Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Have press card, will travel (to save planet)


Now I have just about got used to endless celebs and their camp following 'journalistic' mates raising 'awareness' of climate change in their sweetly ironic way by helicoptering up to a snow-covered place at the first crack of a calving glacier or to see if saying 'boo' to a polar bear will stress it out... a bit more.

Or getting in a boat which, one presumes, uses some form of internal combustion power ('No dear, you can't put your settee on the funnel as that's where the poisonous gasses belch from when Capt'n Fishstocks yells 'Hypocrisy Ho!'). They have gathered that kayaks don't work too well, especially when trying to make a point.

But I am still trying to get my jaw off the floor as I watch my BBC Breakfast News about a couple who used their Tesco ClubCard Miles to buy Business Class flights.

Hey, whatever keeps the ratings up in Sevenoaks, I guess.

However, what got me, immediately, (and, to be fair a few readers, who whose comments were jokily referred to mid-way) was that what made this advertisement for the 'buy more stuff' scheme by a major private retailer a 'good thing' to share was, apparently, the fact that the couple accrued these points by collecting recycling waste.

Now, I really endorse the notion of reward-based eco-schemes (so long as they make sense.. and work) as opposed to the usual fine or hairshirt stuff, but for the love of Gaia could they not have found someone... anyone... who did not negate the whole effect, and hence point in such a crass manner?

Apparently it was offset. Now, I am no expert, but I am pretty sure the carbon gain of recycling some plastic bottles for 12 weeks is probably going to struggle to cope with what pops out the exhaust of a 747.

I wonder if it was the same one that ferried the bouffant and crew to New York for a quick slot on how the news in America is made. Don't they have guys over there to do that?

And now, as I type, It seems that shrimps in some bay up North are vanishing on account of... the salt water being diluted by all the rain.

There was a time when I would have swallowed that hook, line and mayonnaise, but now, without a serious scientist or two elsewhere agreeing, as far as I am concerned this is more likely due to over-fishing due to ever-increasing demands for prawn-cocktails as such the BBC canteen expands with more staff to address the news 'needs' of a growing population.

Times - Honeymoon takes off with recycled Air Miles -

True eco-champions. Where did they honeymoon? Antarctica? Probably not as it's packed with celeb luvvies and media camp followers raising 'awareness'. Besides the 'irony', anyone calculated 60,000 items recycled vs. 2 on Biz Class in Jumbo, Co2-wise? Or doesn't that matter?

BBC - Recycling litter funds honeymoon


Funny who things turn out. I used the above as a mild example of how perceptions matter on a thread about 'International conferences....' (not by me, I might add) which started a long time ago on a, how to say, 'serious' 'list'. Look how it went:


I have followed the discussions on this thus far with interest.

It is obvious the balance is never going to be easy.

Take today.

A couple is lauded (rightly) in the media for taking advantage of a
pro-active, positive, incentive-driven supermarket scheme (and well
done them) to reduce waste and encourage recycling.

Their reward is 'points', which they choose to redeem for... two
Business Class seats to an exotic location.

Which aspect did my more 'climate optimistic' readers pick up upon?

As the topic did come up, do any experts present have a ballpark of
how 60,000 pieces of mixed recyclate would stack up, carbon-wise,
versus the consequences of their flight?

The issue of offsetting did come up and, though I fear the principle
is more important here, facts on mitigation would still be helpful.

To which I got an 'off list' reply (funny how the list encourages debate) from a person how might actually know:

Gr8 stuff (privately – as i hesitate to make an ‘expert’ pronouncement here!

My guesstimate though – between you and me – is that the 60,000 pieces will be a few 100kg of CO2e

The exotic flight – perhaps as much as 10 tonnes CO2e

So yes – 100 to one against!

To which I replied (off list - I know a lost cause when it presents):

Ta for the guesstimate. Mine was a fair bit higher, but I figured the balance was not that optimal.

I do have a bit of a bee in my bonnet on those talking a lot actually doing very little, and racking up a lot of bad enviROI whilst engaging in little more than that which they seek to scold others for doing: earning a living. I don't deny them the opportunity, but do question the multiplicity of standards.

And if those don't play well with my 'hood, then my kids' futures on this planet are not being served well. IMHO:)

I then made a mistake. I added:

At least I didn't get the usual flood of 'How dare you use this list for such things!!!'

Well, yet.

'Yet'... soon came:

All a bit of a no-brainer, I would have though - but obviously not.

Recycling materials is not an excuse for profligate energy use elsewhere. The simple message is that we avoid all energy waste or the game is lost. Flying to exotic locations is, sadly perhaps, a luxury that we can no longer afford. There are a lot of interesting places in Europe, accessible by train at a lower energy cost than a flight to NY and back.

Its not about balance, its about doing things differently. One saving does not justify another case of waste; that's plainly absurd. Clearly the Government have done a poor job in communicating the problem if such inane comments are still made.

I didn't comment on xx's original email as xx is a colleague and a friend but the plethora of comments deserve a reply. Much of what is achieved at conferences lies in the social interaction that happens between sessions. That's where contacts are made and useful networks established. Video conferencing certainly has a role but it does not replace every aspect of human contact - except amongst the socially challenged. Of course there are unnecessary jollies, conducted every day, but there are also events that require human contact where the nuances of the other delegates can be seen. That is how human communication evolved and it's not going to change any time soon. Events that deal with issues such as climate change, where networks develop that can begin to make more effective change, are sensible uses of travel - and xx did point out that he's not flying. Flying off to exotic locations is, I would have thought, an example of senseless and selfish use of travel.

This is more what I expected.

Clearly the Government have done a poor job in communicating the problem if such inane comments are still made.

I wonder if he meant mine, ad hominem, or the fact that the BBC shared this story as OK because one offset the other. In which cases maybe the government, its national broadcaster and others who would claim to 'know better' are doing a p*ss poor job, I agree.

nd I guess Bali is out in future? Then again, getting UK delegates to the US and vice versa will require a nifty train, too.

However, as these guys want 'my sort' out of the club, it is best not to ask in open forum... er... list.

I do fear I touched a raw nerve.

Plus recalling a few past attempts of mine - to point out that when some folk use 'us' as a separate entity to a 'them', the latter might find themselves less sympathetic to the spirit of 'Don't do as I say...' based solely on a bit of perceived 'green cred' - generating more than a couple of old boys muttering about who should be in the club.

Shame then that they are not open to other views, then. Might explain the results generated at a few conferences (very few; I go on my own dime) I have been at where the public and their daily concerns and perceptions are poorly represented.

Sadly, he was also unable to help with my substantive question either. Funny how one willing and able to do so did... off list.

I now have another acronym: IYANWUYAU 'If you are not with us...'

And sadly, I cam mostly apply it to those who should be courting such as me, not driving us away by being incestuous, arrogant, know-all numpties.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Oh dear, all too depressing. Sensible questions getting slagging off answers again. It rather puts me in mind of a saying taught to an old colleague of mine who worked in Africa for quite a while some years back. Not verbatim, but I recollect that the gist of it was ...
"Unless you have a spare leg, never paddle in a pool where crocodiles live".