Reducing CO2 to cool the Planet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Renewable, sometimes called alternative, energy, wind, wave and sun, are touted as a way to reduce CO2 emissions and cool down our, unfortunately, overheating Planet.

But that is not the first step to take.

The to all intents and purposes the very first step we must take and make must be reduction in energy consumption, by us; by households, by industry, by businesses per se, and this can be and must be done on several levels.

Reduction of energy consumption is only one part, yet again, but we will start with reduction in energy consumption before we go to other means of cutting CO2 emissions without the need of new technologies.

Much could be achieved simply if we all would cut down on the appliances, whether computers, or what-have-you, being left on “standby”. Standby power is vampire power and while you may think it is but a little electricity that is being used it all mounts up, and that even in a private household.

Too many appliances, such a TVs and computers are lest on on standby in many, many homes and people do not even seem to realize that that adds to their electricity bill. In addition to that it puts a strain on the environment and the Planet.

Government department, local and central, schools and such like, also have their role to play here an d businesses, in that they need to learn to turn off the lights when no one is home and especially to turn off computer workstations and their monitors.

Waste of electricity like that not only costs the individual householder or the business or government department but all of us in terms of Climate Change and, in the case of businesses and government all of us as consumers and as tax payers respectively.

Also, when it comes to renewable energy no one even seems to see water power, micro-generation and large, as renewable energy, but it is. All it requires is to dam a river and run the fast slowing water then over a water wheel. That is the easiest way. Obviously, there are large power stations that do use water from huge dams but what is something that we must, seriously, look at is micro-generation in terms of wind power as well as this kind of water power.

While nuclear power, for instance, and that is the nuclear industry's and -lobby's argument all the time, does not produce CO2 emissions per se, and would look like a relatively green option the fact of the nuclear waste and it's half-life does really make it the opposite. That is to say, an option that is the opposite of green and environmentally friendly. Nuclear power cannot, therefore, be termed green though a large number of the lobby would like to claim it thus or at least carbon neutral. Nuclear remains a very dangerous option and road to take.

Can we, however, satisfy our current – and please pardon the pun – demand for every more electricity capacity with just renewables, that is to say primarily wind and wave, with a little solar?Personally I doubt it and that even if we add to the renewables – rightfully – water, biomass, and methane, into the equasion.

So, what to do?

As already mentioned the way to go, and we must go it now, is to reduce the electricity that we waste, for starters, followed by reducing the amount that we actually use. The former is easy and the latter just a tad more difficult.

Let's face it that our current consumption is just way too high; consumption and waste of electricity I mean. Other consumption too but that is not, presently, to discussion here.

There are many ways to combat the waste of electricity.


For starters we must make it a habit to turn lights off if and when they are not in use. So when there is no one in a room then switch off the lights. Many people leave lights burning on landings and in corridors for the “just in case” but is that really necessary. I do not think so. I am sure it is possible to find the switch and turn the lights on and then off again. We are just too lazy, methinks, and find any excuse for not doing it.

The same for the likes of cell phone chargers and other such devices. A long as they are plugged in, in the main, they draw power, unless they are the latest generation of so-called intelligent chargers, which recognize as to whether there is load there, that is to say, whether a device attached, or not and is using the current. But those are still few and far between. The best move is to unplug, where there are no switches on the sockets, or to switch off at the socket, as can be done in Britain.

When it comes to turning off lights and appliances our governments, who keep telling us that we must make savings in energy consumption, should look at their own doorstep first, in this instance for many a local government agency, as well as central government agency, leave the lights on in their office and the computers running.

In the UK we know of at least one case where the local authority, the municipality, has the lights burning in an abandoned school 24/7 just in case a someone might decide to break into the place and hurt themselves and then sue the council. I always thought self-respecting burglars carried a flashlights. Utter waste of energy by those that keep lecturing the ordinary citizens as to how to reduce energy consumption.

Turning down the thermostat a degree C or two

When it comes to energy savings as to heating here all that is needed is to turn down the thermostat for the furnace a degree Celsius or two – best temperature is around 18 deg C – and that already – in financial terms – will save quite a few bucks a years. In CO2 emissions it is better still.

If you do get a little cold of an evening – for some reason or the other – don'

t follow your impulse to turn up the heating; get a cardigan or such instead. It works, for often it is just a temporary chill spell.

Forests for carbon sequestration

When it comes to capturing CO2, the so-called carbon capture, or carbon sequestration, only one thing really can guarantee success and that is forests for carbon capture. But then I would say that, some will say, for after all Iam a forester by trade, originally. And here we should not, primarily, as seems to be done, look to the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and elsewhere but we should, first and foremost, consider the boreal forests which, according to scientific study, absorb three times as much CO2 as do the tropical rainforests.

In addition to that we must reafforest devastated areas and ensure that all forestry operations in boreal and standard forests, as well as tropical ones, are carried out on a sustainable basis. This means that for every tree cut at least three should be planted; the way the adage went in the forests of Russia. It was accepted practice that every tree cut would be replaced by at least three new saplings planted.

Forests are the best carbon capture method, closely followed by grasslands and by peat bogs.

However, the new carbon capture industry will hardly permit that idea to have free run as they would be losing out big would simple biological carbon capture be instituted.

