Tag archive for "carbon emissions"

Future Earth

How long do greenhouse gases stay in the air?

No Comments 19 January 2012

It’s always been one of those questions for me. A little like ‘What does a tonne of CO2 look like?’ – something I looked into last autumn.

Well, the answer to this latest question is that the length of time these gases stay in the air differs from gas-to-gas. Continue Reading

Future Earth

CO2 free

No Comments 15 November 2011

I was recently horrified to learn that I consumed 13.62 tonnes of CO2 while writing the sequel to The Human Race, which is ironic, given that the book is an eco-thriller. As a result, I decided to do something about my carbon output. Namely, to cut my business emissions to zero over the next ten years without impacting on my lifestyle, just as the environmentalist Ray Anderson did. Continue Reading

carbon free

On Writing

How to become a carbon-free writer

1 Comment 30 September 2011

I was horrified to discover that writing the sequel to The Human Race had produced 13.62 tonnes of CO2 – and even more horrified after I found a way to visualise that number. Determined to reduce  my carbon emissions, I have drawn up the following plan of action:

1.       Following in the footsteps of Ray Anderson, I’m aiming to cut my business emissions to zero over the next ten years. I plan to do this while minimising the impact upon my lifestyle. This could be tricky. As you know I’m a committed – if reluctant – environmentalist, so I’m not even sure whether it is possible. You could argue, however, that I have already taken the first steps. Ten years ago I didn’t pay much attention to global warming. Ignorance was bliss! Nowadays, every activity I undertake carries some green guilt.

My lifestyle is important to me, as I’m sure yours is to you. I love to travel and will be loath to give it up. What’s more, I would like to become a bestselling author – an ambition which, I am sure, comes at a carbon cost. Even so, from now on I intend to pursue my pastimes and ambitions in an environmentally friendly manner. Ray Anderson did it: he grew his business to a $1 billion turnover, while cutting its carbon emissions by more than 60 per cent.

2.       I will offset the tonnes of CO2 that were generated while I wrote the sequel to The Human Race. In fact I have already done so, thanks to the website www.carbonfootprint.com. It cost me £190. Essentially I bought one tree per tonne of carbon emissions. I have requested they be planted locally in Yorkshire, my home region.

3.       And I’m not done yet! As my books continue to sell copies, I will continue to offset the carbon cost of their production. I spent a long time trying to come up with a scientific formula for doing this, but failed. There appears to be no accurate method of measurement (please tell me if I’m wrong).

For paperback copies, the closest I can find is The Wisconsin Paper Council’s reckoning that 128 cubic feet of wood produces 942lb of books. Then there are distribution costs. E-books are lighter, but they still cost carbon. E-readers all require charging, manufacture and eventually, disposal. Again, I could find no calculations – please contact me if you can.

In the meantime I am going with the following formula:  for every 100 paperbacks or 1000 e-books sold, I will offset my carbon emissions by planting one tree. I will place a counter on this site, so readers can monitor my progress.

So that’s my plan. I’m sure it could be better- but at least it’s a start.

My challenge to you: what are you waiting for? Begin offsetting.

At the very least, work out the carbon footprint for your home or business. If you are like me you may well be shocked, embarrassed – and inspired to do something about it.

This post was selected for Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #14, hosted by The Book Designer  and Lovely Words Vol. 39, hosted by Writing as a Sacred Art.

Future Earth

Do you know what one tonne of carbon dioxide looks like?

7 Comments 30 September 2011

Yesterday I calculated the carbon cost of writing the sequel to The Human Race. It came out at a shocking 11.91 tonnes of carbon dioxide. I fell to thinking about what I could do to reduce this.

My youngest daughter asked me what I was doing and, after I had explained it to her, she asked me what a tonne of carbon dioxide looks like. It was a great question – and one for which I had no immediate answer. All I could tell her was that CO2 is odourless and colourless – but this reply wasn’t particularly useful for a seven-year-old looking to visualise a tonne of gas.

So I did what I do best: research! Fifteen minutes later I had discovered this great image, which helped both of us enormously:

one tonne of carbon dioxide


This picture was taken by Dave Ames, a science teacher at Cohasset High School in Cohasset. Mr Ames built this large cube to represent the size of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide. The cube is 27 feet wide, 27 feet high and 27 feet deep.

As you can see, the cube towers over the people standing alongside it. For me, this picture was an eye-opener. As for my young daughter: she was amazed by its size. Then she became quite upset that our family is pumping 15 of these giant blocks into the atmosphere every year, just to heat and light our home.

I believe that such a picture is striking on its own, but that if you don’t know your own CO2 output, isn’t it essentially meaningless? I used a website called www.carbon-offsets.com to calculate the Heaton family’s output, and I recommend this website to others.

For me, knowing that I was personally responsible for 13.62 tonnes of CO2 over two years was bad enough. Now I was able to visualise that number, thanks to the image above, I was even more unhappy. I became all the more determined to do what I could to reduce my CO2 output.

Tomorrow I’ll list the steps that I am taking to make my writing carbon-free…

This post was selected for Everything Home End of October Edition, hosted by My DIY Home Tips.

green guilt

Future Earth

My name is O.C. Heaton and I’m a polluter…

No Comments 29 September 2011

After posting about corporate environmentalism, it occurred to me that I should be practising what I preach. Even writers generate a carbon footprint, but I have never taken the time to analyse how much CO2 I spew out into the atmosphere.

When my eco-thriller, The Human Race, was published, I traded in my Grand Jeep Cherokee 4.7L V8 engine for a Brabus (a Smart car). I hasten to add that this had nothing to do with the publishing advance I secured for the book! Instead, it was a conscious decision. If you are a regular reader of A Rush of Green, you will know that after researching the environment inside and out for The Human Race, I was struck by green guilt and became a reluctant environmentalist. My Smart car was a first step in the right direction: my miles per gallon soared, from a measly 16 on a good day, to more than 50. Even so, at the rate of 200 miles per month the carbon emissions from my tiny car still amount to half a tonne of emissions per year.

