Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You couldn't make it up.

And this would be which paper, exactly?

I wouldn't mind so much, as promos are part and parcel. But a shopping trip.. to New York?

Pop goes the.. well, everything, really

Can pop take on global warming?

Qu: Do you think this plan really could help to slow down global warming?

A: Maybe, if you mean by not very much, and be by the minute extra awareness it may create in the public's awareness, which could filter through to major corporations one day. Otherwise, a snowball’s chance in Greenland which, as pointed out on Saturday by one of said corporation's bosses on the Today programme - http://junkk.blogspot.com/2007/01/enjoy-today-tomorrow-is-looking-lot.html (well worth a scary 5 minutes of what's left of our lives), used to be roasty-toasty, so there really is no problem with global warming.

Qu: And does the involvement of stars in campaigns like this encourage you to take part in them, or does it put you off?

A: Depends on the star. And depends on the campaign. Some obviously are ordinary folk, just like the rest of us, and are entitled to be concerned about the situation and want to do something about it. This, sadly, smacks of a green-elite concoction between minders, PR folk and mates in the activist community with whom they had a Fairtrade Chardonnay last night at the Ivy. It's a nice thought, but to take on Shell, Nestle and Pepisco's carb-con trading budgets, or even their marketing might (who sponsors pop stars again?) will take an awful lot of download PRS dues. Check which way the wind is blowing before unzipping guys!

And it all can go the shape of a pear when one lobs up at a gig next year in a private chopper wearing a polar bear coat, as saving the planet was sooo last year.

If our PM can't stay on message for 10 seconds when the future career beckons, I reckon we'll see some others straying too.

And when that happens the deniers will say 'look, see, hypocrites', and the games will carry on. Ordinary folk will duck back in their bunkers and just try and manage.

But it is a nice excuse for some media luvvies to meet some yoof icons. When it gets out of this timeslot on broadcast, and the Guardian in print, for the right reasons, I’ll be less inclined to see it as more than a stunt.


It is inevitable that, having been asked to comment, some see no irony in critiquing those who comment:
I guess you could call some responses cynical, but I’d like to think a few were in fact considered commentary. A question was asked, after all! To be more concerned with the characters of the respondents in such a situation seems a tad censorious, maybe? Perhaps there was an expectation of a series in gushing support?

It is interesting therefore, that if one took this blog’s participants as a cross-section (if not a very accurate one, statistically), the percentages would suggest that such actions, or at least the overt in-your-face PR-driven nature of them (as a personal financial transaction would not the same effect be created by simply doing it and not broadcasting hither and thither?) has not been as inspirational as desired. A bit like buying a Hybrid to attend the awards show (with tame Paparazzi and scribe to record), whilst keeping the Range Rover with the others in the climate-controlled garage for clubbing duties later on that night.

I doubt any would forget the mostly sincere effort and impact of Live Aid. However, though admittedly possibly coloured by recent reporting (the media can feed at both ends of such things) of late, there seem to have been some questions raised (many at the sharp end) as to the actual beneficial value in terms of return on investment of having a bit of a do, making squillions and squirting them elsewhere. Personally I think, at the time, it was a lot better than nothing. But times have moved on. Lessons have been learned. Cannot doubts be raised and questions asked if one feels a pre-traveled road is being trod again? I’ve lost count of the number of celebs who ‘are seeing for themselves’ things in places I can only dream of visiting, and indeed am being told I should not. Is there not a danger of a backlash from such a WIAC-YOAC ‘we’re in and can; you’re out and can’t’ culture, actively supported by the media industry who are always tagging along for the ride and the ratings?

Great that they are throwing some money at the problem, I just hope it is money they can afford and will be money well spent and not wasted (or turned for profit). Listening again to the heads of Nestle, Pepsico and Shell in that Today link above, I’d say they have their work cut out. Such guys have only one agenda, and amounts of money (not their own) to defend it.

