Friday, November 30, 2007

Brussels Sprouts

Well, I’m back from sunny (make that grey and wet) Brussels, having attended ‘Caps & Closures 2007’.

It really is too early to answer the question I was asked more than once at the end: ‘Was it worth it?’

To put that in context, it was often preceded by another that I had posed to me at the beginning: ‘What are you doing here?’

My answer to both was/is the same: ‘I’ll let you know when the cheque clears’.

All it takes is one. But when I walked in, saw the format and the presentation slide document... I almost turned straight around to hit the bars (which are pretty good).

It’s hard to be all things to all people, and when you are at the annual conference of those on the planet whose life revolves around the bits that top bottles and jars, you pretty much know what to expect, but there were some unpleasant surprises.

First up, over the majority of the two days we were there to be talked at, and mainly by folk who had paid to give a 30 minute pitch to those who had paid to sit and listen to them. And I have to say that when I was on the nth ‘nozzle cleaning design’ I was glazing over a tad. Hence I was tasked with meeting and pitching to as many relevant folk as possible at the coffee break, lunch and post event.

I was also up against a bunch of guys who all knew each other, knew their topic backwards, thought of little else… and wore suits as opposed to shirts emblazoned with ‘ – home of the award-winning eco-cap design, the RE:tie’, and carry laptops and not pink Vac:Sacs.

Still… nothing ventured…

Actually, I ended up jotting down a lot of useful stuff to help enhance my pitch for the concept once back and can get in a room with those who can make strategic decisions… and sign cheques. Because, sadly, there were few… very few… of such folk there.

That said I do believe there were several who, if not in such positions themselves, were at least in pretty close, if only round the water cooler. And, best yet, for a collection of rather literal, often jaded representatives of a $400Billion industry who get pitched to an awful lot by crackpot inventors, all went from impatient cynicism to highly complimentary approval in the space of my elevator pitch (usually on a sofa in the lobby – maybe I should have tried the lift, it would be more private!).

I guess it was summed up by the feedback from a representative of Coca-Cola (who, sadly, use no packs that have a closure that can evolve into a RE:tie) who said he’d seen a lot, and this was one the best innovations he’d seen. But then I was also cautioned about the nature of the indus... beast I am trying to influence. You don’t easily steer something that cranks out units in the billions daily, and once you apply the corporate system to the mix you are talking many years for even the best to work through to production.

So a lot ahead still, but a good set of seeds have been sown and, if I may be slightly optimistic, have already shown signs of germinating.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Methane from a very unexpected source

Here's another source of methane (one of the most potent of the greenhouse gases) that needs to be taken into account in any climate model. It seems that certain shrubs (woody) plants themselves actually produce methane by some, as yet, unexplained mechanism, as reported in RSC Chemistry World.

Fortunately it would appear that herbaceous plants don't emit methane, but upland wooded areas may well yet turn out to be a source of at least some of the naturally occurring methane in the earth's atmosphere.

Fickle weather

One of the dire warnings issued by climatologists was that the likelihood and frequency of really nasty hurricanes would increase as global warming took hold. But the 2007 weather has, of course, been totally fickle, and refused to play ball. As the USA's 2007 hurricane season draws to a close, the country has escaped almost entirely unscathed (whilst Mexico and Central America have taken the brunt of the major storms this season).

Anybody fancy a little wager that this first fact will be seized upon by the BOFDi brigade as more evidence that global warming is not taking place?

More windmills for Don Quixote to tilt at?

Spain is going to invest in a project to develop vast windfarms in order to reduce its dependence on natural gas and coal fired power stations. As reported in today's Telegraph.

"The Ministry of Industry plans to announce over the next few weeks its more detailed plans to erect tens of thousands of pylons.
This will require a further investment of about €45,000m in order to produce 107.845 MW of electricity by the year 2030. The ambitious scheme involves tripling wind power in order to reduce Spain's dependency on foreign suppliers of gas (North Africa) and to reduce pollution."

The overall plan is to produce up to 49% of energy requirements from renewables by 2030. My bet is that Spain will succeed while here in the UK we will still not even be at the 20% target set for 2020, even when we get to 2030.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Labour party donations

As ever, the inimitable genius that is Matt of the Daily Telegraph manages to sum up the whole sorry mess in a single amusing cartoon.

Coming on top of the cash for questions affair and more recently the missing HMRC data files, it looks as if this could create more than a few ripples.

Here's the Telegraph's take on the story.

The Guardian's take is worth a look too, as is this from The Times.

In fact, the more this story unfolds, it looks as if we may well see a few more heads rolling before long.

Addendum 29/11/07:
Hmmmm, looks like the plot is thickening already. See this from this mornings Guardian Unlimited. I find it extremely odd that the party's treasurer (who also just happens to be 'Harridan' Harman's husband; and of course, 'Harridan' herself did accept a donation via such a 'conduit' "in good faith") claims to know absolutely nothing about the use of 'conduits' for the acceptance of donations. On top of that they had one of the so called 'conduits' on Radio 5 this morning; a builder from the NE by the name of Ray Ruddock. What is very interesting is that the labour party donations record shows that he has paid in some £200,000 but he claimed he was only aware of handing over some £80,000 in donations.

Another interesting snippet via Guido Fawkes. This one is going to run and run!

Oh, check out Matt's cartoon today in the Telegraph too. Brilliant!

Whitehall could save millions on offices

There's that special word again, 'could'. Isn't it amazing how often it crops up in headlines?

However, in this case, as reported on, I suspect that they probably couldn't. Why? Because they would set up a special project, staffed by innumerable representatives of the government's best super-pensioned, unaccountable, jobs-worth, empty-suited and highly paid staff (not counting the super expensive consultants that they would undoubtedly call in for help). This little lot would almost certainly blow more in undertaking the project than it could ever save.

(Oh dear, I've just used the 'could' word myself; I must slap myself on the wrist.)

Not the first, and certainly not the last

Here's another in the long line of consumer adverts (19 so far this year) that has been found to have breached the ASA's environmental code as reported by the Guardian.

Boeing used figures that assumed that their new super jumbo (the 747-8 Intercontinental) was flying at 100% capacity, the UK rules state that CO2 emissions for aircraft should be calculated using the figure of a standard 79.7% capacity.

