ImageSomeone once told me that audio CDs took their capacity from LPs, which in turn were sized to fit a concert piece on each side. The length of a classical concert piece was in turn set to meet the time it took a candle to burn down in an era when footlights were fuelled by wicks and wax. I don’t know if it is true, but I have always liked the anecdote for its illustration of how precedent and custom can confine our thinking.

I read in the Washington Post this morning of a move to add noise to electric vehicles ‘loud enough to be heard amid a wide range of street noises and other background sounds’.   This is for pedestrian safety. Believe me, I am all in support of pedestrian safety.  But it seems such a shame that in these days of such significant noise pollution and great technology, we have to resort to making the quiet overheard above the noisy, rather than vice versa.

When large vehicles are under attack for their hefty fuel consumption I have heard it said  that in a collision between a small and large vehicle the large will come out on top, hence small vehicles are unsafe and should not be promoted. Is it just me, or is the right answer that larger vehicles are a greater danger to others and smaller vehicles should therefore be encouraged to prevail.

So much depends on your frame of reference and for sustainability in particular the rule of thumb is that the broader the frame of reference the better. Who knows how many good sustainability solutions have been missed by taking a narrow perspective and how many we can uncover by taking a broader and ambitious view?