Monday, November 12, 2007

What comes after the Prius?

According to this from today's Times, Toyota is planning a seriously greener future. As one of the few vehicle manufacturers actually making any real money, they have a substantial pot to invest, and a good chunk of that pot is going into a greener future.

"Toyota will spend its fortune developing single-seat hybrid vehicles, fuel cells, next-generation batteries, bio-fuels and the commercialisation of humanoid helper robots."

Ooooh. I wonder if they're planning to let the robot drive for you?

O, how 'tis the end for words to compare thee to

In light of my predilection for acronyms, I thought it was funny: Today's Britain: dipso, fatso, bingo, asbo, Tesco

Actually it also reminds me of Snow White.

Which Lighbulb?

Having been attacked just now by my local Mrs. SME from the 'leccy shop, brandishing here copy, I just signed up (Lord help me - I dread the avalanche of DM that I know will ensue, plus the equally no fun procedures to get out of my sub if it's no longer of interest) fro a Which? trial sub.

Because they have done a big number on bulbs, rendering my ongoing and as yet unpublished efforts pretty meagre, I am sure.

However, it's all good extra grist t'mill, so I look forward to having a scope and reporting back any insights.

I do have many concerns, especially when it comes to reliability issues. Low energy does not always mean long life.

She was a bit more concerned with the Mercury issue, which apparently has all sorts of WEEE & H&S consequences currently lurking under various carpets in some quarters.

Wathc this space.

Incentives for renewables?

Not according to eGov Monitor, who reckon that rather than reward businesses for going green, Ol' Golden's policies imply that businesses who reduce their energy bills by installing solar panels, wind turbines and the like, are going to be hit with bigger tax bills!

"The Valuation Office Agency, an arm of Inland Revenue, is preparing to tax solar panels, wind turbines and micro-generation technology with higher business rates and council tax bills."

"a solar panel 'will never achieve a payback, but would be a continual financial drain on the company'. A typical wind turbine for commercial premises will increase the business rates bill by £1,350 a year, while a solar (photovoltaic) installation will mean an extra £2,700 a year in rates."

What the hell is going on? This is turning into an utter shambles! I despair at the inept capabilities and crass stupidity of our esteemed government. We are supposed to be encouraging the uptake of renewables, not bloody well penalising them!

And this on the day when a top UN official states that it would be criminally irresponsible not to tackle global warming!

'Peak Oil' plus 'Climate change' equals what?

Well, some quite frightening trends, and some scary scenarios, according to this piece from Saturday's Irish Times.

"Energy and climate change are now directly affecting the world's peace and prosperity. We have only a short time to cut oil dependence and slash carbon emissions."

Time for mankind to get its act together? Or too late to do so?

Could do better?

Despite recent improvements in the amount of waste that we recycle and compost here in the UK, and an actual reduction in what goes to landfill, we are still the dustbin of Europe.

The UK is still "throwing more waste into landfill than any other country in the EU."

It reminds me of the sort of comments you got in old school reports......... 'U.K. is making progress but needs to work harder to master the subject'.

BBC - You can never have enough dustbin headlines (Junkk Male addendum)

A Going Overboard Government

Yes, it's an acronym. AGOG. I think it is deserved: Motorists risk £60 fines for smoking behind the wheel

I don't smoke. But I do drive. And I do like to know what I can and can't do, so I can avoid doing the latter. This simply seems designed to create confusion enough to ensure a steady stream of revenue.

Because I am trying to grasp how these sentences, I presume provided by this country’s legislators and law enforcers, can sit together in a viable manner:

‘... inclusion of smoking ... as a potential hazard.’
“... the smoking reference in the code was an advisory one and it was down to the discretion of police forces...’
‘Transgressors could face criminal charges “if someone was deemed ...’

Is it or is it not LEGAL to smoke whilst driving? If it still is, then this seems to be a fundamental assault (and not the first) on the chances of any law-abiding person being able to understand the law enough to obey it, much less those in theory tasked to enforce it.

How can you face criminal charges on something that is advisory????

This is clear institutional anarchy.

Hot air. Spinning. Big bores.

Handed it to me a bit on a plate. Shame about the cliches.... mine), though: Wind turbine and tidal power in £20m green plan for Westminster

All I ask is that this is for real and not just for show. I am unsure if a 35m high wind turbine will work that well in Central London, no matter how bold a statement it may be, though along the river it just might. Tidal seems a lot more promising.

"It's a plant' - Or, how not to serve the cause of enviro-persuasion

Planted question damages Clinton in key primary state

It's not so much that it was done (I'd guess it is almost standard practice, at least between No 10 and the BBC) but, like Nixon, the getting caught. And being so clunky. And for such a god-awful question... but mostly for such a sad answer if it was 'prepared'.

Gaurdian - I'm glad you asked

All these messages. And where to stick them.

I was watching the Breakfast News this morning, and in an hour counted about three 'campaigns' for awareness.

One that struck home was something to do with disability, but mainly because it involves Aardman and its awesome animations. But mainly I sat there thinking just how much money had already been consumed rather than actually going where it might help. Especially as I listened to the dapper Director of Communications articulating his 'vision', doubtless outside a several storey Belgravia Office.

Beyond the amount of money going into sticking these in front of us at every turn, as a copywriter I frankly despair at the creative strategies and executions I witness.

See that pear ad? It was in the Sunday Times magazine today (guess how much that costs). It now has copy. Guess what it says: 'Sadder still, it could still be eaten'. Then a bunch of waffle about what food waste costs and a 'tip' (at last) about how to prolong its life: stick it in the fridge. Well, D'uh. Unless it's a banana, as that doesn't seem to work. Or bread. Which seems to go mouldy quicker.

