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The Best Bits

I got kicked off my pc before I could finish my last post properly, so here are the missing bits.

Saturday being very wet, and having a minor flood in the tent, I was expecting to be wet and miserable on Sunday. I was cold and hungry, but otherwise in a good mood when I woke up at around 8am. I sat in the tent for a bit and did some drawing before hearing people get up. Tal andd Rhianna were the other early birds so we went off together.

I am really glad they persuaded me to go out because the acoustic side of the festival was not to be missed. We spent a while in the Shisha Lounge listening to a variety of people including the brilliant Edd Keene who plays various instruments and loops them together to form a piece of music/song....his flute was haunting. Rhi knows the lead singer of Spiral Scouts, so we couldn't miss their performance in the Perfumed Garden...again an excellent set, which got us in the mood for a bit of dancing so we trundled over to the Trailer Trash lounge for Underground roots (I think). The robot sculpture in Trailer Trash was handy for hanging my bag on...it kept it safe and in full view so I didn't have to worry about it :) I wish I had managed to get a photo as the big bag I was carrying was the perfect hand bag size on the robot.

We all had a great time and have decided we should make it an annual event :) 

Beat Herder Festival

I was originally going to take my eldest daughter to Glastonbury for her 18th, but it is not on this year, so after asking her friends which was the next best festival to go to they recomennded Beat Herder......I am glad they did.

We arrived on the site at around ten thirty in the morning and managed to get our gear round to the main queue just as it started to bucket down. The queue moved fairly quickly considering the amount of people there and by the time we had been issued our wristbands, the rain had eased up and we headed off to set up our tents. Various friends arrived throughout the day and by the time the festival was due to kick off everyone was ready to go. We made a note of where our tent was (there were banners based on card suits, we were near 4 clubs) and headed off for the main arena. 

Although the start was delayed by an hour (it was already quite muddy) no-one complained and we were all in high spirits when we were allowed into the arena. I imediately loved the layout of the site....it is split into distinct areas with stages and interesting corners all over the place. We had a good wander around the site so we knew where everything was and then wandered over to the toiltrees stage for a while. We dived back to our tents at around half eight to get changed and get something to eat before heading back out for Parov Stelar on the main stage at 10.30. Someone insisted I take the drum out with us 'So we can make some noise' so we took that too.

Parov Stelar were brilliant :) we didn't want the set to finish.....they started the weekend off for us. From the main stage we wnadered off to the Toiltrees stage to see Utah Saints, Fake blood and Eddie Temple-Morris. As people were wandering back towards camp I realised that I was wide awake and there was no point me trying to get any sleep, so I changed into warmer gear, had a brew and a smoke, picked up my camera and sketchbook and wandered back out into the early morning.

I was asked by security on my way back into the arena if I was working lol. I explained I was an artist and the best time to get photos etc was when everyone else was in bed, which raised a giggle from a couple of them. I spent a couple of hours wandering around, photographing various bits and pieces. There are some wonderful sculptures around the site, including an enormous metal lizard with seats inside. The was also a ferris wheel, poles for dancing on, a stone circle with seats and firepit, a geo ball with seats inside....generally refered to as a stoner trap.....giant wicker sculptures of musician foxes and male amd female dancers; 'love', 'peace' and 'herd em up' sculptures, and graffiti painted seating areas to name a few. After I had photographed everything I wanted I wandered back to camp and caught a few hours sleep.

I woke up at lunchtime feeling distinctly damp.....there was a storm raging outside and the tent was leeking on my side! I shifted stuff out as quickly as possible...fortunately I was woken by rain coming in and hitting my face so my slepeing bag was practically dry. Sean sorted out the tent outer... the guys had loosened, so he moved them and tightened them. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and then had something to eat, before heading off to the drum workshop in the perfumed garden. Most of the people had drummed before so the session got off to a quick start with the instructor acting more as conductor than teacher lol. After about 40 mins of fairly intensive drumming we took a short break and then learned an african song before the workshop finished. I didn't notice until we stopped that the workshop had attracted a fairly large audience and we recieved a round of applause when we finished. Someone I met on the sunday commented on it too, they said that they had heard it from across the field and wandered over to listen....he had thought that we were a profesional group giving a demo! I didn't make that many mistakes then lol

There were a few hours to go before Orbital were on so I took my drum back to camp and caught up with some of the others.  We headed off to Orbital, which wasn't anywhere near as good as I expected...the music never seemed to come to life....and then headed off for the Toiltrees stage. I headed off to bed earlier than most....I had only had a few hours sleep, so fell asleep with the ground vibrating under me to the beats coming from the festival....very relaxing.

