Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Make Sun While The Hay Shines

That title is nothing much to do with this blog, but I couldn't resist.

Nor could I avoid a small titter at the progress of a blog from Guardian, whilst attending the Hay festival (hence the slight link to the title, plus the fcat it is all about saving the planet in lots of e-ways).

Comment is free at Hay

It was just rather fun to note the number of folk who were more than a little distracted by a MacDonalds ad that graced the same pages.

I must say that I rather feel Mr. Kern would owe me the money, though.

Interesting to note the explanation that 'site editors do not control ad policy'. Is that so?

The rest jsut shows why I'm not big on having my blog be configured for replies.

You say Payola, we say 'legitimate (and legal) consumer conning extortion'

At one stage in our musical career I seriously considered trying to get a number 1. Not by actually making a good (they all were/are, I rush to add) record mind, as that would be silly. But by the simple act of giving away or buying enough singles to get into various charts such that the public thought it must be good because it was in a chart.

Another way would be to hire someone who had lunch with someone on a playlist committee I couldn't even have a hope of reaching, even if they were part of a public broadcaster.

But that was music. So it's nice to see that all's fair in, well, pretty much anything that can con the public into buying something on merits that don't really exist:£50,000 to get a book on recommended list 

I love the fact that publishers think it is getting out of hand, presumably as it is getting to the point when even they can't afford to rig it in their direction any more. And, as pointed out, it also happens on supermarket shelves, of course.

I wonder how much I would need to fork out to get Junkk.com a mention in the various monthly shopper mags, even when they have pieces on 'greening your home'.

Having an opinion can be hazardous to your career

With Junkk.com, I no longer have much to lose, so you may have noticed that I'm pretty much saying what I think. 

There was a time when I was more circumspect, if only because there were people we could benefit from working with, or for. Both, usually, involving money (see: He who pays the piper from long ago). And money to Junkk.com is money to the family coffers, so there really was a vested interest in not rocking the boat.

And it seems that to exist, much less thrive, in a career these days, you better no do anything that comes close to not agreeing with anyone below, besides or, good forbid, above you, or even have much by way of an opinion.

This Protect us from Billy the Offender is about the Home Office. It applies pretty much throughout every walk of life.

The mediocre have at last found a way to ensure they stay at the top of the asylum. At least the targets are being met.

Writes of Reply

The Sunday Times' essayist Simon Jenkins is the latest to weigh in on a now the issue de jour in his column Global warming might not be so bad, if we keep our cool . Of course I felt the urge to reply, not because I feel I have much more to add in these pages to the whole thing (like these commentaries, there is not much more that can be said), but in the slim hope of gaining a broader audience for our efforts by getting noticed in the more major media:

"Like you, I try to stay abreast of it all. And like you I am reeling from the sheer volume.... of it all. By which I mean that great catch-all that is global warming.

My response has been to give up worrying, at least about what is causing it, and devote myself where possible to doing as much as I can to mitigate it in my own small way, both personally and a few other outward, inclusive ones as well. 

Less ‘doom and gloom’. More ‘do and bloom’.

I must say I tend to agree with Prof. Lovelock on the issue of population growth, and have written about this a lot before. There is a finite amount of planet to live on, and off. The global population is expanding. This suggest an end-point. Most are also getting richer, and hence more land-hungry, material-acquisitive and wanderlusty, which inevitably means consumption and pollution. Which can only hurt the planet's ability to cope still further, and suggests the end-point is being brought forward exponentially 

Where I tend to diverge is in deciding that it is worth trying to do something, no matter what. And if it is unclear what that may be, then we must plug on (or rather take the thing out) and do our best while those that know better get their collective acts together.

David Attenborough’s first programme was a disappointment. I was awaiting something new and got more of the same. But I unfairly raised an eyebrow that he offered no solutions. These are to come this week. Whether they will extend beyond not driving (but, we presume, keep flying, so long as you are a naturalist or environmental journalist whose career depends on looking at bugs or talking about their demise at conferences in far-flung places) and sharing a bath remains to be seen. If the medicine doesn’t taste nice, it does not matter how eminent the advice of health professional holding the spoon, unless they have added a nice dose of sugar to it in complement.

And as with the Malthusian implications of population growth, the issue of the Asian economies is one that makes anything we do here pale into insignificance, yet warrant scant mention for all sorts of reasons. I only had to watch last night’s 'Tank Man' to grasp just we are facing, and how hard it will be to attempt to check the glory of having a turn at being rich after all they have been through. And seen us enjoy.

You rightly note we face the potent issues of trust and comprehension even on our doorstep. Just to cite to examples from your own paper, we have pretty relevant questions on the independence of our government, and a letter (chosen from how many, and for what reason? A ratings maintaining rebuke from the wind lobby perhaps?) showing that there are widely diverse views on some pretty heady issues. 

