Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Is Your Business Changing The World?

Climate change is a growing concern for everybody, businesses and individuals alike. An Oxfam report released last month stated that the top 10 food and drinks companies contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined – and they, alongside other businesses, must do more to cut emissions.

Although some people still deny the reality of climate change, scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated the effect we have on the world. A study by NASA earlier this year showed that the arctic ice melt season is lengthening, and the ocean is warming up, something which could cause serious issues for the future, and we are increasingly seeing extreme weather conditions in all seasons. Therefore, it is vital that everyone – business owners and individuals alike – focus on their environmental impact and the ways in which they are changing the world.

Vicious Circles

airconWarmer summers caused by climate change mean that air conditioning is increasingly becoming vital in providing a comfortable workplace for employees; however the use of such systems, whilst providing immediate relief, also has an environmental impact which must be considered. If you need to provide cooling for your staff, it’s important to make sure that you have an efficient system and that you use it effectively, to provide the maximum comfort and the minimum environmental impact. Consult with experts, such as Heritage Heating & Cooling who offer industrial air conditioning services in Nottingham, and make sure that you have a suitable high-efficiency system which is in good repair and running at the right efficiency.

Because climate change is affecting our environment, and we need to control that environment to create a comfortable and acceptable working environment, it will often not be possible to avoid vicious circles like this entirely. However, where your emissions cannot be eliminated, it’s vital that you take steps like this to ensure that they are reduced.

Indirect Impact

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comWhen considering your carbon footprint, it’s important to consider not only your direct impact but also your indirect impact. For example, water treatment uses a lot of energy and creates its own emissions, but while climate change may cause drier summers it can also give us wetter winters. By harvesting the rainwater that falls on your business’ property and storing it in suitably robust GRP tanks, which will protect it from bacteria growth and keep it at a usable standard, you’ll have a store of water in the summer which can be used for a range of applications, meaning that treated water can be used more sparingly.

By considering the entirety of your supply chain and services in the same way, and identifying ways in which you can step in to reduce your reliance on carbon-heavy processes, you can reduce your business’ impact significantly.

No single individual business will be able to make the changes needed to slow or prevent climate change by themselves, but if every business, small or large, works to reduce their own impact where they can, we may yet be able to guarantee a safe future for generations to come.

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The Move to Environmentally Friendly Buildings

Whether you own the business, or the entire building, it is your responsibility as manager to ensure your building is green. According to this post on RD, a new database has become available to help building owners/investors evaluate the energy efficiency of their company building. With this in place, there are few excuses left for not implementing these changes into the core of your company. Here are just a few ways you can help make your building green.

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Outside Appearances

As well as running an interior checklist, it’s worth surveying the outside of your building. Even one or two cracks in the works can cost you hundreds in the long run. One of the most cost-effective ways to survey a building nowadays is to use companies like Specialised Access Solutions who scale buildings using rappels instead of using scaffolding. In addition to this, you can request a special survey camera feed so you can see the damages yourself – handy! Scaffolding takes hours of labour to set up and dismantle, and is actually a lot more dangerous than special access.

According to this post on Construction Digital, businesses all over the UK are demanding more green buildings as a standard practice. This includes implementation of features like solar panel windows for big office buildings, and making smaller offices out of materials like timber. Despite speculation, timber buildings are the most eco-friendly types of building as this video explains:

Setting the Example

It’s not only business owners that have this responsibility. School teachers should also be implementing eco-friendly tactics in schools as a good example. This article from Living Green Magazine lists a rather useful set of rules for green schooling. Things to improve include encouraging recycling, saving paper, and educating future generations on energy saving methods.

From design to implementation, it is important to consider the environmental impacts of the materials you are using. For more information on different materials, it is a good idea to do some research so you know about the different options available to you. Wikipedia pages such as those on sustainable architecture, or steel construction information pages can tell you everything you need to know.

Making your building green is not only good for the environment – it may help generate more business for your company/institute. With the rising concern for the environment, people may be more sceptical to enroll in a company with little concern for these very simple but very important energy-saving tactics. According to this article featured on the Guardian, green roofs are being used by major building owners in Paris. They’re not only great for the environment, but they add a natural beauty to any man-made structure.

You’ll note at the end of the above article that ‘more public sector initiatives’ are needed to make features like this more widely implemented. Set a good example and go green with your building.

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Climate Sceptics

Climate change is always a contentious issue – how do we help slow or stop it? Who are the people responsible? What factors affect it the most?

