Keep it in the Ground

So much for our legal protections. A new mapping analysis finds that nearly 200,000 acres of protected countryside in Mole Valley and elsewhere in south-east England face a new wave of oil drilling. Some of the land is in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Not only is this really bad for our climate. It is totally unnecessary. As Anne Brewer reported in this column recently (Advertiser, March 15, 2018), the recent big freeze is no sign of the end of global warming. Quite the opposite. It was caused by a heatwave in the depth of the Arctic winter, where it was warmer than in London, Paris or New York. The drilling is unnecessary because brilliant technologies already exist as an alternative to oil extraction. Over a decade ago we learned that electricity could be harvested from new forms of paving on footways, or even the rumble of trains across bridges. Little has happened, though that may be because solar panels and wind have outperformed even conventional power generation. Solar panels can even work when it's raining. Chinese engineers have generated useful electricity by laying two transparent polymer layers on top of solar panels. These 'teng' devices are well known, but the latest design, from Soochow University, is simpler, cheaper, and more efficient than earlier examples. And they work at night!The Chinese are showing an impressive grasp of the need to move to cleaner sources of energy. How long will it take for the penny to drop here? And what does it all mean in Bookham or Brockham? First, that anything we can do to reduce CO2 emissions has to be a benefit. We all know that means walking and cycling where we can - avoid taking the car. If we can't solve the problem by ourselves we can at least not make things worse. But it's more than that. It's to accept, then say out loud, that we do not need and cannot afford to take any more gas or oil out of the ground at Leith Hill or anywhere else. At the very least, if we value the delightful surroundings nature has provided for us in Mole Valley, it means speaking up againstfurther extraction here. Transition Bookham is part of the Transition Movement, an international grassroots response to the challenges of sustainability and climate change. Find out more at . By John Dwyer

29 May 2018