Tropical forests can be managed and conserved. Their resources, including valuable timber species, can be harvested sustainably.
We can provide compensation to developing countries for securing large areas of tropical forest as national parks. This can be unconditional or in return for debt relief. We can provide financial, technical and physical support to developing countries to help strengthen environmental institutions.
Do not buy imported hardwoods as this will encourage the destruction of the worlds rainforests. Use recycled timber when possible. Use timber in preference to non-renewable resources like metal and plastic. Grow your own trees - from locally collected seed wherever possible. Plant the right variety of tree in the right place.
Guard your local trees. If there are new developments in your area, check with your local Tree Officer to make sure that threatened trees are covered by Tree Preservation Orders. If you find trees have been destroyed by builders, or you suspect this might happen, complain to the local government and newspaper. You will thus be helping to ensure that future developments are designed around trees. There should be enforced penalties for cutting down or damaging trees. They should increase with the age of the tree.
Renewable energy sources from wind, sun, ocean currents, tides and hydroelectric schemes are available but all have disadvantages and need further research. Cleaner fuels such as gas can be used in preference to oil and coal. Catalytic converters can be installed in your car. We can use less electricity and energy. We can switch off unnecessary lights. Be more aware about heating - don't leave a window open if the heating is on - and cooking - don't heat up a big oven just for one potato; keep a lid on pans or, better still, use pressure cookers or eat more raw foods. We can avoid buying more energy-greedy electrical gadgets. We can cut down on unnecessary car journeys, walk or use a bicycle for short distances.
Many of our technologies, buildings and processes are energy inefficient. We could be getting these same energy services while burning much less coal, oil or gas. Our current standard of living can be maintained using far less energy and causing far less pollution by improving energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency is a measure of how well a process turns energy input, like coal or gas, into the required energy service output such as light from a light bulb, cooling from a refrigerator or heat from a heating system. The more energy efficient the process the less energy input is needed to achieve the required level of energy service.
Heating buildings accounts for 30% of energy use in a typical northern European country. But the energy needed to keep most existing buildings warm in winter could be cut in half by reducing ventilation rates with draught-proofing and double glazing, by insulating walls, roofs, floors and windows, improving electronic controls of heating systems and replacing old boilers with high efficiency condensing boilers. The free heat produced by office machinery and the people in the building can be utilised using thermostats installed in each room. Heat exchangers and heat pumps make use of heat which would otherwise be wasted.
Efficient 'low energy light bulbs' or CFLs have been developed which produce the same amount of light using just one-fifth of the power, thereby cutting pollution and running costs by 80%. They also last 8 times longer. While CFLs are more expensive than incandescent light bulbs, the savings on running costs and their longer life means that money is saved within a few years of use.
Controls exist which switch off lights when there is enough daylight or no one is in the room. New buildings can be designed which utilise these technologies and save energy.
Energy efficient models of home appliances such as refrigerators, televisions, washing machines and freezers are available. The average refrigerator in the UK uses 350 units of electricity per year. New models in shops use about 270 units per year. The best mass-produced models in Europe use just 80 units per year and models are being developed which use 30 units per year - a 90% saving in electricity over current models and a massive saving on the electricity bill for every household.
Power stations in Britain and Australia are particularly inefficient generators of electricity with only one-third of the energy in the fuel ending up as useful electrical energy. The rest is allowed to escape as hot water vapour. By improving the design of the power stations using Combined Heat and Power (CHP) schemes efficiency can be increased to around 80 per cent.
We can reduce the emissions of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide from coal power stations by introducing sorbents such as limestone. Nitrogen oxides can be removed by another process.