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Environmental Professional Blogs
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Blogs and articles written by Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) and Registered Environmental Technician (REnvTech) registrants, as well as Honorary Fellows of the Society (HonFSE).

 

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Eye of the Beholder - By Andrew Clark CEnv MIEMA

Posted By Andrew Clark CEnv MIEMA, 01 February 2018
Updated: 01 February 2018

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that” said Thomas Edison, in 1931.


Nearly 90 years on, we’ve made huge progress in global deployment of renewable energy, including solar. However oil and coal still account for around 62% of primary energy consumption, with renewables coming in just shy of 10%. Still a bit of work to do then Mr. Edison.

From a logical point of view it’s hard to deny the case for using renewables instead of their finite fossil friends. Why build dependence on a fuel that will run out?

But at what environmental expense do renewables come? Sure they reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions, and don't deplete finite resources, except in one sense they do. They have to be put somewhere.

"People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure" said Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and national treasure most recently known for the BBC's 'Blue Planet 2' which seemed to inspire the nation in 2017.

It’s a good point! Due to the nature of renewables however, it’s often by being placed in our most 'beautiful' and 'wonderful' spaces, as Attenborough puts it, they can have maximum output.

The rolling hillside exposed to high winds that turbines can harness, or the open fields which provide a perfect expanse for solar panels to harvest the sun’s rays. Now that is a tricky one from an environmental point of view. Is renewable energy or conservation more important?

On a recent trip to Iceland, I pondered this conundrum while stood in front of Gullfoss, one of the Country’s most amazing waterfalls. Gullfoss has almost been used for hydro power in the past.

Photo credit: Andrew Clarke, Some Green Guy. Location: Gullfoss, Iceland.

I’d like to think even the most committed renewables advocate would have some regret at the thought of such plans going ahead, given the detriment it would have to such an awe inspiring natural feature.

But Iceland is truly unique as the only country which sources 100% of its electricity and heat from renewables already, only using fossil fuel as back-up.

It wasn’t just its abundant resources in relation to its small population that motivated this transition. For Iceland the risks, given its remoteness, of energy insecurity and exposure to price volatility were too high. Also the cost of creating a national energy grid didn't make sense. Decentralised energy independence does makes sense, and is practically possible.

So what’s the lesson, this got me thinking…

There is an imperative to preserve our natural world, and we should do as little damage to it as possible while providing energy. But my gut says the greater need is to get off the fossil addiction.

If we don't, that's where way more damage to the natural world will accumulate down the line.

To echo Tomas Edison, I hope we tackle this way before fossil fuels run out. That is the lesson from Iceland, sometimes we need to view the risk as a bigger driver to act, rather than the opportunity. The longer we consider it an optional opportunity, the less choice we have.

For more blogs by Andrew, please visit somegreenguy.com »


This blog is intended to share opinion for informational purposes only, not to provide advice or represent any organisation. Facts and figures are accurate to the best of my knowledge but should not be relied upon.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society for the Environment. 

Tags:  CEnv  Chartered Environmentalist  Energy  Environment  Fossil Fuel  Renewables  Solar  Wind Turbines 

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Professor Carolyn Roberts CEnv Talks Flood Control on BBC Radio 4

Posted By Phil Underwood, 27 December 2017
Updated: 03 January 2018

Here at the Society for the Environment we are always excited to find and share examples of the work and contributions of Chartered Environmentalists and Registered Environmental Technicians, even if it is from a few months or years ago.

With the above in mind, we couldn't help ourselves in sharing this interview with Professor Carolyn Roberts CEnv on BBC Radio 4 from March 2016. Carolyn discussed the role of water and environmental sciences in analysing and preventing flooding events, as well as using science in police investigations. 

Listen Here

To listen, simply press play on the audio player above. 

 

BBC Description:

"Barely a month goes by without news of another catastrophic flood somewhere in the world, like the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 or the flooding of New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina a year later, and the role of climate change is often mooted. Here in the UK this winter, flood victims were once again caught in a cycle of despair and anger as they tried to make sense of why their homes were flooded and what could be done to prevent it happening again.

Jim talks to environmental scientist, Professor Carolyn Roberts, who is pre-occupied by problems like this. She applies water science, in particular, to work out why such events occur and the role we humans play in them. Her passion for problem solving in watery places also takes her into the intriguing world of forensics where she assists the police when bodies are found floating in rivers and canals."

Tags:  BBC  CEnv  Chartered  Chartered Environmentalist  Environment  Flooding  Forensics  IES  Interview  pollution  Radio  Science  Water 

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CIWEM Magazine Articles by Dr Peter Matthews CBE OBE HonFSE CEnv

Posted By Phil Underwood, 28 July 2017

Over the last few months former Chair of the Society for the Environment, Dr Peter Matthews CBE OBE HonFSE CEnv, has been providing insightful articles for the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) magazine 'The Environment'. 

We are pleased that CIWEM have given us permission to share these articles on our website for the wider environmental professional community to view. These articles touch on a broad range of environmental subjects, providing interest to environmental professionals working in many sectors.

Each article is listed below - please feel free to share with your colleagues and interested contacts. 

March 2016
Aspiration to Regulation

April 2016
From Paper to Practice

May 2016
What is the Role of Arm's Length Bodies?

June 2016
The Question of Independence

July / August 2016
Practical Regulation and the Community

September 2016
Getting to the Routes of Regulation

October 2016
Origins - Green Myth and Iconography

November 2016
Creating an Environment for Change

December 2016 / January 2017
What Will Brexit Mean for Environmental Regulation in the UK?

February 2017
Making the Best of Brexit

March 2017
Passionate Truth, Not Post Truth

April 2017
An Age of Environmental Chivalry

May 2017
Evidence Based Practice in Environmental Decision Making

June 2017
Behavioural Sciences Can Help Us

New articles will be added to this blog post when available. For more information about the magazine, please click here.

Tags:  Articles  CEnv  Chair  CIWEM  Environment  HonFSE  Magazine  REnvTech 

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