Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lobby horses

When we at the awards recently (have I mentioned that?) we were give a conducted tour of the two Houses, which are connected by the lobby. This is where you can go an grab your MP and get a word in.

Hence, I guess, the origins of the word 'lobby'. Like most things it seems to have moved on a bit and, like most things, I have mixed feelings.

Nobody can be denied the right to speak their piece and, I guess, if those with a bit more wonga can drum up a few more to express then I guess that's democracy in a capitalist society.

Where I am erring on being put offside is when this has all turned into an industry and money, in some form or other (from withdrawal of support for, say, jobs in a community to unmarked tenners in a brown envelope) is used to effect some influence on a voting pattern.

Of course I'm sop naive to see how this can happen, does happen and is very difficult to police.

So I cranked the old eyebrow on getting this (no link that I could see):


Green Party Principal Speaker Dr. Derek Wall today questioned how
'green' the Tory Party can be given their links to big business,
especially the oil lobby, after it was revealed that the UK Petroleum
Industry are sponsoring a 'Tory Green Initiative' event at the
upcoming Tory conference. (1)

Dr Wall said: "Crucial to any real action on climate change are
polices that will reduce our reliance on fossil based fuels, and so
curb our emissions.

"But this is at odds with the needs of the oil lobby, who rely on our
addiction to oil to keep their profits booming.

"If the government got serious about tackling climate change,
companies like Shell would see a stark drop in their profits.

"How can the Tory party be expected to understand, or even agree with
that premise when they are hob-nobbing with organisations like the UK
Petroleum Industry at their conference?

"UK PIA are sponsoring the Tory Green Initiative dinner at their
forthcoming conference. Chris Hunt, the CEO of PIA will speak
alongside John Gummer, Chairman of the recent Tory Quality of Life
report. (1)

"This comes as no surprise, the Tories have long been the party of
big business,with a soft spot for fossil fuels. Alan Duncan, Shadow
Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform,
worked as a trader of oil and refined products with Shell.

"But it isn't just the Tories whose ability to make policies that
focus on tackling climate change is compromised, the Lib Dems are
also finding it hard going.

"Deputy Leader Vince Cable used to be Chief Economist for the oil
company Shell!"

(1) Please see

Now the thing is, in trying to be objective, I could point out that the Guardian Climate Change Summit was in fact sponsored mainly by Shell. On the one hand yes, you could say at least they were trying to make an effort, or on the other it was just a bit of greenwashing. Thing is, they got slaughtered on the day, so I think we could perhaps allow folk the opportunity to make their own minds up on a sponsor's motives so long as the agenda stays clear and open. Hob-nobbing is fine. Nobbling is not. To deny the former is a silly step too far, and in any case would only encourage the latter to happen behind much darker doors.

Equally, tackling the player and not the ball is also counter-productive. OK, Mr. Cable used to be employed by Shell. Maybe he has 'links'; maybe he does not. It would surely be better to judge him on his actions as a Lib Dem pol than allude to old allegiances in such a vague way.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I might think I know what I know. What I don't know for sure is what I don't know. And with that Rumsfeldian intro I give you this: Clarity on uncertainty

I honestly had trouble getting to grips with it, and I once assembled an IKEA bookcase.

But this is Nature, and there are certain issues raised that I feel I should share in case you lot can make head nor tail of it.

Where I perk up is here: 'Even IPCC scientists have acknowledged that their treatment of uncertainty is "difficult to communicate". Effectively communicating to a wider audience and reaching the level of transparency now being asked of the IPCC will require a careful balancing act.

And, as I think was indicated in the piece as well, have caution on how the doom and gloom gets sold with such enthusiasm, as it kinda sets the cause back when it's shown to have been a tad over-egged.

I still think we need to cut back and stop wasting, though.

And as I am on a balancing act with this post let me share this one, which I was debating bearing in mind the origin (I think they are a bit on the Republican side, so keep that in mind): Are sunspots prime suspects in global warming?

Mainly, I genuinely liked they way they have embraced the term 'climate change optimists', which I have to say is less pejorative in debate. Now if we can find one for those of an equally passionate disposition on the side facing them in many discussions, we might even see a move to more civilized exchanges and possible compromise. With a view to joint action.

OK, it's Friday. A guy can dream.

Reducing aspirations

As I stare at my Dell LCD screen (Mac mini as CPU), I was attracted of course by this: Green: The New Black - Dell pledges to end carbon emissions by 2008.

"That's clever," I thought, "what are they going to do? Grow 'em?"

Sadly, it was yet another headline to subhead to copy reality check.

But they are boasting about being the first major computer company to become carbon neutral by end 2008. Because it plans to eliminate or offset all of the greenhouse gases it produces worldwide.

Now, as a captain of industry you may not be surprised that I read such worthy tomes as Forbes, but I wasn't too surprised that their greater concern was what it's going to cots, and how the share price will be affected.

I, for one, cannot see anything so terribly bad about computer makers tallying up their "performance per watt," or how much processing power a system can provide while consuming the least amount of power.

But reading on, it seems that scant details about how he hopes to measure the company's green campaign have been provided. Hmmn. Maybe one should talk loudly a bit closer to the time there is something to say might avoid such cynicism?

The Sun Microsystems open-source software program that allows companies to track their carbon emissions sounds fun. I wonder how it works... if it works. Has it got enviROI at its core, for example.

But in ending this seems... sweet. Dell's reforestation program, "Plant a Tree for Me," is now called: "Plant a Forest for Me." That'll do it. I guess 'Steve' from head office (though from his accent I'd say it was Texas) who just called didn't get the memo. He's very keen for me to upgrade to a load new stuff. I wonder if these are grown in the forests?

Oh, you are cards

I hate to be ungrateful, but this was a bit too much not to comment upon. See that picture. It's 250 business cards.

I nice compnay had offered me free sample, and when the word gets free I'm you're man.

So when postie knocked on the door I wondered what the big box contained. I remained none the wiser as I encountered the gorgeous laminated box with a huge brochure inside listing printing prices.

And then I found it.

Guys, I love ya to death and AM impressed with the work. But if you are sending stuff out to a company that is trying to save the planet (or anyone else for that matter), I'm sure you can get you message across without quiet such a show of resource .

