Tuesday, May 29, 2007

heathrow: the uk's worst emitter

More aviation emission maths!

Last week the Camp for Climate Action announced the target for this August's camp. Ambitously, it's Heathrow Airport.

In their press release, they say Heathrow is the UK's largest emitting site. A hell of a claim, given last year's target was Drax power station in Yorkshire, which emits more than most countries.

The press release explains their calculations:

No official government or BAA figures are available.

The conservative calculation is:
Heathrow uses 20 million litres of fuel per day
(International Air Transport Association).

Each litre of fuel produces 2.53 Kg CO2
(Jet fuel).

Thus 18.4 million tonnes CO2 per year are emitted.

That the total impact of aviation on climate is higher than the effect of its CO2 emission alone is scientifically uncontroversial. However, the amount of extra-warming from aircraft is: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change use a factor of 2.7 (Aviation and The Global Atmosphere, 1999), the UK Government 2.0 (The Future of Transport, July 2004), and the full range of studies range from 1.7-4.0 (Predict and Decide, University of Oxford Climate Change Institute).

Thus using the lowest possible factor, 1.7 x 18.4 = 31.3 million tonnes CO2-equivalent per year, making Heathrow by far the largest UK emitter.

By comparison, Drax is reported to have emitted 20.8 tonnes in 2005.

Compare that with the countries on this list. (Note: the list gives emissions in tonnes of carbon. To get the equivalent in carbon dioxide, multiply by 3.667)

Out of 212 countries on earth, Drax would be 79th, Heathrow would be 71st. And that's the most conservative maths; there's a very real chance it's a lot worse.

So, see you at Heathrow in August.

= = = = = = = = = =


As is explained here, the multiplication factor has changed. This sin't so much to do with any change in science as in accounting. The standard way of measuring the climate impact of an activity is its impact over the next 100 years. Aviation hasn't been measured like this, but now it is being, and the multiplication factor is 1.3.

As such, the figure above for emissions should be multiplied by 1.3 x 18.4 = 23.92 million tonnes CO2-equivalent per year. A lower figure, but it still makes Heathrow the largest UK emitter and if it were a country it would rank 75th out of 212.

Monday, May 28, 2007

jumbo electricity

Ages ago, Jim Bliss sat down and did some proper pencil-chewing maths to figure out if - and by how much - it was worse for him to travel from Dublin to London by plane than by bus.

Out of interest, he found it was just over 31 times worse, which is about the average seat occupancy of a coach - get a single plane seat or a coach to yourself, it's the same!

We hear a lot of figures bandied about in climate change things without knowing where they're from or how true they are, so I rather liked his DIY approach.

I saw two things separately that set me off to do one myself.

In researching green electricity I read a piece in The Ecologist by someone who was with a green electricity supplier.

I did the maths. By being with Good Energy last year, I had, according to the firm's calculator, saved the equivalent of a flight in a jumbo jet from London to… well, London: 1.496 tonnes of carbon is what a jumbo emits in a flight lasting just less than eight miles.

So, by this reckoning, a jumbo in a minute is worse than your electricity for a year. That sounded so flabbergasting that I've done some maths to check. It is more or less true.

First, let's get the less disputed figures.

Carbon emissions for UK domestic energy consumption


Total UK domestic electricity use: 116,811,000,000 kw/h
[source: ‘Digest of UK Energy Consumption’ 5.2, Department for Trade and Industry, 2005]

UK population: 58,789,194
[2001 census]

1 kw/h electricity = 0.43 kg/CO2
[source: ‘Guidelines for Company Reporting on Greenhouse Gas Emissions’, DEFRA, July 2005]

Electricity use divided by population = average individual domestic electricity use.
Multiply by 0.43 = average individual CO2 emissions for domestic electricity.

This give us the average annual CO2 emissions for domestic electricity for a UK citizen: 854.38kg/CO2


Total UK domestic gas use: 381,879,000,000 kw/h
[source: ‘Digest of UK Energy Consumption’ 4.2, DTI, 2005]

1 kw/h gas = 0.19 kg/CO2
[source: ‘Guidelines for Company Reporting on Greenhouse Gas Emissions’, DEFRA, July 2005]

Gas use divided by population = average individual domestic gas use.
Multiply by 0.19 = average individual CO2 emissions for domestic gas.

