Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thousands of deaths by 2012

That could be the scenario here in the UK as a direct consequence of climate change, according to this from The Guardian.

Heatwaves, Malaria, skin cancer, Lyme's disease, plus huge increases in food poisoning cases from nasties like Salmonella, as well as increased rates of air pollution health problems, could account for thousands of additional deaths. It reads a bit like the proverbial pestilence stories from the bible - all that seems to be missing are the plagues of locusts!

It's all going to be OK though, because our Gov is on the case - "health minister Dawn Primarolo said the national health service would have to adapt to deal with the problems posed by climate change. ......... Measures would include: ensuring that hospitals were equipped to deal with the effects of heat, gales, and floods; developing local plans for heatwaves, gales and flooding; disaster preparation; and advising people how to adapt to climate change."

Errrr ..... wouldn't it be better to put more effort into mitigating climate change rather than adapting to it?

But, and again, it's all down to one little word - the report uses that word 'could' again - which seems to be the main culprit for most of this alarming reporting.

Leagues of their own

I have blogged before on the pre-selective, exclusive nature of a lot that takes place in the world of 're'.

Conferences and events that you need to pony up thousands for just to sit in an audience. No wonder those that are 'in' often don't relate as well as they might to those who are not.

Of course, all things that take time and money to create and need paying for (even Junkk.com, one day), so market forces will dictate.

But I must say I just had an eye-opner as to where I am vs. where others can afford to be in the wonderful world of being informed about your market.

Amongst many others, I subscribe to a (free) online news feed called PackWire. And I often get the odd useful tidbit through.

So when I saw this in my subject line, with all that I am in the thick of with RE:tie, I really perked up:

Consumer Attitudes Towards Packaging: New Insights and Future Perspectives

Today, it is widely acknowledged that packaging decisions can have a significant impact on sales. This report explores the changing nature of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards packaging in consumer packaged goods. It examines all the key trends shaping packaging led choices and ultimately offers actionable recommendations for industry players going forward.

Reasons to purchase...
• Access a blend of quantitative and qualitative data aggregating the most compelling and recent research in this increasingly important topic

• Gain a detailed insight into consumer views towards packaging and understand the implications for design

• Improve your marketing by following best-practice guidelines enabling more effective targeting with on-trend products and relevant communications

Download Brochure

Sadly, a short-lived moment of excitement at further valuable market intel, for it was follwed by this:

• $5695

Ah well, I guess I'll just have to wing it some more! But one does have to wonder hwo those who can afford access to such things seem to pretty much get it wrong so often still!

Hardly a flying start!

Back in December 2006, Ol' Golden, then our chancellor, trumpeted a major tax relief policy that would see all new homes deemed to be zero carbon (in terms of emissions) free of stamp duty. Despite the apparently vague definition of what zero carbon meant exactly, this created quite a bit of excitement at the time, and many pundits were forecasting that the savings involved for buyers would entirely offset the additional construction costs.

OK, so a year and a bit on, just how many thousands of new homes have been constructed to qualify for this major tax relief?

Go on, have a guess. Any idea? No? Well, the answer is six. No, not six thousand, but the single digit only - i.e. six new homes have qualified for stamp duty exemption. Report is from This Is London.

"Clearly this does fall into the camp of green-tax con. The Government is not putting forward serious policies to tackle climate change and this is a classic example. ........ It is all talk and no action. If the Government were serious about benefiting the environment, they would offer everyone a rebate if their houses were properly insulated."

Quite! Despite the government spokesman's claim that numbers will rapidly rise this year, for once I agree with the Green Party's economic spokesman wholeheartedly.

On yer bike!

That seems to be the message from Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, as reported by NaturalChoices today.

Can't argue with any of the ideas at all; it all looks very sensible and would be for any major urban conurbation. But just look at that cost, £1 Billion! That seems an awful lot of bucks for a few cycle ways!

And I'll be interested to see what any 'out of city' local equivalents might be. An express cycleway from Shrewsbury to Ludlow? I can't quite see it happening somehow.

A very cheap shot

And I am making it. Sorry.

Just watching the BBC morning news about a wind farm proposal in Scotland, with those involved making the case for and agin'.

Mainly it surrounds the energy needs vs. other factors such as, ironically, 'environmental damage'.

Thing is, from the start to the finish of the piece, live and to camera, the reporter was in front of a mighty windmill that wasn't actually turning, with a couple behind also acting as nifty perches for seagulls.

At least I am now joined in this less than helpful, and rather superficial, observation by the anchor. Tricky. Becuase of course if they had opted for the library shots the BBC could have been accused of potraying an overly favourable scenario.

It's just as shame that, given the choice to do it live, it wasn't considered helpful to also address the enviROI of the operational facts to round out the case. All I know is that I went away with a vision of a great, big... still turbine.

NEWS/GO3 PR - Pocket battles

A PR last night from the Green (Party) Machine (London) has strirred a musing in me. Let me share it here as supplied, but I do propose to comment:


The Green Party's Principal Speaker, Caroline Lucas MEP has today
urged the government to reward responsible motorists by abolishing
the Road Tax, and shifting the responsibility onto gas-guzzlers
through the fuel duty. The call comes as road lobbyists meet with the
Chancellor to plead for a smaller increase in fuel tax.

Dr Lucas said:

"The flat road tax on vehicle ownership takes no account of road
usage, and provides no incentive or reward for making less polluting
travel choices. A far fairer alternative would be to scrap it and move
the responsibility onto fuel tax.

"But today we see the road lobby arguing against this fairer measure.
The AA has consistently argued for more roadbuilding, more traffic,
more pollution. They have attempted to block every effort to reduce
our dependency on petrol. Now the price has inevitably risen, and
they want the rest of us to pay for it through our taxes, or in cuts
to services.

"Most car owners would like to take more public transport, but some
lobbyists seem determined to make it as hard for them as possible.
Does Alasdair Darling have the guts to stand up to them?"

At first blush, what is not to agree with? Polluter pays. Simple.

Thing is, this is issued by a self-evidently London-centric source (not suprisingly, as their candidate is gunning for mayor. Which, by the way, I was totally unaware of, for which the major media might be asked why. It's the Boris & Ken show, with Hugh coming in on occasion. No one else gets a peep). But to the best of my interpretation, this call refers to a national issue.

And there be the rub. And it's our old chum again. The politics of the pocket. Or Eco(nomics) vs. Eco(logy).

In London, you don't really need a car, especially to do your job. Distances are shorter. Cycling is an option. Tubes and trains and busses abound. So the Prius is really just to get the luvs to cello practice without paying the congestion charge.

But elsewhere you might need to drop a few hundred miles a week in your Fiesta just to earn a crust.

So what seems so simple need not necessarily be so... or certainly fair. It's a tricky balance, but whoever starts trying to do it properly will get my vote. Make that whenever...