But I'm afraid I can't accept the notion that mankind’s' polluting efforts are possibly a balance for global dimming, and do feel that perhaps your warmer Northern hemisphere comment may err on the flip. Though I do tend to agree, as it does suggest we may enjoy our camping holiday in the near vicinity more than some richer,  adventurous souls who brave a storm-lashed tropical paradise, seduced by the articles and ads in the very newspaper sections that are now sanctimoniously offsetting the consequences of their correspondents traveling there.

Though they must address such global socio-economic issues such as travel, I concern myself about the international governing community cooperating on anything. Political will can only be moved by individual desire.

So I'm not sure becoming Dutch and creating more land to generate more people and their waste products is quite the answer. But certainly a bit more effort in mirroring that nation's public efforts to reduce waste certainly is. There is a lot more we can do. We are just not doing it yet. I wonder why?"

Travelin' Lite

As I am now in earnest pursuit of the day job, it looks like the Saturday Guardian will now be an addition to my weekly hard copy newspaper purchase. Actually it's not too bad, and in addition to the Media/Creative appointments pages there are a few sections that are worth the scope.

One such is Travel, which I noted from last week had gone all offset. And now at last I have had a chance to delve into soem of the more in-depth artciles. A few (well, most, it seemed) were by Leo Hickman - How could planes be less damaging?Is it OK to fly?Is the future green?  - and actually all seemed well balanced. One interesting fact in there was that the C02 per passenger in one return flight to Sydney is equal to half that generated by one person in the UK per year (I wonder if that includes the holiday to Oz?). Stick that offset in your exhaust pipe and justify it, globetrotters! 

Because even in this 'special', there were a few voices saying thyat the one thing they would not be doing is not travelling. Which I am sure comes as a huge relief to all those tourist desinations whose economies depend on us coming to see them before they are destroyed by us coming to see them.

What I am not quite sure is how well all this sits with this week's version. Now coyly branded in a discreet earpiece, they are of course now offsetting the trips. Just the journalists , mind. Who after last week's eco-edition are back to advocating that the readership barrels off as far as possible to buy stuff. I leave you with exhibit 'A': Designer China.

Aiiiiiiiyaa!, as they say in Hong Kong.

Test match

I watched a BBC 'special' called "Test The nation", which had as its theme 'How well do you know your planet'.

What was quite fun was seeing one of the 'green elite' gurus squirm a bit when challenged by the host on her flying habits, including a trip to Nigeria for a green conference. I guess that's how you get to be guru; by going to such things and being privy to stuff the rest of us are not. But then, I'm sure a lot of folk would reasonably claim that flying around is what they have to do to stay at the top of their game. Tricky dilemma. Must have been fun in the green room afterwards.

On the whole a light-hearted event, and possibly effective in its populist delivery. I'm big on entertainment and accessibility, but I have to say the whole thing came across as a bit trivial and ever-so slightly naff. Too much celebrity, too much vox-pop and not enough proactive, solution-based 'meat'.

But my kids loved it, and I gave me a chance to talk about the issues with them, so a lot better than nothing.

In the spirit of balance

The question mark at the end is key, and indicative of a slightly worrying trend in journalism these days: Climate change: Tearing the Earth apart? 

However, when a publication such as the New Scientist uses a phrase like  "the idea that climate change is linked to extreme geological events is not as far-fetched as it might sound." one needs to take notice.

I for one was quick to flick an eyebrow at those who chose to relate tectonic shifts to Humvee purchases, so it looks like I need to be more circumspect.

But really it does not matter to my... our missions, which is simply to reduce waste. I just hope we don't end up doing yet more gassing at the expnse of doing in debating this new information.

Block off the old chip

Nothing like a bank holiday to recharge the batteries. And ensure the
in-box is overflowing when it gets ignored for an extra day.

But at least I managed to grab some quality time to attack the
garden, and have it attack me, inbetween the erratic weather. Plus of
course catch up on the weekend papers.

To start, I refer to one from the Sunday Timers I cannot hyperlink
to, but as it is short it probably no consequence.

It seems Toyota Prius owners in the US (where else?) are improving
the mpg of their cars by reprogramming (chipping). And now it is
catching on here (at £1/litre, I wonder why?).

Thing is, why wouldn't the car be already tuned by the manufacturer
this way? I can only assume there must be a consequence, either in
the effect it has on the reliability or durability of the components,
or the thing now has the overtaking ability of a milk float.

But I guess 100mpg does covey a certain smugness and eco-cred when
you turn up (eventually) at parties.

Addendum: Well, if you wait long enough (in this case a few days), and answer may be forthcoming, this time courtesy of Forbes: The Frankenstein Hybrid