More Directorial input

This just in: WRAP Retail Team restructure

On an equally positive note: WRAP Funded Project Leads to Packaging Savings for Marks & Spencer

By all accounts, it 'can save at least ten per cent of the packaging material used on those products'.

Which must make for a big saving in costs to retailers who are funded to try it.

How do you lean on balance?

Gosh, this is a tricky one: Legal battle on Gore climate film

On the one hand, if someone said they were/are going to show my boys a film that raises questions on most any topic, especially climate, I'd say 'go for it'. And then, probably forget all about it.

I'll still say it (though we have it in the DVD library downstairs... they were not keen on a night of Daddy's choice in films, sadly), but might now reserve the right to chat with them afterwards. Think of those spoof school videos from the Doug McClure character on the Simpsons. Mayeb with Groundkeeper Willie intoning 'Ye're alll doomed!'.

My first thought is that we've moved on a lot since then. The warnings are still apposite, but the detail is dated. Or, if this from the objector's counsel is to be believed, open to question on some key bases: "Given the serious inaccuracies in the film and the misrepresentations it contains, the film is irredeemable". I'd certainly like to see this pack.

BBC review - 'Most glaring was the pitifully small screentime he gave to solutions'. I know a sequel to correct that (with, fingers crossed, enviROI included) is en route. Maybe it would be better at least to wait?

I wonder what else my kids get shown that has been sent by those who think they should see what they deem 'necessary, and leave it up to a teacher to decide how it gets discussed for balance. The phrase 'can 'o worms' springs to mind.

Brand Republic - Al Gore's environmental campaign appoints global agency

I'm a celebrity, get me a Green gig!

Rik Mayall stars in green TV campaign for Devon council You know I love choosing the best messenger for the message.

Presumably the perils (to nature) of little 4WD off-roaders didn't feature.

Now, who can we commission to look into this?

Consultancies 'more interested in billable hours' than expertise

Excuse me, I'm still rolling around on the floor.

AWARD - Future Friendly - November 30th

WHEN: Friday November 30th
WHAT: The Future Friendly Awards?
WHAT... MORE?: They are looking for people who have promoted sustainable living. An individual can only nominate themselves or a group or project that they are involved in for a Future Friendly Award.
COMMENTS: If you qualify... why not? I'm in!

It's a 'why not'?

I just had an email through headed 'Be Future Friendly'. Sounded a bit of a demand so I almost didn't open it, but curiosity got the better of me.

It's from one of those myriad initiatives that get issued almost daily, though this one is commercial in origin. So far, so what.

Well, it has a widget that you can download to get daily tips. I had a quick gander and thought it was more a 'why not?', as the first one was about water saving. Now I almost clicked off when it started by pushing one of those things you can buy for the cistern, but it saved itself by adding that a water bottle did the exact same thing (and didn't involve money of more plastic).

So, like the tips I get from such as the FoE daily, I'll now be getting these too. If there are any of note I'll pass them on.

ps: As a technonumpty the one thing I really don't like is how these downloads work. Yes, it allowed for a Mac in the deal... yay! But did what I get look like what I was told I'd get? Noooo. And to now I don't even know if it's working. I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Two wrongs

I don't seek to excuse those who may not be doing as well as they could, or should, by pointing at those who are doing worse, but this is worth looking at so long as it's in objective terms: Kyoto participants under reporting emissions

With the caveat it's a blog I read via another blog (and some of the links seem to drop in and out), so take the opinion as provided by the source, but there are links worth checking.

In particular, it seems counter-productive to bash the USA, and Bush in particular, especially when some do so using information that is plain wrong... or at least selective. You know what happens when you back anyone into a corner... especially sleeping giants that can get filled with terrible resolves.

Surely better to get to a more integrated, inclusive approach asap. Sadly I think those who see their mission (and funding/careers, etc) more in the confrontation zone will prevail.

You're nicked. Maybe.

I am not big on some aspects of the law. Often what is obvious and/or 'fair' gets short shrift as the letter is deemed to trump the spirit, often where fines are involved.

So I was a bit confused when I heard a report on BBC Breakfast News (link coming later I hope) about the latest issuance from our dear leaders, and was moved to write in (and featured in part):

I haven't read the new Highway Code. Am I required to?

I also don't smoke, but can see how a burning, smoke-emitting stick could be a distraction whilst driving.

But how on earth 'may' this be a reason for police to deem it a reason to prosecute for dangerous driving?

It surely 'is' or 'isn't' illegal. Which is it?

Such vagueness makes a mockery of the law.

I've just watched another Minister of Mendacity waffle away, but again thanks to a National Government/Broadcaster combo remain none the wiser on my question.

How on earth can society proceed when we have all these 'things' that 'may' be a reason to prosecute in existence and being added to constantly without honest admission by the sorry crew who conjure these things up.

This clown (why do we pay for people who contribute nothing but obfuscation?) seemed to be saying that if you were not holding the wheel at 1o to 2 you are on the way to being dodgy. So... changing gear? I guess we'll all need automatics. Glancing in the mirror? Better to stare straight ahead.

Indy - Expanded Highway Code tells learners to drive with courtesy

2p or not 2p

I just got a call to sign another petition; this time on petrol: Vote to stop 2.35p extra tax on fuel next week

Fuel hikes are a fact of life, and frankly I am most likely to shrug and absorb the things. I doubt I'll sign this petition (unlike the road pricing one), at least on the reasons stated.

My main thought is to wonder what the money is going towards.

Also, in this will 'e/won't 'e 'election fever' (well, in the Westminster Village) period, how it will play outside of London where some voters still drive because they have to, not want to sit on the M5 each day for an hour each day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't have a cow, man

Go back to your roots

Personally I'd do a little bit less predatory award-prowling via cheap and easy negative (which is what I think most 'Charity' ads are grasping for in blowing budgets) executions and try and earn one's keep (and maybe make a difference) by selling the positives.

