Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Cars and Girls. Well, just cars actually.

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Lots of ad's plugging new cars and their green credentials, which usually amount to one or two modest features and fail to take into the account the carbon cost of creating a brand new vehicle in the first place. It's better run your thirsty old banger into the ground, or buy a second-hand replacement than to buy a new vehicle, even if it's a Prius.

Elsewhere, Europe's car manufacturers struggle to meet EU targets for reducing CO2 emissions from all new cars. In a way it's fingers crossed that fuel prices keep rising, as it's the only thing getting us out of our cars.

In America, where the right bear car-keys is almost enshrined in the constitution, rental companies are finding that most of the SUVs are left sitting on forecourts, shunned by customers selecting economy hatch-backs which are now in short supply.

Meanwhile, the Church has seen the light.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Don't Chill Out...

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We're pretty certain what weather we're going to experience over the next few days and what we're likely to see over the next century. It's less certain what's going to happen over the problematic medium-term.

This week's New Scientist suggests that we might have cracked this mid-term forecasting problem (seems ocean cycles our the best guide to changes here), but that the messages these mid term forecasts are throwing up some issues which might just scupper the current political momentum towards effective measures to drive down average temperatures and limit the volmes of CO2 in the atmosphere.

It seems that we might be in for several years of cooling and possibly a slow-down in overall global warming in around 5 years which is only going to make it harder to convince people to do the right thing. Apparently, the cooler 2008 we're experiencing to date is already driving up the 'global warming is a hoax' stories.

Trouble is, even several years of cooling won't change the longer term trend towards significant warming. It's just going to make us less likely to mitigate.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Love Saves The Day... or What Really Killed Top of the Pops!

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Cramming to credit all my references for a project I'm working on, I came across this when re-reading George Monbiot's Heat:.

'Love Miles: The distance you must travel to visit friends and partners and relatives on the other side of the planet. The world could be destroyed by love.'

In other reading (like I said, I'm cramming) WiReD's Chris Anderson has a book from a couple of years back, 'The Long Tail', which neatly explains the economics behind why our tastes and choices have, in the past, been constrained by only being able to access goods in the physical world and the limitations imposed on us by suppliers who have only been willing to stock what they are pretty certain they'll sell.

Now that we have a virtually infinite catalogue of books, CDs, movies etc at our fingertips, our tastes are broadening rapidly. The importance of what lies at the the top of the charts is beginning to diminish as the aggregate of all of the more obscure books, films, music tracks selected by people who, in the past, could never have even found them in Tesco or Wal-Mart begins to dominate the numbers. Fascinating stuff, but still all about our capacity and desire to consume more products.

How to balance the economics of commercial innovation with those of green innovation?

Thursday, 7 August 2008

I Melt With You

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Today's Guardian takes a lead on DEFRA's warning that we need to prepare for a catastrophic 4C temperature rise only the day after George Monbiot and Julie Burchill debated on Radio 4's Today programme just how ordinary people are being lectured on the green agenda.

It's hard to avoid the lecture approach when the situation is this dire. In a much softer way it feels like the mid 90s when early adopters of the Web drove through a more commercial internet than the academic/military comms network which had existed before. The man in the street wasn't interested then and certainly wouldn't be lectured on the changes likely to impact his life for the better... and yet now who hasn't got a mobile phone, thinks nothing of texting, updating their Sat Nav over the air and pausing live TV with their Sky Plus or TiVo.

This time, people are being hectored about more life changing events... more likely to be for the worse than for the better.

Elsewhere, I noticed irony-free reporting of the international fight over much easier access to previously unobtainable supplies of oil and gas underneath the ice-cap at the North Pole which is melting due to excessive use of... you guessed it. It's like a Dan Brown.