Stripes – We’re Steaming

Did you know we have a steam roller at my Green House? No, silly not a real one. Those are much too big and loud and hot and steamy and just a little scary. Well, a lot, really, if you’re a cat.  No, it’s a small model of a big one. I wanted to play with it, but my humans said to leave it alone, it’s not a toy. Well, what is it then? It’s not doing anything much so it’s not earning its keep. It’s not even writing a diary like I am.

I was feeling a little grumpy about that and went to curl up in a corner. But my Rob human came to rub my ears and said he would explain what the use of the silly little steamroller is. First of all, he said, it’s a piece of precision engineering that took great skill and is very pleasing to the eye. What? Maybe if you’re an engineer like Rob! But to a cat it’s still rather useless. Furthermore, (yes, Rob likes the big words) the steam roller will be used for teaching. Really? What’s it going to teach?

Rob said all my humans will be at the Flower Festival in Fernkloof Nature Reserve at the end of September where they will be exploring energy and steamy will go too. Oh yea! Can I also go? No, Stripes, he said, cats are not allowed in a nature reserve. Not even eco-cats? No, not even eco-cats.  But we can take a toy cat and pretend it’s you.   Well I want to meet this cat impersonator before I agree to that!

Yes, steamy can teach us all a very valuable lesson. The fact is that most of the electricity in South Africa is made by steam-driven turbines. That means that we boil water to make steam and the steam makes a big fan-like thing turn very fast and it makes a magnet spin which makes electricity in a coiled wire and then we can use the electricity to run a compressor in a fridge that makes the fridge cold where you keep your milk fresh.

Whoooaw! Back up a bit buddy! You totally lost me there. Never mind, said Rob, all you have to remember is that almost all our electricity is still made by boiling water to make steam.  And we burn mostly fossil fuels to make the steam. That’s things like coal and wood and oil and gas. These fossil fuels give off smoke and bad gases like carbon dioxide that drive global warming. What is the global warning, I asked. No, it’s global warming, not warning.

But you are right, Stripes, it’s also a warning that we should stop burning fossil fuels to make electricity.  But what about my milk? Don’t worry, Rob said reassuringly, we can still make electricity from the sun and the wind. In fact, the electricity for your fridge already comes from solar and wind power.

Whew, what a relief. I think I’ll go back to relaxing in the sun.    But I must remember to ask Rob more about the global warning thing…..

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