All posts by Vaughan Webber

A ‘LINGO Treaty’ to control legitimately burnable fossil fuels at source?

By Hugh Richards, 16 August 2019

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.)

The graphic below illustrates the brutal reality of the challenge the world faces in bringing the fossil fuel age to an end quickly enough to avert disastrous global heating.

Since 2014 I have become increasingly convinced that the necessary dramatic reductions in fossil carbon emissions could never be achieved by reducing global demand for fossil fuels, whether by carbon taxes, reducing the costs of renewable energy, emissions trading, ethical consumer choices or anything else. Surely the threats from burning fossil fuels should be limited by controlling their supply.

My ‘light-bulb moment’ on this came from reading the following statement in the book The Burning Question by Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark:
‘… for all the talk about finite resources and peak oil, scarcity is resoundingly not the problem. From the climate’s perspective, there is far too much fossil fuel. The problem, in fact, is abundance.’

So, how could legitimately burnable fossil fuels become a finite and increasingly scarce global resource?

Partly because of my employment in the nuclear industry, I saw potential parallels with the way that global stocks of fissile nuclear material are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to limit the threats from nuclear weapons, while allowing (for better or worse) civil nuclear power to develop. I developed these thoughts in a short note entitled (perhaps unwisely) Fantasy Climate Control, not holding out much hope that such ideas were gaining any ground. In my March 2018 blog-post Carbon Bombs – A Slow-Burn Narrative I concluded by writing: ‘The notion of carbon bombs is not new … but perhaps its time has not yet come.’

I was therefore delighted when, in October 2018, Andrew Simms and Peter Newell used a Guardian Online article to float the idea of a ‘Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty’ (FF-NPT) along the lines of the 1968 nuclear NPT, and a number of major figures wrote a letter to The Guardian supporting the idea. I was furthermore pleasantly surprised when The Guardian published a letter of my own (my only one to date) also supporting the idea and adding some perspectives drawn from Fantasy Climate Control. I am grateful to Richard House (GlosCAN Steering Group member) for coordinating  the multi-signatory letter to The Guardian supporting Extinction Rebellion that I was able to refer to in my letter and thus increase its chances of publication.

I got in touch with Peter Newell (Professor of International Relations, University of Sussex) and in early July 2019 he sent me the link to a published peer-reviewed paper Towards a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty in the journal Climate Policy. Personal circumstances allowed me to write some fairly detailed (hand-written) notes in response to the paper, H-Richards-reponse-to-paper-Towards-a-FF-NPT-by-Newell-and-Simms, which I have shared with its authors, and which Vaughan Webber has also kindly uploaded to the GlosCAN website with some background, under the Bigger Picture web-pages.

Despite being hand-written (for reasons given in their Addendum), I hope these notes will stimulate discussion among people who may be engaged in developing or promoting their or other ‘supply side’ ideas about how fossil fuels could be controlled at source.

Having been encouraged to write this blog-post by Vaughan Webber (who also typed it up), my hope is that it will lead to these kinds of ideas being discussed more widely in the climate activist community. As I say in my notes on the paper, I am not sure that the phrase ‘Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty’ is the best available. Given that the acronym ‘LINGO’ has been coined (www.leave-it-in-the-ground.org), perhaps we might soon hear:
What do we want?
A LINGO treaty!
When do we want it?
Now!

East Africa and climate action

By Fred Miller, Fri 12 April 2019

 

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.)

 

In the UK this week, 6 April – 14 April, Extinction Rebellion climate campaigners are walking to London, and then (15 April onwards) taking direct action to bring about the policies that are needed to tackle our global ecological emergency. Despite government distraction with Brexit, the real issues concerning our greenhouse gas emissions, and how these are linked to our economy, are being ignored, and are still not understood by those who create our national narratives (such as the BBC’s current affairs programmes).

Climate chaos is hitting Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi with terrible floods, which are literally wiping out people, land and soil. The rich people of the world are responsible for this by pumping out CO2 from their continued over-use of fossil fuels. The severity of tropical storm Idai was definitely made worse by man-made climate change.

There is now plentiful scientific evidence for planetary breakdown, of both the climate, and the ecosystem services which we rely on, such as food, soil and pollination by insects, as well as the sheer cruelty and inequality of our economic system. The disruption is worst in areas with a fragile climate: where it is hot, it becomes even hotter, with droughts, fires and floods.

In Zimbabwe, the formal greetings of the Shona language express concern for the other person:
Q: How are you? A: I am well, if you are well. And hence, the opposite is implied: ‘If you are not well, then I am not well either.’ So the message that we all need to send to our brothers and sisters in the storm-damaged areas of south eastern Africa is: ‘We are not OK, because you are not OK.’

