What we learned this week

News in from this morning is that the government have suspended fracking in England. This a major policy shift, influenced partly by safety, partly by economics, and with a decent slice of non-violent direct action in there too.

Policy shifts like this are heartening for those of us trying to stop airport growth. After hearing outright denial of climate change at the first consultation, this is how I dressed for the latest one.

As usual, the US military is ahead of the rest of the country in recognising the risk of climate breakdown. According to their latest research, the climate crisis could push the military into collapse within twenty years.

This looks worth doing – an experiment in lowering the voltage of the grid saved the average household £60 a year and lowered CO2 emissions without people even noticing. Few changes in the climate transition are so easy, so we should definitely pounce on those that are.

Have our economies done enough growing, asks Russell England at the Green Economy Coalition site, introducing his new book. (Yes, says mine)

The folks from Liftgrabber got in touch this week. They say: “To our knowledge LiftGrabber is the only family run car share site on the internet. Our intention as a very environmentally conscious family is to make the world a greener place for our children and grandchildren. The purpose of this site is to connect environmentally minded drivers with those looking for a lift. If you are a driver you can make your spare empty seats earn by listing your journey on our site. If you are a passenger you can search for suitable people to car share with, or request a trip.”



  1. I saw that article in the Guardian about reducing mains voltage, but the physics of what it says doesn’t make sense. The energy needed to boil a kettle of water depends on the volume of water and the starting temperature, not on the voltage applied. Using a lower voltage would mean it takes longer to use the same amount of electricity. In fact, it would use very slightly more because the kettle would be hot, and radiating heat from its surface, for that much longer. If there is any saving from reducing the voltage, it would not come from boiling kettles of water. I doubt if there would be any saving at all.

    1. Thanks. I took a look at that web site and downloaded a couple of the reports, but nowhere can I see any explanation of how reducing the voltage supplied to households saves on the energy used. There’s a lot of stuff there about other steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and quite a bit about transmission systems, but no indication of how energy is saved. Incidentally, losses from heating of transmission cables are lower if higher voltages are used, which is why the major long-distance transmission lines run at extremely high voltages.

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