A series of posts, sharing a recipe to resolve the climate and ecological crises. The theme throughout is how to incorporate one key ingredient (to be revealed) in our work and home lives. Feedback on these posts is welcome when you contact roberharding.com about the stunning images, or through www.EnvironmentalEducationProject.com.
‘Time To Clean Up’
Have you noticed, when you read these blogs there is an elephant standing in the room too? This elephant represents both the power of nature and reveals that Nature-based Solutions (see below) should no longer be considered a secret, or a second rate ingredient. Leading scientists and political leaders now refer to Nature-based Solutions as a crucial tool to reach climate and ecological targets. Does anybody want to predict the future and suggest NbS will become THE most prominent and positive ingredient in the recipe for global recovery? It will definitely be a key ingredient in this series. For now, enjoy the elephant power in the room.
The previous post in this series focused on travel. By holidaying on our own shores and immersing ourselves in the natural world we all stand to benefit. By being careful to contribute in a sustainable way to local communities and the natural environment while we are there, helps to improve the status quo.
Nature-based Solutions (NbS), are a combination of our Natural Capital and ecosystem services (click on links for definitions). Many local and global challenges cannot be solved without NbS because 1) they tap into millions of years of resilience before we arrived 2) if used well, they create a positive feedback loop benefiting us and a variety of global challenges simultaneously 3) they are often the least expensive option as nature, when unhindered, is self propagating.
‘The bottom line is that nature does not need us. We need nature’.Julia Roberts| Conservation Internat
When you look into our energy use, at home or at work, we usually find it is the greatest contributor to our carbon footprint. In cold or temperate climates heating and transport also have a big impact. This is why lots of ‘change makers’ suggest that one of the simplest ways to reduce your environmental impact is switch to a green energy supplier for your power, heating and transport. Then you are using renewable energy that nature provides for free.
Maybe you already made the switch early on in your journey of eco-awareness? Maybe you plan to do it today? Here is one comparison site for the best two providers (see below). Let’s explore how to maximise the benefits.
- Check whether you have fully insulated your home or business premises as this is obviously just as important.
- Check how ‘green’ your energy provider really is… even The Guardian has focussed on this. Looking for simplicity: there are only three who genuinely source renewable energy across the board: Good Energy and Ecotricity and Octopus Green. Sadly there is a lot of green washing across the rest of the industry with energy bought in from third parties that is not from renewables at all
- If you are generating your own sustainable energy then consider storing energy in a big battery, or power wall, for when you need it most.
- Most power stations operate at full capacity continuously during their lifetime, meaning that excess energy is produced at night. Power walls and electric car batteries can be topped up cheaply at night, while also reducing the demand on the grid during the day.
- Once you have set up a green energy supply (above) you can travel in comfort by electric bike or car on green energy too!
- These investments are actually building blocks for a more sustainable future allowing you to make even bigger changes. Or as the specialist, Simon Pyne, puts it.‘’Off-setting and switching your green tariff is the bottom rung on the ladder. There are so many more exciting changes and services you can adopt.’ Simon helps you create bespoke energy efficient systems – he has been recommended by lots of schools, business and individuals..
‘We cannot be well unless our planet is well. It really is that simple.’Rachel Musson | ThoughtBox
So what is green energy? Do you think of solar and wind first of all? Are you acquainted with wave, marine, hydropower power? Those are all renewable energy sources. Other low or zero carbon sources include nuclear energy, biomass and pumped storage. The latter involves using spare energy during low demand, to pump water up-hill only to release it later to produce energy through hydroelectric power.
2019 was a breakthrough for the UK national grid: the amount of zero carbon electricity used by the UK’s homes and businesses outstripped that from fossil fuels for a full twelve months. Coal generated only 1.6% of the electricity mix in 2020, compared with almost 25% five years ago.
If you love numbers you will love live updates on your national grid energy supply, now available in great detail. The UK grid can be monitored easily through this website or one of these apps: Grid Carbon or National Grid ESO
Whistle stop tour of wind power
Germany is the leading manufacturer of wind turbines currently as our late PM, Margaret Thatcher continuously redirected funding into car manufacturing! However, Britain has since installed the biggest offshore wind farms in the world, along our Eastern seaboard. This supplies 25% of the energy used by the National Grid on average. Remote farms or islands usually use wind power in Britain because of our windy weather.
Spot light on solar power
If we could harness all the power coming from the sun for one hour, we could power the world’s energy needs for a year. PhotoVoltaic (PV) panels are therefore vital for green energy production. They are currently only around 20% efficient at converting this solar radiation into solar electricity but they have decreased in price so rapidly their impact has beaten all predictions from the energy sector. PV panels are now the best way to produce energy on a local scale in many developing countries with no maintenance. Ideally, these are linked to a battery because they produce no power on very overcast days and at night. Solar farms, with thousands of panels, now supply the national grid in many countries. This has been supported by government incentives as it is a quick and easy step towards their Net Zero national targets and for better energy security than through oil.
Global energy demand dipped due to the Pandemic but so did investment in renewables (World Energy Outlook). Your planet needs you to switch it up! Choose a green energy supplier before you turn on the kettle for your next cuppa! Comparison site.