The PETA ad is on the way, but personally I'd need to be persuaded that not succumbing to the exhortations of Beefy and Lamby did not involve a cow's exhaust (I believe it's their burps that are the culprit) when thinking of food, eating nut cutlets and being a shrew. Being married to a Chinese wok-mistress I know it can work when the option is served up in a way to make me actually want to bite.

There's also the small recognition that nature made most of us omnivores. So one needs to work with the design constraint rather than ignoring it.

ps: reuse and not cutting down forests in the first place are much better than recycling or planting trees if you're not into the reduction thing, in which case also try insulation, insulation, insulation. Trust me, I work with, and they know all about waste and rubbish ideas when they see 'em.

Show me where the money goes

Nothing like an opportunity to air the notion of enviROI as a worthy measure of an initiative's actual value to the planet: No lectures from Tesco

So when Tesco was advertised as funding green efforts to the tune of £25M we took note of those who took note.

I think first one has to get past the notions of supermarkets being part of 'the' problem. Whatever they are, they are here to stay, so that aspect of the discussion seems unproductive. And, as again evidenced here, there seems to be a requirement that you either in a pro or anti camp at the extremities. No middle ground allowed.

The question to me is what is going to be done with/for the money, and will it be worth what's spent... and in what terms. My kids' futures? Or other benefits less connected to that (to me) essential aim.

So I look forward to more consideration on these whenever anyone feels ready.

Plus ca (climate) change

Yay! Another one: Bush hosts climate change talks

Representatives from Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the US will attend.

I wonder who? Or they all not attending each other's meetings these days to avoid actually doing anything? The Gordon Swerve approach, it seems, from tinpot dictators to balls of fire. Bet he'd be there in a heartbeat if it was Jose's 'The Special One Returns' gig. That's when you really need to know one's leader is on the case.

Dilbert, as ever, nails it.

Grist seems to agree - You Really Can't Have Too Many Meetings

Or have another - Treehugger - Reporting Live From the Clinton Global Initiative

Guardian - Europeans angry after Bush climate speech 'charade'

Guardian - Untransparent charity - 'There was a pretty fundamental problem with the third annual Clinton Global Initiative: the lack of transparency.' Hmmmn.

BBC - Bush climate plans spark debate

Economist - Warming to the environment? - 'Countries that did not openly criticise America’s stance seemed to be sending a message through the loftiness of the representatives that they sent to the respective get-togethers. Whereas the UN’s meeting had been overrun by presidents, prime ministers and even the odd monarch, Mr Bush was only able to entice ministers, advisers and bureaucrats to his. A vice-minister of state led China’s delegation. Italy sent someone with the title “sous-sherpa” Two of the 17 delegations showed up late for the opening session'

AWARD - Saatchi World Changing Ideas Award

This is from the always worth subscribing to and reading (if you're creatively inclined), creativematch:

: Due tomorrow!
WHAT: World Changing Ideas Award
WHAT... MORE?: The global award, formerly known as the Saatchi & Saatchi Award for Innovation in Communication, is made biennially by Saatchi & Saatchi. The Award attracts an incredibly broad range of entries and was created to recognise brilliant thinking, to bring it to the world’s attention and to reward the most outstanding innovation with a prize worth $100,000. Submissions are welcome from innovators around the world, from individuals, academic institutions, charitable foundations and companies, right up to global corporations.
Ideas may be scientific, linguistic, artistic, technological. They may be hi-tech, lo-tech or no-tech. Ideas may be in prototype, the finished thing or merely a compelling concept.
COMMENTS: Ahhh... the downside. This award is deadlined tomorrow, yet was advised of and broadcast by a major creative site yesterday. And getting through to the awards site is a challenge in itself, as is the site. A lot of Flash between you and the info you need. And having expressed interest.... nothing. I have tried to email and call, but no one is getting back. I actually think it is a test of persistence pretending to be a competition.

But for even a sniff at $100k I'll give it my best shot:)

ADDENDUM 11.15am 28/09 - Well, persistence pays. I have tracked down a person, Norma Clark, on 0207 636 5060, at S&S, who is the coordinator. Didn't get her of course, but a nice young lady is sending me a pack. Leaving me... not very long.

Strike a light 2

Just had this from HMG: Energy guzzling lightbulbs phase out to start next year

And why not indeed?

I do however note this '... will start disappearing from shop shelves...' is followed by the words 'voluntary initiative', so fingers crossed. It's major 'DO' I can only see as significant.

And while Mr. Been is right to point out that 'there are many more energy hungry gadgets on sale in shops that waste too much energy', it's perhaps not just for those he mentioned to take action alone.

And while on energy saving light bulb 'can' last up to 10 times longer than a non-efficient version, I think the public needs to have more in support of ensuring what they are told is what is delivered.

The rest of the piece has the same thing said about six similar ways by various talking heads, so it's nice to know our money isn't wasted on make-weights. I reprint the most useful Editor's notes here (with a few of my own on them):

1. The Government has proposed, as an illustrative schedule for the phase out of inefficient lamps, that retailers might want to follow:

* By January 2008, cease replacing stock of all inefficient (General Lighting Service, GLS) A-shaped incandescent lamps of energy rating higher than 100W (predominantly 150W lamps).

* By January 2009, cease selling all inefficient GLS A-shaped lamps of energy rating higher than 60W (predominantly 150W lamps, 100W lamps, plus some 75W lamps)

* By January 2010, cease selling all GLS A-shaped lamps of efficacy of energy rating higher than 40W (predominantly 60W lamps)

* By 31 December 2011, cease selling all remaining inefficient GLS A-shaped lamps and 60W "candle" and "golfball" lamps. (predominantly 40W and 25W A-shaped GLS bulbs, and 60W candles and golfballs).

At the moment, candles and golfballs, tungsten halogen lamps and lamps supplied with non-lighting electrical appliances are expected to remain on sale, because suitable energy-efficient alternatives do not currently exist. Really? I have eco-versions of almost all mentioned here.

2. The following retailers support this initiative: ASDA, B&Q, The Co-operative Group, Home Retail Group (Argos and Homebase), IKEA, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Tesco, Waitrose, Wickes, Woolworths, British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores and the British Hardware Federation. It is also being promoted (how?) through the major energy companies as part of their activities through the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT).

