A fair share for all?
Climate change is the most significant development challenge of the 21st century. Through its severe impacts on the natural, and economic systems of developing countries, climate change could reverse decades of international development efforts and further limit the resources available to fight poverty in both rich and poor countries.SSEE
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Why is the problem of climate change so hard to deal with?
Climate change is arguably one of the most difficult problems that the global community has had to deal with.
There are several factors that, combined, make it so tricky.
- Even though the evidence is overwhelming that climate change is really happening, there is some scientific uncertainty over what is exactly going to happen and how much it will effect us.
- The causes and effects of climate change are global in nature. BUT, the contributions of different countries to causing climate change vary widely; developed countries are historically responsible for a larger proportion of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. AND, whilst the effects are global in nature, again they are not spread evenly; the worst effects will be felt largely in those countries least responsible and least able to cope with them.
- The production of greenhouse gases is linked to a wide range of human activities and is embedded particularly in activities considered vital to economic growth and national security.
- The impacts of climate change are long-term meaning that the decisions made today are made to benefit people who have not yet been born.
- There are large variations in the views of different countries on the optimum way to deal with the challenge.
Who is Responsible for Action on Climate Change?
This issue has been a major cause of arguments in the climate change negotiations throughout the last twenty years. There are two different viewpoints, split between developed and developing countries.
The Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.
Who is Responsible for Action on Climate Change?
Developing Countries: They see the climate change as an opportunity to rebalance the issues of global injustice and inequality. As they have had a small part in causing climate change but will bear the brunt of its negative effects. Developing countries argue that given that developed nations are both responsible for prevoius emmisions and have more ability to address the issue of climate change, they should be the ones to deal with it.
Developed Countries: They have in the past produced a large part of the emission and benefited from doing so immensely. Developed Countries point out that, although they hold the responsibility historically for a large amount of the greenhouse gas emissions, they were produced at a time when the consequences were not known. Also, they argue that it is unjust to hold today's generation responsible for the actions of the past generations. They also point out that the high population growth and industrialisation of the large developing countries means that not only will the balance of emissions change, but it would be worthless from the point of view of stabilising global emissions to allow the large developing countries to be exempt from emissions reductions.
How Does the Greenhouse Effect Work?
The reason that the Earth's surface is warmer than it should be is that certain gases in the atmosphere, whilst they do not absorb the short-wavelength radiation entering the atmosphere, do absorb the longer-wavelength infrared radiation that is emitted from the Earth's surface. This keeps the lower atmosphere and the surface warm. The radiation that finally escapes is mostly re-emitted from higher levels of the atmosphere where the temperature is around -19oC. This process is represented by the picture on the right.
The Downside of Upgrading.
So you just got a new desktop computer with three times the RAM of that old
model you've had for about four years? Purchased at a fraction of the cost
of the old unit, its processor is remarkably faster and more efficient. It
came bundled with an attractive flatscreen monitor and ergonomic keyboard,
and the deal even included a photo-quality printer, free of charge. Or the
latest games console has come out, its time to junk that sad old one.
At a time when prices for goods are going up while product quality seems to be going down, electronics equipment is one bright spot on the consumer landscape. The products keep improving, and the prices keep dropping. That flash drive you're carrying is about the size of a bit of chewing gum, yet it has four times the storage capacity of the laptop your Dad was using ten years ago. With all these advancements in the computer arena, why not upgrade? What happens to all the old bits of kit we throw away? Well they get recycled, dont they? In recent years there has been an increase in illegal dumping of what is known as 'e-waste' in developing contires. Click here to see the recent BBC Panorama documentary on this subject.
A United nations report suggests that mountains of hazardous waste from electronic products are growing exponentially in developing countries. The study also points out that India would have 500 percent more e-waste from old computers in 2020 than in 2007, and 18 times more old mobile phones. In a study conducted by Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health at the Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi of 250 people working in the city as recyclers and dismantlers over 12 months to October 2009 and almost all suffered from breathing problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
Why should we dispose of our Hi-tech Waste responsibly?
Many modern IT devices contain a toxic mixture which need specialist recycling methods to make it safe for the environment and people.
Lead: Pb. Many older TV and Computer monitors can contain up to 4-8 lbs of lead. It is also used in the soldering on the circuit boards. Exposure can cause brain damage, nervous damage, blood disorders, kidney damage, and developmental damage to fetus. Children are especially vulnerable. Acute exposure can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma, or death.
Mercury: Hg. Light bulbs in flat panel displays, LCD screens, switches, & printed wiring boards all contain mercury. High levels of exposure contribute to brain & kidney damage, harm the developing fetus & can be passed down through breast milk and fish consumption. Exposure through ingestion or inhalation can cause central nervous system and kidney damage.
Plastics & Polyvinyl chloride: PVC. Make up to 14 pounds (about 20%) of an average computer. Dioxin can be formed when PVC is burned. Combinations of plastics which are difficult to separate and recycle are used in printed circuit boards, in components such as connectors, plastic covers & cables.
