep pace with human population growth, thereby leaving all of us well-fed, happy, and snug in our beds.

Which, Simon discovered, is exactly what has happened throughout history. So if you look at the facts - as opposed to spinning out theories - you find precisely the reverse of the situation described by Malthus. Just the opposite!

Simon acquired his habit of looking up the facts in early childhood, at the dinner table of the family home in Newark, New Jersey. He'd be in some argument with his father over the benefits of exercise, the price of butter, or the health value of air conditioning, and whether from ignorance, pigheadedness, or general perversity, his father would always take some outlandish, off-the-wall viewpoint, such as: "The price of butter is 8 cents a pound."

Julian: "No, it's not, it's 80 cents a pound. It's in the newspaper, take a look."

Father: "I don't have to look. I know it's 8 cents a pound."

Julian: "Do you want to bet? I'll bet you it's not 8 cents a pound."

His father would never take the bet, but Julian would go to the library anyway, look things up in books, and come back with a ream of facts and data. His father, however, couldn't care less.

"I clearly didn't like my father," says Simon.

It's an attitude that drives him crazy to this day - people who know in advance what the truth is, who don't need to avail themselves of any "facts." But Simon loves facts and figures, he loves tables, charts, graphs, information arranged in rows and columns. Tabulations, the slopes of curves, diagrams, pie charts, histograms - he's a regular Mr. Data.

Of course, since people don't particularly like to have their cherished beliefs contradicted by heaps of facts served up on a platter, Simon has never been Mr. Popularity. He got fired from jobs in the navy because he hated the customary ass-kissing, sucking-up, and yessir requirements. Nor has he ever been much for schmoozing, glad-handing, or the latter-day manners of get-along, go-along.

"Socially I was always a bit marginal," he admits. "Also, there always lurked inside me some irreverence for authority and orthodoxy."

None of this held him back academically. He got a bachelor's in experimental psychology from Harvard, an MBA from the University of Chicago, and, two years later, in 1961, a PhD in business economics from the same school.

He was not one of those MBAs whose closest contact with the gritty business world was going down to the corner newsstand to purchase a copy of The Wall Street Journal. The year he got his doctorate he started and operated his own business, a mail-order firm that sold quality teas, coffees, and a book on how to make beer at home. The enterprise was successful enough, but not so much as the book he later wrote about it, How to Start and Operate a Mail-Order Business (McGraw-Hill, 1965), still in print and currently in its fifth edition.

He got married and had three kids and wound up, successively, as professor of advertising, of marketing, and of business administration and economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Then in 1966 or so, he had his big idea about how to solve the airline overbooking problem. Anticipating no-shows, airlines routinely oversold their flights. But when more people showed up at the gate than the plane had seats, pandemonium ensued. Well, why not pay people to get off the plane? he wondered. Offer them enough to make it attractive. It would be a voluntary system, and everyone would win.

So in his practical, down-to-earth, this-is-only-reasonable fashion, he submitted his suggestion to the airlines. The idea was laughed at, mocked, and ridiculed as unrealistic and unworkable. An official at Pan American replied: "Of course, we instituted the procedure immediately, after having the instructions translated into 18 languages." Ha ha ha, thank you, and goodbye.

Eleven years later, in 1977, Simon hadn't given up on the scheme. He published it in The Wall Street Journal, in an op-ed piece titled "Wherein the Author Offers a Modest Proposal." And lo and behold, a year after that, when economist Alfred Kahn headed up the Civil Aeronautics Board, Simon's proposal was put into practice. It was a raging success from the start, remains so to this day, and anyone who's ever voluntarily offloaded themselves from a plane for cash or free miles owes a nod of thanks to Julian Simon.

Still, that was a mere flash in the pan, and Simon's overall impact on the world at large was rather less massive than he desired. He was not making a name for himself, not setting the world on fire.

But there were those who were - Paul Ehrlich, for example.

Ehrlich, a Stanford University entomologist who as a youth had seen his best butterfly hunting grounds churned under the real estate developer's plow, wrote the runaway best-seller The Population Bomb. Published in 1968, the book was solidly Malthusian.

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over," it began. "In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate, although many lives could be saved through dramatic programs to 'stretch' the carrying capacity of the earth by increasing food production and providing for more equitable distribution of whatever food is available. But these programs will only provide a stay of execution unless they are accompanied by determined and successful efforts at population control." And so on, The Complete and Authoritative Litany, for the next 200 pages.

This late-breaking Malthusian out-burst, strangely enough, did set the world on fire. The book sold 3 million copies, became the best-selling environmental tract of all time, and got the author on The Tonight Show.

At home in Illinois, Simon watched Ehrlich on the Johnny Carson show, and he went bananas. In fact, more bananas than he'd ever before gone in his life. Simon had by that time decided that the Malthusian stuff was the purest mythology, an invention out of whole cloth, a theory that was entirely controverted by every available empirical fact. And here was Paul Ehrlich on TV spreading his stardust all over the place and holding Johnny Carson in some kind of mystic thrall.

"It absolutely drove me out of my skull," he recalls. "Here was a guy reaching a vast audience, leading this juggernaut of environmentalist hysteria, and I felt utterly helpless. What could I do? Go talk to five people?"

As bad an experience as that was, matters immediately got worse. The next year, 1969, Ehrlich published an article called "Eco-Catastrophe!" in Ramparts. "Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born," it said. "By that time [1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions."

Then, in 1974, Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich, also a Stanford biologist, published a new book, The End of Affluence, in which they warned of a "nutritional disaster that seems likely to overtake humanity in the 1970s (or, at the latest, the 1980s). Due to a combination of ignorance, greed, and callousness, a situation has been created that could lead to a billion or more people starving to death.... Before 1985 mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity" in which "the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be nearing depletion."

Julian Simon read this stuff, which he viewed as unalloyed and total nonsense. He brooded and fumed and stewed in his juices. He experienced what might be called a personal lull.

And then, finally, in 1980 he emerged from the cocoon. He'd gone into it as a humble professor of marketing and a passive spectator of global death sentence forecasts. But now, suddenly, he broke out into the light of day, he sprang forth onto the world stage, he started swinging his diamond-tipped sword - thwick-thwack! - as ... The Doomslayer!

The rebirth occurred in the pages of Science, in an article titled "Resources, Population, Environment: An Oversupply of False Bad News." It led with a summary that became a manifesto:False bad news about population growth, natural resources, and the environment is published widely in the face of contrary evidence. For example, the world supply of arable land has actually been increasing, the scarcity of natural resources including food and energy has been decreasing, and basic measures of U.S. environmental quality show positive trends. The aggregate data show no long-run negative effect of population growth upon standard of living. Models that embody forces omitted in the past, especially the influence of population size upon productivity increase, suggest a long-run positive effect of additional people.

Written in the form of Statement followed by Fact, every reigning doomsday dragon was neatly slashed in half, the severed beasts left flapping around on the ground like fish.

Statement: The food situation in less-developed countries is worsening.

Fact: Per capita food production has been increasing at roughly 1 percent yearly - 25 percent during the last quarter century.

Statement: Urban sprawl is paving over the United States, including much "prime agricultural land" and recreational areas.

