The Elephant in the room
Net Carbon? My frustrations and what irritates me.
Overall I think that those of us who are promoting a sustainable world think we can tell people what they should and shouldn’t do and that somehow we can manage to turn the clock back, which we all know we can’t.
In my view going net carbon neutral comes down to four key areas, power generation, fuel, waste management and food production, (an area where I am not an expert) for all of these areas there are solutions that already exist.
If all our power was generated by renewables, it would not matter if we used halogen light bulbs or a high consuming air-conditioning unit, nor would it matter if we had energy-guzzling washing machines or any other equipment, it would become irrelevant.
The whole subject is dominated by energy-saving issues and having to change the way we live, if we can produce a carbon-free power supply, which we can, this would mean that nobody would need to make big changes in their lives.
Current Solutions like Hydrogen, low-grade temperature 'Heat to Power' units and zero-carbon power generators are available now. So let's get behind these.
Fuel and Transport
We are currently proposing that all our cars have to be replaced by electric vehicles or fuel cells, but how about converting existing engines over to ammonia, this would mean that people wouldn’t have to change their cars, just covert them. This would be a far more efficient solution, faster (and more sustainable) than scrapping all cars and moving to electric vehicles. So if you want to drive a V12 Mustang, then great! It will not impact the rest of us!
I don’t see how we can manufacture enough batteries, and efficiently and sustainably dispose of them, to supply the worlds engine requirements. So I don’t see this as a viable solution, maybe for a few rich people, but not the for the billions of less wealthy people throughout the world.
So rather than telling people that they can’t fly, we could all fly whenever we wanted if we went over to ammonia converted jet engines. You have the money to use a private jet or go 1st class, that’s no problem. According to Oxford scientists*, this solution could be ready to commercialise in 3 years, we all know that tourism is one of the few ways we can help save the natural world, and to do this, these people need to fly!
Oxford-based Reaction Engines and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council*
It seems that we are hooked on waste, whatever we try and do nothing seems to stop it. So why not make waste a commercially viable commodity, waste system plants can now take unsorted rubbish straight from the bins or land-fills and convert it in to carbon black, glass, plastic, fuel and electricity, making rubbish a more valuable commodity where millions of dollars can be made. This would stop landfill, clean up the rivers and oceans and potentially provide an income to the developing world.
Some examples of the ‘Just say no’ approach that I believe just must change if we are going to bring the world’s population on this journey.
1. An airport was refused extension planning on environmental grounds – why not say ‘Yes’, but you have to be Net Zero on the new build from day one and also with the aircraft that fly in and out of there within 5 years.
2. A new law states, Cafés in Paris can no longer use outside gas heaters, they have had a tough year and now we are taking away their winter business, I understand the concept behind this, but why not give them an alternative and say you cannot use LPG but you can use Ammonia or Electricity (if renewable)
3. I was on a webinar where someone was saying how we had to stop items like flowers being sent by air from Kenya to London and New York due to the carbon footprint, easy for her to say sitting in her penthouse and telling the rest of us how to live our lives, but what about the farmer in Kenya that relies on this income to feed his family, or the flower seller in London, surely the solution is not to ban everything but remedy the carbon footprint of the supply chain.
As a closing thought, we really must make sustainability commercially viable if it is going to have any real impact