Beltane: carbon neutral? Picture: Rob Brown
Some will see the recent report from the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust – encouraging tenement and town-house dwellers to close their shutters during the evening and at night to conserve energy – as an excellent idea that should be put into action without delay, backed up by legislation if necessary.
Others will see it as a prime example of the Let’s Make Everyone Miserable Brigade taking advantage of the current climate of financial austerity and eco-anxiety to introduce a new Puritanism.
Happily unaligned and unsure quite what to think, I offer an eight-point guide to energy-saving ideas for the modern age.
Christmas lights to be phased out, the streets adorned with nothing more carbon-negative than tinsel, crêpe-paper garlands and sprigs of mistletoe. Bonfire night and Diwali fireworks to be banned, along with that ridiculous Edinburgh Beltane thing which is just an excuse for paint-covered students to run around Calton Hill near-naked while hundreds of cheap-thrill voyeurists look on.
Further Homecoming events will be permitted, but American “clan chiefs” and ex-007 movie stars will only be allowed to leave the country after having turned out their pockets.
The firing of the One O’Clock Gun at Edinburgh Castle will continue but only if energy from the blast can be harnessed and used to cook a few dinners. Ditto with 21-gun salutes for Royal weddings and birthdays.
Adjustment of stock at Edinburgh Zoo, with only cold-climate or nocturnal creatures being retained. Keep the aardwolves, the striped skunks and of course the penguins, get rid of the swamp wallabies, the dik-diks and all the damn monkeys. Pack them off to Adelaide Zoo or sell them to circuses, then dim the lights and turn down the heating at Corstorphine.
Housing and community events
Underground air-raid shelters to be revived, with evening community gatherings, or “huddles”, to keep warm. Illumination to come from mobile phones and iPads, which are permanently in use anyway.
The Glasgow subway system to be used in the same way, especially given the recent announcement that it is now wi-fi enabled apart from in the tunnels. The shelters will eventually serve a dual purpose, with most of the population already safely underground when we’re invaded by some other country in response to the defence cuts.
Pubs to host thrice-weekly drink-in-the-dark evenings, increasing to every night by 2015. What does it matter, anyway? The clientele is perfectly capable of moving glass to lips no matter how pished they might be. They can engage in vigorous debates about football and reality TV in the dark, so why leave the lights on?
Likely to prove popular with the anti-bevvy lobby, especially given the recent problems with the minimum pricing bill at Holyrood.
There will be a limited lifting of the smoking ban, but only as a means of navigating to the lavvies using lighters and glowing fag-ends.
Sport and leisure
Few things are as energy-wasteful as football matches played on winter evenings, so floodlights will be turned off, players will be required to wear luminous bibs, and the crowd will be equipped with Petzl headtorches. Given the parlous state of Scottish football, teams will be just as (un)likely to score in the dark, and there would be a marked decrease in refereeing disputes. Results would be unaffected, with the Old Firm winning the SPL regardless.
Skiing to continue, but without any form of mechanical uplift. The Cairn Gorm funicular and the Aonach Mor gondola to be dismantled and sold for scrap. Skiers encouraged to work their way uphill using skins made from flayed animal hide, as part of an ongoing programme of rewilding.
Munrobagging to be outlawed, with walkers restricted to climbing hills no more than 25 miles from where they live. New “Wrong to Roam” legislation to be introduced.
The network of gyms to be expanded, in both urban and rural areas, with all exercise bikes and rowing machines wired directly into the grid via the Beauly-to-Denny powerline.
Heating to be turned off in the chamber at Holyrood. It’s completely redundant, given the amount of hot air generated on a daily basis. Some kind of thermal capturing device – akin to the midge-swallowing machines seen in the western Highlands – will be placed in front of the government front bench, with surplus supplies piped to Dumbiedykes, Merchiston and other poor parts of town.
Currently the main energy input would come courtesy of Salmond, Sturgeon and MacAskill, but May 2011 could see it being fuelled by Gray, Kerr and – should she ever emerge from her dormouse-like hibernation – Wee Wendy.
Annabel Goldie to be given a concessionary two-bar electric fire, a tartan scarf and a chunky knitted cardigan, due to the unlikelihood of her party ever finding itself in control of proceedings. Contingency plans are being drawn up for a wholesale restructuring of this hot-air system should George Galloway ever be elected as an MSP.
There will be a nationwide park-and-ride tram project, although no timescale or budget has been set. Until it comes into operation, the tram carriages currently parked in Princes Street will be used as soup kitchens and lottery booths.
All streetlights to be switched off. The A9 between Perth and Inverness to be closed to motorised traffic and converted to a cycleway.
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games infrastructure to be drastically downsized, with remaining road junctions sponsored by Greggs the baker. Aberdeen Union Terrace Gardens to be sold to Donald Trump and transformed into a luxury pitch-and-putt course following the unqualified success of his Menie venture.
Plans for a new Forth crossing will be scrapped. Instead, decommissioned warships will be lined up end-to-end between Rosyth and Queensferry and converted into a combined pedestrian footbridge and tidal energy barrier.
All tall buildings such as the Wallace Monument, Kelvingrove Museum and the Duke of Sutherland statue at Golspie to be fitted with wind turbines, as part of an ongoing Energy Art project. Smaller devices to be fitted to the Donald Dewar statue in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street and to the traffic-cone horse statue at Royal Exchange Square.
There will be a ban on all paintings such as those by Avril Paton, which show beautifully lit interiors of cosy tenement flats on autumn and winter evenings. Such visions of contented, comfortable life are to be discouraged in the face of the grim economic and ecological reality.