Concentrate washing powder

You’ll have seen all the ads for the new 2x concentrated washing powders, they are all you can buy these days and are being pushed as “better for the environment” – because there is less packaging to throw away.

Fair Go discussed tonight whether consumers were being ripped off – basically people are not reading the instructions and using too much because they are used to using the old, large scoops. If you follow the instructions you’re fine.

But fewer people know why laundry powder is actually concentrated. It’s nothing to do with the environment, that’s just a convenient side-effect and a handy marketing gimmick.

It’s all about transport costs.

At half the weight, you can transport twice the value of product for the same price. It’s that simple.

It’s not about the environment. It’s all about efficiency and cost. And that’s a very good thing. Enjoy your new, efficient washing powder.

And if it helps the environment along the way, all the better.

Sea level rise “greatest lie ever told”

I am frankly getting sick of hearing phrases like “Pacific island nations are already struggling with rising sea levels” on the news and other places – never backed up by any real data. Now Dr Nils-Axel Mörner, a sea-level expert, has come out and said the whole thing is a scam. A few excerpts:

But if there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story.

Despite fluctuations down as well as up, “the sea is not rising,” he says. “It hasn’t risen in 50 years.” If there is any rise this century it will “not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm”. …

The reason why Dr Mörner, formerly a Stockholm professor, is so certain that these claims about sea level rise are 100 per cent wrong is that they are all based on computer model predictions, whereas his findings are based on “going into the field to observe what is actually happening in the real world”.

There is a lot of aid money to be had in claiming your country is at risk of a natural disaster:

When running the International Commission on Sea Level Change, he launched a special project on the Maldives, whose leaders have for 20 years been calling for vast sums of international aid to stave off disaster. Six times he and his expert team visited the islands, to confirm that the sea has not risen for half a century. Before announcing his findings, he offered to show the inhabitants a film explaining why they had nothing to worry about. The government refused to let it be shown.

The Islamic government of the Maldives is particularly dodgy (I had a Maldivian flatmate once & it was an eye-opener, stories of aid being sold instead of given away etc, you can’t even take a Bible into the country), so this doesn’t surprise me much. Not everyone’s motives are pure…

Now the last thing I would suggest you do is blindly believe this scientist, or to blindly believe anyone else. Just note that there is debate on this issue, so the next time someone claims any island is struggling with rising seas, make sure they back it up with actual measurements.

If they can, please comment, it would be interesting to look at the data.

Plastic bag tax

National’s resident greenie, Dr Nick Smith, is considering a tax on plastic bags because, in his personal opinion, “New Zealanders were over-using plastic shopping bags”. We’ve lived in Ireland with such a tax, so here is a brief summary of the good and the bad:

The Good:

  • Reusable bags don’t break. They are much nicer to use than disposable ones.

The Bad:

  • You use disposable plastic bags for all sorts of things – lining rubbish bins for example. When you don’t get them from the supermarket you are forever running out of them, and have to buy plastic bin liners – defeating the environmental purpose of the tax.
  • Reusable bags are bulky.
  • You often forget to take enough reusable bags with you, and have to either buy more reusable bags or disposable ones. So in practice you waste money one way or another.
  • Most reusable bags are plastic. It must take a lot of resources to make one, so you would have to replace a large number of disposables with one reusable to make it worthwhile. In practice they only have a limited life before they get lost or have something disgusting spilt through them, so you don’t actually replace as many disposables as you would expect with each reusable bag. The environmental benefit is therefore questionable.
  • The main winners are the supermarkets. They sell more reusable bags (with their own logos on). They sell plastic bin liners as people aren’t recycling disposable plastic bags as bin liners. And in Dr Smith’s plan, they might even get the plastic bag levy itself. Expect the supermarkets to support this plan, but not for environmental reasons.

So I can only think of one advantage – reusable bags are strong and good to use. There is nothing to stop you using reusable bags now for this reason, and many people already do (for example MacDoctor).

