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« Lawson jousts with Beddington | Main | Thought for the Day »
Saturday
Mar262011

Zero Waste Scotland

Tim Worstall, writing at the Adam Smith Institute blog, looks at a new way of measuring the (alleged) benefits of recycling - looking at the carbon footprint - and finds much to applaud.

Full marks to "Zero Waste Scotland" for this idea. For as we keep being told, we've got to recycle in order to stop the planet burning up. Therefore, as you would think people would already have cottoned on to, we should be measuring what we recycle and how by how well doing so stops the planet burning up. That everyone should have done this earlier is true but more joy in heaven over one sinner repentant etc.

Tim's prediction is that once the new scheme has demonstrated unequivocally that all this recycling we are doing has a higher carbon footprint than landfilling it will be quietly dropped.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bolt-style questioning is catching on, at least in one small corner of England. The Englishman has written to Zero Waste Scotland to find out how much their scheme will cool the planet.

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Reader Comments (55)

The Englishman's question is one that can be reasonably put to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Mar 26, 2011 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Recycling is about cooling the planet? Really? I'm normally pretty alert to the loony enthusiasms of the greens but I can't say I've seen them making that claim, and if I ever did I would assume it was an unauthorised excursion by one of their more dim-witted bretheren.

Normally one sees recycling justified by land-use issues, European regulation, or insinuations that "waste" is impious.

Mar 26, 2011 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

When one considers this revelation - along with Der Speigel's recent Is Environmentalism Really Working? - perhaps the time has come to compile a compendium of conflated carbon conundrums ;-)

Mar 26, 2011 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Roy I think it's a little bit of everything but a strong component of it is to reduce the landfill sites and hence the methane and other gases that arise thereof. As with a lot of environmentalism (do you think it's a trick of the Gods to have put those last eight letters onto "environ"?) the ideas are sound. We shouldn't waste, we shouldn't damage the environment we should recycle. All jolly good things,like all religions strong ideas about doing good. But just like all religions there are a large cross section of adherents from extremists to the Mother Theresa of Calcuttas. The Green movement seems to have attracted the terminally impractical in great numbers, so will urge recycling at any cost and not care if the cost in anyway justifies the "good" being done. Just as long as it's "saving" the environment. Hence the scandalous loss of life in sub-Saharan Africa through the lobbying of the greens against DDT.

Mar 26, 2011 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

The Govt sponsered study on carrier bags has been available for some time, it has yet to be released, wonder if it is anything to do with the fact it recommends using disposible over reuseable as a better way of reducing waste.

Mar 26, 2011 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

Breath of fresh air

How do you know?

Mar 26, 2011 at 9:02 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


The Englishman's question is one that can be reasonably put to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Do they ever actually answer questions put to them? The answer, if it comes, will be of the arm waving variety.

Mar 26, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

How do I know

From a newspaper article that I posted a link to on a blog (which I think was this one)

Will have to find it now (could have been the Telegraph)

All I want for Xmas is a better memory ;)

Mar 26, 2011 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

Ok who needs a better memory when you have google, from the tree hugging Independent.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/plastic-fantastic-carrier-bags-not-ecovillains-after-all-2220129.html

Mar 26, 2011 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

Quote from Indy

HDPE bags are, for each use, almost 200 times less damaging to the climate than cotton hold-alls favoured by environmentalists, and have less than one third of the Co2 emissions than paper bags which are given out by retailers such as Primark.

Mar 26, 2011 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

And the full 120 page report has been published without any fanfare, don't print it or the Earth will self combust.

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Research/Carrier_Bags_final_18-02-11.pdf

Mar 26, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of fresh air

I'm not some loony econ-mentalist, but it's worth looking at recycling from a pragmatic point of view. Many of the problems we see with it are purely practical, and not insoluble. It's obvious that a big pile of used cans is a better place to mine metal than a much bigger pile of much less concentrated ore. The hard part is making sure that the cans are easily separated from other waste.

It's not economically viable to separate waste after collection, but certainly, it's not asking much to get people to (mostly, within reason) put cans in one bin, plastics in another, paper and cardboard in a third, and other waste in their main bin. If everyone does it - not obsessively, but whenever not too inconvenient - then the piles of material at the end are reasonably easy to process.

