Saturday, May 30, 2009

Well, he did ask.

Ethical Man on twitter:

What's up? Disappointing response on blog not interested in the future of the world?
about 20 hours ago from web

Leads to:

Has Obama lost his bottle on climate?

I fear that the replies so far might not be quite what was wished for by the author. On any measure. So far, not even ten, in reply to a challenge made by a national broadcaster who has spent and is spending a lot (both money and carbon) to push matters in ways that I frankly don't think the majority of the public are either interested in an or buying. That... is poor enviROI at best... wasteful, elitist vanity programming at worst. Here's my reply:

Prompted by the 'disappointing response' (quantity? quality? Or level of support?) challenge in twitter, I can assure you I care very much about the future of my kids on this planet.

However, I do have some concerns about how well it is being served by those who have either appointed themselves or are in privileged positions to help share information in such a way so free thinking folk can make their minds up in an objective atmosphere. And hence, while the message can often have value, I tend to view the messengers, from individual to corporate, quite critically. Especially when 'they' claim to speak for 'me and mine'.

So, taking that last line of the piece, speaking of using less energy....

I fear I had to crank my eyebrow quite early at the notion of using a helicopter for a few seconds' shot 'to picture the scale' of the gently turning wind farm blades.

Like the Hummer-driving-engineer, it seems that many industries - even green-supportive media - can't seem to 'do their jobs' without breezily excusing away certain compromises that are not often accorded lesser mortals struggling to make a crust. This can create a sense of them vs. us situation, often erring on 'do as we say, not as we still like doing because we're creating 'awareness' between which an empathetic bridge is hard to forge.

I was also a bit intrigued about the priorities that can come across, which seemed to me to be;

1) Making money
2) Reduction in GHGs (not clear if that is to 'target' and hence often subsidy-supported, which often is not quite the same as doing right by the planet) and....
3) Production of enviROI+ energy

I would have thought that, beyond reducing at any viable, reasonable, practical point, the generation of energy in a form that produces the lowest 'harmful' by-products should be the main aim, and any advocacy challenged to prove they are so.

And while gimmicks can have a place, especially to help entertain to encourage education and hence information, they can distract. Hence I'd still like a lot more science, and if issues are not clear-cut, well debated by professional scientists and engineers, and not a gaggle of usual suspect interest groups that may make for good TV or meet agendas, but hardly help me arrive at a view on worthy initiatives to support.

For instance there was one point mentioned that I would have liked delved into a lot more. And that was the fact that this vast wind farm was actually located near a town of just 10,000 folk. Now, maybe that's because it's where the wind is. But how does it stack up against, say solar, on a cradle to grave basis (with subsidies stripped away to get a true cost/benefit comparison. It looked pretty darn sunny there. And, just as I subscribe to the notion of wearing a jummie to crank the thermostat down here in winter, I'd probably suggest a suit and tie might lead to the a/c getting cranked up more than it need be where the sun do shine).

And this in turn leads to further questions on massive generation vs. microgeneration, as surely remote locations at distance from consumption do mean compromises to efficiency of delivery.

These are key points that often get glossed over when the discussion seems mainly to be dominated by interest groups, pols and those involved with money on the line. Even academics can be tainted by dubious associations and hence motivations. Hence contentious areas really require more than a couple a views, preferably around the same table, and moderated by chairperson(s) qualified to keep hyperbole in check and call questionable claims to account.

Not something I see or here very often throughout the MSM, and oddly so considering the criticality of the topic and passions that can be aroused in debate.

Hence the decisions made, not made and bottling of by our currently less than stellar political classes become very hard to call.

ps: Did T Boone's people strap you/Justin to the chair for that interview? You/He looks terrified. Can't think why, Mr. Pickens seems a guy well worth listening to?

Friday, May 29, 2009

'Doom and gloom' or 'doom and boom'?!

Yet another 'top scientist' group has concluded that climate change is a major challenge facing the human race.

Reported in the Telegraph, this summit (including 20 Nobel Laureates [plus Prince Charles? - perhaps someone spelled it as Noble?]) concludes that climate change poses as great a threat to mankind as "the threat posed to civilisation by the advent of thermonuclear weapons".

