A towering idea

My friend Peter Macleod has a great idea in a comment piece in the Toronto Star today. He suggests that the new LED lighting system on the CN Tower should be used to show the city the impacts of citizens’ collective behaviour:

A nighttime glance at the tower could tell us whether we were gradually rolling back car usage or whether it was continuing to spike. It could tell us whether power consumption was in hand or we were headed for a brownout. Most importantly, it could illuminate our public imagination – to remind us of our goals and the progress we want to make.

Here’s the full piece.

Photography from the deep past

The most recent Long Now Seminar in San Francisco sounds like it was brilliant. Frans Lanting set out to take photographs of places where the conditions resemble those from key moments in the distant past of the evolution of planet Earth.

From Stewart’s email summary:

On a live volcano in Hawaii he found the naked planet of 4.3 billion years ago — — molten rock flowing, zero life. “Your boots melt. You smell early Earth.” On the western coast of Australia he shot a rare surviving living reef of stromatolites, made of the cyanobacteria who three billion years ago transformed the Earth by filling the atmosphere with oxygen. Lanting took pains to photograph without blue sky in the background, because the sky was not blue until the cyanobacteria had generated a planet’s worth of oxygen.

The photos are absolutely stunning. You can find them here.

Round the planet without hurting it

My friend Ed is off on a slow travel, low carbon round the world trip. He writes:

We will be blogging regularly at www.lowcarbontravel.com and on Guardian Unlimited and I will be writing a fortnightly column in the Observer Travel Section (first piece to go out Sunday 11th March). I also hope to publish a book about the trip, on the cover of which I’m going to put the quote from Tony Blair: “I believe it’s totally impractical to expect people not to fly”

Good luck Ed!

Brown’s green bit

Ok, so the Pre Budget Report was a bit boring. Generally a steady as she goes kind of speech. But there was a sneaky commitment in there which seems better than most commentators have given Brown credit for.

He said that the Government would make all newly built homes carbon neutral by 2016. Now only 0.8 per cent of the houses in the UK are built each year, but my calculation that means that by 2050 this single little announcement will mean that 31 per cent of the UK housing stock will be completely climate neutral. That’s not bad when you consider it doesn’t include anything we do to improve the existing housing stock too.

After Stern

I’m doing a short talk in response to Michael Jacobs at an event at the RSA on Wednesday about climate change and the Stern review. Michael is a member of the UK Chancellor’s Council of Economic Advisers and a brilliant speaker — will be interesting to hear what he has to say.

I think I’m going to talk about optimism and climate change, and how really there’s a bit of pessimism in the way we all think about global warming that we need to confront if we’re going to do anything about it collectively.

Come along if you like. I’m told the ‘full’ sign on the website doesn’t mean completely full and there will be some spare seats on the night.

I want a green Apple

I’m a big Apple fan. I have an iPod and my last two laptops have been Apples. They’ve all served me very well and I like being part of the “mac fraternity’.

But there are two things that worry me: firstly their growing insistence on DRM on music and video and secondly the environmental impact of their technology. They did pretty badly in a comparison of different manufacturers.

Now Greenpeace have created a constructive campaign to get Apple to change. I’ll be buying a new machine early next year. I’d like it to be an Apple but will make my decision based on how they respond to the campaign. It will have to be good — as the Greenpeace site puts it:

“We’re not asking for just “good enough.” We want Apple to do that “amaze us” thing that Steve does at MacWorld: go beyond the minimum and make Apple a green leader.”

[via the wonderful Worldchanging]

The Good Society

Compass is a name that is cropping up more and more in the newspapers and on TV news. It’s a pressure group set up by Neal Lawson to try and influence the Labour party’s policy direction after Tony Blair leaves the helm. I’ve been involved a little bit and was a member of their Good Society working group, which has published its report as a short book today. It’s an interesting read and will certainly get people thinking.

Hetan and Jonathan who co-ordinated the process and wrote the final report have a piece in the Guardian today.

Neal’s blog on the way to a book is also well worth a read.