Of climate change and cabbages

January 22, 2007

There seemed to be scores of planes circling over London last night. A line of blinking red, green and white lights stretched to the horizon, high above the Thames, and beyond in to the Surrey night. It was an eerie and majestic sight. A slow, stately dance at 5000m. Like watching a global warming documentary on a giant outdoor plasma screen.

It got me thinking about something that’s been troubling me recently. The ethics of air travel. After flying to New Mexico, New Zealand and Spain last year, I feel I’ve left a big dirty carbon footprint on the global shagpile. After New Zealand, I piously informed maths chick that I wouldn’t be flying anywhere in 2007. Who needs a romantic weekend in Fez? Let’s book a B&B in Weston-super-Mare. It’s time to explore the nooks and crannies of this nooky little island of ours, I said. Or something like that.

And now, 21 days in to the new year, and we’ve already bought a bargain-bin flight for 2 to Valencia. So much for good intentions. A quick visit to a carbon offsetting website assured us that we could fly with a clear conscience for a small donation of £5.15. Which seemed like a good deal.

But then I read in this week’s Riverford newsletter that perhaps only about 14p of this will actually pay for trees to be planted. And anyway, it’s not been proved that planting trees will have any real impact on climate change. Goddam, what’s a half-assed eco-consumer to do?

Sometimes I think it’s time I made some serious lifestyle changes to help keep this planet from overheating. Other times I think, sod it, why should I be the one making all the sacrifices? I get a veg box, don’t I? I don’t buy New Zealand kiwi fruit. I’m doing my bit, aren’t I?

Whatever. Here’s a good way to reduce a whole Savoy cabbage to a few spoonfuls of soft, savoury mushiness. It’s an Italian recipe from Anna Del Conte’s The Classic Food of Northern Italy. I was going to write about battutas, sofrittos and other arcane secrets of the Italian kitchen. But I feel this post has already out-stayed it’s welcome, so here it is, in ADD-friendly comic strip format.

Stewed Savoy Cabbage

14 Responses to “Of climate change and cabbages”

  1. crzy_rgntnn Says:

    First the 100% organic crusade, now this. I knew this box stuff would have side effects…

  2. crzy_rgntnn Says:

    Some creatures seem to have worse problems than you do, Toaster… look at this poor frog

    (As you know, I am just joking. But haven´t got any clever thoughts about this serious issue)

  3. Felix Sputnik Says:

    I like your comic book style of recipe presentation.

    First of all I think it’s great that you are conscious of the real problems our lifestyle causes, because a lot of folks no longer give a damn at all. (just look at the rise in 4×4 ownership)
    Here is what I know (or think I know) about carbon offset.

    There is the active and the passive carbon cycle.

    Trees grow, absorb carbon, die and rott or burn and release every last gram of that carbon back into the atmosphere and the ground. They are therefore short term carbon storage devices that regulate the amount of carbon.

    Millions of years worth of excess carbon that got trapped and compressed into fossil fuel are being dug up and added to our carbon quota and as it would take millions of years and geological processes to put it back there, is not actually a balanced cycle anymore (hence the label passive).

    No amount of tree planting can ever remove the excess carbon output we are producing as long as we don’t fly planes powered by burning logs.

    The other thing about carbon offset is that you buy, with your £5:15 energy saving lightbulbs for people in Ethiopia, so that they may save what excess we produce. Therefore the word carbon neutral only means: Not any more carbon than before. Unfortunately it doesn’t neutralize any carbon emission.

    An added problem is that the majority of planted trees are commercial trees, like mangoes, planted by corporations in clear cut forests, previously used as land by indigenous tribes and now in private ownership.

    Sorry for the rant, I see so many companies advertising their environmental position with carbon trading and people are buying into it.
    It is a business, but unfortunately it is based on a lie. The only way to reduce carbon is to leave it in the ground. We do not have the means to put it back there.

    Go on a narrowboat holiday in Wales. Much less pollution, going at 2 miles per hour and less noisy too.
    Have a lovely year…

  4. gastropunk Says:

    Felix Sputnik,

    Cheers for the perspective on carbon offsetting. It seems many people are starting to see this as greenwash – an opportunity for unscrupulous entrepreneurs to make a quick buck.

    I agree – to use as little energy as possible is the most important thing. But I’d like to think there are also active ways for individuals to address this issue – perhaps investing in alternative energy technology?

  5. gastropunk Says:

    Crzy, thanks for the frog game link. Inspired. Guess work is slow these days, huh? Is that you I see at No 4 on the leader board with nearly 8000 points. My high score so far is 20. Hand-eye co-ordingation never been a strong point…

  6. crzy_amish Says:

    🙂 No, I think my record was about 100… But that site has very good Flash games!
    Believe it or not, I search for those sort of links for work! (Look what I´ve found today: http://www.musicovery.com/)
    BTW, what’s the name of the application you use to create your comic strips???

  7. gastropunk Says:

    Crzy Amish(???!!), it’s called Comic Life. I think it might only be for the Mac 😦 But it’s dead easy to use… But you can draw cartoons by hand – you don’t really need software do you??

  8. oldbirdofdevon Says:

    crzy_amish, thanks for the musicovery website link, it’s fab and will provide endless opportunities for procrastination.

  9. crzy_rgntnn Says:

    🙂 that was just the nickname I used to comment on your technology on the blink post, but forgot to remove it…

    It`s cool, isn`t it, oldiebird? enjoy!

  10. Dietse Says:

    Hi, sun day health diet full info.

  11. francinedd Says:

    I was wondering what some of the more mature members here do about dating. It seems much harder for older singles to find a mate, so I might be turning to online dating for older singles.
    any suggestions? thanks.

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