The Effect on Climate of coal, diesel and wood burning

I have written a great deal about my views that particulates are a significant contribution to the changes that our climate are experiencing than we understand, and my instincts seem to be borne out by research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.  If the research has drawn the correct conclusions, then particulates from wood burning, diesel engines and coal burning (which create pure carbon in the form of soot) have twice more impact on our climate than previously estimated. Continue reading

Fracking earthquakes and fracking underground water supplies

In terms of emissions and particulates produced by actual burning natural gas is the least polluting of all fossil fuels by a good distance. However, when it comes to environmental protection we must consider the effects of everything that is done to extract the fossil fuel and use it, not just the last step in the energy chain. If we use oil taken from Canadian oil tar sands then the overall effect of its pollution is very high – probably higher than coal mined from open cast pits. When we look at using natural gas extracted from shale rock we must, before we decide on its environmental effect, look at the first steps in the production of the gas, not just the last step, when it burns in our condensing boiler. Continue reading

Muddled Thinking: preventing wasting energy is just as important as clean renewable energy

I have devoted several essays on this web log to my views on what is a clean renewable source of energy and what is a dirty renewable energy source. A clean source is one that creates very few emissions and pollutants in its life cycle and a dirty source is one that creates many pollutants in its lifecycle and use. Continue reading

Have you seen the Butterflies of Snowdon?

It must have been in 1965 that my geography teacher and another school teacher took about thirty of us children to Barmouth in what was then called Merionethshire in North Wales. We went to study geography, with clip boards and strong shoes, out of Poplar into the Welsh countryside. As part of the fun we climbed up (or rather I should say strolled up) Wales’ second largest mountain, Cader Idris, and from there and from other parts of our journey around the county we saw Wales’ highest peak, Snowdon which in Welsh is called Yr Wyddfa and which means “tumulus”. Continue reading

Road Works in London – a new Olympic Event?

If you live in London and have to travel around the city to get to and from work or on business or to see friends you will have noticed that travel is becoming longer slower and less pleasant, whether you go by bus, car, underground or taxi, particularly if you live north of the river. The reason is that there has been a plethora of road and tube works which has seen many roads being closed, many tube lines being disrupted by engineering works and many roads having temporary traffic lights to divert traffic around road works. It is not very pleasant. Continue reading

The Aviation Stand-off

China has announced that its airlines will not be allowed to pay the EU tax on airline carbon emissions that applies to aircraft flying to or from the European Union without the specific approval of relevant government departments. The airlines of China will not be allowed to participate in the Emissions Savings Scheme without similar clearance. Continue reading

Achieving Zero

Brenda Boardman is at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. I have always found that she has interesting things to say about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. She has now written a report “Achieving Zero” which you can read in full at http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/achievingzero/achieving-zero-text.pdf or in summary at http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/achievingzero/achievingzero-execsum.pdf which sets out some findings and ideas about reducing greenhouse egas emissions from buildings. This is a difficult problem in the United Kingdom where there are more than 26 million buildings the vast majority of which were built to designs and specifications when green house gas emissions and fuel costs were not a concern. Continue reading