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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

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.

Exciting
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.

Politicians, jet-setting celebrities, and Bono would have you believe that it’s OK to hop on a plane and fly halfway around the world on a regular basis if each time you do so you employ some dodgy foreign company to plant a few quid’s worth of trees for you in Africa somewhere.

The equation goes something like:

Plane burns fossil fuel: + carbon dioxide
New trees make oxygen: – carbon dioxide
= carbon neutral

It is, of course, a complete and total scam. It’s based on a statistical fudge which works by only looking at a very narrow time frame, whilst ignoring other factors.


Scientific fact zoneFor the purposes of these calculations, a tree can be though of as a carbon “store” – whilst alive, the net product is carbon dioxide is taken from the air and converted to oxygen, which is released back into the air, and carbon, from which the tree is made.

When a tree dies, it’ll likely either be burnt, or rot, each of which reverses the process and combines the stored carbon with oxygen to produce the unfriendly greenhouse gasses that we fear so much.

Fossilised trees retain their carbon in the form of oil, coal or gas, until such time as these are burnt.

In each case, the net effect can indeed be considered “carbon neutral”.


The problem with burning fossil fuels is that the equation acts over millions of years.

The carbon dioxide released from them has been stored over a huge period of time, but has all been re-released into the atmosphere in the past 200 years or so. That’s the problem.

Planting some trees won’t suck it all back away again.

So anyway, having debunked the idea of carbon offsetting, let’s go back to the political equation:

  flying + carbon offsetting = OK

Where we’ve already seen that carbon offsetting has no useful effect, so the equation can be re-written in the following form, which is what they’re actually telling you:


   Carbon offsetting = pointless,
   Flying = OK
  

So what was all the fuss about in the first place?

WWJD?

Making sense of the constant bombardment of scare stories and governmental interference in your life can be a tough old business. The nannying government would like to be in control of what you eat, what you drink, what you smoke, and even what you think.

What Would Johnny Do?The Nanny Coach advises you to learn to think for yourself. A great way to do this is to take a role model. A rational-thinking, enquiring, upstanding, intellectual genius. None other, in fact, than Johnny Ball. Host of Think of a Number, Think Again, and most other TV programmes with Think in the title. The brainiest person on TV in the pre-Vorderman era.

Next time you’re faced with a tricky environmental isuue, or potential health scare, simply repeat the following mantra to yourself:

What Would Johnny Do?

What to fear?

The results of ITV‘s latest phone poll programme, Britain’s Favourite Fear make interesting reading for our readers.

Myleene conducts important load stress testIn the show, hosted by celebrity scientist Myleene Klass, viewers were asked to text in the irrational fear which most consumed their lives. The Nanny Coach suggests that this list, though not exhaustive, would make a good “starter list” for anyone wishing to ruin their lives and frighten their children.

Cancer, only the 10th biggest fear, is the biggest faller in this year’s list, with a new entry, rigged TV phone-ins making the top 5. The fear of bird flu has decreased, since it’s been discovered that by far the biggest victims of bird flu are in fact birds.

The results, in reverse order of “fear factor”:

10. Cancer
9. Phone masts
8. Children not being able to phone home
7. Paediatrics
6. Bird flu
5. Rigged TV phone-ins
4. Wind farms
3. Robbie Williams
2. Paedophiles
1. Fear itself

Boffins at EMFields have come up with a novel solution for the dangers posed by phone masts and wifi hotspots to our young folk.

The “Headnet” is a mesh which protects the vital parts of the.. er.. head, against nasty microwaves and so-called radiation “clouds”


Scientific fact zoneA FARADAY CAGE is a metal cage which protects its occupants from electrostatic fields, electromagnetic radiation, and if strong enough, sharks.

The size of the holes in the mesh is an important factor which determines the type of radiation that is barred from passing through – explaining why the Headnet wearer is protected from nasty wifi clouds, but can still see where they’re going.


The makers claim the Headnet can be worn “in the garden, when travelling or when visiting places where microwave exposure is likely to be high e.g. shopping centres.”

We think that list extents to school classrooms and so have joined forces with GMTV to campaign for the government to supply a Headnet to every British child of school age.

WARNING: We would like to point out that Headnet remains, as yet, untested against shark attacks.

According to the  new “voluntary agreement” between ministers and the drinks industry will see alcoholic drinks in the UK carrying government health warnings by 2008.

BBC Story 

Naturally with such an anouncement, details were scarce while the government gauges public reaction and works out a spreadsheet to balance up all the potential Health Service savings,  alcohol duty implications, and vote losses – so in the absense of any statistics that prove otherwise, The Nanny Coach conducted our own tests over the Bank Holiday weekend (it was raining, so the pub seemed as good an idea as any).

As public health minister Caroline Flint put it herself – this is about helping people to make the right choices.

So here are the safe alcohol limits (per evening) for men and women:

MEN

Units Effects
0 Boring fart
1-2 Designated driver
3-4 Loosening up
5-6 Party animal
7-9 Beer goggles alert
10-14 Drunken twat
15- Risk of vomit

WOMEN

Units Effects
0 Nice girl
1-5 Ladette
6+ Tart