Friday, August 31

Waterlooville eyesore, to be replaced with another

The News reports that the Curzon Rooms building might be pulled down and replaced with another eyesore!
Yep, another car park no less. How imaginative.

Tuesday, August 28

We don't live on concrete alone

The title is based on a quote from the Bible. The point Jesus was making was that people need spiritual fulfilment as well as worldly goods. I guess a modern interpretation is that people need to balance various aspects of their lives. The reason I used the title is that it reflects the neglect current political ideology has for environmental issues and the spiralling decay that neglect is causing.

An alternative was 'It's the Environment Stupid' which is based on a quote by President Clinton - 'It's the Economy Stupid'.

So what's the problem?
Actually the question should be - Where do I start?.

I guess the first place to start is food. Unfortunately we can't live without it and the point I was making in the title is that we can't live by continually building our way out of recessions or in this case a 'depression'.

You have to ask yourself:
What would you rather have, a nice house built on some new estate on green fields, or would you rather have some food?
The ultimate choice would then either be to live in the nice house for a couple of weeks before you die or have food and live to a ripe old age. A balance needs to be drawn, but based on events of 2012 we certainly do not have the balance right and local politicians propose further folly with their building plans.

The last 20+ years of economic growth and carbon emissions have resulted in a year of crop failures, caused by massive world wide changes in climate effecting the weather. Next year might not be so bad, but the trend is well known and more severe weather is to come in future years.

This year severe drought in the USA has resulted in massive reductions in wheat, soya and corn production. Here in the UK we have seen the opposite, although the start of the year looked like it would follow the same US pattern. We started with a very serious looking drought with hardly any rain in spring and winter, followed by near continous rain throughout the summer, with June breaking all records, not just in this borough but right across the nation.
The result in the UK is that wheat, apple, potatoe and many other crops are all significantly down in quantity and/or quality this year. Food prices will most likely go up as the agriculture crisis hits harder in the coming months.

Building our way out of a problem (which is the only policy Havant Borough Council appear to have) increases the damage to the environment that provides us with food. Instead of continuing with this neglectful blindness, we have to start acting on the reality of our long term situation.

The drastic change in weather patterns have always been predicted by the scientists studying climate and global warming. Warming = energy = movements of air, water etc. = droughts, flooding etc.
We know that our activities cause these problems, there are far to many lines of evidence that show we are responsible and that we need to take action.

The other biggest indicator this year appears to be the Arctic sea ice extent which - as I write this - is heading for an all time record summer low. NSIDC are stating the record has already been reached.
This should be shocking news to anyone, because it is well known that where the Arctic leads, the rest of the world will follow. Indeed without drastic action now, emissions we create today will push temperatures up by a couple of degrees, and more heat = greater extremes in weather + sea level rise and other issues.

So where am I going with this??

The environment must be prominent in policy and integral to all decision making. No environment = no economy.
At a national level any thought about building on green belt or green field land or the third runway at Heathrow should be at the bottom of a very long list of policy choices. At a local level we need some major changes in local councils. Changes that don't pander to the short term problems that are vote winners, but instead take into account the long term needs of the community.

We can't live by only building homes and factories, we need food and water as well.

Wednesday, August 22

Michael Fish promotes Rapanui

TV weatherman Michael Fish has produced a video to highlight the issues of climate change and promote Rapanui clothing, an Isle of Wight eco clothing business:

I think the video is probably 'fake'. But good stuff none the less.

Monday, August 20

Record low sea ice in the Arctic

This year is heading for a record low Summer sea ice extent in the Arctic. The red line shows the direction the ice is heading. Another graph is colour coded to show the general downward trend throughout each year:
The continued melting of sea ice changes the albedo of the Arctic, introducing more warming and creating a positive feedback, accelerating warming, so as time goes by the melting increases at a faster rate.

Tuesday, August 7

Landing on Mars

A bit off topic but interesting none the less. Nasa has released a short video recorded by the Curiosity Rover as it landed on Mars:

The shot intially shows the heat shield dropping away, then the camera shows the descent and eventually dust blown about as Curiosity is dropped to the ground. The 'ring' that suddenly appears near the end of the video is the point when the cranes rockets fire and after that Curiosity is rapidly lowered to the surface on cables.
It's amazing that all the technology worked (so far) on such a massively complicated system. Pity they didn't have a camera pointing up showing the rocket/crane dropping the rover! Or maybe they have but haven't released the video yet.

