Saturday, May 31, 2008

future perfect

I've seen the future, and it works. It's a hydrogen-fuelled car, where the hydrogen is made with the surplus energy ( after heating and lighting a large office/workshoplaboratory) generated by two wind turbines. So, technically, this futuristic vehicle is powered by wind. A car that runs on fresh air, and has h2o as its by-product after combustion. Oh. My. God. This might save us yet.

On the other hand, possibly due to our pesticide overuse and monoculture as an efficient way to grow vast fields full of profitable crops, our honey bees are dying off in droves, so, people, we might have cars and heat, but no food. Hmmmm.

Yesterday Noelle and I had a day on the island of Unst. We visited an amazing 'alternative' school in Uyeasound, went to Hermaness ( the most northerly point in Britain) and saw puffins galore, amnd then visited the Pure Project, makers of the world's first hydrogen car. Spent a heady two hours talking ( no, Debi, ranting) about peak oil, oil at $200 a barrel, the need for decent governance regarding climate change and how we're going to tackle it, the need for energy rationing and soon - like by the end of this year and other such full-on topics. It was amazing to meet with the co-designer of this immensely complex, yet simple hydrogen car, and not only to be able to understand him, but to actually feel that change is coming.

I so hope I'm not deluding myself. I mean, we've been here before. Remember that historic May morning when it all seemed soooo hopeful? Labour were in after umpty dreadful years of toryblah, and the morning news on BBC1 began with not the usual corporate muzak, but with David Bowie singing ch-ch-changes. All things seemed possible that morning. Change felt like it was just around the corner. And yes, I know the argument about how it's like trying to steer a cruise liner, and how it takes ages to change course, but somehow, I'm pretty sure that we don't have years left. I think if we don't get our climate act together ay ess ay pee, we're heading for extinction and catastrophe on an unimaginable scale.

On a far lighter note, I had a Shetland haircut. It took two hours ( !!!) but it looks pretty sharp. Gone is the Susan Sontag witchy intellectual look, and back is the bobbed fluff-brain. Ahhhhh, so much more mwah. Haven't actually washed it yet, so it will undoubtedly go into frizz hell thereafter, but just now it's sleek and swingy. Vanity is appeased, temporarily.


Mel said...

I think it's going to take all-out revolt for things to change. Particularly considering how much (over here, at least) the powers that be are so strongly in the pocket of those with a vested interest in the status quo. Meantime, all we can do is keep clamouring and demanding more of our politicians.

As for the fuel cell car, I'd love to see it reach the mass market. With an hour commute almost every day, I feel the pinch even in my hybrid. And wind power. While we pay for hydroelectric, which is abundant here, our grid is still connected to plenty of coal-fired and biomass plants. With more coastline than the rest of the Atlantic seaboard combined, we've got enough wind to be completely self-sufficient and then some, but plans to develop it continue to be mired in legal actions by NIMBY types worried about the aesthetics.

Debi Gliori said...

An all-out citizen's revolt, a couple of cataclysms, and another major hike in oil prices will start the ball rolling. Maybe. But like you, over there, I see that our politicians appear to have taken their eye off the climate ball and are focusing almost exclusively on their Future Prospects in government. All that's coming out of Number 10 is pink smoke and soundbites, closely followed by retractions, denials and volte faces. Nothing meaningful is happening regarding alternative energy, cuts in emissions, developing renewables and generally getting the public softened up for the huge changes that will have to be implemented if we're going to turn this one around.

Albert Einstein reckoned we have four years left of human life on Earth if the bees disappear. It may be that one tiny link in the chain might hold the key to forcing us to take action. I don't know about you, but I feel as if I swing from hope to despair on an almost daily basis. One day I'm saving up for a small wind turbine, the next, I'm contemplating the disastrous bud die-off in our apple trees ( no apples for us this year, alas) and realising that come the revolution, we'd probably starve.

Mel said...

Have just seen this site. If they're actually able to get to market on schedule and at the projected price point, they've the potential to stand the US market on its head, I think. If we can pry people away from their Hummers and Escalades.