Friday, August 23, 2019

Where's the Beef?

Where’s the Beef?
Right, just in case you're on holiday and wondering what to do to fill the time here's another episode of the Sustainable Futures Report and this one is for Friday, 23 August.
What’s going on?
Yes I'm Anthony Day and I'm continuing to share my thoughts on sustainability and I'm delighted to see that so many of you, indeed more than ever, are listening to this podcast. I mentioned last time that Julia Hartley Brewer of Talk Radio wanted to know what I thought about the decision of Goldsmith College to ban beef. 
I recorded the interview and created this episode and congratulated myself on getting it all set up and ready to roll a whole four days in advance. And then Talk Radio rang me again, (Isn’t it time they gave me my own programme?) and asked if I’d talk to Mike Graham about Elton John flying Harry and family by private jet and whether paying to offset the carbon footprint was just hypocrisy. I recorded that one too. I’ve recovered and re-jigged my original episode, so now you get two for the price of one.
Anyway, here’s how the first interview went. Just remember, to err is human.
Interview Number One

Julia Hartley-Brewer: Right, let's turn our attention back here to Goldsmith College in the University of London. From next month they've said they're going to remove all beef products from their shops and cafes and from the canteen -- no burgers, no lasagna, no chili, no tacos -- all taken off the menu. Why? Well, because they're banning beef as part of efforts to tackle climate change. They're also going to charge students a levy of 10p on bottles of water and single use plastic cups, it's all part of a drive for the university to become carbon neutral by 2025. They're going to install solar panels and switch to a clean energy supplier. Also, they're going to require all academic courses to include studies on climate change. Professor Frances Corner, the Warden of Goldsmiths says, declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words.

Well, is it actually going to achieve anything? Let's talk to Anthony Day, who's an environmental consultant and host of "The Sustainable Futures Report," which is a podcast on environmental issues. Good morning to you Anthony.

Anthony: Good morning.

Interviewer: Good morning. I mean, my first advice to anyone reading this would be if you are planning to go to Goldsmiths, is change to another university and go somewhere sensible. But I do worry there aren't that many other sensible universities. You, however I imagine are very concerned with these issues. You think this is all a good move?

Anthony: Well, I think it's a good thing to raise awareness of the climate crisis. I don't think actually banning beef is going to make a big change on the world scale. But I think that raising the profile is good. I think there's more they could do, of course.

Interviewer: -- often talk about raising profile and this is what the Extinction Rebellion people... And as far as I can tell what they're doing is basically everything Extinction Rebellion has been calling for them to do without any questions.

But they always talk about we need to raise the profile. Good Lord. The world talks about with, well, the world, the western world, the western media talks about nothing but climate change. I can't see you can go half an hour watching the BBC or Sky News or read a national newspaper without being talked to, certainly Radio 4, about climate change with this ongoing, it's almost like a religious cult, talking about the need to do something. I mean, who isn't aware of it yet?

Anthony: Well perhaps not many people. But it's not a question of talking about it, it's doing something. And unfortunately the talk so far hasn't actually led to sufficient action.

Interviewer: But you say that, but in Britain, we know that Britain of all the G20 countries has done more to tackle carbon emissions, has done more to tackle waste, more to do about recycling. There are loads of things that the British government has done not apart from this nonsense zero-net emissions target for 2050, which is obviously slightly less worse than what Extinction Rebellion want. But there's no doubt at all we're moving to renewable energies, no doubt at all there've been loads of efforts to tackle...

When you say nothing's being done, it's not just talk, on the contrary, loads has been done. We pay huge taxes right now on our fuel. We have to pay to buy a plastic bag. There are loads of things being done in terms of action to stop us from adding to carbon emissions.

Anthony: Not nearly enough. Not nearly enough. As you say, the 2050 zero net emissions target is nonsense. It should be much earlier.

Interviewer: Ah I think it's nonsense because I think it's too soon. You think it's nonsense for the other reason.

Anthony: Absolutely, it should be 2030 or even earlier. But we are in a crisis and playing about with plastic bags and beef burgers isn't really going to solve it.

Interviewer: But this is what we do. As you say, it's playing around. And I'm all for let's not have a load of plastic bags thrown into the oceans. And yeah, to be fair, it would appear that we... Life can go on without us all having single use plastic water bottles. But what would you want done then? What do you think say Goldsmiths can do or the government can do, every company, people listening right now should be doing, rather than taking their bag for life to the supermarket? What should they be doing?

