Archive for category Little CO2 ideas

Carnival of the Green # 199

Hello all, and welcome to the 199th edition of the Carnival of the Green, a weekly round-up of eco-news on the web, co-ordinated by Treehugger.com.

The Carnival of the Green

Things have been a little interrupted lately with the Carnival, so my thanks go to not last week’s poster, but last month’s poster, Victoria Klein, all the way back on 29th September (and what’s more she stepped in last minute!). Let’s hope to get things back on the rails again, and do check out next week’s Carnival to be hosted on October 26th by Greenstockscentral.

Anyway, on with this week’s show:

Allyn presents How to Grow Huge Pumpkins posted on E-how. Very seasonal methinks, though something for next year’s plans!

‘How would it feel if you found out that you were wasting 80% of your time doing things that weren’t getting you any closer to your goals?’ This is the question that Tyler asks in her excellent article Quit Worrying About 80% of Your Life posted on Frugally Green. As someone who is easily distracted, I think these tips are excellent, and totally in tune with the whole ’simplify your life’ green message too.

Have you heard of Solar Cookers? I have to admit I hadn’t until I read this excellent article from Solarshack: Why Solar Cookers Are Important for the Environment, Human Health and Safety posted on Applied Solar Technology. This looks like a solution to follow - simple, cheap, and above all green!

Elena the Ecodiva takes on a different subject - how to keep your mouth clean having eaten food of course cooked on a solar cooker, with her article on How to make your own green mouthwash, posted on Bargaineering.com. It actually sounds quite tasty to me, though no good if you happen to be teetotal…

Case Ernsting presents a fascinating take on the thrifiness for which the Shakers have always been famous in Going Green: How To Recycle and Reuse Like the Shakers | Home and Decor posted on The Amish furniture design and decor blog. Some great recycling ideas here!

Guffly is a one product per day online store and community featuring eco friendly products and fair trade lifestyle goods like home, pet, clothing, office and personal accessories. Here they present Fashion + Eco-Friendly = Fierce | Guffly posted at Guffly - a review of Green stuff at the Spring 2010 fashion week.

Powwownow do conference calling (I wonder is that greener than smoke signals?) - any way to avoid having to travel to a meeting. In The Little Guy versus the Big Problem they ask the question: is it better to wait for the big solutions, or to continue working on every little solution? Posted on their Life Behind Blog. This is one of our favourite subjects here on Reduce your CO2, and we believe that every action counts.

The Digerati Life used Blog Action day 2009 to talk about Climate Change, and to ask whether or not we are really listening to Mother Nature: Reflecting On Climate Change on Blog Action Day posted on The Digerati Life. Their message applies to all of us, however concerned we are about the future of our planet: in the end it doesn’t matter how disasters are caused. The important thing is to be prepared for them, and right now this is often not the case.

Finally, Annette Berlin of Craft Stew presents 20 Crafty Ways To Reuse Plastic Bottles. I’m off to try them out tonight, especially as someone has hidden our offical bag for recycled plastics, which means the bin men probably won’t pick up our plastic tomorrow morning!

That’s it for this week. Thanks for all your submissions, it’s been a pleasure to have you round!

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When you fly, do a poo, and reduce your CO2

Over the time I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve often picked up on and suggested original ways to reduce your CO2 emissions - some strange but true, some merely fanciful. Today, however, I think I’ve heard one of the most original and bizarre, and what’s more it makes sense, even if it makes a teeny difference.

According to an article I read in the Daily Mail, Japanese Airline ANA is asking all passengers to relieve themselves before boarding their flights, in order to reduce their body weight and thus reduce CO2 emissions. A quick calculation suggests that on a plane of 150 people, this could constitute an average weight saving of…… 63.7 kg. Hmm, that’s one small person, or just over two maximum weight suitcases. Not exactly a huge saving then.

Here’s the point where we move on to the classic debate: do we wait until the big solutions arrive, or do we take every chance we’ve got to make things better, however small the difference? Well for me, if it costs nothing, then it’s worth it, and I for one will happily try to empty my tank before boarding any flight in the future.

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To act or not to act? That is the question

Ok, so I’ve bastardised a line from Hamlet, but the acting I’m referring to does not involve a stage in a theatre, or cameras. I’m talking about whether or not we should act, that is take action on Climate Change.

Every day I read 5 or more online articles on Climate Change / Global Warming plus the comments from readers, and every time I witness yet another ‘road to nowhere’ argument:

“AGW is real and we must do something about it now”.
“It’s all a plot by government and big business to make money and tax us even more”.
“The facts prove that man-made emissions are destroying the planet. Look at all the scientific proof, and all the experts who back it up”.
“The facts prove that Global warming is totally natural and that the planet can deal with it. Look at all the scientific proof, and all the experts who back it up”.
“We need to act now, for our children!”
“I’m not compromising one ounce of my comfortable life for a non-reason. There’s no danger anyway”.

