Angela Terry, green activist and consumer expert, separates climate change fact from fiction and explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome and 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.
Although there is no silver bullet, it is widely accepted that stopping the burning of fossil fuels is the number one priority.
However, it is essential to plant many more trees.
Trees have many benefits. They produce fuel, fiber and food.
They also provide rich habitats and increasingly shade our towns and villages.
Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas causing global overheating and trees are the best way to capture it from the atmosphere. As they grow, they absorb CO2 and release the oxygen we need to breathe.
The world’s forests are a huge store of carbon.
Scientists estimate they hold 861 gigatonnes, equivalent to a century of global fossil fuel emissions at the current rate.
In this context, planting trees is obviously fantastic.
If you have space in your garden, please plant one, but away from buildings.
Be sure to choose the right species for your locality. Ask an arborist or look online in Forest Research’s
Handbook of Urban Trees – which also highlights threats from pests, diseases and climate change. As temperatures rise, many traditional British species may no longer be suitable.
For those without outdoor space, you can contribute to tree planting through charities such as The National Trust, The National Forest or Just One Tree.
As the great rainforests are vital in the fight against climate change, you could donate to the Rainforest Alliance. You can also use the Ecosia search engine, 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 the trees, the more valuable they are to the environment. Indeed, The Woodland Trust describes ancient forests as “carbon-consuming machines”.
In the UK, for example, old-growth forests make up only 25% of our remaining forests, but hold 37% of all the carbon stored in trees.
Centuries of undisturbed soil and accumulated decaying wood have not only made them powerful carbon sinks, but also unique habitats for creatures found nowhere else. They need to be protected. It would take centuries to recreate them and we don’t have time for that.
When trees are felled and burned, their stored carbon is released into the atmosphere. This is why deforestation is the second driver of climate change after fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, it has doubled in the past two decades, mainly due to industrial agriculture, such as cattle farming.
A growing number of celebrities are getting involved in the fight for the planet – especially with the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicating that things are much worse than we thought.
Actress Emma Thompson has been a climate activist for years.
In 2009, she and two Greenpeace supporters bought land to deter construction of Heathrow’s third runway. In 2014, she traveled to the Arctic to highlight the dangers of oil drilling.
She also joined the Extinction Rebellion protests.
If you eat takeout a lot, keep portable cutlery in your bag to avoid using plastic cutlery.
A spoon is particularly useful because it can be used for everything from soups to salads.
Store cutlery in a case or simply in a reused plastic bag.
Why should you 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 do not release harmful exhaust emissions that lead to global warming and air pollution.
Increasingly popular, they are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, save money while improving your health.
If you live in town or city, they are an extremely convenient alternative to your car for commuting to work or running errands (especially if you invest in panniers to carry your luggage).
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen people flock to bike shops and get on two wheels.
Cycling has seen a resurgence – which is great news, as transport accounts for 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions.
But what do you do when you want to travel further than you can on a standard bike or you’d rather not show up to the office with a burning mess?
How do they work?
They are simply regular bicycles with the addition of an electric motor and battery.
The battery can be charged from a standard outlet.
The stored energy helps power the pedals, which eases the effort required.
That being said, you can choose the level of assistance you want at any time by changing the power mode.
You can save all your charges for the hills!
An electric bike will give you between 25 and 100 miles of assisted travel from a single charge.
Remember, it will still perform like a regular bike if you run out of power.
E-bikes cost between £500 and £3000, but you’ll soon start saving money on the ride.
As gasoline prices reach record highs, they will reduce – if not eradicate – your fuel costs.
You won’t have to pay any parking fees either.
Although some people might consider them cheating, e-bikes still offer a convenient way to exercise while on the go.
Indeed, a study published in ‘The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity’ showed that they are a better workout than walking.
Remember that you are responsible for when the assist kicks in.
You can therefore choose to do a percentage of your trip without assistance.
Plus, they make cycling much more accessible to beginners or those with mobility or health issues.
fact or fiction
You should never overfill your kettle.
It’s such an easy win for you, but too few of us are doing it.
Boiling excess water wastes energy and money. According to Energy Saving Trust, in the UK alone it costs £68 million a year!
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