Of course, there are also factors like location that come into play. It may not be worth collecting recyclables from everyone if they're too remote. Still, that's a practical problem with an obvious practical solution.

One other thing worth considering is the issue of natural resources. We pay to import resources (usually in the form of finished goods) that we lack in this country - so why throw them away and buy more, instead of attempting to retrieve and re-use them? On the other hand, maybe future generations will thank us for the resources they mine from our landfills :)

Mar 26, 2011 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commenterdave

Critics of recycling argue that it arose as a "Green" obsession. I accept that they've hijacked it in typically ill-informed manner but I wonder if there isn't perhaps less recycling than when I was a kid in the 1950s.

The animal feedstuffs industry e.g. put paid to the routine recycling of food waste on dubious H&S grounds. The packaging sector was much less voracious than now. Scrappies were commonplace. And so on. The chattering classes of the time may have looked down on it but there was plenty going on.

Besides, landfill is not cheap. What are the grounds for arguing that it costs significantly less than recycling?

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

I'd like to see a cost comparison between standard plastic bags, and biodegradable plastic bags. Include the littler pickers wages for standard plastic too. At the very least switching to biodegradable would improve the aesthetics of the countryside hedges which are currently adorned with tesco etc. branded bunting.

At the end of the day there are pros and cons for different types of waste recycling, the tendency for extremes on both sides of the argument to exaggerate for their political, or corporate, cause doesn't help the matter IMO.

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

DaveB

I tend to agree with you - there was far, far less waste in post-war society than now. Make do and mend etc.

The sky-high costs of recycling are driven by its being:

Energy-intensive
Capital-intensive (fairly labour-intensive too)

The end problem is that there is often no good market for the product - eg in the UK recycled glass is used as road foundation because nobody wants it.

Mineral oils from printing inks in recycled card used in cereal packets is apparently contaminating the contents. My guess is that will be coming to an abrupt halt RSN.

And so on.

We are stuck with the food packaging waste problem because long-distance food distribution requires robust packaging.

Lying about the supposed reduction in CO2 emissions is a somewhat separate issue and I fully agree with Tim Worstall that the carbon fabulists should be exposed and mocked.

While we are at it, we should consider the climate effects of the UK's tiny 1.84% contribution to global annual CO2 emissions.

Even total UK emissions are actually too small to have a measurable effect on future climate (assuming the consensus is right about climate sensitivity) so emissions reduction policies here are pure gesture politics.

It's about time that this fact was more widely known. It would help people in this country evaluate the degree of economic and social hardship that they are prepared to endure in the name of 'moral leadership' on climate change.

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I thought the cost of landfill in the UK was inflated because licenses weren't being granted for new landfill and there was a EU mandated tax on landfill.

All sorts of reasons are advanced for recycling, but CO2 emissions reduction isn't usually one. Now we've got a lot of makework subsidised jobs connected with recycling. Generally it seems to be a cumbersome top down bureaucratic scheme which involves myopic box ticking. E.g. what's the point of recycling if one of the ways of complying is to send material to China to go into landfill there?

My guess is that this metric will tell the Scottish government things they don't want to hear and they'll drop it quietly, or they'll skip certain factors so as to skew the results.

It's easy to forget that before we all had separate bins, there was a considerable amount of recycling going on for economic reasons, and had been for decades.

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

From the Indie:

"It found that an HDPE plastic bag would have a baseline global warming potential of 1.57 kg Co2 equivalent"

One plastic bag weighs around 7g (I checked!) so how on earth is that responsible for over 20 times its own weight in CO2?

The Scottish government has been round a similar loop and quotes a US report..

In the American Franklin report, paper bags are also shown to be the least environmentally preferable option. This was due to the greater amount of resources (materials and fuels for transport from greater weight per bag) that they require. Compared with lightweight plastic bags, paper bags:
- Use six times as much raw materials.
- Use three times the energy for manufacture.
- Are six times heavier for the same volume.
- Use ten times the storage/warehousing volume.
- Require seven times the amount of transport and associated emissions.

Dear me.

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The Govt sponsered study on carrier bags has been available for some time, it has yet to be released...
          Breath of fresh air

Sweet! Read it with great interest, Breath. Cynical (being kind), huh?

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

BBD

"carbon fabulists"

I shall use that!

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Roger

"it has yet to be released.."

Apparently, it still in peer-review! I wonder whom they asked..?

