B for Bamboo. When is Bamboo clothing not Bamboo? When it is Viscose.

I have quoted Owlcation for some of the following details.

China and India are the main sources of this grass, which can grow tall, looking like trees in a forest. It does not attract pests, so does not require treatment with pesticides. This is a massive plus for the Planet.

Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries in Europe have begun to cultivate bamboo. The plant is also quickly spreading to Africa and America.

In 2002, renewed cellulosic bamboo fiber was first manufactured by Hebei Jigao Chemical Fiber Co.

The cross-section of the single bamboo fiber is round with a small lumen. Bamboo fibers have a high breaking strength as well as good absorbability properties, but they have low elongation.

The main components of bamboo are cellulose, heme-cellulose, and lignin. The secondary components of bamboo are resins, wax, and inorganic salts. Bamboo contains other organic components in addition to cellulose and lignin. It contains about 2% oxidant polysaccharide, 2-4% fat, 2-6% starch and 0.8-6% protein.

The bamboo carbohydrate content plays an important role in its durability. The strength of bamboo against the attack of mold and fungi is closely related to their chemical composition.

Safe Environmental Mechanical Process of making Bamboo Linen:

In mechanical processing, harvested and crushed bamboo wood is initially treated with natural enzymes that break down bamboo into a soft material. Next, natural fibers can be mechanically combed to obtain individual fibers, followed by yarn spinning. The fabric manufactured through this process is often called bamboo linen, and this process is considered environmentally friendly because no harmful chemicals are used.

But Bamboo woven with cotton can produce an attractive fabric. See here.

Extract:

Super soft 100% organic double cloth bamboo cotton blend – the warp is cotton, the weft is bamboo. It is made by weaving two layers of cloth simultaneously, with a third binding weft to create the squares that hold the two layers together. It is a lovely breathable fabric perfect for adults and babies alike. The bamboo adds a silkiness to the touch and look of the fabric and makes this fabric very luxurious for shirts, dresses, tops and loungewear. You could also use it for pillowcases and quilt backing. Please note that the weave will appear skewed due to rolling but washing will straighten it out.

52% GOTS certified organic cotton (warp) 48% organic bamboo (weft).

The Chemical Process is not good for the environment. The bamboo cellulose is used to make all types of rayon, including viscose, modal, and lyocell.

The viscose manufacturing process is summed up in five steps:

  1. The plant is chipped into a wood pulp and dissolved chemicals like sodium hydroxide, forming a brown wood pulp solution. (The hazard of sodium hydroxide for the environment is caused by the hydroxide ion (pH effect). A high concentration in water will result in toxic effects for aquatic organisms e.g. fish.)
  2. This brown wood pulp is then washed, cleaned, and bleached. (Bleach also puts wildlife at risk; its byproducts have been linked to cancer in studies on laboratory animals. Environmental toxins created by bleach have lowered the populations of several species of birds and fish. Bleach is especially damaging to the environment because it lingers for many years.)
  3. To create the fibers, the pulp is treated with carbon disulfide and then dissolved in sodium hydroxide to create the solution referred to as “viscose.”(Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to carbon disulfide has caused changes in breathing and chest pains. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headache, mood changes, lethargy, blurred vision, delirium, and convulsions have also been reported in humans acutely exposed by inhalation.)
  4. The viscose solution is forced through a spinneret, which is a machine that creates filaments, called regenerated cellulose.
  5. This regenerated cellulose is spun into yarn, which can then be woven or knit into viscose rayon fabric.
Viscose Rayon, though beautiful, is not biodegradable, which pure bamboo would be

But most of that clothing has historically been made from viscose rayon, which is created from bamboo or wood pulp processed in a toxic soup of chemicals that generates significant pollution. Today, a lot of experts believe that the “bamboo” label on rayon clothing is fundamentally a misrepresentation.

The main suppliers of viscose, rayon and the like are in China and India, and toxic processes are common in these countries, the sacrifice of the labour force to boost the economy is a priority. It follows the pattern of the Industrial Revolution, despite clear understanding of what the harm to the environment has been, and the legacy remains. Hebei Jigao Chemical Fiber Co. remains the leading supplier.

Lyocell is a type of Rayon made using the Lyocell process. It is a semi-synthetic fabric made using wood or bamboo cellulose

Rayon was the first manufactured fiber, developed in the late 19th century and commercially produced in the US starting in 1910. It was originally marketed as artificial silk due to its softness, nice drape, and luster. It quickly rose in popularity because its price point was significantly lower than silk and cotton.

According to the European Man-Made Fibres Association (CIRFS), in 2016 manufactured cellulosic made up 6.6% of the global market, roughly 5.3 million metric tons. The Textile Exchange estimated that viscose made up 91% of cellulosic production, only 29% of which was sourced sustainably. (Followed by lyocell at 6% and modal at 3%.)

Rayon can have significant negative impacts on people, the environment, and biodiversity along its lifecycle. The wood pulp used to make rayon can be sustainably harvested, but often it isn’t. According to Canopy Planet, roughly a third come from ancient and endangered forests.

However, such is the attractiveness of Viscose made with Bamboo there are companies working hard to assure us they are minimising the chemical harm to the environment, and offsetting the carbon footprint by growing bamboo plantations and not adding to deforestation for the wood pulp. One of these companies is BAM. There is no doubt they have put a great deal of effort into reassuring us of their green credentials.

Rayon fabrics like Bamboo and Cupro (made from a bi-product of the cotton plant, cotton linters) are often incorrectly marketed as sustainable because the raw material is sustainably harvested (bamboo grows quickly without chemicals and a lot of water, and cotton linters are often called “waste” from cotton production despite having their own market). The production of fabric from these materials can be done in a more sustainable manner, but usually it still goes through the chemical-intensive and polluting viscose process- so be wary and really vet your sources. (Cuprammonium rayon is no longer made in the US because its producers could not meet air- and water-quality requirements.) See Bamboo.

Rayon production is dangerous for workers

  • Workers can be seriously harmed by the chemicals used to make most rayon. Carbon disulfide in particular can cause reproductive harm and damage to the nervous system (carbon-disulfide-based viscose is no longer made within the U.S.). Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, can cause corrosion and chemical burns to workers who handle it frequently and without protection.
  • Also, work accidents can occur from explosions or leakages in chemical storage areas.
  • According to Paul D. Blanc, who teaches occupational and environmental medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and wrote Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon, throughout most of the 20th century, viscose rayon manufacturing was inextricably linked to widespread, severe and often lethal illness among those employed in making it. For workers in viscose rayon factories, poisoning caused insanity, nerve damage, Parkinson’s disease, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Do you want to wear a garment which has been processed in such a way that a fellow human being has suffered illnesses as a direct result of their labour? Read more here.

It is not easy to find clothing which has not caused health issues when being created and sewn in factories. It is up to each of us to take responsibility and search for items which we know caused NO HARM.

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A for Acrylonitrile and a move to Circular Fashion

Due to raised awareness of brutality to animals in order to provide us with clothing, we have sought alternatives. Vegans demand no animals be used to make Fashion Industry products, but non-vegans, whilst enjoying eating meat, have also become aware of the protests against animal cruelty and similarly many do not want such products.