6. Defra launched its ActOnCO2 carbon calculator as a public trial version on 20 June. There have been over 300,000 visits so far. That's less than we get in 3 months... after how much spent? And what is a 'visit'? And what actaul enviROI+ result over a box ticked did the planet gain for the money?

Indy - Benn announces phasing out of all high-energy bulbs
Guardian - Lights out for traditional bulbs by 2012 - You heard it here, well, 3rd

Guardian - Ban the bulb? - Of more interest

More power to you (excuse the pun).

However, I would also like to flag up the not so small matter of long-life as well as low-energy. A lot of consumers are, not surprisingly, failing to see these as often mutually exclusive, though obviously complementary.

I know from personal experience the perils of being seduced by a price that is 'too good to be true' and seeing the thing go pop way before lifespan.

The best thing I've found is to keep receipts and note the installation date on the base. Few retailers can argue with this in seeking a replacement.

I think this from Grist is worth a giggle at the 'efforts' of this government and its minsters:

Socket to Us
Britain will phase out incandescent light bulbs

Britain announced a voluntary initiative today that will phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs in the country by 2011. Officials predict that phasing in compact fluorescent lights will keep up to 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year out of the atmosphere. Brilliant! "Britain is leading the way in getting rid of energy-guzzling light bulbs and helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint," said Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, apparently forgetting that Australia actually led the way (and its legislation was mandatory, cough cough.) Could the U.S. be next to see the light?

Guardian - How long will they fob us off with lightbulbs?

Interesting to read this and then pop over to an article and see what one Labour MP has had to say about the 'success' of the grants system.

My question is what are the costs of administering these schemes vs. the amounts actually committed to DOING anything that makes a tangible difference.

Indy Letters - Worries about low-energy bulbs

Why not encourage manufacturers to develop more energy-efficient bulbs? General Electric, for instance, announced that it will release an improved incandescent bulb in 2009.

I'd nver really thought of the mercury aspect. The GE initiative looks interesting.

Indy - More on


Well, I hope you will feel that's the case!

I pretty much live on this blog. For one thing there's a lot coming in each minute to comment upon, but also Google has a wadge of wonga to throw around that has made its interface really, really... really easy. And new toys appear weekly. Pictures, audio, polls...

Sadly, while's main site is a design masterpiece, its back-end is steam driven, and until I get help I am sadly leaving a lot that could and should be up there for when I can afford or get supported with help to post the HTML bits to help make what I write look as spiffy there as it can here.

And as I write blog posts, I've just realised that all manner of stuff comes in. Press releases, competitions, conference advisories, etc. And to now I have tended to file away and hope to get to them... which I usually don't.

So I am planning now to create categorise and forms on this blog that reflect the simple facts I have been given so they are at least posted and shared in a timely manner.

I doubt there will be much by way of commentary, but you know I can't resist the odd thought (and they can be very odd). But, as always, I would caution viewing such things always very much 'as supplied'.

These will be filed in the post labels using a selection of the main site categories as follows Junkk - [Category], usually with the name and a few other useful pointers attached to help if you are searching.

Hope it works and is useful. The tastier ones will also get an outing in the newsletter, when I get round to that!

ps: And if anyone would like to help me get the on-site archive up-to-date and usefully in complement, feel free to get in touch!


What would be a BIG HELP would be to use our templates to help me help you if you'd like your PR to go up quickly. Here's one for EVENTS (there are others for AWARDS, etc, on site):


FIELD: Enviro, Biz, AD, etc
WHEN: Date, time
WHAT: Event title
WHAT... MORE?: A few more key details
WHERE: Postcode is always helpful to search
WHO: Speakers (Note: Here at Junkk we also do weddings, Bar Mizvahs:)
HOW: Much. We prefer free, naturally.
URL: Your www. here
COMMENTS: This is for us... we know things

CONFERENCE - Biofuels, Newark Notts, 17-18 Oct

MONTH - Next

FIELD: Enviro-related
WHEN: 17-18 Oct, time N/K
WHAT... MORE?: A presentation on the role of biofuels in agriculture. A display
of the brand's products will feature prominently outside the
venue, showing a selection of New Holland machinery that can
run on 100% biodiesel, while a team of specialists will be on
hand to give delegates the latest information on the use of
biodiesel in agricultural equipment.
WHERE: Newark, Notts
COMMENTS: It's a sponsored event, so a caution on objectivity

This is posted 'as provided' as a new blog feature.

Who's in charge

I am personally uninspired and professionally constrained enough to have no real political affiliations, such that my greater allegiance is to the Currently Can't Reasonably Really Abide Any Party Party.

However, I do care a lot on how we are run, and those who would claim to be doing so. Which means currently there is one mob more than any other in my sights. As has been noted here before, it's a lot more effective to be in power and doing than out of it and talking. Especially to those of us lacking in patience on certain issues.

So, even though it was naught to do with the environment, I felt motivated to weigh in a tad having seen a Newsnight the other night that left me less than impressed with our Government and national broadcaster: British investment in Burma

As this 'discussion' 'unfurls' (or, possibly more accurately, oozes to oblivion), I am I supposed to be getting nearer to some clue to what's going on? If so that's no thanks to the Political Leadership of this country or the national broadcaster. What a team!

If this is how we are being represented at government level in matters of explanation and negotiation involving Foreign Affairs I think I'd best start building a bunker. And if this is how the competence of those entrusted with our country's future are to be effectively challenged to explain themselves, I guess I'll... um... what can I do, again?

Other than the half dozen left or so who might be so inclined to look back in archive, this whole mess will be lost, leaving any with some memory of the original exchange still in deep confusion and disappointment.

Whatever happened to professionalism? We had a pol who could barley restrain his loathing of all in front of him (beside camera and at 'tother end) as inconveniences to the grand plan (Version 2. Version 1 now deleted, and WE MUST NOT FORGET IT), and a celebrity interviewer who could barely restrain his loathing of that fact.

Sorry, no, that’s wrong. Neither did restrain anything, barely or otherwise. Save getting and offering enlightenment on topic.

