Monday, April 30, 2007

All the news that's unfit to print, broadcast, etc

Dilemma time. I need them, but I can't stand most of them, or what they stand for.

This blog, maybe rightly, will continue to be slim for a while as I try to maximise the PR value of the Geneva win.

So far, it has been a mixed bag.

One thing that is hard to understand is the almost complete silence from the majors.

But then again, as Carol Thatcher rightly pointed out yesterday on the Andrew Marr Sunday Show, as she dumped all the packing and inserts from her papers on the table: 'how can we take any of them seriously in their 'wars' on packaging when they are so hypocritical?' It seems they are so obsessed with being seen to be green they are not in the least bit interested in actually being it. Or playing up genuine efforts to help people make a small difference.

Meanwhile the various BBC programmes remain mute. Paranoia is knowing they are out to ignore you, but I do wonder if my critiques have resulted in some kind of blacklist. So be it. They have a new Chairman of the Trust in place now, and his claimed remit is to respond to the customers they serve rather than just defend the Corporation. I think this needs testing more.

The same day I get yet another form 'so what?' reply to a complaint about a blatant ad for ASDA in the increasingly laughable Breakfast 'Business' slot, they run another, even more ridiculous plug for them.

And I've just switched off the TV this morning in disgust at the boss of EDF energy being given his opportunity to do the same, before running off like excited kids to see the new Kate Moss collection being unveiled. This isn't news, but if there is no financial reward for them doing it, I can't figure what it is mean to be, or for.

BBC - EDF to lower its gas bills by 10% - In case you missed the plug on air

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the... can't be bothered

You can see a few more here.

There's money in talking about the environment, obviously.

And I now, in addition to have something well worth talking about, not least because it actually is a physical thing that does something, and does it less.

Yet still I face an uphill struggle to share it.

This piece in the Indy allowed me a slight venting opportunity:

Terence Blacker: Why I'm not sold on 'The Apprentice'

Dear Mr. Blacker,

'Selfishness, a lack of personal accountability, a ruthless aggression towards others are, in everyday life, regarded as social problems. How odd it is that [any successful medium] suggests that they are so desirable in business [and engages in such practices itself].' My brackets.

Couldn't agree with you more.

Having been involved in a positive campaign for a years to change consumers' attitudes towards packaging, and recently winning a Gold international award for an invention to help them to improve matters, I still await any acknowledgement, recognition or support from the paper you write for.

I will put anything and anyone on my site if it helps improve the environment, even if they are technically competitive. A shame that other enterprises are not so able to share in the bigger picture, when self-interest, opportunism, ego and greed take over. Good luck to the Indy and the Daily Mail as the latest self-appointed guardians of our eco-future as they slug it out to gain the high profit green ground. Sir Alan would be proud.

However, to end on a more positive note, there are glimmers of gold glinting in the morass.

Having waded through a lot of government 'stuff', I ended up with some guys at the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse. They may or may not be able to help, but by golly got back nice and quick with a compliment and some nifty areas that look promising.

With so much deadweights around it's hard not to get weighed down, but it's the few positives like these that keep you going.

We may even make it yet.

STOP PRESS - Relief! The UKTI/BizLink are keen to help and coming round next week. Phew!

Indy - No time to waste - no s**t, really?

STOP PRESS #2 - Mr. Blacker has replied and, despite my venting if not at him at least his employers, kindly, which makes me blush (though the tone does make me wonder if it is not more than a little 'form' in nature. Better than telling me to p*ss off, though!):

Many thanks for your kind email - and the best of luck with your campaign.

Who's a clever boy then?

Well, I'm back.
Actually, I have been since Monday, but for reasons that will hopefully become apparent, have been a tad busy elsewhere dealing with the backlog that built up during the Geneva trip... and the consequences of it. Because....

I won. And I won big!

Here's the press release that has been prepared, and I am touting around as we speak to try to make the most of it while it is fresh.

‘Hole-in-one’ for award-winning Herefordshire inventor Ross-on-Wye inventor Peter Martin has been awarded a Gold Medal at the International Exhibition of Inventions held in Geneva last weekend… for a small hole in a strip of plastic. His patented Re:tie concept is simple, but shows just what you can achieve from an inventive approach to recycling. Peter has redesigned the security closure strip used in many drinks bottles and jars, by introducing a block with a hole. This means the strip can be saved and reused as a tie, in the garden, for cabling, for bags – for anything which needs tying together. Peter took his invention to Geneva with his company, and won the Award against stiff competition from the world’s top inventors and major R&D institutions. The international Judges were so impressed with the simplicity and potentially wide application of the eco-design tie that they awarded Gold, and several have subsequently congratulated him by email. ‘It’s one of those “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?” ideas,’ says Peter, whose free website has been created to share how virtually any potentially discardable item can be reused. “I am proud to win such a prestigious award for myself, my company and the UK, but I am particularly thrilled that it was noted for its environmental impact, and potential positive contribution to commercial eco-design. When you are in a place like Switzerland and surrounded by eco-inventions from the likes of Germany and Asia, it is good to show we Brits are creating consumer-friendly solutions that need not incur or impose additional costs.” The RE:tie may be a small change to a piece of plastic, but every little bit helps when it comes to reducing waste and helping save the planet. The Re:tie will also bring manufacturers considerable green-£-based benefits as Peter intends to license the concept for commercial use. He is also hoping to turn the commercial and public interest in RE:tie into further official support for his free re:use ideas website initiative – which offers people a way to exchange second use ideas for all sorts of products and packaging. “After immense interest and support from the 70,000 international visitors to the show, I'd like to accelerate my plans to expand the site into other languages, and establish its postcode localisation facility into other countries.” Peter is now seeking investors for RE:tie, especially if he is to fight off imitations despite his patent: “It would be a pity not to exploit this idea worldwide from a British base. I'd like to see it not only on an Innocent juice carton here, but a jar of jam in China and a bottle of pop in the US, too’.

So, a lot of work to do. I'm trying to get help to protect the idea from the likes of the BusinessLink, UKTI and various government agencies, and of course support from the media.

Both are proving an effort.

