Archive for November, 2006

Climate change – why bother …?

November 29, 2006

The EU set new limits for the second phase of its carbon trading scheme today. The allowances set are to an average of 7% below the figures proposed by member states – which is a welcome strengthening of the commitment to cut carbon emissions. James Cameron suggested that today’s decision could be “one the most important decisions about the planet’s future for years to come”.

But others have commented that the cuts as they stand, which only affect some of the heavy carbon producing industries in only some EU countries, will have little impact in the face of the steadily increasing global carbon emissions. And if the cuts are too severe then UK and other EU industries will suffer, become uncompetitive, and lose out to their global competitors who don’t have such strict environmental legislation. So why bother?

You have to recognise that this is a valid argument. But then why should we bother with anything if we have to take the lead and suffer for it in some small way? It would be perfectly reasonable to only make a move when you could enjoy an immediate benefit, or when all the pain has been borne by the others who did make the first move. But if everyone kept to this logic, what would we be without? And if we keep to it about climate change, we could well be without a reasonably habitable world before long. As a Christian I believe that God did ‘bother’ about us, and I’m so glad he did.

But enough pointing fingers at others. What about me? – and you! I also watched ‘Newsnight’ the other day, where a reported explained how he had ‘given up’ the family car for 6 months at his producer’s insistence. In these 6 months he discovered they didn’t actually need it except for a few weeks of family holidays each year. Although having no car caused some inconvenience, they generally didn’t miss it. Combining this with a commitment to only fly rarely, they reduced their family’s ‘carbon emissions’ by over 70% I think. And change for environmental good isn’t the only area where ‘why bother?’ comes in. What areas are there where I feel I can’t be bothered because, well what difference will my action make in the grand scheme of things? And it’s just too inconvenient. Will I bother …?


November 21, 2006

Autumn is my favourite season. There are a number of reasons for this, but a lot has to do with its beauty – I just love the colours of the falling leaves, and the clear blues skies with bright fresh days (when we get them). Here are some photos taken around college a few days ago, to illustrate just why I like it.

Horse Chestnut Tree

Our college has this beautiful big horse chestnut tree which looks magnificent any time of year – it’s even better in autumn as you can see

Fallen autumn leaves

One of my great childhood memories is of being asked to rake up the leaves that fell from our trees into the garden. I loved it then and still enjoy just walking through fallen leaves now.

Another childhood memory was of playing ‘conkers’ at school. I relived childhood last year and had several conker battles against fellow students. I’d forgotten how painful a game it can be! Is this a particularly British past-time? If you have experienced this game anywhere else then let me know. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then please say, and I can make it the subject of another blog. Some conker photos below …

Fallen Horse Chestnuts still in cases

Fallen conker on ground out of case

An ice viewing!?

November 9, 2006

I watched (most of) the new episode of BBC’s Planet Earth this week. It was about life at the poles and was stunning. One of the overriding images from the programme was of a group of Emperor penguins huddled together in a blistering Antarctic storm, literally standing and waiting through the months of winter until the sun came again bringing warmth and food. And of the cameraman trudging for 2 miles on his hands and knees, pulling his camera through the same freezing blizzard conditions – so that we could see these pictures.

I have always been fascinated by the images of these vast wildernesses of ice at North and South poles. I would love to see them in person, but this seems unlikely and I don’t think a thriving tourist industry would be that good for either region. But it reminds me that there is still tremendous beauty in the bleakest of places. I can’t begin to imagine what the cold is like, as the onset of autumn is now sending us scurrying to our heated indoors in the UK. But I’m glad it’s there.

Another of my favourite sights is that of a bonfire (or any other ‘real’ fire). I could spend hours watching the flames – perhaps this is because I previously spent a PhD investigating combustion, but whatever the reason burning flames provide an equally beautiful but dangerous and inhospitable ‘environment’.

Although I’m in many ways a typical practical male, who tends to stick to just to the functional and bypass the aesthetic, these images do remind me that sometimes the less practical things in life can also be the most beautiful, and the world would be a poorer place without them.

Almost there …

November 7, 2006

Frustration seems to have been one of the themes of this week. I have a six month old daughter – she’ll probably come into this blog quite a bit. She’s just decided that sitting or standing in one place is no longer good enough. She wants to be on the move. But unfortunately the legs and arms aren’t quite moving in sync yet – so she turns round 720 degrees, flops onto the floor from exhaustion and cries. It’s quite heart breaking for a Dad and I’ve tried to give her some coaching lessons on crawling but she doesn’t seem to be getting it yet. Maybe my demonstration wasn’t that convincing. Anyway I’m sure she’ll get there one day.

But frustration isn’t limited to her alone. My current favourite sport is table tennis (ping pong). We played our weekly match in the local league a little while ago. We lost 10-0 – which is about our worst result as a team for quite a while. The thing is, I know I could win all the matches – if only my beautiful flowing attacking strokes went on the table all the time rather than the usual 50% which I manage to achieve. 50% isn’t much use because it gives the opponent as many points as I get myself. So frustrating. But then if I managed to win every match, I’d only play in a higher division until again I was frustrated by just not being quite good enough …

So why am I so often wanting to be able to do just that little bit extra, know that little bit more – or is it only me? Why is contentment so difficult to achieve? Any thoughts welcome …

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