Archive for the ‘wind turbines’ Category

Transition Free Press

December 2, 2013
Transition Free Press - Winter 2013

Transition Free Press – Winter 2013

Who other than a madman would launch a new newspaper?

Who in not only today’s economic climate but in the climate for newsprint, when newspapers are losing money, would launch a new newspaper?

Local and national newspapers are losing money.

A downward spiral, less news, less frequent, less reason to buy, shrinking income, fewer resources for news gathering and quality journalism.

It is into this climate Transition Free Press has been launched. A real newspaper, real newsprint, not a digital newspaper, like the recently launched Guardian Australia.

Transition Free Press was launched this year as an experiment, a toe in the water, a pilot of four quarterly issues.

Transition Free Press has proved to at least be sustainable. Whether it will continue into 2014 will depend upon securing funding.

I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn in Farnham, one of their fifty plus distribution hubs.

Why print and distribute a newspaper, with all the risks involved? Why not be like the Huffington Post or Guardian Australia, on-line only?

A newspaper is shareable, and yes, on-line is shareable too. Indeed, I would go further, when you find something interesting on-line, be it Transition Free Press, this article, music, then please share, tweet, re-tweet, recommend.

Transition Free Press is quarterly, it is not transient like a daily newspaper, it contains useful information, thus more likely to be valued, kept for future reference.

So what is in it?

Articles on self-sufficiency, local communities, alternative energy, local economies, carbon reduction, protest, local currencies, sustainability, art, music.

The very first issue, what could be called a pilot for the pilot, came out last year to test the feasibility.

I have read Transition Free Press whilst in The Barn, and have been suitably impressed. At the weekend I found the latest edition, hot off the press.

The front page of the current winter 2013 edition, out now, has a front page lead story on protest. Taking the lead from comments on not voting and the need for revolution from Russell Brand, communities are taking the lead.

Activists staged a mass work out at COP19 Climate Talks in Poland last month. The talks had been hijacked by Big Coal, Big Oil, and other big carbon emitters and polluters. The point the activists made with an impromptu press conference outside the talks, was that we can no longer trust politicians, if we want change, we have to take action ourselves.

That is what Transition Heathrow did, they squatted derelict nursery gardens and brought them back into productive use, ran workshops. Even the local police reported they had a positive impact on the local community, with reductions in low level crime.

With the collapse of the Co-op Bank, and the unfolding scandal, whereto ethical banking, and was it so ethical at the Co-op Bank?

Payday loan sharks, are not only screwing those they have got their teeth into, they are draining money out of our poorest communities, communities that should be plugging the leaks and recycling money within the local economy.

An evaluation inspired by the Reconomy Project of the potential to ‘relocalise’ Lambeth’s economy … switching just 10% of the borough’s supermarket food spend to local retailers would release £37 million (and “money spent in independent local businesses can create 2-4 more times as much real value as money spent in chains”), and retrofitting housing stock with solid wall insulation could payback in 15 years and generate £100 million of local employment.

And yet, we see the opposite. The Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, has been practising ethnic cleansing of local businesses in Farnborough and Aldershot. Squandering £1 million on repaving Queensmead will not attract people to Farnborough, any more than wasting £15,000 on a free wifi scam, a scam that will collect personal data, in order that locals can be bombarded with spam e-mail and spam sms text messages. Neither will demolishing the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The local economy will only benefit, when there are local shops and businesses to spend money in, local shops and businesses which then recycle money within the local economy.

The ConDem government, under pressure from the Big Six energy suppliers, are poised to axe or reduce the green and social levies on the Big Six, to reduce their commitment on green measures such as house insulation. Even if these levies were halved, at only 10% of the average bill, it would only see a reduction of 5%. On the other hand, if only 10% was knocked off the 90% of the bill the Big Six are responsible for, this would lead to a 9% cut in bills. The poor will save money if they use less fuel, they will use less fuel, we will all use less fuel, if our homes are better insulated. If we use less carbon-based fuel, we emit less greenhouse gases.

Money paid to the Big Six on fuel bills, is money drained straight out of the local economy. If we insulate, not only do we cut our fuel bills, reduce our greenhouse emission, that is money that is retained within the local economy, money, which if spent with local businesses, is money recycled within the local economy.

Transition Free Press is produced by a not-for-profit collective and supported, although not financed by, the Transition Network. You can help back the paper by signing up for an annual subscription, minimum £15 per year, though you can pay more if you wish.