Anthony: Well, one of the major things the government can do is an insulation project for the whole of all the houses, all the homes in the country, so that we could cut back by 50% or more the cost of heating. So we can get rid of fuel poverty, we can create jobs as we go through that project of insulating every home. We would cut down on the amount of energy we're using. So obviously that saves every consumer money. That cuts down our carbon footprint. So that's one thing we can do.

At Goldsmiths College I think they ought to insulate all their buildings in the same way. They should discourage staff and students from coming by car. And in fact they could discourage travel altogether by doing more online distance learning courses.

Interviewer: Ah, so basically, yes almost stop existing I would think.

Anthony: No, no, no, no. Just exist in a different way.

Interviewer: Oh yes, but no, come on. Actually being in a university is very very different, isn't it, in terms of as opposed to doing your work online.

Thank you very much. Absolutely fascinating to talk to you. Anthony Day's an environment consultant. He's hosted "The Sustainable Futures Report," that's a podcast on environmental issues. Thank you very much for that.

And then, a couple of days later they wanted me to talk to Mike Graham about flying royalty and whether paying to offset the carbon foot print of the flight was hypocritical. You’ll see that he’s set me some homework.
Interview Number Two
Sorry, no transcript for this section. He was criticising Elton John for flying the royals to his holiday home and then paying for offsets. Mike Graham suggested that offsets were a con because nobody knew where the money went. I’d checked out the organisation that Elton used and identified the projects that the money was spent on. Graham raised more questions:
  • Who checks up on these schemes?
  • How is a tonne of carbon valued?
  • How much does it cost to plant a tree?
I didn’t have an answer to any of these, but agreed to do some research and get back to him. Watch this space.

And that’s it…
Well what was going to be a very brief episode turns out to be a bumper edition. I think I deserve some time off. I’ll be back in September.
Thanks for being a listener and even more thanks if you're patron. I had an online discussion with a number of patrons a few weeks ago and I'm planning another one shortly. If you’d like to take part please let me know. And if you're not already a patron you can find out the full details at

Yes, that's it. I'm Anthony Day, that was the Sustainable Futures Report and there'll be another one very soon.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Away with All Cars?

