Monday, December 31, 2007

Orf-setting on one's hols

Not the way I'd quite wanted to return to the blog after a brief respite, but from some reason this one got my goat (and not the one I didn't buy instead of actual under-tree presents for the kids, the other luvvie-yummie season's planet-saving commentary topic) - Eurostar goes from bad to worse

Having just used EuroStar I was of course attracted by the heading, and having enjoyed a great trip actually on the thing had to disagree. But this again got me on what motivates folk. So I then had to agree that it is silly to divorce the service experience, costs and time from the overall experience, and that's even before playing the green card.

But I guess what dragged me out of my sick-bed (I know how to spent the festive season in style) was yet another (not the first, won't be the last) dalliance with matters 'green' that was again well up there (and you know where I mean) with the last 'quality' daily utterance from some Islington eco-goddess about her latest sainted trip for the weekend overseas to visit her eco-guru at his tofu-finca in Tuscany, like most of us gad about like this. I just live for when we get served green fare by some who are more in tune with how most of this country lives... and may respond if only engaged with by those who we can actually relate to and respect when it comes to our kids' futures.

Hailing from way out West Mids, the relative positions of Waterloo vs. St. Pancras seem to make little difference, especially by tube (public transport is still an option even for those in jobs that can also involve rushes) from Paddington. And on a recent trip it all seemed to work well enough from Gloucester to the centre of Brussels. Maybe I was just lucky that the transit was conducted in a remarkably pleasant, quiet and swift period.

The rest, of course, truly sucked. Having got there an hour before the required 'check-in' time, it was a chore to be in the freezing cold with nowhere to sit as the only place to do that was in the 'departure' lounge. And I was not about to suffer the cost or pretensions of the idiotic champagne bar, which seemed only a rather sad little square associated with a lonely line of booths. So I perched on my bag munching my sarnie, the wrapping of which I could not dispose of in any waste bins as there were none. Made for a fun debate with the play-policeman who could not persuade me to drop it on the floor as I suspected some kind of litter-fine scam at work to complement all the other 'initiatives' in London that are in the name of green, and I don't mean the colour of the planet.

So I'm on board with the notion that some improvements are required to make this an attractive alternative, service-wise, vs. flying, above simple fiscal realities (as I'd booked well in advance it was equivalent, and hence an easy call. The time element is also on par, though the check-in pretensions erode that advantage).

But as we are are on an eco-note, I'd really appreciate those who write for this, and all other London Luvvie-centric publications with notions of greeniferousness, to give pause before citing their usage of EuroStar as 'a get into eco-nirvana free card', especially when associated with such asides as '...when we took our skiing holiday last week...'

I'm sure for you all, leaping on the nearest form of off-UK transport at the hols to some distant resort is as common hailing a cab. But for many finances, the environment, or both, may mean staying at home is the more likely option.

So if I have one wish for the new year, it is we have a clear distinction between being green, simply trying to look it and... most of all... making a meal of tokenistic attempts at the latter. Especially from those who can afford to do a lot more and talk a lot less.

Friday, December 28, 2007

TW3 - 2007

Those were the weeks that were. A year gone by.

Not the greatest, I'm sorry to say. As the less than encouraging signs of what we might be facing mount in number and severity, they have hardly been matched in number and certainly not in quality (least, as I can judge) by any person, persons or significant measures that look set to steer us in a better direction.

Even those who do care, or at least claim to, seem mostly a sorry and/or uninspiring lot. Greenwashers (out to make a quick extra buck by association but not action), greengilders (out to make a quick extra buck by painting rosy, career-enhancing solutions that all too often lack any definable enviROI+), and the 'The Rise of the Eco-Shrew' (out to make a quick buck by getting paid to talk... endlessly... about some minute and relatively pointless aspect that they demand all should embrace whilst simultaneously ignoring reality, enviROI or credibility).

And who has dominated as the year ended and a new one starts? Well, having scoured the online pages on Sunday (the traditional round-up point) and today (another common source for summaries and predictions), following the year of Stern (may have been the year before), IPCC, Valencia, Bali and the next Kyoto, all I could find by way of shaping 'the most significant crisis the world faces' was nothing from the political establishment, a Fox's Glacier Mint ad from the corporate world and from our mighty media... a few yummie-mummies who are planning on taking fewer plastic bags on their next skiing trip, and a chap who has not yet started a typhoid epidemic in Streatham with his composting outdoor loo. Plus a welter of others planning to head all sorts of places to study the impact of their job (which is not like your or my jobs, apparently) getting there is having.

With the exception of the BBC in broadcast and online form, at least one can be mostly reassured that almost no one other than those within the privileged eco/authority/media elite has a clue what they are doing, or cares very much what they have to say. But they do now wield a rather inordinate influence despite this, and it is a concern.

In two days I get back to work proper, hopefully over my man flu. And that, sadly, means a little less and RE:tie, and a bit more day job. Things are now tight, and I need to do a bit more of what I am good at what people really seem to want.. and are prepared to pay for.

It's simply a matter of personal and family survival. But as I need to take the longer view on this family's future I will not be leaving it all behind, but sometimes one has to prioritise.

It can only be hoped for the future that those in power, and/or with influence, can do it too, and a bit more effectively, and tangibly, and to genuine levels of enviROi+, than they have to date.

I'm looking for messages that make sense, and can lead to making a real difference. And from messengers who one can believe, and believe in, to rally every section of society and not some self-serving niche elite.

Here's hoping. Have a great 2008.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Has global warming stopped?

A very intriguing question. One which, if the answer turns out to be a resounding yes, might make some of the alarm generated by the IPCC, and some of the planned actions following the Bali bash, appear rather ridiculous.

Now this from the New Statesman, is by the well respected, ex BBC Science Correspondent, David Whitehouse. It makes what seems at first glance an apparently valid point - the rate of temperature increase over the last decade has been flat. In fact, he states that "the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly."

He reports that the data is taken from "US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UK’s Met Office and the IPCC" but he does not provide links to any actual data used.

Remember the brouhaha that resulted when it was discovered that the warmest year in one part of the central USA was back in the 1930's? That turned out to be the selective use of local and regional data, but it created a huge upwelling of support for the 'anti' global warming brigade. I have to confess that I'm surprised that this particular article does not appear to be massively referenced so far throughout the www.

Back to my main point: without reference to the exact data as used, just how do we know that this is an accurate interpretation? Let's face it, there is clearly something quite drastic happening in and around the area of the Arctic circle and above, as the recorded data shows record summer temperatures in places like Melville Island, Greenland and Alaska, whilst the North West passage was open for a record six weeks plus and the ice pack had its lowest extent since records began.

As the author quite rightly states - "the working hypothesis of CO2 induced global warming is a good one that stands on good physical principles but let us not pretend our understanding extends too far or that the working hypothesis is a sufficient explanation for what is going on." Clearly, human understanding of a system as complex as the climate of our planet is not going to be perfect, there are far too many unknowns and imponderables, and we have but little understanding of potential feedback loops and so called tipping points.

