Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Am I unethical?

I think I might be.

'Cos I had a few issues with the latest offering from BBC's Ethical Man, as alerted by some less than impressed comments on the main Newsnight blog...

Ethical Man goes down to the woods

Whoa, a lot to digest there, if you'll excuse the mental image, as much ground is covered and over various timelines.

I would also rather wish the intros were changed from 'saving the world from climate change'. This rather paints one into a corner from the off. The climate changes. What is bad is that it might be doing it negatively, and our puny race could yet be a mitigating factor if it is man (person?)-made or, my preference, worsened.

Anyhoo, first up there's the news from Washington and this conference that is dominating the world's headlines.

Not too encouraged that almost immediately we learn that there's no actual progress, as it's more a kind of discussion vs. any actual negotiations, and the key host player is 'hoping for a dialogue' and 'thinks that will happen'. O......k. Good intentions can pave many things.

Then we hit the fact that India and China say all sorts of fluffy things are fine, but the West 'goes' first. Hold that thought.

As I try and chew on our representative saying, in one sentence 'You can't get agreement based on science', and then in one later there's 'a commitment to science'. I have long been concerned about the competencies of our politico-media establishment in this arena, but maybe should be reassured: there now seem to be two sets of sciences. How very Star Trek/Gate.

I have to give Mr. Rowlatt credit for pressing certain points in this interview, especially to provoke the gem that our government’s cabinet ministers don't seem to think they have much influence over the police 'service' and its actions. Novel. Who, in the name of public service accountability, does then?

And then I got a bit lost on the timeline, but I think it was the near present that we headed from Detroit East. Traveling can indeed be difficult, but most journeys can be made anywhere still, though agreed often not so quickly. There's the rub. If you have stuff, or a schedule, compromises need to be made. From families of four with two weeks in Cancun booked, to struggling eco-types needing to get to London for a climate conference (at £500+VAT for the day), to BBC journalists and their crews with a programme to make. Or pols heading with entourages and Caddies in the hold. Tricky when the finger wagging starts if you are not careful... or being hypocritical.

But a full load of activists in a Prius has to be as good as it gets, on a motorway, on a long haul trip... I'm sure. At least once the urban bit kicked in... if they didn't get lost. I am sure a Sat Nav was deemed evil, even if the lofted waving mobiles at the subsequent love in were deemed 'different', somehow. Even those have directions now, surely?

Anyway, these 'agents of change' (a different one to the climate variety, I guess) were a joy to behold, especially to those who had them under their spell. Once 'hope for change' wears off, I am thinking 'You are right and they are wrong' will be a great substitute when dealing with others not as keen on the views held... in a democracy. Words like 'impose' and 'enforce' have a worrying ring as backstop rhetoric vs. popular public delivery, too. And, bearing in mind the theme of this 'journey' another I am not sure I am not keen the UK learning from the US. Ta very much.

Especially when backed by 'Obama's EPA' (the environment’s protection agency not good enough?) and its larger than life leader, Ms. Jackson. A vegetarian, I am sure.

I have to say I then got a bit confused again by who was in government, who was in the quango and who was an activist with time on their hands. And who was paying for who to teach whom to do what against who.

I'll have to check and see if my local tech has civil disobedience on the curriculum, and who is funding any nifty tactics being so shared, such as resisting arrest. Might be handy in Gordon and Barak's new world order that maybe I missed in the BBC's G20 coverage.

Again a good stab at getting yet another senior administration pop star to grapple with consequences, Mr. Rowlatt, but he really didn't seem to be too convincing on the link between higher energy costs and the economic consequences. Not part of the narrative that should be overplayed, I'm guessing. Change...! Hope...! You first...! I'm more equal than you...! So it's really OK I hitch a ride on Al's jet!!!

However it was interesting that, after all this, there is still the small matter of convincing Congress and the Senate. And, I might add, having held that thought from earlier for so long, those nice folk in India and China. But there's just a few billion each that I am sure 12,000 energised 'merican yoof can reach, though I'd say a Prius might struggle with the wet bits and some terrain 'soon2B banned' 4x4s could be more suitable for.

Then, finally, we scoot to the woods. And speaking of what's done naturally, why do slots like this have such terribly faked 'surprise' first meetings? It was set up.. in advance. At the due time a fleet arrived at a remote location in the middle of a forest, at night. I reckon they were alerted.

