Another Reason For War

I have written much about war and conflict recently. I know that war and conflict is a result of human greed. I wonder whether there is another separate reason for war, one which is unconnected to human desire. 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

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

Making flying more energy efficient – possibly and in the future

One of the stories that crept under my personal radar a couple of week ago related to aircraft engines. Aircrafts account of 2% of the greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of this figure is thought to be higher because the emissions are expelled at height, where they can do the most absorption of light energy. Further aircraft expel vapour trials which are thought to have an effect on the amount of light reaching the surface of the planet by dimming it. So it is possible, but not completely proved, that flying gives us the worst of all possible worlds – heating the air and dimming the surface. 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

Unintended environmental consequences

The law of unintended consequences provides that if you fix one thing you sometimes in fixing it break something else that wasn’t broken. Sometimes it works the other way around – you do something wrong – like Alexander Fleming keeping a dirty laboratory and you end up with penicillin.  Nowhere is this law more inevitably applied but studiously ignored than in environmental matters.

Not everything we do to mitigate climate change has a good effect, not everything that is supposed to be harmful is without a good by product. Take flying – virtually everyone takes flying as a harmful source of carbon emissions high in the atmosphere where they do the most damage. Correct. However flying creates vapour trails which diffuse light, cooling the effect of global warming and probably shielding us from the worse global warming scenarios, for a bit anyway.  Continue reading

Flying for the planet

I am boarding an emission creating aircraft this morning to fly to the East Coast of the United States. I should be back on Friday and will do my best to keep the web log going, as I work on the East Coast. 

Flying is universally acclaimed to be a bad thing for the environment because it emits its carbon dioxide and water vapour in the upper atmosphere, where they will do the most damage increasing the green house effect by preventing energy escaping the atmosphere. Continue reading