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

BBD,

It is incredible that the facts are ignored that the UK is responsible for <2% of global CO2 emissions and the obsession with taking the lead on climate change has lead to nonsense consequences, such as closing steelworks in the UK and moving production to India with a likely increase in emissions.

It as if an objective has been set and a mechanism for achieving the objective has been constructed, and we're forced to operate the mechanism with never any question as whether the mechanism achieves its objective or indeed, works against achieving the objective.

Mar 26, 2011 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I've recently retired from many a happy year in the glass container industry and have some knowledge of glass recycling, so I'd like to add my twopenneth.

DaveB - yes you're quite right to suggest that recycling did not necessarily arise out of a 'green' obsession. Glass container recycling started with the first bottle bank in Yorkshire [close to the heart of the glass manufacturing industry] in 1977 - way before any thoughts of saving the planet. There was, of course, an environmental aspect to it (for instance, retailers had fallen out of love with the returnable bottle which meant more landfill) but the main driver was that it made commercial sense (recycled glass [cullet] melts at a lower temperature than virgin materials and therefore for each 10% input of cullet a glass furnace requires 3% less energy). Additionally, the use of cullet prolongs the life of a furnace.

BBD - I can't deny that a small proportion of collected glass finds its way into road foundation. However, this is mainly down to the imbalance of glass colours in the UK. Of the glass containers produced in this country only 20% is green, whereas of the glass collected 44% is green - largely because of our desire to consume significant volumes of imported wine. The UK glass manufacturing industry cannot take any more green than it does - every green bottle made in this country has at least a 90% recycling content. It would, of course, be nice to switch more products to green glass but brand image and customer perceptions are not easy to change.

On separate note [Cosmic @12:08pm] - the death of UK steelworks is greatly exaggerated! Only yesterday, the keys to the blast furnace at Redcar were handed over by Tata Steel to Thai conglomerate SSI and production is expected to resume shortly with the re-employment of 900. As Maggie once said, "Rejoice at that news"..... and I don't give a **** what Caroline Lucas and others like her think.

Mar 26, 2011 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgnostic

The problem with recycling is it is usually done by force. The Greens, or whoever, decide that we must stop putting stuff in the landfill and so pass taxes, fees, and such as well as dole out incentives. What is needed is good old free enterprise and the ability to make a buck (or euro). Here is a classic example of how that works.

Land Fill Boxes

Mar 26, 2011 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Agnostic:
I can't deny that a small proportion of collected glass finds its way into road foundation.

Thanks for an interesting post. I knew that the glass that finds its way into road construction is low-grade stuff but I cannot readily see a problem with the practice. What's wrong with burying otherwise useless waste made from sand beneath roads as a substitute for, well, sand and why might it be preferable to bury it in a landfill with no roads on top?

Incidentally, the print and publishing trades have been recycling paper waste for at least the 40-odd years I was in the business. Newsprint, for example, has always included up to 30 per cent recycled pulp. There’s probably more cardboard recycling than there used to be but anecdotes about polluted cereal packets seem little more than evidence of incompetent production. Recycled pulp is good for some applications but not all.

I stand to be corrected but critics of re-cycling seem at times a bit light on data and a bit quick on the "Down with this sort of thing" argument.

Mar 26, 2011 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

"UNEP chief praises Rwanda for plastic bag ban (Feb 17, 2011)

Rwanda passed a law banning plastic bags in 2004 and has gone to great lengths to enforce it..."

http://tinyurl.com/4g557la

All the things wrong in Rwanda, and the UN chose to raise awareness of this <shakes head>

Mar 26, 2011 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

I thought that most recycling economics was 'driven', so to speak, by how far the recycled goods need to be transported beofre they could be re-processed. After that come the questions about quality of collected materials and so on.

I recall reading some years ago that the City of New York had stopped collecting glass for recycling because, a that time, the economics did not stack up at all and it was costing them about $70million a year to run the scheme. Further infrmatiojn realted to the UK suggested, from memory, that if you had to cart the glass more than 50 miles (in the UK) to a recycling plant the concept became more wasteful overall.

My local authority sent a young lady door knocking recently to ask if we understood what could now be acceptable for recycling and hand out a nice little circular, rotating decision making toy. Seems that where once only specific plastics and papers and cardboards, etc., were OK things have now changed. Anything goes.