Driving accounts for a mere fraction of my daily emissions, so I decided to work out how much impact my business – writing – has had on the environment. As a writer, I was unsure how to separate my downtime from my writing time and eventually decided not to bother. I treated them as one and the same. After all, the business is me. I am the production engine as it were, so everything I consume has one output: books.

Here is a breakdown of my household’s energy consumption:

Heaton energy consumption

Using www.carbon-offsets.com I calculated that, based on those figures, our family produces nearly 14.89 tonnes in one year. Because I write at home, I am the heaviest user in my family of four. I am here all day, using light, power for my laptop, gas for warmth, cooking and the occasional shower! Given my heavy usage, I have calculated that I am responsible for 40 per cent of our household emissions

Writing the sequel has taken nearly two years. If I consume 40 per cent of the household total, that puts my carbon emissions at a shocking 11.91 tonnes.

And that’s not all. The book research that I have undertaken outside the home has also produced a significant carbon footprint. Since a large portion of the sequel is set in Washington DC, I invested in a research trip. Including return journeys and accommodation costs, I “spent” an additional 1.21 tonnes.

So while writing an eco-thriller, I have produced approximately 13.62 tonnes of CO2.  It doesn’t look good on paper, does it?

It gets worse. I haven’t included my car’s output, and I haven’t factored in the carbon cost of publication. As for the latter, however, rest assured that after my recent evaluation of paper books v. electronic books, the sequel to The Human Race will be heavily promoted on Kindle and other e-readers!

As for what happened next… Find out in tomorrow’s post!

This post was selected for Everything Home End of October Edition, hosted by My DIY Home Tips.

Future Earth

Iceland’s low carbon future: can we do it too?

No Comments 25 August 2011

I have previously blogged about the speed at which carbon emissions are rising and the need for a low carbon future. Essentially, emissions are on an upward growth curve that shows no signs of stopping. The evidence to support this increase is overwhelming, and whether or not you believe that the rise in emissions is the cause of global warming, the outcome is undeniable. I guess we’ll just have to get used to rising sea levels and more extreme weather patterns! In fact, many people have begun to accept that global warming has arrived and is here to stay. And they are doing something about it. Not by reducing their emissions or implementing a low carbon strategy, but by adapting to this new reality. Continue Reading

our planet anthopocene

Future Earth

Want to save our planet? Forget about “global warming”!

5 Comments 30 June 2011

Have you heard of the Anthropocene? It is a recent term, which serves to mark the evidence and extent of human activities and their effects on the environment and our planet. I hadn’t heard of it until recently and truthfully, I really should have. In fact, so should anybody who has even a passing interest in climate change and living a greener life.

Taken at its most literal, the term means “the recent age of man”. It was coined in 2000 by Paul Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist. His argument is that we have entered another age, shaped primarily by people. I think we have all known for quite some time that mankind has had a colossal impact on our planet. Continue Reading

Future Earth

Carbon emissions: prepare for a carbon-choked future

No Comments 17 June 2011

Have you seen the latest carbon emissions data released by the International Energy Agency? Unfortunately it makes for depressing reading. After a slight reduction in carbon emissions in 2009, carbon emissions surged by 5% in 2010 to reach an almighty 31.6 gigatonnes. So much for the worst recession in 80 years, which was supposed to cut our carbon emissions and suppress our energy usage!

A gigatonne sounds big, very big, but I can never really appreciate the scale of certain measurements until they are expressed in zeros. So here goes. Continue Reading

Future Earth

Do we have a “green government” or a “greenwash government”?

No Comments 18 May 2011

Our “green government” is in the news again. I was pleasantly surprised this weekend when I read that the Cabinet had finally agreed to a deal to slash the UK’s carbon emissions.

My first reaction?

“It’s about time.”

For all its aspirations to be a green government, the Coalition was in danger of losing credibility on this front, having made such a big fuss about its green proposals during the General Election. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Electric cars: cutting or increasing emissions?

No Comments 04 March 2011

This big push towards electric cars has long puzzled me. On the face of it, the move looks like a great way to reduce emissions by replacing the internal combustion engine with batteries. However, what everyone seems to be forgetting is that in most countries electricity is generated by coal, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels around.

According to the World Coal Association, coal accounts for 41% of global electricity production. However, what is really worrying is that in some of the world’s largest countries, coal accounts for an even larger percentage of electricity production; namely the USA at 49% and China at 79%. Continue Reading

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Reviews of The Human Race

Unputdownable. Yes, I know it's not a word, but it definitely applies here, anyway. That's the word I'm going with, to describe The Human Race by O.C. Heaton. - Hira N. Hasnain

An outstanding first novel from O.C. Heaton that catapults him into the Best Seller league… - Justine Bond

"This is an exciting, fast-paced read. The Human Race is a book that is very easy to forget to put down. Bring on part two!" - L. H. Bowers

"If you are looking for a well-plotted and well-written thriller to while away the hours of a long flight, this offering might suit you very well." - David Bryson, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer

For further reviews of The Human Race by O.C. Heaton click here.

Author Bio

Charles Heaton British thriller writer O.C. Heaton, author of The Human Race, is fascinated by the past, present and future of human evolution. (Image credit: Ross Parry Agency) Read More>>

O.C. Heaton’s bookshelf

O.C. Heaton in the Guardian

O.C. Heaton's post about Harold Haw was featured in the Guardian.

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O.C.'s bookshelf: read

The BeachThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLife of PiOuter DarkThe FirmAlexander 3: The Ends of the Earth: A Novel

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