The Future of Hydrogen Energy

At the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, the International Energy Agency produced this landmark report to analyse the current state of play for hydrogen and to offer guidance on its future development.
The report finds that clean hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. It concludes that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. The pragmatic and actionable recommendations to governments and industry that are provided will make it possible to take full advantage of this increasing momentum.

Hydrogen and energy have a long shared history – powering the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago to becoming an integral part of the modern refining industry. It is light, storable, energy-dense, and produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases. But for hydrogen to make a significant contribution to clean energy transitions, it needs to be adopted in sectors where it is almost completely absent, such as transport, buildings and power generation.

The Future of Hydrogen provides an extensive and independent survey of hydrogen that lays out where things stand now; the ways in which hydrogen can help to achieve a clean, secure and affordable energy future; and how we can go about realising its potential.


Watch the global broadcast ‘Nations United’

Watch the global broadcast ‘Nations United’

On the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals – in the midst of a pandemic radically transforming our economies and societies – this 30-minute film tells the story of the world as it is, as it was, and as it could be. Directed by renowned film maker Richard Curtis and produced by the documentary film company 72 Films, “Nations United” presents the facts, data, and opportunities we have as a human family to reimagine and reshape the future. The film will be broadcast on numerous television channels, radio stations and streaming services around the world.

UN: The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World

Things you can do from your couch

  • Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use, including your computer.
  • Stop paper bank statements and pay your bills online or via mobile.
  • Share, don’t just like. If you see an interesting social media post about women’s rights or climate change, share it so folks in your network see it too.
  • Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm people or the planet. You can also voice your support for the Paris Agreement and ask your country to ratify it or sign it if it hasn’t yet.
  • Turn off the lights. Your TV or computer screen provides a cosy glow, so turn off other lights if you don’t need them.
  • Report online bullies. If you notice harassment on a message board or in a chat room, flag that person.
  • Stay informed. Follow your local news and stay in touch with the Global Goals online or on social media at @GlobalGoalsUN.
  • Tell us about your actions to achieve the global goals by using the hashtag #globalgoals on social networks.
  • In addition to the above, offset your remaining carbon emissions! You can calculate your carbon footprint and purchase climate credits from Climate Neutral Now. In this way, you help reduce global emissions faster!”


Vertical Farms Can Out-Produce ‘Flat Farms’

Article by John Koetsier Forbes:

“According to Nate Storey, the future of farms is vertical. It’s also indoors, can be placed anywhere on the planet, is heavily integrated with robots and AI, and produces better fruits and vegetables while using 95% less water and 99% less land.

‘Plenty’ in the USA takes the flat farm and performs an Inception transformation on it: ripping up horizontal rows of plants and hanging them vertically from the ceilings. Sunlight from above is replaced by full-spectrum LED lights from all sides. Huge robots grab large hanging racks of growing vegetables and moves them where they’re needed. Artificial intelligence manages all the variables of heat and light and water, continually optimizing and learning how to grow faster, bigger, better crops. Water lost by transpiration is recaptured and reused. And all of it happens not 1,000 miles away from a city, but inside or right next to the place where the food is actually needed. Read more>>>

Bioeconomy and the Sustainability Problem

“High levels of consumption in industrialised countries have far-reaching impacts on ecosystems, food security and human rights both within and beyond their borders. Low- and middle-income countries are directly affected by the policies and practices of the global North, and ordinary citizens have limited influence. Demand in the United States and the United Kingdom for beef directly drives deforestation in the Amazon; while the number of everyday products that contain unsustainable palm oil continues to increase.

…The ‘bioeconomy’ is a sophisticated sounding term, but essentially it means the things we make, use and sell that have their origins in nature; and the aim is to transition the economy from fossil resources towards renewable ones. Farming and forestry are part of the bioeconomy, as is energy produced from biomass, and services like tourism that are rooted in nature and outdoor experiences. The bioeconomy is central to what we do every day, and is an essential part of the global economy. In Europe alone the bioeconomy has an annual value of €2.4 trillion. It holds the key to a greener, more sustainable and healthy future for all — if the right practices, regulations and incentives are in place.

At the same time, the bioeconomy has the potential to drive further environmental destruction and degradation. Irresponsible pursuit of profit and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources are making climate change, biodiversity loss, infectious diseases, hunger and inequality much worse. A recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found that unless we dramatically reduce our impact on the natural world, future pandemics will become more frequent, spread more quickly and kill more people.

An unsustainable bioeconomy also threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a global sustainability framework adopted by the United Nations in 2015. A recent report by the German Federal Environment Agency found that in order for the bioeconomy to work for, rather than against, the SDGs, the global agenda and national strategies need to focus much more on restoration of ecosystems, sustainable land-use, climate protection and food sovereignty.”