Finally, since you ask, while I can’t speak for other respondents, by signing a lot of cheques (against home and pension) AND working very long hours I have created a free website (link in name above) that is designed to help ordinary folk find re:uses for everyday things (a few, amazingly, even found in the style sections of the glossies) - aimed at helping and inspiring Fiesta Family in Brum (whose main experience of carbon trading is the retroactive (the only aspect I have a probelm with) tax on their holiday flight) as much as Prius Person in Notting Hill, Westminster or their estate in Wiltshire.

Ultimately, I believe if this, mostly silent, struggling (mortgages, work not accessible by tube or taxi, kids to get to school en route, two weeks in summer and dying for some sun that only a few can take advantage of year-round on the verandah of their trailer... on location), but ultimately equally concerned majority can see how they too can make a difference, we can move corporations and governments to act.

Enjoy Today. Tomorrow is looking a lot iffier.

I have a last listened to the Today slot I was told about on Saturday morning (8.10am).

It is one of the scariest things I've heard.

John Humphrys in a cosy get-together with some of the world's 'leading' 'businessmen', at what sounds like a dinner table, watched by a clubby audience (there's a mental image - imagine them watched by starving kids through glass) in Davos.

I don't know if there's a download, but here's the link while it's good. Listen!

I will review it again to be sure, but I counted at least three top bods, from Shell, Pepsi and Nestle.

Two sounded Northern European and one American. I think I can hold my Brit head higher ('til they interview one of this country's hotshots and he mouth's off the same).

The questions were mild, but their answers were facile, with no excuse, no mitigation and no explanation other than if they didn't do what they did people wouldn't buy it. If your audience is dead they may not be buying much soon. And whatever priorities others may have (AIDS patients, etc) that were raised by way of putting their obligations to the future lower on the totem, it was just so much green-won't-wash.

One even tried to separate climate change (not a problem in his eyes) with what he thought was a problem: water shortage! Er... where does potable water come from? Or not, as in Australia, currently? Perrier mines?

Another tried to equate horse-traffic to car-traffic. It was like listening to a kid playing with a fun, rude fact. What on earth has horse manure in 1890 got to do with a few more billion people now driving cars and emitting greenhouse gases!!!! Yes, science and commerce made life 'better', and now it looks like it may be making things worse. It needs a correction.

And somehow what happened in Greenland 1,000 years ago naturally makes what is happening now OK? Er, no. We have 6 billion, and growing, people, trying to survive on limited resources, and making it all worse exponentially.

Another claimed his bottling was all returnable glass. Well, until corrected. Now, what is 'most'?

If they think all that they came out with is sustainable, then I fear for their reading of a balance sheet.

And my kids' future.

BBC - Climate change warning for Sydney - With a vid-link to the water (recyl) situation in Queensland

When good... goes bad

Way back in the annals of this blog is a post I made about a Greenpeace anti 4x4 campaign in our local train station, whereby the 'offending' vehicles were 'booted' with a custom piece of cardboard along with a windscreen sticker with something sanctimonious written on it and an exhortation to engage with their green energy tariff. Turned out it was part of npower.

In much the same way as one sees merit in the separation of church and state, and the almost inevitable mess when the gap gets bridged, so I must say I am seeing no winners when charities decide to hook up with commercial interests, at least in certain ways becoming ever more obvious.

Island media storm over RSPB and wind farms

I'm afraid all it does is make me look more closely at their corporate structures, the senior execs' salaries and the pension plan cut they are striving to score, and my hand stays well clear of my wallet.

Mirror, mirror, in the sky, what's that glistening in my eye?

Don't be fooled by Bush's defection: his cures are another form of denial

Sometimes I have had cause to be unswayed by the author's arguments and information. It is almost inevitable human nature to selectively edit what you acquire and pass on to suit your argument.

However, I have to say I am mostly engaged here.

When I heard of the space mirrors and other ideas I almost fell of my chair laughing... before I realised that it all may be serious.

