Microsoft has pledged to go go carbon neutral by 2030, and significantly carbon negative by 2050 to have offset all emissions the company has ever made

Microsoft is one of the largest companies in the world, in the late 90s dominated the computing world and it is still the case that the majority of desktop and laptop computers run on Windows. 

Now although being a computer company it is not the most polluting company in the world given that it has a lot of money it is wonderful to see it undoing any environmental damage it has done over its lifetime.

The 2030 target is intended to be met through a series of different methods. First they aim to half the carbon emissions of a company by 2030, and then to offset the rest using reforestation, soil carbon sequestration and carbon dioxide capture from the air both for permanent storage and as a power source.

This plan also includes a billion dollars invested into a climate innovation fund who will be tasked with coming up with ideas for carbon removal and sequestration.

While Microsoft is not exactly been quick to this realisation and may well have been scared by the moves many other companies have had to deal with from their employees it is good to see them taking this action now.

News in brief – articles from last few weeks

Owl in Christmas tree

A Georgia family cut down a tree and took it home, decorated it and left it in their house. Only a week after they had bought it did they noticed that there was an owl still living within the branches. It wouldn’t leave on its own so they had to call a rescue centre to help.

Australian Prime Minister continues climate change denial

Scott Morrison the Australian Prime Minister continues his climate change denial despite the unprecedented heat waves hitting Australia. They have recently made climate protest punishable by up to 21 years in jail ( more than most get for murder). He suggested that as as Australia only emits 1.3% of the Worlds carbon dioxide they are irrelevant. This is despite the fact that coal extraction will have increased by 95% between 2005 and 2030. Australia may be a Small Part of the world’s economy but it is similar to Russia and is certainly not irrelevant and must pull its weight.

 At the same conference there were worst fights with the Australian delegation as Scott Morrison is keen to use a loophole by using their are extra carbon reductions in the past to offset their lack of carbon reduction in the future. The extra cuts are from the Kyoto agreement, and most people argue that these were euro unduly lenient and so should not give Australia future credit to not meet their targets now.

UK fossil fuel electricity generation Has Fallen to its lowest level ever

In the last year the amount of electricity generated by why renewable sources has risen above that generated by gas for the first time. Renewable sources generated 38.9% of the country’s electricity while gas only generated 38.8%. Coal which is more dirty than gas it’s been reduced to only 1% in the third Quarter and only 2.5% over the year. Wind generated so much electricity the thousands of people were paid plug in their electric cars or run their dishwashers overnight to use the excess power.

Despite Trump’s attack on reducing carbon emissions, America is doing so

Despite Trump’s stupid behaviour pulling America out of the Paris agreement, such a large portion of America’s economy has said they are still in the carbon emissions have fallen anyway. At the recent global meeting in Madrid, although trump did not feel it was important enough to be there there were many other representatives from America outside the government and they are determined to fulfill America’s pledges despite Trump’s behaviour.

The population of jaguars living on a Small Island off the coast of Brazil has learnt to catch fish from the sea

A small island about 3 miles off the coast of Brazil appears to have almost become a nursery for jaguars. However what was a standing is that they have been seen jumping into the sea to catch fish. They have been observed catching fish in the Brazilian pantanal but this is totally different swimming out in open water. It is wonderful to see these large predators are able to be this adaptable in the face of lack of food on land. They have been found both fishing in in rock pools and mangrove pools on the coast, but also leaping into the water and catching them free swimming. Fish appears to form a large portion of their diet.

Andrew Wheeler and the American EPA has not been able to continue it’s foolish move to reduce CO2 emission standards on cars

One of the first things that the trump administration did when coming to power is to reverse tightening rules on the amount of carbon emissions cars are allowed to create. It was a stupid move in many respects: any parts of the world of demanding these cuts and car companies are not going to make hiring missing cars just for America. The fact that the government is also suing California for having more stringent requirements seems a bit contradictory. They sued on the 17th of September, this change in stance may be partly down to the countersuit filed by California and 23 are the states. 

The main argument from Andrew Wheeler and the EPA is that the changes the Obama administration  in reducing carbon emissions, would require expensive further work my car manufacturers and that therefore they would charge more. This has been proved to be rubbish, competition keeps prices relatively low- so the move actually saves people money as they have to pay less to fuel their car during it’s life.

