Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Burning oil is minging

Gosh, we really do have some seriously quality bloggers in Edinburgh, don't we? Apart from my good self (netch'relly), we have Mr E, The P-G, David Farrer, Arthur (although he's not popped his head up for a while), the Reactionary Snob, Bookdrunk and the excellent Robert Sharp.

Robert has written a percipacious post about why we should try to stop burning oil. [Emphasis mine.]
Forget global warming, forget the mathematical fact of finite resources, forget middle-eastern politics. Burning fossil fuels is, well, like… minging. Any cyclist who has stopped at traffic-lights behind a bus will attest to this objective fact. The buildings in our cities - all human cities - are stained black with the residue of this continuous combustion.

I read a lot of indignant prose from both environmental campaigners who complain about the lack of urgency at combatting global warming; and from climate change deniers who resist these apparently fascist demands on their freedom and their lifestyle. Let me remind everyone of the facts: We set fire to chemicals and make everything just a little bit smellier, dirtier, and more carcinogenic to every living thing than it was the day before (we don’t even have the decency to add any nicotine to the mixture). I maintain that no-one, whether they are part of this species or another, thinks this is pleasant. The picture is already preposterous enough, without adding global climate change into the mix.

I had not even thought of that; so ingrained has the idea of petrol become in our lives that I hadn't even stopped to consider the aesthetics.
Since industry uses so much fuel to power the economy, an instant change is unlikely. Nevertheless, vast chunks of our daily lives that could be powered by renewable sources. The ’standby’ indicator light on my DVD player could be kept glowing by a hamster and a wheel, so I feel sure that A Drop Of Golden Sun could do it too.

Interestingly, in a recent MacUser issue, they set out to see if they could power a Mac with two solar panels and a windmill attached to a shed. They required other equipment, capacitors and suchlike, and spent about £3,500 (typically, I cannot find the issue at present, so this is from memory). They found that it was, indeed, possible to run most machines—although not the big Mac Pros—using this set up.

Talking to someone who is vaguely involved in the power industry, at a party last month, I was informed that we almost never used more than 40% of the power available to us currently and—were the ageing National Grid rebuilt, for which it is long overdue, in the right way—then we could, indeed, provide our power needs via renewables alone. Interesting, I thought, although given the cost of rebuilding the Grid—which would, I would have thought, run into the tens of billions—how likely it is to happen is another matter...

On pollution of another sort, the P-G has written a good post on Jamie Oliver.
All hail St Jamie of Oliver.

Last night's return to the "School Dinners" fray showed him to be on spectacular form. The first episode of the new series raises, as one might expect, a number of issues.

Firstly, it demonstrates clearly the parlous condition of the infrastructure of the state. Jamie's School Dinners plan rests on the assumption that fresh food can be cooked and served to children in each school. This assumption was shown to be somewhat flawed in Lincolnshire, for all but 3 out of 286 primary schools in that county.

Secondly, it shows the degree to which people's ability and/or willingness to JFDI seems to have been eroded, both in the state and private sectors. We could posit causes of this lamentable decline in the nation's collective "spunk" (for want of a better word) till the cows come home. Jamie, to his immense credit, gives us the DS Pink solution and identifies clearly what is missing: leadership.

ort, get the apparatus of the state out of the way, make some noise, let the market in the form of sentient individuals do its stuff and JUST F*CKING GET ON WITH IT.

Go and read the whole thing, and laugh at Jamie's putdown to Chuckles: peerless! but he should be given a knighthood (do you see what I did there, eh?). Actually, I liked his comment here too.
"A year ago we got £220m out of the British Government to help improve school meals. The result is that each school gets £1,200 plus 50p a kid," Oliver said.

"A year later I thought it was my duty to make another programme to see what has happened, what we have achieved and what we haven't achieved, and the result is that I found Lincolnshire."



The Pedant-General said...

"do you see what I did there, eh?"

Yes: you have confused a knighthood with a peerage. One is merely a bauble, the other grants you rights to have a say in the legislative process. Not the same thing at all.

Oh, OK - I'm being a Pedant.

Thanks for the link though. I strongly recommend that we all watch the rest of this series - it is invaluable television for a myriad of reasons.

qutpgyst: The ghost of an obscure Muslim firebrand cleric that, annoyingly, moves everything about. Probably responsible for one's keys going down the sofa (cars are an infidel abomination)


Devil's Kitchen said...


"Yes: you have confused a knighthood with a peerage. One is merely a bauble, the other grants you rights to have a say in the legislative process. Not the same thing at all."

Ah, no; for I said that he was peerless. I have snared you in my cunning linguistic trap!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. A pleasure to be of service, as always.

PG's rant about getting the apparatus of the state out of the way (vis school dinners), reminded me of of a post by Tim Worstall on the same strategy regarding global warming. Apparently millions have already been invested in environmentally friendly technology, by the private sector. "Go back to sleep, markets will solve the problem" says Tim.

Or Sir Jamie, obviously.

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