Monday, December 10, 2007

The wind and the willowy

Dave has beaten me to it, but as he looks at things from the ruthlessly scientific, I often come at it all, I hope in complement, more for the ad-man's view of consumer perceptions.

And words were important this morning, especially with BBC Breakfast 'press release read out'.

Of course I perked up when I heard this country was going to be independent of nasty foreigners and free of emissions in terms of energy, and all all within an awesome timeframe.

Where I did find my eyebrow cranking was in the manner of deliverables.

I can't quite recall, but I think it was broken into three. Which, for reasons of narrative, I will repeat in reverse order.

The last was something social, I think, like shredded seagulls. I'm afraid I can't really get into that. If all creatures are going to be toast anyway, I think some sacrifices need to be made and I can live with this aspect. I also have to say that the whole view thing is getting a bit silly... at least as the main objection.

The next was more significant. Lots more. Oodles more. But was breezed over rather blithely. Money. What this was going to cost.... us. It's one thing to say 'of course this will impact..', but quite another when this get divorced too much from enviROI.

Speaking of which, this brings me to the last. And it was headed 'Reliability'.

'Ah-ha!', I thought. A nettle being grasped.

Alas, no. This was reliability of supply. Significant to be sure, and I'm not clear I got any answers as to how 'could' supply translated into 'will' supply, once inconvenient facts on durations and useful levels of actual wind speed are factored in.

But, and here's the thing, no mention of what I was thinking of under reliability. Namely how these things are at doing what they do, parked into the ocean, being battered daily by wind and salt water. And this has to be important, as they might not be the best option if we are having to rebuild them a lot more often than claimed.

Which brings me to the word 'Quality'. Because this was the next piece of the morning 'sofa, so trivial' news. Seems 'we' are going back to 'quality', at least in fashion, and to encourage us to spend as much as we can on such essentials as thigh-length patent leather boots we had some 'expert' whose only contribution was a gallon of peroxide down the sink and an outfit that looked like she was on her way back from leaning on a Kings X lamp post all night.

Seems the collective wisdom of the group was that 'quality' equated to buy one massively expensive bit of tat because of the label, as opposed to a series of cheaper bits of tat with less ad-supported ones. And it was acknowledged all round that these things were only good for a few outings until the next fad comes around... but who cares.

My definition of 'quality' is slightly different, and more to do with the one I have for 'reliability'. Things that last.

Shame our national broadcaster can't seem to get on board with that, too, especially as it pumps out what it thinks are the necessary box-tickers on enviro issues at the same time as a bloated squanderfest.

Such as Declan's ongoing woeful romp with the 'low carbon' family. Today we got a few tips on green Christmas. And a sorry collection they were too. The only time I thought it did get potentially interesting was when he pointed out to the guy selling Xmas tat that encouraging the purchase of eco stuff that you didn't need to replace year on year wasn't a great economic model. The answer was less than convincing, I felt.

Nor were the comments to all this as sign-offs from our overpaid guardians of the Christmas eco-message. Declan referred to the closing of the carbon family's efforts over the year as an 'end to the punishment' . The bouffant scored e-cards as 'not as nice as the real thing'. And the blonde thought LED Xmas lights were not as 'nice and twinkly'.

And that was the message I left with. 'Yes, talk about it for sure. But we're not changing even if we have been told to tell you you should'. Nice.


Gaurdian - Wind energy to power UK by 2020, (sez who?) government says

Guardian - Blow by Blow

Thank you!!!!

But then, why the heck if you - as a journalist, and one with what one might imagine a more than average desire to see such things through the greenest of hued glasses (no offence) - can see through this, am I getting fed the rosiest of 'couldfests' by the national broadcaster and others?

On their take 'we' 'could' be firing up the jacuzzi on windy alt-eng supply from a coastal array in the next few decades.

Where are the facts? I desperately want this all to be true, but other than some vague tilts to a few 'issues', I am none the wiser on actual deliverables.

Stuff such as 'costs' are alluded to, but they 'may' be vast and 'may' be ridiculously excessive. And all dumped on the consumer, too late to argue, when the Minister and the MEP are doing a post-pension fact-checking tour of the engineering contractors' lobby firm's beach villas.

