Thursday, November 20, 2014

Opinion: Top Gear Needs an Environmental Warning.

I think the BBC show Top Gear should have a warning, like tobacco warnings, concerning the extremely serious environmental hazards cars pose, such as global warming. If not I don't see why the BBC couldn't and shouldn't be sued just like tobacco companies for not advising consumers of the hazards the products they masterfully promote pose. Given cars threaten the survival of humanity I expect the BBC could be sued for inconceivably more than big tobacco.

Even though environmental dangers of cars do infrequently appear in the news (so it could be argued people already know about it) I think a warning is still needed because the show relentlessly asserts it is great to simply have an infantile, unthinking, unquestioning, carefree, impulsive enthusiasm for cars. By appealing to primitive impulses (using extremely expensive and expertly made productions) the show bypasses the rational frontal cortex of the brain, a clear environmental warning with each show would balance this. In my view Top Gear is playing a strategic role in destroying the health of the planet in a totally irresponsible and seemingly highly calculated way, exploiting and dragging down the (formerly) impeccable reputation of the BBC.

That's my opinion. I'm not the slightest bit interested in suing the BBC myself, I'm simply hoping to  alert them to this danger. Also please note I am not suggesting in any way the content of the show should be changed, only that it needs to be accompanied by a strong environmental warning. A similar message has been sent to the BBC.

I'm not against cars, I'm against addiction to the power of cars, both at the individual level and at the societal level, in terms of urban and rural design for instance which makes it virtually impossible to do anything without transportation. The cure for car addiction would in my opinion consist largely of much greater self-reliance for homesteads, suburbs, cities and regions, still supported by transportation and trade with other regions. I don't really see this as something government can or should force on people, they'll have to decide to do this for themselves if it's going to happen.

If car addiction can be brought mostly under control we would not need to try to preserve our overconsumption by trying to invent new "green" vehicles we can keep abusing at the same rates, as non-addicted car usage levels would probably be at an environmentally safe level. It would also mean enough petrol for thousands of years, many say we may never come up with a more efficient energy source, better to conserve it until we do.

A common feature of addictions is they are "sticky", users perceive that other significant people are doing it, addiction is "social" (D Thompson. The Fix. 2013) this is how shows like "Top Gear" contribute strategically to addiction to the power of cars. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Built-in Indoor Solar Oven Possibility


Being an artist not a technician I don't know if this idea would work, but since it is in principle quiet simple I'm reasonably hopeful it might, I've made two portable solar ovens which worked though temperatures were not spectacular. A large reflector array like the one pictured using (rarely utilized) roof space could generate heat much higher than that needed by a normal oven, which would hopefully make up for the difficulty of heating such a large oven and getting the heat down the "chimney".  The whole oven including the double glazed glass at the top would be fixed, only the reflectors would need to move to track the Sun. The reflectors needn't  be that heavy but an external framework to hold them in place, especially in wind, would probably be necessary.

If the air in the oven does not conduct heat sufficiently for the base of oven to reach high temperatures perhaps an (insulated) material with high heat conductivity such as copper could be substituted. Physically moving heated material down (and then back up), by turning a crank say, another possibility perhaps.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pukeko takes liking to Water-garden in Wellington Central

Pukeko standing & dining on Asian culinary herb Water Dropwort (Oenanthe javanica) growing in an old bath in my garden in Wellington Central, New Zealand.

This Pukeko (Porphyrio porhyrio) has been staying in my garden for several weeks, apparently attracted by my tubs and baths filled with water and edible aquatic plants. Pukeko are normally a swamp bird, I've never seen or heard of one in Wellington Central before( the garden is 20 min walk from downtown), though there is is a lot of native bush around.

So far it has been completely quiet, but apparently can be quite noisy when living in groups, for this reason I've decided against experimenting with them as livestock... not fair on neighbors in densely populated areas (car noise & pollution no problem!)