Sean and Sarah were flat out on Sunday morning so I wandered out with Tal and Rhianna. We went out and got breakfast and pddled around for a bit. We went back over t camp to see what everyone else was up to and then headed back off to catch some of the accoustic music on offer. while we were wandering back over ot the Shisha Longe I got a message on my phone. Someone had found tals phone and texted me to say they were taking it to lost property....so we diverted by there to pick it up :) there are some decent people left in the world...and one with brains too :) Thank you whoever you are. We saw the Lancashire hot pots, Kora Fula, Spiral Scouts, Edd Keene and Happy Red Tractors. Rhi wanted to go to a punk set so I wandered off to nosey around. I ended up on Quality Street and heard good vibes coming from the chapel. Inside is a mini-club where you can dance on the pews and in the aisle......for the first time in my life I sent a text saying 'come to church' lol Tal and Rhi turned up shortly afterwards and we all had a whale of a time.

Around 9pm everyone met up at the toiltrees stage for a boogie, but it was very crowded and half of us ended up in Hotel California for Dirtbox and Key Lo and Sicknote to round off the festival. No one was tired so we all ended up at my tent and we sat and nattered about our 'best bits' until around three in the morning.

Take down was wet and muddy, but we coped. I did my usual of slowly but surely tidying up from around 8 am when I woke up, so that by the time Sean and Sarah were up and about there was only the bedding, breakfast bits and tents to pack away. We made it down to the pick up point on time for our lift.....though he wasn't happy about th amount of mud.......and got back to Seans in time for a late lunch.

I would thoroughly recommend this festival to anyone who likes a variety of music......roll on BeatHerder 2013 :)
From 31st December 2009 the government intent to make all vitamins, herbal preparations and supplements available on prescription only, from your GP!!!.

Anyone who objects has until 5th September, yes that is FOUR DAYS, to sign the petition which is at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Vitamins

Tell all your friends, swamp the petition site!

There are several reasons why this is a bad idea:

1. This would effectively kill Herbalism..........which has been effective for thousands of years
2. Doctors are not trained to prescribe herbal preparations, it is a separate 3-4 years of training!
3. All our health care products would be in the hands of the big pharmaceutical companies

What is appalling is the fact that this has been kept so damn quiet by the idiots who call themselves our representatives!!

The plants of this planet have aided humankind for thousands of years, and up until the past 60 or so years were in common useage in every household in Britain and are still widely used, even if many people are not aware of them. The majority of pharmaceutical products are simply patented plant derivatives......and there is the crux of the matter. Pharmaceutical companies cannot patent the whole herb...it is a naturally occuring entity....so they aim to get it outlawed!!!

Is your GP going to do the extra training..........I doubt it very much.

Heat and energy Pt2

It wouldn't be so bad if the governments own report didn't disagree with it. The following quote is from an industry source:

"A recent report by the ESRC for example highlighted that we would need to refurbish a city the size of Cambridge every month to complete the task within 40 years. We would also need 23,000 people working non-stop for 500 months."

Just to put that into proportion:-

500 months = 41 years 8 months = 15,219.55 days = 365,269.2 man hours

.........and where, while you are running round doing all the refitting, do you find the time to get an adviser in first without slowing things up dramatically?

The problem of old housing stock is broached in the following statement:

"There needs to be consideration given to existing home archetypes where significant CO2 reductions may not prove possible. Much of the UK's housing stock was built pre-1900 and by 2050 will be well over 150 years old."

Well other than inappropriate use of the apostrophe in there.........tell us something we didn't know. It would have been nice if the government had suggested a way round the problem maybe?

One good point that was buried in there:

" There are calls for stronger support for existing good practice, with a number of specific examples put forward such as the low carbon community movement, climate friendly or transition towns and neighbourhoods, retrofitted exemplar houses and cooperative energy projects."

