Tag Archives: global warming

More People means more water

There is a real question about global and UK population. It is not about race, it is about numbers.

 

On 24 August 2017m the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 

Reason 2. More People + More Money = More Water Demand.

The Yorkshire Post reports that: “There has been a net loss nationally of 7,000 hectares of agricultural land in the UK between 2006 and 2012”. The Guardian has reported that: “Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years”. There is an insidious water consumption in the UK.  While our own water consumption is rising with population growth (net plus 0.5 million people in 2016!) and what we each spend is continually, our consumption of “virtual water” (i.e. that which is involved with production overseas of what we import) is 30 times as much as UK water used, and the WWF reports that; “Taking virtual water into account, each of us soaks up 4,645 litres a day”.  That makes us the 6th largest water importer in the world.

Yes, there is a looming crisis.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Build water storage if you can. (There is some useful USA experience in building dams using old tyres.)
  2. Harvest water from roofs and concrete.
  3. Subsoil to allow roots to go deeper and move to reduced tillage – develop understanding and skills in direct drilling (or what is otherwise called “zero till”).

 

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

 

Water in farming

 

Does the rainbow promise better weather, wetter weather, both or more extreme weather? What can we actually do about it?

 

On 24 August 2017m the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer.  With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.

 

Reason 1. We’re Changing the Climate, Making Dry Areas Drier and Precipitation More Variable and Extreme.

Without mentioning any particular name, one who denies climate change must either be demented or have some ulterior motive. In most farming areas, water will in general get shorter in areas where it is already short and rain, when it does happen, at higher rates and with more wind. In general terms, most climatologists agree, this trend will continue.  However, there is some evidence that we may have already started to switch off, or otherwise change, the Gulf Stream. If that turns out to be the case, the western areas of the UK may get colder, not warmer, especially in winter.

The effects of these changes will affect everything in farming including field drainage, soil organic matter, the way we control weeds in crops.  We had better be ready to respond to these pressures.  One thing is for sure – it will not stay the same.

There is one rule to watch; mostly, where rain is already short in the eastern areas, we will get less and when it happens it will be in heavy weather.  Cereal crop lodging before harvest will be an increasing risk.  All areas may experience flash flooding.

Conservation farming action;

  1. Add organic matter and reduce cultivations to reduce oxidation of organic matter.
  2. Subsoil at intervals.
  3. Maintain ditches and field drainage.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.,  September 17

Global Warming -farming-recycling

 

Jet contrails do produce “global dimming” which reduces global warming but, in the process, produce enormous amounts of CO2. That can be removed in enormous quantities actually quite easily.

 

In the 24 June issue of New Scientist, Ed Hawkins, University of Reading, UK, and Alan Robock, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, both are quoted as observing that we really do need, urgently, to invent a way to remove Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a huge scale.

The classic way of solving a problem is to find a mirror image problem and put the two together.  Link farming (globally we need more food) and urban waste production (as global population and wealth rise, we get more unban waste) in the right way and that could deliver the invention. Well, we already have it and it has been done and on a scale that could be applied globally.

Search https://www.amazon.co.uk/Survival-Sustainable-Energy-Wastes-Shale/dp/1523264217 The Carbon dioxide bit starts at page 45.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 6 August 17

Global Warming can be arrested.

 

Hydro at Lynmouth

 

Some will remember the flood of Lynmouth in 1952 in which 34 people died.  Lynmouth, however, has a much more positive contribution to world power history.   In 1890, a small scale hydro-power system was built in the gorge above Lymouth and it was the first in the world to provide pump-back storage at the top to provide a reserve of water to produce power at peak demand. In 1987, a 500m long, 500mm diameter pipe with a 77m head was commissioned to drive a 300kW turbine. Since, the feed pipe diameter has been increased to 700mm and two more turbines. The organisers want to expand further and, to our national shame, get political prevarication and ignorance from the authorities. The truth is that hydro here lives quite satisfactorily with an SSSI and a very pretty area of natural beauty of significant tourist attraction and an example to the rest of the world. Hydro is one of the answers to reducing global warming and we need more urgently, very urgently.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., 10 November 2016

The circular economy: 5. Not as clever as we might think

 

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Working from the bottom upwards; The earth beneath our feet is complex, we are in the early stages of developing energy sources which are not only “renewable” but also sustainable. Now look at the sky; think how much energy is needed to evaporate enough water to form a single cloud.

The science: The problem with ignorance is that it does not know what it does not know. Whatever we might think, the global biosphere is very complex.  Think of the super-computers that are now being used to try to forecast the weather in the UK – not very easy because weather systems are very complex, global and involve enormous amounts of energy and atmospheric gases.

The bad news: When ice melts at the polar icecaps, sea levels rise on low level islands and people lose their homes or drown. As we produce more Carbon dioxide, coral reefs die. By the way, the Thames barrage is just about on its limit; if the wrong combination of moon (tides) and wind occurs, it may not be high enough – will not soon but we do not know exactly when.

The good news: I remain optimistic about our technological ability to slow down and hold the decline.  There is some progress. What I am less optimistic about is whether our politicians, who because of democracy are inevitably interested in the next election,  will do enough, fast enough – because it will involve some tough decisions.

Bill Butterworth 12th March 2016

PS If you are a gardener, try reading “How garden composting works” published by MX Publishing and set your garden soil alive.

 

 

circular-economy-global-warming

 

Western world at night

Europe at night. the light gives an idea of the power, in terms of not only light but heating, we are consuming. Most of it comes from burning fossilised fuels which, in turn, produces Carbon dioxide – in larger quantities every day.

The Science: In the UK, 2015 marked the first year in which average temperatures for the whole year were 1 degree C above pre-industrial levels.  Latest predictions in climate change studies indicate that there is a potential for temperatures to rise by a further 4 degrees by 2060. At that level, the human race, and many other species, could not survive.  That is only 44 years from now.  Many people reading this would otherwise be still alive by then.

The bad news: We really are not doing enough to slow that rise down.

The good news: The biggest single cause is the production of greenhouse gases by burning fossilised fuels.  We could do something about that. Will we?

Bill Butterworth  27th February 2016

P,S.  Generally, I plan to post a Sunday blog on The Circular Economy and environmental, waste or food piece on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.  If you are a gardener, try looking at “How to make garden recycling work” by Bill Butterworth, published by MX Publishing and available from bookshops or Amazon.  If you are a farmer, try another in the same series, “How to make on-farm composting work”.

Gas v. Electricity

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The clock is ticking,

 

 

We have so far been able to generate electricity by a variety of “renewable” energy sources. That is all in the right direction in terms of trying to reduce global warming. However, most UK homes are heated not by electricity but but gas and we do not get gas from solar or wind turbines.  That is where shale gas fits in; as a short term measure to buy time to develop truly sustainable energy supplies right here in the UK.

For more information, also see last 2 posts at  www.safeshale.co.uk

Bill Butterworth 24 January 2016