This give us the average annual CO2 emissions for domestic gas for a UK citizen: 1234.19kg/CO2


Total average annual individual gas and electric emissions = 2088.57kg/CO2.

Now the trickier bit.

Climate impact emissions from flights

Let's take a London-Miami flight, mid range, not short haul but by no means the biggest long haul.

Distance of return flight: 14,207km
Journey time 9 hours 40 minutes (580 minutes) each way (average for London-Miami [source] )

For the CO2 emissions per passenger, I used a 1997 Dutch study 'Energy and emissions profile of aircraft and other modes of transport over European Distances' by Centre for Energy Conservation and Environmental Technologies, which gives 0.17 kgCO2/km.

Then there's the radiative forcing factor; that's how much worse it is to emit at altitude rather than on the ground. Basically, the hot wet exhausts appear to give rise to high cirrus clouds, which reflect back some of what the sun's throwing at us, but also trap some heat. On balance, the trapping is greater. This isn't contested.; exactly what the amount has caused some discussion.

As is explained here, the multiplication factor has changed. This isn't so much to do with any change in science as in accounting. The standard way of measuring the climate impact of an activity is its impact over the next 100 years. Aviation hasn't been measured like this, but now it is being, and the multiplication factor is 1.3.

If we assume -
CO2 emissions: 0.17kg/km per passenger
Seat occupancy: 370 passengers (A Boeing 747 has a maximum of 416)
Uplift factor of 1.3 for emission at altitude.

0.17 x 370 = 62.9kg CO2/km for the whole plane.
14,207 divided by 580 = 12.25km/min (average speed of 735 km/h, or 457mph)
62.9 x 12.25 = 770.525 kgCO2/min

Chuck in the radiative forcing factor

770.525 x 1.3 = 1001.68kgCO2/min equivalent.

Essentially, half the 2088.57kg/CO2 figure for average gas and electricity consumption.

We must note that the maths is approximate. I can't find per-plane emissions figures. Using the per-passenger CO2 is actually counter-productive, as the higher the number of passengers, the higher the emissions we attribute to the plane. So if a Boeing 747 were flying at maximum capacity maximum (416), we’d be saying 866 kg/min, equivalent to 1,126 kg/min, considerably worse than the same plane flying with 46 people less!

But even without that, it's not so simple. Different people come up with different numbers.

Whilst Centre for Energy Conservation and Environmental Technologies say a passenger emits 0.17 kgCO2/km, the Department of Transport issues standard figures of 0.15kgCO2/km for short-haul and 0.11kgCO2/km for long-haul flights. (Cited in George Monbiot, ‘Heat’, p261 footnote 12).

Let’s do the maths again, being more generous to aviation:

Assume -
as above but
CO2 emissions: 0.11kg/km per passenger

0.11 x 370 = 40.7kgCO2/km for the whole plane.
14,207 divided by 580 = 12.25km/min (average speed of 735 km/h, or 457mph)
40.7 x 12.25 = 498.58 kgCO2/min
498.58 x 1.3 = 648.154kgCO2/min equivalent

This is still more than 75% of the average electricity emissions of 854.38kg/CO2.

Using the generous-to-aviation figures, we get 10.806kg/CO2 per second equivalent. That uncontroversial reading can also be expressed like this:

In 79 seconds it's the same as an individual’s domestic electricity for a year.

In 3 minutes 13 seconds it's the same as an individual’s domestic gas and electricity for a year.

So, as you watch one jumbo from your garden it's worse than your electricity and gas for the house behind you in a year.

Of course, it's not strictly like with like; the jumbo has 370 people on board. If we divide that up for every individual passenger, we can still express it in brain-bomb terms; two minutes aboard a plane is the same as a day's worth of your electricity.

Imagine watching a clock showing that as you sit on the plane. Two months flip past in the time it takes to watch some in-flight Meg Ryan rom-com.

Then see a clock for the person next to you doing the same. And then for everyone else on board. Then for every person on every plane, everywhere.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

de burgh's dark day draws nearer

Is there no end to Chris De Burgh's evil manoeuverings, putting himself in place to herald the coming of totalitarian shapeshifting lizards?

