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

Half of plantations in Indonesia’s palm oil heartland are illegal

I wrote in February about how an assessment had found that 20% of palm oil plantations were illegal (to read click here). This latest assessment suggests that in its heartland, half are illegal. Riau province is this heartland. Illegal plantations within this area cover an area almost as large as Hawai, and hosts more than half of the illegal plantations in the whole of Indonesia.

These illegal plantations are also not all owned by small players, with some of the biggest names in palm oil on the list. The government is suggesting 3 years to get retrospective permission.

The problem with this, is that it is essentially permission by the back door. If companies know that they will eventually get permission, there is a high incentive to break the law.

Furthermore, if these areas were designated for coservation, we need to find areas of similar importance to replace them


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.


Rice Whale

Rice Whale

The Rice whale is also known as the Gulf of Mexico whale, is a relatively newly discovered whale. Until 2021, it was thought that this whale was a subpopulation of the Brydes whale, however it is actually genetically distinct.

Growing up to 12.65m and weighing between 13.8-27.2 metric tonnes, it is found in the north-east of the gulf of Mexico. unfortunately it is on the brink of extinction. The deep-water horizon oil spill killed around 20% of the whales of this species. 

While it has not been observed, the killer whale actively hunts in the area, and has regularly killed sperm whales. Brydes whales have also been targeted, so it seems impossible that rice whales are not targeted.

Around 100 of these whales exist, which is very close to extinction. 

Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises family tree

Cetaceans -Whales, porpoise and dolphins

Few people can avoid stopping to watch, if they spot cetaceans from a cliff. While the family is wide and varied, they are all pretty interesting. From some of the largest and most intelligent hunters such as killer whales to the largest animal on earth the blue whale.

Whale and dolphin watching tourism is worth a lot of money – this can be essential, as in many places the extra money helps a community survive. 

I hope, overtime, to make this section of the website as large a list of places to view cetaceans and people who will help you in that quest.

As might perhaps be suspected, all of the mammal species which have returned permanently to the sea, and developed breathing holes located on their back (and therefore perfectly placed for taking quick breaths) are  related.

So what is the most closely related living land mammal? Perhaps obviously, it is a species which spends much time in the water – the hippopotamus.

As with all of these pages, as we create pages for each individual species, they will be linked to the photo below.

So the baleen whales are split into three families, these are not large as there are only 16 species of baleen whales in the world. At the current time, there are roughly 1.1 million baleen whales in the worlds oceans

Below is a family tree of the group


Baleen Whales

Baleenideae – the rhight whales


The first  living split is Baleenidae, this family is not huge. The north atlantic and north pacific are closest related, these species are closely related to the Southern pacific right whales. Their name is unfortunate – it is called right whale for 3 reasons, it swims slowly, floats when dead and carries a large amount of oil. This lead to all these species being hunted close to extinction.

The other family is called Balaenopteroidea. Here species peel off slowly. I will list them in the order that they split.

The first split is the minke whale – of which there are 2 species, the common and southern minke whale, with the grey whale being the next most similar.

The next are the humpback whale and the fin whale followed by the Blue whale.

The last group of whales are from a group called the Brydes whales complex

This completes the list of baleen whales. The other branch of the Cetaceans is known as the toothed whales

Toothed Whale

.I am going to look at them in 3 groups, though the third is not particularly closely related to each other

  • Delphinoidea: This includes
    • Monodontidaes – Belugas and narwhals
    • Phocoenidae – The family of Porpoises (7 species) such as harbour porpoises and Vanquita


    • Delphininidae – these are the oceanic dolphins – 37 species split into several subfamilies which we will deal with one by one.
Subfamily Delphininae – 15 species

Subfamily  Globcephalinae 11 species

Subfamily incerta sedis (latin for “of uncertain placement” )6 species

Subfamily Lissodelphininae 6 sppecies

Subfamily Orcininae

  • Inioidea : This includes 3 groups
    • Iniidae (only 1 of 5 genus remains -Inea (4 species: Araguaian river dolphin, Bolivian river dolphin  and Orinoco dolphin)
    • Lipotidae: which contains only one species: the Baiji or Chinese river dolphin
  • Pontoporiidae: which contains one species 

The next family is the beaked whales. There are 24 species, of which only 3-4 have been well studied. This is because they spend much of their time deep in the sea, it appears that each species does not have many members and they are incredibly reclusive in their habits.

One might ask how an air breathing animal can spend so much of its time deep in the ocean? Well the Curved beaked whale has had a dive timed at 138 minutes. More incredible, they only need around 2 minutes to catch their breathe before sinking back into the depths. This means that if required, they can spend just 20 minutes out of 24 hours at the surface – an incredible stunt.

There appear to be a great number of species that are extinct – these we will not list, but will mention each subfamily in passing.

Incertae sedis contains 5 extinct genus, Basal forms include 13 extinct genus

Subfamily Berardiinae contains 3 genus, 2 of which are extinct, but the third contains 3 living species (and one dead) .  

