11 May 2007
Urban Heat and Rural Heat – by Simon Fairlie
I don’t read Building for a Future magazine anywhere near as often as I ought to, but recently I picked up a copy and read an excellent article by Simon Fairlie, drawing a new angle on the zero-energy buildings debate. I have been a huge admirer of Simon’s work for years, in particular his work on rural planning through the campaign group Chapter 7, and always enjoy reading his work. This article has a particularly important take, I think, on the dangers of blindly putting cutting carbon emissions above the creation of resilience and the rebuilding of a rural economy.
**Urban Heat and Rural Heat – by Simon Fairlie.**
Stepping out into the Waterloo night after reading George Monbiot’s latest book, Heat, on the train, I was confronted by a glaring manifestation of the problem he tries to tackle. Along the banks of the Thames tower blocks spewed light from a thousand empty offices. Plane trees were decked with fairy lights seventy-five days before Christmas — perhaps nowadays they don’t bother to take them down. Night clubs competed for punters with kilowatts of neon, like that notorious fishery in the Sea of Japan, where the boat with the most powerful lamp attracts the most squid.
Arriving at my destination, my host apologized for the heat in his attic flat, generated, so he told me, entirely by surplus warmth rising from his downstairs neighbours. I slept under a single sheet with the window wide open, so that the heat could waft out into the October night. In the tiny kitchen, a fitted fridge/freezer which left no room for a larder contained nearly all the household’s food including all those pickles, preserves and condiments which people long ago invented for the specific purpose of storing food at room temperature. Next morning, in the street below a barrowman was hawking fruit, not a single item of which came from Britain —and this in our season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
When Marx wrote about the “idiocy of rural life