Category Archives: Climate

Spring Has Really Sprung

The last day of Spring marks the end of a quarter the like of which no one living today has ever seen before.

SunBaby1aThe virus that escaped from somewhere around Wuhan in China has been devastating. Not in the way that the two world wars were – but in its impact on our economies and way of life. It has become the unseen threat that could be hiding on every person and point of contact. The silent bullet that is not felt until days after it has hit its random target.

The nature of the virus and its infection process has fed two contradicting fears – huge death tolls and – overreacting to a minor health issue. And even though the 38,000 UK deaths to date are a shocking statistic the economic impact of the government measures – such as paying the wages of millions to stay at home – will hold the nation back for decades. So arguments are rife that lock-downs are being lifted too soon or not quickly enough. And that the virus is either a major threat to the nation or nothing worse than seasonal flu. Arguments that have now taken on political dimensions. With Labour supporters generally taking the opposite view to the Conservative ones. Hardly conducive to achieving the best outcome.

But politics, rules and regulations aside Mother Nature seems to taken notice of the lack of emissions from factories, motor vehicles and aviation. With reduced exhaust gases and the absence of con trails clouding the skies Spring has been a new experience for everyone here in middle England. Record sunshine hours, number of dry days and above average temperatures have pushed the time at home to new levels of outdoor activity.

It’s just a pity that most of us have not been able to share the glorious weather with friends and relatives …

Changeable Weather

The 20’s decade has started out with a roar – with threats of everything from global pandemic to weather chaos; from stock market crash to royal family breakdown.

But have no fear an intrepid junior reporter has emerged. One who will stop the evil US president, outwit the scheming eastern dictator and mobilise the youth of the free world to stop climate change before we and all of the Earth’s animals starve, burn or are drowned.

Now Grandad remains unconvinced that Grintin has any real solutions and can only act as a voice for others. Hopefully those that have researched the issue in depth. But this leaves the whole climate action programme vulnerable to being hijacked by vested interests. And there are plenty who see their chance to make a lot of money out of phoney climate initiatives.

Clearly there are some big issues that need to be faced head-on – with the ever expanding human population being the key driver of almost all of them. Now if Grintin can convince the world to act on that then there is a chance for future generations.

But cynics will say that there is no money to be made out of population reduction – so it won’t happen. Not by any human actions that is …

Extinction Confusion

Groups of self-styled activists have picked up the issue of man-made climate change and are loudly demanding governments act to stop it; immediately.

Clearly this issue is far from new – and there are known solutions. And even though the protesters are seemingly fully committed to the cause, the implications of their radical demands are far-reaching and quite literally life-changing.

Eliminating the use of fossil-fuels would stop all commercial flights, ships, trucks and most personal transport; except for electric trains, bicycles and the limited number of fully electric cars. This move alone would spell not just the end of overseas holidays but also stop most of our essential services. With so much shipped in, out and around every day – everything from clothes to cans of beans could not be made or delivered to the shops. Foraging in the fields for edible vegetables could replace food banks. And actually growing crops without the use of diesel-power would cut productivity levels to near zero. Fighting for food would be the new norm – the young, the old and the weak would soon perish.

But the chances that this scenario would happen are near zero – since governments have shown themselves to be too ineffective to carry through such unpopular measures.

AccountDoctor160

Another approach to reducing the damage to the environment by human activity – is to control the human population. And not just by reducing the rate of population increase but actually reducing the number of people!

Since capital punishment seems unlikely to return in the short term the excess of people may have to be tackled by voluntary euthanasia. It would of course need to be a far bigger scale than those in present day Switzerland and Belgium. However nature may well assist – on a potentially massive scale – through drug resistant bacteria, exotic fatal diseases – and of course – climate change itself.

But as long as governments are in control of the situation they are not going to legislate for reductions in population. They need expanding populations to keep paying more and more in taxes to prop-up the currency and debt mountains.

So those protesters who really believe in their slogans face either a life in a pre-industrial landscape or volunteering to die for their cause.

