It's cold out there tonight. My thermometer shows -1 at 1am, so I'm guessing it's going to get colder up here throughout the night. We seem to be a bit of an odd microcosm up here on the downs in north Berkshire. Nestled around the ancient Ridgeway on high, wind swept chall hill's we seem to largely have a climate of our own. A mile down the road and you can drive off the downs and end up with completely different weather.
The grass tonight though is crunchy under foot and the roads are quite slippery. The dog's of course love the weather, bounding about and eating anything frosty, smelly or both.
It's interesting tonight as at the time of writing there is no wind up here. Something that seems quite unusual, but something that also shows what much of the country must have been like in the early 20th century – at least in terms of heating. We are mostly solid fuel up here and as you walk around the smell of coal and wood burning is heavy in the air. Without the wind blowing it away our houses and of course all of us live in this smog.
We are of course just a very small village, so the pollution we must have endured in the towns or cities must have been appalling. We have come so far from these days, but of course we have just replaced one fossil fuel (local coal and wood) with gas and oil that may have been transported half way around the world. It's true that you don't get the smell and visible smog of smoke and that the heating appliances are on the whole much more efficient; but is their net CO2 increase really that much better when transport and storage are taken into account?
I am happy that my mostly coal and about one fifth 20% wood burn on my multi-fuel stove adds about the same net new co2 as a good gas boiler. I am happy that my sources for my coal and wood are only within the UK with the wood coming no more than a few miles.
So does Adrian Hollister recommend that we all move back to wood and coal? No. But we do need to invest heavily in industry areas that support sustainable heating sources. The use of heat pumps (ground or air source); the use of biomass; and the use of community heating systems would vastly improve our co2 emissions in this country. What are we waiting for?