Sustainability

Is nature caught between wind and fossil power?

“Keep the carbon in the ground,” is a regular chant from climate march protesters and campaigners. It is a launch pad to insisting on renewable energy sources to sustain our needs.

But with the desire from our Prime Minister to power all homes with offshore wind power by 2030, what are the trade offs for installing and relying upon sources of energy that are non-fossil fuel based?

Reports in June said that 47% of the UK’s energy in the first quarter of the year came from renewable energy. These are figures from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Add in biomass and nuclear and the figure rose to 62% of our energy.

Read More »Is nature caught between wind and fossil power?
plastic juice

The price we pay for our plastic addiction

Shopping for the week’s household goods in Sainsbury’s, I was surprised and delighted that shopping for fruit and vegetables can be cheaper without plastic.

Many of the items I could buy loose were cheaper per kilogram than if bought in a pack. This has not always been the case, however, and is one of the reasons shoppers pick up a plastic-wrapped pack.

Others reasons include that it is simply easier to do so, especially in quantities required for a family. If you live alone, or even in a couple, you might not to buy as much. Then there is consistency of size – the look.

Society has grown used to being presented with perfect looking fruit and vegetables.

Read More »The price we pay for our plastic addiction
onshore wind

Politicians to ponder the winds of change for energy

Take a road trip to Scotland, Cornwall, East Anglia or through the major roads of France and the chances are you will see wind turbines on land.

In many coastal locations, especially off east of Great Britain, multiple wind turbines can be seen out to sea, too.

And it is these – multiplied sufficiently – that Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged last week would power the United Kingdom’s energy needs by 2030.

Raising the 30 gigawatts capacity target for 2030 to 40 gigawatts is, apparently, part of the Government’s 10-point plan for a green revolution. The rest of the plan will be announced by the end of the year.

Read More »Politicians to ponder the winds of change for energy
An example of an oil drilling rig

China’s climate 2060 commitments welcome

Last week, the BBC reported on a hydrogen powered train. It was a prototype that carried out a 25-mile journey, to demonstrate its power to the media. The train was capable of running for 100 miles on a full tank – which would take most of a day to fill up.

Inventors hope two things will be possible: that the train can be put into service – in Warwickshire – next year and that, first, the hydrogen units can be based under the train, rather than taking up a carriage.

The train uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, on non-electrified lines, as an alternative to diesel powered engines.

Read More »China’s climate 2060 commitments welcome
Green tomato chutney

Harvest time: depressing but bringing new opportunities

How often to psychologists – pop or serious – tell us: when one door closes, another opens? It’s the same with gardening.

It seems utterly depressing that most of the vegetation that was planted in the spring has now bloomed and died. We can feel proud it fed us and delight in the joy that many things we planted worked this summer, on patches of land. You know the drill: I say tomatoes, you say potatoes! Then there were beetroots, radishes, lettuces, cucumbers, courgettes, purple heritage beans and sweetcorn.

All came in varying degrees of success, depending on the weather, slugs, the consistency of the soil and the quality of the seeds.

I feel lucky that at least some of my peppers prospered – even if they did not grow particularly big.

Read More »Harvest time: depressing but bringing new opportunities

Progress to eco-friendly packaging seems slow

Packaging. Can it be recycled? It’s a consumer’s nightmare. Why do we need so much of it? Can’t manufacturers take more responsibility?

A few weeks ago, a champagne company announced that new packaging would reduce its carbon footprint by 60 per cent. Instead of a formal cardboard gift box, a new recyclable wood-pulp skin one would be about a 10th of the weight, reducing in particular transport costs.

This week, the company which makes Pringles announced a trial of new packaging, to 90% cardboard and 10% PolyAl.

Kellogg’s, who produce the popular snack, has been urged since 2017 to make its packaging more recyclable. And now it has acted. But will it make it totally recyclable?

Read More »Progress to eco-friendly packaging seems slow
A forest

I’d love to change career to plant trees

Just how many lockdowns because of pandemics could we have? It’s a reasonable worry, if deforestation – particularly for farming – is pushing animals, which carry diseases, closer to human contact.

But let’s take a step back. Theories include that animals are forced to live closer to humans, increasingly the likelihood of spreading diseases. Or that destruction of habitats, such as forests, disturbs the places that host diseases.

Human-induced land use changes are among the drivers of disease from the forests to communities, one scientist told Unearthed Greenpeace, adding that scientists were agreed on this theory.

A United Nations summit on biodiversity, scheduled for this month, will be told there is a strong link between environmental destruction and unlocking deadly diseases, according to a report in the Guardian.

Read More »I’d love to change career to plant trees

We must all listen to passing Lightship Greta’s message

Extinction Rebellion’s protests have not been as high profile in the news as last year. They took London – and everybody – by surprise at Easter in April 2019 when addressing the climate emergency.

One report even asked whether Extinction Rebellion was itself extinct. The report carried a picture of just a few activists outside Parliament on Monday, the first day of two weeks of planned action.

Anyone who tried to buy certain papers on Saturday might have found they couldn’t, because protesters disrupted their printing. Activists argued that the papers concerned failed to report on climate change properly, or at all. It is frustrating when reading coverage about the climate emergency that the reports are frequent when there is disruption and a supposed lack of police response, but not so frequent about the issue itself.

Read More »We must all listen to passing Lightship Greta’s message

How hard is it to declare a climate emergency?

Just how difficult is it to declare a climate emergency? What does it mean? And if you don’t, is having a strategy to address carbon emissions good enough? Do you have to declare one to be effective?

The first local authority to declare one was in Australia at the back of 2016 and now 1,400 authorities in 28 countries have done so. This includes the United Kingdom as a whole last year. It was one of Theresa May’s last acts as Prime Minister.

Yesterday, a beer company called Brewdog appeared on TV news. It announced it was setting new standards for the brewing industry by declaring that carbon neutrality is no longer enough. The company was going carbon negative (this includes its supply chains). 

Read More »How hard is it to declare a climate emergency?