There is now another concern added to this one. We do not want our consumer waste to be harmful to the Planet on which we live. Unfortunately, in order to find alternatives to animal sources for fashion items, we now use synthetic fibers, and they are sophisticated and often misleadingly labelled with greenwashing phrases, like ‘recycled’, or ‘vegan’. Using ‘vegan’ is misleading as it has taken decades to get the Fashion Industry to use alternatives to animal skins. But Vegans tend also to be people who care about Climate Change and Environmental Pressures caused by Human Activity. We have to search for true alternatives which do not involve polluting the environment. We have to be like detectives sorting the truth from the fakery, be alert to misleading eco friendly greenwashing marketing and the like. Few products are what they seem.

Let us find out more using an alphabetical listing. Starting with A for Acrylonitrile.

The history of Acrylic fiber is found here.

Like many other synthetic textile fibers, the American DuPont Corporation originally developed acrylic fiber. This firm had already become famous around the world for the development of nylon and the mainstreaming of polyester production, and when acrylic fiber was invented in the 1940s, the world saw this development as simply the next step in DuPont’s rapid ascent to a dominant position in the world’s textile markets.

However, acrylic fiber didn’t become notably popular until the 1950s. It’s possible that the success of DuPont’s other synthetic textiles contributed to this slow mainstreaming of acrylic fiber; this company had already replaced silk with nylon and cotton with polyester, which may have reduced consumer receptivity to this company’s new wool replacement, acrylic.

See my blog about DuPont.

Ineos Nitriles is the 21st century main global supplier of Acrylonitrile: It is the Asian countries who now provide the clothing made from this fiber.

Acrylonitrile-based acrylic fibres, a popular substitute for cotton and wool, are used to make clothing, carpeting and blankets. Rugged and durable, ABS plastic derived from Acrylonitrile is chosen for its toughness and dimensional stability over other engineering resins. Other applications for Acrylonitrile include Nitrile rubber for hoses and gaskets.

Also find

  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic: used in refrigerator liners, medical devices, auto parts, small household appliances, toys, and luggage.
  • Styrene Acrylonitrile (SAN) plastic: used for food containers, tableware, bathroom fittings, and optical fibers..

Widespread use, yet Acrylonitrile has shortcomings:

  • Weatherability (damaged by sunlight)
  • Solvent Resistance
  • Hazardous When Burned
  • Limited Uses in Association with Food Industry
  • Higher Price Than Polystyrene or Polyethylene

Acrylonitrile is manufactured by combining propylene, ammonia, and air in a process called ammoxidation. During ammoxidation, propylene, ammonia and air are fed through a catalyst at a high temperature. … This provides a large catalyst surface area for maximum exposure to the reactants.

Propylene is used mainly to produce polypropylene plastics for injection molding and fibers and for manufacturing cumene (used in phenol production). Propylene is also used to make propylene oxide, acrylic acid, oxo alcohols and isopropanol.

Propylene is probably the oldest petrochemical feedstock in the gas industry. Propylene, also known as 1-propene, is one of the smallest stable unsaturated hydrocarbon molecules used in the gas industry.

The propylene molecule is produced as a co-product of ethylene production through the steam cracking (steam pyrolysis) of hydrocarbon feedstocks. Feedstocks used for steam cracking range from ethane to naphtha and gas oils. Propylene is also produced as a by-product of petroleum refining. Propylene is sold in three separate quality grades: refinery (~70%), chemical (~92-96%) and polymer (99.5%). Chevron Phillips Chemical sells refinery and polymer grades.

The production of ammonia from natural gas is conducted by reacting methane (natural gas) with steam and air, coupled with the subsequent removal of water and CO2. The products of this process are hydrogen and nitrogen, which are the feedstock for the main ammonia synthesis.

Acrylic Fleeces – yes, I have many. I agree what this site says:

What is Fleece?

Fleece is a man-made wonder product, if there is such a thing. Despite being named after the ‘fleece’ coat on a sheep, it’s 100% synthetic and derived from plastic rather than a fluffy sheep’s coat – despite being fuzzy to the touch. The super soft, warm and breathable nature of this magic material makes it perfect for outerwear and all things cosy.

Just as I cannot replace my existing plastic products in my home, I could not keep warm without all these synthetic fibers in my clothing. But no manufacturer has innovated to produce an equally attractive and warm fibre without resorting to harmful petrochemical processes.

The Grangemouth Refinery in Scotland is a vital part of the infrastructure here. Ineos is a massive global company with its petrochemical activities. Whilst we are being told petrochemicals are bad for the environment, the industry is booming.

Petrochemical facilities are energy-intensive and dump an enormous amount of carbon pollution into the air. … After they are produced, petrochemical products continue to fuel the climate crisis. For example, nearly 12% of plastic waste is incinerated, releasing more greenhouse gases as well as dangerous toxins

There is no doubt there is no forthcoming replacement for all the billions of items we create using petrochemicals. But we consumers can question whether we should be purchasing fabrics which have been created with the help of the petrochemical industry. We can educate ourselves about Circular Fashion and ‘demand designing waste and pollution out of our clothes’, suggested in the book (as shown below) 20 years ago. We are behind the curve. We need to get ahead of it.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002)

C2C-English_med

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Published in 2002, Cradle to Cradle is widely acknowledged as one of the most important environmental manifestos of our time.

And just as I upload this blog I see a bill in the US being presented:

Senate Bill S7428

2021-2022 Legislative Session

Requires fashion retail sellers and manufacturers to disclose environmental and social due diligence policies; establishes a community benefit fund

I would urge all US citizens to support this bill, but act independently in your judgements when buying products with poor environmental and human rights histories. Please send a message of disgust to the offending companies by avoiding further purchases. For more information click here.

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Fast Fashion Fuelling Extinction

A few years back I wrote about climate and how the lives of the Inuit had to change as a result. They have been major users of animal skins since they first arrived after generations of travel from Africa, as nomads, in the coldest of landscapes, thousands of years ago.

But now, the Fast Fashion Industry still uses animal skins, not for essential use, but for fleeting wearability. Wherever cattle can be bred, not just for excessive meat eating but for their skins, the land is cleared to make way for such procurement, even if Rainforests are destroyed and with it essential habitat for flora and fauna. Around the world exotic creatures are increasingly farmed under cruel conditions to feed the Fast Fashion Industry.

A simple search on the Internet will soon bring up pitiful images of human cruelty to animals to meet the supply demand of the Fashion Industry:

The Arctic Fox:

Headline in Daily Mail: “

The pitiful Arctic foxes that shame the fashion world: Beautiful creatures are cramped in tiny cages and deliberately bloated to produce two million fur pelts for Britain each year

  • While the UK banned fur farming 15 years ago, shoppers are still able to buy imported pelts
  • Over the past five years more than £2.5 million of fur items have been imported into the UK from Finland 

Without the demand from thoughtless shoppers, this trade would not exist.

The short miserable lives of animals raised/ranched for their fur are finally ended when they are killed by gas, strangulation, neck breaking or anal electrocution. Read more, here.

In a world where fur is becoming increasingly déclassé because of repeated campaigns by animal rights activists — with luxury houses like Gucci, Armani, Michael Kors and Versace recently pledging to ban fur altogether — is the use of feathers any more ethical? According to Ashley Byrne, associate director of campaigns at PETA, the answer is an emphatic no. “It’s unnecessary and it’s cruel, and it’s not ethical,” she asserts.

