Thursday, April 24, 2008

More on plastic bottles ......

... from an answer provided in 'Ask Umbra' from Grist.

Further to our earlier post, they also highlight the potential problems that Bisphenol A (BPA) may cause, but they also point out that Styrene and PVC also carry some pretty nasty environmental consequences too.

Time to dig out my old stainless steel water canteen perhaps?

Houston, we have Peak Oil

I didn't pick up on this a few days ago, but it appears to signal a major change of tactics by our planet's largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia. According to EV World, King Abdullah has ordered some newly discovered, smaller oilfields to be left untapped for future Saudi generations, and he has also effectively put a cap on oil exports at 12.5 Million barrels per day.

"This is likely to result in an earlier occurrence of global peak oil output than many consumers yet recognize."

"the geologic oil supply constraints that we are feeling in many other parts of the world are going to close in on us earlier and more severely than we previously thought."

Genuine 'Peak Oil' may, or may not, have already been reached, depending upon whose data you consider, but it looks as if 'tactical' Peak Oil is definitely already here. With fuel prices currently at record highs, and some oil futures already trading at above $130, expect a rough ride ahead.

So, the big question is, what will come first - the £5 loaf of bread or the £10 gallon of fuel?

When I were a lad .......

.... I was definitively told that 'it' was dirty and nasty, and 'it' would even make you go blind. But, according to this from, it would appear that 'it' actually has quite an impact on reducing the chances of prostrate cancer in the males of our species!

I wonder how the NHS will tackle this information? I rather suspect that NICE may well have some interesting 'prescription guidelines' to work on here. Hmmmm .... Fiesta magazine on prescription for all widowers?

Ask a question...

Is humanity's restlessness a threat to the planet?

'Is this restless addiction to travel - and our desperate demand for more fuel to feed it - our fatal flaw as a species?'

Don't know about fatal (in comparison to say, staying in one place and cooking dinner on a fire the size of Krakatoa, or heating the home with the Siberian tundra.. if you happen to live there of course, and not on a 'must-see' trip courtesy of the Guardian travel pages) but if (yawning gap for the black/green corner to slug it out) one accepts the premise being touted by some/many in government/media/evidence-of-our-own-eyes that carbon is causing a problem, and if we (next yawning gap) as a species are responsible for the consequences of more than is ideal getting out and up then, on balance, I'd have to say it sure can't be helping. Now what?

Then again, having watched Star Trek, maybe our hunger to travel is our only saviour as we seek whole new worlds to breed across and pollute. So it could be Mr. Branson has a point with Virgin 'Have a greenhouse gas Kodak moment' Galactic.

Guardian - I'm trying hard to be eco-friendly. But please don't ask me to give up flying to visit my family - The perfect complement. So much one could say, so much one knows one should not. Bless.

Brain strain

Fares fair?

I'm up for doing my bit for Queen and Planet, so this initially cheered me up as to positive influences on my potential options from Gloucester to London.

However, I don't get the impression I'm better off if I do get a last minute call, or seek to travel outside the now very restricted 9.30ish am to 3.30ish pm or post 7sih pm (fat chance of a connection - my missus has put on more miles driving to Swindon to pick me up to then get may car than if I'd driven round trip) off peak windows.

And as to a discount for a family of four...? Actually, why not a business group discount to get ;'em out the Mondeo?

This looking like you're being all in what you're doing,when in fact you're doing b-all.

It's almost as if money was really all anyone really cared about. Especially HMG.

Just wanted to say.. you are all jus'... Marvellous, darlings!


Praise seen as good as cash to brain

It does, of course, having a bearing on what we (inc. and via are trying to do.

I really must start the day job

From a blog that I have no idea how to link to:

BBC - Begging for more than small change

This is quite a thought provoking article which focuses on the need
for intrinsic change in behaviour rather than focussing on small
scale changes in the hope it will lead to bigger ones. The main
arguments are:

"Having embraced one simple change, some people then tend to rest on
their laurels and be less likely to engage in other more significant

"Environmental problems can often be traced to our appetite
for "stuff", items that demand resources and energy in their
manufacture, sale, use and disposal"

"unless I am careful about how I spend the money that I've saved. As
long as campaigns to encourage us to change our behaviour are based
on appeals to self-interest or financial incentive, they will be
fraught with difficulties"

Hence marketing green products could be counterproductive.

Whilst I agree with this, somewhat more worrying is the belief that
Businesses will be interested in this philosophy, it continues:

"The Environmental organisations should also work with leading think beyond the opportunities offered by green
consumerism; preparing for a world where we will inevitably need to
consume not just differently, but less"

But why should they? Private Businesses and the political doctrine
that underpins them are driven by the desire for growth and profit.
To expect them to think otherwise is as irrational as expecting an
Abrahamic religion to stop believing in God. Even if some did change
how could they survive in a commercial market? Perhaps the only
solution is a control type economy, not traditional socialism, but
one that is focussed on quality of life rather than material
production? I can't see this happening anytime soon.

