Tim Longhurst's Blog

Minister for Erratic Weather and Rising Sea Levels

July 26th, 2005 · No Comments

aph.gifAustralia’s “Environment Minister” Ian Campbell has shown the Australian people his own special brand of foresight.

A federal government report has warned that in the near future, 30-50 years time, climate change will make Australia a very different place. Campbell’s got a plan: pretend 30-50 years is a long, long way away.

The following quotes are from the ABC News article: Don’t panic over climate change: Minister.

(All emphasis has been added.)

The federal Environment Minister says a climate change report warning of more erratic weather and rising sea levels is not cause for alarm.

Not cause for alarm? Why not? I’m guessing it’s because if Australians were alarmed about climate change, we might pressure the government to make the kind of tough decisions that might lose a few friends in the oil, coal, automotive and associated industries…

The new government report on climate change says there could be more droughts and storms, higher temperatures and rising sea levels in the next 30 to 50 years.

The Climate Change: Risk and Vulnerability report predicts more possible threats to water supplies, ecosystems and agriculture.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell says the report is evidence that even if all greenhouse gas emissions were stopped tomorrow, climate change would continue because of the build-up in the atmosphere.

So you’ve heard it straight from the Government: We’ve already f*¢d the planet… Why stop now?

Senator Campbell says the warning could be painted as alarming but there is no need to panic.

“The reality is that these changes will happen over time, they’re talking about a 30 to 50-year time span,” he said.

I’ll be 55-75 by then, and if I ever apply SPF 300+ sunscreen to go outside, plan a beach trip to Canberra or watch a televised memorial for the Great Barrier Reef, I’ll reflect on John Howard’s conservative government.

I’ll remember the government’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol; their championing of fossil fuel industries and the way Ian ‘Business as Usual’ Campbell pretended climate change wasn’t alarming, when his own department reported that it clearly was.

I’ll probably think to myself: I wish we had panicked.

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Category: Our living planet

Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Corporate Social Responsibility

July 20th, 2005 · No Comments

aph.gifDo companies offer the world anything except products and pollution? Should they offer more? Or less?

“Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) and “Triple Bottom Line” (TBL) attempt to measure the contribution companies make (positive and negative) to their communities.

While these concepts have been around for a few decades, application by large organisations has only started taking place in recent years.

I have my reservations about these concepts. While the motivation of people who advocate them is often very positive, I find the implementation of CSR / TBL is often cynical and off the mark. Rush Mottling’s recent article on CSR may give you a sense of its limitations.

Well, guess what? The Australian Parliament is holding an inquiry on this very topic, so watch this space as my submission is knocked together.

Here are some details on the inquiry…

Click to continue reading “Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Corporate Social Responsibility”

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Category: Tim's Projects

iPod’s are tiny and toxic – Apple moves to protect America

June 13th, 2005 · No Comments

ipod.jpgApple iPods contain lead, mercury and other toxins.1 That’s particularly a problem considering there are more than 10 million of them in the world.2

Toxins in landfills are bad news for the environment, so Apple has launched a program (exclusive to the US) where people can take their broken/unwanted iPod to Apple for environmentally-friendly disposal (source: Apple).

What about the rest of the world? Is Apple only concerned about their products polluting America? I found no evidence that Apple’s iPod
recycling program extended beyond the US. Surely Apple thinks the
environment outside America is worth protecting as well? Or do they “Think Different”?

So I phoned Apple…

A quick phone call to the Apple Store (Australia) confirmed my fears – there is no take-back program for the more than 800,0003 iPods floating around this country.

Apple
Australia’s staff must be furious that their American parent is busy
investing resources to protect the American environment from iPod
toxins, while nothing has been invested to protect Australia from the
very same pollutants. Perhaps this frustration is echoed around the
world.

Why isn’t the iPod take-back worldwide?

When
Apple launched its Tiger Operating System in the USA, they felt it was
so important they managed to launch it in many countries (including
Australia) on the same day.

Why wasn’t the iPod take-back program launched in many countries on the same day?

Let
me get this straight – when Apple stands to make money (by launching
software), their programs operate across borders. When the environment
stands to win (by taking back iPods), the program stays in the United
States?

That doesn’t sound ok to me and I doubt that it’s ok with you, either.

Where to from here?

If
you think Apple should take responsibility for the toxins they design
into their products, call them and let them know. It will take less
than two minutes, and you will be able to see first hand whether
Apple is the customer-focused, forward thinking organisation we’d like
them to be.

Register your concern with the friendly Apple Store operators.

Please
be polite and courteous: I’m confident Apple’s retail staff will share
your reservations about one environmentally-friendly iPod policy for
America and nothing for the rest of the world, and will gladly pass on
your comments.

In Australia you can call 133 622 and follow the options to speak to an Apple Store representative.
Other countries: use Apple’s website (scroll to the foot of the page) to find the number for your Apple Store.

Read more:
Fix it Apple – the Green Guide
Environmentalists push for a ‘greener’ iPod | csmonitor.com
Computer Take Back Campaign

Bibliography:
1 Source: Information Week and the Green Guide
2 Source: Steve Jobs here
3 Source: Apple Store (Australia) representative

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Category: Corporate craziness

McDonalds’ nutritional information: i’m missin’ it.

May 30th, 2005 · No Comments

supersizeme.jpgMorgan Spurlock’s film, Super Size Me, documents the near-collapse of his body as he ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month.

When the film came to Australia, McDonald’s CEO, Guy Russo, went into damage control.
He ran an advertising campaign that pointed out, for example, that consumers were encouraged to make informed food choices. Nutritional information posters, he advised, were now clearly displayed in all restaurants.

No sooner had the movie disappeared from cinemas, than the posters began disappearing from restaurants.

Instead of big posters, McDonald’s nutritional information is now stuck on the wrappers of many (but not all) of their products. This means customers can easily discover exactly how fatty and sugar-filled their food is – after they’ve paid for it.

If displaying the nutritional “value” of their food on in-store posters is an idea so good that McDonald’s made a 30-second TV commercial about it, then why are the posters missing? If McDonald’s is serious about puting
nutrition at the top of consumers minds at the point of purchase, the posters should be returned to high
visibility areas in each and every restaurant.

I doubt McDonalds management visit my website very often, so you might like to call them and have a chat: (02)
9875 6666. Let me know how you go.

Supersize Me movie website
McDonalds Australia – contact form

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Category: Corporate craziness

Washington Post’s editorial independence a “scandal”

May 19th, 2005 · No Comments

foxnewsicon.jpgA Fox News “journalist” has attacked the Washington Post, labelling a recent editorial decision by the Post a ‘scandal’.

Fox News reporter Steven Milloy has lashed out at the Post for failing to blur the lines between advertising and editorial. He sums up how he thinks news works in this excerpt from a recent story on FoxNews.com:

“Although the Washington Post was happy to take $100,000 or so from [the Center for Consumer Freedom] to run the ad, the newspaper apparently wasn’t too happy about the message. Several days after the ad ran, the Post published a lengthy story on front-page of its Business section knocking the Center for Consumer Freedom as the tool of the restaurant industry.

What’s really scandalous, though, is how the Post kept the Center’s money while simultaneously disparaging it.”

Steven apparently thinks that once a company becomes an advertiser, they’re off-limits from criticism. If Steve’s implying that Fox News doesn’t attack companies that advertise on the network, he might have just got the ball rolling on a scandal of his own.

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Category: Media Mayhem