2 year anniversary for GF blog; Liars at Westminster and main topic, Country Shows – source of exciting climate news
The wildflower banks here are going mad! A forest, but unfortunately not what was promised on the packets. There should have been 5 or 6 varieties at least, but here I am with ox-eye, ox-eye everywhere! I don’t dislike them, but this is not the result I was dreaming of. If you have succeeded and now see a beautiful mix of colours on your banks, do share the secret of how you achieved it, please!
2 year anniversary
Hard to believe, but Green Fridays blogs have been going up online for almost 100 editions and if it weren’t for the fact that it gives me a bangin’ headache every time, I really would be popping one of these bottles of fizz to mark the occasion!
The first blog was out on 11th June 2021, in response to the Cornwall Council film ‘Count Down to G7’. I was motivated to analyse the message being put across to the world media from Cornwall at that time, because I sensed it was overblown and smug. By the time I had finished watching I was enraged! There was such a distorted and exaggerated picture being painted, of a forward-looking and pro-active county for sustainability. A classic example of Greenwash really.
As a refresher, I have just read through the first couple of weeks and cannot quite believe how accurate I was in predicting issues that are even more to the fore today, such as
- The Lithium debate – massive hot potato at this moment (lots more on it next time).
- The geo-thermal heat and gravity storage potential of mine shafts, plus a range of other potential new uses for mines.
- The Slurry management challenge – much trickier than it was looking at that time. But even then I was soon able to illustrate there were some lies behind the story.
I met one of these tarmac trucks only a few weeks after I wrote up the Bennaman’s methane story. It was totally untrue that most of them were powered by Cornish farm methane. They had diesel generators and in actual fact, they came from Sunderland!!! … a whole crew & kit, imported to deal with all of our potholes.
2 years later & I can now share that Bennamans went on to hit a road-block (not literally) when they failed to get a major grant. They now cannot supply a system to the farms who want to participate in the project.
Moving on another year or so, I took on board reader comments and stopped using Publisher for the blog, in favour of ordinary Word documents and images. This was far easier to cut and paste online and for readers to navigate on their phone. I think it very likely helped increase readership to its current level, heading upwards from 200. It also possibly was the point when more comments began to come back each week, the start of an ebb and flow process I hope can be expanded a lot going into the future.
Liars at Westminster
I hope the people who put out the picture and article above won’t object that I have borrowed their flaming ‘pants’. Great image!
We do not have to go back that far, maybe a decade or so, to a time when it was pretty unthinkable that a Prime Minister of our country would be exposed as a bare-faced liar. But maybe the House of Commons could see it coming, since they set up an investigative body to police the standards in public office, starting from 2013.
I wish I could get an answer from everyone reading this week – did you give Boris the benefit of the doubt or were you convinced he was putting out untruthful statements repeatedly, during his time at Number 10? From my perspective the work of the Privileges Committee appears to have been admirable in its thoroughness, but I didn’t need them to help me conclude that he has never been a man one could trust, never been able to tell things straight and truthful. (If you need it, here is more about the committee and its process https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-65878925)
Perhaps Boris was just too careless. Others are equally capable of putting out false information I have no doubt, but not in such a blatant, flamboyant fashion. It certainly isn’t confined to the Tory party either. Look at Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the role he took over from Boris, as Mayor of London. Behind the passionate advocate for clean air (totally understandable, given he has adult on-set asthma himself) are some much more murky depths – empty promises and dodgy decisions. As you might expect there are useful reports from The Guardian and Spectator, but I am choosing you a different, very London-centric source:-
You might also want to look at this one https://www.londonworld.com/news/traffic-and-travel/ulez-2023-sadiq-khan-theresa-villiers-4128056
Whilst some of us do still read newspapers, the vast majority just pick up snippets from radio and/or TV. Broadcasters have an ability (and sometimes a more deliberate policy) to twist things in one direction or another and have great power to influence by such means. It is my hope though, that some things on the BBC can be trusted. I was feeling pre-disposed to believe the man putting across his story of a drive through England and up to Scotland in an Electric camper van, as he described the new ways of driving and trying to charge up. Surely this could be believed on Panorama? His experiences certainly seemed very similar to those of my friend Judy, driving from London to Cornwall very regularly.
