Wednesday, March 28

My measuring jug spontaneously exploded!

I was peacefully getting my dinner ready today and used my trusty old toughened glass measuring jug to make some stock.

I had just put the caserole dish into the oven and started clearing up the work area. Picking up some knives that needed washing, I placed them in the measuring jug to reduce the space they were taking up.

As soon as the knives touched the bottom of the jug, it exploded into tiny pieces!
No force was used, in fact seconds/minutes earlier I was stirring the stock with a stainless steel spoon with similar force.

No joke, some four letter words were uttered and various other gasps of amazement. It was like some weird phenomena you hear about on some dodgy web site about ghosts or UFOs. The photo shows the end result but is only a small area.

Actually after the shock and awe, I realised it was going to be a pain in the butt to clean up, because there were hundreds of tiny slithers (really tiny, some are to small to be picked up by the camera) of glass all over the work surface that I use to prepare food as well as the sink area where clean plates etc. were drying.

Jokingly it reminded me of the chocolate cream egg adverts where they are animated exploding (why is that amusing?!).

I have heard of this happening before (I think). The tension in the old toughened glass couldn't take a small knock and the whole thing disintegrated. It's interesting that a small knock at probably a single point caused a catastrophic destruction of the complete object. Makes you want to know just what happened at the molecular level and how that rippled through the object.

I guess it could have done the same whilst I was making the stock, not sure if that would have been better, at least it would have ended up on the floor instead of over the work surface.

Update: I have noticed that fine glass dust is around the area, so the whole cleaning process is like some sort of decontamination scene. I think the work surface is clear, so can return carefully checked items at one end of the work surface. The sink area is a nightmare, will have to carefully examine each plate, fork etc for signs of glass. I'm going to be double checking every item for weeks now!

Tuesday, March 27

Queen Alexander Hospital Sustainability Day

Quick heads up on an event taking place tomorrow (28 Mar 2012) at QA Hospital. I spotted an article in The News but there is more info at the QA web site.

The QA is participating in the NHS Sustainability Day and the event starts at 9am, finishing at 5pm. It isn't clear exactly where, but I assume it will be around the main entrance (although I don't even know where that is, what with all the changes in the last few years!).

They say they will be explaining how they are cutting carbon emissions and there will be a display of electric vehicles and bikes.

Monday, March 19

Plastic bags again

Plastic bags are a long running theme of this blog, in fact it was a key reason for starting it in 2007 and unfortunately little has improved since then.

In 2008 I took some photos of plastic bags around Waterlooville and the Asda bag hanging from a tree near the underpass attracted some visits. Now that tree has been felled so that a ramp can be installed as an alternative route into Waterlooville.

Today the BBC has published an article about the plastic bag problem which has an interesting but misleading slide show that allegedly shows the merit of disposable plastic bags. It claims that if you use one of these bags as a bin liner 3 or 4 times, then you would need to use the sturdier plastic bags for life up to 12 times.

Well for a start, I have 3 bags for life that are between 3 and 6 years old, so it seems a bit ridiculous trying to defend the thinner disposable plastic bags because they can be used as bin liners. But even worse is the fact that I suspect the average family would require about 4 disposable bags per week to carry the weekly shopping, all of which would need to be used as a bin liner 3 or 4 times (N number of weeks). Which means that while those are used as bin liners, 4 x N disposable plastic bags would have been accumulated doing the shopping.

I think any sensible person can see where this is going. Ultimately the number of disposable bags is going to accumulate, waiting to become bin liners whilst the first set is being reused. The only option would be to start throwing away the growing pile of disposable plastic bags into one of the bins that is lined by a disposable plastic bag!

The fact is that disposable plastic bags can not be excused when even a plastic 'bag for life' can last for years. Find an alternative for bin liners, or at least radically reduce the number you use.

Saturday, March 10

More plumbing!

The cold water kitchen tap finally decided to stop working yesterday. The plastic knob on the top no longer turned the tap on and off due to wear and tear.
Luckily about two or three years ago, my brother was replacing his kitchen sink and taps and was about to throw out the lot. I stepped in and retrieved the two taps and kept them, thinking that I would replace mine with them (my two were already a cause for concern back then).
So I turned the water off and decided to see if the valve assembly from my brothers taps would fit in on my faulty tap.

