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Eddie Mair | 16:52 UK time, Thursday, 16 October 2008


Just been speaking to Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary. The essence of the interview was, I suppose, whether, in an economic downturn, people would be as green as they were in the good times. Are you as green as you were? Please do not add a comment if you're the Green Cross Man.


  • 1. At 3:06pm on 16 Oct 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    I'm cross, and I'm green, but I'm not a man.

    If anything, I'm trying to be even greener now, Eddie. Largely because, with oil prices as they are/have been, it makes even more sense to keep layering the jerseys and laying off the heating. And as to driving? Well, my monthly mileage has been well down for ages now.

    I suspect most people are being greener for the same reason: fossil fuels and their derivatives are very expensive!

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  • 2. At 3:26pm on 16 Oct 2008, Charlie wrote:

    Hughie would have been...

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  • 3. At 3:30pm on 16 Oct 2008, mittfh wrote:

    Coincidentally it just so happens to be Switch It Off week at Warwickshire - promoted with the typically corny tagline "Don't just 'Stand By' and waste energy"...

    Petrol / Diesel prices may have dipped, but heating costs look likely to continue to rise, so anything we can do to reduce energy consumption is likely to be "A Good Thing (TM)".

    I'm not convinced at how much money switching off appliances left on standby will save, but far more likely to save money are things such as:
    * Turning off lightbulbs in rooms you're not in,
    * Replacing incandescent bulbs in light fittings used for long periods of time with "energy saver" compact fluorescent bulbs,
    * Turning down/off any thermostatic radiator valves in rooms you rarely use,
    * Where possible waiting until you have a full load's worth of laundry before washing it,
    * Working out how long it takes your oven to warm up, so it's not left heating up nothing for long periods of time.

    If you're curious as to how much electricity a plug-in device uses, one high street electronics chain sells a device that sits between the plug and socket and tells you how many watts of power it's drawing.

    From my own measurements (and reading the labels / manuals), ovens, washing machines and tumble dryers generally consume up to 2.5kW, microwaves, health grills and toasters up to 1kW, and lamps consume whatever wattage the bulb is. Laptops will consume between 30 and 100W, depending on the adaptor and whether they're charging or not, and PCs about 200-250W if you include the monitor and speakers - although obviously if you're doing something very resource intensive on the computer it will draw more power. Plug-in air fresheners and mobile phone chargers consume about 2W, set-top boxes and battery chargers 10W.

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  • 4. At 3:30pm on 16 Oct 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Amendment to 1.

    I am no longer cross.

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  • 5. At 3:39pm on 16 Oct 2008, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Looking at the "picture", all I can think of are the late 80s/early 90s cinema ads for G*rdons Gin (Other gins are available). They were very inventive. Just a single slab of colour with accompanying sounds. Anyone else remember them?

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  • 6. At 3:55pm on 16 Oct 2008, Perky wrote:

    I remember those FFred - before the days of the ads with all the mobile phone ring tones in them!

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  • 7. At 3:59pm on 16 Oct 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    If the moderators allow English older than they are by a few centuries,

    'And oueral enker-green.'

    Only one minor quibble with mittfh's list above:

    "* Replacing incandescent bulbs in light fittings used for long periods of time with "energy saver" compact fluorescent bulbs,"

    is fine except that one needs to remember that these cost about four times as much to buy as an old-fashioned bulb, and are terrific for the first three or four months, after which my experience has been that the bulb takes longer and longer to come up to strength, as it were, and is dimmer and dimmer and less useful thereafter, since one spends the first five and more minutes they are turned on groping in semi-darkness. They also may contain substances that are more than a bit poisonous, and they are rather energy-inefficient to produce. Possibly not as clear-cut a benefit as the other suggestions, it might be.

    I have never managed to endure a 'high-energy' bulb until it finally flickers and dies after many days or weeks of being not-much-use, and throwing them away before they have died feels very wasteful; but there is a limit to the number of places in the house where I want three candles'-worth of lighting for much or all of the time I am in them.

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  • 8. At 4:15pm on 16 Oct 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    mittfh (3) ''Where possible waiting until you have a full load's worth of laundry before washing it''
    It would be nice to see my laundry basket empty, or even half-full!
    Do you know how much washing a sportsmad (nearly) 17-year-old lad creates?!

    We've been a lot greener in Staffordshire lately - we can now use the glass/tin/plastic green box for yoghurt pots, margarine and butter tubs, plastic meat trays, plastic bags, small plastic toys and foil, as well as the usual stuff. My box overfloweth!

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  • 9. At 4:18pm on 16 Oct 2008, Anne P. wrote:

    Chris@7 I think you have been unlucky with your bulbs. We have some that have been in situ (and in use) for 15 years and while I agree that the light takes a little while to come to full strength I haven't found it a real problem.

