Thursday, 23 February 2012

Association for the Conservation of Energy – energy saving IS cheaper than new nuclear power stations.

Check out this report from the Association for the Conservation of Energy:
 A corruption of governance? How Ministers and Parliament were misled.’at

ACE has done their sums and concluded that energy saving instead of building new nuclear power stations would be £2.2 trillion cheaper over 40 years.

The report also explains clearly how Government decisions on nuclear power have been based on faulty and at times selective use of information.

For example the Labour Government made a decision to build 10 new nuclear power stations without any assessment of long term electricity demand.

The coalition has ignored scenarios developed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change where no new nuclear power stations are needed to meet the government’s own energy goals.

An interesting read.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Brighton and Hove Greens were right about the Council Tax

I did an interview with BBC Radio Kent on Friday – going out on the breakfast show on Monday. Several Kent Councils, including Tonbridge and Malling where I live, are rejecting Eric Pickles bribe of just over £200k to freeze their Council Tax. Every Council doing this is going for the maximum 2.9% rise they are allowed without a referendum. 

Interestingly they are using the same argument that Brighton and Hove Greens used for rejecting the money. It would mean they would start from a lower base figure the following year and they would therefore have less money overall in the long term.

Those Councils which have not increased Council Tax are increasing various charges – mainly for refuse collection or car parking. Dover is going to charge for collecting garden waste. We all know the kind of outcry which accompanies any raise in parking charges and increasing refuse charges is only going to reduce recycling and/or lead to more fly tipping.

Raising Council Tax rather than individual charges seems infinitely more sensible and spreads the burden of the increases across the whole of the Borough rather than targeting specific groups and encouraging poor behaviour.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Repairing wind turbines in advance

Great news. The University of Strathclyde has developed a new paint that can be used to detect micro fractures in structures such as wind turbines and bridges so that they can be repaired before there is serious structural damage. It’s low cost and, they claim, environmentally friendly.

 Personally I’m not so keen on nanotechnology. Can any techies out there explain to me why it’s a good idea and not a disaster waiting to happen? In other words, can it react in unexpected ways with the wider environment and cause problems? There can often be unexpected consequences to the release of novel organisms.

Read the full press release from the University at:

The Greenest Olympics ever?

The country’s media is up in arms that the tickets for the Olympics are being printed in the US. They are arguing on narrow patriotic grounds that they should be printed in this country. True, that would be good for jobs and improve our economy and rout balance of payments – wonder why the Tories missed that one?
However, the main point is that we shouldn’t be air freighting vast quantities (16 tons) of tickets from that distance when there are several specialist printers who could have done the job in this country. 

Why not? Because of the carbon foot print. The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions rose by 3.1%i n 2010according to official figures: despite lower manufacturing output due to the recession. See this article in the Guardian:
If the carbon footprint of imported goods is taken into account our emissions have risen by 20%. We are exporting our carbon burden onto other countries. 

The real Green answer would have been to use a local firm i.e. a UK firm to print the tickets.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Human Rights – do we understand them in this country?

Just imagine you are living in a foreign country – let’s say Australia, just for the sake of your imagination, and the Government decides you are a threat to national security. They lock you up but don’t tell you what the charges are. They threaten to deport you to another country which wants to put you on trial for crimes for which the only evidence is statements obtained under torture. How would you feel? Would you feel affection and loyalty towards Australia or would you feel resentful and perhaps even want to strike back at the unfairness of it all?

The Government is furious that a judge has freed Abu Qatada. In a land which prides itself on its democracy and the rule of law we have kept someone incarcerated for six year without charge and without trial. Yet the Government wants to continue to keep him in prison.

They claim he is dangerous – he does seem very unpleasant from what is reported about his preaching, but that is not (yet) a crime. However, they have no evidence to put him on trial and the evidence in Jordan was obtained by torture – just how reliable can such evidence be?

Back on broadband – at last

Hooray! We’re back on broadband after two weeks of purdah. Our phone line went down and getting it back was a truly exhausting marathon. I spent ages on the phone going through automatic menus then speaking to completely unsympathetic call centre operatives.

The first one more or less told me to get lost –“Get an electrician who is a former BT engineer.” I later discovered this was the wrong answer. He should have done some tests on my line and then called in BT Openreach. Of course, that would have been at their expense not mine.

Anyway, it took one IT expert, one electrician, BT Openreach and finally a qualified telephone engineer to sort us out. Now business as usual will resume.