"the best chance of stopping catastrophic climate change is to keep the predicted temperature rise at or below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F).........Without action, they envisaged three times that temperature rise, which would mean global warming would cause a huge rise in sea levels, and swamp the cities of London, Paris and Copenhagen."

Hmmm, I wonder if our MP's will be allowed to claim expenses for scuba gear and for living in a house-boat, or maybe a second submarine?

Take with a pinch of salt and come back in the morning

See how this gets shoe-horned into twitter!

I am still trying to get used to the opportunities and/or constraints of writing for multi-platform publication. Frankly I don't think I can effectively compose a 'one size fits all' and might not even try. This blog is still the main source, and with luck the others will serve well enough to feed back, though I must try and bear in mind the first sentence as a 'lure'.

Anyway, to the point.

About 35 years ago I was very sick. Sparing the grim details, it turned out I had lost a lot of blood internally from my stomach lining. The culprit was deemed to be Aspirin, and I have kept away from it ever since. No biggie in the headache stakes, as there are plenty of alternatives.

However, as I hit my hypochondriac dotage, it has irked that I cannot be spared the simple heart attack preventative that it represented/represents. Hardly a day went by without its miraculous benefits being advocated.

Or... er... have I dodged a (magic) bullet here?

I must say I always wondered how what is evidently an aggressive drug could be safely advocated for regular, endless use.

Because over the weekend I heard a massive cautionary story. Trying to Google for more was... an eye-opener.

No doubt we'll be continue to be treated to a bunch of major scares with extremes on both sides.

But it has to be wondered how well we are served by science by the 'establishment', from researchers to quangos to ministers to media.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quantum leaps

There's no feeling quite as satisfying.

You take an age shuffling the chequers around the board, and then with one final move... whammo... a veritable hop, skip and jump over a bunch of obstacles that propels you to the next level.

This is how I feel today... now... having spent a long, exhausting, but ultimately hugely rewarding day with IT specialist James from the West Midlands National B2B Centre initiative looking at every aspect of the site and this blog, with a view to not just improving each in its own right, but then integrating them to make more than a simple sum of the parts.

Yet even despite this marathon, we barely scratched much of what the agenda had planned, and so here's hoping for another, equally rewarding session soon.

So what did we achieve? Well, let me count the ways...

Oh, Blogger, How Art Thou?

With all due deference to Larry and Sergey, Google may have some nifty kit, but they don't make it easy to use it all. Especially for an IT padawan like me, so it was almost reassuring to find James struggling on occasion, too. It was almost ironic, if reassuring, that he had to use Google to find forums that explained stuff waaaay better than Google Help or Forums did.

Several Easy Pieces

But persevering was worth it, as we managed to effect several, and better yet automated links between this blog on Blogger, my new Twitter feed, and also FaceBook.

With luck, and a fair wind, posting this will result in a version on both.. no hands!

At the moment it looks like it might be going to my personal Facebook rather than the Group, but James is sussing out a fix on that.

Doing 'Da Biz

Of course we are not just looking at the civvy end of the street, but also the B2B one, too. So now we have also created a complementary Linkedin Group: 'Here's One I RE:made Earlier'. This I am hoping to complement the networking I need to do with the business community with and RE:tie, as the others serve the public audience. Top of the list for working on tomorrow!

And I am hoping it is a happy coincidence rather than potential for clashes, that another B2B network I'm on, Plaxo, has now hooked up with LinkedIn, too.

So in theory, so long as I keep the content useful, informative and entertaining, there is a good chance of reaching out, capturing and growing audiences via greater blog outreach too.

Direct To A Screen Near You

Speaking of which, it's now even easier to opt to get these various pearls of wisdom delivered fresh and toasty via either a feed or emails... your choice. Just check the new icons top right.

And, Finally, What A Site!

We even got cracking a bit on some additional functionality on the main site, too, though there's no way round what is a rather venerable, and hence creaking back-end system.

Most immediately, I have discovered how at least attach blog hyperlinks on some key areas, so readers who think that not much has happened since Emma sadly moved up in the world a few years ago might discover a veritable cornucopia of info has continued on since in complement here on Blogger ever since. And, with luck, the new activity this creates will help web crawlers log more activity. Try this. Mind you... memo to self... a link back to the site page!

