Dec 192007

I got a letter recently (yes, people still write letters despite all this blogging stuff). It began, “I have just read your blog – how refreshing it is to be able to read about CSR and the …issues facing our planet in plain English – no jargon whatsoever”. This is how caught my attention when they wrote to me asking for some exposure for their site. Flattery is always effective. As the brainchild of Julia Felton and Polly Gowers, who put their lives on hold and even remortgaged their homes in order to set up a search engine which donates 50% of its gross income to charity, I was delighted to be approached by a company with such a simple idea, proving so successful and with such a genuinely philanthropic ethos. Much of what we read in the media today gives the CSR movement a bad name. End of the world articles are two a penny and companies are constantly attacked by greenwasher vigilantes for the holes in their CSR efforts. Understandably, many people outside the movement think it’s all too complicated, intimidating and gloomy. So why bother, they ask. Thankfully the tide of opinion is changing. There are fewer and fewer people like Jeremy Clarkson (quoted as saying ‘Yes I do have a disregard for the environment. I think the world can look after itself and we should enjoy it as best as we can’) and more people with an attitude.

Check it out – it does what it says on the tin.

Happy Christmas and New Year.  I’ll be offline for a couple of weeks, back January 9th.  

Dec 192007

On Saturday morning my girlfriend and I decided to brave central London for a bit of Christmas shopping en route to the countryside. The second we parked up in Sloane Street a camera crew came swarming towards us, bearing fluffy mikes and heavy Australian accents. At first I thought this was a paparazzi onslaught in some case of mistaken identity, but soon all became clear. They had spotted my Toyota Prius, and were doing a feature for HDNet World Report on US television about SUV’s, and how London is thinking of dealing with the so-called ‘Chelsea Tractor’ problem (for non British readers this relates to the bizarre people who think nothing of driving tiny distances in central London in 4 wheel drive cars the size of small houses whilst the planet burns).They picked the right couple to interview for sure, as we were fresh from watching the overnight drama of the Bali climate change conference on Sky News, complete with delegations hissing, booing and a Chairman crying tears of despair in front of the world’s media. It was nice to be speaking on TV as a ‘citizen’, rather than for work. So both girlfriend and I rather let rip, explaining how you can’t frankly sit there watching the news about climate change, which places millions of the world’s poorest people on a collision course with displacement, hunger, flooding and even more deprivation and then plonk yourself in a Range Rover to drive 2 miles. The best bit was when my girlfriend sounded off about how unattractive she would find a man who drove such a thing, whilst standing next to my Prius, which it must be said is not the most attractive of designs. Lucky for me… SUV’s have gone from status symbol to tarnished brand – so much so that the very nice Aussie reporter told us that 4X4 drivers had literally been running away from his camera crew all morning. Seemingly the Sloane community of SW3 thinks that plans to tax these gas guzzlers are part of some left-wing conspiracy against rich people. Well many of the world’s richest and most successful people are environmentalists these days, so get over yourselves. A satisfying morning all round, which even made the shopping trip bearable. 

Dec 052007

Frightening piece by Owen Bowcott in today’s Guardian about the growing international race to snap up ownership rights to vast tracts of seabed in order to exploit its mineral, oil and gas deposits. Having ruined much of the world’s land, we now find ourselves in a dash to grab what lies beneath the surface, with all the environmental devastation that could entail. It’s reminiscent of how the European Union, having exhausted all its fishing resources through years of reckless practice, then turned to West Africa, snapping up the fishing rights of the world’s poorest people and depriving them of their main source of protein. Or how having pillaged supplies of fish that had provided for humanity for centuries, mankind turned to deep water species like the orange roughy, scooping them up before they had even had a chance to reproduce. Illegal fishing pushed this species, which can live to 100 years old, to the brink of destruction. This determination to drain every last drop of life from the earth continues to baffle and alarm in equal measure. I’ll be watching the seabed rights issue with interest, not least because it has all the ingredients campaigners dream of – beautiful nature, multinational corporations, governments, short-termism, and potential profit at the expense of developing nations. It’s a lethal cocktail all round.