At the rate that adverts eulogising most businesses 'green' products are starting to appear, I reckon the ASA is going to become rather busy over the next couple of years.
There's also a nice little commentary by Leo Hickman on the same subject in yesterday's Guardian Blogs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

10 years to fix climate

That's the depressing heading of a UNDP report as interpreted by Reuters.

I'll leave it up to you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bali climate summit

We've all heard about the upcoming summit meeting on climate change in Bali. Now I reckoned there might be a few hundred pols and associated hangers on, plus several hundred media teams, but this from The Times reports on what seems to have become a major international circus.

"Calculations suggest flying the 15,000 politicians, civil servants, green campaigners and television crews into Indonesia will generate the equivalent of 100,000 tonnes of extra CO2. That is similar to the entire annual emissions of the African state of Chad." Strewth!!

"Indonesian officials say the final tally could reach 20,000 — and fear it could stretch the resort’s infrastructure to the limit." "The preparations are acquiring the feel of a huge party, with the Indonesian government seeing it as a chance to revive Bali as a tourist destination".

Sounds like it's going to be one hell of a party. I hope they don't forget just what it is that they are there to achieve.

Addendum: (28/11)
Some of them could have fun getting there if they're flying via the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, as this from Associated Press reports.

Addendum 2:
But the Bali bash seems to have stirred some action into the Indonesian government as indicated by this report from Pravda. The trouble is, if trees are disappearing at the rate of 300 soccer pitches worth per hour, planting another 79 million of them seems to be rather too little too late.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Too good not to share

Not much to do with the planet, but in light of recent events I thought this PR headline received last night explained a lot: :Children take over a Government Department for a day

Well, they can only improve on the current lot.

In case you're interested, it's called 'Take Over Day'.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Auto Trumpet Tooting #104

Hey, I feel I am allowed. It's nice to get a boost on a Friday.

It's Friday, I have a whole night ahead of me preparing for my trip to Brussels to try and flog the RE:tie next week (so please allow for a distinct paucity of postings - with luck oodles upon my return, if only on EuroStar's performance. I am already impressed that I had an email to prepare me for French strike eventualities had I being using TGV services in France).

Wish me luck!

Atmospheric CO2 at record levels

From Nasdaq News.

"The global average concentrations in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide, or CO2, and nitrous oxide, or N2O, were higher than ever in measurements coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization".

Levels in 2006 reached "381.2 parts per million, according to the agency. Nitrous oxide totaled 320.1 parts per billion, which is a quarter per cent higher than in 2005."

"There is 36.1% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there was in the late 18th century, primarily because of combustion of fossil fuels" and "it appears the upward trend will continue at least for the next few years."

They calculate that CO2 has now contributed some 91% of the warming effect on the biosphere over the last five years. That's the first time I've spotted an empirical measure of the contribution to warming that CO2 makes, and given the number of new fossil fuel power stations coming on stream each year, frankly, it rather scares the hell out of me.

Take a walk and charge up your mobile

I had always anticipated that someone would come up with these one day; after all, it works on a smaller scale with self winding watches; but it just seems to have taken far more years than I expected.

This from marks the arrival of the kinetic motion charged battery, though you probably won't see them available until 2010.

Climate of peers

The climate 'debate' rumbles on... and on.

Thanks to another site I was directed to two areas - one of discussion; one of 'information', I guess, that to me shows just where we are.... just with our national broadcaster.

The climate questionnaire - I really am not sure what to make of this. It is just 'there'. No explanation, or context. What if you keyed in 'climate' in the search and ended up here? Odd. But an interesting set of questions, some of which many within the BBC could ask of themselves. And without default answers in place.

Climate sceptics - I'd say between the original post and the replies you about have it all in a nutshell. Not an exchane I will be getting into a hurry, though.

It has one of my favourite quotes, which I did comment upon before when it was invoked in another piece (I think the Guardian):

'We must also be smarter in the way we interpret the often vociferous views expressed on climate in our vibrant inter-active space. While welcoming a diversity of voices, we must make sure that we do not conflate self-selecting audience responses with a broad audience opinion.'

On the whole the replies to this piece do not seem overly happy with the BBC's reporting and, interestingly, fewer than I expected got involved in 'tis/t'isn't' facts-fisking exchanges. It was more about the way things get reported, which is how the debate should be.

That said, I found a few things troubling. Sorry, but I do see a total presumption that a certain line is the only true one and places any critique as minority or from suspect motives. And that from the way it has been set up it is almost inevitable that those who many not agree with it in totality are therefore not 'us' but 'them'. That is unfair and dangerous.

I also note, with sad inevitability, that when one group do not like the free opinions of others being expressed, much less dominating, the default is to drum up the notion that there is an organised dark campaign at work. To an extent it may be possible that those with passion and/or money can afford and wish to influence such forums, but it was ever thus. And it's open to both sides, editorial/moderation polices permitting.

For a while I have found the terminology worrying often to the point of pejorative... and beyond. Too often I have seen an 'eco-fascist' for a person who thinks flying isn't such a great thing, or 'Big oil funded denier' for another who may not quite see how certain truths are not yet proven. In between are milder, but certainly pigeon-holing versions such as 'treehugger' or 'sceptic', but they are still there to label and mock.

I was wondering what I would call myself, as one who concedes man-worsened climate change as a distinct possibility and hence reason to act in any and all ways possible and practical, but without the dogmatic, absolutist and often censorious zeal of some who require total fealty to their mission - which, sadly, seems to be to prostrate oneself at the altar of man-made global warming and any half-considered knee-jerk that might come up to 'correct' it, first-class, via a conference in Bali and a nice EU subsidy. And the hell with enviROI.

I'm erring on being a 'Climate AQUA'. Always Questioning, Unremittingly Acting.

So sorry. Not the finest hour of our national broadcaster, at least in persuading this licence fee payer they are doing their job and/or are worth the money.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You say whitewash, I say greenwash

In fact, I reckon it is a complete and utter sham.

Peter mentioned this a little while ago, in his post Responsibility 'du jour'. But this, from the Las Vegas Sun on just how Land Rovers are being marketed across t'other side of the big pond makes for very interesting reading.

"A $60,000, eight-cylinder, 12 mile-per-gallon Land Rover as the car for the environmentally conscious might seem like an oxymoron." No! It IS an oxymoron! It doesn't matter how much bloody offsetting is done; it is still an inefficient, highly polluting, CO2 emitting gas guzzler!

