Archive for the ‘the environment’ Category

Market Forces for Change

Or as Lenin is supposed to have said, “When we hang the capitalists, they will have sold us the rope.”

One of the things the right and Libertarians like to push is the free market system, which they don’t really like. They like it as long as they can control the rules making it into a game of Monopoly: where they win.

On the other hand, they run scared when their market share is threatened.

The real problem is that there isn’t really a “free market system” out there.  Governmental decisions can act as market forces even if they aren’t set forth as being economically based. For example, building highways rather than public transportation has effected US society in ways which have been detrimental to its interests (or “Detroit: the city that committed suicide by favouring one industry with a very limited lifespan”).

The reason I tossed gun control in here is if the trend for fewer people to want to own guns keeps up, we will have de facto gun control.  The NRA can loosen up laws all it wants, but that may end up backfiring for it as people begin to realise that there was a reason the NRA blocked the research showing gun ownership was detrimental.

The right can continue to try to use emotion to sway people to vote against their interests, but that cannot go on for very long once people realise they have been had. Once that happens not only will people’s economic decisions change, but so will their voting decisions.

Environazis

There is a sort of smugness that comes from living a green lifestyle, but these are the people who go the extra 10 (100?) kilometres toward “reducing their carbon footprint“. Somehow, they manage to make you feel like you are living an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle because you:

* Don’t go on holiday via astral projection (reducing your Carbon Footprint by not driving a car or, even worse, flying)
* boil the water in the electric kettle more than once (these people even have solar powered kettles).
* have any non-compact florescent bulbs in your house
* your form of transportation has any connection to fossil fuels or electricity (even if it’s electric or a bicycle–rubber on the tyres)
* you throw anything into the trash and it isn’t reused in some way.
* the food you ate required any energy to raise, transport, or what have you (you should photsyntesise instead of eat).
* Don’t get your power from people on bicycles
* Even have a carbon footprint for that matter

I think you get the picture.

BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory had an episode that was along this line called The Human Power Station. In this episode they powered a house for an entire day solely through human pedal power: while the unsuspecting family inside went about their normal Sunday routine. The clip below shows what happened when the father used an ELECTRIC SHOWER: malus malorum!

This programme rubbed in how wasteful our lifestyle is (yes, you who double boil that water!) by roasting a chicken with two 60 watt bulbs. Of course, watching 80 people pedal all day to power a house makes the point of how much energy we use. We don’t realise how much literal power is needed to push our appliances. Bang did do this in a manner that was entertaining even if it did make you feel guilty for the incandescent bulbs in the fridge and cooker (do they have compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) for those yet?).

You might be able to download this episode here and it does make for fascinating viewing. Although, there were points when I wanted to roast the presenters on a solar cooker because they made me feel guilty for “wasting energy” by merely existing.

Now, I need to find some people willing to power our houses by bicycle.

Wanna see how smart you REALLY are?

Take Bang Goes the Theory’s Brain Test Britain. I did mention that I like taking tests. I’m not sure why, but I do. I should have been tested enough in school to be petrified of anything like a test. But isn’t life a test anyway?

Bang Goes the Theory is according to presenter Dallas Campbell, a show for “anyone who is remotely curious about life, the Universe and pretty much everything.” It’s a science show where they do more than just experiment. The only special episode I caught was where they powered a house inhabited by a “nuclear family” for a day by 80 bicyclists. Which may sound odd to you, but was absolutely fascinating in how much energy it takes to run our appliances. It also pointed out ways to cut back on energy use. Which although switching lightbulbs may seem like a small thing, as someone told me at the Centre for Alternative Technology combining just a lightbulbs worth of energy can add up. That is made more apparent when you watch a team of bicyclists power a house!

Unfortunately, Season one is over. So, you would have to wait until season 2 in 2010 to catch the show

Anyway, these are all sorts of weird little tricky tests to see if training your mind will improve it. They are sort of Kim’s Game in spirit where you guess where things are. Also, they had one test where I had to put things from high to low, which sounds simple until you have to deal with negative numbers along with written (six) and numeric (6) numbers. One test gave me grief when I had to count items going into a box ancd compare them to items coming out. My internet connection screwed up that test. Also, there was one test/game where I had to do simple math calculations whilst balloon floated up, but I couldn’t figure out which balloon I was supposed to be calculating.

