Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The 100th Post - A Retrospective

On noticing that this would be EcoWarriorMe's 100th post, I thought it would be a good opportunity to review what we set out to do and how the blog has developed over the past two years and to highlight some of the most popular posts and personal favourites.

The blog was born of a frustration at the general apathy and lack of progress towards a more sustainable society including climate change, pollution, wasteful squandering of precious resources and the relentless despoiling of our natural environment.  I aimed to highlight things that we can do to reduce our negative impact and demystify some of the competing arguments for and against particular courses of action.  I knew that I didn't have all of the answers and I still don't. I don't even know all the questions although I'm working on that. I enjoy learning and am interested in the science and engineering on which our modern society is based but I expected to probe a bit deeper rather then taking things at face value: it says its greener so it must be, or is it? I hoped to use this desire for knowledge, and sharing the knowledge, to stimulate debate and encourage others to also ask the awkward questions.

The first few posts were little more than re-posts of other article with some additional commentary, such at the first post on the use of biofuels in transport at the expense of deforestation and rising food prices.

One of the first full posts was on the Fukushima disaster, where I suggested that this incident shouldn't be used as an excuse to reject nuclear power. There are sufficient other reasons to avoid nuclear power.

Not long after starting this blog, the Scottish National Party were returned to power at Holyrood with a commitment to achieve 100% of Scotland's electricity from renewable sources by 2020 - a bold target by any standard, one of the toughest targets in the world.  In reality, Scotland is an integral part of the UK's National Grid and it will continue to rely on non renewable sources of energy as part of balancing mechanisms beyond 2020.  The mix of generation in the UK as a whole is therefore relevant, hence the review of a paper in the journal Engineering Sustainability on possible scenarios to meet targets for low carbon electricity and to assess the possible energy mix in 2030 in what has been one of the blog's most popular posts.

While it is important that we tackle the causes of climate change - and our energy mix is a big part of that - it is also important that we do not lose sight of the many other environmental issues competing for our attention.  These include population growth, pollution, recycling, habitat loss, loss of biodiversity and access to safe food, water and sanitation. This list is, of course, not exhaustive.

One of the blog's aim is to investigate whether green claims really stack up.  This is often difficult because a product may be designed to improve its environmental performance in one regard but within unintended consequences in another.  Examples include using less packaging which could result in a higher carbon footprint and more waste to landfill, zero emission electric vehicles that still have emissions.

Certain posts have proven more popular than others and the five most popular posts of all time have been:
1. Plastic bags: it's not all about carbon - there is more to the eternal plastic bag than simply its carbon footprint;
2. Clyde Fastlink - A Revolution in Public Transport - Glasgow's big investment in a marginal public transport scheme while the city chokes on polluted air;
3. 2030 Electricity Generation Mix - a review of possible scenarios for the UK's future low carbon energy supply;
4. Tell Shell - promoting the Greenpeace campaign to stop Shell drilling in the arctic;
5. The Big Energy Switch Swindle? - on a futile attempt to take on the energy oligopoly.
In addition to the Tell Shell campaign at number four above, the blog has also supported the Tigertime campaign to stop tiger farming and end the legal trade in tiger parts in China, Water Aid's campaigns for universal access to drinking water and sanitation, a local campaign opposing a waste incinerator and a campaign to encourage MSPs to stick to their targets for reducing carbon emissions. While this is not the main purpose of the blog, it is a useful platform to promote these causes and make connections between different areas of concern.

Although not the most popular, some personal favourite posts are:
The Aralkum Desert - one of the starkest examples of how careless exploitation of natural resources has led to ecological catastrophe and creation of the world's newest desert;
Summer Holidays - about tracking of British cuckoos on their long migration to central Africa;
Here Comes the Rain - Part 1 - a basic analysis of rainfall records of Paisley (Glasgow Airport) over the past 50 years;
Rest and be Thankful, but not about Climate Change - some anecdotal evidence of the direct influence of climate change;
Sea Levels are Rising - presenting some evidence of rising sea levels;
Milk - os the true cost of your daily pinta.
Quite a mixed bag that represent the range of EcoWarriorMe's interests, all topics which may be revisited.

It is all well and good to reflect on the past and possibly learn from it but what about the future? It's where we are all going and it is when we must make the big changes. Many things about our modern lifestyles must become more sustainable, making more efficient use of scarce resources and protecting the natural world.  Future EcoWarriorMe posts will attempt to cover some of these topics such as how we can use energy more efficiently and increase use of renewables, how we transport people and other stuff about, including active travel, commuting, aviation and eco-tourism and conservation of wildlife and natural resources.

We must understand the problems before we can evaluate the solutions, then as the solutions are developed we must convince society to adopt the solutions.  This transition from pure science: the maths, physical, chemical and biological processes of climate through to engineering solutions follows well established principles but sociological and psychological obstacles lie in the path widespread adoption of sustainable societies and lifestyles.  This is another area for further investigation by EcoWarriorMe.

EcoWarriorMe invites you along on the journey to discover what we can do and what we can ask others to do on our behalf. We only have one world, let's make it last.

To the Future!


  1. Congratulations on your 100th post ... that's quite a milestone! I've enjoyed reading your blog and walking along with you on this green journey. I appreciate the care with which you approach topics and the diversity of subject matter. Can't wait to see what the next 100 posts will hold! :-)

  2. I really like your fact-based approach, without ignoring the social and psychological components of the issues - looking forward to your further writing!

  3. Well done on reaching your 100th post - I look forward to reading the next 100 and it's good to see another UK green blogger, there's not so many of us around.