Daily archives: July 14, 2006

Heavensent 7.4

Every other boat was a former battle craft. They had even come across a tracked amphibious thing that ferried people back and forth across the river. They took their cues from these craft and decorated theirs to match.

The shoreline was naked of trees, but not of industrial litter. Oil drums, both collapsible and rigid, were stacked up with old tyres, track segments and whole abandoned vehicles. The few green shoots became ever rarer as the air became more polluted. They took to covering their mouths with cloth and shielding their eyes with goggles.

“What could produce this much toxic air?” Marra wondered.

“Reff.” Dack told her, “It is a city dedicated to refining and processing the resources they strip from the plains and forests.”

The city came at them suddenly, appearing from its own haze. There were docks and warehouses and beyond them a great barrier of smokestacks and soot. They found a decrepit little jetty and landed. “I believe I have found my mission.” Morn announced as he alighted.

“Here? But there could be more deserving downstream. What about my country?” Marra asked.

“To take back your country you need more men like Dack and fewer like me. Even on your own you have the strength to do the job. It is my task to help the truly helpless.”

There was movement at the shore end of the jetty. Small figures resolved from the murk. They were all armed, some with spears taller than themselves. Two larger figures came towards the boat. As they drew nearer they were revealed as identical twins, each with the build of a wrestler. Identical but for one detail- one had a red crescent tattooed down the right side of his face, the other the left.

“Off are jetty!” proclaimed Left. For all his size he was very young, perhaps no more than a year past hairing.

“I would like to enter Reff.”

“Nothing in Reff but death.” Right announced.

“Perhaps I could help. Can I speak with your parents?”

Left laughed at that. A nasty laugh with hints of violence. “Are parents are dead.” Right announced.

“You are orphans?”

“We are all.” Left gestured at the little figures.

Right had come to a decision. “We fight. You win, you pass. You lose…..” He addressed this to Dack, then studied Marra, considering her his prize.

“Very well.” Morn stepped forward. Marra kept Dack from protesting. “You fight me. If I win, you will take me into the city. If I lose, we shall get in our boat and sail away.”

That wasn’t the prize that Left wanted, but he was ready for a fight now. Besides, he was nearly three whole spans taller than this little man and one span taller than the dark one and the woman. “Both of us.” He announced. It was supposed to unnerve his opponent, but the little man simply nodded and smiled.

Marra and Dack took steps back. They could jump into the boat and get weapons if needed. Left stepped forward, relishing the bone popping noises he would soon hear. He lunged at Morn.

And went straight over him. Morn had ducked under his attacker’s arms and dropped to the floor. He jabbed at the boy’s groin and levered him into a cartwheel by the ankle. Left landed on his face, pivoting about it onto his back.

Morn bounced back up, ready to defend against Right’s attack. This youngster was more wary than his brother. He tried jabbing punches. Morn dodged them, tapping at nerve clusters until the boy found his legs wouldn’t respond and he fell sideways.

Some of the smaller figures raised their spears. Left was forcing himself up, he waved them to stop. Morn was ready for another attack, though there would not be much to it. “No one beat me before.” Left complained, “Show me how.”

“Maybe one day. Your brother will recover in a little while. When he does, perhaps you can show me where you all live.”

Left nodded agreement. He waved the little ones to come closer. “Are tribe. You have belongings?”

Marra and Dack passed items up from the boat. Morn passed some of them back. The little ones picked up the treasure as it was piled up, ready to carry it back to their hideout.

Finally, Marra and Dack came onto the jetty to say their farewells. “It has been an honour to share time on the river with you.” Marra announced.

“And with you.” They clasped hands and bowed until their foreheads touched.

Dack and Morn bowed to each other without touching. “May we meet again.” Dack said.

“Indeed. There are great things coming. Perhaps we will be part of them.” Morn joined the tribe of juveniles and walked off into the grime.

Heavensent 7.5
Heavensent 7.3
Heavensent 1.1

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Livingstone targets 'Chelsea tractors'

Ken Livingstone has proposed changes in London’s congestion charging which will see smaller, less polluting cars paying less and larger fuel hungry ones paying up to £25 a day.

“My aim is to see the cutting of carbon emissions and the protection of our environment at the heart of the scheme,” said Livingstone.

“There is a growing sense of concern amongst Londoners about climate change caused by CO2 emissions, which is the biggest single problem facing humanity, and tackling this threat requires decisive action.

“‘Chelsea tractors’, many of which are responsible for some of the highest CO2 emissions of any cars on our roads, have to be dealt with.

“I want TfL to look at lower congestion charges for cars responsible for lower than average CO2 emissions, broadly the retention of the current rate of £8 for most cars, and much steeper charges of perhaps £25 for the really environmentally damaging cars such as the so-called ‘Chelsea tractors’.”

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Climate change claims the Eiger

One of Switzerland’s most famous mountains is set to change dramatically as a huge slab breaks away from it. The Grindelwald glacier is melting due to higher temperatures and water in the fissure between the slab and the main body of the mountain is building up pressure.

