Why not make our bin collections daily Eric?

James Newton reports:

Soooo… Eric Pickles believes we should encourage people to ‘throw away’ more often by reinstating weekly bin collections. Why?

I assume that this may be because Mr Pickles believes in the first instance that society is so beyond help that rather than educating the British public to reduce the unnecessary amount of waste we all create, Government should take the responsibility away from people to manage the crap they produce and throw it away for us.

Who is taking responsibility for this? Sooner or later we will run out of places to hide and forget about it.. Individuals should be but (more importantly) industry must be held accountable if they are producing high levels of un-recyclable waste.

This is embarrassing: As a nation we produce more waste per head of population than many of our European counterparts, with an average of 592kg (1,306lb), above the EU average of 577kg, (1,274lb). We also lag behind in the amount of waste recycled, with a UK average figure of 18% based on these figures, well below the EU average of 36.4%.

The government believes that better procurement and joint working can improve the efficiency of collections while improving the frontline service for the public in an affordable and practical manner… They ‘understand’ that the public have a reasonable expectation that household waste collections services should be weekly, particularly for smelly waste.

Do they? Is this a reasonable expectation? No. How does improving the efficiency of a system that is so instrumentally defective make it better? Somebody has missed the point here. There seems to have been a huge over sight in assessing the root cause of the problem, a belligerent obsession with efficiency rather than effectiveness.

Perhaps this may be because Mr Pickles believes that the polluting way and rate at which we create, consume and discard things is working out just fine… Perhaps industry have it right, we need coke bottles that have the potential to last 400 years after the drink has been drunk…

There needs to be an emphatic message sent out to change the perception of ‘rubbish’ from the junk we want to dump, to a valuable resource to be cherished and only thrown away as a very last resort and in-still an understanding in everyone that there is no ‘away’. Then a trip back to the drawing board to re-think the way we make things by starting with what we do with them when we’ve had our way with them.

Government should be facilitating our ability as a country to deal with this. Fortnightly collections, since their introduction, have helped improve recycling rates. In returning to weekly emptying it is projected that it would cost an extra £200m annually. I thought we had a deficit to reduce not to mention a planet to preserve…

James Newton

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What is Sustainable Development?

It’s something you hear quite often, two words that enter the conversation but they seem to carry no meaning. We hear it so often but we never consider what it actually means, almost like hearing someone say ‘moving forward’ or some other unintelligible management speak. Used so often, its meaning has dissolved into the aether.

So what does the phrase actually mean? Well, primarily the words ‘Sustainable Development‘ are used by many people within the environmental movement to describe the way we should start to develop – sustainably. It’s a kind of description of our situation, and what we need to to about it, but somehow the gravity of the words are lost whenever they are used. Think about it again, they are a description of our situation, and what we need to do about it.

So lets be abundantly clear. Our society isn’t sustainable, in much the same way that a wooden boat that’s on fire isn’t sustainable. If you’re like most people, and for the sake of this explanation I will assume that you are like most people, there’s next to nothing about your life that can be sustained for much longer. Your food, your clothes, your car, your iPhone, your heating bill, your electricity bill, your entire lifestyle is the fire on the ship. There’s a misconception that sustainable development is some tree hugging nonsense that places the life of an endangered snail above the life of your own, but the truth is that sustainable development has our civilisation at its core. Sustainable development has recognised the fire and it wants to put it out.

Some clever people worked out how much land – or ecological services – we collectively use as a society. The idea being that, say we use up a forest, earth can replenish that forest given enough time, but if we cut down the trees faster than the earth replenishes them then we have a problem. You can replace ‘forest’ with just about anything, fish, agriculture, oil, coal, aluminium, tin, anything can fit in there, since they’re all ecological services. Well it turns out, that when you add all of this stuff up, we are currently consuming about 1.6 Earths and the rate at which we’re consuming the earth is accelerating. In other words, we’re using Earth’s resources about 1.6 times faster than Earth can replenish them. If you fill a bath with water faster than the drain can take away the water, we all know what happens. If you fill a bath at an accelerating rate, you simply speed the up the inevitable.

When the resources run out and there are 7.5 billion hungry people on the planet, you can imagine the ensuing chaos. Sustainable development isn’t just about saving the environment for the environments sake, it’s about saving it because every single thing we do is dependent on ecological services. Everything.

Next time you see a freight train, or a lorry, or a car, or a bin full of rubbish, or a ferry full of goods, just multiply it out across the entire planet and think about the sheer scale of energy and ‘stuff’ that’s needed to keep this society moving. Ask yourself the question, ‘where did all that stuff come from and where’s it going?’ and ask yourself if you think it can carry on indefinitely.

Sustainable development isn’t just some fancy word, it’s an absolute imperative. We have to drop the meaningless fluff surrounding our lives and change direction because we are on a collision course with nature. Whilst nature is as solid as brick wall, we are as fragile as a fly.

The anatomy of a lie. How wind farms do not cause climate change.

It seems that those science writers at The Telegraph, or as they once described themselves ‘interpreter of interpretations, have once again sold the public a scientific lie.

To examine the anatomy of their lie, we shall start with its overall structure. The Telegraph, as do all news publishers, know that readers rarely read to the end of an article. As such journalists have in their mind a sort of ‘pyramid structure’ to their writing, and you guessed it, the headline and the strapline are the two most powerful parts of your work, forming the foundation for the readers understanding of the article.

So, when you start with a headline that reads, “Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study” and you follow it up with the “according to new research, that shows for the first time the new technology is already pushing up temperatures”, you’re ensuring you bring your reader to this very conclusion. That would be fine if the statement were true, but they are entirely false. A writer clever enough to read the paper couldn’t possibly come to that conclusion, especially a writer who deemed ‘an environment correspondent’. So what’s going on?

Let’s actually take a look at the paper the article is based on. Scientists also like to ensure that those reading their paper understand what it will be about before they get stuck in. They give their work a study title and an ‘abstract’. Liming Zhou’s study was called “Impacts of wind farms on land surface temperature” and the abstract said ” While converting wind’s kinetic energy into electricity, wind turbines modify surface–atmosphere exchanges and the transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the atmosphere.” The study wanted to understand the local effects of building large scale wind farms, because it’s important we have a good understanding for future projects.

What the study actually found was that wind farms, when they are large enough, bring down warmer air from the upper atmosphere and thus make local earth surface temperatures slightly higher. Nothing to be concerned about, nothing unexpected, not even a surprise. Zhou explained “the warming effect reported in this study is local and is small compared to the strong background year-to-year land surface temperature changes. Very likely, the wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only re-distribute the air’s heat near the surface,”

Surface temperatures are not climate, they’re not even weather, and yet the study, which has nothing to do with climate change, was digested and spewed out in a way that led readers to believe that wind farms cause climate change. The fraudulence of the article is made more clear when you take into account the fact that James Delingpole has been arguing that man made climate change is a liberal global scientific conspiracy, and yet in the very same newspaper we have a bizarre lie that claims wind farms actually cause the very effect they have worked so hard to discredit.

Well if the ends were to discredit climate change, then the means were particularly effective. You only have to browse through the comments and social media reactions to find confirmation that their scientific assassination scored a perfect headshot.  “Great… now even global warming causes global warming. =(” said Zaemus. Just one of hundreds of people in the twitter echo chamber all jumping from the top of the pyramid to pompously repeat the words, “Wind farms cause climate change! Wind farms cause climate change! Wind farms cause climate change!

That’s all you need to know right? Wind farms cause climate change. And so a myth is born.

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