Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Green? That's rich!

I read one paper a week hardcopy: The Sunday Times.

The reason is mainly one of habit. I just like to sit and read a paper, by hand, for a few hours, and I think it was a combo of the free TV listings and an IT supplement called Doors (now absorbed into the Lifestyle section) that got me on it. Of course, I still surf all the rest online. Though interestingly, during the week I get perhaps more via online with the Indy and Guardian, as these guys send me an email daily. The Telegraph used to, but it seems to have vanished. The Times, as far as I am aware, does not.

Anyway, there is no substitute to having it in your hands to get a 'feel' for the paper. And I suddenly realised how this one (and frankly all the others, no matter what 'ing' their hue) has moved beyond where I am as a reader and, one presumes, target for ad materials.

Just to sample two articles from two sections this week:

Private jet sales breaking barrier

How green is my mansion?

Now I'm all for aspirational stuff, but it really seems to me that, between editorial such as this, and the ads that complement (?) them, there is a huge disconnect between what we are being served up as 'normal' lifestyle and what most of us are dealing with.

Especially that latter piece. Fun though it is to touch such worlds, if only by flattering shallow egos, I think the so-called 'quality's' need to drag their minions out of the rear-ends of all those in high fiance and celebdom and start reflecting some more pragmatic issues that really do affect us 'all'.

PRwatch - Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed

Peak oil - are we already there?

Peak Oil has been a much talked about event for quite a few years now, but this from The Guardian reports on the findings of Germany's Energy Watch Group, suggests that far from having many years to go before we get there, peak oil actually occurred in 2006. (Oh, and note the eye-catching and scaremongering headline, which talks of 'war and unrest', neither of which are mentioned again in the article.)

"The report, which predicts that production will now fall by 7% a year, comes after oil prices set new records almost every day last week, on Friday hitting more than $90 (£44) a barrel."

And I've noticed today that some futures for oil are trading around the $100+ mark.

"But the government prefers to sleep on without even doing a contingency study. For those of us who know that premature peak oil is a clear and present danger, it is impossible to understand such complacency."

There's nowt like burying your head in the sand; and this in the very week that our very own government is going to backtrack on its much vaunted renewables targets! (See Not Ready. Miss. Re-Aim below). So when big oil's pumps run dry, as they inevitably will, at least here in the UK we'll be able to fill up with alternative renewable fuels like bio-deisel and ethanol ....... NOT!!

More scary headlines ........ 'Peak Oil could trigger meltdown of society' is the headline that Renew, Reuse, Recycle comes up with for its interpretation of this same report.

ADDENDUM (from Junkk Male)

Guardian - It's rip-off Britain, even when it comes to climate change - I so envy such as Directors of orgnaisations who get paid well to say lots of things. Post by 'askingquestions' is well worth a read.

Gaurdian - Give ministers some credit for green measures

We don't need another hero

At least, and with all due deference to Tina Turner, if this is what is meant: Heroes of the environment

I actually got that from the Guardian, but lost the link. Maybe from the horse's orifice is better.

I was going to post on the CiF 'debate' but it was already below gutter level and seemed worth avoiding.

Suffice to say, I remain pretty sure my feelings about the right messengers for the message were enhanced by the fall out. What do these journalists and editors do to compile such things? Google a few green words and assume those who get the most mentions (in any context) must be doing the most?

And I say as a very reluctantly-named Green 'Hero' in a recent competition.

Why I love the internet (and blogs)

I clicked on this because it mentioned pop concerts not being the best way forward: Anita was a true activist

But I ended up appreciating it more for what blogs can throw up (if true and proven).

Check out post #5/Principe

Seems that BOFDIs are not the only one's who have, or fund, those who might push their interests for reasons other than those stated.

One man's activist is another's agenda pusher?

But I will try and stick with the argument and ignore who is making it. Nice one, Guardian.

Not ready. Miss. Re-aim.

Labour's plan to abandon renewable energy targets

It's not MY fault that today has a bit of a target theme.

There are just so many of 'em you'd think someone could hit something.

But no.

Hence the next best thing seesm to be to remove them as anything worth going for in the first, or last, place.

Thing is, just how much has been consumed... wasted... in all the processes leading up them so far?

I think we should know. To see what else maybe we can do without.