The very notion of throwing ever more man-made spanners into the climatic cocktail beggars belief.

So I thank the author for popping in some valid new facts (I hope) to mull upon.

As to the role of the media, especially the televised variety, and their memories of being caught out on a quick ratings boost created by selective editing... hahahaha ('til the tears flow).

I have a dream...

Sometimes you do feel rotten for pricking a lovely bubble: Take to the fields

His warning is fair. His ideas noble. But I do feel it rather ignores, like so many do, some practical issues.

"I've often thought the purest form of career is to till one's own fields and be totally self-sufficient. It all goes a bit pear-shaped when the kids want power for the X-box and granny gets cholera from the well being sited downstream of the dunny, but there is a buried yearning for how it once was before money and trade.

Now, if we can just get those self-same, curiously-busy-in-even-more-curious (and some might say even trivial, in the great scheme of things) directions governments to just sort out that pesky expanding global population thing at the same time as getting back to basics on sources of food, we'd be much better off.

So I'd really rather we were a bit more cautious about substituting biofourstar for spuds quite yet."

You are what you spend

I was going to comment on the content of this: Last warning: 10 years to save world

But it's really the consequences that matter. Who, now, is listening, much less acting?

And something pretty obvious has (belatedly, I'm sure, compared to a lot) struck me, as I read a Sunday Times columnist having a go at Yummy Mummy CEOs having oodles of kids to validate their womanhood, and some Minister without Portfolio (or much grasp of real life) saying on Breakfast TV that childcare facilities and costs are so good now there's no excuse not to get every Mum back into the workforce, to produce more to improve their earnings potential.

So my epiphany has been... what's the point?

Indy - Parents spend third of wages on nursery, says study

I mean, there are all these folk earning all this dosh, and really all they can do then is spend it on stuff which is not going to help the old Carb-con, clunking footprint.

Most of my chums stayed in London forging successful careers. By which I mean I'm sure they love what they do 'n all, but seem to get up at 6am, wave the kids' nanny goodbye and drive with the power-spouse to the station to work waaaay beyond the Euro-maximum to spend a day in a box earning squillions before coming back in time to kiss the kids goodnight. The kids meanwhile all go to very good, very pricey schools to learn to do the exactly same thing... and how to want... to spend.

What else is there to do?

At work there is only so much you can blow the £esult of all this hard work on. Suit. Hairdo. Lunch. Lap-dancers. Prius. The company can add a few more to the tally: bonding course in Bali with Club to First upgrade, Blackberry, etc.

But in the little time you have at home, really the only thing to do with all this wonga is blow it. Quick trip to Whistler to catch what's left of the snow. A 500" LCD. Another Prius.

My family lives modestly... now. Mainly because we're broke. I'm sure hoping by our efforts that we soon won't be, and a comfy retirement beckons. But if and when it all floods in, what would... could I do with it all? House is sorted. Car looks good until the alternative arrives, or I'm taxed into getting a new one.

I don't think I am one of those green-advocates who feels like telling folk what they should be doing, but reserve the right to hunt around for things they could do, and in as informed a way as possible come to their own conclusions as to the best options.

And in this regard I really think we are being bombarded with some very mixed messages from those who claim to be on top of what's going on, will happen and how to sort it, namely the Government (work harder to make more, and..?) and Media (Fancy a spa break for two in Bali this weekend, simply enter our..).


Strike a light

No time for British clock changes

"...the move could have saved around 100 lives a year through reducing evening traffic accidents, and around £485 million in energy costs", plus, as a consequence, the greenhouse gasses produced.

I have followed this and thought the debate to be less clear on the benefits, so it is good to find clear safety, scientific, economic and environmental bases in support of it.

Hence the obvious question is, why did it fail as, if ever there was a... rare... no brainer, this would seem to be it.

Perhaps it would the social unpopularity of the move in more Northern counties and indeed countries, whose representation in Parliament is at a remarkably high %age?