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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Global Carbon Emissions To Hit Record 36 Billion Tonnes In 2013

This entry came from AECB's Newsletter December 2013:
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are set to rise by more than 2% to reach a record high of 36 billion tonnes, according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project. The 2.1% rise projected for 2013 means global emissions from burning fossil fuel are 61% above 1990 levels. Co-led by researchers from the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA), the 2.1% rise projected for 2013 means global emissions from burning fossil fuel are 61% above 1990 levels, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol.
In addition to the release of today's figures, the Global Carbon Project has launched a new online platform, which provides more detail on the world's biggest carbon emitters. The platform reveals that the biggest contributors to fossil fuel emissions in 2012 were China (27%), the US (14%), the European Union (10%), and India (6%). The projected rise for 2013 comes after a similar rise of 2.2%in 2012. However, the rise in fossil fuel emissions in 2012 and 2013 was slower compared to the average 2.7% of the past 10 years. Growth rates in CO2 for major emitting countries in 2012 were China (5.9%) and India (7.7%). Meanwhile, US emissions declined by 3.7% and Europe declined by 1.8%.
While emissions per person in China matched figures in the EU at seven tonnes in 2012, the US is still among the highest emitter per person at 16 tonnes. By comparison people in India produce a carbon footprint of just 1.8 tonnes. Turning to the source of emissions, the research found that most emissions are from coal (43%), then oil (33%), gas (18%), cement (5.3%) and gas flaring (0.6%). The growth in coal in 2012 accounted for 54% of the growth in fossil fuel emissions.
The figures also showed that CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land-use change added 8% to the emissions from burning fossil fuels. Cumulative emissions of CO2 since 1870 are set to reach 2015 billion tonnes in 2013 - with 70% caused by burning fossil fuels and 30% from deforestation and other land-use changes.
Professor Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter said: "We have exhausted about 70% of the cumulative emissions that keep global climate change likely below two degrees. In terms of CO2 emissions, we are following the highest climate change scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September."
Davius footnote: It does appear bleak at times - yet everyone of us have a key part to play in lowering emissions. You may feel helpless in your activities to reduce your burden - yet the smallest things done on a personal/individual/local/community basis will have some positive knock on effect to improve our prospects of reducing our carbon burden.
What can you do?

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Local economy initiatives and developing trust can help bond our communities again.

With so many pockets within cities and rural areas more effected by the global economic downturn (with few signs of recovery) than others – many families, people and communities are despairing. By adhering to some conventions we have allowed many of our natural skills to diminish.

As opposed to travelling far to find work, it is likely there are local requirements for your skills – yet a lack of social connectivity for people to exchange what they can buy or sell. What forums exist? Who will co-ordinate all of it? These are the questions we should ask ourselves if your community is to set up local economic co-operatives (Social enterprises? Local business?) in order to co-ordinate your neighbours.

One such group who have successfully and practically thought out these processes and created a living breathing local entity is the Cardiff Taffs Community Currency. Please look at the video below:

Creating a local currency may be one strong format forward to encourage local skills to come to the forefront of economies. Bringing people together and creating bonds of trust over several years will encourage a greater spirit within communities. This is not about abandoning conventional economy – yet having complimentary measures to begin a social/economic social symbiosis - it's about creating real links in your community. Forming such bonds and having several 'go to guys' will improve your overall quality of life.
What is going in your area? What can you do? Possibly more than you can credit yourself with … reach out. With social networking, group forums, video, blogs, a fragile global economy; no time is better than now!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Cardiff Rivers Group - showing an excellent example of volunteers improving our environment and communities.

Cardiff Rivers Group epitomise volunteers in action and making substantial improvements to the locality, building links and raising hope and motivation for many locals to become more empowered and improve their locality. Make a positive change, make new friends, build networks and give your personal touch to improving your locality.
This video highlights the efforts of Cardiff Rivers Group with their cleaning up efforts of the rivers and waterways, riverbanks, parks and areas linked to the water. This video is Cardiff Rivers Group effort to highlight what people can do and they strongly encourage you to establish similar groups to be set up in more towns and cities around the UK and the world to tackle the pollution and littering of our precious waterways and ecosystems.
Additionally they partake in many other networks/organisations events to raise money for several charities. Make a positive change, make new friends, build networks and give your personal touch to improving your locality.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Bringing the Climate Transition PhD Community from all Universities together.

The work of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has in recent years began bringing together the Climate Transitions PhD community from across our British (and some international) Universities.

Each year a different host University will hold the ‘PhD Climate Transitions Conference’ in an effort to engage and integrate PhD researcher candidates from all disciplines of geography, agriculture, biodiversity, planning, psychology, biology, chemistry, social research, innovation etc. to come together for 3-4 days and partake in the conferences.

The opportunity to network, create new associations, reflect on new directions to take ones research in and many other positive facets are experienced which will benefit you and your research.

A small video of several of the PhD researcher’s experiences of the 2013 Tyndall conference (held at Cardiff University) is shown below:

This is YOUR conference for all you PhD candidates (and possible post-doctoral) involved in the sustainability field and climate transition research – we strongly encourage you to contact the Tyndall Centre and attend the April 2014 (2015! 2016!) PhD Climate Transition Conference.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Composting as a livelihood for your community? Towards ZERO waste society …. Are we realistic?