"The science is fascinating, the ramifications profound, but we are fools if we think we have a sufficient understanding of such a complicated system as the Earth’s atmosphere’s interaction with sunlight to decide. We know far less than many think we do or would like you to think we do. We must explain why global warming has stopped."

No argument with the first parts of that at all, but warming has certainly not stopped in the Arctic circle, so why make that statement as if it applies to the entire planet?

I'm sorry, but articles like this will only incite more confusion, misunderstanding, obfuscation and poles-apart (no pun intended) debate. We need to know the full facts, not selective morsels fed to us like tid-bits from the media news table.

Broccoli growing in Greenland, whilst Walrus starve because the remnants of the ice sheet are too far out and over water too deep for them to find food, plus extreme temperatures of 48C in Greece and Italy this summer do not seem to fit, at least to my mind, with the counter evidence that the author presents.

Would someone please just tell us the truth? It must be out there somewhere.
Should it turn out that the supposedly venerable group of scientists at the IPCC are deliberately ignoring vital temperature evidence that this particular author is using; or are perhaps discounting it as little more than a hiccup in the overall scale of things whilst they are doggedly determined to prove that man worsened climate change is happening at any cost (including the omission of important data); then I'll quite happily write an entire retraction of my comments and questions and offer the author a high five.

Getting noticed #101: banning is best

Making things is usually a long process of increments. And sadly our media these days like quick, big, immediate hits.

So a good way to get noticed is to crank up a ban. Not sure it's worked quite the way the DPM intended with her prostitution solution, but it certainly seems to have worked for others: PLASTIC BAGS

I feel a tad uncomfortable questioning such a person, who is obviously sincere, but as part of the bigger picture I just need to ensure, for the sake of my kids' futures, that she is at least well guided. Not to mention supported by the right folk for the right reasons.

In a year where so much of such vast importance and impact in the world of climate change has come to the fore, I have always found the issue of plastic bags in the great scheme of things intriguing. Depending on who is quoted, some 200 per person per annum. I wonder if those at Blue Peter could tell us how many Fairy Liquid bottles they represent in terms of oil-based manufacture and disposal consequences?

But this lady's passion is undoubted and her concern admirable. And her story more than impactful, with its successful uptake a sure indication of the public mood. No wonder the media has found it so attractive. I can't imagine what it must be like to spend one's career as a documentary film-maker flying around the world to enjoy and capture nature's beauty, and find it so casually spoiled by the impositions of modern society.

There are so few positives about these things they make an excellent, and obvious target. But then I started to ponder the alternatives. It's one thing to ban something, but then having banned it one must look at the alternatives. Which is what I decided to do. Mainly because I felt I was getting a lot on the ban, but not as much on the consequences.

It's an ongoing education, and indeed this programme has added to it, at least indirectly, as there was one small informational piece that has resulted, namely the experience of the Irish contributor above. This provides an interesting and worthy counterpoint to other experiences I had learned of that were less positive, at least when it comes to the overall enviROI of the exercises. What seems undoubted is that the scourge of 'witches knickers' has been dealt with, but I still wonder at what cost in other areas.

It also has served to highlight the critical need for coordinated approaches between government, local authorities and business in creating logistical systems that are both effective environmentally (cost is 'an' issue, but trade-offs may need to be factored in if our priority is emissions as opposed to profits or litter) and capable of being easily engaged with by the public/consumer. Popping in the village deli with one's bike basket daily is one thing. Tescos en route home of a Friday night for a weekly shop is another. And here I am less convinced of deliverables. Especially when confronted with solutions that have 'bio' in the description.

Yes, with all else we are confronting in matters climatic, I did notice Mr. Brown has thrown his full weight behind... banning plastic bags. So one looks forward to him, and the media, getting as interested, and in the necessary detail, to do justice to all the other topics of high relevance to our nation's carbon footprint. Maybe next a ban on pets, perhaps? Or imported wine? Or beer (how much water consumed to create a pint?). Or...

Instead of, and hence less media attractive as a ban, as a fellow small town-dweller I was thinking more of a campaign to encourage our local retailers to shut their doors during cold snaps to avoid the heat loss pouring out into the sky. I rather fancied 'Shut it and Save'. The only down side I can perceive is the potential consumer-reluctance posed by a closed door, but everything else seems a win-win all round, even to their utility costs. What do you reckon?

Indy - Unbelievable bags - at least it has been asked. I look forward to the answer.

Sir: Last week I visited a Waterstone's bookstore to buy a couple of book tokens as Christmas presents. I asked the shop assistant for a paper bag to protect the tokens but was told that Waterstone's prefer to use plastic bags because the carbon footprint of paper bags is greater than for plastic, because of shipping from abroad, which is where most paper bags are sourced. If true, this is astonishing. Perhaps other readers could clarify the situation.

Gaurdian - Dialling danger

Why here? For this, albeit subjective, comment: "The purge on plastic bags in Ireland has also been a dramatic success." Oh dear gawd, I thought this silliness was confined to Annapolis. More energy and waste is produced making paper bags than are used make plastic bags. Also, plastic bags are also useful for picking up my dogs poop.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Year. New Opportunities.

It was a good long run, and I gave it my best shot, but a hurdle has been stumbled over.

Sadly, my hopes for Stage 2 funding on the Fillip initiative have not been realised. Of course it was great to get to the finals, but it was not to be.

And not the happiest of news to get just before the festive break.

I guess it was just one I felt was so 'right', namely the means to protect the idea and package it in a form to take to major institutions nationally and internationally, my inherent 'wait 'til you see the cheque before popping the cork' caution still had too much of a sneaking hope that this would be 'the big one' attached. Especially as the day before we'd learned that the international search examiner has concluded that the invention is 'novel' and 'not obvious', which is good in IP terms.

Though my IP adviser was upbeat, I must say I walked out the presentation pretty much certain of the result.

There was one question that was asked, and though I know the answer we gave was reasonable I knew it was not the one that was required.

This was to ask why, in light of all the PR and awards, there were no companies or VCs beating a path to my door.

Though not given in such terms, it seemed pretty simple to answer. As of this moment, no companies relevant to the concept have yet been approached, save for the technical folk at closures manufacturers. And this was done more to confirm the practical applicability, and also to seek complementary branding techniques to add sales and marketing value to its obvious raw material and CSR benefits. Both these aims were achieved at the Brussels conference, and frankly as no one thinks much of anything from late November save the best way to Xerox their tushie at the company bash, I saw no point in following even that up 'til the New Year.

And as to VCs, well, it's not an area I have a huge experience with, but other than a few rare instances, I rather think that you go to them. That's just the way it is. Being money folk they know how you keep the upper hand in negotiations, and making the first approach isn't it.