Fighting to save the tapanuli orangutan is becoming dangerous

A dam has been planned that will submerge around 90% of their habitat. Critics of the dam, bizarrely earning carbon credits, ( it will be a carbon polluter given the large amounts of methane it will give off because of the forest it will submerge) have faced defamation charges, had visits from intelligence officers and had their right to work in Indonesia removed. Several other high-profile activists have died in suspicious circumstances, and the government’s explanation has usually left a lot to be desired. One hopes that the Indonesian government will change direction: it is possible to greatly increase the economy without destroying the environment. Furthermore with careful work money from can be greatly increased giving an income to people living in remote areas which will not benefit from much of the economic changes the government are wanting to bring in.

Trump kills EV tax credit scheme

Trump was determined to end the tax credits given to people who buy electric cars. Despite the fact that this helps America cut it’s carbon emissions and therefore likely saved some money in the long run Trump is determined to end it. This is despite an attempt by the other parties to give him some of the other things he wants in return for saving the program. Apparently the Republican view is that this program only benefits rich Californians (California is relatively strongly democrat). 

Firstly,  they should remember that these people are Americans too. Furthermore closing the program now means that other less rich Americans will have to pay more to de-carbonise.

Secondly, they should realise that generally reducing carbon emissions has such a large impact on health in the populations that even in a situation where people have to pay for their health care privately it’s still benefits the entire economy.

The tax credits have allowed companies like Tesla to get going and have given companies like GM a boost to keep going through difficult times. Also given that these credits are only for the first couple of 100000 cars they have a clear end. This is not true for the roughly 20 billion dollars worth of fossil fuel subsidies each year. Complaints that the EV subsidies are too high or should have ended years ago forget that the fossil fuel industry still takes huge subsidies 200 years after it was formed. How can this double standard not be noticed by more politicians.

A recent study in the UK has shown that cattle are at least twice as likely to catch TB from other cattle than from badgers

A study has shown  that while badgers are 10 times more likely to give TB to Cattle that cattle are too badges, cattle are more than 2 times as likely to get the illness from other cattle. While this study has only been done in one area, and so more research is needed to make sure that this finding is repeated elsewhere. However if this research is true we need to change how we are trying to deal with TB in cattle.

There has been a great deal of fight against control of where and how cattle are moved or bought and sold. That would have to end. If this finding is found to be the same in other areas, biosecurity when moving animals between different places will become the Llikely main point of infection.

45000 cattle were killed last year ear to halt the spread of TB, a figure 50% higher than in 2005. Half a billion pounds has been spent fighting TB since 1996.

The study looked at over 100 badges and over 100 cattle in an area in Gloucestershire, testing for the illness and looking at when and how they could have interacted.

The lead author stated that the study did not look at how killing badgers would impact the spread of the illness, however given the quantity of infection species to species rather than cross species it was clear that the first priority should be stopping cattle giving the illness to other cattle, as this should be simpler and quicker how to solve and will have a far bigger impact.

The British National Trust has played to plant 20 million trees on its properties over the next decade

The forest that the National Trust will create from this tree planting effort if all placed in one area would more than cover Manchester. 

Given the amount of land under the national trusts care this move could potentially have occurred earlier, and well we should applaud them for this start there is much more that they could to reduce the carbon footprint of their properties, particularly as most of their properties are not serviced well by public transport and therefore there is a great deal of carbon used in travel to visit them.

Germany has announced that it intends to pay coal power plants to be decommissioned early, perhaps they could instead house huge batteries

While Germany has made great progress in greening its power grid, it still has a substantial amount of coal power plants, and to stand any chance of meeting Germany’s carbon reduction goals these will need to be phased out before they would naturally have come to the end of their life. The German government has proposed spending several billion pounds compensating these facilities for the lost revenue that they would have got.

Continue reading “Germany has announced that it intends to pay coal power plants to be decommissioned early, perhaps they could instead house huge batteries”

Ocean cleanup update – its prototype works!

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while you will remember I have in the past talked about the ocean cleanup.

