Archive for June, 2007

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that an environmental consultant of the Coach’s standing has a fair number of celebrity clients, but even I was literally gobsmacked1 when none other than ruler of the free-planet George W. Bush came to me for help.

It transpired that George was having a spot of difficulty getting his head round the tricky idea of “carbon trading” and with the Coach’s reputation for simplifying complex issues, I was just the man he needed.

Looking into America’s background it soon struck me (metaphorical, not the CIA this time) that our friends over the pond are very good with playing card-related metaphors.

This trend was first popularised when Wink Martindale recorded the song Deck of Cards, which tells how an ordinary pack (or “deck”) of cards may be utilised as an emergency bible (the seven of spades can, for example, be used a substitute for the Acts of the Apostles in the absence of the real thing).

This trend has continued latterly with the famous Most Wanted Iraqis set, which ranked from Saddam himself, and sons Qusay and Uday as aces, down to Saddam Hussein’s gardener’s assistant at two of diamonds.

So anyway, the Coach cogitated on cards and trading for – literally – minutes and came up with a brilliant means of simplifying poor George’s dimemma: Trading Cards. Obvious, really.

Carbon Trading Top TrumpsI give you: Carbon Trading Top Trumps.

The cards feature 48 different carbon-related products such as carbon-dioxide, nuclear cooling rods, carbon-14 isotopes, coal, diamonds, and pencils, with a quick reference guide to each of their complex scientific and green credentials.

The cards can also be used a fun trading game.

WARNING: Saddam Hussein’s gardener’s assistant remains at large, and the public is warned not to approach him if he looks like he might be carrying a spray gun of weed-killer.

1. Yes, literally. A bump on the head from the CIA followed by a whisking off to some secret airbase in some “neutral” country somewhere. A simple “Coach, I need some advice” would have done..

Carbon Trading Top Trumps

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Whilst the EU continues to fritter millions and millions of Euros on deciding whether or not to actually ban old-fashioned lighbulbs, the capacity remains for each of us to individually decide to switch to those funky new efficient bulbs and easily save loads of money. Doesn’t it?

Whilst figures about increased lifespan and lower power consumption abound, many consumers are put off by the baseline figure – the cost of a lightbulb.

So let’s look at the argument, not as the EU parliament would – all fat, sweaty, overpaid MEPs – but it terms the ordinary bloke down the pub would recognise:

Scientific fact zoneHardly what you’d call a design classic, the old-fashioned style lightbulb was discovered by accident, over 200 years ago, when someone passed too much electric current through a bit of wire. The modern version heats up a bit of tungsten to something like 3000 degrees, and in fact converts 95% of the electricity into heat, rather than light.

The new energy-efficient bulbs aren’t boring at all, and actually use your hard-earned electricity to “excite” gas atoms into producing light.

New light bulbs: Exciting!

We checked lightbulb prices at one popular high street retailer, Argos.

  • Pack of 4 old-fashioned energy inefficient bulbs: £1.49
  • One energy efficient bulb: £3.99

i.e. a new bulb costs over ten times more than an old-fashioned one!

But here’s the deal, the new bulbs last up to twenty times longer, and in terms of the bulk of the cost of owning a lightbulb – the cost of the actual electricity – it’s up to 5 times cheaper.

The Coach did the maths, and found the saving you get is so staggeringly huge, the argument so obviously one-sided, that the only way I can think to make it any more obvious to you is thus: Imagine having the choice of buying a single can of beer, or buying one giant can of beer 10 times the size, but which actually costs a quarter of the price of the small can!!

Beer ahead of its time
The Party 7: ’70s style energy-efficent drinking

So one-sided is the equation, that’s you’d begin saving money by replacing your old energy-inefficient bulbs right now, even before they’ve worn out.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at how the UK’s electric industry works:

Scientific fact zoneIn the olden days, electricity was manufactured, distributed and billed by the CEGB. By a process called privatisation, which is closely related to something called globalisation, the whole process was opened up to a raft of new companies who separately produce and distrubute the electricity, whilst yet another one sends you the bill.

This idea is usually sold as one which “introduces competition and benefits the consumer”, but which in fact mostly benefits the people who own all these new companies.

So who does own all these new power companies? To name but a few – Powergen is owned by a company called e.on, which is German. As is Npower. Whereas EDF is actually French.

By spending money on electricity you’re benefitting Johnny foreigner. And let’s face it, Germany doesn’t have a brilliant track record as regards exactly what goes in to its incinerators.

Lastly, just remember who sponsors the FA Cup now. Germans. Where will it all end?

Buy new lightbulbs and you’ll save not just electricity, but both the planet and the future of English football as we know it.

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