Q and A with 10:10's Duncan Clark

(24 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 09-Sep-10 10:58:08

Ever wondered which is greener - washing up or dishwasher, driving or flying, reusable nappies or disposables? 10:10's own Duncan Clark, carbon expert, author of 'Rough Guide to Green Living', AND new father is here to answer your questions on all aspects of your carbon footprint. Send your questions to Duncan on this thread before end of Wednesday 15th September and we'll link to his answers the following week. October 10 will see the launch of 10:10:10, the next phase of 10:10s global campaign to cut carbon by 10 per cent each year. Go here.

ItalianMummy Thu 09-Sep-10 13:56:07

"Green" loo paper is supposed to need much more water to be produced compared to the ordinary kind, not to speak of the factory waste it leaves behind. Which way should we go?

strandedatsea Thu 09-Sep-10 17:08:28

What is your best answer to the Supporting Deeveloping World Farmers vs buying low air miles, home grown produce debate?

POFAKKEDDthechair Thu 09-Sep-10 22:32:26

I'm quite keen on the lighter later idea but IIRC quite a few Mnetters were opposed to it - particularly those who lived in Scotland - Duncan's thoughts on the issue?

paisleyleaf Fri 10-Sep-10 12:03:30

I care about the environment, I really do. I keep our carbon footprint pretty low, installed a woodburner, car share, run an allotment, all the bit.
But even I get put off and frustrated by all the greenwashing - it leaves you disheartened and confused about pretty much all of it, from buying a product to your fortnightly recycling collection.
I think it makes people understandably cynical.

I'd like to ask how we can know when we are on the right track with something and see through misleading information (even when it's perhaps sometimes meant genuinely enough).

Takver Fri 10-Sep-10 13:19:55

Agree re paisleyleaf's question.

Also, I wonder what your thoughts are on low carbon heating for the UK. We also have wood fired central heating, which is fine as we're in the countryside in wet Wales, but recently visiting friends in their flat London I was at a loss as to what the answer would be post gas/oil to heating the mass of dwellings in towns & cities.

PigletJohn Fri 10-Sep-10 22:17:39

I have seen some very heated arguments about PhotoVoltaic electricity generation (expensive solar cells on the house roof) selling electricity to the grid. I understand that the people with these cells receive more money for their electricity than the wholesale electricity price on the open market, and that the money is paid by the electricity companies out of the money they charge their other customers. So the many poor people's electricity bills are higher, in order to pay money to the richer people with solar collectors.

Doesn't make sense to me.

What aree your vbiews?

POFAKKEDDthechair Sat 11-Sep-10 10:44:07

well all councils should fit photovoltaic panels to council accommodation, IMO. And I don't know why solar panels are not automatically fitted to all new builds either. Ridiculous.

PigletJohn Sat 11-Sep-10 11:11:16

POFAKKEDDthechair, do you have reason to believe that the panels cost less than the value of the electricity they produce over ten years? What is the environmental impact of manufacturing, transporting and fitting the things, and the cost of getting someone up there to clean them a couple of times a year?

where does the money come from to pay for them?

POFAKKEDDthechair Sat 11-Sep-10 11:43:37

modern cells apparently require two to six years to pay back the energy investment in them. More funding into that area of research would certainly make them even more efficient and cheaper to produce, but of course that is not going to happen.

POFAKKEDDthechair Sat 11-Sep-10 11:46:23

Interesting article here

PigletJohn Sat 11-Sep-10 13:09:17

thanks.

So "the overall energy conversion efficiency of photovoltaics is still too low to be cost-competitive with fossil fuels" but it might get better in future

Where is the money coming from to pay for the subsidy to people who have them?

Takver Sat 11-Sep-10 14:05:36

piglet, don't know if it would affect your views, but they certainly last a great deal longer than 10 years.

I've lived myself with 2nd hand panels that had come out of an experiment to try to wear them out by concentrating sun (in California) onto them with mirrors - they're still going strong and are now well over 20 yrs old. All the figures that I have seen suggest that they produce many times the embodied energy, even allowing for a 15-20 yr lifespan.

In terms of cash spend vs energy generated, I think hot water panels are probably a better bet though?

And clearly the question of embodied energy vs energy production doesn't tackle your question about why money is coming from bills to pay the feed in tariff (FWIW I think the way the subsidy is designed is crazy, but maybe that's for another thread).

Dinghy Sat 11-Sep-10 14:07:53

Duncan Clark?

