Don’t Blame the Cows for Global Warming

It is okay, you can start eating again!

Every week it seems that some self-appointed climate fascists are instructing us that we need to stop eating and drinking in order to “save the planet”. As Global Warming has evolved into Climate Change then Extinction Rebellion, ever-more shrill instructions about how we should live our lives are issued, with the threat of dire consequences should we fail to accede to their demands. Is it only me that observes the same tone of dire-threats and moral righteousness that were so prevalent in the CND anti-nuclear armageddon protesters of a generation ago – or indeed the religious zealots of the previous millennia? Their chant was “do as we say, or you’ll burn for an eternity”, which, come to think of it, is pretty much what the anti-western-economies lot are telling us about temperature change.

Beef cattle enjoy the sunshine

Anyway, back to the topic. For a number of years, agriculture has been blamed for a very substantial proportion of UK greenhouse gas emissions, with as much as 25% of the total quoted as being sourced from farming. These numbers are grabbed by vegan enthusiasts to shriek that we all need to stop eating meat or we’ll burn in hell for all eternity. Okay, so maybe I paraphrased them a little, but the point remains.

However, the science they are using is duff. According to Prof Myles Allen of Oxford University Environmental Change Institute, quoted in the Sustainable Food Trust, the picture is much more nuanced. Back in February, we mentioned that the finger points at the methane released by cows. In the approach used by the International Panel on Climate Change, methane is treated as equivalent to carbon dioxide in its greenhouseness (like my new word?) The true picture is that carbon dioxide is chemically stable and stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Meanwhile, methane breaks down rather quickly, and so has a much smaller impact on the atmosphere. The case against cows has been extensively overstated.

Barry Gardiner, not the voice of reason

At a conference organised by the Country Land and Business Association, Labour spokesman Barry Gardiner suggested that British farming should be part of the solution to global warming by producing less food and planting trees instead. To put it mildly, this approach doesn’t pass even the most cursory scrutiny. (Ha that originally I typed “What a moronic idea!” before professionalism got the better of me). Does Mr Gardiner think that the UK population will eat less? All that his madcap scheme would achieve is more food imports. So the food production leads to the same emissions, just somewhere else in the world. Then the food is transported to the UK, with all the emissions entailed. Mr Gardiner’s scheme actually would increase global emissions. We do like the idea of more tree planting, but to claim that replacing UK food production with forests would reduce emissions is just wrong.

Summary

Agriculture is not the huge emitter of greenhouse gases that the hysterical brigade would have you think. Carry on eating healthy nutritious meat and dairy products, comfortable in the knowledge that locally sourced food has low airmiles and supports high-quality, high-welfare British farming.

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Whaley Bridge Dam Lies, Statistics and Climate Change

The drama in Whaley Bridge over the weakened Toddbrook Reservoir Dam has captivated news audiences. One struggles to imagine how stressful it must be for owners and occupiers forced to leave their homes without notice.

Toddbrook Reservoir

However, this crisis is NOT the result of Global Warming/Climate Change/Extinction Rebellion or whatever it is called this week.

The High Peak area of Derbyshire had some quite heavy rain showers last week. But thunderstorms are no more proof of Climate Change than they are of the existence of fairies. The dam was not overwhelmed by a biblical downpour.

As an aside, if by biblical rainfall, are we talking about total flooding which requires an ark to be built? One can only think that comparing a bit of a summer cloudburst to the flooding of all the land in the world as perhaps over-exaggerating.

Anyway, back to the dam. What happened was that there was heavy rain, and the water rose enough to flood over the spillway, as it was intended to do according to the 1831 construction, and has done so many times before.

What was different was that the sealing of the concrete slabs on the spillway failed, allowing the water to run underneath the hard surface, and wash away material that formed part of the structure of the dam.

BAD MAINTENANCE!

The weakening of the dam was nothing to do with climate change, it was simply the result of bad maintenance of the spillway. One has to wonder why the BBC was so convinced in its news programmes that this POTENTIAL CATASTROPHE could be attributed to Climate Change?

Not once was it suggested that it is the Canal and River Trust – owners of the reservoir – who are responsible for lack of maintenance.