He tries to obscure us from the beauty of human creativity both by inflicting his emetic albums on us and also by attempting to derail work of genuine worth. He buys up alien technology in readiness for the day his extraterrestrial lizard masters take over.

As the UN moves towards being global government, so it shouldn't surprise us to see that those who would seek to rule the world are getting themselves into key strategic positions within the UN.

Chris de Burgh has been appointed a UN ambassador for The Collaborative Intergovernmental Scientific Research Institute - Spirulina Program (CISRI-ISP) and its extension programme the Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of the Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM).

Why on earth would the UN think De Burgh's a decent goodwill ambassador for anything? Are they saying somebody starving at a refugee camp is going to go, 'well, I wasn't going to eat spirulina, but now the guy who sang Don't Pay The Ferryman says I should I'll chomp down all I can. You just see if I don't. If one can be said to chomp algae'.

Or is it to encourage the powerful to devote more attention? Will we see the wealthy nations stand up and declare, 'for too long we have been blind to the scientific opinion that spirulina is highly effective in feeding people with disorders resulting from malnutrition. Why did we ignore such a thorough and august body of opinion? Because it was merely nutritionists, food scientists and aid workers who recommended it. We could pay them no heed until we heard a voice that speaks for more than just the merely knowledgeable; we needed the voice that sang the na-na-na-na chorus of A Spaceman Came Travelling'.

There can be no goodwill brought by De Burgh. It's him getting himself into position. IIMSAM has Observer Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, allowing De Burgh privileged access to many parts of the world.

It's so obvious. Indeed, the De Burgh dynasty taunt us with it. His daughter won Miss World in 2003. Miss World! Assuming the title of global overlord, the crowned monarch of all humanity! It could scarcely be more plain!

She's also been prepared for the bloody struggle, trained from a young age to use deadly weapons - according to Wikipedia she was South County Dublin Under 9's javelin champion.

Isn't County Dublin the place where the previously cosmopolitan metropolitan Jim Bliss mysteriously and inexplicably moved to a year or so back? Suddenly Bliss' repeated rabid defences of De Burgh fall into place.

They have UN authority, Jim Bliss, javelins and a tiara. Everything an evil mastermind would need. Time is running out.

When you find my body kebabed to a wall by a javelin, dust the handle for Bliss' prints.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

b.s. from m & s

Here in Leeds, the LibDems are the same as anywhere else they get into power; they throw off their eco-talk and get stuck into anti-environmental corporate action. They wanted to use the Parks Regeneration budget to make a park into a car park! They - opposed by Labour, Green and even BNP alike - want to poison us with a rubbish incinerator.

The rubbish to landfill thing's an issue because of the Landfill Tax, designed to encourage councils to be more environmentally friendly. Building an incinerator reduces landfill but as an anti-environmental deed undermines the basic spirit of the Act. Why not try reducing truancy by closing down schools and sending kids up chimneys?

And these things pale beside the Leeds LibDems enormous drive for PFIing everything they can give away. They're giving us PFI schools with no kitchens! The meals are driven in every day from a company 80 miles away. As there's no kitchen, even if the school wanted to bring meals in-house in future, they couldn't.

To ensure that it's a waste of resources in every possible sense, the waste incinerator will, of course, be PFI too.

Still, there's something I rather like about my local LibDem councillor, David Morton. Not only is he the only councillor for the area who actually lives here, but he does an honest, open blog and isn't afraid of talking about his personal stuff or something way off-topic like Battlestar Galactica.

But he readily falls for corporate greenwash. He recently praised Marks & Spencer's Plan A ('because there is no Plan B').

It was the line 'I doubt whether Greenpeace and Jonathan Porritt lend there names to something lightly' that really made me put finger to keyboard.

(Is it cheating to take your Comments from another site and make them into a blog spot? Well, I've taken blogposts and made them into full-blown articles so I suppose it should be allowed to cut both ways. So here's what I said).