In simple terms the ocean cleanup is a group whose aim is to remove the plastic from the world’s oceans. The majority of this plastic is caught in relatively small parts of the ocean compared to it’s full size. Because the ocean currents carry these plastics to these small areas, it is a simpler job that is otherwise might be (though still huge).

Continue reading “Ocean cleanup update – its prototype works!”

Beaver trial reintroduction in the UK has a problem when one of the animals escapes

Reintroducing beavers into the UK would be a very sensible move. As a natural part of our ecosystem the fact that they are no longer there has an impact. Apart from the substantial reduction in flash floods that will occur should beavers be reintroduced across the UK, they also have a huge impact on biodiversity and the general river ecosystem as well as acting as a filter meaning that the water further downstream is substantially cleaner virtually eliminating all farm runoff.

However at the moment all British schemes to do with reintroducing beavers consist of putting the beavers into relatively small enclosures and then watching their impacts and how well they do.

Continue reading “Beaver trial reintroduction in the UK has a problem when one of the animals escapes”

Jeremy Clarkson now admits that global warming is real

Over the last few years, after being fired by the BBC Jeremy Clarkson and the original hosts of Top Gear have been making their new show, the Grand Tour.

While the format is different, the Grand Tour is essentially the same show show with a far bigger budget and and in line increases in the dramatic scenes that it can create.

Why is it newsworthy that Jeremy Clarkson is now saying that global warming is real, given that the majority of the rest of the scientific world reach this conclusion several decades ago? I would argue because he has been one of the most vocal people against the move towards electric cars and the need to reduce pollution. Also in his car shows he has generally reviewed big gas guzzling cars far more positively than efficient ones.

Then there is the argument that Jeremy Clarkson on behalf of Top Gear had with Elon Musk and Tesla. When the first Tesla car was released the Tesla Roadster, Top Gear reviewed it. Unfortunately all the evidence suggests that this was not a fair review. It was taken out on the track but it was claimed that it ran out of battery having covered ,less than half of the range that the Tesla car was supposed to be able to drive. 

Now certainly an electric sports car not being able to survive being driven around a track a number of times fitted into the Top Gear narrative of the time, furthermore when disputing their claims Elon Musk mention several issues:

Firstly apparently the person who dropped off the car saw a script lying on a table, and in the script it specifically stated that the car ran out of battery. I don’t believe this was actually factually disputed, though it seems completely peculiar as it destroys any suggestion that Top Gear is a reviewing program and simply makes it into drama.

The second issue that was raised, appears even more stupid than leaving a script lying around. All Tesla cars have a powerful computer that runs them and make sure everything is working, but this also gives a log of performance and what is going on with the car, and this log clearly stated that there was almost 50% of the battery still remaining at the time that he said it had 0 battery left. 

He does seem to have gone back on this dislike of Tesla during his new show, including several tesla’s including a Tesla Model x in in the lineup of the grand tour.

Apparently his new epiphany (that climate change is real) came about while on one of the trips for the Grand Tour. Filming in Cambodia he was trying to navigate the Mekong river from Siem Reap to Vietnam, but he found this impossible in places due to the river having dried up. He States he found this highly alarming and it was the first time they had encountered evidence so clear.

I personally would dispute this, he has been travelling the world for his car series for decades and there have been many scenes in many episodes that have clearly demonstrated an issue with changing climate. However whatever happened on this occasion it was clearly so obvious as be undisputable.

My question now is will this have any impact whatsoever. Only 2 months ago he called the climate activist Greta thunberg a spoilt brat, a bit rich coming from someone who lives a life that most of the world could only dream of and who has had a carbon footprint of perhaps 1000 normal people. I would like to see him doing something about it.

While the super fast cars are fun, there are several things of note. Electric cars are so rapidly catching up that it is likely that they will be able to overtake combustion engine cars in many of the areas that they still out compete in the near future. He inevitably in his shows takes on all sorts of challenges, it would be good to see more of these aim towards reducing the carbon footprint of whatever it is. 

I think it is an opinion that combustion engine cars still dominate in all categories, however whether it is or isn’t is irrelevant. The majority of travel is going to have to go go fossil fuel free in the near future if we are to have a hope of continuing to be able to live comfortably on Earth. This would be helped greatly if Car People who run TV shows well less bias towards combustion engines and we’re willing to talk about the negatives as well as the positives. This way as companies like Tesla lead the way another car company start to Electrify the range, there would be more petrol heads cheering on on the advances in electric cars rather than trying to put it down all the time.

