Sunday, August 31, 2008
It has finally happened.
For the first time in human history, both fabled North West and North East passages are open, making the Arctic ocean capable of being circumnavigated. It is thought that this unprecedented event has never occurred during the last 125,000 years, and some scientists now believe that the Arctic ice cap is entering a death spiral from which it will never recover, leading to the Arctic being ice free during the summer months, perhaps as early as 2030.
The NSIDC reports (as of 26/8/2008) that the ice extent is the second lowest on record, and with a couple of weeks of ice melt left to come, it may well be that last year's largest ice loss record could be broken again.
The ice loss is regarded as direct evidence that our little lump of planetary rock IS warming, and whether you believe the warming is man-made (or worsened), as the IPCC consensus states, or entirely natural (as many believe to be the case), it would suggest that things are going to change for humanity rather significantly.
My question is - what if the Greenland ice cap IS following suite and also starts to disappear? Perhaps this is the time to buy shares in welly and boat manufacturing businesses?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Times - Is recycling your old clothes worth it?
Guardian - Ethical fashion directory - Go wild, eco-luvvies!
Sharkride - NEW - SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING PRODUCTION
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Took me long enough. That last was in April, and though well received after a long absence it has taken me this long to get around to the next. Which is pretty silly as in that intervening time a lot of folk will have ported from Hotmail to AOL or left their firewalled company nest to seek better opportunities or set-up their own businesses. I doubt telling Junkk would be high on the 'new address' list.
The eagle-eyed, and/or faithful amongst you might notice quite a lot that's familiar. This is basically because most that is on Junkk.com is from here. Frankly the admin. interface is streets ahead. In fact I suspect many Junkk users don't appreciate just how much Junkk info is updated daily on the blog side. Being addressed!
Anyhoo, a few experiments have been put in place as this all goes down. One is me posting this 'ahead', Tardis like, in time, to see if it stays top of the list for the next few weeks.... while I am away. At last... freedom. No mobile. No internet! A for real holiday with no clutter or distractions save spouse and sons. Bliss.
And as I (with the noble exception of trusty Dave, who has co-access and can post) am about it, Junkk.com and Junkk Male RE:view will be coasting for a wee while.
I am also road-testing a new newsletter format, and in case the world hits the fan for any reason, I am (after suitable testing) pushing 'SEND' as I walk out the door. I kind of want it to be different to most other newsletters in the green arena, but I also am nervous about how some may view a bit more feisty opinion lurking in the shared info which hopefully all will value in the sharing.
I don't want any brickbats to spoil my time away, and will look forward to any bouquets awaiting my return to ease the pain of getting back in this dratted seat and firing up the monitor once more.
Ready, steady.... [click]
Here's a topical one I have to get out now, as I promised the author. As always, E&EO, though this one is as 'in the zone' as one could hope:)
Now my views on some major media and government pledges are well know, but this one has that consumer-inspiring extra that is so often neglected: reward!
Pledge and win!
In June 2008, the Green family from Gloucestershire set themselves a zero waste challenge.
Could an ordinary household produce nothing for the landfill each week?
Reducing, reusing and recycling came into their awareness after they were personally involved in the Boscastle floods, whilst on holiday, in 2004.
They realised that every action they took had an impact on other people across the country and the globe. How we dispose of our rubbish can contribute to global warming, so they decided to take responsibility for their actions.
They half heartedly attempted changes, but kept falling back into old habit patterns.
Then an article about the effects of plastic on marine life changed their lives for ever. From that moment on, Mr Green declared 'no more plastic bags' and that was the beginning of their journey towards zero waste.
In June, an 'average' weeks waste for the Greens was around 100 litres - 1 metal dustbin plus 2 swing bin liners. By recycling more and changing their shopping habits over the past 3 months, the Green's put out just 141 grams this week - less than half a carrier bag.
During the first week in September, the Greens have set themselves a zero waste week. In order to help spread the word about the 3 R's and reducing landfill waste, they want you to join in too!
You will have the opportunity to earn some fantastic prizes when you pledge to make some changes.
Simply visit their 'Pledge and win' page, choose your pledges, choose which prizes you would like to win, carry our your actions and then return to the site in September to comment on your experiences.
Don't worry - you don't have to go zero waste! The competition is aimed at complete novices as well as those who are already recycling. If all you can commit to is to reduce one can, then that's fine. If everyone in the UK did this one small action, we could save 60 million cans going into the landfill.
The aim of zero waste week is to show people that every small action can have meaningful effects. And the hope is that changes made during zero waste week will be long lasting and lead to other changes.
In addition to zero waste week, the Green's blog about their daily adventures on their site
Carbon credits tick all the boxes. What's the delay?
What, oh why, did she have put 'tick boxes' in the headline!?
Simplistically (and ignoring a bunch of modern day economic, social, democratic, etc realities) the only thing I can see being effective is a GLOBAL rationing system based on personal allocation and not trade.
One long haul, one short haul, 10,000 miles, so many kW & btus per person per annum.
Not very fair, especially to your aspiring Mumbai IT whizz, Shanghai metal worker or Kalahari bushman, but there you go.
Thing is, if it were made fair in such a way, and trade was introduced, suddenly upping the total emissions allowed by all who share this planet's atmosphere to a Tuscany-accessing thrice yearly level would, I'd hazard, roast us all inside even Mr. Tickell's timeframe.
I'm sure Madonna or Mrs. Pitt could use their future brood's allowance to bring 'em over, but having squillions but little to spend it on as one is stuck at home is going to leave little for the Guardian's style section to report upon.
Or is the suggestion that I don't hit the beaches this weekend and trade that (nifty commissions to all in the City, natch) with Coca Cola (UK), and this will sort things out? I mean in terms of total, global enviROI that serves the future of my kids well, not.... box-ticking targets.
