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There's a proof-of-concept test being started in which a big balloon will be used to tether the high end of a hosepipe, and water will be pumped up to be dispersed in a spray. It's a fair old engineering challenge, and the water is just a placeholder for speculative future compounds to cool the atmosphere.  I have a problem with the whole notion of geoengineering: we're already doing it.  We're very successfully engineering the atmosphere to be hotter and wetter, right now. 

There's an analogy with driving towards a precipice: our carbon emmissions are the accelerator; the cliff is, say, 4 degrees of warming (=catastrophe).  What do you do when you are driving towards a bad thing?  You let go the accelerator.  You do not really apply the brake as well... and you sure as hell don't apply a pedal labeled "probably a brake: untested".  There's a reason that the brake and accelerator are worked with the same foot.

I have yet to be swayed by geoengineering.  It strikes me that adding more inputs to a chaotic system in a transitional state is just asking for trouble.  I worry that the gee-whizz relief of being able to "do something" will make it attractive to the people who make such decisions.
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Is power-station saboteuring the new black? 

If the government aren't willing or able to cut emissions, people who see sites like Kingsnorth and Drax as great evils will take matters into their own hands.  The protest argument has been won, but the powers that be look to be speaking with forked agenda: plenty of declared commitment but the praxis seems to be lagging dangerously far behind.  Hardly surprising then that the next thing to be done is direct shutdown action.  Prediction: There will be more of this. 

Mostly, though, this sab is a warning shot.  What this says, very clearly, is that any construction of the new coal plant at Kingsnorth will not go unopposed. 
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Morrison's have started selling B30 biodiesel on most of their forecourts.  That's 30% biodiesel, 70% dinodiesel, with the bio part being made from recycled veg oil and from UK-sourced rapeseed oil.  No palm oil drama, and at that low blend, pretty easy to adopt (your first tank may feel rough: stick it out for two, because the first tank of bio flushes some crap from your tank and that needs to work through).
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Recorded while preparing for debates: 'Well, the truth is, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'.

I almost dare to think that he gets it.
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Remember Medicine Man, the iffy Sean Connery rainforest movie?  Ponytailed Sean played a boffin who discovered a unique rainforest flower which contained the cure for cancer.  The Evil Developers wanted to clearcut the area, and thus the movie played out: destroy not the wilderness, for it contains wondrous things.  Cheesy, but I kinda liked it.

Well, screw cancer, nobody gives a damn about that.  What we're worried about these days is sweet sweet fuel, and hey, it looks like they've found a cure for that: a fungus that eats cellulose and craps diesel.  Watch for a dozen biotech startups scrambling to deconstruct little old Gliocladium roseum and get it's interesting bits in a big enzyme reactor. 

And a sequel to Medicine Man?  Who knows? 
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I just had to share this link - you know the deal, it's like management bingo, only instead of shouting "Bingo!" when your line manager leverages his synergies in a multidisciplinary customer-facing environment, you get to shout "Bingo!" when some reactionary shill trots out a line about how Michael Crighton predicted an ice age in the 1970s and it's been really cold this week which shows that the hockey stick is broken.
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First those solar power roof tiles, now the idea that the best way to work around the disconnect between polluter and effect is to make the act of polluting a sin, my zeitgeist-fu is strong right now.  The Vatican have announced a new list of deadly sins, which are mostly modern glosses on the old naughtiness, and environmental pollution is right in there.  The more I think of it, the more I think it's sheer bloody genius.

It gets good visceral wrath-of-God afterlife fear into people who otherwise might not give a flying damn.  People are funny like that.  And those same people are going to believe that Katrina was God spanking their filthy sinful asses if they've been stenching up the place.  They're *is* a connection, but it's too disconnected and statistical for most people.

Government plans and UN initiatives last for years or decades.  The problem we're facing is epic in scale, brain-hurtingly vast, and messed up with double-signals like the UK Government's green-lighting of a new coal power station (ffs!).  The Catholic Church knows persistence.  It doesn't have water down policy to fight elections or buy support.  And it doesn't have to make the tough choices, just dispense rules and sympathy.  New coal?  "No, it is a sin.  Find another way, my child."

Because the environmental issue is, at heart, a human moral issue - and that's what these guys do. 
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Here's just the sort of home-generation idea that we need: solar roof tiles from SRS Energy.  They are supplied just like ordinary pantiles, and they are installed by roofers, just like ordinary pantiles - not by some expensive tech guy.  Details are a bit thin but they look just awesome to me.