Cadmium: Cd. SMD chip resistors, infrared detectors, semiconductors, older types of cathode ray tubes, and some plastics contain cadmium. It concentrates in the body & can cause kidney damage & harm to fragile bones.Long term exposure can cause kidney damage and damage to the bone stru cture. Cadmium is a known cancer causing substance Brominated flame retardants (BFRs): Used in plastic casings, released when electronics are dumped or incinerated. BFR's likely endocrine disrupters, reduce levels of the hormone thyroxin in exposed animals and can potentially harm the developing fetus in pregnant women.
Barium: Ba. is used in the front panel of the CRT to protect users from radiation. Short-term exposure to barium can cause brain swelling, muscle weakness, and damage to the heart, liver and spleen.
Beryllium: Be. is found on motherboards and connectors and is a human carcinogen.
Hexavalent Chromium: Cr(vi). Used for corrosion protection of untreated & galvanized steel plates & hardener for steel housing. It can cause DNA damage & asthmatic bronchitis.
Dioxins and Furans: Used in the plastic casings, released when electronics are incinerated or thrown in a landfill.
Can you change the world with a cooker?
According to the World Health Organization, about half the world pouluation [3 billion peolple] still cooks with wood or coal, using open fires or traditional stoves. The resulting emissions cause indoor air pollution, leading to pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer. This indoor air pollution causes 1.6 million deaths a year, primarily among children and women. The emissions also contribute to climate change, and the collection of firewood contributes to deforestation and erosion.
If you could come up with a stove
which uses 50 to 80% less fuel that would reduce the deforestation problem,
and if it could give out 90% less carbonmonoxide and smoke particles. That
would really help peoples health and environment. Welcome then to the 'Rocket
A rocket stove achieves efficient combustion of the fuel at a high temperature by ensuring that there is a good air draft into the fire, controlled use of fuel, complete combustion of volatiles, and efficient use of the resultant heat. It has been used for cooking purposes in many third-world locales (notably Rwandan refugee camps) as well as for space and water heating.
A rocket stove's main components are:
- Fuel magazine: Into which the unburned fuel is placed and from where it feeds into the combustion chamber
- Combustion chamber: At the end of the fuel magazine where the wood is burned
- Chimney: A vertical chimney above the combustion chamber to provide the updraft needed to maintain the fire
- Heat exchanger: To transfer the heat to where it is needed, ie the cooking pot.
The fuel magazine can be horizontal where additional fuel will be added manually or vertically for automatic feeding of fuel. As the fuel burns within the combustion chamber convection draws new air into the combustion chamber from below ensuring that any smoke from smoldering wood near to the fire is also drawn into the fire and up the chimney. The chimney should be insulated to maximize the temperature and improve combustion. From the chimney the heat passed into a suitable heat exchanger to ensure the efficient use of the generated heat
For cooking purposes the design keeps the cooking vessel in contact with the fire over the largest possible surface area by use of a pot skirt to create a narrow channel which forces hot air and gas to flow along the bottom and sides of the cooking vessel. Optionally baffles guide hot air and flame up the sides of the pot. For space heating purposes the heat is transferred to a heat store which can in some cases be part of the structure of the house itself. The exhaust gasses then pass out of the building via the chimney.
design of stove means that it can operate on about half as much fuel as a traditional
open fire and can use smaller diameter wood. They are insulated and raised
from the floor which reduces the danger of children burning themselves. Some
more recent designs use are self feeding using gravity to add fuel to the fire
What a Wind Up!
Ex-stunt man and inventor Trevor Bayliss, who is best known for his amazing invention, the wind-up radio, saw that the solution to having little or no access to batteries or other sources of electricity could be overcome by a simple hand powered generator. The first radio was made out of clockwork parts from a music box, a small radio and the motor from a toy car. But when he tried to get it into production, he was rejected by everyone he approached. Now of course this brilliant lo-tech solution is used everywhere from wind up laptop computers, MP3 players to mobile phone chargers.
How does it do that?
In a wind-up radio, mechanical kinetic energy is converted to electricity by a winding mechanism, which is really a small electricity generator. A handle will either turn the rotors in the generator directly or wind up a large spring which will then relase its stored elastic or potential energy to turn the rotor. This electricity can be stored in recharable batteris or used direcley by the radio. As the copper rotor, turns inside a magnetic field it generates a small amount electricity just like inside a dynamo on a bike.
This generation of electrical power follows Faraday's Law of Induction.
This is a drawing of Michael Faraday's 1831 experiment showing electromagnetic induction between coils of wire, using 19th century apparatus, from an 1892 textbook on electricity. On the right is a liquid battery that provides a current that flows through the small coil of wire (A) creating a magnetic field. When the small coil is stationary, no current is induced. However, when the small coil is moved in or out of the large coil (B), the change in magnetic flux induces a current in the large coil. This is detected by the deflection of the needle in the galvanometer instrument (G) on the left.
Voltage and Current are vital to understanding electronics, but they are quite hard to grasp because we can't see them.
Voltage is the Cause, Current is the Effect Voltage attempts to make a current flow, and current will flow if the circuit is complete. Voltage is sometimes described as the 'push' or 'force' of the electricity, it isn't really a force but this may help you to imagine what is happening. It is possible to have voltage without current, but current cannot flow without voltage.
