Monday, April 21, 2008

It must have been something in my drinking water

A wee while ago I made suggestion/posed a question to BBC Newswatch about the handling of a piece of reporting/editorial that had a acquired a bit of notoriety in the blogosphere:

COMMENTS: I have just watched today's programme regarding the actions (or not) of Roger Harrabin. In the introduction to this piece, which revolves around the interpretation of facts and what did or did not take place as a result of an exchange of emails, the host suggests that the main protagonist '... is SAID to have replied...' at one stage. Bearing in mind it has been accepted that these emails are freely available on the internet, and I am looking now at what WAS written, is there not a danger that Newswatch is rather making the point for the critics of the BBC, who suggest there can be 'interesting' ways in which what should be objective information gets shared with its audience?

They have been gracious enough to now reply:

'It's an interesting point, but my view in writing that introduction was that we shouldn't take at face value something that appears on the internet. It was a private conversation published by one side and could have been altered. That's why the first question to Roger Harrabin was to ascertain if the published version was actually true...'

As followers of this blog will recall, I was quite keen that the facts were first established before passions were stirred. Hopefully they will grant me that. I must confess that, after the Clintonian reply from Newsnight's Peter Barron a few blogs previously, I still am slightly unclear on the actual facts, which I had sought from the protagonists:

It's a view I fully accept. Which is why, when the silage hit the windmill I participated in several blog exchanges that had long since passed the point of being concerned about verification, simply to ask if, at all, there was any confirmation that the more 'damaging' phrasing had actually been by him, in these words. I am still struggling to get to this in a form I can take as accurate, but from what you write may I take it that it was/is? Sadly in this day and age, conversations, and especially written ones fired over the ether to unknown correspondents, are seldom as private as we might wish. Maybe Ms. Abbess was a trusted source to this point? But it is good to know that the BBC at least has reporting and editorial standards still that would mean such confidences would never be breached, even without clearly stated guidelines, caveats and immediate flagging as to whether potentially controversial asides should be on or off record before being broadcast.

Now, I wonder, is what I wrote to them 'between us'. No mention made. Equally, what I got back. I hope it is therefore OK to share.


At least one fact is now confirmed, if not from the actual horse's mouth, at least his jockey/trainer/stable owner (you know what I mean). Quick, too:

I think yes, the exchange was accurate (though perhaps not all that took place) but I thought it sensible to hear it confirmed from the horse's mouth...

Quote of the day - Maybe the BBC will believe me

I tried it on my wife (the beer belly has rather spread). No luck.

From a commenter with perhaps a less sympathetic view of this awful condition, in a blog with a perhaps less than doe-eyed view of this government and how much it does, and doesn't do gets reported (or not) by our noble, objective news media:

'Is Bulimia a disease of auto suggestion and as such contagious? I only ask, because for the past couple of days, each time I hear or see [ex DPM] Prescott ['s reference's] about some non-existent 'condition' in order to gain public sympathy and sell a book, I have an overwhelming desire to throw up all over the carpet.

Almost lost my lunch, mind, so who knows?

Of Food Prices, Population Growth, Climate Change, Biofuels and even Malthus!

A very interesting article from FinFacts covering, well, just about everything you could care to mention! And some fascinating facts........

"we now consume about fifty thousand times as much energy as our ancestors once did" Wow!

And have you heard of Norman
Borlaug? They reckon that he has "saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived." Gosh! And I've never even heard of him before!

"US stocks of wheat are at a 60-year low and world rice stocks are at a 25-year low."

"The rise in the price of oil has resulted in the US diverting 20% of its maize/corn production for biofuels and the European Union 68% of its vegetable oil production."

Meanwhile, looking at the world's population figures:-
AD 0001 ~300 Million
AD 1000 ~310 Million (Yes, that's a 10 million increase in 1000 years!)
AD 1500 ~450 Million
AD 1804 ~1 Billion
AD 1927 ~2 Billion
AD 1960 ~3 Billion
AD 1975 ~4 Billion
AD 1989 ~5 Billion
AD 2000 ~6 Billion (Yes, that's a 1 Billion increase in 11 years!)
Today ~6,662,731,966 (At midday today - probably several 100 thousand more in a few hours!)
AD 2010? ~7 Billion?
AD 2050? ~9.2 Billion+?

From a 10 Million increase in a thousand years, to a 10 Million increase over a matter of days! Maybe Malthus wasn't so crazy after all, simply a little ahead of his time. It doesn't look too good really, does it?


At least it looks as if the EU is going to revue the biofuels targets - from the Guardian.

The Fat Bush Theory

Is described in the International Herald Tribune. It is an hysterically funny analogy to explain Dubya's stance on reducing the growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions.

I wish I'd thought of it first!

Wet measures

Forget carbon: you should be checking your water footprint

There is actually something to this.

However, as it comes out at the same time as a few other labelling proposals I can only imagine what the poor consumer might face trying to make an informed judgement as they look at the pack of cakes on aisle 4.
- I must check to see how a bottle of water stacks up to the favoured tipple, one suspects, of those most vocal in luvvieland most vocal in advocating its banning. I am pretty sure their tables often sport a currently guilt-free glass of vino, which up to now seems...'different'.

NEWS/Commercial PR - Basking in glory

You know how much I like polls. Well, here's one I have decided to share, because it makes where I hang out look spiffy (and we use the commissioner's stuff, 'cos it's oodles cheaper as well as eco).

PR as received, with edits for length:


A study* has revealed that more than nine out of 10 of us are actively looking for environmentally-friendly products! But, when it comes to our everyday shopping, 45 per cent of us are not prepared to pay a premium to prevent global warming.
An ICM poll conducted on behalf of Cartridge World, revealed that a quarter of us will automatically choose the ‘greenest’ option. Only six per cent admit to deliberately avoiding the environmentally-friendly choice. [Which is why I am not a big fan of polls... it's actually astounding that a person would actively deny any care for the planet, so pinches of salt all round on those who see no problem when they claim to. Deeds vs. words!]

For 67 per cent of us, there are other factors which we take into consideration. As well as nearly half of us checking the price tag to ensure we’re paying the same or only a little more, 22 per cent need to be confident that choosing the environmentally-friendly alternative does not require a compromise on quality.
[Fair dos, and smart. I'd add one more... does it actually help the environment???].

The survey provided an insight into regional and demographic variations in shopping habits. Though 27 per cent of females immediately choose the green option (compared to 23 per cent of males), 47 per cent of males will go green once they’ve checked they’re paying the same, or only a little extra to do so (compared to 43 per cent of females)
[Hey, my sex is looking uncharacteristically thoughtful in this, too. For once].

In each age range, fewer than one in 10 respondents said they would never go green. The least green age group were 18 to 24 year olds, followed closely by the over 65s. The greenest age group are those between 25 and 34 with only four per cent responding that they never choose the green alternative.
Wales and the South West are home to the greenest shoppers with 30 per cent always choosing the most environmentally-friendly products, while Scotland is home to the highest number of cynics. There nine per cent admit to actively avoiding greener alternatives. Nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) in the south-east state that quality is as important as being green, while more than half of northerners (51 per cent) will check the price tag to ensure they’re not paying extra for the privilege of saving the planet.

*conducted by ICM over three days in April 2008, questioning 1006 people; a fair sample.