children walking through flooded streets

Climate Change

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Well I wish it would, this was outside my house last August!

climate change flood image

Some parts of Ireland have only seen 2 fully dry days in the last 3 months. And they are the lucky ones.
Next week marks the Copenhagen Climate Conference and as usual theres a lot of ‘profile raising’ and bartering and politicking going on.
Only this week doubt is being cast on the validity of the University of East Anglias climate change findings.
Are we suffering global warming, global cooling, climate change, nature, natural progression, it goes round and round. The more talking thats being done the less is actually being done.
Surely the questions should be, shouldnt we all be trying to minimise impact on the environment regardless. Its only common sense that we cant continue dumping stuff here there and everywhere, we cant go on polluting, its not healthy for one and at some point there will come a tipping point where we have done too much damage.
When I was 11 I was shipped out of the worst troubles in Belfast (1981 hunger strikes) and went to live with a family in Switzerland for a month, every week they did the recycling. I had no idea what they were talking about. In fact it wasnt for another 20 years that people here started doing the same thing.
Was Switzerland keyed up about global warming, probably, maybe not, maybe it had more to do with being a land locked country and not wanting to pollute the beautiful countryside with landfill when they didnt have to.
I was in Germany in 1994 staying with friends and they remarked how much water I used washing a single glass. It never occured to me, we have an abundance of water here, I’ve a water butt attached to the house which is always full. Germany had issues with waste having to be transported down the Rhine and again being landlocked the issues with fresh water.I drove around the west Coast of the states for 2 weeks in 2000. I had a Dodge Intrepid as a hire car, a big barge of a thing, and with the exception of the Dodge Caliber probably the worst car I’ve ever driven. It amazed me how much petrol or gas it drank but people didnt say anything because it was cheap. So mile for mile was cheaper than running my Alfa 156 at home but nowhere near as cheap as my diesel Berlingo. I guess its what you are used to but I was always horrified at the ‘gas mileage’ figures for American cars. Horrendous. Why would you not want to cut that back? Well ok oil companies have a vested interest in selling more oil.

Which brings me back to personal accountability. I recycle everything I can, I even store some stuff I know isnt recyclable in Northern Ireland now but is elsewhere so should be availble here in the future. I really dont think theres any excuse for not making a small effort, going back almost 30 years the swiss family just did it, now I just do it. Go round any school and ask the kids, along with dinosaurs and space ships and racing cars etc they have a healthy approach to this.

Of course theres loads of advice out there primarily by governments, some of it is bad advice, some of it is included because of pressure groups. Its like this whole car scrappage scheme. Please dont tell me its good for the environment. Yes you might get 10 miles per gallon more on a newer car but what about all that energy and natural resources used up from digging the metal out of the ground from everything from the aluminium panels to the copper wiring. Add in the energy required to recycle your old car and the parts of it that will never be recycled and are poluting.
In a previous life I did a course as an environmental auditor, I worked for a Canadian company who were very forward thinking in charting their product lifecycle from birth to death and its environmental impact. Cynics would say that they had to do it as it was a regulation in Canada and some Scandinavian companies would not do business with you unless you did this.
Some of the findings were surprising.Take a certain equipment chassis, it would seem sensible to make this out of one piece of metal? All that cutting and screwing together individual pieces, extra time, energy, screws etc etc. On the other hand misformed parts and damaged parts were easier to replace if broken, it was easier to recycle in the end of its lifecycle and it was easier to ship to the plant where it was assembled (flat packs instead of bulky pieces). So sometimes its not just the obvious which makes it all very complicated.

Of course I’d like to think I was a saint but Im not. Im a firm believer in leaving the standby button on. I have two degrees in Electronic engineering so I know that the most likely time for failure is power up and down, add that to I’m on an eco electricity tariff where half my electricity has to come from renewable sources then I guess its worth the risk. I recently went to Cyprus for 3 weeks and against my better judgement turned my 14 year old bedroom tv off. I got home, turned it on and bang. New tv required. It might have just had its time but theres that nagging doubt if only I hadnt been so stupid.

I wont get solar panels in, well chance would be a fine thing in Ireland but from what Im lead to believe the amount of pollution and energy that goes into them will never be recouped in their lifetime, but of course they dont tell you that.

So although Im probably in the eco-mentalist camp I have to tinge it all with reality. I spent an hour tonight breaking open my gaggia ecaffe used coffee capsules to take out the used coffee grounds for compost, wash out the plastic containers and put them in the plastic recycling. After about 10 I lost the will to live and thought my time would be better off spent watching paint dry. You have to draw the line somewhere. All the big targets governments are sabre rattling with are just that, big targets, its like the banks bailout, just talk huge numbers so it doesnt seem so bad.

Any environmental and climate change solution needs firstly a change of attitude and so stop arguing about whether it is or isnt and just get on with the doing.
Maybe the compost heap, the water butt, the low energy lighting, the more fuel efficient car, etc etc etc are a waste of time, maybe it is all just one big conspiracy but then again, maybe not.

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waste beach image

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