This is the kind of thing which will make the passive home - a building that just consumes energy - an anachronism fairly soon. 
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Balloons!  Half is mylar, half is clear, and the delicate electronics are inside.  When inflated, it forms a parabolic reflector. Sweet.

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I finally got around to filling up at the local small recycled-restaurant-oil-into-biodiesel place today: www.trybiodiesel.co.uk[personal profile] ravenbait, it's in the unit which used to be occupied by the only garage who would look at the ambulance.  Everyone else: it's in a bog-standard rural small-business unit :)

Anyhoo, the stuff costs 96p a litre compared to petrodiesel at 110 a litre, so that's a no-brainer.  And green credentials-wise it's recycled oil, so the issue of provenance of virgin oil (which is what stopped me using virgin oil, at least until that is resolved) is sorted.  The chap can sell as much as he can make: currently he's making 4500 litres (1200 US gal) a week and he's scaling up to 7000 litres (1850 US gal) by the end of the month, with a staff of four including his full-time buyer, who scavenges the area to take away waste oil. 

I mentioned the FuelPod2 to him and it turns out that his kit is basically the FuelPod's big daddy - a GreenFuels monster pipe-spider sucking oil and methanol from pallet-containers and pouring its efforts into tanks.  Lovely job, and he's promised me a factory tour next time I fill up. 

The biodiesel runs nicely, by the way.  Did a lot of driving today.
 
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Here's an interesting new product: GreenFuels' FuelPod2

It's a sort of Mr Biodiesel which you feed with waste oil and methanol and it chugs away making a 50 litre batch of fuel. Kinda like a bread machine for recycling fuel. This sort of consumer-grade processor's a great idea and I think it will have a big market.
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Has anyone got any wisdom to offer with regard to installing a small domestic greywater system?

With the walls off my bathroom, I can see almost all the pipework.  There's plenty of space back there.  I'd quite like to intercept the sink waste and use it for toilet flushing.  The pump and overflows I can probably manage.  How about treatment? 
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2013 - that's the year that a climate model reported on the Beeb (usual caveats on Beeb science apply) predicts as the first year in which the Arctic ice melts completely in the summer.

Not "by the end of the century" or something distant and vague like that.  One year after the London Olympics. 

That's the polar bears buggered, then.  Arctic oil exploration and Cold War-style posturing.  Oh, and the North Pole?  Where Santa lives?  Someone re-write that for the kids, because he can't live there any more.

Five and a half years?

Fuck.
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When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, we all heard the flap about him being in the Hitler Youth as a kid.  No biggie, really - it was mandatory and he wasn't really into it, though executing millions of Jews, gypsies and homosexuals is a tad naughtier than 'youthful indiscretion' normally covers.  Still, it was utter grist for the satirical classes.

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I have removed my (absurdly popular) vegoil as fuel page for a short time.

Biofuel isn't turning out to be quite as glorious as we'd hoped. It's great fuel, but it's also a valuable cash crop. Valuable enough for some farmers to screw up their environment for a quick buck.

It would be tragic if biofuel, instead of being a great green hope, turned out to be this year's strip-cleared rainforest eco-crime. Until I've run the numbers, I am therefore removing these instructions.

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It's a week for systems being poked out of whack. 
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From our intranet:
[Car Free Day aims] to encourage us all to leave our cars at home and explore other options for getting to work. Organisations across Devon have previously participated in the day, with staff using tandems, space-hoppers, wheel-barrows, rowing boats, skateboards and piggy-backs to get to work, as well as more ‘normal’ sustainable travel options. This is a fun day with a serious underlying message as transport is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint.
Space hoppers.  That's what's wrong with car bloody free day.  It's a one-off, a silly smug novelty that does nothing to apply pressure where pressure needs applying.  You want to cut driving to work?  Cut parking spaces.  The Unions will whine that it unfairly hits the lower-paid staff, well, tough: driving to work is a luxury.  If you can't afford to drive forty miles to work on your modest salary, move closer or get a bus or change your damn job.

You want to boost cycling?  Covered bike racks where staff can see them.  A memo to managers not to be shirty to people who turn up in weatherproofs.  Our bike racks fill in a delicious parody of predict-and-provide.

