Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Green Corner. Black Corner.

Being one of the Top Gear Triumverate, and adapt as all heck with a cunning phrase, James May is a power that be with a broad demographic (Sun Readers, and those who just look at he pictures when their jacuzzi installer is on her break). So this is worth a read: As seen on TV: phoney environmentalists are taking us for a ride

Though a LED torch against a searchlight, I reckon so's this (if they publish, the Telegraph have a JunkkMale filter lately):

"For a start, like some, I’m not quite sure what an environmentalist is, phony or not. Like usual, we seem to have to fall into a Bush-esque ‘You’re either for us or against us’ camp. It’s hard to be truly green if you’re only black or white.
I had a look at a few definitions and didn’t much fancy any of them. All I know is I have a crumbling pile, live nowhere near any useful commuter transportation, have 2.2 kids, in-laws in Singapore, spend more than I make and have demands on my money and time the like of which civil wars used to be fought over (Now, being self-employed, it’s just quietly sorted by civil servants from me... to them). So between that and whatever it is that counts as hating waste and being more than a little concerned about how what we do now impacts later on, I fall into a middle ground: neither ‘mentalist nor climate denier (which is what I see bandied about a lot by folk who tend to oppose notions like, well, some of yours).
I know some right wing folk who do care about all sorts of green stuff, and live the life. I know a lot of left-leaners who hate 4x4s but don’t think Evian and skiing in Klosters is the same thing. I certainly know a few who are, I think still within your definition, sacrificing for the future’s sake. One can only applaud them now, while history will be the judge of those who didn’t feel so disposed.
Can’t fault the population comment: Finite space to stand on. Reducing areas on which to stand and grow stuff. End point = the political dilemma that dare not speak its un-PC name. I certainly ain’t going there. So we turn to ‘bailing with a leaky bucket’ approach.
Good on you for the recycling thing. It’s really a no-brainer, if done right, ignoring we are turned into unpaid (though fined for poor workpersonship) sorters for target setters and high paid meeters of same.
Reuse is a tad different, and sadly low on the ‘grand scheme’ scale, especially to the box tickers, but actually that’s where a lot of good can come inspiring people at home. Especially kids. Check out our site (link in name) to see what is being planned at the Science Museum next month. Not a spam tin in site. Though, now you mention it...
Reduction is big and pretty relevant. So why, on God’s little Earth, would it still seem sensible to leave a TV on standby all night, using energy and creating pollution, if it wasn’t necessary? I can see how lifting one’s finger all the way over the barn conversion is a drag, and when you have multi-media income streams to fund the consequences £-wise, why bother? But really... c’mon.
With you on the nuclear thing (along with Prof. Lovelock, so that’s Gaia on board too), except for the ‘if.. make it safe’ bit. Remember Space 1999? But at least we’ll get to meet all sorts of alien mutants. Just hope they don't turn out to be from Sellafield. As you say, don’t see a credible option yet, so fingers (currently five per hand) crossed!

Big up on the Hydrogen ra-ra, too, but I just hope we’re are spared pols and celebs (and motoring journos) extolling its benefits, with a diesel truck of refills trailing out of shot behind, when the rest of us can’t get a shot of water vapour (it is a greenhouse 'gas', too I believe) out the pipe for decades. Maybe I’ll keep the R-reg (ta for the OK) and ride out the LPG, Hybrid and biodiesel waves until the next big thing arrives.

Finally, discussing is of course fine, but a little bit of doing at some stage can’t hurt either. Especially when some options can save a lot of whatever it is (time, money, planet) we each hold dear."

A folly of Olympic proportions

Well, here's a surprise - Cost of London Olympics UP £900M.

When I owned my agency (I think this is my equivalent of 'When I were a lad..' and has been used before, so bear with me), we were held to our estimates (we tried, valiantly, to point out that a quotation was not possible on something not yet finished) to within the penny, and second. But 40% in a year?

Actually with, it has not been not too different. Funding well thought through applications that do not have every unpredictable 't' crossed and 'i' dotted fail, while those that are masterpieces of fiction, which fit into the system's expectations and aspirations, sail through.

What ever happened to 'promise low and delight by delivering high?' The beancounters have bankrupted the asylum.

Look at Wembley. Now the Olympics.

You pay peanuts; you get monkeys. You quott low, you get the job... you then come out with the most astounding tripe to describe a businesss plan I have ever heard.

Now as I don't play the lottery and don't live in London it really shouldn't matter much to me one way or 'tother, but should I find one penny of my money is going to supp


You know what sucks?

He does: Dyson in call for ‘truth in advertising’ law

Thouigh to this - "Dyson also denied widespread claims that he is “anti-advertising and anti-ad agencies”. But he did say that too many marketing, PR and advertising campaigns are "misinformed or oversell" - I have to say that as the person tasked with the job of conveying the message, the information or oversell was not really down to me to provide or approve.

