Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How many planets?

This is one of the best ecological footprint calculators I've come across. For a New Zealander it's still not entirely perfect. I had to do a lot of conversion from metric to imperial, we have no idea how many kilometres our car does to the gallon, and it was difficult to work out how much of our power company's generation is renewable. That said, I did a bit of surfing around the company's website, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it seemed to be mainly hydroelectrical and geothermal. It is also supportive of individual consumer power-generation, and it seems to be exploring wind generation options. Hydroelectrical generation has its own problems here, where there have been attempts to dam valuable South Island braided river ecosystems. Unfortunately I can't add the word 'pristine' to that description, as most of those rivers are now infected with nasty Didymo. I think we're past the point of large-scale hydroelectrical schemes now. Wind turbines are far more beautiful, and I wish the Makara wind-farm could finally get underway.

We were actually doing ok until we got to food, as I knew we would. My weekends were so busy last year that it got to be too difficult to do anything other than dash into a supermarket on the way home from volunteering at the Karori sanctuary. From now on it's farmer's markets, the local butcher and growing as many of our vegetables as I can. The price of tomatoes has gotten to be ridiculous!

I'm not sure that our transport energy consumption is as bad as our score might suggest. We own one small fuel-efficient car. I either car-pool to work with Hamish, or I catch a bus. Most of the buses here are electric, and we only live around 5km from my office. I sold my other car recently because it just wasn't getting used, and I'm planning on buying a scooter.

At home we have the usual villa single light bulb in the middle of the room set-up. We've replaced nearly all of our lights with those fuel-efficient bulbs. We have thermal curtains in the lounge and main bedroom, although we probably still lose a lot of energy through the other windows. I've blocked up the unused chimney in the lounge, but it would make a huge difference if we had under-floor insulation below our wooden floorboards. We leave too many appliances on standby, and we do use our gas central-heating over winter, because it just gets too cold here otherwise. We keep it turned really low, and most of our visitors do rely on a heater in their bedroom to survive.

We're not big consumers really, but it would still take 2.7 planets to sustain our lifestyle. Room for improvement, obviously.

In other news, the head cold from hell is still persisting, and we woke up this morning to the sound of a steady stream of water dripping through the ceiling hatch in the kitchen. I've since had a crash-course in how to obtain a roofing quote, and how much can actually be wrong with the roof that your building inspector told you three years ago looked to be fine. The things you learn when you own a villa that was built in 1913! In the end the lovely old guy who drove out from Wainui and walked around on the roof in the rain, and who then ordered me to go back to bed, will probably get our custom. There's something about good, old-fashioned service and courtesy that seems appealing. Now to convince the home loan company to shell out some of our equity.

A final, revolting post-script. I've been wondering off and on all day how many calories I'm taking in through the rather persistent post-nasal drip that has accompanied this cold. I think I remember reading somewhere that the associated mucus is mostly glucose. It probably doesn't bear thinking about in too great a detail! On the positive side, my temperature as of a few minutes ago was 36.8, so no fever, despite feeling so rotten. I am wondering though what kind of virus brings with it an all-over body rash, which kicks in any time my skin comes into contact with something. Perhaps spending so much time at home has unleashed a sudden alltergy to the cats. I was considering a reaction to our laundry powder, but I think it's one we've used regularly in the past. Odd ...

1 comment:

Crafty Green Poet said...

This looks a better ecological footprint calculator than I've seen. I think the whole thing is so complicated, its difficult to come up with a perfect calculator.