Tag archive for "O.C Heaton"

On Writing

Michael Crichton’s Micro: How not to preserve a legacy

2 Comments 04 January 2012

As readers of A Rush of Green will know, I am a huge fan of Michael Crichton. In fact, he is the reason I became a writer in the first place. If you have read my debut eco-thriller The Human Race, you will know that Michael Crichton also helped to define the genre of my storytelling. Known as “science faction”, it is a mash of fact and fiction so closely woven together that you don’t know where one starts and the other begins. Continue Reading

On Writing

A Rush of Green: one year on

No Comments 15 December 2011

It’s been almost a year since A Rush of Green launched – and what a year it’s been!

When I pressed publish on my inaugural post back in December of last year, I had no idea how popular the blog would be and if anyone would be interested in my ramblings. Thankfully, it turns out that plenty of you are – and I am very grateful to you all. Continue Reading

Future Earth

What is the real cost of a plastic bag?

No Comments 25 October 2011

While many billions of plastic bags are used each year, their contribution to climate change is actually minimal. In his book Carbon Detox, the environmental writer George Marshall calculates that on average, our annual use of plastic bags produces only 5 kg of the enormous 12,500 kg of carbon dioxide we pump out each year. Continue Reading

On Writing

The best of the blogs

2 Comments 21 October 2011

Since finishing the sequel to The Human Race, I’ve taken some time out of writing to catch up with life in general. And for me, that has meant reading. A lot of reading…

Regular readers of A Rush of Green will know that my own posts tend to focus on developments in science and technology and the environment, or look at how I’m fairing with my writing. So with this in mind, I’ve decided to pull together a list of my favourite blog posts over the last few months, each of which focus on one or more of these themes. Continue Reading

Future Earth

Do you know what one tonne of carbon dioxide looks like?

7 Comments 30 September 2011

Yesterday I calculated the carbon cost of writing the sequel to The Human Race. It came out at a shocking 11.91 tonnes of carbon dioxide. I fell to thinking about what I could do to reduce this.

My youngest daughter asked me what I was doing and, after I had explained it to her, she asked me what a tonne of carbon dioxide looks like. It was a great question – and one for which I had no immediate answer. All I could tell her was that CO2 is odourless and colourless – but this reply wasn’t particularly useful for a seven-year-old looking to visualise a tonne of gas.

So I did what I do best: research! Fifteen minutes later I had discovered this great image, which helped both of us enormously:

one tonne of carbon dioxide


This picture was taken by Dave Ames, a science teacher at Cohasset High School in Cohasset. Mr Ames built this large cube to represent the size of one metric tonne of carbon dioxide. The cube is 27 feet wide, 27 feet high and 27 feet deep.

As you can see, the cube towers over the people standing alongside it. For me, this picture was an eye-opener. As for my young daughter: she was amazed by its size. Then she became quite upset that our family is pumping 15 of these giant blocks into the atmosphere every year, just to heat and light our home.

I believe that such a picture is striking on its own, but that if you don’t know your own CO2 output, isn’t it essentially meaningless? I used a website called www.carbon-offsets.com to calculate the Heaton family’s output, and I recommend this website to others.

For me, knowing that I was personally responsible for 13.62 tonnes of CO2 over two years was bad enough. Now I was able to visualise that number, thanks to the image above, I was even more unhappy. I became all the more determined to do what I could to reduce my CO2 output.

Tomorrow I’ll list the steps that I am taking to make my writing carbon-free…

This post was selected for Everything Home End of October Edition, hosted by My DIY Home Tips.

green guilt

Future Earth

My name is O.C. Heaton and I’m a polluter…

No Comments 29 September 2011

After posting about corporate environmentalism, it occurred to me that I should be practising what I preach. Even writers generate a carbon footprint, but I have never taken the time to analyse how much CO2 I spew out into the atmosphere.

