The telegraph has put out an article suggesting that homegrown food has 5 times greater carbon footprint than conventional: is that right? Should we all end our allotments?

Looking at the busy mass of growing green, it is hard to see how this is the most inefficient way to grow food…

The study that the article is based on comes from the university of Michigan, and is frankly badly, badly made. It is the quintessential study, where this is the answer, now how do we get there, sort of study.

So, what did they do? Well, they put gardens into 3 different categories

  • Backyard gardens – single occupancy
  • communal gardens (like the above)
  • Urban farms

Your backyard garden has about as small a carbon footprint as it is possible to have, it is possible that fruit or veg from here actually has zero carbon footprint. Community gardens can be a bit different – you have a small area, so you might use more compost or fertilizer, and it is possibly further from where you live, so you might drive to it. However, this kind of place also has a low carbon footprint.

It is essentially just the Urban farms which are a problem here: growlights and watering and temperature controls all add up to large quantities of energy.

This video shows this is an easy way to understand.

Do not be put off! If you have an allotment or a vegetable patch in your garden, this is almost completely carbon free food, it does bring down your carbon footprint.

It is unfortunately the kind of study you can find in a newspaper like the Telegraph; I do not think it would be a surprise for any readers to hear, that this is not the place readers go to find out about the new scientific studies of this kind.

Do not buy a hydrogen boiler!

The UK watchdog (amongst many other groups) have concluded that hydrogen boiler is a stupid idea. It is true that its only waste product is water and oxygen, but the cost of making the hydrogen is very high.

Should there be large quantities of hydrogen sitting around, then this might make sense – burning hydrogen is generally a very clean fuel. The problem is, that it is almost impossible to store or transport it without loosing much on route, and it is incredibly expensive to split water – the current form for the vast majority of the hydrogen on the planet. Fossil fuel companies are keen, because their old methods can extract and split hydrogen, but it will mean large carbon emissions as well, so is useless – there is a reason that it is called grey hydrogen. Green hydrogen is the only kind that will give us any profit as a world.

So why is the government supporting the switch (alongside gas focused industry). The department for energy security and net zero stated this week that the gas network ” will always be part of our energy system”. I am not sure why anyone would look at it, given an air-source heat pump is likely to be around price parity, and ground source heating even cheaper.

Installation, at the cheap end will be far cheaper than a heat-pump, but this will be more than made up for over the lifetime of the device. Furthermore, with the grants currently available, you are far better off going straight to a heat pump. This is a waste of time and money, and it would not be remotely surprising, if you had to remove it before the end of its life,as it would be costing too much

Is the COP conferences a waste of time, if climate change deniers are able to lead it?

At the current time, countries in the region in which the COP is held will chose a president. In theory, that is fine, however, in practice if this is going to continue then the middle east should be banned from hosting the conference.

So, what precisely did Sultan Al Jaber say, which was so troubling?

Firstly, he claimed that a ‘phase-out of fossil fuels would not allow sustainable development “unless you want to take the world back into caves'”.

He then claimed that there is ‘no science’ to suggest phasing out fossil fuels is the only way to achieve 1.5C.

After being laughed at, over this utterly insane statment, he suggested that the comment had been misinterpreted. It should be noted, that this was in response to a question from a woman, which he was relatively rude about.

Do you think this woman misunderstood?

He even had the gall to suggest that the misrepresentation was undermining his desire to reduce carbon emissions (perhaps if this is true, it can start with his huge fossil fuel company can show this?). More than 100 countries are already supportive of this.

The worlds uptake of electric cars must accelerate. This is partly underway – last year around 67 million cars were sold, but 14% of these were electric, up from just 9% the previous year. The uptake is accelerating.

It should also be noted that apart from extreme heat in the UAE, continued global warming will also damage the UAE in extreme ways. The UAE economy is 0.5% of the global economy, in the end, places like this may refuse to accept the end of oil, and will have to be bankrupted, as cars move to 100% and many other industries clean up their act.


