Why I remain optimistic.

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in Articles, Blog | 0 comments

Several pieces of news have caught my attention in the last few days which have challenged my generally positive outlook on climate change issues. Despite this, I remain stubbornly optimistic about our ability to rise collectively to the challenges we face, as I will explain…. first though, the bad news…

 

Let’s start with the report from the BBC of a recent study by  Eun-Soon Im, Jeremy S. Pal, and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir. This considered an aspect of global warming which, I must admit, has passed me by – that is the impact of temperature on human survival. Not, I hasten to add, the conventional “dry bulb” temperature measurement we are all familiar with from weather forecasts (and which are hitting all-time highs in Europe in the last few days, in excess of 43 °C in Cordoba, in the south of Spain, for example) but rather the more esoteric “wet bulb” temperature.

This measurement is the lowest temperature that can be achieved by evaporating water from a surface. In a low humidity environment, the wet bulb temperature can be considerably lower than the dry bulb temperature (as heat energy – aka latent heat – is needed to evaporate the liquid water, so lowering the temperature of the surface). As the moisture in the atmosphere rises, however, the potential for further evaporation decreases and so the wet bulb temperature approaches the dry bulb temperature until we reach 100% humidity, when both temperatures are the same.  

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Earth Overshoot Day

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Earth Overshoot DayToday, August 20th 2013,  we have spent our entire budget for the year. This Earth Overshoot Day is two days earlier than in 2012. From now on we will be drawing down more resources and emitting more pollution than our planet can handle.

For another 133 days, to be precise.

Imagine if this was the case with our finances. If from now on we had to live entirely on borrowed money, if we spent 1/3rd more than we earned year-in year-out and our debts were rising, not falling. We would rightly be worried. Time to get serious about resource efficiency.

Global Footprint Network.

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Mottainai! PWC report indicates we are too late for two degrees.

Posted by on Nov 17, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The Japanese have a word Mottainai which “reflects a sense of regret concerning waste” which can “lead to anger or protest when the person who is observing the utter waste is incapable of holding back their emotions”. Well that sure sounds like a polite way of describing how I am feeling just now….

Why? Well I have just read a new report from PWC: Too late for two degrees? which makes very sobering reading.

We know that each year that we allow CO2 and other greenhouse gasses to accumulate in the atmosphere means that subsequent reductions need to be greater.

Back in 2000, in order to have a 50% change of global temperature rises not exceeding 2 degrees Centigrade, we needed to decarbonise our economy at the rate of 3.7% per annum to 2050. Today that target has risen to 5.1% a year because we have wasted the last decade with an average global rate of decarbonisation of just 0.8% a year.

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The Limits to Growth Reviewed

Posted by on Oct 9, 2012 in Books, My Book | 1 comment

The Limits to GrowthOne of the most influential books on the subject of resource efficiency in the 20th Century was The Limits to Growth [ meadows1972limits  ] by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III.  Commissioned in 1972 by the Club of Rome, an influential think-tank, the study used computer systems – an innovation at the time – to model the interaction of population, pollution, capital investment, agriculture and natural resources. Each of these drivers had positive and negative feedbacks with each other – e.g. as agriculture improved so did food per capita which boosted population, at the same time as population increased so too did pollution and natural resource consumption, while a decline in resources decreased industrial output.

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