The ten most endangered animals used by the Fashion Industry are described in full here. These animals suffer terribly because the profits are high at the top end of the luxury fashion market.

The list tells us of:

Crocodilians comprise a vast number of large reptile species, including crocodiles, alligators, caiman, and gharials around the world. Australia is one of the worst countries producing crocodile skins for the luxury market. “The high-end French fashion brand Hermès wants to build one of Australia’s biggest crocodile farms in the Northern Territory that would hold up to 50,000 saltwater crocodiles to be turned into luxury goods such as handbags and shoes.”

Australian Kangaroo

African Ostriches

North American Beaver

Big Wild Cats

Python leather

Short-tailed Chinchilla

Seal Leather

Antelope Species

Bear Fur

As extinction progresses and increasingly rare animals are cruelly farmed, people are becoming aware of the hostile environment for the diversity of animals we have been exploiting for centuries in increasingly fast fashion trading processes. It does not make sense to wear garments briefly then send them to landfill. It does make sense to consider where the items we purchase come from and if animal cruelty was involved, or were animals even necessary in the making of our clothes?


https://theprettyplaneteer.com/fast-fashion-brands-to-avoid/

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Cotton and Wool Blending

Like much of our knowledge and language, the word ‘cotton’ comes from Arabic ‘quton’.

As with wool and silk, so cotton is a natural fabric and is comfortable to the most sensitive skin. It is soft yet strong; is absorbent; is easy to care for. Blend cotton with silk or different types of wool and you find attractive and enduring benefits.

Spinning Jenny

In England, in 1770, when the Spinning Jenny was invented by James Hargreaves, the Industrial Revolution sprang in to life with massive changes from agriculture to factory work for the average citizen. Innovation impacted on quality of life, and many marvelled whilst others shuddered.

As the British Empire followed on from the Spanish Empire, the concept of industrial prowess tied to military might grew in the world. Those who could innovate and turn their ideas into commodities could obtain influence in political circles. Builders of ships, factories, bridges, roads, grand buildings were part of the image of the growing Empire as it left its mark in countries conquered. The technology evolved and ideas spread, resulting in acceleration of new and improved production and techniques. Those in employment could gain skills over time, some could climb to great heights of industry, many slaving still at the lower rungs, never rising to acquire more secure and desirable knowledge or position in life.

The cloth making mills were the cause of tuberculosis back in the 18th century, but, since wealth was generated for the mill owners, little attention was paid to the high mortality rate amongst workers in the mills, as one of my blogs exemplifies.

Agricultural workers who toiled in the fields were considered uneducated and made to feel ashamed of their rural existence. They were drawn to the smoky, dirty cities not for quality of life, but to become part of the much needed labour force. The classic book by E.P.Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, reminds us all of the catastrophic speed of wealth creating, labour intensive, oppressive systems which radically developed and brought misery to the many and wealth to the few.

Europe’s population doubled to almost 200 million during the 18th century, and doubled again by the 19th century. This was due to new understandings about managing the health and conditions of the labour force, and mortality at birth decreased. Humans began to live longer as housing and food improved, and education was offered to more people. Poverty was seen as the main cause of overpopulation. Today, the highest populated country is China, but it comes lower in the list of overpopulated countries such as Singapore, Israel and Kuwait. . The world population is nearing 8 billion. It is important, when assessing a country in terms of overpopulation to analyse ‘per capita consumption of renewable resources and the sustainability of a country on its resources‘. The world is overpopulated by an estimate of 2 billion people.

All humans need to be clothed. But how we mass produce clothing and textiles is relevant to the dangers of climate change. Indeed, it was during the 19th century that an educated woman from Connecticut, USA, was the first person to show in her scientific paper ‘On heat in the sun’s rays’ (American Journal of Science and Art, Nov 1856) that carbon dioxide “would give to our earth a high temperature; and if as some suppose, at one period in history the air had mixed with it a larger proportion than at present, an increased temperature from its own action as well as from increased weight must have necessarily resulted.” Since she, Eunice Foote, was female, she was never acknowledged for the discovery, until quite recently. She was 5 years ahead of the man who is named as the first to discover the groundwork for what we now call the ‘greenhouse effect’. He was an Irish scientist named John Tyndail.

In the blogs prior to this one, we have seen the natural resources required to grow cotton and produce wool and the impacts of climate change and ecosystem imbalance.

India is well known for its textile industry productivity. This site demonstrates the weaving- to -end -product infrastructure of a competitive Indian company creating organic cotton blend with wool cloth. Their machinery was imported from Italy in 1978 and it is obvious from their website they have been highly successful. The ability of Indians to create magnificent designs goes back to the Indus valley in the 5th millennium, when the first fabric was created using homespun cotton for weaving their garments and indigo for colour. The Indian culture lends itself still to being a hub for beautiful textile designs. For example the traditional India Khadi. India Khadi is a handspun, hand-woven natural fiber cloth. Also known as khaddar during the British colonial era, it’s a swadeshi fabric. Fibers are spun into yarn on a spinning wheel called a charkha. It is a versatile fabric, cool in summer and warm in winter.

Amongst the range of magnificent cloth and design are:

PASHMINA — Kashmir

Pashmina is made from the fineness of the cream coloured goat’s wool having intricate embroidery. Pashmina meaning soft gold in Kashmiri, some designs are hand block printed and those blocks sometimes date back to more than 100 years. It takes a week to get a single shawl of pashmina. Hand embroidery is done on the shawl which takes more time to make it an end product. The tedious work makes it one of the costliest fabric.

KINNAURI SHAWLS — Kullu, Himanchal

Their geometrical patterns have religious meaning and the colors of the thread used for embroidery represent the elements of nature — water (white), air (green), earth (yellow), ether (blue) and fire (red). Frame looms are mainly used to weave the shawls and the embroidery is done by hand. The raw material that is used is Merino wool, local sheep wool and Pashmina wool.

LEPCHA — Sikkim

In ancient times, the Lepcha’s of Sikkim were said to use yarn spun out of stinging nettle (sisnu) plant to weave clothes. Today cotton and woollen yarn are used with vegetable dyes and synthetic colours. The colors used are white, red, black, yellow and green.

You can see the cotton producing states of India on this map. India leads the world in cotton production.

The World Atlas states:

Each year, India produces an average of 5,770 thousand metric tonnes of cotton making it the world’s highest producer. Cotton has been used in India for thousands of years and early origins of its use have been traced back to the Indus Valley civilization that lived in the northwestern regions of South Asia. Thanks to its favorable climate, the majority of India’s cotton is produced in the zone that covers Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The Fairtrade website states:

Cotton farmers in lower income countries, including leading producers like India and China, live in hardship. As many as a 100 million rural households – 90 percent of them in lower income countries – are directly engaged in cotton production, relying on it for their income. An estimated 350 million people work in the cotton sector when family labour, farm labour and workers in connected services such as transportation, ginning, baling and storage are taken into account. For farmers, the challenges range from the impact of climate change, poor prices for seed cotton, through to competition from highly subsidised producers in rich countries and poor terms of trade. In particular, government subsidies for cotton farmers in rich countries, particularly the US, create a market with artificially low prices that small-scale farmers are unable to compete in. 