They just let egos rip, with truth and clarity and respect for the electorate and viewership flying out of the window. And I bet now the principals can blame various unidentified minions for letting them down, and the whole thing can whizz off on a distracting tangent leaving the actual issue unaddressed and many questions hanging. Way to go guys!

Is this how we are now to be (micro)managed? An authority figure appears on air and appears to know nothing and commit to less. Then a spat ensues that solves nothing, leaving us to be drip fed undebated sound bites subsequently, to pick up on a website if we can find them?

And while I find it hard to imagine how a few score of those who do stay with such as these blog pages can really be worth the effort, it is proving a trial trying to pick around the stuff that is getting lobbed in here by the spinners at the expense of some worthy comment and attempt at debate.

There are what could be press releases drafted by spin doctors on both sides, masquerading as ‘Joe Public', and now a new quirk, the spoiler. These are the quite frankly bizarre ramblings that are either designed to discredit one side (by association) or the other (by being too obviously designed that way). Or, most likely, simply the process. Sadly this is a moderated blog's (and I recognise the necessity here) greatest weakness. I'm now seeing those who would seek to deliberately get moderated just to raise doubts as to the objectivity of the totality.

Are we really at a point where those theoretically in charge and/or representative of our interests are so irrelevant in comparison to those we can’t see (or vote for/against)? Especially when they see their mission as being to pull any strings necessary to have things simply being seen to be done as they see fit?

While of some value, that's why blogs (and most editable print) can never compare to live, streamed, noddy-free broadcast. Until now. As all parties seem to have found a way to render even this meaningless.


BBC - Newsnight - Online analysis

Reading my previous post, looking at what happened subsequently (not much) I reckon I was not far off.

nteresting. A full six posts since Thursday at time of writing (Saturday pm - assuming this makes it), and one set are duplicates.

The country's Foreign Minister and one of the more significant broadcast interviewer/celebs on one of the few significant national broadcast news shows pretty much lock horns on key matters of fact and the viewer at the time is left bewildered as to what is going on and who knows and/or is doing what.

But fear not, all is to be clarified later on the website.

Now I know out of 60Million there are only so many who can vote and/or care about the state of the country and/or stay up that late (or catch it next day online) to watch a news show, and only a fraction of that audience care enough for sometimes a good 20 to pile in and engage on a blog.

But out of so many protagonists, 5 viewers so far on the only discussion board about the follow-up would seems to indicate that, as media milestones go, it surely ain't that great a poster child for politics or the way it gets reported upon and/or viewed these days.

A pipe dream?

..... or a possible means of fixing more CO2 out of the atmosphere?

Following on from the iron filings idea, this from James Lovelock and Chris Rapley suggests building hundreds of thousands of massive vertical pipes in the oceans. Each pipe would have a one way valve at the bottom so that wave action near the top would draw nutrient rich water up from the ocean depths, providing a spur to more algal growth, which it turn will fix more CO2 from the atmosphere.

The full article is reported in New Scientist.

Just one little snaglet might be the fact that "as well as being rich in nutrients, water rising up the pipes will be rich in carbon - this could mean CO2 is released into the atmosphere."

Oh well, it sounded like a good idea at first.

ADDENDUM (from Junkk Male) - Guardian - How sea tubes could slow climate change

Yes, I suppose they 'could'. But as mans's meddling with nature is not quite working out at a success rate that's enviable, maybe it's more down to whether they 'should'.

TELEGRAPH - James Lovelock's plan to pump ocean water to stop climate change

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

But what shade?

You have to admire any outfit that plugs its green cred on the back of a PR piece highlighting the perils of greenwashing.

But I have taken the bait, if mainly because I actually missed the point, or rather misread the intro, which was in fact about landscaping, and actually seemed/s to rather confusingly advocate/s greenwashing as a good thing.

According to the release, 'Wikipedia identifies Greenwash as the actions of an organisation which advertises positive environmental practices while acting in the opposite way.' Actually I wouldn't have gone quite that far, as most I think do not actively redirect, though one could argue that vast funds on hot air and no substance could be deemed that way by denying better options..

And I also learned that 'This currently fashionable form of ‘environmental window dressing’ has become so popular that CorpWatch now even gives out bimonthly Greenwash awards to companies that put more money, time and energy into slick PR campaigns aimed at promoting their eco-friendly images, than they do to actually protecting the environment'. Must sign up if I can find the URL... it looks a hoot.

They go on to share Greenpeace mocking on its website that Greenwash has become so sophisticated that its upgrade has just been launched:Climatewash - Greenwash 2.0. Simple, cheap and no real change needed - great for big business!” Tinkers.

So I'm probably being dense in not quite getting what they're on about, when I get there, for detail on their product/service that has much to do with the joys of greenwashing. Especially when, after all the fun stuff above I got rather lost in the press release's rather boring facts and figures on the actual service.

Anyway, as they did give me some new stuff, I'll share that they are called Marshalls and have a carbon calculator that has been specially developed using product life cycle information that has been independently verified, which apparently means that all of the CO2 emitted during production of raw materials, manufacture and transportation of the product has been carefully measured and minimised.

At the very least I learned some stuff I didn't know before.

Can we fix it? Yes, we should!

Hard to see a downside to this: BOB THE BUILDER LAUNCHES ‘PROJECT RENOVATE’*

The iconic kids' character has been teamed up with and Travis Perkins, to launch Project Renovate, a National Eco-Award Programme offering nurseries and pre-schools in the UK a chance renovate their building.

Twelve renovations worth up to £5,000 (with t&cs, so check first) are on offer. And each winner will receive a visit from Bob himself!

There's a Resource Pack with entry guidelines and information for practitioners and children about the programme. It includes activities linked to the early year’s foundation stage curriculum to help young children understand some of the key environmental concepts such as how to save water, electricity and heat. Fun activity sheets will also be available, including Bob rhymes, photographs and a renovation check list and poster to show the nursery’s support and involvement in Bob’s Award Programme.

Apparently Bob's motto is ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!’, but I seem to recall 'Can we fix it? Yes we can!' being high on the rallying cry list around the site, and as repair is very much a plank of the ethos along with reuse, we're up for that too.

