Monday, October 31, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Actually it was some cerebral get-together, and the piece involved an interview with a senior environment-type dude, Janos Bogardi.
The top line was/is that if nothing is done to cushion the blow of natural disasters, by 2010 50 million could be driven from their homes annually.
Though by no means definitive, there are apparently compelling statistics to show natural disasters are getting worse. Don't know if the dinosaurs, ancient Pompeians or anyone with a turn-of the century condo on Krakatoa would agree, but we are 'experiencing 2.5 to 3 times as many extreme events of climatic em4rgncy as we did in the 1970s’.
Now that kinda of knocks one of my notions on the head, because in the 1970s we certainly had a pretty fair global communication network. I was there. Admittedly not 'as it happens' satellite uplink images from a mobile, but you could get a concerned reporter with a radio to kick some food and water off a rescue chopper and on the scene then just as easily as you can now. So bang goes my theory that a lot of this is just perception because we get told about it immediately. Though I still think there is a difference between hearing about it on the radio a few days later and watching it live.
Now as my title may indicate, I'm not a big fan of reports. For one they seem to consume a lot of effort and introduce a lot of delays to actually doing something, and also can be pretty much made to say anything anyone with an agenda likes. Which is a shame, because it's hard to have a balanced opinion if you have ceased to trust a major avenue of information. A sad consequence of our byte-sized society, I guess.
For instance, one thing that was not mentioned in the piece, though it may have been in the report (if not high on the PR agenda), was that it may be that natural disasters are having more impact simply because there are lot more of us, with a lot more stuff, upon which it can impact. I don't think there were too many Swedish sunbathers on Thai beaches back in the 70’s.
At least the fact that there being a lot more of us was acknowledged as maybe taking its toll on the land upon which we are living. But there was no mention of what to do about that rather significant fact, concentrating instead on efforts to preserve them. Different department, I guess.
The piece was titled 'Preparing for the worst', which may have been the publication's title rather than the aims of the report, but it did seem to focus more on solutions to these disasters, rather than prevention of them, or at least their scale.
There was a nice quote, 'we are always arming for the last battle', which is all too true, but it seems to me they are equally guilty of cherry-picking with the same convenience they are trying to label short-sighted politicos.
Of course we need to do all we can to prepare and protect, but perhaps now is the time to concentrate every bit as much effort on tackling, with all the complex 'ical' nightmares it would entail, on one of the major the causes of such disasters and the costs they create, and that is overpopulation. Before nature does it for us.
Friday, October 28, 2005
At Junkk.com, we tend to pretty much wear our heart on our sleeves.
We're trying to do the right thing 'for the future', but at the same
time we're like most normal folk and have various pressures of life,
career and the pursuit of happiness that can cause us to either
transgress enviro-nirvana practice through ignorance, or even suffer
the odd twang of guilt when we do it knowingly. Hence we have tried
to avoid setting ourselves up for any egg on face scenarios by not
seeking to set ourselves up as paragons of the 'only way'.
However, we do want to represent, as much as is possible, accurate
information. So I'm trying to figure a way to create aspects of the
site that are 'as good as we can figure... unless you know
different', that will encourage those who know better to share their
This, then, allows me to at least pose some pretty daft questions and
pop off on some pretty odd tangents, all in the genuine hope of
finding 'a better way' (environmentally, that is) , but which I have
to accept may turn out not to be so. I just think we all have to
accept that some issues are so complex a definitive answer is not
possible, so on balance doing something that 'feels right' may be
better than doing nothing because it might not.
This train of thought has been inspired by an article I was reading
about GPS systems for cars. Now, being a man and not afraid to stop
and ask directions, I have always thought these things to be pretty
way out on the wrong side of the 'making more stuff' vs. 'making
stuff better' debates I am engaged upon with various experts in
various fields (and usually losing, because they spend all day on
their stuff, when I kinda have a passing interest and can't match
their killer facts). And that doesn't include the jam-avoiding bits.
But for the first time I came across a bit of blurb that pointed out
that by making sure you don't get lost, these things actually offer a
genuine environmental benefit. I really don't know the e-consequences
of making the things and selling them to us, but I am prepared to be
persuaded that throughout their lifespans, they may actually result
in less gunk in the atmosphere than if they didn't exist.
So... great! Another possible advertiser for Junkk.com. Unless you
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I just 'invested' half an hour answering a question posed by The
Times Online. Based on an article regarding the woeful response to a
BA initiative (basically voluntarily buying off your eco-guilt for
flying - check it out here:
they asked if airplane fuel should be taxed
(see here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,564-1834561.00.html )
, to which I replied as follows:
"Probably, yes. This despite working for a 'change through incentive
rather than penalty-based methods’ planet-saving organisation. AND
being married to a Singaporean, and hence having 50% of annual family
obligations 12,000 miles away. IF (it's a biggie) climate change is
due to greenhouse gasses out of exhaust pipes, then no Prius purchase
will match the consequences of annual jaunts to Klosters or Barbados.