When my eco-thriller, The Human Race, was published, I traded in my Grand Jeep Cherokee 4.7L V8 engine for a Brabus (a Smart car). I hasten to add that this had nothing to do with the publishing advance I secured for the book! Instead, it was a conscious decision. If you are a regular reader of A Rush of Green, you will know that after researching the environment inside and out for The Human Race, I was struck by green guilt and became a reluctant environmentalist. My Smart car was a first step in the right direction: my miles per gallon soared, from a measly 16 on a good day, to more than 50. Even so, at the rate of 200 miles per month the carbon emissions from my tiny car still amount to half a tonne of emissions per year.

Driving accounts for a mere fraction of my daily emissions, so I decided to work out how much impact my business – writing – has had on the environment. As a writer, I was unsure how to separate my downtime from my writing time and eventually decided not to bother. I treated them as one and the same. After all, the business is me. I am the production engine as it were, so everything I consume has one output: books.

Here is a breakdown of my household’s energy consumption:

Heaton energy consumption

Using www.carbon-offsets.com I calculated that, based on those figures, our family produces nearly 14.89 tonnes in one year. Because I write at home, I am the heaviest user in my family of four. I am here all day, using light, power for my laptop, gas for warmth, cooking and the occasional shower! Given my heavy usage, I have calculated that I am responsible for 40 per cent of our household emissions

Writing the sequel has taken nearly two years. If I consume 40 per cent of the household total, that puts my carbon emissions at a shocking 11.91 tonnes.

And that’s not all. The book research that I have undertaken outside the home has also produced a significant carbon footprint. Since a large portion of the sequel is set in Washington DC, I invested in a research trip. Including return journeys and accommodation costs, I “spent” an additional 1.21 tonnes.

So while writing an eco-thriller, I have produced approximately 13.62 tonnes of CO2.  It doesn’t look good on paper, does it?

It gets worse. I haven’t included my car’s output, and I haven’t factored in the carbon cost of publication. As for the latter, however, rest assured that after my recent evaluation of paper books v. electronic books, the sequel to The Human Race will be heavily promoted on Kindle and other e-readers!

As for what happened next… Find out in tomorrow’s post!

This post was selected for Everything Home End of October Edition, hosted by My DIY Home Tips.

On Writing

My writing progress: I’m a summer writer!

5 Comments 22 September 2011

Earlier this year I blogged about my obsession with my writing progress. I am scrupulous about recording my “writing statistics”, and either beat myself up when I fail to meet my targets or celebrate with high fives when I hit them.

Having just finished the second book in The Human Race “Thrilogy”, I am taking a short break before starting the third and final instalment of the series. This week, contemplating the best time to put pen to paper, I decided to compile statistics for my writing progress for the last four years. As you can see, they make for some interesting viewing: Continue Reading

Future Tech

Can a giant balloon really cool the Earth?

No Comments 15 September 2011

It has been reported that the summertime volume of Arctic sea ice fell to a record low last year. This made me recall another recent story: one that entailed mad scientists, a long pipe and balloons in the sky in order to cool the Earth. If you read it you’ll remember it: it was too crazy to forget.

In case you missed it… Continue Reading

Future Tech

The birth of billions: the first step towards fusion power?

No Comments 31 August 2011

Two birth statistics caught my eye this week. One is well known, the other less so.

As you may know, the birth of the seven billionth person will take place in October of this year, most likely in India or China.

Following hot on its heels will be the birth of the billionth car. Yes that’s right, there will shortly be one thousand million motor vehicles clogging the roads of this planet. That’s one car for every seven men, women and children. It’s a phenomenal statistic and one that shows no sign of abating as third world countries continue to replace two legs with four wheels. Continue Reading

Future Earth

Iceland’s low carbon future: can we do it too?