Voltage and Current
The switch is closed making a complete circuit so current can flow.
Voltage but No Current
The switch is open so the circuit is broken and current cannot flow.
No Voltage and No Current
Without the cell there is no source of voltage so current cannot flow.
Feature article: Carbon Off Setting. Feature Company: Climate Care
Each time we heat our homes, take a flight or drive a car, fossil fuels are burnt and CO2 is released into the atmosphere. These CO2 emissions are causing climate change. We all need to take steps to reduce our CO2 emissions and there are many ways to reduce your own carbon footprint (see below). For the greenhouse gases we cannot avoid emitting, you can buy carbon offsets. Carbon offsetting enables you to take responsibility for the carbon emissions your activities create by paying someone to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere on your behalf elsewhere.
Through ClimateCare emissions are reduced through a portfolio of projects which include our Ghana Efficient Cooking Stoves Project - More than 80% of Ghanaian households use wood or charcoal as their main cooking fuel and deforestation rates in Ghana are amongst the highest in Africa. Most families cook with charcoal in a metal grate or 'coal-pot' that burns very inefficiently.
Because our customers never own or touch our product we need to make sure that the reductions we make on their behalf are real and measurable. To guarantee that the projects are really making the reductions on behalf of our customers, projects are designed to approved methodologies and validated and verified by independent consultants through internationally recognised Standards - the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Gold Standard (GS VER) and the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism).
All projects must be:
- Additional - this means they couldn't have happened without the funding that the offset buys.
- Permanent - reductions must be permanent.
- Not double-counted - All offset projects are situated in the developing world so that the reduction is only counted by us on behalf of our customers. If we made the reductions here in the UK the reductions would be counted by the UK government who have already committed to reduction targets set under the Kyoto Protocol, so they would be counting them and so would we. This is known as 'double counting'.
- Avoid Leakage - we must ensure that the activity from the project doesn't result in an increase in emissions elsewhere.
- Unique - each tonne reduction sold by us must be associated with only one credit and must be 'retired' on one of the climate registries. Once a credit has been retired it cannot be sold on.
For a selection of projects click
What can you do right now to help reduce your emissions?
- Draughts waste a lot of energy by losing heat. One quick and relatively cheap win is to put a brush or seal on your doors to prevent air escaping round the edges. Letterboxes and keyholes also lose heat and can be covered too. Gaps in floorboards and skirting boards also let in draughts; you can fill in these gaps with newspaper, beading or sealant.
- Stick aluminium foil or reflective panels behind radiators. This reflects heat back into the room rather than being absorbed into walls.
- In winter close your curtains at night to stop heat escaping.
- Make sure your loft has plenty of insulation. It's one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save energy and will pay for itself in hardly any time.
- Consider insulating your cavity walls.
- You can reduce 50% of your heat loss through windows by installing double glazing, which could cut your heating bill.
- Turn your thermostat down to 18oC and put on an extra jumper!
- Switch to energy saving light bulbs. They last around 10 times longer than ordinary light bulbs; they will save you money and come in loads of different styles.
- Items left on standby can use up to 85% of the energy they would use if fully switched on. Turn them off at the wall - it doesn't take long.
- Electric tumble dryers use a huge amount of energy. If it's a nice day dry your clothes outside or even inside if it's not so nice.
- When using a washing machine ensure there is a full load and turn down the temperature.
- If you have lights in your garden use solar powered lights that charge during the day and don't require electricity.
- Take your phone charger out of the wall. It uses energy even when it's not charging your phone.
- Make sure your hot water tank is insulated with a thick jacket. It will save you lots of money not to mention reducing emissions.
- A dripping tap can be not only annoying but if it is a hot tap it can cost you in both water costs and water heating costs. Remember, water also has a carbon footprint associated with it from processing.
- Always use the correct size saucepan, and when heating water only use the amount you need.
- When making a cup of tea, only boil the amount of water that you need.
- Turn off the tap while cleaning your teeth.
- If your toilet cistern holds more than 6 litres of water (likely if it was installed before 2001) put a Hippo Water Saving device in it.
- Have a quick shower instead of a bath, which uses far less energy and water.
- The location of your fridge can make a difference in how energy efficient it is. Make sure it is out of direct sunlight and not close to the oven. Keeping it against an outside wall will help the heat it generates escape easily, and always make sure that there is a few inches' space all around the fridge so that air can circulate.
- Make sure you defrost your fridge and freezer on a regular basis.
- Only set your fridge to as cold as you need it and avoid keeping the door open for long periods of time as the more cold air that escapes, the harder the fridge has to work. You should check the seal regularly as well, if it is damaged then cold air will be escaping.
- You should never put warm or hot food into the fridge as this will make the fridge work extra hard to try and keep it cold; always allow food to cool down first.
- Defrost frozen food in the fridge as this helps to keep it cool as it thaws.
- Buy locally produced organic food.
- Eat less meat; producing 1 calorie of meat requires a lot more land and energy, compared to 1 calorie of vegetables.
The Environment Tabs are currently under development
[this section is under development]