Fact: All the land used for urban areas plus roadways totals less than 3 percent of the United States.... Each year 1.25 million acres are converted to efficient cropland by draining swamps and irrigating deserts.... A million acres yearly goes into additional wilderness recreation areas and wildlife refuges, and another 300,000 acres goes for reservoirs and flood control.

So on and so forth, fact piled upon fact, paragraph after paragraph, all of it buttressed by tables, charts, graphs, and diagrams, plus 42 footnotes, many of them containing additional data.

Letters to the editor poured into Science in an unseemly rush. A few of them expressed partial agreement, but the majority were heavily critical. Many of them repeated statutory items of The Litany - "human beings, like any other species, have the biological capacity to overrun the carrying capacity of their habitat" - and there were even some feeble attempts at humor: in extrapolating from past trends, said one writer, Simon is like "the person who leaped from a very tall building and on being asked how things were going as he passed the 20th floor replied, 'Fine, so far.'" (Simon's response: "I think the better story is about somebody who has a rope lifeline and falls off the 15th floor. Somewhere about 30 feet above the ground, she lets go of the rope. You ask her, 'Why did you let go of the rope?' And she answers, 'It was going to break anyway.' That's how many activists would like us to behave.")

Anne and Paul Ehrlich, along with two energy and natural resource experts, John Holdren and John Harte, wrote their own letter to the editor. After charging Simon with various "errors about the economics of scarcity," they went on to make some new doomsday predictions: "If deforestation for agriculture proceeds on a large enough scale, the resulting pulse of carbon dioxide may combine with that from increasing fossil-fuel combustion to alter global climate in a way that undermines food production to an unprecedented degree." They also corrected one of Simon's data points having to do with electricity, which Simon claimed had gotten cheaper. "The fact is," they said, "that real electricity prices bottomed in 1971 and were already up 18 percent from that low point in 1972." An 18 percent increase where Simon said there'd been a decline!

"I was taken aback," said Simon in his published reply. "Holdren and Harte are energy scholars. I checked Fig. 1 and other sources but could see no sign of their 18 percent." So he placed a phone call to the coauthor of the report cited by Holdren, Harte, and the Ehrlichs. "He, too, was puzzled. Upon investigation, the 1971 number (80.2) proved to be a typographical error and should have been 93.3. So much for Holdren et alia's 'fact.'"

The battle lines now drawn, it was not long before Ehrlich and Simon met for a duel in the sun. The face-off occurred in the pages of Social Science Quarterly, where Simon challenged Ehrlich to put his money where his mouth was. In response to Ehrlich's published claim that "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000" - a proposition Simon regarded as too silly to bother with - Simon countered with "a public offer to stake US$10,000 ... on my belief that the cost of non-government-controlled raw materials (including grain and oil) will not rise in the long run."

You could name your own terms: select any raw material you wanted - copper, tin, whatever - and select any date in the future, "any date more than a year away," and Simon would bet that the commodity's price on that date would be lower than what it was at the time of the wager.

"How about it, doomsayers and catastrophists? First come, first served."

In California, Paul Ehrlich stepped right up - and why not? He'd been repeating the Malthusian argument for years; he was sure that things were running out, that resources were getting scarcer - "nearing depletion," as he'd said - and therefore would have to become more expensive. A public wager would be the chance to demonstrate the shrewdness of his forecasts, draw attention to the catastrophic state of the world situation, and, not least, force this Julian Simon character to eat his words. So he jumped at the chance: "I and my colleagues, John P. Holdren (University of California, Berkeley) and John Harte (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), jointly accept Simon's astonishing offer before other greedy people jump in."

Ehrlich and his colleagues picked five metals that they thought would undergo big price rises: chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten. Then, on paper, they bought $200 worth of each, for a total bet of $1,000, using the prices on September 29, 1980, as an index. They designated September 29, 1990, 10 years hence, as the payoff date. If the inflation-adjusted prices of the various metals rose in the interim, Simon would pay Ehrlich the combined difference; if the prices fell, Ehrlich et alia would pay Simon.

Then they sat back and waited.

Between 1980 and 1990, the world's population grew by more than 800 million, the largest increase in one decade in all of history. But by September 1990, without a single exception, the price of each of Ehrlich's selected metals had fallen, and in some cases had dropped through the floor. Chrome, which had sold for $3.90 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.70 in 1990. Tin, which was $8.72 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.88 a decade later.

Which is how it came to pass that in October 1990, Paul Ehrlich mailed Julian Simon a check for $576.07.

A more perfect resolution of the Ehrlich-Simon debate could not be imagined. All of the former's grim predictions had been decisively overturned by events. Ehrlich was wrong about higher natural resource prices, about "famines of unbelievable proportions" occurring by 1975, about "hundreds of millions of people starving to death" in the 1970s and '80s, about the world "entering a genuine age of scarcity."

In 1990, for his having promoted "greater public understanding of environmental problems," Ehrlich received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award.

By the time he'd won the bet, Simon and his family had moved back to the East Coast, he to take up a position as professor of business administration at the University of Maryland, and his wife, Rita Simon, a sociologist, to become professor of criminal justice at the American University in Washington, DC. They moved into a red brick house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, an upper-middle-class community inside the Beltway.

The house had computers on every floor, two Xerox copiers, and an assortment of exercise machines on which Julian Simon read books or newspapers while trying to keep his spare and straight body in fighting trim. When it wasn't raining, snowing, or more than 100 degrees outside, he did his research and writing out on the deck, sometimes with a wet sponge covering his shaved bald head. He'd sit there in the shade of the mulberry tree, binoculars nearby to stare at birds - particularly hummingbirds that came to a feeder. And with battery-acid coffee from a thermos that looked as if it came over on the Mayflower, he'd tilt at new windmills.

He always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they'd been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days "experts" spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.

There was Lester Brown, for example, founder and president of the Worldwatch Institute, who in 1981 wrote: "The period of global food security is over. As the demand for food continues to press against the supply, inevitably real food prices will rise. The question no longer seems to be whether they will rise but how much."

All during the 1980s, however, wheat and rice prices declined; in mid-century, in fact, they reached all-time lows. But this made no difference, and in 1986, for his work on the "global economy and the natural resources and the systems that support it," Lester Brown, too, received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award.

Julian Simon never received a MacArthur award.

"MacArthur!" he says. "I can't even get a McDonald's!"

This did not discourage him. Doomslaying was a thankless task, but it had to be done, like taking out the garbage: it had to be carted to the dump today even if there'd be another big pile of it tomorrow.

So Simon penned tract after tract pleading his case: The Ultimate Resource (Princeton University Press, 1981), arguing that the most valuable resource of all was people; Theory of Population and Economic Growth in 1986; Population and Development in Poor Countries in 1992, and so on. In all, he wrote or edited a rough dozen such books, all of them aimed at demolishing one or another tenet of The Litany. But the nearest he got to that MacArthur was a senior fellowship from the conservative Cato Institute.

Naturally, he received a fair amount of bad press for all this heresy, particularly for his pet claim that what the world needs most is lots of additional human beings. They're not just mouths to feed, he argued. Newborn babes grow up to be creative adults; they turn into individuals who contribute and achieve, who give back far more than they ever take.

But nobody could believe it.

