*insert fart joke here*

So. Offsetting your carbon emissions. That’s a good thing, right? I mean, it’s best that you have as little a carbon footprint as possible, obviously, but there are times when a large amount of carbon has to be produced, for example, oh, I dunno, a month’s trip to Australia maybe. And it’s with this trip I thought I’d do a bit of good and pay back my massive footprint (I’m actually a size six. Boom! Boom!) because, you know, staying nearer to home and walking round these fair isles as an alternative and greener break is completely out of the question. I didn’t get two weeks unpaid leave for nothing you know (although, thinking about it, it’s not a bad idea for a break at all…)

I thought that offsetting your carbon emissions would be a simple job. Go to a website, input in where you’re going and it’ll tell you how much carbon you’re using and then charge you a suitable amount of money to go and plant some trees. Easy.

But it isn’t. First of all is this report from the Sunday Timeslast March. It says that trees will take up to 100 years for your carbon emission to be taken back. Not to mention that some of these planting are used for timber and it’s not known what habitats* are being used for this planting. Secondly, it’s interesting to note that in my literally minutes of research, each different company I looked at seemed to have a slightly different idea on how much carbon I was using. All were given the details of a return flight from Heathrow to Perth. Climatecare.org told me that I’ll be travelling 18011 miles with an emission of 4.59 tonnes (cost £34.40), the Carbon Neutral company say I’m travelling 18027 miles, but I’ll only be emitting 3.2 tonnes (£24.00). CO2balance.com says 6.8 tonnes at a cost of £61 (!) and for Cleanerclimate.com say 5.44 tonnes for £44.07.

These companies are clearly here to make a profit, they’re companies not charities after all, and it’s a big problem for me. How much of my money would actually be used to offset my emissions? There are other projects other than planting trees, like constructing wind turbines in India, or installing energy efficient lightbulbs in the Marshall Islands, but even these projects are dogged with stories of human rights abuses.

So what do I do? I think I may just leave it. My little skeptics bell is ringing too loudly in my head. If the calculations in the various websites for my journey are inconsistent, how am I to know how much carbon I’ve used? It’s all well and good trying to clear a conscience, but I can’t help thinking that my money would be better spent with some charities such as this. Or this. 

*it’s important to remember in these projects that other habitats like marshlands are just as important for wildlife and the environment as forests. No, they don’t hold as much carbon as trees, but caring for the environment also means looking after the local biodiversity, not just the green house effect, something I fear gets a little forgotten along the way sometimes. 

Advertisements

Clothes

I’ve just been shopping in the brand new Primark in Oxford St. It’s wonderful! You have to get there first thing in the morning though otherwise it gets jam packed. I bought a couple of skirts of which style wise I’ve been looking for for ages. One was ten pounds and the other three. Three quid for a skirt! It’s a bargain no doubt, but I can’t help wondering who made it. I’m guessing someone in poor working conditions receiving next to nothing in wages using fabric that’s been grown with the help of lots of pesticides. I also can’t help thinking that for the majority of high street stores that this situation is the same. So where could I go for conscience free clothes? Well there are a number of websites out there. Adili being one. The clothes are lovely and I wouldn’t say no to wearing any of it, but £54 for a plain white tunic? You’ve got to be joking. I realise that there’s no way these clothes could be as cheap as Topshop but I’m on a crappy wage and there’s no way I could ever buy one item of clothing for that amount of money. I could get a skirt, shorts and a shirt for that in H&M! So is there such a thing as a fair trade shop that won’t cost the earth (arf arf)? Until I start earning a decent wage I’m afraid that I’ll still be wandering around the aisles of New Look. (although it has to be said both New Look and Topshop do a line in organic t-shirts so there is a little bit of progress).