Genus Beradius


Next we cover the Bottlenose whales

Northern                                                                                                                     Southern and                                                        Tropical

Subfamily Ziphiinae  contains 5 genus, 3 are extinct, but two have just one species in each

Genus Tasmacetus: Shepherds beaked whale Genus Ziphius: Cuviers beaked whale

Click on the image to see it in full

As you can see from the whale family tree, the sperm whales are separate from the rest. However, they are toothed whales so belong in this section of the page.

Non-animal news

All news subjects that are not about animal species

Ecuadorians have voted to halt oil drilling in an Amazonian national park – GOOD NEWS!

The referendum on Yasuni reserve will benefit a huge range of species, along with several groups of uncontacted tribes of indigenous people. The vote was not close, with 90% of votes counted protection won by around 20%. It will also keep around 726 million barrels of oil in the ground. Given that one barrel is 158 litres, that is 114 billion liters of oil, and as each one emits at least 3 kg of carbon dioxide, this is going to save 350 billion kg of carbon dioxide released into the air. This is a huge win for the environment, but also for the wildlife of the Yasuni reserve.

Flat-headed cat

Flat-headed cat

Flat-headed cat

Found on the Malay peninsular, as well as Borneo and Sumatra, the flat-headed cat is (like so many cats on this list) threatened with extinction, mostly as a result of habitat, which is being turned into farmland, palm oil plantations and human settlements.

Little is known about the wild behaviour of this cat – while it is thought to be nocturnal, in captivity it proved to be crepescular (that is active in early morning and late afternoon.

Battery powered freight ships

There are a great number of different sectors which need to be tackled if we are to move towards net zero as a world. One of the hardest is the ships that transverse the world oceans, allowing the global economy to run. Is this finally an area which cuts will be possible?

Might electric freight ships start replacing fossil fuel run ships?

Many sectors of the global economy have been fully sorted – or at least solutions exist which will take carbon to zero over time – I will include a quick overview below, but for the rest of the article look below the bullet points:

  • Power- it is (in most of the world) cheaper to scrap a standing coal powerplant and replace it with brand new solar and wind, than to continue to use the coal. While replacing coal with gas does lead to a reduction in emissions, it is not enough, and this too is more expensive to run long-term. Letting go of gas will be harder, as it will require very large batteries to replace gas as the base load – but economics as well as global warming are rapidly changing this too.
  • Agriculture- many of our current methods for agriculture have high emissions, however through a variety of methods, it is predicted that this sector can rapidly move to net zero. From additives in cattle diet (made from seaweed) which vastly reduce methane production) to less fertilizers, and spreading various rocks on the land which will lock carbon into the soil (good for climate change and the farmers yields), as well as electrical equipment, solutions exist, we simply need to use them (they are too expensive currently for parts of the world, but prices are coming down.
  • There are other areas, like fugitive emissions, which need to be dealt with, and industries like cement (currently emitting aound 3%) where new ways of making it can vastly drop its emissions. Also around 2% currently comes from deforestation – this needs to stop and be reversed by trillions of trees being planted worldwide (this must use local trees, both to avoid unintended side effects, and to make sure new forests support local fauna)
  • Transportation accounts for much of the rest, at roughly 30% of human emissions, and 72% of this (around 21% of human emissions) is road transportation. Now, while much infrastructure is needed for electric vehicles to work, electric cars lorries and buses are all incredibly successful. The industry is in its relative infancy compared to combustion engine vehicles, but its incredible simplicity, as well as its instant savings mean that in almost all the world they would already give savings over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Much of what is left is the last 9% or so which is used in transportation. Air transport accounts for around 3% currently, but is a hard place to decarbonize as it is such an energy intensive process, though many companies have passenger jets for journeys are to 500 miles coming in the next decade.

This leaves sea transportation. Much of the worlds freight goes by sea. It is far cheaper (in most instances) to make lots of a product in one location in the world and then ship it to where it is needed. Currently this is highly polluting, but progress is being made here too.

COSCO electric container ship is one of the first to hit the market. Powered by 2 900kw propulsion motors, it reduces carbon emissions by 32 tonnes every 24 hours. Powered by a battery unit (housed in 20-foot containers) which has a capacity of 50mwh or 50000kwh). These containers are easily swappable, which means in places like a river where swapping them out is relatively easy, they are ready to replace all other freight and given the huge savings are likely to relatively quickly.

These ships will be able to run on full power for around 24 hours. Given that container ships tend to travel at around 20 knots (37km per hour or 22 miles per hour) this is a rang of around 500 miles. If the swapping of this battery can be done quickly, the travel along the coast should be able to able to continue relatively quick, particularly if these battery swapping stations can be stationed as near the shipping route as possible.

Now this container ship takes around 700 containers, which suggests to me, that you could put in say 10 container batteries, barely reduce the capacity and allow this same ship to cross the Atlantic and more. Now 700 containers is a small container ships with some carrying 7 times as many. A 5000 container ship takes 1.5 -2 million gallons of oil, 1 gallon weighs about 3.3kg, so we are talking 5000 tonnes at the lower end, that means that even on our smaller shop we are talking 500 tonnes of oil, 10 batteries has to compare favourably.

If well made and competition arrives soon, it is likely that these ships will arrive surprisingly fast, as the advantage to companies using them will give them to great an advantage over competition, requiring extremely rapid adoption.

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.

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