I know business help takes time, but it can be frustrating to wade through the systems. There is so much that is in theory on offer, but finding it and making use of it demands a lot of time and inside knowledge which I don't have.

Then there is the media.

I am getting some coverage, but in a week when waste and packing is all over the media, from the Indy to the Daily Mail (who shamelessly seem to have copied the Indy's campaign, not that it was that original or skillfully applied), the level of interest so far (with a few notable, and appreciated, exceptions) has been about what I'd expect from our mighty 4th estate.

And now I watch BBC's Declan in a 5 minute slot* on the same thing. Having already queried their addiction to giving free PR to ASDA, I guess it wouldn't help to wonder why the majority of the slot was about 'an initiative' in 'a few stores', whereby customers are asked to put packs in a bin 'for analysis'. Hmn. Does it it wash as a real, credible attempt? And does the BBC's coverage count as valid, skillful reporting?

Maybe I haven't yet sussed out the secret to getting coverage in this new media age.

*BBC - Tough packaging fines are urged - Check out the vid top right: nice ad for ASDA guys!

Monday, April 16, 2007

RE:solution time

It seemed a nice idea: What is your Earth Day Resolution? April 22nd, 2007

Mine: To get back and DO more by uploading at least one new re:use idea a week to, and stop wasting time arguing theory on blogs.

Green Gold

Totting on the Costas

'Nowt wrong wi' a bit off reuse, lad!

I am in the business of bringing this process online (see signature link), and look to such folk in such countries as a source of inspiration.

ps: In Singapore, where I spent several years, he was the Kallang (or maybe Karran, as the former is a place - never did get the spelling) Guni man. Sadly, they stopped taking PCs when I left... no money in them!

An interesting point...

... well made in today's Indy letters:

Sir: The Department of Education and Skills, in conjunction with the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, will this week begin distributing the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth, to all 3,385 secondary schools in England.

According to the DfES, "influencing the opinions of children is crucial to developing a long-term view on the environment among the public" (press release, February 2007). This is an explicit admission by the Government that its intention in circulating the film is to indoctrinate children politically.

Such deliberate political indoctrination of children is contrary to the Education Act 2002, which at section 78 says the school curriculum for maintained schools is to be "balanced and broadly based", and section 79 requires the Secretary of State, local education authorities, governing bodies and headteachers to exercise their functions "with a view to securing that the curriculum for every maintained school satisfies the requirements of section 78".

Political spin is bad enough, but when we start brainwashing our own children we are finished.

I write as one concerned more than many about where we are headed, but beyond the question of legality have to also wonder if this is a bit of indocrination too far.

Swiss Adventure

Just to let you know that I will be blogging off shortly for a while in Switzerland to attend the 35th International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products in Geneva. I think we'll call it the Geneva Invention Show from hereon in.

I am exhibiting an actual invention I have patented called the RE:Tie, which was inspired by and is a unique (I hope), new (I trust), solution (bank balance at the ready, fingers crossed) to offer packagers/fmcg manufacturers/retailers a way to offer a second use for an aspect of their packs to consumers to boost sales, offer better PR, make 'em smug at CSR report time during the AGM and, oh, I don't know, help save the planet, too.

Wish me luck!

Back Monday, whereupon I promptly disappear off again to London to speak at another invention 'do', this time the Global Women's Inventor & Innovator Network Awards at the DTI

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Good question. But is it the most important?

Is Arnie really green?

To the one you pose, personally my answer would have to be 'no', not 'really'. But matters of green are pretty broad in scope, and can seldom be viewed in just black and white.

As you point out, at least he is doing something, which in comparison to others is a heck of a lot better than nothing. Or is it?

Because we have the message, and then we have the messenger. As Janet Street Porter pointed out a few days ago, few can be unaware of global warming by now, so do we really need more awareness from celebrity politicians, green-tinged celebrities and the remoras of the media that follow, share and bask in their gre-e-lite (pronounced 'leet) movements and issue forth their pronouncements of what should be done, if not by them, as such? Maybe a bit more back-room deal-making with the power-brokers would help a tad more?

There is also the small matter of gesture politics not actually serving the one thing that matters, which is enviroROI - simply, will what gets done save more carbon emissions than they cause? Financial ROI is another consideration of course, and one for those rich enough to indulge in if they can and wish to. Frankly if you can afford to go green and it does good, then I say go for it.

However, lobbing up to 'sell' such an effort in a hydrogen powered Humvee (or aspiring to a similarly-configured BMW as is apparently the case with Stuart Rose of M&S) to me helps not one jot. For a start, much as I appreciate the potential of hydrogen, its production and distribution currently means that such a vehicle may make the owner look green, but certainly is not helping Mother Earth. And... a Humvee? Why not just get Chris Eubank on the horn and convert his truck? The first message we get is that it is better (only better, mind, as creation and use does still extract an e-cost) than fossil fuels, hence we must therefore use the biggest, most fuel-inefficient-for-purpose lump of tin to consume it?

I agree with him on one point. Making things about guilt, fine or fear have not, and will not work. We need incentive-based initiatives with which the consumer will willingly engage through a perception (hopefully genuinely delivered) of end-benefit an/or reward. And a little bit of leadership by example wouldn't go amiss to get that across.

Sadly, by talking down to us from a Green Tower (I'm still trying to rationalise "[not] powering my private airplanes (plural!),” with “It's too bad for us that we can't live the lives of Buddhist monks (I guess they just go skiing on RyanAir)") I fear such as Arnie et Al (make sure y'all come to see me and my best bud Madge at Live Earth!) may not be the ideal choices to motivate the masses.

Governator aims to make green issues 'sexy'

Yes, he is 'on the cover of Newsweek as one of the big environmentalists'. Maybe that is more for that publication, and other media who publish eco-hype without thinking, to answer. And not only in America.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Stirring speeches won't tackle climate change

But, what will? Does this 'speech' move anything on?

So that's how they decide what's news

Establishing a rapport

Will any of these soirees be held outside London?

Then you could add one more to the two (so far) visiting here (at least in print. You can add you and your Mum as 'clickers-on') online, and the fifty you met in person t'other night.