As prizes go, I'm equally impressed that insulation features in this regard, having banged on so long about how this aspect seems a real priority to get across, and into our nation's lofts and cavity walls.

Eligible nurseries are required to submit their entries by 31st January 2008.
*Site goes live w/c Oct 8.

Money in the air

Well, hydrogen powered varieties anyway!

This burns to water gas has cropped up a few times of late, and mostly the discussion has been where it comes from first. And mighty impressive have been the brains applied.

So, in case you have a spare few moments and a Zeppelin's worth of inspiration, this looks worth having a go at: hydrogencontest

From Woodstock to Wall Street in 3 years

Those of you who have watched the growing development (and debate) of bio-diesel may remember 'Bish' from the film "Everything's Cool". He will probably be remembered as almost singlehandedly starting the now rapidly growing bio-diesel market.

This from CNNNews reports on the rapid growth of bio-diesel, to the point where there may be the first two IPOs later this year. Total bio-diesel production in the USA grew from 25 million gallons in 2004 to 250 million last year. The market has more than doubled every year since 2004 and will hit $1 billion this year.

"Biodiesel is the rock star of fuels," says Will Thurmond, author of Biodiesel 2020: A Global Market Survey. "It has moved from Woodstock to Wall Street."

Also it is interesting to note that some of the Big Oil boys are really beginning to get in on the act now - Chevron, ConocoPhillips etc. Hmmmm, that's got my eyebrows twitching; where there are megabucks to be made, the big sharks suddenly appear.

Back scratching

A very nice Junkketeer we know has asked me to help with promoting an environmental charity survey. Happy to oblige, though I did warn her of what I might say.

Seems it's being run on behalf of Global Action Plan, which apparently is the UK's biggest business focused environmental charity. The aim of the survey is see how far IT professionals (that's me out, then) understand environmental issues and what steps they are taking to make their processes more environmentally sustainable. Worth checking back a few posts to our comments on the government's latest wheeze!

I'm cutting and pasting here to report Global Action Plan is keen to determine the baseline on green IT. It has also launched an end user Environmental IT Leadership Team with representatives from chiefs from Ford, the British Medical Association (BMA), Sony UK, John Lewis, E.ON UK, the University of Cumbria and Lloyds TSB to establish a green group that will tackle climate change. I do wonder if this will be hooking up with all the other green groups that seem to sprout around, but there we go. Better than nothing, so long as the enviROI is optimal.

This group, sponsored by solutions provider Logicalis (not sure who is footing whose bill, so I will share the PR love with all names duly dropped), will work on publishing best practices for sustainable IT. I just hope it's not just another manual or PDF on switching off the CPU at night or printing double-sided.

And finally, here is the best bit (if you fancy a trip to the HoP - did I mention we were there last week to collect our Award? - and need an audit, that is): Participants in the survey will be in with a chance to win a free green audit for their company, worth £2,000 and be entered into a draw to win 1 of 10 places at the House of Commons launch of the Green IT report on Monday, 3rd December, 2007.

I just had a go and, well, it's a survey Took about 5 mins, and lots of boxes got ticked. Some did not apply to me or us as we don't actually have an IT Dept, so maybe it was not aimed at us, but it seems a pity that those in the IT world can't seem to separate those who use IT to live and those who live to use IT.

That old devil called trust again

So here we have it: In global warming we trust

Seems clear enough. But hold on. Global warming? Not climate change? And what about man made climate change? Or, there again, what about (Possibly/probably) man-worsened climate change?

Nope, at least for the majority of those who graze hereabouts it seems you have to be either a denier OR a believer in just one of two extremes.

Green cannot be viewed simply in terms of black or white. Try it and not only you will get tied up in knots, there'll be plenty willing to wrap themselves around it to a point not even Alexander could cut through the layers of pointless debate that will ensue. Just look above. QED.

There is still one heck of a lot in between the absolutes, and I reckon the best vote is with those who are getting on with DOING and leaving the hot air brigade to knock further spots off each other in their pointless, downward semantic spirals.

Seems the climate is changing. And for the worse. Maybe it's natural, maybe it's not. Maybe personkind is having an influence, maybe not. It sure seems unlikely, as 'we' expand and pollute as we do so, that it's helping much.

Mitigation at the very least seems a decent urgent option now. Reduction quite soon behind. With a few big issues tackled first by the grownups rather than a ton of divisive irrelevancies that let the extremities get excited and gnaw on each other to the distraction of all.

At least, that's my belief. Let's see what 'ist/zi/inger/ier' I get called by the pack this time.

Heading for catastrophe?

This from The Guardian is well worth a read.

As usual it has brought the diametrically opposed views out of the cupboard; there are some quite astonishing posts in the comments already.

"Our biggest problem is not global warming but over-population. Our ranks need thinning out a little, and judging by some of the posts here on this supposedly 'intellectual' forum, that may not be such a bad thing."

I particularly like the walking blindfolded towards the edge of a cliff analogy from one poster.

"We, the entire planet, need to start emitting less carbon. Whether global warming is happening now, whether it's happening because of our CO2 is debateable. But the fact remains that AT SOME POINT, the carbon emitted will become a problem. We know the absolute top limit points of that -- it's in tens thousands of ppm, but it is there. And that's the point at which human breathing will become a problem (because your lungs won't be able to diffuse CO2 out of your blood). Long before then we **WILL** cause climate change. The only contention here is whether we're already starting to or not. It's like standing blindfolded before a cliff and arguing about how many more paces we can take forwards; some people think we're right on the edge, some people think we can walk for a bit. But there IS a cliff there."

What has Belgium ever done for us?

Well, set a good example, for one: From mountain to molehill

I'm going over there for a few days in November to try and flog the RE:tie at an exhibition called 'Caps & Closures', which seems as good a place to do it in one shot as I can imagine.

I'm only sorry that I'll doubtless be stuck in a hanger and not get to check out Flanders' range of initiatives.

They seem effective, perhaps because Flanders has "decoupled" waste from economic growth, though with the guys in charge we have here I can't see what any delegation is going to gain from going over there, other than a taste for nifty beer. So while Britain may be particularly interested, the question is in what? We seem great on creating consultants (how many; paid what? by whom?); not so good on actually doing anything.

