Monday, October 19, 2009

OtleyGreen - Green facts and fiction

There is a lot of noise about climate change - Lots of Government funded organisations and the right messages on Government web sites. Even OtleyGreen got £2000 to get started. Just no real action

Human beings seem wired to respond to immediate threats, even if they are imagined (Iraq!). We seem incapable of reacting to things that will impact in the future.

World leaders understand the threat but they lack trust in each other and know they don't have support from their populations for anything that might affect the economy

I was castigated by some friends for being holier that thou, after years of flying around the world on business and pleasure and driving a jag. No defence really, even if I drive a small Skoda now. At first I was a bit fed up, but on second maybe OtleyGreen is making an impact

Ask some simple questions and it proves almost impossible to get a straight answer.

How long does it take to save the energy used to make a solar panel? Took 2 weeks to find an answer 1.2 years for energy, 2 years for CO2 and I don't quite believe it

Everyone is talking about carbon footprint but there is no standard measure or way of comparing. The Government measures regions by looking at transport, industry, households etc. But this allows areas to export their energy use to others e.g. Suffolk comes out at 7.8T per head, Bromley in South London 4.9T. Bromley people are far more profligate in energy use but don't have any farming or industry

The OtleyGreen survey suggest emit 8 tonnes CO2 per household. We have included energy used in the home, car use and flights. Useful because it covers things we can do something about but ignores the costs of all the stuff we buy. We import stuff and export Co2 emissions to China and India

Getting worse - The Arctic ice cap will disappear completely in summer months within 20 to 30 years. We loose a nice reflecting white thing

Getting better (no worse) - Reports suggest the Earth has cooled since 1998s. Trouble is that was an El Nino year. Use other years as a starting point and you get very different figures. Also its based on Met Office figures that exclude the Arctic Ocean the fastest warming bit of the earth

Still it was beautiful day on Sunday
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

OtleyGreen - Pissing in the wind?

Believing that extreme runaway climate change is a real danger and not wanting to be part of the problem. Easy for me to say having spent 3 years traveling the world. Decided to set up a group to try and reduce the carbon footprint of our village.


First step, to cajole some, hopefully, like minded people to join the group. Then meet in the village pub, the White Hart.

Managed to choose the 1st Thursday of the month when a very loud band practices. Shouting and saying 'sorry can't hear you' doesn't make it easy running a - getting to know you/what are we going to do meeting. However, avoided a fight over whether solar power for domestic hot water is part of the problem or solution.

The problem with selecting capable, proactive people is that tend to have jobs. Its clear that jobless me is going to have to make the running

Will local grass roots organisations manage to change things from the bottom up or are we way past that


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Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to mend a dish washer in 10 easy steps

The problem - Dish Washer trips the electricity circuit breaker

1. Spend ages on the Internet to identify a faulty heating element.  Order new one

2. Heater element arrives in the post

3. Strip dish washer and use tissue to clean the bit that makes the element water tight

4. For no good reason take out the filters that stop bad stuff getting into the guts of the machine

5. Rebuild and throw away all the screws left over

6. Go back onto the internet to find out why its not cleaning dishes

7. Spend hours completely taking the machine apart so you can get the pump out, dismantle pump and remove the tissue that has clogged it.

8. Reassemble. Throw away some more screws. Test the washer before fitting back into the kitchen cupboard

9 Forget to turn the water back on so the element overheats

10 Goto 1


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

More blood in Otley

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Spring has come on all in a rush.  Everywhere animals and birds are giving birth and preying on each other.  The Sparrow Hawk being at the top of the tree in both senses.  He sits there and dives as the Moorhen chicks follow their mother for food on the grass.   
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Moorhens are pretty noisy most of the time but the scream she gives off when the Sparrow Hawk dives is unearthly.   After a week she had one left out of 5.
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Something also got the mother blackbird.  I hope it wasn't one of the evil cats that invade our garden.  Given the stress that birds and small creatures are under why do people think it acceptable to introduce  yet another predator!!   Anyway the result was a nest full of dead chicks.  Even these were eaten after a few days
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All the large fish in our pond have disappeared.  Either a mink or otter is using the pond as a convenient larder.   Frustratingly the mink trap is often triggered but empty!!



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Monday, April 06, 2009

Bloody Otley



Before we arrived for dinner the hostess had to hose the blood off the patio doors.  So much was running down the glass it made the room dark.  Having ascertained there hadn't been an axe murder she went back inside,   perplexed and more than a little worried.  

