A smog-filled Beijing sky prompts the CIC chief executive to ask himself whether he is doing enough to cut his own carbon emissions.
It is very odd, and more than a little dispiriting, to be thinking about my carbon footprint and how it might be improved while sitting in a hotel room overlooking Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The only saving grace here is that the air pollution is better than in Shanghai and the red dust coating all the cars has blown in from the Gobi Desert rather than from industrial chimneys.
Beijing is a welcoming and - in many respects - beautiful city but everywhere one is reminded of mankind's destruction of his environment through the same grey-blue blanket that envelops the cloudless sky - it is just as if some mighty hand threw a shawl over the city and - in a way - perhaps He has.
We clearly have nothing to be proud of ourselves but watching the headlong rush to catch up our carbon gluttony here in the East is an immensely sobering experience. It is as if we are watching 50 years of carbon loss all happening at once and I keep having hallucinations of Dave Hampton sending huge, purple zeppelins into the sky!
Well, what have I done since my carbon feet were sized? The answer is very little: I basked in the reflected glory of a low scorecard for a while, although none of the credit was mine, and then began to think of what I could do to improve things further.
The easy things have been done: we have completed the acquisition of low energy light bulbs in every room where the fittings make this possible but we are not prepared to get rid of a few vintage lights where the fittings are not compatible (Vanity 1 Carbon consciousness 0); we have used the plug-in energy measuring device and this seems to have impressed my youngest daughter that leaving the TV on standby is not a good thing - or, at least, whenever I am around; we have increased our organic and local food sourcing - even the dog has organic food; and we decided to travel to Norfolk and back over Easter by train rather than the usual car journey.
I have looked into changing to a green energy tariff and will probably do this but it hasn't happened, yet. I even considered buying a wind-up digital radio but bottled the decision at the last moment partly because of a perceived inconvenience about winding the DAB radio up and partly because it didn't look so good (Vanity 2 Carbon consciousness 0). The idea of solar screen panels on the roof is vaguely attractive but there is no way I can contemplate the capital cost. Dave said that I could fix them myself but flat pack furniture is already more than a match for my DIY skills.
So, in summary, I felt good after my first session with Dave but have felt fraudulent in my carbon saving credentials ever since but sitting here in Beijing looking at the bland, cold, cloudless bubble that imprisons its environment makes me feel like the carbon emperor in his new clothes!