So I had concentrated on looking down the idea and building a solid story behind it using the talents I do have, before considering engaging other talents I know I do not to bring it to those who bring it to market.

Sure I am more than disappointed, and this is doubtless reflected here, but I must say that I am really losing faith in the system that claims to be keen to support the solo creative innovator, but all too often seems more geared to dealing with more traditional enterprises who talk in terms that make the boxes a wee bit easier to tick.

I know RE:tie can make it. And in doing so be an acorn from which so much else in the world of second use design can derive inspiration, so it will be be onward and upward come the New Year.

As one door closes, another opens...

Perhaps she simply doesn't like them?

This is a bit of an odd one, but it has quite amused me. The International Herald Tribune reports on a Swiss lady who has been purloining her neighbour's outside Christmas ornaments.

Now I have no problem with a few fancy Christmas lights etc. But if, like me, she simply detests those unsightly and horrible brightly light inflatable snowmen, reindeer, Father Christmases and elves (and even Homer Simpson's for Gawd's sake) that seem to have proliferated across the UK over the last two or three years (as well as across Switzerland by the sound of it), then I'm happy to admit that I'm fully on her side!!

The Bush giveth and the Bush taketh away

Well, I'm amazed. Despite the doubts expressed by millions of American citizens, Dubya has finally signed a bill which will help to reduce vehicle carbon emissions - see today's Guardian Unlimited.

"The legislation, though limited in scope, represents the biggest fuel efficiency push by the US since the 1970s oil crisis."


"The new law also contains provisions to increase the use of ethanol as an alternative to petrol."

Errrrmm, not really too good - more corn grown means ever more Nitrogen runoff and will expand the Gulf's 'dead zone', not to mention causing further increases in the price of what is a staple food item. (see full story from Mathaba.Net)

But even more interestingly, on the same day, comes news that the White House, via the EPA, has blocked several States from applying even more vigorous local state laws on auto emissions. This makes zero sense whatsoever!
The Washington Post has a more complete explanation of the EPA's ruling.

Xmas cheer

Well, it tickled me. A poster on an eco-forum asked the following about 'carbcon ratings':

I notice that the terms ‘carbon positive’ and ‘carbon negative’ are being used to mean the same thing (i.e. net absorption/reduction of CO2). Those using the term ‘carbon negative’ seem to be clear that ‘carbon positive’ is what fossil fuels are...

If we want to create a company that goes better than ‘carbon neutral’, how should we describe it? And does anyone know whether the understanding of these terms varies by geography? (e.g. US vs Europe vs Asia)

I was moved to reply:

How about 'carbon cautious'?

It ticks all the right boxes (a major plus already, at least in the UK/EU), being rather meaningless, pretty vague and in fact can be whatever anyone wishes to take from it.

Certainly an entire new industry and set of government departments could easily be created around it on this basis, especially in complement to all the rest doing roughly the same thing. In fact, one could probably score a nifty grant for it all. Especially to translate it all into Mandarin or Urdu come the next Kyoto/Bali round.

That aside, it may actually be a tad more accurate. At least it could be argued to not make any definitive claims (which in any case are often hard to weigh, at least on a consumer level. I have often cocked an eyebrow at some claims of 'positivity', as most new activities are almost inevitably worse in terms of enviROI (which is what I apply) unless directly creating some purely mitigating result) whilst conveying a truly warm and fuzzy sense of at least wanting to do the right thing.

However, as your question has ably demonstrated, a positive can as easily be a negative. So I look forward to how those better informed will explain it to us all. But then it would seem equally inevitable that it will all rather depend on which measure they have been tasked to endorse.

Government (or an unreasonable facsimile of) by degree

'Insidious' is not a nice word. But by heck it is apt for what seems to be happening these days.

Hardly a BBC bulletin goes by without the latest 'could' being trotted out from those who claim the responsibility of governing us, but who will seek any and all ways to avoid any accountability, from announcement through to consequences.

Hence this 'could' will ooze into an 'is' and end up as a 'has', with little or no challenge from anyone, most especially our lazy media.

Just this morning I sat amazed as just two were dutifully trotted out, with the sofa set primed with just the right balance of warm and fuzzy to ease things in.

First up was the latest on mobile phones. I've blogged on this before. If it's illegal, then fine (and I don't mean that in the fiscal manner, as too much law seems to be revenue targeted than spirit or even letter of the law), I know where I stand. But now there seems to be yet another, and predictably more aggressive, though equally vague set of ways to hold 'us' accountable for something or other at the whim of a police officer, supported by a compliant justice system.

Then there was middle-age drinking. It seems that if you go over a daily 105ml daily, you are a raving alcky bent on self-destruction. Now this would be laughable but for the less than subtle between-lines message read out by a truly frighteningly smooth government spokeslady (she had a sense of humour and so charmingly trotted out her facts that even the already pliant blonde and bouffant felt it rude to do anything else but giggle). And this seems to be that if you can even remotely be deemed to have done something in your history that may or may not be proven to be in any way due to lifestyle choices, then 'they' can decide to opt you out of the health system you have paid into all your life.

There is a sickening predictability to all this, along with inevitability.

And what really gets me is that the vagueness seems only to work one way. By being guilty until proven innocent the doors are opened for institutional abuse at every level and across every branch.

And it all seems dedicated to one simple aim, and that is to divert money away from those who work hard and pay their way (because all those who do not will be exceptions to such rules, though withdrawing votes on the basis of self-harm, poor lifestyle, non-contribution, etc would not seem on the cards) to ensure a ready supply of the dwindling cash resources to ensure this bunch of breeding parasites keep their pay, bonuses (what the heck are a raft of government types on bonuses for?) and pensions.

Sorry, today has not been a much better day than yesterday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

INDY Cards

Yes, it's acronym time again!

And as I am now officially too late to send any myself, I can explain why I will not be sending any INDY cards.

That stands for 'I'm Not Dead Yet' which, as far as I can ascertain, is all the purpose they serve; a one line greeting and signature that confirms that, as at time of writing, the author was still alive, along with family (evidenced by still being included on the sign off).

Now some may assume this ritual is why I don't participate. Not really. It's a heck of a lot better than nothing, and at least still shows that you are on a list in their household, even if it is only Xmas card one.

Many presume it to be my eco-cred (as in 'entials') kicking in. Or a mean-spirited few my thrifty Scottish origins.

Nope. I am just not that organised. And by virtue of major procrastination, have now managed to get to a point where it's all been academic for several years now.

But why do 'they' still write?

Well, usually, once faced with a few spare days and truly dire outdoor conditions over the break, I do manage to write and tell 'em my/our news. There's the basic round robin skeleton, which can then be easily tuned to become more than personal both ways.

Or, better yet, by being part of a a Eurasian dynasty, I can stretch things to CNY and make out that's the one we celebrate here.

And the best part is, assuming they are in when I hit send, they can be pretty sure I'm still kicking as of the last few minutes at least.

£1,800 each!