But apparently, we cannot believe the Beeb, says https://theenergyst.com/19652-2/
Screened on Monday, a ‘Panorama’ examination of Britain’s supposed unpreparedness for switching to EVs this decade has drawn the ire of the Renewable Energy Association.
The flagship BBC-TV documentary alleged installations of new public charging points would fall short of the total needed under the government’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate, announced in October 2021. The policy sets a road map for ministers to deliver on its commitment that all new cars sold from 2030 must be pure EVs or hybrids.
Not true, the REA counter-blasted in a statement. The ratio of electric vehicles per public charge point already greatly exceeds the ratio of ICE cars per petrol or diesel pump.
Deployment of charging infrastructure including public points grew 35% last year and the trade body expects this trend to continue.
The programme also claimed that a standard charge point takes an hour to deliver 38 miles of range. “Not representative”, the REA rebutted. “At any rapid charge point, most EVs on sale today can charge from 0 to 80% in under an hour. Some of them deliver over 300 miles of range”.
The UK already has over 40,000 public charge points, and 84% of EV owners able to charge at home, declared Matthew Adams, the REA’s transport policy manager. “Only 16% of one million-plus plug-in vehicles now on the road will need to use public charging infrastructure frequently”, Adams added.
Panorama highlighted drivers’ difficulties with differing cash payment systems offered by charge point operators. This is already being resolved, said Adams. Tough new rules from government will soon require every new point above 8kW and new and existing points above 50kW to offer card readers for contactless payment. Many operators already deploy them. Best practice via PAS 1899 & other standards, said the REA, ensures charge point cabling is light and easily accessible.
For a very opposite view, dead anti EVs, try this. It is an American video, which is over 10 minutes long, the story of a family man and the vehicle he hired. It had me crying with laughter, sadly. This does not help anyone to feel inspired about going the EV route in future: – https://www.google.com/search?client=opera&q=EV+charging+nightmares&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:61e970ba,vid:TeDgPx6ExG0
It’s that time of year – Country and Agricultural shows point the way to a greener future
By complete coincidence our South London correspondent, Carole, was off to her local ‘Country Show’ last weekend in Lambeth at the same moment as I visited the north coast and our Royal Cornwall Show. We noticed how these traditional events had evolved in very different ways, post pandemic. Lambeth used to be a great opportunity, especially for families with young children, to meet lots of animals and engage with rural activities, growing etc. The 2023 show had just a handful of goats and almost nothing rural about it, having been replaced by a festival of outdoor food and drink. Seems a real shame to lose those country connections. I looked to see if they were featuring climate hope and there was a little eco-village, with presentations about bees and plants, but not comparable to what I found at Wadebridge, where I would say the majority of businesses and organisations had plans of Climate Hope on their agenda, if not to the fore.
ABOVE see The Goat Shed at Lambeth and The very Cornish yellow and gold corner with Celtic music
Before I describe the major excitement of my show visit, let’s just look back a few weeks in the blog. I referred to the fact that Swedish drivers can pull up on a forecourt and put a low carbon liquid fuel into their ordinary car. I wrote …
VO100 Renewable Diesel is fully compatible with regular diesel, and therefore the product can also be used in all trucks, cars, vans, taxis and more.
It is therefore also possible at the Biofuel Express stations in Sweden to refuel as a passenger car, as there are pumps which provide 40 litres per minute.
Most manufacturers have already approved HVO100 for their diesel cars, including Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, SEAT, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Citroën, Peugeot, and Volvo, as well as major truck manufacturers.
When I put that down it seemed like a distant dream for my own car, here in the UK. But last weekend I was offered the chance to fuel up with HVO whenever I need to!!!, not too far from my place, by a man who blew me away with his credentials. This was John Weedon, MD of Mitchell and Webber fuels. John’s home was successfully disconnected from the grid over 15 years ago, with his entire set up being run on renewables. I heard the story when I found him beside a truck, a tractor and his team, on a stand right next to the entrance of the Show. It was the last day, so some things (& some people) were looking a little tired and scruffy, but not this lot. They were zinging with enthusiasm and all the staff more than capable of talking renewable fuels with confidence and authority.