"He's overly optimistic," said Peggy Rizo, then of the Washington, DC-based Population Crisis Committee, now called Population Action International. "He is an economist who is trying to transpose what he believes to be the American prairie experience into the experience of crowded areas like Africa, Central America, and Asia."

"What does it mean in terms of the quality of life of the people of the 21st century when cities are joined to cities and we have just several huge megalopolises?" asked Rupert Cutler, then executive director of the Environmental Fund, which became Population Environment Balance, headquartered in Washington, DC. "I think we can predict a pall of brown air over these cities. We can predict water shortages, joblessness ... and crime."

Well, it wasn't as if Julian Simon hadn't heard that before.

Finally, in 1995 he came out with his crowning fact-feast and catalog of bounty, a book he edited called The State of Humanity. Almost 700 pages of dense text plus charts and figures, the quantity of factual information in it was nothing short of amazing. Simon had data you didn't even know people track, such as:

- World cereal yields, 1950-1990.
- Declining crowding in American housing, persons per room, 1900-1987.
- Northeast Brazil: apparent per capita daily consumption of major starchy staples among low-income classes, 1974-1975.
- Industrial-lead pollution at Camp Century, Greenland, since 800 BC.
- Oxygen content (in milliliters per liter) at 100 meters depth at Station F 12 in the Bothnian Bay of the Baltic Sea 1900-1968.

Arcane as some of it was, Simon was extremely adept at using this material in formal debates. In July 1996, at a public event sponsored by the World Future Society, Simon debated Hazel Henderson, a private researcher and author of Building a Win-Win World (see "Win-Win World," page 152). Henderson, who was trying to make a case that government regulation was responsible for reduced air pollution, came armed with a graph showing a decline in pollution levels in London since the late 1950s. The slope of the line was clearly downward, illustrating, she said, the effect of London's Clean Air Act of 1956.

In his rebuttal period, Simon presented a graph of his own. Whenever he presents any data, his practice is to present the figures going all the way back to day one, to the start of record-keeping on the parameter in question. You have to focus on aggregate trends over the long term, he insists, not just pick and choose some little fleeting data chunks that seem to support your case. So his own chart of smoke levels in London stretched back into the 1800s, and the line from the 1920s on showed a constant and uniform downward slope. "If you look at all the data," he said, "you can't tell that there was a clean-air act at any point."

Anyone who wonders about the accuracy of Simon's data or conjures up rafts of competing data on the other side of the issue will be met with Simon's claim that: "There are no other data." His statistics, he claims, come from the "official" sources, the standard reference works that everyone uses.

"Test for yourself the assertion that the physical conditions of humanity have gotten better. Pick up the US Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract of the United States and Historical Statistics of the United States at the nearest library. They're accessible to any schoolkid. Start at 1800. Those books have half the data you need for almost anything."

Well, if you've never opened a volume of Historical Statistics of the United States, you don't know what excitement is. Two fat square tomes chock-full of charts, tables, and black ink.

"Wonderful, wonderful books!"

For each of Simon's claims that I checked, the data in those volumes were identical to his. Black infant mortality rates are declining, he says in The State of Humanity. And on page 57 of volume one of Historical Statistics of the United States, in Table B 136-147, under "Fetal Death Ratio; neonatal, infant, and maternal mortality rates, by race: 1915 to 1970," the precise same decline in mortality rates is presented in tabular form: from 180 black infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1915 to 31 per 1,000 in 1970. Similarly, his figures for life expectancy correspond to those in the original sources. Same for air pollution.

So go ahead and check his data! Enjoy!

Some of Simon's other claims, however, are so far from received opinion as to be hard to take seriously - his view on species loss, for example, regarding which he asserts that "the highest rate of observed extinctions is one species per year."

That was hard to accept. Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, the guru of global species extinction, said in 1991: "Believe me, species become extinct. We're easily eliminating 100,000 a year." A year later, in his 1992 book The Diversity of Life, he had modified that figure somewhat, saying: "The number of species doomed each year is 27,000." Apparently, these numbers were a tiny bit slippery. Still, both of them were a far cry from Simon's "one species per year."

Simon, on the other hand, pointed out that the higher estimates did not come from observation, they came from theory, specifically from Wilson's own theory of "island biogeography" which correlates species extinction with tropical forest destruction. The theory's "species-area equation," supposedly, predicts that for each additional unit of forest destroyed, so many more species die out.

This was another mathematical argument, reminiscent of the one made long ago by Malthus, and it was exactly the type of Neat Mathematical Certainty that Julian Simon took so much joy in shooting big holes through, which is what he proceeded to do now. The problem with the theory, he wrote in a paper on species loss with Aaron Wildavsky, is that it is not borne out by the empirical facts.

"The only empirical observation we found is by Lugo for Puerto Rico, where 'human activity reduced the area of primary forests by 99 percent.... This massive forest conversion did not lead to a correspondingly massive species extinction.'" Simon quoted Lugo to the effect that "more land birds have been present on the Island in the 1980s (97 species) than were present in pre-Columbian times (60 species)."

Say again? The forest was 99 percent demolished, and the number of bird species actually rose?

Even for me, this was too much.

The International Institute of Tropical Forestry, part of the US Forest Service, is located in an overgrown gray stone building in San Juan's Botanical Gardens. Ariel E. Lugo, a slim, gray-bearded man in a silver-green forest service uniform, is director.

He's also a world-class expert on tropical forests and species extinction. A native of Puerto Rico, Lugo was educated in San Juan through his master's degree, came to the mainland, got a PhD in plant ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then taught botany for 10 years at the University of Florida. He spent two years at the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources and two more years on Jimmy Carter's Council on Environmental Quality in Washington, DC. Finally, he went back to San Juan as director of the Institute, a position he's held for the last 17 years.

"I see myself as in the middle of the road," he says. "On the right of me is Julian Simon, who sees nothing wrong. You know, 'We're doing just fine.' I don't want you to put me at that extreme."

Still, Lugo is not what could be called a major supporter of Wilson's theory of island biogeography, or of the species-area equation that forms its mathematical centerpiece. The equation is simple enough:

S = CAz

where S is the number of species, A is the area, and C and z are constants for the type of species in question, its location, and other factors. The apparent certainty it embodies, however, is an illusion, according to Lugo.

"The first uncertainty is that we don't know how many species there are. The margin of error is enormous: depending on who you talk to there is anywhere between 5 million and 100 million species, but science has described only a million species. How can you predict how many species are lost if you don't know how many species you're dealing with?"

The second problem is that the equation was never intended to describe extinctions to begin with. "It was a device for explaining the number of species on islands," he says. Generally, the bigger the island, the more species it has, other things being equal. But even if cutting down an island's forests causes species to leave the area, that's not the same thing as making those species extinct. "The presence or absence of a species in a particular area is one thing, whereas wiping out the genome of that species is another thing altogether - wiping out the seed, wiping out the mechanisms for hibernation, wiping out its dispersal, wiping out the management of the species. That's a completely different biology.

"And what is the relationship between deforestation and species loss to begin with?" he asks. "Do we understand that? Do we know that when you deforest an acre, you lose x proportion of species, to extinction? Well, I'm afraid that nobody knows that. There is not one study that can claim to have understood the relationship between deforestation and species lost to extinction.