Exploiting our fellow humans was learned back in the early industrial revolution in England. No good came of it, only high mortality rates, dire poverty and ill health. Allowing poverty to grow also allows populations to increase at too fast a rate for the planet. Reducing poverty alleviates stress on the Planet as well as on those who suffer. Part of the solution to climate change is to reduce poverty with a determined will at a fast rate, not allow it to increase unseen by those who are wealthy.

India is the third largest gas emitter, and this website debates the challenge for India as the world is now in climate change crisis. It says:

The Third Pole provides fresh, high quality journalism covering the breadth of debates on climate change in India, from whether the country should also set a net zero target, to managing the rapid changes in some of the most fragile ecosystems of the world. Whatever direction it takes, India will have to curb its emissions while also lifting millions out of poverty and enabling its economy to recover in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Let us honour the ancient skills made famous by Indian endeavour and work toward trade mechanisms which do not allow unfair subsidies by richer nations to produce cloth at prices below those which India can meet. This industrious nation must leap into a better, happier existence reducing the poverty to zero just as we aim to reduce emissions to zero.

Some of the above states have been hit by surging cases of Covid.

Read about the desire to grow organic cotton and kick the trend of GMO.

Sapiens: slideshow

Covid is obviously impacting on India, and you can read about the impact here.

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Wool

Killing a sheep and cutting off its skin to provide clothing is obviously a skill humans have been honing for thousands of years, since we skinned many animals to clothe us, and ate the meat, used the bones to create tools and rarely discarded any part of the animal.

A shearling garment is made from a sheep or lamb shorn shortly before slaughter. The skin is tanned with the wool still on it. It can take 25 to 45 individual sheep hides to make just one shearling garment.

Such a jacket, as the one above, currently costs just under £1000. Up to 45 animals might be used to make such a coat. But then the wearer will be well protected from bitter cold as the sheep were when they were alive.

Creating wool yarn from shorn sheep has been developing for thousands of years as tools became more efficient to do the job. The Hittites were the forerunners of the Iron Age, developing the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the 18th century BC; at this time, gifts from the “man of Burushanda” of an iron throne and an iron sceptre to the Kaneshite king Anitta were recorded in the Anitta text inscription.The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey houses the richest collection of Hittite and Anatolian artifacts.

The Iron Age (final technological and cultural stage in the StoneBronze–Iron Age sequence. The date of the full Iron Age, in which this metal for the most part replaced bronze in implements and weapons, varied geographically, beginning in the Middle East and southeastern Europe about 1200 BCE but in China not until about 600 BCE.) was the period when shearing sheep could be mastered with the apporopriate tool, the shears.

Iron Age Shears

Sheep were first domesticated over 10,000 years ago and raised as a food source in Central Asia. Shearing sheep did not begin until 3500 B.C. when man learned to spin the sheep’s wool. The production of wool is the oldest trade commodity known to man. The wool industry is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible and was the first widespread international trade throughout ancient civilizations.

In the New World, most of the explorations organized by Queen Isabella of Spain were financed through her wool trading business. In the 1400’s, she paid for the voyages of Columbus and the conquistadors with profits from sheep shearing. The sheep were also used as a food source for Columbus and he left sheep in the New World when he sailed to Santo Domingo and Cuba. These sheep, known as Churras, became the ancestors of American sheep and were bred by the Navajo tribe for food and wool. The link to the Navajo tribe current traditional methods are shown here on YouTube.

Navajo-Churra Sheep

According to the World Atlas:

One major reason for the high wool production in China is the political and economic importance that is placed on it by the ethnic minorities who live in the pastoral region. In some of the districts in this region, wool is the major source of income. The second reason why China produces about 18% of the world’s wool is its significance in the textile and clothing industries in the country. In fact, China is currently the world’s largest and 2nd largest exporter of clothing and textiles respectively. China also has very large farms for sheep to graze on.

There is great attention made to the breeding and selection of sheep in China to maintain the proficacy and seasonal adaptability in the sheep rearing regions. The Hu sheep are a case in point.

Hu sheep are well recognized for the beautiful wavy lambskins, early sexual maturity, aseasonal breeding, prolificacy and the adaptability to a hot and humid climate. Hu sheep are raised indoors all year round.

Hu sheep were originated from Mongolian sheep. As early as in the Song Dynasty(AD 420-479) Mongolian sheep were introduced from the pastoral region of North China to the Taihu lake basin which borders the present provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Hu sheep became to being as a result of a long process of acclimatization and artificial selection. Hu sheep are distributed in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and the suburbs of Shanghai.

Kachmir Goat, hardy, mountain-dwelling breed that has adapted to the harsh environments and extreme temperatures of the Gobi Desert.

Hawick, in the Scottish Borders, was famous around the world for Wool and Cashmere clothing. The famous mills around the River Teviot and Slitrig are mostly silent now since overseas competition destroyed the industry here, the mill machinery sold to Chinese interests. But beautiful garments are still being hand crafted in Scotland.

Where I live, Cheviot sheep are the dominant breed, and have been over Scotland since the Year of the Sheep. It was their wool which supplied the wool mills around Scotland. My husband has ancestors who lived in Caithness, North East Scotland. They were evicted from their farmland in the 18th century to make way for sheep. The sheep grazed on the land they once farmed to provide for their families, but those evicted were forced to live in a hostile cliff edge at Badbea. Many highlanders were sent to the Americas on ships which had been used in the slave trade. This was an era when wealth was being created for the few rather than the many, and wool and meat production had priority. But those cast off their land were legally prohibited from obtaining meat of any kind off the land, and certainly did not benefit from the warmth of fine knitted cloths woven from the yarns made from Cheviot sheep coats.

Cheviot sheep originated in the Cheviot Hills on the border of Scotland and England. They produce 1/7th of the total wool production in Scotland. Cheviot wool, known for its durability, is used in socks, sweaters, blankets and wool tweeds for jackets and fine suiting material. These sheep originated in Scotland but are now found in many other countries, including the United States and Canada.

Scotland still retains its variety of Tartan designs which maintain their popularity worldwide. The Cheviot sheep wool supplies are still important, but during the Covid pandemic, prices dropped to silly prices. It was hardly worth the effort of bagging the wool after shearing in the summer.

Cheviot Sheep

These beautiful sheep are a pleasure to gaze upon, from lambs to grown ewes. The male tups are strong and magnificent. But farming is hard work in the tough landscapes of the high fells, and the economics of farming seem to be getting tougher all the time. Plus, we now have to consider the impact of climate change. Extremes of weather are affecting the livestock.

One of the ironies of the climate emergency is that hot weather encourages greater use of resources – more shelter and storage room to protect livestock and crops, more fertiliser and more irrigation – all while delivering less produce. In less developed countries, global warming has already made agriculture more difficult if not impossible across large areas of land, leading to food shortages, conflict and mass migration. Recent summers show that Wales isn’t ready for even the minimum level of warming predicted this century.

We have grown used to the reliability of seasonal changes in Britain – but now, as in most countries around the world, Nature is throwing us extremes of weather which leave us battered and broken.