But even after these extreme measures the Earth’s climate will continue to change. And the idea of flying-off to another planet to start again will be shown to be just a Dr Strangelove fantasy. Truly a dystopian future …

Feedback

It’s More Than A Game – Two games into the FIFA World Cup and England have already scored eight, yes eight,  goals. Even though this is already old news for millions, Grandads supporting England just had to register it here. It might never happen again in a life time!

Model Solution – After our posting about hydrogen powered trains comes the news that Cadent have speculative plans to build a hydrogen gas plant somewhere on Merseyside. Cadent have floated the £900m HyNet project – with claims it could reduce environmentally-harmful emissions and could create or secure thousands of jobs over 30 years.

However this scheme does not produce hydrogen cleanly from water and electricity but rather through breaking down natural gas into, mainly, carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen. Essentially producing much the same quantity of harmful CO2 as would burning gas in the conventional way. It is a scheme totally dependent on a method of safely storing all the CO2 produced. Cadent claim that this can be done by pumping it into the gas fields under the Irish Sea that are due to be decommissioned soon.

Many doubt that this scheme will get tax-payer funding since domestic gas heating is scheduled to be culled by 2030 – and that’s just twelve years away. However Merseyside industry may see this as a way to get around their own restrictions on burning natural gas – especially if funded by the tax-payer.

Beastly Weather

Apparently we are braced for chilling temperatures and heavy snowfall … as the so-called Beast from the East batters the UK. Even though there were few signs today that any of the local supermarkets were experiencing a run on provisions. And few seemed to think anything special was needed to tide us through the possible travel disruptions and power cuts.

man8Being Britain there will of course be some extreme reactions in both directions; with shorts still being seen outside in tough areas and airlines being forced to cancel flights at airports with no snow. Meanwhile the media will be getting their reporters to the regular vantage points so that they can paint as black a picture as possible for their next edition.

For those Grandads that have seen all this – and worse – before the plan will be to be make the best of the situation – stay warm and have a nice cup of tea. Assuming that the country still has enough working power stations to keep the home fires burning

Electric Avenue

On Friday the man behind electric vehicle maker Tesla, Elon Musk, launched the long-awaited Model 3 – the zero-carbon economy car for the masses. Tesla-3A-300And it looks good from the publicity shots even if the stark dashboard – just a single screen – may not appeal to all the target buyers. With a starting price of $35,000 it should sell well in states like California especially since Tesla claim to have over 500,000 advance orders already.

Meanwhile in the UK the Government announced that they intend to stop the sales of diesel and petrol motor cars by 2040. So giving the UK’s motorists 23 years to change the habits of several lifetimes. This story made the headlines in the news bulletins yet few in the media (or the Government) seem to thought through what such a change would mean in reality.

When the issue was raised of where all the electricity would come from to power the vehicles the studio expert said it was not such a big problem as most people would want to recharge their cars overnight when other demand was low. Then the issue of where to plug-in was raised and the suggestion was that lamp posts could be equipped as charging points.

Now both of these answers are totally impractical yet they are just a couple of superficial issues. The bigger issues include – what tax will replace the millions-per-day in duty and VAT on petrol and diesel that funds so much Government spending? Who will fund the upgrading of the power distribution network that runs to every street sub-station and home? With at least forty cars just in Grandad’s short street the overnight charging load would be too great for the existing cabling to handle. Digging up roads and erecting more pylons seems unavoidable.

Renault-TwizyOf course the Government will attempt to use legislation to make the ill-considered plan work – with their usual limited effectiveness. They may, for example, limit the size of the electric vehicle we can own according to perceived need – with singles being limited a micro-car and four-seaters being reserved for families of four, etc. Anyone with unused seats in their vehicle will be surcharged.

Even our public services will not be exempt with police, fire and ambulance vehicles included in the fossil-fuel ban.

Renault-Twizy17And some enterprising car makers are already on the case … as you can see in this shot of a Renault ambulance [This is a real vehicle – not a Photoshop creation!]

