Sunday, November 29, 2009

Copenhagen figures

I've been pulling some figures together from articles in The Guardian and The Edmonton Journal this week.

The USA is offering a 20% cut in emissions from its 2005 level by 2020.
The EU is committed to a 20% on 1990 levels by 2020.
Canada is offering 20% on 2006 levels.

Using the 1990 baseline this amounts to
USA - a 4% cut by 2020
EU - a 20% cut by 2020
But, Canada - an 8% increase by 2020.

However, using a 2007 baseline Bryony Worthington works out that the USA is offering more than the EU:
USA - 17.3%
EU - -11.7%
And by comparison Canada is offering slightly more than the USA at around - 20% (the last emissions data I can find is for 2006).

Confusing or what? Of course, figures mean nothing on their own. What Canada most notably lacks is any credible road map for achieving emissions reductions, while it still intends to develop the full potential of its tar-sands, which were the reason it had to renege on Kyoto in the first place.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Topical ditty.

In hot Dubai
Did the ruling Sheikh
Some mighty pleasure domes decree
Where water pumped from deep below
Was turned into artificial snow,
And surrounded by a deep blue sea.

But alas,
The greedy men
Who put up the cash
Had forgotten Ozymandias

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wood Burning Stoves

From The Guardian on Saturday: All Fired Up.

From Environment Canada: Residential Wood Heating.

Summary: What's not to like about wood-burning stoves asks Dominic Murphy? Answer: winter smog and airborne pollutants that are a danger to human health.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Attendance allowance for the elderly.

I spent part of this afternoon trying to reassure my mother that she is not going to lose her attendance allowance under the government's new social care plan.

My mum is probably typical of elderly people receiving the allowance. She is 83, widowed for 5 years and living alone in her bungalow. Despite having failing eyesight and reduced mobility, she is able to continue living in her own home through a combination of supportive friends and neighbours and buying in services. She pays for a cleaner to come twice a week, and a gardener to prune shrubs and mow the lawn. She also pays a handyman to do occasional odd jobs round the home. She gets around on a buggy and still uses the bus, but occasionally pays for a taxi. She could not afford these services without the attendance allowance, and she would have to sell up and go into sheltered accommodation or an old people's home.

Labour has accused the Tories of scare-mongering saying "We have been absolutely clear that those currently receiving attendance allowance and those over-65 receiving DLA would continue to receive an equivalent level of support and protection in any reformed system."

However that just ain't reassuring to my mum, for the simple reason that the services she buys privately are already offered by social services but at a greater cost, and with less flexibility.

I told her not to worry because Labour will soon be gone. What else could I say?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Fairs

Rotherhithe in South London Docklands has a long association with Scandinavia.

The story starts in 1016 when the Anglo-Saxon Edmund Ironside (aka Edmund the Aetheling) was defending London against the Danes. King Canute (or Knut) of Denmark, the same one who commanded the tide, was unable to take his longships under defended London Bridge, so he dug a canal through the marshes from Rotherhithe to Battersea and dragged his longships round the bridge instead (for what happened next see the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle).

More recently Surrey Docks took in Scandinavian and Baltic timber and the area became the home for many Scandinavians. Then in WW2 Rotherhithe became the home of the Norwegian King and the Government in exile. When I was living in the area, the King of Norway still visited the Norwegian Church in Rotherhithe every year; maybe he still does. In recognition of its importance to Norway, the area around the church has Norwegian as well as English street signs.

This weekend the Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish churches will be having their Christmas Fairs, which are all well worth visiting. My favourite was always the Finnish Fair, where you can get Reindeer skins, Moomin merchandise and Marimekko fabrics, and also hear the strange unearthly Finnish language being spoken.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remembrance Sunday

I took this picture in France last year. I've chosen it for Remembrance Sunday because it has poppies and cornflowers, the British and French flowers for remembrance as well as a dove of peace.

Bonfire Night.

I amused myself yesterday evening watching this year's Lewes Bonfire Festival on YouTube and making myself homesick.

The last time I had my haircut, my hairdresser was asking about Halloween in the UK, and I recklessly launched into a description of the Lewes festivities. I quickly came unstuck...
" well it's basically an anti-Catholic festival, except, err, it isn't really anti-Catholic. It's just, like, traditional, you see; and they burn an effigy of the Pope, not the current Pope, a previous Pope......and then there's the Bishop's annual address....Actually I don't think I'll tell you about that."

The Liberal Democrats

I've recently rejoined the Liberal Democrats. I'd let my membership lapse when I left the UK for Canada, but since I still have a vote in the UK and intend to move back within the next few years, I've decided it makes sense to continue offering my support to the LD's.