Letter from the Editor: too good to be true?

Would you pay $3,000 (£1,900) to make your gas and electricity bills go away for 20 years and have your energy generated by a relatively environmentally benign source? Despite being a cynic (it’s hard to be an environmental journalist without becoming one), I can’t help feeling at least a little bit excited about the Edison Device (in this week’s International section). We shall just have to wait and see whether or not it is too good to be true.

What’s perhaps most interesting about the Edison Device – based on fuel cell technology – is the people and the motivation behind it. It’s the stuff of which movies are made: a mysterious philanthropic (though I’m sure they will make a lot of money out of it) group of scientists are intent on saving the environment. The group have even worked out how the device can be distributed equitably, allowing no one country to get rich on it at the expense of others.

There is other news this week. We can use lichens to accurately measure air pollution; Arctic ice has shrunk to its smallest size for several centuries; the Chinese should stick to their building traditions because they are more efficient than the modern versions; and European ministers have agreed on the region’s forthcoming carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme.

And finally, the first birds rescued from the Prestige oil spill have been successfully cleaned, rehabilitated and released. They have been in good hands. The group that has been looking after the birds ran the highly successful project in 2000 to save 40,000 African penguins following an oil spill off the coast of South Africa.

Kind regards

Helen André


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