Between the sun and the rain, my 1/2 acre produces so much green stuff each week I cannot keep up. Even with a massive trolley, my dump run is piled high with vegetation.
Now, as this is what Mother Nature has used energy from sunlight to convert C02 into more complex carbon products (and hence capturing) that's already a good thing, but can't we in some way munch this down to compost and capture the gaseous energy to run stuff?
I merely ask, because having watched the Chinese army tote several acres of offshore seaweed to landfill, the same notion struck me when I read this:
Foreign plants and animals cause havoc on waterways
BBC - 'Dirty dozen' threaten waterways
Guardian - NEW - Compost bug offers hope for biofuel industry - Dots are bring joined..
Friday, August 15, 2008
Climate 'altering UK bird habits'
Now I have a stated reluctance to getting into any 'tis/t'isn't barnies here as they seem to go nowhere fast, but not fast enough to avoid consuming yet more time it is possible we may not have.
What rather amazes me is that still the 'optimists' seem rather stuck in an increasingly odd groove, namely that nothing is happening. I've seen all sorts of 'responses', to ice sheet thicknesses and weather patterns, etc, that are still harking to the notion of 'warming' as the one and only thing that should be happening and isn't. I think I've seen one guy actually write that he's got his jummy on in August, and that's never happened before, so it can't be warming.
No, but it does seem to be 'changing'.
Thing is, many of these knee-jerks are kind of in response to equally clunky attempts to pin anything and everything on climate change (which it does, all the time), but more controversially down to man.
Dilemma. If you want to change behaviours, you need to point at causes and solutions. Trouble is, so far, I don't think we know enough to be certain, but we live in a world of absolutes now. And saying it for certain, even if just to get a reaction, can rather backfire, especially if things don't then pan out as predicted (which, in matters of TV minutes vs. geological timeframes isn't helpful). Also, it really doesn't help if the 'solutions' are more on the negative side...stop, don't, etc.
I don't pretend to have the answers either, but one I certainly do advocate is the pessimists learning a bit of judo and going with the opponents' strengths rather than standing rigid and getting flattened.
Frankly, as a bit of science, if the trend in bird nesting has moved (though reports of it being by 'a week' didn't really seem that awful to my non-ornithological mind) then leave it at that.
I'm sure if we are also getting information on PMWNCC, then most can connect the dots without it being the primary reason for everything.
Now, if we can accept that it is changing, what do we...
Gaurdian - NEW - Warming warnings get overheated
I appreciate the underlying humour that prompted this, but was more interested in the simple facts of.. 'The council spent £15,000... The leaflet was meant to thank residents for helping the city achieve its 2007-2008 recycling target early.'
Let's get our heads round this. They spent an extra £15k to thank folk for helping meet a target early.
Especially if you are part of the civil service.
The dirty secret of your NHS
I wonder if a target still got met?
Thursday, August 14, 2008
So what? I hear many of you ask. Well, without bees, a lot of our food crops will not be pollinated, and yields will drop dramatically. So they are, kind of, errrrm, rather important to humanity.
The article explains how CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder), which has devastated parts of the USA, has since hit Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece hard too. Now it seems to be spreading into the UK. And the cause of CCD? There is some research which now points the finger at mobile phones. The suggestion is that mobile phone signals somehow interfere with the bees navigation systems; they are unable to find their way back home, and they die.
Yet another serious enviro issue to worry about. And that's NOT tongue in cheek!
NEW - (Junkk Male) I was not aware of it at the time or I'd have picthed in, but here's a response from No10 to a petition on this topic.
High price of plastics raises prospect of rubbish mining in dumps
I must be sitting on a gold mine (just personally - what Junkk.com is set up to offer by way of getting people paid by those willing to fork out cash rather than a fine seems an opportunity, too!
Britain's bin baron says: get recycling like the Germans
Recycling: mining muck
The hidden cost of recycling - now that sets a cat in even my own set of enviROI notions!
PRW - Mining for plastic in landfill within a decade
MRW - NEW - Councils miss out on "green gold"
After all the bazzillions spent on system and 'awareness' comms budgets, do these figures look good to you on an ROI and/or enviROI basis?
Defra says results show waste policy progress
Household waste is down from 25.8m to 25.6m tonnes;
Waste sent to landfill is down from 16.9 to 15.8m tonnes;
Average household recycling rates increased to 33.9%; and
Municipal waste reduced overall from 29.1m to 28.8m tonnes.
Manchester: Bring in bins to stop fire starters
'Entertain your kids. Impress your friends! A bin in the hall is a sure sign that you have the health of our balance sheet well up on the agenda, and the heck with smell or hygiene or space!'
Have to agree with (almost) all posters here, especially if the stats stand up, which makes it a very useful blog.
FWIW I charge my phone besides my desk and off it goes the moment it's 'done'.
Not for great enviro reasons, but a warm transformer is a penny-sucking transformer.
At current mobile usage, even if left on 24/7 (and with the alarm on - what's the carbon footprint of an additional, new bedside clock?) that's about 3hrs per week.
We also only do the washing at weekends and so that's off as soon as done (killed off the dryer years ago).
Even the dishwasher* is off before the 'drying' light goes out. At post wash heat opening the door and leaving a while seems to do as well.
A £5.99 gizmo on the TV/SKY/DVD combo plugs seems to kill 'em all pretty well without having to risk life and limb getting into the back-end spaghetti.
But I do totally agree that there is no excuse for these aspects not to be designed in.
ps: Having had a problem I had an eye-opening chat with my engineer. He reckoned the eco-setting was anything but. 5 degrees cooler but two hours longer. Plus the lower temp on appliances means the seals and pipes end up clogged more often and require him called out more often and bits being replaced.