Transition Towns and much of the low carbon movement have permaculture principles at heart.( Permaculture-a system of cultivation intended to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by relying on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem.) By the use of intelligent design and allowing nature to work for us rather than us working against nature, we reap the benfits without depleting the planets resources.

It is not limited to food production either. Permaculture principles underlie many green building techniques, e.g. passive-solar houses which require no extra heating, and may also be extended to the production of many things, it just takes a willingness to take a fresh look at what you need and how you can provide it at no lasting cost to the environment, and preferably at minimum cost to the consumer..........

........and here is where the system has previously hit a brick wall. If people are mainly self-sufficient, where is the room for big-money-grabbing-industry? The oil and chemical industries have been producing 'miracle' products, heavily advertised, for so long that most of us don't know any different! The science is now unequivocal, current practices are killing us slowly. I am not against people making money, far from it, economic prosperity is something we need, but we DO need a radical rethink in many areas. Some industries are working on the problems. Sony have flat screens based on organic material, computer manufacturers are developing hardware that is much less energy intensive and can run at lower voltages, making it possible to run from battery based systems and renewables more easily.

The human race became dominant because of its ingenuity and adaptability................and these are the things which will save our bacon if we give them the chance.

On the subject of proposed home energy audits, someone had the sense to point out that they were useless unless the homeowner had the finances to fix the problems highlighted in such an audit. The report also pointed out that the government has "continued poor performance" with respect to reducing its carbon emissions, with only a year to go before its own 2010 deadline, "carbon emissions from offices have decreased by only 6.3%." not only that but if the Ministry of Defence is taken out of the picture, "then emissions have actually increased by 5.3%". As the military in general has been downsized steadily over recent years, how much of this drop is a saving in real terms, or have they just been sneaky and claimed activity when in reality they simply closed up shop?

One worrying comment:

" ..there is strong support for the levy {a carbon tax} to be introduced as far upstream as possible - recognising that the cost will ultimately be passed on to the consumer. Many respondents also highlight the impact of a levy being passed onto poorer households and the elderly who may be less able to afford an increase in their bills."

Another reason to go off-grid!! The Carbon Levy was proposed as a way of making sure that heavy polluters pay the full costs of their pollution. It is not possible for the consumer to refuse badly produced electricity because of the nature of the system. Why should we pay a tax on bad power production when we have had absolutely no say in the policy of this or previous governments? Tax the people who make the profits, not the poor bugger in the street who is being faced with higher and higher bills, with no say in the matter. A choice of heat and light OR food is NO CHOICE. We are supposed to live in a modern, just society. Justice is not limited to 'banging up criminals'. Justice encompasses a whole raft of legal and moral issues that benefit the majority in our society, not just the ones with the power to make the rules, be that power physical wealth, politics or company policy.

The government do concede that 'the number and nature of levies imposed on domestic energy consumers' is 'well proven' to have a regressive effect, 'acting disproportionately to the detriment of low income households'. They then state that,'The introduction of any levy must be considered in the context of its impact on fuel poverty and remedial measures implemented as appropriate.'

Call me a cynic, but in light of the 'remedial measures' taken to cut public spending in the recent economic downturn, proposals to stop disability benefits for instance, I don't think I want to see what 'remedial measures' will be required.............also, with an added levy, those on the fringes of fuel poverty are likely to be pushed over the edge.

A small ray of hope for those in rented accomodation, it is recognised that historically, landlords only do the work required of them as they do not themselves benefit from home improvements and increased energy efficiency, the benefit going to the tennant. This would mean that the uptake of renewable and other technology would be likely to be low. It was suggested that much tougher rules and regulations be put in place and that they be followed up properly, as this is not always currently the case with regs. The only problem is........................I will need to read YET ANOTHER white paper to find out anything tangible! Ho-Hum

Interestingly, and in light of the governments continued denial of peak oil, I found a short comment that states, 'respondents accept that there is an upward trend for energy prices due to depletion of sources' and we know that there is enough coal for several hundred years, so this can only refer to oil and gas.

