Carbon Rationing to Lower Co2 Emissions: What Might That Look Like?

Britain’s first ever Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has called for a revival of the Second World War spirit to help meet carbon emissions targets, saying “we need to mobilise as a nation in a way we haven’t seen since 1945″.

Ms Lucas said that what she liked so much about the idea of reviving wartime spirit in the fight against carbon was that people were willing to put up with so much deprivation “because they knew there was no alternative”:

What struck me most about the report was how many positive – and at times inspiring – lessons we could learn from the wartime generation. People put up with so much disruption and deprivation because they knew there was no alternative, and because they believed society would emerge stronger at the end of the war.

Guardian. Mobilising the ‘Home Front’ to Fight Climate Change.

So what might this spirit of deprivation and disruption in the new “War on Carbon” actually look like in practice?

One possible future can be glimpsed from the efforts of people that have voluntarily reduced their “carbon footprints” to a level they see as appropriate. Let’s take a look, and see what it involves.

The BBC reports on one family voluntarily rationing their carbon emissions:

Most families get up in the morning, switch on the lights and start their ablutions. The Robinsons do not.

The Robinsons get up, leave the lights off and open the curtains a crack so some light gets in but little heat escapes.

This is the world of “carbon rationing”.

BBC. 8 AM. Shower. Save the Water. Save the Planet.

As the BBC report notes, the Robinsons got the inspiration for their lifestyle when Mr Robinson visited a prison, and was impressed with how the routine meant that habits became deeply ingrained there. When they started to reduce their carbon emissions at home, they simply applied the same psychology. The children do get some leeway, though, for the moment. They can watch DVDs at the weekend on the laptop (the family have no TV anymore) but they have to turn the brightness down to save electricity:

It is easy to see the Robinsons as driven. They do not watch television, but for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment. Their children are allowed to watch DVDs at the weekend but the brightness control has to come down.

As pleased as the Robinsons are with their austere new regime, they realise that their personal carbon emissions, at about ten tons per year, are over twice the allowed level set by their local Carbon Reduction Action Group (CRAG).

With more money to spare, Kelly Neville and his wife have redesigned their house and garden to be more “eco-friendly” and now their toilet empties straight out onto their vegetable patch, as The Times reports:

Emptying the earth closet onto the veg patch was common until the 20th century, and on Wednesday, on Grand Designs, I visit Kelly Neville and his wife, Masako, who have installed a reed-bed sewerage system by the oak-framed hexagonal house they have built on their six-acre smallholding in the Cambridgeshire fens. The garden is fed by roof-harvested rainwater and the enriched “grey” and “brown” water is filtered and cleaned by the reed bed. An underground microbiotic “digester” feeds on the waste solids, and the accumulated sludge makes great fertiliser. This isn’t “fork to fork” gardening, it’s “pan to pan”.

A wind turbine generates some electricity, and Kelly, 48, harvests the coppice willow that they grow and burns it in a low-tech furnace. This provides hot water and underfloor heating for their superinsulated house.

The Times. Waste Not, Want Not.

Laugh all you want. For now, this sort of thing is done on a voluntary basis. But it might pay to get used to the idea of using a chamber pot instead of a toilet, and forget about that quilted toilet paper. In fact, maybe just get used to life without toilet paper altogether -

As The Guardian observes, a campaign to ban quilted toilet paper as “unsustainable” is already well underway in America, and now campaigners in the UK are demanding the end of toilet paper altogether.

In fact, demands for toilets to be banned, and “humanure” to be spread on back-yard vegetable patches were made in the Guardian in 2006, and again in 2011. Banning the flush toilet was demanded as a necessary ‘first step’ towards the sort of life we need to get used to in the “War on Carbon”

This requires a lot of things, from rejecting plastic bags and packaging to radically abandoning the flush toilet – one of the world’s most destructive habits, absorbing 40% of water available for domestic consumption and contaminating everything in its way. And instead of overusing polluting vehicles, let’s reclaim auto-mobility, on foot or bikes. Just as we strive to eat and drink sensibly, let us live our whole lives in a different way.

The Guardian. The Arrogance of Cancun.

Instead, we should be emptying our waste on to the (organic) food we are growing in our gardens:

Jenkins wants to make people realise that flushing our poo down the toilet is like flushing away money: if composted and used as a fertiliser, he calculates that the entire world’s excrement in 2000 would have been worth $18 billion (based on 1975 prices!). He shows that at present we are operating in a broken nutrient cycle: instead of eating, excreting, composting and returning those nutrients to the soil in a healthy and perfect circle, we apply chemical fertiliser, grow, eat, excrete, and then landfill the excrement which is produced.