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  • 10. At 4:18pm on 16 Oct 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Surely it is EASIER to be 'green' in a recession ? You are happier to forego the flying holiday because it's trendy to be in the UK.

    You ditch the 4*4 because the fuel and tax is so expensive.

    Your house is repossessed so you go and live with the neighbours, who have turned the heating down, so you huddle together for warmth, and share a bowl of soup ?

    Don't laugh - this could be the 'revenge of gaia' that we have been scoffing about..

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  • 11. At 4:23pm on 16 Oct 2008, U10783173 wrote:

    Am I just a useless shopper or is it quite difficult to find 100W bayonet bulbs?

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  • 12. At 4:27pm on 16 Oct 2008, U10783173 wrote:

    And mittfh (3) - Just a quibble with your first sugestion: "Turning off lightbulbs in rooms you're not in."

    How do you manage that?

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  • 13. At 4:31pm on 16 Oct 2008, moraymint wrote:

    You have got to be joking! The world will start to "green" itself over the coming 5 - 10 years as we learn to live without fossil fuels. And living without fossil fuels will come about as the prices of oil and gas in particular soar to become prohibitively expensive. The problem is that the politicians' increasingly ludicrous green targets require us increasingly beleaguered taxpayers to spend more of our rapidly diminishing disposal incomes on expensive and ineffectual alternative energy supplies.

    The whole thing is becoming a fantastic joke. I don't have any immediate answers to how we solve this one, but I do know that wind farms are not the answer. Probably nuclear is ... at least until we come up with something to replace all of the benefits of oil. We may have left this one too late.

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  • 14. At 4:32pm on 16 Oct 2008, Sid wrote:

    Horse - incandescent bulbs are being phased out, I believe ...

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  • 15. At 4:33pm on 16 Oct 2008, Sid wrote:

    Horse (12) - you could stand in the doorway and shoot at the bulbs ...

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  • 16. At 4:50pm on 16 Oct 2008, U10783173 wrote:

    Sid (15) - Nah, mittfh definitely said 'turn off'. I suppose you could shout insults at them.

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  • 17. At 4:50pm on 16 Oct 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Did Eddie sound a little 'Hoarse' during the 4-30 trail?

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  • 18. At 4:52pm on 16 Oct 2008, RachelG wrote:

    I am switching more things off and only using the tumble dryer when every drying rack is already full and its raining. My partner's carbon footprint will plummet when he loses his job and no longer flies for work.

    Recessions will inevitably make us greener in the short term - that is why the oil price has fallen. But if the world's economies begin to grow again, then so will our carbon emissions. Perhaps we should be using this downturn to permanently change our attitudes to energy use.

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  • 19. At 5:02pm on 16 Oct 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I had a feeling that the moderators might censor my post at 7, because I had quoted 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', but I didn't expect someone to *refer it to them*, which is what it says was done.

    For the record, the quotation is translated 'and overall glittering green', but I feel that the Middle English of the original is much more fun.

    So that people's replies to it make sense, I'll repost the rest of the post. It went

    Only one minor quibble with mittfh's list above:

    "* Replacing incandescent bulbs in light fittings used for long periods of time with "energy saver" compact fluorescent bulbs,"

    is fine except that one needs to remember that these cost about four times as much to buy as an old-fashioned bulb, and are terrific for the first three or four months, after which my experience has been that the bulb takes longer and longer to come up to strength, as it were, and is dimmer and dimmer and less useful thereafter, since one spends the first five and more minutes they are turned on groping in semi-darkness. They also may contain substances that are more than a bit poisonous, and they are rather energy-inefficient to produce. Possibly not as clear-cut a benefit as the other suggestions, it might be.

    I have never managed to endure a 'high-energy' bulb until it finally flickers and dies after many days or weeks of being not-much-use, and throwing them away before they have died feels very wasteful; but there is a limit to the number of places in the house where I want three candles'-worth of lighting for much or all of the time I am in them.

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  • 20. At 5:14pm on 16 Oct 2008, jonnie wrote:

    We purchased an AEG Heatpump tumble dryer which consumes 1.4 KW, over 55 percent less than the previous model.

    The Prius we invested in doed 56 MPG around town,

    The new condensing boiler is 92.5 percent efficient and the cavity wall insulation have meant that the gas bill has just about stayed the same given all the rises.

    Also nearly all our bulbs are flourescent or LED.

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  • 21. At 5:16pm on 16 Oct 2008, akhen3sir wrote:

    The irony of the recession is that petrol prices look to be declining sharply, which will depress the desire to be more frugal with driving.

    I bet Gordon Brown's wishing he'd introduced a fuel price 'balancer' duty when he had the chance...

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  • 22. At 5:23pm on 16 Oct 2008, theskoop wrote:

    Eddie, Knowing that eating a single steak makes a carbon footprint big as travelling 30km in a 4x4, I've resolved to eat less meat and not feel quite as guilty as I was feeling driving my old-banger to work every day!