I assume that means that the measurements of what is recycled are now based on wieght or volume alone - what gets measured gets done.

Had I thought to ask I would have questioned the young lady about the need to wash plastic food containers before recycling. Is a gram of plastic more important that the water usage for washing it? (And perhaps ".. can I claim a rate rebate for storing all the material for them prior to collection plus a fee for sorting it as required?")

On the original subject of interesting leading questions .... it would be interesting to ask a few people whether Japan, and the world around it, would have been better off after the recent earthquake and tsunami had it deployed wind farms rather than nuclear plants for electricity generation.

There are so many interesting questions to ask.

Mar 26, 2011 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGP

Penn and Teller have videos of their Showtime show ("Bull***t") which did an episode on recycling. One fact -- the city of LA has to use double the number of garbage trucks because of recycling. Lots bigger carbon footprint. http://www.tv.com/penn-and-teller-bullsh!/recycling/episode/318820/summary.html

They interview Clemson Univ professor Daniel Benjamin has written about the 8 myths of recycling.

Mar 26, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

GP

You ask

On the original subject of interesting leading questions .... it would be interesting to ask a few people whether Japan, and the world around it, would have been better off after the recent earthquake and tsunami had it deployed wind farms rather than nuclear plants for electricity generation.

Wind farms are unable to provide constant, absolutely reliable generation. They are intermittent and output fluctuates constantly. This makes wind entirely unsuitable for 'baseload' generation. Baseload is the backbone of any grid: the absolutely reliable supply that meets normal demand.

Baseload generation is provided by coal, gas or nuclear plant only.

Japan invested in nuclear during the post-war period to avoid excessive dependence on imported fossil fuels. Hence the 40 year old plant at Fukushima Daiichi that was damaged by the tsunami.

Thinly-veiled anti-nuclear sentiments need to come packaged with hard-nosed alternative suggestions about how the necessary baseload capacity will be run.

In Japan's case, the decision many decades ago to try and reduce fuel imports led to more nuclear.

You like interesting questions. Here's the real one you need to address: what non-fossil-fuel fired, non-nuclear baseload technology should Japan have used?

Mar 26, 2011 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

James P - I've never seen those statistics about paper vs plastic bags - another myth exploded..! Thanks for that - I'll pop it away for trotting out next time it goes quiet in the Snug...
Regarding responses, or otherwise, from the Department of Energy and (for some reason beyond me) Climate Change - I asked them if Steve Holliday's statement to the effect that we could no longer rely on 24/7 electricity supply was now government policy. They replied but completely missed the point - so I asked them again.
No response.

Mar 26, 2011 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Cosmic - oh, come now - cast your mind back to what Lord Meddlesome came out with as they shut the doors on the Redcar steelworks..
'Its not being closed - its being mothballed...'
I bet that provided a great deal of comfort to the good citizens of Redcar - especially as the same stuff is now being produced in India and Mittal got billions of 'carbon credits' into the bargain....

Mar 26, 2011 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

DaveB,

"I stand to be corrected but critics of re-cycling seem at times a bit light on data and a bit quick on the "Down with this sort of thing" argument.".

Maybe, but as you and I have both pointed out, recycling wasn't invented with the introduction of government schemes in the past ten years, it has long been in operation, where it was worth doing.

You could as well say that the proponents of these schemes are light on data and quick with the "Up with this sort of thing" argument, We get a lot of handwaving and it's given to us that recycling is a self-evident good. It's certainly expensive and inconvenient, and I suggest that the onus is on its enthusiasts to justify it in terms of the problems it's supposed to be solving and how effective it is in solving those problems. There's certainly no point in paying a lot of money to have no effect or make things worse.

Mar 26, 2011 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

DaveB at 11:00 AM

..... and we had "Rabg and Bone" men who did much recycling - before Greenpeace came about.

Mar 26, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPFM

Typo - Rag and Bone

Mar 26, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPFM

Definition:

Efficacy is the capacity to produce an effect. It has different specific meanings in different fields:

Most posturing environmentalism is almost an antitheseis of this.

It hides behind rhetoric and avoids discussion of testable evidence.

It is the modern refuge of the contemptible

Mar 26, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

GP

"On the original subject of interesting leading questions .... it would be interesting to ask a few people whether Japan, and the world around it, would have been better off after the recent earthquake and tsunami had it deployed wind farms rather than nuclear plants for electricity generation."