That's what the cost is to each taxpayer for the gov's bail out of Northern Rock according to the Telegraph! And, as ever, the inimitable Matt manages to say it in spades.

I just hope that:-
1) they've taken it out of existing revenue, and
2) aren't planning additional taxation somewhere to make up the shortfall

What's the betting that I'm wrong on 2)?

Ban Humbugs, too

The latest bit of BBC half-cock, insincere, CSR box-ticking self-flagellation: The ethics of Christmas presents

So far, at time of writing, 5 responses. And I doubt they have kids.

Do they really think they are going to effect any change in public/consumer culture like this?

Totally agree with the theory. But then there's the real world.

With twin 11-year olds and, at time of writing, still not enjoying 12 hr working days, I'm afraid making much that would be worthwhile or that would be appreciated has gone out of the window, so thank heavens for the internet. Opening two envelopes before the first 6am cartoon has finished its opening credits really is also not an option. Sorry, that's a hair-shirt cultural shift that seems to appeal only to a limited, already converted audience. So 'we' stick with centuries of tradition and expectation and social pressure, often propagated by the media, and give tantalising, wrapped presents. Like dolls (so Elsa is not exactly going to be present-free, then, as compromises do get made).

Your colleagues certainly are not quite on message, as I watch the sofa set on Breakfast discuss strategies for 'standby presents' with an 'etiquette specialist' and a 'relationship expert'.

Still, at least I know what goes into the cherries in the Boxing Day fruit salad, thanks to another colleague who flew to Chile to stand under a tree and tell us how awful it was that they were being shipped here.

All valid messages. All less than credible considering the choice, and choices of messengers. But I'm sure ALL six(ish) on this thread are fully on board.

So big up on the latest token BBC 'have yourself a guilty Xmas' slot, though the personal examples set are noted with admiration. Except the fireworks thing. Not sure that improves what goes up into the atmosphere, in smoke, much.

Hope the kids have a blast. I'm looking forward to playing with mine, the missus and gran... at home. I wonder how many from luvvie London are hitting Heathrow for a quick flit to Lapland to see a polar bear before stock... ice blocks run out? You can always call it a climate change study/awareness initiative I guess.

Season's Greetings:)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The first climate change refugees

We mentioned Tuvalu and the Torres Straits islands quite a while back as they appeared to be potentially the first islands to be evacuated because of rising sea levels and tidal surges. It looks as if they will now be second or third after one of the Carteret Islands, which are a low level island group making up part of Papua New Guinea.

This report from the Daily Mail highlights the problems that the Carteret Islands have suffered over recent years from tidal surges, and on how the first refugees from one of the islands are having to relocate because of the rising sea levels.

"The fruit trees that carried mango, banana, breadfruit and paw-paw are all dead from the sea water that has killed their roots and the children survive on a diet of just coconuts and fish. The roots of their black hair turn yellow, signifying malnutrition."

"Grass-roofed huts have been washed away by the tidal surges and families have been forced to move further inland to higher ground, away from the beaches where, in decades past, fishing nets were hung out to dry from waterside homes."

I rather suspect that the small group having to relocate will prove to be the first of an ever increasing number over the coming decades.

You can't write com... tragedy this go... er...

Just watched the BBC lunchtime news,

Seems there is a week long series on green food.

Second up was a piece on growing tomatoes locally, using a £40m greenhouse heated by the waste heat from a nearby factory. No real details, but hard to fault.

But first, the cherry on the cake (hold that thought).

It was about Chilean cherries. You can see where this is going, well, coming from, I'm sure.

Actually quite balanced in many ways, including frequent reference to the fact that this trade means jobs in Chile (hold that job thought, too).

Had a guy from the Soil Association explaining the consequences of it all, but he did also concede that 'we' need to cut back, and perhaps only have the odd cherry as a luxury. Now, how a business can exist and be sustained on that I don't know. Which has troubled me as a matter of economic fact when we do fancy such as a 4x4 or bottled water. You need a constant, reliable market to ensure supply, surely?

Anyway, to the nub.

To put all this in full context, the BBC reporter flew to Chile. Now, one could argue that this was just his job (held those thoughts?), was just this once or whatever, but for the added value of him saying what he said from under a cherry tree... how does this play?

No, really.


This started as a link for a simple Xmas-related site:

Of course nothing in matters green can ever be that simple.

Because having initially though 'neato, a way to do stuff at hoe last minute', I began to ponder consequences. As you do.

I ended up still in favour, having borne a few things in mind.

This family wraps prezzies in newspaper. It last a nanosecond once the opening bell is rung, and no one gives a monkeys for it under the tree or once discarded. It is useful to help light the fire (we unplug the fireplace and switch off the central heating).

Trouble is, it's hard to see who gets what. A label is useful..

Labels cost money, need to be made and printed and then got to the house from a shop.

Hence, and so long as they are printed on the back of other paper, and the most is made of the page coverage, I am prepared to live with the PC and ink commitment.

Hope that adds up.

I'm sure you can suggest a few, too


Dividing Fools

Now it has been established that everything dark (as in side) green is the fault of the US, I'll be keen to see how things closer to home now get laid elsewhere: Europe divided over targets for cutting car CO2 emissions

I do of course note my favourite word in there: targets.

In the morasses (is that the plural?)that were/are Kyoto and/or Bali, I was starting to sense that aspects of the US environmental position (as distinct from their economic one, which is a very different kettle of tariffs. Though even here it seemed 'optimistic' to expect a dominant economy to hobble itself in comparison to not only business competitors, but military ones as well. You can't build tanks on the cheap unless you are cranking up a weekly coal-fired power station and steel mill) were worth pondering.

For instance, I would have loved more in-depth and agenda-free analysis of their claims that in real terms they had actually achieved cuts whilst the EU had trumpeted setting a bunch of targets that they then had promptly failed to meet (see above, and the UK's awesome record to date).

I know which I prefer on my enviROi basis.

ADDENDUM- The Curse of the Common Moniker

Wading through this I was a bit surprised to see a quote attributed to me that I had not written in yesterday's HYS. Only it wasn't me. Just another with my name. Thank heavens that, in amongst a ton of off-topic, personal-flaming that now scars such forums, this guy was relatively rational. Though what he wrote was not what I did.

Letters - I include this merely because it does offer and interesting spread of views. One that I did appreciate was the point that to make their point on emissions of carbon the Indy chose an image of cooling towers, which only release steam. Which is, of course, a green house 'gas', though one would have preferred them to have made the distinction.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bali Hype?

Further to the kick-off last week, I thought I'd start here: Key climate summit opens in Bali

I'm sure there'll be more (posts, that is. And, thinking on it, summits, too).

I hadn't appreciated this thing went on for almost 2 weeks!

Update 1:

Reuters - "Naughty" nations in a coal lot of trouble in Bali - Hard to imagine this is the first I have come across. And I am not sure this tactic will work too well.