It should be noted that James May and Richard Hammond while not contradicting Jeremy Clarkson’s views on Top Gear, have another project been a standing you positive about all sorts of electric cars.

It is something that they would have to be careful to not destroy the brand but I would hope that with this realisation, he would feel the need to undo some of the damage that is done in the the past few decades

One of the arguments against electric cars? – cobalt? think again

One of the ingredients used to create electric devices batteries, is cobalt. Cobalt is something that is often mined in central Africa, and there is a significant issue with child labour. However, this is a stupid argument against electric cars. 

The electric car companies have been concerned about this, and so have reduced the amount they use. 

However, a far more significant use of cobalt, is to remove the sulphur from petrol and diesel! The fossil fuel companies are arguing you should use electric cars because they use a little cobalt (this doesn’t need refilling, it isn’t used up), but at the same time are using vast amounts of cobalt to remove the sulphur from their exhausts- because it is bad to breathe in. 

What is more ridiculous is that this process of removing sulphur uses up the cobalt, which it’s why the fossil fuel companies need so much. So far from saving cobalt, fossil fuels consume lots more and require a constant supply .

SUV sale to blame for co2 emissions, not falling diesel sales

Over the last couple of decades, the UK had gradually reduced the amount of co2 emissions. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years the number of people driving large suv cars, which use far more fossil fuel has increased dramatically. 

This recent increase in fossil fuel suv use, has increased co2 emissions so much, as to eradicate the gains of the last 2 decades. If the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets, the government must be paying more attention, and we must start increasing taxes on fossil fuel SUVs so that they are not a good option for most people, making the electric alternatives for economically viable.

Zimbabwe is in the process of moving hundreds of elephants and two prides of lions from hwange National Park due to drought drying up their water pools, as well as shipping dozens to zoos in china

Drought hit animals too, and in this instance a Drought in Zimbabwe has hit hwange national park so hard that the animals have started to die in large numbers.

While the number of tourists that come to Zimbabwe have fallen dramatically since Mugabe started doing his more destructive policies, these fall in tourists has started to reverse again. Furthermore, with the economy gradually on its way to recovery people can afford to buy food and thus the pressure on wild areas from poaching has decreased significantly.

The translocation is not insignificant, plans to move 600 elephant 2 prides of lions a pack of wild dogs, 50 buffalo 40 giraffe and 2000 Impala. 

In other parts of Africa water is pumped into these areas to refill the watering holes. It is unclear whether this was impossible in this case or merely prohibitively expensive- though the cost of moving this many animals will be significant and does not solve the water problem permanently so so a longer-term solution must be found.

Zimbabwe is calling for the relaxation of rules about utilising animals (in ways other than photographic tourism) , and while this would be capable of giving the Zimbabwean government the money needed to protect these animals given the way they have behaved in recent years the international community cannot be sure that the Zimbabwean government will will behave responsibly towards their are flora and fauna.

It is certainly true that looking after animals like elephants that can hurt humans ( in recent years as much as 200 people  have died in human animal conflict) is not cheap, however before the disastrous policies of Mugabe the animals of Zimbabwe bought in a large amount of money for it’s people. Returning to this situation can allow the animals to thrive alongside a higher income for people of the country.

Zimbabwe moving 30 young elephants to China, more to follow

Zimbabwe is also under pressure for sending roughly 30 young elephants to China deal in a did with a country. Supposedly this has to be done for the health of the animals as hwang national park where they come from is suffering from a horrific drought that has killed many elephants. However undercover camera work has already shown these young elephants in concrete and metal enclosures having their will broken, flowers to be more easy to control the circuses and zoos in China. Unfortunately it appears that despite Mugabe having left power in Zimbabwe the current government of Zimbabwe still looks on the wildlife as simply a commodity to be traded away and not say something to be preserved for the future. Tourists should look very carefully before being prepared to spend money on safari in Zimbabwe. In total 90 elephants have been moved to China and Dubai in return for 2.7 million dollars.