I have been told of a phrase from the streets of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe: ‘Taja muka’ (We have had enough of this). This implies the desire for better governance. And there is a song called ‘Buka tiende’ (Wake up, let’s go), played on the traditional mbira (thumb piano). Putting these together, we have a good phrase for us all: ‘We have had enough of this, so wake up, let’s go.’

We not only urge the immediate relief needed by the two million people displaced by the storm: https://www.globalgiving.org/proj…/cyclone-idai-relief-fund/ , but we also urge action to reverse greenhouse gas emissions which are causing this climate change. We need new ways of governance that act on scientific evidence. This needs to happen at national and local level, and of, course, at international level.

We need to create a zero carbon economy, with wind and solar power, and at the same time absorb carbon into the landscape with trees and soil, grow food using the methods of agro-ecology, restoring ecosystems as we go, and thus add protection against flooding and soil loss.

Thee are lots of solutions, such as those listed by the Drawdown Project (www.drawdown.org). A new push for natural climate solutions https://www.naturalclimate.solutions/ is also to be welcomed.

Why such measures are not now being rolled out across the world is inexplicable, when the need is so obvious. We’ve had enough of this. Wake up, Let’s go: Taja muka, Buka tiende!

Extinction Rebellion – a Friendly Critique

By Hugh Richards, 9 March 2019

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.)

Climate change is a ‘planetary emergency’ threatening ‘the extinction of many species and the lives of many of the human species,’ especially those in ‘what we presume to call the less-developed nations of the world’ but also ‘the young and yet unborn of all nations’. These were phrases I jotted down from a speech given by the then NASA climate scientist James Hansen to a ‘Stop Climate Chaos’ demonstration in Coventry (HQ of the energy company EON) in March 2009.

That was ten years ago, and now the climate emergency is even more acute and there is much wider recognition that the world is in the midst of a mass extinction event, caused not by geological processes or an asteroid impact, but by human activity.

Nothing remotely proportionate is being done at the global scale to limit the damage to come, and there is no sign of that changing in the next few crucial years.

So something as disruptive as Extinction Rebellion (XR) seeks to be is sorely needed. But can XR, as a leaderless organisation, bring about the transformation of public attitudes it seeks, both in the UK and internationally, using civil disobedience linked to a set of demands?

Some XR supporters have told me that the demands as written are not really important. One suggested that the demand for the UK to reach zero carbon emissions by 2025 might be ‘a rhetorical flourish’. But could such an impossible demand be used by politicians and corporations as an excuse not to engage with the seriousness and urgency of the crisis, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has described it?

Another XR demand is for Government to tell people ‘the truth’ about climate change. But the XR recruiting presentation I attended gave much weight to a statement attributed to Professor Jem Bendell (which he may or may not have written or said) that climate change could cause global societal collapse within the next three years. After the presentation, another XR supporter explained to me that they need to get across the urgency of the crisis to people. Indeed, David Drew MP, who was also there for the presentation, commented that for many people struggling to get by, just ten or twelve years in the future ‘seems a lifetime away’. But if XR is saying it is pushing for ‘what the science demands’ and for ‘telling the truth’, why does it seem to be knowingly presenting a ‘truth’ that is not well supported by science?

These are intended as questions from a ‘critical friend’ of XR. In fact I have participated in one XR action which I felt comfortable with – a procession through Gloucester for a mock funeral of ‘our future’ and of species being driven to extinction. It was non-confrontational and only briefly disruptive of traffic, very effectively engaged people’s attention and got the climate crisis top billing on BBC Points West, with Sarah Lunnon making her points well.

My fear for XR is that they will use the tool of non-violent civil disobedience but fail to catalyse real change, and that no other movement will arise fast enough to try such tactics again before it really is too late. Some XR supporters evidently think it is already too late, and perhaps see their actions as defiance in the face of defeat. This for me contributes to a sense of confusion about whether the whole movement is really about seeking transformational change or an expression of rage (and perhaps guilt) at the failure to deal with this crisis much, much sooner.

My guess is that those who started XR and formulated its demands did not foresee it becoming an international movement. Perhaps that explains the limited, UK, focus of its demands. However, I think there has been a failure, in the past decade at least, on the part of activist groups and governments alike, to take seriously the global scale of both climate change and biodiversity loss. On climate change, XR groups world-wide could demand an international treaty limiting the extraction of fossil fuels, for example. But when I try to engage XR supporters on this global dimension, I tend to encounter defeatism or even hostility about the potential role of the United Nations or other international institutions.

