Of all the threats to life that people in the developing world face, it is astonishing that the simple act of cooking is one of the greatest dangers of them all. And the scale of the tragedy is enormous; nearly three billion people in the developing world cook food and heat their homes with firewood or charcoal on traditional cookstoves or open fires.
Next time you're in your local pharmacy, take a detour to the men's shaving aisle. When you get there, scan the shelves in front of you. You'll see high-gloss packaging, lots of "Fusion" and "Turbo" and "Mach" brands. It's almost like you're in the Formula 1 pit lane, isn't it? The choice seems abundant.
A pot-smoking friend once regaled me with his theory of a collective human consciousness, his idea being that supposedly we are all connected by some sort of invisible net that links our minds. I remember laughing heartily at the concept as I inhaled secondary smoke while thinking this is what drugs do to one's brain- invent wild theories without any foundation whatsoever.
We have known about excessive profits for years. Year on year we saw companies making billions in profits and then hiking their prices again just months later... I have not always agreed with my Party that Ofgem should be abolished, but my faith in them has hit rock bottom. I have to ask myself why this has not been done sooner.
When countries set out their cases for energy independence, the main reason is generally cited as the need to ease reliance on oil and gas from unfriendly places. President Barack Obama's 'All of the Above' energy strategy for example, a plan that has seen this US administration extract more fossil fuels than any other, is very much predicated on the need to lessen oil imports from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Anyone following the economic and political debate in recent years will have found it hard to escape the fact that the price of essentials is rising. While most have accepted this as a given, and policy makers have been tussling to tame the rises, what has been missing from the public debate has been hard evidence on precisely how much these rises have impacted households over time.