Away with All Cars?
Welcome once again to the Sustainable Futures Report.
This is the episode for Friday the 16th of August and I’m Anthony Day. We’re shaping up for another record month for downloads, so thank you you for listening and if you like the Sustainable Futures Report please tell your friends. If you don’t, please tell me. And if you really like it, why not become one of the growing number of patrons who help me cover my costs? Go to for more information. You could receive a unique Sustainable Futures Report enamel badge. Apart from that there’s no advertising, sponsorship or subsidy behind the Sustainable Futures Report.
This week
I didn't buy a car this week - not even an electric. The Commonwealth research organisation suggests the age of the car is coming to an end. How will that work? I didn't eat red meat this week which is just as well because both George Monbiot and Mark Lynas say I shouldn't. But what does the IPCC tell us? Can the four-day week or the four-hour-day become a reality? And I don’t know about straws in the wind, but there are still far too many straws in landfill at the moment.
Another week.
No New Car
We had a test drive in another electric car. It was the Hyundai ioniq. It was very nice, very smooth, with all the latest safety features like lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and the things you take for granted these days like air-con, sat-nav and digital audio. It was nearly silent, emissions-free of course and very comfortable. I wanted it. I could afford it. But did I need it? 
“What can I do now to make you buy today? asked the sales manager. “Nothing,” I replied. We'd already agreed, my wife and I, that having kept the present car for 14 years we were not going to make a snap decision. “We’ll make a decision by the end of the week,” I said. That was Wednesday and by  the following Wednesday the salesman still hadn’t bothered to follow up. I didn’t phone him. The thing is, as much as I’d like a new car, especially an electric one, like the average car in Europe it will sit unused for 95% of the time. I’ve got better things to do with £25,000 than that. We already have two cars, which dates from the time when my wife and I were both doing contract work at opposite ends of the United Kingdom. We now have the electric Smart car and my 14-year-old Toyota Prius for longer journeys. Given that the Prius runs like it did when it was new and according to the salesman it’s only worth £750 doesn’t it make sense to keep it indefinitely?
Electric Jaguar
We heard that Jaguar has announced that it's going to retool its production line to manufacture electric cars. Is this really the future? Its current electric car, the Jaguar iPace, starts at £64,000 so it's not for everyone. Are we all going to sit in electric powered traffic jams instead of petrol ones? Isn't it time to think hard about what cars are for, about why we are making journeys and whether cars are the best way of meeting our transport requirements? We need to decarbonise and to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 says the government. We're not going to achieve that by restricting the sales of fossil fuels cars from 2040. On average many of those cars will still be on the road in 2050. In fact 2050 is almost certainly far too late for zero carbon, and while electrifying the transport fleet would go a long way towards zero carbon it's not practical for a number of reasons.
32m EVs in 10 years
There are 32 million cars in the UK. If we wanted to replace the fleet with electric cars by 2030 we would have to register one new electric vehicle every 10 seconds from now on. We’d have to scrap a car every 10 seconds as well. We currently register a new car every 13 seconds, but will there be enough electric cars?
And then there are the practicalities of owning an electric car, and the main one is charging. Just assuming we can generate enough electricity to power the nation’s fleet, and that it will be green electricity, the difficulty is getting that power into the cars given that a very high proportion of them are parked in the street.
Wireless charging
It's being reported that's the British government is looking at the installation of a wireless charging system working by magnetic induction. A consortium led by Renault has developed a stretch of road to test the technology’s capability. The 100-metre test track was said to be capable of a charge up to 20 kilowatts at speeds up to, and in excess of, 62 miles per hour (100kmh). At that speed the car will pass over the charger in just 3.6 seconds, and any charge received must be negligible. Let’s suppose then that the car travels at 50kph and the charger is extended to 2.5km. The car would take 180 seconds or 3 minutes to pass over it and could pick up 1kWh from a 20kW charger, assuming perfect efficiency. Depending on the model, that would be enough to drive the car for about 8km, less the 2.5km driven during the charging process. Not much! And if 20 cars drive along this charging route and all use it at the same time the total load is going to be 400kW. In slow or stationery traffic the load will be significantly higher because more cars can fit into the charging space. I’ve heard, and please let me know if you know better, that wireless charging is only about 60% efficient. That may not be a problem when you’re just charging your phone, but if you’re charging the UK’s transport fleet that way it could involve a vast waste of energy.
On Rails
I’ve reported in the past about a system in Sweden which uses rails set in the road, and the car receives a charge through pick-ups which contact the rails directly. Apparently they retract if you swing out to overtake something. Clever! Direct contact is likely to be more efficient than wireless charging, but I wonder how it works in the wet, and whether it’s totally safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
BMW and other manufacturers are taking a different approach. They are developing the IONITY network, which has 100 charging stations across Europe delivering up to 350kW. At that rate a car can be recharged in under 10 minutes. If you can recharge that quickly you don’t need a charger in the street outside your house any more than you need a filling station next door for your petrol car. There are two problems with this, at least in the UK. One is that there is only one IONITY station in the UK at the moment. The other is that there are no cars currently available which are capable of receiving a charge at 350kW. When they arrive, an important question will be how well the batteries stand up to repeated high-power charging.
Of course, to deliver this level of power to the charging stations will require industrial levels of electricity supply. Whether the chosen solution is induction, rails or superchargers there will be significant investment needed in infrastructure between the power station and the point of use. Events this week when a million people lost power across the UK and several London rail terminals were closed down for the rest of the day showed that the infrastructure is not as resilient as we might like, even at current levels of demand.
Shifting the Focus - Energy Demand
