Correcting the world’s wrongs…

Very interesting article on a few levels from the Guardian.

This article points to a number of the central themes of the climate change and renewable technology agenda. Ideas such as industrialised countries fighting against the prevailing world trend and actually lowering carbon emissions, the take up of renewable energy technologies within a framework of investment and remuneration (FIT), and the ever-present threat of dependence on the dirtiest fossil fuel energy sources, even in the face of vast renewables potential in all areas of the world.

Last, but certainly not least, is the reference to the main reason why Germany (and Germans) have embraced the concept of sustainability to the extent they have.

But despite the problems, Germany remains committed to its green agenda, driven, some say, by the need to correct the world’s wrongs – a sentiment that goes back to the second world war and the postwar generation who challenged their parents afterwards for just standing by.

“That has led to a very strong environmental and anti-nuclear movement,” says Green party MP Hermann Ott. “It ultimately led to the foundation of the Green party and made us very strong. If something goes wrong, you have to speak up and do something otherwise your children will ask you in 20 to 30 years, ‘Why didn’t you do anything?'”

Why didn’t you do anything? A powerful question and one which millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are already asking the industrialised western countries and one which many millions more will be asking countries such as India and China in the decades to come. One of this generations (and many to come) biggest problems, set against past tragedies. An example of what not to do can be very powerful.



Getting rid of fossil fuels…


This gallery contains 3 photos.

As news of weather stations reading beyond the 400 parts per million of Carbon Dioxide comes in, I ask when and how will we be able to leave fossil fuels behind and therefore be able to avoid runaway global climate … Continue reading

Stratford Park abstracts…

A great day out at Stratford Park with the boys. Clear and bright with an autumn nip in the air – lots of good direct sunshine with shadows everywhere! The leaves are starting to turn and fall from the trees and my favourite time of the year : )


First fire autumn 2012…

The first day of autumn and also the Autumn Equinox – when the period of night and day are meant to be in exact alignment.

It just so happened that this was the day we got the fire and chimney swept and fixed. The guy took about 30 minutes to sweep the chimney, clean out the stove, replace the back fire brick, fix the turning plates and replace the smoke rope. Bargain.

Claire also applied the stove polish all over it to protect it from rust, while me and the boys got a full stack of firewood in from the end of the garden. So we’re now enjoying toasty wood fires again! : )


Saundersfoot / Tenby: Day 6…

The main target for the day was Monkstone Beach, just to the south of where we were staying in Saundersfoot.

We drove as far as we could but had to park and walk a few hundred meters to the coast with a fairly steep decent to the beach.

What a beach we discovered there. Incredible sand, rock formations, scenery, and virtually deserted. Lots of rock pools to look in and water engineering! I diverted a flow of water running down the beach to the sea around a rock formation and down another channel – next time i’ll take it further along the beach. : )


Saundersfoot / Tenby: Day 5…

Wow – Tenby’s Castle beach at low tide! Awesome sight.

Miles of clean yellow sand against a rocky and urban backdrop. Caves, forts, caste remains, sand dunes and shallow waters.

We descended the steep steps set into the cliff and walked around to Castle Beach from the end of South Beach. Not many people out but the sun was : )

The new Tenby lifeboat station was great to see as was the Grand Designs previous lifeboat station which has been converted into a house, complete with private mooring. I can completely see why the owner decided to do this.


Saundersfoot / Tenby: Day 3…

A breezy and sunny day at the beach – water guns, spades, wet suits, buckets and sand castles!

Lots of digging, paddling and general beach fun. The Goskar Rock is an awesome sight and had to be climbed! Fairly easy on the way up but not so easy coming down. Great view from up there though and a good view of the patterns I made in the sand.

The mini-spade we had bought the day before came in very useful here. The view of Tenby from the beach was amazing and the changing light through the day, as well as the changing effect of the tides, created a stunning setting.


Saundersfoot / Tenby: Day 1…

The last holiday of the year, to Tenby (SW Wales). The house in Saundersfoot had all the mod cons, including Blu-Ray internet TV! A short drive to the beach and great to be by the coat again.

Some patterns in the sand and health & safety sign meets tagging!


Climate change, changing the sceptics minds…

Another climate sceptic falls away but we’re still very far away from what the author of the report (Prof Richard Muller) sees as the difficult part: agreeing across the political and diplomatic spectrum about what can and should be done.

Prof Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change sceptic who founded theBerkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) project, said he was surprised by the findings. “We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds.” He added that he now considers himself a “converted sceptic” and his views had undergone a “total turnaround” in a short space of time.

