I’m Anthony Day and this is the Sustainable Futures Report for Friday 31st July.
And finally…no, this isn’t the last episode, just the last episode in July before I close down for August. Hold tight - there’s a lot to get in.
I’ll be talking about transport, climate, too much water, too little water, energy, campaigns and opinions and I chat briefly about pollution with Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio. There are pages of links to all these stories on the blog at www.sustainablefutures.report. This is probably the longest episode I’ve done at 6,700 words, but then, you’ve got a whole month to enjoy it.
Let’s take to the road.
Recently we spoke about electrifying transport and in particular about using electricity for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). It was pointed out that you would need something like five tons of batteries which would significantly reduce the payload which vehicles could carry, given that there is an overall limit of 44 tons. It also occurs to me that those batteries would all have to be in the tractor unit, leading to a much increased axle load which would restrict the routes on which the vehicle could be used.
I reported some months ago on a scheme in Canada for overhead electric power for HGVs. In this particular case the lorries had conventional diesel engines plus electric motors. The overhead wires were installed over a relatively short distance, but the idea was to reduce pollution and noise from large numbers of HGVs passing through a residential area on the way to a port.
Now the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight has published a White Paper which suggests that overhead electric wires, like those on a railway, should be installed over the inside lanes of motorways. Heavy goods vehicles (HGV) would pick up current from these to power them through the major parts of their journeys. They would then use smaller batteries to complete the last off-motorway part of the trip.
The White Paper says: “A total investment in the region of £19.3 billion would be required to electrify almost all the UK’s long-haul freight vehicles, corresponding to 65% of road freight movements. The estimated CO2 saving would be 13.4 MtCO2e per annum, along with substantial air quality benefits. The remaining 35% of freight movements are mainly urban deliveries that are expected to move to battery electric lorries over the next 10 years. The investment compares well with the size of other planned infrastructure projects. Work could get underway immediately with an £80 million pilot project in the North East of England.”
65% of road freight movements electrified for £19.3 billion! Compare this with HS2, the high-speed passenger railway under construction from London to Birmingham, budgeted at some £80 billion and confidently expected to cost over £100 billion. That will carry no freight, just passengers wealthy enough to afford the premium fare to save them 20 minutes on their journey.
The Guardian newspaper is a rich resource for many of my stories, like these about the climate.
The Climate is Changing
One evening back in June, ripples of electric blue clouds shimmered in the twilight sky after sunset. These were noctilucent clouds, the highest clouds in the world, more than 80km (50 miles) up on the edge of space, and looked like something from another planet.
These clouds may also be a warning sign of the climate crisis. They were first recorded in 1885 and were rarely seen for years afterwards, largely in polar regions. But in recent times the clouds have appeared much further afield and are growing much brighter.
Much of the moisture needed to form the clouds comes from methane, a potent greenhouse gas that produces water vapour when it breaks down in the upper atmosphere. And as methane pollution has increased, so noctilucent clouds have grown more common and more widespread.
As the climate changes, a study published in the journal Nature Communications predicts that the UK could see 40°C temperatures every 15 years instead of every century or so. Lead author Nikolaos Christidis, of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: “The rate of change is remarkable.”
“Last year, we had the record temperature in the UK and [Public Health England] reported spikes in mortality,” he continued. “When these kinds of events happen, we have detrimental impacts to our transport infrastructure, agricultural catastrophes and water shortages. We need to reduce our vulnerability to these kinds of impacts.”
The government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, said, “the UK is poorly prepared for the very serious impacts of climate change, including … overheating”.
Not Enough Water
According to the BBC, the Public Accounts Committee warns that some parts of England will run out of water within the next 20 years unless "urgent action" is taken.
People in certain parts of the UK, particularly in the South East, already have less water available to them than those in countries like Morocco, according to several water companies in the region. With 20% of water wasted, the committee is calling on the government to establish a league table for water companies to pressure them into dealing with leaks. It also wants efficiency labels on domestic products like washing machines and dishwashers to be made compulsory.
