Thursday, June 18, 2009

You, Me and Tackling Climate Change

The impact of global warming on the UK is in today's headlines (i.e. 18 June) .

We had a timely discussion on what we can all do about this on Sunday. Dr Ralph Hebden (photo) is a former Lecturer in Geography at Sheffield Hallam University. He brought his overhead projector with him, so we had an illustrated talk and plenty of discussion on what we could do as individuals to reduce the impact of global warming. Inevitably the discussion spilt over into the ways that his proposals could also be acted upon by industry, trade, agriculture, transport and governments.

Below the photo of part of the problem is a list of the type of proposals he advocated. Of course, those who seriously follow his advice are also likely (a) to spread the word and (b) press governments and other major bodies to act within the same spirit. That is how what is individually practical can become what is politically feasible.


The following suggestions are to help people reduce their environmental footprint and so help to reduce their impact on global warming. In many cases they do not involve financial cost and will even save money.

1. My Home
Loft insulation
Jacket on hot water cylinder
Cavity wall insulation
Micro wind turbine after checking your location characteristics
Photovoltaic cells
Draught excluders - windows, doors, floors, but allow for some ventilation
Solar water heating panels / gas condensing boiler
Thermostats on central heating equipment
Double glazing
Lag exposed pipes
Fit low energy light bulbs
Vary times on central heating system
Reduce temperature by 1 C on central heating
Draw curtains to keep heat in
Do not leave lights on when you leave a room
Do not leave equipment on stand by - computer, TV, VCR etc.
Buy Green Energy electricity
Defrost fridge/freezer regularly
Put a box in empty fridge/freezer free spaces - reduce amount of air being frozen
Cook with lids on pans
Check energy efficiency when buying electrical and gas equipment
Use mains electricity or rechargeable batteries rather than ordinary batteries
Use non-VOC paint, solvents, preservation finishes
Stop junk mail through Mail Preference Service

2. My water use
Fix leaking taps
Turn taps fully off
Have a shower rather than a bath
Use plugs in basins and sinks
Put a water hippo in water cistern
Turn taps off when cleaning teeth
Use washing machines and dishwashers only on full loads
Fill kettle with only the water you need
Install water butts to collect water from roofs.
Think before using water; energy is needed to get water to your home.
Use lowest temperature when washing clothes
Install low flush/double flush in toilet system

5. My recycling
Check whether what you buy can be recycled
Keep and reuse envelopes
Use blank side of paper you receive for rough work
Recycle newspapers, magazines, bills, junk mail, wrapping paper.
Recycle plastic packaging from goods bought
Recycle glass
Charity shops allow you to recycle clothes.
Cans and silver paper can be recycled
Take books to charity shops or send to Feed the Minds
Opticians will recycle glasses
Dispose of waste oil, paint, solvents, and batteries safely.

4. My shopping
Use bags for life and avoid plastic bags
Use local shops or farmers’ markets to reduce travel emissions
Cut travel emissions by not buying imported goods where possible
Choose goods with minimal packaging
Reduce car use by getting shops to deliver
Shop on the internet to reduce your journeys to shops
Buy recycled paper and other recycled goods
Buy Fair Trade products
Only buy what you need and reduce waste.

5. My garden
Install water butts to collect rain water
Water plants in evening to reduce evaporation
Mulch water loving plants to reduce need to water
Have a compost bin for garden and kitchen waste
Develop eco-friendly plants for frogs, birds, hedgehogs
Have a pond to help wild life: also a base for a range of different plants
Grow vegetables and fruit in your garden
Try to keep to native plants
Use pesticides and chemical sprays as little as possible.
Avoid products with peat in them
Compost egg boxes
Compost garden clippings and twigs
Collect fallen leaves and store for a year to make compost

6. My Travel *
Reduce car use; use a bicycle, walk or use public transport
Ensure car tyre pressures are correct
Accelerate slowly
Avoid sharp breaking
Consider whether you need holidays involving long flights
Consider having holidays in Britain
Check destination weather condition before travelling
Travel with minimum luggage as a result.

7. Some Challenges
Shop locally - but not at supermarkets
Buy locally produce food and goods - not imported
Reduce car use - cope with public transport
Become vegetarian - meat production consumes many resources
Holiday in the UK - no flights to the sun, snow or 'far away places'
Live a simple lifestyle - reduce your environmental footprint

* During the debate, the discussion groups own submission on"Integrated Transport" was raised as having relevance to these proposals.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Quick Response

Rob Quick chaired the last meeting of our discussion group - see here.

Today's Guardian carries the following letter from him, under the heading "HAZEL BLEARS HAS BETRAYED US".

Thank you Ms Blears for stabbing we Labour activists in the back (Blears strikes blow for rebels with resignation, 4 June). You might have thought in your selfish egotistical way you were simply stabbing the PM in the back, but you forgot about us. I am the Labour agent in Dronfield, Derbyshire and we have been working tirelessly for weeks, despite the daily exposés of MPs' misuse of expenses, in a key marginal with only slim hopes of keeping one seat and maybe control of the county. Blears has betrayed ordinary Labour supporters. We feel she should be expelled from the party.
Rob Quick
Vice-chair, Derbyshire North East CLP

The full range of letters under the above heading appears here.