Livin’ on the Edge

gas_gaugeI have discovered that I don’t deal with scarce resources very well…. I was driving from Bristol to Cornwall and the fuel light came on 46  miles from my destination.  No problem thought I, there is a fuel station about 30 miles away, should have enough to get there.  And get there I did. But the fuel station was out of diesel. Completely.  Cue sense of humour failure.  Next nearest fuel station is 4.8 miles away but I’m not sure I’ve got enough to get there….

I set off with a sense of trepidation and my brain buzzing with ideas of how I’ll handle it if I run out of fuel.  I am desperately thinking of alternative routes that will lighten the demands of the engine for fuel and avoid waiting in heavy traffic or creating a road block if I do run out.  I think about how I can drive as economically as possible by keeping the car in neutral and turning the air con off….I find a route through and less than a mile from the fuel station, I mean about 500 yards, I have to stop at traffic lights. And the engine stops. My heart sinks and I get out of the car to talk to the vehicle behind (thankfully a considerate taxi).  My voice has become a little high pitched, I am shaking a little and I don’t know what to do.  I can only think of trying to glide it into the fuel station that is just around the corner.

The lights change and I take off the handbrake.  I glide around the corner and just as I can feel the car slowing down to stop, then engine springs back into life with just enough juice to get us through the next set of traffic lights and into the fuel station.  The sense of relief is palpable (I perceive by the car as much as me – or am I anthropomorphising too much?)  as I lift the nozzle and the grateful fuel tank guzzles.

So after this incident of self-induced stress I have learnt two important lessons. 1. I am a very lucky person. 2. Never leave it that late to stop for fuel again.  I suspect I have shortened my life by several years.

One of the projects that we are involved with is about scarce resources, specifically water.  Now I am sat in the office, by the river, and it seems that this is not a scarce resource at all so why should I worry? Much as I was sat driving earlier today with half a tank of fuel and not at all worried about running out.  It seems that it is only when we don’t have it (or access to it) that we are concerned.  The LEAT project (which will taking place in 2017 if the funding bids all come in) is looking at how we value water (or not) and what the consequences might be, how we can use it more effectively and why we should bother.  Irrespective of the resource that we might be needing, we are a complacent society, expecting that our needs will be met and our expectations exceeded on a daily basis.  The LEAT Project will be part of bringing that complacency into focus and maybe changing a few minds about how we use our resources.

Hopefully it won’t take all of us running out of what we need to make us realise how important it is.

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky


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