Friday, March 02, 2007

Cat. Pigeons. Small room. Retire immediately.

Dominic Lawson: Here is another inconvenient truth (but this one will infuriate the Green lobby)

In light of my last few blogs, I rather suspect it might.

I take no pleasure in being right, but it is obvious the whole debate has been hijacked by polarised (no pun intended, though it is apt) extremes from either side, leaving a massive void of greater reason and compromise almost (I hope) unable to cope, and fill it for those who do not live and breathe the deepest detail of it all.

Good Lord above, this is the Indy. And here, in the spirit of balance (which is why I carry it here) that its name implies, is the only article of substance I could locate in it today, and it's not... how should we say... exactly helping the cause, hmnn?

I have to admit to being a tad te'ed off, because of course I will now have to watch this debunking, and make a comment. On the strength of this review, it warrants attention.

Who knows, I may soften my views on global warming, its causes and what needs to be done to mitigate the effects.

But I still don't think it will change me much from my mission to DO whatever I can to avoid waste and boost efficiencies whenever and wherever possible.

I'll think I'll leave the hot air thing for others to muck about with some more.

Indy - Global warming: An inconvenient truth or hot air?

Guardian - Why Channel 4 has got it wrong over climate change

I find it rather odd, and sad, that, as I arrive back after a very happy family weekend break to engage in my traditional 'surf and mirth' scope, a little late in the day, of the 'quality' major news media blogosphere, that I seem to be the only person to have found this; or at least felt moved to add a comment... so far. Out of 60M them's poor odds.

Especially if we are facing something potentially none too optimal (if the tipping point to Armageddon can be so described) in around a decade, at least by my understanding of the IPPC report.

Thing is, I find myself in an odd position. I care very much about all this, if only for my kids' sake. I am, by any measure, environmentally concerned, and arguably quite active. I may even be, by dint of taking a greater interest than many, fairly well informed. And, most importantly, I care passionately about DOING something, anything, to avoid unnecessary waste, and to find practical, inspirational ways to assist the consuming public to live more environmentally sound lifestyles by choice, and not nannying, guilt, scare or fine.

So I tend to find talking shops at best frustrating, if not actually downright obstructive, by consuming resources, and energies, that could be used more positively.

Sadly, having read and reread this a few times, I am unable to see how anything has been moved ahead much, save to offer a lifeline to the deniers by denying them the very things that they would deny those with a more precautionary bent (that's a lot of denying in one sentence, sorry, but I call 'em as I see 'em). I don't know if such as Al Gore and those others less celebrity-endowed are dead right or completely wrong, but if they're wrong they'll just look silly in a few decades. If they are right, those who are big-oiling into denial will, along with the rest of us, be looking a little red-faced, and not just from embarrassment. Though I do take the point that most will be long dead and buried, and hence not really in a position to care that their book sales have nosedived.

However, I can only see more ammunition here to enable the artillery barrages from extremes on both sides to continue ever more energetically, leaving those who thirst for information, guidance and action still sitting dazed and confused beneath the literary pyrotechnics that rage.

I may be tired from a period spent well if not wisely, but I stumbled on this in regard to the forthcoming show that has yet to be screened, but already generated such a ferocious counter-movement - 'Certainly, there many reasons to deride it. Its contents are largely untrue, for a start. That is Channel 4's problem.' Now I haven't seen it, but this is quite a thing. 'Largely untrue contents' are pretty much the smoking gun to put down this nag before it even leaves the starting blocks.


I can't for the life of me seem to locate what these untrue contents are, at least from the piece written. What I do get are trash jobs on those involved, and unless I am very much mistaken, and harking to only a few blogs back, this seemed to be a tactic not considered quite cricket when applied to those who are in favour of Al Gore, IPCC , Uncle Tom Cobbly and all in the man-made corner. So which is to be. In gutter? Or stand above it? Deal in facts? Or fling some mud around and hope that what sticks may sway? It's hard to see how this is going to work both ways.

I am prepared to accept, and indeed pretty much hope to see proven, that this programme has opted for dishonest rhetoric, but so far I can only say they are not the only ones dealing in such a thing at the expense of reasoned debate.

Which is a pity, and serves the cause, IMHO, poorly. Especially when, on reaching the concluding several paras here (still none the wiser on Ch4's factual transgressions, mind) there seems to be much about the manipulations being applied by all sides, with very much more short-term, and selfish, agendas, that I can only nod in agreement with.

Sorry, my buttons got pushed. What a waste of a Friday Morning.

Especially when a picture is worth 1,827 words.

'On Junkk Male2's very very very long post: Thanks, it has its moments. But we do not need Brits telling us how to spell, especially since American "humor" and "civilize" are closer to their respectively Latin and Greek etyma than are the British bastardizations of those words, with an unnecessary "u" and an overly historicized "s." And hitting Al Gore over the head with Mahatma Gandhi is totally unfair, for the reason mentioned above.'

When talking shops go bad....

