Saturday, February 28, 2009

Respect where it is due

Revealed: The secrets of belly button fluff

Mr Barker has been collecting his own navel fluff in jars every day since 1984. The achievement has won him a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's largest collection of navel lint.

We have even gone so far as to keep the boys' hair trimmings (they and I get a two-monthly number 2 razor trim from the missus), and they are lustrous and may yet have a use (mine are a sad salt and pepper mix and we decided they had no value). But this is a step beyond.

EVENT - HR - Climate Change Event - Ross-on-Wye

With all due apologies to those not 'local'.

I know this is now a national, even internationally-read blog, so I hope putting the postcode in the title will suffice for now until I can figure a better system (which I think will need to be on the main site)

WHEN: March 4, 2-3.30PM
WHAT: Herefordshire Council Climate Change Event
WHERE: Ross Library (note for those in Hay, there are other venues & dates)
WHAT... MORE?: Antonia Fitch, Herefordshire Council's sustainability officer, says, 'No background knowledge of climate change is needed and we want people to share their own experiences about how the issues are affecting their own families. We are working hard to raise awareness of the issues but also want to hear directly from county residents so we can target our actions to meet what they need.

URL: Courtesy of
COMMENTS: I'll definitely try and attend.

Friday, February 27, 2009

EVENT - HR - Herefordshire Greenlinks Public Event and Green Business Expo

WHEN: Tuesday 17 March 2009 7.30 pm - 10 pm
WHAT: Health, Wealth, and Green Living
WHERE: The Courtyard, Hereford
WHAT... MORE?: From the site:
Public Event & Greenlinks Exhibition
Come and join the 400 businesses, public, media, and panel of well known speakers
discussing innovative ways to beat the recession and develop a vibrant local economy.
After the panel speakers, the discussion groups will focus on the stand holders and speakers, giving opportunities for everyone to get to know a growing network of green businesses and enthusiastic supporters.

7:30 pm
Panel discussion and questions with:
Alistair Sawday, Sawday Publishing
Elaine Brook, Gaia Partnership & Greenlinks
Satish Kumar, Resurgence Magazine
Brigit Strawbridge, TV's 'Not Easy Being Green'
Stewart Walllis, New Economics Foundation
Bianca Madison, Celebrity health advisor
Geoff Hughes, Head of Regeneration, Herefordshire Council

Small-group discussions focused on stand-holders and speakers, with people moving on every 12 minutes to ensure maximum networking.
Emerging 'good ideas' will be posted on a giant banner above the stands

HOW MUCH: Main House Event £6 or £3 from Box Office 01432 340 555
COMMENTS: I'll definitely try and attend. May even be seduced by a stand


Oh heck, I have tons in other places. Time to pull 'em together as they come up (or I get told).

Anyways, the list of thousands of sources of info starts with the first few links... - NEW

Junkk diRE:ctory

UK - Postcode Dependent

HR -Herefordshire
herefordshiregreenlinks -

Finding the energy

It came to me more targeted at 'energy professionals', but having clicked the link I see no harm in sharing here.

If any of you have expertise/experience of energy saving/renewable and low carbon energy technologies and can advise the households involved in the Big Energy Shift your input would be gratefully received. They have asked a load of questions which they would like people's views on.

It has a few links and pages some may value for info, or have the experience to contribute to.

Do love the current 'freeze frame' of Minister Ed Miliband on the home page. Not sure he would:)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Walk walk vs. talk talk

With all due apologies to Winston Churchill for the paraphrase.

I tend now to avoid getting into much about climate change (or whatever its incarnation du jour is), much less the man-made aspect.

It seems pretty clear that some odd things are going on, and mostly not good. As I am not so keen on bans, while I do see merit in sensible reductions, mitigations, etc, and ways to effect these.

But I am also a fan of pragmatism, so while there are many (in fact I'd say too many) who still seem to enjoy rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic whilst discussing the number of angels who can dance atop the head of a pin, I tend to get more exciting by things to do. Especially by way of contingencies should what is predicted by many take place.

Hence I, and possibly you dear reader, might find this report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, commissioned by Ch4, a worthy, if sobering read. Of course, as with all things, the spectre of 'The Two E's' is again a major elephant in the room.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mushroom time again

Kept in the dark. Fed... well, in the cause of coming to a view, not much of use.

I remain dubious about nuclear for a variety of reasons, articulated before, but mainly for the ongoing lack of guarantees for what happens 'down the road'. Space 1999 and all that.

But I do concede that, if on the other hand we are facing more immediate peril from the consequences of our energy addictions currently met by burning fossil fuels, with growing populations and recovering economies we are in between a rock an a hard place.

I am not really in the mood, or of a mind to go into all that throws up here, but it is complex, and I if that were not enough of a worry given the evident competencies of our current 'leaderships', the selfish, careerist, money-driven short-termism shown so far suggests that some things are often seen as just alternatives, rather than as part of a time-buying strategy on the road to stability.

However, or maybe because of this, this worries me...

Pro-nuclear Green candidate faces axe

And it worries me because of the politics. We are in an era of either/or, black and white, all or nothing. Nuance is not an option. Especially in the politico-media establishment.

My frustrations with the, in theory 'democratic' political process is now almost total. I have no faith that anything I do via my MP matters any more. And much of this is because too often I see him 'told' how to vote for party reasons rather than any hint of representing my views, or what he sees as the good of the county and country he represents.

Now I can see how the views of these individuals can clash with that of the party, and indeed the manifesto it needs to stand behind in campaigning, but there strikes me as something worrying about that last phrase: “We will be taking appropriate measures.”

The THREE E's, again?

An interesting piece that at first blush is more concerned with my 'Two E' dilemma, namely economics 'vs.' environment.

However, a third is worked in, namely electricity. With a hue of greencloaking around too, perhaps.

Don’t let’s fall for all these ‘green’ credentials

What is interesting is how little is devoted to enviROI still. Even by the author. I have lost count of the number of puff pieces with some mic-toting moppet gushing that these things do not create emissions.

Personally I think there is great merit in pursuing electricity as a power option for vehicles. But it has to be done in concert with a realisation, and acceptance that until the method of electricity generation is developed in complement, they can hardly be deemed to be 'green'. 'Greener', perhaps, at least in some aspects, such as localised pollution (though it still ends up in the air elsewhere), hence the value even now in certain applications. Just... so long it is not just to tick a box somewhere that has little bearing on my kids' futures and more on meeting targets, propping up constituency votes, delivering to lobbyists or scoring a bonus.

Plus, as the comments show, there is also this rather unseemly, and uncritical rush to support anything that slaps a green sticker on it. I watch the BBC report on this, and came away thinking it a tad churlish to turn them down.

Now I read the fuller facts, and that there are already niche players well entrenched to tackle such markets as can be gained, there is different picture emerging. Especially to me as a taxpayer, and environmentally-concerned one at that.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's good to share

As does the author, so do I...

Around the world with Richard Branson in eight days: jetlagged in Sydney

I leave you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusions. Especially when the next dodgy eco-adventure is given lots of lovely PR by way of 'mitigation'.

I wonder who else was on board... in every sense of the word?

Good news for once?

Well, I think that this bit of research, reported in the Chicago Tribune, which indicates a potentially major breakthrough against one of mankind's longest established and most effective killers, influenza, probably is just so. The newly developed monoclonal antibody even appears to be effective against H5N1 (that's the much touted, very scary bird flu, for those of you that have forgotten about it).

OK, so it has only been tested on mice so far, but isn't it a little odd that the UK press appears not even to have spotted this?

Ohhh, silly me. Alongside the likes of global warming, the credit crunch, global recession, wars, food shortages, etc. etc., it would have to be regarded as good news, wouldn't it.

Maybe I'm being a little hasty and overtly critical, as I've just spotted that it HAS been mentioned in the Express ('Wonder jab to cure all flu') and the Telegraph ('Flu Vaccine Breakthrough') [though technically, it is not a vaccine].

The rise of the rest

I actually don't think of other countries as 'the rest', but this is an interesting set of stats, especially if you consider the enviro-impacts.

Rise of the Rest -

Mind you, it's good our PM is concerned about Mrs. Tweed, nee Goody, as a matter of priority.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Packing 'em in

I just got back last night from a two-day trip to an intellectual property conference in Glasgow.

And it was one to which I had been invited to as a speaker. The roller-coaster ride that is RE:tie was and still is deemed to be an interesting study. And this time it was in the awesome, but imposing setting of the University's stunning Bute Hall.

Mostly pretty high-end legal stuff which was waaaay over my head, but some useful material which I'll share here for budding researchers and/or inventors. One of my points was that those who 'create' are often not that well served by the highly necessary complementary business aspects to get to sustainable models, and that is often down to not knowing about a lot that is in fact out there for free.

For instance, a speaker from the IPO shared these latest, and highly useful IP tools on their site:

Lambert Agreements -

Gowers Review -

Patent Licensing -

IP Healthcheck - - worth doing!

Meanwhile another speaker, from the British Library, shared this:

Business & IP Centre -

Plus the fact that they really do have an awful lot of information available that one might not realise is there to be had. For instance, I have been staring at a price of £1200 for a report on the packaging market for bottle caps, and wishing I could have a look. Seems that, via the Library, I may be able to just that! For nothing.

And then, in the course of some spirited discussion between podium and floor, I ended up with some key offers of direct help which I am hoping will prove highly valuable.

One little bit of Kismet was that the very day I spoke the news media were alive with top stories about packaging, and manufacturers and retailers were not coming out well and/or struggling to find and share solutions, and certainly few that would be deemed positive in a consumer sense.

As I was there I missed them, but have had a quick trawl to try and capture a few. They did not hurt my advocacy for or the cause of RE:tie, a redesign that turns grams of plastic from litter or landfill... to reuse.

Telegraph - 'Excessive' supermarket packaging is leading to higher council tax bills
Examples included Britvic saving 1,670 tons of plastic a year by redesigning Robinsons squash bottles
Telegraph - M&S bottom of packaging recycling list - Time for Plan, er... reuse?
Telegraph - There is a Plan B - with a link to a comment I made a while ago! One of ... two so far, even with the revisit.
Telegraph - Packaging 'sinks Marks & Spencer green bid' - Not a headline I fancy they will appreciate. To be fair, and the MSM seem hardly capable of this when a good headline beckons, the last para does suggest 'M&S disputed the research, which looked at 29 of their 5,500 products, and said 91 per cent of their food packaging could be recycled.' Might have been worth a follow-up to check? Or... moving on.
Telegraph - M&S worst supermarket in green report - Archive stuff, but when you end up bottom I guess that is what gets focused upon. Especially if you make some big claims that seem poorly borne out in fact.

Times - Supermarkets fail to shine in packaging study to find the greenest of them all - Interesting that they single out Waitrose instead. It is worth noting the first comment that councils, or rather the national policies, are by no means helping.

Indy - Pay packaging recycling costs, stores told - Just so's we're clear: when they pay... we pay.

Guardian - Supermarkets' excessive packaging exposed by survey - I'm surprised there was not more comment.

Packaging News - Supermarket 'excess packaging' report dismissed as "nonsense"
Packaging News - Retailers fight back as media storm erupts over 'excess packaging'
Packaging News - Soap Box: packaging's public image
Packaging News - The LGA's 'War on Waste': a response

An industry response that is, as might be expected.. 'robust'. But before we go all Mandy Rice Davis WeTWoST (Well, They Would Say That), read some of the responses. Not sure any MSM types did, especially on broadcast. Lots of emotive, and illogical, vox pops supported by often rather conveniently forgetful 'experts' with axes to grind and targets to meet. It IS all vastly more complex and serving the public ill to pretend otherwise.

'..a constructive debate about packaging in the media.'

Bless. When there are agendas to push, ratings to drive and targets to meet, I have long since given up on anything well researched and/or objective from the MSM, complicit at the hands of those who are happy to use their less than challenging reporting abilities to push press releases out as stories.

And I am a green campaigner!

My frustration lies in that all too often the cause of actual overall reductions (waste, emissions, etc... that I categorise under enviROI) is poorly served. Also there can be a highly negative, and damaging backlash if these 'messengers' have their messages shown to be poorly thought through or, worse, often more in the cause of their own self-interest.

Fool the public once, shame on you...

The ever worthwhile Almost Mrs. Average has a balanced, consumer-centric take... Recycling Blame

The public... is not daft.

But is it...

Ethical Man is reborn

Like the last one, I'll probably value some of the information, but I suspect the overall message will crank an eyebrow as various aspects are 'cherry picked' and just as casually dropped later as part of the 'enhanced narrative'.

Ethical Man Project
Facebook Group

Can't wait. Even aspects of the first sentence starts my eyebrow quivering... ' a hybrid car'.
Then of course there was what got done for the story, and what happened in fact...

'We stopped flying,'

But he didn't. He flew to Jamaica to 'report' on energy saving bulbs. And the family may have had a year out camping, and very nice too, but I very much doubt when it was all over there was not the odd ski trip with the rest of the BBC school break crew subsequently.

' rid of the car'

Not sure that's quite a fair representation. They sold their car to a friend on the basis they could use it when required, and/or rented.

Plus of course all that goes on behind the camera to make what is in front look slick.

And finally... and again... when it's all over then what? Fly back and take a nice holiday?

Looking at the comments so far (I have refrained), it is already shaping up as pretty polarised with, I am surprised to note, a large chunk not best impressed. Not sure this is working out as well as it might for the message, though the messeners look liek they'll be having some fun. It's a journey I'd love to do one day.

I'll drink to that!

Buddhist temple built out of one million beer bottles

Now, imagine if, instead of recycling to box-ticking 'waste mountains', this effort was coordinated in the direction of reuse, and complemented by designed-in second-use materials.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Up to our necks in sh*t?

Not in the future, according to this from BusinessGreen, as manure can readily be turned in methane using anaerobic digestors, which can then be burned to create electricity, or converted into a feed-stock for biofuels.

"Anaerobic digestors work like small-scale landfill sites, trapping methane from waste organic matter, such as slurry, manure and food waste, that can then be burnt off to produce heat and electricity or converted into biofuel, while also producing a nutrient rich digestate that can be used as a fertiliser."

"This material could produce enough heat and power to run more than two million homes, helping to prevent dangerous climate change by providing a renewable energy source as well as reducing our reliance on landfill."

So there you have it - even cow manure could become a renewable energy source!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This acronym (for 'Don't do as I do; do as I say') has lurked around on this blog* for a while.

Time to pull the threads together. Until I do, let's start here:

Times - Atticus - Defra

Times - Atticus - HMG/Plastic Bags

BBC - Tony the climate tiger: Roaring success?

Indy - 'Jet-setting' government clocked up 300 million air miles last year - 'Well, y'know, like, it's not really practical for THEM not to fly'.

Indy - Ministers keep their gas-guzzling cars despite CO2 targets - Again, there is a need for common sense. The leader of our country out-running a terrorist in an armoured Prius? However, as to the rest...

Guardian - Public servants clocked up 306m air miles last year, Conservatives say - Of course, the key is not the total, but what was/is avoidable.

BBC - BBC staff Olympic details missing - 'The BBC fears the files have been stolen, possibly for identity theft or an attempt to embarrass the BBC over the number of staff going to the Games'. Now, who would think such a thing? They seem immune to most things. I am sure they a sharing the same A380 over, too.

Telegraph - HMRC is accused of double standards over staff expenses - It's not strictly (well, at all) enviro. I don't care.

Times - NEW - Hotshot greens caught wasting home heat - Let he who waves the first finger....

*Might be worth also cross-indexing with 'Quangos Jolly Good Fellows' (see link in baseline)


It's baaaaack! And hence warrants its own category.

Indy - Back to black: return to coal power

Indy - Coal-fired power: 'Clean coal' technology

BBC - Clean deadline call on coal power

Guardian - Coal isn't the climate enemy, Mr Monbiot. It's the solution - Now there's an odd couple squaring off.

Times - The burning question ...

Guardian - Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them

Times - NEW - PM stokes row with ‘clean’ coal plan

Think Big, Start Small. And then... stop?

Is this another example of economy vs. environment?

I have had my issues with their business model, but as it was there have always felt BBC Green to represent a perfectly good source of complementary info (though some have been concerned about the stances taken on various issues, which were, unsurprisingly, reflective of the overall corporate agenda). Shame they ignored all my efforts to raise reuse as a worthy topic.

But it was odd, and a little sad, to get this in my inbox just now.

Hello JunkkMan,

After nine months of brightening your inbox with weekly green news and advice, I am sorry to announce that this will be our last newsletter. From today, we won't be adding any more stories or features to BBC Green.

I hope you have enjoyed reading, using and interacting with the site. Building an environmental and sustainable living website from scratch was an ambitious project, and I would like to thank all of the BBC Green team who helped to make it happen.

I am also very grateful for the many kind and supportive messages we have received since our launch in March. We even enjoyed the few critical emails from die-hard climate change sceptics.

On a personal note, I have been amazed by just how many of you are looking for positive and practical ways to lead a greener life. We have really enjoyed hearing about and following your experiences, especially those of you who have used our Action Plan.

I hope that we have helped in some small way to inform and inspire you, and that BBC Green will continue to help you to make the right choices for you and the environment.

Very best wishes,

Paul Allen,
Editor, BBC Green

The one thing not explained is why*, and having a quick scope on the website I remain none the wiser. Maybe it just there will be no more email updates, but it's hard to see how that would make much difference.

It seems to be saying that what's up is all there is, and will be, and that will remain. However there will be no more need for additions, or interactivity, and hence staff.

Anyway, as I rush to try and get off the latest Junkk newsletter, packed with all manner of useful tidbits, I guess this is one less complementitor (my main beef was that when you are competing for ad revenue, having a funded entity courtesy of the licence fee was a bit frustrating), though the field is still pretty packed already.

