This week, Adrian Blake writes for us again, this time about his continued frustration with those who would attempt to use environmentalism as a way to prevent action on climate change. He’s gone a little OTT with the links, but they’re all relevant, especially the David Mackay TED talk. If you’d like to follow up with Adrian he tweets @AdrianPaulBlake.
The end is nigh. Or nigh-ish at any rate. As our society continues to extract carbon from the ground and then pump it into a warm little planet blanket (planket?), we accelerate our species, and all other species, towards the sixth mass extinction.
We know right? I mean, we all KNOW on a factual level that the earth is warming. Hell, did you know that the earth hasn’t had a cooler than average month since A COUPLE YEARS BEFORE I WAS FREAKIN’ BORN?!?!. We KNOW that this is because carbon is at 393.84 parts per million in our atmosphere (it was roughly 275ppm from the dawn of humanity up until 200 years ago. 350ppm is the mainstream level that we think is sustainable (i.e. we won’t all die). We KNOW that’s because we burn fossil fuels and we KNOW that that’s because we A) like using energy (I’m currently warming my legs up with a super-computer), and B) because fossil fuels are the cheapest way to get energy. We also know that climate change will kill lots of plants and animals that, sure, provide all sorts of services and help keep us fed and watered and stuff, but more importantly SOME ARE SUPER CUTE!!!
We KNOW all this, so stop beating us over the head with it Adrian, JEESE!!!
And I hear you, but what the frack are we going to do about it? My subtle, segway towards fracking is definitely not the way. Forget poisoned water, or weird earthquakes, we just found out that it leaks buttloads more methane than we previously thought into the atmosphere (a “buttload” being the obvious unit of measurement for methane). Methane is 20 times more plankety than CO2, so the benefits of “cleaner” fuel are quickly outweighed by these leaks.
So look, this isn’t a debate on which fuel to use. That debate is over. We need nuclear. You either agree we need nuclear, or you go back and check your maths again because you are wrong. You can sing and dance about solar or biofuels or wind or water or heart, but once you look at how much space we’d need for all that (David Mackay did a fantastic TED talk that you should watch here where he explains this. The eye opening part for me was that for a road to keep running on biofuels you’d need a field growing biofuels just as long, and 8km wide.) then you’ll see that we can’t get by ONLY on renewables.
But they help, and we aren’t going to have thousands of nuclear plants built by the end of the decade (partly because, in fitting with the theme of this blog, people twist environmentalism to scare people from it), so they are ALL that’s going to help for the time being. And that’s why I get annoyed when people try to stop them. Lord Huffing doesn’t want his manor view ruined by windmills on the horizon? Well screw you, it’s that or a refugee camp filled with Londoners.
That annoys me, it annoys me when people are so short-sighted and selfish about this sort of thing (Says the man with his office computer still on because he doesn’t want to lose his internet tabs). But Lord Huffing (fictional, though apparently a Google search term for literotica…enjoy) is just voicing his opinion, selfish though it might be, that his windmill-less view is more important than the rest of the creatures on the planet. Opinions are fine, nobody who wants to help the earth will be swayed by his opinion, so his opinion only annoys me. What infuriates me, is when people make up facts to support their opinion.
Two things infuriate me, 1) that we don’t live in a communist and free-love based society (Come on guys! It would be so awesome!) and 2) people who make up facts to make people believe them.
There was a 300 strong protest on the Bournemouth coast on Sunday, against a new off shore wind farm. The leader of the demo said people were concerned about the “visual, environmental and economic damage” to the area. Well economically, the build will provide 1000 jobs for a few years and 100 permanent ones, and in return, some ships have to go slightly more to one side on the way to France. But what about environmental damage? The main concern raised was that according to the spokesman of the protest, “Large numbers of birds would be killed by the turbines as the wind farm would be in the path of an important migratory route”. Well crud, if that’s true then really we should maybe reconsider. But then if it’s as truthful as the economic argument, then we’re back to Lord Huffing’s opinion about the view again.
Birds DO get hit by wind turbines. But for every bird that gets hit by a turbine, an estimated 5800 more hit a glass window and die. Most peoples concern is raised by the reports of bats dying in large numbers around turbines. This happens because bats are at a risk of barotrauma (damage caused by the changes in air pressure caused by the blades). But birds, due to their hollow bones and other morphological traits, are not. So unless there is a great migrating colony of Sea Bats living off of Bournemouth coast then the aerial mortality rates will be low.
Navitas, the company in charge of the project offered to discuss and explain issues surrounding the installation, including their environmental assessments and subsequent changing of the planned location but this seems to have been ignored. This may be because despite the attempt to drag half-baked facts into the fray, the real cause for concern is clear. Whilst the pro-wind campaigners (who also turned up, in polar bear costumes) had posters reading “Renewable energy for the future” and (hilariously) “My grandchildren need wind”, the biggest sign of the protest against a privately funded wind farm 10 miles from shore is this.
“2 big, 2 Close, 2 noisy, 2 costly, inefficient, save our Jurassic coast.”. The sad irony being that opposition to green energy projects like this because of a desire to keep lovely views, is the very thing that will destroy treasures like the Jurrasic coast.
Adrian Blake is a first year PhD student at Bournemouth University where he is looking at the effect climate change may have on individual traits within populations. If you want to discuss this post with him, he tweets @AdrianPaulBlake