The weekend newspapers composted into a bite-sized read of environmental news and debate

No Barrel of Fun

There was much comment and speculation on the meaning of a $100 barrel of oil this weekend. The Sunday Times looked at how rising oil prices could push householders over the edge. But the crisis might be worse that a few bankruptcies. Niall Ferguson, the historian, said he thought the current conditions might parallel those in the 1870s “ when the Ottoman empire lost economic, financial and, finally, political power. “Then the shift was from the ancient oriental empires to western Europe,” he said. “Today the shift is from the US – and other financial centres– to the autocracies of the Middle East and east Asia.” Can wearing a cardigan avert this crisis, too? It remains to be seen.

Glitch Blades

The Telegraph gleefully flagged a report showing that home wind turbines may be too weak to power a lightbulb and that, “at worst, a wind turbine may take 15 years to generate enough "clean energy" to compensate for its manufacture.” Its Sunday columnist, Christopher Booker’s insult aimed at us – us! – as “turbine groupies” in a wide ranging run down of discredited myths as to why global warming isn’t real / happening, takes on another sting, therefore. He calls for more proper power stations (burning coal) and soon! Lest the BBC stop being able to broadcast their pro-green propaganda.

Green Beside the Seaside

Should the industry wish to look for a model for carbon-efficient housing ideas, they might want to pop down to Brighton and talk to owners Jackie Strube and Alan Stone. The Observer details their eco-project in a ‘gritty suburb’ of the City which has a living sedum roof, wool insulation and water collection. “After five months we still haven’t had a fuel bill,” Ms Strube says. Local firm DRP Architects were the designers.

‘We’ll emit sweet FA,’ E.ON

Last week, we noted how German energy company, E.ON, were keen to trumpet their role as a sort of cuddly community park keepers as they planned the first coal-fired power station in 24 years. Now, the FA Cup sponsors have come up with a new campaign to offset the 45,000 tons of Co2 created in staging the cup. The Carbon Footyprint campaign encourages attendees to take car shares and National Express coaches to matches.

Clarkson for PM urge 0.05% of population

Jeremy Clarkson called for an end to all legislation in the scramble to rebuild the fire-gutted Royal Marsden Hospital in weeks rather than months (which, according to him, means years. If I read the column right, the main cause of the hold up appears to be people with ginger hair, but Clarkson also suggests: “Tear[ing] up the rule book about carbon dioxide and hard hats and no reversing without a banksman. Let’s get the builders in there tomorrow, or now, and let’s allow them to smoke so they don’t have to pop outside every 15 minutes.”

It would, he reasoned, be like the good old days of the Victorian era, when drunken Irish navvies had to lift 20 tons of earth a day. What more would you expect from a man who went to posh school, Repton? To deal with the naysayers he would like to be given “a side parting, a small moustache and exploit his "fondness for telling everyone who gets in [his] way to eff off.” Hmmm…

“Don’t Change the Lightbulbs!,” say Tabs

There was much hullabaloo about the dangers of low energy lightbulbs from the right after the Government warned that home dwellers should leave the room for 15 minutes if one fell to the ground. The bulbs contain small amounts of mercury in them. I find the image of a poisonous lightbulb lighting up over the head of a Daily Mail leader writer when he feels a new column coming on quite useful.

Train gain or train drain?

There was a pushmi-pullyu argument about the future of the railways in the weekend pages, with Rod Liddle calling for the return of British Rail, coining, in the Sunday Times, the term ‘wannabe passengers’ for those stranded in Liverpool Street and Rugby last week. But, in a moment of gay abandon, the Daily Mail published pop hero, Pete Waterman’s positive opinion that this IS the age of the train – the most exciting time for the railways in 150 years. With London to Birmingham soon to take an hour, London to Manchester to take two and London to Glasgow reachable in four. “We are living through the biggest revolution in public transport in living memory,” says the one-time Bananarama producer. He’s chairman of the London and North Western Railway, Britain's largest privately owned train maintenance company, based in Crewe, so he knows what he’s talking about.