Author Archives: milbornecan

October 2023 – The Science is clear. No New Oil & Gas

The Science is Clear: No New Oil & Gas

The climate crisis is here, and its deadly impacts will escalate rapidly. The summer was packed with weather anomalies, but some were so abnormal they sent a wave of consternation through the scientific community. Unsurprisingly, 82% of UK adults are now concerned about climate change and there is majority support across all voting groups for the UK to reduce its emissions to Net Zero by 2050. Two thirds of voters polled said they’d be proud to support a party which was in favour of generating more electricity from renewables such as solar and wind.

Yet our government has recently granted 100 new licenses for oil and gas in the North Sea; the (false) arguments in favour of doing so are rife with misinformation, as follows.

Oil companies aid the transition to cleaner energy XOnly ~ 1% of major fossil fuel companies’ spending goes towards low carbon energy
New oil and gas will create good jobs XJobs in North Sea oil and gas are already at risk due to dwindling supplies
Carbon capture technology means we can keep burning fossil fuels XEmissions from new fossil fuels dwarf those proposed to be captured by technologies unproven to work at scale
No new oil would increase bills XRenewables now offer significantly better value and stability than fossil fuels
New oil provides energy independence XUK licences do not guarantee UK supply (most gets exported)
Decarbonising our energy supply will cost too much XNOT decarbonising rapidly costs MUCH more
No new oil means turning the taps off overnight XExisting reserves and production are available as we transition; it takes an average of 28 years from licence to production by which time we have to be net zero.

The latest progress report from the government’s own Climate Change Committee is that there is a “lack of urgency” and “loss of leadership” being shown in relation to the UK’s climate commitments.

So, where do you and I come in? Well, everyone needs to stop making excuses or blaming others and instead start taking greater responsibility for our children’s and our own future – in our interactions with politicians, and in opting for ethical and sustainable alternatives to each and every aspect of our daily lives: our money; travel; holidays; food; you name it…

This graphic shows how we escape the “Climate Blame Game” that’s failing us, with “Climate Leadership at all Levels”.

Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future: add your voice against new oil and gas – write to our MP Sarah Dyke and the Rt Hon Clare Coutinho MP, The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero at the Ministerial Correspondence Team, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET. Emails:

August 2023 update


‘We are damned fools’ says the NASA scientist who warned us about the greenhouse effect in the 1980s, as we see the super-charged weather extremes causing mayhem around the world. We have already increased the chances of the extreme heatwaves being experienced around the northern hemisphere from 1% half a century ago to 20% now. Although this year we are not in an “every year will inevitably be worse than this year from now on” situation because this is an El Niño year (when the ocean currents don’t bury most of the heat), it is very much a taste of things to come if we don’t get our act together.

Is it too late to make a difference? No. Because each fraction of a degree more warming will fuel more, more prolonged, and more extreme, extreme weather. If we don’t stop, “the chemical makeup of our atmosphere will soon change enough to induce not only dangerous but truly catastrophic global climate change” says Professor Michael Mann.

I don’t make any difference. Yes, you do. And try saying that to anyone who has fought for our freedom. Of course, neither my father, who fought in the second world war, and is now dying, nor any individual could alone have defeated Nazism! It required 100 million individual fighters, each playing their part, for the war to be won. We don’t have to risk life or limb or give up years of our lives. What we need to do now in comparison is a walk in the park. Those who can afford to cut their emissions significantly are the ones doing the most damage, and vice versa. Driving a big car or SUV? Switch to a smaller electric vehicle.  Frequent flyer? Fly less! Insulate your house; take up a government grant and install an air source heat pump. Most of us voted for a champion of the environment for our MP; that’s a big step!

So, ready, steady – stop freaking out and join the millions who are already doing something to prevent catastrophic climate change, go to where you’ll learn what you can do to make the most positive impact: making your money count; keeping politicians accountable; sparking ideas at work; pushing for climate headlines; talking about climate change and the steps we can take, and teaming up with others to boost your impact.

Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future: take one action from the Don’t Look Up website

July 2023 – Turn back from the brink!

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

Turn back from the brink!

Our rapidly changing climate is probably the greatest threat to us and the rest of nature but almost equally serious is the rapid loss of biodiversity on Earth.

It’s an easy mistake to think that humans can survive without healthy ecosystems but climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss are at crisis levels that threaten not only the rest of nature but human life too.  “Without enough large-scale functioning wild natural ecosystems there will be no stable climate, no farming, no economy, no civilisation, no liveable planet”. Many ecologists have labelled these times as the “sixth extinction”.