Read More – by Patrick Schröder – a senior research fellow in Chatham House’s energy, environment and resources programme>>>

Climate Neutral Food and Wood: Webinars

The land-use sector is key for reaching a climate-neutral economy. Both the LIFE programme and the Horizon 2020 programme provide financial support to projects in the areas of agriculture and forestry. Thanks to this support and the work of many passionate researchers and practitioners, these projects contribute to avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, increasing carbon sequestration, improving resilience to the negative impacts of climate change, and protecting our ecosystems. In addition, the agriculture and forestry sectors provide the basic input to well-functioning food and wood value chains: LIFE and Horizon 2020 have supported climate action across these value chains by identifying and consolidating innovative solutions for sustainable food systems and a thriving bio-economy.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) and EASME have released for download a series of webinars to showcase successful LIFE and Horizon 2020 projects in the areas of agriculture, food systems, forestry, and the bio-economy. These online events have featured project representatives, experts from the EU Institutions and agencies as well as other key stakeholders. They have discussed best practices, lessons learned, and future policy initiatives.

Webinar Download page >>>


Covid: Another Way – Focused Protection

Three eminent epidemiologists – Prof. Sunetra Gupta, Prof. Jay Bhattacharya and Prof. Martin Kulldorff met in Massachusetts to plan a better response to the pandemic.

They have now issued a joint declaration proposing the way forward is to focus on protecting the vulnerable and allow the rest of the community to develop ‘herd immunity’ based on science and common sense – ‘Focused Protection’.

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical, and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 4th October 2020

Read More and See who has also signed the Declaration

More Sustainable Agriculture

Jonathan Scott suggests: “The challenges posed by agriculture are becoming more pressing as the world struggles to meet its ever-growing need for food. By 2050, over nine billion people will need to be fed – two billion more than the current population.

Additionally, the spread of prosperity and a longer-living populace, especially in China and India, is now producing increased demand for meat, eggs and dairy products that intensifies pressure to grow more corn and soybeans for a rising number of cattle, pigs and chickens. Indeed, some estimates claim that we may have to expand food production by 70%, including doubling the number of crops grown, within the next 30 years.

Meanwhile, the agriculture industry is among the greatest contributors to climate change, emitting more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, trains and airplanes combined (largely from methane released by cattle and rice farms, nitrous oxide from fertilised fields and the clearing of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock).

Farming is also the single greatest consumer of water supplies and a major water polluter in the form of run-off from fertilisers. And agriculture continuously accelerates our planet’s loss of biodiversity as areas of grassland and forest are cleared to enlarge the size of farms.
The overall result is a miasma of crop stress, job loss and even human displacement. For example, Homeland Security officials in the US have reported that a puzzling increase in the number of families showing up at the US border seeking asylum appear to be fleeing a hunger crisis in Guatemala’s western highlands.

Years of meagre harvests, drought and the devastating effects of “coffee rust” fungus on an industry that employs large numbers of rural Guatemalans is speeding up an exodus of families from villages now bereft of jobs and food.”


Californian Wildfires 2020

Sustainable land management is an important part of living with nature. Very often past generations knew more about this than current generations.

Californian Wildfire: Photo Credit - NY Times
Californian Wildfire: Photo Credit – NY Times

Media articles are carrying the story of mega Californian wildfires caused by climate change. But are they? Could there be other factors? Cal Fire statistics show us that 17 (85%) of the top 20 recorded largest wildfires have occurred over the last 20 years. It is accepted that ‘climate change’, in terms of recent warmer weather, will have dried out the fire-load (brush and deadwood) quicker and increased frequency of adverse wind conditions are all obviously a factor, but is the change in habitat management a significant factor as well?

Many of the ecosystems, from the chaparral of Southern California to the northern pine forests have evolved to burn frequently. Such habitats are naturally prone to wildfires and the flora and fauna are adapted to such environmental norms. The problem is that humans are not so good living with such wildfires.

The Cal Fire data on how these wildfires started shows: 25% were human factors; 20% were lightning strikes; 15% were powerlines; and, 40% are still unknown.

Academics believe that in prehistoric California between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year due to natural wildfires. Native Americans and settlers understood how to live with nature rather than to fight it, and have often used controlled burning to manage their lands. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. These controlled fires reduced the naturally accumulated ‘fire load’ of brush and deadwood to protect neighbourhoods and forestry. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres. So if 85% of the top 20 recorded largest wildfires have occurred over the last 20 years – could the change in land management during this same period be a significant factor?

It is always important that we do not think about such issues with a ‘silo-mentality’ and assume that climate change is the only possible factor. It is highly likely that it is a combination of land management and climate changes and perhaps even other factors, that have resulted in worsening wildfires.

James Lovelock: Father of Gaia Theory – Observer Interview at Age 101

“James Lovelock is best known as the father of Gaia Theory, the revolutionary idea that life on Earth is a self-regulating community of organisms interacting with each other and their surroundings. An independent scientist who eschews the academic establishment, he has variously been described as a maverick, prophet of doom, environmental philosopher and Gandalf. This month, he turns 101, but shows little sign of slowing his intellectual output. A paperback version of his latest book, Novacene, will shortly be released and he is working on a follow-up.”