If true, hardly seems very sensible ROI or enviROI even to me, more like another type of 'washing', if you know what I mean:)
First they came for the plastic bags, but I did not give Sir Stuart his 5p...
At least we can count on the Guardian not to leap on any ban-wagons that may lead to more fines and... oh.
Imagine if they decided travel ads were out, and car mags (like AutoTrader).
Too many Big Macs as a kid I guess, but to me it would have scanned better as '... more slowly'.
Also, is it just me, or does this just slightly look like the kind of 'report' we're going to be 'fed' (excuse pun) a fair bit from now on to help shape our actions in a better direction?
I'm all for sharing positives to encourage, but less keen on negatives to spin up scares. Especially if they backfire.
Awards. Can't PR much without them; but waste so much trying to deal with them.
And really, what are they really there for, other than to use those who enter, and those like them (plus a pliant, culpable media and gullible audience) to make money?
Who pays... wins.
After a few years camping and a bit of relly duty, it has to be admitted that we are going somewhere sunny (actually also in the vicinity of terrorist bombing, and outbreak of hemorrhagic fever, a 2,000 sqm forst fire and small war) as the kids want to swim, the missus wants sun and I want to eat fun food.
So, what to do?
Well, reading this, in the absence of outright bans (yet), maybe an interim advocacy would be that airlines charge by the pound/kg.
However, there is slight self-interest at work here. Other than the missus' unmentionables and unneccesaries (actually very little compared to some of the fairer sex), other than Speedos* and toothbrushes for me and the boys we are struggling to fill one 20kg suitcase. Oh, and other than yours truly, the rest of the family swings in at about another me.
*There is a limit to what I will bare, and the planet could bear
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
But somehow, for all the usual silly, untrue reasons... 'not enough time', etc... I have not been to one in an age.
Then, this weekend, the combination of a dead house and too early to disturb slumbering family, I donned my rucksack and pedalled off to our nearest one.
Awesome! A good few hundred stalls laid out in the cattle market. Yes, there were a few that erred on the tat (hey, they were selling, so the missus will be happy if I am inspired to purge ours... if not because it will be to make way for more Junkk), but there were some real finds at bargain prices.
I managed to get a 30cm vernier caliper and a micrometer to help with my Junkk data uploads.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to work them (I used to know, but with my eyesight the digital readout ones are a lot easier and I have gotten lazy).
Now, just I have never been able to figure out why all those pictures of oil rings and refineries had the stuff burning off without being used, I have often wondered why what seems (all due efficiencies inside) a lot of heat going out cannot be reused back in.
Now, one plan I had was to deflect it to waft over the car windscreen so in winter it is ice free.
Trouble is there a lot of vapour and well, it's also poisonous.
However, speaking of cars and exhausts, this looks interesting:
GM recycles exhaust into power
'Aving a bath Mother? Old up, I'll do a quick couple of blogs while you're running it'.
They really need a 'stuff hierarchy', especially in the world of green, across all consumer categories.
In the world of textiles I had cotton just above whale foreskins down at the lower ends (excuse pun), but right up there at the top, along with hemp and Katherine Hammett bags I thought there was bamboo.
Pandering to the green consumer
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It would appear that lots of species of flora and fauna are moving their habitat boundaries northwards (and in some cases, upwards) at an observable rate (we are talking decades here) as the planet's climate warms.
Now that's really strange, because I keep reading comments in posts on climate change that insist that the planet is actually cooling.
Maybe we should give Dr. Dolittle a call?
Without that name attached I doubt it would have rated a column inch anywhere, nor indeed would I be commenting.
But it does present an interesting, if rather worrying, insight in what that is 'green' gets done, and covered, that may or may not be actually worth a damn.
I have to say that my initial reaction to his 'conversion' was 'well, at least the profile of trying is worthy and if style will make 'em try, why not?', but then I looked at the thing, and the claims made for it, and started to wonder about the substance. And enviROI.
I'll leave the piece, and some very pertinent thread comments in reply, to speak on.
Times - Philippe Starck turbine creates green juice for homes - Nice of 'em to catch up
Greenbang - NEW - Designer Philippe Starck tarts up turbines
The world according to Starck...
Now. He's told the Times. And The Times has told this august tome. And, as is the way, you have now told us. According to what I have read.
Has anyone popped out to check the enviROI on this thing?
I have heard that it might be a wee bitty more style than substance, and the planet is running like a UK Olympic diver in the actual 'doing some good 'rankings.
It would be nifty to find out what the actual facts are. As with a possible IKEA solar panel, after my B&Q wind turbine temptation, there may be that which looks good, does their profits good, but by golly isn't all it's cracked up to be at end of t'day.
Now there is another good reason for detesting that pile of useless paper that drops through your letter box each week. This from BusinessGreen.com suggests that junk mail, just in the USA alone, has a carbon footprint equivalent to some nine million cars!
Now that sounds like a great reason for banning unsolicited junk mail to me! (Unless you've elected to opt in to receive it.)
Monday, August 11, 2008
IKEA to Sell Solar Panels, "Smart" Meters
This has to be the nth article on the topic I have seen today, from Sydney to Seattle.
Now, on balance, fair enough. However this also comes on the day I am reminded about the last home eco outing that has proven 'interesting', namely wind turbines.
So my envIROI meter is twitching again.
I just hope the company, and those who will buy from it, have and/or will do their homework very carefully before leaping.
I have but scratched the surface on the solar industry and its potential to me as a consumer, but one thing I already know is the first few 'toys' I bought were a variety of panel that are good for a few yeast tops. Not so good for pocket of planet.
Worth bearing in mind as you wheel your trolley down the aisle and see a tantalising display that might not work out as well as you bargained. It has happened before, and I was one who almost made a rash decision in a B&Q with a windmill that looked so shiny and worthy.
