Conflicted emotions

Many years ago a lawyer said to me that the most tiring thing about being a lawyer in his line of work, which was the family court, was permanently being in a state of conflict.  It's a bit like that today for those of us who endeavour to make ethical choices, ensure that our Ps and Qs are sufficiently PC, and just generally be good citizens of the global village. Ride the bike or drive the car? Take an extra few minutes in the shower after a hard day at work? Buy that thing you want even though you know it has an environmentally irresponsible amount of packaging? Choose pork belly from the menu when you know there's a better than even chance that the pig never saw the light of day? How to react to a joke, told by a friend, which was mainstream twenty years ago but definitely dodgy by today's ever-evolving standards. We met some friends for a drink last weekend, and afterwards went back to their house in the country for another - no I wasn't driving.  So there I was, si

Blind to the specs ...

  I think I lost an argument with the wife last night. She was telling someone about a pair of glasses; where she bought them and how much they cost. She obviously noticed my thinly disguised 'harrumph' and guessed correctly that I was reacting to my discovery of the amount of money she is prepared to spend on a pair of glasses. "Well it's better than what you do - you and your +2.5s for $9 from the supermarket. Exactly how many pairs have you bought in the past couple of years?" My reply is what got me into trouble " I buy them because they are always breaking or getting scratched and it's cheap and easy to get a new pair". That was it really - I had walked blindly into the cactus. " "That's not very green is it? Why don't you buy a decent pair of gasses which isn't going to fall apart in five minutes?" Why indeed? And so it is across a huge range of products. If something stops working it is often more cost effective

Plastic - How fantastic?

  Great news: Plant-based milk bottles. Fonterra have announced new fully recyclable milk bottles made from sugarcane. The press release shows the bottle nestled on a bed of green leaves, with the text on the label proclaiming "I'm a plant-based bottle". When I saw the ad on TV last night I was properly impressed; this is great progress, and a fitting subject for my column this week.  Although the irony of the claim is conspicuous: milk not being a particularly environmentally friendly product, let's not dwell on that today.  The bio-HDPE is made in Brazil from sugarcane. Some might question, somewhat cynically, how long ago the farm on which the sugarcane grows was cleared of indigenous vegetation. But then surely all farms, everywhere, were once cleared of the naturally occurring plantscape to make way for cultivation of crops? So we can't have a go at them for that.  The bio-HDPE is then shipped to New Zealand where it is made into milk bottles. Mmm - I don

A forcing of nature

  I like a nicely mown lawn, and a tidy garden. So when the sun came out a couple of weekends ago I had no excuses left. Having put it off for weeks on end I had to get into it. My neighbour must have been working to the same time frame because he was out in force as well. Between us, during the course of the day, we unleashed the power of no fewer than seven pieces of petrol driven machinery on our unsuspecting gardens. It would have been eight except for the fact that my lawn edger is manual - a circular blade with a foot pedal and a handle. That was when I realised it was a bit ridiculous; as I hopped and lurched along trying to get this thing to cut through the thick outriggers of lawn which were making a break for the path - my neighbour breezed past me in a cloud of two-stroke fumes leaving a ruler straight divide between grass and concrete.   Apart from those we each had a line trimmer, a garden blower, and a lawn mower, although his is a ride-on so, again, he was cruising past.

Meat the greens

  Someone said to me a while ago: "I'm not a greenie". Fair enough, one doesn't have to be a greenie. But what does that mean? Does it mean, perhaps, that the person has looked at the evidence for and against climate change   and decided there is no problem? Or that there is a problem but it is not caused by human activity. Or, and this seems to be the most likely, the person simply doesn't care: "I'm OK, so I'm not bothered." Of course, in this country, at this time, we are all OK. We are not going to disappear beneath the rising seas tomorrow, but does that mean we should not be bothered? Last night the television in our house was tuned in to Country Calendar because there was story about a local butcher shop, Wholly Cow, run by a local family, which is doing very well. The business is intentionally as sustainable and kind to the environment as possible. There are many ways in which this family is attempting to lighten their step on the ear

As simple as 1-2-3

I've been thinking about the concept of 'indifferent consequence'. A bit of a clumsy phrase, but by way of explanation, allow me for a moment, to personify nature. That is to say, to attribute human qualities and traits to the universe, the laws of physics, the cosmos, the environment etc. as a whole. As an erstwhile parent of young children I have often employed the 1, 2, 3 device - you know how it goes: "Do as you're told - one... two... two and a half... two and three quarters... " It didn't work because the child knew I didn't want to get to three and so I would string it out - and so would the child. I once heard Dr. Phil on TV saying that 1,2,3 doesn't work. He said if you want your child to take you seriously, set an egg timer and tell the child that when it goes off so does the consequence. The child knows the timer is not going to play games, it will simply go off when the time is up, therefore there is a much higher chance of the child co

And now for the 'good' newsLine

  One of, if not the only, benefit of flying as close to the deadline as I habitually do is that I can change what I am planning to write at the last minute. My story of two neighbours will have to wait.   I attended an event organized by the Chamber of Commerce in the offices of a prominent investment services company in Cambridge this morning. There was, of course, a presentation during which I learned two things which I found surprising for an odd reason: My initial reaction to these things was that they are both positives, but they were presented as negatives. The first was that population growth rates amongst developed nations are slowing and this is presenting challenges to policy makers. The other is that governments and central banks around the world are actively engaged in trying to get inflation up to a pre-determined level which is seen as a good place to be, but by and large are not succeeding ie; inflation rates in the developed world are remaining stubbornly low. I hadn