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  • 23. At 5:23pm on 16 Oct 2008, petepassword wrote:

    For mittfh's information, standby mode on most appliances consumes approx. 60% of normal running power, so yes, it is VERY necessary to stop using standby.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4620350.stm talks about the question.

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  • 24. At 5:24pm on 16 Oct 2008, Steve S wrote:

    We are searching all options and trying desperately to install green energy supplies to our newly purchased house. It's not until you start doing this do you realise the grants to promote this are very small, uncertain and complex and don't even negate the VAT and tax imposed on the hardware and installers which gets passed on to us; outrageous.
    This government talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk (taking the car is still easier for them!)

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  • 25. At 5:27pm on 16 Oct 2008, bigbuzzard wrote:

    The financial crisis was inevitable - as anyone with a brain could see. The only question was whether it would be within days, months or years. Unfortunately, actually getting anyone to do anything about it was impossible until the consequences actually started revealing themselves, as has happened in the past few weeks.

    It's equally clear that we're heading towards irreversible climate change, with CATASTROPHIC consequences if we haven't got there already.

    The metaphorical 'Bailing Out' of the banks that's going on looks like the biggest last minute warning we're going to get. Luckily is very easy to manufacture the metaphorical buckets full of billions of digital pounds.

    The real world bail-out that's going to be necessary when sea levels rise, is going to require bigger buckets than anyone can possibly imagine, never mind build.

    But still some politicians/companies/individuals quibble and whine about the need for economic growth, and so the circular loop we're in continues growing like a cancer... (is the connection not obvious?)

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  • 26. At 5:28pm on 16 Oct 2008, Gragas wrote:

    Just received the mandatory Energy Performance Certificate for a flat which I let out. It concludes the flat is in band G (the worst) and makes recommendations for increased efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

    The report recommends cavity wall insulation (the walls are solid), roof insulation (already fitted), storage radiators (not appropriate as flat is used intermittently), and replacing the (new) instant hot water system with stored hot water (again inappropriate).

    Some properties have people in them all day whilst others are only occupied from time to time. These reports make the same assumptions for all properties. This renders them useless in practice.

    I am very much in favour of increasing the energy efficiency of my properties and am keen to reduce their carbon footprint, but such inaccurate and inappropriate mandatory reports do not help at all.

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  • 27. At 5:29pm on 16 Oct 2008, globalcool wrote:

    The Earth has been cooling for the last 10 years so why is everyone ignoring it?

    NASA now begrudgingly confirms that the hottest year on record in the continental 48 was not 1998, as previously believed, but 1934, and that six of the 10 hottest years since 1880 antedate 1954.

    So who has the vested interests to stifle the scientific debate and use it as an excuse to raise taxes?

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  • 28. At 5:32pm on 16 Oct 2008, petepassword wrote:

    Chris_Ghoti, my experience is nothing like this. I have used only energy efficient bulbs for at least 15 possibly 20 years, I still have some originals. None of them is dim or flickers, all are as they were when new. The older ones do take a few seconds to come to full brilliance, but are we so precious we can't wait a few seconds in our vitally busy lives? Anyway, the new bulbs come on instantly so that problem's solved.
    Re the substances in these bulbs, yes there are chemicals that shouldn't be distributed into the environment, but it's been stated over and over for years now that they must be recycled, and councils are well able to cope with them, so there's no problem.

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  • 29. At 5:33pm on 16 Oct 2008, profstacker wrote:

    I think it is a good idea to rack up green issues even in this current climate. We all know it is right when we can get more economy out of our newest car or reduce our fuel bills after installing insulation.
    Perhaps we should also remember that the Hoover dam project was sighted as helping to bring the US out of the 30's financial crash. Providing much needed jobs and green free energy ever since as well as a water supply.
    Personally i would have more faith in investments in useful hardware than in financial institutions.

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  • 30. At 5:34pm on 16 Oct 2008, i.moore wrote:

    So having miserably failed to meet targets and obligations in its period of office , the Labour Government is now making tractor production targets for some far off distant time when they most certainly won't be around to be held account for them. (ooops my mistake CO2 targets).

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  • 31. At 5:38pm on 16 Oct 2008, petepassword wrote:

    moraymint, you think the whole thing is becoming a fantastic joke, you don't have any immediate answers to how we solve this one, but you do know that wind farms are not the answer and probably nuclear is... odd how you can be so confused yet certain. Suggests to me some ingrained prejudices. As for your silly idea that the Earth will green itself in 5-10 years, dream on. The Earth will green itself when homo sapiens has finally made itself extinct. We're well on the way to that with attitudes like yours.

