De la valeur du temps

« Ce n’est pas que nous disposions de très peu de temps, c’est plutôt que nous en perdons beaucoup. »

Sénèque

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Further reducing our Carbon Footprint

Following our Beautiful World Tour carbon footprint (emissions) offsetting and COP21 International gathering in Paris last December, we have calculated our day to day carbon footprint and decided about an action plan to reduce it upon our return, and take the path to the ambitious “Factor 4” targets to contain temperature increase below 2°C (which goes further than the 2.5X compensation we have done for this trip).

Being a family of 4, we emit 15.8 t of carbon a year, which is 5.4 t below the national average, thanks to the friendly climate of the south of France, the numerous improvements we did to the house, our “organic and local” food habits, and some “lifestyle” choices we made like going to work by train and bicycle…. But our emissions could be much better if we were travelling less (we are 30% above national average…). And I’m not accounting for the dramatic business travelling I’ve been doing each year, for which the company should do something in the future (e.g. less traveling and carbon compensation that I will challenge upon my return).

bilan carbone

Having looked at the details of where we have room for improvement, we decided to apply the following action plan when back home in August 2016 to reduce our yearly emissions by 16% (2.5 tons).

plan action carbone

 

  • House Energy Efficiency Improvements
    • This is always the first thing to do before trying to add more renewable energy in the mix. We will do a(nother) complete energy efficiency analysis to confirm the remaining insulation works needed (after having already done most of what we could do).
    • Probably we will have to do further roof insulation.

 

  • Consumption & Emission reduction
    • We need to finalize our 55 lamps (!) switching process to low-energy ones (80% completed).
    • Put drastic energy control devices for our electronic devices that now account for 15%+ of the total appliances consumption (more than lighting like for most family): this is the dark side of Digital! We will install automatic switchs with time controler for all equipments!
    • Decrease warm water temperature, warm water usage (shorter showers and almost no baths) and dishes / clothes washing temperature down to 30°C.
    • Install a Nest smart thermostat that enables to better manage the house temperature (15% savings expected)…
    • We might install a solar water boiler or AeroVoltaic solar pannels depending on the analysis results.

 

  • Green Energy Switch
    • We are looking at installing solar panels even if the technology in not fully mature yet with rapid efficiency gains happening. The current best solar panels convert up to 21% of the solar energy, but some technologies under development claim we could reach 40% in a short time-frame.
      We have a special interest in the brand new AeroVoltaic solar pannels as they convert another 50% of the solar energy into heat.
      The question is therefore: what is the best time to invest into those rapidly changing technologies (might be worth waiting a little)?
    • Electric storage has always been the key issue of solar electricity production, but with Tesla’s recent announcement of a battery system (Tesla Wall) proposing incremental storage cost at +0,064 € per kWh (2,5x cheapper than competition), our hopes to be one day “off-the-grid” seems to be more and more realistics.
    • We have dropped the idea of installing a wind turbine as the instalation process in a semi-urban area is rather complex with uncertain output.
    • While trying to consume less and become more and more energy self-sufficient, we will switch to a 100% renewable energy provider for the remainder of energy needed.

 

  • Transportation?
    • This is the most difficult part as it accounts for 55% of our total emissions, and there are (yet) few possibilities available as the is the one domain where we can’t / don’t wish to reduce the amount we travel (like many families I guess). Still, we will look at:
    • replacing the car doing the most distance with a Plug-In Hybrid: i’m still evaluating the potential impact (probably around a ton a year)…
    • compensating our vacations traveling like we did this year during the world tour through active carbon sequestration: planting trees!

 

This action plan should reduce of emision by 16% (2.5 tons) down to 13 tons per year in 2016/2017. If we are ambitious and stick to COP21 decision, we should reduce the average emission by a “Factor 4” by 2050 to contain temperature increase by 3°c by the end of the century. Factor 4 means to reduce our emisions by 75 % in 45 years (3% a year until 2050), reaching 5.2 tons for the family…. While we are probably on track, we will need some efforts on Appliances and Transportation.

Clearly, transportation is the #1 challenge to tackle, with 55% of total emissions (8.77 tons), of which 55% is related to vacations traveling in airplanes… This is where we need a revolution for car & air transportation. So until technologies are available, the only real solution is our active Carbon Compensation for which we are looking at planting 50+ trees which under tropical climate sequesters on average 25 kg of Carbon per annum, helping to offset another 5 tons of CO2 a year.

