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 allglobal 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.
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 (https://www.somersetindependenceplus.co.uk/ ) 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.
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.
COP 27 is this month. Overwhelmingly, vitally important. On November 12th, crowds of people will be coming out on the streets of major cities in support of climate justice. The nearest gathering to Milborne Port is Bristol; meet at noon on College Green. Some of us will be going; get in touch if you’d like to join us.
(Google ‘climate justice COP 27’ to find out more.)
Remember, remember… Hedgehogs & Bonfires don’t mix! As hedgehogs respond to danger by curling into a ball rather than fleeing they will die; so please only light a bonfire that you have just made or moved that day in case hedgehogs may be hibernating there. (They get up periodically during the winter for a drink and may move to a new spot so this precaution is necessary throughout the winter and, indeed, at all times of year).
Hedge planting 11-1pm & 2-4pm Sunday November 13th We aim to finish the new line of hedge on the outer side of the recreation ground fence that day. Any extra volunteers welcome. Please email Sarah for details and updates. Our previous two years’ plantings are doing well, helped along with judicious weeding and watering.
Try out a pedal-assist electric bike on Saturday 19th November 2-4 pm! Meet by Kingsbury Bridge. (Men and women’s sizes only). Described as a silver bullet for climate-friendly transport, they are way more than a cheaty-bike and can take the place of a second car. You can go much further in the same time since you can pedal faster on the flat and much faster going uphill. Furthermore, you don’t arrive in a sweat at the other end. If you’re striving to follow the call for active local journeys, an e-bike may help. You’ll be able to try them on the flat and uphill. We may ask to hold onto your mobile phone as a deposit while you have a go.
Personal steps to net zeroLucy MacArthur writes: “I bought an E-bike two years ago, to have an alternative to using our car (we have always been a one-car couple – for carbon footprint reduction) when a journey might seem too far, too daunting, or too time consuming by my non-E-bike. I have never looked back! Mostly used for getting to and from Sherborne (for work – on the back roads) but gradually venturing a bit further. It provides a reasonable amount of the exercise goal I set myself, it often gets me to Sherborne as quickly as the car (and is a quicker journey than the bus, in view of the walk to the bus stop) and it gives me confidence when I have to negotiate a main road, especially going uphill!
“It is an Easi-go Commute X from Riley’s in Sherborne. The battery can give me 35 miles plus from a full charge (depending on how much I use the power). I aim to visit a friend who lives east of Shaftesbury soon, charge up overnight and ride back the next day.
“Our next carbon cutting plan (in addition to those already being used) is to get our loft re-insulated to make our home more energy efficient – this may have to wait until Spring 2023 but is definitely on the way!”
Pre-Christmas Freecycle weekend! November 26th -27th. All day. Weather permitting. We’ll postpone to the following weekend if it’s wet. Please make sure you remove anything that’s leftover and take care not to obstruct pavements or walkways – you’re responsible for what you put on your doorstep until someone rehomes it. We’ll do another in the New Year. If you’d like a poster to put up please email Sarah on the address below. Look out for updates on Milborne Port News and Everything Facebook page. And by all means let others know where and what you are offering on Facebook.
Energy saving & the cost of living crisis There are compelling reasons to save energy (money; climate; Ukraine) and so many ways to do so.
The Facts and Fictions of the Energy Crisis & Our Way Out
To verify the following facts, please use the links to expert sources below.
Everyone is all too aware that energy bills are high with multiple knock-on adverse effects. Households and businesses are suffering. Estimates vary but one is that 7 million households are expected to be suffering from fuel poverty from October. This is as unnecessary as it is unacceptable. Source: End Fuel Poverty. See links below.
What is the true cause of the global energy crisis? One narrative, a dangerous fallacy, is that it is because of renewable energy. But as Faith Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency puts it, this is absurd. Russia and the gas supply crunch are the cause. The energy policy makers he talks to acknowledge that they regret not having built more wind and solar plants and improved the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles. The unfortunate UK government green policy blocks in 2017, for example, have added £2.5 billion to UK energy bills. We mustn’t compound this mistake now.