Finally there is the question of XR’s recruitment presentations. The one I experienced was similar to Gail Bradbrook’s presentation that can be seen on the XR website. It included invitations to experience feelings of grief, which are supposed to lead to courage to act, to become an ‘up-stander’ and to sign up to get involved. To me, this was overtly appealing to emotions, but to some vulnerable people this might not be so obvious, and, given that the presentation I experienced included encouragement to break the law and perhaps go to prison, safeguarding concerns could potentially arise. Such concerns would almost certainly arise if such a presentation were given to under-18s. XR will need to be careful about how it engages with the school climate strikes movement, which might possibly turn out to be an even more powerful catalyst for change than XR itself.

The Climate Crisis and the Role of the BBC

By Fred Miller

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.)

One of the reasons we are in the climate emergency, is that people are not being informed about the seriousness of climate change: the level of threat it poses, the policies causing it, and the policies needed to reverse it.

As a public service broadcaster paid for by our licence fees, the BBC has a role in presenting important facts to its viewers and listeners, so that people become better informed about it.

That is why Extinction Rebellion and other environmental campaigners have recently focused on the BBC.

The BBC has had to be dragged screaming and kicking into compliance with its duties as enshrined in its charter. It was accused of giving a platform to utterly discredited and unscientific view-points that denied that climate change even existed. After legal challenge, it now has a better approach to who it interviews on the subject.

But John Fuller, an environmental campaigner, has exhaustively documented the BBC’s continuing failings, including the underplaying of the climate catastrophe that we face.

https://realmedia.press/jon-fuller/

This has been likened to us not mentioning Hitler in the lead up to the Second World War, and then announcing that we are at war. In this situation, of course people would resist the idea of war, because they would not understand the existential threat they faced.

The BBC is not joining the dots between climate change, our economic system, our policies and the material basis of our lives. This is akin, in my view to condemning slavery, but at the same time, promoting it and its economic products. If economic products are not being made in net carbon zero ways, and a restorative manner (in other words leaving a net benefit for wildlife, e.g. in housing and farming), then those economic activities are part of the problem: they are destroying our planet. It is that simple. And we have lost more than half of our planet now.

So I think we – environmental campaigners – need to help the BBC to report that we live on a planet in which continued economic growth and further increase in fossil fuel use, will destroy our climate and ecosystems; and that we need this living planet for our own survival. Let’s make the connections clear, and ask challenging questions. We need to show how these things are happening.

When increased aviation, new roads, or HS2 are discussed, it does not take Einstein to ask: hang on, won’t that increase our greenhouse gas emissions, and make it more difficult to stay within the carbon budget set by our own Climate Change Act, and also to observe our commitments made at the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris? Or have you, Minister, got a plan to capture and sequester all the extra CO2, or develop hydrogen fuelled trains, running on renewable energy? Or how about planning work and commuting patterns that create more local jobs so we do not need to get to Birmingham 20 minutes quicker ?

To be fair, climate change is mentioned by the BBC: the IPCC report in October, and the UN talks in Poland, for example. But the issue is reported in a compartmentalised way. Programmes on the environment, including Attenborough’s, are having an effect on the mainstream, but there is a log-jam in the understanding. The pennies are not dropping. These issues: climate change, plastic pollution, species extinction, are not marginal issues. They are existential. They threaten out own future. We can’t eat polluted food for example. We die in heat waves.

After an item on climate change, the next item on the news is often about how we can secure more economic growth and trade, or how it is a good thing to send space tourists into orbit. It is as though journalists and editors do not think this place is the same one on which climate change is happening. And the different journalists have different territory. Yet, why can’t economic growth, or gas guzzling elite space antics, be challenged properly as causers of climate change and ecosystem breakdown.

Journalists have a way of putting on different ‘HATS’, and posing questions as though they were arguing from the other side of a binary debate. This is a fair enough way of challenging politicians governments, or anyone being interviewed. But I would dearly love them to put on the ‘HAT’ of our planet and its living systems, just once in a while, rather than NEVER. In fact, why not do it a LOT, rather than never, because it is the most important issue they will ever discuss surely…..?

Is this lack of journalistic enquiry due to ignorance or inability, or is it unwillingness to admit that they have got it so wrong for so long? For twenty five years, the evidence and the causes of climate change have been utterly clear. Yet mainstream discourse has acted in a parallel world, in which the fantasy of perpetual growth was believed. It must be hard to admit you have got something so utterly wrong.

It may be inconvenient, but the economy happens to be on a planet: our planet. And like a cuckoo in the nest, our economy is pushing out the natural systems.

At the moment, the BBC acknowledges the scientific evidence for climate change and the need to cease the burning of fossil fuels, and at the same time it actively supports the burning of ever more fossil fuels through economic growth.

The BBC promotes wasteful consumption of digital technology in its ‘Click’ show on BBC news channel, which is an advertising platform for those products. It even has a trailer for the Click show, which shows piles of electronic waste, alongside a commentary that says: ‘we hate our old technology”, basically encouraging you to throw away and buy the latest smart phones etc.