To put it another way, nature is at the base of our supply chains, and we’ve seen how disruptive a breakdown of those can be.

How bad is the rate of loss? It is thought that one million animal and plant species – almost a quarter of the global total – are threatened with extinction. Here in Britain the 2019 State of Nature report revealed that 56% of our species are in decline and 15% threatened with extinction. Green fields and lush countryside do not necessarily equate with biodiversity and our heavily-grazed uplands are very low in it. And around here? This area has experienced some of the highest levels of bird species loss in the country, which may in large part reflect a sharp fall in insect populations. Since the 1970s, farming has intensified, with greater use of pesticides and herbicides, providing less and less habitat for wildlife, while still becoming increasingly uneconomic and unsustainable. The BTO found that 22 out of 94 local breeding bird species have been lost between 1970 and 2011. That’s a devastating rate of loss in such a short flicker of evolutionary time.

The local extinction rate for insects is eight times higher than for birds and mammals. This spring we have seen even lower numbers of insects, possibly due to the drought last year and this year’s cold, wet spring.

The good news

Nature can return if we play our part and don’t leave it any longer. There are now numerous (though not yet enough) nature recovery projects across the country, all demonstrating that we can bend the declining curve quite spectacularly given space and the right conditions. The Knepp Estate, a formerly unprofitable farm, now thrums with life, including Turtle Doves, Nightingales, Cuckoos, and the rare Purple Emperor butterfly.

What is also vitally important is that there are nature recovery corridors to enable species to move from one rewilded area to another especially as our climate changes, and this is where we all have a role. Whether it’s letting your hedgerows burgeon and blossom, or rewilding some of your garden or even a window box, we can all play a part in bringing ourselves back from the brink, and have a lot of pleasure too. Who wants a Silent Spring after all?

There are already a number of positive changes in the village – Wheathill Meadow, the new management of the church lawns, and lawns left to flower. Please email us or post on the village Facebook if you’re noticing any signs of recovery, or the reverse, in or around your garden.

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Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future: Help provide a corridor for insects

Eg by:

  • Viewing longer grassland as vital habitat for life & letting it bloom through the summer
  • Removing your mowings to favour wild flowers
  • Leaving some of this year’s growth on your hedges so they flower next year
  • Safety apart, not mowing public verges during the summer

Thursday 27 July 7.30pm Town Hall (upstairs) MP CAN meeting. All welcome.

Recommended reading: ‘Wilding’ and ‘The Book of Wilding” by Isabella Tree / and Charlie Burrell;  ‘Land Healer’ by Jake Fiennes.


June 2023

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

Fashion: wears the harm?

  1. The fashion industry contributes hugely to the climate crisis – 8-10% of all global emissions and British shoppers buy more clothes than any others in Europe – a reminder that participating in sustainable and ethical fashion is a crucial part of fighting the climate crisis, for which we already have all the solutions we need. 
  2. 10-20% of pesticide use comes from the textile industry (cotton).
  3. 93% of brands are not paying garment workers living wages – people in the global south are experiencing the impact of the climate crisis right now while not receiving fair wages either.
  4. Less than 11% of brands actually implement any sort of recycling strategy (and much of the ‘recycled’ waste ends up being dumped in the global south).
  5. When you wash your clothes with man-made fibres, they shed plastics into the rivers and ocean.
  6. The fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic metres of water each year on a planet that is already seeing water wars and should expect more with the climate crisis.
  7. And then, 92 million tonnes of textile waste is generated annually from this system. And the waste by and large is dumped back in the global South.

A staggering 100 billion garments are produced each year; yet there are 7.8 billion humans on our planet, most of whom can’t afford to buy new clothes anyway.

So, what can we do? Individual action creates a cultural shift and without individual action we will never have that societal and cultural shift. As ever, looking after our Lifeboat Earth involves lots of R’s:

  1. Rethink and refuse to buy as many new clothes anymore (see also item 6); many of us say we can’t afford to buy better or differently but if you’re buying 68 garments a year (the average fast fashion shopper), you can. Maybe keep a note of what you’re buying each year.
  2. Refrain from unnecessary washing of clothes that don’t look dirty; (they’ll last longer and you save on your energy and water bills). 
  3. Repair: use Google / Ecosia to learn how to repair clothes or take them to the Sherborne Repair Café (see Facebook for details or
  4. Re-home your clothes – maybe organize a clothing swap with your friends – it’s a fun way to get something new-for-you and involve your friends in the fun. If you have children you are probably doing this already.
  5. Rent: Next time you’re attending a fancy event, instead of buying a new formal outfit, see what you can borrow from a friend, or as a last resort hire something special. No one needs a lot of formal wear even if all your friends are getting married.
  6. Really recycle: have a browse in Sherborne’s numerous charity shops; it’s amazing what great clothes you can. And sort out and take those clothes that you don’t wear anymore to the charity shops to save somebody else from needing to buy something new.

Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future

Before you buy a new item of clothing, browse the charity shops first (bag up clothes you don’t wear any more to donate) or have a clothes swap party with your friends. 


Thursday 1st June  7.30pm Town Hall (upstairs) MP CAN meeting. All welcome.

May 2023 update

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

For peat’s sake!

There has been a long-running campaign against using peat. Why? Essentially, healthy wet peatland is not only an important wildlife habitat but also acts as an absolutely huge carbon store (area for area it holds three times as much as woodland), representing the partially decomposed remains of plants built up incredibly gradually over thousands of years since the last ice age – over 3,000 years to accumulate a depth the height of an average woman. Peatland also acts as a water store, holding up to fifty times its weight in water, helping mitigate drought, flooding and wild fires.

In Somerset, peatland stores a whopping 40 Mt of carbon dioxide as carbon in an area of 426 km2 :  40 Mt is the equivalent of ten years of all the greenhouse gas emissions of the whole county. Staggering.

If peat is dug up, burnt, drained or dries out, those benefits are lost and all that carbon is released back into the atmosphere with dire consequences. And that is happening at an alarming rate as peatland is drained and / or dug for compost. But as we have seen, it is vital that the store of carbon is kept locked away as healthy, wet peatland.

If we can rewet peatland it will help us adapt to climate change, and very gradually enable more carbon to be stored. So…

Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future

Buy only 100% peat-free compost and ask to buy plants grown in peat-free alternatives.

Thursday 1st June  7.30pm Town Hall (upstairs) MP CAN meeting. All welcome.

April 2023

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

William Wordsworth, ‘Lines Written in Early Spring‘.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure…

Love Life!

As we all know, many populations of our precious wildlife, be they birds, bumblebees, butterflies, hedgehogs or other animals are in steep decline. Yet our survival and mental health depends on the sights and sounds of nature thriving and climate anxiety is increased when there is a lack of nature space– nor can we do without the vital ‘services’ that nature provides.

Whatever the size of garden or farm we own, making room for nature not just to feed but breed, shelter and overwinter in the out of sight or unproductive areas plays a vital and positive part; you might allow the the grass to grow and wild flowers to bloom in a corner; some logs or branches or a pile of leaves to decay naturally, and so provide breeding places and shelter for insects and food for birds, bats and hedgehogs. The breeding success of Swallows is directly related to insect numbers. Say no to plastic grass and any further hard standing; that way we’ll stay cooler in heatwaves and soften the impacts of downpours too.  Pesticides are indiscriminate; they kill all insects not just the one species that’s being a pest and we all need the beneficial insects for our fruit trees and crops. Jake Fiennes, working for the Holkham Estate in Norfolk, has shown how productivity is increased when some land is set aside for nature; because less pesticide and fertiliser is used, costs go down; and yields increase, with more help from nature, so profits go up. Similarly, in the USA, by converting 10% of cropland to native prairie, farmers have reduced soil loss by 95%, total phosphorous loss by 90%, and total nitrogen loss by 85% and provided myriad benefits to themselves, the ecosystem, and surrounding community.

Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future

Love life? Go pesticide free in our gardens! But beware and dispose of our pesticides safely! They need to be handed in at our local waste and recycling centre. (Not down the drain or into the soil). France is ahead of us here and has banned the use of pesticides in gardens.

Thursday April 13th 7.30pm Town Hall MPCAN meeting. All welcome.

Thursday April 27th 7.30pm Town Hall Hear from Kim Creswell of the Queen Thorne Nature Watch Group

about the loss of their local wildlife and how they are investigating and planning to remedy it.