Aren’t renewables too costly and slow? No! Quite the reverse! Solar energy is cheaper than gas. Analysis by energy and climate think tank Ember showed that record levels of solar power across the EU this summer avoided the need for 20bn cubic metres of gas, which would have cost £25bn to import.
Building more UK onshore wind brings new electricity supplies on stream more quickly and more cheaply than fracking. A UK government auction in August secured a record 11 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity that will generate electricity nine times (nine times!!!) more cheaply than current gas prices (£48 per MWh vs £446 per MWh). These are due to start operating within the next five years up to 2027. Their 11GW alone will be able to generate 14% of UK demand but overall there is enough renewable capacity due to come onstream by 2027 to generate nearly a third of UK demand! (Source: Carbon Brief).
Compare this with how much gas we could we get from UK fracking, according to the trade body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry UKOOG itself: it’s less than 5% of UK gas needs over the next 5 years, even in the best-case scenario, with no planning issues or protests. And will of course exacerbate the climate crisis into the bad bargain.
How will we balance supply and demand? You can create hydrogen when you have excess solar and wind, and use it to generate electricity when you have a renewable energy shortage. Excess renewable energy can also be used to pump water uphill to a reservoir; energy is generated later by releasing water back downhill, passing through a turbine.
What about the huge cost of converting to green energy? A new study calculated the cost of global renewable energy would be $62 trillion. But the big upfront investment would create jobs, drastically reduce carbon emissions, and pay for itself in six years or less. (Source: Business Green). How so? It has been calculated that a decarbonised energy system is not only feasible but will prove at least $12tr cheaper to run than maintaining current levels of fossil fuel use. (Source: a paper in the journal Joule).
Are solar fields a threat to farmland? At the moment, less than 0.1% of all land in the UK. Plans to increase the land under ground-mounted solar panels would bring this to 0.3% of the UK land area, roughly half of the space already taken up by golf courses. Many farmers are positive about this technology, not least because they can use less productive fields for solar panels and still produce food.
The Profits It’s not just fuel and food bills that are rising fast; so are the profits of the fossil fuel industry. Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General called on all developed economies to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies to help countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis and people struggling with rising food and energy prices – “The fossil fuel industry is feasting on subsidies & windfall profits while household budgets shrink & our planet burns”. Meanwhile, the unsustainability and dangers of an energy supply system dominated by fossil fuels have never been clearer than this year. As the IEA CE says, “The world’s biggest economies are pushing hard on clean energy. And with all the readily available, highly competitive clean energy technologies there are good reasons for optimism that others will follow”. Let’s hope the UK government does.
What can we do about it? With COP27 climate talks looming, private investors could make a huge contribution to our cheaper, green, clean future, says the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership. The 3rd issue of National Savings and Investment Green Savings Bonds has been launched – “it’s about saving more than money”. Also, Friends of the Earth will be behind a united fight for urgent additional financial support to people in the energy crisis; for a nationwide insulation programme and for permanent sustainable fixes to our failed fossil fuel energy system in a United for Warm Homes campaign. Come to our next meeting (or email) to find out more.
Vision. Apparently it works. You get what you wish for. The images you have in your head you work to achieve. At the moment the pictures in our heads are understandably full of the start of carbon hell. So, instead, what can our imaginations conjure up for the alternative, the life after fossil fuels? Here’s what I enjoy imagining about life in Milborne Port…
Life is exciting! We’re all enjoying better health and new and sustainable jobs because our homes, streets and workplaces are no longer polluted from the burning of fossil fuels. It’s not just safe but fun for all ages to walk and cycle about now electric bikes and cargo-bikes have replaced so many cars and vans. Local businesses are thriving too because the streets are no longer choked with cars and people are milling around instead. Everything smells fresh and clean. The sky is unpolluted and clear blue. Bird song travels further without the noise of engines. All of this has given us a greater sense of community as there’s more to enjoy on our doorstep.