In its ‘Travel’ Show, the BBC encourages the consumption of air miles, with never a flicker of discussion about the impacts of travel and tourism.

And the BBC has pensions invested in fossil fuels.

If we supported the abolition of slavery, and at the same time imported sugar cane from slave colonies, would it not be similar? Wouldn’t the journalists mention that this sugar comes from slave colonies, and that this contradicts our abhorrence of slavery? On its current record, the BBC would not have the independence to do that. It would not have the ability to think on an ethical level.

And yet this powerful organisation, with influence over what people know and think, is paid for by us all, and is supposed to act in our interests. You could not make it up!

We surely need a new method of governance for our public broadcaster….based on a set of ethical principles. The scientific evidence for human threats to the planetary (ecological) boundaries, would form a major part of the physical reality that they need to convey. And an ethical framework, needs to be explicit, of values, in which we condemn slavery and human rights abuses, and the destruction of the planet’s life that we rely on. The UN sustainable development goals would be a good place to start.

We need economics editors to be reading and getting informed about bio-regionalism, and Kate Raworth’s ‘Doughnut Economics’, for example.

The BBC needs to be asking much better, difficult questions that are rooted in the context of a living planet, and human equality.

Can people who currently manage the BBC undergo the culture-change that is needed?

 

The Merits of Giving Carbon Offsets as Christmas Presents

by Henry Jones

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.)

This year as Christmas presents I will be buying most of my friends and relatives “carbon reductions” – that’s my name for them, but they’re more commonly known as “carbon offsets” or “carbon credits.” The trouble with the latter terms is that carbon emissions are implicit: you’re either offsetting CO2 you’ve already dumped or you’re buying “permission” to dump in the future. That gives the scheme a bad name, and a bad vibe, by my mind.

For those that are new to the concept, carbon reductions can be purchased which equate to a reduction in carbon emissions, due to that money being invested in green projects. Examples of these projects are wind farms, solar panels, more efficient cook stoves for people in developing countries, reforestation….the list of potential programs is almost endless. Many also deliver added benefits to local communities and the environment, such as job creation, health and well-being improvements and protection of biodiversity. A more detailed explanation of carbon reductions can be read here.

Additionality is an important element of carbon reductions – this means that the green project would not be going ahead without the sale of carbon reductions. Certification of carbon reductions gives peace of mind about this and other issues and the most rigorous certification is known as the Gold Standard.

Purchasing carbon reductions/offsets/credits as Christmas gifts should make the recipient feel good and also spread awareness about carbon reductions and anthropogenic global warming in general amongst the ignorant and apathetic. It also avoids feeding toxic material consumerism and buying a useless or unwanted gift, after all, many adults have all the “stuff” they want already, in my experience.

A friend said, of giving carbon reductions as Christmas presents, that instead of giving a lump of coal, it’s like giving the inverse of a lump of coal…or even a sack! Bearing that in mind, there is a built in element of tradition in the scheme, albeit something of a reinterpretation.

Carbon reductions can be purchased here and there are many other ways to find and buy them with a quick google search.

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.

Some reasons why it is no exaggeration to speak of a ‘Climate Emergency’

by Hugh Richards

(Please note: posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.)

  • A global perspective is neatly presented in the opening paragraph of the renowned Potsdam Institute’s April 2017 report ‘The Climate Turning Point’ (published at Mission2020.global):

‘In the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, the world’s nations have committed to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” This goal is deemed necessary to avoid incalculable risks to humanity, and it is feasible – but realistically only if global emissions [of CO2 and other greenhouse gases] peak by the year 2020 at the latest.

  • It is now the end of 2018, and global emissions are continuing to rise, with no prospect of a peak in sight.

‘For Greater Manchester to make its “fair” contribution towards the [well below] 2 °C commitment enshrined in the Paris Agreement, Greater Manchester would need to …take prompt [immediate] action to put [it] on a path to carbon neutrality in 2038.’

‘This report does not address the …more challenging [Paris] commitment to “pursue … 1.5 °C.”’