Herbert Giradet and his colleagues advocate just that; namely biological capture through the panting of more forests and this is the only thing that really makes sense, together with, maybe, sequestration of carbon using biochar, which then gets buried in the ground and, at the same time, gives food to plants.

There are many other ways to reduce CO2 emission and our impact on the environment, obviously.

Reducing the amount of times that we jump into the car, especially those of us who live in countries where we have relatively decent public transit systems, called public transport in the UK and other places in Europe, and do not live a million miles away from stores, schools and such.

All too often I watch when people put the darlings into their SUV or MPV only to take them the few hundred meters to a mile and a half down the road to the school that they attend, while they, together with the parent, of need be, could easily walk it or cycle and talking the same time as going by car considering the rigmarole of getting them into the car, strapping them in, etc. At the same time parent and children would get exercise.

The same is true with the trip to the local stores for a pint of milk and the newspaper.

The amount of people who do the same kind of trip as the above mentioned for school a few hundred meters to a mile to the local store to get, maybe, a pint of milk and a newspaper (or some more shopping) and then take twenty minutes driving about trying to find somewhere to park is mind boggling.

I can achieve that same trip in less time than it takes them to get the car off their drive, parked and then doing the shopping and back, on foot and definitely by bike.

There are times – though being a cyclist by choice but also necessity – that I wish I'd have a car to go longer distances as our railway system, mostly working well as it does, is rather costly, or when it is pouring with rain and I have to get somewhere and it means that I have to done all the foul weather gear and still, probably, get wet somewhat.

But, there are journeys where the bike or even walking beats the car and that on many levels and we must get back to using human-powered means of transportation a lot more in order to cut CO2 emissions and – and that concerns me in the car issue more still – other pollutions and pollutants.

Other ways to lower our impact on the Planet

Reducing consumption

This is something that is very important even though in the current economic climate at time of writing in the Derepression (yeah, just invented that word here to represent a Recession/Depression even though no one wants to admit that we are headed deeper and deeper) of the early 21st century those that refuse to consume are being seen by the governments as similar to terrorist – and I kid you not.

Reduction in consumption is a must to reduce CO2 emissions as well as the exploitation of so many resources.

Over the last forty or so years we have been turned from a society that bought stuff to last to a throw-away society. When I grew up things were made to last, from the smallest things to cars and trucks and also things could be fixed, whether this were toys, shows, radios, TVs or cars. Today, alas, many of the smaller things no longer can be fixed or the costs of doing so – unless you are a DIYer who likes to tinker with things – is so prohibitive that it is cheaper to buy new.

The fact is that that is how goods are designed today. They are designed to be used and then to be discarded in order for new ones to be bought thus keeping the economy turning over. That is, however, a false economic growth, one based solely on people needing to replace things because they cannot be repaired.

Clothes are, for instance, so cheap that it is not worth the time and effort and the cost to have something repaired. If you cannot sew yourself, whether by hand or machine, then the cost, yet again, makes it prohibitive, as it is somuch cheaper to just buy new.

This all just does not make sense and sometimes it is like the lunatics running the asylum when I look at it.

Personally, I refuse to be part of this consume till you drop society and it give me great pleasure to rescue found objects, and make use of them or to make something of use out of them.

Refuse – Reuse – Upcycle

This is my take on the so-called “Three Rs” and has lots to do, I think, with the fact that I am born and bred Romani-Gypsy and our clans have been doing the reuse and upcycle bit for ever and a day.

While many people think “reduce, reuse, recycle” but concentrate on recycle we should look at reuse first and that means refusing to buy things that we can make from items generally considered as waste.

Don't go out and buy glass storage jars when, in fact, the glass jars with the lids that you throw into the recycling bin would serve exactly the same purpose. I must admit that I do that all the time, and glass jars are also useful for other storage purposes, not just the ones in the kitchen, for instance.

Tin cans too can be reused in ways that meet the “refuse – reuse – upcycle” motto in that they can be turned in to so many things. Why spend money on pen/pencil bin(s) for the desk when a good tin can, probably painted or “dressed” in leather, vinyl or denim, will do the same job for nigh on nothing. Why send such tin cans to the recycling bin and -plants when you can make use of them, saving you money.

This attitude also reduces the impact in the environment for – one – no energy is needed to make the item you would otherwise buy nor any CO2 emitted for transportation, etc., and – two – no energy needed in recycling the tin(s) that you have used in making the replacement of the pen/pencil bin(s), and such, as they do not go to the recycling plant.

My office is full of such tins for holding pens, pencils and other items and I needed more than one of them for I have so many pens that came from trade fairs and such events. With those pen bins such writing instruments are always at hand. Now I only need to find a way to keep note paper near by.

There are so many other things that are the containers that have held this or that and which could all, with just a little thought, get upcycled to things that you can use and even to things that you may be able to sell at markets or gift friends with.

This list as to the upcycling things is by no means exhausted here and I could get on nigh on indefinitely but I also would leave your imagination some scope.

On the other hand, a little additional suggestion: Do you use business- or calling cards. If so then invest in an Ideal Stamp and a guillotine, aka paper trimmer, and use, say, cereal cartons to cut your cards from which you then imprint with the stamp and – voila – green business/calling cards. Great conversation pieces they are.

© 2009