The Stuff that Dreams are Made on

The news of a scandal about carbon credits in Russia and Ukraine is unsurprising. The whole system of carbon credits involves paying people not to produce something that we do not want. It is an attempt to create a market in something that is both economically useless and dangerous by bribing industries not to produce the stuff.  Continue reading

There is no Free Lunch

It has been suggested that hydro electricity and nuclear energy are better alternatives to burning fossil fuel, because these sources do not provide emissions. Those suggestions are wrong. Continue reading

Reviewing Budgets From an Environmental Perspective

I used to review each UK budget for its impact on the environment. Governments would be keen to announce a series of measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or to save energy or to any of the myriad things that should be done or could be done to protect what we have now for our descendants. Continue reading

Do You Remember the Stern Review?

Does anyone now remember Sir Nicholas Stern’s Review “the Economics of Climate Change” which made the headlines eight years ago? Mr Stern was respected economist who has worked for the World Bank and the UK Government, as well as holding professorships at pre-eminent universities. The Review comprised 575 pages and drew virtually all of the conclusions that most people who previously studied climate change issue have already reached and widely disseminated. Continue reading

A Bear of Very Little Brain

I wonder why in the United Kingdom the intellectual capacity of ministers and civil servants who deal with energy issues is so low. I know that I am being unusually rude, but energy and the environment are too important issues to have bears of very little brain in charge of policy.

Avid readers of these essays will know that I have always been opposed to wood burning power stations and will know the reason is that they cause terrible environmental damage. Continue reading

That Rubbish Tip at the Back of the Garden

China is a large country where many people live. For the past few decades it has opened factories while the developed nations have closed factories because things can be made cheaply in China. As a result the productivity in China has increased, along with economic growth and as surely as night follows day when rapid economic growth occurs so emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases rise inexorably to increasingly dangerous levels. Continue reading

One Last Binge

According to the European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat, the carbon dioxide emissions of the United Kingdom have increased from 2011 to 2012 by 3.9%. This increase has occurred despite all the wind turbines that have been installed, despite all the new cars that burn petrol and diesel more efficiently, despite all the PV panels installed and all the other froth and bubble that the UK government uses to try and stem the tide of greenhouse gases that its nation produces. Continue reading

Emissions Trading – a triumph of hope over reality

The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme was doomed from the start. I have always held that you cannot use the devices of the casino to reduce emissions. You can tax emissions, making them more costly to produce and creating an incentive to encourage ways of using clean renewable emissions, but to set up a system where emission producers can speculate on the price of carbon dioxide, which is a commodity that no one wants and no one can use, as a way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, will make no difference to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are produced. Continue reading

The End of the Coral Reef May be Nigh

Coral reefs have always been an important indicator of two things; the first is the amount of pollution in the sea and the second is the way in which the climate is or is not changing. In relation to climate change as seas get warmer coral reefs die; the “bleach” because their survival depends on a sea water range of temperature; as seas warm (or cool) so reefs die.

Coral reefs are also affected by the acidification of the oceans caused be carbon dioxide emissions, which in turn are mainly caused by humans burning fossil fuel. Acidification affects the ability of corals to create the calcareous skeletons, upon which they depend in order to live.

In the twenty seven short years since 1985 the Great Barrier Reef on the East Coast of Australia has suffered a loss of more than half of its live coral. Coral cover declined from 28% to less than 14%.

It is not just direct climate conditions that kill coral. Indirect effects of global warming, such as the greater number and longer frequency of hurricanes and tropical typhoons, kill coral. Some types of starfish eat coral. Normally a coral reef can take between one and two decades to recover from the effects of bleach and damage by typhoons, but the climate change does not pause and corals are finding it hard to recover.

Some years ago it was predicted that by 2050 the world would not have any coral reefs. I do not know if this prediction has any substance, but if you want to explore a live coral reef, get your snorkel and flippers and do not delay; just in case.

Biofuels – a bad day for the environment

It is a sad day for the environment. The United Kingdom has decided that burning biofuels should happen in the United Kingdom’s power stations. Not only are biofuels – things like wood and palm oil- going to be burned to provide electricity for our televisions and luxuries, but these biofuels are going to be heavily subsidised. Continue reading