And as computer guru David of sound-i, who inherited our system and keeps trying to coax another web 3.0 app out of a web 1.0 skeleton, has just failed to say no (though his 'Yeeeess' did seem to have a slightly furrowed brow attached), it seems there may also be functionality we can soon add to install better updated feeds, plus.... customisable ad management.

This latter will be a real plus if it can be done, enabling us to truly prove the flexibility of the ad system, especially in complement to the postcode location facility.

Hence we may soon realise my dream of being able to offer, say, an Autogas national brand ad on the LPG master category page, but then see individual postcode specific 'classifieds' for local converters appear as the viewer surfs on and is immersed in all the site can offer.


Upon reflection

I crank an eyebrow...

Obama's climate guru: Paint your roof white!

As a potential, simple, 'why not?', as this comes from the new President of the US's Secretary of Energy it has to be given a full and fair hearing.

However, I do wonder whether a full ground back to ground enviROI analysis for such a proposal has been carried out. Ignoring the aesthetics issues, the correct paint needs to be produced, applied... and maintained. Looking at an exterior wall to my property, after just a few years the paint is flaking, being subject to aggressive seasonable weather conditions.

So I, or blokes I hire, are to invest in regular multi-litre purchases of paint (what is its manufacture consequences?) to cover a pretty hefty area, on a regular lifetime basis? That's a lot of raw materials and man-hours.

I am also not so sure how many traditional tile materials will take to retroactive application of an alternative coating for which they were not designed.

What may be more productive is with built-in planning, whereby reflective tiles are manufactured and required to installed with new-builds and renovations.

Equally, as they seem to dig our road up four times a year, maybe the various authorities who get excited about such box-ticking efforts might like to ponder light(er) tarmac too?

And all farmers could be required to grow only year-round, light-foliage crops? Is an all rape diet practical?

Telegraph - Obama's green guru calls for white roofs

Guardian - White roofs and 'cool' cars - Obama's US energy secretary gives Prince Charles tips on tackling climate change

One thing I do note in all this is that the press release on this 'gathering' of 'great minds' has been pretty much run as is by most of the MSM. Not too encouraging on the calibre of science reporting and scrutiny in this arena.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

QUOTES OF THE DAY - Lack of Experience

Both from Telegraph Letters...

'If Mr Darling did his own tax return he might appreciate what a shambolic system he presides over'

'When the bin tax is introduced will MPs be able to claim it on expenses, too?'

I am pretty sure the more our 'leadership' exempt themselves from the consequences of their actions, especially financially at a personal level, the further the divide between what they impose upon 'us' will be viewed even more dimly as the out of touch actions of a 'them'.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Green shoots. Local produce.

The 'Here's One I RE:made earlier' competition rumbles along.

One thing is for sure, I am pretty much going to have to extend the deadline.

Especially as I am seeing a measure of success drumming up more entries, after the brief flurry when it appeared.

Wracking brain cells, I have decided to punt out a PR to any place that might carry the story, from blogs to trades. In fact the only media sector I doubt will be much interested is the Guardian's direct competitors.

And I have even seeded them, at least via online opportunities.

We do need more entries to make this worthwhile for all concerned.

However, it was nice to see that it was considered worthy of note in our local papers, to whom I send my thanks. However, as a lesson in PR practice it was/is sobering, as to get these took two weeks and several reminder calls. Now, all I need to do is the same in several thousand more UK towns and I'm golden.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

RE: building trust

A little O/T, but the way we run our country influences the way we guide the future.

For sure it is hard to equate many pronouncements on personal thrift in the cause of green issues with claims for massive LCDs in second homes.

One thing I can recommend is

With all the high profile news I had a quiet snoop at my local MP. Not impressed.

There is a chance to make a difference, and this looks like a good one.

I have been staying atop the various news, and even pitching in where and when I can, especially when things get polarised, even more so on tribal than common sense lines.

I'd say a good time to stay informed, think thinks through, and let those who would presume to tell us how to live our lives just what we think of them... even if it's in a good way.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Another evolving category:


Times - Recycling is a waste of time - That's a nay

Times - Sorting waste is a pain, but I'll do my bit - That's a yay! Though the pre-sell needs work.

Times - Are recycling incentives simply money for old rope?
End benefit and reward-based incentive systems... there's a novelty.
And here was me thinking fine, fear, threat, nanny, guilt and and scare, with a good dose of illogicality, total impracticality and rank hypocrisy were motivating the public so well.
Just... make sure the enviROI works out, too.

