Research on Housing
I’m doing some work at present for a friend who researches in the area of sustainable housing. Wendy is currently trying to recruit participants for a study of how homes respond in heat waves and how well homes perform in terms of heating/cooling in relation to approved design and construction plans. If you’re in Brisbane or Townsville, and interested in participating, please read on.
The Power of Community Film Night
I’ve long had an interest in the environment and sustainability, and am a keen, if rather infrequent and not particularly successful, gardener. So when I spotted an advertisement for this film night about how Cuba survived peak oil come through my email I was even willing to rearrange the family’s week so that I could get to it on a Friday night. The event was sponsored by the Australian Green Development Forum, the EcoVillage at Currumbin, and Queensland University of Technology.
Whether or not you accept the reality of peak oil, the story of Cuba is fascinating as it had to face its own artificial and internationally orchestrated peak oil crisis.
All publicity is good, right?
Well maybe not if you’re the 10:10 organisation, presiding over a public relations disaster caused by a short film written by Richard Curtis. Designed to get attention for a campaign encouraging people to personally reduce their carbon emissions by 10%, the film used comedic shock to make its point. The organisation took the video down within hours of its release, but by then it had gone viral (wasn’t that the point?). You can see it here (warning: you might need a strong stomach).
The director of 10:10 UK, Eugenie Harvey, issued an apology, but by then the damage was done. Complaints flooded in, and inevitably the denialist community got to work with a logic that is actually difficult to refute, claiming that the video is advocating a totalitarian, fascist agenda of agree or be, well, blown up.
In spite of some evidence that shock ads don’t work, governments and non-profit organisations seem pretty sold on the idea, and with each campaign the shock value gets stronger, as advertisers try to break through the de-sensitisation. As the founder of 10:10, Franny Armstrong, joked in a Guardian interview:
Doing nothing about climate change is still a fairly common affliction, even in this day and age. What to do with those people, who are together threatening everybody’s existence on this planet? Clearly we don’t really think they should be blown up, that’s just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?
As friends of mine put it on Twitter: smug and arrogant.
For Curtis’s part however, I see this as coming from a long tradition of absurdist comedy. The short film doesn’t seem like quite so much of a stretch when seen in conjunction with this famous sketch from Monty Python in 1970: The “How not to be seen” Public Service Announcement. Watch it here.
I guess it follows that what makes good comedy doesn’t necessarily make good advertising, especially when the stakes are this high, and the whole thing is a massive failure in terms of convincing people that greenies are not a bunch of out-of-touch wankers.
Last week I visited one of the local bush care groups around here. They were an amazing group of people; ordinary people who have taught themselves specialist knowledge so that they can rehabilitate green space. They know what to remove, what to leave, and can tell the difference between native versions of things and very similar looking varieties that are weeds. Once a month they get out of bed in the cold in the early morning and put in a couple of hours of unpaid labour for the benefit of the environment and local wildlife. Some of them work with several groups. And they are cheery and friendly at that hour of the morning, which is well beyond me.
The thing is, when I think about it, there are lots of amazing people around here. . .
Food and Sociality Part II
Last year I wrote a post on Food and Sociality in which I talked about the social and cultural aspects of food and how these encourage us to eat more than perhaps we should. I also expressed an intention to remain “social” despite of some difficulties with certain foods. Has that ever come back to bite me!
What, at the time, seemed like the ill effects of a couple of days of careless eating was actually the start of a rapid increase in allergy and intolerance severity. Consequently, my diet is now quite restricted. I am perfectly healthy, and indeed have a ream of test result to prove same, but my intentions to remain social in my eating habits and not to create a fuss have gone out the window.
It has been a steep learning curve, with much time spent on the internet learning which foods contain what and trying to find reliable articles from medically qualified people that I can actually understand. Here are a few of the things that I have learnt:
The Green News Corp
The new clean, green CEO of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch (you might have heard of him) delivered a global address webcast to News Corp employees today, in which he stated that News Corp would be carbon neutral by 2010: