Our Energy Considerations

offshore-wind-farmsQuestion: With so much controversy over onshore wind farms why aren’t they all built offshore?

Answer: Because it costs about two and a half times more to build and maintain wind farms in the sea.

Know this – debates about energy always revolve around costs.

World leaders from 147 countries are discussing climate change in Paris at the same time as the Beijing area of China is enduring air pollution 17 times the recommended limit so now seems like a good time for parents to talk to their children about the main points in relation to climate change…

The first thing to understand is that there is a great deal of disagreement amongst the scientific community about what is happening to our environment, how much of it is caused by man and what we can do about it. Just when you think you have a grasp on the subject, you read another article that is completely at odds with what you had already learned. What can be said with some degree of certainty is that what is happening is bad and that it would be really good if we could do something about it.

The evidence is that our world is warming up and the most significant consequence is that the ice caps are melting. If all the ice melted then sea levels would rise over 60 metres with unthinkable consequences for the countless millions of people who have chosen to build their towns and cities near the coasts. A sea level rise of even a metre would be catastrophic in many countries.

It is thought that the main reason for this “global warming” is the emission of gases that result from the burning of fossil fuels. We are burning coal and oil in vast quantities and the fumes from this process result in the build-up of several harmful gases in the atmosphere, not the least of which is carbon dioxide. The gasses effectively absorb more of the suns rays with the overall result that the planet warms up. We can’t do without carbon dioxide because it is a fundamental requirement of photosynthesis without which we would have no plant life; the problem is we are producing far too much of it – much more than the entire plant population of our world is using.

As well as rising sea levels there are two other significant impacts of all this surplus CO2 and other gasses. Firstly, tiny shifts in temperature lead to very unpredictable weather patterns with the potential for severe storms in some areas and severe drought it others. Secondly, marine life is very susceptible to temperature variations and research suggests that coral is already being badly affected.

The simple solution is for us to become less reliant on coal and oil by providing more of our energy from renewable sources, principally wind and solar. But there is a problem in that “renewables” are much more expensive than “fossils” and that brings us to the moral dilemma being discussed at the Climate Change Conference…

Developing countries such as India argue that cheap fossil fuels have allowed us in the western world to rapidly develop our economies and in the process we have been by far the biggest contributors to the “greenhouse gas” problem that we now face. The developing nations have added little to the problem (they have burned far less fossil fuels than us) but now they are being asked to convert to much more expensive fuels to help solve a problem that is not of their making. Is that fair?

No doubt your children will hear increasingly more about this moral maze and now would be a great time to get them thinking about it. This Environment Issues quiz might be a good place to start a discussion.


ThanksgivingQuestion: Was turkey on the menu for the first Thanksgiving feast?

Answer: Surprisingly not! Things like lobster, seal and swan were!

Turkey is now a feature of Thanksgiving feasts around the world, but strangely enough it wasn’t part of the original pilgrim feast back in 1621. Items such as swan, lobster and seal were more likely to be on the menu. Americans around the world celebrate the Thanksgiving national holiday – a time to bring family and friends together.

Governor William Bradford organised the first Thanksgiving feast after their first successful corn harvest and he invited Native American allies who arrived bearing five deer as a gift. The feast was actually a three-day festival, filled with eating, hunting and celebration. Continue reading

The Mousetrap

MousetrapQuestion: How many years has The Mousetrap play been running for?

Answer: 64 years! With over 25,000 performances

This year the longest-running play in history, The Mousetrap, celebrates its 64th year in production! An outstanding achievement to have successfully continued its run, with over 25,000 performances since opening in 1952! Written by renowned writer, Agatha Christie, this play continues to attract audiences from around the world. Continue reading

Travelling Through Time

Doctor-WhoQuestion: Which animal did the Doctor’s assistant, Clara Oswald, have to face last Saturday to meet her death?

Answer: A raven.

Earlier this week marked the 52nd anniversary of the much-loved BBC TV programme, Doctor Who. Last week’s episode, Face the Raven, saw the end of Clara Oswald who has been with the Doctor as both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.

When Peter Capaldi became the twelfth Doctor, there were mixed reactions from the fans. Personally I think he’s made the grade and I’m in favour of an ‘older’ Doctor for a change. At Education Quizzes, we have different favourites and mine is David Tennant – especially when coupled with Catherine Tate. Continue reading

“Lead” Astray

Lead-AstrayQuestion: How many wild, wetland birds die from lead poisoning each year in the UK?

Answer: 100,000 – A University of Oxford report also found that eating game shot with lead is hazardous to our health.

The negative effect lead shot has on the environment has long been known. Many birds swallow small pieces of gravel which, in the absence of teeth, grind down hard food in their gizzards. If lead shot is mixed in with the gravel then it is ingested and the bird is poisoned. So, with lead poisoning causing such damage, what is being done to combat it? Continue reading


Bio-BusQuestion: What are a new fleet of buses, in Bristol, going to be running on?

Answer: Human and food waste.

That’s right, the Bristol area will be getting a new fleet of buses, run entirely on human and food waste.

Since March, a 40-seat “Bio-Bus” has been running a full service as a test, by using biomethane gas generated from sewage and food as fuel. When the test was announced, those who could prove they lived within 400 meters of the route, were granted a free day of travel on the bus. Operator First West of England now wants to run 110 gas-powered double-decker buses in Bristol. They have submitted their proposal to the government to run the service. Continue reading

The World’s Fastest Train

Worlds-Fastest-TrainQuestion: How fast can Japan’s “maglev” train travel?

Answer: Over 600km/h – The seven-car ‘magnetic levitation’ train broke a world record with a top speed of 603km/h on its test run

In Britain they are about to start building the first high-speed rail network with trains that will go 250km/h, however in Japan, they have had trains that could go that fast for nearly 50 years.

These high speed trains have been known around the world as the “bullet trains” and the Tokkaido line is by far the busiest in the world. It carries over 150,000,000 passengers a year. Continue reading

Is Solar Power The Answer To All Our Prayers?

Solar-PowerQuestion: A “gigantic” solar power plant has just been built on the edge of the Sahara Desert.  How many more plants of the same size could the Sahara accommodate?

Answer: Over 2 million

Here at Education Quizzes I have acquired a reputation for being a maths nerd but I love statistics so here we go again…

The new solar power plant in Morocco is the size of 35 soccer fields according to a BBC reporter. Given that a good size football pitch covers about 9,600 square metres (120 metres x 80 metres) you can fit just over a hundred of them into the 1,000,000 square metres that there are in a square kilometre. The whole new plant therefore covers about 3.5 square kilometres. Continue reading


Diamonds-BlogQuestion: Which is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found?

Answer: The Cullinan Diamond – 3106.75 carats!

It is a childhood dream to discover hidden treasure. We have all dreamt at some point or another of finding a trove of sparkling gems and gold bullion piled high. Whilst our chances of finding such treasure is very slim, there have been some incredible diamond finds over the years. Continue reading

Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel-Peace-PrizeQuestion: How much did the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winners receive?

Answer: £1.4m – Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi shared the 2014 prize

Since 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to individuals who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” with regards to peace. It is fascinating that the creator of this peace prize, Alfred Nobel, was a major armaments manufacturer and known as “the merchant of death”! Unwilling to leave behind a legacy of death, he rewrote his will to create a series of prizes such as the Nobel Peace Prize. Continue reading