Telegraph - Will recycling your rubbish save the planet? - Lots of new terms bandied about that I simply don't understand, such as 'Eco-sceptic'. What's that mean? Then there's the 'waste of' arguments. They really can't, and shouldn't be lumped together. Time is different from money. And both from putting in a little effort to help make the future a tad better. But... only is it worth it if the enviROI adds up. And that is where the agenda-makers and box-tickers are looking more and more wanting, especially in how they are selling the notion. So yes, questions need to be asked, answered and, if necessary responded to with more than blind obedience.

ps: question. Bottles, can, etc being put out. Better to wash (often requiring hot water) at home, or leave to the industrial systems to do in one shot. If we' help' at home that certainly brings the bills down at the facility, and hence boosts profits, but is this action good for the planet overall?


Thanks for those two very useful sites. There are several more, too, top of head, such as and

But just wondering, who pays for them, and how much? There seems an awful lot going into overlapping quangos and comms budgets that might be better spent on centralising systems and coordinating messages to actually DO something about managing the waste better.

Observer - The key to recycling unusual objects

Letsrecycle - RecycleBank set for the UK?

Gaurdian - Climate change: How quest for zero waste community means sorting the rubbish 34 ways
- and why not? Plus I know a certain website geared up to help.

Times - via Junkk - Paying to have what you paid for taken away to make money for others. Interesting concept.

Guardian - A waste of time - Got to admire the author for his choice of venue.

It's an interesting set of points, and hence debate to stimulate. I actually do concern myself with numbers across much of the 'green' agenda, from wind turbines to atmospheric hoovers, and often find there is a worrying amount taken to be 'good' based on little more than an assumption that because some kind uncle in authority says it is, well, then it must be. Despite their current lack of fashionability in government from EU to LA, let's be in no doubt that bonusses still get accorded based on savings and/or makings that might not serve the planetary enviROI as well as they might first appear to.

I don't propose to address the why's or wherefore's of how my, willing, daily, labour serves to add to the profits of contractors or the careers of those who spend much money (vast quango expenditures and comms budgets that could be better applied to tangibles IMHO) persuading us to to do so for free or, less engagingly, resort to threats if we do not. I view it as one of life's little 'why nots', and is a small trade for a better community.

Where I do get more concerned is when the numbers, especially by their absence, often do not add up. Some earlier points about national continuity resonate. With little local quirks looking to me, at first blush, barking. Residents required to rinse on an individual, home by home basis? Nice to use my water and energy to heat it to help the cleaning bills, but surely much more eco-efficient to use an industrial system in one shot?

In my county we're soon to lose our separate RE:Box blue plastic boxes after only a few years. Don't know how their sacrifice equates in plastic bags, but soon we get one, big, green wheelie. It's better and more convenient. All gets tipped in and a machine deals with the rest.

Thing is, I have been told that the recyclates produced by such machines are seldom of much use to recyclers, so they don't want it as they can't use it.

But no matter, in the great box-ticking, bean-counting, target-meeting, bonus-accruing, career-enhancing scheme of things this doesn't matter. All that does is that the tonnages are 'for' recycling even they actually can't be used.

That does not serve my kids' futures well at all, and I would like explained in ways I can grasp, with numbers that do add up. If they do, I am on board 100%. If not, or they remain vague, or their lack is defended by evasion, distraction and/or derision, then one has to assume those who should know the answers either do not, or do and don't like them for some not very good reason.

Oh, and FWIW, if you've done all you can to reduce, consider reuse. I've tried to find the down side, but can't seem to avoid it saving time, money... and planet.

Plus it's fun. Not a bad thing, reading back on most posts.

WRAP - WRAP drives action to recycle more mixed plastics
I got quite excited, but then didn't seem to come across any details.
Again I have cause to ponder what is spent, who pays, and what is derived as a result.

Telegraph - Green scheme scrapped as household recycling is sent to landfill

Packaging News - Keeping the faith - An interesting debate between 'experts'.

Telegraph - Householders to be rewarded for recycling - :)

FT - Commodity price falls leave councils carrying the can - so soon, a ;( Maybe we need to think beyond recycling? Now, reuse... there's a notion!