"And so if you're an objective scientist," he says, "you cannot put a number to the rate of species lost. But I believe we're exaggerating the numbers.

"What's unstated in all this is that when you deforest, you go to zero, that you go to pavement. That's how I put it, that 'you go to pavement.' This is why people get mad at me, because at this point in my talks I show a slide of pavement, but the pavement has weeds growing through it. I can take you to places of abandoned roads in the rain forest that have trees growing out of them."

Trees sprouting from the asphalt! Birds perching on the branches, insects crawling, worms boring, bees buzzing, lizards walking, moss growing on the tree trunk!

"Look at the example of Puerto Rico," Lugo says. "This island has a documented deforestation rate of 90 percent, and it has a documented loss of primary forest of 97 to 98 percent. So here's an island that has lost in the past, in the recent past, up to the '50s - I was already born when the island was at the peak of deforestation - it's lost almost all of its forest.

"The first surprise is that there are more bird species here now than ever, in part due to the invasion of nonindigenous species. The second surprise is that much of the forest has grown back."

On Lugo's conference table is a book open to two photographs.

"Now, where I'm gonna send you today," he says, "is here."

He points to a road that winds through the western fringe of El Yunque, the Caribbean National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the US national forest system. Picture One, an aerial photograph taken in 1951, shows the area on the west side of the road:clear-cut, mowed down, absolutely denuded of trees. It looks like stumps and dead grass. The east side of the road, by contrast, is deep, dark, and flush with vegetation, an untouched virgin rain forest.

Picture Two shows the same area 13 years later: from the aerial photograph, both sides of the road are identical.

"You can see that it recovered," says Lugo. "So, you take your car and you ride through these forests, and you tell me."

Puerto Rico Route 186 is not far away, about 30 minutes by traffic jam. The road is paved but unmarked, slightly more than a lane wide, just enough space for two cars to pass without the sound of impact. You drive toward the mountains, white clouds bunched above, isolated raindrops spattering the windshield, and in five or six minutes there's tropical forest on both sides. Tall ferns, flame trees, mahogany trees, humongous green leafy plants, plus massive clumps of bamboo - stalks that tower 20 or 30 feet overhead.

Julian Simon: The facts are fundamental.

Garrett Hardin: The facts are not fundamental. The theory is fundamental. - from a 1982 debate with the UC Santa Barbara biologist The doomslayer-doomsayer debate, Simon thinks, is an opposition between fact and bad theory, a case of empirical reality versus abstract principles that purport to define the way things work but don't.

"It's the difference," he says, "between a speculative analysis of what must happen versus my empirical analysis of what has happened over the long sweep of history."

The paradox is that those abstract principles and speculative analyses seem so very logical and believable, whereas the facts themselves, the story of what has happened, appear wholly illogical and impossible to explain. After all, people are fruitful and they multiply but the stores of raw materials in the earth's crust certainly don't, so how can it be possible that, as the world's population doubles, the price of raw materials is cut in half?

It makes no sense. Yet it has happened. So there must be an explanation.

And there is: resources, for the most part, don't grow on trees. People produce them, they create them, whether it be food, factories, machines, new technologies, or stockpiles of mined, refined, and purified raw materials.

"Resources come out of people's minds more than out of the ground or air," says Simon. "Minds matter economically as much as or more than hands or mouths. Human beings create more than they use, on average. It had to be so, or we would be an extinct species."

The defect of the Malthusian models, superficially plausible but invariably wrong, is that they leave the human mind out of the equation. "These models simply do not comprehend key elements of people - the imaginative and creative."

As for the future, "This is my long-run forecast in brief," says Simon. "The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries, most of the time, indefinitely. Within a century or two, all nations and most of humanity will be at or above today's Western living standards.

"I also speculate, however, that many people will continue to think and say that the conditions of life are getting worse."

But you don't have to be one of those people, one of those forever Glum and Gloomy Gusses. All you've got to do is keep your mind on the facts.

The world is not coming to an end.

Things are not running out.

Time is not short.

So, smile!

Shout!

Enjoy the afternoon!

Atlas's Burden

If Atlas, who in Greek mythology carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, was asked, "What are the world's weightiest problems today?" his answer would probably include:

NEEDS OF THE POPULATION EXPLOSION
The world population is set to increase by some 50% or another 3,000 Million people in the next 50 years. All these extra people will need food, water, housing, clothing, health care, education and the other necessities of life, and, of course, jobs.

WATER SHORTAGE
Already acute in some parts of the world - the increase in population will greatly increase this problem. Water shortage can lead to conflict and even war.

POWER SUPPLY
Raising the living standards of the developing world and at the same time the increase in the world's population will consume a vastly increased amount of power. One estimate is that the power required by the end of the century will be at least five times the present level.

THE END OF OIL AND GAS
The world's need for energy is increasing while the reserves of oil and gas are rapidly running out. As evidence, the prices of oil and gas have doubled in recent years. Supplies must eventually be exhausted, what then?

REDUCING CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
CO2 (almost certainly) causes global warming and therefore climate change. As oil and gas become scarcer and more expensive, the world will probably burn more coal, of which there are is a vast reserve. Coal produces much more CO2 than oil or gas and therefore increases global warming and all the dire consequences which must follow.

RISING SEA LEVEL
Due to global warming and melting ice, the sea level is predicted to rise by up to one meter by the end of the century. If so, this will inundate some of the most densely populated cities and areas in the world. Hundreds of millions of people now in those cities and areas will gradually re-locate in other, higher, areas.

CONSEQUENCES OF A CHANGE IN CLIMATE
Climate change will cause major changes in the amount and location of rainfall. Some parts of the
world will become virtually uninhabitable. The existing population in those will over time re-locate in other areas, and add to those migrating due to the rising sea level.

POVERTY
Some 40%, or 2,700 Million, of the world's population are currently having to live on less than US$2 (£1) a day. Some 800 Million go to bed hungry every night. Over 2,000 Million people have no access to electricity. Poverty shortens life, causes disease, increases infant mortality,
leads to mass economic migration, more "illegal immigrants".

AIDS
This pandemic, first recognized in 1981, had by 2006 caused the death of some 25 million people. It is estimated that today some 39 million people are infected, of these. nearly 600,000 are children. Although there are treatments (for those that can afford them) which prolong life, there is no known cure.

WARFARE
According to Wikipedia, there are currently 27 wars taking place around the world.

What are the world's governments and commercial and industrial corporations doing to tackle these global problems? From what I can discover, with one exception, not much!

There has been a marked recent interest in the field of REDUCING CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS. In my opinion, the measures being initiated are futile; they will inevitably fail to result in any significant reduction in the world's increasing CO2 emissions. Moreover, if the measures being planned are actually enforced there is a very real danger of their causing a world-wide economic recession. We are, in my opinion, going in the wrong direction!

In my opinion again, the solution to this CO2 emission problem lies in the harnessing of the inexhaustible supply of heat below the earth's surface, GEOTHERMAL ENERGY, leading eventually to the complete elimination of the use of fossil fuels. Moreover this pollution-free, universally available, unlimited energy source would enable cheap and abundant electrical power to be available world-wide; this would go a long way towards solving, or at least adapting to, most of the world's problems.