You want to boost bus travel?  Tickets at a reasonable price from where people live to where they work.  It's not hard (it just may not be as profitable but hey, you did sell the bus companies).  Call 'em sub-prime or social routes and insist that the companies serve them or take away their licences.

You do not have a right to drive cheaply to work.  You have a responsibility to get to work on time and a responsibility to not squander your wages on tat when you've mouths to feed.

Entitlement culture, it's the thing that will kill the west (if hurricanes and bird flu don't get to it first).
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While deconstructing a piece of shoddy journalism for some local frothy pagans last night, I got to musing on conspiracies and why it is that people are so keen to believe this stuff.  Turns out I'm not the only one: studies, as they say, were done.  People like to assign a big cause to a big event and a little cause to a little event.  This means that 9/11, which scared the hell out of a whole nation and wrecked a skyline, cannot just have been two dozen angry nutters.  Diana's driver can't just have screwed up.  The causes are too small to fit into a satisfying assumption that big begets big and small begets small.

The flipside of this a priori belief is that the little guy cannot affect big things, and of course that's a big problem when trying to persuade people en masse to change their behaviour. 

Bruce Sterling nailed this in Heavy Weather.  People, he reasoned, ain't going to change, and the big systems - governments, economies and the like - have too much inertia to change.  Kyoto's a good example: If you can get a mere framework in place inside fifteen years, you're doing well, never mind implementation.  In Heavy Weather the ecological disaster was undeniable but there was no way to act - people wouldn't change and institutions couldn't - so a conspiracy was created which attempted to halt the destruction by physically destroying the damaging infrastructure. 

I find the irony that the same monkey-headed belief mechanisms that concoct conspiracy theories could be responsible for a situation which requires a genuine global conspiracy to be deeply pleasing in its symmetry.

I also tend to agree with the need for an officially nonexistent transnational series of massive structure hits, but that's just me.  Eschatology and ego mean that I am a big cause, dammit. :)
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A few years back I started using veg oil in my diesel, and since I consider it an important string to the carbon-climate catastrophe conundrum, I made a song and dance of it and bothered to register with Customs.  That's what you had to do: register as a biofuels producer and send in monthly returns and payments.  Monthly returns of "24 litres used" and payments of  about £3.40 on average.  Obviously, this legislation wasn't designed for home users; the system was cumbersome and annoying and not cost-effective. 

How does one change the system?  Overload it!  So many people have registered that Customs have given up.  From 01 July 2007, biofuel producers with an annual turnover of under 2500 litres will not have to register, be visited or pay duty.  Home users are considered teeny-tiny producers.  So we can carry on playing, legally, and Customs will get off our backs, and the cash savings just went kerching.  Fourteen pounds per tank, thankyouverymuch.

We won!

Meanwhile the debate about sustainability is raging - I can't say I like the idea of clear-cutting mangrove swamps to grow palm oil.  But it frees up ad-hoc recycling and experimentation, lets small businesses run their fleet on their used cooking oil, allows yurtly collectives to hand-trample their oilcake for that vintage tractor and all that good stuff. 
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I have a confession: after I moved into my current flat, I set the wormery up in the yard underneath my big Dexian bench.  And left it there.  And with the bench in the way, I just couldn't be bothered to use the thing or check on the wrigglers.  Every week's to-do list included (along with "fit carpet in van!" and other nonsense) "check on worms!" - the number of exclamation marks and depth of underlining was an indicator of how much guilt I was feeling.  But until the clocks rolled forward, the guilt didn't quite trump the basic slack of being a lazy git. 

At the weekend I moved the wormery to a new location - with staging nearby so it's convenient to use, and no squat rack in the way.  I fully expected to open the thing up and find a soup of dead worm gack.  But no!  Despite almost ten months of pure neglect and no input whatsoever, the little buggers were still in there, still wiggling.  And for the first time ever, the whole thing was lovely compost (apart from a chorizo wrapper, those things get everywhere).

There were fewer worms than there were back at the height of worm glory, in the Golden Age of Worms, true.  The Holy Annelidian Empire has fallen, but the Dark Ages are coming to an end and the Renaissance of the Worms looks to be in full swing, helped along by lots of shredded brown paper, teabags and leek trimmings.  I look forward to seeing the Wriggly Leonardo in there painting masterpieces and constructing machines to turn eggshells into gold, and the Spineless Medicis terrorising the Venice of the Worms - the worm-tea collection level - from just up the coast.

Ten months.  Those buggers are almost unkillable.

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