You can also help, not only by buying a copy from a distribution hub, but chatting to your local indie coffee bar and similar local businesses, and suggesting they too become a distribution hub. It helps them, as they can bulk buy at a discount,and it helps them by bringing people into their coffee bar.

In a coffee bar, having a copy to read, or a pile on display helps. That is how I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn.

If there is not a distribution hub near you, you can find Transition Free Press on-line.

An edited version of a longer article published on Medium.

Earthship 101

January 1, 2011

Earthship n. 1. passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials 2. thermal mass construction for temperature stabilization. 3. renewable energy & integrated water systems make the Earthship an off-grid home with little to no utility bills.

Biotecture n. 1. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability. 2. A combination of biology and architecture.

Tires are not toxic in an earthship. They are hazardous in a pile… Tires are filled with rammed earth, then plastered over. We have had numerous tests and been doing this for 40 years. Not ONE complaint, problem, rumor or ANYTHING in 40 years. David Wright does not know what he is talking about.

Also see

Soft Energy Paths

Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city

Natural Capitalism

Boys on the Balcony – Seize the Day

November 1, 2010

This brilliant song by Seize the Day is about the Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight who occupied their wind turbine factory last year to try and prevent its closure.

Seize the Day performed Boys on the Balcony live at Zero Carbon by 2030.

Boys on the Balcony is on the album Standing Strong which was released to coincide with Zero Carbon by 2030.

Also see

With my Hammer – Seize the Day

Zero Carbon by 2030

October 31, 2010
Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron

Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron

I was on my way up to London on the train to Zero Carbon by 2030 and the news was coming in fast, Vodafone stores were dropping like flies. A good start to the day! [see Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores]

Zero Carbon by 2030 organised by Campaign against Climate Change was a look at how we get to an economy free of carbon by 2030. We have a window of opportunity of five, maybe ten years, before it will be too late. How do we get there?

I missed the introduction on the science, but as I am already very familiar with all the positive feedbacks I probable did not miss anything of importance.

I caught the tail end of Stephen Murphy from Zero Carbon Britain talking about how they intend to get there. From what I heard it sounded very fuzzy and not well thought through. All become veggies and yes we can still fly if we plant lots of crops for biofuels! [see Sustainable Energy]

Ben Brangwyn talked of Transitions Towns. He gave two examples from opposite ends of the spectrum, Totnes in Devon and Heathrow. How do we oppose a new supermarket? Talk to planners, take direct action or set up an alternative food network so people do not have to go to the supermarket? At Heathrow a derelict site had been brought back into food production and it had brought about community involvement. The police had seen a 50% reduction in crime rate. David ‘Big Society’ Cameron please note.

We will have to change to adapt to the future. If we start to change now, future shocks will have less impact, we will be more resilient.

I have mixed feelings re Transitions Towns. Nothing wrong per se, growing local food etc. is all a step in the right direction but does it give a warm cuddly feeling that we have done our bit? Ben Barngwyn admitted the jury was out on this. On the other hand if it makes people more political aware, empowers them, then yes, it is a good direction as nothing is going to happen without direct action, we can forget politicians and big business doing the right thing. [see Transition towns]

Vicki Hird from FoE talked of the need to restructure agriculture to be less energy intensive. She urged everyone to support the campaign Join the Moovement.

John Stewart from Airport Watch told us that even for cheap flights, it was the rich that were using the flights not the poor, it was not the myth that is often peddled that is is bringing aviation for all. The rich benefit but it is the poor that suffer, especially the poor in the Third World. We are suffering second-hand noise, second-hand pollution.

Aviation has to pay its way. It is not as easy though as John and others would have us believe to slap on taxes. It is international treaties that give aviation tax exemptions. We can though be creative. Air Passenger Duty is ill-conceived as the airlines simply pass it on to their passengers. It should be a tax per flight. The worst offenders pay the highest tax. This would be a combination of emissions, nuisance and loading factors. There is then an incentive to improve.

The most obscene offender by far is the business aviation at Farnborough Airport. Average of 2.5 passengers per plane. A Boeing Business Jet is a re-configured Boeing 737.

Deepak Rughani from Biofuelwatch was a breath of fresh air. He said there was too much focus on carbon and we were ignoring ecosystem destruction. That if we destroyed the Gaian control mechanisms it would make no difference were we to reduce carbon emissions, reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere as these targets have no meaning if our Gaian control mechanisms are destroyed.