Oh, Johnny. :(

One of the nice things about where I work is that I’m just a short hop, skip and a jump through St James’ Park to the Royal Society. What’s nice about this is that once in a while they hold public lectures on various aspects of science. A couple of months ago I watched a talk on the Universe’s dark matter (which, if it taught me anything, is that cosmology is very, very hard indeed.) So imagine my joy when I discovered that legend Johnny Ball was booked to do a talk. He was exactly as you would expect a talk from him to be. Full of enthusiasm, prop use, singing and dancing. It was brilliant. For the first 50 minutes. Then it all went a little wrong. He sang a whole song in the style of George Formby about the carbon cycle and then very suddenly stopped and ranted for ten minutes over how Climate Change isn’t happening and how we should stop guilt tripping our children into making them switch off their light when they leave a room. He also didn’t seem to understand the whole things about fossil fuels, in that in burning them, we’re unbalancing the carbon cycle and that one day we shall run out of them.

What was especially sad is that during the whole course of the lecture, it was about how asking questions is so important and to keep investigating, yet he finished it with saying that we shouldn’t be giving money to these people, or the “greens” as he kept calling then (as if scientists wern’t environmental)  as they’re just wasting time trying to blame it on carbon.  He’d clearly made his mind up on the issue, without that much to back it up. 

It was a sad day indeed. What worries me is that there’s a very good chance he’s teaching these uneducated views to children. If ou want to see this for yourself you should be able to through the RS’s video library. It’s not up there yet, but it should be.

And if you want to see what the Royal Society’s view on climate change is than click here. It’s well worth reading.

It’s not easy trying to do a write up of a seminar when you suddenly have lots and lots of work to do and then you don’t have a computer for the weekend. Or, seeing Dick Strawbridge. Or, Fun With Dick. (if that last bit won’t get my stats up, I don’t know what will)

It's a strange feeling sitting in a seat in a committiee room usually occupied by MPs. Fifty or so people came to see Mr Strawbridge talk about his life and his programme It's Not Easy Being Green, which was quite a bad turn out considering about 100 people were emailed a reminder that morning. I'm guessing some people had work to do, what ever that is.

Strawbridge is a likeable man, warm and engaging and exactly the same as he is on TV. He has a rather nice rambling manner which is very plesant to listen to but rather irritating if you want some detailed facts because as soon as he gets into something in detail, he moves onto something completly different.

He started talking about how he met Brigit, then talked about his children (Charlotte is a lot moodier than she appears), showed us a fairy Brigit made at the Big Green Gathering near Glastonbury and wizzed onto composting toilets. Here, Dick went into too much information (seriously, I don't want to hear about bowel movements), but I do love the idea of one. They have two tanks, one fills up for a year, while the other one breaks down the previous months poo with added worms and sawdust. They don't use that compost for food, just fruit trees and the like. The best thing about it is that it's outside with a view of the countryside. How awesome is that? It reminds me of my favourite loo at Glastonbury festival, it's one that has a drop-hole at the bottom, it's not got a roof but it's amongst trees along the railway line and manages to be very quiet, and when there's a light drizzle, it's rather refreshing. And it doesn't smell that bad either.

Bio desiel was touched upon and a jolly good product called Soapods was shown to us. These are nuts found in India and Nepal and you use them to wash your clothes. They're cheaper and nicer to the enviroment than normal washing powders and sound rather genius.

Strawbridge is not a gardening man. Which is a shame because I would have liked a lot more on the subject. But never mind. He showed us a trowel that's used on his garden that's made from copper. It's supposed to keep the slugs away, but at £50 I think it's cheaper to lay out beer traps.

Dick was about to mention allotments, but then he got distracted by his own thoughts. 

There was one message running through the whole talk. Reduce, reuse and recycle. And buy organic stuff as it's nicer. He's a nice chap is Dick and his talking style is more suited to down the pub where you can really pick his brains rather than a slighty dull committee room in Portcullis House. I'm still going to be slighty snotty about his programme, but that's only because I'm really, really jealous.

I tried to take a picture of him, but as you know, my phone's rubbish and camera's arn't really allowed in the rooms either. It's gurrilla photography!

strawbridge circled.