Daily Mail

Double standards?

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The news this week that included in the Queen’s speech is the  provision for a 5p charge to be levied on plastic carrier bags at English supermarkets has to be applauded. We are way behind Europe on this (even Wales are ahead of us!) Bags for life are the way forward, and if the European offer is any example to go by they do indeed last for years (I have a collection from France, Italy and Spain).

BpPBMCpCUAAeYxk.jpg-largeWhat did make me laugh however is the Daily Mail’s claim that this change is down to them and that they have fully supported the drive to adopt this. They may well have been behind the campaign (they no doubt believed it appealed to the average Mail reader).

However, this is the same newspaper that has been telling its readers not to adopt energy saving lightbulbs and to stockpile all the old tungsten bulbs!

Proof if any was needed that newspaper campaigns are about selling newspapers – and nothing to do with saving the environment or even changing society for the better.

As a shooter I believe you need to read this!

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There needs to be gun control – I do not disagree with this statement. I also don’t agree with the NRA of America’s attitude – they really don’t help themselves or their cause in my opinion. Hopefully those two statements have allowed me to hold your attention and also assured you that I am not a maniac!

20130309-172226.jpgIn this country the legislation relating to firearms is as strong as any in the world, and in my opinion is adequate. It is the management of the law that is at issue.

The National Rifle Association have this weekend released a press release that explains why they consider no further legislation is required – it is worth a read in full so I have set it out below. No doubt the likes of the Daily Mail will ‘edit’ the article to make shooters appear to be ‘Satan’s spawn’ – we aren’t. I leave you to make your own opinion……

No Need for Review of Firearms Licensing

Recent calls for a review of firearms licensing have been made by the coroner after ruling that three women were unlawfully killed in County Durham.

The killer, Michael Atherton, had legally owned weapons despite a history of domestic abuse.

The case highlights failings not in firearms licensing legislation but failings with implementation. This was recognised by Michael Banks, Durham’s Deputy Chief Constable, who stated “If we were presented with the same facts today… (Michael Atherton’s) licence would not be granted”…if there’s any intelligence around domestic violence in the family setting or intemperate behaviour then there is a presumption that a firearms licence or shotgun certificate will not be granted”.

Local police firearms officers work hard and generally deliver a highly professional service with rigorous scrutiny for firearm applications and renewals.

UK firearms legislation is recognised as some of the most restricted in the world; and the UK system is widely held across Europe to be an exemplar for responsible and safe firearms ownership.

The granting of a firearm certificate is wholly at the discretion of the police who need to be confident that the applicant is responsible and poses no risk to the public.

Applicants are obliged to justify good reason to own a rifle; provide independent character referees; be checked for criminal records; give consent for police to question their GP for evidence of alcoholism, drug abuse or personality disorders; and provide evidence of specialist secure storage for their rifle.

Shooting is a legal and major participation sport in the UK, and today over 700,000 certificates are granted covering 1.8m rifles and shotguns.

The incidence of legally held firearms being used in criminal activity is very rare, hence the keen media interest in such stories. The comparative statistics for knife crime are astonishing – in the year to June 2012 there were 29,613 recorded offences involving knives and other sharp objects. This supports the National Rifle Association’s long held view that it is the person not the weapon that causes harm and that the current firearm legislation, properly implemented, continues to deliver safety and protection to the public.

Andrew Mercer
Secretary General, National Rifle Association

The future of lighting?

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The move away from the ‘good old’ tungsten bulb is now almost complete. Some people have stock piled them in cupboards as they don’t like the much more efficient and longer lasting alternatives – compact fluorescents and LED’s. but generally there does now seem to ba an acceptance that the move away from old style bulbs is the way to go (unless of course you read the Daily Mail!).

It appear now however that there is a new kid on the block – the plastic bulb. Sounds strange I will admit, and it is currently at a very early stage. But according to the inventors ( in the US) it gives a much nicer light. So what is it exactly?

The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent (Fipel) technology. It is made from three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them. 

The inventor of the device is Dr David Carroll, professor of physics at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. He says the new plastic lighting source can be made into any shape, and it produces a better quality of light than compact fluorescent bulbs which have become very popular in recent years.

And the first versions should be available next year!

Not down to us?

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I had an extremely pleasant evening last week at the Mattioli Woods charity dinner in support of Rainbows Hospice – a fabulous cause and hopefully one that benefited greatly from the night.

The guest speaker was Lord Lawson – known to the younger members of society as Nigella’s dad, but better known to the rest of us as the Chancellor during Maggie’s three periods in office. He is now in his early 80’s, so it was going to be interesting to see what his take on things as they are now was. And in many ways we were not disappointed – he is undoubtably a very bright man, and if I am half as active at this age I will be very happy!