They key features we know, but simply don't have the will to implement effectively on a national level. All the ways to help people help prevent waste are there... but here?

I reckon we'll see one area where the lessons do get learned: getting people to pay for what they waste. Incineration is also a big cultural hurdle here, and no bonding with a Burgher will get around the fact that over there the people will go for it, and over here they won't. At least not without a fight. And we have different laws on how that gets conducted.

I also note the authorities have communicated the recycling scheme well - not just what they collect, and when, but in leaflets that explain why. I'd be keen to see what they say vs. the tripe we get here... at massive comms cost.

I also like to see such as the scheme flourishing via the Kringwinkel chain of "reuse" stores, in which goods are dismantled and repaired.

Only 7?

I'm jealous. In Pressure vessel Stop Climate Chaos* is advised to have only seven staff members. Six more than here!

And unless they're all voluntary and working from home, that's gotta be a decent wadge of support coming in £ wise to pay the London weighting and rent alone.

Certainly a lot is being done. So I hope to attract a half dozen or more here one day to see what we can DO with such numbers.

And, if necessary, if it gets things done, I'll do it with anyone so long as they are sincere. Creating barriers seems to me to be bringing in unhelful additional agendas.

I'll be interested in what they feel about Mr. Brown's major commitments to climate this week whilst also not attending the UN conference, as Mr. Bush failed to do so either.

*(is that the same as We can Stop...? If so my indexing is messed up)

Big stick - minuscule carrot

According to AutoExpressNews the chancellor is intending to impose a big levy on those who would purchase 'gas-guzzlers', a term which I don't particularly like as it unfortunately hits a large number of people who have little option but to use off-road vehicles, such as farmers.

The source is a supposed leaked Treasury document which outlines a suggested £2000 purchase tax levy, OR, a Vehicle Excise Duty first year increase of £1300, on all vehicles that emit more than 254g/km of CO2 .

"All cars in this category – including the entire Range Rover line-up, all Porsche 911s and most versions of the Mercedes S-Class – would be hit by the proposed £2,000 levy."

Now that's a pretty big stick; but I have to question how much it is intended to ameliorate CO2 emissions as opposed to how much revenue it might generate for the Treasury's coffers? The other point that needs to be made is that anyone who can afford a brand new Range Rover, Porsche 911 or Merc S Class can afford to pay that sort of sum without blinking anyway.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot, the carrot. For those purchasers who buy vehicles that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 there will be a 'rebate' of £2000 (off what? .... the purchase cost, or in ongoing VED reductions?).

OK, that sounds like a nice bit of encouragement to purchase a low emitting vehicle. Unfortunately it leaves you with a choice of either an entirely electric car, such as the G-Wiz, or the one and only current combustion engined vehicle that meets that target, the VW
Polo 1.4 TDI BlueMotion.

Sorry, but this is tantamount to a large scale tax grab whilst holding out a minuscule and almost worthless carrot to purchase low CO2 emitting vehicles. What's the betting that as sales of the Bluemotion take off, the Treasury suddenly decides to reduce the 100g/km to something like 80g/km?

ADDENDUM (from Junkk Male) -

Sorry, it's easier for me to add a link here: CAR INDUSTRY THREATENS AD EXODUS OVER CO2 WARNINGS

I have to agree with you, Dave. At best this seems a silly little (and not very original) piece of political point scoring with no real downside (I doubt most owners to be affected are Labour voters. Not just on money terms, either. Here in the boonies the 4x4foraliving guys are not exactly Brownian in their voting motions!).

And, as you say, who trusts (that word) the carrot?. I still hover on an LPG conversion which is already not good on ROI, but if the tax on the fuel gets nudged up because it proves too popular I'm stuffed!

As to the ad piece above that doesn't make sense, unless they are accepting that such things don't help sales. A silly knee jerk in my view, not that I think popping Co2 labels on will make a blind bit of difference.

Barrages and other obstacles

For a long time I've been following in the local papers a discussion about a proposed Severn Barrage. Now it has hit the big time: Inventive compromise may be the answer to dilemma

Coincidentally the man vs. nature has already sparked a small piece already in another blog, this time from waaaay over in California.

There are a few potent causes fighting here. I am afraid that if 'we' are not prepared to do much/anything about our expanding population's (global and national, no inference on certain points made about on this topic recently ) calls on land and resources, the area will be toast (or a shopping centre) one day anyway. And this does not seem to be a trade-off deal. This is (very broadly) free energy as a substitute for carbon-emitting ones. I don't see the birdies winning.

BBC - New study for Severn energy plan - I have to say the Civ. Eng in me thinks this is waaaay cool. And I can see the enviROI shaping up well. But as to the birds... better this than Prescott's heirs sticking a condo on it?

Indy - Some worthwhile views

Indy - 'Strong case' for Severn barrage

Guardian - Barrage of turbines across the Severn could provide 5% of UK's electricity - Could? How can they not know? All the figures must be available.

Guardian Letters (ta, Dave) - very useful input!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Taking on the terminator?

This from Counterpunch takes a big side swipe at Arnie, calling him a hypocrite. I'll leave you the reader to decide whether its a fairly warranted statement.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger's address to the United Nations today about global climate change is one of the most blatant examples of hypocrisy that I've ever witnessed."

"This is greenwashing at its absolute worst!"

"There is no doubt that Schwarzenegger is the worst Governor in California history - and we've had some really bad ones - for fish, water and the environment, in spite of his shallow rhetoric proclaiming his 'leadership' in 'the fight against climate change on a world stage'."

Ooo errrr! I bet Arnie's quaking in his boots!

Should be fun

As readers will appreciate, BBC's Newsnight more often than not stirs me to the blogside.

Usually I am abed when it goes out live, but thanks to the whizzbangery of IT in the naughties, I can catch it at leisure the next day.

This in my in-box from Jeremy Paxman (ADD; now online) makes it an almost must watch, followed, with luck, by a 'must told you so. Well, must have 'been telling you so'.


Miliband was interesting because he was trying to lay out what he called the 'Second Wave' of New Labour Foreign Policy. I'll be asking tonight whether this amounts to anything more than forgetting the First Wave.

