Monday, March 17, 2008

If we don't know what our emissions are now ....

... how the hell can we commit to set reduction targets?

This from Public Servant Daily defines the problem. It seems our Gov is consistently using two different measures for calculating CO2 emissions, neither of which agree with each other (by as much as 12%!!). Sooooo, OK, just how on earth are we supposed to achieve our targets then?

Oh well, they are only targets, aren't they. And targets, being entirely movable, malleable and stretchable, don't seem to be of much relevance (other than in self promotion and in the 'crowing' stakes) in the great Gov scheme of things nowadays.

I suppose if you are not even sure where the football pitch is, it doesn't really matter how much you move the goalposts.

It's jobs, Jim, but not as we know it.

And they are for the boys, aren't they: Job offer: CEO of Renewable Fuels Agency

Yup. Saw that.

And I wondered just how many folk there are already out there in quangoland, and being joined daily by those whose skills and experience make them worth the £100k of public funds (plus dental) to make vast differences, such as one can appreciate from 'Working closely with the Board and Government Departments to ensure that key targets and statutory obligations are met and exceeded.'

I feel better about my kids' futures already.

PROF's POSER - Clinging to the right notion?

Smug alert!

As I write, I am tucking into the remnants of yesterday's Sunday lunch. Basically all the bits the boys didn't fancy, microwaved for 2 glorious minutes.

Now, here's the thing.

It was mircowaved in one of the containers that yesterday's pie came in. Makes sense.

Thing is, that combo lurked in the fridge (once it had cooled down outside first... I know my stuff. Well, some of it) overnight, sealed away under a wrapping of... clingfilm!

Now, I don't know about you, but the very idea of tearing of a strip of extra plastic these days was about as far from my mind as possible.

But my wife, bless her, gave me pause. Because, as she pointed out, I was going to transfer the left-overs from the tray to a plate or Tupperware, and in the latter case then tip onto a plate to heat up. And once all that was over, there was going to be some hot water washing required.

So my poser for the day is... which has the better enviROI? The consequences of 1 sqft of thin plastic (now in the recycling bin, where it will doubtless not be appreciated - see LABELLING), or the couple of cups of hot water to clean the crockery?

This oen is up there with storing PDFs vs. printing and deleting.

EVENT - National Downshifting Week

No, not an attempt by Top Gear to squeeze a few more G's and reduce the mpg's by dropping a gear to take each corner sideways! Much more mellow... and green.

I came across Tracey Smith as a like-minded soul just trying to do her bit, and sharing stuff in a slightly more practical, less dogmatic way than most.

And we've stayed in touch off and on ever since. Well, thanks to my getting my digit out and sending off the newsletter, we ended up having a chat, one thing lead to another thing, and...

Well, for a start, she buttered me up big time by asking for a 'celebrity' (I'm gunning to get into the alphabet at all, but am happy and flattered and honoured to be in the company of some eco- 'A' listers there) quote for her site. Which I was happy to provide.

Then she interviewed me for her forthcoming book - 'The Book of Rubbish Ideas' - which we will of course be promoting all round when it hits the streets. With's strap line being 'Rubbish doesn't have to be a dirty word' there's a clear fit!

And finally, she has asked for a mention of her forthcoming 'National Downshifting Week' . From the lady herself:

'It's fast approaching the next National Downshifting Week, or should I say InterNational! Following on from polite and welcome pressure from friends and organisations in countries around the world, I decided to make this little awareness campaign fully inclusive, so that everyone who wants to can take part.

So what's the event all about? Well, in a nutshell, the simple living suggestions contained within the campaign can help you 'slow down and green up', live more sustainably and get a better work and life balance. It takes place between the 19th and 25th April and to take part, all you have to do is dip your toes into one of the ideas. If you like it and how you feel about having tried it, why not try another on day 2, day 3 and so on through the week.

IDW differs from a few other campaigns because there's not an ounce of guilt in sight! You are 'positively encouraged' to embrace living with less and to find your comfort level of downshift and every single change you make as a result of leaning towards the green will make an enormous collective difference, so believe that you're changing the world, because you are and join in with the 'thousands' of others who are focused on a bit of simple, green living this year too. Last year saw just under 11,000 people taking part worldwide - this year, with your help to spread the word too, it will easily top it, so take a look at the website and see what you fancy sinking your teeth into first!'

