Environment, Energy and War

An article on the effects of war in Ukraine written early in the conflict opens with the statement that the “first and most serious tragedy of any armed conflict is its direct effects: every war brings with it a heavy burden of civilian and military casualties from warfare” (Dumčiūtė and Tecleme, 2022). The authors refer also to indirect victims such as refugees, the impoverished, and those who suffer malnutrition and loss of work and education, but they note as well that there are environmental consequences which may in time cause more deaths than the war itself. These effects and some other possible future developments are explored in the papers cited below. Khan (2022) discusses the war in Ukraine in the context of other post WWII conflicts, such as the bombing of Kosovo, the conflicts in Afghanistan, the Iraq-Iran War, the Gulf Wars, the Yemeni civil war and the war in Syria. She refers to the use of Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals by US forces in Vietnam and claims that t

Gateway and Narrative

A press release dated 3 August 2022 shows a map of South Wales and South West England with an account of how this region is to become the UK’s first Hydrogen Ecosystem (GW4, 2022). The article comes from the GW4 Alliance, described as a collaboration between the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. These universities are in partnership with Western Gateway, whose website describes the partnership as “the UK’s first pan-regional powerhouse to span two countries”, these being England and Wales (Western Gateway, 2022). An aspirational video stresses the resources and facilities of the area, the opportunities it offers, and its potential for economic growth and for research and development in areas such as nuclear fusion and a hydrogen economy.   A series of articles supports these ideas and gives details of related economic research and publications, outreach activities, the region’s potential to become a world-leading green energy cluster and   innovator in new technology,

Energy Rationing

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted much discussion of energy supply issues and the possibility of energy rationing.  Earl (2020) cited the head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, on the risk of energy shortages and rationing in Europe in the coming winter and the need for governments to reduce consumer demand and secure alternative energy supplies. The IEA had earlier called for restrictions on driving and air travel.  An article on the economic aspects of the situation points to the increasing risk of recession (Bakkum, 2022). The author considers it likely that “Russia will cut off more gas supplies to Europe” and notes that “Germany and the Netherlands have already moved to an emergency gas plan” prioritising energy security over climate ambitions. An opinion piece from Euromoney argues that energy price caps are unlikely to solve the problem for Europe which will be “running on empty by March”: it advocates testing the systems and practical procedures f

Carbon Ruins

‘Carbon Ruins’ is an exhibition of the carbon era which invites the visitor into an imagined future where the transitions to post-fossil society  have already happened. The future date is 2053, three years after global net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide were reached, and recognizable objects in the exhibition bridge the gap between daily life and the abstract impacts of climate change. These objects may include a 2014 cookbook which speculated on the possibility of cultivated meat, a piece of black coal from 2020, a sample of plastic grass from 2024, a diary of the 2025 milk riots in Brussels, the last toys made from plastic (an iconic material of the fossil fuel age), a recycled steel water bottle from 2034, and a 2038 picture of the last fast-food hamburger. The exhibits vary with the form taken by ‘Carbon Ruins’: since its beginning in 2019 these have included a mobile exhibition, audio presentation, educational material for schools, and part of the Human Nature exhibit at the Eth

Climate Mitigation through Supply and Demand

  Three of the papers cited below address aspects of climate change mitigation in relation to supply and demand.   A conference paper by Clora and Yu (2021) concentrates on decarbonizing the European economy, which will require interventions on both the supply-side and the demand-side in many sectors.   As examples of action on climate change, the authors list the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, changes to agricultural production systems, more energy-efficient buildings and production processes, and the movement towards low carbon diets and greener modes of transport. They point out that these actions change both demand and supply, and patterns of production and consumption between different sectors and countries. This can have the effect of altering trade flows and the carbon emissions which traded goods embody. The term carbon leakage is used to describe the way in which decreased carbon emissions in one country may lead to rising emissions elsewhere. The authors use

Psychology and Climate Change

The Journal Current Opinion in Psychology had for the theme of its December 2021 issue the Psychology of Climate Change. Papers included in the issue addressed questions such as why, while most people care about environmental quality, they continue with practices that worsen climate change; which of our values are most relevant to climate change; why have so few countries prioritised climate change mitigation despite warnings from scientists over several decades; whether our social needs are key to behaviour concerning climate change; and how do ancestral psychological motivations shape our environmental decisions. Bouman, Steg and Perlaviciute (2021) argue that “to effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to promote society-wide climate action, it is important to know what motivates individuals to support and take climate action”. They identify biospheric, altruistic, egoistic and hedonic values as those most relevant in the context of climate action. Biospheric values

The IPCC and Climate Change 2022

Since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 it has delivered five Assessment Reports, in addition to numerous special reports on subjects such as Emissions, Aviation, Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, and Global Warming. The Assessment Reports typically consist of a report from each of three working groups and a Synthesis Report. Working group I assesses topics including “greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere; temperature changes in the air, land and ocean; the hydrological cycle and changing precipitation (rain and snow) patterns; extreme weather; glaciers and ice sheets; oceans and sea level; biogeochemistry and the carbon cycle; and climate sensitivity.” Working Group II assesses “the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change and options for adapting to it”. Working Group III “focuses on climate change mitigation, assessing methods for reducing greenho