Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fancy a floating house?

The Dutch are renowned for planning ahead, its probably something to do with the fact that 20% of Holland actually lies below sea level and history has taught them many lessons in flood defence. This from the Indy reports on how they are now designing houses that are safe from flooding, they are designed to rise on anchored concrete poles to keep them safe and watertight.

There are probably quite a few lessons we could learn from them about building on flood plains and other areas prone to flooding, but I suspect that our own planning authorities will consider that they know better.

Elf 'n safety - the next targets?

Sometimes, I wonder if we are slowly heading towards a completely totalitarian state whereby you cannot do, see, say, read, eat, drink, think or discuss anything that the state has not first approved. Every day it seems that something else is going to get banned or prohibited, or is brought under some new legislation that requires permission from a set of faceless bureaucrats before you can start, or do it.

This from the Times suggests the next ten things that elf 'n safety might look at banning - planet ban-it.

Now some of these appear to be fairly sensible, but others, at least to me, seem so bloody ludicrous they are hardly worthy of comment.

Hmmmmm, also interesting to note that this article contains yet another reference to some discredited and never published 'scientific' [not] study claiming that heart attack rates in Scotland have fallen by 20% in the first ten months of the smoking ban, which they definitively have not. A classic case of 'Post hoc ergo propter hoc' (after this, therefore because of this) that is demonstrably false, yet still quoted as fact without reference.

Getting off the ground

Some eco-initiatives often raise concerns on viability. I'm crossing fingers this at least offers some sense of hope for genuine application: The sun kings out to conquer the world

A smaller glass for your wine, Mr. Falstaff?

Going green in a Hummer?

Glad to see that question mark. Because we go from '..to get..' to '..is proving..' to '..currently working on...' to '...he predicts...' in short order.

Sadly this kind of proves a point. If he had being doing his mileage job on a Civic how many in the media firmament would care? Or write about it?

Which kind of glosses over acknowledging that if we do need personal transport, then maybe instead of using technology to make the bloated behemoths some have 'better', it might be more productive to first cut down to more reasonable sizes and then play with them.

Which is why hydrogen powered Hummers for Arnie and 7 series for rose (or rather green)-tinted 'Captains of Eco-mmerce' kinda wash over me. Seems they can't quite do modest in all their efforts to show the rest of us the way to go.

ADDENDUM - Speaking of Hyrdogen - ST Letters - Can't vouch for the science (which makes these 'replies' objects of caution as the media seldom clarify at ll, much less later), but it is worth bearing in mind.

ADDENDUM 2 - ST Letters - I was watching out for this, which shows as much about the way debates can get streeeecthed out so they lose coherence, as much as the 'facts' being debated, when they are. Don't know about you, but I am none the wiser now.

ADDENDUM 3 - ST Letters

Love me now. When I'm gone, who cares?

The other day I had cause to offer an analogy to someone who celebrated all the benefits that growing numbers bring.

Basically it was that a pint of beer being filled brought greater and greater benefits until the limit was reached. And then all you get is a mess. Oh, and immigartion and poulation are not the same, if related :)

I feel like offering the same to this guy: A retort to the population control freaks

I also note the interesting selection of new terminology in the headline from 'ists, ingers and zi's - the bible of the dodgy and/or losing cause counter argument brigade'.

He doesn't accept the assumption that this country is unbearably overcrowded – or would be at 71m. So... when would he accept it would... might be? Or is that a problem for a future person to try and have the guts to ponder before it is too late? Gosh, it must be lovely only to think liberal thoughts all the time where no realities creep in to spoil the view. And get paid to 'defend' them without fear of any consequence in your lifetime.

Sadly, thanks to the knees of such jerks (see, I can do double-e's, too), sensible discussion is seldom to be discovered, and so we are served the ponderings of those perhaps less sensitive to the human condition who, in complement, are not so worried about folk think of them. And are, hence, not the best advocates for rational views. But certainly gibe writers such as this enough to earn a crust.

Might explain the absence of statespersonship these days, I guess.

Indy - Letters - Dave gets his wish:)

What's in a name?

A lot, depending on who thinks it belongs to: Early birds hit back

"On behalf of all early risers, may I say how much we are enjoying the lighter mornings now that we are back in "real" time. I agree with Peter Martin (letter, 31 October) that changing the clocks is nothing but a nuisance...'

It would seem having the PM moniker confers much gobbiness on the owner. So now I can add another to the vocal crew...

Wasn't me guv! This time...

A good one for the LHRH files

That's left hand:right hand for those who don't know: A waste of energy

This also serves to make my point about the 'quality' papers having a darn funny idea of how to engage with the majority. Not all of us can spend on buying our houses what this guy spends on eco-upgrades. Good on him for enviROI+ (Or is it? Could the money have been better directed to save the planet for our kids?), but the ROI is beyond most of us.

But the rest applies to us all. HIP, HIP... Hoo...ey

While you're out luv, could you get me a pack of cars?

In the same edition that looked at causes of MWCC: Here comes the £1,200 car

But I'm betting they have 'Bags for Life' when the do their shopping at the mall.

Closing the garage door after the main issues has accelerated away?

Just a p*ss in the ocean?

Remember the idea of dumping tons of iron filings in the oceans to encourage phytoplankton blooms? See 'iron filings to remove CO2'.