'Whilst I am not so sure some posters, especially myself, would even agree anyone is attacking anyone (it just comes off a bit like screaming racist at the drop of a hat), I am glad to see at least the effort I put into a serious issue (pseudo or not, the word ‘scandal’ was the opening post, though not one I would have chosen) has been acknowledged, especially in response to what I presumed to be an invitation to take part in a discussion – ‘Still basking in Oscar's glow, Al Gore makes headlines for using a lotta energy. An inconvenient truth or an ugly smear campaign?’

Despite Mark Twain’s fine copywriting advice, I often have a lot to say, but it is sincere and it is well meant. Hopefully this next effort will be better appreciated for its content rather than its length (oh, missus, for the Benny Hillophiles out there). I'll try and do a USA Today version, but no promises... or charts. Sometimes important issues are hard to deal with superficially lest things get taken out of context or suffer from lack of proper investigation and explanation, don't you find? Imagine a Simpson’s length version (including ad breaks) of an important issue, say, like Global Warming (I know, they did do one, and it was very good, though the real message may have passed some by).

Along with a few others who posted in reply to the invitation, I do not believe that the intention of the original post or blog was meant to solicit responses only from those who had something supportive to say to the proposition. Though I guess some in the team can believe certain balls only get played with when you support the side who owns them. But you could argue it’s like those who make and sell baby bottles getting in a snit at any publication that carries a less than flattering report on their safety to babies, and then bunker down and have a group ‘others suck’ in with fellow baby bottlers. Best to take the opportunity to engage in discussion, persuade and prove your product, or case, is valid. If it is. Saying those who pass comment are in the pay of non-babybottlism is just throwing... er... baby bottles out of the pram.

In all my years living and working in the States I never really saw the truth of the old adage 'Separated by a common language', but in that vast, great country, with distance amplifying demographic differences, I must say my sense of humour did meet varied responses. It is to my shame that I neglected to remember this in posting to a blog that spans not just the world but, more importantly, the Atlantic to the Pacific, centre of the known universe.

I would also never presume to tell any one anything. I often opine. I always ask questions. I may suggest another course. But I am not sufficiently convinced of my rectitude in anything to ‘tell’ anyone anything. I sometimes envy those who do, as it allows them to insert their values in places where others may hesitate, or not be welcome. Often this can be with favorable outcomes (depending on whom you ask). On occasion it can be seen as an unmitigated global disaster.

So my opening remark was merely intended as humor. Just as my American co-workers would remind me (I thought with a degree of irony of their own), 'there is no 'I' in team, I felt my light-hearted play on words would be appreciated as a suitable introduction to a piece on the value on ‘team debate’ being conducted in the spirit of levity, with humor at its core. But in being put right on the error of my ways at least I have had a lesson in both ancient linguistics and nationalistic fervour (whoops).

Sadly, you don't need to go looking too hard for offence. If you seek it, it will find you. So I am sorry for any given. It was unintentional.

What I am not sorry for is having a thoughtful opinion on a core issue that the environmental movement faces today.

It is undoubted that the single greatest task that we’re (if I may make so bold as a non-leader) facing today is the motivation of the masses. When a voter or consumer stirs, politicians and corporations pay heed. But I am not so sure about media. By my understanding they are supposed to objectively form and reflect public sentiment and opinion, but it seems all too often they set out to shape it. This may be due to the unelected nature of the senior officers at the helm (not a problem exclusive to the media, one should add). It is hard not to let personal views stray into subjective issues. Just as it is hard for an employee not to see that their next paycheque can depend on supporting those views. Ain't democracy and its defenders wonderful?

It's also desperately unfair, but the media will seldom allow any public figure to change their mind, even over a span of decades.

This is not a problem for Mr. Gore, as his commitment in the long term is undoubted, if perhaps not his effectiveness while in office and, until fairly recently, out of it (by my, non-US awareness). However, as Steven T concedes, this is just the beginning, and the media scene needs to be managed, and managed well to get the result we all are aiming for. That was my main point. What is, is. And how such as the UK press reports needs to be addressed, especially if it is indeed disturbingly unrepresentative of the true facts. We are talking a global situation here. (Tip : defences like ‘Most of the electricity in TN comes from hydro and nuclear, and so doesn't generate all that much CO2 anyway’ wouldn’t fly too well here. We don’t waste because we can afford to. Especially when setting examples. So as a suggestion I’d drop that one).

Having spent my time in the States in the more affluent regions of the Coasts, Texas and Utah, I do not feel qualified to speak of the blue-collar (wo)man's views there, or how they get reflected, but I do wonder how representative the views expressed in a niche medium such as this are reflective of national commitment and belief. As we are talking the future of the planet, the number of participants outside of a relatively small clique is still disappointingly small.

Which returns us to the point at hand. The BBC, with access to a nation of 60M, and a more than sympathetic commitment to green issues, was quite happy to run the negative reporting with little context. If it's juicy, tabloids such as The Sun will deliver a print readership in the many millions. You can score positive coverage with celebrity, but it is a tenuous pact that you enter into, and the sword is double-edged, and once unsheathed can be turned very quickly and be hard to return.

