Trading Places 2: Green Politics and Keeping Warm in Fairbanks Alaska and Oxford (England)

Green Party Lights Green Party Lights in Alaska

In both Fairbanks and Oxford, environmental issues are important. For Oxfordonians the interest is indirect, academic (and caring), whereas Fairbanks is surrounded by vulnerable tundra.

The East Oxford Council ward where I live, had until a few years ago, an impressive Green party representation. At one point every councillor in our ward was  a Green – unique (I believe) in the UK.

But then the Greens turned themselves into a political party with policies about  things other than the environment. When they proposed limiting copyright to 14 years from publication (it’s currently 70 years from the authors’ death), I stopped voting for them.

Stick to the environment! Just the four Greens were elected.
2016 Oxford Green candidates – just four were elected.

Had they stuck to being an environmental pressure group, they’d still have my vote. We need people to do that. We don’t need another political party! Now there are no Green councillors in my ward, and just four out of 48 in Oxford proper – of which two are in the same ward (but not mine any more…)

The Alaska Green Party vote in the recent Presidential and Senate elections did not land a representative, despite it being an environmental kind of place. The Democrats took a few urban seats, with Republicans taking the rest. The Alaskan Greens says that overall they get some 10% of the vote.
Keeping warm in Fairbanks
Fairbanksonians would laugh. Oxford is now just below zero and we’re cold.  The Gulf Stream gives the UK a temperate climate even though we’re slightly north of Moscow.
But that’s why it’s so wet, and why we’re not used to being actually cold. But I’ve bought myself a Fjallraven woollen shirt. It’s solved the problem. Wool is the best when it’s cold and wet. There’s a Scottish company McNair Merino Mountain shirts that makes amazing wool shirts, but they’re £375 each and we have moths in our damp cold house…
Anyway – cold. Oxford houses aren’t geared up for it as you need air circulation so they don’t rot.  And they’re old,  often made of single layer bricks built over a hundred years ago. Of course the university buildings just across the river are more than 300 years old, but can be pretty cold despite lots of money being spent on them. Oh and the pub which dates back to 1242 (but was actually rebuilt in the 17th century…).
Chena, Alaska
Alaskan Open Air Swimming Pool

Whereas Fairbanks is new build,  but even so has double the average US rate for utility costs. Five hundred gallons of fuel oil per month seems average for a small house in winter.  But there’s a world of wood surrounding the city to fuel wood burners, although the cost of a truck, chainsaw and medical insurance all adds up.

cars-0108_alaska-cold-1000x641Most car parks allow cars to plug in their engine heaters, and snow mobiles have led to people going all over the place in the minus-sixty depths of winter wearing electric suits that plug into the cigarette lighter sockets.  They no longer go mad with cabin fever (that much). Even the bears don’t seem to hibernate any more like they should.
Unless it’s cold enough, the bears will stay awake and roam around looking for food.  “Eating up their Greens” is not a good motto for bears.
#Greenparty #fairbanks #oxford #keepingwarm

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