Time for birders to (re)consider their Carbon Footprint

09 Dec 2009 01:46 #303 by Dan Barrett
In view of the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen and the now constant message of a global call to act, isn't it time that birders in the UK and elsewhere start to consider how much harm their hobby is actually doing to the environment. There is a grave danger that in our pursuits we will end up being amongst those with the biggest footprints of any private individuals and contribute massively to the destruction of the very thing we love.
How many miles does a lister with 300 or more species per year to his/her name cover? I'll never be one of them but lets say for arguments sake 65000, in a 2Litre diesel that would equate to approx 18.5 tonnes of CO2 released into the environment.
A quick glance at my World list will show that I too am guilty, maybe more than many others. However, I have resolved to abandon long haul flights until a vastly more benign fuel can be found (& I don't mean bio-fuel from palm oil) and in the UK not to twitch unless I have a full car. Apologies for the long thread, I would be very interested in your thoughts and comments. Dan

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28 Dec 2009 00:52 #325 by Bruce Kerr
I wouldn't get too worked up about it.A lot also depends on your general lifestyle.
For example I live 4 miles from work,never have to sit in traffic queues to go or come home.I have colleagues who live 100 miles and commute every day(not too uncommon I believe).
I go abroad on a family holiday that combines birding roughly once a year,yet I also know people who travel abroad to Spain at least 8 times a year.
As long as you only "twitch" a first then it will have no significance whatsoever;and who's to say who has the right to do what anyway.There are pop stars who advocate reductions,but comfortably forget they live in mansions and fly around in private jets(some would normally be 200 seat airliners) that use up my lifes energy in a week.

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29 Dec 2009 07:22 #326 by Dan Barrett
Bruce, in the wake of the complete failure of the Copenhagen summit I find your attitude puzzling and disappointing. Yes, there are too many 'pop' stars and others saying green and doing the opposite but surely it is within the power of millions of ordinary people, us that is, to decide not to consume as we have in the past and start to make a real difference. We, the people are the consumers, not the governments so if they won't act we surely must. It does however require everyone to look at themselves, how and what they consume and begin to behave differently. We cannot keep ignoring climate change, we must believe that positive action can make a difference.

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29 Dec 2009 18:38 #328 by Bruce Kerr
Well,as I've got an Honours Degree in Earth Sciences which I finished six years ago,and studied a course in ENHANCED Global Warming every year for six years I am not talking from a point of ignorance.Remember it is enhanced global warming we're talking anout,global warming is happening anyway as we pull out from an ice-age.It's not that I don't want to do something about it.It's that I've lived my life in a pretty frugal way,long before Enhanced Global Warming was ever coined I believed in looking after resources though I didn't know the consequences of not doing so.
If people give up their hobbies and have nothing left but just to survive,is that what you want?
Petrol will run out,new energires have to be found or it is doomsday anyway.In the meantime with our fragile economies if we stop spending we're finished economically and won't have the money to find the solutions.A bit of a catch 22.
Years ago in the 70's when there was a fuel crisis and it was suddenly thought fuel would run out there was international panic that resulted in all sorts of conservation methods being applied,but the major one still hasn't happened.
The only thing that will make any difference is if the world population is reduced,if we can't do that you may as well forget it.There are finite resources on this planet and far too many people using them.The chinese had the answer in making it law that only one chlid was alowed per family-draconian?perhaps but it was the only answer that was going to work,and they gave it up as they couldn't apply it.
To what point do you want people to cut down.Sit at home freezing in ths weather?,with no lighting? When oil and gas run out it'll happen anyway,you just delay the inevitable by cutting down.
No,sorry I'm just a realist and long before this popularisation of what is happening occured I could see it,and nothing real is going to be done unless we drastically cut down on the number of people in the world.Fewer people use fewer resources,so cleaner atmosphere,and more for more future generations.If I halve my energy use and the world population doubles(which will happen in the next 50 to 100 years) there is no difference to global warming.Whereas if I use the same energy and the population halves the energy use halves,and therefore a huge cut-down on carbon emissions and conservation of resources..
Incidentally I have used every energy reduction device as soon as it came out(e.g.light bulbs0,have a washing machine that uses the minimum possible energy,and weighs the clothes to cut down the lenght of program,have never bought a car with more than 1600 cc engine,always lived near work,switch off lights in rooms I'm not in,etc.,etc..I came out one of the best in a works survey of low energy use,so my attitude has nothing to do with it as you are preaching to the converted.I just think it impossible to change other peoples and more importantly big companies:-they only do it because they see a way of cutting costs,picking and choosing what they like.Do they really think planting trees is going to make a difference in the short term.It may be better than nothing but it's a long way short of what's needed.
So,I repeat, a handful of birder's giving up their hobby makes no difference whatsoever.Get the famlies with three or more children to stop having more and then you'll make a difference.

