Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Carbon Credits - The Worst Idea Ever

The Environmental Audit Committee's recent suggestion that we can all improve our carbon footprint by having our own carbon credit limit is one of the most idiotic suggestions I have ever heard.

I'm not a climate change sceptic - I think the planet is facing problems and I think there are some simple steps we can all take. I now recycle when I can, remember (sometimes) to take used plastic bags shopping with me. I put on a jumper when I'm cold rather than turning up the heater, I walk to the train station most days rather than drive, when a large group of us flew to Kenya we decided to offset our carbon emissions - not by giving money to a profit making organisation but by donating to a local wildlife charity. Everything I have done however has been my own choice. And it might not be enough to save the planet but it is my choice and my attempt to make things a little better.

I object strongly to a group of MPs telling me that I should have a limit on how much carbon I use - but if I want to I can sell it to the rich for a cash bonus. Have they really thought this through? I'm ok now, public transport from my home to my office is good but it hasn't always been - how does the committee suggest that people who have to drive to work cope? Refuse to go on holiday so they can make sure they have enough credits to work? What about people who have to attend hospital to visit sick relatives - or get treatment themselves? Will there be a bonus credit for the ill? How about international aid charities who send assistance to disaster zones such as those in Burma and China - will they have to limit their ability to do so? Or will they have to use some of their precious finances to buy additional credits?

And how about travelling MPs? Who will pay for (for example) Tim Yeo's credits.

From November 2006 - November 2007 Mr Yeo - the man whose committee came up with this plan - had a busy time. He visited California, Cuba (trip paid for by a mining and energy company), Lebanon & Syria, Washington DC and Bucharest. And this doesn't include his family holiday - I hope he had one.

And he did a lot of driving - in 2006/07 he claimed £5,226 in mileage - roughly 13,000 miles or the equivalent of driving 156 times from Westminster to his constituency office. This environmental champion by comparison claimed only £636 in rail fares.

I'm not questioning the honesty of the expenses or the necessity of the trips abroad. What I do have a problem with is a man with a carbon footprint which I'm sure is considerably higher than mine having the audacity to tell me that I have to limit my output just so that I can sell him the credits he so desperately needs.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wildlife Photographer

Just because I've been ignoring this blog doesn't mean I've been resting on my laurels. I've written a piece for Darren's blog about some of fantastic things I've learned since he started his photography business. Pop over to his blog to read about my new cheetah, lion and mayfly knowledge. And see the great photos.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Riled into posting again...

Despite having a lot of issues recently which have interested me - Wendy's conversion to the idea of a referendum and missed opportunity to cause some real problems for the SNP, the despicable behaviour of Rangers fans in Manchester and the idiocy of letting people drink all day in confined spaces, the election of Mayor BoJo, Celtic's stunning last minute victory and yesterday's Crewe and Nantwich by-election - I've just not been inspired to post. Presumably just a bit of blogger fatigue. That's all changed though with one phone call.

It's that time of year again - car insurance renewal time and when the notice came through from Diamond it seemed like a decent deal so decided to phone and give the ok to renew. One thing I did want to ensure though was that my credit card details weren't being kept on file. I don't want any company to have the right to take money from my bank or credit card without my explicit permission and when you give companies your details you can't control when they go in and take money. We've learned this the hard way in the past when it has been a struggle to get our money back.

I was a bit taken aback to find that Diamond refused to remove my credit card details from their records. Apparently this was in case there were any amendments to the policy which required payment. When I pointed out that if there were any further payments needed I would decide at the time how best to pay it it didn't seem to matter. Now that Diamond had my credit card details they were holding on to them.

I cancelled my policy and found another - slightly more expensive - quote.

This isn't just Diamond's policy. We've dealt with several companies who insist on this and I really object to it. I wouldn't post my credit card details here, nor would I email them to anyone, so why should I give a company unlimited rights to keep my financial information? Its not as if companies have been entirely successful at protecting customers' privacy and even if they had it's still my right (and duty) to protect my own financial details. Just because something like this is a company's policy and their own method of protecting their incomes doesn't mean that we as customers have to put up with this nonsense.

Its yet another example of corporations controlling the public through their control of databases. We should make sure we know our rights and stand up to these information gathering bullies.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Aaron Meijers

Today is Yom HaShoah, the Day of Rememberance for the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. When I get home this evening I will be lighting a candle for Aaron Meijers.

Aaron was born in Brummen in the Netherlands on 22 April 1917 and died in the Buchenwald concentration camp on 26 February 1945. He was 27 and single. Other than this and the names of his parents there is nothing else I know about Aaron. Yet tonight I will remember him and will do so each Yom HaShoah.

Genocide isn't just about the murder of individuals - its about the attempt to remove all trace that those individuals lived and that their communities existed. By remembering the individuals we make our own small stand against genocide.

You can become the Guardian of the Memory of a Holocaust victim by contacting Yad Vashem UK. There is no cost involved (but donations are welcome) and you do not have to be Jewish - I'm not. All that you need to do is commit to remembering one person once a year.