Age of Stupid – A must watch film !

A very good friend of mine (who runs a climate change group up in Wiltshire) recommended I watch the film Age of Stupid, so I did…..and recommend you watch it too. You can very easily download it on this website

The Age of Stupid is a 2008 film by Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel, Drowned Out) and first-time producer Lizzie Gillett. It is a co-production between Franny’s company Spanner Films and Executive Producer John Battsek‘s (One Day In September) company Passion Pictures.

Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

The production was notable for its innovative way crowd-funding financing model, as well as the Indie Screenings distribution system which allows anyone anywhere to screen the film. The full story of the production of the film is told in the 50-minute Making Of documentary which is free to watch online and also available on the double-pack DVD.

The film was released in 2009 and became one of the most talked-about films of the year. It also spawned the hugely-successful 10:10 campaign.

I watched it about a week ago and it’s still churning round in my head. You could get pretty depressed watching it if you didn’t have anything positive to channel yourself into – luckily I have as we’ve just set up a Green Party in our local area of East Devon and I’m standing as a candidate for the Green Party at the next General Election in May 2010.

Luppitt Renewable Energy Meeting

There’s a bit of a hoo-haa going on up in the hills above Honiton in Devon. The chairman of Luppitt Parish Council, local landowner Gavin Brake wants to install a wind turbine and not all the locals are happy! There is a public meeting taking place next week (details on the left) which I’m hoping to attend – to represent the newly formed East Devon Green Party. I also lived in the parish of Luppitt for a little while until last summer, and several of my daughter’s friends live up there – as it’s in the catchment area for her school (Upottery). Although I no longer live in Luppitt, I still live in the beautiful Blackdown Hills so find this whole issue very interesting. This is a photo (below) I took of the stunning landscape when we lived up on Dumpdon Hill – near the National Trust and Devon Wildlife Trust protected areas.

So I’ve heard that a few of the locals are unhappy about the plans in an AONB area. Luppitt is nestled in The Blackdown Hills – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This landscape is considered so precious that it has been protected for the nation. The criteria for designating an AONB include valuable wildlife, habitats, geology and heritage, as well as scenic views. There are 40 AONB’s in England and Wales. AONB’s have existed since 1949, although the Blackdown Hills was designated relatively recently, in 1991.

The Midweek Herald reported the story on 28th January saying that energy expert Mark Newton believes ” Every farm in the UK will have a wind turbine in five years’ time. With 75% of the UK’s land in the agricultural sector, on-farm wind power can represent a significant business opportunity for farmers and landowners, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.”

Mr Brake says  “I have managed to reduce my fuel oil consumption by nearly 50% and I hope to remove this completely in due course.My next steps will allow me to generate my own green electricity.  I am planning to intall solar photovoltaic panels and I would also like to install one of two small wind turbines in a field behind my farmhouse.

Mr Brake explains “Nearly all of the houses in Luppitt are down in a deep valley, so small wind turbines won’t work there. I am one of a small number of people with properties in our community situated on the flat, upland plateeu where the wind is strong and constant. I feel somewhat guilty that I have not put up a small wind turbine already.”

You can read the full Midweek Herald article here.

Axminster Today/Pullman’s Weekly News also report the story (see article) explaining that “A campaign group called Save our Skyline (SOS) has been set up and so far 14 people have joined the group.”

Please add your comments below – do you live in the Blackdown Hills? What do you think about proposals for wind turbines in AONB’s ?

What is 10:10?

10:10 is an ambitious project to unite every sector of British society behind one simple idea: that by working together we can achieve a 10% cut in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2010.

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of a huge problem like climate change, but by uniting everyone around immediate, effective and achievable action, 10:10 enables us all to make a meaningful difference. The plan is simple: we work together to cut our carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. 10:10 is an idea whose time has come. Sign up on the 10:10 website

I’ve just signed up now and got a few tips to get started:

