Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Climate Change Notes on Boris's Speech - 06/10/2021

Climate Change Content Boris's Party Conference Speech on the 6th October 2021

Below are a few notes notes of Boris's party conference speech, where he discusses topics related to climate change. 

It's slim pickings, as you might expect from a party who regularly shout about "their" targets and commitments to zero carbon, whilst doing very little to augment change outside the change that is automatically delivered by economic forces. 


In reference to  Insulate Britain Protesters and their M25 protest. He dubs them a nuisance and that they should be placed in "well-insulated" police cells. 

Comments: Cringe worthy. If Boris had been shown to act meaningfully on climate change, then these protests would not be happening. Does he imagine that members of the public enjoy sitting in roads, being abused by drivers, and with criminal records earned from their activities, damage their employability. The suffragettes, remember them? They had no choice but to protest, it is the same with this new wave of suffragettes. 

Hydrogen Buses

"Some" Buses will run on hydrogen. This is a clean air initiative, and may well be more carbon intensive that using diesel. 


Boris makes reference to the rewilding of Britain with a figure 30% of land area, and 10's of millions of trees. Beavers reintroduced to certain areas. 

Comments: This will only happen if it is made economically possible. New farm subsidy replacement ELMs may offer some routes for farmers to rewild, but it will not happen quickly enough to make a meaningful contribution towards climate change. Trees only meaningfully begin to remove carbon 5 years after they have been planted, and it takes 10 to 15 years for them to get up to speed. 


"Can we keep alive the ambition of paris, to stop the planet heating by more than 1.5 degrees. The government cant do it alone, and taxpayers certainly can't do it alone, the other day I took a boat out in to the Moray Firth to sea this aquatic forest of turbines towering over water like redwoods of california."

Comments: This reference to wind energy is run for around 2 minutes, and then Bris flips back to perceived successes of vaccine roll out. Wind now makes up about 25% of UK grid energy (3.4% for Solar). The reason we have 25% wind is economic it is the cheapest form of generation capacity. 

Environmental Consultants Bristol 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Climate Impact of Clicking Cookie Preferences

Climate Impact of Clicking Cookie Preferences

Annoying and Bad for the Planet

It is very annoying having to click on Cookie Preferences nags for every website you visit. And it this pointless exercise is also killing the planet, releasing approximately 18,000 tons of CO2 to atmosphere every year, in the UK alone. 

Every interaction with you smart gadget, or PC or Macintosh, uses energy. At present a percentage of that energy comes from fossil fuel. 

Every time you select you cookie preferences, this triggers a series of operations to be run on a server somewhere in the "cloud", using energy as it does so. 

Estimating Climate Change Impact of GDPR

GDPR is a piece of legislation that was passed to protect users data. However, in practice this means 99% of website just ask our permission (the cookie preferences clicking thing) and then take our data anyway. 

If you go to advanced options and select preferences individual it would more than double the amount of  time to took to search things on the internet. 

Text Messages Example

Now to send a text message, which is a fairly basic text based interaction over a network, the carbon equivalent footprint is 0.014gCO2e. Not a huge amount but on an annual global  basis this means the the carbon footprint of text messages is 32,000 tonnes/CO2e.

32,000 tonnes/CO2e would cover all emissions for 2600 UK citizens, that foods, travel, heating, purchases etc. so no small amount. 

How Many Clicks 

There are 3.5 billion search queries every day in UK. If each of these simple text based interactions have the same carbon footprint as a text message (which is quite likely). Then we are release 49 tons of carbon dioxide a day, that is approx 18,000 tons of CO2e a year released to atmosphere.

If we consider that most of the time these interacct allow website owners to then go on and use our data how they see fit, rather then actually protecting us, I would suggest this is a colossal waste of carbon, which we badly need to stop emitting. 


Thanks to GDPR we now have to opt in by default, so that big data can hoover up our tasty information. This means we have to click to opt in on nearly every website we visit. Perhaps we should opt out instead. 

Some website it is useful to have cookies "recognise you" oin your return. Internet banking for example, on these sites there could be a button (on the page not on a pop up) saying "click here to enable cookies". That way 90% of these pointless interactions would be immediately erased. Saving 10's of thousands of tonnes of CO2 in the UK alone. 

Friday, 26 March 2021

A Talk on Single Use Plastics


I have to do a talk on single use plastics in two ten minute sessions, I was wondering if you could email me some info on the harm they do to the environment, what can be done to limit or stamp out their use?


We have recently published this website:

It is all about plastics in the environment. The sheer volume of plastic created to feed human’s demand for single use plastic is very problematic.