Indy - NEW - Revealed: the tonnes of rubbish put out for recycling that end up in landfill sites - Useful comment by a recycling officer in there, somewhere

Which? Report - Recycling right could save taxpayers millions

letsrecycle -
reducefootprints - - - actually, mainly reuse ideas
Which? online guide - leads to a plethora of useful sub-categories
Which? - what happens to your rubbish

Bulbs - NEW


Furniture Recycling Project - Gloucester

- South Wales - South Coast, passed on by these nice folk: Myzerowaste

Keys -

Mobiles - - via this article. Note: I have had, and still do have many issues with many of these schemes.

Milk -

Textiles -

Tights -

VHS tapes - Local to our town!

Monday, May 18, 2009

We are designed to be complacent about the environment

That is the conclusion of an excellent article on the psychology of human thinking by Chris Goodall writing in the Open Economics section of

I found myself nodding in agreement right the way through this well structured and well argued article that describes, amongst many other things, why "Human beings seem to have a psychological predisposition towards believing matters will eventually turn out well."

Thoroughly thought provoking and definitely worthy of a full read.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

RE:view - Wire reuse

I am not typing, and will also not upload this online from my usual desktop.

I am doing so from my laptop, downstairs in the conservatory, enjoying the morning sun.

No biggie, really.

In a fast-moving IT-world of consumer innovation, there are many who enjoy such opportunity, courtesy of a domestic WiFi system.

Indeed, we have one, brought in mainly to help with a video monitoring system for my dear old Mum next door, but certainly offering a welcome connection for the lappy too.

However, like the hapless chap on the BT commercial, it can be temperamental. And, despite assurances on security from all sorts of folk who know, there is that sneaking concern about who might be picking up that signal for nefarious reasons.

So it was not untimely that I was contacted and offered an alternative - the devolo 200 AVeasy - to try, that may not mean I can surf in the garden, but certainly opens up the rest of the house and office without such concerns.

And also does so in any easy to install and use manner. Trust me. As the family LCD (lowest common denominator) screener, I am noted for being poor at getting things IT up and running.

This was plug, plug and play. Especially reassuring was that it works with Mac OSX too.

Now, other than not having to go to the trouble and expense of running a ton of cables (it cunningly uses... reuses... the house mains) to get a high-security intranet, what eco-benefits might this confer? Well, I am happy to share that the system also claims a patented power-saving mode, which automatically reduces standby power consumption by up to 30%.

I should point out that this is not the only one on the market and cannot testify to relative value and features (weigh speeds, distances and such as encryption when comparing) , but as I was kindly sent this one for review it is the one that gets used, tested and, in this case, a glowing report.

Friday, May 15, 2009

There's talking the talk. But it will always be 'money rules' first.

A new day, a new opportunity. Though I might have forgone any pussy-footing.

When food packaging can reduce climate change gases

Reduction of any consumable will inevitably reduce GHGs.

However, in a consumer society there are pragmatic constraints and limits, and they need to be worked towards.

Other mitigations can include recycling, and it is clear there are many issues surrounding this that can be improved from all sides, though I'd say the public is the only one doing their darndest in the face of some epic finger-pointing distractions from bottom-line driven business and quango-ridden, target-obsessed authorities. About the only binding feature would seem to be bonus-structures.

I had not before heard of Morrisons' Keep It Fresh test and packaging laboratory, and will try and track it down. Some of the insights are already surprising: 'We have found, for example, that wrapping peppers in plastic has no impact on freshness or quality so we have stopped doing it. But wrapping cucumbers in recyclable plastic - a target for anti-packaging campaigners - means they last five times as long.'. My question would be more along the lines of 'why on earth had you then gone to the cost and expense of wrapping those peppers, for so long, until now???'. Ignoring history seems to be a feature of senior types in the news at the moment.

The 'Great Taste Less Waste' campaign is also to be lauded, though I hope the sticker labelling will be clear to an already confused public assaulted by various initiatives.

And for those who do still end up with packaging material, especially plastics, they'd prefer not to throw away, might I direct you to, which tries to help with reuse ideas. There's even a competition running currently which is trying to motivate through reward... a bit of a novelty in many quarters.

Morrisons may even be inspired to hook up with such a low cost-high benefit initiative.

Though the last time we tried, with them, they said their foyer need to be kept clear of distracting promotions such as sharing the joys of reuse, as customers 'didn't like it'. Ironically the day that rejection email came in was the same our local store felt a conservatory company was actually indeed worthy of the space in question.