Well, now an Australian company is planning a similar exercise, as reported in the Telegraph today, using hundreds of tons of Urea, a substance found in some quantity in urine. Urea contains a high proportion of Nitrogen, an element critical to the development of phytoplankton.

The thing is, none of these geo-engineering solutions to climate change is proven, and nobody knows just what problems, or even dangers, might result.

Perhaps it will work, or perhaps it literally will be nothing more than a p*ss in the ocean!

Quills sharpened, and dipped in...?

An interesting choice for the Sunday Times' review of the Bjorn Lomborg book: Cool It

Richard Girling is eminently qualified and actually I have a lot of time for him, but in view of his environmental advocacy I do wonder whether he could be seen to be approaching it from a balanced viewpoint.

But rely on it I must, as I have not the money nor the time to invest in reading it myself. At least not for a while.

Lomborg’s view is certainly a view. And though it's coming from a different place and leading to different conclusion to mine on best moves, he at least seems to have the spirit of enviROI at heart, where few others do.

But logic certainly does not seem to be his strong point, as this amply nails: ' If we really can’t stand the heat, then he looks forward to “increased access to air-conditioning”. How these powerful appliances can be run without further consumption of fossil fuel is another nice teaser for the technology boys.'

Does this review serve the cause any more than Mr. Lomborg's book? For me, not really. As a poster has indicated: 'I would also suggest that characterizing skeptics as 'nutters' and 'right-wing pressure groups' is evidence of a rather unscientific attitude. And I speak as a left-winger. ' Quite.

And speaking of crass and callous, on the subject that dare not be discussed, I merely note a slight disconnect between corrective mechanisms that nature may already being employing and the advocacy for where more money goes if not to address climate change. I must carefully avoid any opinion one way or the other, but there seems to be some logical (but not moral or ethical or compassionate) issues to consider here.

ADDENDUM - A question was posed, so I replied... and had a wee dig:

'...if one does not already exist. If one is available, please help direct me. Henry Markant'

You can try RealClimate.org.

As with everything in the heated (warmed?) debate cum industry, you have to read what is being said and who/where it's coming from, but as an attempt at looking at the facts and science objectively it's better than most.

Though as it gets more popular the pejoratives from either side are starting to creep in before you ever get to proper analysis, as they have here.

ADDENDUM - The western appetite for biofuels is causing starvation in the poor world
- meanwhile, back at the coalface (I mix metaphors a bit). On the one hand biofuels look like a techno-solution. On the other...


It's a tricky balance, but I have noticed the BBC often seems to have become an additional commercial arm of the retail trade.

You kind of expect and allow that some author or film star (who are simply business persons in another industry) get to flog their wares to a rapt presenter, but watching the morning news 'business' section it's really getting beyond a joke.

I just watched M&S's Sir Stuart Rose breeze over a few possibly reasonable areas of business interest (giving folk recyclable bags is 'popular'. Well, D'Uh. What the enviROI of all that is I don't know. Plus where the 5p charge for the new plastic bags you'll need, if and when you forget to bring the other version subsequently, goes where?) to get to the real point: a screed of PR speak on how the new stores will be lovely with great stuff, etc, etc. He even grabbed a pair of knickers of the rail to squeeze in a 'shop now for Xmas, plea'.

Really Aunty. I have just one word for you: BOGOF - Bringing On Gents Obviously Flogging

ADDENDUM - A few days on, and I am treated to an extended commercial for Tesco. This time it is its attempts at cracking the US market with Fresh 'n Easy. I guess I can just about see how this can happen in a 'business' section.

However, there was a certain irony with it being in sequence with a slot on a restaurant who has got into the Guinness Book of Records by offering up (for all who visit and pay) the world's most expensive dessert. This is by the simple expedient of serving it in a gaudy ton of precious metals on the outside, and pouring more of the same into it.

Obviously a good way to get any media who are tired of moderation or reduced consumerism slots to aid the cause of MWCC I guess.

Blowing (budgets) in the wind

Hot on the heels of the piece on targets, I have to share this: Ministry of the flaming obvious

That's MOTFO. Of course I have long had my own acronym, STABO (Statin' The Absolute Bleedin' Obvious) for such institutional , fiscally squandering insanity, and feel it needs to be 'evolved with an additional prefix, GE, for 'Generating Empires'.

Seems appropriate, somehow. What was the forte of the guy in charge of a similarly-named, well-staffed, thought-control outfit a while ago?

Sample - In a total of 32 pages it rams home the astonishing message that winter can be a little on the chilly side.

Or... 'There is no social problem so pressing that it cannot be solved by a statement of the bleeding obvious delivered in a patronising tone.' Which requires a lot of money for people to come up with it, and even more to disseminate it. And who pays?

Now, I can send and invitation to the author to join our club, because he's arrived at this: 'What this suggests to me is that modern government is no longer interested in getting things done. What is much more important is giving the impression of activity.'

I wonder how they'll be getting there?

Coming soon to your home: a personal adviser on how to get to work by bus

Unless they are in Ross, the only option is bus. In which case, I might first ask how much the trip cost the taxpayer... and I don't mean just the fare.

So I would be keen to know a lot more about this was/is arrived at: '...trials showed huge decreases in car travel for only a few million pounds of public spending. '

2k & counting!

Just noticed that we have slid past 2,000 posts.

Some kind of milestone I guess:)

Thanks to all who have contributed... and read.