|Issue 4 : 24th November 2005|
All issues of Communiqué are of course
complimentary, but here’s a cool fact to do with things being not
complimentary but complementary. Purple and green are complementary colours.
Green is purple’s antidote.
In this issue:
Meet me at the Civic Trust Winter Salon
The Civic Trust has just announced that I'm going to lead its second 'salon evening' on the topic of sustainability and the responsibility of the individual.
I will briefly recap 400,000 years of climate history, outline why I believe the situation is urgent, and make positive suggestions about the future including discussing ways in which we can even enjoy life more without fossil fuel dependency.
Places are free, so come along and learn how to assess
your own carbon footprint and save money as well as the planet. Come prepared:
bring an idea of your total annual combined fuel bills for your home,
your car miles and mpg, and an estimate of how much flying you do in a
year. As well as giving the talk, I will be available after the session
to ‘speed coach’ a few keen volunteers – to provide
a rough idea of your current tonnage.
I’ve now coached my first Sir, my first MBE, my first BBC executive and my first woman in media. The heaviest to date was just over 100 tonnes.
How lucky I am to meet these people. They do great work. They are great people. But they have a far bigger opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions – if they decide to – than anyone else!
Some of you now know whether you are five tonnes, 20, or 50. It’s always possible to come up with an action plan that will trim off a tonne or so. If you're taking action, good for you. Wherever you are right now is perfect. Your energy bills will soon start to fall. You have started to see the energy flows and the resultant carbon bubbles.
Lightweight or heavyweight, once you've started down the carbon conscious track there is no way back! You cannot become carbon unconscious once you have seen the lite!
CARBON CONSCIOUS THINKING
It's funny how experts can completely fail to explain the simple stuff underpinning their subtle world. I struggled recently to explain why burning wood from trees, biomass, coppice etc is OK and burning fossil isn’t. Boy did I make heavy weather of it.
Burning plants is not the same as unleashing carbon that has been safely stored underground for us millions of years ago as fossilised life energy – or “ancient sunlight” as Thom Hartmann calls it in his highly recommended book The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight.
It’s never that simple, I know, but in another sense, it is!
My 12 year-old-son, Daniel, has been helping me light the wood fire and loves it. (It's the caveman in our genes). We bought another load of logs; quite expensive, but the warmth, glow, healing and feel-good are priceless. With a cold winter ahead perhaps we should get some more in...
One little twist. Now, if I get cold from sitting at my laptop for too long, I go and stack a few logs by the house and warm up in no time! Instant heat, carbon free!
My views have just been quoted on the personal finance site, Interactive Investor.
I know I am very lucky to have any spare funds to invest in the stock market, so bear with me those with no spare. I am not going to tip the specific funds I have bought into, but why don't consider investing in renewables, biofuels or wind funds?
One of the funds I bought into rose 100% last year.
Don't take my advice on this, but I am paying monthly into some of these funds instead of into a personal pension. It's my green retirement fund.
The logic could not be stronger. If world stock markets crash, we all lose. If the insurance industry can't cope, we all lose. But what if the environment crashes? Surely that's the biggest loss possible!
While probably there is a small chance of it all going belly-up, why not gamble on renewables and other net positive stuff?
For me it's a simple choice – be cynical or be idealistic. Both are silly, but I think I'd rather be a silly idealist with a chance of profitting from investing in the future of our planet.
Video games, TVs, DVD players, and electronic gadgets, toys and gifts are all Christmas presents that are going to add a bit more purple to the sky. So, how about some presents that aren't going to put more pressure on your electric meter – and that don’t need batteries either!
Have some fun looking for the grooviest, coolest, greenest most 'now' presents you will ever see. Things like wind-up and solar radios, and wind-up univeral TV remotes, are just so lovely. All our guests look at these and invariably end up asking where they can buy one.
Oh, and do be tempted to look at Natural Discovery’s eco-holiday offers too!
The universal image for a bright idea is – so far – a light bulb. A conventional light bulb. The humble bulb was a bright idea in Edison's day, but not in ours. It wastes £50 cash over its lifetime, for the want of a fiver to buy it. It pollutes a staggering four times more CO2 than necessary. And, like a baby, it needs changing ten times more often!
Clever, clever us!
How long before the old style light bulb becomes the universal symbol, not for a bright idea, but for institutionalised stupidity?
Polar bears and three-year-olds on thin ice
The late, great Donella Meadows (a quick websearch will find her work) once said, "To solve the energy problem you have to want to." It isn’t always clear whether or not we want to succeed in using less energy. Is our greatest fear that we succeed? I'm not sure...
Anyway, Donella Meadows also wrote one of the most poignant pieces I have ever read, Polar bears and three-year-olds on thin ice. It's not for the faint-hearted. I’m not sure whether to recommend it or not, but I will. There is a power and a beauty in it as well as pain. I hope you enjoy it, and its twist at the end.
Wherever you are now, you've already begun your journey towards a carbon-lite lifestyle – you're reading this! Whether you're 200 tonnes now or 20, every one of us can make giant progress with just a few small steps. It doesn't have to be drastic. Sacrifice isn't necessary. But the outcome is hugely worthwhile for your pocket, your peace of mind, and for the planet.
PS When you have a few minutes spare, sign up to:
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Take a look at my personal weblog
Visit the Carbon Coach website
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