Making a monkey of surveys

Some online surveys I get seem to be powered by a thing called 'Survey Monkey'.

Never really thought about it until now, but considering the number we get, and the value most have, you could do worse to hire a troupe of chimps to write the questions, ask 'em, collate the answers, publish the results and then report on them.

The latter brings me to the fact that according to the BBC (I'm sure some online will clarify further later) the people of Winchester need to hang their heads in shame.

Yes, in the nth survey result of the week on matters eco, and the second just today, we learn that this fair town is single-handedly causing the world to burn.

There will be a fuss, and a flurry of stuff, and then the circus will move on. What possible use is all that?

Targets, with the possibility of more targets soon

Just caught the tail end of a BBC News piece on excess packaging.

Don't know what kicked it off (will add later if any follow-up on or offline), but on the sofa was a guy from M&S and Lucy Siegel from the Observer.

He was rather copping it from her and the BBC sofa warriors, and I was wondering why. From the sound of it either a) they came bottom in 'a' survey (in which case one wonders which one, as they came top in the majority I read... ah, surveys) or b) the others didn't turn up. A few 'statements' were read out.

Other than being discomfiting for this gent, who was subject to a set of target and date demands, and agreeing that 'things need to improve', I am unsure where this piece moved us on to.

The key, certainly alluded to, is working together with those tasked to deal with the waste produced in manners such that the consumer knows what to do... and does it.

But representatives of such entities were noticeably absent. Leaving us with just another set of targets now that will be forgotten, and likely be unmet, as soon as the media turn their attention elsewhere.

ADDENDUM - That'll teach me to hang fire! it is actually a major feature. Seems that yet another survey (my fourth in a week), this time from the Local Government Association (LGA) has dumped on our major retailers for the packaging waste problem.

As to M&S, it seems they came bottom (which makes one wonder about the other surveys mentioned in these posts recently), which rather suggest that plans (even if they are 'A') are about as much cop as targets.

Actually I have no cause yet (until I read an online report in more detail) to change much else of what I wrote. I rather suspect this might stray into a bit of finger-pointing as the LAs and government (well silent so far) are not exactly innocent here.

Also, in terms of enviROI, I really hope that we won't see some knee-jerk actions away from what looks good or meets a target at the expense of common sense. I do wonder if there is more concern about what is not going into the appropriate bin and gets measured as opposed to what costs the planet. It seems disingenuous to equate what and how one buys from a street stall with the logistics of a supermarket. And a skip full of neatly sorted veg trays may be lovely to behold, but not if elsewhere there are ten full of rejected food waste.

Indy - National supermarkets criticised over failure to cut levels of packaging

Didn't take long! And yes, yet another survey. I just have to wonder... 'a market?'

This amplification doesn't change my views on reasons behind much of this, or indeed the lack of real solutions.

Indy - Customers could dump wrappers before leaving shop under new law

BBC - tried to find the story. Got as far as here. Failed as link didn't work.

One word: 'could'. Next words: Is this unfairly shunting the issue onto only one section when we need a proper, coordinated approach from all protagonists first?'

Guardian - M&S gets the lowest green rating in packaging survey - What price a £100kpa CSR guru now?

Guardian (podcast) - 'The cost is passed on to the council taxpayer' - Let the games begin.

I was on board pretty much until the end.

That came across a tad as 'Help 'us' meet targets or we'll drop the fines on 'you'.'

What if these targets are not that relevant in the overall enviROI+ scheme of things (I don't know, but would like to see how a trip to one supermarket compares in terms of 'footprint' to going to several places. Or how the consequences of packaging waste stack up vs. food waste as a consequence of rejected/disposed of foodstuffs).

When there are so many departments/quangos whose officers/directors are on bonuses based on simply getting rates up in their sectors, I am afraid my confidence is dented in the motives any comms effort, especially funded with our money, on ads and PR campaigns.

Our paying to fund the mechanism to drive up rates to improve such folks' bonuses strikes me as a conflict of interest at best.

And in a nation of 60B+ and soaring, most working 12 hrs a day just to stay on top of life's demands (and those of a growing public service in terms of salaries and pensions), I am not yet convinced just whose best interests are being served by some of these initiatives and the media efforts thrown behind them.