A fine is handed down for another car emission scandal.

Volkswagen had to pay a huge amount of money in the USA for cheating on their car emissions. It would appear that they did not learn their lesson.

A group of car companies including Volkswagen BMW and Daimler have been colluding on emissions tech

The German car companies were fined £750 million for agreeing to not compete on AdBlue tech, which is designed to clean emissions.

Daimler avoided fines as it was the company that admitted to the con.

Rather disgustingly, the companies in question did not agree and are still complaining,

My feeling is that given this is not the first time, the car companies have got away easy, or indeed too easy.

The move to electric cars does seem impossible to stop now, though these and other companies are still trying to slow the move. My thoughts are that fines need to grow over the next decade or less, to the point where if you are caught taking part in a scheme like this it is likely to mean bankruptcy. Shareholders and boards must also make sure that chief executives know that if they set up or partake in a scheme it will hit their money personally even after they have retired.

Parts of the Amazon rainforest (as with the Congo and others around the world) are no longer carbon sinks

For as long as people have studied the carbon cycle, forests are considered essential carbon sinks. Unfortunately as we damage them, their ability to absorb carbon reduces.

A new study has confirmed, that large parts of the Amazon rainforest have crossed this line.

For many, it is hard to believe that humans could impact such a huge ecosystem, but we have, and without action this ecosystem will cease to exist
Continue reading “Parts of the Amazon rainforest (as with the Congo and others around the world) are no longer carbon sinks”

Will climate change kill the forests of Africa?

There are many threats facing the great apes of Africa, from habitat destruction and fragmentation, to hunting for bush meat. Unfortunately, it is now thought that Chimpanzees gorillas and Bonobos face a still greater threat (assuming humans avoid killing off what remains of their population) the loss of about 94% of their remaining habitat due to forest die off from the warming that we are creating.

Could this become something impossible to see, within this generation? I hope not

Even under our most rosy scenario, they stand to loose 85% of their range.

The same studies suggest that as areas become unsuitable, there are likely to be other that become suitable. Unfortunately, dealing with slow adapting animals this will not help at all without significant assistance from humans.

What is even more scary is that this loss would occur by 2050.

I find this horrifying. I have not been able to yet visit any wild great ape populations, and now it looks as though their future is severely limited. It also looks like, by the time my children have children the huge forests of Africa teeming with wildlife, will be no more.

We must act now!

Human communities which live alongside great ape populations must benefit. Of course these communities must not grow and crowd out the wildlife, but if a similar system can be set up that worked for the mountain gorillas, perhaps many of the great apes could be saved and at the same time, pull millions of Africans living in poverty, into more sustainable and profitable lives.

This is not something that must be left to African governments. Indeed, it also must not be just left to tourism. Governments around the world, need to help in this work.

As well as replanting and recovering rainforests across the globe, the human population as a whole needs to work together to save the remaining tropical rainforests which are so precious to our future and that of our descendants.

A French company Biotope is working on sustainable cohabitation between chimpanzees and local communities in the highlands of western central Guinea.

The west African Chimpanzee once numbered around 2 million. Currently there are roughly 500,000, but without urgent action that number is liable to move quickly down to close to zero.

Conservation for its own sake is all very well for those people living on the other side of the world. For those who live close by it is a different matter. Ending the population explosion that is occurring in Africa, is essential both for the human and wildlife populations that share this continent. Similar programs could do the same thing in south America and Asia.

I am well aware that even if successful, this website will only be part of the solution, but I hope that with your support we can do some good.

A hydrogen powered world?

Hydrogen is an incredibly energy rich fuel. When Hydrogen is mixed with oxygen, a large amount of energy is released and the only waste is pure water.

The problem for many years has been that virtually all the hydrogen on earth is locked up as water. For a long time, it has been known that by running a current through water you can split the oxygen and hydrogen. Unfortunately, this process is incredibly energy intensive. Indeed it takes more energy than it gives.

Continue reading “A hydrogen powered world?”

Amazon rainforest: can it survive Bolsonaro?

I have been writing about Jair Bolsonaro for quite some time. Indeed, those who have been reading this blog for years will know that I became concerned in the run up to the election.

The destruction of the Amazon rainforest is hugely damaging. It is likely to effect the climate worldwide as well as carbon dioxide levels

He has a quite bizarre approach to many things. Indeed, his ruling style is very like Donald Trump. He doesn’t care about Brazil, merely that “his” people do well out of his presidency.

It is quite something, that academics and activists have come together to warn that with the increased attacks on the environmental protections, the Brazilian rainforest would not survive a second Bolsonaro term.

Continue reading “Amazon rainforest: can it survive Bolsonaro?”

Australian Environmentalist groups want the UN to put the Great barrier reef on the ‘in danger list’, will the government listen?

While Australian government ministers are fighting hard against, there are increasing calls from Australian environmentalist groups for the great barrier reef to be added to the list of ecosystems in danger.

The great barrier reef is one of the true spectacles of the natural world, but we are in danger of loosing it forever.

