11 March 2007

Alternative to Wind Farms

Letter to our local paper, the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald:

I am sure that no one really wants wind farms, so why not find a way to do our bit without spoiling the landscape, etc. Let’s save more energy than a wind farm would generate.

I am told that good environmental gains can be achieved by reducing our energy consumption. So if you want to stop a wind farm, act now to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’ by saving energy at home, school, at work or when travelling. Global warming is a big problem that deserves this action anyway.

An energy consumption audit for the area would provide current figures. We can then determine target values that would justify a rejection of wind farms. Any targets would have to be better than those that the Government has already signed up for.

We all know the sort of things that are required, but do we do them? Let’s hear what you really have done. We recently got rid of our answering machine at home, relying on the service provided for free by BT. I switch off all my computer equipment at the plug when not in use, including the broadband router.

Like many others we will soon need a new TV to get digital reception. I understand that LCD TVs are better than standard TVs for power-consumption, and that plasma screens are worse. It is surprisingly hard to find an LCD TV that has a proper on/off switch to avoid wasting power on standby! Comet and Currys in Kendal don’t list any power consumption figures.

When I wrote to the Government in late 2005 to ask for mandatory low standby power levels for TVs, set top boxes and the like, the minister hoped for the best and said that the “specifications of televisions and set top boxes are a matter for manufacturers and the market”.

Is this just fiddling while the earth burns? Small decisions will add up, but we need to take bigger ones too. Unfortunately I think it will take some big shock such as the stopping of the already-diminished Gulf Stream to get us to act seriously. Even if we demonstrably do our bit locally, it may that we will need to have wind farms so that the rest of UK keeps its lights on.

Back in the here and now, perhaps saving our nice landscape and the planet can be done if we all pull together. I’m far from perfect, so what else should I do?

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