Lignite Mine Expansion

Lignite, sometimes called ‘brown coal’, is a soft, brown sedimentary rock that is essentially compressed peat. It is used almost exclusively as a fuel in steam-electric power stations. Lignite is a poor fuel. Compared to other types of coal it produces less heat and more carbon dioxide and sulphur. Some brown coal contains toxic heavy metals that get burned off or remain in the fly ash.

Lignite Or Bust

But if it’s all you’ve got then that’s what you burn, up and until someone points out what a bad idea it is environmentally. The Garzweiler surface mine in Germany is an opencast lignite mine. It’s huge, a long scar stretching north west to south east covering 48 square km.

And now for the news. It’s going to get bigger.

Because Russia turned off the gas tap, RWE who own the mine need more space. So an array of eight wind turbines near the Garzweiler mine are being removed to increase the opencast area so it can mine more lignite. Under its licence, Energiekontor, which owns the wind turbines, has to dismantle the turbines by the end of 2023. Why, I don’t know. Three turbines have gone, already.

I guess that if the lignite mine did not need the space, then eight new wind turbines could have gone up. But that’s not what’s happening. So no Russian gas, but home grown lignite.

What is the overall balance of environmental cost? It’s worse, that’s clear. How much worse, I don’t know. But lobbyists at COP27 are promoting gas as a clean fuel…

Shut The Door – Government Petition

Some problems are overwhelming, the problem of energy escaping from shops with open doors is easily solved. Shops (with few exceptions) put fear of missing out on potential customers above the desire to conserve energy – whether heating or air conditioning,

No shop would feel disadvantaged if all shops were required by law to close their doors so as not to leak their energy to the outside world.

I have started a petition to UK Government. It needs five supporters to click the link the Government provided in order for the petition to be registered.

The petition:
To save energy, require shops to keep their doors closed during opening hours.

What I want Government to do:
Introduce legislation requiring all shops to close their doors (that is, not open wide) during opening hours. This proposal is not solely about the current high cost of energy, but about wasting precious energy and the costs of producing it on a planet that is warming uncontrollably.

Why I want Government to do it: 
We all understand that shops need to be welcoming to customers, but customers would quickly realise that a closed door does not mean a closed shop. Shops (with few exceptions) put fear of missing out on potential customers above the desire to conserve energy – whether heating or air conditioning, No shop would feel disadvantaged if all shops were required by law to close their doors so as not to leak their energy to the outside world.

Note that you have to be a UK citizen to sign the petition.

Click this link to sign the petition:

The Impetus For This

For years my wife, Tamara, has been speaking to managers in shops and supermarkets talking to them about the heat they let escape through the doors they leave open wide. By keeping at it, she has seen the attitude of shop managers change over the years from ‘who is this person coming to make my life difficult?’ to be more positive and understanding.

And who wouldn’t change their attitude once they see the bigger picture about the risks to Earth’s environment.

They say that if you want to sell something to a customer you have to bring it to their attention eight times before it penetrates the layers of consciousness.

So this is me acknowledging that Tamara has kept on and on, and not been dissuaded. 

We know there is legislation on closed doors in France. So today, I thought – how hard can it be for Government to legislate on this, so I made a start with a petition. 

Royal Mail Asks Government to Cut Deliveries to Five Days

International Distribution Services PLC, the parent company of Royal Mail, published its half year results on 17 November. As several news outlets have commented, the section that deals with Royal Mail contains an unwelcome proposal “Government has been approached to seek an early move to five day letter delivery, whilst we continue to improve parcel services”

Here is the section in the IDS results that relates to Royal Mail.

