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Undercurrents 02 Summer 1972: Contents
1 Front cover
2 Editorial – The Politics of Energy
4 Contents [not in current running order]
11 Natural Beauty / Blubber lips / Small Ads
13-16 Towards A People’s Bomb
17-20 Soft technology: Robin Clarke
21-23 Solar Power for Home Heating: Everett Carlson
24 Sun Power, 1972-style: Robin Dunipace
25-28 Yes, Another Article about Harold Bates: Rick Witcombe
29 Flower Power: David Parham
30 Hydroponics: A.S.
32 Concrete keeps the sun away / Postscript: Dome Heating in Canada
33-36 Water Power:
34-35 Putting the Wind up the CEGB: David Stabb
37-40 Market Manipulation, Pollution and the Energy Industry: John C Esposito
42 Action Space
45 Welfare State
47 Reviews: 110th session: David Gardiner; Survival Scapbook
48 Cine-Verite; Impressions of Sandy
49-51 Fluff and the Humble Grumble: Peter Gilet
53 Sea Poems
54 The Adoration of the Media
Letter on Community TV – Sohres Eleffheriou
The Politics of Energy
“WITHOUT question, the largest single part of the world’s environmental contamination results, directly or indirectly, from the creation, delivery and consumption of energy needed to perpetuate our present economic institutions.” .
That’s how John Esposito, in one of the main articles in this issue, sums up the crucial role of energy in the crisis now facing 20th century civilisation. And that’s why we’re devoting most of this Undercurrents Special to an examination of the topic.
In fields like weapons technology or urban transportation, it’s fairly easy to see how science and technology work hand-in-glove with the establishment, with results that clearly influence all our lives. But because energy is so basic to everything we do, because our need for it stares us in the face at every turn, we tend to take it for granted — so much so that, like food an air, we would only appreciate its importance if supplies suddenly ran out.
Of course there’s a lot of talk these days about a so-called energy crisis, Everywhere one reads about the world’s power needs doubling every decade, and about the consequent need to build more power stations — preferably nuclear — to keep pace with the relentless demand. What isn’t said is that all this power is only really necessary if we want to keep the present political and economic power structure intact. The same thing applies to the international oil industry. The frenzied search for more an more oil in Alaska, the North Sea, anywhere, is only important if oil burning motor cars and oil-fired power stations are going to be around for the next fifty years.
But it is becoming abundantly clear that in both capitalist and state-capitalist countries, energy supplies are unfairly distributed, cost too much and are priced to encourage waste, are in the hands of too few suppliers, have highly damaging effects on the environment and are using up the earth’s resources at an alarming rate.
Quite apart from this, the world’s energy purveyors wind the mainspring of a system that uses energy to replace meaningful human labour with “more profitable” but soulless automation, to perpetuate the illusion of prosperity in circumstances of gross inequality and poverty, to alienate human beings from contact with nature and with each other and to intimidate the peoples of the earth with the threat of nuclear annihilation. Essentially the world energy crisis is a qualitative problem of structure, not a quantitative problem of demand. What’s important is not so much the amount of energy that’s around as the way it’s distributed, what it costs, how many suppliers there are, and the effects on the global environment and on the world’s supplies of natural resources.
What’s the alternative? Well, first of all, a radical energy technology must have a radical economic, political and social environment to back it up, There’s no point in trying to graft small-scale, low cost, non-polluting energy sources on to the present economic and political structure. You can’t power a nuclear sub with methane, however much Harold Bate might like to. Instead” you must abolish the necessity for nuclear subs.
But by the same token, you can’t create an alternative society without the technology to support it. Anyone who tries to set up a decentralised, anarchist/socialist community in the country, for example, is simply wasting his time if he has to get his electricity from the CEGB, his gas from the Gas Board, run his tractor on Esso and buy his groceries from Safeways.
In this issue of Undercurrents, therefore, what we’ve tried to do is to illustrate some of the ways in which the natural, renewable energy sources of the Sun, Wind, Water and ???????
The fact that Undercurrents is alive at all after the first issue is something of a minor miracle. We owe our continuing survival to the help, encouragement and sheer hard work of a large number of people. Here, in no particular order of merit or alphabetical rank, we list the contributions of some of them.