It would be a shame to find the thoughts of our nation's journalists are shaped, even if ever so slightly, by such a limited sample of the blogosphere, much less the population.

ADDENDUM - my comment provoked a retort from one of the 'in' crowd, it seems.

I must brush up on my Vogon poetry

Oo-er. As this was a post on the craft of blogging, despite being invited to comment, and assuming this thread by being in the public domain is not... yet... 'club' members only, I must pen... key this carefully. It is all too often that a stray word in print without the benefit of tone can be... unkindly taken and not as intended, so going flaming downhill. Hence my being frustrated at an inability to share live and in person with '50 "consumers" asking questions and voicing their own opinions about what all we Telegraph bloggers collectively produce'. I do trust the author, upon his return, will appreciate I was simply trying to be kind enough to visit and, better yet, offer some feedback, if purely personal and possibly subjective.

I'd like to think I do try to be scrupulously fair, but how what I write gets taken can often be out of my hands. However looking back I do believe that I simply asked a question (which remains unanswered) and made a mild observation. In fact this all may be moot depending on the answer, which I was indeed trying to to offer an opinion upon, and it may be that a regional roadshow is envisaged. That it started in London is of course more than logical in the circumstances.

It is tremendous that many who attended did so from outside our fair capital and, indeed, country. Lucky also, and very committed, that they had the resources of time and money (return fares, overnight accommodation) to do so.

It could justifiably be argued that if one cares enough to share in such things one needs to make the effort. However, as the subject of what's fair has been raised, Douglas Adams did create a neat opening to the Hitchhikers Guide on this very point. Sorry, but I still have this odd notion that journalism is as much about going out and finding a story as having it handed to one. This is a nice initiative, certainly better than nothing, and plays well to the 'we're listening' audience, but if it stays 'centric' it can also offer opportunity to those with the wherewithal to make the most such an arrangement. Activists & lobbyists spring to mind. Now, where would they mostly be based or have easy access to? Is it too much to presume that the blogospshere, which already seems to have its more 'respected', 'influential' and even 'distinguished' representatives to court, is not a rich seam to exploit? More so for its image of independence and freedom from being part of the media 'in-crowd' that inhabits, inevitably, a certain capital city a long way from where I happen to live and work, if online (which is why I surf and blog a lot, see:)

I have lost count of the number of journalistic pieces lately that, IMHO, have poorly reflected the rest of the country, especially in the blog, commentary or viewpoint sections. How many were there surrounding the road pricing scheme wondering what all the fuss was about, as the bike ride from the Thameside des res, or bus/tube/taxi trip from the Islington pied a terre really renders even a Prius unnecessary?

Equally, I have almost lost count of the number of special 'invitations' from the public and private sector I have had in my area of interest (the environment, in case you hadn't guessed) to take part in some get-together where 'my views are valued and will shape policy for years to come', but come with a price tag in time and money that I simply cannot afford. Usually, these are located in London.

So I am afraid that, even though bias was not a word I used as it has yet to ne proven to apply, it is always possible that if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and is held in Ducktown, there may be a slight danger that the potential GI from local Mallards may influence, ever so slightly, the possible GO produced by those working for the Daily Duck.

If I may end by repeating my question (I do gather at least one poster is an organiser, which makes out of three others so far two with questions, and one contented attendee): to have the opportunity of ensuring that a relatively (noting that nothing will ever be truly representative as me getting off my derriere and making a 30-50 mile trip is an unlikely commitment by most of the public at large, even the Telegraph-reading variety) well-rounded selection of contacts are made and views garnered from the four corners of the country this national paper serves, are there any plans to host future such events elsewhere?

No problem if not. I will simply view what I get presented bearing in mind where and from whom it is generated.

Pleased to meet you

Is this a private conversation?

A few blogs over, one of your colleagues has quipped 'As print reporters, we always joke that the only people who read our bylines are ourselves and our mums'. It seems there may be, Yoda-style, 'another'.

It may help if the rest of us were let in on who the heck you are talking about as you muse out loud.

Another day on Planet Spin

Our dishwasher has died. At least, it isn't washing dishes any more. I've done my best and all pipes seem clear, but it's just turning the crud into a soup that evenly dries onto the dishes.

So I have just spent an hour doing them at the sink, which got me to pondering which method was best for the environment. Three changes of hot, and at least 6 gallons of water (not including, as my increasingly frustrated missus points out, the extra rinsing after I use the dirty water to clean all the packaging we keep) vs.... what in a dishwasher? I'm sure it has been assessed. I must track it down.

And so I was in the kitchen to enjoy another irony free episode of the BBC news. You couldn't get much better than skipping over some real news to an all points bulletin on a kid and his bird chucking each other. OK, so he's an heir to the throne, but listening to ever more intense blondes and bouffants discuss whether 'all this media interest' may have been a factor in two kids who met at school going the separate ways was just so much...

Speaking of tri...te, I think I have identified the latest spinmeister 'Get out of Jail/Doodoo/whatever free' phrase du jour, and that is: 'In hindsight, it was not.... and I'm sorry'. This is of course followed by a big empty space which seems to say 'So now that's out of the way my mates in high places (all with an ossuary of their own in the cupboard) are quite happy for me to go right back to being as stupid/corrupt/ineffective as I ever was'.

Who next after the Des (Sure, let's sell the squaddies' stories to the Sun) & Paul (speaking of girlfriends, mine needs a bigger salary) show?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A toast to Ethical Man? Or Ethical man is toast?

Wednesday, 11 April, 2007

So Gavin introduces our hero as 'Ex-Ethical Man'. Following the one year 'experiment' in 'individual' behaviour, he who would carry the burden of our sins is 'dead'. How very topical, considering the time of year. Does becoming ex-ethical mean one reverts to being UNethical?

I tuned in rather hoping, indeed expecting, answers to the questions that could get posed to the Green E(for eco)-lite (pronounced 'leet', naturally) in reply to yesterday's call on these pages, but came away a tad disappointed.

