viernes, 29 de enero de 2016

A green home - without the grief

A green home - without the grief

Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive humans will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 
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A green home - without the grief
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What is the one thing we can do to make our home more green?

The obvious answer is simply to ‘consume less’.

But what if you don’t want to spend your life walking from room to room, unplugging laptop chargers and turning off lights? What if a large family of children make a dishwasher and tumble dryer necessities not luxuries?

What if, put simply, you’d like to cut your carbon footprint (and your utility bills), without actually using less electricity?

The answer came to me during a conversation with a friend last week, who works for one of Europe’s biggest private sector employers. I won’t mention the company concerned, but I will share with you with what had persuaded this firm to shift a large part of its investment focus.

Home batteries.

The buzz around home batteries has been growing for months.

Last year Tesla, the electric car company founded by the American billionaire Elon Musk, began to market the Powerwall.

It’s a sleek white box, measuring about 1.3 metres by 80cms. It can be bought for just under £2,000. Or, at least, it can theoretically be bought. The device has proved so popular that you would be lucky to get one by the end of the year.

The numbers involved in all this are enormous.

Deutsche Bank recently estimated that ‘stationary battery storage systems’ for homes and businesses could net Tesla as much as $4.5bn in annual revenue. The company is so confident that home batteries will catch on that it is building an enormous $5bn lithium-ion battery factory in Nevada to meet anticipated demand.

Other companies, including the nameless one my friend works for, are jumping on the bandwagon. Mercedes-Benz plans to sell home batteries, initially just in Germany, from September.

How do they work?

First, they appeal to people who can generate their own renewable energy from solar panels or wind-turbines. At the moment, these people must sell power to energy suppliers, buying it back again at peak times. With a home battery, the power you generate is there to be used by you.

Second, a home battery allows households to take advantage of power companies’ lower tariffs during the night, and use the cheaper, stored energy during peak periods. According to Tesla, by charging itself at 3am instead of during the afternoon, when electricity rates are significantly higher, the battery will slash household electricity bills by 25 per cent.

Third, home batteries bring energy to remote areas. They can also provide back-up power in the event of a black out.

Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, recently told a British newspaper that home batteries could help the government reduce emissions at time when it was facing being fined by Europe for breaching air pollution levels.

“Without storage you’ve always got to have huge capacity just in case one of the peaks come through at a particular time – a very hot day when you need a lot of cooling, and so a lot of demand.” he said.

“With storage, you don’t have to have all of that massive production of energy.”

Another Colin, my husband, seems strangely excited by the great battery breakthrough, if that’s what it turns out to be.

He says his next car will be, if not totally electric, then at least hybrid. Depending on how that goes, he says, a home battery might be next.

For homes like ours, where cutting energy consumption is an aspiration honoured more in the breach than in the reality, the home battery could be truly revolutionary.

Reproduced with permission from BeHome the blog of the Home Renaissance Foundation


For a mother to lose her baby when giving birth is surely one of the saddest things in the world. Charlotte Bronte, creator of the passionate and long-suffering Jane Eyre, once wrote of stillbirth, so common in her day:
“There is, I am convinced, no picture that conveys in all its dreadfulness, a vision of sorrow, despairing, remediless, supreme. If I could paint such a picture, the canvas would show only a woman looking down at her empty arms.”
Often enough in the mid-19th century the mother herself would die in childbirth, and Charlotte also died tragically together with her unborn child, though during pregnancy and possibly from the effects of severe morning sickness.
Her “vision of sorrow” comment is quoted in today’s lead article by Priscilla Coleman applauding an effort by The Lancet medical journal to address the burden of stillbirth on mothers, families and nations. As many as 6 million babies are lost this way each year. At the same time Dr Coleman wonders when leading scientists and journals will acknowledge the even greater burden represented by some 40 million induced abortions a year. (Imagine how horrified Charlotte Bronte would have been by that!)
Dr Coleman is an academic who has published a number of research papers on the psychological effects of abortion – research which typically meets with denial from her professional peers. Her superb article, however, shows that there is solid evidence to support what seems all too obvious to a reasonable person – that women do suffer serious consequences from terminating the life of their child. 

Carolyn Moynihan

Deputy Editor,


The psychological burden of infant loss

Priscilla K. Coleman | FEATURES | 29 January 2016
Recognition for the effects of stillbirth highlights refusal to admit abortion harm.

Trump: a Frankenstein of the Republican Party’s making

Liam Kennedy | FEATURES | 29 January 2016
Can the GOP recover?

Should people be denied choices at the end of life?

Paul Russell | CAREFUL! | 29 January 2016
Choice, safeguards, and a loaded question.

A green home - without the grief

Joanna Roughton | DEMOGRAPHY IS DESTINY | 29 January 2016
The case for home batteries.

Everyone needs a friend

Jennifer Minicus | READING MATTERS | 29 January 2016
Everyone has a gift to share.

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