Shifting the focus: energy demand in a net-zero carbon UK’, was published by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) – an organisation made up of more than 80 academics across the UK.
They say:
“UK policy with respect to energy demand tends to focus on the benefits of lower carbon emissions and lower bills for energy users, often using the latter as an argument for minimal intervention. Reduced demand, improved energy efficiency, greater flexibility and decarbonised fuels have a much wider range of benefits, notably for health and employment. Addressing energy demand is generally more likely to promote sustainable development than increasing energy supply. As importantly, recognising all the benefits is more likely to motivate action. We recommend that all the benefits of demand-side solutions are considered in developing and promoting policy.”
They continue:
“…policy instruments that were well-designed and effective have been modified, or much reduced in scale. This has significantly reduced the effectiveness of UK energy policy. We recommend greater consistency in demand side policymaking and, in particular, scaling up policies that have been shown to work.”
That’s telling you.
The authors emphasise that a transformation in the way that energy is used needs to be led by Government, but cannot be delivered by Government alone. All stakeholders need to be involved. 
Chilling News from Asda
Today’s newspaper has an article about supermarket Asda which has come to an agreement with National Grid to switch off its freezers and chillers at times of peak demand in order to reduce the load on the network. It’s headlined as a “giant battery” but of course it’s not that at all. It doesn’t feed anything into the grid, it just stops taking it out at agreed times. The difference is expected to be 13MW, and if Tesco did a similar deal that could apparently add as much as another 50MW. I’m amazed that deals like this weren’t thought of long ago.
On your (e-) bike
Going back to the CREDS report, Cycling Weekly is delighted to see that the authors recommend bicycles,  electric bicycles and e-scooters, but The Bicycle Association, backed up with research from consultancy Transport for Quality of Life, goes further. It shows that the cost of saving a kilogram of CO2 via schemes to boost e-bikes is less than half the cost of existing grants for electric cars – and at a cost per purchase of less than one tenth of the grant for electric cars.
The Bicycle Association believes that e-bikes should be a top priority for urgent Government support, saying that half of all e-bike trips replace journeys that would have otherwise been made by car.
It also points out that e-bikes don’t require infrastructure changes such as electric charging points, though it has been shown that improved provision such as segregated bicycles lanes does increase cycling volume.
CREDS is sceptical of the government’s ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) standards as for the moment they still favour hybrids. In fact, throughout the report CREDS is concerned with inconsistencies between government policy, ministerial strategy and Committee for Climate Change recommendations.
Do we need cars?
But do we need cars? One way to cut energy demand is to use fewer cars. In fact graphs in the report show that car use is declining in all age groups, except the over sixties. The availability of public transport and dedicated cycle-ways are essential to getting people out of their cars. Or maybe we need cars but we don’t need to own them. 
The Age of the Robotaxi….
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, is reported as saying that he will have a fleet of one million robotaxis on the road in 2020. That’s next year. Why own a car if you can dial one up on your phone and you don’t have the cost of a driver? Sounds too good to be true. 
…Or not?
Geoffrey James writing in Inc. magazine certainly thinks it is too good to be true. He quotes rival manufacturers as saying that such autonomy is at least 10 years off. He reminds us that aircraft have been using autopilot for years, the skies are far less crowded than the average street and yet every aircraft has a human pilot. Musk’s claim is apparently based on technology. All self-driving cars use LIDAR  - Light Detection and Ranging - with cameras mounted on the car. Tesla may or may not use LIDAR, I don’t know, but the difference is big data. Cameras on every one of the cars shipped by Tesla have been feeding back data to Tesla HQ since the very first car was delivered. Tesla therefore has a data archive superior to anything any of its competitors might have on which to build its self-drive software.
So will we see a million robotaxis next year? Tesla is currently producing cars at the rate of about 350,000 per year. It’s difficult to see where that million will come from.
Changing the system is a research organisation which seems to be exploring the type of system change which XR is seeking. (I have no idea whether these organisations are connected.) Commonwealth’s new report, “Away with all cars” is pretty clear about its conclusions. 
They say:
“Unless we radically decarbonise our transport system, we cannot build a just post-carbon society. But rapid decarbonisation won't be achieved without re-imagining how we move and connect. The future will be different.”
“To get onto an emissions pathway consistent with our commitments under the Paris Agreement, it is estimated that the UK will need to see a reduction in overall traffic volumes of between 20% and 60% by 2030, depending on how fast we can switch to EVs. [18] That is a lot of traffic to lose. Yet the DfT’s Road to Zero strategy[19] for decarbonising transport contains no measures to reduce traffic growth. Instead, the government projects that traffic will increase by up to 50% by 2050[20], and plans to spend £30bn of public money between 2020-2025 on road building to facilitate this[21] Car traffic is known to expand to fill whatever space is given to it[22]; the DfT’s own assessments show that these schemes ultimately worsen traffic jams, rather than alleviating them.”[23] 
The report is strongly focused on London, although it draws conclusions for the wider UK.
It says:
“…London is [also] the only region of the UK with a long term trend of declining traffic. There are two underlying reasons for this. First, London receives far higher per capita spending on transport infrastructure than any other region. Second, London’s public transport system remains under democratic ownership and control via its transport authority, Transport for London (TfL). 
“When bus services were deregulated in the rest of England in the 1980s, London was unique in retaining its ability to strategically plan and manage bus routes and fares, deciding when, where and how frequently to run the services. Since then, bus use in the capital has risen by 52% while it has declined in other English cities by 40%. TfL mandates that a single bus fare in London today costs £1.50. In Manchester, there are 47 competing private bus companies, and a single fare in some of the most disadvantaged areas can cost £4.40.” 
The study points out that as long as private cars are permitted in London there will be congestion, with delays to buses, emergency vehicles and everybody else. At least until every vehicle is electric, air quality will remain dangerously poor. 
