Monday, August 04, 2008

The climate change smokescreen

The title of an interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald, which focuses on the on-going PR campaign to deny climate change that has, at least in part, been funded by the big oil boys.

"There are at least three other reasons the oil companies' PR campaign has had success for climate change deniers. First, the implications of the science are frightening. Shifting to renewable energy will be costly and disruptive. Second, doubt is an easy product to sell. Climate denial tells us what we all secretly want to hear. Third, science is portrayed as political orthodoxy rather than objective knowledge, a curiously postmodern argument."

Interesting to note that Exxon Mobil has announced that it will "cease funding nine groups that had fuelled a global campaign to deny climate change." This piece claims that it took a shareholder revolt to get that decision. I seem to recollect that they denied funding any such organisations a couple of years ago.

Interesting conclusion too .....

"The tide slowly turned on tobacco denial and the science finally was accepted. Some people still choose to smoke and some pay a price for it.

But climate is different. There are no 'smoke-free areas' on the planet. Climate denial may turn out to be the world's most deadly PR campaign."

(Hmmmm ... no smoke free areas? Try a British pub. Mind you, you'd better hurry, at the rate they are closing there will be very few left soon.)

I wonder if the UK press will pick up on this? It could perhaps be the signal for another extremely entrenched and divisive war of words. With the great majority stuck in the middle in no-mans land again!

Addendum: From the International Herald Tribune, a piece entitled 'Convincing the skeptics'.

Rubbish Facts

I have been alerted by Dave of Solarventi to a 'debate' raging on the Jeremy Vine show (actually Matthew Bannister) on R2 regarding fines for bin taxes.

A lot of arguments made (and coming in as I write) are now well recycled (!), but one issue raised by the 'experts' struck me and hence I have written in:

Just listening to the 'debate', where the facts flying around, especially without much context, are worth as much as stats.

If there have been 'only' 1,000 prosecutions so far, one presumes these to have been successful. How many have not been? What have been the costs to the taxpayer of people and systems to generate this deterrent/revenue generator, over and above the ever so slight public negative perception of anything green hued these days (VED anyone?).

I suspect the £70k garnered so far might not have covered the costs of a few Civ. Servants for one year, and hence how much has been wasted that could have gone in much greener and more efficient directions?

Driving Miss, Crazy Thinking?

Just watching a BBC Breakfast News report on a plan to tax folk out of older, less efficient cars into new, more efficient ones.

I'm all for efficiency measures; not sure keen on taxes, to be blunt.

Featuring Tim Yeo MP, it is an interesting situation. Actually, interesting to me was also the fact that I think I heard that of his committee of 17, um, 16 were not in favour (tbc* - it hasn't been repeated in any subsequent slots, oddly), but he was sure 'it would have got though if they hadn't had to rush 'cos they were all off on hols now.' Hmn.

To be sure, he was 'balanced' by a lady from the RAC, but I notice she has been dropped in subsequent clips. Which is a shame, because she is making the fair point that it is hardly fair, or very eco (what is the carbon consequence of a new car's manufacture?), to hit folk who still have the car they bought under available rules a while ago, and then try and force them to buy a new one in the name of green.

Mr. Yeo at least was advocating that revenue generated remained within the eco-pot, but again I think I caught he was talking about paying folk like me to scrap my 11-year old Volvo.

Now, I don't know what he is proposing, but it is currently something like £180 for a junker. But my car is, to all intents and purposes, perfect. Admittedly, it is only worth £2000 at best, but even if they compo'd me that value, just what the heck can I get? There seems to be some odd, dare I say, London pol/chatterati notion, that I happen to have the extra £15,000 on top to buy a Prius, assuming they did an estate that carries what mine does.

For possibly selfish reasons, but also with my eco-eyebrow cranked as well, I am not too thrilled the direction which this one is going, nor with the way our national broadcaster is trying to rather over-enthusiastically push the agenda of those who would claim one thing but possibly not have it all thought out as well as it might. And not for the first time.