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29 Dec 2009 19:42 #329 by Dan Barrett
Perhaps it would have helped if your original reply had come with some sort of qualification rather than a somewhat blase accent. That said, I do actually agree with much of what you say Bruce, and your comments about population are spot on, however that subject seems to be off-limits, politically incorrect or whatever.
Much guilt though must surely be laid at the door of the Capitalist Western world, with the Pareto principle being borne out ~ us 20% consuming 80% of the world's resources. Are we then just going to continue consuming inexorably towards oblivion or is there still time for the governments and peoples to acknowledge that there is a better model out there?

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29 Dec 2009 20:37 #330 by Bruce Kerr
Here's some examples of what you're talking aboput that you may not know:-
Thinking of forests and carbon locked up in trees.I live in Troon in Scotlnd and we have a sawmill at the harbour.In the last ten years it has grown vastly,and now on a daily basis forest loads(I'm not exaggerating)of trees are delivered every day to it.A couple of winters ago I had a fence blown down,and my local landscape gardeners came to repair and replace parts.
They said it wasn't easy to get wood these days and that you wouldn't think it was difficult,but that all the thousands of trees that weent to the harbour daily were bound for China and their economic growth,and this is happening throughout Britain.They are re-planting the forests,of course,but at the rate required to replace all these trees in a cyclical growth scheme.I don't think so.
There are also football fans that travel 400 mile return journeys every week(to away games and some to home and away).I know people who go to see Manchester United.There are coach loads from Scotland every week,and coach loads of people from Manchester and Leeds to see Celtic and Rangers.And these are just a couple of examples of the millions that go to see Chelsea,Liverpool,and clubs in Europe and throughout the world(Abramovich has flown from Anadyr to Stansted and back in his private Boeing 767 just for one game and does so regularly).If they give up huge revenues to TV companies and football clubs are lost,never mind the unemployment you create.Same thing applies to your long-haul flight.Yes ,it's environmentally damaging,but the western world economy is based on flying.
It's a far more complex issue than everyone giving up everything at one fell swoop.
And our things we hold dear are going to go by geological processes:-that's what happened during the Jurassic and other periods between ice-ages,but I do agree there is no need to speed this up.
The number of people going to the twitching lenghts you are talking about are the few,and let them get on with it.Very few of us could be bothered,even if we had the time.Their impact is minimal to the point of almost none at all compared to the numbers travelling for other pastimes.

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29 Dec 2009 21:25 #331 by Bruce Kerr
Here' a photo of Abramovich's plane.They would normally carry between 181 and 375 passengers,depending on layout. [img size=500]media/kunena/attachments/legacy/images/Abramovich_Boeing_767.jpg
Attachments:

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30 Dec 2009 07:24 #332 by Jonathan Lethbridge
Hi Dan
In case you were interested, 65,000 is a huge over-estimate. I tried a year-list this year and travelled 15,895 miles, which whilst stupid, is not as much as you might think. I saw 314 birds. Exactly 12,000 of those miles were solo, the rest were shared with 1-3 other people. Not environmentally friendly, and fairly pointless as well - I won't be doing it again - but not half (indeed only about 1/5) as bad as you make out. In the grand scheme of wastage, it isn't very much. I don't know the maths, but the car is a 1.8 diesel, and a co2 calculator I found says that the footprint of those 12,000 miles is 4.52 tonnes. That is the rough equivalent of one transatlantic return flight. I am not trying to justify the carbon footprint of my pointless year list, but I do feel that there are perhaps larger targets to take aim at.
Jonathan

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30 Dec 2009 15:43 #333 by Dan Barrett
Jono, yes, I realised not long after I posted that my figures were somewhat awry, however I hope the point was made. By the way, I am not for a moment saying birders should give up their hobby, just that all of us, that is all of us in the western world are hugely priveleged and should be aware of the choices we can make and what effect they have. Perhaps in the end it may make little difference but I still believe that the actions of the many can outweigh the actions of the few.
Well done on your 'big year', with so few miles! Dan

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30 Dec 2009 17:24 #334 by Bruce Kerr
There are methods which were hined at by Dan whereby you don't have to give up listing,nor cut down on it but can still be more environmentally friendly.One ,which isn't popular is(as he said)use a smaller vehicle with a smaller engine.A second(jonathan said)is car share.A third,not mentioned so far is slow down.I regularly travel to my parents just north of Newcastle and can travel on dual carriageway/motorway for 180 of the 185 miles.
Last time I went(as a rule I dirve at the speed limits)I slowed don to 50 all the way,and drove overnight so as not to inconvenience other motorists,and also because I like yo visit Lindisfarne at daybreak on the way(tide permitting).The return journey is ,of course 370 miles.By driving at this speed I only lost half an hour on travelling time as Glasgow is a 60 limit anyway,and most of the A1 is 60.BUT :=,I saved 2 gallons of fuel over the distance.If everyone drove at a maximum of 50 the fuel saving would be tremendous,as well as the reduction in accidents.
Not very popular idea with some,but I never understood why people were in such a hurry.
The bird is either there or not,I've never missed a bird by being half an hour late,although I don't do a great deal of twitching.It can't happen all that often that something flies off before you get there.

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30 Dec 2009 17:27 #335 by Bruce Kerr
I was typing with the lights out on a dull morning,and see several spelling errors.The only real mistake is Glasgow is mostly a 50 limit,not 60

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