I'm sure these exceptions are on the site, which I will of course share. Through gritted lack of funding.

The next was from the Grauniad. Some eco-energy effort that they have hooked up with. Ignoring the actuality of what they may be selling in competition to others, which seems not to trouble the 'supporting' (er, getting paid) medium, does that line have you, Mr/s. business person, rushing to sign up? Me, either.

And finally, a poster from my supermarket carpark. Inspired? Was I... heck. How much could this spend be better applied where it can DO some GOOD!

A week is a long time in plastic bags

It's a matter of almost biblical proportion. And so I read this: Sunday Times - Stores face ban on free carrier bags*

Last week, of course, was one 'in focus', so it was wall to wall. And, to be fair, tucked away in my magazine was a wall chart. Interestingly it highlighted a quote that stated the rather obvious point that was happening at present was more to do with making money before worrying about planet.

But we're all still at it. Government. Newspapers. Me.

See that first picture? That's today's mail. Half a dozen plastic bags containing stuff I subscribe to. (I also realised there are duplicates and am on the cancellation trail... assuming they will let me - often targets mean they are not keen on reduced numbers).

See the second picture? That yesterday's shopping and the week's plastic from mailings. Depending on whether I remember or not to bring my climate summit hessian tote, I now acquire about 3-4 carriers a week. Which get used as bin liners.

Against that there is a BINFUL of publication wrappers. All useless (though I have an idea on how to make them useful). Now I don't pretend to know the details of why they may or may not be needed, enviROI vs. ROI, but that looks to me like an awful lot of plastic bags I have seen not one squawk about from government or liberal media, with all their campaigning and protest and names and shames.

And just for fun, I have been sent a screed of stuff on a major consultation (it's in here somewhere) on it all by the London Assembly. How many people spending how much time on something of how much relevance at the expense of what else?

Shopping bag levy or ban in London?

Should there be a London-wide ban on the use of shopping bags? Or are Londoners prepared to pay for the bags they get with their shopping? What action are Londoners taking to reduce the number of plastic bags they use? And how can retailers minimise the impact their bags have on the environment?

These and other questions will be considered at a meeting of the London Assembly’s Environment Committee on Thursday 15 November 2007 at City Hall.

Committee Members will question representatives from the following organisations on how to reduce the number of shopping bags issued in London in light of proposals from London Councils to impose a ban or levy on all single use shopping bags in the capital:

· Friends of the Earth
· London Councils
· British Retail Consortium
· Carrier Bag Consortium
· Marks and Spencer
· Sainsbury’s

I know it's An issue, but is it really as big a one as this lot would make out?

* ps - small note on surveys. When I read this 'The move follows a six-week public consultation in which 60% of the 1,752 people who took part supported a ban', my eyebrow goes into orbit. What on earth does 'took part' mean? If it is 'could be bothered to reply', well, what did they think they'd say?

Stale Cream

I have a saying: 'Cream rises to the top; you can't push it'. I may have to rethink that: Quango fat cats reap the price

Recently our local prospective parliamentary candidate wrote in our local paper about DEFRA. He reveals it has spent £1.1 billion on consultants. And yet has managed to acheive almost sod all.

I still mind forking out, but wouldn't so much if the result(s) were any damn good!!! And there seems to be no effective way to get rid of them, leaving them clear to squander more and more, again and again.

Fat cat row over public sector pay

Some great, telling comments in feedback.

Slim down the fat cats

Peers help themselves to £300 a day tax-free

Indy - Pay for public sector bosses rises by 12.8 per cent

Indy - Gordon Brown's efforts to enlarge Blair's 'big tent' are beginning to backfire spectacularly - As much a Friend of..' as those he critiques, by enough smoke to indicate the presence of fire... only with no bright sparks. Just smouldering members.

Reader's Digest - November - Feeding Time in Quango Land - Sadly no link. I will write to them and post here.

Apparently, these things are set up 'to be the most effective and efficient method of conducting government business, and are closed down when no longer required'. Really? How many have been pensioned off? I use that word on purpose, because from the jobs ads I see in the papers, an awful lot look to be in it for a very long haul, golden parachutes included. Once folk are in public service jobs, they seem to be impossible to dislodge, no matter how unproductive or inept.

I also note 'Ministers are accountable'. Well, great. But how does one get a hold of the accounts to see how good they are at overseeing all this? How does one measure the ROIs on the bazzillions these guys spend? Especially when the order of priority seems to be self, bonuses, staff, offices and empires, before we get to comms budgets to drive up 'rates' that in turn are tied to bonuses, which just has to be a major conflict of interest at best. And that's before any money actually gets to doing something where it is meant to go.

My area of interest, the environment, is riven with such waste and squandering. And with no sign of a let-up. In just the last few weeks I have seen at least two 'new' campaigns doing roughly the same thing as each other, with different target-rewarded quangos at their hearts. They just seem to exist as highly expensive, rewarding (for those in them) game-playing entities with no sensible measures of value. And I can't see for the life of me see why, other than to create yet more layers of fat beholden to political masters come voting time, and perhaps a nifty unelected layer of protection for when the sh*t hits the fan and some compliant sacrificial goats are required to fall on swords for a huge payoff.

Only even this doesn't seem to apply as they all are hanging on for extremely dear life.


BBC - Quango pays director's firm £2m - 'Nice work if you can get, if you can get it..'