UN climate campaign to help individuals

It’s scarily crystal clear from the UN IPCC synthesis report on climate change released on `March 20th that we are not doing nearly enough to curb emissions and avoid dangerous impacts; we have left acting so late that “deep and immediate” cuts in carbon emissions are now required of each individual, corporation and government of developed countries to keep us safe. The impacts are very serious: they directly affect our health, our food sources, our water, supply systems, nature and much more. Every bit of warming matters as the warmer the planet gets, the more widespread and pronounced the changes in both average climate and climate and weather extremes become. Our choices matter and the faster we act, the better off we will all be. Many of the solutions are already at hand. Around two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions are linked to private households.

What to do? The United Nations has a Climate Action social media campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability. Google or Ecosia (they plant trees) UN Climate Action Campaign to find out more and for the link to receive information on Whatsapp.

At this point, the only question is: what are we waiting for?

March 2023

Planning Holidays for a Future

Obviously, the further you travel and the more frequently, the more damaging your footprint, especially if you are flying or driving by yourself, the most energy-intensive options. It’s worth being aware that because take-off and descent are energy-intensive, flying has a higher carbon footprint than a medium car over distances less than 1000 km but further than that driving alone actually does more damage than flying.

So, what to do about holidays?

Flying now seems normal but it has taken off only in the last few decades. Globally 80% of the population has never flown and in the UK half of the population don’t fly in a given year. Along with the growth in SUVs, the growth in aviation is challenging our commitment to save ourselves; e.g. a return flight to Los Angeles emits 2.28 tonnes yet to be sustainable (and nobody wants the chaos changing the climate is bringing) we need to reduce our entire annual footprint to 2.2 tonnes CO2 equivalent pa!

Offsetting? Well, no. Saplings that are planted to ‘offset’ your flight won’t be big enough to trap all your carbon for many, many years. Meanwhile, those emissions keep warming and damaging the planet whilst whole forests of offsetting trees have already been lost to drought and wildfires. Whatever way you ‘offset’ your flight, your greenhouse gases will still be doing damage in the atmosphere for centuries.

The good news though is that train travel is enjoying a come-back and more and more sleeper trains are being reinstated across Europe. Train travel in countries with low carbon grids such as France has a very, very low impact. My daughter and I are going to the Camargue: my return Eurostar trip to Avignon emits just 14kg of CO2 compared to a 20 times bigger flying footprint (0.29 tonnes return from Bournemouth to Avignon).

If you fear that there is too much inertia, that you don’t make any difference or that it might damage the economy, consider how much change and upheaval there has been in how we travel and the associated industries (horses and bikes to vehicles, trains to planes), and how we have powered our lives over the years. Change always starts slowly and then suddenly races into the mainstream. (Consider the meteoric rise in online shopping over the last decade or so).

Better still, as holidays have high social visibility, by choosing not to fly you not only reduce your own carbon footprint but also send a signal to your friends and family (and yourself!) that the climate crisis is real. A survey showed that half of the respondents who knew someone who has given up flying because of climate change said they fly less because of this example

Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future

Enjoy your next holiday by train! Plan with: – an excellent online guide to train travel.

Global Climate Strike 12-1 on Friday 3 March 2023, outside Milborne Port Town Hall. Join us to stand up for a safe future for us all!

February 2023

Travelling light

For individuals in the UK, transport can be the largest part of their carbon footprint. Unsurprisingly, walking or cycling are usually the most efficient ways to travel – cycling 1km can burn as little as 16g of CO2-equivalent, though it depends what you are fuelled by and can be up to 50g – greater than the footprint of a kilometre by train – if you’ve eaten beef. Taking the train is usually the most efficient option after that.

As the chart below helps illustrate, the new fashion for large cars runs counter to the nation’s commitment to reaching net zero, as large cars emit nearly twice the emissions of smaller ones (and discourage active travel by posing more risk to vulnerable users).

It’s worth noting that the carbon footprints in the chart below are per person. So, sharing lifts to fill your car reduces everyone’s footprint. The footprint for driving electric cars is falling as the proportion of renewables in the grid is increasing; and if you have solar panels on your roof can become next to nothing (though as with all cars there is a footprint to their manufacture).

Of course, reducing your mileage and frequency of journeys is the easiest way to cut the carbon footprint of your travel; conversely, the further you travel the more important it becomes to use a low carbon mode, as we’ll explore another time.