There's talking the talk. But it will always be 'money rules' first.

I really hope a PR, and maybe even the author reads this.'s a wonderful town! The battery's flat and the generator's down

Again, I get interested in a bit of science reporting.

Losing sustainability in the urban canyons

I was simply intrigued by the back of envelope calculations, but my enquiry did provoke an interesting response, which at least allowed me the opportunity to expand and clarify (plus indulge in a little blogger teasing:)....

Just looking at the nice picture at the top, I merely wonder what the consequences might be as the sun moves and certain areas end up in the shade of various tall structures around and abounding. At least in the original piece there was a caveat on the wind contribution, though again I have to wonder to what extent there may be problems from the wind patterns around such urban canyons. I am sure if Mr. Cameron had a penthouse overlooking Central Park we may have some better idea. So no matter what people can and then decide to do, even en masse, I'd still be keen to know what the realistic generation capacities might be, bearing in mind the ambient climatic and architectural conditions, from someone who might know. I am still hoping in matters of renewable energy deliverables, historical data and professional experience and calculations can get pretty close to a reasonable estimate. Perhaps a tad closer than the current rough calculations? This indeed may be of value to the journalists from Bulgaria, India, Kenya and Peru, and the numerous interest groups represented at the meeting, who I am sure have flown in from far and wide to appreciate all the facts about what causes climate change... and possible high enviROI mitigations, of course. Though some terribly reasonable optimistic level lampooners may still prefer to stick a finger up in the air. To measure, of course.

After this, it kind of fell apart on the moderation, which seems to be almost inevitable.

So my questions on the science get buried under stupid finger pointing. Again. Nice one, Aunty.

Would you like ice with that?

Actually, it's more about the business model for Junkk's survival.

News pay walls? Consumer says no

But I did see an opening for some input on the calibre of science reporting.

As one with a blog that sifts a lot of 'good enough', if often wildly disparate 'free' in a niche area (green issues) to try and get to something approaching objective fact in matters scientific, and yet more reasonable commentary via subjective analysis that is clear of overt agendas, I'd say amen to most of that.

However, looking at this paper's own coverage on some plucky types' hike in the chilly wastes dipping rulers in the water, and comparing it with other reports, it is often not very easy.

BBC - Ice sheet melt threat reassessed

BBC - Relief as Arctic quest concludes - two aircraft landed on the floating Arctic ice to collect Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley.

Telegraph - Global warming explorers in Arctic get nasty shock: polar ice caps blooming freezing

BBC - The Catlin Arctic Survey: daring, yes, but is the science any good?

Indy - Melting ice could cause gravity shift - My favourite word, 'could', sets the tone

Gaurdian - NEW - Arctic explorers end mission to survey sea ice

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Air powered vehicles?

Sound daft? Well, not so, as this from the Guardian reports; and we have mentioned compressed air vehicles on this very blog before. But this particular technology is currently undergoing genuine commercial testing and several manufacturers have already taken up licences to manufacture the technology.

I suspect that Guy Negre, the inventor/developer just might be onto a winner with his Airpod.

I hope that they make them look a little smarter than this particular prototype though!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Comparing Apples with Avocados?

A small snippet on the BBC news on food storage.

Can't locate a URL yet, but did note a few things down.

Apples - in fridge
Avocados next to banana - for those who can so indulge in such combos

Broccoli - keep fresh

Cheese - cool larder

Eggs - larder - point side down

Jam - scrape off mould

Mushroom - take off plastic

Potatoes - dark, cool

Tomatoes - larder

We're advised to take our lead from food shops, but honestly I have not seen much evidence of most of the above frankly!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes, it's a meter. But, is it smart?

It was all over the news. And now in my editorial in-box from HMG.

I'll share, E&EO, but have some thoughts I'll share afterwards, based on a bit of science, a bit of consumer insight, and a dash of personal experience.

UK Smart Meter roll out moves forward

* Hi tech meters will change our energy habits
* No more estimated bills or staying in for meter readings
* Easier switching between energy suppliers
* Suppliers will be able to offer cheaper off-peak energy

All homes in Britain will have smart meters installed by 2020 under plans published today. Great Britain will be the first country in the world to have an overhaul of this size for both electricity and gas meters.