Vanessa Speight, professor of integrated water systems at Sheffield University, told BBC News: "The UK has some of the oldest water infrastructure in the world, and while it has served us well, it is now time to look to the future with significant water infrastructure investment that will address leakage as well as related reliability and water quality issues.”
Too Much Water
While there are serious risks from drought, we are still at risk from floods.
The government’s long-awaited strategy for tackling floods in England does not go far enough and appears to conflict with Boris Johnson’s “build, build, build” plan for more housing, experts have said.
Prof Hannah Cloke, a hydrologist at the University of Reading, said the government’s pledge to review house building on floodplains did not “sound in tune” with the prime minister’s commitment to cutting red tape to build new homes more quickly under “Project Speed”.
Cloke said: “A fortnight ago Boris was attacking ‘newt counting’ and bemoaning the pace of progress in the UK. Dealing with flooding shows precisely the difficulties behind his promise to build better, faster and greener. Sometimes being better and greener requires building more slowly and carefully, or we risk long-term economic and social costs that we cannot afford.”
About 20,000 homes a year are built on land at the highest risk of flooding in England, equating to one in 10 of all new homes since 2013.
Planning policy says housing should be based in areas at the least risk of flooding, yet local authorities, which face penalties if they miss house-building targets, say they feel powerless to stop developments and are concerned these construction projects will only increase in number.
Meanwhile Up North (a long way up north)
Between January and June, temperatures in the far north of Russia were more than 5C above average, causing permafrost to melt, buildings to collapse, and sparking an unusually early and intense start to the forest fires season. On 20 June, a monitoring station in Verkhoyansk registered a record high of 38C.
In a study by World Weather Attribution, scientists from France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and the UK collaborated to examine whether and to what extent human-induced climate change had a part to play in making this heatwave hotter and more likely. The results showed with high confidence that the January to June 2020 prolonged heat was made at least 600 times more likely as a result of human-induced climate change. They noted that even with climate change, the prolonged heat was a very rare event expected to occur less than once every 130 years.
Global warming, of course, isn’t just about heat. A study published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that the unusually large discharges of meltwater from Greenland and the Arctic in the last few years created a lasting freshwater pond at the ocean surface. Because freshwater cools faster than saltwater this pond has increased the temperature difference from north to south and helped to trigger some of the extreme winter storms seen in northern Europe. The authors anticipate that increased melting in future years is likely to whip up storms of even greater intensity and barrel them towards northern Europe.
Leslie Field, founder of https://www.ice911.org, wants to sprinkle 19,000 sq miles of ice with reflective silica granules to slow down the melting of the ice. The cost is estimated to be around $750m, not including labour. The continual funding for such an effort will have to come from private donors, or the UN, or perhaps the World Bank. That, too, isn’t certain as yet, despite a “large-scale launch” of ice covering earmarked for 2020.
“It’s not chump change, but compared to other options it’s cost effective,” she said. “It’s a matter of trying to prevent the horrific list of things, such as sea level rise, storms and so on, that will come from climate change. Things that will cost us trillions, not billions.”
Meanwhile, a team of scientists at Arizona State University want to add an extra metre of sea ice to the Arctic’s current thickness by spending $500bn on a network of 10m wind-powered pumps that would be used to push seawater on to the surface of the ice where it would freeze.
“Our only strategy at present seems to be to tell people to stop burning fossil fuels,” lead physicist Steven Desch said. “It’s a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic’s sea ice from disappearing.”
Elsewhere there is the plan to use 16tn miniature robots to deflect the sun’s heat away from Earth; or the project to pump aerosols into clouds in order to “brighten” them and bolster their reflective power. Another scheme, devised by the scientist who developed Australia’s polymer bank notes, is trialling a thin “sun shield” to be placed over parts of the Great Barrier Reef, which has recently suffered from severe coral bleaching.
Will it work?
The problem with all of these geo-engineering ideas is that no-one knows how well they will work, if at all. And if it all goes horribly wrong we won’t be able to just walk away.
Even if it works, another study found that the temperature reductions as a result of the drop in carbon dioxide or other emissions because of Covid-19, were so small they would not be measurable.
