Apologies for radio silence. I can't even blame it on a defective satellite phone this time. Truth is, the problems with my laptop (still ongoing) had me so bummed (I'm learning to speak Californian, note) that I couldn't find the motivation to blog. This is a shame, as a lot of really good stuff has been happening. I intend to make up the backlog and bring you up to date, but right now I don't have time - I'm dashing out to see 'An Inconvenient Truth'. So, to keep you entertained in the meantime, here is a story to amaze and inspire...
Dean Karnazes is going to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Read more here.
I'm reading his autobiography, Ultra Marathon Man at the moment - I got it for free from the Timex stand at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City at the weekend (of which more later). His feats are incredible. You have to be impressed with a man who can eat a large Round Table pizza (serves 5) plus a whole cheesecake without breaking stride. Ew.
Am I the only one having difficulty imagining this combination of characters having a chinwag round a table? In July Tony Blair made his first visit to San Francisco as prime minister. Richard Branson and others joined him and Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger for a meeting on global warming.
Apparently "They agreed to collaborate on research into cleaner-burning fuels and technologies, and look into the possibility of setting up a system whereby polluters could buy and sell the right to emit greenhouse gases. The idea is to use market forces and market incentives to curb pollution."
I haven't read such a weaselly 'statement' of weak intentions since I read Starbucks' commitment to fair trade coffee.
I believe that Blair, Schwarzenegger et al absolutely meant it when they said it, and that their intentions are good. But the road to a global-warming hell is paved with good intentions.
I was ambushed today outside the Apple Store in Palo Alto by these two students (Lisa Day and friend) gathering support for Environment California.
The state is the 12th largest source of global warming pollution in the world, more than most countries. They're also at the forefront of the fight to make a difference, with good old Arnie Schwarzenegger (now generally known as Governor) leading the charge.
But there still seems to be a lack of joined-up thinking in some quarters. Electrical power consumption is still rising. On 7th August a new record for power demand was set, coinciding with the peak of the heatwave.
So let me get this... the hotter it gets, the more power is consumed, presumably to run airconditioning. So as the planet generally gets hotter, more and more power is going to be consumed to keep the Californians cool.
Moving to greener sources of energy is definitely a step in the right direction, but mightn't it help if people learned to use less power as well?
Many environmental objectives seem to be painfully far into the future - fuel cells, hydrogen, new wind farms. If every single person used the aircon for one less hour a day, today, it would start to make a difference with a zero lead time.
Is air-conditioning essential, or is it a luxury?
The Outdoor Retailer Show is yielding all kinds of goodies. Here is my haul from today - not easy to fit Bridgedale socks, a UV monitor, an underwater pen, a head torch and a Tilley hat into one photo, especially when one hand is occupied with holding the camera, but here is my best shot. There should have been some Larabars in there as well but I've eaten them all.
The weekend yielded some intangible (and inedible) goodies as well - meetings with Eric Larsen and Lonnie Dupre, Will Steger, and Ben Saunders - all polar trekkers.