Carbon Conversations and Carbon Counting

In this post I am going to offers some personal thoughts on my experience in the Carbon Conversations initiative.

 

The Carbon Conversations initiative

The Carbon Conversations initiative has been running since 2006. It was founded by Rosemary Randall, a psychotherapist, and Andy Brown an engineer. They created and developed a psycho-social project that ‘addresses the practicalities of carbon reduction while taking account of the complex emotions and social pressures that make this difficult’.

The initiative has run courses in the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, France, Finland and Spain (and maybe others), and I recently participated in six meetings over several months in one of these courses in the Netherlands.

As course members we all had a book, a translation of the English version but with locally specific information.  A free download of the English version is available here, and it is well worth a look. The book opens with an overview of the current climate situation, the need for change and raises the question of what these propositions mean for the individual reader.

This question is central to the course, and how to deal with the situation as an individual permeates all of the content. The psychology element is easy to see, as the focus is not only on how carbon emissions can be lowered, but also the problems of discussing the subject with your family and how your own emission level makes you feel.

The book addresses these issues by looking at several fields within which an individual can make a difference in their carbon output. The house, travel, food and drink and consumption habits, before the final chapter addresses the problem of talking about the climate with friends and family.

Everyday Life

There is a lot of information on offer regarding the carbon content of various choices that we make every day related to lifestyle. Beyond thinking just about flying and driving, breakdowns are visible of how much carbon is produced in food production, whitegoods and just in maintaining a house, not to mention clothes production and technology use. Blogging is not carbon neutral. Data storage is anything but eco-friendly. Neither is mobile phone use, and this is without thinking about the production of the hardware.

The course involves a lot of game playing, guessing and ordering, which was fun to do. Placing transport possibilities into order of high to low emissions, which imported foods produce the least, and many others, all leads to discussion as well as learning.

From a personal perspective however I feel that the course aim is difficult to understand. During the course various small changes came to light that have some effect on the individual, and could lead to slightly less carbon emission on a personal level, and the final chapter aims to lead the participant into discussion with others over these possible choices, but we are speaking about (and to) the converted here. The change that I can make, as someone who thinks about environmental problems enough to pay for and attend a course is minimal. My actions are not going to change the world.

I ask myself too: If I engage with my friends and colleagues will that change the world?

Difficult Personal Choices

Maybe the course is better seen as a kind of self-help group. We all face the issue of having to travel for work, respect the needs of our children and know that this has an effect on the climate, and to discuss this is without doubt of value. Those who think about the damage they cause themselves to the environment have few outlets to discuss these feelings.

Refusing to buy a mobile phone or computer for your teenage children because of environmental concerns has an effect on their lives, how their friends see them as much as anything else. But buying one might have an effect on the buyer too!

I also question some of the data and rationale in the book. The idea proposed that changing white goods for low consumption versions is seen as an improvement policy, but what happens to the old ones? Where does the waste go? What about the techniques required for building the new machines, mining, steel recycling etc.

What example does this consumerism offer to your children? Surely it would be better to invest in a solar panel system and produce enough electricity to run older appliances. This appears to be the result of focussing on carbon while excluding other environment issues and moral perspectives.

But all of the above demonstrates that the course is valid and useful as a discussion forum, and inevitably, talking about climate change does bring behaviour change.

Electric Cars made from Vegetables and Waste Materials

foto: Bart van Overbeeke

This week I would like to follow in Christopher’s skorchmarks with an article about electric cars.

Students at Eindhoven University of Technology have unveiled a car built almost entirely from waste materials, including lots of plastic that was reclaimed from the sea. See it in the photo above.

They call the car LUCA, and she has some impressive stats:

TOP TRUMPS

Name: LUCA

Top Speed: 90 km/h

Action Radius: 220 km

Weight: 360 kg without batteries

Battery weight: 60 kg

Consumption conversion: 180 km per litre.

It’s a two seater sports car.

The chassis is made from a mixture of flax and plastic recouped from the sea with the core constructed from recycled PET, the body is made of recycled ABS, a hard plastic used in many consumer products such as toys, televisions and kitchen products, and covered in a wrap rather than being painted.

The seats are made from recycled materials, as are the side and rear windows and the console.

The idea behind the car’s production is to demonstrate possible other uses for waste, but the team that produced LUCA have long been busy producing other interesting cars.

The University runs TU Ecomotive, 22 students from 7 different courses, whose aim is to make mobility greener in every way possible. LUCA is car number 6!

Each car boasts its own incredible stats and features, based upon its production goal.

TOP TRUMPS

Name: ISA

Action Radius: 90 km

Battery weight: 12 kg

Consumption conversion: 400 km per litre

ISA is legal to drive ion the road and is therefore the most efficient car in Europe.

NOAH is a city car made predominantly from sugar and flax, is for the modern you, and is equipped with several smart features focused on the driver. Noah can be unlocked with any smart device with an NFC chip, immediately recognizes who you are and adjusts all the interior settings to your preference, loads your contact list and finds your destination from your phone to enable the GPS and get you to your appointment on time.

TOP TRUMPS

Name: NOAH

Top speed: 110 km/h

Action Radius: 240 km

Weight: 360 kg

Consumption Conversion: 300 km per litre

Smesh Gearing and lots of interactive technology

Name: NOVA is a modular car whose body shape can be changed to suit its purpose.

Name: LINA is biobased, with the chassis and bodywork built from vegetable flax. She has 100 km range and is also certified for European roads.

All of the cars are electric, and you can download press packs and further details from the website here.

Could this be the future of mobility? A circular industry?

Ecosia 🌍

What is Ecosia?

Simply put, Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees with its profits.

💻📱 👉 💷💲 👉 🌱🌳

Which Search Engine Does Ecosia Use?

Ecosia is an organisation and search engine in its own right, but its results are powered by Microsoft Bing. Bing itself is carbon neutral and the whole of Microsoft are looking to go green by committing to be carbon negative by 2030.

How Green is Ecosia?

Ecosia recognise the impact the internet has on the environment of our planet. Ecosia runs on renewable energy, meaning your searches aren’t negatively impacting the planet.

“If the internet were a country it would rank #3 in the world in terms of electricity consumption” – Ecosia, 2018

In fact, searching with Ecosia is actually positively impacting the planet, with each search removing CO2 from the atmosphere. How? Because they plant trees with their profits.

As mentioned above, Bing (which powers Ecosia) is carbon neutral, so searching using Ecosia is a win-win from the perspective of your carbon footprint 👣

How Does Ecosia Make Money?

Like Google, Ecosia don’t make money from search results, they make their revenue from the ads that sit alongside the results.

Every time you click on an advert on Ecosia, you contribute to their revenue, which ultimately leads to trees being planted somewhere around the world

Ecosia tree tracker

They have a helpful counter on their search results to show you how many trees you’ve personally contributed towards.

So far they have planted over 100 million trees worldwide, supporting projects in 15 countries.

Why am I Promoting Ecosia?

The reason I wrote this article is because I think Ecosia awesome. They’re an organisation trying really hard to do the right thing and they’re clearly having an impact.

Congrats Ecosia on your success and thank you for what you’re doing for the world 🙏🎉🎊

Ecosia.org 🌍 give it a go 😊