Isn't it surprising what you can find hidden in the middle of a document.........who reads all the boring bits? Well I do, my Grandfather drilled into me, 'Always read the whole document, including the small print, before you sign anything.' ..........the same thing applies to ANY official document, ESPECIALLY those put out by government!

Last, but by no means least, is the concern that "..the desired reduction in energy will not be achieved by technologies that compromise or mitigate their energy saving function during their lifetime by requiring a high energy or resource cost to manufacture, transport and install."

Ah, the voice of sweet reason. Less is more. Simplicity is the key.

High Tech. = High Energy. Low Tech. = Low Energy.

Will someone kindly tell the polititians to GET WITH THE PROGRAMME.
The Heat and energy saving strategy consultation summary report published in June this year, is all about existing buildings. The general aim is to get emissions from buildings down to zero (or very close to) by 2050. It talks of increased energy efficiency and de-carbonising the generation and supply of heat. Here are some of the key proposals, with my coments on each......

* All homes to have received by 2030 a 'whole house' package including all cost-effective energy saving measures, plus renewable heat and electricity measures as appropriate. All lofts and cavity walls will be insulated where practical by 2015.

These measures are expected to deliver a 30% drop in emissions (compared to 2006) from households. I note that we have gone from 'buildings' to 'households' here. As a large majority of housing stock in many of towns and cities are of Victorian construction, cavity wall insulation is imposible without a cavity. There are two methods of working round the problem, but both have their difficulties.
-External wall insulation would depend on several factors: cost, appropriateness to building (historic/listed buildings not possible), and planning permission (must be sought for over 25% coverage). You would also have to consider the boundary lines of the property, many victorian terraces have no front gardens and encroaching onto the pavement by an extra 90mm or more may not be possible.
-Internal wall insulation is probably the most difficult to do, but you may not have an option, and has problems of its own. Firstly the work is best done when the house can be empty either between occupants or during renovation/alteration work. All the services have to be rewired and plumbed, making sure that all points where something comes through the new skin are adequately sealed to stop water penetration. On top of this you will lose a substantial amount of space internally, dependant on how big the house is and whether it is mid or end terrace. At the same time you may have to have more energy efficient windows put in or waste the time, effort and cost of insulating.

To be honest, it would probably be cheaper to dismantle the house stone by stone (so it can be re-used) and buying a purpose built, wooden kit house with better thermal properties to go on the same plot. These also have the added benefit of being designed around modern appliances, to your spec., .......no brainer really..... but how long before English Heritage or some other 'concerned' party would start a campaign to save victorian terraces?--it has already happened in some towns, Burnley was in the news on this subject a coule of years ago, I am pretty sure Google would find more.

There is then the question of insulating material. There are some environmentally friendly options out there, but these are not yet widespread and the usual options of mineral wool or polystyrene are not very low-carbon. On the manufacture of mineral wool Wikipedia has this to say:
" Stone wool is a furnace product of molten rock at a temperature of about 1600 °C, through which a stream of air or steam is blown. More advanced production techniques are based on spinning molten rock on high speed spinning wheels somewhat like the process used to prepare cotton candy. The final product is a mass of fine, intertwined fibres with a typical diameter of 6 to 10 micrometers. Mineral wool may contain a binder, often food grade starch, and a {mineral} oil to reduce dusting."......and that is before you take the initial mineral mining/chemical refining (for synthetic minerals) into the equation!

Here is what Wiki has to say about polystyrene:
"Polystyrene, sometimes abbreviated PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the aromatic monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is commercially manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry. Polystyrene is one of the most widely used kinds of plastic."

So although plastics are produced at lower temperatures, the extraction and refinement of first the crude oil and then the resulting oils into chemical components is much more energy heavy than at first appearance, and could actually be worse than some types of mineral wool.

And all this done by 2015..............I don't think so. Even if everyone had a secret lottery stash, there are not enough workers to do the job!!

* Comprehensive information and advice to be made available to help people make changes to save energy and save money - including widespread availability of home energy advice by acredited advisers.

Home energy advice from accredited advisers...........Where are you going to get all the required advisers from? How are you going to vet them all? How are you going to police the system? (most peopel know someone, particularly the elderly or disabled, who has fallen foul of a fake salesaman/conman) and how much more beurocracy and red tape is going to be created? (which has its own environmental impact)

* Development of new ways to provide financial support so people can make more substantial energy saving and renewable energy improvements to their homes through mechanisms that allow costs to be more than offset by energy bill savings.