We will keep you posted on that last part soon!

 

Useful links (if you wish to do the same calculations):
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facteur_4
http://www.coachcarbone.org/
http://www.ademe.fr/particuliers-eco-citoyens
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSmEbsDeMhY

 

 

Education on the road

A few days after we arrived in Costa Rica, we started the second quarter of school for kids, CM2 for Jade (elementary school) and 6th grade for Ulysses (middle school).

It’s not always easy for the kids to concentrate with the ocean nearby and monkeys swinging in the garden… but this way of teaching on the road has some advantages!

Indeed, the good side of this taylor-made eduction is that we can adapt to the level of each child, going faster on things easy for them, taking more time where needed, and letting them discover new things that the National Education Program would not provide, such as Computer Science and real-world Nature discovery (Natural Sciences).

Starting the second quarter, for Jade, we have already completed the full year of Mathematics, half of the French lessons… For Ulysses, 70% of Maths are completed, but only one-third of the French lessons (so barely in time with the official program)…

For English, we did put Jade and Ulysses together in the same 6th grade class where we have already completed more than half of the program with much more spoken language practice, with the aim to complete 6th and 5th grade during this year and bring them to some spoken fluency through real world practice (after Costa Rica, we’ll be in English speaking countries mostly)!

Overall, the CNED program (Centre National de l’Education à Distance = French Remote Schooling National Program) is fairly well made content wise, but some of the content is very “academic” and far from child’s preoccupation or real-world situations. Learning english by learning Middle-ages vocabulary (moat, …) that they will never use in life, or learning some of the french language concepts through distant Greek mythology is seriously outdated. Also, the Internet tools the CNED is providing are dysfunctional and almost a copy of the “linear” content provided in books without taking real advantage of the interactive capabilities provided by the medium. No wonder that education levels are decreasing in France and elsewhere in this Digital age that needs education to be reinvented.

We are also starting Sciences with a focus on “Sustainability & Preservation” with concrete applications they will need to reflect on, such as reducing our Carbon footprint during / after this trip. In Computer Sciences, after going through the basics of managing data in the cloud, we are starting more serious stuff like programming simple things before getting into HTML and website programming.

schooling tools

We also try to condense the school time to one intense full week every three weeks to let them enjoy and discover the many activities that each country offers, with a specific sports challenge in each region we cross: Kiteboarding in Brazil, Snorkeling & Sailing in the Caribbean, Surfing in Costa Rica, Paragliding in New-Zealand, Scuba-diving in Australia, and serious Hiking in India! Poor kids, are they are entitled with one “joker” only to discard the activity they like the least;-)

The most difficult thing so far has been to respect the well defined school schedule, as the first day is always painful, teachers and students having to adapt to the always new classroom, and kids having to cope with the schooling intensity!

school schedule

On top of this, we keep some English lessons and outdoor sports / adventures all other weeks as we believe this is what kids can learn most during this journey.

We as parents are slowly progressing as teachers (at least doing our best with this new “job”), trying to make our kids’ education as rigorous, taylor-made, interactive, Digital and fun as possible while learning ourselves in the process (patience in the first place)!

jade ecole
Jade looking at the monkeys in the garden
ulysse ecole
Ulysses joyfully going through his Maths lesson…

Costa Rica Pura Vida

After a looong travel across the country, we arrived in Playa Negra in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, the least populated and most untouched region of the Country.

We are staying in a wonderful Assienda that will be our base camp for the family adventures in the north-west wild of the country.

Stay tuned;-)

Guadeloupe & Martinique – Photos Album

Here are the photos albums!

Martinique full photo album is here!

03-IMG_2875
St Anne beach

 

Guadeloupe full photo album is here!

26-guad2
Petite-Terre – Guadeloupe

And the “Best Of” is below;-)

 

See you in Costa Rica!

Miami Express

We just arrived in Miami for an express trip across Florida to delight kids with a serie of unexpected discoveries…

City tours, a bit of nature, and probably many amusement parks (but don’t tell them, it’s a secret;-)!

Kids will report themselves on that new kind of adventure!