The real beauty of renewable energy
It is axiomatic to say that developers exaggerate the benefits of their products. (‘Solar panel output only 10 per cent‘, South Wales Evening Post, 22 May 2015). ‘Twas ever thus.
Readers of my age will no doubt remember the promises made in the 1950s that nuclear power would provide us with electricity that was too cheap to meter. And let’s not get started on broadband speeds!
When the National Grid was first established in the 1930s, over 50% of the energy produced was wasted through inefficiencies. It has taken us 80 years to get to the current state where transmission losses are below 10%.
These days technology moves a lot faster, and we are seeing improvements in the efficiency of renewable energy systems almost daily.
But the real beauty of renewable energy is that we can all do it. We no longer need to rely on multi-national big business to provide our energy needs.
Even with the current state of the technology it is possible for individuals and community groups to get a net benefit from renewables.
And if we were to develop small scale renewables to the maximum extent, with solar panels on all our houses, schools, public buildings and businesses, that would be an awful lot of 10 percents; an awful lot of clean, safe energy generated; an awful lot of carbon footprints reduced; an awful lot of domestic energy bills cut.
As the Scots say, “Many a mickle maks a muckle” – a lot of little things add up to a big thing.
Politics is a dirty game
I find myself in a quandary over whether to vote tomorrow.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to something Russell Brand said (I think to Ed Milliband; quoted in last Sunday’s ‘Independent’):
“It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations.”
Of course he seems to have changed his mind in the last few days, and is now advising people to vote Labour unless they live in Scotland or Brighton Pavilion; but the argument remains compelling.
In the 30+ years since I began voting I’ve always voted Green when I could – when there was a Green candidate to vote for – with one exception.
About 10 years ago I found myself unable to support a local Green candidate due to my concerns about his personal veracity.
That individual subsequently withdrew from active involvement in Wales Green Party, but has recently re-emerged and taken up his erstwhile strategy of flinging mud around at anyone and everyone who disagrees with him or has a different viewpoint.
Yesterday I was given details of a recent facebook post in which this person attacked not only me but also a close friend who was until recently a very active member of Wales Green Party.
The attack is completely unfounded, cowardly and extremely distasteful, the more so as it comes from someone who purports to represent a party that claims to be different and above the dirty tactics of the other parties.
The fact that both my friend and I spent years working hard for the Green Party, campaigning, canvassing, funding our local parties (in my case from my own pocket) and standing in elections at all levels – much of the time with scant help from anyone beyond our local parties – obviously counts for nothing with this particular individual. It seems that, for him, commitment and hard work do not earn credit unless you’re working to his vision of the world.
This incident has further dented my already shaky faith in Wales Green Party, and led me to wonder if the Welsh Greens are anything other than just another political party.
My quandary now is can I vote for a party that gives voice and perhaps even credence to such an unpalatable individual?
When it comes to it I’ll probably do the right thing and vote Green, even though a good result for the local Green candidate will almost certainly be used as another stick to beat me with (because I was the previous candidate, and lost my deposit (which I remind you, came from my own pocket!)).
But my vote will be a tactical vote, rather than a vote for either the party or their candidate.
I’ll be voting for electoral reform, because only then will we be able to form governments that truly reflect the people of the UK and the way they vote.
If the smaller parties get more votes but no more seats in this election, it will add authority to arguments for electoral reform.
Politics is such a dirty game, but I live in hope that somebody will eventually stand by their stated principles and begin the long overdue job of cleaning it up!