Not saying it might not bring affordable options to the masses and be done right, but just be aware.
ps: Smart meters are OK, I guess, but I haven't looked at ours in an age. What I do use, a lot, is the wireless standby remote.
I have in the past been, if not a critic, then at the very least a tad dubious about some of the green noises being made around sending a bunch of rich tourists up to space for a Kodak moment atop a column of greenhouse gasses.
Virgin Galactic is one giant leap for the well-heeled
'Incidentally, the carbon dioxide emissions of a passenger on a spaceflight will be roughly 60pc of those of a passenger on a regular London-New York flight, with Galactic working with engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney towards eventually flying the aircraft on renewable jet fuel.'
Renewable jet fuel? That's a new one on me.
Anyway, see... in fact, it is saving the planet. Says so in the brochu... Telegraph.
Times - NEW - Local councils find that it's waste not, want not with rubbish
Times - NEW - Rubbish is fast becoming the new gold as cost of raw materials rises
WRAP - NEW - Barriers to recycling at home - Worth bearing the above in mind as you read this
On a planet 4C hotter, all we can prepare for is extinction
What... as in: 'this is an ex-Dodo. It is no more'?
Now, being that I hope soon to swap 20 degrees for 30 odd and the slim chance of getting a swim in some warm water, and that's double the increase in that headline....
Ah, headlines. I wonder if they get paid by the number on who clicked it. I did. How could I not?
Thing is, while there may be some smart insights into preparedness in there, I could not get past the idiocy of the headline.
Oh... and guess what? There's a book.
Just saw that. I will now be adding my comment.
BBC - NEW - Extinction 'by man not climate' - The Lord giveth... some other bloke slaughter away. So, it seems, by coincidence, that man is again the cause of all possibly natural ills. Subtle.
High-Flying Kites Could Produce Enough Energy for a City
However, I have to pose them a question, beyond the safety issue (what goes up...):
What's not to like?
However, I have to wonder about the reliability factors.
Like Charlie Brown, my efforts at getting a kite up, staying up and back down (if it got too gusty) have never been that successful. And certain involved a lot of kidpower on the ground.
So if (as it surely might) the wind drops, what is the proposed procedure to get the generating mechanism back up again?
Greenbang - Kite power takes flight
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Now it has to be stated upfront that Mr. Durkin, and his doco, were pretty darn fat and loose with some truths, and certainly acted in the best interests of ratings over accuracy and fairness.
However, I am intrigued by a few fair issues/questions raised in this piece, which, whilst erring on 'two wrongs' I was not aware of until now.
'Harrabin had to go on to Newsnight and put some of these obvious points to Gore in person. Big Al squirmed and evaded and, according to Harrabin, later accused him of being a "traitor"'.
'Harrabin wrote a piece admitting he had thought the film was a bit off when he first saw it. Did he indeed? So why didn't he tell the rest of us? What do we pay him for? And how about all those "scientists" who, to their eternal shame, lined up to heap praise on the film?'
As many are asked of our national broadcaster, and the response systems of that august body are 'selective' at best, and none exists on this piece, I guess I may never know.
Plus ca change.
Not so much for the materials, but the energy required to lift water up and drop it down.
Now it seems there may be another reason to think one's eco-ware artform through a tad better before making one's point (plus laods of PR & wonga):
NYC Waterfall Installations Might be Killing Trees
I remember when these first went up wondering what was the energy source used to elevate large volumes of water artificially up to drop down.
I asked a similar question of an 'eco-wareness' installation in some Nordic capital that involved lighting all the buildings up in colours to reflect 'moods' as I recall.
Apparently, as it was night, demand was low. So that's OK then.
There's a certain irony that falling water is often used to generate energy.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Kangaroos apparently have a unique stomach bacteria which means that they produce far less methane than cattle or sheep.
Jeez, just imagine trying to round up a herd of kangaroos!
The article contains so many facts and figures that my head is still spinning. The key points to note, however, seem to be that when it comes to population:-
- nothing is simple,
- there are loads of paradoxes,
- religion, and cultural differences, are very important,
- social change does make a huge dent in birth-rates,
- the magic figure is 2.1 births per couple,
- large parts of Europe are well below 2.1
The UK is destined for a declining (and aging) population. Perhaps the article on the report by the BMJ in Science Daily that we mentioned a little while back was not considering all the facts?
My mind has always felt that over-population IS the key problem for our planet as an entity, but after reading this, I'm not too sure, as the implication is that as the world's population gets more educated, and more wealthy, the population, in the main, will naturally decline.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Peter Hopton, Very PC interview
I have not seen the actual show (gave up watching ages ago, when I got booted in the auditions for seeing clean through the set-up but not being smart enough to hide the fact I was only interested in PR exposure - mind you they can edit any negative stuff that shows them up out).
What I have read is a few reviews by folk who know a bit about VCs, as well as the actual technology, and by all accounts not only are the Dragons a bunch of egoistical bullies (like we hadn't sussed that) dancing to the tune of a ratings-obsessed medium (nice one, BBC) at the expense of quality programming, they, and especially 'byte-me' guru Peter Jones, apparently were not quite as acronymically on top of IT as they thought. And to cover this up (if they knew), the best solution was to but the boot in.
I don't know which is the more sad. The people involved (from these iconic business 'stars' to Evan Davis and the outfits he works for, or the national culture that has given rise to them.
Makes you proud to be a UK-based eco-entrepreneur.
Businesszone - Dragons' Den episode three: Lessons learned
Oh, for heaven's sake.
This is as relevant to business as my Dad getting excited at a 70s Jackie Pallow vs. Mick MacManus wrestling match being 'unfair'.
It is entertainment, pure and simple, successfully aiming at the rules of the Coliseum to get ratings.
The only wonder is that these 'successful' business folk have sold their souls so easily just to be the right side of a very nasty one-sided exchange.
