The UK has had the wettest winter on record, with 486.8mm of rain falling, the Met Office has announced. The downpour has beaten the previous record set in 1995, it said.
Do you believe in climate change? Well, then you are apparently a “global warming Nazi” according to one vocal denier. The Huffington Post reports that “Scientist” Roy Spencer, who is a professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, has said people who use the term “climate deniers” will “kill far more people than the Nazis ever did.” Climate activists are, in his words, “anti-capitalist fascists” adding ‘I didn’t start the name-calling.”
US researchers have achieved a world first in an ambitious experiment that aims to recreate the conditions at the heart of the sun and pave the way for nuclear fusion reactors. The scientists generated more energy from fusion reactions than they put into the nuclear fuel, in a small but crucial step along the road to harnessing fusion power. The ultimate goal – to produce more energy than the whole experiment consumes – remains a long way off, but the feat has nonetheless raised hopes that after decades of setbacks, firm progress is finally being made. Fusion energy has the potential to become a radical alternative power source, with zero carbon emissions during operation and minimal waste, but the technical difficulties in demonstrating fusion in the lab have so far proved overwhelming. While existing nuclear reactors generate energy by splitting atoms into lighter particles, fusion reactors combine light atomic nuclei into heavier particles.
Energy harnessing carpets, mobile devices that can be charged on the move and wearable energy harvesting structures could soon be a reality, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Bolton are pioneering developments into 3D textile structures using piezoelectric energy harvesting fibres. These fibres can generate electricity by harnessing the energy created by an impact or movement, for example a footstep on a carpet, then converting that mechanical energy into electrical power.
And Laurence Kemball-Cook, the 28-year old green energy whiz is the Huffington Post’s young entrepreneur of the week. While at university, Kemball-Cook crafted special floor tiles which converted the kinetic energy from footsteps into electricity that could be stored or reused. The young entrepreneur’s business, Pavegen, began to grow as his invention has been used at events, such as last year’s Paris Marathon and at the West Ham tube stop, powering lights on the way to the Olympic Stadium.
Plastic packaging made from the fermented wastewater of processed juice could save industry millions in production costs and tap into growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products. Under the EU-funded PHBOTTLE project, researchers are developing a way of adding value to industrial residues and then developing these into a new biodegradable material. Project coordinator Ana Valera said: “The main tangible result of the project will be a new bottle made of biodegradable material, which will be obtained through the fermentation of wastewater”.
And finally on new products – Xeros – a spin out from the University of Leeds – has produced a new washing machine designed by Professor Stephen Burkinshaw that dramatically reduces the amount of water needed for washing clothes by using polymer beads to clean clothes . The beads remove the dirt from soiled clothes, and last for up to 500 loads of laundry. The venture already makes commercial machines, and is raising £40 million to enter into producing machines for the domestic market not a bad idea as our water resources become ever more scarce.
Edie.net reports that almost half (48%) of the British public would describe themselves as energy conscious at home, whereas only 20% would say the same about their behaviour in the workplace, according to new research. The results of a survey, by OnePoll and electrical supplies distributor Rexel, reveals that this apparent “split personality” around energy usage is highlighted by the differences in their concern for energy wastage. More than 70% claim that they are concerned about wasting energy at home, whilst only 43% worry about wastage at work.
Indonesia has declared its waters a sanctuary for manta rays. The country believes that a ban on fishing the creature in territorial waters will drive a lucrative market in tourism with snorkellers and divers in areas such as Bali.
One in five energy consuming products across Europe do not match their energy efficiency claims, according to new research. The EU-funded study has found that consumers are being misled by 20% of energy-using products that are claiming to be more energy efficient than they actually are. Estimates show that around 10% of potential energy savings are being lost by millions of products across Europe, including ovens, fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, televisions and computers.
UK policymakers are being called on to give greater consideration to the electricity sector’s ‘water footprint’, as water shortages are likely to impact energy generation in the future. Researchers at Newcastle University have said that greater consideration of water usage in the sector will help minimise the risk of power stations having to reduce production or, in extreme scenarios, shut down altogether if water shortages mean they cannot remain operational.
Arnold Schwarzenneger has called on conservative politicians to reclain the green agenda from left wing politicians. Arnie is amongst a coalition pf centre right figures which include inventor Sir James Dyson, UK Education Secretary Michel Gove, former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg (now a UN special envoy on cities and climate change) and and the former boss of M&S Stuart Rose who say that the right wing needs to take action to tackle the “great environmental crisis”
We read a very interesting article in The Atlantic about the history of orange juice and its rise in popularity over the past century – but Orange juice deserve the reputation it enjoys as a healthy drink? Should it be part of the ‘balanced breakfast’ that we’ve been taught to recognize? probably not! Far from being fresh, the so-called “freshly squeezed, not-from-concentrate, homestyle” orange juice that consumers buy in cartons or Tetra-Paks is often more than a year old – and contains as much sugar as a can of soda, which is the last thing children struggling with obesity or diabetes need in their diets – The only way orange juice can taste the way it does is thanks to added “flavor packs” AND the packaging in waxed cartons is damn hard to recycle. There’s no reason why people can’t stick with water for hydration and – enjoy a freshly peeled orange for flavour and a dose of real vitamin C
Congratulations to our friends at the Cambridge Folk Festival for picking up the “Good Tradition Award” at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Other winners included: Folk Singer Of The Year: Bella Hardy; Best Duo: Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin; Best Group: The Full English; Musician Of The Year: Aidan O’Rourke; BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award: The Mischa Macpherson Trio.