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Climate change aside, we’re harming our children with dirty energy

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Climate change deniers and sceptics expend an enormous amount of energy attempting to debunk the overwhelming science on climate change and its human causes. Would the unnecessary deaths caused by air pollution from burning fossil fuels be the key to changing their minds?

Burning fossil fuels creates outdoor air pollution. Outdoor air pollution leads to human illness and death. Children are particularly susceptible to the fine particulate matter of outdoor air pollution due to the immaturity of their respiratory system. Using clean energy doesn’t create pollution. Less pollution means fewer human illnesses and deaths.

The World Health Organisation states, “Industries, households, cars and trucks emit complex mixtures of air pollutants, many of which are harmful to health. Of all of these pollutants, fine particulate matter has the greatest effect on human health. Most fine particulate matter comes from fuel combustion, both from mobile sources such as vehicles and from stationary sources such as power plants, industry, households or biomass burning.

Fine particulate matter is associated with a broad spectrum of acute and chronic illness, such as lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease. Worldwide, it is estimated to cause about 9% of lung cancer deaths, 5% of cardiopulmonary deaths and about 1% of respiratory infection deaths.”

In May, the Supreme Court ruled that the UK was failing in its efforts to meet European air pollution limits, following the government’s admission that this was the case.

James Thornton, chief executive of environmental law firm ClientEarth, which brought up the case, said, “This landmark decision […] paves the way for the European commission to take legal action against the UK. The ruling marks a turning point in the fight for clean air and will pile the pressure on the environment secretary, Owen Paterson.

He must now come up with an ambitious plan to protect people from carcinogenic diesel fumes. Until now, his only policy has been lobbying in Europe to try and weaken air pollution laws.

It has been estimated that every year in the UK, air pollution causes 50,000 early deaths and is linked to heart and respiratory diseases including asthma. Here are some facts about asthma:

– 5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (one in 11) and 4.3 million adults (one in 12)

– There were 1,143 deaths from asthma in the UK in 2010 (16 of these were children aged 14 and under)

(Author’s note: I suffer from very mild asthma and have only ever had a few really bad attacks. There is nothing more terrifying than the panic of not being able to breathe. And I know what’s going on, so I cannot imagine the terror a child feels. It has been described as being buried alive.)

Dealing with the health fallout of air pollution costs the NHS £8.5-20 billion annually (although this is thought to be an underestimate) that could otherwise be spent on curing natural illnesses and disease.

We, as a society, are rightly outraged when a single child is harmed or murdered.

Yet we turn a blind eye to the harm we are doing to our own children through our choice of energy supply and hostility to the development of renewable energy capability in the UK. People would rather their child had asthma than have a wind farm spoil the countryside’s perceived aesthetics. Our passion for cars and road building continues unabated, despite the visible and invisible harm they present to our children.

If you don’t buy the argument on the many risks of human-caused climate change, the argument on pollution’s harm is settled. Children in the UK and across the globe probably have the evidence to bring a class action against the adult population for harming them in this way.

We’d love to hear from James Delingpole, Lord Lawson, George Osborne and Christopher Monckton (the four horsemen of the climate apocalypse), as well as Christopher Booker and Matt Ridley, about their views on air pollution, but we’re probably just tilting at windmills.

Further reading:

Government admits to breaching legal air quality limits

Government in court over air pollution ‘scandal’

The World of CO2: infographic analysis

Why our quality of life is sacrificed by the continued use of fossil fuels

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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