2014/02/06

Reducing emissions - it starts at home.

I getting rather tired of well-meaning agencies and individuals calling for us to protest at big oil drilling more wells, big coal ripping our more coal, more nuclear plants being built (insane anyway you look at it) and new power stations being built.  Their ostensible objective is (I assume) to see global emissions of greenhouse gasses decline, to avoid catastrophic changes to our climate and the biosphere.  (Or is it their objective just to stick their heads in the Bear's mouth, and then complain bitterly about the resulting bad smell - the smell in Mr Putin's prisons?)

This is an attempt to put all the blame for our emissions onto the providers of the energy.  Its the same as putting the blame for problem drinking onto the bottle stores.

Folks, the problem is not with the pushers of this deadly CO2 drug, its with the users, us.  We have to kill the market for greenhouse gas emitting products and systems by reducing the demand, not by trying to attack the supply side.

Every man and woman on the planet Earth has to reduce their emissions to a level that will give Mother Earth the ability to return the concentration of greenhouse gasses to pre-industrial levels;  to around 250 ppm.

How much can we emit?

http://www.manicore.com/anglais/documentation_a/greenhouse/quota_GHG.html

The answer is 1700 kg of CO2 per person per year  (1.7 tonnes of CO2 per person per year.).  This equates to 141.7 kg CO2 per person per month.

How do you calculate your CO2 emissions?

Your own version of the following sum will give you an idea.

(Litres of petrol x 2.39) + (Litres of Diesel x 2.64) + (Kilowatt-hours of electricity x 0.7) = kg CO2.

Note that the factor of 0.7 kgCO2 per kWh for electricity use is based on New Zealand's comparatively low-carbon electricity (64% hydro, wind and geothermal), so you may need to find the correct factor for you own electricity provider.

I calculate the emissions for our three-person household.  Over the last three months our emissions averaged 204 kg per person per month (53% from electricity use the remainder from diesel).  This is 144% of our allowed 141.7 kg emission target so we have to cut back some more- but we are doing much better than we were a year ago.  So we have just moved to a different dwelling right in the middle of town to cut our emissions back some more by living in a smaller and more energy efficient place, and reducing the need to drive the car or use the bus to get to shops, entertainment and university, and to business appointments.

So when we have our emissions down close to 1.7 tonnes per person per year we will then (and not until then) start to suggest that others do the same.

Let me know how you get on.

V32079

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you in principal but that argument would no doubt be made by some (perhaps not in these words) that they would cut back if everyone else did but because they aren't (probably) then that puts me at a disadvantage vs those that get to use as much energy as they desire / can afford.
    Why should I sacrifice and ride a bike when this will simply allow someone else to drive more (using the fuel I am not).

    While I applaud your efforts to move towards low impact, how do you deal with emissions not associated directly with individual energy use. Such as emissions generated to produce your food, provide your communications infrastructure etc?

    It is possible, if demand contracted enough, that the whole fossil fuel economy would collapse. To take it to an absurd extreme to illustrate the point, imagine if only one person wanted to drive a car. They would have to support the cost of the entire enterprise associated with making that possible.

    Personally, I have made a massive reduction in what I consume at almost every level. We moved to a small block of land with existing buildings. Insulated, installed solar hot water, produce 70-90% of our own food (seasonal) and drive to the small town 20 minutes away perhaps once a fortnight.

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  2. Well done Blockhill! Our small block of land is underdevelopment - planted shelter trees and fruit trees this summer with more to come. Insulation and wrapping of the 1920's dwelling is 75% complete. Solar cookers are in the shed. Nearest decent town is 30 minutes away with a dairy 15 mins. A bus to town every two weeks, weather permitting. Moving there this year to live until... So we're on the same page!

    Re '... they would cut back if everyone else did ...' Of course that thinking is what has got us here, together with being victims of a good dose of capitalist persuasion that buying new throwaway goods is the thing to do.

    Unfortunately it appears that a big chunk of the world's population is hell-bent on following the Great American Dream at all costs, and its going to be very difficult to get the genie back in the bottle in time. Hence (as you will see from my earlier posts) my primary focus is on building our lifeboat - any example to others that may arise from that are secondary to saving our skins.

    Keep up the great work, and good luck!

    N

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