Monday 17 April 2017

I am part of the problem......Burning wood to heat my home isn't as green as I thought

For almost ten years I have been heating my house plus hot water and cooking with wood. I thought that I was doing the right thing and that all that work chainsawing, splitting  logs and stacking gave me a  carbon neutral fuel.

Wrong!... it has gradually dawned on me ( I'm a slow thinker) that I am part of the climate change problem. For a given heat output, burning coal would emit fewer particulates and less carbon dioxide.

Fuel miles!
Wood fuel returns carbon to the atmosphere that was absorbed when the trees were growing but the carbon released by the trees that I am burning today will not be totally reabsorbed for fifty to a hundred years so the atmosphere is taking a big hit now. It wouldn't be so bad if I was planting more trees to capture that carbon when the trees grow.

Then there are the fuel miles used to deliver the wood probably a 300 km round trip with a huge truck burning 100 litres of diesel to bring it's 25 tonne load. Then there's the chainsaw fuel at about 1.5 litres per tonne and the log splitter at 0.5 litres / tonne fuel miles add up quickly.

The greenest way to burn wood would require me to have about 4 ha (10 acres) of my own sustainably managed woodland. If I plant it now there may be thinnings to harvest in 30 - 40 years. I don't have a mature sustainably managed woodland. So what is the green alternative?

I have to make a choice between an oil or LPG fueled boiler or air source heat pump plus  a dual fuel (LPG and Electric) range cooker, with a wood burning stove as back up for power cuts.

Monday 3 April 2017

New lambs an old shepherd and the last lambing.

Shepherding is hard manual work, the ewes weigh 70 kg., the lambs are fast of their feet and the Shepherd at 74 is decrepit; lame, shortsighted and increasingly deaf, he isn't strong enough or fast enough. This is the last lambing. He doesn't cope too well with the sleep deprivation either. After inspection of the lambing ewes in the small hours it's difficult to get back to sleep.

A better looking more stylish old shepherd, he must be French
In the autumn the breeding ewes, the tup and the lambs will be sold.

It will be a sad day when they all go but here's an upside; more time to sit and think, more time to just sit perhaps and more blogging indoors on wet days at the table in my overheated kitchen.

You may have noticed a not very subtle change in the content of these pages, there has been less crofting and more ranting about politics and environment. Having a rant is one of the few nice things about being old. You don't have to give a damn about what anyone thinks of you (except your partner) and you are sure that you have useful stuff to pass on;  all backed up by facts of course.

It's the job of the media, particularly the Press to hold politicians to account but with the internet and blogs we can all have a go . I don't "tweet".  You can't say anything sensible with 140 keyboard characters it's for celebrity seekers, self-publicists and professional charlatans, you know who I mean.. Even teenagers have moved on from "Facebook" it's just not cool in 2017.

The aim of our work with the sheep this week and next is to deliver them into the world alive with minimum human interference and then to keep them alive because the first two minutes of their life are the most precarious. So are the last two as you know.

President Trump has a plan - "Make China Great Again"

The American journalist H.L. Mencken had an apt one liner for any given situation, my favourite  - "there's a simple solution to every human problem; it's neat, plausible and wrong!

No simple solutions...... no denying it
Luckily the US judiciary and even Republican politicians know this and the administration's ill thought through proposals so far have been stalled or rejected.

Trump has reversed the Obama  "Climate Protection Plan" which he denounced as "bullshit" taking US climate change policy back to industrial revolution levels....  when there wasn't any of course.

At their root our environmental problems are unintended side effects of new technology. I challenge you to come up with one that isn't!

Trump's new environmental policy ( or lack of it ) could have the ironic unintended consequence of, " making China great again."

China is the biggest global CO2 emitter, the USA is second. While the USA is trying to revive  an uneconomic coal industry with coal  in free fall. China  is forging ahead with emission control , low carbon renewable technologies and policies. China could dominate the global clean energy market.

The US by rejecting renewables in favour of dirty fuel could find it's exports penalised by border carbon taxes and lagging way behind the rest of the world in the development of low carbon tech.

Climate change denial is a childish temper tantrum, rage at the inconvenience of  truth and reality.