The preamble was interesting, as much for what was not said as was. Cars are fully 20% responsible for our household footprints. Wow! At least, being London-based, this burden is immediately removed by the simple (so long as you live in a city with decent urban transport) expedient of getting rid of the family car. Well, so long as there is one on standby for 6 weeks in the year. And the option of others on tap for rental purposes. I'm assuming the aspects of manufacture, storage, maintenance and operating were factored in before being struck off this guilt-free list.

Then there was the mea culpa on population, though one might think dragging Larry Lebensraum into a creche full of very prolific yummier mummies was a tad trivial and unfair - ' so... which blonde, blue-eyed little munchkin gets the chop, eh?'. I rather think he held his ground quite well against such a Guido Fawksian set-up, and have to admire his guts.

As I did the pols who actually managed to answer at least one question, on population, towards the end of the discussion and, surprisingly given Gavin's directness, in the affirmative. Hailing from Singapore, where I spent a large chunk of my life, I well remember the 'stop at two' campaigns. Though as was rather darkly muttered, it was a 'difficult' subject, which is code for 'one that will be dropped asap'. Rather gets into dodgy waters, rather quickly, if debated too deeply or at length. One presumes Mr. Lomborg is in favour of such expansion, as it is hard to imagine what else directing vast resources into dealing with AIDS, malaria and water deprivation is going to result in around various continents.

Anyway, to the questions or, as far as I could tell, question. And that was why the government was spouting all this guff about Stern, IPCC, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all, yet was still pretty much on the side of getting as many folk up and at 'em on RyanAir as soon as possible.

And Mr. Miliband's answer? Well, he didn't seem to have one. Again.

What we got... again... was an awesome display of factual recall, as he reeled out a bunch of stats on what 'we' were doing and how awful it all was (so 'we're 3 x worse than a German'? What does that actually mean? Is that a Fiesta driving district nurse in Cumbria vs. a Frankfurt Airbus salesman with a Prius as well as a Merc?). As a swot analysis it was great, only without the strengths or opportunities.

We were then directed to forget about this trivial 5% that may need be addressed but with no indication how, and look at the bigger, 95% picture, with equal lack of anything tangible here either. Hence still not addressing the question. But we did then come straight back to air travel, only this time to learn that its cost 'needs to be recognised', presumably by the application of passenger duties... that help, how exactly?

Only the Green party lady seemed prepared to stick to her guns and advocate a total ban on domestic air travel, before we got embroiled in a rather dodgy bit of claim and counter claim on the costs (rightly highlighted as a pretty important factor by the Tory representative) of rail vs. air. Mr. Miliband stated a clear fact that rail is cheaper, and it was left at that. Is it? Really? I know of almost no eco-friendly trip I can take, locally, regionally or internationally, that has a comparable financial balance to support the envROI. Pretending otherwise is either daft, duplicitous or simply another result of having a London-based, job and pension-insulated elite who have no conception of what is required to run a business or sustain a family in this country these days. No wonder the road pricing 'sell' went down so well.

It was in conclusion posed that the environmentalists have 'won 'the' argument'. What argument? There are hundreds of issues and thousands of arguments swirling all around them. Is the media so self-absorbed now that it really thinks something this complex can be summed up in a soundbite? Here's one: NOT ALL THAT IS GREEN CAN BE VIEWED ONLY IN BLACK AND WHITE.

At least there were a few, minor nuggets I plucked out that I could nod along to:

Good e-practice can't be sold by pain and punishment, or stick over carrot.

We need to inspire folk with simple things that save them money.

We need to encourage carbon free ways of doing what we enjoy doing.

Well, here's a non-standby plug for something that does all that - a FREE website promoting re:use ideas of stuff made from junk that you'd normally throw away:

I just can't figure out why, when its existence has been made clearly known to almost all major media, government, funders and political parties that the spirit of re:duction, re:use and re:pair espoused here, and elsewhere, does not get more support.

Maybe it's because the only target is DOING something in the home, as an individual.

And that seems a slightly better legacy than the message of a guy who shrugs and says he is 'going back to flying', with a 5-person long haul flight for starters (how much did the solo jaunt to Jamaica offset the total annual 'good' achieved elsewhere?), but is at least intending to pee on his grave to make up.

Pity. It could have been so much more. But simply ended up as so much... compost.

Indy - Jeffrey Sachs is wrong once again: rising population isn't going to destroy the planet

Er... what she said

Janet Street-Porter: A song by Madonna won't save the world

I am guessing Ms. Street-Porter is not gunning for a VIP slot in the Green Room with the rest of the self-appointed Green 'E(for eco)-lite' (pronounced 'leet').

Took guts. Don't envy her chances with the canapes at the next London luvvie-fest she lobs up to, mind. When I first heard of this e-vent I felt like the potted plant in Hitchhikers Guide.

There are a few too many 'celebs' and media remoras with a vested interest in making this seem a lot more than what it is, and hence I have to question how it will serve to benefit my kids' future enviROI (stuff that gets actually DONE that lowers carbon emissions).

I even have to wonder whether the awareness aspect will actually outweigh the potential negatives that are already, and with some reason, being brought to bear. Here's hoping the protagonists have done their sums, hired the right guys who can be on message... and stay there. Remember, a planet is for life, and not just for a quick temporary ratings boost.

And so, I join her (if slightly lower and behind) on the parapet.

Letters - Nothing so far, but a great letter by a guy on the topic of dumping gulit on the kids to sort this mess out

Letters - Looks like they didn't like mine. Surprise

Left Hand. Right Hand. The Latest.

Meet our New Media Home family

One does wonder what the technology correspndent talks to the environment correspondent about at the Christmas party.

The value of irony perhaps?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The 64,000 hour question

Ethical Issues - Your questions

They asked. I wonder how well they'll listen:

A challenging year perhaps, but one trusts a rewarding one.

We have shared your ups and downs and, along with info from the programme, some very useful tips and links on this very site, which will hopefully point us in better enviro-directions.