I suppose it would depend on where they deployed the windfarms, it they were off shore then I believe that Japan would have been considerably worse off, assuming, of course that the wind farms were capable of producing enough electicity to make a difference to Japan's energy requirements, which any engineer will tell you is about as likely as putting a man on the moon with a hot air balloon. The other issue is the reporting concentrated on the one nuclear plant that had trouble. There were six in the path of the tsunami (warmists should not we have a word for it because it's not new and has happened many times before the industrial revolution began), and five of them had no damage. In fact three of them were used to house people whose property had been destroyed by the tsunami.

Not a big fan of nuclear myself, but I have to admit it looks a lot more likely to survive a disaster than a field full of solar panels or a bunch of windmills.

Mar 26, 2011 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

It is, of course, quite possible to live an 'eco-friendly' life in the UK. It simply takes hard work, an appreciation of the finer nuances of daub and wattle, slaughtering livestock, flint knapping, etc. and means that the individual has no time left in the day to bother others after supplying basic food and shelter needs. Hopefully the environmentally concerned will be leading by example...

Mar 26, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Recycling is a key axiom of the green movement.

Here is an example from the Nelson Leader in NZ (on page 5):


Compost wedding cake too real for some kids

"...compost-themed wedding cake, napkins made from old sheets, crockery from the recycling centre...

The couple, who are as crazy about the planet as they are about each other, celebrated with a Civil Union that made only a small impact on the ebvironment.

...the cake resembled a pile of compost... with marzipan foodscraps, worms and nasturtiums...

[after the wedding] All the foodscraps were saved for the couple's chickens, all the glass was recycled, and at the end there was only one bag of rubbish to throw out.

This kind of thinking is endemic in Nelson which is proudly the world capital of woo.

The kicker is the "one bag of rubbish" that somehow no longer even exists because the grown-ups took it away to the tip for them.

Mar 26, 2011 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes
Mar 26, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

On the subject of measurement.

When can we predict the usual bull of the "Earth Hour" bollox being claimed as a success of some abstract sort?

Usually it is claimed as a succes 'cos you can show a picture of lights going out coordinated by some local mayor.

But notice journalists never mention evidence like power usage. Weird eh?

Obviuosly closely followed by no real analysis by any "enviro" jouno .

I know a billion people people are taking part in this duty according to the Beeb but no real effort to show how they know.

Frankly, I think the awful gobshites from Sydney who originated this crap idea should be forced to live for eternity like the poor Africans who have no choice but to burn wood today. The africans could join me later and point to those dumb ass Sydney gits in future Earth hour ethnic rememberances.

Mar 26, 2011 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Agnostic @ 1.55pm

Your comments about the Redcar steel works changing ownership are interesting ( NB I'm not in the UK ). Is this the steel works which Tata Steel got hundreds of millions from the EU in carbon credits because it was reducing the emmisions when it proposed to shift it to India ? If so the question ( to anyone) then is did they get the payment and if so do they pay it back ?

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

Agnostic

BBD - I can't deny that a small proportion of collected glass finds its way into road foundation. However, this is mainly down to the imbalance of glass colours in the UK. Of the glass containers produced in this country only 20% is green, whereas of the glass collected 44% is green - largely because of our desire to consume significant volumes of imported wine. The UK glass manufacturing industry cannot take any more green than it does - every green bottle made in this country has at least a 90% recycling content. It would, of course, be nice to switch more products to green glass but brand image and customer perceptions are not easy to change.

Can you post a link to a good (ie unbiased) breakdown of what happens to recycled glass in the UK? I've been looking around, but without success so far.

Mar 26, 2011 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Leopard

It should be renamed Earth Five Minutes. That's how long the lights on the Eiffel Tower were turned off.

Mar 27, 2011 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Ross - I apologise to Mittal - it was indeed Tata Steel which got the carbon credits to which you refer - when they 'mothballed' the Redcar steelworks...

Mar 27, 2011 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I've just found out that the whole of the M6 Toll motorway was surfaced with 'glasphalt'. I'm getting the impression that rather more recycled glass ends up as road surface than we realise.