Actually here was one potentially truly inspiring aspect, though I do have my caveats, especially when pondering eating a curry to provide the raw materials, and washing it down with a beverage, beer, that uses vast litres of water to 'make' it, at least commercially. Not a totally coherent signal.

But then this is a person who has traveled the world to spread the word on his concept, minimizing the impacts of human waste. I am sure the benefits created have many times overcome the cost of such a journey.

I would have liked to learn more about this frankly, and will beaver off thus inspired.... virtually of course (if worrying about the humming servers).

I was especially intrigued that the pathogens are destroyed, what with all this swine flu lark at the moment.

It would be interesting to see how this stacks up against our crumbling Victorian sewage systems in a row of City centre terraces. Though the space required would seem to suggest that wider spaces might be required for it to be really practical. Maybe all those college grads could be prevailed upon to give it a stab in their multi-storey dorms.

I'm guessing interesting, but not too practical for most applications. Again.

Addendum -

I was sent this, related, email:

President Obama is hosting a round of international climate negotiations in Washington DC, gathering the biggest climate emitters to try to kick−start UN talks. But oil companies are flooding the airwaves with advertisements to stop the momentum., the global campaigning group, has filmed an advert spoofing the slick Exxon ads. It's hilarious − you can see it at this link −− check it out:

But I still had/have to reply:

Negative advertising can be effective indeed. Certainly gets you noticed, and often awarded.

But I forged a pretty good ad business, on top of career, by being more concerned on behalf of my clients with the tangible end-benefit a good product could confer to the maximum number of potential consumers.

My clients are now my kids, and their futures. I tend to prefer any money to go into proactive solutions, but being realistic these can complemented by inspiration using a fair amount of creative, honest persuasion, in turn based on information and education rather than out-gunning the other side's messages or buying power. Especially when that latter seems unwinnable if you look at the war chests and resources being deployed.

Without seeing the oil companies' ads it's hard to know what their messages are, or the media schedules to guess the eyeball impact.

But if they are being crass and unsubtle and OTT with the kneejerks, I figure it's going to backfire.

However, leading by example with one right, sold well, can really develop into more rights, and soon overcome a lot of wrongs.

Anyway, they seem to have their $100k already. It will be interesting to see how many slots that gets, when, and how many negotiators are exposed to it at the right time in the best environment. And are then motivated to respond in the desired way to it.

Or just find it has cropped up in the awards in 10 months' time.

Saving money and reducing impact on climate change

Sound familiar?

Pretty much the mantra over the last decade, with the possible caveat that we don't mind climate changing or even impacts on it if they are moderate and normal. It's the excessive, negative bits, like inefficiency and waste, that we don't rate.

And, we like to try and do it for free.

Last time I had a rant on this I got a kind invite from a speaker. Don't think I'll be so blessed again.

But it is worth noting that the cost has pretty much halved since then. Ne economic realities, or an attempt at helping get some from less well funded areas in to contribute?

Sadly, at £500+ for a day, it's still a definition of saving money I cannot really justify.

In this weakened economy, businesses are challenged to reduce their costs and improve efficiency, without compromising their climate change commitments. At the Guardian Climate Change Summit on 15 June, delegates will have the opportunity to learn from real examples set by businesses that have successfully proven to be both carbon and cost efficient and they will be able to explore what these examples can teach their own business. As well as case studies, bespoke breakout sessions will provide advice and insight into saving costs and reducing impact. Jane Dennet-Thorpe, Department of Energy will explore how to finance the changes to your business that the Carbon Reduction Commitment will demand. And Stephen Reeson, Food & Drink Federation will discuss how to work with your suppliers to reduce emissions across your supply chain. This is an unmissable event for anyone in need of practical strategies to minimise costs and maximise carbon efficiency. Visit to register.

You even get another YouTube special (actually more of an 'I or me-Tube' from his modest efforts) from our PM, which is always good value.

Intriguing this was thought to help.

Addendum - this just 'in' from another 'summit-seller':

Just a quick one to let you know that the winners of the prize draw for the 2 free tickets to the Responsible Business Summit are xx and yy.

Sorry you didn’t win!

To compensate for not winning the free pass, I’m offering you a bronze pass for £795 + VAT (A saving of £500!!).

How, er, generous.

ps: when I saw 'RBS' as the URL I almost gave it a miss anyway.