And then there was 'reliability'. Not the one I am more concerned about, namely how these things stand up to the wind and salt water for the claimed lifespan, but the almost as pertinent one of how what they say they will do actually gets done by way of turning wind into usable 'leccy 24/7.

Until this piece I thought my kid's'futures were really going to be decided, by our major media at least, on the basis of a government press release. Shame so few others may see there are BIG questions that need asking before rushing to print or the screen.

Look, but don't touch? Say, but don't do?

BBC - Climate change goal 'unreachable' - Their headline. And we know how good we are scoring goals, anyway.

Despite this, I don't feel like giving up.... yet.


Guardain - UK's official CO2 figures an illusion - study - Oopsie. Now, where have I heard this a few score times today: 'UK claims to lead the world on action against global warming'

Why I love today's media. Not.

Zero to do with the environment; everything to do with who we should view those who claim to report it on our behalves:

Revealed: scientist who sparked racism row has black genes

Whether one feels like getting into James Watson's belief systems or not in this PC-obsessed age, I sure hope the Indy is proud of every aspect of their involvement in this 'story', including that headline.

Sad, sad, sad.

Forests, trees... and weeds

Good news: Giant rainforest in Sierra Leone wins protection

Meanwhile, in other, less good news: 'The UN talks in Bali, which end on Friday, ran into problems yesterday when delegates failed to agree on a plan to promote trade in "green goods", such as wind turbines and solar panels, between rich and poor countries.'

There's a surprise.

One eroding island, two opposing views

Sometimes you come across something by chance, as in the case with this article I spotted from the American Daily. As I read it my eyebrows raised ever higher; it's a vindictive and scurrilous attack on an original article from the LA Times, and on any who might dare to believe that climate change is anything to do with mankind.

At the bottom of this virulent diatribe is a reference to the original article from the LA Times.

Read both, and I'll bet your reaction is exactly like mine.

The thing is, neither the original nor the attack article reinforce the absolutely key point - the island is rapidly eroding because the autumn ice that used to protect Kivalina a couple of decades ago is no longer present, because of global warming. The Autumn storms now directly wash away the sand the coast of Kivalina is made from at will. It probably HAS been eroding for perhaps a 100 years+, but over the last 15 to 20 years it's been eroding at an ever increasing pace until it now threatens the Eskimo inhabitants with relocation.

But I guess my scientific viewpoint must be becoming obscured, because underneath, at least according to the American Daily, I'm just a simple 'globaloney scaremongerer'.

ADDENDUM - Junkk Male - Have Your Say: Environmental 'crime' - Kinda fits here

Climate change - it's all our fault. Discuss.

t'is... t'isn't T'IS! T'ISN'T! T'IS!!!!!! T'ISN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, you all ready are.

Me? I'm going with probably man-worsened climate change, just to err on the safe side for my kids' sakes.

But I'm sure another conference couldn't hurt, too. Indy can organise. And BP could sponsor it. And all the shouty types from either extreme could go there and do in person what they do here.

Leaving some free to set about DOING stuff.

That said, it's tricky without first asking a few questions, especially those to which the answers remaining tantalisingly vague.

Like why the BBC and many media are running headlines about how we 'could' be running on wind-powered renewable energy if enough money is thrown around. Why 'could'? Can't we see what the actual numbers are? They must exist. Wind speeds. Durations. Conversions. Lifespan of gearboxes in exposed salt-air conditions. The ROI? The enviROI?

Having bought into the caution, I don't mind getting on board with mitigations or even reductions, but I have to be convinced first.

Yet the big argument seems still to be whether they are even necessary. So to those of the more pessimistic persuasion, I'd suggest leaving those who would stall progress by arguing %ages in glorious isolation (and for sure don't leave open goals by trying the 'there's a funded cabal of big oilers spoiling the thread' argument at the expense of coming up with a decent one to make a decent point), and focus more on making what may well need to be done a lot more convincing and/or palatable to the vast majority ducking under such absolutist 'debate' and trying to get on with their lives.

Fat chance.

Carry on smokin'.