It is highly debatable whether there is any environmental benefit from this whatsoever. Plastic bags are a minute fraction of NZ’s waste (0.2% according to the Dominion Post), much of which will currently be recycled supermarket bags containing rubbish. Most of these will be replaced by new plastic bin liners if this law goes through – in other words, there will be less recycling, and plastic bags will still be about the same amount of NZ’s waste, just more expensive.

Fortunately we have a far more sensible Prime Minister:

Mr Key said there was no way he was going to support a charge that was in effect a tax going into the coffers of supermarkets. “My preference is to find a voluntary and industry-led solution,” he said.”I’ve made that very clear to the minister.”

Asked whether he would preferred to have known in advance about both issues, he replied: “I think it would be more useful if I found out about things before I read about them in the newspaper.”

Good on you Mr Key!

Other comments around the blogs:
MacDoctor: Fantastic Plastic
Madeleine: Blue is the New Green: National’s Bag Tax
Homepaddock: Bin that idea, Nick
Not PC: Nanny Nick taxes bags
Whale Oil: More on Bags

Our house on Earth Hour

house_earthhourThat’s around 2000 watts of eco-friendly renewable hydro-electricity. So much better for the environment than the smoky candles the greenies are using tonight.

To see what others have been up to, check out the Anti Earth Hour blog.

Earth Hour

Earth hour is upon us. So this blog is switching on the lights. Thanks to Thomas Edison, we can light our homes without damaging our lungs, and while protecting the atmosphere from the gases burning candles emit.lightbulbFor more info on what you can do to celebrate Earth Hour (Edison Hour), click here.

Anti Earth Hour blog

Before deciding how to celebrate Earth Hour tonight, check out the Anti Earth Hour blog. Turn on your lights (they’re more eco-friendly than candles), and submit your power-hungry pictures of what you did on Earth Hour!

Earth hour will kill us all! 3 – Entertainment

What should you do this earth hour? You can’t watch TV, or read this blog, that would use electricity. You can’t work on the car by candlelight, you might cause a nasty explosion. So here are a few suggestions:

Don’t go to a concert. There is an “Earth Hour Unplugged” concert in Christchurch, there are probably other events on elsewhere. But to get there you’d probably use a car, or a bus. That one trip could melt a glacier. And they’ll probably have big amplifiers using thousands of watts of coal-fired electricity. And as you switched off the burglar alarm to save electricity, and everyone’s lights are off so criminals can easily work undetected. you may get home and find your furniture has disappeared.

Only go to a concert if your sole purpose is to switch off the amplifiers for the sake of the planet so everyone can sit in perfect silence straining their ears to hear the peaceful twanging of the electric guitar strings. Otherwise stay at home.

But what to do at home? You can’t read a book, or play a board game, you’d need to light candles for that, and that could cause immense ecological destruction. You could play “blind mans bluff” in the dark, but may trip over and break all the furniture you stayed home to protect. Or break an arm, requiring the consumption of toxic petrol to take you to the hospital.

No, you’ll just have to go to bed early. But DON’T be tempted to curl up under the covers in your cold unheated bedroom and snuggle with the wife. Population growth will destroy the planet. Keep your hand-knitted hemp underpants on.

To be safe, one of you had better sleep on the couch.

Lie in the cold, dark lounge, on the couch, listening to the hum of the fridge (which you should have left turned on) and contemplate that:

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilisations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the United Nations Environment Programme. (via Micky’s Muses)

Get used to sleeping in the cold and the dark, it sounds like this won’t be the first night. And then one day, as you cough yourself to death from smoke inhalation (candles), hypothermia and botulism (you did turn the fridge off after all, didn’t you?), at the age of 40, with no children to remember your name, you may feel glad that at least by your sacrifice you may have saved the life of a snail, somewhere. Possibly.

See also:
Earth hour will kill us all! 1 – Lighting
Earth hour will kill us all! 2 – Appliances

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.