Help with offsetting costs, so that a householder can spread the financial burden over a longer period, will always be welcomed by those on lower incomes or with few savings. I think this should not be a blanket rule as the very rich don't need the help, but that any level for means testing should be set at a rate that does not disadvantage anyone in genuine need.

* Consideration of whether a new delivery model is needed, to allow a more coordinated approach to rolling out improvements to homes and communities, house-by-house and street-by-street.

New delivery models............apart from just slowing things down, who exactly does it benefit? The quango set up to oversee it perhaps? House insulation and energy efficiency are not rocket science you know, most housewives (or equivalent) know all about budgets and energy efficiency, they do several jobs at once, getting the most from their limited time and energy!!

* Consideration of widening requirements under Building Regulations to carry out energy saving measures alongside certain types of building work, and consideration of a new voluntary code of practice with the building trade on energy efficiency and low carbon energy.

Altering Building Regs., to take new ways of doing things into account, happens all the time, nothing new or special there....... but a voluntary code of practice? Does no-one in government pay attention to the amount of consumer complaints about various industries/services taking the mickey of voluntary codes of practice? I've tried really hard to think of a sector that hasn't had problems in this area, I would be interested to find out if anyone can think of one!

* A new focus on district heating in suitable communities, and removing barriers to their development.

Good idea, but I would need a lot more information. How large or small a scale are we talking about? Will help be limited to commercial only enterprises? Will individuals and/or communities face tougher challenges and over-regulation for their scale?

* Encouragement of Combined Heat and Power and better use of surplus heat through carbon pricing mechanisms.

Sounds good, but may need a lot of alterations to infrastructure, depending on what sort of CHP scheme we are talking about. There is the 'Don't Waste It' approach, where surplus heat at a power plant is fed back into the sytem and the 'Community Heating' approach where excess heat is sent down heavily insulated pipes to act as direct house heating. The former means costly and possibly impractical modifications to existing power plants (on top of the CCS requirement, if fossil fuel driven), or the building of new power plants to fit the bill. The latter approach means fitting a village/town/city size central heating system with the attendant problems of scale and fault finding and fixing. We currently have very bad examples in the water companies, who, if they could stop all the leaks would not need to impose hosepipe bans except in the direst curcumstances!
I finished the Low Carbon Plan and went on to some of the related documents , as you know. Below is a short summary of what I have gleaned so far.

From 'Storing CO2 under the North Sea Basin', a joint UK/Norwegian paper.

On the very first page, in the summary, it states that the benefits of the system are enormous, including:-

" significant volumes of CO2 emmisions avoided by geological storage; reliable supplies of low-carbon electricity; and potential additional domestic revenue and employment from enhanced oil recovery (EOR)"

Well at least they are honest about the real reason they are doing it.....OIL....but to try and con us that this is low-carbon electricity!.......... NO! It is high-carbon electricity with the emissions dumped in a geological time bomb! And the coal we need to fuel this is mostly imported! (not that I condone digging more up here)

And here is what they say about post-closure of a CCS site:

"Post-closure (years~40-1,000) A well characterised site that has achieved its performance goals should require reduced or no long-term monitoring."

OK. Why do I have a problem with this? Well, sooner or later the site will be forgotten about and then what happens if it leaks. Will people even know it is happening? We cannot predict that far into the future that we can be certain of anything.......just look at how often reports are changing on the climate! What was true a month ago has been revised at least twice in the intervening period (28th Jul.-the Arctic, 13th Aug.- the Antarctic, both melting faster than the worst projections).

And what if civilisation collapses (an outside chance, but bear with me)...the only way to keep knowledge of something alive could be by folk tale or religious practice (as has happened with many 'myths', later proven correct, eg Troy). I don't really like the idea of my descendents having a holy relic under the sea......because sooner or later, someone will get curious and let the Genie out of the bottle. Or, what if such a storage site was overun by another country or terrorist group and we were held to ransom, locally or globally, over it? These ideas may seem a little far fetched, but history has proven time and again that the group with the most 'power' (in whatever form) calls the shots. If the predictions are correct, there will be a fight over resources sooner or later.