I gave up ages ago when the BBC News trumpeted some eco-effort that 'was the only one that had all 5 Dragon's applauding and wanting to invest', with acres of free national PR to help it along.
Only thing was, despite it all, no one seems to have bothered to ask, or cared, before, during or until much later what the IP was.
Quietly shelved; job done for all parties concerned. Except for any accurate reflection of how business works or how partnerships are forged.
Does anyone serious, seriously think anyone with a great idea and all the numbers is going to accept chump change (that might buy a director for 3 months or a 1/2 page in a tabloid) from some bozo who has not shown any real evidence of what else they can bring to the table bar the support of our national, commercial-free broadcaster?
What's the successful hit rate?
All I can recall is Reggae-reggae sauce, and while big up to the lad who came up with it and played the 'any publicity' card well, I rather suspect major retailers might not have been so keen to offer rack-space without a full crew from Aunty showing lots of logo love and boardroom-level furrowed brows for weeks afterwards.
As that other inspirational titan of the pinstripe suit, Siralun, might say: 'Do us a favour!'
Love it. 'Outsourced Co2' indeed. You'll be saying they'll be trading it next.
Sorry, almost every survey I am sent/get confronted with leaves me seeking an option usually not there.
'Should an iPod’s pollution be counted as Apple’s or China’s?'
Er... both? That way the company and the country can be held to account for the stuff going into the global atmospheric pot. Anything else would suggest all sorts of neat ways to shunt a problem out of line of sight, not that anyone would dream...
Scargill challenging (no hyperbolic headline grabbing there) Monbiot to go into respective rooms full of Co2 and radioactive waste.
And in some sort of luvvie melt-down of the Guardian pages' favourite sons and daughters, Monbiot having a go at Burchill.
I'd rather be a hypocrite than a cynic like Julie Burchill
'Handbags', or should it be 'book launches at dawn''.
I'm just trying to get my understanding of English sorted, especially when it come to matters environmental.
A cynic is, generously, one who might have a questioning attitude expressed in a not altogether 'nice' way, or, at worst , 'suggests a disbelief in the sincerity of human motives':
Which would seem not altogether unreasonable when dealing with, say, 'a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc.', or.... 'that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs'.
Tough call. A person with a cranked eyebrow at all they are supposed to swallow, or one who effectively says one thing but does another.
The planet breathes easier in such company, I am sure.
Where will it end? In tears, I fear. Especially when class is brought in for good measure.
*George Monbiot won the day in tussle with Julie Burchill
Telling. Outside a rather insulated bubble quite far from where I live, I am not sure who 'won' or not, Mr. White, but I rather suspect my kids' futures on this planet were net losers. Hope you all got what you needed from the exchange.
Personally I'd leave environmental commentary to people who do care and actually DO positive stuff than endlessly count debating points. But I thought your contribution to this morning's piece of Dear Leader's fitness to govern regime was cutting edge. Keep up the good work in the BBC studio next door. They do have space to fill, as you say. Mind you, what they choose to fill it with... Might one ask why such a critical debate is booked between two sound bite extremes and not any who may bring rational information and even decently subjective debate to the table. That's rhetorical. All any of you in the media want... need... are addicted to... is ratings. Which is how you are measured and make your money. Mind you, when it comes to the other 'green' that gets sampled as an issue on occasion, what can... do you all spent it on?
Telegraph - Class will matter more, not less -
Gaurdian - NEW - Old King Coal is a brave old soul, but he is talking utter nonsense - I'll post it, but can muster little interest to read or comment on what now seems personality-driven issues. Coming soon: Eco-'celebrity' mudslinging tag team action... the DVD, book and world (while it lasts, but might as well make some serious dosh on the back of its demise) tour!
Dire. Meanwhile, elsewhere, there might be some actually quietly working away on DOING positive, proactive things that might make a difference.
Boris: no more energy for sustainability?
Not by the activists and the media that support them, of course, but the beauty of the blogging system is that casually thrown out rallying cries can now be challenged to support the practicalities behind the headlines.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Not that this has sunk into the thick, superficial skulls of the majority of most media reporters or columnists.
All These Green Taxes And Rules Are Just Witless Nods To Fashion
First up there was the 'planning for' vs. 'avoiding' shift (albeit with an inevitability slant), but also the first line resonated: 'Just like blades, phrases can be blunted by overuse. Talk of avoiding "catastrophic climate change" is so familiar, the words no longer instantly stir up apocalyptic images. '
All, sadly, true. And one must wonder why.
Even more sadly, I tended to skip through the SOSO text in a pretty cursory manner, and then alighted on the comments in reply, of which this was the first: 'I see the climate change 'denier' nutters are on here as usual.'
And so I gave up. QED.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Guardian - Chaotic flood defences leave large areas at risk, say MPs - Surprise, surprise. But next time what's the betting we hear 'It's AGW... no one expected this level of...'
BBC - Benn denies flood plan 'chaos' - 'Did too'...'Do not, so muhr...'. Edifying
Indy - Is flooding really as big a risk to Britain now as terrorism?
Times - Thousands more face floods - break out the wellies!
BBC - Insurers agree flood cover deal - Helps a bit
Telegraph - NEW - Flood game shows UK cities under water - Courtesy of Dave from Solarventi, though given his reasons I am not so sure I'm that thrilled: 'Given your proximity to a river prone to flooding, I think I should leave this one to you.'
Environment Agency Floodline - actually quite useful, with email and text warnings
Floodsim - NEW - a game, though maybe not too much fun for some
Association of British Insurers -
I'll need to add more when they come in, or collate later. For now, check out the labels below
One particular species is now appearing almost four weeks ahead of the 42 year average. The big problem is that these tiny little insects, although invaluable in the food chain for many native species, are a serious threat to many of our food crops. With the possible onset of an EU pesticide ban that could remove a whole raft of the chemical treatments used to protect UK crops, this could (yes, its that word 'could' again) lead to food shortages.
