Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Here's something for our pols to read......

...... a kid's guide to global warming as discussed on video on MSN.

It's probably a forlorn hope, but perhaps we ought to leave a few dozen copies lying around the houses of parliament and one or two of them might begin to understand the problems that our planet appears to be facing.

Oh, if you get the Toby the dog video first, it is quite funny, and short, so be patient.

Chikungunya may be on its way to the UK

At first sight I thought that this might be some new type of balti that I'd not heard of before, but I was intrigued by why it was associated with climate change.

This report from This Is London tells of the spread of Chikungunya, a horrible crippling muscle disease that has already taken a foothold in southern Europe, and could well reach the UK over the next couple of decades. There were 200 cases in northern Italy this year and one unfortunate soul died as a result. The disease is spread by the Tiger Mosquito, itself a recent and unwanted immigrant to Europe, having been known to be in Italy for only the last 15 years.

Beware, if rising sea levels and food shortages don't get you, Chikungunya just might!

Energy Measures Report

The Dept. for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform yesterday published their Energy Measures Report.

This purports to set "out the steps that local authorities can take to:
  • improve energy efficiency;
  • increase the levels of microgeneration and low carbon technologies;
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • reduce the number of households living in fuel poverty."
It advises that "Local authorities will have to ‘have regard’ to the report when exercising their functions." So its advisory only then.

Here's a chunk from the Planning Module:-

"Sustainability appraisal will be important in shaping appropriate spatial strategies. Sustainability appraisal is required in revising Regional Spatial Strategies and preparing new Local Development Documents (Development Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents). This incorporates requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, and includes consideration of the effects of implementing such plans on certain issues such as air and climatic factors. Guidance has been produced to assist authorities with this".

Which means what, exactly? I really hope they have got guidance on this because its as clear as mud to me!

Having had a quick look it appears to me to be 165 pages of gobbledygook, waffle, hot air and wasted effort. Nothing new there then!

You say cucumbers...

I had to write to the editor of PRW about an editorial (raising an evident conundrum - no obvious search link) headed The Cucumber Question, based, no doubt, on this Naked cucumbers go on trial at the UK's Co-Op

If only in light of this.

The bidding on the plane at gate 5 starts at...

It's an interesting debate at least: Green taxes are the only way to stop us flying

I have now read Final Call (with a long overdue review due soon) and can only agree with most of it.

But I have to say that the headline for me needs to change to 'Green taxes are the only way to stop some of us flying'. And whether that will be enough.

And without crippling the entire global tourist industries of the world, along with those that serve them, I can't see how that is going to happen. There are simply too many, with too much, and too much vested in ensuring that 'we' keep on getting from A to B for business or pleasure.

And that of course applies to more potentially equitable 'solutions' such as trading, unless it is on a strictly monitored, per person per year basis, and ignores the fact that a Kalahari bushman or Mekong washerwoman are as entitled to an annual quota as the next jet-setting (because 'we have to for our job') person.

I hate to be negative, but I'm stumped on this one.

The black stuff.

Newsnight addresses CARBON LABELS

I address Newsnight:

Good report. I got some facts (50% of ‘impact’ at agricultural stage alone) and a few important questions were raised.

At the outset Mr. Mason added ‘Do ‘we’ care’? I guess that will become apparent in Mr. Lunz’s poll as mentioned at the end, though I am always dubious on what people say vs. what they think or do in such cases. You tend not to be that honest if it’s about personal efforts to ‘save the planet’, especially if you’ll look bad.

Then we got into the meat (well, one veg) of the slot. I may have missed it but if every stage was covered, it seemed to screech to a halt at disposal. The whole impact of packaging and where it goes didn’t feature*.

So immediately I felt this to be incomplete. What this country, indeed the world, needs, is a grounded set of polices that cover what we consume from when it is taken from the ground to stuck back in it (or pumped skywards). With any leftovers reused, of course (see link via my name:)

Anyway, back to what was discussed. Yes, I may look at this label and say ‘there’s too much carbon’. Actually I don’t think I would say that because I don’t know what is too much for a crisp even compared even to another crisp, much less other foodstuffs. And I doubt I’m having that internal debate as I stand there at each aisle.

There’s also mention that this is the 1st manufacturer of several to get on board with this, I note voluntary, initiative. How many are there? How is all this coordinated? In addition to the health versions that vary depending on brand and retailer, I am aware of a few others either already up or being pitched on carbon footprints and/or food miles already. I have joked, and hope it does not come to haunt me, that soon a pack of Smarties will have a CDR of all it is deemed I should know before and after purchase. And that will have a mini-DVD on it, too, to cover its disposal. I am also afraid to say that, as a middle-aged slob I for one also have no clue whether 181 kcalorie per pack is good or bad for me. They are crisps. They don’t seem like they’d be good. As to 75g of carbon, ditto. Hard to put in context. And not a factor in my purchase efforts.

I note that those who embrace this scheme have ‘2 years to get it right' or lose the rights to this label/logo. Is this the only one? Or one of several? Are they competing? Are they paid for? Who monitors the monitors? Are there any official bodies who can add to the discussion?

I thought Prof. Jackson put it all in much clearer terms. And was also refreshingly pragmatic about the issues. Dairy. Beef. Or by Air: if you care about carbon don’t buy ‘em. Going to happen? A whole new dietary regime for the human race (cue vegetarians, with reason. Of course that is just a time-buying measure as the population increases. And if we are designed as omnivores Mother Nature is playing a cruel last card in her design)? I doubt it. So we get... crisps. And even then I doubt a symbol (of how many?) will do much when the chips are down.

The boss of Walkers has done all this... and doesn’t know if it’s a lot or a little. Well, I’d really wish our government, commercial, activist and even media ‘leaders’ would try and figure such things out a bit quicker before taking all sorts of PR punts to see what sticks. And then prioritize the CO2 reduction which will make the big differences first. As reduction is off the menu, I’d suggest addressing deforestation (remember your show on that?). or, closer to home, insulation for all. But that’s just me.

What also gets me very concerned is when I hear the words ‘government’ and ‘carbon market’ coming together. Money can cure a lot, but it can also sway headings when there’s a ton to be made. So if this is just a measure to get some numbers to apply to targets... oh, boy.... my kids will need to hold their breath.

I can, sort of, accept such things are better than nothing, and possibly are a hint at welcome commitments to reduce. The mention of the pricing policy that lead to such wasteful practices being dropped to the benefit of all was salutatory. But it’s only if they are done in the right ways for the right reasons. I await the TV ads with dread.

So, despite the now inevitable flip BBC climate mea culpa on what ‘just doing your job’ consumed, the question posed at the end was well made, and taken.

I await more.


As coordination is key, I have written to DEFRA:

Thank you for this. I hope it will result in positive actions.

I often quote information from such releases, but in this case did so on the blog immediately as it was pertinent and topical to another issue, namely carbon labeling.

You may see merit in coordinating efforts at inter-departmental level to bring all these stands even more closely in sync to maximise the enviROI of the whole consumer supply chain.