Emerging #3

July 15th, 2020

Did you read the BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin’s article on Friday? The vast majority of emissions saved by electric cars will be wiped out by the government’s £27bn road-building scheme.

SO depressing…

Transport for Quality of Life, using data collected by Highways England, says the 80% of the CO2 savings from clean cars will be negated by the planned roads programme. It adds that if ministers want a ‘green recovery’ the cash would be better spent on public transport, walking, cycling, and remote-working hubs.

The paper estimates that a third of the predicted increase in emissions would come from construction – including energy for making steel, concrete and asphalt. A third would be created by increased vehicle speeds on faster roads. And the further third would be caused by extra traffic generated by new roads stimulating more car-dependent housing, retail parks and business parks.

Its authors say history shows that building roads almost always generates more traffic.

So, we have to oppose our government’s plans – yet again….. I’ve written to my MP, of course (yet again!), copying in the Committee on Climate Change.

Now, another reference to government plans – that vast Brexit customs clearance centre to be built in Kent…. A blight; and such a contrast to other uplifting stories from Kent:

Wild bison are to return to the UK for the first time in 6,000 years, with the release of a small herd in Kent planned for spring 2022.

The project to reintroduce the animals will help secure the future of an endangered species; but they will also naturally regenerate a former pine wood plantation by killing off trees, which creates a healthy mix of woodland, scrub and glades, boosting insect, bird and plant life.

The bison will come from the Netherlands or Poland, where releases have been successful and safe.

Paul Hadaway, from Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “The Wilder Blean project will prove that a wilder, nature-based solution is the right one to tackle the climate and nature crisis we now face. Using missing keystone species like bison to restore natural processes to habitats is the key to creating bio-abundance in our landscape.”

And the animals do all the work for us, bless them! Like the beavers helping to prevent future flooding in Cornwall – both projects have been featured on television’s Countryfile…

Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 60% since 1970. Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, despite the best efforts of conservationists. Good luck to Chris Packham – he’s still trying to oppose HS2 in the courts…

Another Kent project that has been successful (against all the odds, we’re so fortunate to have determined conservationists fighting on….) is the boost to the endangered population of the Heath Fritillary butterfly.

Insects are the foundation of all life on Earth.

Friends of the Earth are offering ‘Bee Saver Kits’. Just ask them for one!

The conservation charity Buglife hopes to help restore and create at least 150,000 hectares of wildflower pathways – it launched its B-lines network for England on Monday this week.

B-lines are a strategically mapped network of existing and potential wildflower habitats that criss-cross the country. It is hoped the new corridors will help species such as the long-horned bee to thrive. It has been predicted that 40-70% of insect species could become extinct if confined to tiny fragments of land. The long-horned bee was once common across the south of England, but arable farming and over-grazing by sheep and cattle has robbed it of food.

Mm, another reason to re-think farming. Wildlife Trusts demonstrate wildlife-friendly farming methods, the RSPB works with farmers, I’ve just come across an organisation called ‘Farming and Conservation’ and listeners to The Archers will be aware of their projects. It would be helpful too, though, I’m sure, if more of us stopped eating meat….?!

A ‘near-term’ way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere may, apparently, be to spread rock dust on farmland. The chemical reactions that degrade the rock particles lock the greenhouse gas into carbonates within months. The researchers, in the journal Nature, are clear that cutting the fossil fuel burning that releases CO2 is the most important action needed to tackle the climate emergency. But climate scientists also agree that, in addition, massive amounts of CO2 need to be removed from the air.

The ‘enhanced rock weathering’ (ERW) approach has several advantages. First, many farmers already add limestone dust to soils to reduce acidification, and adding other rock dust improves fertility  and crop yields, meaning application could be routine and desirable. Also, basalt is the best rock for capturing CO2, and many mines already produce dust as a byproduct, so stockpiles already exist. And the world’s biggest polluters, China, the US and India, have the greatest potential for ERW, as they have large areas of cropland and relatively warm weather, which speeds up the chemical reactions.

I’m going to close with some international news. First, I saw frightening images of floods in China – one report mentioned climate change…

The NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council) in America has announced that important victories have been won, to block, slow or stop three oil and gas pipelines zealously backed by the Trump administration – the Keystone XL, the Dakota Access, and the Atlantic Coast pipelines.

This is good news for our climate, our environment, and for the millions of people who live along these pipeline routes and face significant dangers from spills and toxic pollution.

But, as the NRDC says, ‘Our communities and our climate aren’t even close to being out of the woods yet… Trump and the oil and gas industry have vowed to press on and do whatever it takes to get the pipelines built/back up and running…’

So, please, any readers of this in the United States and any of you have friends and family there, please consider getting involved, by signing the NRDC’s Clean Energy Now petition and by voting and making sure others vote to defeat President Trump in November.

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