And so it goes on, and will do until we get some solid proof either way. By which time it may be too late anyway…. if there really is a problem. Personally, I am inclined to believe the “AGW is real and we need to act now” argument, but any doubts I may have are anyway backed up by a much stronger belief that working to reduce our CO2 emissions will not compromise our lives but rather improve them, that it will certainly improve the way we treat our planet, and it will also save us money.

That’s my reasoning, but I’m always looking for other relevant arguments, and today, thanks to an article in the Guardian, I found one that I particularly like. It’s neither official, nor totally serious, and what’s more it’s relatively old news, but as I’ve just found it, I thought I would upload it for anyone else who hasn’t yet seen it. I don’t totally agree with what will happen if we act and then discover that Climate change doesn’t exist - I believe there will always be major benefits, but I will certainly try this approach out on a few doubters over the next few days:

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Cadburys cows to burp less - an innovative way to reduce emissions

Cadburys, the UK’s most famous chocolate manufacturer have joined the drive to reduce emissions in an innovative fashion.

Not only are they looking to reduce energy consumption via the use of timers, by ensuring machinery and lights are switched off when not in use, and by using fertilisers (which require oil to produce) more intelligently, they are also looking to reduce the methane emissions from the dairy cows that supply the milk that goes into their products by putting them on a low fibre diet.

Everyone, even children, seems to know that cows make a dramatic contribution to the planet’s emissions with the amount of methane they produce. A typical cow emits between 80 and 120kg of methane a  year - the equivalent, believe it or not of an average car, although from its mouth and not in the form of farts as believed by many. Cadburys believe that they can reduce these emissions by as much as 30% by changing their cows’ diet, and lets hope they are right, but couldn’t they, and all cow owners go even further?

Cows spend a fair amount of time indoors - in the case of dairy cows, whenever they are being milked, and in the case of all cows for at least some of the winter in order not to completely destroy the fields they live in. Surely it would be possible to install a system into the typical cow barn that captures the huge amounts of methane produced, and even uses it in a practical way, for instance to heat the barn in question?

As a child, I remember being told stories about farmers being blown up when lighting a cigarette too close to farting pigs. Probably totally exagerrated, but not completely impossible, and something that returned to my thoughts these last few weeks. Whilst I agree that we absolutely need to go easy on our meat consumption, and that we should ideally look to reduce the number of polluting and consuming animals, maybe we should also be looking to harness the natural fuel being produced by them… Sounds mad? Right now, I think we should look at every option available - you never know what might work!

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If we paint it white, all will be all right…

Everyone is always looking for ‘big ideas’, the ones that will in one fail swoop solve all our problems. For me, the business of reducing our CO2 emissions and looking after the environment takes a different approach: we mustn’t stop looking for the ‘big idea’, or even several of them, but in the meantime we shouldn’t ignore the myriad of smaller ideas that on their own can’t turn everything around, but that definitely can help stop the rot.

This is why I love the latest idea put forward by Hasham Akbari, a scientist based at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. It’s really simple: if we turn more of the landscape, and above all the cityscape, white, more sunlight will be reflected and this will help reduce CO2 emissions and delay the effects of global warming.

So what we need to do is to emulate the inhabitants of many a sun-drenched country, and paint all possible outdoor surfaces (above all the roofs of all buildings) white, or at least a light-reflecting colour. This approach will contribute to the reduction of global warming in two ways:

  1. Sunlight reflected back from the earth’s surface reduces the amount of thermal energy given off, and thermal energy contributes to the greenhouse effect. Therefore, if we increase the surface area that reflects sunlight, we reduce the thermal energy given off by the earth.
  2. Buildings that reflect sunlight become less hot in the sun, and therefore need less cooling down. This concept has already been understood in places like California, where whitehouses with flat roofs have been painted white since 2005 in order to reduce the need for power-hungry, CO2 emissions-generating air conditioning.

Akbari reckons that if we all get together to paint an additional 0.3 percent of the earth’s surface white (or at least a colour that reflects sunlight), we could actually save 44 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, the same as the expected rise in emissions over the next 10 years, giving us more time to work on other long-term ‘big ideas’.

Perhaps painting 0.3 percent of the earth’s surface white is a little too much to hope for, and to achieve it, we would certainly have to address several major issues, starting with the fact that white sloping roofs would be, quite frankly, ugly, let alone a potential navigational nightmare for air traffic (hold on, maybe this is a cunning plan to reduce air traffic… keep that thought!). This would certainly be the case for white roads.

However, it does remain an excellent idea, and everyone could contribute to it cheaply and quickly. Imagine, for instance, if we all went out this spring and painted just our patios and garden sheds white. This would already account for a huge surface area, and at least several million tonnes of CO2 emissions, and all for the cost of a pot of paint. Now, let’s take it further: imagine that governments decree that all playgrounds, outdoor carparks, warehouse roofs, the roofs of public buildings are painted white. What about if the roofs of all new cars have to be white? Ok, that’s a contradiction, but could theoretically reduce the emissions of all future transport…

I think this idea has mileage, and will be off tomorrow to B&Q to buy my pot of paint. Not sure what I’m going to paint yet, but here’s advance warning to the neighbours…

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