Another Dirty Little Secret.
If you are really desperate, you can find the first of these undiscussed secrets here: A Dirty Little Secret? (oldandireland.blogspot.com). There must be hundreds such undiscussed details that could effect our society.
OK, it's summer here in the northern hemisphere and it's hot out there. So hot that wild fires have been breaking out all over the place. A carelessly discarded ciggy butt caused a fire yesterday that burned down 10 houses! Temperature records are being broken yet again, and the TV news channels would have you believe that venturing outside for more than a nanosecond at mid day will instantly vaporise you. As someone who once (many years ago), worked in a desert where temperatures in the mid 40's centigrade were normal, and where you were expected to work in those temperatures, I find this hard to believe. Granted it took a week or two to acclimatise to the desert, and unlike the humid conditions here the air was so dry that sweat simply dissipated into the air instantly, but like everyone else I was soon putting on extra clothing when the evening temperature got down to 30 degrees or so because I found it cold!
So, in this heat, a question. How many of you have reached into the fridge for a cooling can of something fizzy when summer temperatures strike? You do realise that the fizz in all beer and other fizzy drinks is carbon dioxide, and that this is the principal gas that governments are trying to control in the quest to counter climate change, don't you? Since I have never seen any mention of this small fact, I wondered what the impact of all that fizz might be?
Lets stick to Coca-Cola for the moment, since it is probably the largest of the fizzy drink makers. Let's stick to the UK too, since I haven't the time to collate data from all the countries that Coke have manufacturing plants in. Coke's UK site claims to produce over 2.5 billion cans of fizz per year (that includes all their brands, not just cola). Google tells me that one can of full fat cola contains 170ml of carbon dioxide, or 150ml for the sugar free version. Google also tells me that multiplying ml by 0.77 converts the ml per can to grams of CO2. A quick calculation using the lower (150ml) of these figures, the total CO2 from these cans is 288,750 tonnes per year. If Google's estimate of 6 trees being needed to compensate for 1 tonne of CO2 is correct, then Coca-Cola are going to have to plant a lot of forests every year if they ever want to be carbon neutral!
From my home brewing days when I was young, I know that an equivalent mass of carbon dioxide and alcohol is produced in the brewing process (one bubble = an equivalent mass of alcohol). This applies not just to beer, but also to wine and even to the mash from which spirits are distilled. Then of course, the vast majority of beers add yet more gas to their drinks before sale, so I am sure that the brewing industry is responsible for releasing even more of this gas into the atmosphere than the fizz industry is. An exception here may be the Brewdog brewery near Aberdeen, who claim to produce carbon neutral booze.
Since the figure of 288,750 tonnes of carbon dioxide is just from Coca-Cola UK and just from cans, it should be obvious that if other drinks manufacturers in the UK and worldwide were included then our love of fizz and booze is actually a problem that will need to be tackled in the fight against climate change. There is, after all, a whole aisle dedicated to fizz in pretty much every supermarket in the known universe, and an even larger space devoted to booze. If you really want to be green, it would appear that the only solution is to drink tap water.
I have written these dirty little secret pieces not to bring everyone down, but to try to stimulate thought, and to show that governments of all flavours are not telling us the reality of the change that is likely to be required to meet the challenge of climate change. There is no way that they could; they would never survive the uproar from their citizens. We are probably not at the point of banning fizz just yet,
We may end up living in a very restricted world!!
It's good to be a pessimist: you can never be disappointed. Optimism can only ever lead to being let down. ;-)