Sunday, April 30, 2006

An Englishman's home is.. a government cash cow

I almost passed over this one - Council tax bills 'to rise by over 40pc' - as being irrelevant to an environmental blog (though I have strayed into Cross of Ross territory before, and doubtless will again), but if the amount in question doesn't have me reaching for an AK-47, then the principle will.

When we moved into our current home, it was a big, rambling wreck, and having assessed our ability to maintain it (by looking at the rateable value and making reasonable projections over our lifespan) we have injected a small fortune renovating it, using contractors initially to do the big stuff, and our own DIY efforts subsequently, when we had the skills, time and, frankly, no more money spare. There has been a lot done, with lots more to do.

Amongst other things, I am seriously looking at all the various eco-things we can do,. Now these are major capital expenses, with the benefits kicking in only after a period of many years. So it is only worth doing them if we are going to stay here... and reap the rewards.

This proposal of tying the tax to the house value in this way is therefore a double whammy environmentally. For a start I now fear for our ability to afford to live here, and certainly question any additional investment which simply raises the value and hence our ability to afford to stay here.

Is everything in this cursed country now designed to supress saving, effort and forward thinking? And all to fund the money-pit that is their parasitic, unproductive administrative systems, put in place to keep 'them' in power and clover, and rest of us under their thumbs while they concoct further ways of funding them.

Bloody, barking madness.

A sober view on oil and its alternatives

It's by an academic, so I guess it will end up simply being yet one more of millions of talking points to be endlessly debated, but I took the time to read the following and found it it an interesting analysis of the current situation and, more importantly, potential future solutions to our need for personal transport: Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense: the myths about high oil prices

The first section is a bit dry (ooh, the drink related hints  in complement to my headline abound), but then it does arrive at matters environmental.

And the author makes the very same point that I have being banging on about (if in a slightly different way), that high oil prices are not a 'good thing' for carbon emission reduction, because all that's going to happen (and already is) is the oil companies look around for other places and ways to hoik the stuff out of the ground.

His solution is ethanol, hence my title.

I have always maintained an idealist view of the whole thing, and would love to see hydrogen being 'the one', with no more than water dropping out the exhausts, so long as the small matter of making it envirofectively can be sorted out, plus the small niggle caused by my reading once that water vapour was also a greenhouse 'gas'.

But as it is a looooong way off, I'm coming round to this way of thinking.  Read this and maybe you will, too. It's not a cure, but it seems a practical way to reduce emissions, though I still wonder about swathes of country being mown down to 'grow' petrol, which as a matter of scale seems likely to put in the shade the whole valid vegetarian point about the amount of land required to grow crops vs. a cow in terms of feeding a person. How many acres of the Amazon to the gallon do you get?

Now, what do we do about it? For a start there's a bit to note about tariffs to bring ethanol up to a parity cost with four star and/or protect our local farmers. 

So we have to get the pols weaned off the notion of pleasing pressure groups and making dosh. Not an encouraging thought to start on present evidence.