Reuters - Indonesia plants trees to offset Bali emissions - Better than nothing, I guess, but how about not cutting down millions of acres of mature ones? Just a thought. Party on, doods.

Update 2:

Indy - Diplomats warned that climate change is security issue, not a green dilemma - Waking up to...?????! Guess that's why they get the big bucks.

Guardian - High hopes for Bali - Altogether now: 'Everyone's got high hopes, they got...' I wonder how he's finding it there? Still, he has had but three replies to date, and one was a duplicate. So maybe they are in the minority.

Update 3:

The Economist - Getting serious in Bali - '..expectations for Bali are low, and were being managed downwards before the meeting..' At least a few tens of thousands of folk had a nice break, though. Seriously.

Update 4:

Times - Americans 'must change their lifestyle' for the sake of planet - Just the Yanks? Phew! For a minute I thought we might all need to pull together. This will really get them onside.

Times - Atheists, agnostics and religious leaders are as one in their belief in the need to save the world from Man, they say in a joint statement. Which was nice.

Indy - Demonstrations across the globe mark Bali summit - at least they got a nice day for it. No, really. But stuff like this... "We're doing this in solidarity with the women around the world who are already suffering the effects of climate chaos" do make me sigh. I have zero in common with this mindset.

Latest Update 5:

Guardian - US balks at Bali carbon targets - One has to wonder what would be 'helpful' in this day and age. That said, there is a slight sense that the US is getting dumped with the role of saying no on behalf of a few less honest brokers, too.

Guardian - Q&A: Bali climate change conference

Guardian - Bali diary - Not exactly a great bit of journalsitic input, really.

'For all I have got out of this circus so far by way of information and/or insights and/or inspiration, and suspect I will get out of it as the consequence of a collection of 'all the talents' in global statespersonship lobbing up for the last few days of several, I ain't holding my breath.

But, as you say, it has to be held somewhere. So it may as well be lush. Hope it was worth the trip.'

Latest Update 6:

Gaurdian - UN calls for (my italics) 40 per cent cut in emissions by rich countries - equal billing to a 'it's for the penguins' plea. Let's see which one works.

BBC - Editors Blog - Environmental briefing

BBC - Key climate summit opens in Bali

Latest Update 7:

BBC - Tackling climate change - Bali summit - This link came from, it's fair to say, a less than climate supportive blog. Thing is, I have to say that certain aspects were a real gift to them:

'Matthew Price went to Boston'
'Nick Higham met them'
'Roger Harrabin went to the United Arab Emirates to meet...'
'Sanjoy Majumder visited Pawan and Sangeeta Kamra at their home in south Delhi.'
'Quentin Sommerville went to meet them.'

You can imagine what the obvious question was. On top of this, I simply wonder if this investment in time, money and energy got beyond being tucked away in the back of the BBC website to have any real value at all. Beyond the quality of the reports, that is.

I do despair. Hope Rog enjoyed the UAE en route to/from Bali. But, of course, he has to do this as it's his job.

Gaurdian - UN chief: World 'must act now' on climate change

Guardian - Progress at Bali

Indy - Bali conference close to deal on saving forests

Times - Act now on climate change or face oblivion, warns UN chief - say it often enough, and...

Times - Carbon stand-off puts climate talks at risk

Latest Update 8:

Reuters - EU-U.S. climate impasse in Bali easing - Encouraging headline, at least!

Guardian - US proposal threatens climate change deal - then again...

Sometime later, a last minute flurry resulted in... something.

BBC - Climate deal sealed by US U-turn - I'm never quite sure in the new media speak, but in a negotiation I'd have thought conceding a point to get closer to agreement was heading towards a compromise; not a U-turn. In fact one can see how these days, when faced by such an 'interpretation' by the media, some may feel the need to dig in to avoid such an accusation.

Latest Update 9:

Well it's all over, bar the shouting. And there has been a lot. At least in the papers I have read. Depressingly, there seem to have been some very partisan positions immediately taken almost immediately. In many ways I see the process to have driven some further apart, though there is a glimmer that the result may have moved a smidge to something 'better'.

I am not sure I can be bothered to add the links to the various newspapers, as the takes they have, and the views on their blogs, pretty much fall into predictable areas. Maybe I'll wait 'til tomorrow and let the Sunday's do a summary and then drop it.

What I will say is I just watched Richard North on the BBC, now called 'environmental commentator' (whatever that actually means), in an exchange with Richard Simmons I think in the studio. And the views were to my now weary, cynical mind pretty balanced. My favourite was that the 'green lobby' isn't helping much and needs to be sidelined. That'll go down well in the corporate boardrooms of a few eco-activist charity/not-for-profits I'll be bound!

I would welcome more such pragmatic reporting and/or commentary in future. In fact, if I see it I may share it in favour of some from such as the Indy, Guardian or Daily Mail which now seem to have frankly little to do with the issues and more with the prejudices of the editorial staff and the readerships, all circling their wagons and just feeling cosy with their mates either lobbing out whatever they fancy that serves, or going for a group hug when one from the other side lands in their midst. The quality of debate has sure dropped to near zero, along with much chance of objective information sharing.


Yes, they're just from one paper (I'm not sure I saw much, if anything, from any others. Moving on), and one with a fairly entrenched standpoint, but I think these make fitting, if depressing postscripts to it all. I really doubt I will be moved to look for or share much else.

Guardian - US pours cold water on Bali optimism

Guardian - We've been suckered again by the US. So far the Bali deal is worse than Kyoto

Ah well, if nothing else, at least the rest of 'us' can blame the US. No fault anywhere else, from UK pols who say one thing and do another, to enviro-gurus whose job requires them to do what the rest of us must, in their terms, avoid.

Were it that easy.

Guardian - Road to nowhere? - So it was all worthwhile, then? Hmmn.

A tale of two entitities

Our media (well, one* of 'em): Britain's carbon strategy 'up in smoke'

Our government: (DEFRA) Success at Bali talks

What is a boy to think?

The best I can come up with is that talk is now so cheap, at least from almost any representative body we have acting , at least in theory, for the public interest, it is all less than worthless. It simply gets in the way.

* Addendum - as there was the opportunity, I was moved to reply.

I'm afraid to say the only 'strategy' I can discern from Mr. Brown is to say, or preferably have said by remote, whatever the next entity in line wants to hear, even if it is totally contradictory to the previous or subsequent statement. And simply assume that something 'out there' will stick, if repeated enough. When it comes to actually doing, or not, the hope then seems to be that by not being able to be pinned to anything the whole silly issue will go away. Not sure that's working too well here, or pretty much across any issue of high government.

As to 'relying' on 'more' renewable energy sources.... of course! But only if the enviROI works out. The minute I sense that this is all just a box-ticking, fine-avoiding, lobbyist-rewarding, interest-group-conceding exercise in making life easier on a political level now at the expense of my kids' futures, then the whole sorry lot will get the full force of my vote.