Greenpeace and Jonathan Porrit certainly do put their names to dodgy things. Check out this hefty article for Greenpeace, and as for Porritt's main organisation Forum For The Future, look at their partners list; RWE (largest CO2 emitter in Europe!) and several other major coal burners like E-On, plus BP, ICI, Unilever, British Cement Association, Tetrapak, Laing, GlaxoSmithKline, LandRover/Jaguar, Virgin Atlantic. Is there an ecocidal industry not represented?

Forum For A Future is there to make ecopolicy that business is happy with. It is not there to do anything that would seriously threaten profits, let alone challenge the suicidal policy of having economic growth as our top priority.

But anyway, on to the trip to M&S. The humous doesn't only have no indication of what food miles the ingredients have done. More importantly, it's refrigerated.

Just imagine how much energy you'd use if you left your freezer and fridge door open all the time. Now imagine having a fridge and freezer strong enough to stay at the required temperature, and heaters battling against them to keep your kitchen warm. Now multiply that by the size of the fridges and freezers in M&S or any other supermarket.

There is a technological solution to this; a wildly exciting new invention called the door. It can be made to any size to fit any fridge, and can even be made of glass so we can see what's inside.

According to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, shops use more energy per square metre than any other building. Why should a shop use seven times as much electricity as a local government office?

Because it blasts heaters on to the pavement at the entrance, aisles are lit to 1,000lux (about the same as a TV studio!), and counters up to 2,000lux.

But the big one - two-thirds of the electricity use - is refrigeration. Every open freezer uses about £15,000 of electricity a year. As they pay the bills, M&S undoubtedly know this. What are they doing about it? Nothing.

What are they doing instead to show their grasp of the scale and urgency of being sustainable? Encouraging 'bag for life' use, and 'aiming' (gotta love corporate use of that word) to reduce carrier bag use by 33% in the next three years.

There's a simple way to get people to use less bags; charge for them. In Ireland, a 10p tax has cut use overnight by 90% (more info here). But M&S aren't doing it.

Supermarkets are certainly not 'merely reflections of there customers wishes'; they move into places to corner a market; they display products and advertise to stimulate customers' desires.

If we just went to buy what we want, they wouldn't mind having glass doors that mist up on the fridges and freezers. But they need us to see the products as we walk past so we impulse buy. That's not responding to our wishes, it's creating them.

Indeed, if they merely responded to what we wanted, they wouldn't need to have sexy overpackaging.

That fresh bread smell? It's a chemical put in the air circulation system to make you feel hungry and buy more food.

M&S' Plan A is not them trying to be sustainable. It's them realising that we'll buy from them if they appear to be actively concerned.

Their first priority - enshrined in law - is to maximise shareholder dividends. For as long as appearing sustainable is cheaper than actually being sustainable, they'll just do the window dressing.

A supermarket that wanted to be sustainable would, at the very least and off the top of my head, not air freight anything in, would not be having any plastic wrapped meals (imagine if every meal on earth used that much packaging - it's inherently unsustainable and inequitable), would not have free carrier bags, would not import wine from outside Europe or beer from anywhere, and would be reducing its refrigerated sections to a fraction of what they are now with doors put on those that remain.

M&S know all that yet aren't doing any of it, so don't be fooled.

Monday, May 14, 2007

don't be pope, says pope

Like many former members of the Nazis, Pope Benedict's gone to Brazil.

The Pope was speaking to a rally of about 40,000 young Catholics at a football stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil...

He warned of the traps of drug use, corruption, violence and the temptations of wealth and power.

Want to disagree with my discouragement of violence? I wouldn't if i were you. You don't want to cross me. Don't think think we didn't learn a few tricks in - count 'em - 356 years of the Spanish Inquisition.

Let's not be corrupt, says the man whose organisation used collection-plate funds as hush money to children sexually abused by priests, quietly moving the offending padres on to new parishes and new victims.

But my favourite is the exhortation to avoid wealth and power. From the head of the Catholic church.

Because you can't have it. It's mine, all mine, mwah-hah-hah!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

top marx

Thinking more about places with eyebrow-raising names, honourable mention should be made of Chemnitz in Saxony.

Heavily bombed in World War II, it was not only rebuilt with all the flat concrete socialist architectural vision you'd expect of Soviet Bloc architects let loose on a city from scratch. More, they renamed it Karl-Marx-Stadt.

