25 August, 2010

Slow boat: Slow life

It was last week when coming back from Koh Samet, a small island in Thailand, that I got thinking about the benefits of a slow life and how society constantly drives us to lead a fast life. The island lies just of the east coast of Thailand and is easily visible. We (myself, my wife, and two young daughters aged 2 and 4) caught the 'slow' boat service back to the mainland.

This service takes a mere 1 hour and is on one of the boats which services the island with supplies as well as offering a passenger service. After having a leisurely breakfast on one of the restaurants that fringe the beach, a horn sounded to call the passengers to a barge which ferries them to the main boat mored just off the beach.

All in all it was a great adventure for our daughters. After the transfer to the boat we were able see huge numbers of fish surrounding the boat while it waited to be loaded up. Once on the move we also were able to see a great variety of jelly fish gliding past the bow of the boat, and even the occasional flying fish.

While enjoying the trip, it seemed to me that the passengers on the many speed boats going past us were missing out on so much. May be we were not getting the excitement of the speed of these boats but I'm sure that would soon wane and be replaced by the constant noise, wind, and bumping of their journey.

Why is it that speed is always promoted and sold at premium - surely this only encourages us to stay in the fast lane and on many levels miss some of the most important things in life.

Yes, I have a fast internet connection, but when traveling or choosing a place to eat out, I will always chose the slow alternative whenever possible. And yes, this includes taking the boat and train back from Japan where I live to my home country, the UK (when I was single of course).

09 June, 2010

Green roof and chickens

By way of an update on two on-going projects here are photo gallery links:

supports biodiversity
reduced heat island effect in urban areas
visually pleasing
CO2 capture
cleaner air
water capture/reduced water run-off
heat insulation/reduced energy costs (if on residential buildings)

drug free, nutritious, better-tasting eggs
localisation of food
free-range 'happy' chickens
food waste recycling
organic compost

If time, updates on the problems and solutions encountered on the journey with these projects

10 May, 2010

The good and the not so positive ....

It's been a long time since I've been able to post a blog and this one is a little different than previous entries in that it doesn't say much in words but relies more on images.

From the link at the end of this post you can view a series of photos, which in one way or another, are linked to the environment.

The gallery was started as a demonstration for my students who are assigned to take 4~5 photos and bring them into class to discuss in a group. The group then decides which two photos to put forward and present to the class - one representing a positive impact on the environment and the other a negative impact. The class then decides on the best two in each category.

If you have your own photos which you think fit the theme please add them directly to the gallery (see Upload at top of gallery page) or send them to me at ifd66@mac.com

The gallery can be viewed at http://gallery.me.com/ifd66#100599

01 January, 2010

Copenhagen accord: progress or procrastination?

The outcome:
After two weeks of intense debate the delegates and heads of state for 192 nations 5 of these nations signed an accord that they recognised there was a case for keeping average global temperature increase to no more than 2˚C.

References to 1.5˚C were dropped despite this being the level at which scientists and climate models predict many island nations will be eradicated.

So too was an 80% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050 dropped.

It was agreed however that the richer nations pay $30bn per year to poorer nations to help deal with climate change, and $100bn per year by 2020.

Adding a pinch of perspective:

Last year these same rich countries managed to scrap together $8 TRILLION to support the banking and securities firms.

No agreements or even suggestions were made on how to limit global temperature rise to 2˚C.

2˚C represents the threshold where unstoppable climate change scenarios are likely to become reality. This is when many of the predicted positive feedback mechanisms will be triggered such as the release of the vast methane deposits in the frozen tundra, and the release of the massive amounts of carbon as the remaining tropical forests dry up and burn.

At the bare minimum, scientists are now telling us that we have a 50:50 chance of not passing this threshold and keeping climate stable. As one commentator said, who would allow their children to get on a plane with a 50:50 chance of crashing?

Commentator's comments on the summit's outcome:

"The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport"

"Beating global warming will require a radically different model of politics than the one on display in Copenhagen"

"World leaders have effectively signed a death sentence for many of the world's poorest children"

And from this commentator, I have no more to say on this summit.