But I need credible, trustworthy numbers to make an assessment upon. Not a load of hype, spin, smoke and mirrors from the usual suspects of government, other pols, commerce and activists who inevitably pop up and are given voice by a less than challenging media, who are these days more interested in knee-jerk 'campaigns' and short-term, contention-driven ratings than balanced argument and/or objective reporting for the long term.

Rebuilding the stable door?

There was a piece on floods just now.

In it a pub was featured that had suffered £250k in damage, that had only just been put to rights.

Thing is, there was no mention of what preventative measures might have been put in place to help prevent a simple repetition of this process.

We have not yet been flooded here, and with luck will not be. But I am seriously looking at ways to allow for this possibility. Readers may recall an attempt I made at the time of the last floods to ask the authorities for guidance on how to avoid being a victim and claimant by simply protecting against it with suitable defences.

I still await any replies. Maybe compensation is deemed easier than cure?

The royal 'we'.

And 'we' are not amused.

I just watched a BBC Breakfast News piece about food, supermarkets and 'us'.

What a surprise; to debate this issue we were presented by representatives of two rather entrenched viewpoints - the FoE and the British Retailers Something - who proceeded to tell us what we were asking for and/or feeling.

The retail lady was indeed pretty much 'not us, guv', and they were only giving 'us' what 'we' demanded, which rather validated the point of the FoE lady that 'they' need to be forced to change... by government.

However, what really grated on me was this self-appointed guardian of 'me' constantly saying 'we must'. It really came across much too much as them being a slightly more equal we than others, and a group who see their agenda to be the only one and the rest of us must get in line, if for our own good, with them.

The net result of all this was, as always, a sense that I was caught between two extremes, neither of whom represented me at all, but who were invoking my mandate as if it were god-given, and given free rein by a media who only want a quick slot before moving on. A rather neat example of which was a subsequent piece where we were treated to the joys of having your own personal shopping assistant to help you buy such essentials as snow made from stuff you add water to. Nice.

ps: But it's OK, they have flown out to Africa to show us the great work Land Rover is doing to offset emissions. It really is washing all over me as just so much conflicting 'noise'.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Well served

The other day I suffered a little bit of collateral damage on a blog thread I was taking part in.

Me and my homies from the eco-hood were debating some matter of great e-mport, when in zapped a rather stinging rebuke from, I'd have to say, a slight climate optimist. Basically 'we' were are labelled a bunch of hyporcrites worrying about all this and what we can do when we are all doing so online via PCs. His premise was that these were much worse than anything else.

I have to say it gave me some pause, especially as an exponent of the cause of enviROI.

It also coincided with the latest press release from some 'green' IT company, promising me servers made of oak and offsetting my 'leccy by planting an Ethiopian.

So I tackled my ISP on this. And I think I'm good. Well... 'er'. He pointed out to me that the server they run, and which for is shared with 500 others, is rated at 75W. I won't do the maths here, but in the great scheme of things that doesn't seem too much.

But then there is of course the fact that the PC and monitor and peripherals (also ignoring the cost of making and getting 'em to me. At least reuse /recycling seems pretty well addressed) are humming away. And I am not, yet, on any green tariff, simply because I'm still sussing it all out and don't trust most yet.

Then, in final mitigation, there is the matter of practicality. To do what I do (assuming it's worthwhile... and frankly on a personal level it is actually not paying the rent yet) without my Mac and connection I'd need to be out and about pounding the motorways visiting folk. Or posting thousands of letters a day. And in nay case, my kids are pretty much expected to have a PC to do their work.

So, I hope, it's still enviROI+

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Xmas WRAP party

As one who often looks to the human cost of various 'Planet Ban-it' campaigns, I take no pleasure from seeing folk lose jobs. Especially at this time of year. WRAP job losses expected in 25% funding cut as Defra budget pressures bite

As some will know, having not been very supported by WRAP to date, despite having an entity that would seem well in keeping with their remit, I have been on occasion a tad critical of how much has been spent and where... or on whom.

Sadly, I am less than reassured that the proposed budget cuts will improve matters, as it is now my experience that, especially within government and quango entities, the cuts are seldom where they should be (the causes of waste, losses or inefficiency) and more often than not in the few areas where some good does get done.

One rather wonders who got employed and on what contract now, that they will need to be unemployed and on what terms soon. Hardly seems very joined up or the best use of public funds.

Also, for a 'not for profit' company, it will be interesting to see how many of the rather extensive bonus-blessed board of all the talents bear the brunt of these cuts.

But I do note that this still means that WRAP’s budget will be about £55-60m.

Perhaps a few less campaigns to raise 'awareness' that is directly connected to bonus targets, and a bit more to actual doing stuff, and paying folk just to do a good job, may be in order?

Call for funding for Hydrogen research

This report from Engineering Talk details how a leading transport expert is calling for significant government investment into research to make Hydrogen a realistic fuel of the future.

"Prof Smith ......... believes hydrogen is one of the best fuel alternatives for the future, but said a significant Government investment is needed now to overcome technical and cost difficulties in sourcing, storing and transporting hydrogen."

Interesting little comment on the Northern Rock support too - "If the Government spent GBP 10 billion - only a third of what they spent on Northern Rock - we could build a high speed railway from London to Birmingham, reducing the need for domestic flights and long-distance car travel."

Now we will have to wait and see whether our gov's plan to surround the UK with offshore wind farms is going to eat all available funds to the exclusion of everything else. However, perhaps we may already have an indication of where the extra revenue to fund such projects may come from?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quick Question

Dutch plant idea of Tulip Island

I have a picture that I may upload, but the concept is pretty clear.

Thing is, while I can see how it can relieve pressure on overcrowded cities, how does and island protect the coastline from rising sea levels? Some storm surge effects maybe, but 'levels' will just find a way round, surely.

Also, other than a pretty satellite picture, what possible benefit does this design confer?

'Arctic is screaming'

From Fox News.

"The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming...........Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines."

All very depressing, but a major signal to those on their jolly in Bali. Let's hope they take some notice.

I'll save us even if I have to cripple you you to do it

Darling fights back with promise to be a champion of the environment

Interesting headline. However, if the methodology is simply ' announcing higher green taxes in his first Budget next spring', forgive my eyebrow arch.

Especially as all else I garner from this piece is that Mr Darling will say: "We must live within our new carbon budgets for the health of the wider world; and play our role in avoiding the threat of catastrophic climate change."

It's Xmas, hence one the other one has been pulled, it will at least ring.

Saints preserve us

Geldof: 'help the planet ... go nuclear'

Plus some other fun stuff. You gotta love him... sometimes.

Times - British cities shun London’s wasteful car tax

Bless. A scheme designed more to pour money into civil service pockets and pensions than any actual benefit to person or planet. Whodathunk?

I rather enjoyed St. Bob Geldof's views on it all recently. Un-PC to the last, this multi-millionaire only bought a hybrid to drive all day and dodge the charge.