The message seems to be that if we continue business as usual atmospheric heating will soon reach dangerous levels. However, if we ever did manage to cut greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently, the temperature would become stable but we would not see reductions for a long time. We could perhaps take comfort from the fact that the next generation would benefit.
Writing in The Guardian, Dr Tamsin Edwards, a senior lecturer in physical geography at King’s College London, explains how sprinkling fields with basalt rock dust could remove CO2 from the atmosphere through the natural process of weathering.
“But,” she says, “we cannot escape the fact that limiting global warming to 1.5C would require “rapid and far-reaching transitions” in energy, land, urban infrastructure and industry. The point is that there will be no silver bullet for climate change. No easy choice for the best action to take, no get-out-of-jail-free card. We have left it too late for that: we need to do (almost) everything, and fast.”
Turning now to pollution, research, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reports the discovery of a methane seep at a 10-metre (30ft) deep site known as Cinder Cones in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The study provides the first report of the evolution of a seep system from a non-seep environment, and reveals that the rate of microbial succession may have an unrealised impact on greenhouse gas emission from marine methane reservoirs.
Antarctica is estimated to contain as much as a quarter of earth's marine methane. The methane cycle is not perfectly understood, but it is well known that methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, so any reports of it leaking into the atmosphere must be a cause for concern.
The authors say, “Climate change will increase the release of methane from subsurface marine reservoirs and while predicting the impact of this release is multifaceted, methanotrophy in the oceans is expected to minimise the atmospheric footprint of this release.” Methanotrophy is the consumption of methane by bacteria and other organisms. What the scientists are saying is that while methane is seeping into the oceans, most of it is being absorbed by organisms so very little is escaping into the atmosphere. They go on to say that methane-consuming organisms grow very slowly, so presumably if the seepage speeds up they may be unable to absorb it all. An area for more research, and careful monitoring.
And now a dispatch which I thought initially came from the Department of the bleedin’ obvious. A study has found that car tyres are major source of ocean microplastics. Well, I would have thought it was obvious. We all know that car tyres wear out, but they take tens of thousands of miles to wear out so must wear out by shedding extremely fine particles. These fragments are deposited on the roads and when the rain comes they are washed into the ditch. All ditches run into streams which run into rivers which run into the ocean. Hence there’s a lot of microplastics from car tyres in the ocean.
I was wrong
It seems, actually that I’m wrong. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, reveals that these particles are actually blown across continents and into the sea. We agonise about the millions of microfibres that we release every time we wash our clothes, but lead researcher Andreas Stohl, from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, said an average tyre loses 4kg during its lifetime. “It’s such a huge amount of plastic compared to, say, clothes, whose fibres are commonly found in rivers”, Stohl said. “You will not lose kilograms of plastic from your clothing.”
Airborne transport has received much less attention than rivers because only the smallest particles can be blown by the wind and their size makes them difficult to identify as plastic. “The really small particles are probably the most important in terms of health and ecological consequences because you can inhale them and the very small particles can probably also enter your blood vessels,” Stohl said.
Disposing of worn-out tyres is a problem in itself. Disposing of anything has become a problem during the pandemic as public recycling and refuse centres have been closed. An egregious example is to be found in Glasgow where people have created a mountain of waste tyres on an industrial estate in that city. And that’s only one example of fly tipping which has expanded dramatically during lockdown. There is probably an element of the herd instinct there, that Roger Hallam was talking about last week. If everybody else does it, why shouldn’t I? Pity that it’s not balanced with a sense of responsibility.
Julia Hartley Brewer of Talk Radio got in touch this week to talk about pollution.
Julia: Alright, now let's move on to very different matters, not inside the home, but outside of the home, what happens to all that stuff we do buy and where it disappears because almost 1 billion, tons of plastic waste is going to be dumped on land and at sea by 2040, according to a major new study, let's talk about this with Anthony Day, environmental consultant, also presenter of the sustainable futures report podcast.
Good morning to you Anthony.
Anthony: Good morning, Julia.