Back to science rather than speculation........

If there were to be a leak, whatever the cause, what would be the result?

Well assuming that the CO2 is very deep and has the chance to dissolve into the water before it reaches the surface (as in the case of a slow leak) you would get massive acidification of the ocean in the imediate area first of all, then it would spread out...how far may be down to currents and ocean stratification (different, distinct layers in the ocean which do not generally mix). If the ocean goes beyond a certain acidity, things start to die off quickly. All marine life would be affected within the area of contamination. If the spread of the affected area of ocean were big enough, the massive die off of marine life would release poison gases which are then released into the atmosphere and land animals start to be affected. If the whole of the global ocean system were affected, land life would not stand much of a chance. Very few organisms would survive. You think it unlikely? Check out your paleoclimatology.......it is recorded in the Earth's geology. This caused a bottleneck in evolution where roughly 95% (if I remember correctly) of ALL life on Earth became extinct in a very short period of time.

...so what about a big leak. Well it depends on the volume of gas and the speed of release, but is not good any way you look at it. The effects would probably not be instant, but they would not take long to appear and we would get a massive feedback into the system. Dependant upon the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere at the time of release, would be the severity of the effect. High carbon at the worst end of the scale, low carbon and the prognossis would be better, but may not be low enough to stop all the effects.

Why go there with so much uncertainty?

Call me cautious.....I don't mind.......I would rather take a little time and effort to make sure you have got it right and that there are no other alternatives, than jump on the first idea that someone suggests which could be a quick and easy fix. There is nothing easy about the complex nature and structure of our planet. Past experience shows us that the 'quick and easy' fix is far from either and a lot more trouble to sort out to boot.

More idiotic food policy!!

So now we have a new health scare to keep us from really looking at what the government is really up to!

Anything cured, salted or processed in the meats section of your food shop is now extremely bad for you, cancerous even............ pull the other one.

1.) There will always be a certain number of people in any population who are more prone to cancer than others, through simple chance or genetic heredity.

2.) People who eat a lot of salted, processed food are often on a low income and fruit is simply more expensive and doesn't last as long.

3.) Cheap processed meat has a lot of CHEMICAL aditives, which have not been researched in combination, only singly.

So they want to ban it in school meals!

Hows about stating the REAL reasons why people get colon/bowel cancers......like genetics, lack of fruit and veg wich not only give vitamins but essential roughage!

We are not unhealthy because we eat traditionally salted or cured meats (I bet Fortnum and Mason aren't going to remove the smoked salmon from their hampers) , it is the blatent inequality that forces families on low incomes to eat badly (chemical filled addictive crap).

So why are we being fed this crud?

Well, for starters, the government has no idea about how to go about creating a fairer, ecologically sustainable future and are listening too much to big business vested interest.

Why are we being told that the ONLY way is to go veggie?

Maybe it is because of big business. Who provides all the seed? Who provides all the fertilisers? Who DEMANDS lower prices from the farmer, pushing them more and more into poverty until they have to sell up to survive? And who then benefits from buying up all the local farms and turning them into a chemical ridden blackspot in the countryside?


......and you can't even save the seed from your plants to sew for the next year, as most commercial seads are hybrid varieties which are infertile, so you have to go back to the seed company to buy more!! (A problem highlighted by campaigners for Africa for years) Once all the old varieties have been killed off (except as stock in secretive labs/experimental plots) we will truly be in their grip with no turning back. The oil output is peaking, best estimates give up to 50 years, worst estimates we've already passed it), so where are the chemical fertilisers going to come from.....or maybe thats what is really behind the big push to produce oil from algae? And we haven't even tackled the thorny problem of GM!

*..........wanders off shaking head in despair*

Peak Oil and Ostriches

The peak oils problem has finally hit the headlines..................about bloody time.

The Independant had a wonderful photo to accompany its article.......108 skydivers plummeting to earth head first....very apt.

This time it is not some 'hippy/fundy environmentalist' who is shouting the warning but none other than the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, Dr Faith Birol, who is trying to get governments (and the rest of us) to listen up and pay attention.