"offset programs like the ones Land Rover and Volkswagen America are offering on their cars are a good way to reach environmental newbies". Sorry, but that's just utter humbug!

"Much of what we do in society is ... insanity" Ahhh, some sense in the article at last; I cannot disagree with that one iota!

Powered by pond scum?

We have briefly mentioned the potential of algae for the production of bio-fuels before. This from Business Week paints an eyebrow raising picture of just how much investment is going into this particular pond. (Well, it didn't sound right to say field!)

Interesting to note just who some of the players are too. A number of the major industrial boys are already significantly into the race.

Another failing government initiative?

The Carbon Trust was set up by the government some five years ago with a target remit to reduce UK carbon emissions some 4.4 million tons by 2010.

So far it doesn't seem to be doing too well, as reported by

Oh well, it only received funding of £100 million last year. Perhaps it needs a funding increase?

ADDENDUM - Junkk Male

Sorry, I had to leap in on the page here. This is EXACTLY what I have been banging on about.

I don't dispute there is 'some' call for 'some' support of 'some' initiatives, but what the hell is the actual enviROI+ to the planet and our kids of such as this amount of money going to guys like these... and countless others... to blow on....what!????

Just think what could have been done with £100M in tangibles as opposed to endless pointless ads in the Sundays and every banner ad I can think of.

If I had run my media spend like this I'd have been busted to the mailroom!!!!

From the BBC to here, the word 'Trust' is fast becoming shorthand for anything you should do but..

Lovely Peter, meter maven

I am not a big fan of ratings, at least as usually rolled out by 'the man', but this shows 'promise': New scheme to rate green energy

For a start, this is a major, if not one-off decision (unlike sussing out every tin of beans' carbon footprint/airmiles/health/junkk, etc) and frankly it is a blooming zoo getting to grips with who does what at present. It needs standardising for any meaningful comparison to be made.

Of course, we do have to trust that the regulator has the practice of enviROI+ to heart as opposed to 'pushing' fond agendas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An Englishman's acre...

This got me to wondering just what one would need to sustain one's family (of 4), acre-wise, when the revolution comes: Ask the experts: The rural consultant

'I was just wondering. Take the future 'situation we might face' to a rather stark conclusion, and what would a family of four need to be self-sustaining?

That is, once it has been ring-fenced and armed against marauding hordes who opted for the weekend break in the Maldives and latest X5 by way of lifestyle investments.'

Now there's a thought..

Lust, greed and envy - Councils should stop wasting money on green gimmicks and be practical

Bang on. Though, of course, recycling is a tad down the totem, 'Re:worthy-wise'. Reduction and, much more fun, reuse are higher. Oddly, though not if one is of a target-meeting, bonus-accruing, fine-avoiding, box-ticking bent, councils do like their recycling a lot. Which is why we see so much money spent assisting us in doing the right thing. I just can't help but wonder if all that money might not have been better spent on just helping lots of folk actually DO something tangible, as opposed to keep those 'rates' peppy.

Thing is, it's not always that simple to do the right thing if you are so minded. I tried, and look where it got me, just on the matter of plastic bags with, or maybe despite, local authority 'guidance'

Food waste disposal? Sorry, not sure on that one yet, either:

But I'm on the case, soon to be issued is the carbon comparison site comparison, er, site. Because you can never have enough awareness!

Always look on the bright side of life..' ta-dum

‘Going green’ are we - then where’s the big stick?

Agree with pretty much all... though I would have to say that there are many, though agreed mostly small and often barely significant, ways to 'go green that can confer considerable upsides in terms of time and money over warm fuzziness.

You just need to know where to look, and have a 'why not' kind of attitude to not wasting if it isn't necessary.

The Gord giveth... and...

Gordon Brown's hot air

Hmnn... yes.

Didn't that Newsnight go well?

Meanwhile, I am looking at a tearsheet summary from the Sunday Indy (may have been here, too, sorry), and which may all have changed by now, but it says:

'Small business that want to do their bit for the environment face higher tax bills... the Valuation Office Agency, and arm of the IR , is preparing to tax solar panels, wind turbines and micro-generation tech with higher business rates and council tax. This follows news that GB is set to abandon TB's targets on renewable energy.'

But, as they say, maybe a few days is a long time in politics.

In any case, it may not be that bad. They'll probably lose the records anyway:)

The Gord giveth... and...

Has Brown finally become a bright-green revolutionary?


I'm guessing he may be going various hues of all sorts of colours at the 'mo, but I'd be hard pressed to see a hint of green in any of them.

Do you actually read other articles in your paper?

Hidden Gems

Recycling award for Morrisons

And a big-up to them

Thing is, as a weekly Morrsions shopper, I can honestly say I have never noticed the things. Or if I have, acted any differently.

As a metaphor for most green initiatives, that's about tops.

Remember, what you believe need not be what you mean

The ongoing genius of Dilbert.

This could go with almost all my posts, frankly, but mainly those regarding Government, the BBC or Guardian CiF.

What 'e sed!


Good point. One of... quite a few on the issue of who says anything is anything. From what constitutes a 'young marketer' (it's another thread somewhere) to what plastic bags are acceptable. On the latter, more serious (jobs and enviROIs are often at stake) side, most seem to originate from unelected knee-jerks with a good PR and/or speed dial to a media luvvie, which then gets hyped and spun to acquire a head of self-interested steam, and thus gets picked up as useful idiot populist distractions from the real, major issues being mishandled by the elected variety.

I should declare a slight interest, as not all that is junk need be bad:

Peter Martin
Junkk Male

(Mind you, it's the extra Special K that makes all the difference - and yes, we do have a use for that too)

It's good to share

VBS offers airtime incentive to socially beneficial advertisers

Sort of an ee-BOGOF? (Enviro/Electronic)

Now all I need is the £ to match the other one.

Worth a go.


Another day, another category: - The Marine Conservation Society, Britain's biggest marine charity, has a list of fish to eat and fish to avoid

Fishing in the stocks

I raised this in a recent blog and as it's mentioned in more detail here think it's worth sharing: How do we balance conservation with the interests of the fishing industry?

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why it is beyond the ken of those in charge not to figure out a cost-effective, practical and fair way to police this issue to the satisfaction of the conservationist whilst avoiding such grotesque WASTE!!!! '...between 40 and 60 per cent of fish caught each year is thrown over the side.'