I'm afraid I missed the peeing on the compost and, mercifully, the hippy poo (more roughage, doubtless), but do have some concerns on where this leads if embraced by all (surely what is being advocated, though there seem to be some who aspire to a career in being greener in comparison to others, and would thus surely require such divisions of lifestyle to remain to stay in paid voyeuristic spotlight) following a line of thought I embarked upon when I saw another programme advocating home composting toilets by another eco-guru. What would the social hygiene consequences be if 10 million folk in London got inspired to follow suit?

As to doing without the family car... well, that's more the one owned by your family to be strictly accurate, is it not? I do recall some tons of manufactured metal being used to consume some hydrocarbons subsequently, when push came and shove was not really an option.

Work, career and family, eh? So we now end your mission with the arrival of the lovey Elsa, who you say blew it all with the first breath she took.

Speaking of which, and knowing what you know now, for her sake (or, more likely her kids' kids sakes), it is to be hoped that being ethical doesn't stop just because the producer's deadline has expired and the show needs to move on to feed on newer ratings fare. That would send a rather unfortunate message out about the triviality of our media, and the disposability of ethics, along with our more tangible consumerist waste products. Not to mention, as those darn IPCC science bods (et Al, as in... well, you've met him) keep harping on, going 'back' in any way shape or form looks like it's going to bring the possible tipping point ever nearer. How many journalists did it take to cover that, sans irony? Now, there was one in Brussels. Another in Mexico and, my personal favourite, the one who'd flown specially to the Arctic wasteland to show us what all that flying was doing. So make sure on your next holiday to Marbella you say you're studying climate change and you'll be golden.

There are so many detailed questions to ask, and I see them building up already, but I will concern myself with just one. But it is a biggie:

Qu: - Assuming it is agreed by them all (in words, if not actions) that man-made carbon emissions need to be reduced, which political party is prepared to commit itself ONLY to the cause of genuine, clear and simple positive enviROI solutions (no greenwash to buy a vote, spin a headline or buy off a lobbyist - simply something that saves a lot more carbon than it costs to make and run), explained honestly in terms the public can understand, sold for the betterment of our kids' long-term futures and not short-term political gain, any eco-activist corporate agenda, commercial career/bottom line benefit or media ratings-driven kneejerk?

I'm holding my breath. Looking at who would lead us into the future currently, ethically or not, I fear I may yet need all I can save.

Don't fly as fly do, fly as I fly.

This was billed as a 'must read'. All I can say is... why?

Well-grounded fear of flying

As I was just saying on my blog and site, which are available, free, along with some stuff you can DO....

'Re: the unearthed 'exclusive' in little-known publication Newsweek.

Noted enviro-writer Mr. Monbiot's plan is certainly 'a' plan, if honestly described by him as being based on 'inexact science', with a few of his 'rough estimates' lobbed in, with the odd 'guess'. I just hope the deniers don't see that little lot as an opportunity for robust rebuttal.

Beyond offering such unwelcome ammo to the 'do nothing' camp, I'm not sure quite how practical this plan is. But then you don't sell many books or get invited to many interviews based on the politics of compromise. News media like to drive ratings first, not inform, and the best way is to pop a couple of pit bulls from opposing camps in the ring and let the games begin. Let's see what big-oil funded shock-jock they can wheel out to say anything that hasn't been countered a million times before.

I'm sure a lot more will read and respond to the magazine (me, I am happy to get it online), but to add to the mighty one views (rating 0.5) at my time of reading the linked piece, and having read a lot of Mr. M's thoughts before, to be charitable and acknowledge the breadth of his knowledge in this arena it seemed to suffer from some rather drastic editing.

I can't recall quite how he promoted his book, Heat (available in all good bookstores at a very reasonable price), or gets to and from his many commitments without the need for personal transport, but as Frank Drebin says, that is not important right now. I am sure getting paid to do his job travelling about is more important than many other folk with careers and families to support.

As for trading the eco-consequences of such travel, is this just between rich folk, or does the population of the globe get to play too?

Per Mr. Cameron's (our Leader of the Opposition here in the UK) notion, I'm guessing a few hundred thousand Kalahari bushmen are ready to let you get to the Earth Aid concert in a private 737, with on board LPG Humvee, based on their allocation. With about 5.5 billion more folk waiting in line.

Green Air - Flying the Sanctimonious, Irony-free Skies'

From the country that put the US in useless

Colbert on consumerism

I wonder at what the cut-off point is where the media stop finding people engaging in planetary-saving personal endeavours 'interesting' and 'different' enough to feature? What % of population actively engaged in low-impact lifestyles before it is no longer news, and you're kinda on your own because you just believe it's a good thing to do rather than as an exercise in ratings gathering?

It's a line of thought I embarked upon when I saw a programme advocating home composting toilets by a London-based guru. What would the social hygiene consequences be if 10 million folk got inspired to follow suit?

Anyhoo, while having every admiration for such efforts, and sympathy for the financially compensatory effects of publicity (though perhaps wondering how the interviewee got to the studio - maybe it's OK if someone else provides the transport. I tried pitching a video feed to one interested media outlet here. They didn't bite. But at least I persuaded them to send just one reporter with a tripod ) to plug the book (how many times does that little number rather put the whole deal in context? I'm guessing it's another, new, extra book on the topic? And will require buying, for money, and making, and distributing, etc) on an as yet unspecified non-impacting stock, I again feel a certain unease that the messenger may not be serving the message as well as he might.

Was pretty funny though.

At least Mr. Colbert will not be joining hordes of irony-free Americans making many extra journeys to congregate together at an event that is raising awareness about... what exactly?

As IPCC 2, the sequel, is now pointing out, it's the kids who will suffer first. Enjoy the party.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What do YOU think?

Newsnight - what amazes me is the quality of replies so far. Looks like the show went as predicted, and I'm not sure it's worth watching.

"Iran - Is anyone likely to carry the can for the public relations fiasco?"

Ye jest, surely. Who these days ever is? And... was it all just PR? Remind me, who was where when one nation took another nation's representatives hostage at gunpoint? I can't wait to see what The Sun says.

"And... is it time to admit that the European strategy of engagement with the Islamic regime has failed?"

Er... now? Guess that's why they get the big bucks in Brussels.