If ever this was one for The Two E's, this was it. Hence I have been moved to reply/add (to the blog, not the BBC site, which is a poor effort/reward one, as I often try and point out to them):

Good share. And thoughts on it. I saw this as well, and not in the most positive of ways, in another blog which, charitably, could be deemed 'climate optimistic'.

I passed on, but then it came back to the top of my mind as I surfed through some debates on Earth Day, again not very complimentary to the cause of green (at least in its rather unfortunate, and over-simplistically used and abused sense).

I am not so sure it's the changes, large or small, that deserve the attention and debate, but many of the messengers bearing a welter of them that are not always easy to get behind, and for all sorts of reasons (including, now, the fact that the pain of paying is biting at more fundamental levels than just buying off guilt).

On top of the negatives of greenwashing/toshing/cloaking by some rather cynical bandwagon jumpers in the corporate world, there seem to be vast armies of well-paid and pensioned folk from governments to LAs to NGOs to charities all doing very nicely just talking up a storm, and thrusting many plump fists out for funds to keep the conversations bubbling along.

I, for one, would be keen to see a lot more from the public purse going into DOING stuff.

I totally agree that the principles of marketing in the capitalist, consumer-driven world mean it's unlikely that reduction is high on the agenda, but at least one can often see some efforts that may still work, a bit, in mitigation. So bashing them for not doing more to do less seems optimistic, at best. And, without more coherent strategies for dealing with a global population of 6B+ and growing, mostly with the vote and tightrope-walking ' followership' who know it, a tad in the 'idealistic' corner.

Meanwhile I am struggling to see much enviROI in the bazillions going to an awful lot that is not going anywhere (Executive salaries in quangos or activist groups to come up with such stuff, for one) much that is actually making positive differences.

Addendum: To some responses, I have amplified thus:

I'm not sure but suspect (rather proving my following point) we're all agreeing with each other as to what is most desirable, but might see different routes to this common end point.

The situation reminds me of a very down-to-earth client I had in my advertising days in Asia.

I was doing my best pitching to him and made the mistake at one point of saying 'I think you're not understanding me', which really meant I had yet to see him come round to seeing the obvious brilliance of my concept.

"No,' he said, 'I don't think you are making your case clearly enough to persuade me yet'.

I think we all agree that green cannot be viewed in black and white, so immediately we are into that scary no man's land of greys between what is and should be, can be and will.

And bearing in mind my town of a few thousand has, well, a few thousand opinions, with all sorts of influences (money, ego, selfish-interest, concern, money...) shaping them, it's a miracle any consensus happens at national much less international levels.

However, sadly, if what a lot of us are swayed by is to be believed, we don't have much time to get to some sort of global consensus.

Now there's an ideal, but just like the Prisoner's Dilemma the fly in the ointment is human nature.

Thus it only seems sensible to accept certain realities rather than rail against them.

The trick therefore is to push as far as you can before those you need to persuade push back.

Hence my advocacy is one of end-benefit and persuasion via incentive and reward. Unsurprising perhaps, considering my background.

That said, I do have to concede a certain amount of stick might be needed to ease the effect of the carrot. Not an easy balance I'll admit, but that's why there are some gunning for the big bucks running the show.

Sorry, but most, as far as I am concerned, so far do not warrant them. And/or the soapboxes they enjoy.

They are spinning in one place very nicely with some core converts for sure providing enough to suck in a fair amount each day to keep the thing whirling, and self-sustaining quite healthily for those within. Especially at the top.

What I am not seeing is the necessary outreach and successful conversion of those, in the vast majority, who need to opt to flag down a ride that may be bumpy, but which they have come to accept is a heck of a lot better than staying where they are.

If the bandwagon's message is not proving attractive or comprehensible enough for the audiences to stick their hands out and up, that's not their fault. Maybe it's just that the message is just not being pitched right yet.

I for one am a little less than inspired now by 'awareness' and such like, yet still seem bombarded by vast numbers of meesages citing this alone, supported by immense comms budgets I'd prefer directed more more tangibly.

This started with a piece on marketing green products. Some may well be getting pitched 'as well as', which is a shame. As a mitigation of lifestyle 'instead of' seems more acceptable if genuine. But the Holy Grail is not to buy, which is a hard sell to guys whose rent gets paid on profits.

So yes, let's recognise good works that are about doing and add to these indeed.

