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Global Warming - Patio Heaters

About Patio Heaters

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I've just learned via the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that patio heaters produce 1 million tonnes of CO2 per year in the UK. What a waste, an MP (I did not catch his name) is trying to ban them. Comments from people sitting under them at a cafe where enlightening, basically they said I know about climate change, I think patio heaters contribute to it but I enjoy sitting outside in winter so I don't want change.
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Date:February 19th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)

Patio heaters

I agree with you that of all the devices that should be banned, this is top of the list.

However, whatever concerns express about global warming few people are prepared to make REAL sacrifices. And if we are to make a difference major changes have to be made on a global basis. I can see nothing in peoples willingness to change that will prevent all of the gas and oil reserves being burnt. The best we can is slow the burn down. The Kyoto protocol targets will be largely missed and even if they were hit they would make little difference - slowing down the rate of CO2 production by 10% or even 50% is neither here nor there, the reduction required is much higher.

I have read your article about MH batteries - but do not undertsand how they will help. There are few countries in the world that are even planning to generate more than around 30% of their electricity from sustainable sources, let alone actually achieving it - and Germany is closing down the one source of electricity which, for all its faults, does not contribute to CO2 generation. If the UK government decides to proceed with a new nuclear programme I am sure there will be many attempts to prevent it.

With a high proportion of the worlds population living at near poverty levels we have to expect them to consume more energy in the future and we urgently need sustainable ways of producing it. Our one hope is the development of alternative ways of using solar power. Bacterial farms on the sahara to produce fuel? Solar arrays - when they can be made cheaply and their efficiency increased?

I don't understand the concern about the rainforest - at least from the point of CO2 emissions. As the forests are they probably neither add to nor detract from the total of CO2 - growing trees absorb CO2, but release it again when they die and rot. To farm the forests and use the wood would at least lock up CO2. Burning the forests, is another matter of course - that significantly shifts the equilibrium to higher CO2 levels.

Excuse my ramble - I hope I make some sense.


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Date:February 19th, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Patio heaters

I agree that the best we can do is slow down the rate of oil and gas burning. Unfortunately, slowing it down does not help (unless to very low levels), temperature rise depends on the total amount of emissions not their rate, see for instance

Plug-in hybrids are one of the few ways of cutting emissions from transport which are even remotely feasible. With a lot of look and a following wind we might be able to cut transport emissions be 80% in 30 years if there were fuel efficient cars running most of the time on renewable electricity and the rest on biofuels. Until lithium ion batteries are available (6-7 years at least, followed by another 10-20 years production build up) LiMH are the only "available" batteries for plug-in hybrids, they aren't actually available because they cannot be manufactured because of patent issues.

I don't know the best way of future electricity generation for developing countries, could be solar electric, wind, or even nuclear or coal with carbon capture and storage, what I do know is that it will have to be a mix suitable to circumstances and that even if electricity generation were 100% carbon neutral that would only solve 30% of the problem.

If the rainforest is cut down, the soils tend to release their stores of carbon, which is aproximately as much as above ground, some of the wood cut down will last hundreds of years, but most will be burnt or decay within decades, remember is it total amount that matters not rate, so releasing it over 50 years is no better than buring all the forests down next year.
Most tropical forests are not farmed, they are replaced by agriculture, which stores far less carbon dioxide.

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