“Our results show that the average temperature of the Earth’s land has risen by 2.5F over the past 250 years, including an increase of 1.5 degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases,” Muller wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times.


The Severn Estuary tidal power project awakens…?

An exciting past-project gets a flicker of life from the latest PM. The Severn Estuary tidal power project is now back on the agenda which is good news for renewable energy production.

The first thing to look at are the costs involved. The barrage would cost at least £30Billion and generate 6.5 GW of energy per year, equal to maybe 4 gas-fired power stations.

According to the article, it would have a lifetime over 120 years, compared with 30-40 years for a conventional gas, coal or nuclear power station, or 20 years for a wind turbine.

6.5GW per year for 120 years = 780GW over lifetime of barrage. This compared to a 2GW gas power station operating for 30 years (costing £2 Billion) = 60GW over lifetime of power station. How do you compare the two? We need to find out the total £ per GW produced (total cost / total GW), as follows.

Barrage = £30B / 780GW = £0.038B (£38 Million)

Conventional = £2B / 60GW = £0.033B (£33.3 Million)

So the conventional power station energy costs less than the barrage energy to produce, but there are many other factors to consider. Added to this are the potential cost over-runs which are likely, unknowns with project, environmental damage to existing fauna in the estuary.

But, positives include huge job creation, a massive and on-going renewable source of energy (how much non-renewable power generation could this project replace?),  environmental protection from rising sea levels, privately funded not paid for by public money and finally the potential new road link between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare.

Just based on the cost of the energy produced, this doesn’t make economic sense, but this is the same argument used against renewables – the overall ‘cost’ of using fossil fuel-based sources of energy is more when all factors are taken into account. So, based on all the potential advantages of the barrage project, I would have to consider it in principle at least something to look into in more detail. The potential for 30,000 jobs and 6.5GW per year of renewable energy is really exciting.

Also, given how long these projects take to plan, build and operate, this would be a realistic source of jobs for both my boys, if they decide to become engineers one day : )


What wood…?


From left (I think): Hawthorn, ??, Beech, Birch.

Some wood I can identify but i’m still learning a lot about wood-lore. Anyone know what these are? This was a selection from the last load of firewood.


Another Mit Romney special…

Another awesome policy decision from the Republican Presidential hopeful…

‘Romney’s campaign confirmed this week he wants to end long-standing tax credits for wind farm projects when the incentives come up for review later this year.

The pledge means the popular production tax credits (PTCs) – which have helped drive a surge in new wind energy investment in the US, making it the second largest wind energy market in the world after China – would be allowed to expire at the end of this year if the Republicans secure the White House in November.’

The reason? To create a level playing field between all the different types of power generators. But…

‘However, green groups, renewable energy industry insiders, and Democrats were all quick to point out that Romney’s desire for a level playing field on energy policy does not extend to oil and gas, where he has pledged to retain up to $40bn of subsidies and tax breaks that President Obama wants to see phased out.’

I really hope the American voters see this for what it is. The denial of climate-change science and the support for the big energy industries which are bank-rolling the Mitt Romney campaign should not determine global energy policy.

Maybe we should add up how much funding in tax breaks, incentives, subsidies etc the oil, coal and gas industries have benefitted from over the last 50 years and apply that level to the new, renewable industries, such as wind, solar and tidal/hydro?


Cornwall camping: day 5…

As starts to the day go, this wasn’t the best!

Packing up all our stuff into a very compact car while it was raining and getting stuck in the mud on the way out of the field – how does that sound? Being pulled out of the mud by a cool tractor was good and the boys loved that bit.

The idea for the last day in Cornwall was to pack up early and drive straight to St. Austell and the Eden Project, for as long as we could get there. After the first shower, it was clear skies and some sunshine which was fine for Eden, which has exhibits and landscaping & attractions both inside biospheres and outside in the surrounding landscape.

Since Claire and I went about 7 years ago during its first year open, it has changed a lot – grown up in many ways, with more facilities, bigger exhibits and lots more parking! It’s essentially an ecological and horticultural theme park, with the huge tropical biomes being the main attraction.

The boys loved it there and we saw all their favourite fruits – apples, bananas, mangoes and lots of cool play areas both inside and out, including an amazing bamboo and metal house on stilts in the main tropical biome. We made it to the top of the biome even though it was very very hot and humid inside.

Highly recommend it and was managed to get back home safely, through some more torrential rain on the motorways!