Back to Basics: What is ‘Global Warming’?

When sunlight passes through a medium, such as glass, it penetrates it but is slowed down so that it is changed to heat in the process. The heat, then, doesn’t have enough energy to travel back through the glass and so is trapped inside.

This is what makes a garden greenhouse work. The earth’s atmosphere acts in the same way. It acts like fleece and prevents extremes of temperature. This is normal. Also over hundreds and thousands of years, the earth’s climate varies considerably and has gone through long periods of cooling or warming. This also is normal. However, with our increased industrialisation, increased air travel and private transport we are burning ever more fossil fuels and this is creating more carbon dioxide and other particles in our atmosphere. This has caused the ‘greenhouse effect’ which is behind new extremes of world temperatures. At first, scientists were divided as to whether global warming is just a normal fluctuation (as described) or is actually caused by these manmade emissions. With so much more evidence available now the overwhelming majority of scientists have concluded that it is manmade. For example: search: ‘NASA climate change’. Unfortunately, not everyone has caught up with this update! As we all know we have very little time to reduce our carbon and other emissions before they get seriously out of hand.

What we can do: a few ideas to start with

  • We can support our local business and producers. This saves produce transport (food miles) and so reduces our carbon footprint. We can support those restaurants and pubs which themselves buy local 
  • We are very lucky to have a local charity shop in Queen Street, Lynton which supports the North Devon Hospice. We can not only take our unwanted goods there, which helps with recycling but also buy from there to save the production costs of new goods
  • Where there are facilities, we can refill containers. This also saves the energy costs of production
  • We can come together to plant more trees (see below)
  • We can reduce heat loss in our homes and save money (see below)

Save money – save energy

Over half of the average household’s fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water. That is a considerable amount of money, so it is vital that we are knowledgeable about the type of heating system we have, and we are using it correctly. This will not only save money but also reduce carbon being released. Turning your thermostat down 1 degree can save you £80 per year and 340kg of carbon dioxide. Upgrading an old boiler to a modern one has savings of around £200 per year.

Insulating your home has huge benefits too, both for your pocket and for the climate. A typical older house loses 10% of heat through the loft, 20% through glass, 30% through drafts, 25% through the walls and 15% through the floors. Increasing your loft insulation to 300mm, installing draft proofing and secondary or double glazing can cut heat loss by up to 50%.

There are initiatives that support local people with home improvements such as insulating your home, replacing your boiler and accessing grants for energy-efficient measures. 361 Energy is a local not-for-profit community interest company and focuses on ‘the acceleration of decarbonisation of our beautiful region in the face of the climate emergency’, which in turn helps to reduce people’s energy bills. You can call them on 01271 599361 to discuss what they can offer you.

Energy-saving facts

The average person’s carbon footprint is 10 tonnes per year which is equivalent to filling 24 million balloons with carbon dioxide. Average annual carbon footprint per person in (tonnes):

Australia = 20.6

Lynton (UK!) = 9.7

China = 4.6

India = 1.2

What we have done so far: –

  • A Facebook group: ‘Lyn Climate Action’ was started with currently over 150 members. There will be a website to follow. 
  • There is also a new Instagram page: @ “LynClimateAction”. If anyone wishes to post a message, it is #LoveLynValley or #lovelynvalley

…and to come……

  • The second open public meeting is on Monday 24th February. Everyone is welcome to attend. It will begin with a talk about how to save energy in our homes
  • A tree planting day open to all also at the end of February 
  • A logo Competition. Kidz! listen out for information on how to submit your design from your schools

Deirdre and Jasmine