Julia: Well, this study is entitled Breaking the plastic wave . It's been written by academics at university of Leeds along with 17 other international experts. And it's talking about this 1 billion tons of plastic waste. First of all, where is it coming from? And second of all, where is it going?
Anthony: Well, where's it coming from mainly it's coming from single use plastic, which I suppose is, um, uh, wrappings packaging and so on and an awful lot of, uh, drinks, bottles, billions of drinks bottles are produced and used and an awful lot of them thrown away every day. Where's it going? A lot of it, uh, 8 million tons goes into the oceans every year.
Uh, and an awful lot of the rest of it is just scattered around on the land.
Julia: Um, and why does it end up scattered on land and sea? Because when you know it, this isn't just people just littering. This is stuff that people have thrown away. Uh, presumably in their rubbish bins or in their bins, in the, in the high street that somehow ends up in the land and the sea.
But how does it get there? Because one of things I've always been crossed about. It's like, Oh, you can't use single use plastic economies, plastic bags, or, or bottles of water because these end up in the sea, I'm not putting them there.
Anthony: No, no. It's only people who litter, which, which causes this. So the 8 million tons is from litter, but it's 300 million tons, which is produced annually.
And yes, a lot of it is actually recycled or it's put into landfill, it is treated as waste and it's under control. Although landfill is not a particularly good place for it. Uh, it's people who litter it's just dropped. And we've seen examples of that recently with people going to beauty spots and abandoning all their rubbish, Uh, and that ends up in the sea and it just ends up on land as well.
Julia: Yeah. I mean, the trouble with this is, you know, what are the penalties we've seen a massive upsurge in, uh, uh, in dumping of, uh, of, uh, big, big items of, uh, of litter, you know, the, the household goods. So then I partly because I'm, I mean, certainly my area for about four months of the lockdown, you couldn't actually get to the dump.
And even then after that, you had to make an appointment to the night and waiting weeks, weeks. Um, and they're very, very strict about it, but yeah. And lots of rubbish isn't collected properly anymore. I mean, round my way trying to get anything collected is a, is an absolute nightmare. So no wonder, I mean, not saying it's justifiable, but people do go and break the law.
But is this not down to some of the new policies that we have? As we've made collection of rubbish, less, uh, less regular and more expensive. What a surprise. We see more littering.
Anthony: Absolutely. But I think we ought to look at this from both ends because at the moment the manufacturers produce something in plastic wrapping, they sell it off and that's the end as far as they're concerned.
Yeah. So I think we should be looking at legislation, which makes them think twice and makes them think, well, perhaps glass would be better. Because glass of course is far easier to recycle and it's not environmentally damaging or cardboard or paper or things like that. But at the moment, manufacturers can go for the cheapest and what happens to be the most polluting.
And so they will, because they're in a competitive environment, there's no regulations to stop them.
What I should have said
Of course the point I should have made, and this is clearly stated in the report, is that this is a global problem. It’s not down to untidy holidaymakers, it’s due to the fact that 2 billion people in the global population have no access to any sort of waste collection service. If they have waste, all they can do is dump it.
I firmly believe that a national waste recovery policy is overdue for the UK, but we need to be part of of a global action to stem global pollution. We should stop sending our rubbish abroad for disposal. As a TV documentary revealed a few months ago, British rubbish is just stockpiled and abandoned in some developing countries. Other countries have just sent it back.
Plastic in the oceans decomposes. Particles on the surface can gather oil and other pollutants and eventually sink to the deepest ocean depths taking their polluting cargoes with them. As plastics decompose they release all types of chemicals. These have entered the food chain and are present in virtually all plants and animals, and ourselves. Such pollutants are now found in human breast milk, in concentrations which would be illegal in products for sale. An international action to clean up pollution in faraway countries is in the interests of all of us in this globalised world.
Keep it clean!
This week’s review of energy news kicks off with a statement from the UN that a CleanEnergy Future is vital.
Speaking at the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Clean Energy Transitions Summit, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said,
"Stop wasting money on fossil fuel subsidies and place a price on carbon”.
He told the meeting that a new analysis of G20 recovery packages shows that twice as much recovery money has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy.