"A Paedophile pilot scheme"

As a parent I would feel soooo much better knowing some individual who poses a potential threat to my kids is 'in the vicinity'. Big up to the guys who thought that one up and the media who gave them airtime.

Just hope these guys haven't figured out how to move about a bit. Maybe that's what's meant by a 'pilot scheme'.

"Does the net need a new code of conduct? "

Like a country near here needs a moral compass that's not provide by its 'leaders' in government, clergy, military or the media. Ans: Probably, but it ain't going to happen, or make a whit of difference. Fills some airtime 'debating' it, I guess.

Make sure you wheel on a twofer for the nightly spectacle. I'd suggest a rabid shock jock and a leftie luvvie to be truly representative of what 'we' should think.

Gotta pay the bullet-proof, gold-plated, index-linked pensions with a ratings booster. Nothing like them old media values.

'Now, viewers, tell us what YOU think.'


I wrote first before I watched, as the questions asked seemed answerable. Having read the above I don't think I'll even bother checking the online feed to see what actually transpired.

If those who care enough to write are your most important 'customers', perhaps a few more questions are in order, internally, from editorial upwards, before the credibility of one of the few worthwhile news outlets joins that of the rest of the UK media wasteland.

Stop interupting me with proactive ideas. I have a deabte to win!

I am pretty committed to not bothering any more with the debates about climate change as they are so predictable from instigation to the flame wars that follow. But, hey...

There is climate change censorship - and it's the deniers who dish it out

Meanwhile...back on THIS planet.

Reading all this I was thinking how clever it was to have a banner ad to match a post about climate change that said something like 'How do you like things... Hot?' or 'Cold?''. Then I realised it was targeted at Guardian readers planning their next holidays abroad... a long way abroad.

Bless. Still, it's good to talk.

I blog, therefore I am... in need of being nannied

One more from the Ministry of Pointless Protocols (MOPP), hot on the heels of telling folk that a paedophile (presumably one that is too chicken to cross the road, get on the bus or drive a car) is 'somewhere' in the vicinity to 'reassure' parents:

Weblogs 'need content warnings'

Howls of protest as web gurus attempt to banish bad behaviour from blogosphere

Me, I prefer good manners, common sense and courtesy. Sadly there are those who do not operate this way, never have and never will, and no hyped-up job-creation nonsense by society-parasitic jobsworths and complicit ratings media will make a damn bit of difference to that. Ever.

Telegraph - Pilot scheme will allow parents to find out if paedophiles live nearby

Guardian - Civil engineering

Phew! I thought the bloggers of the world had rather cleverly united under the banner 'the only thing worse (to a medium) than being abused is being ignored'.

But now the damn, and blast, has broken, I can pop in my t'pennyworth at last.

IMHO... why not? It keeps those with nothing better to do amused, gives the hacks something to froth about, and allows a few pond-dwellers to vent on something new.

As to actually making any difference, they'll be suggesting letting folk know that paedophiles (presumably non-mobile ones) 'are in the vicinity' is a good way to reassure the community.

Bless. If the news got any slower, we'd need the Tardis to read it.

Isn't it Ironic?

Or was that Alanis Morrisette who wrote that? No matter. I still think it is pretty ironic.

Sheryl Crow starts global warming tour

Now I'm the first to applaud mitigating the effects of going about one's business, but when we stray into going the extra mile to boost awareness of the damage of going the extra mile then, well, that is just... typical. And a tad barking.

BBC - Madonna heads UK Live Earth bill - about which we will doubtless hear more... a lot more

My Friend's Electric... Dreams

I thought worth publishing in full as it (if true), puts what I have been banging on about for a long while as regards some 'eco'-cures and the media's reporting of same:

Letters: Electric cars
Electric cars will work only as limited urban transport

Published: 10 April 2007
Sir: Johann Hari sometimes talks sense but, on electric cars, he is talking through the back of his neck (Big Oil's vendetta against the electric car - Comment, 5 April). Battery-driven electric cars are charged with electricity from the mains, the majority of which is generated by fossil-fuelled power stations.

Electric cars would simply transfer the atmospheric pollution from the cars to the power stations.

If all road vehicles were switched to battery-driven electric it would require at least a 40 per cent increase in electricity-generating capacity. At present, we are struggling to achieve even 5 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources. But let us imagine we have Johann's magic battery.

At what rate could we charge? The largest appliance on our domestic circuit is the cooker, which might use 6kW at its greatest rate of use. Let us assume we could charge our battery at this rate for nine hours. We would then have stored 54kWh of electricity.

A modern car has an engine capable of producing a power output of anything from 100kW to 350kW. Most of the time, it is using only a fraction of that output. To drive up the motorway at 70mph probably requires something of the order of 45kW, depending on the size and weight of the car. Our 54kWh would enable us to drive for just one hour and 12 minutes.

We would need the ability to charge at a higher rate than is feasible on a domestic supply before we could think of using battery cars for anything other than limited urban use, no matter how clever our battery is.

Stan Ovshinsky's battery that Johann said "could run for 300 miles at 70mph on a single charge" would clearly require charging at about 20kW if it was charged in nine hours.

The exhaust pipe is merely in another place. So while in some ways going electric may be seen to be better than nothing, not going at all is better still. Try making a fun op-ed piece on that!

Why do so many 'solutions' involve making more stuff and simply adding to the problem?


From Grist - - A more reasonable look at what is possible and desirable

This is truly inspirational.

I (and, I suspect, a few others - ) have had certain concerns on the promotion of electric power as non-polluting.

When it is in this form, aside from the consequences of manufacture, it seems a rare beacon of solar-powered reality in transport. To get a craft charged up, aloft and to its destination with no power input other than the sun is awesome.

It seems viable battery capacity is the only restriction on realising his dream of a 2 or 4-seat version, which is where the practicalities of personal or indeed small-scale cargo (couriers?) transportation kick in.

Now all we need in the UK is the weather. Mind you, looking out the window, and with a certain sense of irony global-warming-wise, that may soon not be such a problem.

Monday, April 09, 2007

You can diss some of the people some of the time...

A while ago I complained to the BBC in a blog about what I considered a divisive phone in programme.

