Issue 4 : 24th November 2005  

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All issues of Communiqué are of course complimentary, but here’s a cool fact to do with things being not complimentary but complementary. Purple and green are complementary colours. Green is purple’s antidote.

So, take away some of the purple CO2 in your world – the depression, the haze, the bruising, the red/blue conflict, the old ways of thinking, the dull hurting you can’t pinpoint – and what are you left with? A greener, happier, healthier way of being!

In this issue:

Meet me at the Civic Trust Winter Salon
Learn why the bigger you are, the further your CO2 can fall
Discover the facts behind fire and why burning wood is good
Become a silly idealist AND make some money from it
Get some Christmas present inspiration
Plug into this issue's mission possible


The Civic Trust has just announced that I'm going to lead its second 'salon evening' on the topic of sustainability and the responsibility of the individual.

I will briefly recap 400,000 years of climate history, outline why I believe the situation is urgent, and make positive suggestions about the future including discussing ways in which we can even enjoy life more without fossil fuel dependency.

Places are free, so come along and learn how to assess your own carbon footprint and save money as well as the planet. Come prepared: bring an idea of your total annual combined fuel bills for your home, your car miles and mpg, and an estimate of how much flying you do in a year. As well as giving the talk, I will be available after the session to ‘speed coach’ a few keen volunteers – to provide a rough idea of your current tonnage.

The event will be held on the evening of Monday 5th December at the Civic Trust, Essex Hall, 1-6 Essex Street, London WC2R 3HU. To book a place contact Sharon Coleman on 020 7539 7909, or

Read the full event flyer at the Civic Trust website,

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Carbon coaching the heavyweights

I’ve now coached my first Sir, my first MBE, my first BBC executive and my first woman in media. The heaviest to date was just over 100 tonnes.

How lucky I am to meet these people. They do great work. They are great people. But they have a far bigger opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions – if they decide to – than anyone else!

Some of you now know whether you are five tonnes, 20, or 50. It’s always possible to come up with an action plan that will trim off a tonne or so. If you're taking action, good for you. Wherever you are right now is perfect. Your energy bills will soon start to fall. You have started to see the energy flows and the resultant carbon bubbles.

Lightweight or heavyweight, once you've started down the carbon conscious track there is no way back! You cannot become carbon unconscious once you have seen the lite!

Need carbon coaching to keep going, or carbon cajoling to get started? Drop me a line!

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Keep the home fires burning

It's funny how experts can completely fail to explain the simple stuff underpinning their subtle world. I struggled recently to explain why burning wood from trees, biomass, coppice etc is OK and burning fossil isn’t. Boy did I make heavy weather of it.

The simple answer is that over the plant's short life cycle it takes in as much CO2 as it gives out. If you’d like to understand the carbon story better visit and click on 'Introduction' for a beautiful and brilliant exposé of the carbon story that no one else is teaching – yet.

Burning plants is not the same as unleashing carbon that has been safely stored underground for us millions of years ago as fossilised life energy – or “ancient sunlight” as Thom Hartmann calls it in his highly recommended book The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight.

It’s never that simple, I know, but in another sense, it is!

My 12 year-old-son, Daniel, has been helping me light the wood fire and loves it. (It's the caveman in our genes). We bought another load of logs; quite expensive, but the warmth, glow, healing and feel-good are priceless. With a cold winter ahead perhaps we should get some more in...

One little twist. Now, if I get cold from sitting at my laptop for too long, I go and stack a few logs by the house and warm up in no time! Instant heat, carbon free!

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Invest in Planet Earth

My views have just been quoted on the personal finance site, Interactive Investor.

I know I am very lucky to have any spare funds to invest in the stock market, so bear with me those with no spare. I am not going to tip the specific funds I have bought into, but why don't consider investing in renewables, biofuels or wind funds?

One of the funds I bought into rose 100% last year.

Don't take my advice on this, but I am paying monthly into some of these funds instead of into a personal pension. It's my green retirement fund.

The logic could not be stronger. If world stock markets crash, we all lose. If the insurance industry can't cope, we all lose. But what if the environment crashes? Surely that's the biggest loss possible!

While probably there is a small chance of it all going belly-up, why not gamble on renewables and other net positive stuff?

For me it's a simple choice – be cynical or be idealistic. Both are silly, but I think I'd rather be a silly idealist with a chance of profitting from investing in the future of our planet.

Visit the Interactive Investor website and read the article mentioned above.

