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Desert solar power
El Hassan bin TalalExcerpt from the adress given by His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan to The Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue WEST ASIA – NORTH AFRICA AND THE EURO-ATLANTIC:Finding Common Solutions to Shared Challenges
Thanks to the availability of fossil fuels human populations and human development have developed to a point where continued expansion cannot occur without severely over-shooting the carrying capacity of planet Earth. Social and natural systems are endangered.
The most comprehensive threat to the natural world and to the development of civilisation is the man-made challenge to the global climate, which comes as a result of powering our present forms of civilistion with fossil fuels. The global and the local climates may change faster than natural and social systems can adapt.
By changing our global climate, we also change local living conditions with potentially severe implications for plants, animals and humans. Food chains may be interrupted. Populations of plants and animals may change. Infrastructure for human civilisation may be flooded or blown away. Climate change is an assault on the developed forms of life which have emerged through long processes of evolution.
The use of fossil fuels, which enabling human civilisation to develop and to function, has now become a threat to our natural living conditions.
Can compatibility between civilisation and the natural world be restored, in view of a world population approaching 10 billion, with growing economic needs?
Such a renewed compatibility would require a form of energy that would not harm our natural living spaces and threaten their resilience. Renewable energy, and in particular solar energy, could be used to power our growing civilisation and provide fresh water from desalination without harming our natural living environment.
In fact, there is around 10,000 times more energy coming from the sun than would be needed for powering human civilisation. This solar energy comes as light at day and returns to outer space as heat radiation at throughout the day and night, whether it has been “used” or not. The use of solar energy – or of any other form of renewable energy – should then be done in an “environmentally compatible way” which leaves the environment unaffected. As a counter-example, the building of large dams for hydropower or growing of energy plants in large monocultures may not fulfil this criterion.
How can we reclaim energy from renewable and clean sources in environmentally compatible ways at a scale that matches present and expected consumption of energy?
Here the desserts of the earth can play a key role. They receive about 700 times more energy from the sun than humankind consumes by burning fossil fuels, day by day. Dessers are the places with the best solar radiation conditions and with the least possible impact of collector deployment onto the biosphere on earth.
In desserts, clean power can be produced by solar thermal power plants (CSP) in a truly sustainable way and at any volume of conceivable demand. Power can be transmitted with low losses by High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) lines to more than 90% of the world’s population. This gives the desserts a new role: Together with the many other forms of accessible renewable energy, the newly utilised dessert would enable us to replace fossil fuels and thus end the ongoing destruction of our natural living conditions.
Eumena - Similar to EC
To put this into practice, countries with desserts, countries with high energy demand and countries with technology competence must cooperate. This is an opportunity for the Mediterranean riparian regions of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA) to form a community for energy, water and climate security – with some similarities to the Community of Coal and Steel established in Europe some 60 years ago – for a prosperous and peaceful future.
More than 40 years ago, the Apollo Space program was launched to fulfil the old dream of taking man into outer space. Today, we have a bigger dream, to restore balance between man and his home planet, Earth. With the political will, EUMENA countries would now launch an Apollo-like EUMENA-DESERTEC Program, to bring humankind back into balance with its environment, by putting desserts and technology into service for energy, water and climate security. This would be an important step towards creating a truly sustainable civilization.
An EU-WANA Water and Energy Community
At the very top of the agenda should be the establishment of a supra-national non-partisan Water and Energy Community – an institutional framework providing new incentives for the management and protection of common resources, this framework has to go beyond the conventional “greening” approach. Remember that the US dollar (the current reserve currency of choice) is fundamentally linked to global crude oil and even if every business were to adopt a greening agenda, crude oil would still remain the most important ingredient of economic growth and the profit and wage incentives in these “green” businesses would still be denominated in dollar values linked directly to oil. We therefore have to look elsewhere for a comprehensive and durable solution.
As a promoter of the DESERTEC initiative, I would like to convey some of the unique and ground-breaking features of this project. Solar radiation is the largest accessible but least used form of energy on Earth. It is essentially a virtually inexhaustible supply of solar energy. On a daily basis, the world’s desserts receive about 700 times more energy from the sun than humankind presently consumes in fossil fuels.