Luckily it did and as a result, I didn't even have to get under the sink to remove the old tap. I now have a fixed tap that cost nothing to repair and I have a spare valve assembly on the second tap I got off my brother which can be used in future for another free repair.

Michael Mann fights back

Interview with Michael Mann:

Thursday, March 8

Climate Change Lecture

Dr Colin Summerhayes is presenting a free lecture at Portsmouth University on Weds 14 March at 6pm about climate change. His main area of expertise is the Antarctic, so the it should be interesting. For more information take a look at the The News article.

Is wind energy subsidised?

If you are thinking that government is directly funding wind turbines with tax payers money, then the answer is a big NO!

If you mean that there are incentives to cut carbon emissions then the answer is YES.


The primary mechanism to help cut carbon emissions in the electricity generation industry is called the Renewables Obligations system and Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). This system works to shift money from companies that produce high carbon energy to those that produce low carbon energy. The government purely sets obligations levels each year for renewable energy and companies get Renewable Obligation Certificates for each 1MWh of electricity produced from renewables. Every company must produce a certain percentage of renewable energy each year (the obligation) and that amount is increased from year to year, so that the pressure is on to reduce emissions. Companies that produce more than what their obligation requires, can sell excess ROCs that they are allocated to energy companies that haven't done enough. If an energy company has not met it's obligation and can also not buy enough ROCs, then it has to pay some money into a fund. This money is then redistributed to companies that were successful in meeting their obligations.

So the basic outcome of this scheme is that 'greener' energy companies get paid money by the 'browner' energy companies and the admin costs to run the scheme come out of the fund described previously. The net result is that the government only set targets and do not subsidise the system.

If you analyse the RO system, you would realise that there is only money in the system if companies fail to meet their obligation. If they all installed enough capacity each year, the market for selling ROCs would fall.

Of course it may mean higher energy costs in order to produce lower carbon energy. But then economies of scale are reducing costs and for many years high carbon energy has been subsidising our lives.

OFGEM info about Renewable Obligation Certificates


The second mechanism is the Climate Change Levy.
This is a 'carbon' tax aimed at businesses and large organisations, it doesn't apply to domestic energy users or charities. The tax applies to the use of high carbon energy and companies/organisations can apply for reductions in  the tax if they use electricity generated from a low carbon energy source, or they install measures that reduce their carbon footprint.
The tax is collected and becomes a part of the total UK government tax income, it isn't spent on wind turbines although the government could use it to help a company develop a new wind turbine in the same way as it could be used to help Nissan develop a new car!
One could only imagine it as being a subsidy if you didn't think CO2 emissions needed to be reduced and the bulk of todays climate changes wasn't caused by them. Many companies actually prefer reducing their Climate Change Levy burden by introducing energy saving measures rather than signing up for a green energy tariff, so it is difficult to see how the greener energy companies would benefit.

Climate Change Levy (DECC)

All in all, there are a tremendous number of lies told about wind energy in order to discredit it. Hardly surprising given the vested interests in the older and established energy technologies.

Wednesday, March 7

Sainburys in action?

I think this is the start of the Sainsburys development in Waterlooville. First thing they do is chop some trees down next to the old Sprint Print building. I assume it is to improve access and the roundabout area. This section was actually the original field boundary between a farm and Hambledon road, when the dual carriage way was built, more trees were added to the existing hedgerow.

Another chunk of trees removed. This time for a disability ramp sweetner that Sainsburys chucked in to oil the wheels of planning approval. The ramp will make it easier for electric disability buggies and wheel chairs to access Waterlooville and I guess Sainsburys. Yes it is needed, but maybe if the HBC/HCC planners thought about people instead of just cars, we wouldn't be in this situation today.

Tree carnage. The price we pay for bad planning in the past (disabled access is not possible via the underpass, or rather legislation means that a ramp at the underpass would be to steep for wheelchair users) and the climate changing love of cars that enables Sainsburys to exist.