Friday, March 29, 2013

Brits Burning Books...

Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves.

Temperatures this week are forecast to plummet as low as -13ºC in the Scottish Highlands, with the mercury falling to -6ºC in London, -5ºC in Birmingham and -7ºC in Manchester as one of the coldest winters in years continues to bite.
How's that global warming climate change working out? That's right, no warming for the last 16 years, and that since 2009 the winters in jolly old England have been colder than average.
Workers at one charity shop in Swansea, in south Wales, described how the most vulnerable shoppers were seeking out thick books such as encyclopaedias for a few pence because they were cheaper than coal.
With Wikipedia and the rest of the internet, who needs paper encyclopedias from 1930?
One assistant said: ‘Book burning seems terribly wrong but we have to get rid of unsold stock for pennies and some of the pensioners say the books make ideal slow-burning fuel for fires and stoves.

A lot of them buy up large hardback volumes so they can stick them in the fire to last all night.’

A 500g book can sell for as little as 5p, while a 20kg bag of coal costs £5.
OK, lets do that math.  At 500 g for 5p, a kg = 10p and 20 kg =  £2, assuming that the newspaper is using the new decimal money.  So, yeah, that would pay on a weight basis, but maybe not on a per BTU basis.  Looking here, we find the anthracite coal (high grade) has 12,700 BTU per lb and waste paper has 6,500 BTU per lb (sorry for the mixed units, but I post 'em as I find 'em).  So on a heat content basis, it would take about 40 kg of books to equal 20 kg of coal, and the economic edge to burning old books compared to paying for bagged coal all would be only about 20%. 

On the other hand (like economists, one should look for one armed scientists), frankly there are a lot of books that deserve burning.  I'm not thinking about Harry Potter or other devilish fantasy books, but rather the dreary romances, utterly predictable mysteries and the self-help books that help no one.

At our local thrift shop (the one where I buy the odd guitar, and the money goes to spay and neuter dogs and cats), books are in that price range, and I'm sure they discard many more than they actually display.  Burning those books for fuel is not the worst crime against humanity.  Not exactly Fahrenheit 451 material.
Since January 2008, gas bills have risen 40 per cent and electricity prices 20 per cent, although people over 60 are entitled to a winter fuel allowance of between £125 and £400...

Ruth Davison, of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘The spiralling cost of energy means heating homes has become a luxury rather than a necessity for many people – particularly the elderly, low paid and unemployed.’
 So how is that energy policy working out for you?
On March 13, 2007, a draft Climate Change Bill was published following cross-party pressure over several years, led by environmental groups. The Act puts in place a framework to achieve a mandatory 80% cut in the UK's carbon emissions by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels), with an intermediate target of between 26% and 32% by 2020. The Bill was passed into law in November 2008. With its passing the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to set such a long-range and significant carbon reduction target into law, or to create such a legally binding framework.

The Committee on Climate Change, whose powers are invested by Part 2 of the Act, was formally launched in December 2008 with Lord Adair Turner as its chair.

In April 2009 the Government set a requirement for a 34% cut in emissions by 2020, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, and announced that details of how this would be achieved would be published in the summer.
 That was an entirely rhetorical question.

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