Actually, hold that thought. I can figure out why it is beyond their ken. It's tricky. They don't do tricky any more.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of proactivity: The Marine Conservation Society, Britain's biggest marine charity, has a list of fish to eat and fish to avoid on its website – Waitrose and Marks & Spencer top its list of supermarkets for sustainable fish.

BBC - Fish dumping 'will ruin industry'

Running on empty

I get a lot of things from BBC Breakfast News, but seldom epiphanies.

It happened during a morning catalogue of failures, but three in short order struck me.

1. The HM Customs & Revenue cock up.

2. A story on failures in the NHS, with a couple seeking/getting compo for their kid's poor, ultimately fatal, treatment. They get money for their loss (not quite sure how this benefits them, or indeed susbsequent families, but there we go. I'd want justice, not cash). Where from? And how are those responsible for the mess prevented from repeating them?

3. The summit on 'binge drinking' whereby the government (indeed Mr. 'key issues' Brown) is requiring the drinks industry to 'deal' with the issue. They may be complicit through woeful ethics and morals, but it's all still legal, the rules of which are set by whom?

It is now clear to me that we are in a situation where everyone is responsible, with all the benefits such positions confer, but no one is accountable. This is as true of much in the private sector as public, but in the latter it has become truly endemic. Government. Local Authority. Health Service. Quango. BBC.

And those outside the system are cursed to continually pick up the tab for those within it. Why do I pay for the fine for a failure that has impacted upon me?

From Northern Rock to hospital cock-ups to Treasury melt-downs to you name it, the one thing that has gone stratospheric, is the amount of money institutions (and their failed managements) shell out to 'deal' with the failings of individuals within them.

So it's not just the screw-ups, it's the screw-ups who oversee them too.

We need to ask why. And who. And hold all of them to account.

Speaking of which, I think I now see the reasons behind the various urgencies for various stellar government operatives to move into a new slot. I have a vision of a Looney Tunes cartoon with fizzing packages marked 'my last 10 years' being handed from Blair to Brown and Brown to Darling (and...)


Actually, I was wondering if any of the techno-whizzes out there could do a quick Google/cache/whatever so we could have a list of just how many times a government munchkin has gone on air or in print over the last few months to say 'we must learn from these mistakes', with the rictus grin of one with no intention of doing so.

Better yet, with a wee tally besides to show just how many they patently haven't 'learned from', and the consequences (or not) to those who have suffered from this double-speak, compared (career/£/pension-wise) with those who still gain by getting away with it.

Sorry, I'm grumpy.*

*Two conversations , so far, (one with SKY, one with Halifax) that went in circles as they called me today but wanted first, for data protection reasons, to confirm my details. In light of events, I told them to tell me what they had on me and I would confirm or not. But no, they needed me to tell them. Nice one Nu-Lab! Now nothing can get done... official.


Daily Mash - You gotta laugh, 'else you'll cry

Guardian - The sheer gormlessness of Discgate theatens Labour's claim to power

Indy - Lost in the post: the personal details of 25 million people - a few questions.

Me, I just wonder how the whole salary/pension thing works out once the dust settles.

ADDENDUM: And this, Mr. Darling, is why it matters to me:

HSBC Security Precaution

Dear Valued Customer,

For your security, we have temporarily prevented access to your online banking.
HSBC safeguard your account when there is a possibility that someone other than you is logging on. You may be getting this message because you are logging on from a different location or device.If this is the case, your access may be restored when you revalidate your logon details.Please click on Get Started button below to continue to the verification process

Get Started
N.B (Failure to validate your logon details correctly might lead to online access suspension)

I don't have an HSBC account. It took 'em less than 24hrs to get going on the disarray this situation has created.

BBC - A yawning gap

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No ifs, No buts.

I think that was the strap line for the benefit fraud advertlet that I saw recently on TV.

Shame that HM Revenue and Customs can't seem to look after their own computer records properly. So Paul Gray, chairman of HM Revenue and Customs, has resigned over this disaster. They managed to lose the personal data of some 25 million people! Have they never heard of backup? The responsibility, and accountability, for this rests at ministerial level.

So, coming on top of the revelations about just how much government (i.e. read, our) money has been used to prop up Northern Rock ........ No if, No buts, Darling; just resign.

But that would require accountability, which does not seem to be a term that exists in the realm of pols nowadays.

These guys run on air!

I somehow missed this a few weeks back, but it's still worth sharing. We've all heard of ill fated attempts to create vehicles that run on compressed air, it's something that engineers have tried to do since the 19th century. Well, as reported in the International Herald Tribune, the time of the compressed air (and/or compressed air / petrol or electric hybrid) vehicle, may be nearer than anyone ever realised.

"One prototype, which looks like a big version of a Smart car, can top 68 miles an hour and, at lower speeds, travel up to 120 miles without refueling. Plug the car into an outlet, and the engine, in compressor mode, will refill the tank in four hours."

"The Scuderi Group, in West Springfield, Massachusetts, has a hybrid engine design that compresses air and burns petroleum fuel in separate cylinders and uses some compressed air to extend the petroleum engine."

It sounds like an awfully cheaper technology than any Hydrogen or fuel cell vehicle. It will be interesting to see what future developments bring.

Observation points

Funny how the same thing can get seen very differently, depending on where it is viewed from.

As some may know, I no longer contribute to 'BBC is Biased' because of their moderation policy, which is every bit as selective as the entity they purport to critique, but I do lurk a lot, as snippets of value and even well-considered notions do still get shared.

However, bearing in mind my attention on last night's BBC Newsnight, and the general 'IPCC-(no) evil, speak (no) evil and hear (no) evil' from all sides since Friday, I found a few things of interest:

'Newsnight reached new depths last night in its coverage of Brown's lunatic 'climate change' (higher tax, Soviet-style) measures.

The set-up was that a Greenpeace fanatic was allowed to lambast a colourless government spokesmen for ten minutes on the theme that the measures were not enough. Not an alternative view in sight. To his shame, Paxman aided and abetted the attack, and 'science' reporter Susan Watts has clearly become the harridan cheerleader for Beeboid climate change fascism. '

Slightly before this, we have:

Another vomit inducing lickfest by bunny hugging Richard Black (BBC Environment correspondent)... [let's just say he's not a fan of several folk].


