Thoughts on these two quotes:

 “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes” – Alice in Wonderland


“To each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” – Karl Marx,
Critique of the Gotha Program.

CO2 Concentration and Weight in Atmosphere


Monthly atmospheric CO2 records from 10 sites around the world is collected: Mauna Loa, Barrow, American Samoa, South Pole, Alert, Cape Kumukahi, Christmas Island, Baring Head, Kermadec Island, and La Jolla Pier. The concentration of CO2 in volume fraction (ppmv) is then translate into mass fraction and the weight of CO2 at particular year is then calculated (see previous post here).

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has steadily increased from 315 ppmv in 1958 to 376.8 ppmv in year 2004. However, the amount of CO2 (by weight) added in varies between 3244 to 19852 million tonnes/year. The high peaks of CO2 addition are seen at year 1969, 1973, 1988, 1998 and 2003.

List of Oil crisis occured since 1973:

  1. 1973 Oil Crisis: the CO2 emission cut down from 16 600 to 10 700 million tonnes in 1974 and reduced further to 6 400 million tonnes, year 1975.
  2. 1979 Energy Crisis: in 1980, the CO2 is still high at 14300 million tonnes and only decreased at the subsequent years (1981 and 82 – 10 000 and 7400 million tonnes respectively).
  3. 1990 Oil price spike high (Gulf War): from 1990 to 91, a very slight increase of CO2 addition is seen but dropped to 6500 million tonnes in ’92 and further 6000 million tonnes in ’93. Overall, it is quite obvious to note that for the occurence of petroleum crisis, a decrease of CO2 addition is observed.
  4. Oil price increase in 2004-06: further information on year 2005 and 2006 are required.

Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Atmospheric Trace Gas Measurement

Picture: We belong together…

Kyoto: Spring flowers, originally uploaded by micpohling.

Let the picture speaks for herself 🙂

Math! How much CO2 by weight in the atmosphere?

According to wikipedia (CO2):

As of January 2007, the earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration is about 0.0383% by volume (383 ppmv) or 0.0582% by weight. This represents about 2.996×1012 tonnes, and is estimated to be 105 ppm (37.77%) above the pre-industrial average.

CO2 concentration by weight is obtained by the formula below:

0.0383 V% x [44.0095/28.97] = 0.0582 m% CO2

whereby molar mass=44.0095 g/mole
and mean molar mass of air=28.97 g/mole

Then, to obtain the total mass of CO2, via wikipedia: according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “The total mean mass of the atmosphere is 5.1480×1018 kg.

Thus, the total weight of CO2 = 0.0582% x 5.1480 x 1015 tonnes
  = 2.996×1012 tonnes.

By applying the same formula, 4 other different values of CO2 concentration at different timeline as listed in the table below. Year 1750 is used for pre-industrial era (Industrial Revolution), 310 ppmv is obtained via the graph in 1960, and 2 predictions for year 2100 done by IPCC. The corresponding CO2 by total weight is calculated.


From year 1750 to 1960, additional 250 000 million tonnes CO2, or at the rate of 1190.48 million tonnes per year are added into atmosphere.

From year 1960 to 2007, another 570 000 million tonnes of CO2 are dumped into atmosphere, at much higher rate: 12127.7 million tonnes per year, which is about 10 times faster than the previous 2 centuries!

As of year 2002, human activities, especially fuel burning released 24,126.1 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This number is twice (2x) higher the rate calculated above. Could it mean that half of the CO2 released by human activity is managed to absorbed by carbon sink agents and thus not accounted into the CO2 concentration reading?

Let’s look at the future. IPCC gave 2 scenarios of the CO2 concentration (ppmv) by the year of 2100, 93 years away.

  • To achieve 571 ppmv, the additional CO2 needed to add into atmosphere is 1.235 ×1012 tonnes, or 13 279.6 million tonnes per year. This is half of the rate of CO2 we are releasing today.
  • To achieve 970 ppmv CO2 concentration, 4.558 x 1012 tonnes CO2, or 49 333.3 million tonnes per year is released.  This is twice (2x) the number on CO2 emission rate  what we are doing today!         

Another perspective of looking at these numbers. At 2002, human activity released 24 216.1 million tonnes of CO2.  Compared to the total CO2 mass in year 1750 (assuming it is in the state of equilibrium by then), that is accounted only 1.11%.  What could this number mean?