The Climate Compass describes that as a crime against humanity.
There’s a link to that video and to The Climate Compass on the blog.
Turning to technology…
…Faraday Insights, the journal of the Faraday Institution, reports that “Lithium-sulphur technology has the potential to offer cheaper, lighter-weight batteries that also offer safety advantages. After initially finding use in niche markets such as satellites, drones and military vehicles, the technology has the potential to transform aviation in the long-term. Electric aircraft offering short-range flights or vertical take-off and landing (including personalised aviation and flying taxis in cities) are distinct possibilities by 2050. The UK, which is already home to established lithium-sulphur battery manufacturers and to leading academics in the field, has a great opportunity to be the global leader in this ground-breaking technology.” Watch this space.
Spinning the Wheel
Of course batteries are not the only way of storing energy. There are plans to install a giant £25m flywheel in Scotland. Linked to the grid, it will be spun up with surplus electricity and will return electricity to the grid via a generator when required. The inertia of this massive unit will help to maintain the stability of the frequency of the grid, offsetting the very variable inputs from renewables. And of course it does this with out any sort of emissions or pollution. £25m for a wheel sounds a lot, though.
Turning down the regulator
Energy companies have accused the regulator Ofgem of putting Britain’s climate goals at risk by clamping down on returns for green investors in an effort to shave £20 a year from home energy bills.
Ofgem has proposed halving the returns that companies can make over the next five years through a £25bn green investment plan designed to prepare Britain’s energy infrastructure for a low-carbon future. Major energy companies including National Grid, SSE and Scottish Power have warned that setting investor returns at 3.95% – down from the current 7% to 8% – could slow the pace of Britain’s energy transition by making the UK less attractive to investors.
There is also concern over Ofgem’s decision to cut the total investment allowed in new electricity grid projects to between £5.9bn and £9.1bn for the next five years, which falls short of the £9.6bn invested over the last five years. The proposed limit is well below the spending proposed by the industry at £10.8bn to prepare for a surge in power demand from electric cars, hobs and heat pumps.
Meanwhile, work begins in Lincolnshire on the world's longest subsea power cable. The 475-mile (765km) cable is a joint-venture between National Grid in the UK and Denmark’s Energinet. By 2023, the high-voltage, direct-current link will transmit the equivalent of enough electricity to power 1.5m British homes between Bicker Fen in Lincolnshire and the South Jutland region in Denmark. There are plans for other cables, including one to Iceland where renewable electricity is generated from geothermal energy.
Still wind in the sails
The pandemic lockdown has had little effect on wind power. Global offshore wind investment more than quadrupled in the first half of the year.
A report has found that investors gave approval to 28 new offshore windfarms worth a total of $35bn (£28bn) this year, four times more than in the first half of 2019 and well above the total for last year as a whole.
Taking back control
At the other end of the scale the town of Wolfhagen in Germany has taken back control of its energy supply. When its contract with EON came to an end citizens decided to take the local grid back into local ownership. They installed wind turbines and solar panels and now supply electricity at a lower rate than EON. Reversing privatisation of utilities has been carried out in many places across Europe. A contrast with the UK where we put up with high prices and poor service, and it’s probably illegal to take anything from the private sector into municipal control.
Last week I expressed the hope that someone would be doing some scenario planning. National Grid has published its Future Energy Scenarios for the next 30 years. The introduction explains that, “Our Future Energy Scenarios (FES) outline four different, credible pathways for the future of energy over the next 30 years. Based on input from over 600 experts, the report looks at the energy needed in Britain, across electricity and gas - examining where it could come from, how it needs to change and what this means for consumers, society and the energy system itself.
“Three of the four FES scenarios modelled show Great Britain reaches net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier, but make clear this requires immediate action across all key technologies and policy areas, with fundamental changes for energy consumers, particularly in transport, heating and energy efficiency.”
“.. immediate action across all key technologies and policy areas,..”
Is the government listening?
A link to the full report is of course available at www.sustainablefutures.report.
