Odd thoughts after a long day.

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So, I have spent the day trundling (well, moving fairly rapidly) up and, well, down the UK. Rebecca, as you might recall was sporting a faulty heated rear window (it looked like this when it was on); so today I ran (well, drove) up to JLH to get it changed for a new one.

This was accomplished, as was throwing more sealant around the front window which is just refusing to seal. It made it through the hose-pipe-test today, so hopefully it’s now sealed. The first seal that went in was too small, apparently this one might be a bit large* :-(

Anyhow, enough of that.

I’ve had faint urges to write a post that isn’t just an update on the house, although there’s plenty to talk about on that front too. One of those things that has been rattling about in my brain is the question of how I ended up stood in a grocer’s trying to work out what food was the least harmful to the environment and cursing the fact I’d read this, which is for, for the most part a post about the evils of peat. Now, this, for me, is preaching to the choir. I’ve been vaguely avoiding peat for years. I just need to get my mother off the stuff, really, but apart from occasional accidental peat purchases, or the odd lapse of judgement to keep the peace when my mum’s helping us, peat isn’t something that crosses our threshold. Or our garden’s threshold. Anyhow, you get the idea.

But I was reading it because I was considering ‘retweeting’ a tweet (specifically :@jamieoliver Yr one of the good guys, so any chance you’ll drop using peat in your products? http://bit.ly/hRAPnQ #nomorepeat) and wanted to check it was sane before I retweeted it. So here I am in my coir created heaven reading about peat when I read something about UK grown tomatoes and their carbon footprint.

How I ended up caring so much about the planet, I’m unclear on. I think it’s mostly that I care about the planet more than I care about humans. Which is odd, really, given that I’m a nurse. The thing is, I actually care about individual humans. I like humans on an individual scale, but as a species? Boy do we suck. I’m not terribly convinced about the right of humans to survive as a species, on this planet, because we’ve royally screwed it up. And keep doing so. And despite notionally having the intelligence to work out that dumping tons of toxic waste in the sea, using non-renewable, non-biodegradable stuff and dumping that and pouring nasty gasseous waste into the air is all a bundle of a bad ideas, we keep doing it. We seem to be trying to make the planet as uninhabitable as possible.

And so I think I’ll try and do my little bit to make it less crapity. And it started with energy saving lightbulbs (my dad did that, back when they were 16 quid each – and that was discounted – he still replaced all the lights in the house with energy savers). And I suppose from an early age I was taught to recycle and compost. Not in a greener-than-green-holier-than-thou way. It’s just that’s what we did. Glass was separated, paper stacked neatly and taken to the recycling bin at the tip, and other waste squashed down to take the least space possible. We made-do-and-mended an awful lot. Very little would get replaced until it was utterly unfixable. My mum always cooked from fresh food, or at least mostly; and I always drank juice rather than lots of sodas, so I guess that’s why I find the quantity of plastic around now quite freaky.

Anyhow, so it crept and crept, and for ethical and health reasons I cut down on meat too, and now Kathryn and I eat very little meat, some fish, and locally grown produce. Only it’s not that simple.

Because locally grown, out of season produce may consume more CO2 than getting it from somewhere else. At least, possibly. It’s one of these irritatingly unknowables. Because companies that suck that nasty oily gunk out of the ground, they don’t like to say how much energy it takes to produce fuel from it, because, well, it’s about as green as tipping creosote over a duckling in a river. No matter how much green you put in your logo, and how much you advertise that it’s low sulphur or produces less particulates; it’s hideous for the environment.

It takes great swathes of energy (in this country from burning coal and gas….) to make petrol and diesel and avgas. I have no idea if the sums about Carbon Footprints of Tomatoes grown locally vs grown abroad and air-freight’d here include the CO2 produced to make the fuel to get the plane in the air. Or not. And where do you draw your arbritrary line?

You can put your arbritrary line anywhere and make either side cleaner, I’m sure.

None of which helps me… So I stand there with my wife and we debate, we try and go for stuff that’s notionally both locally grown and in season (thus, hopefully, not grown in some hot-house heated with unclean electricity**)

But I don’t really want to just eat locally grown, in season food. I don’t mind mostly doing so, because really, there’s plenty of choices. But I admit it, I’m weak. I like my variety and I like going ‘hrm, tomatoes’ to have tomato sauce in the middle of winter. I know it’s wrong, and bad, and I am just not a good enough person.

I’m assuming, however, that by markedly reducing the amount of out-of-season stuff, and getting stuff that’s in-season in the country where it’s grown, so long as it’s not too far away, we’re doing some kind of precarious balancing act that, when combined with the EV (when we get it going) and the home-grown-foods, and the ‘green’ electricity means that we’re doing better’n some (albeit not as well as others) at cutting our carbon footprint. And perhaps that’ll be enough to quiet the voice in the back of my head which tells me that we’re f*cking up the planet…

* I realise that given what this post is about that traveling a vast distance to get a window changed on a petrol-driven car is, well, ridiculous. But I never claimed to be perfect….well, okay, I only claim it infrequently.
** And now I’m stuck with an image involving ringing a bell and wandering around saying ‘Unclean, Unclean’ about veg. Meh.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at pyoor.org...