The importance of bridging the gap between reality and myth on climate change

I have always taken it for granted that a scientific consensus on man made climate change was a given, a fact.  So I was somewhat taken back by a new survey that has just been released that showed a massive gap between this fact and public perception.

It is not that people don’t believe in man made climate change, far from it, but the survey showed that a large percentage of people think that there is no common consensus by climate scientists, even though there are numerous studies to show that over 90% of climate scientists believe in man made climate change.

The survey also showed a mis match between actual support for renewables and public perception, with few being aware of just how strongly the public support renewables such as solar and wind.

It shows that the majority need to stand up for what they believe in and not be afraid of the deniers who threaten the action that is needed on climate change; as well as Governments and other organisations to take stronger action if we are ever going to bridge this gap between reality and myth.


Survey carried out by ComRes in August 2014 commissioned by new not-for-profit organisation the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU):

– 47% believe that most climate scientists reject the idea that scientists are evenly split on the issue. 

– Only 5% of Britons know that renewables such as solar and wind are supported by a significant majority (about 80 percent) of the UK population.

– Two-thirds (63%) estimate support for renewables at under 50%. 

Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

The Carbon Abatement Potential of Carbon Offset Projects

In the case of climate change the question often arises of how to maximize carbon emissions reduction in a cost-efficient way. If a future benevolent global community did decide to tackle the climate change problem, it would seem sensible to pursue whats known as the “low hanging fruit” first in order to achieve the “biggest bang for our buck”.

For this purpose, the abatement cost (AC) allows one to analyse the cost of abating one unit of CO2 for a defined abatement level. My simplified example uses a metric of £ / tonne CO2 abated. It compares the abatement cost of CO2balance carbon projects against a micro-generation of electricity technique employed in the UK, rooftop solar panels. One important admission at this point is highlighting that this analysis is concerned solely about overall carbon reduction. Importantly that is just one aspect of the great work being done through CO2balance projects.

Rooftop Solar PV Theoretical Example

Installed May 2009. 2.9kW, at a cost of £15,000.

UK: 1,100 hours average sun per year

In 4 years, solar PV produced 8,000 kWh @ 41-43p: £3,350 Government subsidy

Plus ‘export bonus’ of 4,000 kWh @ 3-4.5p: £120 Government subsidy

Plus reduced electricity bills of 4,000 kWh @ 12p: £480 Government subsidy

Total: £4000 (£1000 per year, between 2009 and 2013)

Ultimately this cost is borne by electricity consumers in their electricity bills

Carbon savings @0.5kg CO2 per kWh (UK grid emissions factor)

4 tonnes CO2 abated in 4 years

Abatement cost = £1000 / tonne Co2 abated

CO2balance Projects

An artificial abatement cost of £5/tonne CO2 is inserted here to represent the cost for CO2balance to abate one tonne of carbon through carbon projects. The actual figure is case sensitive and it is not important overall as this analysis highlights that the two methods for abating one tonne of carbon are on completely different sides of an abatement cost curve.

There are obvious problems, strengths and weaknesses to this approach that are largely overlooked in this brief note, which of course justify further analysis at great depth. However, my overall thesis would be, if you are from the school of thought that holds, all else being equal, one tonne of carbon abated is one tonne of carbon abated, then CO2balance carbon projects are efficient ways of maximizing carbon emission reductions in a cost effective way.







Water is life!

Many say water is Life! And I totally agree from the basic fact that humans cannot survive without drinking water. But more than a billion people on our planet – many of them live in Africa – do not have access to clean drinking water. Live humanity aside, even from those simple starter organisms to the most complex plants and animals, water plays a critical role in survival ever since. In humans, it acts as both a solvent and a delivery mechanism, dissolving essential vitamins and nutrients from food and delivering them to cells. Our bodies also use water to flush out toxins, regulate body temperature and aid our metabolism. No wonder, then, that water makes up nearly 60 percent of our bodies or that we can’t go for more than a few days without it.

Kenya is one of the countries where access to clean water is lacking. Only 12 % of all Kenyan households in rural areas are connected to the water system. People, often women, have to walk long distances in order to reach the next water hole or are forced to drink dirty or contaminated water. In particular, children are prone to water-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid or diarrhoea. Droughts, climate change or political instability can make the situation even worse. According to the UN, every 15 seconds a child dies due to the lack of clean water. Education suffers when sick children miss school. Economic opportunities are routinely lost to the impacts of rampant illness and the time-consuming processes of acquiring water where it is not readily available.

According to the Joint Monitoring Programme’s 2012 report, access to safe water supplies throughout Kenya is 59% and access to improved sanitation is 32%. There is still an unmet need in rural and urban areas for both water and sanitation. Kenya faces challenges in water provision with erratic weather patterns in the past few years causing droughts and water shortages. Kenya also has a limited renewable water supply and is classified as a water scarce country. Urban migration contributes to challenges in sanitation, as people crowd into cities and urban growth is unregulated.
Kenya’s water shortage also means that a large population of women and children spend up to one-third of their day fetching water in the hot sun from the nearest fresh water source. This backbreaking work leaves roughly half of the country’s inhabitants vulnerable to serious dangers. In addition to exposure to the elements and risk of attack by predators, the primary water gatherers are also the most susceptible to water-borne diseases.
Water problems in the “Third World” countries are much more devastating and dangerous to people’s health. Most of the time local rivers, streams and lakes are the source of drinking water. This is very dangerous for people because they have a much higher risk of being contaminated by bacteria and parasites. Just stepping into a lake with faecal contamination is dangerous. Imagine having to drink that water because the economy is too poor to provide safe drinking water, or the community is too far from a source of safe water.
As a result many families resort to traditional ways of water treatment mainly; water boiling which uses a lot of firewood on their traditional three stone stoves. Carbon Zero has developed an initiative in Kenya and beyond where it identifies non functional boreholes which are then repaired to allow the rural community have access to clean and safe drinking water. Also the large amounts of wood used to boil water are also saved thus reducing wood wastage thus conserving forest cover. This in effect helps to fight climate change!