29 December 2011

Review of 2011 - predictions for 2012

It's the year end, and time for me to review my predictions at the start of 2011.

11:11 campaign

How have I fared in my 11:11 campaign, i.e. to reduce my CO2 footprint by 11% in 2011? Given that we have relocated to Peru, there are a huge number of air miles in the equation, which probably means that I have failed to achieve a further reduction of 11% in my CO2 footprint this year. However, on the positive side:

1. We have installed a solar hot water system at the flat here in Arequipa. I am still trying to get the hang of guilt-free showers, but it's so nice to have hot water available that has no marginal energy cost other than to provide the water itself. There are still plans to install solar hot water when we return to England, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm going to claim this as a success.

2. Tertiary glazing - we installed some more robust perspex sheet tertiary glazing in many windows in the house, which is definitely a better solution. Again I'm going to claim this as a success, although there are still a number of windows in the house that could be fitted so the job isn't complete yet.

3. Yes I finished installing the loft insulation. In fact the loft is now mostly boarded as well, with the insulation underneath. Another success.

4. No wood-fired stove installed. But I did suggest it might have to wait until 2012. We'll see if that happens....

5. OK I didn't put in a 5 on the list, but I'm aware that living in Arequipa is fundamentally far less CO2-intensive - houses need no heating, we don't have a car but rely on foot, buses and sometimes taxis to get around.

So the big question is: what can I do for a 12:12 campaign, in other words can I reduce my carbon footprint by 12% in 2012? Given that we will almost certainly relocate back to England it's going to be very hard because there will be lots of air miles and we'll be moving to somewhere where energy usage is harder to avoid. Here's what I currently plan to do for 2012:

1. Solar hot water. This is still on the cards, and will almost certainly happen.

2. More perspex tertiary glazing in the rest of the house.

3. Maybe replace the boiler? It's not massively efficient, but given that the current boiler probably still has a number of years' life left in it and is about 80% efficient, the gain will not be that great.

4. Wood-fired stove - still a possibility but not a certainty. I've started to worry that having a smoke stack will put an oily residue on the photovoltaic panels, need to look into this further before deciding. If instead of the dining room we install it in the living room (which might be better anyway) there would be greater physical separation between the two.

5. Been reading some discussion about the use of dehumidifiers, and whether they can lead to an overall decrease in energy usage. My suspicion is that the direct effect is small, but maybe by reducing the damage caused by condensation which requires repainting (and ultimately probably more work) it can be beneficial in other ways. Having to dry clothing indoors in winter is a significant contributor to the condensation, so reducing this would be a benefit. If I can run it predominantly when there is photovoltaic electricity available then this would be a more tangible energy benefit.

Predictions for 2011.

1. Portugal and Spain will require a bailout. Well, I was right with Portugal but wrong with Spain. 50% success.

2.ISPs will drag their feet in the face of IPv4 address exhaustion. I think I was correct in this, although there are one or two encouraging signs of migration to IPv6.

3.Solar Photovoltaic installers will have a bumper year. I think up until the 12th December, I'm going to claim a success on this one. It seems that everyone was jumping on the bandwagon, and panel prices have dropped significantly. The turmoil in the industry created by the government's appalling handling of tariff reductions is a nasty sting in the tail to this story.

4. The UK government will collapse. Well, this hasn't happened, so I was wrong on this one.

5. I had absolutely no inkling of the political changes that would happen in the middle east, so maybe I should put in a retrospective number 5 and admit that I failed on this one.

Predictions for 2012

Here's my list of predictions for 2012. I feel a lot less certain about what's going to happen in 2012 for a number of reasons - I think there is fundamentally a lot more uncertainty in the world, and also not living in Europe for the latter half of 2011, I'm probably not as tuned in to the politics of the region although it's still where I feel my roots are.

1. I'm going to stick with the prediction that the UK coalition government will collapse and there'll be an election, although I suspect it will be a small Tory majority result.

2. There will be serious unrest in the UK due to government cutbacks, increasing poverty and unemployment and eurozone chaos. This in fact is what will lead to no. 1 happening, as a significant number of LibDem (and a few tory) MPs will blame this partly on government policy and rebel.

3. The Euro will survive, but not all countries currently in it will be a part of it. Most likely is that a block of poorer countries will be forced out of it and either form their own alliances or just go it alone - Portugal, Greece, Italy. There will be a lot of poverty in these countries as a result, with significant migration to richer countries. Italy is perhaps the big worry as it's a large economy, but the cumulative effects of ineffective government and corruption over many decades will come home to roost. Spain will survive as a Euro member.

4. House prices in the UK will continue to drift downwards slowly, but there will be no dramatic price movements.

5. There will be further political changes in the middle east - Syria, Iran and Israel/Palestine will be places to watch. It will probably get very nasty somewhere before it gets better. A bit of a vague prediction I realise, but I suspect there will be all-out war of some sort, most likely civil war in Syria. Feelings are still strong and issues remain unresolved in the region. No doubt the west will interfere and make things worse.

6. Margaret Thatcher will pass away, reigniting discussions about whether she should have a state funeral and who should pay for it. The papers will have a field day.

7. Prince Philip will pass away, which will cause the nation to unite (even fervent anti-royalists who mostly still respect him as a person) and put the dampers on the jubilee year celebrations.

That's it for now. Feels like the coming year has far more negatives than positives will a lot more uncertainty than previous years. By contrast, life here in Peru still feels very positive and with greater stability in the region. I won't hide my desire to stay here longer and put down deeper roots.