This is only the most recent, and dramatic, example of the damage being done by global warming to the Alps. In May the Gotthard road, one of the main routes through the Alps was blocked, and two motorists killed, by a rockslide and on Monday there was a mudslide from a glacier which killed a hiker.

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Severn barrage to be reviewed

I’m not so knee-jerk anti nuclear that I’d support any Uranium free alternative, so I’m dubious about plans for a tidal barrage running all the way across the River Severn. Even if it might, as projected, generate 5% of the country’s energy supply it looks like another example of the Government thinking big and getting things horribly wrong. My vote is for smaller barrage lagoons on all the country’s large estuarys, bottom mounted tidal turbines up and down the rivers and generators built into sea wall replacements.

Tuesday’s energy review recommended further study of the Severn barrage, but cautioned on its potential environmental impact.

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David Cameron gets his windmill

Greeny-blue (cyan?) David Cameron has been given permission to mount a wind turbine and solar panels on his home. The turbine must be grey, to blend in, and he must renew the planning permission after three years. It’s a small, but high profile, victory against the NIMBYs.

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MPs' Green press releases- energy review edition part two

I’ve decided to start posting the press releases in full. Nuclear power, no thanks!


Nick Harvey MP has today commented on the long awaited results of the Government’s energy review published this week. The Review concluded that nuclear power is economically viable and should play a role in UK energy policy.

Mr Harvey said:

“This move could have disastrous consequences for Great Britain. Not only has the focus on nuclear prevented the government from announcing urgently required investment into clean coal and renewable technologies, but we are also facing increasing threats from terrorist organisations for whom a nuclear power station would be an ideal target.

“Instead of wasting money on expensive nuclear technology we should be creating the right market in carbon, which would encourage private firms to invest, and raise the funds for essential government-sponsored Research and Development.

“Projects such as the Marine Current Turbines at Lynton and Lynmouth, where a tidal energy farm is now planned, is a shining example of how we might hope to meet our energy needs in the future with not just one but a whole basket of technologies.”


Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test today welcomed much of the Energy Review, published yesterday by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alistair Darling, and in particular praised the commitment in the review to energy management and increased support for renewable energy sources.

But he also claimed that the Review has not made the case for nuclear power that had been claimed in some quarters. Indeed, Dr Whitehead cited three questions on nuclear power unanswered in the review:

“Firstly no new nuclear power stations will be online before 2020 according to the Review. This means that any gap in energy supplies will have to be made up before then and not by nuclear.

Secondly nuclear power stations will only be built by private companies if they are confident that they will get their money back. The mechanisms set up in the Review will not achieve that but might instead damage investment in other sources of energy.

Finally, there are strong mechanisms proposed in the Review to encourage energy efficiency and the take up of distributed generation. It is not clear why we need nuclear if these paths are rigorously pursued.”


Responding to the DTI Select Committee’s report into nuclear power, Liberal Democrat Shadow DTI Secretary, Edward Davey MP said

“Three years ago, there was a growing cross-party consensus around the 2003 energy white paper’s recommendations. This outlined a vision for a low carbon non-nuclear future.

“The Government has now surrendered to pressure from the pro-nuclear lobby. The country now faces a costly, ineffective and unpredictable approach to the future of our environment.”


Bath’s MP, Don Foster has spoken out against nuclear power following a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) which stated that almost four times more energy could be saved through energy efficiency measures over the next two decades than could be generated by replacing all the UK’s nuclear reactors.

Commenting, Don said:

“Nuclear is a tried, tested and failed technology with demonstrably higher costs than the renewable alternatives. This report’s recommendations to use less energy is yet another endorsement of the approach advocated by the Liberal Democrats. However, under Labour, energy use has been going up and up, year by year, with no sign of ending.

“The most sensible way to ensure security of supply and avoid astronomical expense is to use energy more efficiently. Apart from onshore wind farms, investment in energy efficiency is the most cost effective energy strategy.”

McIntosh: New measures to promote local green energy are welcome

Miss Anne McIntosh, MP for the Vale of York, today welcomed proposals by the Government to make it easier for homes to install small-scale renewable energy, such as solar water heating or mini-wind turbines. The move by the Government to change planning rules comes after a Conservative campaign to push for more green energy and micro-generation.

Miss Anne McIntosh explained, “I welcome that the Government has responded to cross-party pressure to make it easier for homes in North Yorkshire and across the country to install renewable energy like solar panels or mini-wind turbines. Where the Government offers positive, constructive and reasonable policies, they will have my support.

“But the Government could do far more to promote green energy, rather than giving unfair subsidies to new nuclear power stations. Conservatives want to enhance our environment by seeking a long-term cross-party consensus on sustainable development and climate change – instead of short-term thinking or surrendering to vested interests. The modern, compassionate Conservative Party believes that quality of life matters just as much as quantity of money.”

Also this week, David Cameron has made a major speech calling for:
• A level playing field between renewable and other forms of energy generation.
• Encouraging local generators to sell any spare electricity they generate back to the National Grid.
• Improving and streamlining planning procedures for green energy.

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