Picture: Sakura in Kyoto

Kyoto: Sakura at Spring, originally uploaded by micpohling.

At the riverside of Shimogamo.

OECD and Malaysia : Electricity Power Consumption

What does Norway, Canada, Sweden and Finland have in common? Cold weather.

Malaysia is only consuming one tenth of Norway electricity consumption! I guess not many Malaysians are turning on their air-conditioner. After all, hot is considerably bearable compared to the freezing cold climate at north. Heating will take up a lot of electricity.

source: World Bank, World Development Indicator 2006

Picture: Sakura, Kyoto

Kyoto: Sakura, originally uploaded by micpohling.

Sakura arrived in Kyoto already, earlier than usual.
And it would mean that I will be busier too 🙂

OECD and Malaysia: Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index is a statistical measure of the weight of a person scaled according to height.

8 kinds of food intake were analysed on their impact on BMI mean values and prevalence of BMI>30.

Let’s see, what are the food can make more people overweight (BMI>30)? Chicken meat! Cow meat? A little. And fruit?? Moderately strong positive influence on making more people overweight. Explantion? I wonder why too…

Rice and vegetable will make BMI value lower, while chicken meat and cow meat the opposite trend.

1) WHO on BMI.
2) FAO on food intake.

Minimum Wage in Malaysia?

Went through a guy’s blog and saw his post on minimum wage, a response on the letter written to Malaysia Kini. Curious to know why he said that the author made a strong case for minimum wage, I spent a little more time in reading through the letter again. And me, (stress) not an economist, seeing what I can think of to rebute her arguments. Readers are welcomed to point out my failure as well.

In our headlong rush towards modernisation, higher GDP per capita and accumulating riches undreamed of in our father’s generation, we have forgotten that as a nation, we must move together and share our resources, spoils and tribulations in good times or bad times.

Hmmm, I am not sure what kind of resources she is referring to. May be it was something about the land which my father bought 10 years and it was a good land producing a lot of crops. Now since the land is so fruitful and productive, it is time to share – freely? Sharing the crops or sharing the land? Anything close to property right there?

Some of us have the luck and ingenuity to move ahead, earn wealth and live happily ever after while some sections of society, whether through their own fault or not, are still stuck in poverty even if they work 12-hour, 6-day weeks.

More importantly, is this “luck” something detestable? I hit jackpot, thousands did not, and am I supposed to be responsible for those thousands who did not hit the jackpot?

Someone commented that we should not implement minimum wage legislation but instead educate the poor so that they can lift themselves out of poverty. Have we forgotten that not all of us have the gift and ability to be educated and learn new skills? Wages and salary, whether high or low, are still a market reflection of supply and demand of labour with particular skills, as well as the person’s ability to negotiate high wages.

Wait, if it is the politicians/policy maker/teachers/education who said this line “not all of us have the gift and ability to be educated and learn new skills”, what are we to think about them (read between the lines: some smart, and sorry for the stupid ones, education can’t help much)? Aren’t every human being is unique and talented at his or her own way? If a guy is good in science, let him work out his way (no hindrance please) to be scientist, similarly if the guy is good in handicraft, let him work out his way to be plumber,mechanics. The labour market is far away about the monotonous demand on doctors or engineers alone. Not everyone need to be doctors or scientist in a society, doctor can not fix my car problem if I have one!

If you are buddy with your boss, and your boss cannot do without you, it’s a no-brainer that you will be able to negotiate high wages. You are your own commodity and your ability to package and sell yourself is the key to your net worth and potential. Does anyone wonder why Siti Nurhaliza is in demand and highly paid?

Then make yourself indispensable in your boss bussiness (learnt that from a senior manager from my ex-company), and the best part is, make yourself so indispensable that even though you are your boss greatest headache, he will still have to pay you well for your worth. You are your own commodity and your ability to package and sell yourself is the key to your net worth and potential. Is it supposed to be a bad thing?

The government further undermines the labour market by doing almost nothing about rampant illegal worker immigration from neighbouring countries. There were cases in the past in Sabah whereby illegal immigrants were given citizenship, hence enlarging the pool of cheap labour.

See the symptom? The push harder for dealing with illegal immigrants. Besides, if you push for higher wages, more employer will be tempted to hire illegal immigrants who can take the job at lower-than-minimum wage pay. Logic?

Introducing minimum wage legislation would bring a lot of benefit to the country. Let’s say that we set minimum wage at RM5 per hour this year. Inefficient companies who cannot afford to pay this minimum wage will have to close shop, freeing labour resources to be employed elsewhere.

