Thoughts from members of the CLIMATE CHANGE GROUP
April 2023: A Narrow Path Away From the Brink
Early in March there was a national u3a zoom talk entitled "A narrow path away from the brink"
This was recorded and here is a link to the Climate Change & the Environment page on the u3a website.
The information on where we are and what to do is most revealing.
March 2023: National Grid ESO
Late winter at the end of February had a daytime temperature hovering around 8 degrees, with little wind. The GB generation mix, recording the source of all our UK energy, from electricity shows in real time that 46% of our energy comes from gas, 21% from wind, 12% from imports, 8% nuclear, 7% from solar, 4% biomass, 1% water and 1% coal.
This information comes from an app, NationalGridESO, I have downloaded and I am fascinated by the ever changing pattern of supply. I am focussed on the percentage that comes from wind and solar and how they are providing more and more of our energy needs each year.
This app also shows when records have been broken. It is very encouraging to note that 4th January this year 87.6% of our energy came from zero carbon sources (wind, solar, nuclear and water). The record for the maximum wind production was recorded on 10th Jan again this year.
As well as more investment going into non carbon sources, we all have a part to play in planning how we use our energy and the app also shows when energy is the cleanest reporting the best time of day or night to use electricity.
This is not always for everyone to achieve but the information can be very useful.
Dec 2022: Climate hell or climate heaven? What are we heading for?
António Guterres UN Secretary General said at COP27:
"We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator"
What do you think?
Are we going to have a global disaster?
Or do you think it's all hot air?
Do you want to understand more about global warming?
Go to our contact page and ask your questions, any questions, about climate change.
Let us know what you think. Put a subject of ‘Climate Change questions’ and it will get to us.
We'll answer what we can and investigate what we can't.
What does hydraulic fracking involve?
A hole is drilled to the shale, then huge quantities of sand, slick water & chemicals are pumped at high pressure to ‘frack’ open small cracks to release the gas. There are no financially viable processes to make the toxic water safe for reuse. As much as 9 million gallons is needed per well. In the USA the used water is left underground or in 'ponds' on the surface.
In a square mile (the size of Wallingford) there could be as many as 20 wellheads along with big lorries servicing them.
It would be about 10 years before fracking sites produce enough to make the UK energy-secure. Wave, wind, solar and hydro-power technologies are ready to produce now.
The government’s Committee on Climate Change said in July 2011 that almost half of the UK could be affected by severe drought by 2035. Winchester University's Action on the Climate Crisis explained in 2014 why there is not enough water for fracking.
We led COP26 less than a year ago and made enormous strides getting other countries to sign up to lower carbon emissions.
The new government is maintaining the moratorium against fracking – for how long?
Sept: Welcome the Swallows
Like many people I always look out for the first swallow to appear in April but over time they’ve appeared later & later. This year it was well into May before I spotted one.
Only a few years ago there used to be dozens of swifts swooping round Wallingford town square and the tall houses around the Murren.
Climate change has caused the Sahel & Sahara areas to expand so the birds have to fly about 100 miles further to cross without food. Those that make it stay longer in Spain or Italy in order to rebuild their strength.
The swifts have migrated now. The swallows will be away shortly. They have had a good year with two or three broods.
Next spring I shall look forward to seeing them again.
There are many industries that are being affected by climate change.
For example, in the French wine region of Bordeaux, the wine industry is researching how they can protect their wines. The grape varieties they use are being adversely affected by warmer temperatures and less rain. They are already introducing new grape varieties which are able better to withstand these changes.
The wine growing areas are moving north as the climate warms – so perhaps we will see Bordeaux type wines being grown in this country.
Certainly, French Champagne houses are buying land in south-east England as they see these as an answer to some of the issues climate change brings.
There are mountains of plastic waste in the world but did you know that there are bacteria that can digest plastic!
Scientists in Japan were screening natural microbial communities outside a plastic bottle recycling facility and found a bacteria, Ideonella sakaiensis, that was “eating” the plastic. This bacteria had developed enzymes to break down PET plastic into its basic parts releasing energy and carbon.
Since then this enzyme, PETase has been incorporated into E.Coli bacteria to produce a more efficient enzyme producer and has even been combined with MHETase to create a superenzyme that can break down other types of plastic. To make these bacteria useful they have to be bioengineered to be able to degrade the plastic fast and at scale but it is still a slow job.
Let’s not add to the plastic mountain. Stop buying new plastic and reuse what you have.
Did you know that...
...... since the 1900s many glaciers around the world have been rapidly melting. This, combined with huge loss of sea ice, results in rising sea levels leading to coastal flooding, coastal erosion and storm surges.
The majority of total freshwater on Earth, about 69%, is held in ice caps and glaciers. Glaciers in mountain ranges such as the Himalayas provide fresh drinking water for millions of people. Loss will cause untold suffering, and the potential for wars over water.
As the sea level rises coral reefs will disappear since light will be unable to reach them. Sunlight is how corals get their oxygen, and many of the diverse ecosystems that live within its depths also require steady sunlight to live.