A view from 2030
Commonwealth paints a scenario for 2030 where cars are all but eliminated from London. People can walk or use free buses. There will be a small charge for a much extended tram network or for the underground. Taxis will be widely available, as will e-bikes and e-scooters. There will be ride-sharing buses and auto-rickshaws. School buses will take the kids to school and then take people from the suburbs into town. There will be cleaner air, safe streets for cycling and some of the 50km2 currently used for carparks - some of the most expensive real estate in the world - will be converted into leisure parks and community areas. And then it can all be rolled out to the provinces. Interesting ideas and I recommend you read the full report which is only 3 or 4 pages. Find it via the blog.
Of course whether it will ever happen depends on government action. I leave you to make up your own mind on whether the present UK government has the foresight, desire or competence to carry out such a project.
Why travel?
One question we haven’t addressed is why people travel. Quite a lot of travel is commuting, but aren’t we warned that AI is going to take our jobs away? Not everyone can work from home, of course, but some organisations are promoting a 4-day working week and a best-selling book in the US suggests a 4-hour working week is possible. (It isn’t.) Even so, car use is declining among most age groups and will decline rapidly if the public transport infrastructure described above covers the whole country.
For the moment though, the car industry seems to be relying on business as usual and the government is planning for road traffic to increase by 50% by 2050.
The Meat of the Matter
One thing that can't be ignored is the IPCC Special Report published this week on Climate Change and Land.
They say:
“Land provides the principal basis for human livelihoods and well-being including the supply of food, freshwater and multiple other ecosystem services, as well as biodiversity. Human use directly affects more than 70% (likely 69-76%) of the global, ice- free land surface (high confidence). Land also plays an important role in the climate system.” 
Diversification in the food system (e.g., implementation of integrated production systems, broad-based genetic resources, and diets) can reduce risks from climate change. Balanced diets, featuring plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of human health. 
…options include better grazing land management, improved manure management, higher-quality feed, and use of breeds and genetic improvement. Different farming and pastoral systems can achieve reductions in the emissions intensity of livestock products. 
The report has led to a host of headlines mostly about food, although it actually covers a much wider range of issues.
“In exhorting us not to eat meat, green preachers place morality over reason” - says the Telegraph. Charles Moore correctly points out that the report does not suggest that we should all go vegetarian or vegan, so he is criticising those who say we should. 
Both the journal Nature “Eat less meat: UN climate-change report calls for change to human diet” and Time magazine, “How Eating Less Meat Could Help Protect the Planet From Climate Change” get the point, but the Financial Express says, “Turning vegetarian could help fight global warming.”
Expert views
Two well-respected environmental writers - probably the people Charles Moore is complaining about in TheTelegraph - roundly criticise the IPCC.
“The planet is being consumed by humans,” says Mark Lynas.
“Humanity is on a collision course with nature. Already 72% of the global ice-free land surface is dedicated to supporting our species, and between a quarter and a third of the entire 'net primary production' of the planet is consumed by humans.
“Because we grab so much for ourselves, smaller and smaller amounts are left in the food chain for the rest of life on Earth.
“The majority of the world's land is used not to feed humans directly but to support livestock. Over-consumption of meat is unhealthy, and also an environmental disaster: rainforests are cleared in Brazil both to provide pasture for beef cattle, but also to grow soya crops for export to markets like Europe where they are mostly used in animal feed.
“A largely vegetarian -- or better still, vegan -- planet would be able to dramatically reduce agriculture, sparing more land for nature.
“All is not yet lost, but getting to a better future will mean letting go of some of our most cherished habits and myths. Are we ready to do this? The answer will be on the plate in front of you when you next sit down to eat.”
George Monbiot goes further. “We can’t keep eating as we are – why isn’t the IPCC shouting this from the rooftops?” he asks.
He goes on,
It’s a tragic missed opportunity. The new report on land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shies away from the big issues and fails to properly represent the science. As a result, it gives us few clues about how we might survive the century. Has it been nobbled? Was the fear of taking on the farming industry – alongside the oil and coal companies whose paid shills have attacked it so fiercely – too much to bear? At the moment, I have no idea. But what the panel has produced is pathetic.”
The IPCC explains that around 23% of the planet-heating gases we currently produce comes from agriculture. But Monbiot complains that this overlooks opportunity costs. If we were not using the land for agriculture, he says, this land would be absorbing 9 tonnes of co2 per person eating a traditional Western diet per year.
“If we want to prevent both climate and ecological catastrophes, the key task is to minimise the amount of land we use to feed ourselves, while changing the way the remaining land is farmed. Instead, governments almost everywhere pour public money into planetary destruction.” 
Butter mountains and wine lakes
He’s referring there to the butter mountains and wine lakes that used to exist in the EU, and the millions of pounds promised to farmers by the British government to compensate them for disruptions caused by Brexit.
I’ve been told that the true answer is regenerative farming, a balanced mix of livestock and arable. If that’s what’s meant by “extensive farming” then George Monbiot is against it. 
I need to do more research on regenerative agriculture and will bring it to you in a future episode. If I find that both Mark Lynas and George Monbiot are against it, it could be hard to make the case.
Where’s the beef?
Meanwhile, Goldsmith College in London has announced its intention to become carbon neutral. It's putting a 10p levy on plastic bottles, installing solar panels, buying clean energy, growing plants to absorb CO2 on its allotments and making sure that the climate emergency is covered in every course. Oh, and it's banning beef. No burgers, no roast beef sandwiches, no lasagna and no meatballs in the campus cafes. I was asked about this by Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio. I get the impression that she is not only a Brexiteer but a climate sceptic as well. I'll publish the recording of the interview separately, and you can decide how I got on.