(OK, so the pesticide ban story is from the Daily Mail which actually used the word 'WILL', but you get the point.)
Next bout, Aphids versus Pesticides? Sounds like another interesting dilemma in the offing.
This new section on DEFRA's website is all about 'Adapting to climate change'.
OK, so what does it tell us? Well, at first glance, it would seem very little that any of the other Gov. developed websites devoted to what they are doing (I couldn't resist a little snigger then) about climate change.
All the links appear to be to existing Gov. website sources already devoted to, errrr, climate change. All the usual suspects, 'Office of climate change', 'Energy savings trust', 'UKCIP', 'ActOnCO2', the new climate change bill etc. But very little new.
I can't help pondering that our Gov's entire raison d'etre here is to be seen to be doing something, whilst actually doing, well, very little. ("Yes, minister, we've put online another fantastic website for the public to access loads of information from").
And what was the cost of this latest 'joining up the web-links' site? Not provided. But you would be forgiven for guessing that it has cost at least a few tens of thousands of pounds.
Oh, sorry, it is a Gov. sponsored website extension. So let's make that a few hundreds of thousands of pounds shall we? Plus how many additional civil servants with ring-fenced gold plated pensions to administer?
Well worth it ...... not!
Do you write for a blog?
Money. I realised that I read a lot to help stock my site, so it wasn't a stretch to stick links to what I read on my blog and add a comment or two.
People like what I find and/or share, and some even like my comments.
So they visit more. More visitors=more money.
Plus I get invited to things.
Which is neat, 'cos I don't get out much.
The irony is of course, that until I put AdSense or something on here, I am not making a bean. So it must be for love, not money. Go figure.
If one thing to me defines the state of things 'environmental', it's that whatever happens*, one bunch will be getting the hump and having a go at another bunch and ending up in a bit of snit.
Which is why I tend to prefer and hence favour associations with those who work quietly, effectively, proactively and tangibly in DOING what they can, where they can, whenever they can to make a tangible, positive difference, and inspire engagement in the general public by the power of their example, empathy and commitment.
But I guess protests and bans do get more media and hence feed systems that depend on 'awareness' (even if communications and getting one's point across are not always a strong suit, evidently) rather more effectively.
*Interestingly, I have noticed a rather concerning trend, at least for the principle of free speech and the spirit of debate. And that's on blogs and forums folk being 'accused' (Witch! Burn... well, give 'em a nasty pallor with a CFL light!) of undermining 'the cause' by disagreeing with the group think du jour.
So careful what you wish for. 'And then they came for the lite greens who did not (want, feel like, see the need to, etc) foreswear their all, and there was no one left to speak...'
Addendum - The Mancunian way - see comment 11:16 to 11.25am.
Gaurdian - NEW - Dirty tactics to defend a dirty industry
Gaurdian - NEW - The stakes could not be higher. Everything hinges on stopping coal - Whilst I might agree that coal needs a serious look at in the mix, I have to say I tend these days to stop at most that starts with 'stopping' (if you get my drift).. at least as a call to action in this regard. Kinda sweet that the first para to such pieces now has to start with a mitigating planet-commitment action... 'Sitting in a teepee eating Fairtrade..', '...boarding a train.'. I wonder how it plays with those sitting at work 9-5, 5 (or more) days a week? No matter how important, and valid, the message, the cred of most self-appointed messengers is really going South.
Newsnight - NEW - Climate change - Ta for the tip, Chlo_F:
One other, worthy aspect of the 'green' debate is how it is running past the general/consuming public from many sources, especially those who see themselves as 'guiding lights'.
Rather topical as the subject of communicating with the great unwashed, er, me... has cropped up of course with the VED, too.
Another from the Guardian - on the topic of medium and messengers - worth a gander:
Meanwhile here's another aspect that seems... pertinent:
I do have to wonder how those who may agree that we are in a pickle (but also may not agree with some aspects as outlined by other advocates) might seek the week off from our day jobs were they not funded in some way by more sympathetic employers. Maybe the relevant minister could be asked for her opinions on our rights to do this on the basis that we are looking after a needy planet?
Meanwhile, I shall now for all due balance pop over to the Times**, Telegraph**, and maybe even such as the News of the World*** (circulation what, and to whom, versus the Guardian readership?) to see how all this is playing there:)
Over the past few months the voters who read such tomes seem to have had an influence it would be silly to (try to) ignore (or, worse, dismiss), eh?
**Nothing so far..
Newsnight - ADDENDUM - (had to edit a bit... got carried away)
We are, seemingly, facing a global crisis (the single greatest we face I believe, according to a UN head) based on some predictions that point to our growing numbers and what each one of us needs (heat, stuff, travel) and likes (more stuff & more travel), that inevitably lead to the generation of emissions and... consequences (I do note that some views as to man’s relative contribution, or not, have not been included in this particular debate, which is hence taking this as a given, which in turn some might feel a slight omission given the weight public opinion and hence political action that can and should hold sway in such matters, but oh, well).
Thanks to some interesting PR surrounding a protest at a power facility, an aspect of this topic has again come to the fore for a brief flurry under the sun before we worry about JP’s undies again.
In yesterday’s blog preamble, I wondered how all this was playing with the various options we, the public, get our information from.
Well, certainly some mention in such as The Independent and Guardian for print, and on broadcast news the BBC.
However, not a lot I could glean from many other places, including anything much originating from our government. There’s a surprise.
So I turn to a late night news programme in the hope of some objectivity to help me learn the issues, to help me shape an option should I ever be asked to vote sensibly on the directions we take (assuming voting is still in fashion in the near future – I do notice that these days the majority not voting the ‘right’ way can get frowned upon, and to quite extensive coverage in some places, by minority commentators who seem to think, and are often accepted by the bookers who give them airtime, as ‘knowing better’).