Smart meters enable meter readings to be taken remotely and together with a display device give householders real time information on their energy use.

The new information smart meters provide will help consumers to see what energy they are using and how to save money on their bills.

Smart meters will mean the end of estimated bills, no more having to stay in for home readings, quicker and smoother switching between suppliers and cheaper, easier prepayment.

The Government has today set out the different options for rolling out the revolutionary kit across Great Britain and on what the smart meters should be capable of doing.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said:

"This is another part of our Great British refurb. The meters most of us have in our homes were designed for a different age, before climate change. Now we need to get smarter with our energy.

"Smart meters will empower all consumers to monitor their own energy use and make reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions as a result. Smart meters will also mean the end of inaccurate bills and estimated meter readings.

"This is a big project affecting 26 million homes, and several million businesses, so it's important we design a system that brings best value to everyone involved."

Smart meters signify the start of a change in our energy habits. They are a key step towards future smart grids which have the potential to help our shift to a low-carbon economy - making it easier for renewable generation to feed into the grid, including micro and community level generation and will support the decarbonisation of heat and transport through the greater use of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Suppliers will be able to offer more tariffs and services, such as 'time-of-use' tariffs, encouraging more efficient and economical energy use.

The preferred roll-out option is the central communications model - where energy suppliers are responsible for the installation and maintenance of the smart meter but the communication to and from the device is coordinated by a third party across the whole of Great Britain.

The other principal models considered are:

* Competitive model - where energy suppliers manage all aspects of smart metering, including installation and communication.

* Fully centralised - where regional franchises are set up to manage the installation and operation of smart meters with the communications to and from the meters managed centrally and on a national level.


1. The consultation is open to the public from today and will run to 24 July 2009. Further information on how to take part can be found here

2. Based on our Consultation Impact Assessment, rolling out smart meters to all households will deliver net benefits of between £2.5 billion and £3.6 billion over the next 20 years. These benefits fall to suppliers, to customers and to the country as a whole.

BBC - Smart meter plans to be outlined -

On balance, a why not? But I have two main concerns. One is the enviROI of this, but really this would require data that one could trust to assess.

This looks like an awful lot of kit, and an awful lot of man hours, and I remain unclear where the main benefits may lie.

The other is usage. Other than being a bit miffed that my ecometer purchase may have been a bad investment (and I think the Wattson makers will be livid), I have to confess that, after a flurry of attention when we first set it up, we ended up ignoring it. And frankly it was gobbling a ton of batteries on the remote so we stopped that too.

So, will folk use it? And if they do, will they really get the info they need in a way that makes them alter their lifestyles? Or is it just another gimmick, and expensive one at that, with a load of benefits that might not prioritise the consumer or the planet as much as they are being PR'd?

Gaurdian - NEW - Householders must not foot the bill

How to you manage beans if you don't understand how they grow?

The lack of science qualifications in Government and media continues to frustrate.

I am not alone.

Science in Whitehall

And what is PPE? Procrastinating, Pretension and Expenses? (though I do acknowledge the honourable member is relatively - a key distinction, and not counting the family property empire - 'clean' in comparison to others who see greening in perhaps a different way than some).

Couldn't agree more on the need for more science advice in government.

Just, please could we have it balanced and free of agenda? If the salary depends from the off on making the numbers fit the desired result, that is not science. That is simply politics packaged in a different way.

Kids' Stuff

Just watching the BBC ad breaks promoting their various offerings.

A very cute one for CBeebies, promoting their science series.

Half a dozen moppets experiment with fluid densities, dropping balls into layers of different household cooking oils and sauces, etc.


Thing is, from what I saw, the kitchens of the UK are soon going to be bare as the nation's toddlers pour litre upon litre of expensive and incompatible fluids into huge jars to if not mix (that's the point) but, I'd hazard, end up down the sink or toilet.

Not, I'd suggest, the best eco-suggestion ever.

Friday, May 08, 2009 by design?

Shame it only seems to have garnered two comments, but every little bit helps..

Can good design save newspapers? How about the environment?

Whilst tweaks in certain areas can always improve matters, I would suggest that form and function are essential complements and need to work together, especially when it comes to 'saving' anything. And certainly when it comes to the only thing the really matters: the substantive, end-benefit embracing, customer-pleasing product/content.

