COP26; a Vehicle for Change or Political Football?

Underwater by 2050? Later this year Glasgow will host the annual United Nation
Climate Challenge COP26 Meeting of World Leaders (UN Climate Change Conference,
UK 2020). The timing and venue are appropriate since Scotland was one of the
first countries in the world to acknowledge the global climate emergency and
has since introduced the most ambitious target, to be carbon neutral by 2045,
five Read More…

My Carbon Footprint

Working in Transition University of St Andrews, our job is to try and persuade folk to get out of cars and walk and cycle more, to improve their health and well-being using recycled bikes (eg. Bike Pool), to eat locally produced food instead of consuming imported food with high carbon miles (eg. Edible Campus), and despite Landfill Tax, to try and prevent items being trashed like tools (eg. Tool Read More…

Climate Change and Water

Climate change has manifest itself in many ways around the world, from record summer extreme temperatures, to the melting of the polar icecaps and glaciers, leading to sea level rises, which in turn threatens coastal cities and is leading to the disappearance of islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans like Kiribita (Gabbatiss, 2018) and the Maldives (Union of Concerned Scientists). With the meltRead More…

Has the World enough resources to sustain the current population growth?

Can World agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry sustain burgeoning populations without habitat destruction, deforestation or species/biodiversity loss? In the late 18th century Thomas Malthus wrote ‘The power of the population is so superior to the power of the Earth to produce substance for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.’ (Wolchover,Read More…

St Andrews – an ideal City for the future?

With another couple of car-free days coming up for St Andrews in August, I have been pondering what my ideal city would look like. We all, I’m sure, harbour thoughts and ideas of what an ideal city would look like; would it be cycle friendly, car-free with leafy parks, a good public transport system and wide boulevard pavements with street art and street markets and ready access to good retail Read More…

The importance of Biodiversity. Mankind (single species) versus nature (biomes, ecosystems, biodiversity, communities and populations of multiple species); is it a winner-takes-all contest or can we live in sustainable harmony?

Background The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio led to three Conventions a year later on Climate Change, Biological Diversity and Desertification Prevention (UN). Biodiversity can be defined as the variety of life on Earth, from the genes, species, communities, to ecosystems and processes that enable life to persist over time (SANBI). The main objectives of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) were tRead More…

Nuclear Energy; the pros and cons

Background We are surrounded by matter, made up of atoms, each of which contains enormous amounts of energy in the bonds that hold the atom together. This energy can be released through controlled nuclear fission to produce heat, steam and ultimately electricity, or through uncontrolled fission to produce atomic bombs, like Little Boy and Fat Boy, which were dropped on Hiroshima and NagasakiRead More…

Paw print, your pet’s carbon footprint.

Pets have co-evolved with mankind for thousands of years. Domestic dogs were thought to have evolved from domesticated grey wolves in the Middle East around 15 000 years ago. Archaeological evidence shows dog bones together with human bones from 14700 years ago, but new evidence from a 35000 year old Siberian wolf bone suggests an earlier date of between 27 and 40000 years ago after the last Ice Read More…

The Hydrogen Economy

With increasing evidence and media coverage on Climate Change and Global Warming brought on by anthropogenically produced CO2 in our atmosphere, we are well aware of the problems associated with the carbon economy, which is based on coal, oil and gas. But with what do we replace it? Electric power is great, but it is mostly still generated by burning hydrocarbons. If we could duplicate and harnesRead More…

Tax on Aviation fuel and Carbon offsets

In the 1940’s international transport was still dominated by coal-burning steam trains and oil-burning ocean liners. Air travel was still in its infancy, so to promote it, tax on aviation fuel was deemed exempt through the International Convention on Civil Aviation (ICAO, Chicago, 1944, Article 24). Now, over 70 years later, when air travel is the dominant form of international and domestic travelRead More…

Urban cycling, public transport and changing cityscapes

Tired of eight mile back-ups? Sitting in a stationary car costs time, money and health, both mentally (frustration, road rage) and clinically (stress, disease). Vehicle pollution, including soot, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) cause lung and heart disease; according to the UN there are 7m premature deaths linked to air pollution globally per annum. 92m AmeriRead More…