And finally…
I saw a sign in a shop window the other day: “It’s only one straw, said 7 billion people.” Then I saw a headline in the paper: “MacDonalds defends its ‘un-recyclable’ paper straws".
An industry insider comments, 
"Yes, from our experience of finding an alternative to plastic straws it feels inevitable that a story like this was going to break at some point.  Unsurprising also is that it is the biggest brand imaginable in this space who take the flak, but the truth is likely to be that McDonald's will be far from being alone.  Indeed, with the difficulty of truly measuring the impact of any given product or service, let alone that the impacts may be very different and not directly comparable (e.g. plastic in the ocean vs carbon footprint), we've not found any straw which is measurably better than the incumbent plastics.  So, our focus has been to reduce usage.
We're also waiting for the media to realise that almost all cardboard packaging in the food industry suffers from the same problem of not being recyclable anywhere other than incredibly specialist providers- from fish and chip paper and pizza boxes which are oil stained by the food, to plastic-lined and chemically-treated cardboards.”
And that’s it…
I think I’ve said before that there’s nothing simple in sustainability. All too many silver bullets seem to ricochet in unexpected if not dangerous directions. None the less, I’m not going to keep my head down. I will continue to bring you stories about what’s going wrong, what’s going right and what the future might look like.  And there are so many more stories out there as well. By the way, I came across the video of a presentation that I did only four years ago. Some of it was dead right and is very much the message that I’m promoting now. You’ll be amused to see what was dead wrong. I’ll publish it for you to enjoy over August Bank Holiday. (Well, it might be raining.)
I’m Anthony Day.
And that’s it for the latest edition of the Sustainable Futures Report. 