  • The UK does not yet have a target to reach ‘net zero emissions’ or ‘carbon neutrality’, let alone to achieve this as early as the Tyndall Centre would recommend. Their report for Greater Manchester states that ‘Current UK [carbon] budgets correlate with an expected probability of exceeding 2 °C of more than 56%.’
  • The UK’s own ‘clean growth’ industrial strategy itself acknowledges that its policies will not deliver sufficient future emissions reductions to meet even the existing UK carbon budgets, set by the Committee on Climate Change. There is, so far, little sign that Gloucestershire’s Local Industrial Strategy (being developed by the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership) will do better.
  • The IPCC’s October 2018 report on ‘Global Warming of 1.5 °C’ predicts that, if global warming continues at its current rate, 1.5 °C is most likely to be exceeded around 2040, but could easily be as early as 2030. [This seems to be the rationale for the notion that the world has ‘12 years to act’ to avert the major climate impacts predicted to result from exceeding 1.5 °C and the increased risks of triggering a cascade of tipping points leading to ‘runaway climate change’ and ‘hot-house Earth’.]
  • The IPCC’s ‘1.5 °C’ report shows that in order for global warming to be limited to 1.5 °C, global CO2 emissions must start falling steeply after 2020, unless a risky strategy is adopted that allows warming to ‘overshoot’ 1.5 °C. With or without ‘overshoot’, global CO2 emissions would have to reach net zero ‘around 2050’. [The ‘equity steer’ of the Paris Agreement means that for a developed country such as the UK, net zero would have to be reached much earlier.]
  • The UK is not alone in having inadequate targets in relation to the Paris Agreement goals. Even if all countries were to fulfill their Paris Agreement commitments, the IPCC expects ‘global warming of about 3 °C by 2100, with warming continuing afterwards. [This assumes that no major feedbacks triggered by ‘tipping points’ have started to take effect before then.]
  • The Paris Agreement remains a framework for voluntary action by individual nations. There is currently no enforcement mechanism, such as a legally binding international treaty.

 

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.

Save the Planet – before it’s too late

by Penny Squire

Save the planet before it_s too late

In the mid 1970s I had a friend who couldn’t decide whether to have a pet dog or a goat. To my astonishment she decided on a goat! My family consisted of a husband and 3 lovely daughters, and before long we became the recipients of some fresh goat’s milk. It seemed wonderful to me to have such a lovely and useful pet, and the seeds of self-sufficiency were sown!

I read books and had a monthly magazine called Practical Self-sufficiency. I grew organic vegetables and replaced the family’s Angel Delight style diet with healthier options.

We bought ourselves a very beautiful British Toggenburg goat called Hazel, who proved to be very feisty and gave very little milk. But undeterred we pressed on.

We eventually moved to a smallholding and kept goats and poultry, and provided ourselves with a lot of our diet.

Meanwhile, we had discovered The Centre for Alternative Technology, set in the hills of mid-Wales. An annual visit to this inspirational place, which had been created on an old slate mine, taught me a lot about global warming. We moved to a larger smallholding in West Wales and met people who were also concerned about this worrying issue.

It was felt then that it wouldn’t be a problem for another 100 years, but we should change how we lived our lives to prevent it from happening.

The knowledge was being discovered and the solutions were being found to deal with it, but It was ignored by policy makers and denied by many other people.

We lived our lives using as little carbon as was comfortably possible, but those of us who cared were completely in the minority. If it had been dealt with then, we wouldn’t have the storms and record-breaking weather conditions that people are suffering now.

It has been frustrating over the years seeing the power of large oil companies ignore the damage they were doing. They knew about global warming many years ago, but growth and profit was their goal.

At last the situation is now a concern that has to be dealt with – at the 11th hour – and the realisation is forcing change.

SOME IDEAS OF THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP SAVE THE PLANET. (MANY WILL SAVE YOU MONEY.)

There are many hopeful signs around the world of societies taking positive actions to prevent the very real possibility of run-away global warming .

We all need to take responsibility in our own lives to combat this threat to our existence.

The slogan is : REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.

i.e.: Buy less, waste less and enjoy life more.
PERSONAL

  1. Use bars of soap and shampoo not liquid soaps – these mean transporting water.
  2. Look for products not containing palm oil, as rain forest is destroyed for its production.

CLOTHES

  1. Buy fewer clothes and buy good quality – they will last longer.
  2. Buy clothes made of natural materials e.g. organic cotton or hemp.
  3. Have a clothes swop party or event – the more people the better.
  4. Support charity shops – you can often find lovely garments there.
  5. Upcycle old clothes into something different, by redesigning or by adding ornamentation.
  6. Take your used clothes to a charity shop when you have finished with them.
  7. Have your own individual style and don’t worry about fashion.
  8. Wash and dry clothes gently – no harsh heat, and use environmentally – friendly soaps.
  9. Hang out clothes to dry whenever possible.

FOOD

  1. Buy local produce to support local growers and reduce food miles.
  2. Grow your own – food can be grown even in a small space.
  3. Get an allotment or share one with friends – and cook food there as a treat.
  4. If no allotments are available ask your council to create some.
  5. Grow plants organically for a natural balance that will keep plants healthy and strong.
  6. Eat much less meat – animals give out huge amounts of greenhouse gases.
  7. Eat less fish – depleted fish stocks need protecting.
  8. Vegan food can be very interesting and tasty.
  9. Cook food in large batches and store surplus in the fridge for another day.
  10. Plan your shopping carefully or experiment with ideas to use up leftovers.