Migrations of people from all over the world are moving in their thousands to seek more stable and safer environments, but no land mass is untouched by climate impacts. Farmers are finding it difficult to plan their futures, finding it harder to imagine their descendants could continue to work the land they have inhabited for centuries. The future is uncertain for all life on earth, so we must cherish and not waste what we have today. We can find solutions for all the inhabitants of this planet if we take care of one another and shoulder responsibility for our actions which need to benefit and not harm those who follow after us.

Moving to Environmentally Safe Textile Production

As we know, sheep, just like cows, emit large quantities of methane gas, which has several times the global warming potential of CO2. The 2017 Pulse of Fashion Industry Report put wool in the fourth place on its list of the fashion materials that had the highest cradle-to-gate environmental impact per kg of material. We can see a revolution is taking place as young people in the fashion industry turn to innovative, circular fashion processes which are economical and practical.

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Egyptian Cotton, Linen and Bleach

Ancient Egyptian Clothing – The woman is richly adorned with jewelry and wears a dress decorated with a pattern of feathers, the kind of garment often associated with goddesses. She is carrying offerings of meat and a duck. Tomb of Meketre. From MetMuseum.org, Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1920

5000 years ago the Egyptians mastered the art of bleaching. White fabric was a premium choice and one might say they had a compulsive obsession to wash for personal hygiene and wear clean clothes, and that is no bad thing. Wearing dazzling white linen, their aesthetic image was complete.

The women wove linen, using the fibres from flax which grew along the Nile. The Nile was venerated by the Egyptians for good reason and I wrote a blog about the River back in 2019. Growing cotton and flax for a worldwide market requires plenty of water and the Nile is a very long river going through African countries who all want to use its magnificent waters for their own needs. Egypt is last in line.

The women would take the collected strips of fiber and begin slicing them down their length in order to make them finer. Then they would splice them by rubbing them on a flat surface. In the model, those are the three women at the far right, with their backs to the wall and crouching on the floor.

The women would then twist the spliced thread using spindles in order to form balls, or yarns, of thread. In the model, those are the three women standing in front of the previously-mentioned women, and they are holding two spindles each.

The Nile was full of dangerous crocodiles, so men usually gathered the flax and also performed the laundry duties as it was tedious work; it was dangerous for other reasons too, as many pests and parasites infested the Nile. The arid and dry conditions of Egypt were blessed with the river Nile coursing through the land, without which the Egyptian civilisation would never have developed.

It was not until a Frenchman, Monsieur Jumel, an engineer, arrived in Egypt in 1817 that cotton growing was developed. He was employed by the Pasha as director of a projected spinning and weaving mills. He found an Ethiopian cotton growing in a Cairo garden, and using seeds, began to cultivate the cotton.

This link here describes the successful project:

The year 1822 produced about 1.500 tons of this new cotton, the staple of which was markably fine, but more unequal and less clean than that of the ensuing years. Rude presses were constructed for packing the cotton at the villages; but as the machinery was defective, some of the Alexandrian merchants brought hydraulic presses, with which they caused the bales to be pressed again. The cotton eventually came to be known as Jumel (or Mahò) and it soon found voracious markets in Europe, especially in England where only the Lancashire mills with the latest machinery could handle the fineness of its quality. In 1823 the cotton crop was increased to about 10.000 tons, and its culture permanently fixed. The quality was cleaner than that of the past year but less fine in fiber. This showed the necessity of new seed, or a different system of cultivation, and measures were taken to meet these objections. In 1827 Muhammad Ali Pasha imported Sea Island cotton seeds, which let the Egyptian cotton achieve a perfect quality, and it turned out that lower Egypt, and especially the Damiata branch of the Nile, contained the districts most favorable to these cotton varieties. The combination of the best seeds in the world, together with the exceptional environment, set up the ideal cultivation conditions for the most precious cotton in the world. And during almost two centuries it has been widely proven this result.

The Egyptians developed the art of whitening the linen, but it took time to prepare. It has taken centuries to speed up the process of cleaning and then bleaching linen and cotton ready for use in textile manufacture.

Throughout history, ubiquitous bleaching practices were carried out in direct sunlight because it became apparent that the sun had a catalytic effect. In the past, bleaching agents had been identified as indigenous acids, bases, and mineral salts. They were applied as soaks and sours to achieve high whiteness levels. Up until the eighteenth century it was common practice to bleach linens and cottons in the sun and woolens in the fumes of burning sulfur. These relatively primitive bleaching practices were not only cumbersome and arduously slow, but required extensive acreage. It was not until the introduction of chlorine-based materials in the late eighteenth century that bleaching became facile. In the late 1920s, hydrogen peroxide became the most prevalent bleach. Since that time, hydrogen peroxide continues to be the prominent bleaching agent for natural fibers and blends with synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers generally require little bleaching except for size removal, where necessary.

The anti bacterial agent, hydrogen peroxide is a much more eco friendly bleaching agent than any other. An understanding of using hydrogen peroxide for bleaching Cotton Fiber is here. Other chemical bleaches have a notorious name for harming us and the environment, reach instead for earth-friendly alternatives to do the jobs without the dangers.

Hydrogen peroxide is virtually the only bleaching agent available for protein fibers and it is also used very extensively for the cellulosic fibers. Hydrogen peroxide is a colorless liquid soluble in water in all proportions. It is reasonably stable when the pH is below 7, but tends to become unstable as the alkalinity increases. Commercial hydrogen peroxide, therefore, is made slightly acid so that it will not lose strength during storage. Solutions of hydrogen peroxide of more than 20 volumes cause intense irritation when they come into contact with skin and should be washed away immediately.

Egypt still retains the high quality reputation for its fine quality cotton and linen . But there is a water crisis in Egypt which cannot be ignored. Cotton plantations, as I have discussed in the previous blog to this one, require a massive amount of water.

There is a strict law to protect the Egyptian Cotton brand whilst juggling the issue for clean water for the populace.

The state’s control over the cotton market and the trade process has led to the restoration of manufacturer confidence in cotton and cotton blends, grown in Egypt. Already, this has led to an increase in demand for Egyptian cotton by more than 25% during 2020/2021.

To conclude, the Egyptian State is vigorously moving forward with developing the cotton trading system and combating the use of the wording ‘Egyptian cotton’ on imitation products. This will, in turn, result in an increase in the demand for Egyptian cotton and will directly improve farmers’ livelihoods and help achieve sustainable development.

9 million Egyptians are currently employed in the industry. Egypt is a powerful player. There are efforts to grow cotton more sustainably. All people around the world have no choice but to make every effort to protect their quality industries and, at the same time, protect the environment.

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The Battle Against Nature for Cotton

Indus Valley

Using modern techniques, it has been possible to identify the earliest cotton in a copper bead within a grave in Mehrgarh. It is thought the first cotton was grown and utilised by early farmers in this region of what is now Pakistan.

Mehrgarh is home to the oldest farming settlement of Indus valley civilization. According to archaeologists, Mehrgarh was founded in year 7000 BC and abandoned in year 2500 BC. Mehrgarh predates MoenjoDaro and Harappa civilianization and, in fact, Mehrgarh was abandoned due to advent of urbanized phase of MoenjoDaro.

from fotocommunities

Extracts below explain the constant battle humans have to preserve crops under attack from pests and diseases. Genetic sequences of cotton have evidenced the makeup of cotton in the areas it is most commonly grown, ie. China, India, Pakistan, some southern states in North America.