As certain events of late have proven, how things look, especially if it is at the expense of tangible delivery, can prove... retrograde in the longer term. Polishing a Terminally Unpopular/Unpleasant Rationale, Reprobate or Device springs to mind.

I am all for designers making the world greener, though.

And would encourage any and all initiatives to try and encourage this.

So long as it's more in the cause actually BEING it as opposed to just LOOKING it. That won't wash any more.

As you mention the genre, one area with great potential is packaging, and I am a great advocate of starting to look at designed-in initiatives from the outset.

However, you, your readers and even some designers might be interested in a little competition currently at called 'Here's One I RE:made Earlier'

A bit of fun, helping save a bit of money, time and, with luck... the planet:)

Now, despite it being online (I think that the impact of IT needs to be viewed vs. previous and even current alternatives before getting too excited about impacts, though efficiency/reduction improvements can always be made and are welcome - but I just squirted 10MB to London that before would have been on a courier or, worse, with a suit carrying a bag) who could argue with that little row of consumer crowd-pleasers as a positive, proactive design principle?

Especially when it can actually help with the marketing too.

Monday, May 04, 2009

AWARD - The West Midlands C+ Carbon Positive Awards

WHEN: Deadline 31 March 2009
WHAT: The West Midlands C+ Carbon Positive Awards
WHAT... MORE?: From the blurb: The Awards are open to any business, organisation, partnership or community group located in or operating in the West Midlands region, who are taking positive carbon action.

We’re looking for inspiring examples of low carbon initiatives which will encourage others to take action as we move towards a low carbon economy. We want to hear from businesses, organisations and schools who are:-

Successfully cutting carbon emissions and managing their carbon footprint

Developing new products or services which offer consumer low carbon solutions

Developing innovative products, services or prototypes which significantly reduce carbon emissions

An exemplary micro business undertaking low carbon work

Engaging with communities to cut carbon emissions and reduce their carbon footprint.

COMMENTS: Lots to gain; little to lose. Hate to share and get more competition but, well, karma will be our guide:) With luck, see you at the finals.


Sadly, we did not prevail this time. To see who did, check here.

Not a nice feeling

As I sit here at my PC...

Web providers must limit internet's carbon footprint, say experts

I do however wonder if these scenarios at least allow for alternatives and their impacts in comparison.

I'm pretty certain that this blog and could not exist without a ton of IT this end and at reader end whirring away.

But then what might I being doing. Without the internet I doubt it would not involve a lot of carbon-based travel.

Guardian - NEW - Web providers must limit internet's carbon footprint, say experts - Some witty comments

Guardian - NEW - Don't take my internet away - And here. Bearing in mind the medium chosen, no real surprise. There is a good point on spam's contribution.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

What's in a name?

Miliband seeks private plane hire

No, sillies, he's the other one. Who now doesn't 'do' the green bits his brother tells us we need to.

So it's all OK.

Actually, I accept fair and reasonable commitment of resources if they are necessary and produce results. So shunting at least one of these ineffective numpties around in the style to which they have become accustomed might be a good deal, but for the fact it just seems to get them places to screw up and make the UK look bad a lot quicker.

NoW - Plane stupid - Not perhaps my favourite paper, but the one with the highest UK readership by a major margin.

Indy - NEW - Private jet for David Miliband defended - speaking of relative circulations

CATEGORY - Batteries

In line with my new 'get it out first; play with it later' plan, here we go:


Telegraph - Manufacturers are fobbing us off with dreadful rechargeable batteries - Interesting follow-ups, too

Indy - New battery can be recharged in seconds - Looks like good news. Now, if we can just get the 'leccy without GHGs...

Times - NEW - Green and Confused: Where can I recycle computer batteries?

Recycling - Phew, a Brit one now - Not the best start as it is from the USA, but more will follow soon now I've been inspired to create the category - via a new Twitter link

Saturday, May 02, 2009

So wrong, but then, possibly, so right

Submit your climate-fighting ideas to the Manchester Report

A fellow poster got there just before me, but regular readers will probably understand why I rather stalled at that headline. How, precisely, does one fight a climate?

However, as it goes on to seek positive solutions, I'll cut them some slack.

I just hope the winners won't be the usual box-ticker pleasing, dubious enviROI suspects.