Plantations have about 4% the carbon of pristine rain forests. Every time we destroy a living species, we destroy part of the complex web of life with unknown and often unknowable consequences.

Deepak Rughani attacked the presentation earlier suggesting we could reach Zero Carbon Britain by growing crops for aviation fuel! Sadly there are some folk living in cloud cuckoo land. But most of the NGOs are not listening.

There are plans to import wood chips as biofuels. This means forest destruction in Canada and the Third World. We also see human rights abuses associated with the production of biofuels.

Land should be used for Food not Fuel.

There is no such thing as sustainable palm oil production. The land could be used for growing crops or restored to forest.

For years I have been highlighting biofuels is bad. Biowaste yes, but not the growing of crops as fuels. It has to be seen as a sick joke when earlier in the week Rainforest Action Network were promoting sustainable palm oil plantations. But then RAN also supports the logging of primary forests.

Wood burning stoves, associated with traditional coppicing of ancient woodland improves the biodiversity of the woodland. Picking up dead wood from the woodland floor is destroying the lifeforms within the dead wood.

Bolivian Ambassador Maria de Souviron said the poor countries were not going to be bullied into an international agreement that left them worse off. Global temperature rises had to be limited to no more than one degree centigrade. In Bolivia there was a grass roots movement Mother Earth. The Cochabamba Declaration argues for a target of limiting temperature rise to no more than one degree centigrade and a maximum limit of 300 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere.

Speaking to Maria de Souviron afterwards I asked what brought an ambassador to such an event. She said she was only too happy to lend her support as climate change effected the poorest countries. Some countries would disappear or be devastated by rising sea levels. In Bolivia the glaciers would melt. In the winter they would have floods, in the summer drought.

A trade unionist gave the trade union viewpoint. We could create a million green jobs. But we should not as he asked, stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the picket line with Luddite Trade Unionists to protect jobs in dirty industries, but we will support the workers in the call for the creation of green jobs.

Andrew Simms from The New Economics Foundation spoke of the limits to growth. We live on a finite world with finite resources. We are citizens, not consumers. In one day he counted over 400 adverts calling for us to consume, but only three that asked for good behaviour from us as citizens. The news links High Street spending with the state of the economy. NEF has launched a programme The Great Transition.

Alexis Rowell from Camden CAN and 10 by 10 Campaigning forward told us of what is happening in Camden. Council vehicles powered by fuel from biowaste, education of Camden planning officials on what green means, buildings that recycle grey water, green roofs. In Wales there was initiatives with New Economics Foundation on the use of well-being indices. As a Libdem councillor he was very outspoken against the Libdems in the coalition government.

The one aspect of our energy use that was not discussed was embedded energy.

Caroline Lucas who had hoped to be there sent her apologies. She was attending a rally on cuts in Brighton.

John McDonnell was due to speak but sent a video message with his apologies.

In the evening we had entertainment. Poetry and music. Songs from Seize the Day. An amazing guy on guitar with another guy on violin. A lovely poem on the earth shedding tears (the words please).

There was a meet up in a pub the Cock Tavern in Kings Cross later but the map was illegible, many people had gone home.

I called it a day. I had a chat with Shannon, lead singer in Seize the Day, she signed a copy of Standing Strong, only released that day, mine was number five she told me. The first track, Boys on the Balcony, which Seize the Day performed live, is about the Vestas workers who last year occupied their wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight to try and prevent its closure.

Nearby in the back streets at the side of Euston Station are some very good Indian restaurants. I had a dosa, two glasses of water, then caught the overcrowded train home.

There is to be a big (or hoped to be big) march in December I would question the timing and the futility of such a march. Who is wanting to march on a cold December day? What is the purpose of marching on Parliament on a Saturday when no one is there? Lessons are not being learnt. Marches attract zero publicity and do not achieve anything. It is direct action that achieves change, that gets publicity.

The suffragettes learnt a hundred years ago that marches gets you nowhere. Change comes through direct action, through confronting those in power, by making the status quo costly.

