Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Hello There,

Lots of highlights in the media recently about Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, which is an excellent documentary looking at the impact of climate change and how our behaviour effects the eco system. But Im a firm believer that there are two sides to every story and that a lot of people may feel that the jury is still out as the cause and effect of our chaning environment.

I would recommend that anyone who has a social conscience and who cares about future generations should watch this film and then take some action - even if its only small scale - to change behaviour and attitudes to this issue despite what your own personal views may be. Ive looked at a few forums where people debate the actual existence of global warming and the reasons behind the changes. Some people still vehemently believe its not happening or the scientists are wrong as to the potential causes (GW Bush included !)

Its all too easy for people to have a "manana" attitude - that is fundamentally what has got to alter and we are all responsible for encouraging people to view things differently and understand the implications without erring too much on doomsday but looking at the short term benefits too - like the money that they can save of heating their homes by installing measures that have a relatively quick pay back and theres some funding around currently (if you hassle and press hard enough). But we do need much more funding to achieve the 2011 target of irradicating fuel poverty in all vulnerable homes - its the law, not just something on a lot of campaigners' wishlists. All four million people out of fuel poverty. Pause and reflect on that for a moment ....

Its interesting to note how people can change their attitudes - surprisingly so in some quite high profile examples. Professor David Bellamy, international botanist, author and broadcaster, is one of Britain's best-known environmental campaigners has recently helped to promote and launch the first domestic wind turbine in Birmingham with Family Housing Association. They have created their first Eco Home by converting one of their properties installing a wind turbine along with solar panels, energy efficient lighting, heating and high levels of insulation. The project is reported to have cost £25,000. The Eco Home is part of a £10 million project in the regeneration area and the residents have heavily influenced the content to transform Summerfield into an Eco Neighbourhood.

In stark contrast to the opposition that Mr Bellamy led against two new wind farms in the North West in the last couple of years - one in Saddleworth near Oldham and one on the outskirts of Cliviger in Burnley - the largest rural parish in England. Its great to see that attitude appears to have changed for the better now ! Perhaps now people can be persuaded that the wind turbines are not a blot on the landscape and are a necessary part of our future sustainable energy resources if they can be improved to generate larger amounts of electricity and without breaks in supply and dont use 1000 tons of concrete to secure their footings. Too much NIMBY and not enough foresight - Professor Terry Payne MD of Monodraught may have the small turbine solution - a new range of wind turbines called Vortex that are small scale but are combined with a PV panel - each system is designed to provide 50% of electricity demand for a household's usage and Mr Payne claims they are virtually silent. Thats infinitely better that the "standard"1.5kWh outputs and noise from the gearing!

Another positive case in point is Ashford Hayes - a small rural village in Cheshire (approx ten miles east of Chester) were the community is working together to create the first carbon neutral village in the UK. Ironically my partner and I are looking to move to the area - its great to see solar panels and water saving devices on a great deal of the properties and the sense of community there is really tangible.

Present funding to help tackle fuel poverty is shamefully inadequate. The Government's own Fuel Poverty Advisory Group has repeatedly highlighted this in annual reports year in, year out. And with the onset of increases in energy prices it will mean that the figure of people at risk from fuel poverty will rise ever higher. The Treasury is reviewing and negotiating spending levels for public programmes to take us up to 2011. So up to the deadline by which time NO ONE should be in fuel poverty by LAW.

The law states that remedial schemes are funded so that a reasonable person could conclude that all the effected homes can be improved to the required standard by 2011 to eliminate the risk of anyone suffering from fuel poverty. The responsibility for delivering the Warm Homes & Energy Conservation Act 2000 lies with Ian Pearson (Minister for Environment) and Malcolm Wicks (Energy Minister). It was Malcolm Wicks who highlighted the issue of poor housing conditions and related illness 20 years ago with a publication entitled "Old And Cold".

Andrew Warren (Director of Association for the Conservation of Energy) writes a brilliant article in the October edition of EIBI and I totally support his sentiment. Andrew writes "It would surely be the cruellist of ironies were it to be he (Malcolm Wicks) of all people who had to face the judgement from the courts, that Government was in breach of the very law it had passed. And instructed to find the necessary funds to comply"

Certainly is food for thought isn't it?

From Your Friend The Energy Angel


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