Our streets are lined with trees to absorb carbon and we’ve got rid of unnecessary hard-standing all of which helps keep us cool in heatwaves and softens the impact of heavy rainstorms. Our homes are well-insulated too so our bills are lower and we’re more comfortable in the winter and better able to keep cool in summer. And of course, the great beauty of renewable energy is that it is not only endlessly renewable but also much cheaper than fossil fuels. Plus there is better and cheaper/ free public transport and easy to use e-bike and car pools and car shares. So, all in all, the cost of living is down and there is less inequality in the village.
As a nation we have been eating less (carbon-intensive) red meat. The added benefit has been to free up pasture land for environmental land management and landscape recovery, with funding from the Government. It’s fantastic being able to enjoy having wildlife-rich landscapes / Green Parks near us in Milborne Port and also wildlife corridors along river floodplains (which also help as firebreaks and flood alleviation sponges). Our rivers and coast are clean too. They are no longer polluted with raw sewage at times of high rainfall.
But best of all perhaps, is the relief of all those crises being behind us and the future again being something for us to look forward to eagerly for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.
Choice The only other choice is to carry on to almost unimaginable carbon hell. It will impact everything and everyone. Everything we have we will lose; nothing that we need or enjoy will survive; the level of the impacts already happening show us the risks – to our health from extreme heat, from pandemics, diseases and pathogens travelling north; to food shortages and hunger as crops fail in more and more extreme and lengthy droughts and heatwaves; disruption of travel and the supply of food and goods due to power outages from storms, dried up rivers, landslips, washed away roads and railways; more and more extreme wildfires and flash floods threatening our livelihoods and homes; threats to global security with fossil fuel-funded wars.
Let’s be very clear: doing nothing is not an available option; carrying on as we have been whilst keeping what we have and remaining safe is not an option. The choice we have is only between a low-carbon heaven or climate hell. And there’s huge urgency involved.
Plan So, what is the plan? What, collectively, do we need to do to make a positive future a reality and avoid climate hell? Here are four important things. Insulate our homes; stop investing in unsafe and polluting fossil fuels and switch to clean renewable electricity; promote and support low carbon and active travel (walking and cycling), buses and trains and avoid flying; and eat less red meat.
Action Think about how great what we can get will be! So, here’s an action to take. Have a conversation with your family or friends about how you envisage your low-carbon future. See how positive you feel afterwards!
Well, that July heatwave was well off England’s charts! I hope everyone was okay. If there’s an upside maybe it is that we have all seen that devastating climate change is underway already. Nor is this the new normal; it can only escalate, not reaching a new normal until globally we emit no more greenhouse gases than our natural support systems can take up. Is there a misunderstanding – a mistaken belief that as soon as we start cutting our emissions, things will get better? It’s important to remember that we are not faced with a dinosaur-killing meteorite; we have all the know-how, all the technology we need. A monumental effort on the part of all of is what is now required, as one climate scientist said recently.
My now 99-year-old father spent 6 years of his youth, risking his life, to fight against Nazism. I’m fairly sure I could not be that brave and my daughter when a small child asked me as a theoretical Do You Really Love Me test if I would walk a tightrope between two buildings to rescue her (from what I now forget) and I failed. But it’s no big deal to do what is within my means to address my own carbon footprint and shadow. A friend once described how when she was a child, her friend’s mother would eat the chocolate biscuits off the plate, leaving the children the plain ones. Metaphorically, are we going to leave our children and grandchildren any biscuits at all?
The future that currently faces younger generations seems extremely perilous as global emissions continue to climb; this seems unjust to young people. Older generations make this worse by leaving it to the young to sacrifice time that should be spent at school or university, or hanging out with their friends, to protest and campaign. Net Zero is a gamble at our children’s expense, tossing the problem into their future; there is no sign of any technology that can take out carbon dioxide at scale. And now there is the threat of being imprisoned for the most basic form of protesting for a liveable climate. Triple or is that quadruple injustice. So, if you’re no longer young, do please join us in voting for young people’s futures with your feet – join any climate demonstrations or marches you can, and vote for their future at the ballot box and with your bank, savings and investments. https://switchit.green/ is a start. The climate is not political; all other issues, however important, are like arguing up on deck while the lifeboat is taking on water and sinking.