If the global resources expended in the last two decades on wind farms, solar panels and on new wells to mine oil and gas from less and less productive areas had instead been used to develop geothermal heat as an energy source, we would be well on the way to a permanent and ideal solution to the world's energy source needs for the foreseeable future.

Note This subject is discussed in other papers: 'Energy' and 'Global Warming'.

A Fact Sheet on Geothermal Energy follows.

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GEOTHERMAL ENERGY FACT SHEET

INTRODUCTION

The word geothermal comes from the Greek words "geo" (earth) and "therme" (heat), and means the heat of the earth. Earth's interior heat originated from its fiery consolidation from dust and gas over 4 billion years ago and is continually regenerated from the decay of radioactive elements that occur in all rocks.

EARTH'S HEAT AND VOLCANIC REGIONS

It is almost 6,500 kilometres (4,000 miles) from the surface to the centre of the Earth, and the deeper you go, the hotter it gets.

The outer layer, the crust, is three to 35 miles thick and insulates us from the hot interior. From the surface down through the crust the normal temperature gradient (the increase of temperature with the increase of depth) in the Earth's crust is 17 - 30°C per kilometre of depth (50-87°F per mile). Below the crust is the mantle, made of highly viscous, partially molten rock with temperatures between 650 and 1,250°C (1,200-2,280°F). At Earth's core, which consists of a liquid outer core and a solid inner core, temperatures may reach 4,000-7,000°C (7,200 to 12,600°F). Where magma reaches the surface it can build volcanoes. But most magma stays well below ground, creating huge subterranean regions of hot rock sometimes underlying areas as large as an entire mountain range. Cooling can take from 5,000 to more than 1 million years. These shallow regions of relatively elevated crustal heat have high temperature gradients.

RENEWABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

Production from individual geothermal fields can be sustained for decades and perhaps centuries. The U.S. Department of Energy classifies geothermal energy as renewable.

GEOTHERMAL TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT

The drill rigs and drilling technology and equipment are virtually the same as that used for drilling for oil or gas. The electrical generating plant, located alongside the geothermal well heads, is standard; steam turbine driven electrical generators connected to the grid. Water consumption is small as the steam is condensed and re-used as injection water.

PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT

With all sources of energy, developers and consumers must work to protect the environment. The challenges differ with the type of energy resource, and the differences give geothermal energy certain advantages. Geothermal direct use facilities have minimal or no negative impacts on the environment. Geothermal power plants are relatively easy on the environment. They are successfully operated in the middle of crops, in sensitive desert environments and in forested recreation areas.

VISUAL PROTECTION

No power plant or drill rig is as lovely as a natural landscape, so smaller is better. A geothermal plant sits right on top of its fuel source: no additional land is needed such as for mining coal or for transporting oil or gas. When geothermal power plants and drill rigs are located in scenic areas, mitigation measures are implemented to reduce intrusion on the visual landscape. Some geothermal power plants use special air cooling technology which eliminates even the plumes of water vapour from cooling towers and reduces a plant profile to as little as 24 feet in height.

IMPROVING GEOTHERMAL TECHNOLOGY

Since the 1970's the geothermal industry, with the assistance of government research funding, has overcome many technical drilling and power plant problems. As a result of government-assisted research and industry experience, the cost of generating geothermal power has decreased by 25% over the past two decades. Research is currently underway to further improve exploration, drilling, reservoir, power plant and environmental technologies. Enhancing the recoverability of Earth's heat is an important area of ongoing research.

ENHANCED GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS

Private and government research projects in the United States, Japan and in Europe are improving the accessibility of geothermal energy by developing new technology to increase the permeability of the rocks.

Permeability can be created in hot rocks by hydraulic fracturing -- injecting large volumes of water into a well at a pressure high enough to break the rocks. The artificial fracture system is mapped by seismic methods as it forms, and a second well is drilled to intersect the fracture system. Cold water can then be pumped down one well and hot water taken from the second well for use in a geothermal plant. This "hot dry rock" technology is being tested in Japan, Germany, France, England and the U.S. In Australia a test plant has been in operation for some time yielding excellent results.

THE FUTURE FOR GEOTHERMAL ENERGY

The outlook for geothermal energy use depends on at least three factors: the demand for energy in general; the inventory of available geothermal resources; and the competitive position of geothermal among other energy sources. The Demand for energy will continue to grow. Economies are expanding, populations are increasing (over 2 billion people still do not have electricity), and energy-intensive technologies are spreading. All these mean greater demand for energy. At the same time, there is growing global recognition of the environmental impacts of energy production and use from fossil fuel and nuclear resources. Public polls repeatedly show that most people prefer a policy of support for renewable energy.

The critical temperature for the generation of geothermal energy to power an electrical generating plant is 200ªC. At every point in the world a well will reach rock at that temperature; on average the depth to reach a temperature of 200ªC is about 5Km. Geothermal heat is more accessible in some areas than others but the inventory of accessible geothermal energy is sizable. The entire world resource base of readily accessible geothermal energy has been calculated in government surveys to be much larger than the resource bases of coal, oil, gas and uranium combined. The geothermal resource base becomes more available as methods and technologies for accessing it are improved through research and experience.

COSTS

Shorter and Longer Term Costs. Production of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) are a relative bargain in the short term. Like many renewable resources, geothermal resources need relatively high initial investments to access the heat. But the geothermal "fuel" cost is predictable and stable. Fossil fuel supplies will increase in cost as reserves are exhausted. Fossil fuel supplies can be interrupted by political disputes abroad.

Renewable geothermal energy is a better long term investment.

Direct and Indirect Costs. The monetary price we pay to our natural gas and electricity suppliers, and at the gas pump, is our direct cost for the energy we use. But the use of energy also has indirect or external costs that are imposed on society.

Examples are the huge costs of global climate change; the health effects from ground level pollution of the air; future effects of pollution of water and land; military expenditures to protect petroleum sources and supply routes; and costs of safely storing radioactive waste for generations. Geothermal energy can already compete with the direct costs of conventional fuels in some locations and is a clean, indigenous, renewable resource without hidden external costs. Public polls reveal that customers are willing to pay a little more for energy from renewable resources such as geothermal energy.

Domestic and Importing Costs. Investment in the use of domestic, indigenous, renewable energy resources like geothermal energy provides jobs, expands the regional and national economies, and avoids the export of money to import fuels.

Energy demand is increasing rapidly worldwide. Some energy and environmental experts predict that the growth of electricity production and direct uses of geothermal energy will be revitalized by international commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to avert global climate change.

GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE (an update)

by L. Berney


This is an update of a previous article.

THE PROBLEM

Since the formation of planet Earth, the climate has always changed and it is still changing. Changes to the Earth's climate are in the main caused by changes in the Earth's temperature. There have been warm periods when there was no permanent ice at either pole. There have been Ice Ages: at one period some 30% of the Earth's surface was under permanent ice. Over time there have been many warm/cold cycles.

The last Ice Age ended some 10,000 years ago; since then, the Earth's temperature has been slowly rising and is still rising and, presumably, it will continue to rise until at some time in the future the temperature will start to fall again. These temperature rises and falls do not occur evenly; it seems there are intermediate warm/cold swings along the way. Some 2,000 years ago in Roman Britain, along the South coast, there were many vineyards - the temperature must have been warmer than it is today. About 500 years ago there was a 'mini Ice Age' lasting several decades.