Yet more garbage from Brown and lapped up... [actually , a few fair points]


Yep, Friends of the Earth are no longer an independent organisation. As the 'eureferendum' blog [no link, so I don't know if it is true, which I certainly didn't know 'til now] pointed out, they are more than 50% taxpayer funded, and basically a govt/EU dept. It is disgraceful that the Beeb still treats them as independent, and simply allows all their claims to pass unchallenged.


The BBC'2 "expert" on the enfironment (yes that man with a degree in English) Roger Harrabin was spouting the Nu Labour bile...
[Questions were asked]

I could go on. 'They' certainly are. And on. And on. At the moment it's back on a 'tis/t'isnt't MM/MWCC slugfest of absolutes... which as all who read this will know, I just love so much. Not.

What I do find interesting, and hence the reason for quoting here, is how one small microcosm of blogdom wants it all, all ways. I'm not defending the BBC at all here, as many comments are pretty bang on on its woeful role in all this. But mix in the government, activist groups (such as FoE, whose status - although as yet unconfirmed - was news to me... and not optimal to make them as credible as voices of 'balance' in debates) and media such as the Indy, Daily Mail, Guardian CiF, etc, and is it any wonder it's all such a mess?

All it shows to me is that you can never reply on one source, for opinion to be sure, but also fact. Some, such as activist groups and media extremes you expect it from. But our national medium and those we pay and rely upon to navigate our course.... sad.

Coundown to Brussels

In one week I head for Belgium to try and 'sell' the RE:tie.

This piece in a trade journal caught my eye, and prompted a reply:

Are trade shows relevant?

Oh, lordy... I hope so! I just one week, I step into a hall in Brussels (I doubt 'Caps & Closures' will seduce many bar the more committed, or keen, but if you or yours are there please say hi) having blown a small fortune on an entry pass, Eurostar (thanks to all the French strikers) and a nice 2* bijou pension quite near the Marriot (I hope), on the odd notion that if I need to meet (to market my eco-related packaging innovation to) those who deal in Caps & Closures... then this is where I need to be to do it in one efficient shot. But... what will it be? A dozen booths staffed by juniors there to sell and not to deal? Seminars with potentially useful speakers who will vanish as soon as they leave the stage? Me sitting next but one (I will say hi to the guy right next to me at the events and in the canteen, but glad-handing every person smacks of desperation) to the Marketing/Packaging/CSR Director of Tescos and not knowing it? And lots of huddled groups of industry insiders who all know each other and are there more to catch up and play golf than find out new stuff? Fingers crossed... none of the above. And, as you say, I will get to meet the guy(s) who are keen to steal a march on the future. But it does cost, and prohibitively so to those trying to visit. And it is only today, with one week to go, that the organisers have released the site to facilitate serious networking. Not much time when I am also trying to coordinate my mobile pitch. I wish it were easier... and cheaper, but nothing ventured...

THIS is what I am talking about

Checking back on my recent posts to Newsnight, I find this more than interesting submission:

Germany has made progress on renewables, but it's not all jam. According to the article, gearboxes which were supposed to last 20 years have been failing in large numbers. There have also been other failures, including rotor blades flying off.
Now whilst the financial cost and percentage of generated power is often quoted, what never is quoted is the whole reason why these things exist in the first place - CO2. If these devices are failing and having to be replaced or repaired frequently, how much extra carbon does that generate and how does it affect the amount they save - in short - are they saving the planet or just another business opportunity?
It also leads to the question, if the UK rushes into more and more renewable before the technologies are mature, are we going to find costs rising on projects just as the Germans have?
Perhaps Newsnight should do a report on the reality of the German experience.
Spiegel Online - The Dangers of Wind Power

No one is saying we don't look around, or try, all manner of worthy solutions. But get the green-tinted glasses off! All we hear is what these things 'can' do at full tilt, 24/7. But as this shows, there are all manner of other considerations (it focuses on safety, but reliability is obviously bound in) that may mean they are not quite the solutions being claimed... especially on enviROI!

Too little, too late

Well, that's the Telegraph's take on Ol' Golden's key speech on the environment.

"the way he squared the circle was to give us rhetoric and a lot of targets pitched into the future, into someone else's term of office."

"it was extremely hard to see that what Mr Brown was proposing bore any relationship to Churchill's 'action this day'. It was more like 'action by 2020'. Targets for renewables, cars and incineration with energy recovery all tripped off his tongue - aimed at a decade or so hence."

"we have learnt to be wary of targets. We recognise obfuscation when we see it. And the only environmental slogan that will be believed is: 'Action in my term of office.' There was none yesterday."

Quite! I couldn't have put it better myself.

Oh, and I just loved the thought of Milliband and Brown looking for ideas to steal off the Tories.

The Times - seem to think it was all about sealing the fate of the plastic carrier bag.

As do those at The Indy. No, I'm being unfair, in its leading article it does take a serious look at the content of his speech. "The sad truth is that on the really big issues, Britain is taking a lead only in the production of hot air rather than in its reduction."

The Guardian - it's 'new and recycled pledges'. And "just like Blair - Brown was short on new policy."

Monday, November 19, 2007

And as I sign off...

This from the BBC Newsnight 'teaser': 'And we hope an Environment Minister and the director of Greenpeace will go head to head on this story.'

Other than stumbling a bit over 'an' Environment Minister (how many of the sods are there?), that Newsnight still thinks one of their classic twofers - between a stonewalling 'the word of the Gord; and it is good' pol and an activist - will get the majority of the population stuck in the middle any further ahead in understanding where we are and what we need to do that's best for the future, pretty much sums up just how far down the pan the planet really is headed.

Next we'll be getting travel tips from the hugely qualified 'team' (how many, Freedom of Information request-wise, are going?) packing their factor 15 for the Bali joll... er... trip. Doubtless once there they will hook up round the pool with the aforementioned pols(s) and activist directors to figure how best to tell the rest of us what not to do and what will cost us.

New brooms all round, please.

ADDENDUM - Just watched it.

Well good golly; did that go just as I expected, predicted... and feared.

A defensive pol who got the short straw and with non hiding place, in a snit. An equally defensive media supremo on a high horse. And, actually, the guy from Greenpeace... the activist... about the only voice of calm, if not reason.

That said, we were treated to screeds of data. Targets, mainly. Missed ones even more mainly. Unachievable ones to follow, but who cares as they can be fiddled later or it won't matter to the guys who set them, as they'll have retired on the full golden well before it comes home to roost.