GARDEN

  1. Grow flowers that provide pollen for bees.
  2. Don’t mow lawns. Let them grow and encourage wild flowers, or use the space to grow vegetables or fruit.
  3. If you can’t manage without a mown lawn, use an electric or push mower.
  4. Plant a tree if you have space. Fruit trees can be planted in pots.
  5. Have a log pile for beetles, other invertebrates and frogs.
  6. Provide shelter, food and water for wild birds.
  7. Make or buy a bug hotel.

ENERGY

  1. Insulate your home.
  2. Have heavy, lined curtains to avoid night-time heat loss in winter.
  3. Change to energy- saving bulbs.
  4. Turn off electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Turn off stand-by modes on electronic appliances.
  6. Have photovoltaic panels on your roof. Modern ones can get energy even on overcast days.
  7. Use an electricity provider that provides power from sustainable sources.

WATER

  1. Only boil enough water for what you need.
  2. Have a reusable water bottle and refill with tap or filtered water.
  3. Use less water in the shower. Water-saving shower heads are available.
  4. If you have a garden, get a water butt and collect rainwater from the roof – it’s better for the plants than tap water.

TRAVEL

  1. Walk, cycle or use a bus, tram or train.
  2. Holiday in your own country – there’s lots to explore.
  3. Carshare with other people.
  4. Work from home where possible.
  5. Only fly if necessary. For essential flights offset your carbon emissions.

POLITICS

  1. Don’t think politics isn’t for you – it’s for us all.
  2. To save the planet, we all need to get involved to make sure sensible decisions are being made.
  3. Insist that policy makers ensure that new buildings are constructed using high environmental standards.
  4. Challenge authorities about allowing fracking.: It is highly polluting, and the gas obtained is a greenhouse gas which should stay in the ground.
  5. Push for funding for good affordable public transport which will lower pollution levels and give a healthier environment.
  6. Push for green spaces in towns.

PRESENTS

  1. Make presents – there are many ideas on the net.
  2. Buy from local craftspeople.
  3. Buy fair trade products.
  4. A present for children to give – hand- made vouchers given to parents each offering some help,
    e.g. 1/4 hour hoovering, doing the washing up, walking the dog etc . You return the voucher when you choose to have the work done.

GENERAL

  1. Little things done by many people make a difference.
  2. Enjoy simple pleasures – being with family – nature – being creative.
  3. Talk about global warming with people – what changes you have noticed – what you do in you life to lower your carbon footprint.
  4. Make it a fun challenge.

Learn about my latest music and film project, Troubled Planet, inspired by people’s reactions to global warming.

 

Penny Squire is a composer, gardener and environmentalist

 

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.

 

 

A portion of this heatwave is climate change, that is definite. UK, July 2018

by Fred Miller, July 2018

This dry spell, from the beginning of June to the 19th July has been the driest on record since 1961.

The BBC described it like this:

After weeks of hot and sunny weather, it’s official – the UK is experiencing its driest start to a summer since modern records began in 1961.

Just 50.8mm of rain fell between 1 June and 19 July, comfortably lower than the previous record of 58mm set in 2013.

England has been particularly dry, with only 21.4mm of rain since the beginning of June.

A Met Office spokesman told the BBC there was no “significant sign” of change “any time soon”.

The New Scientist editorial on 7 July 2018 was clear that we can now call this sort of heat wave a climate change event. Research by the The World Weather Attribution project on the high temperatures of June – August 2017 reported that:

human greenhouse gas emissions had increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017 by at least a factor of 10“ and they think the numbers are likely to be similar for this year’s heat waves. This matters because climate change is frequently seen as a problem for another day. There can no longer be an excuse for that. Just look out your window and say hello to a warmer world. “

So, that factor of 10 is expected to be similar this year.

Extreme weather events are spending more time in one place due to climate change which is changing the jet stream, making it more looped. This traps areas of high or low pressure. This will prolong a heat wave or a cold period. This summer has seen worldwide extreme weather, with deadly forest fires in Greece, California, heat waves and storms in Japan, and north Africa suffering some of the hottest temperatures ever.

The Guardian: (13 July, Jonathan Watts) reports that:

The concern is that weather fronts – hot and cold – are being blocked more frequently due to climate change. This causes droughts and storms to linger, amplifying the damage they cause. This was a factor in the recent devastating floods in Japan, where at least 150 people died after rainfall up to four times the normal level.

Underscoring the link, a new report from scientists at the World Weather Attribution group indicates that man made climate change and its effect on rainfall made the recent Cape Town drought three times more likely.

