thinking outside the tank

Nil By Ear

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Prius Exchanging a Prius for a recumbent tricycle as my main form of transport. Windcheetah 749


Well, because of climate change. According to some web-based calculators, the Prius needs 425 calories per mile which is equivalent to 4.7 small bananas. It’s fantastic that the Prius is so efficient, but those calories come from petrol (0.1 pints per mile if I drive carefully). The Prius puts 166g per mile of CO2 into the atmosphere. The recumbent, however, needs only 50 calories of my energy to carry it for 1 mile; that’s about half of a small banana. Although I’m breathing out CO2 at a higher rate than when I’m standing still, the beauty is I get to eat the banana as well as exercising my heart muscle and keeping fit.

Stephen Fry tweeted recently about a campaign organised by Avaaz to make some noise on 21Sep09 in order to wake up world leaders and urge them to action on climate change:

The organisers see time running out for action on climate change:

A global conference in Copenhagen in December marks the last chance we have to turn this terrifying situation around and save the planet from disaster.

When it comes to noise I’m strictly Nil By Ear. Anyone who thinks a conference will change the world does not seem to have observed the outcomes of previous conferences. It’s my view that governments are so very ineffective in this area largely because the people they govern are so very resistant to change. We are unwilling to upset the pattern of our lives in any way that means we consume less. The conference will undoubtedly repeat the message that we must emit less carbon dioxide, but we will baulk at all the measures governments try to introduce.

We clamour for cheap flights to the sun, cheap petrol in our cars, and endless domestic and personal appliances. We shop for world foods in our supermarkets rather than experience the seasonal rhythm of local produce bought at the farm shop or farmers’ market. (So the banana wasn’t a very good example of an energy food for my calculations above.) By the way, I believe the UK could be self-sufficient with respect to food – if only we didn’t throw away a third of what we buy and didn’t eat twice what we need. The statistics and trends on obesity bear this out.

I believe that we should take individual responsibility for our carbon footprint and not rely on governments with short-term outlooks finding what’s politically acceptable to them. We don’t have to wait to be told what to do. We know what to do. So let’s do it.

We’re replacing our old central heating boiler with a modern combination boiler; we’ll be improving household insulation;  outside, we’ll be growing more of our own fruit and vegetables, and I will be as close to vegetarian as the occasional bacon sandwich allows. So, please, keep the noise down on Monday and formulate your individual action plan instead.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst 2009


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