Alternative views

The Indy Letters page is always a worthy scope: 'Fuel cards' to fight climate change

Often good suggestions, pithily posed (for some reason they never print mine - even when i try a do pithy)

Take the one on fuel cards. Soul of reason. What's not to like?

Thing is, I stumble with the pure 'tax fuel' notion because it doesn't seem to take into account those who live and work where a car is needed a lot more than places where it is not.

It's a complex interaction, from manufacture through purchase to use and duration to disposal that cannot be reduced so simplistically. And then there are the related issues of alternatives. You simply can't equate an Islingtonista with a Prius for the weekend jaunt to Devon, with a Midlander who has a Fiesta for the daily 100 mile round trip to the factory.

Meanwhile, as I read on to the issue of watercress (next ban?)...

... watercress has been sourced from the US for more than 20 years, many of the farms being British owned. The watercress is air-freighted on passenger-scheduled airlines, so as to reduce carbon emissions.

Try as I might, I can't see how air-freighting something reduces carbon emissions. At least without some qualifier to explain the possible alternatives.

Amazing what gets missed...

I quite like Raymond Snoddy of the BBC's Newswatch programme.

Even on the on-air show he does seem to try, and though the whole format (a 'mea culpa' stuck on at dawn on the weekend to 'atone' or 'explain' (though sulky editors saying they don't see what the fuss is about hardly counts as either) for high-profile boo-boos in the peak hours seems contrived at best, just to tick a 'we're listening' box. Few complaints get followed up and fade away.

But in print he seem even more diligent, though it now occurs to me that I thought BBC journos were not supposed to write outside of Auntie to avoid accusations of... well, anything.

Anyway, check out the bit halfway down his Indy column, entitled Emily gets short shrift

I'm sorry I missed it.

Because, speaking of being tucked away, as HRH might say, one's gob is smacked that stuff is been created and broadcast that purports to be 'based on' factual, when it is nothing of the sort. It's just agenda dressed up as news, or information.

And if they can do this here, well, New York, New York, they can do it anywhere.

But then, this is a Corporation where 'staff somehow also managed to mislay champagne worth a total of £818...'.

I see why my licence fee must go up.

I wonder what road tax they pay?

There's a trend afoot, epitomised by this: Lexus hybrid woos Sainsbury's chief

First we had Sir Stuart Rose in his 6 litre hydrogen 7 Series Beemer, now this.

Now I'm all for encouraging better environmental practice, but our national broadcaster doing commercials (it was on the main page - doubtless to show how 'we' can stop glaciers melting) for retailers and makers of high end greener-ish luxury motors, sorry, limos, doesn't seem the best way to bring it home to the masses. At least, in ways that might be taken in the inspirational way that will doubtless be claimed.

I'm opening a book on Sir Terry or (actually the others don't seem to have the PR direct dial to the BBC these others do, so don't get on that often for their names to register) being covered roller-skating (£17.99 a pair, with 10% off to viewers) over the Atlantic to visit the US operation.

...But some jobs are more important than others

Real Climate is a good source of factual information (if pretty high end) on climate change.

Though it's pretty safe to say that the overall thrust of the forum is that it is happening, for the worst... and that man is more than probably responsible.

But I am not so sure many favours are being done, message vs. messenger-wise, by pieces such as this: Venus Unveiled

Whilst not one (it's about another planet) of the more overt 'we're all doomed and you're to blame' efforts that can grace its pages, especially in rebuttal of more climate optimistic pronouncements, I just found the overall tone interesting... and unfortunate.

One has to accept that it is inevitable, makes sense and is perfectly fair enough that professionals in such industries need to travel to meet and exchange notes. However I do always note that there is a slight trend to viewing one's job in such areas as 'different' in the emissions consequences imposed than those of others taken to task. It's not what you do, but what you get paid to do (and say, in the case of many media) that matters.

However, I have to say this is the first time to see it top and tailed quite so overtly with a less than 'sensitive', nay, irony-free review of the holiday aspects in complement. I have often teased that many selectively-green commentators, who advocate bans for quite trivial enviROI+ measures at the drop of a hat, seem to be rather less self-searching when it comes to hitting the slopes of a weekend. But I have wondered if I was being quite fair as this seemed an extreme. Perhaps not.

Maybe the forum members might have some suggestions as possible causes of the weather patterns that lead to the lack of good snow on the trails?