No Comments 25 August 2011

I have previously blogged about the speed at which carbon emissions are rising and the need for a low carbon future. Essentially, emissions are on an upward growth curve that shows no signs of stopping. The evidence to support this increase is overwhelming, and whether or not you believe that the rise in emissions is the cause of global warming, the outcome is undeniable. I guess we’ll just have to get used to rising sea levels and more extreme weather patterns! In fact, many people have begun to accept that global warming has arrived and is here to stay. And they are doing something about it. Not by reducing their emissions or implementing a low carbon strategy, but by adapting to this new reality. Continue Reading

Future Tech

What came first: flying or failure?

1 Comment 23 August 2011

Did you read about the Falcon HTV-2 last week? Billed as the fastest plane ever built, it was lost in a test flight somewhere over the Pacific. But not before recording speeds in excess of 13,000 miles per hour, or 20 times the speed of sound!

Just over 100 years ago, flying did not even exist. It was not until one day in December 1903 that the Wright Brothers made their inaugural flight. They were able to keep their prototype aloft for just twelve seconds, during which time it flew over 120 feet (37 metres) at speeds of 6.8 mph. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Where the old towpath meets the motorway

No Comments 30 April 2011

Canals are great places to visit. They transport you back into another age, where the tempo of life was by necessity so much slower than it is today. They also reconnect you with Mother Nature – they can’t fail to as they calmly wind their way through the quiet countryside.

I’ve just returned from visiting the Lake District where, on the very last day, we decided to make the most of the unseasonably good weather and cycle down the Lancaster Canal towpath.  We made our way down the pretty waterway in the Spring sunshine. We saw nesting swans, grazing sheep and cows, countless butterflies, wild flowers, small bream and trout, grey geese, the odd fox and even a family of roe deer. Continue Reading

why I love technology

Future Tech

Why I love technology

No Comments 12 March 2011

As readers of The Human Race will know, I love technology. Yes, I’m a real gadget man. Mankind’s capacity for invention and ingenuity fascinates me. The idea that someone, somewhere in the world sat down and had the intelligence, perseverance and creativity to invent something that hopefully solved a problem for someone else is partly romantic, often exciting and sometimes terrifying. There have been a few wobbles along the way, but technology has helped us to evolve and survive.

Continue Reading

How The Human Race came out of a hole in the ground

On Writing

How The Human Race came out of a hole in the ground

5 Comments 14 January 2011

When I wrote The Human Race, I wanted it to portray something I had learned on one of our last excursions to Iceland: that this mesmerisingly beautiful country is being torn apart. Literally. One half of the island sits atop the Eurasian Tectonic Plate while the other half straddles the North American Plate. The two are slowly but inexorably separating at the rate of one inch per year. You can actually see it happening.

Þingvellir National Park is littered with consequential tears in the earth, and we were fortunate enough to scramble inside one that must have been 20 feet deep and 10 wide (and this was 10 years ago, so now the void will be much deeper). It was an eerie yet thought-provoking experience; in Iceland, Mother Nature rules with a fiery fist. Continue Reading

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Reviews of The Human Race

Unputdownable. Yes, I know it's not a word, but it definitely applies here, anyway. That's the word I'm going with, to describe The Human Race by O.C. Heaton. - Hira N. Hasnain

An outstanding first novel from O.C. Heaton that catapults him into the Best Seller league… - Justine Bond

"This is an exciting, fast-paced read. The Human Race is a book that is very easy to forget to put down. Bring on part two!" - L. H. Bowers

"If you are looking for a well-plotted and well-written thriller to while away the hours of a long flight, this offering might suit you very well." - David Bryson, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer

For further reviews of The Human Race by O.C. Heaton click here.

Author Bio

Charles Heaton British thriller writer O.C. Heaton, author of The Human Race, is fascinated by the past, present and future of human evolution. (Image credit: Ross Parry Agency) Read More>>

O.C. Heaton’s bookshelf

O.C. Heaton in the Guardian

O.C. Heaton's post about Harold Haw was featured in the Guardian.

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O.C.'s bookshelf: read

The BeachThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLife of PiOuter DarkThe FirmAlexander 3: The Ends of the Earth: A Novel

More of O.C.'s books »
O.C. Heaton's  book recommendations, reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

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