The most damaging insects include ash weevils, have cotton aphids, cotton stem weevil, dusky cotton bug, fruit borer, leaf hopper, leaf roller, mealy bug, pink bollworm, spotted boll worm, shoot weevil, red cotton bug, stem borer, thrips, tobacco cutworm and white fly.

Diseases also attack cotton:

Cotton production is greatly affected by diseases causing yield loss and poor-quality seed and fiber. Cotton is affected by bacterial, viral, fungal, nematodal, phytoplasmal and spiroplasmal diseases (Table 6).

Cotton leaf curl disease (CLCuD) is the most devastating disease of cotton in Asia, Africa and United States. A complex of virus and DNA β-satellite molecule causes CLCuD. Nine virus species in the genus Begomovirus and DNA beta and alpha satellites are linked to cotton leaf curl disease in these regions, particularly in India and Pakistan. The first evidence of CLCuD on Gossypium hirsutum plants was reported in 1967 in the Multan district of Pakistan. It spread to all major growing areas in Pakistan and India. Due to low host resistance in existing cultivated cotton varieties, two epidemics have occurred in the past two decades. In the early 1990s, an outbreak of CLCuD devastated Pakistan’s cotton industry, causing 30% to 35% estimated yield loss. The economic loss of Pakistan in 1992 and 1997 reached ~5 billion dollars [57] and cotton production reduced to ~70% by 1998 in some Indian states of Punjab [58]. A 52.7% and 54.2% decrease in boll number and cotton boll weight was observed, respectively. Yield losses were up to 50% in resistant varieties and 85% to 90% in susceptible varieties [59]. Cotton production rebounded in the mid-1990s, when resistant cotton varieties were introduced into the Indian subcontinent [60]. Resistance broke in 2001-2002, when new strains of CLCuV emerged that attacked previously resistant varieties, including CP-15/2, Cedex and LRA-5166 [20]. Even China, far from CLCuD hotspots of the Indian subcontinent, reported some symptoms of this disease, raising concerns that the disease could spread far from its point of origin [61]. Molecular biologists struggled to understand the biology of CLCuV to combat this disease [62].

In previous blogs, such as the Will We be Fishless series, I wrote of the continual poisoning of our global natural environment by agricultural use of pesticides, such as the infamous DDT. These are gradually being replaced by ‘genetic transformation’. Just as our Covid vaccinations often target the genetic structure of the virus attacking us, so the genetic susceptibility of varieties of cotton can be ‘transformed’ to resist both disease and insect life. We are now in an era where agriculture is improved through molecular biology research and yields are improving dramatically as a result, just as the vaccinations have saved many lives to date. So will the cotton boll weevil die out and become extinct? And where does the boll weevil sit in the food supply chain?

Wiki tells us:

The boll weevil – Anthonomus grandis, to give it its scientific name – is, like all weevils, a type of beetle. Weevils, in general, are a herbivorous beetle, and the group contains over 60,000 species, of which the boll weevil is just one. However, many other weevils do not cause significant problems for people, and so are not as well known. The boll weevil, on the other hand, can cause serious problems for us.…….It will only eat cotton plants. Since cotton is one of the world’s most important crops and was the economic lifeblood of the southern United States for a long time, it is easy to see why this tiny bug has become notorious.…………the spread of boll weevils over the last two hundred years has been dramatic. Boll weevils can now be found in Mexico, Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia…………Recently, the cost of the damage the boll weevil causes has been calculated at $300 million per year.

History records what ‘the lifeblood of the southern United States’ looked like on the cotton plantations – creating great wealth for some and misery for the slave labour.

History also tells us how pesticides used to protect cotton crops have contaminated our world and killed off precious life for the last century to the present day.

Applying pesticides reduces the numbers of other insects that would normally prey on the boll weevil and help control their numbers, such as aphids and plant bugs. So not only does the presence of boll weevils threaten the cotton plants themselves, but it can also result in a situation where the weevil’s predators cannot survive. In this way, improper pesticide applications can do more harm than good.

Boll Weevil predators:

The Fire Ant is both predator and considered a pest, so its genetics are also being studied in order to control its dominance. The Fire Ant was accidentally imported to Mobile, Alabama from a shipment arriving from Brazil, where it is commonly found. Since then it has spread widely as far as California and as far north to Maryland.

“Red imported fire ants are extremely resilient, and have adapted to contend with both flooding and drought conditions. If the ants sense increased water levels in their nests, they come together and form a ball or raft that floats, with the workers on the outside and the queen inside. Once the ball hits a tree or other stationary object, the ants swarm onto it and wait for the water levels to recede. To contend with drought conditions, their nest structure includes a network of underground foraging tunnels that extends down to the water table. Also, although they do not hibernate during the winter, colonies can survive temperatures as low as 16 °F (−9 °C).” Wikipedia

Experiments have found the Phorid Fly can destroy Fire Ants by laying its eggs in the head of the ant and then the larvae eat the ant.

But then the Phorid Fly is also considered to be a pest.

Phorid Fly

Phorid flies need anything organic to survive and meat or garbage foodstuff is more than enough to allow them to prosper. Like most small flies, Phorid flies are easy to control and you have several products to choose from. The key to success is using the right one in the right areas of the home.

The parasitic wasp Catolaccus grandis, only found in tropical areas in Mexico, is another predator of the boll weevil. They have to be introduced to the crops in the US in order to do their job of predation, but they need tropical environments to continue their existence. Genetic work is going on to create a variety which can remain in cooler temperatures.

Catolaccus grandis originated in Southeastern Mexico and it occurs naturally in the Mexican states of Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, Chiapas, Nayarit and Sinaloa (Cross and Mitchell 1969, Cate et al. 1990). This parasitoid lives in the tropical and subtropical forest and parasitizes its natural host (Anthonomus grandis) in native host plants, which include Hampea nutricia Fryxell, H. trilobata Standley, Cienfuegosia rosei Fryxel, and also in wild and cultivated cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L. (Cate et al. 1990).

Cotton trade is a massive global enterprise. When you study the countries supplying the cotton, it is clear we now live in an era where considerations are given to the ecological impact of this crop.

  • The majority of the cotton comes from India, the United States and China – the world’s top three cotton producers.
  • Each year, India produces an average of 5,770 thousand metric tonnes of cotton making it the world’s highest producer.
  • The United States is a key producer and exporter of cotton. It produces 3,999 thousand metric tonnes a year. 
  • Ways to produce cotton while caring for the environment are at the forefront of conversations in the drive for sustainability.

How hard are cotton growers working to care for the environment?

Tons of water are used to irrigate cotton fields. This is a major ecological issue. As the climate warms and some cotton growing countries become more arid, the growing of cotton is threatened, but also the people may find the crop is fed water before they are.

It takes 10,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton

Global cotton production requires over 250 billion tons of water annually.

Watch how the Aral Sea diminished due to the priority of water to the cotton crop.

We love cotton. Most of us prefer it to any other fabric. But did we grow up knowing the burden growing it put on the Planet?

I did not know because I did not ask.

