|Issue 6 : 12 January 2005|
First, a very carbon-lite (hence happy!) new year to you, one and all.
In this issue:
Clinton and Gorbachev
From The Times, 30 December
“BILL CLINTON is to kick off a campaign to persuade consumers to tackle climate change in a Live 8-style concert to be held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff next month. A star-studded line-up is to take part in the One Earth extravaganza on 28 January, which will be broadcast on television throughout Europe. The call for ‘green’ action by consumers will be made by Mr Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet President.”
At the same time they ask you to switch to a green tariff. You, cool dude, already have!!
Download Clinton’s Montreal speech
In the last issue I raved about this amazing speech and gave the weblink to the video on BBC news. Many of you said how much you enjoyed this. Anyone that hasn’t yet heard it can download the transcript by clicking on the link below.
A good friend sent me the link to an amazing speech by Lee Scott of Wal-Mart (October) with the message “Here is an article you should read. It represents a miracle. Be inspired. I was.” Try it:
Journalist resolves to lose tonnes (of CO2)
Christina Robert, the lovely author of Easy Living magazine’s ‘The accidental ecologist’ column is on a mission. Her resolution for 2006 is “to lose a few pounds – of the tonnes of carbon dioxide we all contribute to the environment each year.” Find out how I helped her in the January 2006 issue.
GE decides it’s better to look after the greenhouse
In the Sunday Observer Business pages, Simon Caulkin, Management Editor reports, “Yet the endorsement of the environment as business by the world’s most formidable industrial company is worth more than all the world’s corporate social responsibility programmes.” He also quotes Jeff Imelt, GE’s CEO and ‘ecomagination champion’ who says “Green is green [ie dollars]”
Other headline stories that grabbed me . . .
• This year to be costliest yet for weather
disasters – Swiss Re & Munich Re
Describing itself as “the first automaker to enter the solar cell business,” Honda Motor Co plans to start mass-producing solar cells in 2007, eyeing growing demand for environmentally friendly energy sources.
Never have we seen so much inspiration and compassion towards the planet as we are doing right now. And with good reason.
CARBON CONSCIOUS THINKING
(It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it)
From The Independent, 9 January 2006. “Journalists have a responsibility to cover climate change, but make the pieces too gloomy and readers will fail to listen. And there's also a problem convincing some editors to take the subject seriously…”
The team at Futerra (who helped make the new government Climate Challenge video, recommended in the last issue) have created tips for effective climate change communications. They are well worth a look (see Rules of the Game > Summary):
Smiling in the sun
Letter as printed in The Independent 3 Jan 06
I am puzzled as to why Dr Etherington (letter, 2 January) should begrudge the “covert subsidy” of Mr and Mrs Goose's solar panels. Could he dislike sunshine? Does he fear that the subsidy must be the cause of the couple's curious happiness? (Only those who have free solar energy know how good it tastes. It's hard to explain to others why we are smiling!) On the other hand, if he is right that the rebate is expected to reach an average £20 per head by 2010, then this is indeed a matter of public interest. Why not far more, and sooner?
By popular demand I am introducing a new regular feature that tackles some of the reasons we use to justify our inaction.
Many of these myths have been around for years, and it’s a wonder that they’ve become so credible with so little foundation. Just remember: in whose interest is it that we believe them?!
Bill Clinton reminded us of Machiavelli’s quote: “There is nothing so difficult in human affairs than to change the established order of things because those who will be hurt by the change are quite certain of their loss, while those who will benefit are uncertain of their gain.”
Here are two whoppers
1. “It is cheaper, overall, to leave the lights on.” NOT TRUE
2. “The ‘embodied-energy’ of a new light bulb [the energy and CO2 that went into making it] is more than the energy it saves over its life cycle.” NOT TRUE
Energy in use versus energy in manufacture
It is true that a lot of energy goes into manufacturing things. It is also true that a lot of energy passes through the metabolism of these things during their life cycle.
As a rule, energy in use is normally much more than energy in manufacture in the case of:
• light bulbs
Efficiencies are rising rapidly
If you are replacing something inefficient with something of markedly better efficiency, it will rapidly recoup its manufacturing energy – most likely within a year. After that, there is a nett gain and you are quids in!
As long as your new product pays for itself in £££, it will probably pay for itself in carbon several times over. This isn’t always true, but it is a mistake to cling on to old, highly inefficient items for decades.
How much oil is drunk over the lifetime of an old car or an old boiler
Over its lifecycle, the metabolism of a standard car can easily be 6,000 gallons (£25,000 and 150,000 miles at 25mpg). A new car with a 50mpg economy will save 3,000 gallons of petrol. You can make plenty of new cars with that energy.
Some good people cling affectionately to ancient boilers for the same reason. Each year that they delay, the opportunity for an easy saving of two tonnes of CO2 is missed. After 10 years, 20 tonnes of CO2 and 7,000 litres of oil could have been saved instead. You can make a lot of boilers with that!
Having said all that, be warned! Extravagant, premature replacement of perfectly workable, efficient tools that have plenty of life left in them – especially if the replacement is only marginally more efficient – is just as bad as clinging on to yesterday’s technology!
Whatever you buy, whenever you buy it, ask questions about how much energy the item will use. Always choose A-rated goods, where the label exists. If it doesn’t, ask how it ranks against competitors. If everyone asks this question for every item they purchase in 2006, it will cease to be an odd question!
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