However, there was one part of his speech that did worry me – he will always play to the ‘Daily Mail readers’ in a room, and the other night was no different. But his views on Global Warming I did find rather blinkered, especially after his comments about it being ‘a religion’ that no one was permitted to challenge anymore! He basically appears to believe that we are having no effect upon the planet and that burning fossil fuels is definitely the way forward!

I accept that it is not a clear-cut case – but the current extreme weather, the melting polar areas – not our fault?

The photo above is of my home town, Malmesbury in Wiltshire. As a family we have been there over 40 years and I cannot recall a time when the bottom of the High Street has flooded and blocked access into the town – even before all the flood alleviation work was done a good few years ago – so do we assume this is just a fluke event?

A positive press – surely not

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The British press have a lot to answer for – they love bad news (and if they haven’t got any they will invariably ‘make it up’). I am convinced that we would be in a better place from an economic point of view (and probably a social one) without the best efforts of our press. They have immense power and sadly abuse it – the freedom of the press is important and I would never want to stifle it, but it is a massive honour and should not be abused!

20120805-114937.jpgSo it is nice to see some positive news for once! I am in Italy at the moment, so slightly divorced from the UK news services (although the web shrinks the world) – the Olympics however are global so it is easy to follow – if only from the Italian perspective. So seeing the papers from the UK for this Sunday following the a amazing results in the Olympics for the GB team on Saturday is fantastic. I imagine the UK is buzzing today – and the press are for once adding to that.

So my question to the UK press is why can’t you be more positive at other times and perhaps see the ‘up side’ as well as the downside to stories?

Have LED lights come of age?

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An LED with a UK fitting – you can get them….

I have blogged previously about the effect that ‘good old’ tungsten bulbs (as favoured by Daily Mail readers) can have on energy consumption and energy efficiency ratings – in a word HUGE. The usual argument against is that the alternatives cost too much and give a ‘nasty’ light. As far as compact fluorescents (CFL’s) go that is far from the truth now – they start and warm up quickly and you can even get dimmable ones now. Yes they cost more but the payback on them now is probably in the region of 6 months – and then you are into savings for the remainder of their lives (which is normally years).

However for the CFL haters there has been an alternative for a while – the LED bulb – but they are expensive which has proved highly popular with the flat earth brigade (i.e. Daily Mail readers).

With prices up to £25 per bulb, the received wisdom that LED lighting is too expensive seems deserved. But rising electricity prices and falling LED costs mean that for homes with a large number of halogen or tungsten bulbs, the new generation of low-energy lighting finally makes financial sense.

Concerns over the ‘weak or cold quality’ of LED light have abated. Despite usually costing more than six times as much as halogens, the payback for LEDs now comes in 15 months or less – and for homeowners changing dozens of halogen bulbs, the savings can be in the hundreds of pounds every year afterwards.

So to a degree it is a matter of re-educating our buying habits. Lighting has always been about the fitting rather than the bulb, the days of the cheap low efficiency bulb are thankfully coming to and end. If consumers are prepared to pay the up-front higher cost they will quickly calculate that they will see a return on their investment within the first couple of years – and will go on making financial savings for many more years. Users will also not have the hassle of continuously replacing burnt-out halogen lamps – LED bulbs come with advertised lifetimes of 10,000 hours and up, compared to the typical 1,000-hour lifetime of hot-running halogen bulbs.

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are semiconductors that make old-fashioned lightbulbs (incandescents) and even “energy savers” (compact fluorescents) look incredibly inefficient. A typical 35W halogen replacement LED will use as little as 4W, considerably less than the 10W or so a CFL would use to produce the same level of light. They also have the advantage of being “instant-on” and do not suffer from warming up slowly like some CFL replacements for halogens.

Using the Energy Saving Trust’s typical use figure for a bulb in a kitchen or living room at an average of 2.7 hours a day – and assuming 40 bulbs in a house  – running costs would be reduced to £23 annually compared to £287 for sticking with traditional bulbs.

I haven’t swapped to LED’s in my home yet – because I still have a large number of CFL’s that are still working fine, but before next winter I think the change will occur. It is now well worthwhile – give it some thought next time you have to buy a bulb!

Wind farm tales….

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Nothing appears to get people’s bile rising faster these days than mentioning wind farms, certain national publications have also embraced this and are leading the fight against them (Daily Mail for those who don’t know).