Most recycled glass is turned into what is called glass cullet. This is very fine ground up glass that can be used to produce other glassware, such as new bottles, but more commonly a lot of this cullet is used for aggregate for making construction materials like asphalt. Indeed, a new from of road material called Glasphalt contains nearly a third recycled glass and has already been used in the M6 toll road in the Midlands – using an estimated 14 million glass bottles to build the 27 mile stretch of road.

http://www.articlesbase.com/home-and-family-articles/recycled-glass-what-happens-to-it-3609512.html

Mar 27, 2011 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD,

I agree with you. You ask the correct question. But I would hope that my question might elicit a response about ... well, some form of renewable, let's say wind turbines and perhaps offshore, that could be strongly questioned as to rationality.

How many wind turbine 'farms' or, were they even a practical proposition, solar energy collection installations, and their grid connections would have survived first the earthquake and secondly the tsunami? Would it be possible to design installations that could survive en masse?

If the answer is 'no' then they would likely have lost a large proportion of their electricity generation capbility in seconds - a far larger proportion than has been lost, so far and as far as we know, through damage to nuclear plants.

Somewhere in the near future we need to see exactly what 'people' will accept and what they will reject in terms of risk as they understand it - and then a clearer understanding may emerge that allows people to assess their own positions and make personal decisions rather than 'crowd' decisions.

Mar 27, 2011 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterGP

GP

You remind me of what geronimo said earlier:

I suppose it would depend on where they deployed the windfarms, it they were off shore then I believe that Japan would have been considerably worse off, assuming, of course that the wind farms were capable of producing enough electicity to make a difference to Japan's energy requirements, which any engineer will tell you is about as likely as putting a man on the moon with a hot air balloon. The other issue is the reporting concentrated on the one nuclear plant that had trouble. There were six in the path of the tsunami (warmists should not we have a word for it because it's not new and has happened many times before the industrial revolution began), and five of them had no damage. In fact three of them were used to house people whose property had been destroyed by the tsunami.


Not a big fan of nuclear myself, but I have to admit it looks a lot more likely to survive a disaster than a field full of solar panels or a bunch of windmills.

Mar 26, 2011 at 7:34 PM

FWIW, I share your concern about the unwisdom of crowd decisions.

Mar 27, 2011 at 11:50 PM | Registered CommenterBBD

geronimo - Mar 26, 2011 at 7:34 PM

Having now got to your post in response to my first post I can see that my very recent response to BBD was superfluous - you had already covered the subject.

I have no idea about the generation numbers for Japan but my guess would be that any attempt to replace their base load needs (even if it were possible) with renewables would have to be mainly wind based and would very likely require several hundred thousand units to have any slight chance of success. (Even using today's technology let alone 40 year old designs if many existed.)

The probablity of survival of a force 9 quake would be small, withstanding the tsunami even smaller and I sort of wonder what such an installation would have done to the local weather patterns ...

But it's all speculation as I doubt we will ever know the answers. At least not in my lifetime.

Mar 27, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGP

Reading all this makes me wonder is flushing the toilet is recycling or polluting .

Mar 28, 2011 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

AH, the Don Pablo Challenge is on! INTERESTING.

Mar 28, 2011 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I have a reply:


Iain has passed on your query about the Carbon Metric to me. Firstly, thank you for the positive feedback - it's nice to see the Carbon Metric is having an impact.

On your first point, it is difficult to say how much impact the Carbon Metric will have at this stage. As a world first, we are in unknown territory to some extent. Carbon savings will come through a stronger focus on those waste streams which have a high environmental benefit of recycling as opposed to landfill. If Scotland meets the targets it has set itself in the Zero Waste Plan, by 2025 70% of all the carbon in waste streams will be recycled. The Scottish Government has estimated that the whole Zero Waste Plan will save Scotland about 500,000 tCO2eq by 2020. Relating this to degrees of warming prevented is an inexact science and requires complex climate models so I wouldn't want to hazard a guess on the exact answer to your question.

On your second point, it is up to each Local Authority to decide how they can best meet their carbon recycling targets and this might include more segregated collection systems. You will have to contact your Local Authority if you want more details on how they plan to weigh up the relative costs and benefits of each possible waste management option open to them.

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions on this issue.

Kind regards,
Kimberley

Kimberley Pratt
Environmental Analyst
Zero Waste Scotland

I think that can be fairly summarised as don't know the result and don't know the cost.

Mar 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Englishman

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