It is frankly insane that this is still a discussion. Of course the great barrier reef is in danger.

Indeed, it is endangered by a number of things

Continue reading “Australian Environmentalist groups want the UN to put the Great barrier reef on the ‘in danger list’, will the government listen?”

Daily mail fear mongering over taxes on electric cars

The daily mail, a British tabloid newspaper, has a habit of writing sensationalist articles.

They have published an article today which states “Families could face new £765 annual green tax on cars as ministers plan new levies for electric vehicles to fill £34billion black hole left by the death of fuel duty” as its title – with details saying the figure comes from the AA later in the article (AA is a roadside rescue firm).

Now this is clearly click-bait. The article is written to make out that electric cars are going to have to be taxed far higher, in order to make up the governments funding. Now there are several problems with their arguement.

  1. The government spends roughly 1 trillion pounds a year, so 34 billion is roughly 3%. While this is significant, it is amongst the governments total spending, a rounding error. There are many places that the government could raise this money
  2. Public sector spending on roads in the United Kingdom reached 10.94 billion British pounds in 2019/20, an increase of 820 million British pounds when compared with the previous year.
  3. The improvement in air quality could see a noticeable improvement in health from a breathing point of view. Currently 11 billion is spent a year, on conditions caused or exacerbated by pollution. It would be conceivable, that the benefit to the countries health could alone increase productivity by 3%
  4. The reduction in carbon emissions is likely to lead to a reduction in money needed to be spent on mitigating the damage done

This is the standard form of article that the daily mail puts out, and indeed while there are very occasional articles that share concern for climate change, the daily mail has put out far more which take swipes at electric cars and any other way that the government might try to change our behaviour.

From an article as early as 2010, the writer claimed that the range will never be good enough bizarrely stating that they can drive their diesel car 800 miles on a tank – at motorway speeds, even assuming speeding that is 10 hours during which time you will need at least a handful of stops for food and a toilet break. Modern electric cars can gain 200 miles range or even more in 15 minutes charging.

Indeed, even last year they published an article claiming that 1 in 3 cannot afford an electric car. Now they quoted a figure of at least £2100 spent on their current car as the point at which electric cars would become affordable. By 2030 there are likely to be far more ‘runabout’ cars and similar, but the simple fact, is that most people will be spending at least £1500 on fuel a year. Given that electric cars last longer, and these people they are referring to, are likely to hold onto their car as long as possible, and probably do not buy new anyway we can assume the car is kept for at least 10 years. Electric charging is much cheaper, so you can be expecting to save at least £1200 per year, an amount that more than makes up for the initial higher price of purchase (the article states that entry level electric cars are around £5000 more expensive, so a purchaser will be better off after 4 – 5 years). There may have to be a change in car loan terms, to make borrowing more affordable, but this is all.

Articles on the difficulty of charging, range longevity and many more, are published every few weeks (or more regularly).

What is the daily mails problem?

Every country around the world seems to have a similar publication. Yes electric cars create slightly more emissions at manufacture (though this gap is narrowing) and yes they can be more expensive however prices are falling and the cost of ownership over the lifetime of the vehicle is significantly lower. Importantly environmental costs are far lower, and given the situation that the human race finds itself in, having to cut our emissions to zero pretty fast – caused I should note, largely by the sort of companies that newspapers like the daily mail praises constantly- we have no choice. The best impact that the daily mail can have is slowing the change. Given that the daily mail is based on a island, a place which stands to loose much from extreme global warming not least in terms of land. This sort of slanted analysis is only useful for confirming your biases.

It should be avoided (though the daily mail gives plenty of subjects to write on)

Personal note: where to go on holiday

Travelling during the epidemic even if fully vaccinated is hard or even impossible.

We have been hoping to take our children back to South African for a few years, partly to show them the incredible places such as the Kruger, but also so that we can list many of the cheaper places to stay on this website. Unfortunately, that will have to wait (we hope only until next year.

So where will we go this year?

We are in the process of setting up our “in the shadow of mankind” and we are hoping to visit some places we would love to add.

We are thinking of heading to Scottish islands, possibly Skye and Shetland. What will we hope to see? Well Otters would be top of the list, but other creatures will include red squirrels and if were lucky orca and humpback whales.

What is happening on the website. While it does not always show on the surface we are hard at work in the background. We are building a system that will allow people to list their own wilderness place far quicker, which hopefully will allow this site to list enough places to move towards its original goal.

Watch this space

Lightyear one

The lightyear one is an incredible car. It is a highly efficient electric car, and gets over 440 miles from a battery smaller than the one in the long range tesla 3 which only has a range of 353.

This image is a wikimedia photo of the lightyear one and is shared under their standard license

This is partly because it is an incredibly efficient car – each wheel has its own, in wheel, motor. However, even more exciting, the car is covered in high efficiency solar panels – it has 5 square meters of solar panels, which is allow between 25 and 45 miles on solar power alone.

Continue reading “Lightyear one”