The Hydrocarbon Diet: Vote for parties who aren’t going to give up and go for a curry

In the Guardian today:

In a recent private conversation under the Chatham House rule, one of the world’s most senior industry leaders, who is considered to be at the more moderate end of the spectrum, insisted that we are going to burn all the world’s hydrocarbons despite the consequences.

His reasoning is that a growing population in the developing world needs energy to raise living standards, that renewables will not become a dominant energy source till the end of the century and that politicians don’t have the courage or power to limit production.

Reminds me of the recent Horizon special “What’s the Right Diet for You?” whereby two groups of dieters were given slices of cake at 700 calories per slice. One group were told that this was a special dieter’s cake with c. 200 cals. The others were told the truth. After the cake-baking session each group were left with a bunch of cake and a cup of tea. What happened? The ones who had been told the truth ate 8 times more cake than the ones who’d been lied to. The lesson being that if you think you are still on track for the right number of calories in your day, you won’t go on to really bust the limit like the others did. As one of the group who had been told the truth said, “We’d all planned to go for a curry this evening as we’d stuffed our chances of keeping to our limit …”

Seems to me our politicians govern our appetite for hydrocarbons with legislation, and they’re being told the truth. What happens when, as is certain now, we pass 400 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. In this analysis, they’re just going to metaphorically chuck their hands up and say, “Right, might as well go for a curry chaps, we’ve really blown it now …”

The problem is, that although this is based on pop psychology, I can see it happening all too readily. All these tipping points and limits only give us targets we’re going to miss on the conventional diet of boo-yah politics and industry misinformation.

Is there any hope?

Well, if you want hope you need to vote for parties who aren’t going to give up and go for a curry (allow fracking for example), you’ve got to vote for parties who are going to stick to the diet whatever happens, and make sure the others do too – and just like those who are on a weightloss diet, we do know who the best to parties  are to put our a break on our collective appetite, don’t we?

(Picture from the Guardian article and is by Murdo Macleod/Murdo Macleod)

A Cultural Assembly for Argyll: the Case for taking Ourselves Seriously

As proprietor of Dunans Castle and also as a director of The Walking Theatre Company, not to mentioned being publisher of, on Wednesday [18th June 2014] I spent an interesting few hours in the company of assorted artists, creators, curators, social entrepreneurs, producers and third sector professionals, all wanting to progress the idea of a cultural assembly for the Creative sector. Continue reading A Cultural Assembly for Argyll: the Case for taking Ourselves Seriously

If you have ever wondered about the size of the task we’re facing here at Dunans, well, here’s a clue – the indicative costs for Castle and Bridge.


We knew the budget would be big, but not even I was prepared for some of these figures, though they are very rough. They’re based on pounds per metre squared, rule-of-thumb calculations on professional fees, and the type of VAT chargeable. We don’t yet have an accurate survey of the castle – still too dangerous inside I am afraid – but as soon as we do, I am expecting the detail on these figures to resolve.

Obviously with regard to the castle we’re looking at the Accommodation & Event option as our favoured route as this is the most sustainable. Frankly I am gobsmacked at the Victorian Restoration (Like-for-like) price – although this does include lime plaster with horse hair and lath and no plasterboard. You can see where that’s going. Consolidation as a Ruin is the cheapest option, but unfortunately, there’s little or no way of sustaining the borrowing on a roofless shell – albeit a very beautiful one.

The cost for the repair of the bridge is also significant, but at least with the prospect of funding via Historic Scotland, Heritage Lottery and others this might be achievable in the relatively short-term – particularly with the bicentenary coming up next year.

Does this leave you wanting to know more? Well the Conservation Plan for Dunans will be published very shortly (ISBN 978-1-910326-01-5), and you’ll be able to read a great deal more about the site, its history and our plans then… in the meantime, I am going off to write a business plan or three!