Building Jerusalem out of Grass

Currently there is much debate amongst politicians as to how we are going to meet the supposedly 4tr cost of replacing fossil fuels in the UK. The likelihood that nothing effective will be done because Tory backbenchers can’t see how it can be paid without swingeing new taxes that would mainly fall on poor households, and incidentally threaten their seats in the former red wall now turned blue, as if it were a pregnancy test in reverse, in the north of England. As usual they are approaching the problems of today with minds that are still anchored in the concrete foundations of yesterday. To begin with it is widely acknowledged that the cost of not taking decisive action now will in the long run be far higher than doing so, financial let alone human and in every other way. In fact we are presented with a wonderful opportunity. The only choice is between spending a lot and spending a lot more.

The main immediate cost is that of replacing gas boilers in peoples’ homes. But it is not necessary to replace them. Grass will do the job far more cheaply and more quickly too. Grass can be mown and turned into bio-methane which can then be turned into usable gas. The gas then produces greenhouse gas, in fact far more per boiler than a conventional machine. But in one of those benign cycles that nature loves so much next year’s crop of grass will soak it up. Ecotricity have already installed a pilot factory in Reading and they claim there is enough land in Britain not being used for crops that could produce enough grass to heat every home in the UK. I doubt that. But using grass for heat would be part of the radical behavioural change that climate change is forcing upon us. We need to eat much less meat, not only because our present cattle herd is producing more greenhouse gas than our car fleet but because cows use up a lot of land. Within ten years, maybe five, lab-cultured meat will be available on the open market and doubtless it will taste disgusting, but we’ll get used to it and it will improve. Think little black and white television sets and bakelite wired phones. But it’s not really our behaviour we need to change, it’s our minds. We always think in terms of the past for the past is what we know. Now always happens then. Climate change is not only a huge threat that could bring civilization to an end, but also a great opportunity to lead better and happier lives and whether we like it or not it is here so we had better embrace it. Think miles and miles of grass meadow full of wild flowers and bees.

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