And what, or rather who do I find? An ‘environmental activist’ of questionable qualifications (‘Leading’? By what measure and whose agreement?), who seems to have carved a career by writing provocative articles in a very minor broadsheet, who seems to be saying ‘Oh heck, anything but coal.. let’s go nuke, then’. Words, if loose, that are deemed (again, er.. why and by whom) to have sent ripples throughout, well, parts of North London at least.
I’m not sure, but I have this small notion that the issue is not that simple. And spans not just the choices we face on energy, but also economic vs. environmental balances, geo-political considerations, immigration, population and a host of other stuff I really don’t envy those staked with unraveling this Gordian knot (and not Gordon, for sure).
But a group have decided they don’t fancy an aspect, and so we get a ratings punt by a broadcast medium using a media-friendly person’s dubious pontifications as a basis, or more like bedrock for a whole discussion. Does the BBC not have anyone of relevance to add to this critical discussion at the level one would expect from a premier news programme? Or is the speed dial restricted to the half-dozen usual suspects who write for the Guardian and live in the mews next door when not in their country cottage? I have no problem with opinions from all walks, but surely they need to be balanced (and not a blooming classic ‘two/threefer wheeling out extremes from far sides... a nuke industry spokesperson for heaven’s sake, but billed – I need to find from fellow posters - as a ‘former energy minister’. No wonder the whole thing is a farce and trust in media and government is out the window). And can we not get some objective science and engineering FACTS in the mix? Possibly a bit of rational economic pragmatism and/or political realism too?
Beyond the beliefs, not all of us obviously have the financial ability to scoot hither and thither looking for the next ban or protest, so when it comes to how we heat our homes and other factors self interest may guide us. And this is, very possible short-term thinking. So I was stuck by the comment ‘There largely to protest’, that rather sums up how many may come to view these efforts, when rarely is there much by way of viable alternatives presented (though I think I did glean a few halfway sensible tilts towards efficiency gains). ‘Ruining my day’ vs. ‘status quo’. Tough call.
So what’s going to get me, or my kids’ kids first? A C02 (man-caused/worsened or not still a little up in the air, ‘scuse pun) dawn, or a nuclear one (Space 1999 style)?
So far, I have no blooming clue, and nothing sensible to help try and figure it out. Certainly not when it is ignored or treated piecemeal and often in a contradictory manner by the majority of most read (and watched) media, or served up in such a daft fashion by the minority of the rest.
I am not at all keen in playing the person and not the argument, but we really do need more sense of objectivity, and ‘opinion former’s’ backgrounds do become very pertinent... What stance they are taking? Where are they getting their money from? A book deal? A lobby group? Quango target bonus? An activist board salary/pension? The message can often end up being very coloured by the messengers, especially self-proclaimed ones deemed ‘expert’. Is there anyone left who is not in someone’s pocket? Including the media? Jonathan Porritt seemed the only halfway rational person in the whole lot. Maybe he did have alternatives to mitigate the pain of mitigation, but I didn’t catch many.
I see James Lovelock mentioned. As with a few others in this Heat’ed debate, I am afraid the more I see his opinion in an article with ‘his new book is published.. at £16.95 by [coincidental news media publishing arm]’ at the end, the less I feel inclined to read on without a very cranked eyebrow.
Especially when I also read ‘his opinion is that CO2 is far more lethal than compact bunkers of nuclear waste’ not so long after I find he may be one of the first passengers atop a column of greenhouse gasses on the Virgin orbital gawping (rich) tourist shuttle.
Maybe this thing is ‘the future’, but if we are talking about emissions now, exhaust smoke on a jolly seems a contradictory, if not smoke and mirrors foundation upon which to base one’s argument.
Do I like the idea of coal (especially without any viable CCS) as proposed? No. But do I like the idea of nuclear much better, especially as many key aspects seem still unresolved... disposal, ROI, enviROI, etc). No, not yet.
But I see how delay can be viewed as frustrating. However the way the issues are portrayed certainly don’t help... well, me at least. ‘The environmental movement is split’ I heard the reporter say, well, challenge at one stage, doubtless for a provocative response. What the heck IS ‘the environmental movement’. It seems a rather odd, artificial construct almost designed to create a ‘them’ vs. others quality that can help nobody, and especially the quality of discussion.
Stop giving sound bite airtime on a hobby horse basis. If it is as serious as has been suggested, treat it seriously and get a decent spread of sensible views who can at least explain where we currently are rationally. It has to be better than the sensationalist spinning that passes for news I see in this arena, and I’m frankly fed up with it.
Gaurdian - NEW - Kingsnorth protester diary: Come to the camp - Working as planned, is it?
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
It's August, and although 90% complete, I still can't seem to find the oomph to finish and send the April Junkk newsletter.
Anyway, when I do (and I must), I do hope that I will manage to ensure that it gets personalised properly by integrating the template with the mailing list.
However, if I fail up (it has been known), I can take comfort that those who might be a tad better funded, staffed and experienced can still miss a trick:)
See how the fields are drawn up, I also note that it is often best to do something (as I do) like Hi
The Media’s Key Role in ‘Greenwashing Washout’
I am ashamed to admit (and hence pondering whether to ask) what a LOHAS consumer is (I suspect... it's me. Addendum: Oh, it is), but really this is the key section:
'...consumers express more distrust of the media, underscoring the importance of communicating only the most meaningful, memorable and relevant environmental news to have the best chance of regaining consumer trust.'
Certain media... take note. You know who you are. If you care.
