Blog Archives

Local Recycling Rates

The DEFRA website has some useful stats about the recycling rates of local authorities going back to 2005.

Table 3 of the local authority data 05-06 spreadsheet has the earliest LA data.

Table 3 of the LA-201011-v2 spreadsheet has the latest data.

Here’s the fun bit though.

The local authority data 07-08 has some additional key performance indicators about the cost of waste collection that don’t appear to have been continued in later datasets.

Column O shows the cost of waste collection per head for every local authority in England.  Costs of waste collection and disposal are generally higher if recycling rates are lower, because more waste has to be sent to expensive landfill sites.  But this is the first time I’ve seen local stats you can interrogate to bear this kind of thing out.

The stats show an average waste collection cost per head amongst all local authorities who returned such data as being £53.60.  My home of Southampton comes in at above average, at a cost per head of £58.07.

Just in case DEFRA ever gets rid of this awesome spreadsheet, I’ve saved a copy of it here.

Local Authority Municipal Waste Statistics 2007-8- cost of waste collection per head


The Science of Climate Change: Hockey Sticks

The gold standard for evidence-based arguments for tackling climate change remains the Stern Review, published by the UK Government in 2006.  It’s an independent report that looks at the costs associated with tackling climate change, and the costs of not tackling climate change.

Chapter 1 is devoted to the science of climate change, and is a useful resource for rebutting popular climate change denier myths.

I particularly like this bit (p6):

Box 1.1 The “Hockey Stick” Debate.

Much discussion has focused on whether the current trend in rising global temperatures is unprecedented or within the range expected from natural variations. This is commonly referred to as the “Hockey Stick” debate as it discusses the validity of figures that show sustained temperatures for around 1000 years and then a sharp increase since around 1800 (for example, Mann et al. 1999, shown as a purple line in the figure below).

Some have interpreted the “Hockey Stick” as definitive proof of the human influence on climate. However, others have suggested that the data and methodologies used to produce this type of figure are questionable (e.g. von Storch et al. 2004), because widespread, accurate temperature records are only available for the past 150 years. Much of the temperature record is recreated from a range of ‘proxy’ sources such as tree rings, historical records, ice cores, lake sediments and corals.

Climate change arguments do not rest on “proving” that the warming trend is unprecedented over the past Millennium. Whether or not this debate is now settled, this is only one in a number of lines of evidence for human induced climate change. The key conclusion, that the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lead to several degrees of warming, rests on the laws of physics and chemistry and a broad range of evidence beyond one particular graph.