Addicted to solar
A final note on solar power which is now extensively used by farmers in Afghanistan. Previously they used diesel pumps to raise water to irrigate their crops. The diesel was expensive and often of poor quality, damaging the engines. Now, after the initial investment in panels and pumps the water is effectively free. Areas under cultivation have expanded and yields have dramatically increased. For example, production in 2012 was 3,700 tonnes rising to 9,000 tons in 2017 and by 2019 Helmand province where the major investment in solar had been made, production was 6,000 tons in that province alone. Production of opium, that is. Well it’s an ill wind and so on.
If you’re looking for a holiday read I recommend Good Cop Bad War by Neil Woods. This is the true story of an undercover policeman and his work infiltrating drug gangs. He believes that by his actions drug dealers have been imprisoned for more than 1,000 years in total. He believes it has made absolutely no difference to the drugs trade.
What are people saying?
Greta Thunberg is back in the news. Well, presumably she can’t go to school. She’s accused EU politicians of failing to acknowledge the scale of the climate crisis and said its €750bn Covid-19 recovery plan does not do enough to tackle the issue.
“They are still denying the fact and ignoring the fact that we are facing a climate emergency, and the climate crisis has still not once been treated as a crisis,” Thunberg told the Guardian. “As long as the climate crisis is not being treated as a crisis, the changes that are necessary will not happen.”
Greta and fellow activists have written an open letter to EU leaders demanding they act immediately to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.
The letter, signed by 80,000 people including some of the world’s leading scientists, argues that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that most leaders are able to act swiftly and decisively when they deem it necessary, but that the same urgency has been missing in the response to climate change.
“It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business nor finance. And the longer we keep pretending that we are on a reliable path to lower emissions and that the actions required to avoid a climate disaster are available within today’s system … the more precious time we will lose,” it says.
US on the way out.
The US will officially exit the Paris Accord one day after the 2020 US election and architects of that deal say the stakes could not be higher. Trump’s opponent, former vice-president Joe Biden, has vowed to rejoin the climate agreement.
“The choice of Biden or Trump in the White House is huge, not just for the US but for the world generally to deal with climate change,” said Todd Stern, the US chief negotiator in Paris. “If Biden wins, November 4 is a blip, like a bad dream is over. If Trump wins, he seals the deal. The US becomes a non-player and the goals of Paris become very, very difficult. Without the US in the long term, they certainly aren’t realistic.”
I fear that all we can do from this side of the pond is watch and wait.
The World Economic Forum has published a report entitled “The Future of Nature and Business.”
The Great Acceleration of the world economy over the last 70 years has brought an unprecedented increase in output and human welfare. Human population grew from 2.5 billion in 1950 to close to 8 billion today. At the same time, the average person has become 4.4 times richer and lives 25 years longer than in 1950. Since 1990, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day has reduced by one-half, and roughly 700 million more people entered the mushrooming global middle classes.
Yet, the Great Acceleration carried important costs, among which were its profound impacts on natural systems, including the degradation and loss of whole species and critical ecosystems. COVID-19 has brought the Great Acceleration to a screeching halt.…scientists have warned us against returning to “business as usual” in light of the looming nature crisis. Nature loss brings a whole new set of risks, including potentially deadlier pandemics; we are sleepwalking into a catastrophe if we continue to ignore this reality…
…It won’t be easy or straightforward, but a failure to act will be even more painful. We need to commit to this path and be willing to work together. The World Economic Forum, as the international organisation for public-private cooperation, pledges to help public, private and civil society stakeholders reset their relationship with nature as part of the Great Reset agenda in a way that will be nature-positive, value- creating and job-rich.
Fine words. Who’s listening?
Who wants to be happy?
Maybe journalist George Monbiot is listening. He’s been warning about the climate crisis for decades and is increasingly strident about inequality. “People want a greener, happier world,” he says, “Politicians don’t.”
The main thrust of this latest article is a criticism of the government’s strategy for post-Covid recovery.
“Normal is a fairyland to which we can never return,” he says….
