Green Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visit https://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.
Q: Is planting more trees the answer to global warming?
A: As a complex problem, the climate crisis will require many solutions.
While there is no silver bullet, it is widely accepted that stopping burning fossil fuels is the number one priority.
However, planting lots more trees is essential.
Trees have many benefits. They produce fuel, fibre and food.
They also provide rich habitats and increasingly shade our towns and cities.
Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas driving global overheating and trees are the best way of capturing it from the atmosphere. As they grow, they absorb CO2 and release oxygen, which we need to breathe.
The world’s forests are an enormous carbon store.
Scientists estimate they hold 861 gigatons of it – equivalent to a century’s worth of global fossil fuel emissions at the current rate.
In this context, planting trees is obviously fantastic.
If you have room in your garden, please plant one, although not close to any buildings.
Make sure to choose the right species for your locality. Ask an arborist or look online in Forest Research’s
Urban Tree Manual – which also highlights threats from pests, disease and climate change. As temperatures rise, many traditional British species may no longer be suitable.
For those without outside space, you can contribute to tree planting via charities like The National Trust, The National Forest or Just One Tree.
As large tropical forests are vital in the battle against climate change, you could give to the Rainforest Alliance. You can also use the search engine Ecosia, which plants trees with its profits.
While new trees are wonderful, it’s even more important to protect existing forests. New trees will take years to grow and capture carbon.
The older trees are, the more environmentally precious they are. Indeed, The Woodland Trust describes ancient forests as ‘carbon eating machines’.
In the UK, for example, ancient woodlands make up just 25 per cent of our remaining forests but hold 37 per cent of all the carbon stored in trees.
Centuries of undisturbed soils and accumulated decaying wood have not only made them powerful carbon sinks, but also unique habitats for creatures not found anywhere else. They need to be protected. It would take centuries to recreate them and we don’t have time for that.
When trees are cut down and burned, their stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere. This is why deforestation is the second largest driver of climate change after fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, it’s doubled in the last two decades – primarily because of industrial agriculture, like beef farming.
An increasing number of celebrities are getting involved in the fight for the planet – especially with the recent Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) report saying things are much worse than we thought.
Actor Emma Thompson has been a climate activist for years.
In 2009, she and two supporters of Greenpeace bought land to deter building of Heathrow’s third runway. In 2014, she visited Arctic to highlight dangers of drilling for oil.
She’s also joined Extinction Rebellion’s protests.
If you eat takeaways a lot, then keep portable cutlery in your bag to avoid using plastic cutlery.
A spork is especially useful as it can be used for everything from soups to salads.
Store cutlery in a case or just a re-used plastic bag.
Why you should consider buying an electric bike
Electric bikes – or e-bikes as they are commonly known – are much more environmentally friendly than cars or even public transport.
They don’t release the harmful tail-pipe emissions that drive global warming and cause air pollution.
Increasing in popularity, they are a great way to cut your carbon footprint, save you money while also improving your health.
If you live in a town or a city, they are a hugely convenient alternative to your car as a means of commuting to work or going to the shops (especially if you invest in panniers to carry your bags).
The COVID-19 pandemic saw people flocking to bike shops and taking to two wheels.
Cycling has undergone a resurgence – which is brilliant news, as transport accounts for 27 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions.
But what do you do when you want to travel further than you can manage on a standard bike or you’d rather not turn up at the office a hot mess?
E-bikes are the answer.
How do they work?
They’re simply regular bikes with the addition of an electric motor and a battery.
The battery can be charged from a standard socket.
The stored energy helps power the pedals, easing the amount of effort required.
That being said, you can choose how much assistance you want at any given time by changing the power mode.
You can save all your charge for hills!
An e-bike will offer you between 25 and 100 miles of assisted travelling from any one charge.
Remember, it’ll still function as regular bicycle if you do run out of power.
E-bikes cost between £500 and £3,000, but you will soon start saving money over driving.
As petrol prices hit record highs, they will cut – or even eradicate – your fuel costs.
You also won’t have to pay car parking charges.
While some people might view them as cheating, e-bikes still offer a handy way to exercise as you move around.
Indeed, a study published in ‘The International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity’ showed that they are a better workout than walking.
Don’t forget, you are in charge of when the assistance kicks in.
You can therefore opt to do a percentage of your journey unassisted.
What’s more, they make cycling so much more accessible for beginners or those with mobility or health issues.
Fact or fiction
You should never overfill your kettle.
This is true!
This is such an easy win for you, but too few of us do it.
Boiling excess water wastes energy and money. According to Energy Saving Trust, in the UK alone it costs £68 million per year!
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