There is now a whole field of climate science studying the attribution of extreme weather events to human global warming. It shows the increased probability of such events occurring, as a result of human GHG emissions. I think the mainstream media is not being responsible in its general omission of reference to this.

There is a hint from some reporters (such as a weather presenter on Channel 5, in a heatwave special!) that this is all inevitable. “The climate is just, well, changing.” I would like to tell them: No, it is not like that. For at least 26 years, we have been absolutely sure that our emission of greenhouse gases will bring this about, and now it is.

Twenty six years ago, governments started to talk about this at the 1992, Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro. The Agenda 21 process was initiated to bring about sustainability. But then some thing else took over: the push for unfettered economic global growth, that would not be stopped by anything. The governments and corporations – decided on this path. It did not happen by chance it was decided upon.

But what is also insidious are comments like a recent Times column (Tom Whipple, 27 July) which states that climate change will be a mere blip in the earth’s geological history, and ‘there is no need to panic’. So any problem is not really a problem, because it will not feature much in the fossil record, when a different species looks back in 50 million years! How very helpful. I hope Tom Whipple reminds himself of this when he encounters any problem!

 

 

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.

Air travel to be world’s most polluting industry?

by Jon Barrance, July 2018

I was very heartened to see that Julie Girling, one of our local MEPs for the South West, has recognised that the aviation industry is failing to live up to its responsibilities to reduce carbon emissions.

As a retired aerospace engineer (I worked for Airbus on the design and certification of the A400M wing) I have become increasingly aware that the Industry’s plans and actions do not add up – neither to the aspirations of the Paris Agreement nor even to their own CORSIA agreement. While there have been significant reductions in the emissions of individual aircraft these are more than counteracted by the planned growth of air traffic. At the same time the opportunities for further reductions in the emissions produced by future aircraft are limited by the technologies involved in aircraft design and alternative fuels. The study by the Centre for Alternative Technology, Zero Carbon Britain – Rethinking the Future demonstrates that it is possible for aviation to have a future in a zero carbon situation, restricting it to long range travel, but not at the density of traffic envisaged by the industry.

Two factors put aviation in a uniquely difficult position – aircraft design is dependant on the energy density provided by hydrocarbon fuels and the emissions of airliners cruising at altitude have an increased effect on the environment. My present observations of and connections with the aircraft industry, through Cranfield University, do not encourage me to believe that there is sufficient ambition in current research to achieve the reduction in emissions required.

As for offsets – they are already largely discredited, and as emissions in other sectors are reduced to net zero there will be little left to offset against.

There is a stark warning here for the Industry – it has to face up to a future that will limit the growth of air travel and it has to find carbon sequesters that it can properly offset its emissions against. Otherwise it will become the most polluting industry on the planet.

 

Press release from Julie Girling, MEP – 28 June 2018

Emissions reduction aspirations may have been badly weakened by the recent ICAO agreement

(Or read on Julie Girling’s website.)

The International Civil Aviation Organisation, the global aviation governing body to which almost all nations are signatories, has agreed the recommended standards and practices phase of its landmark carbon reduction programme: The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). While this should be a step towards securing a greener and more sustainable future, serious deficiencies threaten to undermined hard fought concessions. Ambitious targets of carbon neutral growth from 2020 are increasingly at risk – on a global scale – with concessions to oil producing nations, the withdrawal of China and the offset itself now in the long grass.
Mrs Julie Girling MEP, the Rapporteur who guided the EU ETS through the European Parliament was largely disappointed with the outcome:
‘I am very disappointed, although not altogether surprised, at this outcome. The only real positive seems to be the push to complete the MRV process. The offset can has been kicked down the road to avoid confrontation which doesn’t augur well for future agreement. The decision on fossil fuels is a bizarre and unnecessary concession to oil producing countries including the US. China is out of the pilot stage; this is very bad news, States seem to be moving away from consensus causing frustration amongst many EU Member States.
It is now even more important for Europe to make an immediate reservation and re-assert the right to continue with the EU ETS. The EU takes its Paris commitments seriously and its increasingly clear that there is a real danger of the global scheme through CORSIA failing to deliver.
On a UK domestic note I just wonder how the development of Heathrow can be squared with the UK’s own climate commitments and the stalemate emerging on global action for aviation.’

 

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.

Book Review – “THE WORLD WE’LL LEAVE BEHIND, Grasping the Sustainability Challenge”

by Jon Barrance, June 2018

Since last year I have been attending Tuesday evening seminars at Bath University arranged by I-SEE, the Institute for Sustainability Energy and the Environment. They have all been by people with an important professional stake in their subject and I have found them always informative and thought provoking. Recently I attended one given by the authors of this book in which they gave an insight into their process and motivation for writing it plus some thoughts on who they were writing it for and how it might be used. As a result I purchased a copy of the book and have been reading it.