John Cima designed the cover and the poster and drew some of the diagrams and cracked a lot of jokes.
Anna Bowman supervised the Reviews section, with a lot of help from Norman Beddington, Sooty Eftherliou and John Prudhoe, who also took care of the small ads.
Ant Stoll did all sorts of things, from driving to pasting-up.
Mike Hutchinson took care of the finances, handled the legal problems and organised the distribution. Most of the type was set by Ann Miller, Linda Myers and Wendy Beale, with a bit of help from Speed Typesetters and Flaschtype.
We used Ann Ward‘s composer and Jane Woods‘ executive and couldn’t have managed without them. Pat Coyne did some of the printing as usual, and Brian Dax screened the pictures on Time Out‘s camera.
Don’t know where we’d have been without Peter Harper, Gustav Metzger and Rick Witcombe. Vic Corti put FAART together (cool, man). Sally Maloney rescued many of the pasteups from the depths of mediocrity. We got a lot of help and advice from Alf Moorcraft, Andy Mackillop and absent friend David Gardiner.
Other people whose advice and constructive criticism has been received and gratefully noted include Christopher Roper, Anthony D’ Abreu, Linda and Laurence Kershon, Stephen Fulder, Nigel Thomas, Martin Richards, George Mc Robie, Robin Clarke, Kit Pedler, Mike Kenward and Jerome Burns, and uncle Tom Cobbley and all. Marian Liebmann set up the record for copy sales, and let’s not forget Lady Boyd of Burrard, who’s still struggling to get our files in order.
Godfrey Boyle kept a watchful eye on everything, and went quietly mad.
Readers who bought the last Undercurrents will observe that for this issue we’ve switched from a polythene to a cellophane bag. It would be simple to say we’ve decided against polythene because it isn’t blodeqradable and cellophane is, and because polythene clogs up the grates in waste-disposal incinerators, and so on …..
But in fact there are a number of arguments in favour of using polythene: the polythene bag used in the last issue was re-sealable and therefore re-usable, but re-sealable cellophane bags are not available (if you hear of any, please tell us); in making cellophane, as in making paper, large numbers of trees are cut down each year; and anyway polythene bags are stronger than cellophane ones.
Indeed there are so many complicated and often unquantifiable factors involved in weighing the environmental costs of one material against the other that we gave up and took a “try it and see” approach instead. So cellophane is what we’re using for this issue. If it doesn’t prove satisfactory in practice, then we may well switch back to polythene or some other material. Let us know what you think.
Incidentally, the first issue of Undercurrents was quite successful in its way. We sold out the 1000 or so copies we printed, but we made a loss of about £30, mainly due to under-estimating our distribution and postage costs. This time, though, we’ve increased the cover price slightly, as you’ll have noticed (but the subscription price stays the same) and we’re printing 2,500 copies in an attempt to lower our unit costs by spreading our overheads over a larger number of copies.
With a bit of luck, this issue may make a modest profit, which we hope to use to buy such necessities as a duplicator, filing cabinets, and addressing equipment. Another thing we’re doing is taking 1,000 copies of this issue to Stockholm for the UN Environment Conference in June. The conference should provide a golden opportunity to circulate Undercurrents among a very wide audience, and to make contact with a whole range of new sources of news, articles and information.
In the next issue we’ll let you know how this one went.
Open Up This Issue!
News, Reviews and Small Ads
Market Manipulation and the Energy Industry; Nader man Tells All; Do-it-Yourself Nuclear Deterrent; and the Urban Guerillas’ Ultimate Weapon
The Solar-heated Home: how to let the Sunshine in
Hvdroponics: the answer lies in the Solution
Methane Power: the real Harold Bates
Water Power: new thoughts on that old rustic mill Wind Power; introducing the amazing Tree pump
Soft Technology : Robin Clarke finds a welcome in the hillsides
Special Supplement on Art, & Technology with the wonderful Waxwork Bakery and other ???
Blubber Lips: Dyes, cosmetics and the poor old Whale
Enter the Death Ray: Let me Pick your Brains: in the interest of science, of course
Stockholm, June : POWOW stages the real U.N. Environment conference
A Free Energy-Packed Poster
and a cut-price H-bomb too.