I am a bit late in the game to be asking such questions now, but I can find the answers because the Internet exists for all of us to search and become informed.

If pesticides are still used extensively, we all know the outcome for insects we value, such as bees. If genetic work is done, what will the long term results be for the ‘transformation’? Are we also considering not just the success of healthy crop growth, but also the impact of changing genetics of species which have evolved on this Planet for billions of years, particularly insects? And we are obviously not using precious water responsibly in growing this cash crop which means so much to the livelihoods of billions of people.

Should we consider reducing the amount of cotton we produce?

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Clothing our nakedness.

Any other form of life is perfectly fitted to its environment. We were probably at our best when our bodies were covered in fur and we lived in jungle terrain. Since we lost our fur, we have had to clothe ourselves to protect our vulnerable, naked bodies from changing climates as we explored new terrains once we became nomadic.

We killed animals which we envied for their warm skins. We cut the skins from their flesh and used them to cover our bodies. We ate their flesh and believed we would become like them, strong and fearless.

Even today, with so many species becoming extinct, we still adorn ourselves with animal skins and use the animals for not just eating, but medicinal purposes, their bones for fertilizers, and endless inventive ways to incorporate them into our very beings. Causing extinction of diverse wildlife does not make us superior in the hierarchy of living things. Cruelty to animals for the sake of fashion is a well known activity of we, so called, ‘superior; beings.

We must now climb from the dark place where we have chosen to position ourselves, and make a supreme effort to avoid rhetoric and really act now to save what is left and protect, not destroy.

We have filled our bodies with plastic and contaminated air, soil, water with petroleum based forever chemicals. We must prove we can live without causing further harm and halt the continuation of destruction which currently has a momentum.

My next sequence of blogs will be about the development of materials we have inventively procured to clothe our naked bodies to cope with temperatures which vary around the globe during our nomadic travels. What else could we do? Well, we might have stayed in warmer climates where clothing was not necessary, such as the Rainforests. But now we have pushed indigenous people who defend those precious places to near extinction, and the wildlife to definite extinction. Why are we so incapable of working WITH Nature? We have attacked her since we lost our fur and walked in a bipedal fashion.

Did we evolve since then, or did we become an aberation upon the land and sea?

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C02 and Agricultural Practices

Since Neolithic times, when humans became farmers, we have sought ways to change land use to fit our needs. We have terraced hillsides to grow food, we have developed irrigation and switched routes of rivers to benefit land where water was needed. We have created food after years of genetic propagation, out of wild grasses. We have logged forests to clear land for breeding cattle, pigs and shelter for ourselves. We have copied nature and emulated the nourishment required to increase plant growth and health by creating fertilizers.

Synthetic chemicals in industrial fertilisers can have major negative consequences. Understanding the use of beneficial and environmentally safe fertiliser use on farms was known before the industrial revolution, such as bat guano and bone meal. But industrial fertiliser production has other uses in post industrial times, many beneficial and difficult to do without. It is suggested that there would be two to three billion less people in the world today if we had not applied ammonia-based fertilisers to farming globally. The ammonia is usually made by steam reforming of natural gas, but also coal gasification (common method used in China).

I have written about farming practise and misuse of fertilizers which lead to phosphate contamination in rivers. I am currently newly aware of the National Infrastructure dependence on fertilizer production with its vital CO2 co-product, due to headlines in UK media, September 2021. The explanation was the linking of the worldwide energy crisis resulting in UK shortages of reserve gas and the high energy costs closing fertiliser plants, unable to meet those costs. When the fertiliser plants closed, there was a knock on crisis of 60% reduced supply of CO2 which is used extensively for numerous applications vital to the smooth running of the National Infrastructure. Added to this perfect storm was the shortage of HGV drivers halting the flow of transportation of all goods, including CO2.

One of the US owned fertilizer plants in Teesside, North East England, was only able to reopen when the UK government stepped in and used taxpayers money to take the energy burden costs off the company.

The vital importance of this industry gradually became apparent. I never knew, until this incidence occurred, that carbon dioxide is supplied in numerous forms, such as cylinders, dry ice pellets, refrigerants in many types of containers and that the National Infrastructure would collapse without these supplies.

The US firm was later named as CF Industries (a leading global manufacturer of hydrogen and nitrogen products) supplied 60 percent of the UK required carbon dioxide. Their Ammonia Plant at Teesside uses Natural gas ( Methane CH4) as one of the raw materials for the production of ammonia. A co-product is carbon dioxide.

CO2 requires specially equipped ships and trucks. These are also not in sufficient supply world wide.

Approximately 20% of the UK’s carbon dioxide is imported, mostly from plants in Scandinavia and the Netherlands. However, soaring energy prices are also having an impact on European firms. They are also reducing or closing fertiliser companies for the same reason, excessive energy costs. The UK cannot expect help from Europe.

 Ammonia in Fertilizer

Ammonia is a basic building block for ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which releases nitrogen, an essential nutrient for growing plants, including farm crops and lawns. About 90 percent of ammonia produced worldwide is used in fertilizer, to help sustain food production for billions of people around the world. The production of food crops naturally depletes soil nutrient supplies. In order to maintain healthy crops, farmers rely on fertilizer to keep their soils productive. Fertilizers can also help increase levels of essential nutrients like zinc, selenium and boron in food crops.

Such industrial processes as making fertilizer emit more CO2 than any other chemical mix. This is one of the major contributing factors to increases in Greenhouse Gas acceleration which is heating up the planet faster than scientists once predicted. The previous two blogs to this one showed the data from 2013/2014. The IPCC has updated its guidelines which were set in 2006, to incredibly more relevant measuring advice than was possible in the past. This new data collection and analysis will provide a much more accurate picture of the natural world emissions compared with anthropocene era causes of the climate warming effect.

Carbon Capture is the only way to remain in the game. The 2019 graphic below is from a .pdf explaining the plan.

 

The Rough Storage facility owned by Centrica, sited in the North Sea to hold a huge reserves of natural gas, was closed by the government in 2017. Their reason was to save money on the high cost of maintenance. We lost our reserves. The UK depends on gas for 50% electricity generation. Fertiliser companies also depend on a gas supply to make their products, including the co-product of CO2. This Rough facility has existed for 30 years

This article explains the business side to this ongoing threat to carbon supplies due to lack of attention to storage containment for use in times of crisis.

The shortage of CO2 product was felt almost immediately:

Meat Industry: used in the gas chambers where pigs and chickens are ‘stunned’ before killing.

Dry Ice applications (Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide (CO2). It is made by compressing and cooling gaseous CO2. Expansion converts the liquid into the snow form of the solid state. The snow is then compressed by a hydraulic press into dry ice blocks, slices or pellets).: .Used by Pharmaceuticals to hold vaccines in cool conditions during transportation. Used in plant growth, killing bed bugs, transporting plants.

Refrigerants: Applications have varied from data centres to temperature-controlled warehouses and food production

Food and Drinks Industry paid an advisory firm Global Counsel to produce a report in 2019 warning of this very scenario and to underline the need to prevent the shortage.

Cylinders of CO2: used in medical applications such as special surgical operations. Food industry such as making drinks fizzy. Used in many industrial applications. Food packaging ensuring food stays fresh for supermarket shelves.

Coolant for nuclear power plants.

