Energy – I have the answer to all our problems

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.

Yes, it’s true I do have the answer to the World’s energy problems. The answer, surprisingly, is Africa. Let me explain.

Africa, as we all know, is a vast continent – approximately 30.2 million km2 (11.7 million square miles). That, apparently, is around 20% of the total land area of the World. That’s big by anyone’s standards.

In fact Africa is 124 times bigger than the UK but with only 18 times as many people. This means huge areas are uninhabited.

What else do we know about Africa?

Much of the continent is hot, dry and extremely sunny. And this is where my plan lies.

Here in the UK much is made of solar panels and we’re encouraged by many people (governments, environmental groups etc) to attach a couple of these to our roofs. The problem is that the UK is quite far north, as is much of Europe, and this affects the amount of sunlight we get.

So, back to Africa.

It’s huge, it’s sunny and hot and not many people (comparatively) live there. Also, apart from a couple of exceptions, many African countries struggle financially. Africa should be, but it’s not, competing with the likes of China as a World economic force.

So, my plan is that we turn enormous areas of the continent – and I’m talking about several areas the size of small countries here – over to solar panel farms. Given what we already know, the amount of sunshine and the vast open spaces, Africa could be the World’s leading supplier of electricity. As a minimum it could supply all the electricity it’s own population could ever need but, given a big enough effort, it could be a massive exporter of energy to the rest of the World.

Think of the other benefits too. Thousands of jobs created across many countries in Africa, prosperity for the population and less need for the rest of the World to constantly throw bucket loads of cash in the direction of African countries. This would have a huge effect on ending poverty across the whole continent and, as a side benefit, the rest of the World gets any excess energy.

It’s a win – win situation.

But, of course, this means thinking big. And many, many charities I feel would be against the idea because their business model would be devastated – there just wouldn’t be all those hungry African babies to feed if the people were all more prosperous.

But, come on, do we really want to help them (and ourselves) or do we simply want to carry on throwing them scraps of comfort from time to time in the form of hand-outs?

And, please don’t tell me that we can’t afford to do this. The UK alone will be spending £16.3 billion in overseas aid each year by 2020. Last year the US gave $32 billion in overseas aid. Other countries also give huge amounts. Imagine if just one year’s worth of overseas aid from every developed nation was given to this project, it would be financed in less than 12 months – and we’d all be getting green, solar power too.

Or, alternatively, we can carry on sticking solar panels on our roofs here in Europe and knocking our electricity bills back by £50 a year whilst giving a couple of quid a year to pay some charity CEO’s overinflated salary.

Do I think it will ever happen? No, probably not, but you can dream can’t you?

Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond.

 

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)

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Spot the Differences – the answers

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Last week we gave you two maps with 10 differences, how many did you find?

Here’s the answers, ringed in red on the map.

Screen Shot answer

(Map contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2016)

The map, above, is copyright Ordnance Survey. So, who are the Ordnance Survey? Here’s a very brief history.

The O.S. is the national mapping agency of Great Britain and is one of the world’s largest map producers. Ordnance Survey came about because of the lack of decent maps of Scotland following the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 and the threat of war with Napoleon.

The survey of Great Britain was originally carried out using triangulation methods but, more recently, aerial photography has become the chief source for updating and creating new mapping.

In April 2010, Ordnance Survey made available large amounts of data which, whilst still being O.S. copyright, is free to use. Ordnance Survey copyright lasts for 50 years, meaning that, currently, any O.S. mapping pre 1965 is now out of copyright.

Since 2011 Ordnance Survey’s headquarters have been at Adanac Park, Southampton, England.

 

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Police Interceptors (or not)

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More thoughts, submitted on an occasional basis by our Guest Blogger:  Jack Diamond.

 

I’ve been watching the television recently. Yes, you might say that was my first mistake but, actually, it was quite enlightening. Let me explain.

I was watching a programme called Police Interceptors (other police programmes of a similar nature also exist, I’m not necessarily recommending this one!).

You probably know the type of thing the programme is about. A policeman in a car notices another driver acting suspiciously or it gets flagged up by the ANPR system in the police car (ANPR is something the police have in their vehicles which automatically checks number plates and flags up any vehicles which aren’t taxed, insured etc).

Quite often the baddies decide they don’t wish to stop when requested by the police and press the pedal to the floor, racing through streets and across the countryside (even through the countryside in some cases).

The police have a difficult job now, trying to stop the vehicle whilst at the same time being aware of public safety. One car racing through a built up area at 90mph is bad enough but having two, three or more doing the same thing brings some obvious problems.

And the more the police chase the vehicle, the harder the bad person tries to get away so he (or she, for the sake of equality etc) drives faster and more recklessly.

In a number of cases, where public safety is deemed to be at risk, the police give up on the chase and let the baddies depart. Obviously this isn’t a very satisfactory outcome.

Well, and here we come to the point of my ramblings, why is it not possible for the police to have some safe method of stopping the vehicle? And, I mean an electronic method, not the ‘stinger’ (a roll of spiked metal designed to puncture the tyres of a car as it’s driven over it) which they use at present.

A 'stinger' or spike strip

(Stinger or spike strip – photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)

Cars these days are full of electronics, from your key fob to open the door to the engine management system (a small computer) under the bonnet. In this day and age it can’t be beyond the realms of possibilities to have an override circuit built in to the management system which can be cut out to bring the car to a safe halt. Why can’t cars be built with this installed and the police given the power to press a switch (like a key fob) which will kill the engine of a vehicle which is being pursued?

It seems so obvious that you wonder why it isn’t being used already.

Yes, you could argue that criminals might get hold of these fobs and be able to stop other vehicles, but to what end? Surely the benefits of the police being able to end any vehicle pursuit whenever they want (and whenever it was safe to do so) would override any other concerns?

But then, if they did that, what would we watch on the TV on a wet Thursday evening?

Thanks for reading.

Jack Diamond.

 

(The views expressed in our Guest Blogs are personal opinions only and do not reflect the views of PCGraphics.)

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