Enviromental Leader - Greenwashers Get Site Of Their Very Own
Monday, August 04, 2008
"There are at least three other reasons the oil companies' PR campaign has had success for climate change deniers. First, the implications of the science are frightening. Shifting to renewable energy will be costly and disruptive. Second, doubt is an easy product to sell. Climate denial tells us what we all secretly want to hear. Third, science is portrayed as political orthodoxy rather than objective knowledge, a curiously postmodern argument."
Interesting to note that Exxon Mobil has announced that it will "cease funding nine groups that had fuelled a global campaign to deny climate change." This piece claims that it took a shareholder revolt to get that decision. I seem to recollect that they denied funding any such organisations a couple of years ago.
Interesting conclusion too .....
"The tide slowly turned on tobacco denial and the science finally was accepted. Some people still choose to smoke and some pay a price for it.
But climate is different. There are no 'smoke-free areas' on the planet. Climate denial may turn out to be the world's most deadly PR campaign."
(Hmmmm ... no smoke free areas? Try a British pub. Mind you, you'd better hurry, at the rate they are closing there will be very few left soon.)
I wonder if the UK press will pick up on this? It could perhaps be the signal for another extremely entrenched and divisive war of words. With the great majority stuck in the middle in no-mans land again!Addendum: From the International Herald Tribune, a piece entitled 'Convincing the skeptics'.
A lot of arguments made (and coming in as I write) are now well recycled (!), but one issue raised by the 'experts' struck me and hence I have written in:
Just listening to the 'debate', where the facts flying around, especially without much context, are worth as much as stats.
If there have been 'only' 1,000 prosecutions so far, one presumes these to have been successful. How many have not been? What have been the costs to the taxpayer of people and systems to generate this deterrent/revenue generator, over and above the ever so slight public negative perception of anything green hued these days (VED anyone?).
I suspect the £70k garnered so far might not have covered the costs of a few Civ. Servants for one year, and hence how much has been wasted that could have gone in much greener and more efficient directions?
I'm all for efficiency measures; not sure keen on taxes, to be blunt.
Featuring Tim Yeo MP, it is an interesting situation. Actually, interesting to me was also the fact that I think I heard that of his committee of 17, um, 16 were not in favour (tbc* - it hasn't been repeated in any subsequent slots, oddly), but he was sure 'it would have got though if they hadn't had to rush 'cos they were all off on hols now.' Hmn.
To be sure, he was 'balanced' by a lady from the RAC, but I notice she has been dropped in subsequent clips. Which is a shame, because she is making the fair point that it is hardly fair, or very eco (what is the carbon consequence of a new car's manufacture?), to hit folk who still have the car they bought under available rules a while ago, and then try and force them to buy a new one in the name of green.
Mr. Yeo at least was advocating that revenue generated remained within the eco-pot, but again I think I caught he was talking about paying folk like me to scrap my 11-year old Volvo.
Now, I don't know what he is proposing, but it is currently something like £180 for a junker. But my car is, to all intents and purposes, perfect. Admittedly, it is only worth £2000 at best, but even if they compo'd me that value, just what the heck can I get? There seems to be some odd, dare I say, London pol/chatterati notion, that I happen to have the extra £15,000 on top to buy a Prius, assuming they did an estate that carries what mine does.
For possibly selfish reasons, but also with my eco-eyebrow cranked as well, I am not too thrilled the direction which this one is going, nor with the way our national broadcaster is trying to rather over-enthusiastically push the agenda of those who would claim one thing but possibly not have it all thought out as well as it might. And not for the first time.
Addendum - looks like Mr. Yeo was early morning only. There was a follow-on with a chap from the Society of Motor Traders (who one presumes might have a vested interest in flogging new, but possibly second hand across the board as well) and the point I am making was at least alluded to, namely the cost of the upgrade.
*Links, I am sure, to come...
Didn't take long:
BBC - MPs sceptical over car tax rise
Indy - 'Pay to scrap gas-guzzlers'
Indy - Driven to distraction
Telegraph - Government's green car tax plans in disarray - Courtesy of Dave from Solarventi
BBC - Plans for a graduated car tax
Autoindustry - NEW - Another link from Dave of Solarventi - A light right foot will do more to reduce CO2 than retrospective road tax, says the IAM - this tends to support the logic of more useage-based 'influence', which must translate into fuel tax. But this obviously becomes a political and 'fairness' (since when was that a problem) issue with those for whom driving, and over fair distances, is not really an option.
Gaurdian - NEW - The Mancunian way - Whilst being fine with all sorst of views being expressed, in light of the way media is shaped by what we are first served, I have to have a certain sympathy with the poster who notes this: 'I thought that Dr Huq was an academic specialising in pop music at a London Poly. I don't mean that in a nasty way. It is just that I don't see the connection with Manchester or transportation. Transportation is a complex issue that usually needs post-graduate training in engineering or mathematics to talk about in a sensible way. Some economics would not go astray either.'
Greenbang - NEW - Emissions car tax – a load of hot air? - I've been a bit rude, too. Sorry.
Gaurdian - NEW - Golf's water waste means only the fairways are green - Why here? Read on:
Telegraph - NEW - Anyone for green humbugs? Read to the end:)
There's what's right to do.
There's what I should do.
There's what some want me to do.
There's what others want me to do.
There's what I could do.
There's what I want to do.
There's what I can afford to do.
And, there's what I will do.
It might be worth some remembering those options, especially in terms of the way they present their views to me when seeking to influence my behaviour through cooperation or coercion.
It just might help us all avoid mutual.. do-do.
Just being naughty, but turtle-chocking aside, I wonder how many plastic bags' worth of plastic ends up in a wheelie bin?
And, more importantly, I wonder why I have not heard much on these things being made from recycled plastic, though I guess there may be QC issues under the elements.
Just hope the various designs have been thought through for the best enviROI with the most efficient collection and disposal systems and not just to meet targets or score a profit. What are the odds?