Was I any the wiser as a member of public, a parent... a voter... as to who had a grip on this and, more importantly, what was expected of all - government, business, media, public - and how we were going to rally around and resolve what some say is a crisis... or is it not really? We were talking second slot here. With two guys I'd never heard of as guests. In a piece on the UK's efforts to avoid global meltdown. Or not.

About the only concrete things that vaguely sunk in was some waffle about renewables, but again these were just a bunch of figures that meant nothing to me. So we catch up with Germany and end up with x% offshore, solar, tidal and whatnot by 20yy? But what's the ROI? What's the enviROI? We already are seeing vast amounts being poured into green holes by countless departments and quangos staffed by legions of salaried, pensioned paper-pushers, mainly on 'awareness' that seems to have achieved diddly squat. I must now have about a dozen ways to hand to calculate my carbon footprint, when they could have simply handed the money blown on all this to me to stick more loft insulation up to actually reduce it by a huge domestic %. Or sort out the trains. And I'm sorry, from woefully mis-informed plastic bagwagons to well-lobbied offshore projects, I simply do not trust any of this current sorry cabal of interest groups to tell me what's best for my kids, much less actually bite the bullet and get down and dirty to actually do it. Especially if there's the slightest chance that a well-feathered political nest, career or bottom line can get supported first, first-class from Valencia to Bali via Westminster. Offset of course. Just because these things LOOK green and we're told they are doesn't actually make them any better at reducing CO2, especially in the timeframes I'm hearing. Heck, some may meet a target, boost a rating, score a contribution or fund a conference pass... yet make things worse, climatically.

We are TOLD on Friday that the world is facing a climatic disaster. By Saturday few in the media have much to say about it; fewer still on Sunday. Tonight this is the best we can do, after a bit of a hoo-haa over a bank. That's what gets the ratings, so that's where the media will go. The Minister will go with the votes, and they go where the economy goes, so until he can bail it's just a matter of getting away for as long as possible with 'we need all this stuff because of the economic demands of the electorate' while saying lots 'will/may/could/ be done'. So after 1o years of 'looking at', we'll need to settle of a load more navel gazing until... er... the next load.

I respect the sincerity of activist groups such as Greenpeace, but it really is also way too easy to sit and snipe from a comfy, well-funded 'anti'-position, and ignore other, equally basic realities. Such as growing populations and increased demands on a finite planet to support ever more aspirational, competitive individuals upon it. Addressing these does not play well with the core support, and hence only selected parts of the narrative , the easy ones that play well in Islington, seem to get highlighted. But I certainly endorse spiking the pathetic official charade I heard: claiming carbon capture commitments whilst obviously having no such intention as evidenced by certain projects already committed to. Again, I repeat, after 10 years to get sorted, much less underway. What have they been doing the last decade?

No, it's not that simple. But if it is serious (and I have to believe it is), then for all the rest of us to take it seriously we need those who claim to be taking a lead to show it's serious. And some imagination. Sorry... to date, no one and nothing that's been trotted out so far seems to have floated many folks' boats very successfully, even pretty PR picture ones like the WWF effort opening the piece. So even the current crop of more incentive-based, proactive, well-directed, cost-effective and positive efforts (such as they are) are not getting through. At all. It's all fluff and bluster and scare and guilt and levy and fine. And no result.

What a shambolic performance. By the whole sorry lot. My poor kids.

We need doers; not talkers. And quick.

I have just written to BBC Breakfast news:

The day after Mr. Brown's climate speech, in which there are but a few lines on air travel, and we get... plastic bags.

If we are to get serious on this issue, I'd like to see our national broadcaster get its priorities straight.

What is the actual contribution/impact of this plastic product vs. almost any other?

And I am not even convinced that the ban calls, at least in the current from, are much more than misguided, headlines-friendly knee-jerks.

Is the Irish experience a total success as claimed? Are biodegradables the solution as advised, at least in the blanket manner portrayed?

I am not so sure.

And the thoughts of a grocery magazine editor and a 'NetMummy' (the choice of sofa twofer) hardly the considered, expert, objective views I feel like relying upon to help me decide.

Back to Newsnight:

We need less trivial TV, and a lot more like the fish stocks 'waste' topic that is both substantive and worth addressing, especially during yet another 'awareness' (are you? It's called Love Food. Hate Waste. Full colour ads in the Sunday supps) campaign exhorting the consumer not to waste food.

All I can retain is a 'me-not-EUcrat' smiling benignly and saying 'the principle is clear, but the problem is the detail'. The Devil is laughing that it is the latter that now dominates thinking. We can no longer see the deforestation for the bio-crops.

BBC - Brown tackles the home front - an interesting, er...
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Key opening line: 'A smiling Gordon Brown set out his environmental vision in London
Gordon Brown might have made it into a list of the world's sexiest men earlier this year...'

'He did the big picture stuff on UN climate negotiations and global projections for fossil fuel burning.' Did he.. really?

'But he homed in on the small ...' and, some would (well, I would) say are plain distractions from the bigger picture... and failings at top level. Abetted by such as this tripe.

'Advisors will dispense wisdom on saving energy and water, microgeneration, and green travel.' More bloody paid. pensioned talkers, taking money from DOING!!!!

If Green Homes is able to stimulate take-up of microgeneration technologies such as domestic wind turbines, ground source heat pumps and biomass co-generation units, it could put take Britain somewhere towards the third EU target, on renewable energy.' Read that though and wonder.

'The costs and the dearth of suppliers mean the take-up of these technologies is unlikely to be huge.' Is that the reason?

'So meeting the renewable energy target is still going to mean construction on a vast scale of wind and tidal turbines, solar arrays, biomass burners and so on.' How about reducing CO2... the enviROI.

Mr Brown did not neglect these areas.

...Mr Brown is aiming for...

The Severn Barrage is up for serious discussion, and planning reforms should make for easier and faster passage of all feasible renewable proposals.

... government policy would be "examined for its impact on carbon emissions"

'The prime minister's speech has generally been well received by the environment and development organisations....' these being?

'Mr Brown's speech has now pushed their plain sibling to the front of the stage, and we shall see if five million small green shoots can together make a rainbow-bright future.' I guessing this guys a shoo-in for the front of the plane to Bali with the minister!