And what you get? UNEMPLOYMENT. Freeing labour resources to be employed elsewhere sounds like a good idea, but WHERE is that elsewhere? If the employer of next door is paying higher salary, why do you think the worker is still staying put in the old company? They would have gone long time already. Worker are FREE (they can go or resign anytime they want, can’t they?), but the only problem why they are stuck with the current low wage job is more likely that because there is no competition or demand out there, ergo NOT FREE to choose better jobs.

On the labour supply side, people who normally do not work because of other commitments or unattractive wages, might find RM5 per hour a good and start looking for jobs, thus contributing to the economy.

If people do not work because of unattractive wages, how they survive in Malaysia in the first place (especially the master of the house)? As far as I know, we are not a social welfare state like Sweden or Finland which paid some allowances to the unemployed to sustain their lives. But is there any case that Malaysian choose not to work because of low wage? Let the statistic speaks!

More people on the payroll would increase economic activity, contributing to higher economic growth. Companies would invest more, since the economic climate is rosier. This in turn will spur the country forward to make more capital investment and increase per capita productivity, since employers would not employ employees to do low-value jobs. It will also help employees on a low income as a higher income will ease their burden.

More people on the payroll? Yeah, make sure people are employed in the first place. Employers would not want to hire worker for low-value jobs, but then there is always a low-value job out there, whether we like it or not: construction builder, street sweeping, toilet cleaner, etc. Who is going to do those jobs? And can these jobs be nullified just because nobody want to do a low-value jobs? No, it would just mean that someone will do it, and doing it with a higher price than we used to pay!

Would a minimum wage law would reduce our competitiveness? Would FDI flow to other countries? That is shallow argument hiding the fact that competitiveness is equal efficiency in every aspect of our activity. Who is more efficient, a street sweeper using a truck or a few street sweepers using brooms and baskets?

Let’s say, Malaysia’s minimum wage is RM5 per hour [Malaysia’s GDP per capita (PPP) is USD11201], Vietnam [USD 3025], Thailand [USD 8368] is offering RM3 per hour, where does FDI go? Of course there are a lot of variables for foreigners to invest, but wage with the value of it, is one of them, an important one. Put more investment in education, train more knowlegable and skilled labours, that will be give us an advantage in competing with other low wage countries, and will definitely attract more high-end or high-value added technology.

Math! How much CO2 is emitted by human on earth annually?

Another math time! 🙂

And again, it is closely related to GW area.

Currently (as of year 2007), human population on earth is 6.6 billion (via wikipedia). I went around to look for how much CO2 is exhaled out per person, and 2 claims were found (both via wikipedia):

claim#1: an average person’s respiration generates approximately 450 liters (roughly 900 grams) of carbon dioxide per day (CO2#Human_physiology)

 I use the standard chemistry textbook theory (standard molar volume) to check this claim, 450L for 900 grams of CO2, and it is tallied.

Thus, the amount of CO2 released by human per day is 0.9 kg/day

claim#2: In an average resting adult, the lungs take up about 250ml of oxygen every minute while excreting about 200ml of carbon dioxide. (Respiratory_system)

So, 200 ml per minute and thus 200 ml x 60 X 24 = 288L

Or equivalent to 565.36g/per day = 0.565 kg/day (after divide with standard molar volume constant and times with CO2 molar weight).

Apparently claim#2 has lower CO2 emission compared to claim#1, but I will use both anyway to show the comparison.

So, if there is 6.6 billion people out there and excreting CO2 at the rate of 0.9 or 0.565 kg/day, the total CO2 emission by human alone annually is:

claim#1: CO2 emission = 0.90 X 365 x 6 600 000 000

                                         = 2.168 x 10^9 tonnes/year

claim#2: CO2 emission = 0.565 x 365 x 6 600 000 000

                                          = 1.362 x 10^9 tonnes/year

But human activities, through the fossil fuel burning activities, releases 24.136 x 10^9 tonnes per year (via wikipedia).

So, human breathing process contribute to about 8.99% (claim#1) or 5.65% (claim#2) compared to the fuel burning related CO2.

Conclusion? May be stop breathing does not really help in reducing CO2 emission! 😛

OECD: Overweight and Obesity, Food Intake

[note: The BMI classification may not be suitable for all ethnic groups, who may have equivalent levels of risk at lower BMI (for example, Asians) or higher BMI.]

