Amazon POST

DSC_0875I confess. I am an Amazon kind-of-a-guy. I find their prices often competitive, and their range of goods almost always satisfactory. I regret that my own shopping habits will only let specialist book shops survive, those that specialize in a particular niche or quality (such as Stanfords) or into quality (e.g. Quodlibet).

But, I wonder what the overall environmental impact of Amazon is going to be.

I don’t walk or drive to the nearest store. Instead, I click. The CO2 balance is, while not zero, small compared to driving into town, but server farms to power Google, Amazon, my Internet service provider and many other serves en route aren’t powered by good will alone. Plus, the delivery guy drives around. He serves many customers on one journey, so the overall environmental cost of delivering something to me is lower than the cost of all those customers going out to buy. But on the other hand again, not all those purchases would have been made, had it not been for the convenience of the double-click from the comfort of my home.

Also, I find myself with a regular collection of packaging materials. I put the plastic into the plastic and the paper and cardboard into the paper and cardboard recyclables, but again, a lot less of this would be necessary, had I taken my re-usable cotton carrier bag down to the nearest Borders store. Oh, Borders is closed down already.

Did anyone bother to make a scientific analysis of all this? And, did anyone bother to summarize it nicely? P.O.S.T. where are you when we need you?

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Raw Beauty

DSC_0766-2We enjoyed a rather cold and strenuous bicycle ride in the Peak District this past weekend. We took 5 hours to complete the 40km loop around Hathersage, which included steep ascends and descents, climbing 1000m in altitude, cycling over muddy fields and grassy descents, and just about everything we had anticipated – plus some!

In the end, once our ears were defrosted and the Grand National was run, we all enjoyed a hot shower, drink and food in the evening, and shared a proud sense of accomplishment.

The main feature which makes the Peak District so attractive, along with many other parts of rural Britain, is the fact that there is very little forest which would otherwise hide the rough landscape, or prevent it from becoming such a rugged thing. Most of it is bare of trees, or at least not featuring dense and large forested areas. The pretty hills are covered with grass and shrubs (and sheep) instead, exposing the rocky and rough-edged mountains.

I was reminded on the suggestion that all of Britain was once covered in forests. Is this true, and who brought it down? The Romans? The Wild Things? Robin Hood or Henry VIII?

A quick Internet search reveals that, indeed, the whole of Britain once was covered with forests which grew after the last ice age, and being gradually but efficiently diminished by the vast demand for fuel, building material and timber for many other applications by the Romans.

So, now we know one more thing the Romans did for us: chopped down all the trees.

Not sure if I should be angry or grateful for it.


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