Nice one Ken, and all those well paid munchkins in the TFL.

Agreement or Oblivion. And there is no Agreement.

Newsnight - Climate Change

Well, at least I now find out where the films from around the world also cropped up.

Funny old world, eh?

In two sentences we go from the stark choices of agreement versus oblivion to the need for fairness. Which seems to mean, if the ongoing 'debates' are anything to go on, not much agreement. Which leaves...?

I came to this second slot 'Meanwhile, in other news: the end of the world' topic via Mark Urban's excellent and courageous report from Iraq. For what it's worth, enough to reshape some of my views on this mess, and also the BBC's ability to report on things with objectivity. Well done.

But it also highlights the pointlessness of dealing with entrenched positions. Some will not be happy, or change their views, no matter what they are told. Though perhaps what they are told these days and by whom are factors. Trust is a crushed butterfly now.

I am simply struck by how large numbers see fit to ignore basic facts, critique without solution, or fail to accept that some solutions are no longer that simple.

Hence there are US troops in Iraq, Israel exists, and there are 6 billion and counting humans who have or all one day will want a car and a/c. Deal with it. Composting toilets in Islington won't address the bi-monthly trips to Gstaad, my loves.

Or, though sweet, I rather doubt the poppet in the US switching off her lights is going to do much to offset the whole house being cooled 24/7, 365/365, if they live in a Southern state.

Which is what sprang to mind as I saw Roger 'Mr. Benn, I presume?' Harrabin emerging from the jungle in full suit, as was our Minister of hot air. If you wear 3 layers and a neck vice in 30 degrees and 90% humidity, you probably need a bit of carbon-guzzling energy to keep you cool (it would be fascinating to see if all switch off when they leave their rooms, or maybe after a hard day it is nice to come back to more than a silly fan can provide). Along with all the other 5* trappings, such as tinkling fountains and a fresh flower on the pillow each day, all interesting messages that don't quite equate with what the self-appointed messengers seem to be saying.

Not that they are saying very much, or if they do, much that means anything.

'The current draft has a reference to set a target..' I think I heard. Spiffy. That'll do it for the old agreement vs. oblivion balance, quicksmart. We're saved!

Mr. Benn talks reductions/mitigations, but his government and country don't seem to be able to actually do 'em. All I have heard of late is missed or rearranged targets that serve only as topics to justify global jollies to discuss, and the ringfencing of this island by offshore windfarms.

Thing is, I can't seem to get any sense out of anyone as to how these things might work to actually reduce emissions. If they are as green as they look then fine, but if not (deliverables such as actual outputs and reliability - the lasting through design life variety) it's another con to add another nail in the credibility of those who claim to be concerned about our future and acting sensibly to addressing its preservation.

I care, and I do. But heaven help us that, as an environmentalist and climate pessimist and proactivist, I am so sick of the current crop of pols and media camp followers who don't do as they say, I almost feel ready to say the hell with it all and book my own 'study' of 'climate change' in Antarctic for Christmas and join them all round the polar bar for a swift toast to the end of our world.

The end of the world. That's what oblivion means, right? And yet this is the second post on this topic. Maybe the rules of engagement need looking at a bit? And I don't mean in Iraq.

BBC - 'Crunch time' for climate change

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

He who pays the piper...

Caption: not the best photoshoot of my career, to be sure. That flared page on top is an ad from the travel direct insert that fell out of this edition, along with the Climate Change one. A 'once in a lifetime' 'expedition' to Antarctica, whilst stocks last, no doubt. You follow in the footsteps of Polar explorers, with international flights available at great deals. Hmn.

Wind power is very much in the news at the moment. So it was awesomely useful that a few weeks ago the Sunday Times (also in the news, at least the news on this blog of late- oddly enough regarding selling green opportunities for promotion, only to those that can afford the fee) had an insert on the topic of climate change and sustainability.

Thing is, and if you look at the bottom right you'll see their logo, it was billed as 'in association with' Siemens.

Nothing wrong with a bit of sponsorship, to be sure. I hope for such largesse to swing my way with wherever possible.

Thing is, I rather hope I can do so without the editorial being quite so, how to put it, 'encouraging' to the sponsor, almost to the exclusion of all else. Such as discussing the topic in depth, pro and con (hold that last word in mind).

It's a pity, as many of the articles were indeed fairly valuable in terms of information. However, I have to say that, come the third, my eyebrow was cocked so far I could have been a Jack Nicholson Tribute.

IFC - Ad - Siemens - no prob. It's an ad.
p3 - Facing up to the meltdown - 'German engineering giant Siemens is building...'
p4 - The power brokers - 'Siemens, the German engineering group, is building...'
p5 - Going the extra mile - 'It all requires careful control, and Siemens, the German engineering firm that supplied the system...'
pp6-7 - Always on tap: natures greatest forces - 'The blades of the 25 turbines, built by Siemens, the German engineering conglomerate..'
pp8-9 - Sky-high cost of wasted energy - 'Siemens Building Technologies is one of the market leaders...'
p10 - In search of a brighter future - Osram, one of Europe's leading lighting manufacturers..' Go on.. guess who owns 'em.
p11 - Fast Track to green travel - 'According to Siemens Transpiration Systems...'
Back Cover - Ad - Siemens - No prob.

Now I'm all for a fair exchange of information, but this whole things just came across a tad too much as a leading paper selling itself, and its readers, more than a little short when it came to objective reporting (more like reprinting press releases) of the issues, and giving paid-for free rein to the players who are set to make bazillions out of ensuring they get the work, through shaping how it all gets reported.

Not best impressed, sorry.

Tick, tick, tick ...

That's the countdown started. This from the Guardian CIF by John Sauven reckons we have about 100 months for humanity to sort out CO2 emissions.

He makes some very valid points.......

"Sadly, 'progress' is not just slow, we are moving in the wrong direction. Global energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly rather than plummeting. In the desperate scramble to secure energy supplies, the world is becoming ever more dependent on oil supplies from areas of conflict and energy supplies that are environmentally devastating - such as tar sands in Canada and palm oil for biofuels from peatland clearance in Indonesia.

This cannot continue."


But many will undoubtedly disagree, and I guess that by about 3 o'clock this afternoon, this CIF post will have turned into the usual set of extremely opposed views and multiple 'knocking the spots off each other' posts.

Seems to be that with anything to do with climate change on CIF t'was ever thus.
Interesting point from one of the posters.
"Growth at any cost is the basic tenet of all economists - interestingly that's also the basic tenet of cancer"

AWARDS - Sunday Times 'Best Green Companies' - Feb 29

I always have the selfish urge not to share these, as one more entry could be the one that kicks ours into touch.