Hedgerows It’s been lovely this year to enjoy seeing a number of hedges that have been allowed to grow a bit wider and taller, and consequently flowering and providing more fore wildlife too. May we have more please?! Cutting hedges incrementally – leaving just a few inches of the year’s growth to remain uncut and flower and fruit next year – is a simple way to provide massive benefits for nature.
Let It Grow! A huge well done and hats off to the PCC and volunteers who have been managing the church lawns to enhance the wildlife there. Do go and have a look if you haven’t yet. At the lusher eastern end, until the last month, they have been cutting and collecting the grass growth to bring the fertility down, which starves the grasses a bit so that wild flowers have more chance to flourish in subsequent years. As I write it is a picture of yellow wild flowers. And at the Bathwell Lane end it is a joy to see the variety of wild flowers, and the butterflies and other insects, benefiting where cuttings have been collected for years, and they have now left it unmown through the spring and summer except for a tidy edge. I imagine that the swifts nesting under the church tiles will have had an easier time of rearing their young this year as a result!
It’s also fantastic to see more front gardens and frontages around the village being allowed to grow; the wild flowers are lovely to see and it is heart-warming to think of all the wildlife that benefits. Long live grass (and the wild flowers therein!) – it’s where so much lives! And thank you. “Green” Drinks Tuesday September 13th 7.30pm Tippling Philosopher tbc All welcome
Milborne Port Freecycle Event – all day Friday 15th and Saturday 16th July.
Free to join in! Do you have things you no longer want? Like the idea of finding free gifts? Providing the weather is settled we’ll try out this successful idea from Bruton for the full two days on those dates. Join in this community event by leaving any pre-loved items by your front gate for people to walk by and choose, and/ or having a wander around the village and choosing some lovely items to take home.
All you need to do is find a spot by your front gate or doorstep where you can discreetly display some items you no longer want or need, and which you are happy to gift to someone else, above dog wee zone and preferably with a note saying something like “Free to a good home”. Then have a wander around the village to choose the pre-loved gifts you’d like to re-home!
Please make sure you remove anything that’s left at the end of the day so as not to litter the streets – you’re responsible for what you put on your doorstep until someone has claimed it, and also please make sure not to obstruct pavements or walkways.
If the weather is poor, we’ll try a week later. Look out for posters and updates on Facebook (Milborne Port News and Everything). And by all means let others know what you have on offer on Facebook.
The more people that join in the merrier, and hopefully we can stop many things going to waste. Plus have lots of fun!
Visit a Wilder Open Garden!
You’re invited to enjoy free tea, scones or cake and wildlife at a Wilder Open Garden in Lower Kingsbury on Saturday 16th July 2pm- 4.30pm.
RSVP before to the email address below to ensure sufficient baking is done!
Who doesn’t want to leave a better world for our children?! Yet none of us needs reminding that we are at a really critical point in history, with the world facing multiple crises over climate, food security, health and biodiversity. So, it’s good to know that the government has a plan “A Green Future: our 25 year plan to improve the environment”. And we can all do our bit and have fun by helping record what wildlife is around us. (Don’t know a dandelion from a daisy? There’s an app for that! See below).
Currently only 10% of the country supports abundant and diverse wildlife, so Defra’s aim is to triple this by 2030, creating space and expanding a network where wildlife can thrive. Every area, however tiny, counts, whether it’s a garden, a churchyard, school grounds, farms or a community space; these all add up and make a difference.
Somerset Wildlife Trust is heading this vital endeavor in our county, with its plan Create A Wilder Somerset 2030. Each of us, in our own and other communities, can help to record the baseline, and then track positive changes over the decade. They’ve made it so easy! There are two free apps, which work together, Seek – to identify what you see – and iNaturalist to record it – the one feeds information to the other. You don’t have to give away where you live – there are 3 location settings – open, obscured (blurred to within 100m) and private.
Wilder Somerset 2030 will deliver thriving wildlife: carbon storage; protected soils, peatlands, meadows and woodlands; new meadows, hedgerows, woodlands and grasslands; ‘wilded’ gardens and urban areas, and clean and healthy restored rivers and wetlands slowing flow and reducing flooding.