I have to say that it is not one of those books that set out to inspire with a vision, narrative and solutions for a better world. Initially that caused me some disappointment. But to be fair I should not have expected that – the authors had clearly stated at the seminar and do so in their introduction that it is a book to be dipped into as the reader’s interest takes them. So I decided to test it out in that way to see if it would help me with preparation for attending an upcoming workshop on the future of farming in the UK.

The book has 55 short chapters laid out in three sections – Issues, Concepts and Strategies.

I selected “Eating meat” from the Issues. Here I found in just 3 well written pages the issues familiar to me – the high emissions associated with livestock compared with equivalent protein crops; the much better land use efficiency of crops over livestock; that a better diet contains less meat but that it should contain some; and the ethical and animal welfare concerns that are paramount to some people. In addition I learnt that meat production is heavily subsidised worldwide with cattle subsidies in the EU of about $190 per cow, and that there is an argument for eating meat with a clear conscience if the animal has lived, fed, and died well. There are useful references and links at the end of each chapter, but not an overwhelming number.

Moving on to Concepts I read three chapters – “Valuing the Environment”, “Sustainable Development”, and “Development”. Each of these introduced me to some new ways of looking at things. I have strong ideas about what I value about my environment, what I consider to be sustainable development, and what development is. The contribution of this book is to give a broader summary of each topic from a wide range of different viewpoints, and to present it in a brief and readable manner. It was intriguing that the environment could include the virtual as well as the real, that sustainable could include wants as well as needs, and to read about the attempts to measure the value of development in meaningful ways.

Finally I read the chapter “Feeding 10 billion”. This chapter does much more than introduce and discuss Malthus, the attempts since then to limit population, and why his theory has up until now not been realised. It also tackles the possibility that we might be approaching a finite limit to the amount of food that the world can produce and some of the other factors governing population growth. It brought home to me that the recently introduced Universal Credit system that restricts benefits to a maximum of 2 children is unlikely to have any effect on reducing the number of children born to claimants thereby pushing them into even greater poverty. The chapter ends chillingly “The ghost of Malthus, meanwhile, is standing in the wings to say ‘I told you so'”.

I have gone on to read many other chapters as the occasion has arisen. Each one has been an easy and enjoyable read: concise, informative and with a short list of references for further study. I have 9 grandchildren and am struck by the recurring theme throughout the book of meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations. For me the book has helped me prepare for the workshop and has been good value in doing so. At a discounted price of £23.50 in paperback, however, it is expensive for today’s students as was expressed by some at the seminar. With that one reservation I would recommend it to all but the most erudite scholar.

The World We'll Leave Behind: Grasping the Sustainability Challenge (Paperback) book cover

“THE WORLD WE’LL LEAVE BEHIND, Grasping the Sustainability Challenge”
William Scott and Paul Vare
First published 2018 by Greenleaf Publishing/Routledge

Abstract: It is now clear that human activity has influenced how the biosphere supports life on Earth, and given rise to a set of connected environmental and social problems. The core dilemma of our time is: How can we all live well, now and in the future, without compromising the ability of the planet to enable us all to live well?
William Scott is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Bath, and is Chair of Trustees of the UK’s National Association for Environmental Education. He was director of the university’s Centre for Research in Education and the Environment, and founding editor of the Routledge journal Environmental Education Research. His research focuses on the role of learning in sustainable development, on the contributions that education (viewed broadly) can make to this, and on the problems of researching the effectiveness of such activities. He has a particular interest in the idea and practice of sustainable schools and universities, and has written extensively about these. In particular, he hopes that such institutions will take sustainability seriously through what they teach and how they operate as institutions, but not to the extent of disempowering people by telling them how to live their lives or what values to hold. He blogs on issues to do with sustainability and learning at: blogs.bath.ac.uk/edswahs/. Paul Vare is Postgraduate Research Lead for the School of Education at the University of Gloucestershire, he is also a founder director of The South West Learning for Sustainability Coalition, a network of over 130 organisations. Before joining the higher education sector four years ago, Paul worked for over 35 years in environmental education and education for sustainable development (ESD) in various settings, chiefly on international development projects. For over a decade Paul represented European ECO Forum, an NGO coalition, on various expert groups of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) drafting the UNECE Strategy for ESD, a set of ESD indicators and recommendations for ESD educator competences. He is currently leading an EU-funded project that is developing a competence framework for educators to be used to support qualifications in a broad range of contexts.

 

Posts on these blog pages are the personal views of the authors only and are not intended to represent any agreed or general view on the part of GlosCAN.org.