Why did we not know about this earlier?

Ooh, now we get to the interesting bits :)

Each oil producing country has to submit estimates of reserves before being given a quota for the year of how much oil (in barrels) they are allowed to pump. Thisand market demand then determines the price of the oil......more barrels= cheaper oil, less barrels=more expensive oil (in general). This has not had too great an impact in the past, causing a little disruption and a hiccup until we adjust, but with the oil steadily running out this is about to change. New reserves are not being found at the expected rate, nore are many new fields as economically viable as was predicted and some are just so dirty, energy intensive and expensive you would not want to touch them with a barge pole (tar sands for example).

Oil companies and national governments also have their own agenda. The Oil companies are used to making huge profits for their shareholders and want to maintain those levels, even if it means exagerating the figures on predicted new discoveries.

Governments, on the other hand, will not look too closely or question what the oil companies tell them because of political sensitivities (it's not a vote winner) it is simpler to bury their heads in the sand and hope that the problems won't hit until they are out of office! Whether you are generous and call this incompetence or not so generous and suspect collusion is really neither here nore there in the greater scheme of things, the choices have been made for us and we now have to live with the consequences until solutions are found.

So what are those solutions going to look like? Well it really depends on where you stand on the issues and what your conscience allows you to believe and do :)

Well we face some tough choices, but if we face them rationally and sensibly without all the crap from vested interests, the transition from oil boom to no oil could be fairly painless, if we willingly look for solutions . We have to face facts, alternatives that are safe and sustainable have to be found and all our energy should be going into finding them rather than fighting pointless wars, whether they be against terrorists, dictatorships or ideas. If we put a large amount of the money we spend on wars into solving the approaching energy crisis we would have a much better chance of getting through it with the minimum of pain, both personal and financial.

Oil is in practically anything you buy, all plastics, fertilisers for food production, medicines, industrial and other chemicals.....not to mention the multitude of fuels for energy production and transport of every variety. So the first thing to do is prioritise. What can we live without and on what do we use the remaining oil until the transition is complete?

Can you re-use your plastic containers?
Do you have to buy something wrapped in layers of plastic to start with?
Can the plastic by re-cycled? (although this does use large amounts of energy, not as much as producing from scratch)
Can you take a canvas/fabric shopping bag with you?
Could you get the shopping delivered? (one round trip by the supermarket van against maybe 30 or more individual car journeys)
Can you share a car to either go to work or get the shopping?
Can you walk or use public transport for the majority of your journeys?
Can you substitute another material? (ie glass bottles which are re-usable)
Can you buy local, organically produced food? (less miles and less chemicals)
Can you grow some of your fruit and veg in your garden or allotment? (you'll notice the difference)
Can you use a bike for those slightly longer trips?
Do you need a different chemical cleaner for each household task?
Do you need to fly? (Trains and ferries let you see the scenery, arrive less stressed)
Do you have to go in person on that business trip? (Video conferenceing can go anywhere, or are you just after the jollies?)
Can your business find a local supplier?
Can your business use more planet friendly materials?
Is your house well insulated?
Can you turn your heating down or even off?
Would you benefit from a micro-generation system?

If you can manage to change a few things in your life, you may be surprised at the difference it can make. If you tell your friends about it and they do a few things, the change will be bigger and better........get your employer to do things differently and the change gets better still. If this were to happen all over the world, we would send a clear message to our leaders and they would in turn be empowered to act on a national and even an international level. No Government can hope to hold power if the people it represents have no faith in them.

If our polititians won't set the example, maybe it is time we showed them how to do it properly!


Busy, busy.

We are in the middle of a big tidy today. I had intended to get it done over the weekend, but I bashed my knee off a table on Friday night and have been hobbling all weekend :( So today is very busy and I will collapse in a heap around midnight I think.

Why the fuss? I organised a Transitions Media Group meeting at my house as I don't have a babysitter other than Sarah and although she is old enough, big sister does not have the same authority as a parent or other adult. The meeting is not until 8pm, so with a bit of luck the little ones will be on their way to bed, helped along by a DVD on the laptop :D

Right I am off to hoover upstairs.