A cross between Nixon & Mr. Bean

We don't often feature non-enviro posts on Junkk, but I'm allowing myself a slight diversion into the world of pure (sic) politics.

That post title is the excoriating description of our PM, Ol' Golden, by the Daily Express.

"Only five months into his Premiership Brown shows all the signs of becoming a unique creation: the gruff, unbalanced mediocrity of 'Tricky Dicky' Nixon mixed with the comic absurdity of Mr Bean. No wonder so many Britons seem desperate to leave the country."

I have to confess that I hadn't realised that his ratings had fallen as far in the polls as they suggest. Though to be fair, Ol' Golden's been that quiet of late, I'd almost forgotten he was our PM.

Oh, just for fun, here's the Daily Mail's take on our "constipated" and "dysfunctional" government.

Another way to get rid of CO2?

On top of all the weird and wonderful mechanisms already proposed, here's the next idea from Science Daily, slurping. This method suggests getting the oceans to slurp up the excess CO2 by removing Hydrochloric acid from sea-water by electrolysis; thereby increasing its alkalinity, which means it can absorb more CO2. They reckon 700 special treatment plants worldwide could offset all CO2 emissions.

It sounds sort of feasible, but surely reducing our emissions, whilst at least trying to halt our population growth, would be more straightforward? We need to tackle the cause, not the consequences.

The problem: as clear as night

As I watch the BBC 'environmental' 'correspondent' faithfully relate Mr. Brown's pearls of wisdom (apparently, he's going to make it easier to ban plastic bags as a point worthy of note!!), check this.

I just got it from a very dear, and talented, relative the other side of the world, who gives credibility to 'senior surfer' in all its accolades. She finds awesome stuff and sends it on!

It's from a PowerPoint of views from a space mission. Let me know if you'd like me to send it on. My only caveat is the provenance is unverified, so it's unclear whether anything has been 'enhanced'. I'd say it looks about right, though.

Or... maybe I can post it here??? IT-vestigator hat on.

"Hubris clobbered by nemesis"

A fascinating piece on Science Fiction and climate change from Brian Aldiss in today's Guardian.
He argues that our planet's dire state "makes the imaginative leaps of dystopian SF writers redundant".

A world dying

That's the first part of a headline to an article in the Independent yesterday about how the warming planet threatens a huge number of the earth's species with extinction. Can we unite to save it? ..... That's the rest of the header. A good question to which I don't know the answer, but given the general lack of interest that the media has shown in the IPCC's latest outputs which is telling us to act now or else, I guess it will go unanswered anyway.

Now one of the supposed guaranteed methods of saving the earth from an untimely end is carbon sequestration, whereby CO2 is captured and pumped down into the earth in vast quantities. I'd always assumed that this was a safe and secure mechanism, but having read this from the Environment News Service, I'm not quite so sure now.

And to cap it all, we have Ol' Golden yet again being highly visible at talking the talk, but doing sweet Fanny Adams, as reported by Capital Radio. He seems excellent at big announcements and useless on action. "we must show leadership and take the first and largest responsibility". OK, if you are listening Gordon, if you really mean that, you could start by taking some of the £29.3 billion you have already pilfered in green taxes and using it to provide better insulation in the millions of UK houses that are inadequately covered at the moment - that could be a massive saving in CO2 emissions for a minor capital outlay. And while you're at that you could also stop providing real disincentives for renewables.

Fat chance!

Blogpost extension:
Hey! Perhaps Ol' Golden WAS listening -
"the Prime Minister added that all houses would have to be zero-carbon by 2016, and that the Government would also give five million more homes discounted or free loft or cavity wall insulation". As reported in TimesOnline this very afternoon!

ADDENDUM (by Junkk Male, with a few highlights)

BBC - Brown to outline climate targets

High targets have been set for Britain's cut in emissions

Gordon Brown is due to give his first major speech on the environment, raising the prospect of tougher domestic targets on carbon emissions.
He will say action on climate change is urgent, but that new green industries could create thousands of jobs.

The prime minister is also expected to say that developed countries must lead the way in cutting carbon emissions.

Planned legislation sets a tough target of cutting Britain's emissions by 60% by 2050.

But Mr Brown believes there may be a case for going even further and may commit to what could be as much as a doubling of the targets to produce renewable energy by 2020.

It is understood he has been persuaded by the Department of the Environment's arguments that Britain must meet European obligations on wind, wave and solar power.

Mr Brown's spokesman said: "The prime minister is setting out his views on major issues in a comprehensive way."

BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg said the prime minister would echo recent remarks that climate change is real and urgent.

Climate change will be discussed at a forthcoming summit of Commonwealth leaders, just ahead of a UN meeting in Indonesia where a new global deal on emissions will be considered.

Inspiring stuff, no?

No. As you've so rightly highlighted, it's all talk, might, could, expected to, considered, and yet more bloody targets! (Dave)

ADDENDUM 2 - Japan eyes demographic time bomb

ADDENDUM 3 (Dave) - And may we introduce yet another government sponsored quango, this time under the wing of the Energy Savings Trust. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you .... drum roll ....... the
Green Homes Service. Ta da! Nice little budget though.

Responsibiity 'du jour'

See that first picture? That was on a Range Rover ad a wee while ago. Actually, in the Sunday Times when they were doing a 'special' on climate change. I think I may even have commented upon it (can't seem to find it via my tags).

See the second? Same vehicle. Same paper. And, actually, run twice, in two sections. And this on the weekend after that IPCC report.

Thing is, try as I might, I can't for the life of me find that same responsibility claim. There's one about driving responsibility off road. Nothing about 'going', Co2 wise.

Now it surely can't be that the offset was just for the edition in question, so why would they not run it in all subsequent ads I wonder?

It's November; it's extraordinary'

So say the blonde and the bouffant on BBC breakfast this am, about the fact that there was snow last night. I merely ask...'is it?'. If so that is worthy of note in the MWCC issue. If not, it sets up the BBC for a fall.

Because the segue for this piece was Declan and the 'low carbon family' now car sharing. Seems that, having for no good reason taken two cars to drive side by side daily, they now have realised they can go in one.

I was moved to write:

'Car sharing is... can be a great thing in carbon mitigation.

However, I have just watched you and the 'family' agree that busses are none too effective, even when prevalent, at 'fitting in' with the family schedule.