I guess we just have to make sure we keep being useful, second useful, and entertaining enough to always find new stuff to share and offer plenty of reasons for folk to keep on coming back.

*Guardian - BBC Worldwide drops environment site - '..the corporation's commercial arm, has quietly ditched a controversial website ... following criticism from commercial competitors that it is overstepping its remit and distorting the markets in which it operates.'

Press Gazette - NEW - Rivals welcome closure of BBC Green 'passion site'

Message and messengers

Or, equally, another from 'not all that is green can be viewed in black and white'.

The breaking news the BBC wouldn't tell

I do confess that I am finding science, and logic, take rather lower fiddle ranks to agenda and ratings-driven hype.

By any measure I would rather this job was done in an accredited yard for good money, rather than by a bunch of kids cheap on a distant beach.

As to this... 'In 2004 Liam Sheahan of Ready Creek, Victoria, famously lost $100,000 when he was prosecuted for felling 247 trees to protect his property. Last week his house was the only one in the area left standing.' Head-shaking is not enough. I guess he got a form of refund in that he still has a home. In this era of sorry folk left right and centre, I'm betting even an apology will be hard to screw out of those responsible.

In the frame of mind to wonder what else I am told, or not, just watching the Breakfast News, this cranked an eyebrow:

BBC - Global warming 'underestimated'

I dread to think what lies behind such stuff any more (This is 'a' scientist, and a few other blogs I read have pointed out that his area of expertise is not really in this area, yet I am sure he was introduced as 'a leading climate change expert'). Especially as, irony-free, it was followed by this spot, with the teleprompter readers and their guest pretty much agreeing it was awful, and people better fly now or lose out:

BBC - Flyers face losing their Airmiles

And in closing, here's one from the other day, just to put what the world faces in some kind of context:

Telegraph - China's rescue plan a load of spin?


The Register - Thermageddon, the BBC and a giant snake

Addendum :

Guardian - Scientists must rein in misleading climate change claims - Read beyond the headline (which rather neatly makes a point in its framing). Indeed, read beyond the article. Woah! I'm glad I just try and help reduce waste.

Guardian - The tropics on fire: scientist's grim vision of global warming - Same paper; same day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines!

OK, so it's a recycled, reused idea... what do you expect!:)

It's long, but worth it...

No, missus, oo-er, trust me.

You know how 'they' are 'listening' to 'us'.

I followed, and even ended up sharing in an exchange from some guys who do seem to know stuff...

Stakeholder Engagement: The Big Energy Shift

Government intend these to be active and open consultation processes,
and are keen to hear from the households, businesses and communities who
will be affected by the proposals. Government also needs to hear from
local government, community groups, NGOs and the supply chain and
installation companies that will support delivery on the ground.

Government is launching the 'Big Energy Shift' - a series of 40+
road-show events in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland,
involving citizens, businesses, local authorities, community and fuel
poverty groups and the supply chain. Participants will discuss options
for heat and energy savings in homes and communities. These events
will provide the opportunity to discuss the consultations before
formally responding.

Events include:

* Stakeholder workshops on the detail of CESP on the 24 March, and
CERT on the 25 March, hosted by the Energy Efficiency Partnership for
Homes. These events are by invitation only, and these will be issued in
late February;

* Stakeholder workshops in Scotland and Wales on the
consultations, working with the Welsh and Scottish Governments. Further
details will follow, but you can also register your interest by
* English Regional "Road-show" events on the consultations, with a
particular focus on CESP. Further details will follow. Spaces will be
limited, however you can register your interest by emailing:;
* A HES workshop on community and renewable heat in local
communities with local authorities - details are to be made available
shortly. For further information contact;
* Citizens forums for households and communities - an innovative
programme with 9 separate citizens' forums - involving 250 people - in
neighbourhoods in England, Wales and N Ireland. These will include
peer-to-peer interviews in the community, site visits to see different
technologies in practice, and home visits as well as interactive web
forum. The events will take place throughout February and March;
* Small and medium enterprises - events run in conjunction with
Business in the Community and the Small Business Consortium, to discuss
policy and delivery options;
* Public sector - an event run with the Sustainable Development
Commission to bring together public sector procurers, facility managers
etc, to explore their role in delivering changes in relation to heat,
energy saving, and renewable energy.

The latter three events are invitation only. The findings will be
published by DECC.

> The first sentence in this press release is totally negated by the actual
> details of the "consultation" events, which are all, apparently, labelled
> as "by invitation" or "limited places" - must be some meaning of the word
> "open" that I haven't heard before. This carries on from a fine tradition
> of the government that brought us "Do you want a dozen nuclear power
> stations or only twelve?" and "Sipson village is being dangerously polluted
> by aircraft from Heathrow Airport, don't you think we ought to move it?"
> I suppose it's not possible to boycott all such government charades
> totally? Is this what they want? How could we ensure that no one broke the
> picket line?

It gets even better; the HES workshop email address doesn't work.I've tried to ask for further information, from two different email addresses and they both were rejected. The message:

Action: failed
Status: 5.1.1

seems to refer back to an old Elvis number,

"Return to sender, address unknown.

No such number, no such zone."

Rather than a picket line, we need a powerful can opener.


Getting with the 'game', I'll leave it open as to which bits - the semantic jiggery-pokery, the Hitch-hikers Guidian 'directions'... or the incisive mockery - I am referring in that statement.

I have a feeling, as with some West End Theatres, I how the authorities' PR machine would plaster that statement on any post(er).

It was about another issue, but I am minded to share a comment by a chap in the Newsnight blog today that I thought would make a great URL: ''

It also goes a long way to why I consider almost an 'research' that leads to a 'poll' that most, and especially HMG and the BBC, carry out to be pretty suspect.

As some around here have been saying...

'Apocalyptic climate predictions' mislead the public, say experts

Met Office scientists fear distorted climate change claims could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions

I am no expert, but... D'uh.

New Scientist - NEW - Scientists losing war of words over climate change - the posts in reply rather make a few points.. sadly.

ADDENDUM - 13/03/07

It seems to be sinking in that there is a problem. This just in from The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM - who are not going to get many visitors from the URL they offer)

The UK’s recent cold weather has highlighted that the often interchangeable use of the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ leads to public misunderstanding.

Misinterpretation of the suggestive term ‘global warming’ has resulted in some people to propose that cold weather events disproves climate change is happening. Therefore CIWEM is calling for greater clarity in the use of these terms by scientists, environmentalists, other professionals and the media so that the general public is able to distinguish between climate change, global warming and localised, short-term weather events.

Global warming describes the increase in average global temperatures due to rising levels of greenhouse gases, whilst climate change refers to regional conditions such as rain, drought and storm events that relate to a long-term change in the Earth’s climate.

Although the UK is suffering from the coldest winter in 30 years, the current weather is entirely consistent with climate change predictions. In pre-industrial days such extreme cold weather occurred every five years but, with climate change, global temperatures have risen, meaning that we now experience it only every 20 years. And in contrast, China’s drought has left more than four million people without drinking water and 24 million acres of crops damaged; parts of Australia are suffering massive flooding, whilst the south’s drought has aggravated the terrible bush fires that have killed over 130 people; Argentina is suffering the worst drought for 50 years; and Israel suffered the driest January since records began.

CIWEM asks whether the term ‘climate change’ is significantly descriptive of the predicted extreme global weather patterns that we will experience. CIWEM puts forward that more dramatic and resonant terms such as ‘climate churn’ or ‘climate convulsion’ may help people to understand that this will not be a gentle transition which can be ignored.

Nick Reeves, Executive Director of CIWEM, says:

“To apply the term ‘global warming’ to explain all extreme weather events including freezing temperatures, snow and heavy rainfall is careless and will only feed the scepticism of the public and some sections of the media that average temperatures aren’t rising and that the climate isn’t changing. As scientists have predicted we are experiencing, simultaneously, extreme weather events around the world, which are causing unprecedented drought conditions, water scarcity, melting of the polar ice caps, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding. Not only is this evidence of climate change but a more serious problem that should be more accurately described as climate convulsion.”

While I have some sympathy with the dilemma, and applaud the attempt, I have to say that after 'Global warming' and then 'climate change', moving to ‘climate churn’ or ‘climate convulsion’ might not quite suffice. There is a lot of baggage to undo, and a few too many who will be trotting out such new buzz words are those who loaded that baggage on the cart in the first place. Message vs. messengers again.

Can Can.... er... 't?

The internet can be useful. Especially at putting you right quickly.

Just now I shared a reuse 'tip' from the site, which has proven quite popular, on another site seeking such.

It's a lid from a cream pot that clips on larger food cans, as a substitute for the bought variety.

Seems I may have committed a boo-boo.

Here I was interested in reuse, when 'elf & safety might trump that.

Here's the Food Standards view on it.

I think, for our purposes, we'll stick with the 1/2 day window in the can. We've done a lot worse.

The real cost of the TWO E dilemma

Millions face 'stealth tax' on heating bills to subsidise green energy

Not an easy one at all.

