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In the Amazon, forest degradation is outpacing full deforestation

CIFOR / flickr, CC BY-NC Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased abruptly in the past two years, after having been on a downward trajectory for more than a decade. With the country’s president Jair Bolsonaro notoriously enthusiastic about expanding into the rainforest, new deforestation data regularly makes global headlines. But what fewer people realise is that even forests that have not been cleared, or fully “deforested”, are rarely untouched. Indeed, just 20% of the world’s tropical forests are classified as intact. The rest have been impacted by logging, mining, fires, or by the expansion of roads or other human activities. And all this can happen undetected by the satellites that monitor deforestation.These forests are known as “degraded”, and they make up an increasingly large fraction of the world’s remaining forest landscapes. Degradation is a major environmental and societal challenge. Disturbances associated with logging, fire and habitat fragmentation are a sign…
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Capturing the value of community energy

Energise Sussex Coast and South East London Community Energy are set to benefit from a new business collaboration led by Colin Nolden and supported by PhD students Peter Thomas and Daniela Rossade. This is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council with match funding provided by Community Energy South from SGN. In total, £80,000 has been made available from the Economic and Social Research Council Impact Accelerator Account to launch six new Accelerating Business Collaborations involving the Universities of Bath, Exeter and Bristol. This funding aims to increase capacity and capability of early career researchers and PhD students to collaborate with the private sector. Match funding from SGN (formerly Scotia Gas Network) provided by Community Energy South for this particular project will free up time and allow Energise Sussex Coast and South East London Community Energy to provide the necessary company data and co-develop appropriate data analysis and management methodologies.…

IncrEdible! How to save money and reduce waste

The new academic year is a chance to get to grips with managing your student loan and kitchen cupboards. Over lockdown the UK wasted a third less food than we usually would. This is brilliant, as normally over 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is wasted from UK homes every year. For students, it’s even higher. The average cost of food waste per student per week is approximately £5.25 - that's about £273 per year!  It’s not just our bank accounts that are affected by food waste – it’s our planet too.The process of growing, making, distributing, storing and cooking our food uses masses of energy, fuel and water. It generates 30% of the world’s CO₂ greenhouse gas emissions. The same amount of CO₂ as 4.6 million return flights from London to Perth, Australia! So it makes sense to keep as much food out of the bin as possible, start wasting less and saving more. Start the new term with some food waste busting, budget cutting, environment loving habits! Here’s five easy ways to reduce fo…

Learning lessons from the past to inform the future

A fairly recent blog post on the EGU blog site reiterated the compelling comparison between the current COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing climate emergency, focusing on extreme events such as hurricanes, heatwaves and severe rainfall-related flooding, all of which are likely to get worse as the climate warms (Langendijk & Osman 2020).  This comparison has been made by us Climate Scientists since the COVID-19 crisis began; both the virus and the disastrous impacts of anthropogenic climate change were (and indeed are) predictable but little was done in the ways of preparedness, both were (and are still being) underestimated by those in power despite warnings from science, and both are global in extent and therefore require united action.  Another comparison is that both are being intensively, and urgently, researched across the world by many centres of excellence.  We don’t have all the answers yet for either, but progress is being made on both.When it comes to understanding our clima…

Coronavirus: have we already missed the opportunity to build a better world?

Chad Madden/Unsplash, FALMany people like to say that the coronavirus is teaching us a lesson, as if the pandemic were a kind of morality play that should lead to a change in our behaviour. It shows us that we can make big shifts quickly if we want to. That we can build back better. That social inequality is starkly revealed at times of crisis. That there is a “magic money tree”. The idea that crisis leads to change was also common during the financial crunch over a decade ago, but that didn’t produce any lasting transformations. So will post-COVID life be any different?At the start of lockdown, in the middle of the anxiety and confusion, I started to notice that I was enjoying myself. I was cooking and gardening more; the air was cleaner, my city was quieter and I was spending more time with my partner. Lots of people started to write about the idea that there should be #NoGoingBack. It seemed that we had taken a deep collective breath, and then started to think about coronavirus as …

For humanity to thrive, we need engineers who can lead with a conscience

Dr Hadi Abulrub argues the key to facing environmental challenges lies in intelligent manufacturing, smart infrastructure, sustainable energy and engineering modelling.Creativity and innovation have been the drivers of social, economic and cultural progress for millennia. The Industrial Revolution accelerated our capacities and there has been exponential growth ever since – in the products and services we use to enhance our lives as much as the number of people across the world for whom these tools have become indispensable.But have the costs been worth it?Judging by the state of the world, the answer is no. We live in turbulent times, resulting in large part from our over-reliance on the Earth’s resources. And the stakes are high, especially in the context of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a mere ten years remain to meet the ambitious task of setting the world on a more viable path for the sake of our collective prosperity.How can we fu…

Energy use and demand in a (post) COVID-19 world

Keeping tabs on energy use is crucial for any individual, organisation or energy network. Energy usage affects our bills, what we choose to power (or not) and how we think about saving energy for a more sustainable future for our planet. We no longer want to rely on polluting fossil fuels for energy, we need cleaner and more sustainable solutions, and both technologies and behaviours need to be in the mix.  
It seems the COVID-19 crisis may be a good time to evaluate our energy usage, especially since we assume that we are using less energy because we’re not all doing/consuming as much. We brought together a bunch of our researchers from different disciplines across the University of Bristol to have a group think about how we might change our energy usage and demand during and post COVID-19. Here’s a summary of what was discussed.  Has COVID-19 reduced our energy supply and demand? You may have noticed in the previous paragraph that I mentioned that we assume that we are using less ener…