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  • 32. At 5:43pm on 16 Oct 2008, bright-eyedcaspian wrote:

    Of course recession will make us greener .. it may be a blessing in disguise .. if I am feeling the pinch , how do I try to save ? Turn the heating down; drive a little less, or at least drive more economically; take less expensive holidays abroad, so less air travel; don't run the bath so deep .. and so on

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  • 33. At 5:46pm on 16 Oct 2008, timetc wrote:

    I am as green as I was 32 years ago-why? because then I decided to do the greenest thing anyone can do have only one child.(unless you decide to have none)
    I also think that we should not try to save money by ignoring global warming NOR should we try to spend money on reducing carbon emissions by targets that will cripple our civilisation. The place to spend is on climate modification-just stopping a small percentage of the suns rays reaching the earth would do the trick and with some proposed methods we could get free energy as well

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  • 34. At 6:10pm on 16 Oct 2008, j0nc0r wrote:

    How utterly biased and misrepresentative your item on the misery caused by the family court sysyem was tonight.

    The vast, I mean vast, majority of parents facing the emotional and financial ordeal of seperation and the family courts are men. Most seperated mothers with children are resident parents; many use their children as a tool to hurt the childrens' fathers rather than putting the welfare of their children first. Most are labouring under the illusion, now taken for granted, that they are victims of male oppression which results in a mindset of rightful vengeance.

    So all at PM: instead of slavishly following an agenda of political correctness and portraying the small minority as victims, please think about covering these very important issues fairly. Just because this issue does not fit with your PC remit it doesn't mean you should not report on it properly.

    Jonathan Wiltshire

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  • 35. At 6:11pm on 16 Oct 2008, capthurricane wrote:

    Remember the ozone layer! Yes, the temperature appears to be rising, yes it is good to value our environment. But let's not invent a religion for the likes of Mr Milliband.

    Few engineers and scientists in my experience are pedantic about the causes of temperature fluctuations. Is the 7/8ths of the earth covered by water truly 'innocent'? Hence proposed solutions could be based on a fallacy.

    But climate change has become a huge, profitable industry and is growing. It is almost impossible to hear an interview without the phrase being mentioned. Governments now have ministries for it and it is near heresy to question the basis for their beliefs.

    Professor Edward Lorenz was a Meteorologist whose work on weather prediction led to the discovery of chaos and the 'butterfly effect'. Weather men cannot tell us what is going to happen next tuesday let alone in 50 years!

    How certain, for example, are the prophets of climate change that wind farms are benign and are not causing 'tornados in Texas'? (or New Orleans or Burma or Spain)

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  • 36. At 6:11pm on 16 Oct 2008, DGS350 wrote:

    Listening to Ed Miliband was most encouraging - providing they do deliver the 80% reduction in emissions.
    Also good news from Australia that they are at long last taking climate change seriously.
    Economic pressures, in my opinion, will encourage us all to be more energy efficient if only to save money.
    I do take issue with the comment that free insulation is available for loft and wall insulation. Currently many installers cannot provide this service - they have told me that this is due to government delaying payment of the subsidy??????

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  • 37. At 6:13pm on 16 Oct 2008, Marktownson wrote:

    A quick suggestion to the Environment and Water Minister from Australia, maybe ‘Concentrating Solar energy’ is the thing for you? If you have a dessert close by to you, each square kilometre of land could generate the power equivalent of 1.5 million barrels of oil! There are 4 elements / benefits from it;

    1. Loads of energy from very easy technology. Concentrating solar energy simply heats up water to steam and drives a turbine to generate electricity in the old fashioned way.

    2. The by product – heat, can be used to desalinate salt water if by the coast, or in other combined heat and power configured units if inland.

    3. The back of the concentrating solar units could be made of (existing) materials whose composition and construction could exploit small atmospheric temperature differences to condense out water, (check out the fog beetle). This could be used to irrigate plantings under and in between the concentrating units whose shadows are also beneficial.

    4. If you then used high power Direct Current (as opposed to Alternating Current) cables to distribute this power around Australia, you would only lose about 3% power over every 1000 kilometres transported.

    This win, win, win, win (power, clean water, food, efficient power transfer), situation could then be copied by the rest of the world, in about half the time and money that a new round of nuclear power stations would take, giving us one more REALLY big thing to be happy about; a nuclear free future! I feel much better already.


    Mark Townson.

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  • 38. At 6:13pm on 16 Oct 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    It's time some serious thought was given to improving the energy efficiency of listed buildings, without giving the conservation architects a major heart attack or the owners a mile of hurdles to jump.

    I'm sure there are ways which this could be done without degrading the qualities of these buildings which have led to the listings.

    Our thatch is a great insulator, but wattle and daub walls aren't. It should be possible to raise the qualities of the walls, though, with modern technology but without actually removing the original material. I'm thinking, why not have a celotex inner skin (which wouldn't have to be fixed to the original frame)? Of course, other construction methods (stone, etc.) would require different solutions, but there has to be a will from the top and not to keep ignoring the problems that exist.

