Energy efficiency policies

Energy efficiency policies

Atmospheric Environment Vol. 27A, No. 15, pp. 2465-2466, 1993. 0004~5981/93 $6.00+0.00 © 1993 Pergamon Press Ltd Printed in Great Britain. BOOK REV...

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Atmospheric Environment Vol. 27A, No. 15, pp. 2465-2466, 1993.

0004~5981/93 $6.00+0.00 © 1993 Pergamon Press Ltd

Printed in Great Britain.

BOOK REVIEWS Energy Efficiency Poficies, Victor Anderson. Routledge, London, 1993, xi + 91 pp. Paperback £7.99; hardback £30.00. More than 20 years ago, I believe on the first Earth Day, I got a number of invitations to participate in various panels of "experts" on how to save the world. At the time, the major b~tes noires were disposables, especially tissues and diapers. Suddenly, and unbidden, a question popped into my head, and I asked it; had the sums been done as to whether the environmental impact of a Kleenex was actually greater than that of the added detergent for washing cloth handkerchiefs? I never got an answer; just a patronizing look, as though I was self-evidently not a true believer, and more to be pitied than censured. Subsequently, a former member of my group went to work for a group doing energy audits of various kinds of activities. Knowing my interest, he sent me a copy of a study of the manufacture of photovoitaic cells. At that time, considering the energy needed for direct manufacture of silicon cells, the energy required to control the emissions from the process, and the energy required to dispose of failed cells, the lifetime of the cells was insufficient for them to pay back their energy cost. I have not heard of any subsequent studies, if in fact they exist, so I do not know whether this is still the situation. Both of these anecdotes illustrate that such problems do not necessarily have easy answers, or intuitively obvious ones. On the face of it, it seems obvious that a cloth handkerchief should be environmentally more benign than a disposable paper one. But is it? To produce the former, cotton or flax must be grown and cultivated. A certain amount of chemical fertilizer and pesticide goes into the process if it is to be commercially viable. The respective fibers are extracted, spun, and woven. The woven materials are cut and hemmed, packaged, and distributed. After each use the handkerchief must be washed and perhaps bleached, then ironed. By contrast, a disposable tissue presumably starts life as part of a tree. Its growth requires time, but little or no tillage or chemicals. Presumably it is cut, chipped, pulped, and made into tissue, which is cut to size, folded and boxed. After use it is added to a landfill, the same place the handkerchief ends up when it is too worn or too stained for further use. Has anybody ever done the necessary sums to say

Mesometeorological Cycles of Air Pollution in the Iberian Peninsula, M. M. Mili~m, B. Artifiano, E. Alonso, M. Castron, R. Fernandez-Patier and J. Goberna. Air Pollution Research Report Series, No. 44, Environmental Research Programme, Commission of the European Communities, DirectorateGeneral for Science, Research and Development, 1992, iii+219 pp. CEC-DG XII/E-1, Rue de la Loi, 200, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium. Paperback. For the right readership this appears to be a very useful volume. The right readership is probably those contemplating or engaged in any sort of meteorological studies of the Iberian Peninsula, or parts thereof, or its immediate neighbors. In addition, modelers should probably look it over as a dose of needed humility, since it appears that the behavior of air in that area is, to put it mildly, anomalous. I plan to put my copy on the shelf with other bibliographic resources, since

which is actually less damaging to the environment, or is it simply deride that cloth handkerchiefs are "greener" (a term I hate) than tissues? I read this very slim volume noting that the author was affiliated with something called the "New Economics Foundation" with the thought that somebody might have answered those questions. If this is so, I learned no answers here. What I learned instead was that nuclear power was EVIL, and to be avoided like the plague as any sort of replacement for fossil fuel combustion. The only solution was a carbon tax (and a bigger nuclear energy tax). Now, I happen to favor a carbon tax, although I wondered whether I wanted to be characterized as agreeing with the New Economics Foundation by the time I finished the book. I am all for saving the world, as hinted earlier, but I am not clear that I want to change my religious affiliation from Anglican Christian to Green to do so. I had no quarrel with E. F. Shumacher, and found his writings provocative. But I wonder whether he would recognize some of his claimed descendants. His name is invoked here, but his work is not. This book was evidently written for consumption in Britain and not elsewhere. Knowing it was written there, I shifted gears to read it in English, not American. But there were several mentions of a "billion" in contexts where it seemed to mean 109, not l0 t 2, and never a mention of which was intended. The term "thousand million" never occurred. Further to ruffle my feathers, the only relative pronoun ever used was "which"; I do not believe that "that" occurs in the text at all. The result comes off sounding more than a little pompous and bit condescending, at least to me. At least a few readers will be familiar with an American comic strip called "Shoe". In a recent strip, he was shown staggering under the weight of the day's mail. It turned out that he had gotten onto nearly every charitable and mailorder mailing list in the country because he had sent a donation to the "Save-a-Tree Foundation". From my (admittedly biased) viewpoint, I wondered whether the New Economics Foundation had considered the energy costs of their publication program. But there I go again, raising questions that have already been answered by divine revelation. JAMES P. LODGE, JR

as a chemist I cannot divine what was done here without looking up referenced papers; hundreds, probably thousands, of measurements are reported, and there is not a single word as to how they were made, or how they were validated. I assume that some of the papers cited as resulting from this work must give that information. So far as the actual studies are concerned, we are given results in graphic form for selected days, and that is all. The study series on which this is based apparently extended in time from about 1986 to 1990, and following that a couple of years were expended in final data reduction and interpretation. Before all was finished nearly a dozen agencies, institutions, and companies had been involved. Since a major part of the measurement program was airborne, nearly as many government entities are acknowledged as assisting (probably with obtaining necessary clearances). Since most flights alternately climbed and dove to obtain vertical cross-

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