Saturday, 30 April 2011

Climate Change Myths: Anthropomorphic Global Warming doesn't exist

The Great Climate Change Conspiracy

Ice caps and glaciers have been growing and shrinking for millennia but relatively modern accessibility to these regions combined with satellite images is able to give the impression of unprecedented changes at alarming rates with dire consequences for mankind; however the there is an insufficient historical baseline from which to draw such conclusions.  The images make sensational climate change porn but not a sound basis in science.  There was a well documented mini ice age which affected Europe between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, with the River Thames freezing over.  This period arrived over a few decades from a preceding period of warmer weather (thMedieval Warm Periodclearly illustrating that climate does not remain constant but constantly shifts over a few generations, a trend that continues.

'The Frozen Thames'', 1677. Original painting in the collection of the Museum of London. Artist not known.

The evidence that changes are happening in certain parts of the world is strong but that it is manmade may be less certain, and locations with more rapid change can be matched with places with less change.

For more see the CO2 Science site.

But does it really matter?

Not really. Fossil fuels are finite and whether peak oil has passed, is years or even decades away, they will run down and become more expensive to extract.  There is a compelling argument to reduce the amount of energy we use to prolong the time before scarcity sets in and to save ourselves some money on the way.

By improving the energy efficiency of our homes we can save ove £200 per year on utility bills, and my making some lifestyle changes we can save even more.

And replacing appliances and cars with more efficient models will save even more.

 If the whole climate change thing is a turn off, think of it in purely financial terms.

I am not a climatologist and therefore not qualified to evaluate the thousands of  pieces of research on climate change, however, personally, I am sceptical of the sceptics.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Surfers Against Sewage: Warning for our beaches

Surfers Against Sewage: Warning for our beaches

"Celine Gehret has been asked to pose for photographs many times but never while wearing a pink colander for a hat and a plastic shopping bag for a face mask. But Gehret, one of Cornwall’s most outstanding surfers, is anxious to make a point."

Campaign posters by Surfers Against Sewage

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Climate Change Myths: Lots of small savings add up to a big saving

By switching off electrical appliances rather than putting them on standby could save the average British  household £37 per year, that is around 3-4% of the average annual domestic electricity consumption. But what is this in terms of overall energy consumption?

The average electricity consumption is 4,800 kWh per household
The average UK annual gas consumption is 16,000 kWh per household

Carbon emissions for electricity are typically 0.55kg CO2/kWh giving 2640kg/year.
Carbon emissions for gas are typically 0.185kg CO2/kWh giving 2960kg/year.
Giving a total of 5600kg

So a generous 4% saving on electricity (105kg) results in a total saving of 1.9%. 

Domestic energy consumption accounts for around 30% of overall UK energy consumption therefore if EVERYONE makes this saving that will result in a total reduction in carbon emissions of around 0.5%.  In reality, many people will not take implement this change, more appliances will be acquired and the savings by some will be cancelled out by the profligacy of others.

In conclusion, small changes made by the conscientious few will be naught but a drop in the ocean unless many many more people get on board and make BIG changes, reducing overall energy consumption by double digit percentages year on year.

Monday, 25 April 2011

More rubbish is ending up on British beaches

CBBC - Newsround - Why more rubbish is ending up on British beaches:
"The sun is expected to shine across most of the UK for the Easter weekend, so some of you might be planning a trip to the beach.

But they might not be as clean as you'd hope.

Conservation experts say some people are using their toilets like dustbins and loads of the rubbish is ending up on our beaches.

Hayley's been finding out more..."

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Save the World - one click at a time

Click here to sign the petition and save this species, ban that chemical or raise the other issue. But do they really make a difference?

A friend recently created a petition to stop the use of Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico to clean up the oil spill (it is not very good for wildlife - probably better than oil but still not good) and he was disheartened by the lack of response. "Another petition .. that needs to be closed as no one cares, what the hell am I even doing on here." 

Truth is, there are too many petitions. A search on for Corexit comes up with a dozen petitions covering the same issue, not including the ones closed down already.  For this type of online petition to have any real impact it needs to be a single concentrated effort to get the message across, but even then, the ease with which petitions can be created, marketed and signed greatly devalues them.  Taking a random 10 minute period on a Sunday morning, a search for the word "petition" gives 15 tweets; this was probably a quiet period.  It also turns one of the early ideals of the environmental movement on its head - "Think Global, Act Local" has been turned around to "Think Local, Act Global" as we are encourage to sign petitions on local issues at the other side of the world. That is if we consider clicking a button on a petition web site as "Acting" for the environment.

An old fashioned paper petition, with people going around with clipboards collecting pen and ink signatures and the end result being deposited in big boxes on the steps of downing street had more visibility and reeked of effort by people who will not go away. Even more effective in today's instant digital age would be a well thought out and well written letter arguing support for the cause and highlighting the downsides for the recipient not supporting the cause. Taking time to do this may impose a responsibility on the recipient to take the time to read it.

However you choose to get your message across, Happy Campaigning!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Biofuels could provide 27% of transport fuels by 2050, says IEA | Energy Efficiency News - But at what price for food?

Biofuels could provide 27% of transport fuels by 2050, says IEA | Energy Efficiency News: "Biofuels could provide 27% of transport fuels by 2050, says IEA

Biofuels produced from biomass could provide up to 27% of global transport fuels by 2050, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA)."

The report, Biofuels for Transport, indicates that sustainable biofuel consumption – using only biofuels that bring life cycle environmental benefits without compromising food security – could increase from 55 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) now to 750 Mtoe in 2050.

The switch to biofuels would, by 2050, provide one fifth of emission reductions in the transport sector – equivalent to 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2.

“While vehicle efficiency will be the most important and most cost-efficient way to reduce transport-emissions, biofuels will still be needed to provide low-carbon fuel alternatives for planes, marine vessels and other heavy transport modes,” says Bo Diczfalusy, director of sustainable energy policy and technology at IEA.

The emissions reductions rely on minimising fossil fuel use during the production of biofuels – from cultivation to transport and conversion, as well as avoiding direct or indirect land-use change, such as cutting down forests to make way for feedstock production.

The IEA report says that conventional biofuels, mainly produced from starch, sugar and oilseed crops, will have to improve their performance on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the next decade, the IEA says that ‘advanced’ technologies based on lignocellulosic biomass such as wood and straw will have to be deployed commercially to produce the lion’s share of biofuel. But the investment in such technologies could top $13 trillion.

“Further support for advanced biofuel research, development and demonstration is still needed to improve conversion efficiencies and reduce costs,” says Diczfalusy. “Investments in commercial-scale production units will be a key to enable advanced biofuels to reach full market maturity.”

The report also stresses that governments should have mandatory sustainability standards for biofuels, as the UK has attempted to do, and ensure that they are aligned internationally to avoid acting as trade barriers.

For further information:

But increases in biofuel use have led to record food prices and accelerated deforestation.