Addendum :

Somehow I fear I have stumbled into an arena where, possibly by my replies, I have become a minority of one who is 'them', vs. a mightier 'us'. Whilst more than polite, my point (which maybe I still could not make myself, to all the ironies) seems lost that telling someone something is so does not make it thus. However, we now are in culture where process dominates over product, and you get paid by the word and not the result. In fact, it seems you get a bonus by spinning extra words to explain why even the few targets you do accept you were aiming for, and missed, were not the actual ones those who bought into the initial argument thought they were.

Not sure how I ended up as (or deserve the honour of - I did not initiate this thread) a prefix to an &Co or et al (Gore?), but you find me this sunny morn still fresh, if jaded from being told by my government, national broadcaster and some media that their inability to explain how night becomes day is actually my fault for not being able to decipher the wisdom of their actions and reporting of same.

And it extends as far as it does wide. Take the recent issue of that wind farm being denied planning in Scotland.

In the black (Big Oil? Birdwatchers? Strange bedfellows) corner we have those quite passionately 'anti'. They would seem, for now, to have prevailed, for good or ill, as inertia will.

While in the green corner, an overwhelming tide of analysts, senior researchers, lobbyists, quangos, carbon traders and whatnot (whom I am sure can all easily afford the time and costs of limitless courses as much as they can conferences in Bali) telling the other side how wrong they are.

Me, I am stuck in the middle, still bereft of clear, concise, persuasive (if often subjective, which is still cool) argument, backed by well-considered objective facts that I can grasp and engage with.

Hence, if I were not through interest fairly well informed on some aspects of what my future family faces, there is a powerful incentive to sit back, accept the status quo and pay the mortgage.

If those who would claim to speak for the future - so many (and growing into empires so vast) and so well funded - seem unable to get things across persuasively enough as yet to those still in the majority paid for more traditional labours, I simply question whether they are of much value, and hence simply represent a vast green hole redirecting funds that could be used to make real differences.

I love to debate, but it can be time consuming and though talk is cheap it still imposes a cost. I sense my notions are not favoured by the majority in reply. So be it. But to do justice to maintaining the exchanges I would need to devote a lot more resources than I currently have access to or can afford. Equally, the vast swathes of material often (not just here) that get lobbed around, often by those paid to stay abreast of the issues in minute detail, still seem not to be changing my core views either.

And here we are, I think, in agreement on the objectives, if not methodologies. Fundamental changes to governance are for governments, and/or oppositions to pitch to me as a voter. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by many, too many, whose responsibilities, accountabilities and allegiances are none too clear. And while often their hearts may be in the right places, speaking personally (and it is amazing how many challenge me on what my own mind thinks, or should be allowed to) I feel that by staking too radical and/or extreme a claim on redirecting a global supertanker of hundreds of nations, there is the chance that the opposite of what is intended, and necessary, may be achieved.

I deal in the world of selling by changing how people feel about things. And it is so comforting when you work with a USP or a receptive target and can spin away to positive responses and accolades. It is much tricker when you are dealing with minds already filled with white noise to start, and competing pitches on top. Just saying 'but my view is clearly correct and you are foolish to not see that' is certainly a way to advocate. Equally you can rarely sell life assurance successfully by telling folk they are going to die, no matter what the truth of it may be.

So, with regret, and meaning no disrespect by ducking out, I fear I must get back to doing something I think will help in mitigation, whilst also advocating by word and deed reduction. And hope it continues to bring a few like-minded souls along for the ride after their day jobs, school and/or commitments, until those we place in power grasp the bigger picture and sell the necessary solutions to us all.

But I do very much enjoy and value the exchanges here, and especially the links provided, but will simply from now be content to simply lurk.

You know, one day I'd dearly love to know just how many folk their are now on the public purse (GO3, GOv, Local GOv & NGO), plus charity funded and essentially corporate parasitic (Carbon trading sprigs to mind) as a % of the working population. Not to say some don't have value, but to mix twenty metaphors, most seem to be making hay out of green like moss on a well-wedged rock.

I know what I am DOING as I write and debate. My patience with and respect for those who make no real tangible contributions, especially from high, salaried pedestals simply saying 'we're doomed... unless (usually preceded by 'fund us first')', is wearing quite thin. And I do have a day job.

Addendum - NEW: Oh, the irony. I am now spending the next hour fielding off-bog replies direct from those who agreed/agree with (some of/all of) my views, but didn't want to stick their heads over the parapet lest the green snipers picked 'em off (our emails hence employers are open fro all to see). At least there is that 'off-blog' feature. But when you fear your 'own' 'side' more, then that is a time for concern.

BBC Green (it's different, and odd to see ads on Aunty!) - Save money and the planet?