Here is the updated higher resolution and longer version released later:

Wednesday, August 1

Eclipse bus ride to Hovercraft Museum at Lee On Solent

Had a bit of a day out to visit Lee On Solent and the Hovercraft Museum. The museum isn't normally open so just walked along Marine Parade to take photos of the hovercraft from the road. Also used the Fareham to Gosport Eclipse bus service as a part of the trip and that was interesting to.

First of all I took the bus from Waterlooville to Cosham, then took another bus from Cosham to Fareham. At Fareham had some lunch in the Whistler fish and chip shop/restaurant. Then walked to the bus station to get the Eclipse bus to Gosport.

E1 Eclipse bus
The Eclipse buses are pretty cool inside, they have leather passenger seats and the buses know where they are on the route, so can display electonic info about the next bus stop. A display at the front of the bus shows the stops coming up and where the bus is on the route. At the bottom of the display is a little news 'ticker' that displays the latest news (I think it is BBC news).
As well as the display, a programmed voice says what the name of the next bus stop is. A few metres from the bus stop the voice says 'arriving at' followed by the bus stop name.

The great thing is that this technology actually works and the voice guidance means you don't have to ask the bus driver or passengers where to get off if you are unfamiliar with the route.

The other cool thing about the bus service is the bus and cycle only road that it travels along for part of the route. The road was built on an old rail track, so it is long and straight. In fact this stretch has a speed limit of 40 miles an hour with no other traffic other than some cyclists. Actually that is the other great thing about the road, it's perfect for cyclists. See the video I took (note the video was taken on the return journey):

You'll notice the automated bus stop announcements in the video and also it's just like travelling on a train or tram! Even the bus stops look like train stations. Other parts of the route are normal and I would say the E2 service is quicker than the E1 service for getting between Fareham centre and Gosport centre.
Another cool thing I haven't shown are the special maps at each stop that have a circle on them indicating the 15 minute walking radius from the bus stop to show what is within range of the stop. The same idea I had here with my google map and 1 mile walking circle.

At Gosport I had to change buses again and took a 34 to Lee On Solent.

Below is a photo of one of the huge SRN4 hovercraft at the museum, in this case The Princess Margret which I think was 'stretched' later in its life. A relative of mine worked for BHC at Cowes in the late 1960s and I had the privilege as a child to go up into the cockpit of one of these when it was being repaired at the Cowes factory. These beasts are the biggest hovercraft ever built and carried cars and passengers across the channel to France before the channel tunnel was built.


There are two smaller hovercraft parked in front of the SRN4, but I don't know what they are, I think one is a military vehicle. 

Below is a close up of the vehicle entrance of the SRN4. Not sure what the two window cabin inside the vehicle deck is for. I think its either for cabin crew/staff access to the passenger deck via the vehicle deck, or maybe contains control panels, or is for access to the engines??

SRN4 main door to vehicle deck

Talking of military hovercraft there was a military looking vehicle parked at the front of the musuem, painted navy grey. I don't have a clue what that cylindrical tower is for (see photo below). A look out post?? On the opposite side is a crane, so I assume it is some sort of amphibious recovery vehicle.

In the to the rear you can see the 2nd SRN4 at the museum, minus the propellors and a Hoverspeed logo on one of the tail fins.

Military vehicle with 'tower'

Whilst I was there a young lad was testing out a small hovercraft, unfortunately I didn't get any video, just a photo:

Operational small hovercraft

Haven't been to Lee On Solent shopping centre before, but was quite impressed with it's two butchers, a grocers and a fish monger!It was just like an old shopping centre and seemed quite busy.

Part of Lee On Solent shopping centre

Overall seems like a pleasant place. I think if I were to do the journey again, I would take the bus down to Gosport Ferry, take the ferry across and then the number 34 or 4 to Lee On Solent. Might be a bit more expensive, but fewer bus changes.