These two have to go together as the term 'clean coal' is an oxymoron. As the most dense of the fossil fuels it contributes much more CO2 to the atmosphere than either oil or gas and is the major source of power generation around the world. Finding a way of removing the majority of the CO2 would appear, then to be a fantastic idea which we should grab with both hands..........unfortunately it will take far too long to set up experimental stations which prove to investors in the power sector the viability and profitability of the scheme.

The government want to set up four test generating facilities with full carbon capture, transport and storage systems in place and have the tech proven by ten to fifteen years of carbon locked away to prove the safety of the storage facilities. The proposed storage facilities are the myriad of wells which have been drilled around the shores of our islands, mainly the North Sea, but also the Morecambe Bay gas fields as well as suitable saline aquifers.

Norway and America have been pumping CO2 into wells for the last ten years (in the case of Norway) to help extract hard to remove oil and natural gas which is displaced by the heavier CO2 which sinks thereby pushing the dregs up and out for collection.....thereby making more profit for the oil company. The initial reasoning behind this was one based on increasing profit margins, the fact that it could be presented as a way of cutting carbon emmissions must have seemed like a gift from the Gods for oil men worried about their public image!

Putting the profiteering and duplicity aside for a moment, deep sea wells as storage for CO2 would seem like the perfect solution. Put the carbon back where it came from and seal the entry holes. Seems like a perfect plan huh? NO. It Isn't

I went and did a quick check to see how long oil takes to form in the hope of figuring out how long the geology may be stable for and found out a few rather interesting facts about the way oil is formed and why we find reservoirs of the stuff. Oil, even heavy crude, is lighter than the rocks it forms in and so rises through rock formations, either because the rock is porous or through cracks, until it reaches a layer of impenetrable rock, known as a cap or trap, and can go no further. Over time deposits build up and can then be tapped. This is an ongoing process and seemingly dried up wells have been known to start to refil. Although a slow process and not necessarily commercially viable at the moment in a hundred or so years, they may become viable again.

If we pump CO2 into such a system, what is to stop it following the same path as the oil in the opposite direction...straight down to the source of the forming oil? The oil, being lighter would rise and difficult to reach oil would suddenly become more viable, adding yet further burden to the environment (from CO2, pollution, plastics etc).

We really have no idea about how compressed CO2 would react this far down in the earths crust (below 30,000 feet (approx 6 miles), which is the deepest oil has been found) and we also have no guarantee that it will stay where it is put. The joint UK-Norwegian study states that there is room for 600 years worth of CO2 storage capacity, but these figures are based on the volume of extracted oil, not on the overall capacity of the whole system. Constant, complex geological forces are at work all the time. The Earth's crust is not one piece, being divided into plates that are in constant motion, causing earthquakes, volcanos, mountain ranges and rift valleys.

We do not know how these systems will interact with each other and I do not think we should be turning the beautiful, fragile planet we live on into an even bigger experiment. We've already damaged the atmosphere and now they want us to go along with this!! If a new crack or fissure were to form that allowed the gas to escape past the 'plug', how fast would the CO2 be released and in what sort of quantities? These are highly dangerous unknowns, and while they remain unanswered it is too great a risk, even if we would not see the results in our lifetimes. Do you want to leave such a ticking time bomb for the future? So much gas could be released in one go that it would wipe out the majority of life as we know it in a very short period of time, at least if we stop know there is a chance that Earth's diverse flora and fauna will survive.

Carbon Capture would be a fantastic idea in a completely closed system, but it isn't a closed system.

Without carbon capture, clean coal is not possible. A quick techno-fix, though making millions for the corporates, is not the answer we need. We need to reharmonise our relationship with the planet we live on. We have all that we need for more than just survival if we choose to live in a sustainable manner. We may be faced with some tough choices about which technologies we choose to keep and which to give up, but the important things in life will be unaltered. There will be music, art, storytelling, travel, births, marriages and deaths. You will still be able to travel, investigate the world, meet different cultures and communicate ideas. Medical knowledge will not be lost, although it may be applied differently to now, and science will still want to investigate the unknown.

Humans have risen to the top of the food chain because of their ingenuity and adaptability, it is time to make these traits work for us and the planet instead of just supporting greedy big business.

I'm now off to find out what the governmanet has in store for our houses.