We are using failed strategies to fight climate change

Now that we are in the middle of a banking crisis the environment and climate change has been largely ignored while we ponder on whether the steps being taken around the world will prevent the world’s economy from falling into a long period of depression. Will the policies that we are using to fight climate change end up as unsuccessful as the financial policies have been? Continue reading

Who supplies energy to the United Kingdom

Who supplies the energy of the United Kingdom? Energy is so important, and a bit like money, not for its own sake but because of the uses to which we put it. Households, organisations and businesses need energy to heat their premises and water, to power their appliances and machinery, to cook food and to make their lives clean, healthy and comfortable. The energy companies supply the current or the gas that does these things, so they play an essential part in our lives. Continue reading

Brazil and its forests which serve us all

Step by step, and taking very small steps, Brazil is planning to end its practice of permitting more trees to be cut down than are grown each year, and it plans so to do by 2015. Brazil will be trying to end illegal logging and consult on a national plan how its forests should be managed.

In some ways the plan will not make too much difference as it is based around planting more trees than are cut down, but cutting a large old tree creates more emissions, especially if the tree is burnt, than the immediate effect of planting a small new tree.

Deforestation in Brazil creates three quarters of its greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil has not signed up to Kyoto and has no targets for greenhouse gas reductions.

Trees are a national resource for Brazil and they have them in abundance. They exploit them for their own economic benefit. This enables some people to prosper, others to earn wages to feed themselves and their families and for the country to attempt to develop itself into a wealthy country, like perhaps England, whose large deciduous forests were cut down five or six hundred years ago.

But development in the tropical rain forest causes damage to the local eco systems and to the people who live in the Brazilian forests. There are more species of plants and animals in any single hectare of tropical rain forest than there are in the whole of the United States and Canada.

Trees are also an international resource, holding huge stores of carbon and creating in places like Brazil an incredible variety of life forms many of which are used to improve human health and cure or alleviate illness. They should be preserved, because preserving them creates benefits for the whole of humanity, not least in helping the problem of climate change.

And that is why it must be right for the rest of humanity to help Brazil preserve these trees and forests without losing the economic benefits of the. The only way to do this is for the rest of humanity to make it more valuable for Brazil (and the other nations with large areas of forests) to preserve and enhance their forests, rather than crop them and turn them into temporary farmland. Providing such an incentive would not cost the world much, and may well be an important factor in saving it.

Perfidious Albion and climate change

Targets, measured in expected outcomes, rather than actual measures are the world’s favourite way to attempt to slow down the pace of climate change, and the targets are different in different parts of the world. The world’s most populous fastest growing nations have virtually no targets, and the world’s less populous but highly developed countries have the most targets. Continue reading

All coal is dirty

There is no such thing as clean coal, but Gordon Brown does not seem to know that. He talked about clean coal in his recent speech to the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, as though it existed and the conference members cheered and applauded him. It is a bit like the Government’s zero Carbon Homes policy – it is something that just is not possible, with the state of knowledge and technology today. Continue reading

North of the chemical equator

If you live in the northern hemisphere, and most people do, you will be breathing a different and poorer quality of air than if you live in the southern hemisphere. Researchers from the University of York have found that roughly coincident with the equator (but not completely) there is another imaginary line – a chemical equator – which divides air with poor quality in the north from air with better quality in the south. This is probably the only north-south divide that favours the south. Continue reading

Cap and Trade emissions schemes will not save the planet from climate change

Virtually every Government and economists embraces the concept of “cap and trade” as the best way of reducing climate changing greenhouse gases emissions and the cheapest way of avoiding emissions. Governments (and economists) do not usually find the cheapest way of doing something. If they did I expect our taxes would be lower. Continue reading

Corporate Climate Change leaders provide poor advice

The United Kingdom Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change is a body sponsored by the Price of Wales and they are concerned with climate change.  They believe that there is an urgent need to establish new and long term strategies for dealing with climate change. They are right. There is such a need. These “leaders” agree that incremental change is not going to work, and that action would benefit business by creating new opportunities so they think we need a cross party consensus on policies to cut emissions. Continue reading

How plants become net emitters of carbon dioxide

The Desert Research Institute is a highly active body that has been trying to understand, amongst other things, what happens to plants when we get unusually hot weather. Plants are, of course, an important way in which carbon dioxide is extracted from the air, which the plants use in the process of photosynthesis to enable them to grow and store the processed carbon in their structures. Continue reading

Economic growth and a steady state for the planet

Several years ago Mr Czech kindly wrote a short review of “the Energy Age”. I asked him to do this because in the course of my research I thought about economic growth and reached the view that economic growth is what everyone aspires to, but the aspiration is misguided. We have to go beyond the concept of sustainability, which is about not abusing resources, and try to target our economies to be self sustaining. Brian Czech has come up with a concept that he called “the steady state economy”, which seeks to move economies away from growth targets. For every government and most economists Mr Czech’s concept is heresy. Continue reading