Taking Our Responsibilities Seriously
We are told by the media, backed by a consensus of experts, that climate change is happening and is increasing the number of extreme weather events. This is leading to all sorts of negative outcomes that the human species will have to adapt to in order to continue on its merry way, such as massive Australian wildfires.
Whether or not you believe that global warming is caused by human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, the evidence of the warming is there to be seen and felt.
But consider that the industrial revolution started around 200 years ago. In that time:
- World population has grown from around 1 billion to 7.5 billion – still growing, and all aspiring to a wasteful western lifestyle!
- For at least 10,000 years until the start of industrialisation, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hovered around 280 parts per million (ppm). Since then it has risen to around 415ppm – and still rising. That 50% rise has to have an effect.
- In records going back to 1884, the UK’s 10 hottest years have all been since 2002.
- None of the UK’s 10 coldest years have occurred since 1963.
So there is an argument that the Trust needs to take its environmental responsibilities seriously, and help to restrict the damaging effect of its activities.
Carbon Dioxide vehicle emissions
We estimate that in 2018/19 and again in 2019/20 we directly used around 14 tonnes of diesel fuel, creating an estimated 40 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This takes into account the effect of other exhaust gases as well as CO2.
Volunteers using cars for Trust business will have travelled in excess of 6,000 miles, using 0.7 tonnes of fuel, generating a further 2 tonnes of CO2e.
It would be better for the climate if this fuel had stayed in the ground. But having used it, how do we offset these emissions?
One way to help is planting trees to soak up the carbon. This is far from an instant fix, but has the added benefit of encouraging diversity of animals and other plants. This year we have worked with Maryport-based community interest company Buy Land Plant Trees which has a plot of land near Bassenthwaite for tree planting for carbon capture and encouraging natural rewilding.
It seems to be an inexact science as there are lots of variables but it appears that a typical tree absorbs around 0.025 tonnes of CO2e a year.
So if, for instance, we want to write off over 5 years the 40 tonnes of CO2e created by WTHT’s activities in a year, that would mean planting 320 trees.
As a result we have donated £400 to BLPT to plant suitable tree saplings. After that they will continue until fully grown to take CO2 out of the atmosphere to help offset the effects of global heating as well as improving biodiversity and alleviating flooding. This year’s trees are due to be planted in autumn 2020.
Workington Bridge was weakened by the floods of 2009; were these more likely because of the effects of climate change?