Indy - This project is a licence to wreak environmental havoc - I append this for a few reasons. Firstly, I note that this is a leader penned by just one party to the argument. I always find this discomfiting, partly because of what it means to the quality of informed, balanced debate (can't quiet see a BP rep. having much chance with an upside, mind), but also how it erodes one's faith in the medium. Preaching to the converted my be more comfortable, but I am unsure as to its value.

That all said, it also highlights why I have such mixed feelings on Greepeace. This kind of thing they seem good at. However, the wind power flag-waver I saw on TV today was less than inspiring in his 'green at any cost' advocacy.

See what you get when a committee is involved

We had our first peek at the Olympic logo today. First impressions don't seem to feel it was worth all the money, and effort, expended.


No, don't hold back... say what you think.

Nice to see the money diverted from the arts to cover all sorts of derrieres is still be used wisely.

I wonder how many times they had to send it back and forth to get it 5 x over budget.


Sorry, I am addicted to this...

To be fair....

Having been part of the process more than once, I feel a tad (but £400k buys a lot of pain relief) sorry for the actual designers who will get fingered by the tabloids.

There will have been a brief, and there will have been a presentation. And I am prepared to bet there will have been mid-level numpties in the client marketing side who dicked about trying to put their stamp on it and justify their 30k non-jobs.

But, WO-is-you, you can always walk away.

What's the name of the mythical director on movies no one wants to own up to?

Guardian - London's new brand of bother

Cif - Go Logo

Logo design - .007p (actually, that's what they owe each of us)

The most up its own derriere marketing-speek explanation/justification from the creators - £400,000

The saddest piece of quango self-immolation in history by every sad sod involved, but especially the senior guys in the committee and government - Priceless!

Houston, we have a camel.

Let the blame games begin!

Telegraph - A new Olympic record?
This typifies the state of government today.

They farm out everything (my daily exasperation is the environment, with billions being p*ssed away hourly to zero effect) to equally inept, but vastly overpaid third parties who it seems, can be blamed but not held accountable.

Meanwhile nothing actually gets done that's worth a damn, but there's a lot of money sunk into looking like it's getting done, which is all that matters in our target, hype and spin-obsessed political and business cultures. With the a*se-cover the main point of any initiative.

The tragic part is... even what they try and look like they are doing is so woeful. But at least the derriere protection systems always seem golden.

Will one single person, or committee (I presume this numpty effort was briefed and approved by some worthy set of individuals on fat salaries) responsible for this farce pay any price? Our reputation as... well... good at anything really, from organising a p*ss-up to designing world-class creative ideas, is already well and truly shot.


Telegraph - 'Green' Olympics are a joke

And now they have produced a logo to match the rest of it.

Over priced. Over hyped. Over budget. Over here.

And nothing like what they are trying to bully us into accepting they say it is.

I'd laugh with you, but my face is still in a rictus of horror.

Over and out.

BBC - What it could have been. Sigh.
Creative Match
Indy - No-go logos: The story of unpopular branding
Times - Olympic logo firm chosen ‘blind'

UPDATED - BBC - 2012 Olympics budget 'on track' - Just in a different ballpark?

More warnings

See, it's not just me, everyone's churning out warnings about the implications of climate change. Yet another report pointing out the tensions that climate change will likely induce has been published as reported by The Straits Times - "climate change could heighten tensions and trigger conflicts worldwide"

Here's ReliefWeb's commentary on the same report. "The report suggests four 'climate-induced conflict constellations'. These are degradation of freshwaters; decline in food production; increase in storm and flood disasters and environmentally-induced migration."

Not only that, but the International Herald Tribune reports that the World Health Organisation is warning "The world must prepare now for the serious impact climate change will have on health, from a jump in waterborne diseases to heart attacks and heat-wave deaths"

All wind and bluster?

Or, perhaps, a real positive step forward?

Despite the fact that some question the ROI of wind turbines and that there is already a worldwide shortage of turbine technology due to the massive increase in demand, the government seem intent on a major offshore wind turbine program. Some 7,000 new wind turbines with a capacity of up to 25GW are planned.

"Every home in the country could be supplied by wind power alone in 2020 by making full use of the wind-swept seas around the country"

Big claim. Let's see if it's followed up with actual action. Oh, damn, I just spotted that it contains that magic word 'could' again!

BBC - Wind power plan for every home.

FT - Government pursues offshore wind power plan.