I am sure you have seen pictures of bottles and face masks washed up on beaches in tropical places, or polar regions, plastic gets everywhere. . . .

BUT my main concern is that as plastics break down in to tiny tiny bits, they get mixed in with water and soils, and will be almost impossible to remove.

It is bad enough that sea food, and vegetables now contain plastic, but the plastics theme selves also have nasty chemicals in them, that poison plants and animals.

If you are familiar with PCBs or DDT, then you will know that persistent chemicals (such as phthalates in plastic) in the environment, “bio-accumulate” up the food chain and cause all sorts of horrible problems.

The problem with stamping out single use plastic, is that quite often removal of their use has a knock on effect elsewhere.

Example 1 : If we swapped from plastic carrier bags, to paper ones, where would the wood pulp come from? Even if just 2% of wood pulp came from unsustainable sources, then owing to the amount of bags needed (millions per day) a lot of trees would need to be chopped down. Trees that are currently sucking up CO2, and help out with climate change.

Example 2: A cucumber goes rotten very quickly. To make them last longer they shrink wrap them. To grow a cucumber might take 100g CO2, and to wrap it a further 10g CO2. If you don’t wrap them and more than 10% goes rotten, then your avoidance of plastic is causing a climate change.

I think the demand for single use plastic is driven my human’s “I want everything right now” attitude. Perhaps not eat cucumbers in the winter. Perhaps wait until you get home to have a drink of water (not buy a bottle).

Single use plastic is also linked strongly to human’s desire for safety and hygiene. Why do we not drink from water fountains anymore? Why do we buy a bottle of water instead. Why do hospitals use single use surgical plastics, and not wash and reuse equipment like the olden days?

In the extreme: Perhaps let a few more people die from disease instead of making 100’s billions of single use plastic masks . . . . tough choices, that go against the very grain of ethics and consumer choice.

Friday, 16 October 2020

What are Urons?

I was reading a tech manual today, and came across the chemical group called "Urons".

What are Urons?

Urons is an abbreviations of Phenylurea herbicides: 

"Substituted phenylurea herbicides are a group of pesticides used for general weed control in agricultural and nonagricultural practices – for example, along railroads, utilities' rights-of-way, and in industrial areas."


Friday, 11 September 2020

Waste Plastic on Western Scottish Beaches

In 2002 my wife an I went to New Zealand, we walked all over those lovely islands, and really enjoyed the wilderness beaches in particular. 

We cant afford to fly our family to New Zealand, but we can drive the Scotland, which is quite a good proxy. 

The Western Isles regions is quite wild, and despite presence of fishing farms and land based farms, does feel quite wilderness. 

Out family hikes along the cost were somewhat blemished by the presence of plastic waste on beaches. 

From the look of it, a great deal of the waste comes from the fishing industry, with only a small percentage coming from domestic sources, and even that may come from boats!

Not pictured, were some very large sections of black plastic tubing with welded joints, perhaps used to form a floating ring at the top of salmon nets. 

Our walk took us South of Loch Beag, to Loch Fyne and then Eastward back to our pad. Please find below photos, and captions:

Lid from a pallet crate.

Tank of some sort, punctured as bracken growing through it. 

Small item plastic milk bottle. 

Tide Line - Ropes and Assorted Small Plastic Items 

Functional Buoy. 

Plastic Crates, Nylon Rope

25 Litre container.

Plastic Crates

Panorama Showing Various Detritus 

Many Small Items Mixed with Soil 

So all this junk, got me thinking about what sort of shape beaches in New Zealand must be in? Not this bad I hope. . . .

Ocean Plastic Gifts

Scientific Web Content

Flood Risk Assessment London

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Graffiti on Buildings - From Google Street View

Graffiti on Buildings - From Google Street View

Hi. Please click on blue links to visit site of graffiti / street art.

Turku, Southwest Finland 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Carbon Storage in Soils

Carbon Storage in Soils

Below table is taken from Carbon storage by habitat:Review of the evidence of theimpacts of managementdecisions and condition ofcarbon stores and sources. 

It shows the carbon storage potential for various soils (based on habitats). As you can see some grasslands hold more carbon in the SOILS than woodlands. However this table shows soil storage and plant storage. 

Table Text (For Google)

Habitats Carbon stock in soils (t Cha-1 ) Carbon stock in vegetation (t Cha-1 ) Dwarf shrub Heath 88 2 Acid grassland 87 1 Fen, mash and swamp 76 ? Bog 74 2 Coniferous woodland 70 70 Broad leaf, mixed & yew woodland 63 70 Neutral grassland 60 1 Improved grasslands 59 1 Arable and horticulture 43 1 Coastal margins (UK) 48 ?