The Guardian. Should I Flush the Toilet?

Welcome to the war on carbon.

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15 responses to “Carbon Rationing to Lower Co2 Emissions: What Might That Look Like?

  1. I’m sure Blackadder’s relatives, the Whiteadders, would have thoroughly approved of all the above measures. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3ew8oj-A8I

  2. In the UK conserving water is a nonsense. We have plenty and our sewerage requires it to keep the system moving. Too little and it dries out and you end up with blockages.

    The return of night soil men will not be an advance of civilisation.

    Caroline Lucas seems to have forgotten that rationing didn’t stop in 1945.

  3. 6 Acres to support 2 aults and one child in Cambridgeshire?

    Dispersing the cities the cities should be insteresting even if 6 acres could support a few more people and they all live in 10×10 rooms.

    In fact, thinking about it, why not introduce the dormitory system to the ‘western world’ since it seems to be acceptable in the worls of far eastern manufacturing that supplies us.

    Now that would probably fit with NASA concept of 10×10 rooms rather well since people could have the same space without the need for so much CO2 generating construction.

    I think 10×10 (ft) is probably OK. I have, somewhere, a Victorian era book on Hygiene that recounts the military discovery that packing too many troops to close together in barracks resulted in a perpetually sick army but providing slightly greater space in the accommodation improved thing enormously. Maybe NASA have a copy as well.

    The important thing is – when are our ‘leaders’ going to grab the opportunity to set an example?

  4. I have always felt that flushing lavatories and soft paper are a definitive mark of civilization.

    Incidentally, we have no downstairs loo, and my husband pees in the garden! Over the eleven years we have lived here we must have saved thousands of gallons of water. In fact, he usually comments on his way out that he is off to save the environment!

    (Not an option for everyone, I know, but we live well away from our neighbours.)

  5. The Wolmar piece you link to about an alternative to toilet paper starts out sensibly enough. Washing is better and more hygienic in general but, as seemingly always in such stories, the gratuitous sustainability and/or climate change nonsense has to be bolted on. It’s the journalistic equivalent of “in the context of climate change” being welded onto every scientific grant application however ludicrous it then makes the whole idea sound.

    Actually, to link to the piece from the phrase “campaigners in the UK are demanding the end of toilet paper altogether” is rather unfair as Wolmar, here at least, says nothing at all about banning or coercion, just that it would be a good idea if toilets accommodated easier washing.
    I know that it’s easy to assume that any time that someone green suggests something they are demanding its draconian forcing on the population – not least because they usually are – but if sceptics aren’t accurate about what people are actually saying it weakens our position.

  6. Don’t regions that don’t have the luxury of a bog roll or don’t use such as it is against their religion or not in their culture suffer high rates of and deaths from diarrhea?

  7. I actually thought that fertilising vegetable gardens with human waste was now illegal due to the fact that it is highly dangerous. I think that I read somewhere about some modern method of processing the stuff which involves very high temperatures combined with some kind of organic process that turns it into safe compost but I believe that just spreading it on your garden is a really bad idea.

  8. I would like to see some effort made for people to stop referring to the supposed sinner in the AGW debate as Carbon, it is of course Carbon Dioxide. If it was water that was the villain, would it be termed as the Hydrogen footprint?
    I suspect that the warmists started this practice because carbon is generally thought of as dirty and black whereas carbon dioxide is, as we were taught at school, a plant food.
    Just read the main article again to see for yourself.

  9. It’s notable that the Green/Left has such an ingrained habit of ‘demanding’ things (although I take artwest’s point in this particular case). Google ‘climate change demand’ for ~36m hits.

    The other sorts of people who routinely ‘demand’ things are kidnappers and blackmailers (it’s still defined as ‘demanding money with menaces’) — the rest of us just ‘request’ or ‘hope for’ things.

  10. Hasn’t anyone in the ludicrous Green Party, or in the still more preposterous Guardian, ever heard of Google? They might usefully try Googling a search argument along the lines of “cholera Bazalgette”, to see what the effects of a return to the 1840s would really mean. I have seen a page of a burial register in 1849 (copyright HMG, so I am not permitted to share it, but it’s on scotlandspeople.gov.uk) from Edinburgh. There are twenty-five souls named on the page and twelve departed this life through cholera.

  11. I think some people need to do some research on plague for starters and then a little bit on illnesses between the 19th and 16th century.
    You know those thing that evil modern plumbing and sanitation solved.

  12. Pingback: Bloomberg: CARBON RATIONING FOR UK SEEN WITHIN DECADE. | hauntingthelibrary

  13. Pingback: Bloomberg: Carbon Rationing For UK Seen Within A Decade

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