Across Europe students and teachers are standing up to negligent leaders who ignore climate change. Last week in Belgium students took to the streets and their movement forced the resignation of a minister while inspiring other students to act across the continent. This week, teachers and students protested in the UK calling for education reforms around climate change. You’ve probably heard of the Extinction Rebellion movement already, if not now’s your chance to get educated and start rising up faster than global water levels.
They are also unhappy that part of the curriculum appears to cast doubt on the evidence for man-made climate change, even though governments, the UN and the overwhelming majority of scientists accept that it is happening. Government guidelines for key stage 4 chemistry say pupils should be taught “evidence, and uncertainties in evidence, for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change”.
“When we have had the evidence for decades, why does it amount to little more than a footnote in our national curriculum – a vague and marginal concern?” asks the letter. “If we keep this information out of the public domain – out of schools, for example – perhaps we might avoid some awkward conversations in the years to come … after all, who wants to tell a child that, unless we make unprecedented changes to how we live, we are heading for societal collapse, famine, war and the increasing likelihood of human extinction?”
The UK will be banning commercial fishing in approximately one million kilometres of their ocean waters. The country is expanding their marine protection areas in the Atlantic and Pacific around the British Overseas Territories. This is good news as overfishing is contributing part to the global mass extinction of marine wildlife, anything countries can do to curtail the current fishing levels will help the environment and at risk species.
A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.
The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands – Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.
Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: “Protecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.”
Renewable energy debates can suffer obfuscation through abstraction and disingenuous allegations like renewable is limited in it’s generation times. For example, wind power is often argued to be useless because we cannot control the wind. We can’t control it, but we can predict it.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of wind power in the UK a new digital design company created a demonstration of using visualization to impact how people think of wind power.
We wanted to make MWh something more tangible, so we’ve taken some data* on the average energy usage of domestic products to hopefully bring those big numbers to life.
We also wanted to show the increasing importance of wind in the energy mix over time and the graph allows us to do that in a simple way as well as giving us a means of navigating across time. You can change the date range on the graph to show longer term trends.
We are aware that numbers can be used to tell all sorts of stories, and that this is just one narrative among many possible ones. We choose to shine a positive light on the amount of energy being generated by wind. For a more rigorous interpretation of energy data, you should read David Mackay’s Sustainable Energy – Without Hot Air.
So the ineptitude of the current Toronto mayor got me thinking of how things could have been different with forethought of climate change. It’s worth noting that Rob Ford spent the flood idling in his SUV:
Just spoke to Mayor Rob Ford, power is still out at his house. He's in the SUV with his kids trying to stay cool #TOpoli#stormTO
The barrage is part of a comprehensive system of flood control to decrease flooding in the low-lying areas in the busy quarters of the city. During the heavy rains, a series of nine crest gates activate to release excess storm water into the sea when the tide is low. When high tide comes in, giant pumps drain excess storm water at at a rate of one Olympic-size swimming pool per minute.
Although large areas of green roofs have many benefits for cities, such as reducing air pollution and helping to combat the heat island effect, Rotterdam’s priority was for water retention, since the city has a shortage of areas where water can be stored following heavy rainfall. Water management has always been a major concern in the Netherlands, since approximately 60% of the country lies below sea level. The analysis of the potential of green roofs in Rotterdam that preceded the introduction of the subsidies focused heavily on their capacity for water storage in order to reduce peak water discharge following a rain storm and help prevent flooding.
Once established a green roof can significantly reduce both peak flow rates and total runoff volume of rainwater from the roof compared to a conventional roof. Green roofs store rainwater in the plants and substrate and release water back into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.
The amount of water that is stored on a green roof, and then evapotranspired into the atmosphere, is dependent on the depth and type of growing medium, type of drainage layer, vegetation used and regional weather. The FLL Guidelines should be followed to ensure that actual runoff will be in accordance with calculated runoff.
A green roof can easily be designed to prevent runoff from all rainfall events of up to 5 mm and as part of a SuDS strategy, should reduce the volume of surface or underground attenuation required at the site boundary. In summer, green roofs can retain 70–80% of rainfall and in winter they retain 10–35% depending on their build-up (Green roofs benefits and cost implications, Livingroofs.org In association with ecologyconsultancy, March 2004). The difference is due to a combination of more winter rainfall and less evapotranspiration by the plants because growth is not as vigorous during the winter months.
I like this tweet from Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmat as a good conclusion to this post:
Suddenly spending $ to maintain all of that not-so-sexy infrastructure and to plan for climate change seems wildly appealing. #TOflood
The UK is looking into ways to make their power grid more environmentally sustainable and being an island nation they have looked into using tides. Tidal flows are predictable and reliable which means that power companies can predict energy generated from tide-powered turbines, unlike with unpredictable wind. A new study reveals that the latent energy in tides can be used to supply a lot of the nations electric needs.
“From tidal barrages you can reasonably expect you can get 15% of UK electricity needs, that’s a very solid number,” co-author Dr Nicholas Yates from the National Oceanography Centre told BBC News.
“On top of that there is a 5% tidal stream figure, and with future technological development that is likely to be an underestimate in my view,” he said.