Later a noise sounding like a mad man pounding  on  an upstairs window disturbed our meal.  We crept upstairs to see a large crow flinging itself at the window while another stood on the flat roof as if keeping guard.  It was like being extras in Hitchcock's The Birds.

The attack on the house continues 

New people are running the pub.   They effortlessly display skills that most publicans find impossible to master - saying hello, goodbye, thank you and making you feel as if they are glad to see you

Biggest problem on returning home is the socialising and our lack of selfcontrol when offered alchohol.  Even the latest TOPs play involved 4 pints of superb real ale 

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bloody Temples

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Couldn't make our map match the reality on the ground. After a whole morning of frustration we realised we weren't where we thought we were but in one of the most famous and recognisable tourist sites in the world - Angkor Wat

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Hired a tut-tut driver for three days to drive around what was a massive city full of temples. Hot, exhausting but strangely engaging  

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'' Back and to your left a bit''

There are some 6 million land mines and unexploded bombs in Cambodia that are still maiming and killing people every day. Many on them left over from the days when America was 'helping the Cambodian people help themselves' (Richard Nixon) by bombing the hell out of there villages and creating the perfect conditions for the rise of the Khmer Rouge. You would think that the richest nation in the world, after invading one country and then dropping bombs on its neighbour could at least go and collect its unexploded shit when it had finished!

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Eating Cambodia


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Eat my feet - massage by skin eating fish

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Spiders and frogs

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Sticky rice and stuff

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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Garbage kids

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Met an ex-pat Brit, David, in Phnom Penh. He divides his time between his bar, his beautiful young Cambodian girlfriend and feeding the children who eek out an existence on the city dump.

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He wasn't taking food that day but he took us to the dump to see for ourselves. The pollution in Phnom Penh is pretty bad but as soon as you got to the end of the road full of recycling businesses it was like entering an earthly hell. There was smoke everywhere, it stung your eyes and throat, the smell was indescribable. Dave threw a Stone into what looked like a muddy field with a few patches of grass. The stone immediately disappeared. It was a pit, some 2 metres deep full of toxic waste

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When David takes tourists to feed the 2000 people who work live and feed in this place. He asks for a 15$ donation from each person. They go to market, buy the food and take it in an old lorry where they distribute the food to the woman and children. Any money left over is used to buy school uniforms for the children. School is free but they cant go if they don''t have a uniform.

There is a lot of poverty in Cambodia but Phnom Penh is full of brand new Lexus and Toyota land cruisers. All belonging to the Government, NGOs or major charities. It is so ostentatious and such a waste of money its quite sickening. Particularly against the direct and effective work David is doing

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Cambodian fact. There is a law that bans the use of headlights during the day. There is no law stating you must use them at night



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Friday, March 13, 2009

We are genocide tourists now

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The tourists approach the genocide memorial in an excited, expectant state. This after all is an important 'must do' in their whirlwind tour of the country's top sites. Their mood quickly changes as they realise the scale and the mechanics of massacre.

Tears don't come at this stage because you cant have much empathy with thousands or even millions of dead people. The tears come later when they read the individual stories. The 5 year old Rwandan child, a picture of her at a birthday party, who had her head split in two by a machete. The hundreds of babies who where swung by their legs and smashed against as 'special' tree in the Cambodian killing fields

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Finally, for the tourists, there is anger and the thirst for revenge or at least justice. The Western need for a nice neat ending that will never come.

Rwanda has begun the process of reconciliation and justice. Formal trials of some of the Hutu leaders are taking place in Zanzibar. Local courts are enabling people to tell their stories and to confess. Rwanda has ditched the French language because of Frances actions around the massacre. The people refer to themselves as Rwandan now, instead of Hutu or Tutsi. 800,000 Tutsi where killed.

Cambodia is now starting trials of a few Khmer Rouge leaders, far too late most of the leaders including Pol Pot have died of old age. Its not easy to investigate these things when your current leader is ex-Khmer Rouge. 1-3 million died out of a population of 8 million

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Both massacres demonstrate the impotence and moral cowardice of the UN. In Rwanda a few armed peace keepers could have stopped the killing. The UN continued to recognise the Khmer Rouge Government years after they where ousted by Vietnamese forces. Both France and the US, amongst others, played shameful roles in these decisions

As for the tourists? They end the tour chastened and maybe a little change. Most importantly their presence helps ensure the stories are told and not forgotten






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Whoops

Marilyn fails in her 'cycling over a rock' demonstration to the Lao people

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Must get these tee shirts for me and Marilyn

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