With reference to climate change in foundries
Photo shows Dean Millington, Branch President, and Dr Phil Ramsell.
The talk started with the observation that the press, and even the government in some instances, portray industry and the energy industry in particular in a biased, negative manner to reinforce their desired view of climate change and global warming. Phil Ramsell questioned if Global Warming is occurring at all and he then discussed the two main explanations for the changing climate.
The Earths climate is changing and it always has been changing. Global warming is a trend which has been happening over hundreds of years and the debate as to whether current trends in climate change is entirely due to anthropological causes has not been positively proved.
Energy use world-wide however has increased with population growth and the major industrialisation in China. Third world countries are also improving living standards for their people and this in turn increases energy demand.
The influence on the global climate of industrialisation is not solely down to the recent changes in demographics of the third world. In fact when the tonnes of fossil fuel emissions per capita are reviewed the UK was the highest emitter in the world from 1751 to 2006!
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydro-fluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride serve to emphasise the naturally occurring greenhouse effect when the suns rays pass through the earths’ atmosphere and are bounced off the gases, effectively holding the heat in, like a greenhouse.
As well as industrial activity, the increasing world population has a major impact on greenhouse gases. Farming rice in paddy fields as well as intensive cattle farming generates major amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Also the carbon exchange in photosynthesis which in effect frees oxygen and reduces carbon dioxide has been halved world-wide due to the effects of deforestation and burning.
The arguments outlining natural explanations for the global warming and climate change phenomenon were put forward by Phil Ramsell, beginning with anomalies shown in reconstructed temperatures over the last thousand years. These temperatures show a medieval warm period up to 1200 AD followed by a mini ice age between 1600 and 1800 AD with the most recent period seeing the recovery back to medieval temperatures. Other influences on earths’ atmosphere are the effects of volcanic activity as well as the El Nino weather system.
There are extra terrestrial factors which influence the earths’ climate with sunspot activity more frequent now than for 1000 years and there is the massive power of solar flares radiating energy toward the earth. It was noted that sun spot activity during the mini ice age was minimal and there is something like twenty five times more activity in recent times.
Regardless of the root cause for the planets' predicament we must consider the future generations. The effects of climate change are unquestionable with instances of drought, severe storms, heat wave, heat extremes and serious flooding occurring at an increased frequency. Climate change is capable of causing economic damage as well as catastrophic loss of life.
Predictions show that within the world population a billion people are living with the risk of water shortage. Twenty-three million people will live with the risk of severe flooding and in excess of twenty million people are at risk of hunger. When countries cannot provide enough food, energy and materials to meet the needs of population civil and national wars have, and will, result.
It is not acceptable to leave it to the politicians to legislate for protection of the environment. Survival of business regardless of environmental impact is the epitome of selfishness or self interest that has no place in the modern world. We are the custodians of the earth with implicit responsibility to leave it habitable for future generations.
There are sound reasons for saving energy in the UK: all businesses benefit from lower costs and it conserves deposits of coal and gas and oil. The availability of energy will impact on the users and it could be the greatest concern of mankind in the 21st century. Energy intensive industries are under severe pressure to conserve and use resources wisely. Some industries were wasteful with energy in the past when they would go for the cheapest options not necessarily considering conserving and reducing waste.
Foundries are experiencing increasing energy cost with reducing demand. They are also facing the need to reduce energy waste. It was noted that 25% of energy used in a foundry used for melting and moulding the rest is used on processing and extraction.
As an industry we need to review all efforts being made to reduce all forms of waste by reducing scrap and losses as well as improving product quality to reduce processing requirements and yield. By employing best practice and improved planning energy savings can be made on furnace control, ladle practice and better yield. None of this is new but we need a timely reminder to ensure we meet our obligations of balancing the environment with economic considerations and in effect do more with less to ensure the underlying principle of sustainability is maintained. Phil was able to offer some practical suggestions for ways in which foundries can reduce their energy consumption and hence save money.
After a lively question and answer session Past President Phil Shakles proposed the vote of thanks for an interesting and thoroughly researched talk.