After German reunification it reverted to its old name but, good sports that they are, the townspeople decided to keep the colossal and weirdly stylised bust of Marx.

The size of the thing! Check out the people at the base for scale!

Karl Marx Stadt statue

If only Dublin's Phil Lynott statue could be done this big.

See Marx's fabulously Heseltinian hair, now just imagine 20 foot of raging afro madness.

It's a cruel world that denies it to us.

Phil Lynott statue

Monday, May 07, 2007

blame canada

During Stalin's reign, no less than eleven cities were renamed in his honour.

After he karked it in 53 no more towns anywhere were named after him, and the process of reclamation soon began. In 1956 Amsterdam's Vrijheidslaan ended its nine years as Stalinlaan. After only seven years as Stalin, Bulgaria's third city, Varna, reverted to its original name, and the Polish city of Katowice ended a mere three year Stalinogród dalliance at the same time.

Oh to be an Eastern European roadsign manufacturer in those days.

The Soviet cities mostly returned to former names under Khrushchev's rule in the early 60s.

Very few countries held out longer; Albania till 1990, and central Romania's Stalin region and Bucharest's Stalin district survive to this day.

But coming in third behind Romania and Albania, ahead of the USSR and communist Poland and East Germany?


It wasn't until 1986 that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario decided to discontinue their tribute to history's most prolific genocidal dictator and rename Stalin Township in honour of paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen.

Taking that cue, in 1987 British Columbia's government renamed Mount Stalin. It's now Mount Peck. Gregory is the only one you can think of, isn't it? It's actually a local guy, Don Peck, referred to variously as a 'trapper' and a 'conservationist' - does he kill wildlife or protect it then? But hell, it's not surprising they're confused, it's in British Columbia, which is neither British, nor in Columbia.

It's interesting to note that the Stalin renaming came two years after a Newfoundland town adopted the moniker of Baytona. They really didn't like being called Gayside. Clearly, being gay is worse than being Stalin.

Not everyone in Newfoundland is so prudish, mind. Just ask the good burghers of Dildo.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

and in the blue corner

The Tories - on such a hiding to nothing that they didn't even stand round here last time - have found a plucky individual for tomorrow's council elections called Syprian Pitkin.

Certainly a better name than the other candidates, but what does he offer?

For a start, none of the sly fake community newsletters offered by the LibDems (who set a new high on their gall-ometer by delivering a letter on blue writing paper, printed to look like it's handwritten from their candidate. Sheesh).

Syprian dishes out a proper, old fashioned, honest to goodness election leaflet. I'm resisting the temptation to treat its use of grammar, spelling and punctuation the same way I've treated his little placards in the local grass verges (oh the joys of steel toecap boots). There's no need for cheap shots when there's such bollocks in what he actually says.

People have attacked David Cameron for his all talk and no walk approach to policy making, but it takes time and consultation to come up with something that's as grand as a national or international strategy. In a local election there are always simple, straightforward concrete things to talk about so there's no need for Cameronian vagueness. You'd have thought.

Good stuff made great by the use of the conjunction 'boldly go', one of the phrases in English that has been rendered comedic forevermore, just like 'who you gonna call?'.

But it gets better in the next bit.

For god's sake, don't judge us by what we actually do! That's your worse judgement coming into play! No, use your 'better judgement', the one that believes the promises of people with a consistent record of breaking promises.

The biggest piece of unwalked talk is their green credentials. Syprian's leaflet uses an astonishing logo, whose higher design values strongly imply it's cut and pasted from some national tory leaflet

Erk? What happens if you vote Green then?

But remember, when there's a low turnout it's all about 'voter apathy' and a refusal to engage with the political process, not the fact that all the candidates are transparently deceitful bastards who appear to believe we've got the mental age of a brain damaged puffin.

All that said, I'm definitely going to vote tomorrow. As with the last general election, my reservations are squished by the fact that the BNP are standing and I want to minimise their proportion of the vote. Last time they polled 11% across Leeds, despite only fielding candidates in two thirds of the wards. Sometimes the bullet has to be bitten.