The DESERTEC project aims to tap into solar and wind power from these energy-rich desert areas. The use of HVDC (High-Voltage Direct Current transmission lines) facilitates efficient transfer with projected losses of less than 5% per every 1000 kms. Desertec scientists project that in 40 years, solar thermal power plants could generate over half of the electricity needs of the entire EU-WANA region. The benefits of adopting this initiative catapult across several spheres. Take for example the fact that the freshwater crisis in the Middle east could be resolved through seawater desalination. However desalination currently requires the combustion of large amounts of fossil fuels. In the long run, powering desalination through renewable energy would be cheaper – both financially and ecologically.
So too the scope for job creation in solar plant and collector production would give the region a much needed economic boost. According to the recently released DESERTEC red paper, “the construction of only one 250 MW parabolic through plant requires 1,000 workers and engineers for a period of two to three years.” This creation of jobs could lead to a “brain-regain” and we can begin to reverse the “education as an export industry” trend. As things stand, most Arab nations train to export. I remember asking some Wharton trained Jordanians when they would return home. They said to me “when you institute a meritocracy; when we can get ahead on what we know and not who we know.”
Another critical component of a preventative security regime is a regional institution for water management. Estimates project that by 2025, water scarcity could affect up to 5 billion people (about 1.7 billion people are already affected.) Climate change implications exacerbate this impending crisis; increased drought, precipitation, evaporation as well as the overall retardation of the hydrological cycle all threaten to further devastate already dry regions.
Water Shortages in Middle East may be solved
The Middle East already faces existential water shortages. Moreover, the region already lags behind in water infrastructure development and an aggravation in droughts would largely ravage this area. Water consumption has been doubling every 20 years and clean water supplies are coming under enormous strain. A regional institution for water management would develop agreements for the sharing of water resources, water and irrigation projects, and the sharing of expertise and data on drip irrigation, water absorption, transpiration of plants, watershed dynamics, water basins, sedimentation, withdrawal from aquifers, water storage, deterioration of water quality and increased hydropower demands.
In our efforts to find durable solutions to the energy and water crisis, we must always remember how we got here in the first place. We find ourselves in this ecological and resource quagmire because we were reckless to the fact that our ecosystem has a carrying capacity – an ecological infrastructure. In our attempts to mitigate the effects of this impending crisis, let us remember that our harvesting of natural resources cannot exceed regeneration rates. So too our waste emissions should not exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment. If we ignore these basic parameters, nature may soon be instituting bankruptcy procedures against industrial civilisation.
HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, a pluralist believing in consensus and respect for the other, His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal believes in societies in which all peoples can live, work and function in freedom and with dignity. This goal has been the moving force behind his interest and involvement in humanitarian and interfaith issues, with particular stress on the human dimension of conflicts. His Royal Highness has initiated, founded and is actively involved in a number of Jordanian and international institutes and committees. HRH served as a member of the UN's Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, chairs the Integrity Council for the Coalition for the Global Commons, and recently initiated the West Asia – North Africa Forum. In 1983, he co-chaired the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues (ICIHI) calling for a New International Humanitarian Order. HRH is President and Patron of the Arab Thought Forum, and Chairman of the Higher Council for Science and Technology, the Royal Scientific Society and the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies. Prince Hassan is the author of nine books.
Publicat în : English de la numărul 67
Revolutia din decembrie 89: Pacatul originar, sacrificiul fondator este prima carte dintr-o serie de sapte volume dedicate ultimelor doua decenii din istoria României. Nu am pretentia ca sunt detinatorul unui adevar politic, juridic sau istoric incontestabil, si sunt gata sa discut si sa accept orice documente, fapte sau marturii care pot lumina mai bine sau chiar altfel realitatea. Educatia mea stiintifica si religioasa m-a ajutat sa cercetez faptele în mod obiectiv, eliberat de ura sau intoleranta. Recunosc însa o anume încrâncenare în ceea ce am scris venita din durerea unui om care a trait în miezul evenimentelor si se simte lovit de acceptarea cinica a crimelor, abuzurilor, coruptiei si minciunii, sau de indiferenta la fel de cinica cu care sunt înca privite de catre o mare parte a societatii românesti.... Am scris aceste carti de pe pozitia victimelor mintite sau speriate, care nu-si cunosc sau nu-si pot apara drepturile. Le-am scris de pe pozitia milioanelor de români cinstiti care cred în adevar, în dreptate si în demnitate. Emil Constantinescu (text preluat din Introducerea cartii).
