Monday, January 3, 2011

Pete Postlethwaite, RIP

I see from the NYT that character actor Pete Postlethwaite has died:
Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite, a craggy-faced British character actor described by director Steven Spielberg as "the best actor in the world," has died at age 64 after a long battle with cancer.

Friend and journalist Andrew Richardson said Monday that Postlethwaite died in a hospital Sunday.

The actor was instantly recognizable for his unusually shaped face — with prominent cheekbones that gave him a lean, rugged look — and his intense eyes. He was not conventionally handsome like many film stars but had a powerful presence and authenticity on screen and on stage.
This would normally be of no interest to this blog, but...

Postlethwaite was also prominent in efforts to reduce his own carbon emissions:
Besides playing the fictional role of the archivist in climate change feature documentary The Age of Stupid, Pete Postlethwaite appears to practise what his character preaches. Since moving to his home in 2006, a converted barn surrounded by 30 acres in the Shropshire pastureland, he and his wife Jacqui Morrish have gone to great lengths to reduce their family's emissions, slashing them in the last two years by a staggering 87%.

This is partly thanks to a 6kW, 11-metre high wind turbine that they installed last November. For them it makes both economical and ecological sense, says Postlethwaite. "We are fortunate enough to have the space, the position and the means to install a wind turbine and in time it will have paid for itself," he says. Indeed, if it hadn't been installed so late in the year, just one month before their last carbon audit, the turbine would have reduced their emissions even further, by 91%.

Although they still draw electricity from the grid the energy produced by the turbine also helps to power the home as well feeding excess electricity back into the grid, all of which is monitored by an import-export meter. Currently they are on track to export as much electricity as they are using, says Morrish. "It's been very expensive to do it, but we have just received our first cheque of £400 from Ecotricity," she says.

But such savings don't take into account the energy used to install the turbine, says Morrish, and the electricity it produces only goesso far in reducing their footprint. Much of their savings have been made through basic energy efficiency improvements, such as installing cavity wall insulation where possible, Thermafleece natural wool insulation and replacing the aging night storage heaters that came with the property with a carbon neutral wood pellet boiler and solar collectors, says Moorish. They also use low energy bulbs and light pipes and with their water coming from a gravity fed spring, they are careful to about how much they use, she says. Additional cuts also come from changes in their behaviour; shopping locally, holidaying in the UK and travelling by train, only putting the washing machine on when the wind is blowing and Postlethwaite forsaking his beloved gas-guzzling Saab convertible in favour of the their more fuel efficient VW Touran.

However despite such efforts there is one behaviour that will be difficult to overcome. Because of his line of work Postlethwaite clocks up a lot of air-miles. In fact in some years him flying to film shoots can make up as much as 69% of the entire family-of-four's carbon footprint. And much of the household's carbon reductions last year were down to less flying by Postethwaite for his work. . So with a work trip to Australia already in the diary, 2009 is likely to see a large chunk of these savings evaporate. "In future, where possible, I hope to travel by train not plane. Where it's not possible I'd hope to offset the carbon cost with all the other reductions we are making," says Postlethwaite. "Whether we like it or not, climate change is happening and we all need to act and act now to reverse it. Like charity, action begins at home, maybe it will spread."
Accordingly, I wanted to note his passing with a mention here.  I wish we had more celebrities, like Postlethwaite, genuinely worthy of the admiration they evoke.

1 comment:

brett said...

Yes, this is very sad. He was an exceptional person.