Waste out of control - or have we just lost faith?

There are positions for and against that we can hit a high level of recycling of 50% and sadly some recent events have revealed some very bad waste management practices that have crept along in the background quiet illegally.
Some issues of 'send it away and forget about it' which was originally a philosophy/living regard we had towards national landfill .... yet now some exchanges of fire have occurred as the waste has been claimed to be sent abroad and claimed as recycled when it was supposedly actually put to landfill.
Our habits have been ridiculous the last fifty years, we need to review our entire living standard and objectively ask ourselves do we really need to buy this, that and those. This is mainly all about demand and inevitable waste - which many feel they can do nothing about it - so merely continue to consume at an accelerated rate.
We have increased our recycling rates (or at least we have increased the rate which we put things into 'green' bins and not black bins) in theory we are doing the right thing - yet it is all really going where we believe (where we are told it is) it is?
Can we deal with waste in our immediate vicinity? Should we deal with our waste in our immediate vicinity? What incentives? could we recycle that waste into 'free' energy and heat? Who would be responsible for partaking or managing such initiatives?
Composting - more options than we know?
Composting at home still has some setbacks. Complaints from neighbours that someone who is putting food into an ‘open composter’ in the back yard still attracts rats and increases the pest problem – or worse attracts more domesticated cats who will be instinctively attracted to the rats.
People forget what exactly they can add to garden large compost bins (of 100 litres or considerably more). What can we do on the house (or office) front? How much waste can be channelled into the house hold land/garden area without impacting upon the neighbourhood?
Post: junk mail, bills and personal letters:
Many of us may be tempted to recycle those pesky flyers, or envelopes that come with all those bills, personal letters etc. Just by hand shredding the paper (long strips) into the house bin (allocated for home (non-food) composting). Newspaper may be of use here to tear up and add to the home composter.

In such a neurotic era of personal information and privacy – your precious details can be added to the home composting point.  It may be a good way to rid yourself of personal information safely. Instead of using electronic shredders, one may hand shred the paper and add it to your compost point where it will be gradually broken down.

Human waste:
No – not urine or faeces (although composting toilets are increasingly becoming more acceptable by many conventional families) yet human hair, nails and anything else that departs our outer shells may be of use to compost. Just mixing all those torn up envelopes, toilet paper that one blow’s their nose on along with hairs and nails will be a good source for your home composting.
Some scientist may argue that such a build-up of pathogens may potentially be a danger – yet mixed in with paper, cardboard, grass, bush cuttings and weeds – most potential threats can be minimised.
Micro-scale composting in Houses à Small scale Community Composting:
There is scope to begin a larger scale composting point if 100 houses in a street agree, as a co-operative, to merge all their composting at one site if they have finite land (or not gardens at all – perhaps a high rise establishment) yet wish to deal with their waste on the immediate geographical/spatial level.
Anaerobic Digestion – Waste from Energy:
This will be further explored in a later blog of Bio-economy – yet for now – please consider the more waste we can direct away from recycling and into composting may give some possibilities of co-energy-operatives with possible small to medium sized anaerobic digesters on localised street conditions may be one manner to provide additional latent heat for a local district scheme. Generation of electricity may be more complex and expensive to set up. What say you?
This may be a better option than creating anaerobic digesters that are fuelled by felled trees from another country (a real burden with transporting the fuel stock for 1000’s of kilometres).
Industrial food waste from Restaurants, food courts/establishments, prisons and other establishments is an area that still requires mass development to deal with our food stock waste and hopefully an avenue for localisation of composting processes being established.
Whether we like it or not – incineration stations with energy recovery (heat and electricity) are getting built everywhere across the globe. Many pressure groups, community groups and other concerned factions have lobbied hard to stop this from happening – sometimes successfully and sometimes not.
Fewer incinerators would be built if we had less of an output of waste – or a redirection of compostable food waste that can go to compost sites or anaerobic digestion machines.
We must all act … some have established excellent practices years ago – they are just not widespread enough. This blog presents no solutions – it merely asks everyone to ask what we have to do in our own local areas to deal with our waste streams.
We may really have a genuine chance of becoming a zero waste producing society.
What can you do?

Sunday, 31 March 2013

University students growing their own food.

At Universities and colleges movements have already been underway the last few years to encourage the growing of wildflowers on campus sites improving the biodiversity support mechanisms that as responsible citizens we should be undertaking.
Some student groups have led by example by engaging their respective University Estates Departments and requesting that space be allocated to them so that they may grow their own food and encourage other students to partake in this positive practice.
The benefits are obvious with empowerment of some level of self-sufficiency, fitness (growing and maintaining crops) social engagement and meeting other people and improving campus sustainability.... you will no doubt find many other benefits to this work.
This video is a platform to encourage all University students and staff (and schools, communities etc.) nationally and internationally to begin their own food growing programme. What can you do?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Smart Meters ........ Smart Houses ...... Smart people?