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  • 39. At 6:14pm on 16 Oct 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Oh, and a PS to my 38 above. Not all listed buildings belong to the well-heeled. Our income is well below the national average, and our cottage is very small.

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  • 40. At 6:16pm on 16 Oct 2008, Stratusphunk wrote:

    So, here we go again - the planet is about to explode and it's all our fault. Now we have the recently promoted Ed milliBrain to rescue us: last week it was Flash Gordon. HIS plans are already in shreds; how long before milliBrain's go the same way, I wonder? I've been a slave to the green agenda for years - ever since, in fact, the Greens were warning me (in the 1970s) of an imminent ice Age! Too young to remember? Look it up; it's true. I was there. What I'd REALLY like to know is:a) How much CO2 does it take to boil the planet? b) What is the highest level of CO2 the Earth's atmosphere has ever contained? c) What was the global temperature at that time? d) What was the CO2 level during the Mini Ice Age of the late 17th century when the Thames was regularly frozen over and ice floes were recorded in the English channel? e) If, as I've read, the current level of CO2 constitutes 3% of the atmosphere, of which OUR contribution is estimated at 0.2%, can it really be true that THAT amount will cause a massive rise in temperature leading to a sea level rise of 20 METRES?? OK, I'm not a climatologist, but I'm not stupid. Have the politicos really asked enough questions, or is this all just a ploy to make sure that the Third World don't start getting too much of what we want to keep for ourselves?

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  • 41. At 6:54pm on 16 Oct 2008, LMaufe wrote:

    Being green and being economical go hand in hand. Use the car less, walk or get on a bike, put on an extra jumper, grow your own veg - all these things people do when money's tight and they all help reduce our carbon footprints. And it all helps to keep us healthier, combat the obesity epidemic, and reduce the huge social and economic costs of a car based society - we have about 3000 deaths a year caused by motorists and by the governments own calculations each fatality costs society over 1.5Million.

    What puzzles me is why Gordon Brown keeps trying to reduce oil prices and get us all driving and flying more.

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  • 42. At 7:46pm on 16 Oct 2008, nikki noodle wrote:

    what puzzles me, LMaufe, is why people insist on living by themselves; silly people, if they shared a house with another couple, then the bills would be lower.

    And there'd be someone else to take the rubbish round the front.

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  • 43. At 8:51pm on 16 Oct 2008, clemick wrote:

    About twenty years ago, the oil industry indicated that by 2020 the world would run out of oil. Nobody listened. That time is closely approaching and panic has set in! Finding a cheap solution, (or at least the same cost of oil), is proving difficult. Hence, governments and producers are 'hiking' the price, so that when the oil actually runs out, the world is not shocked by the huge rise in energy costs. Nuclear is the answer, (at present), but unfortunately giving this technology to every country, also enables those countries to develop nuclear weapons. What a dilemma! As for global warming and carbon footprints, your speaker on Wednesday, from Alaska, summed it up perfectly. A lot of humbug, although his language was a little stronger!

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  • 44. At 9:03pm on 16 Oct 2008, mars52 wrote:

    We may not have much solar power, but the UK is in one of the best locations in the world for wave, wind and tide energy. We should be leading the world now in these technologies before the rising price of oil forces all countries to compete in this sector. Green energy now only costs a little more than non-sustainable energy (soon it will be cheaper) and we are the 6th richest country. (We need to raise pensions and minimum wage for the less well off). We need to develop power storage as well for when the wind drops. There is easily enough green power out there, but the age of really cheap power (oil) has nearly gone.

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  • 45. At 9:16pm on 16 Oct 2008, Cerastes wrote:

    A few things worry me:
    1. Ed Miliband said about balancing the credit crunch with cutting CO2 emissions, that the planet might not be here in 50 to 100 years if we fail on our CO2 targets. I don't think the IPCC in their wildest scenarios would think a trace gas could destroy the Earth. He ain't on this planet.
    2. The UK is 7th in the world league table of CO2 emitters, emitting 1.87% of man made CO2. Reducing our CO2 by 80% will cost so much for so little.
    3. If the UK is going to reduce it's CO2 emissions by 80% by 2020, it is going to take a lot more than changing a few light bulbs. It will stop transport, energy and business; which will kill our economy and cost us billions in renewables and restructuring, for no discernible effect.
    4. Beware - if you are reading this then you exhale CO2 - you are liable to be licensed and taxed.

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  • 46. At 9:44pm on 16 Oct 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    petepassword @ 28, I have used energy-saving lightbulbs since they became available; even when something like twelve quid per bulb wasn't a very good deal given that the weekly food-bill was about thirty-five quid for five of us.

    I have 33 steep and somewhat irregular stairs in my house, and I think that it is actually dangerous to have them inadequately lighted. There are two energy-saving bulbs on those stairs, each a 23W = 100W+25, it says on the packet. One is a year old; the other was put in two days ago.