What factors cause the temperature/climate to change? One of the major factors is the Sun: the heat radiating from the Sun is not constant. At some periods the Sun radiates more heat than at others and the temperature of the Earth follows suit. Another major factor is what is known as 'the greenhouse effect'. The Sun heats the Earth's surface; some of that heat is reflected back off the surface; part of that reflected heat goes back out into space, part is trapped and retained by clouds and by certain gasses in the atmosphere, known as 'greenhouse gases'.

The greater the cloud cover and/or the greenhouse effect, the warmer the Earth's temperature, and vice versa. By far the greatest 'greenhouse effect' is caused by clouds: it is common knowledge that at night, when no heat is being radiated by the sun, the air temperature drop is greater when there is no cloud cover, and is less when there is. In fact, life on earth as we know it is only possible BECAUSE of the green house effect; without it, the earth's temperature would be 30ºC to 40ºC lower and the planet would be more or less permanently covered by ice.

These and several other factors interact with each other; as a result the Earth's temperature and therefore the climate has always been and always will be unstable.

Records undeniably show that the Earth's temperature is increasing and has been increasing for many thousands of years, since the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago - we are currently in a cyclical period of 'Global Warming'. In the 20th century, the average temperature is said to have increased by 1ºC. There are many estimates as to how much the temperature will increase by the end of this century; most predictions indicate an increase of between 3ºC and 6ºC. The accuracy of such projections is open to question. We all know the inaccuracies in projecting the weather even a few days ahead; projecting the Earth's temperature 100 years ahead...?

GREENHOUSE GASES AND CARBON DIOXIDE

The 'greenhouse gases' which give rise to the 'greenhouse effect' are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide; together, they comprise less than 1.0% of the Earth's atmosphere. The gas which scientists think is responsible for most of the greenhouse effect is carbon dioxide (CO2). Some facts about CO2:

  • Comparison over the millennia of the Earth's temperature and the level of CO2 in the atmosphere show a marked correlation. In warm periods, the CO2 levels were higher; in cold periods, they were lower.
  • The greatest repository of CO2 is the sea (71% of our Planet's surface is sea). If the sea temperature rises, it releases CO2 to the atmosphere; if it falls, the reverse happens, the sea absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Forests and vegetation absorb CO2; warmer temperatures encourage plant growth and therefore the absorption of CO2 is increased.
  • Burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil, natural gas - creates CO2; cutting down the rain forests (e.g. in Brazil) reduces the absorption of CO2; forest fires (man-made and natural) create CO2.
  • Until the middle of the 19th century, the start of the industrial revolution, the volume of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 0.027%; currently it is up to 0.038%;
RESULTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

The two most important results of the increasing temperature, and the consequent changes in climate, are these:
  1. Change in the distribution and amount of rainfall leading to changes to rivers and lakes resulting in 'desertification' of some previously productive areas, increasing agricultural and livestock productivity in others.
  2. Melting of the ice cover in Greenland and Antarctica and glaciers elsewhere leading to a gradual rise in the sea level world-wide.
Of these results, possibly the one which will effect mankind the most is the rising sea level. The rise will be due, not only to the melting of the Polar ice and of the Earth's glaciers, but also to the fact that water increases in volume as its temperature rises. 'Worst case scenario' predictions show a rise in the sea level of one meter by the year 2100. To instance a few examples of what this would mean:
  • a rise in sea level of one meter would inundate a large part of Bangladesh, Holland, Venice and many of the world's low-lying areas
  • it would inundate a number of populated islands
  • it would inundate large areas of Southern USA.
WHAT DO THE SCIENTISTS SAY?

About 20 years ago, scientists started to issue warnings that the CO2 being added to the atmosphere by man's activities - burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests - was beginning to cause the Earth's temperature to rise which in turn would cause the climate to change. In the 1980s the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed to report on the problem. The IPCC reports about every five years. The last IPCC report was issued in February 2007.

As confirmed by the IPCC, we know for a fact that the Earth's temperature is rising and we know that the CO2 level is rising too. It is the majority scientific opinion that it is the increase in the CO2 level, rather than a "natural cause" cyclical increase in the Earth's temperature, which is causing the current temperature rise and that the increase in the CO2 level is caused by mankind's burning of fossil fuel.

Some scientists believe that the amount of man-made CO2 which has already been released into the atmosphere over the last 100 years has irreversibly tipped a delicate balance which will result in the Earth continuing to warm for at least the next hundred years, even if NO further CO2 was added to the atmosphere.

Other scientists (the "sceptics") think that the observed increase in the CO2 level is not the cause, or only a small part of the cause, of the rise in the Earth's temperature. The argument supporting this view is that the increase in volume of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 100 years is a very small 0.11%, up from 0.27% to currently 0.38%. Even if all of this increase had been man-made, could this very small percentage increase of CO2 in the atmosphere cause a significant increase in the Earth's temperature? They think not. They think the increase in temperature is due one of the Earth's natural cyclical warming periods.

These scientists also make another point: while ice core samples show that, over millions of years, there is a correlation between the CO2 level and the average temperature, the evidence is that the rises in the CO2 levels FOLLOWED the rises in temperature. This, they say, indicates that it is more likely that the rises in temperature CAUSED the rises in the CO2 level, not the other way round.

It is, perhaps, worth noting here that in the 1970s, just 30 years ago, scientists were predicting that the Earth was probably entering the next cooling period, heading towards the next ice age!

"DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT"

(Note. Climate Change jargon. Mitigation: actions to stop or slow down climate change. Adaptation: actions to adapt to a changed climate)

In the last few months there has been a notable upsurge in the public awareness of the possibility, and possible outcome of climate change. Hardly a day passes when there is not some reference to 'global warming', 'climate change' and 'carbon emission' in the media. This is remarkable since scientists raised the matter over 20 years ago!

Popular opinion, pressure groups and environmentalists have forced the world's political and business leaders to think that they ought to "do something": but do what?

It seems that these leaders (or most of them) have decided to assume that as global warming is being caused, or mostly caused, by the increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels, if the production of man-made CO2 were to be reduced, the Earth's climate would respond by ceasing to get any warmer and the problem would be solved.

Based on that unproven simplistic assumption, our leaders have decided to take positive steps to drastically reduce the amount of CO2 released to the atmosphere. Starting recently, they are introducing laws and initiatives to put this policy into effect. For example: a vast increase in the installation of Wind Generators (hundreds to be mounted in the estuary off the Kent coast and IN the North Sea off Scotland at a cost of œ2.5 Million each!); installation of solar panels; the international "Emission Trading Scheme" ("ETS"), financial incentives for industry to reduce emissions, "emission reduction targets" and the allocation of "carbon permits"; this has given birth to "carbon trading" - there is now a multi-million dollar 'market' in buying and selling carbon permits!

All developing nations want to raise their living standards to those of the developed world. To do that requires more power - lots more power. The world situation in which these 'reduce CO2' policies are to be implemented coincides with pressure for more power and thus to generate more CO2, not less. One expert's prediction is that, by the end of this century, the world's energy requirements will be FIVE TIMES the present output!

