As an antidote to my, perhaps rather downbeat, posting yesterday, I thought I would write a more optimistic upbeat post today. It is about setting “Green” resolutions for the New Year (New Decade, even!) – so you can add one or more of these resolutions to your own list of how you will seek to be better in 2020 and going forward.
2020 – even the number of the year invites clarity and visual resolutions!
Resolution #1 Seeking Clarity on the status of our websites
This was prompted by a thread on FaceBook earlier on the new Environmental Smart web group – https://www.environmental-smart.co.uk/ – which was talking about the massive use of fossil fuels to run the internet and the fact that we can choose to ensure we are using internet hosts which are consciously as green as possible. The article pointed out that the Internet as a whole was one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide – and if it were a “country” it would not be far behind China and India as a greenhouse gas emitter.
If you want to check on a website YOU have an interest in, you can go to the https://www.thegreenwebfoundation.org/green-web-check/ , put the URL of your chosen site in the check box and find out. So I did exactly that for my blog post host WordPress and, sadly it turns out that it is a “Grey” site.
Equally sadly, the hosts for the Green Liberal Democrats site, in which I have an interest of course, as well as the Liberal Democrat main site and the company that manages these sites, Prater Raines all turn out to be “Grey” sites.
So, it looks as though we have some work to do on the GLD Exec committee next time we meet! GLD`s Green New Decade Resolution is sorted!
If you want to pursue this action further, the Green Web Foundation provides a list of 25 hosting organisations in the UK who can prove they are reliant on renewable energy for their site support. Here`s the list….
Green Hosting (Partner)
Wholegrain Digital (Certified Gold Partner); 34SP.com; Athaneum; Core IX; Dsgnone
Easynet; erjjio studios; Fasthosts; GreenNet; GreneIT
GURU Cloud Hosting; HostPapa UK; Krystal Hosting; Kualo; Lightbeing Creations
Memset Hosting; Netcetera; NetWeaver; Nimbus Hosting Ltd.; Rackspace UK
Solar Web Host; The Positive Internet Company Ltd.; Uni Link Solution; VI
Resolution #2 – Plant more trees
This was a major feature in the manifestoes of the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Labour Party – but the Tory target was much lower, so I think we need to add our own efforts into the mix as a Green New Decade resolution.
The Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ – during 2019 had a major campaign aimed at schools and communities in November 2019 with a view to planting around 700,000 trees. Mostly they were “whips” – i.e. a short stick with a root on! – so if you are patient, these are the easiest to deal with, but it is likely that a fair proportion of these will not survive unless they are watered during their first year in the ground, especially if there is an extended dry period in the weather. Certainly, their chances of survival are probably higher where there is a good community motivation to look after them well.
If you have a garden of your own, even if it is only a modest size you can order and “Bee-friendly pack” of four small trees from the Woodland Trust for just £12.95. Alternatively, if you have a bit more room and can envisage a small copse in your garden or community area you can get a selection of 30 trees for just under £50.
I consider myself to have been fortunate enough to be able to buy a couple of fields around 12 years ago, which were sheep pasture at the time, but which are beginning to look like woodland these days. The very first silver birch trees we planted are now towering above me at 25-30 feet when I wander around my haven. Even the slower growing oak trees which had been lovingly cared for in plantpots for a few years, before acquiring the fields, are now resplendent at fifteen to twenty feet.
And, this last couple of years in particular the huge ash trees along the field edges, which must be over 100 years old, are now finding spaces to spread their genes. I have not been able to count the number of ash seedlings that are coming into their own, but I have been moving quite a few of them to “better” positions for my own aesthetic preference! Fortunately, our ash trees seem to have so far avoided the ash “die-back” problems around the country.
My Green Resolution for 2020 certainly includes another large batch of new trees for my woodland area. And please get in touch with me if you don`t have room for your own trees – I would love to plant some on your behalf.
Resolution #3 – Change your electricity supplier to a Renewable Energy Company
I changed my supplier only fairly recently, from SSE – which promised a proportion of renewable energy in its mix, but which was also responsible (and still is) for paying me the Feed-in Tariff for my rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable energy.
I changed to https://bulb.co.uk/ and have, so far at least, been very happy with their management of my account and the costs associated therewith, representing a considerable saving on my previous costs. If you would like to change and quote this link, www.bulb.me/keithm4966 we`ll both benefit by £50.
There are, of course, a number of other companies out there that sell “only” renewable energy, although the last couple of years have been somewhat unkind to a number of smaller companies which have collapsed. Apparently, something like 28 companies have disappeared from the market since January 2018. Ofgem does provide protection for consumers unlucky enough to have chosen a supplier that goes under – see here – https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/
Resolution #4 – Continue to reduce meat eating
I am by no means a vegan, nor, indeed, a vegetarian, but I have cut back considerably over the last few years on the total amount of meat consumed and propose to continue to try and do so to a greater extent. There is a distinct tension between the greenhouse gas contribution of animal husbandry and the need to maintain soil quality (and quantity) over the long term. Equally there is a tension between agricultural and other possible land-use and land-management scenarios, not least with regard to hilly areas and the potential food-production capacity of different quality of land.
Climate Change pressures certainly require lower quantities of meat-eating, but this is a difficult area for small-l “liberals” who prefer individuals to have the greatest latitude to make up their own minds about as much of their lives as possible. There now seems to be strong pressure for the need to legislate some form of “encouragement” to behave in a more responsible way as far as food is concerned. If this does not happen in a reasoned and politically acceptable way in the short term it seems almost inevitable that there will be strong pressures for a much more centrally controlled set of changes in the medium or longer term as the climate change pressures grow.
The recent political experiences in the UK, as well as in the USA and Brazil and, indeed, some other European countries towards a more “conservative” set of cultural norms does not augur particularly well for the success of voluntary change going in the right direction.
“Militant” vegans will tell you that the only answer is to go vegan, but, as well as requiring dietary supplements to avoid long-term health problems of purely vegan diets, there are often hidden environmental downsides to replacement products. So, milk-production using dairy cows certainly has climate change consequences, but soya milk sourced from soya grown on farms created by clearing Amazon rainforest, or almond milk, which requires large inputs of sometimes scarce water supplies also creates environmental problems.
Clearly it is one of the areas where the idea of a New Year resolution has an impacts shown by the graph shown in a BBC article earlier this year. The figures were sourced from Google Trends. All we can do is to try and minimise our Climate Change footprint in ways we know we can sustain in behavioural terms as individuals.
Good luck with setting your Green New Decade Resolutions and let me wish you all my personal greeting for a greener 2020. Happy New Year