Friday, June 27, 2008

Transition - talk on waste

I went along to the 19th June Transition Brighton and Hove talk on waste. It brought home how unbelievably wasteful we are in the UK:

  • we consume about a ton of stuff per head per year - half of that is food and 30% of that just gets thrown out uneaten.
  • for every single bag of stuff we throw out from our homes 70 more bags of waste have already been produced on our behalf getting the stuff there in the first place.
  • the national electric grid is only 30% efficient in terms of the energy it delivers from the energy put into it (by the way, the fabric of the grid is rapidly decaying and cracks are appearing in some of the older nuclear plants)
We are now doing lots of good things such as capturing methane from landfill sites and producing electricity from it as well as making compost on a giant scale - but it all still produces yet more CO2 and there is a big net energy usage. We are also better at recycling stuff but the message for me again was that there is really no alternative to reducing consumption - by lots and the sooner the better, ie within ten to twenty years.

I know a couple of very intelligent, well-informed people who still say that climate change is more due to volcanic activity or changes in the sun than any human activity - I think you're in a minority now you lot! How can we chuck up this mountain of CO2 without having some effect? Anyway, with peak oil upon is there doesn't seem to be an alternative to big reductions in fossil fuel use. I don't think the penny has dropped for many people as regards the scale of change that is needed/going to be forced on us. What I hope to show in these posts that the low energy life can actually be a lot of fun, less stressful, more soulful, more creative, more cooperative...

There were only about thirty or so people at the meeting and I find sitting and listening to technical stuff for hours a bit heavy going so I'll continue to focus on doing practical stuff in my own personal transition towards a lower energy way of living.

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