They have replied. Check it out here.

Are we being served well by our public broadcaster? Discus...ted.

And the losers are...

The elections that will tell us nothing

Last week I was in London when I had a call. Having attended a few local Conservative Party meetings in my home base of South Herefordshire, and muttered about how 'things could be done a lot better', and being under 75, they had decided I was perfect to put up in some ward somewhere I had never heard of.

I was a) not too flattered, as they rather honestly admitted you simply needed a pulse to get in, b) not too flattered, because they had left it until two days before the cut-off to putting one's name down and hence I rather suspected I was not the first choice (and wasn't in county), c) not very interested as I was only keen on making a difference in my own patch, and d) not too interested because, while anything but New Labour is my main motivation, anything else is looking about as equally attractive based on what they stand for, how genuine they are in the way they are trying to represent us, and almost precisely as competent as the alternative.

'None of the above' is not my optimal direction to vote, but having been forced to this choice, a quarter of a voting population is no way to claim a mandate. Though there will be those who try and so claim it... again.

There are going to be no winners in this.

So as a passive victim, I just hope I can sell my story for a six figure sum and bail before it's too late. Now, who handled the crow-eating surrender marines' stories?

Battles. Wars. Who spins... wins.

This Government fights on the media front

This is outrageous!

What the government must do is immediately commission and run a multi-million £ communications campaign to tell us what is good for them... er... us... with our money, of course.

Bishop praises Iran's 'good deeds'

If you have nothing useful to say, don't say anything.

Maybe the Bishop is hoping to sell his story?

Is there a single member of our Establishment not intent in making things a million times worse through perceived short-term self-interest?

The Iranians must be p*ssin' themselves laughing at this farce being played out by our military, the government, the media and now, even, the clergy.

Who pays these fools' salaries? Oh, I guess we do. Surprise.

Guardian - Loot is the foe of truth

One phrase is rapidly rising to the top as a catch-all, get-out-of-anything card, be it a C-list celeb trying to reinvigorate a stalled career on the back of a 'good cause', a mobile phone recycling sc...heme turning a nifty profit on green guilt or, now, a squaddie looking down the barrel of a nice little earner for being in the wrong place at the right time:

"A percentage is going to charity"

At least some of them have had the decency to figure out how fate played out, how lucky they were (as others were not), how capricious the media embrace can and will be, and made the best of it all. To them, good luck and god speed.

BBC - UK captive 'felt like a traitor'

Sunday, April 08, 2007

From a confluence of effluence, with luck, common sense

Without going too theological, nor very accurately metaphorical, this period is sort of about the benefits of 're'. And a few things have happened of late to get me re-thinking and moving on a bit of re-jigging to re-store what we should be achieving.

From a recent event where there were more funded quango personnel in the room than creators, deciding if the few with tangible ideas they were there to assess should get 'support', to today's BBC News pleading with 'us' to 'give our thoughts' to provide lazy source material for legions of commentators on the issue of military persons whose main achievement was to get captured being allowed to sell their stories, I have decided I've about had it with those who do nothing and, worse, those who talk about it all endlessly and to such little effect. I was about to reach for my keyboard to pitch in when I realised these parasites are not the ones that matter, nor will they make any difference.

So while I am not going to stop blogging, I'm going to cut down a lot. And devote my time to making work better and harder with and for those who wish to engage in all we are trying to do with it.

There are some major, and I hope productive changes afoot on the site design, and I'll also be pushing these more with a return to PR (I still need to get the message out, which means some lying in bed with the Devil) and the newsletter.

Hope it works.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Beans there. Heard that. Ad nauseam.

Beans are bad for Greens...

Not too terribly sure what the point of this commentary is.

It's a done deal, so may as well give up? We're doomed, so let's go out with a bang... in Benidorm rather than Bali (or vice versa, as advocated)?

Just a wild guess, but I'm guessing the job would not be too much fun, or the paper getting to sell too many more issues, if you restricted your function to cycling around your home and work base reporting on low [mode of transport here]-miles camp sites around London.

It all rather smacks of the regular self-flagellation and rather hypocritical pontification that the media engages upon to show it's up there on the concern front with green issues, but 'please would everyone else change their ways first as we have jobs.... very nice ones, too... to do.'

Will you not be trying out the largesse that follows these press releases? And sharing it? 'As I savoured my first real lamb kebab, courtesy of Tikka Air and Hotel Payola, I could only reflect on how cheap it was...'.

Only yesterday I watched BBC news solemnly advise the latest from the IPCC, with correspondents in Brussels, Mexico and even Antarctica specially flown there to share the anguish of those who are losing tourists... because of the tourists and media going there.

The whole thing would be ironic if it were not slightly more tragic, and an indictment of those who talk a lot, but do very little, especially as whacking a fir in the firmament in compo is now accepted as pretty pointless.

Have a nice Easter . That was something to do with a guy who suffered so others would not, right?

In an ideal world.

What about me, me, me?

'Perhaps it is time we start dealing with...'

Would make a good inscription on the headstone of modern society. It takes seconds to undo something that has taken millennia to build. And often it is almost impossible to realistically consider effective reconstruction. Any more than you can unhire 750,000 unproductive new Brown-beholden, vote-enabled civil servants our pensions are being raided to fund, no matter how sensible or how much one would wish the next administration would do so.

But it does seem to offer some measure of gainful employ and/or fruitful remuneration to those who create the mess and those who write about it all.

A question too sad to answer. Almost.

Are Blair's e-petitions useless?

Ans: Depends on who you ask

Like so much these days, there is what you are seen to be doing, what you actually do, what it is meant to achieve... and actually does by way of anything tangible.

I got quite excited by the potential of e-petitions as it seemed to offer the individual an opportunity of access to the political process, and a voice to the national population, that was relatively free of gatekeepers in the former at minion level, and the latter free of those in the media who are jealous of their role in shaping our lives.

Hence I posted my own, which was a proposed solution to the issues of IHT (which the Express simply wants to kill off, which I deem unlikely) and climate change (about which a lot of 'debate' on money 'in' and where it goes in the name of green taxes still rages).

