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Topic section: A shock to the system
A shock to the system
Nearly all of us in the UK get our electricity from a massive system of power supply that was created in the 1930s.
Picture: 01_10313977.jpg

Miles and miles of wires and towers move electiricty across the UK.
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library


 A system of cables that stretch across the country transports most of the UK’s electricity from huge power stations into homes, schools and businesses. However these stations are also associated with a range of damaging

But it is hard to avoid controversy when environmental issues are involved

 environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.

As well as environmental concerns, there are the costs associated with security of supply. Big generating plants are starting to become more expensive than some technologically small-scale alternatives. Also experts are questioning our dependence on these huge electricity networks. As seen in the power cuts in Britain and North America in 2003, power failures more commonly originate in the electricity grid rather than in the generating technology. Had local and small-scale electricity generation been commonplace, the impact of these power failures might have been greatly reduced. A more diverse system of electricity generation may well be a more robust.
Picture: 01_10312072.jpg
Wind farms offer a carbon free and renewable way of meeting our demand for electricity.
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

There are ways of generating electricity - such as harnessing the energy from sunlight or wind - that have low pollutant emissions. But it is hard to avoid controversy when environmental issues are involved. Some people believe climate change forces us to develop renewable energy sources, while others are concerned about the visual impact of wind turbines. As individuals we can choose to use energy more efficiently, for instance by buying efficient light bulbs, insulating our homes or choosing to buy electricity from renewable sources such as wind. But a complicated system is holding us back from making any significant changes.
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Topic section: You are what you buy to eat
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British food production reels from crisis to crisis. The whole food system, from the seed to your plate, has become controversial. Food production is a complex system involving large corporations, supermarkets, government agencies and the European Union. How can we get the food we want, at a reasonable price and in a way we find acceptable?  > more

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Topic section: Waste not want not
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Waste is increasing all the time, but as a country we are not good at recycling it. Aluminium cans are converted into window frames hundreds of miles away and then sold back in this country. The system for efficient recycling is currently lacking but, until the government creates one, the waste will continue to pile up.  > more
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