I have a new life mantra – I found it, as I expect a lot of people do, in a pub. Though perhaps unusually it did not take several trips to the bar to discover, nor was it necessary to spend any cash to unlock the inner recesses of my mind. Rather disappointingly I saw it on a sign as I walked past, it simply read,
‘We welcome drinkers who reach contentment before capacity’
Clearly this is a sensible path to follow for anyone entering a pub – but what if we apply the ‘contentment before capacity’ principal to things that don’t contain alcohol? Things like:
food ( don’t think anyone would argue with that )
work (again, we’re onto a winner here)
technology ( do we need more tech in our lives?)
overdrafts ( who wants to reach the capacity of these?)
energy mix of national grid ( what…? )
reducing fuel costs by true community engagement ( I can see I’ve lost you now )
The last 2 points may not exactly follow suit but this is an energy blog after all, so what do I mean?
This is about a balance. It’s having realistic, but still ambitious, expectations of what can be achieved whilst accepting what can’t. Let’s think about how this plays out….
Consider the energy mix of the UK. Who wouldn’t want it to be from 100% renewable sources, but how realistic is that? Is it an achievable aim? Can we only reach contentment if we have 100% renewable capacity? I suggest the answer should be no, we can’t, and with current technologies we never will. I’m not suggesting we should be complacent, or for a minute we accept that this is the ‘greenest’ government ever but spending resources focussing on unachievable goals simply reduces the amount of resource available to actually solve issues.
Fuel poverty is a key social issue for the UK. Can we only be content when no household is suffering from fuel poverty in the country? Of course we should always be championing the cause, highlighting the social injustice which has led to 15,000 of Plymouth’s households having to choose between heating and eating. But ask yourself the question, can you honestly for-see a time when no household in Plymouth suffers from fuel poverty?
I think DECC asked itself this question when publishing the latest fuel poverty strategy. This sensibly puts efficiency improvements to the home at the heart of the issue. I don’t accept that it goes far enough quick enough – but I am content that it’s a realistic approach.
The bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, is that we need to be careful of the battles we choose. I have absolute admiration for anyone who can keep believing in a cause no matter how unlikely the desired outcome, and clearly some causes are so emotive, and so fundamental that to give up hope would be to destroy it’s reason for being.
I hope you don’t think I’m on an apathetic come down, there are a wealth of issues within PEC’s remit that demand the passion and attention they are given by PEC’s many contributors. My point is that by focussing on the ambitiously realistic we are far more likely to succeed in our aims and reach contentment before capacity. I’ll raise a glass to that – just the one…