The following posts have no fixed theme or style, but I hope you enjoy reading them!

Monday, 15 September 2008

How to eat responsibly

I have wondered and wondered how best to eat in an environmentally responsible way. I have asked environmentalists, vegetarians, vegans and scientists, and nobody has an answer on which foods are better than others, or how you should choose which food has the smallest carbon footprint. Now the New Scientist has the answer!

I advise you all to get the New Scientist dated 13th September 2008 and read the cover story.

This is a wonderful article. It's full of debate about what we know and what we don't know about carbon footprints. It's full of warnings that you cannot take the carbon footprint of chicken A and then assume it will have the same footprint as chicken B who lives on a different farm. But it also gives some guidelines about food.

Is it better to be a vegetarian?
Is it much much better to be a vegan?
How about buying things from the other side of the world?
Or organic food?

Now we have a few answers, although the scientific knowledge is not yet complete. Red meat and dairy products are the worst. Then chicken, eggs and fish. And fruit and vegetables are the best.

In the US, 11% of the carbon equivalent emitted is for transport.
A quarter of greenhouse gas emissions are actually nitrous oxide, from fertilisers.
In America, emissions from driving are only half of those from food production.
The emissions from fish depends hugely on how they are caught or farmed, and on whether they are carnivorous or herbivorous.

Anyway, don't trust me on all this. The discussion is much more complete in the New Scientist itself. This is something we all need to know. Giving up on plastic bags is NOTHING compared to knowing about stuff like this.

Of course, carbon footprint is only a small amount of what constitutes sustainability, as a wonderful university lecturer called Big Rob told us. If we eat all the herbivorous fish, that's not sustainable and if we don't trade fairly with the third world, that's not sustainable either. But global warming is important and this is information that I have found very hard to uncover until now

Sunday, 14 September 2008


It seems I have been “tagged” in a “meme”. Mème means “the same” in french, and it might mean something in English, but I don’t really know, it’s not a word I use. In this case, a meme (said “meem”) means a kind of chain letter in which you follow some instructions. This usually involves writing something down and then asking some of your friends to do it as well. This process of asking is called tagging. There’s so much pointless jargon in the computer world. And it’s not just from computer geeks, facebook alone has a vast number of words that have been invented around it. I hate it, but I use it myself, it’s hard to avoid.

Since I have been blogging about 18 months ago, I have been tagged a couple of times on memes and never done them. But now is the moment to bow to Rachel’s peer pressure.

August 2008
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your [summer]. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

This is difficult. I’ve been listening to Radio 1 all summer, and it’s hard to get into radio 1 music that much. After all, even the best songs can be over-played if you listen to them too much.

1) Lies by Fleetwood Mac
My cousin bought a Fleetwood Mac album recently and I discovered loads of songs that are by them and I never realised. This is a classic song that I had forgotten about. Love it
2) Mercury's in Retrograde by Bloc Party
I wrote about it here and it’s just quite good
3) Otherwise by Morcheeba
I keep hearing more and more by Morcheeba. It’s very sexy music, chilled and smooth. Housemate Maria likes them because they’re Swedish (and good). I might have heard this song through Maria, but I paid attention when I got it on a compilation I bought in a car boot sale
4) Letter from God to man by Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
Guilty pleasure. I like the concept of the song and I think it's done quite well. Yes, it’s not very original. But most people think about these things sometimes and it’s nice to have someone doing it in a light-hearted way on a pop record
5) For What It’s Worth by the Cardigans
I’ve probably mentioned this song before, but it’s been one of my favourite songs for a little while now. It’s about a one-sided relationship in which one person is in love with the other, but it’s not reciprocated and the mere mention of love scares them away. The tune is beautiful and the words so powerful and painful. That’s why the Cardigans are the best band ever
6) Five Years Time by Noah and the Whale
Roz hasn’t heard this so she’s silly. I told you, I’ve been listening to the radio and this is what was on the radio. It’s cheerful, hardly a classic that will be remembered in, say, five years time, but it’s bouncy enough
7) Perfect 10 by Beautiful South
This isn’t really in my top 7 songs, but I always listened to this in Welsh Andrew’s room at university. Having left university and faced with the possibility that I will never listen to it in Welsh Andrew’s room again, I bought the Beautiful South album at the car boot sale mentioned above

March 2007
Post five things about yourself that (almost!) no one else knows

I’m a boring person. 18 months of thinking time has not given me any more ideas of what to write here. It’s so tempting to kop out (sp?) and write something that’s meant to be ironic and vaguely funny. But I just committed to doing this shit (as they say), so here goes

1) I breathe really slowly, slower than most people to whom I have paid attention. And yes, I do know that sounds weird
2) I would like to be more superstitious and try to remember to say hello to magpies. I genuinely feel bad (in a superstitious way) about killing spiders
3) I’m on bebo. Don’t feel left out if you don’t know that. I don’t remember the information I need to log on
4) If I could have a superpower, I’d probably fly, as long as it would be like superman and not like an angel with those crappy wings
5) Being given tasks like this makes me stay up very late on a work night, becoming more and more introspective and yet without ever coming up with anything original or interesting to say (that I haven’t told people before). After all, if it was that interesting, wouldn’t I have said it already?

Sorry, the last one was a kop out. But it is half past one, so please forgive me.

Oh, and tagging. I’m not doing that because I don’t know 7 people with blogs, let alone 7 people who would want to be tagged. But I would tag if I could, for sure

Friday, 5 September 2008

Advice #28

Try oolong. It's good tea.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Not such negative thoughts

Much has been made of the loss of confidence and pessimism that is sweeping the world. We are apparently heading towards a recession to the extent that it is very unlikely that we will avoid it now. I haven't heard the speech but apparently Alistair Darling (the chancellor) has now come out and explained that he is extremely worried about it. But while people feel out of control and pessimistic about the world's financial situation, a more positive attitude is sweeping the country. People are starting to believe that they can make the world a better place. And they are believing it more than they have in the last twenty years.

The nineties was an apathetic decade. It was comfortable, and people felt that things could continue how they were. It's only been in the last few years that people have discussed global warming, poverty and the environment as anything more than abstract ideas. After years of campaigning, plastic bags are actually being phased out. This is not happening from government pressure, but through normal people using cloth bags for their shopping instead of getting plastic ones. Almost all councils in England now collect recyclable waste separately from other waste, whereas almost none did until very recently. Make poverty history was a campaign that encouraged people to consider the possibility that poverty may not exist at some time in the future. That's an extremely idealistic proposition, but millions of people bought into the idea with things like their branded wristbands. Bill Bryson even managed to get a prime-time TV slot in which he moaned about litter for an entire episode of panorama. It didn't make great TV but it was a sign that people really think things like this are important.

I listened to a talk the other day, given by Eugenie Harvey. She is the force behind the company which produced "Change the World For a Fiver", which is called We Are What We Do. Her idea is that small actions carried out by many people can have a big effect and actually change the world. Her ideas include unplugging mobile chargers and remembering people's names to make them feel more important. Her ideas are fantastic, but even more impressive is that she began the company and created a stir from absolutely nothing. More and more people are thinking like her. They don't simply believe that change can happen, they believe that they can help to produce the change.