Category: environment

Products… do we have too much choice?

November 23, 2009 | By | 8 Comments

carThe Nurse has been watching a lot of telly recently. And she’s been amazed by the sheer choice of products available for consumers to choose from.

She’s wondering whether there’s a connection between all this choice and climate change?

Here are two off the cuff examples. Do we really need:

  • hundreds of different kinds of shampoos, conditioners and hair products?
  • countless different car marques?

Viewed objectively, all this choice seems pointless. But is it also immoral, damaging to our environment?

Back in the olden days The Nurse remembers having a choice of just a few shampoo brands. After all, despite what manufacturers claim, shampoo is just shampoo. However much they fiddle with the formula, it does the same job. The ‘science bit’ is all bollocks. 

The same goes for cars.

A car’s job is to get you from a to b. As such you either need a big one, a medium one or a small one. In a sensible world that’d be your choice. 

As it is, the core function of cars is the last thing manufacturers use to sell their vehicles. Instead they focus on empty, glib things like ego, taste, wealth, status, lifestyle and – whether you’re male or female – how big you want people to think your dick is. Figuratively speaking.

The Nurse wonders how far and how fast  our collective carbon footprint would drop if there was simply less choice across a whole load of core product sectors.   

The only problem is that having less stuff means fewer people are employed making stuff.  But surely we can’t carry on consuming all this rubbish like there’s no tomorrow?

The Nurse dreams of a simpler world where consumer priorities make sense in the context of the global climate issues we all face.

Boring? Probably. But she’d rather be bored on the moral high ground than have her ego stroked while the planet fries.  

No Driving License or Passport? In the UK, You’re a Non-Citizen!

October 15, 2009 | By | 10 Comments


You’d think with global warming continuing apace, a person who didn’t drive or fly would be respected. Not so. 

The Nurse applied for a loan recently, only to find that everyone thinks she’s dodgy as fuck. A criminal, money launderer, illegal alien, ID thief or worse. She has experienced all sorts of hitches, running the gauntlet of suspicious solicitors, edgy lenders and paranoid financial advisers.

Why? Although The Nurse’s credit record is absolutely immaculate, she doesn’t have a passport or a driving licence. 

It appears that having one or the other, preferably both, makes you a legitimate citizen of the UK. Without them you’re a non-person.

The Nurse doesn’t have a driving licence because she doesn’t drive. She doesn’t have a passport because she doesn’t want to travel overseas. She’s in prison and couldn’t globetrot even if she wanted to, but it is the principle of the thing. She is doing her best to be environmentally responsible and she is determined to minimise her carbon footprint. 

Sadly financial institutions and the legal profession don’t see it that way.

The Nurse’s birth certificate isn’t good enough. Because she hasn’t any photo ID, she has had to prove her identity several times during the loan application process. Witnessed documents, statements from her doctor, signed confirmations that she is who she says she is… all manner of weird and wonderful paperwork.

Finally in possession of her cash, The Nurse is nevertheless left feeling insulted. Here she is, doing her best to be green, and she’s treated like a criminal. OK, she is a criminal. She’s a mass murderer. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t a legitimate UK citizen, born and bred.

The Nurse never thought she’d view national ID cards as a good thing. But, having experienced the hassle of being without any other form of ‘acceptable’ identification, she’s beginning to wonder.  


Good News About The Environment – Six Top Eco Stories

October 6, 2009 | By | 3 Comments


It isn’t all eco-doom and gloom. Here’s some good news about the environment…

Although fascinating, The Nurse’s weekly copy of New Scientist magazine rarely brings positive news about humanity’s rapid descent into global warming. But last week’s issue was different.

It looks as though things might be changing. The Nurse wonders if we might look back at the first ten years of this century – with the benefit of hindsight – and see huge and fundamental social and cultural changes taking place. On a global scale.

Accompanied by an imaginary yet rousing trumpet fanfare, The Nurse is chuffed to report six positive environmental news stories:

  • Greensburgh in Kansas, destroyed by a tornado in ’07, has risen from the ashes as an eco-town. Almost every new home is packed with state of the art insulation and the latest energy generating technologies. Next they plan to build ten 1.25 megawat wind turbines, aiming to make the town self-sufficient in energy.
  • Todmorden, a small town in Yorkshire, has turned every spare space into a vegetable garden. Veg grows in the graveyards, school and hospital grounds… and the residents can harvest it for free. Todmorden hopes to be self sufficient in fruit and veg by 2018.
  • Vauban in Germany has banned cars. 70% of the suburbs’s residents recently gave up their cars in favour of trams and bicycles. They have an efficient CarClub to borrow from when they need a car. The remaining 30% have to park their cars on the outskirts and travel in by public transport.
  • Costa Rica is well on the way to becoming carbon neutral.  The country already generates about two thirds of its energy from renewable sources. Since 2008 they’ve planted 12 million trees, partly funded by a tax on petrol. The next step? To offset the few carbon emissions they do produce.
  • China is already a world leader in delivering eco-friendly solutions. They’ve created cunning solar ovens t0 reduce wood and charcoal use throughout the developing world. And they’ve exported solar technology to sub-Saharan Africa. Watch this space!
  • The Australian town of Bundanoon has banned the sale of bottled water. They conserve 200ml of precious oil for every litre of bottled water not produced.

A whole load of people, in diverse communities all over the planet, are taking things into their own hands. This lot have got off their arses and actually done something. Rather than dicking about while Rome burns. The Nurse is inspired.

So, to action. This prison’s heating is abysmal. At least once every winter the crappy old Victorian boiler explodes. Last year four of The Nurse’s fellow inmates were boiled – then toasted –  inadvertently contributing four bodies’ worth of emissions to the UK’s carbon burden.  Apart from being utterly lethal  it probably boffs out more CO2 than several million farting sheep.

The Nurse, unhappily aware that a long and boring winter is looming, always feels better when she has a project to get her teeth into.  This year, it’s veg.

She envisages fresh produce growing in every prison cell. Fruit trees in the yard. Digging up the jail car park, turning it over to spuds. And using the inmates toasted in this winter’s inevitable boiler explosion to fertilise the soil. Waste not, want not.

Politicians Won’t Go Green…

July 28, 2009 | By | 6 Comments


… it’s our job to slow climate change

As the global warming tipping point looms closer, The Nurse becomes increasingly pissed off with politians.

They’re procrastinating like people possessed. All over the planet.

On reflection she acknowledges that politicians will never be willing to sign up to strict environmental targets. Unless we make them.

Politics is all about popularity. Strict environmental policies require big cultural changes. Fundamental things that hit almost everyone where it hurts most. Not necessarily in the pocket. In the lifestyle.

We can’t rely on politicians to take a firm lead. Because consumer economies are fundamentally unsustainable, the biggest changes will hurt like fuck. They’ll change our lifestyles beyond recognition. How will we react? We’ll vote them out. Catch 22.  

The Nurse suggests we lobby our politicians to pull their collective finger out and set high targets. Then tell us how we can meet them. Just stop fannying around. 

She also suggests that ordinary people stop expecting to have their cake and eat it. Drastic circumstances need drastic action. Give your support to strict environmental targets. Vote them in. And take the consequences on the chin.   

In the meantime The Nurse contributes by methodically insulating her cell with nose pickings. Every little helps.