Not a problem here. I was excited. I was inspired. And then when I saw it was £500 just to enter. So I was moved to ponder... again... that green is a great opportunity to make money. But often for the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

WHEN: February 28, 2008
WHAT: Sunday Times 'Best Green Companies'
WHAT... MORE?: From site - Imagine the benefits a listing could bring you. It would generate credit among the general public for your success and tell all your business partners, suppliers and customers that you are helping to tackle one the of the biggest problems facing all industrialised nations.

The winning companies will be profiled in a dedicated Sunday Times supplement, which will be distributed with 1.3m copies of the paper in the spring next year, and their achievement will also be marked at an awards event. Winners will also be given our special logo for branding on publicity, advertising and letterheads.
HOW MUCH: £500 to kick off!
URL: here
COMMENTS: Good luck Sunday Times, and good luck all who can afford to enter. You (well most of you. I am sure some worthy entrants will scrape the necessary together to enter and might even win despite not having massive ad budgets to dangle or lobbyists to whisper. If you do win, have the courage to say this on the podium for the rest of us to cheer) deserve each other. I'm just not sure the planet, or our kids, do. Sadly, I will be viewing the 'best' result, and any PR that ensues, as shaped by this highly excluding financial requirement.

Anyone can nominate an organisation – from the cleaner to the CEO. I can't be paying my cleaner (er, that's me) enough.

Just wanted to share

Having had had my fill today of pols and media filling the airwaves and acres of print with mountains of meaningless vapour, I offer this bon mot for the day:

'Where there's a 'will' there's a way.

Where there's a 'could' there's always a way out.'

'Oh Aunty, what big fingers you have!'

'All the better to flip you one whilst plugging my ears... tra-la-la-la...' One in three Brits back BBC accuracy.

And, for those enjoying the ten golden years that is our nu-education system, that makes 2 in 3... don't. I was moved to write:

Oh, heavens, do get with the (new) programme.

As Ed Balls has clearly explained regarding the country's relative positions in educational standards in a similar global survey: it's not that we're doing worse; it's just the others that are doing oodles better.

I am sure the BBC, who will cheerfully read out any press release they are given from such worthy sources, will be able to apply the same reasoning or cherry pick to suit.

"We are also seen as the most trusted news provider, especially in times of crisis and for big breaking news stories. This clearly shows the value audiences place in us."

There we go.

CATEGORY - Don't do as I do; do as I say

I wonder how long until I have a top 100 chart?

Schwarzenegger's lavish foreign trips in spotlight - of course, a guy in his postion needs to tarvel and needs an entourage. It's all a question of scale.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The wind and the willowy

Dave has beaten me to it, but as he looks at things from the ruthlessly scientific, I often come at it all, I hope in complement, more for the ad-man's view of consumer perceptions.

And words were important this morning, especially with BBC Breakfast 'press release read out'.

Of course I perked up when I heard this country was going to be independent of nasty foreigners and free of emissions in terms of energy, and all all within an awesome timeframe.

Where I did find my eyebrow cranking was in the manner of deliverables.

I can't quite recall, but I think it was broken into three. Which, for reasons of narrative, I will repeat in reverse order.

The last was something social, I think, like shredded seagulls. I'm afraid I can't really get into that. If all creatures are going to be toast anyway, I think some sacrifices need to be made and I can live with this aspect. I also have to say that the whole view thing is getting a bit silly... at least as the main objection.

The next was more significant. Lots more. Oodles more. But was breezed over rather blithely. Money. What this was going to cost.... us. It's one thing to say 'of course this will impact..', but quite another when this get divorced too much from enviROI.

Speaking of which, this brings me to the last. And it was headed 'Reliability'.

'Ah-ha!', I thought. A nettle being grasped.

Alas, no. This was reliability of supply. Significant to be sure, and I'm not clear I got any answers as to how 'could' supply translated into 'will' supply, once inconvenient facts on durations and useful levels of actual wind speed are factored in.

But, and here's the thing, no mention of what I was thinking of under reliability. Namely how these things are at doing what they do, parked into the ocean, being battered daily by wind and salt water. And this has to be important, as they might not be the best option if we are having to rebuild them a lot more often than claimed.

Which brings me to the word 'Quality'. Because this was the next piece of the morning 'sofa, so trivial' news. Seems 'we' are going back to 'quality', at least in fashion, and to encourage us to spend as much as we can on such essentials as thigh-length patent leather boots we had some 'expert' whose only contribution was a gallon of peroxide down the sink and an outfit that looked like she was on her way back from leaning on a Kings X lamp post all night.

Seems the collective wisdom of the group was that 'quality' equated to buy one massively expensive bit of tat because of the label, as opposed to a series of cheaper bits of tat with less ad-supported ones. And it was acknowledged all round that these things were only good for a few outings until the next fad comes around... but who cares.

My definition of 'quality' is slightly different, and more to do with the one I have for 'reliability'. Things that last.

Shame our national broadcaster can't seem to get on board with that, too, especially as it pumps out what it thinks are the necessary box-tickers on enviro issues at the same time as a bloated squanderfest.

Such as Declan's ongoing woeful romp with the 'low carbon' family. Today we got a few tips on green Christmas. And a sorry collection they were too. The only time I thought it did get potentially interesting was when he pointed out to the guy selling Xmas tat that encouraging the purchase of eco stuff that you didn't need to replace year on year wasn't a great economic model. The answer was less than convincing, I felt.

Nor were the comments to all this as sign-offs from our overpaid guardians of the Christmas eco-message. Declan referred to the closing of the carbon family's efforts over the year as an 'end to the punishment' . The bouffant scored e-cards as 'not as nice as the real thing'. And the blonde thought LED Xmas lights were not as 'nice and twinkly'.

And that was the message I left with. 'Yes, talk about it for sure. But we're not changing even if we have been told to tell you you should'. Nice.


Gaurdian - Wind energy to power UK by 2020, (sez who?) government says

Guardian - Blow by Blow

Thank you!!!!

But then, why the heck if you - as a journalist, and one with what one might imagine a more than average desire to see such things through the greenest of hued glasses (no offence) - can see through this, am I getting fed the rosiest of 'couldfests' by the national broadcaster and others?

On their take 'we' 'could' be firing up the jacuzzi on windy alt-eng supply from a coastal array in the next few decades.

Where are the facts? I desperately want this all to be true, but other than some vague tilts to a few 'issues', I am none the wiser on actual deliverables.

Stuff such as 'costs' are alluded to, but they 'may' be vast and 'may' be ridiculously excessive. And all dumped on the consumer, too late to argue, when the Minister and the MEP are doing a post-pension fact-checking tour of the engineering contractors' lobby firm's beach villas.

And then there was 'reliability'. Not the one I am more concerned about, namely how these things stand up to the wind and salt water for the claimed lifespan, but the almost as pertinent one of how what they say they will do actually gets done by way of turning wind into usable 'leccy 24/7.

Until this piece I thought my kid's'futures were really going to be decided, by our major media at least, on the basis of a government press release. Shame so few others may see there are BIG questions that need asking before rushing to print or the screen.