Sadly, I posted it just before the success of the road petition prompted a shower of rather frivolous efforts, that diluted the impact of any but those managed by those who have the political muscle to move the necessary masses, or the media to do likewise.

Hence the gatekeepers of power and communication have successfully regained their positions in what we get to know about, care about and act upon.

So I'd say that yes, they are now useless, and those with a vested interest in keeping the people out of the process of government worked pretty hard, and successfully, to make them so.

Well played. Sadly.

Poor coral reef spoils diving. Meanwhile, in other news, the planet collapses

An interesting twist on IPCC 2, the sequel.

I haven't quite figured out yet how or why this drib is drabbing out, but we have another doom & gloom from 'them', whoever 'they' are.

But this time it seems to have been designed on another tack. Rather than talk about the totality of it all and how it affects every one of us, the move seems to now be from fear to guilt.

So 'we' are now being told that 'our' behaviour is going to hurt 'them'.

As I say... interesting. If we can't be motivated by threats to our personal situation, I wonder how effective it will be to play it that the Easter holiday flight is hurting a herdsman in Africa.

BBC - Billions face climate change risk
LATimes - Dire warming report too soft, scientists say
Reuters - Stark climate change warning

ADDENDUM - Kids bear brunt of climate warming - report - What next... or the bunny gets it? This seems to be a slight sledgehammer approach where I would advise more caution. Still, what's done is done. Hope it works.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Irony is in short supply, too

It is great to be back at home, in a well, naturally-lit room (or, preferably, outdoors) with my kids around me. However, some aspects of this job I really dread.

High on the list is watching the BBC 'News'.

This lunchtime there was yet another piece on climate change. One reporter sent to Brussels to cover the latest conference (apparently, something needs to be done). One reporter sent to Mexico where some lake is receding and the locals want something done as they are losing the tourist visitors (is there such a thing as double irony?), and one course another sent to Antarctica to talk on a video phone about why all this travelling we're doing (presumably going to report from a blizzard some decent CGI could knock up... or even a nice backdrop, is not an option) is not helping.

Still, it was nice all the folk interviewed at Heathrow were really thinking of not going to Florida again this year, and maybe would just cut down to Europe or the Med.

And speaking of Heathrow, wasn't it nice to see those two helicopters taking the captive sailors off to Devon?

BBC - Europe diary: Cars and lobbyists - Not sure, but I do belive a different reporter to the Brussels one above

Just watched BBC Lunchtime News and one of the main features was this latest climate change fest. I was just wondering if Mr. Mardell was the UK reporter from this venue, as opposed to the one in Mexico by the lake that's getting no more tourists because of global warming (double irony?) or the one who flew to the Arctic to 'report' live on how flying to the Arctic is causing a problem (triple irony?).

Nice Surprise

As will be shared in some surrounding blogs (I have not quite figured out how to make the 'Drafts' and 'Publish' dates synchronise in the intended sequence here), I really need some help to make more of the opportunities of social sites such as MySpace and YouTube, etc.

Speaking of the former, I arrived back (see, I think you will find out where I have been later) to find out that a "Michael Meacher" wanted me/ to be his MySpace (nifty music!) chum. So imagine my surprise to fin out that he was in fact 'the' MM, who is one of the few Labour pols to have walked his talk on the environment a long time, and consistently. I may have disagreed with him a few times in the past on some issues, but I do not doubt his sincerity and desire to make my kids' future better. So I am flattered and encouraged that he (or, more likely, his team), found out about us and was sufficiently interested to get in touch. Maybe we can help each other. Who knows?

Anyway, I have written to him as you don't often get a direct line to a senior pol in this way, which will also acta a prequel to my next blog:

Dear Michael,

Wonderful to have someone of your calibre and obvious commitment to the environment swing by. I must do a lot more to make this site (and other socials) work a bit harder for and its cause. I really need to get someone who knows about it all to sort this out asap (sadly my sons are a tad young still).

Just back from London after a very frustrating and expensive (mostly time) trip thanks to one of the myriad funded entities that seem to exist to consume money and hit targets before getting round to actually making the future any better on a genuine enviROI basis.

So I have a few pithy bits of feedback for your colleague Mr. Miliband; not just on the environment, but also Third Sector issues and how social enterprise and entrepreneurship is actually being supported and could be to much greater effect.

That is, if you think he may be interested:)

Telegraph - How to lose money - As always, you have to weigh green with... less green

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Some are obviously more etiquette-enhanced than others

London's street theatre etiquette - a metaphor in life?

'...where between themselves they drew up a rota of who would perform and when'.

'...the square was not a public space'

'...due to the very public nature of their work'

'Some folks just don't understand the rules'

I'm sorry, but I don't understand a few things here. It's public entertainment but not in a public space. And if there are rules, if not set by those, one presumes, in control of the area, what are they and administered and policed by whom?

Not to excuse the obnoxious and foul-mouthed (I am sure the counter-arguments were purest examples of linguistic and diplomatic rectitude, of which even Mrs. Beckett would have approved) Ozzies, but I do wonder how this does all get sorted out.

It would be sad to discover that some can enjoy more 'etiquette advantage' than others by a cosy arrangement between those who are 'in' and can play the system, to ensure no further others can intrude. One imagines this to be a lucrative patch and attracting new talent regularly so the competition for top slot must be keen.

So what seems to be being achieved here could be seen to be a compromise between potential extremes of hypocritical corruption in the guise of democracy, and outright anarchy.

Bit like ... anything really... today. Assuming satisfactory answers to my few questions, if successful, and barring incidents from foreigners flying (or boating... just ask Mrs B again) into what 'we' think is 'our' territory, it seems a model for future governance.

Anti Ageing Dream

The anti-ageing cream conundrum

Don't know whether you smoke (in which case you could have stubbed out a ciggie in his eye), but unless your pub-based beverage of choice is non-alcoholic, your search for compensatory measures may be in vain. As with all things, simply doing without seems not to be an option when you can aways buy more.

Actually, I have been more annoyed by the sheer volume of free advertising given this wonder product by the media. But silly paid journos saying silly things will do as well