Low overweight (25 < BMI < 30) prevalence: France, Switzerland.
High overweight prevalence: Germany, Australia, Portugal, Austria, United Kingdom.

Low obesity (BMI > 30) prevalence: Switzerland, Norway, Italy.
High obesity prevalence: United States.

United States has unbelievably high percentage of people who is obese, as high as 30.6%. As far as the food item concern, American eats a lot of chicken meat (113.7 g/day), fruits (28.6 g/day), but not on bovine or pig meat compared to other countries.

Among the listed factors, bovine or cow related meat has relatively strong positive correlation (Rsquare= 0.134) on the prevalence of obesity. On theother hand, chicken meat intake has very strong positive correlation on the prevalence of overweight people, the rsquare as 0.580 (1 is being perfect). However, the pig meat intake shows negative correlation on the prevalence of overweight. May be it has something to do with the way the people prepare chicken or pig meat as meal?

1) OECD on Overweight and Obesity Prevalence
2) FAO on Food Intake

OECD and Malaysia: Income, Contraceptive, Fertility and Birth rates

Japan has the lowest fertility rate among all the OECD countries, follow closely by Spain and Italy. Malaysia as a developing country enjoy high fertility rate. As for birth rates, Malaysia again has the highest number of new born babies per year but Germany is facing a very low number: 8.25. In 2007, as an initiative to boost the birth rate, German government is giving 25,200 Euros to the parents of new born babies (news: BBC here).

On average, OECD countries (exclude Malaysia) fertility rate is 1.64 and birth rate is 10.75. If the replacement fertility rates (the total fertility rate at which women would have only enough children to replace themselves and their partner) is set as 2.1 for developed country, all of the OECD countries will be facing a challenge in the future: there will be more old people than the young ones.

National income and contraceptive prevalence are used to study their influence on fertility and birth rates. National income is consistently showing moderate strong negative relationship on both effects: the higher income, the less likely people wants to give birth.  

On the other hand, does national income have any influence on contraceptive prevalence? Yes, there is a postive and moderate strong relationship (Rsquare=0.208) too: the higher income the people earn, the more likely (higher percentage) the people will practise contraceptive method. However there are some exceptions like Austria, Italy and Japan.  

1) WHO on Contraceptive Prevalence, Fertility rates
2) Wikipedia on Birth rates
3) OECD on National Income

OECD and Malaysia: Tobacco use and Disease

The data on tobacco use, in terms of prevalence (%) and annual consumption of cigarrete is compiled against tobacco-related diseases’ death: cancer (trachea, bronkus, lung) and chronic  obstrusive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Canada has the lowest (13.5%) while Greece (43.5%) has the highest prevalence of tobacco user among OECD countries. In terms of number of annual cigarrete consumption, Greece has a shocking number outdoing all the countries listed here: 4313 compared to average 2104, or equivalent to 11.8 cigarettes per person per year!

Tobacco used compared to disease in correlation:

It is shown that only the number of cigarettes smoked per year show moderately strong and positive correlation with the death rates caused by trachea, bronchus and lung cancers. Tobacco prevalence show very minor signal on the effect. It could mean that there are a lot of people are smoking and not necessarily resulted in higher death rates, but rather IT IS the high number of cigarettes that a smoker consumed which kills him/her.

1) WHO, Tobacco use
2) WHO-DALY, Death Rates by Disease

Math! How much water is required to raise sea level by 20 feet (6m)?

🙂 Just a math time for myself to think through…
Some said (you probably know who :P), by some time in the future (am not sure whether the time is specifically given out or not), global warming (GW) might cause sea level to rise another 20 feet (6m). I am curious to know how much ice sheet thickness (or how much water) is required to raise 6m sea, just by a simple reverse calculation.
Essential information (via Wikipedia, my ever reliable companion!):

                              Area (km^2) 

Antartica               13,720,000 (ice-covered area)
Ocean                    361,000,000
US (land)               9,631,420
Malaysia (land)      329,647

#1: The water volume to raise sea level by 6m

      = 0.006 (km) x 361,000,000 km^2
      = 2.166 x 10^6 km^3

So, if the ice sheet is as big as…

i) Malaysia:

                The thickness of ice sheet to be melted = (2.166 x 10^6)/(329 847)
                                                                      = 6.567km or 6567m!

ii) US:  