However, I do concern myself that, with almost painful inevitably, a lot of the costs are biting earlier and harder where they can least be afforded.

I wish I'd logged it, but I was also surprised to find that energy costs are front-end loaded, so smaller homes using less pay proportionately more. Even though I guess my family home (with heating all day - even the gilet I wear needs a bit of help - as I work here) is a beneficiary, this can't be right.

Keep that eyebrow cocked

Some are genuine efforts, and to be applauded.

Many, still, are not.

A while ago I noticed, and still commend, the Greenwash column in the Guardian authored by Fred Pearce.

I'm not sure he's always fair, but he certainly sets out the cases pretty clearly, and if he does push his case there is usually a commenter who can put the other side.

And there still seems to be some debate as to whether things are getting better or worse.

Certainly, such as the ASA have and still are clamping down on blatant factual falsehoods and even excessive claims. But there are still an awful lot where you really have to cock that eyebrow.

I guess, with my ongoing efforts to 'sell' the RE:tie, which I really believe to be a no-brainer positive enviROI idea for all involved - business, consumer & planet - I am quite sensitive to measures that seem more designed to save the company money than anything else.

Which of course IS good, especially if it is through reduced waste which one presumes may get passed to the consumer, but too often there seems really little end-benefit involved where it matters. And then just has to wonder what all the money on the comms efforts could have been spent on rather than making the business seem to be green.

In passing, I noted this little video by MTV Switch advertised. Kinda cute, but then I hark back to a certain song by Dire Straits (!) that celebrated the conspicuous consumption era of the 80's... 'I want my MTV'. Pretty sure most of us still watching think getting a 50" plasma is still a nifty ambition.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The 'Great British Refurb'

News of this announcement was leaked last week so most of the content, as summarised in The Guardian, is not overtly surprising.

"All (anyone want to bet that that's not true?) UK households will have a green makeover by 2030 under government plans to reduce carbon emissions and cut energy bills.

Cavity wall and loft insulation will be available for all suitable homes, with plans to retrofit 400,000 homes a year by 2015. Financial incentives for householders will also be available for low-carbon technologies such as solar panels, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps, paid for by a levy on utility companies."

So is this all new? There seems to me to be little difference from any of the previous initiatives, none of which have proved to be particularly successful. There are a couple of points worth noting though:-

Firstly, yet again, these are seen only as targets. Another all process initiative with little productive output other than the favoured box-ticking exercises?

Secondly, if you read it carefully, you will see that the funding is to be provided via a levy on the utility providers, which, as previous attempts at similar initiatives have shown, simply means that, in the end, we pay for it out of our own pockets anyway!

As my Granddad used to say years ago - 'You get nowt for nowt in this life'.

Let's hope that we genuinely get some real 'doing' this time, rather than the usual hot air, spin and target playing. I'll keep my fingers crossed, though I'm not particularly hopeful.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Well, they asked

Tomorrow I head off to ECOpack at the NEC to try to get more support for the RE:tie.

This was timely.

Should packs promote social causes?

So long as the enviROI is positive, it's hard to fault any design for working towards a greater good.

Certainly we at try and advocate reuse at every turn, and facilitate it even if not intended.

But our greatest hope is for second uses that can be built-in, especially if they can be re-evolutionary to existing designs and hence impose little or no capital or material impositions, such as the RE:tie tamper evident security closure for example.

In addition to CSR, PR and marketing opportunities in their own right, such components can surely also provide many of the functions described and discussed above!?

Monday, February 09, 2009

At last, a glimmer

Of hope in common sense, if not much faith in delivery

Quarter of UK homes to be offered a green makeover

In my view, improving home efficiencies to a decent level of enviROI has to be the priority, otherwise any energy generated, no matter how 'greenly', is still being wasted unnecessarily.

Plus there's the small matter of costs, too.

But speaking of money, there is as mentioned that small matter of what is promised vs. what transpires.

Summit up?

Scientists plan emergency summit on climate change

I am a bit torn on this one.

Fora while I have been banging on that IF it is a serious as is made out then why on earth are the powers that be not making more a an issue of it?

So this looks like a worthy effort to kick-start this.

However, another part of me wonders, post Kyoto, Bali, IPCC, etc, what exactly new they are going to come up with that hasn't worked... obviously... to now, and hence runs the risk of being another high-carbon talk-fest. The word 'summit' gets me right offside immediately, after all the other nonsense events I've been to with the same name.

