Saturday, December 23, 2006

Heat - George Monbiot's New Book

I do hate George Monbiot on many levels. He has a very strong 'holier than thou' attitude to almost all of his campaigning issues. He very rarely gives people credit for trying. "You may have saved one million dolphins, but you still don't pay your migrant workers a living wage".

This book is a vision of how to deliver an almost Carbon Neutral Britain (and world) by 2050. It's very ambitious and very interesting. Once you get past his first two chapters, it's quite a good read. It should be used as a model for people wishing to make a point about anything campaigny. Everything he refers to is sourced, he talks through his calculations and he is good at actually using decent numbers.

Overall, there were some interesting ideas which I'm going to have to check out:

  • DC Power Lines (a new, more efficient way of moving large amounts of electricity around)
  • Passive Houses (extremely well insulated houses which don't need heat)
  • Peer to Peer National Grid

The Peer to Peer National Grid sounds the most promising. The majority of energy inefficiency in electricity generation is due to heat escaping. This could be harnessed by putting small scale generators in each home. THe power transmission lines would then allow energy exchanges between households.

My main problems with his book is that the assumptions used to postulate that we need to reduce a carbon emissions by 90% seem slightly ropey. He goes out of his way to criticise a group of people for not being fully trained in science, but then talks about a wonderful paper by someone who wasn't trained in science (one page later!?).

To be fair though, this is a good effort and worth a read or two.


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