Bumpy ride

The airlines must be desperate, if this is the best they can do: Stop this fear of flying; it's one of the greenest ways to travel. I must find out what you need to do to get to post such drivel as a piece and not a blog:

"Waaaay-hay!. When I saw this mother of a headline I knew we were in for a bumpy ride!

A few score land or sea-based wrongs do not make an airborne right. Whatever % it is or isn’t, if we concede that global warming is not helped by emissions, anything that contributes to the current rate, much less the increase in it... cannot be a good thing.

What people want to do is one thing. What they can is another. And what they should another still. And what they will be able to, one day...

So I may be able to live with the supermarket looking a lot different without fresh fruit or flowers (local points taken and showing this to be a red herring). In any case, my muesli goes great with dried apricots (please tell me they can be shipped!)

Great that ailrines are doing everything from making spoons lighter, to optimising the amount of water in toilets. Not so sure about the kilos of Sunday classifieds or duty frees, but OK. And Virgin turning the A380 into a gin palace doesn’t sound the best passener/Co2 emission ratio way of travelling either. Remind me, how much more space did they taunt BA with for their front/upper deck folks floor area? At least the Asian airlines are talking cramming 800 in. Then again, there is probably a weight/volume optimum too. Best to use a private jet, doubtless as advertised or via a press junket press-release op-ed rehash in many a quality Sunday.

And careful of the 'solar panel is the solution' thing. I’m still trying to assess who, and what, is right right:

I’d say the only pretty safe course is that advocated by Richie Remote, ‘til they prove that offshore wind farms cost more environmentally to build and run and distribute the juice than they save."


It's a cop show on SKY (my mates). Quite fun, and has made my kids a bit more interested in the power of maths, as opposed to statistics, which is anything you want it to be.

And what I have read here - Solar panels won't save the planet - seem to be matters of mathematical fact, and hence environmental (beyond the financial option) value:

"... a rather more general question-mark has been raised over their value by one of the country's genuine experts, Abu Bakr Bahaj, a senior lecturer in civil engineering, who based his figures on the experience of a large panel installation at his university in Southampton.

Since solar panels in Britain generate, on average, only 20 per cent of their potential maximum output (at a cost of £4,500 per kilowatt of installed capacity), he reported in the journal of the Institute of Civil Engineers that the average pay-back time of solar panels is more than 45 years (although 70 years, he wrote, "is a more realistic figure"). Yet the average life of a photovoltaic cell is only 25 years."

I have written to the quoted sources to see if this can be confirmed and turned into something that the public can use to assess actual £ & e-values to help their decision processes.

I'll let you know if they come back.

It's funny, 'cos it's true

Bah, humbug! It's the annual Christmas card debate...*

* For our part, there will be the usual scrambel to make something reused, then figure the impact of ther posting, and decide, too late, to do a nifty original e-mailing.

So figure on a copied snowball about the 24th!

Reality (Sound) Bites.

This today from our Shadow Chancellor: Where Stelzer's wrong on Tory policy

Seemed a bit low on substance to me. My reply (if it gets published, I seem to be 'moderated' a lot on the Telegraph a lot):

"Nothing that is green is ever going to be black or white, so while it is snappy and a good starting point, I hope we are going to see something more sophisticated built, and adequately explained, around ‘pay as you burn’. And on an individual, non-corporate level, I’d certainly like to sense there is a recognition that not everyone lives in inner London.

No one said it would be easy, but a way has to be found to navigate solutions which achieve the desired effect: reduced emissions and waste. The latter is just common, and economic good sense, and it amazes us at our reuse website that much more is not being done simply out of self-interest. But in the case of the former it will not be acceptable to just shift things around financially (so most initiatives involving the word ‘trading’ make me shudder) whilst achieving no net reductions. Nor will it if we simply end up penalizing those left with few choices to make, or who cannot not benefit from trying to reduce their environmental impacts.

A person who drives pollutes. You don’t need a car in (most) cities. But what about those in the country? I can’t believe that those clogging the motorways daily actually opt to do so.

Equally we seem to have plans (the government’s, in this case, so it is an example only), to rate houses according to their eco-efficiency. Great for a ODPM new build on a South Eastern flood plain; not so good for a cottage built (many years ago, and whose carbon cost is now well passed) in the country. Who votes most, benefits most?

Usage-based penalties, fees, rates, price hikes and taxes are certainly part of the package, but I am not so sure whether a lot of us will see the compensation (in taxes, etc) elsewhere, if we register them at all. To gain support, the transparency of such actions is therefore paramount. If I pay more for fuel, I want to see transport infrastructure (not road-based) improve - fancy popping back the train line though Ross on Wye? – so I don’t have to use the car.

And if we are going to incentivise beneficial initiatives, please let them actually have an environmental benefit - after initial enthusiasm and support, these pages of late make me more than unsure that a hybrid or wind turbine is either financially OR environmentally a good choice, no matter where I live."