    The one two days old comes on when I turn on the switch, and within three seconds is bright enough to read print by.

    The year-old one produces a faint pink glow at one end when the switch is turned on, and the whole tube lights dimly after nine seconds. Four minutes later it is still not bright enough to read print by without squinting and holding the book near the light.

    Seems to me that if that were the only bulb on those stairs I'd have a choice: replace that bulb after a year; turn it on as soon as dusk starts and leave it on all the time (which surely isn't that much of a saving of electricity over turning on a traditional bulb for four or five minutes to go upstairs and come back down again); blunder about on the stairs in semi-darkness if I want to go to the loo during an ad-break (if I had a telly, which I don't, but you get what I mean) or cross my legs for four minutes plus; simply don't go upstairs after dark unless I carry a candlestick... On the whole, I think I would rather not risk a fall in the semi-darkness, so replacing the bulb starts to look like the best option.

    How much energy does it take to *make* each replacement lightbulb?

    (What are the maths on 'making new lightbulb energy use + five years' energy use at X x 4 rate' as against 'making new lightbulb energy use + one year's energy use at X rate'?)

    I have also just looked at the list of things the council here offer to collect from the street once a week for recycling. They mention 'metal food and drinks cans, glass bottles and jars, paper, aerosol cans, aluminium foil, yellow pages, household batteries, car batteries, shoes, textiles, old spectacles, fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and bones, cooked and uncooked food, bread, pasta, cereal, rice, tea bags, coffee grounds, dairy products, eggshells, and all types of cardboard.' Not lightbulbs. Not lightbulbs of any sort. They may want me to recycle dead ones, but they certainly don't say so or tell me where or how to go about it.

    Clearly you live in a place in which both the shops and the council are better at this than is the town I live in: they sell bulbs that are far better than any I have found (including the ones from The Independent offer last year) and they are prepared to deal with them afterwards. I am happy for you, but I don't *really* need your snide 'but are we so precious we can't wait a few seconds in our vitally busy lives?'

    It isn't so much the wasted seconds (or minutes) as the potential for falling on the stairs and breaking my hip that makes me less than fully enthusiastic about the energy-saving bulb out there (and its predecessors). And I am someone who started paying attention to this issue and not wasting things like food, fuel or paper *before Friends of the Earth existed*, so I'm not opposed to sensible use of resources.

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  • 47. At 10:16pm on 16 Oct 2008, michaelmj wrote:

    The UK and EU commitments are a welcome signal that the recession/slump should not be used to distract from the essential need to tackle climate change. However, both this Labour administration and the EU have a pretty poor record of being much stronger on declaring long term environmental targets (easy enough for politicians who will be long gone before chicken come home to roost) than in taking the more immediate steps to meet those targets. And there is a similar gap between what people tell pollsters about their willingness to take "green" actions and their actual behaviour. Let's hope that we will see a change - for example in putting real commitment and resources into making carbon capture and storage a reality rather than just potential. The fact is that economies such as Poland, not to mention China do and will continue to depend on coal will inevitably carry on using it. There is a great economic as well as environmental opportunity for the UK and rest of EU to get China on board on climate change with collaboration on carbon capture and storage. Let's see what happens.

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  • 48. At 10:20pm on 16 Oct 2008, mars52 wrote:

    The earth's climate has always changed due to shifting ocean current patterns, tilting of the earth's axis orbit changes, random events etc. What is important is to see the trends. Most experts now agree that as the CO2 has increased, on average so has the temperature as would be expected for a greenhouse gas. Why do some people disbelieve the experts? I guess because it is hard to believe that just a 100 parts per million of CO2 can raise the temperature a few degrees and that will have a bit effect. But if you are not going to believe the people that study this, who are you to believe.

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  • 49. At 10:57pm on 16 Oct 2008, pasternak wrote:

    I agree with comment No.25. The financial crisis is only the tip of the iceberg. It's the huge climate change problem which is hidden below the surface, which is the real crisis. There is no point in concerning ourselves about leaving money or houses for our children or grandchildren, if we have waited so long to act on climate change that the earth is soon going to be uninhabitable. Remember we have about 98 months to get our carbon emissions down to 350 parts per million. If we don't do it, the game is up. Thank goodness Ed Miliband has understood just how near the edge we are. There is still time to avert disaster - just! But we need to put the brakes on and do an emergency stop.

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  • 50. At 11:19pm on 16 Oct 2008, mittfh wrote:

    PetePassword: Raw percentages can be misleading. If, say a 150W TV consumes 60% of its power in standby, that's 90W. If a 5W mobile phone charger consumes 60% of its power when the phone isn't connected, that's 3W.

