London’s air quality

Air quality is terribly important. There are various ways in which air can be polluted and various ways to test that the air quality is of a sufficiently high standard so as not to present a hazard to human health. One of the most important ways of measuring air quality is to measure pollution particles in the air that have an aerodynamic diameter of less than ten micrometres. If the particulate matter in the air at a given place is less than ten micrometres the measurement of this particulate matter is referred to as PM10. Continue reading

Where is the oil price going?

This week one newspaper reported that hydrogen based fuel would be available in a few years, it would be capable of using it in existing cars and would sell for about a third of today’s oil based fuel, provided the fuel was not taxed. If you factor in the tax that all governments now place on fuel, then the new hydrogen fuel would be considerably more expensive than fossil based petrol and diesel, but the news report glossed over this aspect. Continue reading

Ocean currents from the Arctic are warming

Nature News reports that the ocean water that flows from the Arctic Ocean today is two degrees Celsius warmer than it has been for two thousand years. Fifty or so metres under the Fram Strait, between Greenland and the Svalbard Islands, is a warmer current which in Summer has a water temperature of 6⁰C, significantly warmer than the surface temperature of the Arctic which is usually in summer just below freezing point. Continue reading

Controlling climate change by opening a betting shop

The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme remains suspended following revelations that Euros 30 million worth of certificates have been stolen and sold. There is no certain date when spot trading will begin again, so if you have emissions certificates that you wish to sell or certificates that you wish to buy, you cannot do so right now. Continue reading

Save our forests

When the Romans first set foot in England they found a country that was virtually covered in trees. Apart from marshlands, which were subsequently drained, and grassy chalk down lands, forests were the prime feature of the English countryside. Today if you travel from London to the north along the M1 motorway it can be hard to imagine that great forests covered the countryside that you see today. By the time the Normans landed in 1066 the forest were still the predominant feature of the landscape. They were so large that outlaws could hide in them. The forests of England were deciduous woodlands, mainly oak. Continue reading

The rationale for a renewable heat incentive

Consumers often ask why they should pay for renewable heat. The funds allocated for this over four years may be around £850 million, which is a great deal of money in these hard times. Renewable heat in effect comprises biomass, solar thermal panels for heat and hot water and heat pumps. There are two main reasons for encouraging renewable heat. The first is to provide a measure of energy security, lessening the dependence on imported fuel. The second reason is to help alleviate rapid climate change because, biomass aside, these technologies emit significantly less carbon dioxide than traditional fossil fuel and in the case of solar panels they emit virtually no greenhouse gases.

Is it right that these installations should be incentivised by the taxpayer? I think so. Continue reading

When the wind blows…

Today we are told that about four percent of the United Kingdom’s electricity is supplied by wind farms. We are told this by the Renewable Energy Centre who also tell us that the wind farms supply around 5GW of power; there are another 18GW of wind farms that are in the planning process and that there is potential to generate 49GW from wind energy, which is half the domestic power usage of the nation. Continue reading

Closing down the carbon exchange

When I first learned about the proposal to use a system of carbon credits and carbon trading as the main means of defeating climate change I was sceptical. This concept, pushed by the United Kingdom, seemed to me, to use the very devices that brought banking and the economies of many nations to their knees. I wrote then that the system was bound to fail in its objectives to reduce emissions and argued that what we needed was more measures, as opposed to measures to encourage measures. I also expressed concerns that the system would be rife with fraud. Continue reading

Life and death

Human life is a process of attempting to overcome adversity. For a lucky few the adversities are relatively small. We all “need” things. I might “need” a new car, but someone not too far from me may need simply clean water a regular meals. We need to put our economies straight and stop spending money that we do not possess. Or we may simply need peace, or for the rain to stop, or the rain to start. We humans tend to see life through the processes of our own lives. We are born establish our relationships, pursue our ambitions and try to fulfil them. However much or little we achieve during our lives we all end as dead as everyone who has ever lived.

In youth we see things from a positive perspective. We shall play a cricket match or fight a war and will urge “Play up! play up! and play the game!” The game has a long time to run, or so we imagine.  At the end of our lives we yearn for what we have had and what will be ended. We no longer urge to play the game; we have played it and whatever our victories we understand we will end in defeat, be it a blessed release or something we curse in all its ironies.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more.”

Our decision becomes should we accept the gentle bliss of an eternal sleep or rage against the dying of the light with pointless curses, full of sound and fury? Whatever we decide, it will make no difference to the outcome, for what we might have changed once becomes, through the process of our lives, immutable.


Gambling with the planet

We are usually happy and impressed when records are broken, because breaking records usually shows us that humans have progressed. We can run faster, fly higher, or even eat more sausages – this is all a measure of progress, but as my geography teacher used to say, progress is merely putting one foot in front of another. Progress is about movement, not direction, so we should treat all record breaking and all progress carefully. Continue reading