Unfortunately, by falsely linking every weather-related event to Climate Change, the BBC has become labelled as creating another Project Fear, this time about Climate Change. To us, it is impossible to access clear and unambiguous data about Climate Change. Also, there is so much variance in the weather that it takes decades to accurately assess changes to the average. However, we take the view that it would be prudent to address some of the worst potential triggers in human activity. But it would be wrong to reduce western civilisation to penury, just to fight what might still be a collective hysteria.

As we have written before, we are not fans of the BBC, and this event illustrates how they continue to twist their news reporting with political interpretation.

Summary

  1. The Whaley Bridge Dam Drama is not about Climate Change

  2. The damage to the reservoir was caused by bad maintenance by the Canal and River Trust

  3. The BBC and other media have let Climate Change hysteria politics affect their reporting

 

PS. Nice politics by Boris, visiting and looking concerned!

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Hidden (and Expensive) Danger for Commercial Property Investors

Most office buyers will be familiar with the MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards). These are a government initiative to improve – guess what – the energy efficiency of buildings, and apply to domestic and commercial property. In essence, they prohibit the new letting of offices and domestic property unless their EPC is at least at level E. Over the next few years, it will become illegal even to continue with an existing lease if the property is not up to scratch!

How Did We Get Here?

Shiny office buildings

Since the 1960’s, office ownership has been dominated by financial institutions, who then let them to the end users. Unfortunately, as user-demands and fashions have changed, this office stock has tended to become obsolete frighteningly quickly. For example, as the 1980’s and 1990’s introduced a PC or two at every desk, floors rose during each Christmas shutdown to fit in yet more cabling underneath. Then it was the craze for open-plan offices the size of many football pitches. Now, with more co-working and less formal structures, modern users want break-out spaces and relaxation areas.

But what has not changed is the desire for glass and steel sleek designs – which need lots and lots of air-conditioning. At first, air-con was just for the much-adulated mainframe computer room, but for the last 30 years, top end offices have required high-status, high energy-using heating, air management and heating systems.

The threat of Global Warming – Climate Change – Extinction Rebellion (or whatever it is called this week) is not going away. Even if one is not 100% convinced by the evermore hysterical science, why take the chance?

What Should We Do Now?

The financial institutions are notoriously conservative when it comes to investment decisions. So they continue to favour the sleek glass and steel office buildings. And, to be fair, so are domestic house buyers. Perhaps with some justification, buyers prefer tried and tested technology for both building fabric and heating systems. Why pay more for new approaches when they are unproven and may not work very well?

Open-plan offices

So there is a vicious circle. Buyers do not demand eco-friendly buildings, so developers do not build them, so end users are not even offered the choice.

There is a further challenge too – buildings often do not even perform to the low standards enshrined in building regulations. Reports into the domestic and commercial property new build markets concluded that many structures do not meet their designers’ expectations. The most prevalent problems were cold-bridging, gaps in the insulation and leaks in air-tightness. Sadly, this is a combination of poor design and poor standards on building sites.

There is a further issue. The new technology that reduces energy requirements, such as air-source heat pumps, automatic ventilation systems and solar thermal water systems are very often operated incorrectly by badly trained building maintenance staff.

Our Recommendations

  1. End users need to demand (and pay more rent for) green office buildings and eco-friendly houses. This will happen much more quickly with central advice and raised standards awareness. When this happens, financial institutions will push developers to meet that market gap, and house-buyers will encourage the house-builders to step up. Mark this page – it is one of those rare situations where we call for government intervention to encourage user demand.

  2. Existing buildings need to be up-graded. We already have the vast majority of buildings that will be around in 2050. Unless they are improved, it is hopeless trying to reduce emissions.

  3. Handover certificates for completed buildings need to confirm that energy standards have been met in the flesh rather than just in the design. Promising much than they deliver sounds like the construction industry’s very own “dieselgate”

  4. Building owners need to ensure that operating staff have the training to understand the systems they operate.
  5. Commercial and residential landlords need to prepare themselves for the present and soon to strengthen MEES regulations.

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