                The thickness of ice sheet to be melted = (2.166 x 10^6)/9 631 420
                                                                      = 224.9m!

iii) Antartic:

                The thickness of ice sheet to be melted = (2.166 x 10^6)/13 720 000
                                                                      = 0.158km = 157.9m

Let’s assume 2 time frame is given for such scenario is given and ice sheet melting rate is constant, a) 50 years and b) 100 years.

a) For ice sheet in whole area of Antartic to lose 157.9m in 50 years,

                                       Rate = 157.9 m/50 y = 3.158 m/y = 8.65mm per day

b) happen in 100 years? 8.65mm/day divide by 2 = 4.32 mm/day

For a) or b) to happen, obvious assumptions as below are made:
1- the whole area of Antartica is melting, i.e. 13,720,000 km^2.
2- the rate of melting is constant throughout 50 or 100 years (and in turn assuming the heat input for ice melting is consistent).
3- ice sheet melting away is a one-way process, no ice sheet will be formed.

More to check out Sea Level Rise from Wikipedia, and some data on ice sheet, glaciers and etc on Earth.

Minimum Wage and Automation/Technology

This line of statement strike me when reading this letter on minimum wage  in Malaysiakini:

“Higher wages for workers would force employer to make more capital investment, since higher capital would result in higher productivity per worker. Workers will be equipped with machinery, instead of doing manual jobs. For example in the West, a street-sweeper uses a truck equipped with sweepers which can sweep every street in a city the size of Klang in three hours flat. ”

Hmmm, higher wages will result in machinization, and if machines can do the job more efficiently and thus reduce the dependency on manual labour, it would mean that less people will be required to do the job and thus more people will be unemployed? The way I understand is that: if 1 machine can do 10 persons job, with the new machine in place, the boss only need 1 man to operate the machine and fire the other 9? 

Make sense or not ar?

OECD and Malaysia: Sugar Usage and Diabetes Mellitus

Sugar/sweetener use and diabetes mellitus disease among OECD countries and Malaysia revisit. (previous post here)

However, this time the data on deaths of diabetes mellitus (per 100,000 population) is added and analysis is performed. The quantity of sugar used shows very weak correlation to the diabetes prevalence, Rsquare=0.022 (Rsquare=1 being the perfect) and deaths caused by diabetes mellitus, Rsquare=0.046. Countries like Italy and Portugal has higher number of deaths even though their consumption on sugar/sweetener is lower than US or Switzerland.

1) WHO
2) International Diabetes Federation
3) FAO

OECD and Malaysia : HIV Prevalence and Deaths

source: WHO

OECD and Malaysia : Hospital Beds and Physicians density

Hospital Beds (per 10,000 population)

Physicians Density (per 1000 population)

Malaysia health sector has a lot to catch up, even in terms of hospital beds and number of doctors. Malaysia is almost 2x behind in the numbers compared to the lowest rank in OECD countries (hospital bed – Sweden: 30 compared to Malaysia: 19) and (density of physicians – Japan: 1.98 compared to Malaysia: 0.70). This picture is pretty consistent with the amount of expenditure which Malaysia government spend on healthcare as well, which is lower than OECD countries (see previous post).

Update: To achieve the goal of 35 hospital beds per 10,000 pop, Malaysia govt. needs to add at least 39 000 hospital beds (considering population is 26 million). Same calculation applied to physicians density, to obtain 2.0 physicians for 1000 population, Malaysia needs to have at least 52 000 doctors, or 104, 000 doctors for 4.0 physician density.

For WorldMapper: Hospital beds include beds in public and private hospitals, specialised hospitals, and rehabilitation centres. In 2002 there were an estimated 19.6 million hospital beds in the world. China, Japan and the Russian Federation are where the most hospital beds can be found.

1) WHO
2) World Mapper, Hospital Beds

OECD and Malaysia Food Consumption: Bovine Meats

Bovine=cow related

Malaysian does not consume a lot of cow meat, neither Japan as eastern country. Greatest cow meat eater? Australia! 25.1 kg per person, that is more than 7x higher than Malaysians!

source: FAO

OECD and Malaysia Food Consumption: Fresh Milk

Just a quick way to show that Malaysia is not a milk-orientated country, or generally East countries (e.g. Japan) do not drink milk as much as Western countries? It is noted too that the norther the country is (Finland, Sweden), the higher volume milk is consumed. Hmmm, why is that?

source: FAO

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