Wednesday, 20 May 2015

When we talk about renewable and 'clean' sources of energy, we generally think of solar panels and wind turbines. Some people, however, have other ideas about renewable sources of energy; poo!
The UK's first 'poo bus' hit the road last September and is powered entirely by human and food waste. The actual fuel for the bus is the biomethane gas produced by the poo. One tank of this allows the bus to travel up to 186 miles!
Poo Bus
Recently, a poo-powered bus from Reading has been in the news following setting a new land speed record for buses, reaching 77mph at the Millbrook Circuit in Bedford. This is a huge step for poo-powered vehicles and will hopefully influence an increase in poo-powered buses and cars. Who knows? In a few years we could all be driving poo-powered cars to the cinema to see Vin Diesel's new blockbuster film - The Fast and The Faeces!
Mohammed Saddiq, general manager of GENeco (the company behind the poo-powered bus), said:
“Through treating sewage and food that’s unfit for human consumption we’re able to produce enough biomethane to provide a significant supply of gas to the national gas network that’s capable of powering almost 8,500 homes as well as fuelling the Bio-Bus.
Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities, but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself.”
Poo-power isn't just limited to vehicles though; GENeco also became the first company to inject gas generated from human and food waste into the national grid last November, showing that one day it is possible for our country to be powered by poo!
Bristol sewage treatment works processes around 75,000,000^3 of sewage waste and 35,000 tons of food waste each year. A total of 17,000,000^3 of biomethane is generated each year at the plant through a process known as anaerobic digestion, this is enough to fulfil the power needs of 8,300 average UK homes!
Some people are already powering their homes by poo and following the recent media coverage of poo-powered vehicles more people will hopefully jump on board with the concept of poo-power and join the campaign to make poo-power mainstream!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

After the recent election held on the 7th May the Conservatives won the majority votes, meaning the parliament isn't hung and Conservatives will be in power of the country until the next election, but, how will this affect our environment? David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, unveiled his manifesto a few months prior to the election, which includes a variety of environmental policies. 
Onshore wind farming is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with over two and a half thousand farms around the United Kingdom. Asides from its questionable aesthetic, many argue that wind farming is not used to its full potential when based on land. The Conservatives plan to "halt the spread of onshore wind farms.” However, the party has angered green developers by confirming the plans to end the development of any further onshore wind farms in the UK, even if the method often fails to win public support.
Furthermore, as Prime Minister, David Cameron pledged to support the UK Climate Change Act (2008) which hopes to reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Another part of the manifesto stated to provide support to poorer countries when facing the ever changing climate. As well as this, it is said that more will be done to tackle air pollution, clean rivers/lakes, plant eleven million trees and protect the Green Belt.
‘Fracking’ or shale gas extraction has always been a controversial topic, yet the party’s manifesto says that they “will continue to support the safe development of shale gas.” While it still has significantly less carbon emission compared to coal and is a readily available source; huge amounts of water must be transported to the fracking site, which comes at an environmental cost. Potentially carcinogenic chemicals are used, which if escaped will contaminate groundwater around the site. Asides from Fracking, the Conservatives have also committed to support the development of the North Sea oil and gas industry.
Other smaller claims which have caused less disagreement include £500m to be dedicated to ensure almost every car and van is a zero emission vehicle by 2050. The party also plan to boost the number of journeys made by bicycle, to encourage this, over £200m is said to be spent on establishing safer bike routes.
As mentioned earlier, some of these policies fail to win the vote of environmental advocates, this may be because the bold claims put forward in the 2010 election have yet to be put into action. So, can we trust this government with our environment? 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

With just under a week until the election, most are concerned with a change in deficit and Ed Balls as a possible chancellor, but politicians are missing one vital point- climate change. At the current point in time, most political parties have some form of environmental policy or organisation, for instance Labour has the SERA campaign, and the Liberal Democrats have bought forward the prospect of 200 million new green jobs. The Conservatives, well - their policy is not as green as their logo.
According to recent comprehensive studies, we are on the verge of a sixth mass extinction, with an expected one in six species set to be near exanimate by the turn of the century.
The threat is being accelerated by climate change, in particular habitat loss and greenhouse gases. A study conducted by Urban claimed that 'if greenhouse gases were capped and temperatures rose a couple of degrees less, then the extinction threat would be nearly halved.'
So what can be done? Saving the 3.5 billion year-old biodiversity that inhabits Earth is no easy task, and it could take many years. Larger animals are at higher risk- they populate less, and need larger grounds to live on.
Overall it seems that the sixth mass extinction is relatively low on politicians' list of changes to the country- but it shouldn't be. Follow this space for more.
(Below: A diagram of extinction risk in both land and in water, and the predicted causes of it.)