Now we, the public, are aware of the major role CO2 plays in maintaining our National Infrastructure. We now realise, if we did not before, that protection of our Infrastructure has been lacking. We are also aware that we cannot afford to wait for carbon capture techniques to replace current harmful climate- warming-gases processes via ammonia plants like the one in Teesside. With COP26 in November, this crisis has highlighted the examples of a greener way to produce CO2 product must be turned into the only alternatives so that the high CO2 dangerous emissions cease.

The economics of industrial gases production has caused mergers such as that of Praxair and Linde and all see growing demand for their products.Reports such as this at mordorintelligence.com are helping decision makers on where to place investment. But now it is not just the economic imperative driving decisions, but how to go forward and not create excessive and harmful greenhouse gases.

Commercial production of CO2 is still going to be a co-product of ammonia plants if we do not change tack immediately. We must not be trapped in an outdated cycle of producing harmful climate warming gases.. Why did we not focus on funding alternative and zero emission production of CO2 long before, when those who oversee the protection of National Infrastructure should have known this was a serious subject for many years? Why do we need to expand meat production when we could be reducing it and thus reduce the demand for so many animals to be gassed prior to killing? Why keep on logging the Amazon Forest to make room for cattle rearing and continue destroying this CO2 sink for the world? Do we really need all those sugar content drinks which then need CO2 to make them fizzy?.

There are many ways to approach this challenge and we must all use our brains to come up with solutions as we cannot rely on politicians to do so. I note research of Cryogenics is providing specialised refrigeration for space vehicles and helping in the fight to capture carbon and reduce greenhouse gases.We need a mighty effort if we are to prevent more melting of permafrost in the Arctic and thus much more harmful releases of methane to the atmosphere.

But for local greener supplies of CO2 there are signs of progress. Below is an example of one solution which could be expanded around the UK and globally.

Another developing Green Gas operation can be read here. Ecotricity want to ‘Save our Boilers’ as it is planned to replace them across the UK with expensive and unproven Blue Hydrogen pump systems.

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Living Things and the Carbon Dilemma

Since Joseph Black discovered carbon dioxide and chemists began to understand its importance, we have harnessed it for many advantageous applications which assist humans in their endeavours.

The medical world has grown thanks to our understanding of how living things depend on carbon dioxide.

Breathing controlled by levels of carbon dioxide:

From https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ap/chapter/respiration-control/

The level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our body is what controls our breathing. When carbon dioxide reaches a certain level, a signal is sent from the Medulla ( breathing centre in our brain stem) to the breathing muscles, which triggers an inhalation.

Upon exhalation, we exhale carbon dioxide and a new breathing cycle starts. Carbon dioxide is produced in the body all the time, and when we breathe, we exhale the CO2 that has been built up in our body. The more active we are, the more CO2 is produced.

This model applies to all animal life.

Everything we eat can be traced back to photosynthesis, the process by which plants take up carbon dioxide from the air and use it to produce the vast array of organic compounds needed for life.

During cellular respiration animal cells combine oxygen with food molecules to release energy to live and function………cellular respiration produces carbon dioxide as a waste product. Animals use energy to grow, reproduce, and to function. They release the carbon dioxide into the air as a waste product. When animals die, their bodies decompose with the help of bacteria. Decomposition releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or water.

Fossilised plants and animals have formed ancient layers beneath the surface of the earth which humans discovered and mined as coal, then oil, then gas, thus releasing carbon dioxide when brought in to use in the Industrialised Era. This activity has upset the balance of the carbon cycle required for life on this planet. Greenhouse Gases have protected the earth’s temperature. Without these gases Earth would be 30 degrees cooler. But human activities have pushed the temperatures up. For an understanding of Climate Change read the Met Office UK page here.

Main Greenhouse Gases

This 2014 article below explains ( https://www.c2es.org/content/main-greenhouse-gases/)

Multiple gases contribute to the greenhouse effect that sets Earth’s temperature over geologic time. Small changes in the atmospheric concentration of these gases can lead to changes in temperature that make the difference between ice ages when mastodons roamed the Earth, and the sweltering heat in which the dinosaurs lived.

Two characteristics of atmospheric gases determine the strength of their greenhouse effect.

The first is their ability to absorb energy and radiate it (their “radiative efficiency”).  The second is the atmospheric lifetime, which measures how long the gas stays in the atmosphere before natural processes (e.g., chemical reactions) remove it.

These characteristics are incorporated in the Global Warming Potential (GWP), a measure of the radiative effect (i.e. the strength of their greenhouse effect) of each unit of gas (by weight) over a specified period of time, expressed relative to the radiative effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). This is often calculated over 100 years, though it can be done for any time period. Gases with high GWPs will warm the Earth more than an equal amount of CO2 over the same time period. A gas with a long lifetime, but relatively low radiative efficiency, may end up exerting more warming influence than a gas that leaves the atmosphere faster than the time window of interest but has a comparatively high radiative efficiency, and this would be reflected in a higher GWP.

The table below presents atmospheric lifetime and GWP values for major greenhouse gases from the Fifth IPCC Assessment Report (AR5) released in 2014. These values are periodically updated by the scientific community as new research refines estimates of radiative properties and atmospheric removal mechanisms (sinks) for each gas.

Despite carbon dioxide’s comparatively low GWP among major greenhouse gases, the large human-caused increase in its atmospheric concentration has caused the majority of global warming. Likewise, methane is responsible for a large portion of recent warming despite having a GWP much lower than several other greenhouse gases because emissions have increased drastically.

Greenhouse gasChemical formulaGlobal Warming Potential, 100-year time horizonAtmospheric Lifetime (years)
Carbon DioxideCO21100*
MethaneCH42512
Nitrous OxideN2O265121
Chlorofluorocarbon-12 (CFC-12)CCl2F210,200100
Hydrofluorocarbon-23 (HFC-23)CHF312,400222
Sulfur HexafluorideSF623,5003,200
Nitrogen TrifluorideNF316,100500
SOURCEFifth Assessment Report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014).

* No single lifetime can be given for carbon dioxide because it moves throughout the earth system at differing rates. Some carbon dioxide will be absorbed very quickly, while some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

The table below shows the relative concentrations of these major greenhouse gases and their sources. Some gases (like CO2) are made by both natural and manmade processes, while others (like hydrofluorocarbons) are only the result of human industrial activity. CO2 is typically measured in parts per million because it is 1,000 times more prevalent than the other gases, but is shown as parts per billion in the table for consistency.

Greenhouse gasMajor sourcesPre-industrial concentration (ppb)2011 concentration (ppb)
Carbon DioxideFossil fuel combustion; Deforestation; Cement production278,000390,000
MethaneFossil fuel production; Agriculture; Landfills7221,803
Nitrous OxideFertilizer application; Fossil fuel and biomass combustion; Industrial processes271324
Chlorofluorocarbon-12 (CFC-12)Refrigerants00.527
Hydrofluorocarbon-23 (HFC-23)Refrigerants00.024
Sulfur HexafluorideElectricity transmission00.0073
Nitrogen TrifluorideSemiconductor manufacturing00.00086
NOTESAtmospheric concentrations are all shown in parts per billion (ppb).SOURCEFifth Assessment Report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC, 2014)
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