I had written about this company before, when I first became aware they had sold HVO (Hydro treated vegetable oil) for use in home heating boilers, commencing in 2019.
Rather than take promotion materials straight off their website, here is an article from Fuel Oil news: – https://fueloilnews.co.uk/2023/05/mitchell-webber-driving-the-ground-breaking-campaign-for-a-liquid-fuel-future/
During my chat with John I was able to hear more about the political side of things. The source of HVO for this company is America, which at once adds shipping miles. He explained that North Sea oil makes a particularly ‘sweet’ type of petrol, that is much in demand as an import by the United States. His load of HVO, processed in Louisiana, fills the empty tanks on the oil ships for their return journey to Cardiff. But what is the actual product made from? John was very keen to emphasise how many different and better qualities HVO has, as compared with biodiesel. I found a good first overview article here http://www.greenea.com/en/publication/is-hvo-the-holy-grail-of-the-world-biodiesel-market/ but came to a halt of understanding at the acronym PFAD; what does it stand for? PFAD is Palm Fatty Acid Distillate or a residue of palm oil. Palm oil, that has been processed already to go into food, and this is a left over, but still, that means some one, somewhere is growing palms to be harvested for biofuel. Ultimately can I feel less guilty driving a motor that burns this veg oil than one that burns petrol? Maybe, marginally. But I want better than this, so I do very much hope the palms can be grown, as quoted below, based on socially acceptable and environment-friendly production.
This is what the World Wildlife fund has to say about it: –
Grown only in the tropics (85% in Indonesia and Malaysia), the oil palm tree produces high-quality oil used primarily for cooking in developing countries. It is also used in food products, detergents, cosmetics and, to a small extent, biofuel. Palm oil is a small ingredient in the U.S. diet, but more than half of all packaged products Americans consume contain palm oil—it’s found in lipstick, soaps, detergents and even ice cream. Palm oil is a very productive crop. It offers a far greater yield at a lower cost of production than other vegetable oils.
Global production of and demand for palm oil is increasing rapidly. Plantations are spreading across Asia, Africa and Latin America. But such expansion comes at the expense of tropical forests—which form critical habitats for many endangered species and a lifeline for some human communities.
WWF envisions a global marketplace based on socially acceptable and environment-friendly production and sourcing of palm oil. We aim to encourage increased demand for, and use of, goods produced using such practices.
Farming and Schools
The rest of my time at the show was looking at food, farm to fork, and talking with schools about the proposals for Harvest Festival. The Food Chain Hub was especially interesting for this, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting 2 ladies involved in education work – Jo and Lisa. Jo is part of the country education team for the show, whose big annual event is called the Farm and Country Days. Love this little film on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETQ2gt6LBHQ
Lisa is the SW representative of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), stretched to breaking point as she tries to cover a huge area of 5 rural counties and at this moment all of them expected to be deep into running a farming fortnight. Despite this over-demand, I found the quality of books and displays was excellent.
Last thoughts about 2 Japanese cars
Just before I left the show I saw the stand for Honda. I have driven Hondas on and off all my life & would not be thinking of changing if they could offer an affordable sustainable option. So, I made myself cross over and seek out a member of staff, and ask the obvious question, is Honda pushing the boundaries? Will there be any other option than electric? And if not, do you have some real innovations for electric cars like Toyota (its neighbour in Tokyo?). I had just been sent an article and film about the latest Toyota battery developments, both sounding promising – lithium iron phosphate batteries and Solid State batteries (the real game changer in terms of range and speed to re-charge). This one came from a reader, thank you very much!
I was disappointed that the staff at Honda had nothing to say, nor is there anything to get my teeth into on their web page. I am not sure they are going to keep up, in what is a fast evolving and highly competitive market.