If training your mind isn’t enough, there are weird little science challenges that take me back to the quickie radio electronics class I was subjected to in the army (What was ohms law? (V=IxR)).

Fun! fun! fun! Now, I can’t wait for the annual Financial Times Christmas Quiz!

The nightmare summit for the Climate

George Monbiot’s take on the Mayor’s Summit for the Climate. Boris Johnson is called the new face of Thatcherism, but I compare him to the Beano’s Denis the Meanace. Boris is intensely likable as the video shows.

And willing to foil an attack on a woman with differing political views from feral kids! So much for armed resistance or the myth that the British “just stand by and watch”. No, Boris swoops by on his bike to save the day! A conservative who endorsed Barack Obama with the praise “Unlike the current occupant of the White House, he has no difficulty in orally extemporising a series of grammatical English sentences, each containing a main verb (Telegraph Column, Oct 21, 2008).”

Why can’t US Conservatives be like this? Instead, they have Sarah Palin!

Alas, I am sorry that Boris couldn’t save the day in Copenhagen.

Goerge Monbiot said something interesting in his post This Is About Us: “The talks at Copenhagen are not just about climate change. They represent a battle to redefine humanity.”

The summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accomodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow…

The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.

Quite true, the issue is no longer just about the climate and the environment, but how we cooperate with each other.

Society cannot function if there are no more laws making a return to the “laws of nature”. Humans have removed nature from the world and created society. As George Mnbiot says “this a battle to redefine humanity, and they (the expanders/unrestrained) wish to redefine it as a species even more rapacious than it is today.”

Nohopenhagen

I knew that I was being far too optimistic that anything would come of this. How could anyone hope that the world’s population could agree on anything no matter how much of a threat it is.

At least we cannot blame the US for screwing things up.

It seems the third world was far more of a problem. China engaged in fence post sitting to say it wasn’t really developed and didn’t have to reduce its emmissions.

Chinese Communism is a very weird thing. It’s more like state capitalism. And it’s gone insane.

I expect a “Yes, Minister” moment where they come up for a reason for the Secretary of the meeting quitting to be replaced by the Danish PM.

The only good point, Obama is limited to a three minute speech (as are the rest of the world’s leaders). It would have been more fun to limit Bill Clinton to three minutes.

Climate Change

The latest Private Eye Cover. No further comment necessary.

Just in case you feel inclined to trust Monckton

George Monbiot, had a post published on the Guardian’s website, 10th December 2009 about Lord Monckton, the Climate Change Skeptic. This is a dude who believes that action on climate change is a conspiracy to create a communist world government!

Needless to say, Monckton has joined the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Monbiot says this become the last refuge of a marvellous collection of cranks and fabulists. OK, I’ll forgo the Ambrose Bierce thing here since you probably get my point.

Monckton delivered a speech in October to something called the Minnesota Free Market Institute where he said that:

• He has read the treaty that will be signed at Copenhagen next week. That’s quite a feat of clairvoyance.
• The treaty says that “a world government is going to be created”.
• Greenpeace is “about to impose a communist world government on the world” and President Obama, who sympathises with that aim, will sign up to it.

These are not the first of Viscount Monckton’s interesting statements. He has claimed, in a letter to two US senators, that he is a member of the House of Lords.

Monckton says that he won the Falklands war for Britain by persuading the British government to use biological warfare. Gee, that’s news to me since I was there (the Falklands).

Monckton said something in a Scotsman interview that indicates his casual attitude towards the truth:

“I was selling the house anyway and they asked me if I would be willing to tell people I was selling the house because I was afraid somebody might solve the puzzle too fast. I said ‘yes’. They said, ‘Don’t you mind being made to look an absolute prat’, and I said, ‘No – I’m quite used to that’. History is full of stories that aren’t actually true. We sold shed-loads of extra puzzles and I made an handsome profit – and I sold the house as well.”

this quote was reprinted at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/09/just_in_case_you_feel_inclined.php

Somebody say something about people being duped by climate skeptics?