Anyone else thought it was this guy?

blush

domesticslattern Sat 11-Sep-10 22:01:52

Through my work, I have a couple of times met "green" experts, who often appear in mags/ on TV, telling us all about green issues. It seems to be such an industry nowadays.

Anyways, I once had the pleasure of going to one of their mahoosive houses, which had recently featured in a Home and Gardens stylee photoshoot admiring its upcycled furniture and organic vegetable garden. I couldn't help noticing that he left the lights on upstairs when we were all downstairs; had an aga on all the time, and a dinner-plate style shower head; and takes domestic flights around the country in order to deliver talks on green living, as well as going on long-haul flights on occasion but "less than he used to". (He was a bit blush about this but explained that he offsets the emissions confused).

Dish the dirt Duncan. Are they all like this?

AndiMac Sat 11-Sep-10 22:35:25

PigletJohn, you can get FREE solar panels, so you don't have to be rich to enjoy some of the benefits. Read this article for an explanation: www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/free-solar-pan els.

POFAKKEDDthechair Sun 12-Sep-10 06:04:35

brilliant link AndiMac, thanks.

Rob1n Sun 12-Sep-10 14:00:47

Takver - wouldn't worry about post gas, there's tonnes of the stuff and even if it's not the kind that comes out of the earth there's methane capture (ok, how green it might be to burn it is another question but we have to have some heating)

Also, where does the idea come from that having a woodburner is considered ok in terms of trying to reduce carbon emissions? Why does it also seem especially ok because you live in the country? We sure would be in real mess if everyone joined in & decided to get wood fired heating.

My questions to Duncan are:

1. It's generally accepted to be a good thing for people to grow their own food and I agree there are lots of benefits from this aside from the green issue, but is this really an efficient system? How efficient is it for lots of individuals to be putting all that energy into growing their own stuff and all requiring their own tools, spade, fork, rake, wheelbarrow etc...? How much of the produce ends up being wasted or unsuccessful because people don't know what they're doing? Wouldn't it be a better idea to encourage larger scale local food production & local consumption?

2. Leading on from this, I like to cook all my own food from scratch and enjoy baking but from an energy efficiency/carbon reduction point of view, is it better to buy a convenience meal that goes in the microwave for 4 minutes than potentially have the electric cooker/gas hob on for 2 hours or more?

3. Carbon emissions might not be considered to be so much of a problem if there were fewer of us on the planet - should we feel guilty about having children or try to restrict the number of children we have?

4. What's wrong with carbon anyway? We are call made of carbon. We eat carbon. We couldn't live without carbon. Carbon dioxide is not the biggest greenhouse gas, water vapour is but we're not bothered about that? The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been much higher in the past, way before humans were on the scene, we didn't influence it then so what makes us think we can influence it now?

Thanks

bogwobbit Sun 12-Sep-10 14:18:35

I'd like to ask what one thing, individuals could do (as a first step to being green so to speak) that would make the most difference, e.g. is it not using the car for small journeys; going vegetarian; not flying.
I appreciate that we should probably do all of the above, but which one thing woulc have the biggest impact.
Thanks.

YunoYurbubson Sun 12-Sep-10 17:27:35

Sugar. White sugar comes in paper packets. Brown sugar comes in plastic bags. Why? And which should I buy?

Takver Sun 12-Sep-10 19:37:34

Rob1n - "Also, where does the idea come from that having a woodburner is considered ok in terms of trying to reduce carbon emissions? Why does it also seem especially ok because you live in the country? We sure would be in real mess if everyone joined in & decided to get wood fired heating."

Clearly, there wouldn't with the current population be enough wood for everyone to have wood fired heating, but surely insofar as it is available coppice woodland is ideal for heating, in that there are zero net carbon emissions, and it is effectively endlessly renewing (IIRC there are coppice plantations that have been managed for hundreds of years).

Reason for it being better in the country is simply that where we live is thinly populated and covered in woodland, much of which is overstood coppice which even from a wildlife point of view would benefit from being brought back into rotation.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 15-Sep-10 19:01:13

Many thanks to all those who sent in questions to Duncan. We're sending them on this evening and will be linking to the transcribed Q and A from this thread next week.

Takver Fri 24-Sep-10 19:07:01

Any answers yet, Rachel?

<sitting on edge of chair>

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 27-Sep-10 11:32:00

Yes ! You can see Duncan's answers to your questions at:

Duncan Clark Q and A

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