My post earlier this week about the battery in my pacemaker has reminded me of a topic that is (literally) close to my heart.
Every now and again I read about proposals to get rid of disposable, non-rechargeable batteries and replace them all with rechargeable batteries by such-and-such a date. The arguments for this course of action always refer to the environment, cost in the long term, and how disposable batteries add to landfill. Laudable sentiments all.
However, when you are part battery-operated, as I am (and might otherwise be landfill yourself), then such pleas on behalf of our planet carry a little less weight than they otherwise might. The battery which runs my pacemaker will last about eight years, and will then have to be removed and replaced. It is, in other words, both disposable and non-rechargeable, and I would have it no other way. When I try to imagine having a rechargeable one I get a disturbing mental image in my head. This involves my nipples, a pair of jump-leads and the motor from a Moulinex Food Processor (the pacemaker is quite small, after all, and anything stronger might have a Wile E Coyote effect).
Clearly, then, the only other answer is to come up with some method of powering me without a battery at all. A small nuclear device might work, though just writing that sentence aroused NIMBY feelings in me that I hadn’t realised were there. Just as people will support nuclear energy till they discover the plant is being built in their village, I think a nuclear battery is a good idea as long as it’s not wearing me as a dinner jacket.
I would be reluctant to eat anything that might make me burp, plus I’d have an afterlife longer than Jacob Marley. Also, I have enough problems at airport X-Rays as it is without being a person carrying an internal bomb.
The Greens’ three main alternative suggestions all have their merits. I could be wind-powered (I’d have to eat beans – great, now I’m doing fart jokes), I could be wave-powered (they might give me a grant towards a jacuzzi) or I could be solar-powered (three trips a year to the Canaries, paid for on my Medical Card).
I’ve just looked up “alternative energy” in Wikipedia (the fount of all wisdom) and met for the first time the phrase “bug excrement”. Apparently scientists are altering the DNA of bugs (seriously, guys, do you never watch Science Fiction movies? They should form one whole module in your course) so that they can convert agricultural waste into fuel. Really? How much poo do bugs produce? Just how big will the power stations have to be?
Anyway, if they’re thinking of using it to power pacemakers, they can piss right off. While I don’t exactly treat my body as a temple, I’ve no intention of filling it with earwig-shit.
Finally, of course, there is alcohol. Cars have been run on ethanol for a number of years now, and I’m hoping that people are working on ways of expanding the use of alcohol as an energy source. Indeed, I’m hoping that they have been carrying out experiments on real people in real pubs, and that I myself have been unconsciously participating (in all the possible meanings of that phrase) in these experiments.
If they can find a way of making me run on Guinness, I might just live forever.