Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sometimes a fence is the best place to be when surrounded by weeds

I just had through a bit of research entitled: UK consumers sit on the fence while climate change debate rages

From site Combat Climate Change, it goes on more insightfully to ask: Climate change: a real threat or an excuse for state meddling and stealth taxes? Well, as it stands, I am erring on both, and think a few agree. Which may explain the fence straddling bit.

With all due cautions* we always advise on the origins, extent, methodologies and possible agendas behind any and all research, it's worth sharing.

More than 45% of UK consumers confess they find the climate change debate confusing.

Only 45%?!

Of these, 41% of these admit they have delayed taking direct personal action to reduce their carbon footprint while they get to grips with the complex scientific arguments – even though a staggering 93% are well aware they can also save money by saving energy.

The personal action side is explicable. Why act to reduce 'fun' when there is a get out, albeit vague? The lack of desire to save money anyway is simply... inexplicable.

The survey revealed that more women (56%) than men (37%) find the climate change debate confusing – but women aren’t letting this confusion hold them back, and they equal men in their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint.

Nature vs. nurture? And without getting Germaine Greered, despite younger females now doing better at science I reckon the facts and figures being hurled around may be of more interest to the male mind.

Of those who find the climate change debate confusing, young baby boomers aged 55 to 64 are least likely (30%) to let the confusion hold them back from taking direct personal action to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint; those aged 16-24 were most likely to let the confusion hold them back (50%).

I hate to guess, but I doubt it's confusion; just an excuse for not wishing to miss out on the next iPod upgrade or stay in making something rather than hitting Ibiza. This is often the problem with research into social issues. Who and how many are going say ''Yes, I'm a selfish scumbucket and could care less!'. Other than Jeremy Clarkson, natch.

Overall, 79% of UK consumers believe the threat of climate change to be real. Those living in Greater London (87%) are most likely to be concerned about global climate change; those in the North East take a more cynical view, with 27% admitting they are non believers.

I am surprised, pleasantly, to see them so high. If concerned that belief does not seem to translate into much action.

The research also revealed:

· 40% of us leave a washing machine/dishwasher/electronic appliance on standby every day

Designers... manufacturers! Legislators! Kill the standby! In light of the tip below, which I practice, it's worth noting that once the cycle is complete, it stays 'on' 'til morning.

· 47% have yet to replace their light bulbs with low-energy alternatives

Just one word: plonkers. That said, I am testing a few brands as we speak having had a supermarket 'deal' effort blow in about two months. There are low-energy bulbs. There are long life bulbs. There are low energy, long life bulbs. And there are... ways to get us to blow money in the name of green that really has no ROI or enviROI basis at all. So be cautious!

· 19% rarely turn off home computing peripherals when shutting down their PC

Peripherals...no brainer. But on the PC front, well, here the old fence bit comes in. I don't know for sure yet. First up there's the old 'on/off' debate on damage to hard drive from spinning up and down to often being worse than leaving on... even environmentally. Also, the whole nighttime upgrade thing. Mine certainly seems to sort a few things out in the wee smalls. I wish there were a definite, trusted source of what to do on this. The science can't be that hard, surely? Mind you, if we can't get any sense yet on wind farms, what are the odds?

MD Stewart Grew, says: “Where individual consumers stand on climate change is largely irrelevant. That’s a matter of personal conscience, and we could spend years debating the finer points while millions of people sit on the fence.

“The fact is, by saving energy now, every individual can save money – and they just might save the planet at the same time. If all the concerns are real, they will have done their bit for the world. If it all turns out to be so much hot air, then they will have made their own world a better place anyway. Everyone wins.”

And I can't fault that sentiment one jot.

They also have some tips to: Save Energy, Save Money. Again, can't argue... and in fact have been banging on in a similar vein for years. Worth sharing as they are a bit more £-centric than the usual quango/committee efforts that abound:

1. Buy plug-in timers
They save you money by turning on your appliances only when they are needed. And if you are on one of the cheaper, night rates for your electricity, by running your washing machine and dishwasher overnight you could save up to 50% of the cost of running them during the day.

And timer solves the standby issue! I am, by the by, in process of doing a in-home test of several for review on the site soon.

2. Invest in a multi-plug board for your PC
Electrical equipment left on standby in the UK wastes £740 million of energy every year. By switching your computer peripherals off, rather than leaving them on standby, you can save both energy and money.

3. Replace your old GLS light bulbs
Energy saving light bulbs last up to 12 times longer than ordinary light bulbs, and can save you £100 over the bulb’s lifetime – as well as 38kg of CO2 per year!

*The survey was conducted by market research agency TNS. It was conducted over the internet from 14th – 16th August 2007 and involved a sample of 1002 GB adults aged 16-64. The sample was weighted to represent the adult population of Great Britain aged 16-64.

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