Also see

Climate Rush ‘do a Banksy’ on HM Treasury

Yes Men hijack Chevron media campaign

Crude Awakening shut down Coryton Oil Refinery

Gaia’s prayer

Transitions towns

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

Funny Weather

Sustainable Energy — without the hot air

Soft Energy Paths

Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city

Natural Capitalism

Ribs the Trojan Pig makes a mess at Cairn Energy

August 24, 2010

Also see

Climate Camp vs RBS – We’ve arrived

Raising a Ruckus

A case for the Camp for Climate Action

Homage to Caledonia

Climate Camp vs RBS – We’ve arrived

August 21, 2010

Climate Camp is this year in Edinburgh during the Fringe targetting RBS, bailed out by the taxpayer and now funding tar sands expansion in Canada.

Climate Camp has set up camp right next to the Royal Bank of Scotland Global HQ!

No democratic advancement has ever been achieved without direct action. Those in power do not voluntarily give it up.

Further images have been posted by Amelia Gregory.

Last year Climate Camp occupied Blackheath Common in Greewich.

Also see

Blood Bank – RBS funding clmate chaos and ecocide

Climate Camp: Breaking the Bank

Climate Camp Scotland

High Pressure Front

Climate protest camp targets RBS headquarters

Protest at RBS group oil support

Activists set up Climate Camp at Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters

Climate protester breaches RBS Gogarburn security and glues herself to desk

Pakistani floods reportedly triggered by climate change

Greenwash spill at the BP-sponsored National Portrait cotland

Wind turbines on buildings

October 31, 2009
wind turbines on apartment

wind turbines on apartment

Over the last year I have watched apartment blocks being erected. Walking past a couple of days ago I noticed looking down at me like modern-day gargoyles a row of wind turbines. Cosmetic window dressing, an exercise in futility, as functional they are not.

The wind speed would be too low, the wind turbulence too high for any meaningful power generation. Were the wind speed to be of sufficient velocity, I doubt the building could handle the torque generated. Three of the wind turbines are in a row too close together, three are in a valley on the roof. The apartments immediately below the wind turbines are going to be disturbed by the noise, and possibly vibration, though if well balanced, vibration should be minimal.

What struck me as I have watched the apartments being built is that there is extensive south-facing roof areas, and yet no use has been made of this roof area for solar energy collection, either for water heating or electricity generation! The roof should have been covered with amorphous silicon roof tiles or slates, converting the entire south-facing roof areas into a solar-power generator, powering the apartments, with the surplus electricity fed into the grid.

Curious, I went back the next day to make inquiries and investigate further.

I spoke with the marketing suite, who directed me onto the site. I wandered around the site. From what observed and those I spoke to, the wind turbines are mere window dressing. There are higher blocks further into the site, but these were not used for the wind turbines. They are in their location because they are visible from the main road!

What I found was an opportunity lost. The site is on a gentle south-facing slope. Ideal for buildings to be passively heated, but no advantage taken of what the site offered. No use made of heat pumps, no solar arrays on the roofs or integral to the roofs. Two of the blocks are heated centrally, but not by a combined heat and power plant.

The wind turbines were shipped in from the States!

We learnt in the 1960s not to house social housing tenants in blocks. Those same mistakes are being repeated all over again. The developer has not been able to sell the apartments, 40% have been sold to a housing association, I was told these are inferior apartments, all housed in the same block. I hate to think what this little estate will be like in ten years time with bored kids and angry teenagers hanging around.

Access to the site was very dangerous. An accident waiting to happen. I was almost run down.

Much can be done with new buildings to make them energy efficient and net power generators, but it is not being done. This is due to lack of vision by architects and builders, but also to blame are local planning authorities whose level of competence goes little beyond the siting of a garden shed.

Local generation is important. A development of this scale should have had on site a local combined heat and power plant running off natural gas, feeding the apartments with hot water and electricity, any surplus electricity generated fed into the national grid. The ground floor apartments could have been fed by ground source heat pumps, the top apartments with roof-top solar collectors.

We need community-owned wind turbines, powering local communities, with the surplus fed into the national grid. It is a moot point whether or not this site could have had its own wind turbine, as it is on a slope running down into a dip, but they could have invested in a nearby community wind turbine.

No development should be permitted unless it is carbon neutral, furthermore, it should be a net generator of carbon-neutral electricity and low-grade heat.

Also see

Keith Parkins, Soft energy paths, heureka, May 2001
http://www.heureka.clara.net/gaia/energy.htm

Keith Parkins, Wind turbines on buildings, Indymedia UK, 31 October 2009
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/10/440949.html