Yes, Cameron Diaz will be most welcome to stand in Hyde Park and tell us why she drives a G-Wiz. But it will be asked how she got here to do it. And while Jamiroquai may say that his latest gig to get in the Guinness Book of Records (in a plane) was offset by 'his people', there are those who may suggest that not going up there in the first place may have served the planet, here and now, less well than his immediate career PR.

I mentioned Gandhi because a previous poster had, and not as an ‘attack’. I do not see anything in what I wrote accusing Mr. Gore of anything, unfairly or not. I merely felt it an suitable analogy to give pause for thought to those who expressed the view that double standards are OK so long as it is in a good cause. Especially when dealing with the media and the masses.

Because I simply beg to disagree. If you are trying to persuade the working public, and no longer have a compliant (greater good for the future vs. great headline tomorrow) press to help you shape their views, you better have a good story, with no holes, and an even better team in place to sell it, both in front and in back of camera. I for one simply cannot support ‘a rationale for putting the stress on the problem as opposed to proposing solutions’. As any life assurer will tell you, you don’t sell a policy by scaring people with death. But these boys still make sales... and have been doing so for years... how?

I just think that if you are setting yourself up as a 'leader' or spokesperson for mitigating our effects though personal behaviour, you need to set the credibility bar at a manageable level. It's one, wonderful (though I would imagine the ownership of the resulting valuable invention may result in that being covered, as simply good business) thing to put up $25M chump change as a prize to kill greenhouse gasses, but is it helped by our Mr. Branson also punting rich old folk into orbit to have their Kodak moment on top of a few Brazilian forest's worth of greenhouse gas compo? I'm erring on, at best, a mixed message for those who may see their house rates go up if they don't put insulation in, which many can't afford. I’m only sorry they are not reading this, as I doubt many are.

But it's going to be a great target for those sipping their Fairtrade Fortnight mocha latté dusted with airflown (isn’t that... no... never mind) truffles, who can afford the money, time and selective causes to support without much denting their cosy lifestyles. How many buying the products advertised here do so ‘as well as’ rather than ‘instead of’?

Green is good, but not much for the planet's chances if it is merely seen as a hobbyhorse to jump upon to further conspicuous consumption in another guise. I am not advocating hair-shirtism, but a bit of cutting back could be a good way to go. And to inspire others to embrace the lead, those at the 'top' (wherever that is any more, and I am afraid, as a tea-party sympathizer from the old oppressors’ country, I have my own views on who deserve to be called ‘leaders') could well look at the examples they set.

But in light of some defensive replies (I get one from caniscandia, who with some irony gets one from another. Even poor old Green Granny (no ageism intended) gets a serve for not toeing the line. How divide and rule is that!) I see here to a post about good humor, may I wish you the best of British luck.

If this is the best you can do in the country that has the most power to effect change, the planet is going to need it.

Me, I'm off now to do some more about it. In my shed.

(1,827 words. Sorry, caniscandida;('

I now know while I will not support those who think they know better try and bully those who simply wish to know more. At least on my site.


Meanwhile, over the pond [link] ...
Knock yourselves out.

Cool. 7 words. I hope caniscandida will be happy... er.. ier

Addendum: We've made up!

You say humor, I say humour...

... but 'the special relationship' remains so long as we maintain our sense of...!

Oo-er... outed. Yes, 'tis I. Thank you for the faint praise, so I will continue writing. Noting your comment on my lengthy predilections (and a slight case of RSI), I made my next (on the Colbert post subsequently) reply brief to the point of invisibility. I rather think it all rather proved a few of my points, mind.

Moods were fouled all round I'd hazard. I just fear the eventual victim will be rational debate and clear, persuasive communication to the general public. And mixed messages.

I actually popped a tweak in the Brit Fairtrader's blog to wonder about the food mile consequences of his actions.

Above and beyond the affordability to some of these worthy efforts by urban journalists, there is also the fact that they send out some contradictory notions that need to be weighed up. Save underpaid mango farmer? Save planet he/she stands on with the rest of us from unnecessary emissions by simply doing without? Tricky dilemma for the ethical activist.

Mine is how to visit my wife's family in Singapore as she hasn't seen them in a few years (maybe I can find a conference to attend and offset?). Green ain't easy, is it?

And so it goes on, and on, and...

They can often afford to save time and save money.

Last time I looked most have to work to earn money to pay mortgages, feed and educate kids, etc. Work means 50 weeks a year at home. A lucky few have other sources of income to fund their beliefs and, one trusts, their practices.

But you are right; I try to spend most of my money and my time at home funding and generating content for my free re:use ideas website. It actually seems to help some save money, AND time, AND the planet (a bit).

Still not too clear how I do this and fulfil family obligations.

Anyway, as we're big on boats being a cure, try this:

Maybe that freighter trip would have served civilisation better by not being taken at all. Hmmmn? I wonder what it was loaded with? Or picking up for the return? Consumer goods to save folk time and spend more money? Who's to say?

I have to say I still find being green a bit of an exercise in compromise. I envy those who are able to be so black and white about it.

It will be interesting to see who can serve the interests of the future best by motivating the masses with pragmatic and realistic solutions, as opposed to whacking out simple sound bites, no matter how dead right they may be.