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Our House is Burning

Don’t worry, I’m not sat here whilst everything around me burns…or am I? French President Macron is clearly concerned about the state of destruction in the Amazon rainforest, Greta Thunberg can simply not be silenced and has added music to her already powerful words. A football pitch a minute – that’s how much rainforest is disappearing. An entire football pitch, 5,000m2, a minute. Gone. And not just ‘well it’ll grow back’ – this isn’t a natural forest fire whereby regeneration occurs, this is nature being slaughtered, wiped out, made extinct, paved over. Dead.


The old, tired, cliché of ‘how does it affect me?’ comes to the fore again with the Amazon – it’s a long way away, an ocean apart, a different continent, in a different hemisphere. Yet the Earth is made up of a series of delicate systems interacting with each other; we don’t fully understand how some of these interactions occur, but what is clear is that there is always a knock-on effect. Consider our place as an island in the North Atlantic, how far north we are. We’re not exactly tropical (though recent records suggest we’re heading that way), but we should in theory be far cooler than we are. It is the Gulf Stream, warm air originating from the Gulf of Mexico, that raises our temperature (as well as providing us with our famous rain!). Just because something is so far way does not mean it is not significant.


Consider the recent weather – to say it’s been a mixed bag is an understatement. Our weather is often changeable, but 15°C temperature swings day to day is a bit extreme; for most it is irritating, the extreme heat at the back end of July followed by autumnal August is small talk, perfect for our obsession with the weather, but for many it causes ill health, for others general lethargy, calls for amended working hours ramp up before disappearing as quickly as the temperature drops.


On a more serious note though is the scale and frequency of flooding; hundred-year events occurring every 10 years or fewer, whole towns having to be evacuated over fears an ancient dam will burst and storms causing flash floods (including yours truly in Nottingham; I was actually sat with a cuppa watching the storm until I heard a cry from outside, “I’ve lost my shoe!”, I opened the door to see a lady running/wading back down stream as the shoe rapidly made its way along the former road to the Trent).


Image courtesy of skymetweather.com

The storms have also caused a major power cut that led to over a million people without power, apparently, though this is still up for some debate as BEIS and Ofgem showed their teeth that such issues can not occur again, particularly if we’re going down the route of pure electrification, for which we’ll need a far more stable and reliable grid than we’ve got at present. At least the grid is getting greener though.


So, back to the point, the Amazon. Are individual flood events a direct result of burning trees on the other side of the planet? Short answer, no. But burning huge swathes of carbon sinks not only emits carbon in the first place, but removes the carbon sink for the future, meaning there’s more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Increases in carbon dioxide contribute to the greenhouse effect, resulting in global warming. That’s a short description of a huge problem; Brazil’s leader is ignoring it and deflecting the criticism, but how much longer can he ignore the planet and the millions of voices against him?


This is not just Brazil’s problem, it’s the Earth’s. It affects everything and everyone. The rainforest is being ripped down for plantations, crops and resources we consume, at a devastating rate. Reduce our consumption of products such as palm oil, reduce the need for such plantations, reduce the rate of deforestation, save the planet. We can all be heroes with the tiniest of actions.


kW Energy Consultants work with businesses to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions within their buildings and deliver building energy compliance – Display Energy Certificates, Energy Performance Certificates, Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme, bespoke energy audits & reports. To find out more visit www.kwenergyconsultants.com

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