Nature has a huge role in our health and well-being. So, do come and find us at the fete on 4th June to find out more and try out the apps (please download them in advance) on some wildflowers we’ll bring from our garden. We’ll be operating a Climate Hub too – to chat about what we can all do about it.
Hear what’s it like to be a kid right now: take 7 minutes to read The Kids are Not Okay by Julia Steinberger (Google those words); it’s important. There is a link within the article for what to do.
“Public and private finance flows for fossil fuels are still greater than those for climate adaptation and mitigation (high confidence)” IPCC AR6 Mitigation Report, SPM p.15
Here are two really good web-sites that may or may not be helpful with options and information in the struggle with soaring fuel bills and/ or saving energy for the climate:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/energy_saving_tips – provides many tips and also comparisons of the energy used in the kitchen, for example in cooking different ways (best to worst: microwave, induction hob, electric hob, oven; slow cookers are good energy savers too).
https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/heat-the-human-not-the-home-save-energy/Heating the human not the house can save a lot of money; for next winter, as well as clothing tips, the web-site provides information including both initial and running costs per hour/week of reusable handwarmers, hot water bottles, electric blankets and heat pads, and (more expensive to buy but cheaper to run) electric gilets, which can all help save money and fuel.
Spring is free to enjoy!
We’re lucky to have East Hill (below the bend in Wheathill Lane) with its variety and succession of wild flowers and butterflies through spring and summer on our doorstep. And the fabulous Butterfly Conservation reserve, Alners Gorse, between Kings Stag and Hazelbury Bryan is within a fit cyclist’s reach. The nightingales will still be singing when this magazine reaches you. If you’d like to take part in conservation tasks in Somerset and Dorset, take a look at the eucan.org.uk web-site. They’re a really cheerful bunch and the tasks make a worthwhile day/ half day out.
At the time of writing, there is no sign of Swallows and House Martins having returned to breed. They will have a late start. Every garden that has a wildlife area, however small, perhaps with No Mow May, Let It Bloom June, will have wild flowers that help support those extra insects which may make all the difference to the future of all our much-loved summer visitors.
Have you seen the Climate Game? Get to lead the world! https://ig.ft.com/climate-game/
Working together in the village to help wildlife to flourish.
Who is not looking forward to spring? Warmth and longer days for sure; hopefully plenty of sunshine and flowers, the song of birds, the hum of bees and colourful flights of butterflies and more to delight us? Sadly, though, we have gradually become one of the most nature-depleted nations and that affects us all.
More than 97% of hay meadows have disappeared; insect numbers are crashing – and we learnt recently from BBC’s Winter Watch that there are now 900 million fewer birds over Europe than 40 years ago. 900 million. The good news is that there are now many initiatives to start to address these losses. Many of you will know about Plantlife’s successful Let it Grow and Roadside Verge campaign, for example.
Last summer SSDC trialled a few No Mow areas in Milborne Port, and we will be liaising with them to add to these. The sizeable piece of grassland opposite Crackmore Garage supports a good number of wild flower species and South Somerset Highways who we have been in contact with do not cut more than a metre length along the edge; please respect this area and leave it uncut to let the wild flowers flourish; (we will be sowing some local wildflower seed over the recently patch of churned up ground).
Working together with Adam Gale from West Coker and EUCAN, our group will also be helping with advice for and management of Wheathill Meadow, the churchyard and, of course, East Hill.
It’s also encouraging and helpful that South West in Bloom was actively looking for evidence of such initiatives last year. By cutting a band along the edge of these bits of grassland, they can have a neat, cared for look. Let’s tidy away litter but not cut wildlife!
Please get in touch if there’s an area of grassland near you you’d like advice on to see it managed to encourage wildlife.
More wild flowers and uncut grass; more insects; more hedgehogs; more birds; more joy and inspiration!
When daisies pied and violets blue And lady-smocks all silver-white And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue Do paint the meadows with delight… Love’s Labours Lost
Don’t forget the opportunity from 14th-21st March to have thermal imagery of your house / community building. Contact us via the email below.