Not so much 'Not Flash. Just Gordon', more 'Not Tony. So just who cares what the rest of us were doing for the last 10 years?'.

Lions led by donkeys, springs to mind. I'm guessing the BBC don't feel constrained any more by the 'rearranged edit' fiasco, thank heavens. But will it make a blind bit of difference, I wonder?

At least the Nu-Lab comeback should prove entertaining, if they can be bothered.

Indy - This is the reason people don't care about politics - A theme develops?

You don't love me? You really don't love me?

According to this - The demand for expert generated content - research showed that less than 1 per cent trusted blogs as a reliable source of information.

Say it ain't so!

Especially when... if... 'This trend is further supported by research into the information sources web users consider trustworthy. The BBC is the UK’s most reliable source of information, according to 58 per cent of people who have faith in Auntie to provide accurate news.

If you say so, Bub.

What did and didn't surprise is that Wikipedia is only trusted by 2 per cent of the people surveyed, and recently had to remove swathes of content found to be written by prejudiced individuals. Unlike....?

Well, you know what I think of research. Until I see who asked what of whom, pinches of salt all round. Where's the Tequila?

Man causing climate change - poll headline claims

Large majorities of people across the world agree that humans are causing global warming, a BBC poll indicates.

Now, as all would know, I have a few views on polls; how they are conducted, what the questions are and then how they get applied. I am no statistician, so I am in no position to comment on detailed methodology, but I can cock an eyebrow at how detail gets turned into a sound-bite.

So I do wish that such significant findings, in all their complexity, hadn't quite been offered up in such a way as to give the contrarians the chance to have a go at a headline like that. It surely should read as the subhead does to avoid any charges of trying to sway opinion. It is powerful enough already.

And I note that it's not that man has made and is making things worse, but indeed has caused it. So that perception now has taken hold, and maybe a good thing. But is it proven yet? I don't know if it is. And if shown to be shaky, does such absolutism help or hinder those trying to ease us back to less wasteful ways, or simply hand a 'get out of any responsibility free card' to those needing little incentive to grab such a thing if the science raises doubts on nature's total exclusion from the deal?

And while representatives from about 150 countries, including 80 heads of state or government, were at the meeting, I note it is noted that US President George W Bush was not present. Instead, he is hosting a meeting of 16 "major emitter" countries in Washington on Thursday and Friday.

Who else world-leading emitter-wise, but not mentioned, was not there I wonder? Talk about serving up a distraction on a plate to those who would challenge the motivations of the commissioners? Just give us the facts, and explain them rationally, guys. We don't need to be lead.

And on a final note, what does the team think the actual move to action will be of those strongly moved to respond with... words?

ADDENDUM - speaking of what happens 'twixt headline and what follows:

Guardian Home - Benn rallies US on emissions targets - Do what? Rather, who what?

But click on that to get - Benn calls on US to adopt binding aims on emissions - That's more like it. Nothing like a good call. As to who will pay any more attention this time...

Apparently, 'Mr Benn made his appeal (is that more or less than a call, or better than a rally?) at a climate change summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York... attended by more than 80 heads of state and government...' but '...President George Bush was not at the meeting.'

Now where have I heard that before? Meanwhile, who else wasn't there? Or, for that matter, who was?

Maybe Mr. Brown was less not there than Mr. Bush. Which makes him 'Green God Gordo' by not being something as bad as he could be. Yeah, that'll work.

Guardian - Has the US stand-off run out of steam?

I've read everywhere from the Guardian to the BBC that George Bush did not attend this, but other than Hillary Benn am having trouble finding out which 'world leaders' actually did. Can anyone help?

If this is the 'single, greatest (etc)..' I'd just like to see which of our global great and good didn't feel there was something more pressing at the 'mo.

Guardian - The new climate change pioneer

As the BBC and the Guardian seem to be linking back and forth I have so far gathered that George Bush isn't there, but other than Mr. Benn am having trouble finding out which other 'world leaders' (Does his boss know?) were. Anyone?

Anyway, big up to NZ for some national initiative on the DOING vs. talking front. Maybe it's the perfect entire country for eco-tourism, once the whole flying thing can be addressed.

Mind you, I do have a certain sympathy with those who try and point out certain comparisons need to be matched with a few realities.

Some Singaporean chums once challenged me to explain why the UK could not be more like their city state in terms of economy, transport, etc. I had to point out that if one put a wall round London it would be a pretty rich place with a public tube and bus system that's... well, it would be a pretty rich place.

At least I managed to note that their thirst for oil per head was also top of the list, too. So being small doesn't automatically make it easier to go green.

ADDENDUM - Having had little that made sense from our media here, I have turned to Google. And roamed a world of headlines, from Thailand's Bangkok Post to some Canadian effort. What was first of all interesting was how many had either taken a lead from the same press release, or had a very similar take on it all. Like, word for word.

At least I now know that a fair number of 'world leaders' were there: France, Germany, Canada at least. Plus Al Gore. I also know, A LOT, that George Bush wasn't. Condi Rice was. What I didn't see was that the Prime Minister of the UK also didn't quite make it, but sent our A team instead. For some reason the Chinese just sending their Foreign Minister was OK, too. No word yet on Putin being there or not, or indeed what the Indian contingent comprised.

One thing's for sure, it didn't come across as the be-all-and-end-all that some media seemed to wish it was, but mainly because of the way it was reported.

Grist - Every Momentum Counts
U.N. hosts one-day climate meeting to spur climate-agreement fever

They usually talk sense.

I loved this though: Gathering momentum for a United Nations climate conference in Bali, - at last I can make it up!

And an answer, of sorts: The conference attracted 150 nations, about 80 of which sent at least their heads of state, making it the best-attended climate meeting in U.N. history among high-level officials

Plus a certain, welcome, pragmatism: 'However, since it's being hosted by the binding-agreement-wary U.S., critics see little coming out of the meeting but voluntary actions and vague technology-sharing agreements. Oh, and probably press releases and goodie bags too'. Darn, I forgot to mention the goodie bags. I wonder if Mr. Benn will have spares?