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The Tyndall Centre: uniting specialism and expertise on climate change

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Blue & Green Tomorrow spoke with Asher Minns, communication and centre manager at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research – a partnership of eight UK universities that are sharing expertise to develop responses to climate change.

Climate change will impact all aspects of society, the economy and the environment. And whilst the headlines may be grabbed by the latter, it’s arguably in the first two areas where it represents the biggest dangers.

Recognising the overarching risk posed by global warming, scientists led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) formed the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in 2000.

Made up of eight UK universities, the project aims to “bring together all these different partners and universities to form one organisation that does interdisciplinary research into what to do about climate change”, says centre manager, Asher Minns.

The reason we do interdisciplinary research is because climate change isn’t just an environmental problem.

“It isn’t just an economic problem, it isn’t just an international development problem and it isn’t just an issue of social or physical engineering, so we bring together these different disciplines and expertise under one organisation to research what to do about climate change.”

Other members as well as UEA include Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton, Cambridge, Oxford, Cardiff and Sussex, with each bringing a ‘specialist subject’ of sorts to the research table. These include energy (Manchester), urban engineering (Newcastle), psychology (Cardiff) and sea level rise (Southampton).

Individual universities tend to have very good strengths”, explains Minns.

They’ll be very good in a particular field, and so what the Tyndall Centre is doing is mapping together the best universities so that we are doing research that isn’t just siloed out of one academic paper about one academic aspect.

There’s a much bigger picture from doing interdisciplinary, integrated research.”

With its comprehensive approach to climate change research, and the fact that it is tackling the issue from many angles, the Tyndall Centre has acquired a respected image within academic circles.

Named after 19th century Irish physicist, John Tyndall – who’s famous for his work around diamagnetism and thermal radiation – for the first 10 years of its existence, the centre received all its funding from the UK Research Councils, but is now backed partly by research grants, and partly by the universities themselves.

Its work around climate change is considered by some as contentious. Minns says he doesn’t believe there to be any doubt that the climate is changing, but instead, the debate has moved onto how much, how soon and what it means.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has over time gone from being quite a cautious organisation to being very strong and saying that climate change is happening and that it’s definitely got man’s footprint right in the middle of it”, he outlines.

You also have the fact that there is lots of policy moving in that direction, and though you can never say that one extreme weather is due to climate change, there is an increasing likelihood that there are particular weather patterns that are only explained if you factor manmade emissions into the calculations.

So, for example, the 2003 European heat wave can only be explained if you put manmade emissions into the model.”

Avid readers of Blue & Green Tomorrow will have seen the piece we published about climate sceptic Telegraph blogger James Delingpole’s callous remark about the wind farm industry, which escalated on Twitter into a debate about climate change.

I don’t think I have to tackle sceptics and deniers”, says Minns.

There has always been ‘flat-earthers’, and they’re driven by politics or ideology, and not by the science, the research or an accepted evidence base.

[With regards to Delingpole,] what are his qualifications? How much research has he done? How many universities has he worked with? How many climate change experts does he debate with? Who reviews his work? Who scrutinises his research? Or does he just upload his personal opinion onto blogs?

I don’t ignore sceptics, but I don’t take them very seriously.

There are all sorts of different opinions on all sorts of different things, and I think that’s absolutely fine. I don’t think everybody has to think the same thing all the time.”

Whilst the Tyndall Centre’s work ought to be praised, there needs to be strong governmental and policy support in order for it to be fully appreciated. Despite the fact that we’re yet to see any compelling evidence that the UK’s “greenest government ever” is in fact just that, Minns says that in the field of climate change research, the UK is one of the leaders.

The Tyndall Centre’s vision is simple: “To be an internationally recognised source of high quality and integrated climate change research, and to exert a seminal influence on the design and achievability of the long-term strategic objectives of national and international climate policy.”

The job it’s taken on isn’t an easy one. But through the continued cutting-edge research techniques displayed by the UK universities that make up the centre, it remains at the forefront of researching a societal, environmental and economic shift that is not only necessary, but essential for the long-term future of the planet.

Further reading:

The World of CO2: infographic analysis

The English literature graduate who pretends to do science

Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?

Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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Features

How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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