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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MPs Warn Government on Science Cuts

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee are today publishing a report warning the government that spending cuts on science and scientific research could damage the Economy and British Science in the coming years.

Releasing this report one day before the final budget of the current governmental term, the committee are asking the government to keep spending in line with policy. Phil Willis MP (Lib Dem), the committee chair said, "The Government's policy ambitions are at odds with its actions. On the one hand it champions supporting business investment in research and development, while on the other it announces cuts which threaten the very science base that underpins such businesses. We hope that the Budget will contain good news for science funding. Anything less has potentially devastating consequences for science in the UK."

The Pre-Budget Report in December 2009 announced that £600 million would be cut from higher education and science and research budgets by 2012-13.


The report is here (262KB)...
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/335/335i.pdf

The press release is here...
http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_technology/s_t_spending_cuts.cfm

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scotland embraces renewable power

There has been some good news during the past week for Scotland’s alternative energy plans. ScottishPower Renewables has announced that the Crown Estate has awarded them two major marine power development areas in the Pentland Firth. The company will develop a 95MW tidal power project at Ness of Duncansby and a 50MW wave power project at Marwick Head.

The tidal site will consist of up to ninety-five HS1000 tidal turbines. The wave power site will comprise of up to sixty-six Pelamis P2 wave power generators.

BBC news also announced today that ScottishPower Renewables submitted an application for a 132-wind turbine project in Southern Scotland.


ScottishPower Renewables
http://www.scottishpowerrenewables.com/default.asp

BBC news story
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8574490.stm

I Need an Intervention...

I am an addict. I go on the internet too much, I have far too much red wine, I want things I cannot afford so I put it on my credit card. I am also addicted to energy. Without it I can barely get out of bed (the flat would be too cold), I can't see who went through to the quarter-finals in MasterChef, I can't drive to Sainsbury's to get the coconut milk I need for making a curry later. I rely on energy for almost everything I will do today, but I am using too much and I know it.

In England, over 8.5 million people still smoke. There are warnings on the packet, the science has been widely accepted (by all but the cigarette companies themselves) for decades, there are adverts on the TV pleading with you to stop. People either can't or don't want to stop, change is difficult.It is in our nature to be a little bit selfish, to think about only ourselves and our closest kin. It is because of this, it could be argued, that as a race we find ourselves with energy supply and pollution problems. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, we care only enough to do very little.

I'll just go and make myself a cup of South American Coffee whilst being careful not to overfill the kettle and I'll be right back to discuss what a hypocrite I am...

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Tale of Two Nations

A report published in the journal 'Science' has emphasised the importance of China and India in the fight against climate change.

The report claims the two emerging economic superpowers will determine environmental policy and outcomes throughout the century. Both countries are expected to maintain their rapid economic growth over the next few years. The two nations are huge consumers of raw materials, importing a quarter of the annual global production of crude palm oil between them.

The report, written by eight prominent scientists, urges the two nations to collaborate in order to tackle climate change. Collaboration is vital to mitigating biodiversity loss, global warming, and deforestation.

The two countries have already demonstrated their importance at Copenhagen last year, where Barack Obama reached an agreement with South Africa, India and China behind closed doors. Obama's agreement was much to the embarrassment of other nations, particularly those in Europe. To be excluded from the talks was a huge betrayal to the Europeans, who have been early pioneers in putting climate change on the political agenda. This reports seems to imply, however, that this will be something the European's will have to get used to.


See the report here.....

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/sci;327/5972/1457?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=china+india&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Green Gradutes Stuck in the Red

By 2020, the UK is trying to cut it's CO2 emissions by over 30%. The main source of this reduction will be in renewable energy. So why is it so hard to find a job in an industry that should be growing?

I graduated from Warwick University last year with a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering with Sustainability. I have got a good degree from a good university, some work experience and a passion for renewable energy. I thought I would walk into a graduate job immediately. I was wrong. Why?