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Thursday, June 01, 2006

REVIEW: Can we save Planet Earth?

Following on from last weeks question/review here is my review of part two of the BBC two parter hosted by David Attenborough, Are we changing Planet Earth.

The second part is titled: Can we save Planet Earth?

Here is my summary:

Massive effects bound to happen and indeed already happening.

Half of humanity inhabits coastal zones and a sea level rise could leave hundreds of millions dead and displaced. Realistically scientists predicting 150 million people dead within 50 years. That is roughly 2.5 times the entire UK population. One entire half of the USA. Just meditate on that for a minute.

And we in the west would not be immune. In the UK the South East for example would be mostly flooded and so would Central London. Many of the worlds most famous cities would be engulfed. With just a 5 meter rise much of Florida would be submerged and Miami would be 50 miles off shore. Bangladesh would be wiped off the map. Along with 150 million Bangladeshi people I imagine.

150,000,000 people like you and your family and your friends.

Our domestic contribution to emissions is immense. Cars, household energy use and garbage/rubbish are the worst offenders. And those are things we can all easily do something about without spending any money.

Wear sweaters:
Every degree of heat less for heating our homes saves a third of a tonne of CO2 emissions.

Turn off appliances:
Appliances use 10% of our total electricity usage just because we leave stuff on standby.

Get composting:
Why waste valuable space in landfill?

Use energy saving lightbulbs:
See the light.

Gas is good:
Using a gas hob is better than electric

Hot House:
Make sure your house is well insulated.

Clean your fridge
: Uses less energy to cool. Strange but true.

Local is good:
Buy more local food as this reduces food miles.

Easy peasy:
If we made efficient choices in home and work we would reduce emissions by a quarter.

Who killed the Electric Car? If we could get 2 billion cars getting 60 miles to the gallon we would shave another seventh off our emissions.

Tea for Two:
It is not about making less cups of tea. It is about efficiency. Instead of filling the kettle all the way and wasting water and energy to boil water we will not use why not use a mug to fill it with the right amount of water. Simple. Free. Just takes a bit of thought.

In simple terms all we really need to do is reconnect with where our energy, water and food comes from and where it goes when we are done with it. From there solutions and efficiencies will spring forth. We just need to open our minds to alternatives.

On a more macro level he talks about:

Energy alternatives:
Explore carbon free sources of power. Unpopular but Attenborough and co say that tripling nuclear power generation globally would cut one seventh of our emissions globally. Not sure personally as we could avoid more Nuclear if we get efficient and cut our energy demand. Solar, wind and so on are natural solutions worth exploring and he thinks wind turbines are beautiful. For the UK, the EUs windiest place, wind turbines seems an obvious solution. And putting them out at sea removes lots of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) moan and groans. He explains that 700,000 of the 90 meter turbines worldwide would cut another 7th off our CO2 emissions.

Underground CO2 storage:
He talks about the Sleipner gas rig which is pumping CO2 underground to the tune of 1 million tonnes a year. Norway estimates that we could store all of EU's emissions this way. A few thousand of these rigs worldwide could take off another seventh of the emissions.

As Attenborough says: This is our watch and we have to get it started. If we do nothing we end up in deep water.

So we could save Planet Earth after all. Or we can just watch some TV and forget about it. Perhaps someone else will care. Have another biscuit.

Doesn't it depress you? he asks a climatologist. Yes of course. If it was a foregone conclusion. But no one knows for sure. We need action on behalf of future generations to avoid some of the worst impacts.

Scientists do not claim to predict the future but they do claim to provide accurate scenarios that we can learn from. And you can participate in helping them create those scenarios and predictions. For Free! The more people that take part the more scenarios we can run and the more accurate a picture we can paint.

And with superb timing there is a tasty Climate Change event in London this Saturday.
Sat June 3rd from 9:45

Speakers include Michael Meacher, Lucy Pearce of Stop Climate Chaos and over 40 speakers in the workshops ranging from academics to activists.

This event is free, ticketless and purpouseful.

After the conference we start planning for Nov 4th when we are planning the UK's largest ever climate change demonstration from the US embassy to Trafalguar Sq.

A full program is available here.


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