Unfortunately because of this there tends to be a lot of ‘misinformation’ which really doesn’t help us move the renewables issue forward at a time when it needs to be gathering pace rather than stagnating. A classic example was the ‘burning turbine’ picture that did the rounds after the gales earlier this winter.

This dramatic picture of a wind turbine bursting into flames in Ardrossan was seized upon by opponents of wind energy as an example of ‘why wind doesn’t work’. But the same gales caused issues for other power sources as well – which wasn’t publicised by the papers.

The photo has become a somewhat defining image for the anti wind farm groups, but as the hurricane-force winds did this (they peaked at 165mph) they also brought down power lines which left around 60,000 people without electricity – far more significant than the loss of a turbine.

One of the downed power lines ran to and from Hunterston nuclear power station causing the 460-megawatt B-8 nuclear reactor to stop generating for 54 hours. This outage had a much greater effect upon the grid than the loss of the wind turbine – the estimate is that Hunterston lost around 17,388 MWh compared with the turbine’s 1,210MWh.

There are always two sides to an argument – let’s not kill off wind power before it is given a proper chance.

Low energy lighting – a second chance?

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these can save you lots.......

The low energy light bulb (or compact fluorescent to be more accurate) has been given pretty rough treatment by the public since it became available a few years ago. Yes, it is fair to say that the early versions were fairly poor in terms of warm up times, so the early poor press was probably deserved. They are however much better now and provide good levels of instant light. They are also one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce energy use in the home and make a much bigger impact on energy-saving than most people realise – I highlighted this in an earlier blog.

Unfortunately the press (the Daily Mail in particular) have done such an effective hatchet job on them that they will probably never make the level of contribution that they should in the domestic market. However there is now a ‘young pretender’ on the block – LED lighting. In reality it has been around for some time and we have become used to great little torches and the like using this technology. But now it is beginning to break into the domestic and commercial market as costs start to fall – and its energy usage is equally low.

And now to help move this forward the European Commission has launched a green paper and public consultation on the future of LED-based lighting. Part of the reason behind this is that the European Union completes its phasing out of traditional light bulb sales in September 2012, and in the next few years about eight billion incandescent lamps in European homes, offices and streets will need to be replaced by more energy-efficient lighting solutions (unless Daily Mail readers get their way!).

These include LED and organic LED (or OLED) lighting technologies, also known as solid state lighting (SSL). It is predicted that faster LED deployment will help reduce energy use from lighting by 20 per cent by 2020, but there are market challenges;

  • High purchase prices – compared to traditional sources
  • Lack of familiarity among potential users – a real ‘catch 22’
  • A lack of common standards

The key questions from the consultation include;

What would help to overcome existing barriers and accelerate LED deployment in Europe?
How can it be ensured that LED products on the European market are good quality, safe and meet consumer expectations?
How can co-operation be reinforced between the lighting sector and architects, lighting designers, electrical installers and the construction and building sectors?
How can the EU best support entrepreneurship and competitiveness in the lighting sector?

The consultation runs until 29 February 2012 and can be found  here.

Low energy bulbs – public enemy No.1?

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Americas new enemy?

Everyone will be aware of low energy bulbs – or compact fluorescents (CFL’s) as they are more correctly described. There appears to be no middle ground, you either love them or hate them! The Daily Mail has had rather a lot to do with the ‘hate campaign’ in the UK, as usual they have used some rather dodgy journalism to support the ‘good old’ tungsten bulb! However, even they have been eclipsed by events in the USA this week!

A Republican campaign to “defend America against a sweeping assault on personal freedom” – or energy-saving lightbulbs as they are more commonly known – was defeated on Tuesday night.

This was an attempt by the conservative Tea Party movement to repeal the 2007 law promoting more efficient lighting standards, apparently it was “an assault on personal freedom”. The law required more efficient bulbs to be in use by 2012 – and would have caused the ‘good old 100 watt’ bulb to disapear.

The vote in the House of Representatives failed to get the two-thirds majority required under the special rules invoked by Republicans to try to fast track the legislation. It did get a 233-193 majority in the house, however, and Joe Barton the Texan Republican behind the measure said he would try again – by any means possible!

According to the Republicans the 2007 measure, which was signed into law by George Bush, is an outright attack on their civil liberties, and even an affront to the inventor of the tungsten bulb Thomas Edison! In their view, the move to encourage the adoption of  CFL’s was yet another example of government overreach by Barack Obama.

Come on America – get a grip – it’s only a bulb, and it will save you money in the long-term and help save the planet! Oh, hang on I forgot, that,s not a top priority for the US is it?