Following on from a previous blog entry mid 2012 on Smart Meters; The 50 house project will always continue with its prerogative of sustainable housing design and set-up. The data constantly collected from listening to the landlords and professional tenants observations, user-experience and voicing their opinions (and possible concerns) about living in an everyday home gives valuable input into how to improve housing and living conditions.

Observations from the domestic waste management perspective showed us where many of the houses in the research would temporarily place their once domestic filled up waste/recycling/compost bags out the back awaiting the weekly/bi-weekly waste collection. When these bags were walked through the houses (you will not walk around the house when you are in the middle of a long terraced street - you may have no choice other than to walk through the house due to street design a century ago) would result in hard flooring and carpets getting soaked and stained over the long term.

Simple solutions such as building protective 'bag bays' (some street do not introduce wheelie bins as it is impractical to store them out front due to vandalism, drunks kicking them over each week) allowed people to safely store their waste out the front (no longer would bags just be strewn out front and being attacked by rats, pigeons, seagulls and other vermin) and no longer needed to be walked through the house.

The communal element of shared kitchens, dining rooms, loungers and bathrooms is always an illuminating experience developing further questions on how to improve upon existing designs, social skills, cleaning and maintenance responsibilities. Observing and interviewing 250 professional tenants will show consistency in the vast themes and issues being raised.

No matter what technologies are addressed and implemented, people will not always apply them appropriately. Turning the lights off constantly and leaving the house in perpetual darkness was found to be outright dangerous and a constant complaint for some professional tenants (even if one is attempted to save money on bills – one energy efficient bulb uses very little when left on for 4-6 hours (less in the lighter nights); many like to leave the main lights on when they go out for an evening to deter burglars. So who should take responsibility for lighting management? Human or machines/smart houses?
If smart houses were common place by the 2030’s should it be up to them when the lights are turned off? Peoples moods will change on a regular basis and the smart houses central computer may not be able to keep up with people’s moods and desire changes within the home environment. Possibly the central computers may be able to learn peoples habits and react appropriately.
Ventilation was constant issue brought up; leaving windows open and fans on when one is showering, cooking [work in garage?]etc. is essential to help a house breath, yet if people close the windows and leave the fans off (many on the 50 house project kitchen/shower fans are not automatic and do not have humidity sensors in them either – just human controlled pull on/off strings) then humidity will build up, making the rooms stuffy and in damp conditions the mould will thrive in such built environments. It was found a minority of professional tenants did not understand that the fans should be left on for a while after exiting the shower or cooking experience.

Should smart houses take responsibility by opening the windows automatically or put the extraction fans on instead of people doing it? Would having sensors for humidity all around the buildings just end up using more energy? Is too much technology in a home healthy? Many professional tenants often complained of static and dust build ups which occurred in a very short amount of time making cleaning more frequently required than what some considered necessary.
Energy use/loads by product posed some interesting observations and discussions. When queried by the Housing managers, a minority of the tenants were obviously ignorant of some appliances using little energy, yet would be turning them off religiously – in contrast the high energy appliances in the domestic environment were not effectively managed, used too excessively and thus wasted a lot of money and increased the tenants bills overall. This caused a lot of unnecessary contentious issues in the communal buildings, which could have all be avoided if people had a uniform comprehension of what products use how much energy and what good practise would support joint up thinking/joint up practises for decent energy/water/heat saving measures.

Should home central smart computers arbitrarily adjust the hardware/appliances in use? Will this make us lazy and complacent of our resource saving responsibilities? Should the smart houses inform the home users of what appliances are over-burdened and wasting energy? Yet will people pay attention to the warnings or just see it as superfluous information?
Sustainable new building designs may be breathable houses, yet in the UK they barely make up 1% of our housing stock at present. It is not about leading the field in new home technologies and practise – yet rather how to make the existing 99% housing stock (much of the housing 50 - 150 year old buildings) more ambient to energy efficiency, cleaner living, fresh air being processed in the home? Retrofitting is important – yet will the green deal deliver? How many people will take it up? Will there be any backlash to this new format? We all have a very long road ahead of us to make our national state of housing compliant to a higher level resource efficiency.
To be blunt, it’s a bit (a lot actually) of a cop out to rely upon technology/innovation to sort our problems out …. when good human housekeeping practise is …. well – good practise! We should not be complacent and reliant. Life does not have to be overly complex, yet basic practises should be maintained of good water/food/energy/waste housekeeping by all of us. This may be happening the last few years due to recession forcing us to rethink a lot of our basic domestic strategies. What people take for granted in their daily routine of basic practise could really be world saving measures which should be encouraged nationally/globally. What are you doing in your home/office/school/university that really helps the world?
Before we implement hi-end smart house innovative energy/water etc. saving measures, we should get our own homes in order and ask ourselves do we really need to use resources/hardware/lighting/fans/air conditioning 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' – when realistically can we get by on just resource 'X'?

The public probably have come up with good innovative measures, yet it is not yet widespread. We strongly encourage you to discuss your house, office, factory, schools, university energy/water/heat/waste management practises and systems with your neighbours. Pooling our ideas could financially save us a lot of money as well as save our precious resources.

What can you do?