BP has returned to profits – what now

BP has made profits of £2 billion in the second quarter of the year, while global warming continues to become a more and more existential issue.

Unfortunately, it also appears that BP is not thinking of the future at all. The vast majority of this money will be returned to share holders in dividends and buybacks.

Perhaps there is something in extra tax on companies which make extra profit, simply because oil prices are high – largely as a result of the Ukraine war.

The insanity of Rishi Sunak and his position – max out our oil and gas reserves

Despite all our promises, Rishi Sunak (the UK prime minister) has vowed to max out the UK fossil fuels reserves.

Now there are several stupid issues with this position.

  1. We are an island nation – the melting of the ice caps will hit us hard, so reneging on our commitments is likely to hit us harder than most
  2. He has at other times suggested that we can be leaders in the green transition – well not now (and there is far more money in the future than there is in oil in the north sea)
  3. 50% of carbon emissions come from road transport. It is likely that the vast majority of this will be electrified in the next couple of decades, which means that the world will need less oil by the time these fields start coming on like
  4. He suggests that this is to allow us to drill our own oil and keep emissions down, yet our extraction emissions are actually far higher than much of the world.
  5. He also suggested that by drilling our own oil it would bring down prices, yet only around 20% of this oil comes to the UK, and all of it is traded at the current world price so this will not relieve prices for home owners one bit.

He has also suggested that in some way, the war in Ukraine is what has required this move – only 4% of our oil came from Russia. As to Ukraine, while we may have imported some grain, we do not import any oil from there.

More insanely, Rishi Sunak suggested that this was an essential plank of our move to net zero. Unfortunately, he argues that it is cleaner because it causes less emissions to drill near the UK. This would be slightly true if our oil could be extracted with similar emissions to elsewhere, however, we cant. Once the oil is put in huge tankers, the carbon footprint per litre is so small it does not overcome the extra emissions for extraction.

There are some fears that this is signalling a swing right in politics after the loss of Boris Johnsons seat in the byelection that his resignation caused.

He has argued that this will help our move to net zero, but many Tory MP fear that this will simply lead to them loosing their seat at the next election. I think that this will lead to many problems, and shows that he really is not up to being PM at a time like this. It shows a lack of understanding of what the country needs – even suggesting that this will keep gas prices down in the 2050s is foolish – between now and then, every boiler in the country will fail, and should be replaced with a heat pump, which then wont need the oil or gas anyway.

He did pair this announcement with 2 more carbon usage and storage centres. However, it is thought that the new oil fields that he has announced will give roughly 500 million barrels of oil (about 80 billion litres). Put differently, the carbon dioxide released from a barrel of oil during its use, is roughly 426kg of carbon dioxide (for reference one litre of petrol used in your car emits around 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide directly, though these emissions would likely double if you include extraction refinement and transport of the petrol before it enters your car) which means that the carbon dioxide released by these licences is likely to be around 213000 mega (million) tonnes of carbon dioxide. For reference, our current emissions as a country is about 313 megatonnes a year, so this is huge.

This is not a positive step for the people of the UK, so I am not sure what he is doing it for – the oil and gas companies? While I recognize his reason is that he wants to make sure the UK has enough oil and gas to be fuel independent, if the transition is successful, much of this oil will have to end up as stranded assets, and it seems reasonable for oil and gas companies to demand their money back with large interest, when the government is forced to change its mind.

Chris Packham was awarded £90,000, so?

I wonder what proportion of the country would recognize the name Chris Packham? He has been one of the lead presenters for the BBCs natural history unit for decades. Why is people like this important? Without people like this, all sorts of threats to our world, including things like climate change would be less well known in the public.

Photos taken at the rally after the People’s Walk for Wildlife, at Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, London on Saturday 22nd September 2018. Credit Gary Knight

These people are essential for disseminating information which might allow us to deal with these challenges without leaving a dystopian world to our children. Naturalists are important, as they give us the knowledge to deal with many problems far cheaper than any manmade solution.

Continue reading “Chris Packham was awarded £90,000, so?”