    14" TV/VCR - 6W standby, 55-60W turned on. I never use the VCR component, but as it's getting old and often takes 2-5 minutes to settle after going from off to standby, I have it attached to a timer switch which turns it on from 5pm - midnight, and off for the rest of the day.

    Digibox - 4W standby, 5W in use.

    Sure they'll use up some electricity if left on standby, but 10W will use up 1 unit in 100 hours (~4 days). It's unlikely to make much of a dent in my electricity bill.

    However, leave an unnecessary 100W bulb on and the time taken to consume 1 unit drops to 10 hours (~0.4 days).

    Turn the oven on to warm up, and get carried away doing something else, and 2500W will use up 1 unit in a mere 24 minutes.

    Gas is obviously harder to measure, but adjusting thermostatic valves, and adjusting the timings so the heating / water isn't on when you're not in, will probably make some difference.


    Households can make a small difference, but surely the far larger contribution can come from the workplace. For example, shops that leave the lights on in their windows 24/7, above door heaters, employees who leave their computers turned on overnight, schools that leave data projectors turned on overnight (observed directly - not all departments can be aware of the £250+ cost of replacement bulbs!), cordless phone base units, dusk to dawn floodlights...

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  • 51. At 11:26pm on 16 Oct 2008, mittfh wrote:

    Just thought - at a rough guess, I'd assume the chief culprit in power usage in standby is the transformer.

    How much energy would be saved by having an ordinary 1.5V battery powering the standby circuit, which can then call upon a relay to switch the main power on / off when needed? Set top boxes would be an ideal application, since they like to turn on at 3am to catch firmware upgrades broadcast over the airwaves.

    For chargers, perhaps some circuitry that determines when the load drawn from the low voltage end of the transformer drops, and cutting off the main supply?

    Perhaps also computers could be shipped with those special trailing extension power leads which turn off all peripherals when the base unit is turned off?

    I wouldn't have thought any of these measures would cost the companies much money, and they enable the appliance to be "green" without relying on human willpower...

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  • 52. At 00:48am on 17 Oct 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Re Mittfh and PetePassword.

    PetePassword - I haven't actually checked the BBC link - but have done my own research on standby consumption.

    With very old televisions and VCR's the fugures aren't quoted - however the heat output of my old VCR gear would have been enough to see that the standby power (W) would have been substantially less than the full running power or 40watts - around 5W probably.

    Our new LCD Panasonic telly is 300 milliwatts standby and 90 watts max - presumably with the backlights on full.

    Ironically many so called technical journalists haven't a clue about what they are talking about half the time.

    For example - the so called plugs operated by a remote - like time switches - sold by BandQ etc- all consume around 1 watt - and the motorised time switches around 2 watts. - and people buy these as econy measures to turn of compact flourescents that often consume less than 7 watts!

    Also - and very misleading - the Digital switchover.

    A well known BBC TV presenter this week saying that every tv set can be converted to the digital switchover - even very old black and white ones, by purchasing a £20 set top box.

    A high majority of old televisions DO NOT have scart sockets. Therefore the set top box would need a UHF modulator. Most do not - and those that do are in the £50 - £60 bracket.

    This report was specifically about the digital switchover - and most people, as it's coming from the BBC will probably not question it?

    It's scandalous that many well known supermarkets are still selling analogue televisions.

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  • 53. At 01:03am on 17 Oct 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Apologies for previous spelling and in answer to mittfh's transformer efficiency post.

    Yes mittfh - cheap transformers won't be that efficient. Flux losses etc..

    However, it's all down to design and cost.

    To turn on any high power device needs a switch. The basic one is a wall switch operated by us.

    The remote answer is a relay/ contactor - basically a high resistance coil which when energised by a small current produces an electromagnetic effect which then causes contacts to engage and carry the main flow of current for the device being operated.

    It's not rocket science - and bearing in mind that current mobile/ dect phones can achieve almost infinitesimal small standy currents - there is no need for any larger device to use substantially more.

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  • 54. At 01:10am on 17 Oct 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Just read Petepasswords BBC link


    and turned off the fridge! seemed a logical follow on!

    Anyone fancy scrambled eggs at the Weekend ?

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  • 55. At 08:56am on 17 Oct 2008, DI_Wyman wrote:

    Are you as green as you were?

    More so.

    We don't use the gas boiler to heat the water at night. We use the immersion heater, a time switch and Economy 7.

    That gives us plenty of hot water that lasts us the whole day. In fact more than enough, so we are adjusting the timing bit by bit to give us the optimum.

    Both the diswasher and the washing machine have timers that are set for operating in the Economy 7 band.

    The outdoor security lighting has been adjusted so that it only stays on for 20 seconds and the wattage of the bulb has been reduced to 100.

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  • 56. At 10:17am on 17 Oct 2008, Trevor Mansell wrote:

    Thers's only one small problem with switching TV's, VCR's etc off standby when not in use - you have to reprogramme some of the older units when you switch them back on. Thus using power while they are not doing anything.