Electric cars 'will not solve transport problem,' report warns

No 10 hands Jaguar Land Rover £500m loan to develop electric cars

We can’t keep eating as we are – why isn’t the IPCC shouting this from the rooftops?


2.4m registered in 2018 = 1 every 13 seconds, given 31,536,000 seconds in a year

Owned for 8 years on average. 

7,800 miles pa on average = 1750kWh

56,000GWh or 56 Twh

6.5 GW 24/7

Electric cars 'will not solve transport problem,' report warns

Friday, August 09, 2019

Talking About Babies

Talking About Babies

Hello and welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 9th August. I'm Anthony Day. 
Welcome to all my listeners, particularly my patrons who help to support the Sustainable Futures Report. Welcome if you're a new listener. I'm trying to increase the number of people who listen and I have listed this report on a number of podcast platforms. We'll see what difference it makes. In the meantime, if you like the Sustainable Futures Report please tell your friends. If you don't like it, please tell me.
Talk Radio
I had plans and endless material for this next episode but then I was asked to appear on Talk Radio and I thought I would share the broadcast with you. !t went like this. I got a text which said, “Would you be free for a chat with Dan Wootton today about the birthdate (sic) in England and Wales at an all-time low? And then a further message: “Can I take a line on why you think it's so low? Well I'm no population expert so I sought out the origins of this story, which was a report from the Office of National Statistics, and I sent back an email which said, “Yes, the birth rate in England and Wales has reached its lowest level according to a report from the ONS, but this is part of an ongoing trend. The birthrate declined over the last six years in England & Wales and in the rest of the world.
“One reason for the decline is an ageing population. Another is personal choice: women are taking advantage of education and career opportunities and having children later. Couples are also delaying starting a family until they are able to buy a house. Family income levels and the government’s withdrawal of benefits from the third child may also play a part.
“Hope this is what you wanted. I presume Dan will be asking whether I think this decline is a good thing…”
I didn't really think I'd been briefed about the interview. In fact it turned out not to be an interview at all. Here's what happened:
 [Broadcast - sorry, no transcript this time.]
A Discussion
Well I had no idea that there was going to be a discussion. I've been on Talk Radio a number of times and it's just been me and the presenter. I clearly disagreed with Dr Gita. She appears to be an infertility expert and I would certainly support anything she can do to help childless couples. Where I disagreed with her was her suggestion that the government should take action to encourage people to have more children, and to raise the UK birthrate back up to replacement level. As I said, if we do that then we are contributing to global population growth and children born in Western nations have a much more serious impact on the world than those born elsewhere.
I’m very relaxed about a possible decline in the UK population. It would reduce the pressure on schools, on hospitals and doctors’ surgeries, on housing and on the whole range of public services. It might cut traffic jams a bit as well. If we have skill gaps, in some cases migration can provide a solution. We are warned that artificial intelligence is likely to take away jobs, so it clearly makes no sense to bring up children to unemployment. And it will be 20 years plus before children born this year will be able to fill those skill gaps.
Another Broadcast?
I got another text from Talk Radio the next day.
“Would you be free for a chat with Katie Perrior about some people opting not to have kids because they are scared for the planet?”
Actually I had very busy weekend and I didn't see the message until after the broadcast had gone out. I was sorry I missed it because my view is that everyone has a right to a family as long as they have no more than two children. And if they already have more than two children, well, every child should be loved and cherished - and brought up to be environmentally aware. 
There has been pressure from certain reports and articles which suggest that having a child causes the greatest carbon footprint of all. In fact I commented on the work of Seth Wynes last July, and the previous April. He suggested that having a child would lead to a carbon footprint of some 60 tonnes per annum.
Apparently he has a new book out, about how to live a low carbon lifestyle. It was reviewed in the i newspaper this last weekend. The reviewer says, “Having fewer children - annual saving 58.6 tonnes each. …Although it is in his PhD thesis, Wynes left this one out of his book.” Hardly surprising when his PhD thesis attracted wide criticism for mis-interpreting previous research and drawing what many saw as totally false conclusions.
No-one should be browbeaten into not having children because of their effect on the planet. There is no doubt that children will face a challenging future, as we all do already, but that’s another issue. 
And finally…
…a few points from the news.
In Shooting the Messenger Corner we have Australian journalist Andrew Bolt who commented on Greta Thunberg’s autism, calling her “deeply disturbed”, “freakishly influential” and “strange”. "I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru," he wrote.
She responded, “I am indeed ”deeply disturbed” about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults?”
Also in Shooting the Messenger Corner we have Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil. Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) has released satellite data showing a rise in Amazon deforestation, which the far-right president has called “lies”. The director of the institute has been removed from his post.
It’s clear that the forces of denial are gathering, but however loud they shout they won’t change the science. The danger is that they might change the popular perception of the science and they will probably promote the ongoing lie that scientists are not yet sure. Our role is to tell the truth.
That’s it for another week.
Thank you again for listening. In fact more and more of you are listening and the audience reached record levels in July even though there were only four Fridays and therefore only four episodes. We’ll see how this month goes - but I am going to have the Bank Holiday weekend off.
And that’s it.
I’m Anthony Day.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.
Until next week.