Monday, July 30, 2007

Focus on carbon and miss the point

That's the conclusion of Eamon O'Hara in a thought provoking piece about this week's story for The Green Room.

His general suggestion is that by concentrating almost entirely on reducing carbon emissions, we are missing the underlying cause, which is a direct consequence of our western, unsustainable mode of living.

This, he says, "has led to the assumption that if we reduce emissions then our problems are solved, hence the focus on carbon sequestration, renewable energies and environmental technologies."

Which is (and I like this analogy) like
"relying on methadone to cure an addiction to heroine."

"We urgently need to think about the more fundamental concept of sustainability and how our lifestyles are threatening not only the environment, but developing countries and global peace and stability."

I don't think anybody can realistically disagree with that statement. (Well, except perhaps the usual 'anti-brigade' comment posters who have immediately branded him as a hippy!)

It's a well and logically argued article, well worth a read. And as one of the comment posters has pointed out - look what happened to the inhabitants of Easter Island when they had consumed all their available resources; they became extinct!

Human beings tend to have a habit of NOT learning the lessons of history and commonly missing the point. Maybe now is time to take a more over-arching view whilst keeping historical precedents in mind?

It's not just what you switch off. But what you are now switching on.

This is worth a gander: The Ampere Strikes Back

I am so relieved that we set up to be inspirational as opposed to judgemental. Because there are a lot out there who are telling us what do or simply being snotty that I reckon would fall pretty foul of a few pithy comebacks.

Don't like my bottle or Perrier? Betcha ditched the old TV for flatty as soon as Comet dropped the prices, eh?

And look a DAB radios. This is the direction we are being forced in... by whom?

Pass the remote vicar!

Looks vs. deeds

An interesting dissection of the current state of political, commercial and consumer 'engagement' with things 'green' : The Make-Believe of Green Politics

I'm not very interested in lifestyle statements. More just getting on with mine best I can ... and not screwing up the kids' future too much in the process.

As a consequence I know a bit, but was surprised with some things that I read here.

Like the notion of driving a car means you are doing 'your bit' to save the planet. Sweet.

The comparison with the Civic shocked me. Though to be fair I'd say a full 11mpg on the city cycle, at 20% better gives the Prius quite an edge in the thrift stakes. At least for this usage. I recently visited the Hay Festival here in the West of the UK, and this year was very green themed. So the car park was like a Prius lot. Trouble is, almost all had probably come from London down the motorway, which means they were mainly lugging a dormant, and vast amount of weight. Image is all, as you suggest. I'm interested as to where the Prius get used in the US to assess the actual value it does confer, for which I have coined the term enviROI.

This is the actual benefit of any product/ initiative to the planet, and future generations. It can have a woeful financial ROI, (most do), but so long as in making running and disposing of the thing it means less of what's 'bad' (definitions seem to vary daily, so I'm not getting into footprints), then more power to you elbow... or electric drivetain.

I'd have to agree that the Prius has a distinct design, but, subjectively, it is a dog. It looks like something out of a 70's futuristic TV show. And that is a shame, because that may mean appealing only to a minority who are only governed by making a statement, rather than a lot to more who simply have other factors (style being one) that do matter along with (and may outweigh) a few mpg.

Pity. And yes, hence a parable for the broader politics of global warming. Along with the positive suggestions, well said.

Have your say on the future of nuclear power.

The government has launched a public consultation on the future use of nuclear power generation in a 'low carbon UK economy'.

Anyone in the UK can contribute, all you have to do is register. See Nuclear Consultation for full details.

They claim that "Your views will contribute to the shaping of the policy on the future of civil nuclear power".

Well, as they say, time will tell; this government's track record on listening isn't exactly one to be proud of.

Who's dissin' who?

When is branding disingenuous?

As with all things, it can span a range. I certainly think a lot are making things worse for themselves and the message by being so darn clunky, especially with the environment. If a plane is more fuel efficient or a bank goes 'carbon neutral' then great, but it really only helps their bottom line or CSR report at the AGM. Hardly worth an ad. And cars with leaves blowing out their exhausts are plain daft. And some are just desperate. I have AdSense on my blog and often click on intriguing, if vague, ads covering many green areas. Almost all seem to lead to Exxon Mobil. If I thought poorly of them before, I think even less now.

Best Global Brands: How valuable is green?

I think consumers do care about the environment more than some reports claim, and this may be a reflection on the questions asked and/or actions measures.

For a start, it's hard to care too much if there is no end-benefit. Sounds selfish, but it's true. I still get a PR almost daily expecting me to run a piece on why so-and so has gone carbon neutral. Despite that term having almost no rational meaning and now being almost worthless, while it's great a bank recycles its paper or uses green energy, that really only effects their own internal bottom line or CSR report.

Also so much is about things you can DO. It's hard to get very excited about anything that simply says 'isn't green lovely' when that's about the substance of it all.

The consumer needs to feel a sense of reward. This can be 'making a difference', so long as it is clear and measurable, and trusted, but there is little better than saving time, saving money... and the planet. Few brands deliver on that yet.

Exploiting a brands's green appeal