Do I count? Yes! Supply and demand! We have no time to lose to stay in a safe climate and new roads tend to be supplied at great environmental cost, and train and bus services reduced, in response to use or the lack of it. Here’s a good opportunity to ditch the car a bit: From 1 January 2023, over 130 bus operators across the country will introduce a £2 fare cap on single tickets. The cap will remain in place until 31 March 2023. The scheme is part of an initiative funded by the Government aimed at boosting bus use while helping passengers to save money as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, fuelled in part by high petrol and diesel prices. To read more about the Government scheme search for Help for Households Help with Transport Costs:

Here’s One New Thing To Do for our Future

Walk, scoot or cycle for journeys less than 3 miles if you can, or take the bus if you can’t.

January 2023

Milborne Port Climate and Nature Action group

For a diet that will sustain us, what’s at steak?

The NHS advises us to eat no more than 70g of red meat a day for health. For sustainability, the Committee on Climate Change recommends a 20% reduction in meat and dairy by 2030. The Planetary Health Diet (by leading scientists representing disciplines including agriculture and public health) has a daily average of 14g of red meat and 29g of poultry.

Why so little? Two reasons. Firstly, eating meat is inefficient because mammals use energy to keep warm and move: eg 6-10 kg of plant food is needed to produce 1kg of beef and a lot of that 1kg is bone, skin and guts. This means that if the world went vegan (which nobody is suggesting) we’d need less cropland than we currently use to feed humans and livestock! 

UK Land Area divided by purpose: Source: Carbon Brief

Secondly, livestock account for 14.5% of all global emissions. Cows, sheep and goats contribute massively to this total as (unlike pigs and poultry) they produce methane, a greenhouse gas 80x as potent as carbon dioxide.

Most people think that eating locally is much better for the climate than going vegetarian; in reality, the opposite is true, as the chart above shows.

The graphics show how by eating less meat there will be more room for natural solutions – growing trees, conservation restoration and land management actions that increase carbon storage and avoid greenhouse gas emissions, and allow room for the restoration of biodiversity. These solutions have the potential to deliver up to a third of the reduction in emissions we need by 2030, and help the UK be more self-sufficient in food.

We have years, not decades, to address the interconnected crises of climate change and biodiversity loss;

eating more plants is one significant step towards achieving this.

December 22 – Saving precious energy

And the cheapest, cleanest energy is that we don’t use

How does insulation work? – either through thermal resistance (meaning the heat takes a lot longer to escape) or by trapping air. Building materials are rated on their effectiveness with an R value (U values are for the whole building). The Energy Saving Trust has lots of information on the costs of installation, annual savings on bills and carbon emissions as well as what to look for and beware.

30-40% of heat loss from an uninsulated home is through walls, typically Cavity wall insulation is easy to do, and costs £700-£1,000. A solid wall will cost £9,000-£18,000 – you can either insulate the wall externally or internally, which is more sympathetic but also disruptive as wiring, sockets and radiators have to be moved. Either a (breathable) lime render or wood fibre board is needed.

25-30% of heat loss is through the roof Loft insulation is easy. You can use a mineral fibre, one made from recycled bottles or (if you’re not using a grant) sheep’s wool. Spray foam is not breathable and expensive – bad on two counts. Just insulate the loft floor. Though if you have a room in the roof you will need to insulate the residual area above the ceiling. The depth required depends on the material but is 200-300mm. (A whole tonne a year is saved by insulating the roof of a detached house or bungalow – a huge step in the right direction to a sustainable footprint of just over 2 tonnes for everything).

15% of heat typically is lost through doors and windows  Installing energy-efficient glazing has a disproportionately positive effect on our comfort by eliminating draughts (and wind chill factor!), noise and condensation. Curtains reduce draughts.

10% of the heating in an uninsulated home is lost through floors  If you have a cellar or live on a hill and have a void under the floor there are a variety of products you can use. Ensure ventilation. If you’re stuck with a concrete floor use a good quality underlay to your carpets.

Buyer beware. Do get independent advice and do your research before approaching installers.

Milborne Port library will have a thermal imaging camera on loan so you can see where the heat is leaking from your home. We also have one.

HUG 2 (Home Upgrade Grants 2) is a second government scheme awarding grants to Local Authorities. Somerset Independence Plus ( ) are submitting a bid. The application is for £7.2m for retrofitting 400 homes (insulation improvements and decarbonised heating upgrades) off the gas network with low EPCs and low householder income, delivered over two years.

Safe and Warm Somerset ( supports residents with reducing energy bills and keeping warm at home.

Sources: Energy Savings Trust and Ridgewater Energy. Peter Bywater of the former operates in Dorset (where they currently have grants available) but would advise us in Milborne Port on the understanding that any work would not be funded by grants.