Addendum - looks like Mr. Yeo was early morning only. There was a follow-on with a chap from the Society of Motor Traders (who one presumes might have a vested interest in flogging new, but possibly second hand across the board as well) and the point I am making was at least alluded to, namely the cost of the upgrade.

*Links, I am sure, to come...

Didn't take long:

BBC - MPs sceptical over car tax rise

Indy - 'Pay to scrap gas-guzzlers'

Indy - Driven to distraction

Telegraph - Government's green car tax plans in disarray - Courtesy of Dave from Solarventi

BBC - Plans for a graduated car tax

Autoindustry - NEW - Another link from Dave of Solarventi - A light right foot will do more to reduce CO2 than retrospective road tax, says the IAM - this tends to support the logic of more useage-based 'influence', which must translate into fuel tax. But this obviously becomes a political and 'fairness' (since when was that a problem) issue with those for whom driving, and over fair distances, is not really an option.

Gaurdian - NEW - The Mancunian way - Whilst being fine with all sorst of views being expressed, in light of the way media is shaped by what we are first served, I have to have a certain sympathy with the poster who notes this: 'I thought that Dr Huq was an academic specialising in pop music at a London Poly. I don't mean that in a nasty way. It is just that I don't see the connection with Manchester or transportation. Transportation is a complex issue that usually needs post-graduate training in engineering or mathematics to talk about in a sensible way. Some economics would not go astray either.'

Greenbang - NEW - Emissions car tax – a load of hot air? - I've been a bit rude, too. Sorry.

Gaurdian - NEW - Golf's water waste means only the fairways are green - Why here? Read on:

Telegraph - NEW - Anyone for green humbugs? Read to the end:)


A bit of Monday philosophy...

There's what's right to do.
There's what I should do.
There's what some want me to do.
There's what others want me to do.
There's what I could do.
There's what I want to do.
There's what I can afford to do.

And, there's what I will do.

It might be worth some remembering those options, especially in terms of the way they present their views to me when seeking to influence my behaviour through cooperation or coercion.

It just might help us all avoid mutual.. do-do.

Weights & measures

European trend to recycling leads to mass shortage of wheelie bins in UK

Just being naughty, but turtle-chocking aside, I wonder how many plastic bags' worth of plastic ends up in a wheelie bin?

And, more importantly, I wonder why I have not heard much on these things being made from recycled plastic, though I guess there may be QC issues under the elements.

Just hope the various designs have been thought through for the best enviROI with the most efficient collection and disposal systems and not just to meet targets or score a profit. What are the odds?

The colour of complexity

I have long claimed that little that's green can only be viewed in black and white.

Perhaps now the time has arrived to work and appreciation of red in to the picture?

Greens: Abandon economic growth to beat CO2 offshoring

Since the first passionate debates in my mid-teens, through Uni and beyond, I have always envied those who latched on to a noble cause, sought and often gained glory (and now nice careers) by being very single minded in (usually) being just against something.

I don't know if it is a curse, but I have always tended to look beyond the core issue, and certainly have got in a tangle as a consequence.

Which can of course also affect the arguments often put forward by some proponents: 'As to how that should be done, Bond was reluctant to give specifics.'

It's all well and good saying 'how awful...' and there is some legitimacy in saying 'this is bad; we need to stop...', but frankly having nice little jobs (involving using a lot of the toys 'progress' has generated, because, well, that's different... it's their jobs. As opposed to the ones we do, apparently) just lurking in these areas without coming up with much by way of credible alternative seems frankly parasitic at best.

And I do wonder at the value of all of this, at least in this form, as it seems to exist in a bubble occupied mainly occupied by the usual suspects from the various extremes who seem to have carved lucrative niches taking each other on, and more often than not way over the head, and hence engagement of the general public.

I am not saying that much of what is being raised doesn't need to be, but do concern myself at the sanctimonious pedestal mounters that think they are the key ones who need to do so.

Indy - NEW - The WMD that really should be worrying us - By way of... I'm not sure what, actually.