Category Archives: blog

Climate Change – learn from the Apollo mission

I heard Ed Miliband speaking on the radio yesterday, saying that we need to be on a “war-footing” to tackle climate change. That we need to fight the problem like we fought the Nazis in WW2.

As a rallying cry, this is hopeless. A war-footing is far too negative. Miliband is being badly advised. People will close their ears and minds to such an appeal.

There does not appear to be an immediate existential threat to our future, our lives or our culture – not like the visceral threat posed by Hitler in 1939. We are all happily shopping online, slugging back the prosecco and catching up on Game of Thrones. Oh yes! And having some lovely early spring weather – I’ve not heard so much birdsong before and everything is bursting into blossom.

No one wants a war, when there isn’t an obvious enemy. Who are we supposed to be fighting? Wars are exhausting!

The first rule of any campaign is to inspire, to set a target and show that there is a map and a pathway to achieving that goal.

In the late 1970s Britain was quite forward-thinking about alternate energy supply – does anyone remember Salter’s Duck? But we pushed ahead with Nuclear and then gorged on the new North Sea oil resources, paying for mass unemployment while we closed down old industries and put off the inevitable. Such are politics and vested interests.

I remember as a lad thinking how brilliant it would be if we had our own Apollo mission – a mission to harness the waves and the wind and the rays of the sun. There is so much energy waiting to be harvested almost for free. We would have been the world-leaders in energy technology, exploiting all the tech spin-offs that would have been developed in such a national mission.

What did Kennedy say to inspire the US to drive the Apollo moon mission forward?

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too

Now that is a clarion call!

We do not need to be on a war-footing, we need to focus the nation on creating carbon-free energy and to develop new technologies that will bring the climate back under control.

In doing so, we would become the Silicon Valley of energy and carbon neutrality.

We may have to eat a little less meat, but then we will develop even more delicious plant-based alternatives that will soon become favoured over meat.

We may have to learn to add another layer of clothing rather than heat the house so high – maybe learn to wear last year’s jumper rather that this week’s new fashion for instagram?

Proudly show our carbon neutral efforts and credentials on instagram rather than the new eyebrows.

We will have to learn to travel in power-efficient electric cars – I’m sure we can get used to it. Most people have no idea what is under the bonnet. All they want is to be able to get from A to B in something that is comfortable and possibly looks cool.

I suppose Gaia was an attempt to brand this mission, but it has too much of a beardy, hippy connotation. My best thought is UK Sol as all the energy comes from the sun or Impetus UK. they sound a bit 1970s though – Im sure some clever marketer can come up with a mission name and logo that we can all feel proud and part of.

We Britain is so good at banding together for major national projects. The millennium created so many new buildings and projects. The 2010 Olympics were a national triumph.

Brexit has already split the nation into warring factions – we do not need any more war footings. We need a leader who can bring the country back together with one purpose. A purpose we all pretty much agree on now, but feel small and helpless to do anything about.

We need a leader to show the way, to nudge, cajole and praise, to lead us into new, hi-tech sunlit uplands – to make Britain a great leader in the world once again – after all, isn’t that what Brexit is really all about?

Like lush, I’m tired of algorithms

Lush UK are closing down their social media accounts

I was thrilled to see that Lush UK, the bath bomb and cosmetics company, is leaving social media, saying that they are, “tired of fighting with algorithms” and did not want to “pay to appear” in newsfeeds.

Sadly this is not the dawn of the fightback, but the start of a new social media approach. It looks to me as if they are creating their own in-house personality influencers. Splitting a corporate account into many “human” faces. It also looks as though they are going to be paying influencers to leverage their followers and ability to drive views.

I was really hoping that they were the sign of an advance guard of a social media rebellion, but no. They are using this moment to gain a bit of quick publicity before they dive even deeper into the gravitational swirl of the social media black hole. If everyone else is doing it so do they.

Personally I am so tired of it all. I was hoping, since I was an early adopter, that maybe I’m early to the desire to leave and get a real life back.

It’s not just that we are being played in a giant game by uncaring mega corporations but, as we post and share, we are under surveillance, having our data and our lives blatantly stolen and sold to the highest bidder in microsecond auctions, by Facebook, Google and all the others. Now everyone is at it. Anything that is called smart and connected to the internet is not for your convenience – it is designed to gain extra data sourcing revenues for the manufacturer as they observe your habits.

We are not the customers – we are the fodder from which the corporations grow fat, selling us and predictions of our behaviour to their real customers the advertisers.

That is the real reason why Lush is leaving – as they post on social media, they are not marketing their wares to their potential customers, they are providing data that is instantly analysed and sold to their competitors – it’s almost industrial espionage – certainly self-sabotage to continue.

Is it really possible to withdraw from social media or have we crossed the event horizon of social media, beyond which there is no return?