1 Fly less, holiday morenot a problem for my family as no plans to go abroad this year. I have been known to fly up from Devon/London to relatives in the north east but if I need to visit relatives in 2010 – I’ll get the train instead.
2 Save 10% on heating – Turn down your thermostat we don’t have one! turn off radiators in hallways will do and more jumpers all round got Granny on the case knitting them for all of us!. Then apply for a grant to insulate your loft & walls will need to look into this Use your bill to see whether you cut 10% in 2010 and tick if you succeeded can do Don’t use gas or oil? we live in the middle of nowhere so use oil to heat our water & central heating.
3 Save 10% on electricity – Save big cash by changing lightbulbs, replacing old fridges & freezers ours is not too old and always turning stuff off getting better at this now! Use your bill to compare 2009 usage to 2010. Produce your own electricity from solar or wind? Can’t afford solar or wind!?
bikes_Groningen4 Drive less – Leave your car at home one day a week. Walk, cycle or take public transport. Join a car-club rather than owning your own and share your ride to work with a colleague or two. Difficult as we live miles form the nearest town, with no access to public transport – but we are shopping at the local farm shop now rather than always going to town and I do cycle the 8 miles into town when I can. We also have a small economical diesel car.
farm shop
5 Eat better – Local, in-season fruit & veg produce the least emissions – and the less processed the better. Have one meat-free day per week – but don’t replace with just-as-bad cheese. Three of our 4 person family are vegetarian – the 4th eats meat occasionally. We are striving to eat locally produced in-season fruits and veg.
6 Buy good stuff – Less stuff made = less emissions = less climate damage. So buy high-quality things that last, repair broken stuff rather than chucking, buy & sell second-hand and borrow your neighbour’s mower. We are all coming round to this as a family, personally I love retro & antique things so it could be fun rather than a bind.
7 Dump less – Avoid excess packaging trying to and buying pointless stuff that goes straight in the bin, recycle everything possible we are improving every week and compost your food waste our chickens eat our scraps
8 Don’t waste food…The average British family throws away £50 worth of food every month. So don’t buy or cook more than you need and eat up those tasty leftovers. Chickens eat ours or it’s our lunch next day
9 … or water – Your tap water uses lots of energy – and then heating it in your home uses loads more – so take showers rather than baths, be careful when watering plants and only run full dishwashers & washing machines.
10 Feel happier – It’s Dec 2010… you’re healthier for walking & cycling, you’ve made new friends from swapping stuff & car-pooling, you’ve saved a big chunk of cash… and you know that you’re part of the global effort to prevent castastrophic climate change… Tick the box?

One in nine of us…

One in nine women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their life. It is the most common cancer in the UK, with nearly 46,000 cases every year.

That’s 125 people diagnosed every day. If this wasn’t shocking enough, the numbers continue to rise every year. But are governments in a state of denial about the environmental causes of this devastating disease?

Hratche Koundarjian, from Breast Cancer UK (BCUK), urges Green Party members to help in the fight against the causes of environmental cancer. Read more here.

Green Issues of the Week

Here’s some green issues I’ve come across this past week which I thought might be useful to pass on. Please add comments at the end if you’ve found the links of interest, I’d love to hear from you and see what you think.

1. New UK Offshore wind farm licences are announced – see BBC news article from 8th January 2010 here.

2. The UK suffered its coldest night of the winter so far with temperatures plummeting to -22.3C (-8.1F) in a village in Sutherland in the Highlands on Thursday 7th January 2010.

3. Britain’s widlife was in crisis this week according to a BBC article. Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director said “With the icy weather predicted to last at least another week, this winter could be the single greatest wildlife killer of the new millennium.”

Tumbling towards the Tipping Point?

According to National Statistics, almost 60% of households now own a tumble dryer. That means more than 14m households are using electricity to dry clothes, when they could save that energy by hanging them outside. This energy use is also contributing to climate change.

It turns out that the way we have been calculating the future impacts of climate change up to now has been missing a really important piece of the picture. It seems we are now dangerously close to the tipping point in the world’s climate system; this is the point of no return, after which truly catastrophic changes become inevitable.

The Energy Saving Trust says that across the UK, if everyone with a tumble drier dried outside instead of using their driers during the summer months, it would collectively save around £180million a year, and as much CO2 as would be saved by taking 240,000 cars off Britain’s roads.

Try drying your clothes outside during the summer months. You can save on average £15 a year on your electricity bill and 65kg of CO2 by drying clothes outside on a line instead of using the tumble dryer during the summer months.

The Guardian recommends drying your clothes indoors and outside. If you can’t dry clothes outside, invest in an airer to use inside your house. Ceiling ones work best because warm air rises. But if you don’t have a suitable lofty location, try a floor-standing or wall-mounted one. Most home heating systems run on gas, so it is still better to dry your clothes inside the house in winter than to dry them by machine. You’ll not only save energy and money by ditching the dryer but your clothes will last longer too.

Consumer Issues website Which also advises to Minimise use of your tumble dryer. Make the most of good weather by drying your clothes outside, and leaving the tumble dryer switched off. If you can’t live without your tumble dryer – click here to see which one Which advises but watch this short film first –