Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Last week I went to a lecture at the LSE called "Prosperity without growth" by Tim Jackson (has written a book by that name). The argument went that there are finite resources and national economies rely on growth to prosper, hence we are encouraged to consume at infinitum.

The solution proposed was that instead economies need to rely on green technologies and service-based industries. Not sure that that would solve the problem. Even green technologies consume resources eg. insulating the house we may use products that are in finite supply. The problem is that technologies are continually improving and whatever we may install in our house this year, in 10 years time there is likely to be a better solution that we will be persuaded to invest in.
Example - we put in double-glazed windows in our house 10 years ago. We are replacing them as now we can get something much better. When will these "better" windows be replaced again. Our house was built in 1872. Those original windows probably stayed in place at least until the 1920s, when the family living there had a bit of a makeover. Many of the features they put in were still there when we bought the house, but due to the general poor condition of the fabric of the house they had to be removed. I wonder how the house will look by 2072 - assuming  that its still standing.

Chris and I attended the Ecobuild exhibition full of "green" salesmen persuading us that there product is the most worthwhile. The man selling ground source heating systems assured us that photo-voltaic cells and solar thermal technology were worse than useless in this country. This echoed the opinion of George Monbiot in the Guardian today - but the generous government subsidies being promised to encourage the installation of these products must be based on some kind of objective reality. Maybe that is an optimistic assessment of the way government works, but I can't understand what their objective would otherwise be. The man from CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) told us we would be mad not to take advantage of the subsidies.

I blame "Grand Designs" for this madness of taking buildings to bits. I watched a heart-breaking episode tonight of a family that bought a farmhouse in the Alps. Whilst they were away, the pulled out many of the original timbers and burnt them. Some of the structural beams were replaced with concrete clad with new timbers singed and stained to make them look old.

Maybe we should just leave our house alone and just patch up things when necessary and that way we'd have less of an impact on the environment.

No comments:

Post a Comment