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15 January 2008 @ 07:18 pm
Providing alternatives

Over the past few weeks, I have been making an extra effort to save energy. Why, I hear you ask, have I been switching off lights around the house, using the charged battery of my laptop, rather than leaving it plugged in for hours on end? Am I trying to do my bit for the environment, saving energy? Am I trying to reduce the electricity bill? Have I taken a case of OCD? It’s a bit of everything really.

This week it was announced that the British Government will back the production of new nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom. As it stands, the existing plants are in the process of being decommissioned, with the final site due to close in approximately thirty or forty years’ time.

So what? Surely it is a good thing that we won’t have vast quantities of radioactive sources in our back gardens. Why are we bothering to create a new wave of sites with the potential for catastrophic disaster?

I think it’s time the British public took a step back, and opened their eyes to the situation before us. This isn’t going to be a rant about the effects of driving off-road vehicles through cities, or not recycling every piece of waste we make – we’ll save the Greenpeace effort for another day. The fact of the matter is simple: we are running out of fuel.

Sure, there are plenty of people who believe that the supplies of coal, oil and gas are infinite, and there are others who believe the solution to the global problem lies with America and the Middle East. Even if that were the case, the stores of these non-renewable energy resources will eventually run out. We won’t be using oil in our boilers and heaters forever.

How does this fit in with nuclear power? It’s an alternative, one that I feel the population should at least consider the facts upon, before coming to such a harsh judgement. While there have been incidences in the past involving this technology, Health and Safety in the world today is such that an accident occurring in the nuclear industry would be simply that – an accident. Something that couldn’t be predicted.

And now I would like to pose a question to those who are against nuclear power as a plausible source of energy; to those who drive their cars to the shops five minutes away; to those who leave their television on during dinner, when no one’s watching. Why do you not consider an alternative renewable resource?

In this day and age, the variety of possible energy resources is increasing; but as with everything, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy. We can’t have solar power, because the panels are unsightly and too expensive. Wind turbines ruin the countryside and the view; offshore, they are a danger to shipping lanes and fishing. Hydroelectricity is barely feasible as a beneficial resource due to the lack of dams and sizeable rivers.

Yes, all of these resources, including nuclear power, have their flaws. But we need to consider these, even if choosing one is the lesser of the evils. Eventually our coal, oil and gas will run out. Fact. The time to consider our options is now, not forty years down the line, although no doubt there will be cries of “We weren’t warned”.

So why am I doing my bit for the environment? Because it just seems right – it makes sense.
06 January 2008 @ 02:21 pm
Let It Snow

This week, all across our beloved islands here in the United Kingdom, snow caused havoc; roads were blocked, electricity cut off, and public transport ground to a halt. Reports flooded in of cars being abandoned at the sides of roads, because their owners were unable to go any further in the treacherous conditions. Thousands of homes were thrust into darkness as power lines tumbled to earth. Schools were forced to remain shut for the day, extending the Christmas holidays for delighted children. Airports closed; runways had to be cleared, and planes de-iced. The country, effectively, ground to a halt.

In Canada, over the last few weeks, temperatures have reached -20 degrees Celsius, and lower. They’ve been shrouded in feet of the white stuff. But has their treasured nation come to a standstill? Of course not. They’re prepared for this sort of thing.

So if the Canadians, and the Scandinavians, can take the time to prepare for such weather, why can’t we? Why do we down tools and stop working at the first flurry of snow?

Well, let’s face it. The Canadians and their cold-weather buddies are used to this sort of phenomenon. On an annual basis, they’re wrapped up in their winter woollies, shovelling snow out of the driveways and driving to work with chains on their tyres. It’s all in a day’s work. This weather occurs every year, to a varying degree, and they know how to handle it. Practice makes perfect.

It’s the same with summer. They, usually, have decent enough summers where the sun shows its face for more than three days. Because of this, they don’t go out on the first day and turn an awful shade of red, which will ache for two weeks. When the weatherman tells them it’s warming up, they get their shorts, hat and sun cream out, and know how to deal with it.

Which brings me back to our isles. The blizzard and battering we received is nothing like what we are used to. Maybe, if we are lucky, our gardens will receive a light dusting of snow overnight, which melts away by lunchtime. Several inches of the stuff are a bit of a shock to the system. So could we have been better prepared?

Well, yes. I do believe we could have. There’s no doubt in my mind that this country has the ability to deal with a bit of a turn in the weather – at least it’s something different from rain. However, to be ready for such an infrequent situation – the last time it was this bad was seven years ago – would require more research, more manpower and more machinery. Where would all of this come from?

In order for the government to fund such an operation, it would be the British public paying for it. Although I don’t speak for our nation, I am sure some of you will agree that paying an increased or additional tax is not an appealing thought. The argument then arises of why we should be forced to pay for a service that may not be required for another seven years?

I feel that the people who have got it right over the last week or so are the children. Those lucky devils who have been granted an extra day of rest; they have taken full advantage of the situation by using their initiative and creating snowmen, sleds and even igloos. We could all learn from them – enjoy it while it lasts, you won’t see it again for a long time.
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06 January 2008 @ 01:49 pm
Welcome to Column Inches, a journal for discussion of current topics and stories making headlines. You should also expect the occasional tale of woe or joy from my own day to day life - bear with me, it will hopefully have some relevance.

Updated on weekly basis, this journal will give an insight, hopefully, into our daily lives; the ups and downs, the quirks, the perks and no doubt the trials of just getting along.

As yet, the day for 'publishing' has not yet been decided, and will probably vary for the first few weeks. Once life and this column have settled down, I will endeavor to keep a regular pattern for posting.

In the meantime, sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.