  • Revenue 10.5% lower period-on-period. Due to management action, strike impact has been contained. Revenue flat vs. H1 2019-20 (pre-pandemic)
  • Five point plan to stabilise the business already underway with a focus on rightsizing the business, tighter cash management and improving operational grip
  • Successfully completed Delivering for the Future management change and agreed a new pay deal with Unite/CMA
  • Talks with CWU continue although we are already moving ahead with required changes. Talks will cease if further industrial action goes ahead
  • Ensuring future sustainability depends critically on urgent reform of the Universal Service.
  • Government has been approached to seek an early move to five day letter delivery, whilst we continue to improve parcel services

Just think about a company that sends out goods to customers via Royal Mail. Anything mailed on Friday will only arrive on Monday. Anything ready to send out on Saturday will sit at the Post Office and only go out on Monday.

Companies that offer same-day dispatch by First Class Royal Mail will continue to do so, but goods dispatched on a Friday will now not arrive the next day.

So if same-day dispatch is a selling point, it will go out the window for one of the five days that it offers the service if Government agrees to IDS’s proposal. Put another way, it will lose 20% of its value as a proposition if the Government says yes.

Branch Drop

Several areas of the Botanic Garden are roped off. A sign explains that is to protect visitors from the risk of falling branches as a result of Summer Branch Drop. That can occur when trees are drought stressed, and when they take up water after a period of drought. It is unpredictable, and not related to other indicators of tree health.

The Drought FAQ page of the Botanic Garden website mentions that branch drop can affect any tree but is particularly known to affect cedars, pines, oaks, beeches, chestnuts and poplars, as well as old trees.

Rain taken up by branches after drought can weaken them to the point that branch drop can occur – usually six to eight hours after heavy rain.

While some trees are sacrificing branches, others such as this Yoshino cherry, are curling up their leaves to limit transpiration.

Meanwhile, no real rain for almost a month.

curled leaves of Yoshino cherry

Poaching In The News

The iNews newspaper of 19 July 2022 reports on page 34 that elephant tusks and pangolin scales had been seized in Malaysia

Malaysian authorities said yesterday they seized a container of African elephant tusks, pangolin scales and other animal skulls and bones estimated to be worth 80 million ringgit (£15m).
The Customs Department said in a statement it discovered the contraband hidden behind sawn timber following checks on 10 July on a ship coming from Africa. This included 6,000kg of elephant tusks, 100kg of pangolin scales, 25kg of rhino horns and 300kg of animal skulls, bones and horns, it said.
Investigations are ongoing on the importer and shipping agent.
Ivory tusks, rhino horns and pangolin scales are believed by some to have medicinal properties and are in high demand in Asia.
The World Wildlife Fund said the illegal wildlife trade threatens the survival of many species and has led to a 60 per cent decline in population sizes of vertebrate species.

I looked up how much an average elephant tusk weighs, and its 23kg. So 46kg per elephant – which means that someone had killed 130 elephants to get that haul.

And around sixteen rhinos at 1.5 to 2.5kg per horn.

There is a huge variation in the number of scales on pangolins, varying with species, and an average of 0.47 kg per animal is very approximate, but let’s say 200 animals killed to make the weight of scales found.

Is that a lot? The United Nations page on pangolin scales shows that 69.3 tons of pangolin scales were seized in 2019. That’s 147,447 pangolins.

Alexey Botvinov

Over the past few days I have listened to several versions of Rachmaninoff’s Elegie op.3 No.1. That includes the version played by Rachmaninoff himself. Naturally, that recording is quite old, so the full richness of the piano as an instrument doesn’t come through like it can with modern recording. Tonight, because it appeared in the sidebar on YouTube I listened to the version by Alexey Botvinov, and almost from the first note I thought it was good and was going to be good. And it is good – and he is a wonderful pianist.

Here is the link to the video on YouTube

So then I wanted to know more about the man, because I have never heard of him before. That is not a big surprise because there are many pianists and others that I have not heard of. And this is his bio – or some of it from Concert-Media

Alexey Botvinov is an exceptional pianist in our time. The most famous Ukrainian pianist, Botvinov is one of the best specialists in Rachmaninoff music worldwide. Botvinov is the only pianist who performed Bach’s „Goldberg Variations“ more than 300 times on stage. He performed in over 45 countries.