MINTEA CEA SOCOTITOARE
de academician Mircea Malita, Editura Academiei Române, 2009 În volumul de eseuri Mintea cea socotitoare, aparut la Editura Academiei Române, acad. Mircea Malita formuleaza în crescendo o serie de întrebari grave ale timpului nostru: Daca omul este rational, de ce se fac atâtea greseli în economie
sau în politica?; Daca rationalitatea nu e de ajuns, care ar fi rolul întelepciunii?; Din viitorul imprevizibil putem smulge portiuni, daca nu certe, cel putin probabile?; Ce si cum învatam pregatindu-ne pentru viitorul nostru?; Este în stare omenirea sa îsi vindece crizele?; Ne asteapta oare un dezastru final? s.a. De-a lungul anilor, acad. Mircea Malita a staruit asupra acestor teme în lucrari recunoscute, însa acum o face raportându-se la dinamica realitatii imediate, inspirat de cuvintele lui Dimitrie Cantemir: socoteala mintii mele, lumina dinlauntrul capului. Eseurile sunt structurate pe patru parti - Mintea senina, Metaforele mintii, Mintea învolburata si Privind înainte. Finalul este de un optimism lucid care tine seama de potentialul de rationalitate si imaginatie al mintii umane si, fireste, de generatiile tinere care îl pot valoriza benefic.
Această carte de poezie este seismograful de mare sensibilitate care înregistrează cele două întâlniri ale sufletului, deopotrivă cu URÂTUL care ne schilodește ca ființă, ca neam, dar și cu FRUMUSEȚEA sufletească nepoluată ce stă ca o fântână cu apă curată pe un câmp plin cu peturi și gunoaie nedegradabile. Ce poate fi mai dureros decât să surprinzi această fibră distrusă de aluviunile istorice încărcate de lașități, inerții, apatii, compromisuri devenite congenitale ale românului? Vibrația versurilor, directețea lor, simplitatea dusă până în marginea cotidianului paradoxal n-au efect distructiv asupra tonusului moral al cititorului, ci produc neliniștea cea bună, cum ar spune Sfinții Părinți. Citești în revolta și durerea poetei un mănunchi admirabil de calități: o demnitate neînfrântă, o fiziologie a verticalității și, mai ales, o inimă creștină, o inimă din ceruri, cum ar spune poetul latin. Căci, în această inimă din ceruri, există lacrimi deopotrivă pentru românul umilit, distrus până și-n visele lui, dar și pentru copilul din Gaza, cu sufletul și trupul chircite sub șenilele tancurilor unui război ce tinde să devină mai lung decât viața lui, ale unui război-viață, lacrimi pentru copilul evreu ce nu a putut fi salvat de la deportarea bestială, lacrimi pentru Tibetul sfâșiat. Și toate acestea fără impostura unui ecumenism sentimental, ci izvorâte din acel suspin curat românesc ce face esența lacrimii creștine. (Dan Puric)
ISLAMUL SI SOARTA LUMII - Fundamentalismul islamic ca ideologie politica de Virginia Mircea "Islamul si soarta lumii - Fundamendamentalismul ca ideologie politca invita la o reflectie mai adanca asupra porceselor lumii contemporane. Judecata critica si independenta a autoarei a produs o lucrare de o veritabila investigatie stiintifica, exact la momentul in care tema tratata deseori fara solutii si perspective ocupa scena din fata a politicii si problemelor mondiale. Cititorii o pot aseza cu satisfactie in bliblioteca lor de referinta. Vor fi mult ajutati in intelegerea evenimentelor care ne sesizeaza in prezent si intr-un viitor in care tema nu se va desprinde de mersul lumii contemporane." (academician Mircea Malita)