“When business as usual resumes, so does the air pollution that kills more people every year than Covid-19 has yet done, and exacerbates the impacts of the virus. Climate breakdown and air pollution are two aspects of a wider dysbiosis. Dysbiosis means the unravelling of ecosystems. The term is used by doctors to describe the collapse of our gut biomes, but it is equally applicable to all living systems: rainforests, coral reefs, rivers, soil. They are unspooling at shocking speed due to the cumulative effect of “normality”, which entails a perpetual expansion of consumption.”…
“…But the Westminster government is determined to shove us back into hypernormality regardless of our wishes. This week the environment secretary, George Eustice, signalled that he intends to rip up our system of environmental assessments. The government’s proposed free ports, in which tax and regulations are suspended, will not only exacerbate fraud and money laundering but also expose the surrounding wetlands and mudflats, and the rich wildlife they harbour, to destruction and pollution. The trade deal it intends to strike with the US could override parliamentary sovereignty and destroy our environmental standards – without public consent.”
No need to worry about Trump, then. We have plenty to deal with at home.
One last thing
Well three, actually. The first is an article and accompanying short video by Simon Sinek. He seems to be a speaker talking about the climate crisis rather than a climate activist becoming a speaker.
He says we’ve got the communication of the climate message all wrong, and echoing the remarks of Roger Hallam reported last week, explains how the average person gives little importance to things which are remote in space or time. Hence warnings of a disaster in 2050 are simply ignored. He sees “global warming” as a misleading term: it sounds too cosy and people confuse climate with weather, so when there’s a cold snap they believe that global warming can’t be happening. He suggests that we should be talking about “climate cancer” to bring home the seriousness and urgency of the situation.
We should not just concentrate on remote targets like net-zero by 2050, but set near-term intermediate targets, and engage everyone in achieving them. And we shouldn’t talk about saving the planet: the planet will always survive. Our task is saving humanity.
I’m involved in a group of speakers who are examining the best way of delivering the climate message. I’ll let you know how we get on. In fact I’ll probably try out their techniques on you.
Second last thing…
XR is planning actions in September. I’ll bring you news of that next time.
Doubt: it’s much more subtle than flat denial. It’s insidious. It’s been used by oil companies to delay regulations and used notoriously by tobacco companies to confuse the message on the dangers of smoking.
A series of 15-minute programmes on doubt were released by BBC Radio this week. Find them on the BBC Sounds app, or via the link on this blog.
And that’s it!
Yes that was the last Sustainable Futures Report until September. As always, I hope that you are safe and well and that you continue to be so. If you have the opportunity for a holiday I hope you enjoy it and I hope this podcast and the related references will give you something to pass any idle time you may have. I am Anthony Day and I shall be back with the Sustainable Futures Report in September. Thank you for listening and thank you as always to all my patrons for their support. It's a pretty exclusive group but that doesn't mean you can't be a member and you’d be most welcome. Just pop across to patreon.com/sfr and find the details.
I’m Anthony Day.
That was the Sustainable Futures Report.
Until next time.
Rare night clouds may be warning sign of climate crisis
Likelihood of 40C temperatures in UK is ‘rapidly accelerating’
Climate may take decades to respond to carbon cuts
Climate change made Siberian heatwave 600 times more likely – study
Melting Arctic ice triggers winter storms, study finds
Could sprinkling sand save the Arctic's shrinking sea ice?
Negative-emissions tech helps, but it's no magic bullet for the climate crisis
First active leak of sea-bed methane discovered in Antarctica
Tyres found to be shedding plastic particles into the sea
Taller than a house: tyre mountain highlights the fly‑tipping scourge
Contaminated breast milk
Crime against humanity
Ofgem's £25bn plan puts climate goals at risk, say energy firms
Work begins in Lincolnshire on world's longest subsea power cable
Offshore wind energy investment quadruples despite Covid-19 slump
How a small town reclaimed its grid and sparked a revolution
Future Energy Scenarios report
Read Good Cop - Bad War by
Campaigning and Opinions
Greta Thunberg says EU recovery plan fails to tackle climate crisis
How the global fight could be lost if Trump is re-elected
People want a greener, happier world. Politicians don't