Biochar Madness?

You might run across the term “biochar”. Inventing a word which is prefaced by “bio” give the word an impression of green, sustainable and environmentally friend, like biofuel and biomass, but these words have been hijacked to create an impression that does not accord with reality. Continue reading

Royal Wedding Bank Holiday

People like weddings. They are a good reason for a celebration. It is lucky to see a bride and we wish the happy couple (an excellent cliché) all the best. I hope the sun shines for them. However, I do not understand why I and the millions of taxpayers should pay for someone else’s wedding, particularly if they are not invited to join in the celebration. Well, it can be argued that we are all invited to join in the celebrations, because today has been declared a public holiday. Continue reading

Earth Mother

Our earth is our mother and like all mothers cares for us with an almost infinite patience. Some religions hold that humanity was created from clay or the soil or from the fabric of the earth itself and when our lives end we should return to the good mother from whence we sprung, that mother of almost infinite love and almost infinite capacity to care, shelter and protect us. We did not spring from nothing, for nothing comes from nothing, but from our earth and whether we did so as described in the popular religions or whether we did so as the scientists do in their several ways postulate, the earth is our good mother. Continue reading

Biomass Power Plant Madness

There are fifteen biomass power plants approved in the United Kingdom. Three years ago the first application for a biomass power plant was being made in Port Talbot; I was against this project then and I am dismayed that so many additional power plants designed to generate electricity by burning wood have been approved. There are dozens more biomass power plants being proposed. Continue reading

Biofuel Madness

Biofuels are unfortunately an important part of European Union and United Kingdom policy. At the moment the United Kingdom sources about 3% of its vehicle fuel from plants, which have starchy or woody cellulose content, which is fermented to create ethanol. In the United States a great deal of ethanol is made from corn. Biofuels are used in transport and in heating.

Growing fuel instead of digging for it or drilling for it may sound sustainable and environmentally friendly, but things are not always as they appear. The theory behind biofuels is that they are renewable; instead of depleting a fossil fuel source humanity may grow as much fuel as it needs. The carbon dioxide emitted by burning biofuels will be taken from the atmosphere by more biofuel plants, which will photosynthesise it thus removing it from the air and create more biofuels with the carbon dioxide.

That is a simplistic view of biofuels, and it fails to look at the whole life cycle impact of biofuel production. The simplistic theory might be for practical purposes workable if we had unlimited land resources and a small world population. However, people are populous and land is finite – as Mark Twain remarked “they stopped making it”.

The growth of biofuels has led to some unintended consequences. Good land used for food is now used for energy; food prices have risen. Many forests particularly in the tropics have been cut down for biofuel plantations; much of the wood has been burnt, and the soil disturbed creating a large spike of emissions; biodiversity has been lost and rows of palm oil trees now replace what was an important alveoli and air conditioner for the planet.

There are biofuels that can be sustainably grown in places where the land is not fit for anything else, and which can be cropped with no significant adverse environmental impact. At the moment about a third of the United Kingdom’s biofuel falls into this category and unfortunately local law and EU regulations do not distinguish between good biofuel and bad biofuel. It is about time we did.

Cluster Bombs in Libya

Shock, horror; it has been reported that in Libya Mr Gaddafi’s forces have been launching cluster bombs as part of attempts to regain a city lost to the rebels. There has been great condemnation from the so called civilised world that a weapon, developed in Germany, Italy and the United States of America more than sixty years ago and used by Germany (in the second world war) Russia (in the Chechen war), Serbia, NATO, the United States (in Iraq) Israel (in Lebanon) and Georgia and made in many countries in the European Union (including Spain) is now being used by this vicious dictator in Libya. Continue reading

Christos Anesti

Χριστός ἀνέστη

I wish you all a Happy Easter time, whatever your beliefs and where ever you are

Energy costs in Northern Ireland

InNorthern Irelandfolk that use Phoenix Gas received an unwelcome Easter gift from their gas supplier. From the beginning of May the price that consumers will pay for gas has increased by 39.1%. There are not a lot of homes with natural gas inNorthern Ireland, but nevertheless some 19,000 families will be affected. Continue reading

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, a festival celebrated by the Christian Church. Today is also Greek Good Friday. I wish all of you a very good Friday indeed, whatever your religious belief.


Why do we know better?

Andrew Warren of the Association of the Conservation of Energy has written an interesting article comparing theUnited KingdomwithGermanywithin the context of climate change measures. Both nations are similarly sized with similar economies, Mr Warren points out with virtually identical climate change targets.

However as Mr Warren points out the United Kingdom is basing its energy policy on electricity consumption increasing and being serviced by renewable energy, whereas the German energy policy is based upon reducing waste in all energy consumption. Continue reading