How many people, even within the same family, can leave or, much more pertinently, ensure they return at the same period within the same location and/or timing?

I think you portray an idealistic scenario in this piece.

Perhaps some thought needs to be given to coordinating better such sharing (Midlands Today has just announced dedicated lanes for sharers, so there are incentives) ways to DO this by way of public service campaigning/information.'

I am now, of course, inspired to list these as our national broadcaster is not that worried about such things, though I bet their excellent online site is littered with advice... point at them guys! We need information, not propaganda (though the cause of bus travel took a knock).

And I'll also raise the small notion I have created that needs some help (time and money) to get off the ground. It will not address daily commutes (though it can in complement to others), but it will be a big step on 'one-offs').

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Less is more?

No one said it would be easy. Tackling the fossil fuel juggernaut

'So here, as Australians say, is "the big ask"' Also I had thought, what the FoE has been 'saying' for a while too, surely?

Personally, I think we need a lot fewer folk telling us (and blowing bazillions down a green hole) what to do, and a lot more working on actual tangibly THINGS to help fewer emissions go up and away.

And while no one denies the media has a role to play, I think they need to get their own house in order right away by way of example. Report Bali for sure, but not like some blooming celeb pop concert, with a row of talking heads for each programme demographic. Get one, decent, informed, trusted correspondent, and then let them cover it all... in depth.

Ruthless is as Ruth doesn't

Just watched the Andrew Marr Show (why isn't it just Sunday Morning?) with our Transport Secretary.

Usually not the most tenacious or probing of interviewers, Mr. Marr tried (though failed) valiantly to get her to answer a single question on the odd disconnect on what her boss (and various colleagues) say about climate change and how to cure it, and what is going on.

My favourite was his pointed question (and her wishy-washy non answer) about carbon trading with our EU partners.

Seems the plan is that we fly more and more and some Czech farmer doesn't, and then does something to make up. That'll work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

No news is.. well, in the news

I have been moved to write to the BBC News as their latest (it has arisen before) 'report' on a crisp labelling was wofeul!

What was all that about? Walkers puts a label that means nothing to anyone and can be compared with nothing, yet get a load of publicity. And now Coke are jumping the bandwagon.

Yes, there was debate of sorts, but not exactly helpful. A lady from something or other to say it raises awareness and a guy from Boots to mutter about a shampoo they might or might not have tried it on but are now 'standing back'.

And this on the day the IPCC report features second after an ongoing historical murder investigation. Shame the Spice Girls and Comic Relief got in on the act to distract from mankind's cat-astrophe, too. Or is that why we also got Sgt. Podge, the 4x4 hitching moggy?

No wonder no one is taking much seriously!

IPPC in the news

Bearing in mind the obviously serious nature of what has been deemed 'an imminent catastrophe to humanity', I have just decided to do a quick scope of the coverage.

BBC - Pictured. And as I write, they have gone live to have a reporter be told that there's nothing new on a old murder enquiry. In fact, at 9.08 they cut away from the IPCC reporter in Valencia to something more important. Bless.

Mind you, if the best thing they can come out with is 'the next step' is to have another meeting next month in Bali, then I guess that might not exactly perk up the ratings.

Times - Top of tree online on global. Kudos! UK... er. Front page... nope!

Telegraph - Online.. well hidden if it's there! Front page... tba.

Guardian - Online... sort of. Front page.... tba.

Indy - Online. Front page... um, no.

FT - Not obvious. Front page... tba.

Tabs - Don't ask

Newsnight -

Seems the world's about to collapse. And now, on a lighter note, remember that sketch... (at least this critical piece wasn't truncated by '... and that's all we have time for, because here's a skateboarding turtle'. Oh... but wait... there IS another).

I just woke up to the Breakfast News coverage of the IPCC report.
So Climate Change IS down to man and we are on the verge of a catastrophe. And this time is for sure. Well, more than the last. Not as much as the next, maybe. Odd then that it was not top priority in the national newscaster's morning report (not figuring too high in the national papers either. Pity the Spice Girls reformed on the same day as Children in Need.... as the world goes down the tube).

Anyway, watching Newsnight's coverage of the next big thing I mainly discover the Green Elite and their media caravans are off from Valencia to Bali (will we getting the same selection of ladies and gents to stand in front of the same building to say the same thing? Nice use of money, not to mention footprint example) to doubtless issue yet another 'this is the one' (Couldn't they all stay in one place, and where most are already... say... New York?) .

Ironically in the same breakfast show there was a Newswatch about a piece where a hotel in Las Vegas was covered live as it was demolished by explosion. So we waited... and waited... and almost gave up. And then it exploded, but only as many had given up waiting despite being told it was coming.
Not really the BBC's fault as they had been told the time and it didn't happen as and when advised. But that's the problem with relying on uncertainties to issue endless warnings.

I am just not sure how many such 'outings' can be engaged upon, at least in this manner, before people begin to 'drift'.
And such is my weariness with the assault, and lack of faith in their commitment to balanced science, despite the fact that it is clearly stated that it IS, NOW, man-made, I simply am not able to believe it and will continue to concede only man-worsened. I also rather suspect there are others who feel the same, or are even more dubious. Which all distracts from just getting on a DOING tangible things to engage with the general public rather than wittering on, going on jollies ('because our job requires it even if we're saying yours shouldn't') and giving sceptics ever more ammo.

Then we go on to learn by way of major advances in mitigation that Coke is 'thinking' of popping its carbon footprint on its cans, as have Walkers on its packs. No one had a clue what it was all about. So at least the BBC had a slight sense that this aspect was a bandwagon that was out of control. Shame they can't make the connection with the main... er.. almost main... piece. It is not up to the consumer to wade through all this, with the endless proliferation of hugely funded 'awareness' campaigns from pointless quangos we are being bombarded with... to little effect, evidently (see above, below, sideways).
Or our national media.

What's going on? A crisp maker puts a label that means nothing to anyone and can be compared with nothing, yet get a load of publicity.... again. Newsnight covered this a while ago!
And this on the day the IPCC report features second after an ongoing historical murder investigation. Shame the Spice Girls and Comic Relief got in on the act to distract from mankind's cat-astrophe, too. Or is that why we also got Sgt. Podge, the 4x4 hitching moggy? Is everything now totally driven by PR luvvies and their speed dial chums who only look at ratings before jumping?

No wonder no one is taking much seriously!