This pressure by the developing world for more power is increasing and is set to go on increasing. For example, China is opening one new coal-burning, CO2 spewing, power station per week! India's power requirements, mostly coal fueled, are increasing exponentially. In Africa, the energy consumed per head now is only 10% of that consumed per head in the USA; international efforts are under way to 'lift Africa out of poverty' which inevitably will require a great deal of power.

The 'developed world' is urging the 'developing world' to cut down their CO2 emissions. The 'developing world' is resisting - their argument runs: "Since the 20% of the population in the 'developed world' produce 80% of the CO2 why should we be expected to hold back on lifting ourselves out of poverty, to hold back our use of energy? - Let the developed world cut back on theirs first!"

Another factor is that the world's reserves of oil and natural gas are being used up rapidly. These sources could be, and probably will be, replaced by an increase in the use of coal of which there are still vast reserves. Coal produces much more CO2 and other emissions than oil or gas so that for the future the CO2 problem is likely to be exacerbated.

Underlying the present world situation, the human population is predicted to increase by some 50% in the next 50 years -- another 3 Billion power consumers!

For these practical reasons, it seems to me improbable that the volume of man-made CO2 being generated can even be held at its present level - to reduce it from its present level is even more improbable.

MY CONCLUSION - WE ARE HEADING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!

From the evidence it seems that for the foreseeable future, the Earth probably WILL get warmer, the climate probably WILL change, the sea level probably WILL rise. I suggest that whatever policies we might adopt, aimed at mitigating and adapting to the effects of Global Warming, they need to be based on these facts. I suggest the current "solutions", focused mainly as they are on the reduction of CO2, are bound to fail.

The man-made CO2 being released to the atmosphere may be, and probably is, adding to the rate of cyclical or natural warming. But it is not, on its own, the SOLE CAUSE of the current temperature rise. The Earth is in one of its natural cyclical warming periods and it will be getting warmer even if NO man-made CO2 is released. If man-made CO2 emissions were to be reduced, even if they were stopped entirely, the only result would be, perhaps, to slow slightly the rate of warming - it would not halt it.

The decision of our politicians to try to stop the Earth getting warmer by embarking on programmes to reduce the volume of man-made CO2 brings to mind the experience of King Canute who tried (and failed) to stop the tide from rising.

Moreover, the amount by which the present policies will reduce the total carbon emission IF IT REDUCES IT AT ALL is infinitesimal compared to the world's increasing energy requirements.

In fact the current moves and financial incentives to cut down CO2 emission are, in my opinion, doing more harm than good. New taxes are being planned, the airline and holiday industry is going to be hit, poor countries are not going to able to sell their farm produce to rich countries because of the "air miles" involved, a new non-productive industry is forming to advise on how to make a profit on carbon credit trading etc. I believe the steps being taken to try to reduce
CO2 emissions will inevitably be costly and may, and almost certainly will, have a negative effect on the world's economy. These steps will never achieve their objective - they are futile and useless, and a waste of valuable resources.

Worse, the current policies are diverting our attention from facing up to reality and to mankind's looming problems, namely that the Earth IS warming and probably WILL GO ON warming for the foreseeable future, regardless of whether or not we reduce man-made CO2.

We are, in my opinion, heading in the wrong direction!

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

If, as it seems, the Earth is undergoing one of its warming cycles, there is nothing mankind can do to stop Global Warming. What, in my opinion, we need to do is to accept that in all probability Global Warming is here to stay and to address its inevitable results. The world's effort and energy currently being directed towards halting Global Warming by reducing carbon emission (a policy doomed to failure in my view) needs to be re-directed toward the following three main objectives.

  1. NEW DEVELOPMENT - DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE - As explained above, there will be serious problems caused by changes in the distribution and amount of rainfall. There probably will be floods and droughts, changes in the distribution and availability of water for consumption and food production,.increasing 'desertification' making more areas barren and uninhabitable. These problems will gradually occur over decades. Mankind is adaptable -- I believe that over time new areas will have to be developed and populated and some existing areas will have to be abandoned. Every country should start planning now for the gradual creation these new development areas.
  2. NEW DEVELOPMENT - DUE TO RISING SEA LEVEL - The problem presented by the gradual raising of the sea level needs to be addressed, not by a 'King Canute' solution, but by accepting that the sea level will probably rise and go on rising for the foreseeable future. Every country with coastal areas needs to start planning accordingly. Plans need to be drawn up to establish the areas of land which will be inundated if/when the sea and river levels rise by, say, two meters. Over the coming decades all the housing, agriculture, commercial, roads, railways and other installations and activities taking place in those areas will have to be re-established on higher ground. In contrast, due to Global Warming, large area in the Northern Hemisphere currently ice-bound will become ice-free and will be available to be developed and utilized. The first step would be to prohibit any new construction in endangered areas; to allow building only in the newly designated development areas.
  3. POWER SUPPLY - Solution of the problems which will arise due to carbon emission, climate change and a rising sea level are inevitably linked to the problem of the world's future power supply. The world needs an ever increasing supply of cheap power which could amount to five times the present level by the end of this century. The production of this power should not pollute or add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. Accordingly, our need and use of fossil fuels should gradually be eliminated (the remaining reserves of oil and gas will in any case be exhausted in the not too distant future). For road vehicles, an alternative to petrol/diesel will have to be employed. The alternative is, I suggest, either electric batteries, or hydrogen fuel cells or hydrogen powered internal combustion engines, or a mixture of all three. The hydrogen gas would be manufactured using electrical power. What source(s) of energy could supply the power the world needs? Firstly, I believe the amount of the power which could be generated by the 'replaceables' wind, solar, hydroelectric, wave and tide power can not even begin to meet the world's future needs. Moreover, the money and material being expended on them is, I suggest, an irreplaceable waste of the world's resources. All the world's needs could be met, partly or in whole, by nuclear power. In spite of the known disadvantages, nuclear power is one of the only possible practical solutions. (Note that today, 80% of the France's electricity power is generated by nuclear power stations.) The other source of energy which could be harnessed is geothermal (hot rock) power; that is the extraction of heat from the earth's crust by mining (wells), similar to mining for oil and gas. Geothermal energy has distinct advantages over nuclear and, in my opinion, its rapid development should be vigorously pursued, if necessary using tax incentives. (A description of geothermal technology is appended.) Nuclear fusion is another possible source of energy but this technology is only in the theoretical stage; it will be many years before nuclear fusion will be commercially available, if it ever is.
FEASIBILITY

A question which obviously presents itself is this: are the massive developments
in new locations envisaged above a practical possibility?

In 1950 the population of the world was 2,500 million; now, 57 years later it is 6,600 million. There are now 4,000+ million additional people in the world but homes, work places and the infra-structure for all these 4,000+ million additional people have been built, all constructed in the last 57 years. For example, Abuja (Nigeria), current population 4,600,000, was built on what was bare ground only 30 years ago. Shanghai, population now 17,500,000 -- 6 years ago it was 10,000,000.

I suggest that, spread over 100 years, the establishment and developments of new population centers is far from impossible, it could be done.