On past evidence, I honestly don't look forward to how this will get reported, and who these reports will impact and reach. It's the first I have heard of it (didn't look like there was even a website) , and a month is not a long time to prepare, so who is going, why and what are they hoping to achieve?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

IRONY ALERT - speak softly, but carry a big budget

I don't know if I'd go as far as accusing it of greenwashing (they are trying to DO something, well, by 2025), but this banner made me giggle.

I don't know if it is complemented by equally large, and expensive print ads, but the TV commercial is certainly pervasive.

So I am a little unclear as to the definition of 'not shouting about it' being used.

And how all that money could be better applied... more tangibly, reducing some more.

Civil unrest

Let engineers make Britain great again

In a quick scan through I think I saw the name 'Dilbert' there; one could do worse than sign up to Mr. Adams' daily bit of genius on the plight of engineers stateside.

I graduated with a Civ. Eng back in the lat 70's, but only on the strict understanding I didn't try and build anything people's lives depended on. Fair enough, and advertising has been mostly kind to me.

Of my graduating class, even back then I doubt more than 10% stayed in the profession for long, and those mostly the guys from the Far East. Almost all my mates ended up as Masters of the Universe in the City; not sure how that is working out now, mind.

I now busy myself with things of a planetary-positive nature, combining my science/engineering education with my media experiences to try and make the world a better place based on a principle I have dubbed the enviROI, basically a measure of how products or initiatives perform in a way that will actually make a positive difference to my kids' futures.

And I have to say that the lack of many... any with even a basic understanding of practical realities in senior government is a worry. And if they do have 'qualified' advisers, these guys don't seem very competent or vocal at setting them straight on what can... and can't work. And that often also includes saving money.

I seem to recall the 'unofficial' motto of either my college (Kings) or the profession was 'An engineer can do for a shilling what any other darn fool can do for a pound'.

Looking at the vast black holes being spun in the the world of green, all I see are targets, box-ticking and lobbyist-fueled agendas that would make any true engineer weep.

We're now in an era of process over product, and being seen to do rather than actually doing anything.

It's a house of cards on near zero foundations. I may not have been the best engineer, but I can see the result a mile off.

And that... really sucks.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

CATEGORY - Noise Pollution

Noise Mapping England website -

Don't know if there's one for North of the border or over the water. Maybe they are not noisy?


The name is reason enough to share.

More Shanzhai madness!

Now the piece itself is not exactly complimentary, but in principle I am on board with (some of)the positive aspects inherent in making stuff out of other stuff.

Also a good opportunity for a punt, not that many others seem to have picked up on it.

Firefox Surprises

I just upgraded my Firefox browser (Mac only) and a lot of new stuff has popped up.

Oddly (or not, I think they are all Google-linked) this seems to have 'affected' my blog too; I hope in a good way.

A bunch more functionality has appeared.

Now I am all for toys, but having been put off Facebook by all the walls and pokes and what have you I must proceed with caution here.

As building a community is obviously something I am keen to encourage, there is one that strikes a chord immediately, though the name sucks.

It's called 'Followers'. I know this is literally correct, and pretty much says what is on the tin, but I am not sure I like the connotations. Maybe it is just me. Not sure what I would post, but it seems just 'off-putting' in those terms. I guess all who have an interest in my blog and click on a thing to be informed are 'following' it, but for this journey I simply seek to share with 'Fellow Travellers'.

I wonder if Mozilla will be open to the suggestion?

I also need to check out what the other consequences are of adding this, but it may be a worthy option.

Addendum - Let's try. I can 'rename' the title, but it still has those sharing my journey as 'followers' and I can't seem to delete it. Plus there is an option to be 'secret' follower so that allows folk to track without being seen.


Definition is here

As 'it's not always as clear as you might think', time to start logging instances to demonstrate this.... starting now:



Fox News - NEW - The Futility of Hybrid Cars - Now this comes from a certain angle (doesn't everything?), but as this is about enviROI there are legitimate questions if not conclusions.


packaging news - CPI hits back at Linpac Allibert carbon footprint

Sunday, February 01, 2009



Indy - Grass ceiling: How corporate culture is going green

NYT (via Junkk) - NEW - Praise the Lord and Green the Roof


Hey, this could be habit forming

Hey, if it's fun, relevant and somone's kind enough to care and send it in... I'll share:

Praise the Lord and Green the Roof

It actually covers more than green roofs, which is a category already broken out here (and I'll add this to), but is another worthy journey by individuals (in this case a convent) as they try and decide what's best for them... and the enviROI.

Thanks to Junketeer Joseph from, I'm guessing, over the pond. Nice to know this litle blog gets read far and wide.