If the US beef industry is deploying tricks similar to fossil fuels and smoking to delay action, what should we do?

It is, unfortunately, a fact, that meat eaters create a significant extra quantity of carbon released into the air. How much? Well this varies from place to place, and product to product.

While many think that grass fed beef is good for the environment, the methane emissions swing this badly

There are an increasingly large number of people who are recognizing this issue. Now while some will argue that without the meat industry, much of the UK farmland would be built on, and that this would be disastrous for the environment are missing the point. We live on an island, and as such it is in our own best interests to make sure that the worlds ice sheets do not melt.

Continue reading “If the US beef industry is deploying tricks similar to fossil fuels and smoking to delay action, what should we do?”

Methane emissions that leaked from 2 fossil fuel fields in 2022, caused more warming than the whole of the UK

In many of the rich countries of the world, a great deal of effort is being put into reducing emissions. It is true, that these countries are responsible for a large amount of historical emissions. The problem is, that there are a number of so called carbon bombs that are being recognized around the world. Any of these could if unbalanced could emit so much carbon as to virtually eradicate the remaining carbon budget for the human race. These cover all sorts of things, but one that has been going on in the last year is very worrying.

Currently, the statistics state that the UK is emitting more carbon dioxide than all countries but 17. Turkmenistan however is far down the list with emissions at 47. Yet in 2022 methane emissions leaking from just two of their fossil fuel fields caused more global heating than the whole of the UK.

Flaring is blatantly done under our nose. What is clear however, is that it is far worse to let the methane escape
Continue reading “Methane emissions that leaked from 2 fossil fuel fields in 2022, caused more warming than the whole of the UK”

Rishi Sunak – the UK prime minister is not planning for the future, having chosen oil and gas over renewables

The UK likes to toot its horn for its progress in climate change mitigation. It is certainly true that the country is in many areas moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, it appears that in many instances, this is despite rather than because of the British government. Thankfully in the UK the move to electric cars appears to be relentless, which will deal with a significant minor portion of the UK emissions.

The UK government has removed its support for solar panels, and withdrew most of the support for the green housing grant scheme before it was finished (this was despite its positive reviews and how many people wished to take advantage).

Despite the governments target of reducing emissions by 68% below 1990 levels, there is a significant gap between the target, and what the government is planning to do to meet it. At the current time (over 6 and a half years out) the government is admitting it will only meet 92% of its cuts, and this is considered a generous prediction.

So why is the government not ramping up its support of carbon cutting industries -not least because it has repeatedly been shown that if this is done effectively it can grow the economy and work out as the cheaper option.

Given our promise to reach net zero by 2050 we cannot afford to fall behind before 2030, yet this is what this review says our government is currently heading towards.

Is the soft power of the fossil fuel industry slowing our move away?

The first papers linking carbon emissions and fossil fuel burning were released a long time ago. How long ago? Try John Henry of the Smithsonian Institution at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in 1856. Entitled, “Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun’s rays,” the paper was the first research linking increased carbon dioxide with warmer air.

That is 166 years ago!

We recognize that fossil fuels are the problem, yet their paid lobbyists continue to get access to politicians across the globe.

It is true that fossil fuel companies usually have little real power. Instead, they rely on the power they get through donating money to people of influence. How can we break this “soft power”?

What have they done?

  • Spent literally billions on controling the conversation about global warming, and changing the topic of the conversation. For instance what is your carbon footprint? Is something that they have pushed hard – by making everyone think about their own carbon footprint, they move who needs to act, from them to their customers. They also include creating so-called climate solutions, taking tiny percentages of their profits -in an effort to look like they are working for humanity.
  • They have also invested huge amounts into so-called education of the next generation (obviously in their way of thinking).
  • Funding of sports and other things that might influence young people, and in a similar way, arts and culture. Even allowing an oil companies logo to be put on a wall of a museum without explanation is likely to give them a subconscious boost, quite unfair – and something that the museum should never wish to do.
Continue reading “Is the soft power of the fossil fuel industry slowing our move away?”
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