Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Didn't I Take Metal Shop?

I didn't take "Home Ec" in high school. Even without "Home Ec" I have managed to feed my husband and brood of chilluns for 40+ years without a single case of food poisoning. However, on nights like this I regret my decision to take biology instead of metal shop. That moment of poor planning left me with a distinct lack of skill with a cutting torch and no practical knowledge whatsoever in the gentle art of metallurgy.

As I sit here, rocked and buffeted by 90 kph winds all I can think of is the hundreds of un-captured kilowatt hours flying past us. I have only the vaguest idea of how wind (or solar) power is converted into a usable form, but still I long to tack a turbine onto the front of the Beach House and let the wind have at 'er.

I long to be off the grid while maintaining some level of comfort, or at least to reduce the power bill. Last month, when we had the roof leak and had to run the dehumidifier at maximum capacity night and day for three weeks, and turn on the heat, our power bill was the highest it's ever been - $63.00. Power has gone up by a couple of cents a Kwh, and it makes a difference in the bill.

Thankfully Ian was here last week and plastic wrapped us. It was a big job we couldn't begin to do alone. But at a time we carry reusable shopping and produce bags and are trying to use less plastic, it took 32 running feet of 8 foot 5 inch wide heavy weight plastic to close in the deck. Even though we should be able to reuse the same plastic for about three or four years it's enough to make you weep.

Yet, the plastic not only makes it a degree or two warmer on the deck than outside in the howling wind, even on cloudy days, it makes it much more comfortable inside. Without the wind sucking the heat through the walls we can keep the thermostat at 21 C (70 F), rather than the 23C (74F) we needed last winter to be comfortable. So we save both electricity and propane. That has to be worth something environmentally.

All these compromises between your ideals and your reality make it clear that few of us are in a position to point the finger at those who abuse the environment simply to stay alive. Dang it's fun to be on a high horse, but the only way we will ever solve our environmental problems is to sit down together and figure out how to provide a decent living for everyone on the planet. Doesn't sound as if the politicians have any interest in it, so it's up to you and me now.

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