Another question is: is the provision of the enormously increased future power requirements and, simultaneously, the elimination of the use of fossil fuels by the installation of nuclear and/or geothermal power a realistic possibility?

In the world today there are over 500 nuclear power stations in operation and some 50 more under construction. The uranium they use is in plentiful supply. There are the problems of disposal of nuclear waste and social acceptance but, over time, and our way of life faced with a 'Hobson's choice' situation, I believe those problems would be overcome.

Geothermal (hot rock) technology is still in the trial stage, although a test plant in Australia is said to be working well. The management there say that in the area around the test site alone there is enough heat underground to generate enough electricity to power the whole of Australia! The mining technology is well established; it is virtually the same as that used for drilling oil wells. The electrical generating plant is standard except that the source of the heat required is geothermal instead of from burning fossil fuel.

Based on the volume of the construction of nuclear power plants and oil wells in the last century, I believe that nuclear and/or geothermal fueled electrical power plants coupled with hydrogen generation plants (in lieu of oil refineries) could supply all the world's power needs for the foreseeable future AND simultaneously eliminate the use of fossil fuels

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APPENDIX

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY FACT SHEET

INTRODUCTION

The word geothermal comes from the Greek words "geo" (earth) and "therme" (heat), and means the heat of the earth. Earth's interior heat originated from its fiery consolidation from dust and gas over 4 billion years ago and is continually regenerated from the decay of radioactive elements that occur in all rocks.

EARTH'S HEAT AND VOLCANIC REGIONS

It is almost 6,500 kilometres (4,000 miles) from the surface to the centre of the Earth, and the deeper you go, the hotter it gets.

The outer layer, the crust, is three to 35 miles thick and insulates us from the hot interior. From the surface down through the crust the normal temperature gradient (the increase of temperature with the increase of depth) in the Earth's crust is 17 - 30°C per kilometre of depth (50-87°F per mile). Below the crust is the mantle, made of highly viscous, partially molten rock with temperatures between 650 and 1,250°C (1,200-2,280°F). At Earth's core, which consists of a liquid outer core and a solid inner core, temperatures may reach 4,000-7,000°C (7,200 to 12,600°F). Where magma reaches the surface it can build volcanoes. But most magma stays well below ground, creating huge subterranean regions of hot rock sometimes underlying areas as large as an entire mountain range. Cooling can take from 5,000 to more than 1 million years. These shallow regions of relatively elevated crustal heat have high temperature gradients.

RENEWABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

Production from individual geothermal fields can be sustained for decades and perhaps centuries. The U.S. Department of Energy classifies geothermal energy as renewable.

GEOTHERMAL TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT

The drill rigs and drilling technology and equipment are virtually the same as that used for drilling for oil or gas. The electrical generating plant, located alongside the geothermal well heads, is standard; steam turbine driven electrical generators connected to the grid. Water consumption is small as the steam is condensed and re-used as injection water.

PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT

With all sources of energy, developers and consumers must work to protect the environment. The challenges differ with the type of energy resource, and the differences give geothermal energy certain advantages. Geothermal direct use facilities have minimal or no negative impacts on the environment. Geothermal power plants are relatively easy on the environment. They are successfully operated in the middle of crops, in sensitive desert environments and in forested recreation areas.

VISUAL PROTECTION

No power plant or drill rig is as lovely as a natural landscape, so smaller is better. A geothermal plant sits right on top of its fuel source: no additional land is needed such as for mining coal or for transporting oil or gas. When geothermal power plants and drill rigs are located in scenic areas, mitigation measures are implemented to reduce intrusion on the visual landscape. Some geothermal power plants use special air cooling technology which eliminates even the plumes of water vapour from cooling towers and reduces a plant profile to as little as 24 feet in height.

IMPROVING GEOTHERMAL TECHNOLOGY

Since the 1970's the geothermal industry, with the assistance of government research funding, has overcome many technical drilling and power plant problems. As a result of government-assisted research and industry experience, the cost of generating geothermal power has decreased by 25% over the past two decades. Research is currently underway to further improve exploration, drilling, reservoir, power plant and environmental technologies. Enhancing the recoverability of Earth's heat is an important area of ongoing research.

ENHANCED GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS

Private and government research projects in the United States, Japan and in Europe are improving the accessibility of geothermal energy by developing new technology to increase the permeability of the rocks.

Permeability can be created in hot rocks by hydraulic fracturing -- injecting large volumes of water into a well at a pressure high enough to break the rocks. The artificial fracture system is mapped by seismic methods as it forms, and a second well is drilled to intersect the fracture system. Cold water can then be pumped down one well and hot water taken from the second well for use in a geothermal plant. This "hot dry rock" technology is being tested in Japan, Germany, France, England and the U.S. In Australia a test plant has been in operation for some time yielding excellent results.

THE FUTURE FOR GEOTHERMAL ENERGY

The outlook for geothermal energy use depends on at least three factors: the demand for energy in general; the inventory of available geothermal resources; and the competitive position of geothermal among other energy sources. The Demand for energy will continue to grow. Economies are expanding, populations are increasing (over 2 billion people still do not have electricity), and energy-intensive technologies are spreading. All these mean greater demand for energy. At the same time, there is growing global recognition of the environmental impacts of energy production and use from fossil fuel and nuclear resources. Public polls repeatedly show that most people prefer a policy of support for renewable energy.

The critical temperature for the generation of geothermal energy to power an electrical generating plant is 200ªC. At every point in the world a well will reach rock at that temperature; on average the depth to reach a temperature of 200ªC is about 5Km. Geothermal heat is more accessible in some areas than others but the inventory of accessible geothermal energy is sizable. The entire world resource base of readily accessible geothermal energy has been calculated in government surveys to be much larger than the resource bases of coal, oil, gas and uranium combined. The geothermal resource base becomes more available as methods and technologies for accessing it are improved through research and experience.

See: www.geodynamics.com.au

COSTS

Shorter and Longer Term Costs. Production of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) are a relative bargain in the short term. Like many renewable resources, geothermal resources need relatively high initial investments to access the heat. But the geothermal "fuel" cost is predictable and stable. Fossil fuel supplies will increase in cost as reserves are exhausted. Fossil fuel supplies can be interrupted by political disputes abroad.

Renewable geothermal energy is a better long term investment.

Direct and Indirect Costs. The monetary price we pay to our natural gas and electricity suppliers, and at the gas pump, is our direct cost for the energy we use. But the use of energy also has indirect or external costs that are imposed on society.

Examples are the huge costs of global climate change; the health effects from ground level pollution of the air; future effects of pollution of water and land; military expenditures to protect petroleum sources and supply routes; and costs of safely storing radioactive waste for generations. Geothermal energy can already compete with the direct costs of conventional fuels in some locations and is a clean, indigenous, renewable resource without hidden external costs. Public polls reveal that customers are willing to pay a little more for energy from renewable resources such as geothermal energy.

Domestic and Importing Costs. Investment in the use of domestic, indigenous, renewable energy resources like geothermal energy provides jobs, expands the regional and national economies, and avoids the export of money to import fuels.

Energy demand is increasing rapidly worldwide. Some energy and environmental experts predict that the growth of electricity production and direct uses of geothermal energy will be revitalized by international commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to avert global climate change.