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  • 57. At 10:43am on 17 Oct 2008, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Still fairly green;

    No car,
    No tumble dryer,
    No dishwasher,
    Main computer is a small one based on laptop components so uses very little power,
    (The big one I use for number-crunching is a bit of a hog though, can't be helped),
    No central heating on in the bedrooms (bad for the sinuses anyway),
    Recently topped up loft insulation and cavity wall gloop,
    Energy saving bulbs except on the stairs where, as mentioned above, you need instant bright light.

    I also keep half the lights switched off in the foyer area I work next to - the remainder are easily bright enough to light the whole place.

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  • 58. At 11:18am on 17 Oct 2008, needsanewnickname wrote:

    You might have put off fans of ra Gers?

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  • 59. At 11:24am on 17 Oct 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    SSC 57, We don't have central heating.

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  • 60. At 11:52am on 17 Oct 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    DMcN @ 59, good point. I wonder how many of us have got their central heating turned on by now? I know from observation that the pubs are turning on their patio heaters in the evening for the smokers who have to go outside, which has to be a contribution to global warming that's hard to justify.

    That did strike me as a bit strange: government says 'we care about not wasting energy, so we will make thousands of places heat the outside air for fifty per cent of their customers'... It makes the turning off of a lightbulb here or there look like a fairly small thing in comparison.

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  • 61. At 2:06pm on 17 Oct 2008, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Chris (60):

    I look after an elderly relative who is on blood-thinning medication, so I've had to have the central heating on since last month. It's unfortunate - and not mentioned enough - that those most in need of increased energy use due to their frailty and age and often the ones least able to cut down.

    On the other hand, the elderly are often very green by default, especially those who grew up during rationing.

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  • 62. At 2:11pm on 17 Oct 2008, vainly_here wrote:

    CG (60) Yes, I'm surprised there is so little interest of the contribution made by smoking to environmental damage, not only in emissions but through the destruction of some environments to create tobacco-growing areas.

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  • 63. At 2:15pm on 17 Oct 2008, vainly_here wrote:

    I am unlikely to be around in 2050, and by the look of it I should be glad. By then the earth will have warmed inexorably and no-one will be allowed to have air-conditioning. Probably only people of Equatorial upbringing will survive.

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  • 64. At 3:46pm on 17 Oct 2008, mittfh wrote:

    Another interesting viewpoint:

    My flat (rented) has GCH and thermostatic valves on all the radiators.

    However, there are a few issues with this arrangement:
    a) the timer can operate in "Water only" or "Heating + Water" modes - there's no "Heating without water" mode.
    b) The flat itself doesn't have a thermostat (presumably because all the radiators do)
    c) Out of the six thermostatic radiator valves in the flat, only two work - the remaining four let all the water through all the time (like conventional valves), even on * (Frost prevent) mode - which suggests that they have a finite lifetime, unlike room thermostats or conventional valves.

    It would be interesting to know what the average lifespan of a thermostatic valve is - since replacing them will probably cost in the region of £15ea + plumber costs + time involved in draining down the system, catching all the drips as the valves are removed etc.

    At least in my case I can probably pass the cost onto the landlord, but in a typical 4 bed owner occupied house with 12+ radiators (hall, lounge, diner, kitchen, cloakroom, landing, 4 beds, bathroom, en-suite), you'd be looking at about £180 for the valves + several hours of plumber, so ~£500. Ouch.

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  • 65. At 4:16pm on 17 Oct 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    C_G 60, I heard that a lot of places are giving up those patio heaters.

    As we don't have cavity walls....

    Strangely enough, our gas company sent us a free pack of six of those squiggly light bulbs. Maybe our electricity company will send us a bag of gas.

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  • 66. At 4:22pm on 17 Oct 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    Mr McNickle (65) My mother gets her gas from an electricity company, and her electricity from a gas company.
    No wonder she gets confused when it's time to pay the bills.

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  • 67. At 2:00pm on 18 Oct 2008, racheblue wrote:

    The financial economy can come and go, rise and fall - those of us who do not lay our whole lives at it's quivering feet will survive.

    Without the planet, we will cease to exist, all of us, regardless of our financial status or that of the country we live in.

    This is a no-brainer so I find it hard to believe how much it is being discussed as a serious question? Green or economy? - duh!

    Being truly 'green' means less reliance on any financial economy. It means increased self-sufficiency and freedom from self-perpetuating consumerism. Striving for this rather than worrying about the economy might bring increased happiness levels far more rewarding than increased economy - imagine!

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  • 68. At 11:04am on 19 Oct 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    Gillianian 66, Regardless, they will all be owned by the French soon.

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  • 69. At 3:32pm on 19 Oct 2008, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    DMcN @ 68, I didn't know the Germans were planning to sell the ones they own to the French?

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