And of course those who do probably still will carry on doing so no
matter what (don’t see too many Notting Hillbilly, chattering class
eco-champions opting to camp in Kent or having their conferences in
Cardiff), and hence punts us straight into ‘them and us’ territory.
As does any fuel tax. Now, who is the politician – especially one who
is seeking re-election in a few summer holidays’ time - to tell us we
can’t fly unless we pay? Or stand up to the airline lobby and its
global employee base that faces serving only a minority elite. Fuel-
cell powered Jumbos anyone?"
It's why I like blogs. Even if they don't include me, or worse they
do and I miss it when they do (got a few better things to do than
live on every online forum in case I get featured), or much worse,
flamed by those who do have such time, at least I can get my point
'out there' on my own terms.
What's interesting is that in the short time between starting this
and looking back, the posts are up there and on balance agreeing with
It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Talking with Emma we
were projecting to a point where she would not be able to afford to
drive to work here (there is no alternative method) or I could not
visit my UK relatives in Scotland, simply because driving was priced
out of our reach and into the province of an elite.
So can taxing or levies on travel be the answer? It would seem to be
political suicide to try.
Then we debated a non-means-based method. How about we are allotted
so much leisure miles a year by road, sea, train and air? Madonna
gets the same as us. Her call on how she uses it. But then, how about
she really, really wants to go somewhere nice and hence gets to buy
our allotment off us? Woooo. Carbon-trading anyone? I am feeling a
headache coming on just trying to grasp with the social,
environmental and all other 'al' consequences. Good job a bunch of
selfish, self-interested empire builders are doing the thinking on
this for us.
Interesting notion. Soon we'll all be stuck in our villages and can
only communicate virtually unless permitted to travel by those who
know better. Glad we have swans outside our window. At least until
John Prescott concretes them over.
I'm depressed. And I don't even read the Daily Mail (at least not
unless it has a classic DVD I must have, but will never watch). It
certainly doesn't help that the nature of our work here at Junkk.com
involves trawling through masses of information and opinion from
every worldwide media source imaginable. Thanks to these it becomes a
toss up if we'll get to the end of the day before being consumed by a
climatic catastrophe, bird flu, Iranian nukes or pillaging and raping
But my more immediate concerns surround mathematics, and if you end
up agreeing with me by the conclusion of this piece, you can at least
be reassured that I wasn't too terrific at it and hence may be wrong.
I have already broached the inescapable fact that, while the earth's
surface area is finite, there has to be a collision point in the
future between this and the expansion of our population and the
demands of each individual's needs throughout their lifespan.
And it is the individual which again concerns me in playing with my
Because there are fewer and fewer people 'making' (I have to put that
in quotes as it's a broad definition) anything useful.
Yet the numbers of people 'feeding' (ditto) off them, and in fact
dependent on them for their existence, is growing exponentially.
So I'm afraid I just can't make the numbers add up.
As an example, some very nice working colleagues in the charitable
sector have just found that money they were promised (and spent) on a
worthy project has basically been sucked into a black hole as a
result of the quango that was to disseminate the money creating a sub-
quango, with the net result (I'm guessing) that a bunch of money was
consumed in the creation of this new entity. Now each quango is
pointing at the other as the reason for the shortfall, with the
result of course of the amount not being honoured.
Where is it going to end? We have legions of folk meeting,
researching, administering, assessing, reviewing, legislating,
policing, fining, taxing, building offices, creating empires, going
to courses, giving time off, ticking boxes, meeting targets, paying
salaries and guaranteeing pensions... but who the heck is going to
pay for this? In the short term I just mean financially, but in the
longer term simply by creating useable resources that these ever-
multiplying drains consume every second?
It doesn't really matter if our various future challenges are natural
or man-made, but we're the only race currently in much of a position
to do anything about them.
So by my assessment of the numbers, the most urgent efficiency we
need to address is in how we deploy our own energies. Make something,
or at least make it better.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to start a thread on the Environment Site Forum, to share my fustrations, and to find out if other people had similar problems. It is becoming quite a popular thread, which you may find of interest. Click on the link below:
Friday, October 07, 2005
Last night was the last in the series of No Waste Like Home. The family featured used a lot of electricity. Everything from lights, televisions, and hair straightners, to the spa was left on 24/7. They consumed enough electricity in two weeks to power a football stadium for an entire football match. To help reduce consumption, light bulbs were changed to energy saving ones, and the spa was put on a timer. Cleaning products were replaced with old favourites such as vinegar and lemon juice. A wood burner was also installed, but again, who paid for that? Did the family themselves stump up, or was it the BBC?
Overall the programme has given us an insight into some attitudes of the general public. People are becoming more and more aware of the environment they live in, and the damage that is being caused. As this show has demonstrated, people do need to be shown what to do to reduce, (repair) reuse and recycle. Many people are aware that it is a good thing to do; they just don’t know how to do it. Hopefully No Waste Like Home has inspired a few more people to think their impact on the environment.
We look forward to seeing a second series.