Some may cast as killjoys those who criticise the Council's provision of an ice rink in the Dane John Gardens from 29th November to 1st January, but our awareness of the climate emergency facing us must surely give us pause when we see the truly shocking environmental impact it will have.
Apart from requiring 46,000 litres of precious water, this operation will be using two diesel generators to provide power to the rink and food concessions, consuming between 60,000 and 90,000kWh of electricity - enough to fuel 20 homes for a year. Diesel fuel emits harmful particulates as well as nitrogen dioxide, both contributing to the kind of air pollution which particularly damages children's health, restricting their lung development. Moreover, 40,000 deaths a year are attributed to air pollution in this country.
Our Council has been forced to admit it did not consider the environmental impact of the ice rink, even though it declared a climate emergency in July. It claims that, from next year, it will be installing an electricity supply for events in the Dane John, which will reduce their carbon footprint somewhat, but surely this should have been a precondition for having the ice rink in the first place. And they haven’t even mentioned the need for some mitigation measures, such as planting trees to offset all the emissions involved.
Ice skating can be fun, no denying it. If you’re going to buy tickets for the one in the Dane John or not, we could all reduce harm to the environment this Christmas. Some ideas might be:
· choosing recycled and recyclable wrapping paper and decorations;
· buying Fair Trade and ethically sourced products;
· buying from local independent traders where possible;
· choosing to walk, cycle, or take public transport instead of the car;
· choosing to use rechargeable batteries if items need batteries;
· improving insulation in your home and turning down your heating to conserve energy;
· recycling all you are able to.
These small changes can be done easily and, if we all do them, it can have a big impact.