The only bright spot for anyone who believes that switching to a more economical petrol car now would be just as effective, cheaper and quicker to implement is knowledge of politicians’ previous track records. Take, for example the Government plan to make all new homes zero-carbon by 2016. It turned out to be totally ineffective .. like the various carbon-trading schemes and misguided incentives in Northern Ireland.

Best to leave engineering to engineers and for politicians to stick to politics …

Out Of Step

Today is Healthy Homes Day – according to EurActiv.com; who are reporting on a planned Energy Union that the EU are trying to move from an objective into practical reality.

man58_160Back in February 2015 the EU said that an interconnected Energy Union would make it possible for shortages in some nations to be made up by others and bolster energy security across the bloc. Since then regional and national governments have been asked to focus their climate change efforts on energy efficiency and especially in relation to the renovation of buildings. The EU is also aiming to make it easier for building renovation programmes to have access a multi-billion euro Juncker Investment Fund [is this the same as the EU fund that was announced in 2014 by JCJ?]

Existing EU directives already require that all new structures be nearly zero-energy buildings by 2021 but implementation by many countries has been poor or non-existent. And a year ago every EU country, except for Malta, was prosecuted for failing to fully translate the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive into national laws. The EU Commission has since said that enforcement of energy efficiency legislation will be tougher in the future and that there will be revisions to the related directives this Autumn.

So just as the UK closes its Zero Carbon Hub our masters in Brussels decide to get tough on countries that are failing to legislate for and enforce their zero energy objectives … Plus ça change

China’s Climate Change Leadership

According to a report today on Politics.co.uk China is showing a leadership on climate change which the UK is lacking. This comes from MP Joan Walley (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North) who chairs the Environmental Audit committee. She is quoted as saying that the Chinese government had a set of plans and the ability to deliver them in contrast to the UK government simply paying lip service to the decarbonisation agenda.

Shanghai1The implication is that China has done more than the UK to clean up its pollution and reduce its impact on the world’s climate. Yet simple observation does not support this politically inspired theory. Any Grandad who remembers British cities – like Stoke on Trent – in the 1950’s will know how much less pollution there is today. And any Grandad who has friends or relatives working in China now will have heard first hand reports on just how bad most Chinese cities are.

Just leaving a window open overnight results in a layer of black dust over everything by morning. Main roads need to be hosed down daily – even in mid winter – to reduce pollution build-up. Government inspectors are charged with checking factory discharges – but only work office hours so factories churn out their worst pollution over night. City pollution levels reach 10’s or even 100’s of times the recommended safe limits. And yet this exemplary Chinese government has plans for 22 additional coal-fired power stations in Guangdong alone. The emissions from which are predicted to cause as many as 16,000 additional deaths in the next 40 years [South China Morning Post].

So as little Britain tries to solve yet another worldwide problem many other countries pursue a self-interest agenda. Perhaps we should learn from them?

Climate Science

AccountDoctor160At the start of 2013 the Met Office predicted that the year was likely to be one of warmest years on record at an estimated 0.57C above the long-term average. By the end of December they were reporting that the mean temperature for 2013 was, in fact, 0.08C below that same average. Outside the Met Office predictions of a cold Winter were shown to be well off target as the UK mean temperature for December came in at 5.7 °C. That’s 1.8 °C above the 1981-2010 average and so the warmest for 25 years.

Now many Grandads might have expected this mild weather to have triggered some Global Warming stories but they were notably absent. Instead the media seemed only to be interested in freak or extreme weather. So scare stories about predicted November weather in October’s mass media led the Met Office to state the science simply does not exist to make detailed, long-term forecasts for temperature and snowfall.

Fine but somewhat at odds with the Met Office’s 2013 launch of Climate Service UK. A consultancy product hoping to provide assessments of how a changing climate might affect business and society. According to their PR it will support climate-smart decisions to make society climate-resilient, meet international capacity development objectives, and provide a framework for ensuring that public investment in climate science can be used to maximum effect.

So that’s two more buzzwords – climate-smart and climate-resilient – to watch out for in 2014. Let’s see how often they turn up in future Government handouts. And perhaps Morrissey could work them into lyrics for a Eurovision song?