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Batteries not included ('cos they ain't necessary)

Video games, TVs, DVD players, and electronic gadgets, toys and gifts are all Christmas presents that are going to add a bit more purple to the sky. So, how about some presents that aren't going to put more pressure on your electric meter – and that don’t need batteries either!

Have some fun looking for the grooviest, coolest, greenest most 'now' presents you will ever see. Things like wind-up and solar radios, and wind-up univeral TV remotes, are just so lovely. All our guests look at these and invariably end up asking where they can buy one.

Make a start by visiting

Oh, and do be tempted to look at Natural Discovery’s eco-holiday offers too!

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Bright ideas

The universal image for a bright idea is – so far – a light bulb. A conventional light bulb. The humble bulb was a bright idea in Edison's day, but not in ours. It wastes £50 cash over its lifetime, for the want of a fiver to buy it. It pollutes a staggering four times more CO2 than necessary. And, like a baby, it needs changing ten times more often!

Clever, clever us!

How long before the old style light bulb becomes the universal symbol, not for a bright idea, but for institutionalised stupidity?

Eco-friendly bulbs of all descriptions can be found at

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Polar bears and three-year-olds on thin ice

The late, great Donella Meadows (a quick websearch will find her work) once said, "To solve the energy problem you have to want to." It isn’t always clear whether or not we want to succeed in using less energy. Is our greatest fear that we succeed? I'm not sure...

Anyway, Donella Meadows also wrote one of the most poignant pieces I have ever read, Polar bears and three-year-olds on thin ice. It's not for the faint-hearted. I’m not sure whether to recommend it or not, but I will. There is a power and a beauty in it as well as pain. I hope you enjoy it, and its twist at the end.

Read Polar bears and three-year-olds on thin ice at

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Find the meters! Dust off the cobwebs. Then read them!

If every kWh, therm, litre etc of fuel use costs us (with prices for each rising) AND this is also what unleashes the purple stuff, then don’t your meters deserve a bit more of your attention?

Do you even know where they are?

Reading them, listening to what they have to say, has to be a bright idea. Look at the quality of information you get with your phone bill and compare with your energy bills. Anyone would think it was a conspiracy! Soon all fuel bills will have to show the tonnes of invisible CO2 that we don’t want that come with the invisible energy that we do.

There’s no need to go to great lengths, but my request this week is to find a smart way of reading your meters – as often as feels right for you – and that you can commit to.

For many of us, this whole area is a no-go zone. It’s too complicated. We’re too busy. It's too ‘technical’. But hang on, can that really be true? If you have ever tried to get to the bottom of your utility bills, you will know just how good it would have been to have ‘actual’ readings, that you took yourself than the estimated (often over-estimated) ones so often provided.

So, would you be up for taking a regular set of meter readings? If weekly is too much, how about once a month, or once a quarter?

Spending a little quality time with your meters can lead to you hearing what they have to say about your energy consumption. You might find you're shocked. You might find you're pleasantly surprised. You might find you're heavily in credit with your utility company and that they owe YOU money!

Already up to speed with meter reading? Excellent!
Here's the next part of your mission . . .

Get kitted out and answer those questions about power use on standby. Plug-in power meters make your energy use visible. Plug it into your socket. Plug your appliance into the meter, and hey ho – you can see all those mystery watts, amps and volts you're using when your appliance is in use and is still guzzling on standby

Maplin Electronics have a fantastic ‘plug-in power meter’. I thought mine was great value at the full price of £25, but at the time of writing they were on special offer at just £12.49. So buy now and save 50%.

Get yourself a power meter from

For some real meter magic, get a Cent-a-meter. I've just bought one. It’s a lovely little portable box with an LCD display that shows me – in real time – how much the electricity I'm using at that moment in time is costing me. It's sensitive enough to see a TV get switched on in another part of the house. So now, from the comfort of my sofa, I can keep tabs on my son’s late-night TV viewing in his room in the loft!

Seriously, these are so educational – for you and your kids. They cost about £75, but I am already on track to save £25 a year because of what it's helped me to see. So it will earn its keep.

Buy your Cent-a-meter from

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Wherever you are now, you've already begun your journey towards a carbon-lite lifestyle – you're reading this! Whether you're 200 tonnes now or 20, every one of us can make giant progress with just a few small steps. It doesn't have to be drastic. Sacrifice isn't necessary. But the outcome is hugely worthwhile for your pocket, your peace of mind, and for the planet.

Until soon

Dave Hampton
The Carbon Coach

PS When you have a few minutes spare, sign up to:

The WWF Climate Change Campaign


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Take a look at my personal weblog
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