A more rarely asked question is ‘is it really happening?’ For many this would seem like a silly question, with the wealth of information and research completed showing how it is happening. So-called climate sceptics are relatively few and far between, but like most groups of people who have opposing views to the masses, their voices are easily heard.

A recent study led by Prof Richard Muller has shown that there has been a rise in average global land temperature of approximately 1.5 degrees C over the past 250 years and about 0.9 in the last 50. This is just the abridged version of the figures, but as the study was meant to be aimed at sceptics of climate change, the results have not exactly helped their intended audience.

Not unsurprisingly, these figures have made sceptics turn their backs on the data and continue in their beliefs. At least the man responsible – Professor Muller – has turned on his long held stand point and now agrees with the idea that humans are responsible for the increase in global temperature. This may not seem too much of an issue, merely a scientist wanting better proof, right? Not good enough for many sceptics it would seem.

I find it hard to believe that there are still sceptics arguing their stand point, when nearly everyone who has even the faintest understanding of climate change accepts the responsibility of humans.

Of course, it is no-one’s place to stop people thinking how they want, without scepticism there can be no real progression and enforcement of theories. I do not necessarily want to know why people are sceptical, but the sheer fact that they are encourages others to dig deeper into the reasoning, which can help our understanding in the future.

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Earth’s Environment Getting Worse Ahead Of Rio +20 Meeting

20 years after the Rio Earth Summit, and shortly before this year’s Rio +20 meeting of leaders a report has shown that the worlds environment is getting worse. It has confirmed a huge 30% decline in wildlife across the globe since 1970.

The Living Planet Report has been compiled by the WWF and uses data from more than 9,000 animal populations across the globe. The diversity of animals and plants has been hit the hardest, affecting the basis of such resources as clean water.

Increasing population, urbanization, migration to cities, increased energy use, soaring carbon dioxide emissions and many other factors have all contributed to the squeeze on the planets resources.

The latest Living Planet report has estimated grim figures for the future. It says that global demand for resources has doubled since 1996 and it now takes 1.5 years to regenerate the renewable resources which are used in one year. The report predicts that by 2030 the current demand on resources will require the equivalent of two planets to supply.

It also states that many of the changes have accelerated over the past decade, despite numerous summits and meetings over this time designed to slow this change. For example, Carbon emissions have increased 40% in the past twenty years, with two thirds of it happening over the last ten.

Looking to the future, one of the major points is sustainable population growth. Although the global population hit 7 billion in 2011, the population growth rate has dropped, from 1.65% to 1.2% since 1992, which is a step in the right direction to decrease our impact on the planet.

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Housepipe Bans and Flooding, a Typical British Spring

Recent headlines about drought in the UK have been starkly contrasted with this week’s flood warnings and severe weather. Over the last 2 years, below average rainfall has continued, leading to a recent hosepipe ban.

Flooding in Tewkesbury April the 30th

This may seem ridiculous with flood warnings across the country and even tragic events, with a man drowning whilst fording a swollen river in Hampshire. Even with the wet April weather, there have been warnings that more will be needed for our reservoirs to last over the summer.

Last night (30th April) the Met Office said that an average of 121.8mm of rain had fallen across the UK in the past 30 days, being the highest amount recorded since records began in 1910. For comparison, the average for April is just under 70mm. This seems even stranger after March, being the third warmest and fifth driest on record.

There are flood warnings across England, with the only area without them in the North West and the Met Office have forecast another wet week, giving little respite.

Flooding in York after the Ouse burst it's banks.

The floods are directly linked to the drought conditions that we have been suffering from recently. As soil dries out it becomes hard and compacts, making the rainwater unable to permeate it easily, making the rainwater simply run off. Whilst some water does get soaked up and makes it to reservoirs, more prolonged periods of lighter rain are needed to let the ground regain its moisture.

Polly Chancellor, national drought co-ordinator for the Environment Agency, said: “We’ve had a lot of rain this past week, which is a welcome boost for farmers and gardeners, and has delayed the need for water companies to apply for further drought permits.

“But with the dry soils, most of this rain is either soaked up or, worse still, runs off quickly, causing flooding, as we have seen in some areas this week.”

For the North of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the outlook is brighter, but with better weather, the problem of drought still remains. With rainfall during hotter periods of weather, more water gets evaporated compared to during the winter months: So for supplies to be restored there would need to be a great deal more than during winter.

It is impossible to tell if summer will be dry or a wash out, but as the past few months have shown, either way will have its own problems.

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