What a 19th Century Philosopher can tell us about energy conservation

Posted July 11th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

Back in the 19th century, philosopher William Hazlitt stated we are only “imaginatively connected” to our future self whereas we are naturally connected to our past and present self. But what does a deep thinker like Hazlitt have to tell us about today’s energy debate?

It has something to do with the fact we unconsciously believe that our future self is someone else, not us; that our grasp on the future is tenuous at best and our motivations are totally rooted in the present: My gas bill is going up by 20 per cent so I am going to switch provider rather than save energy; I have just had a new lawn laid so will use as much tap water as I need to make sure it survives despite the ridiculously dry spring we have just experienced.

Our present self finds it hard to make decisions based on anything other than our immediate needs and wants. In Australia, scientists receive death threats because they advocate a carbon tax; China threatens financial retaliation if the EU includes foreign airlines in its Emissions Trading Scheme…countries, not just individuals, find it hard to look beyond the immediate.

Monday Morning
It is the classic Monday Morning Syndrome: I know I should have ironed a shirt on Sunday evening as I have a busy start to the week, I had plenty of time but couldn’t be bothered. Future Me will deal with the problem. On Monday morning I rush around dealing with the issue, making myself late cursing my lack of attention to the problem on Sunday night.

We are collectively leaving the problems on climate change to our future selves. That is bad enough, but we are also leaving them to future generations. Saving a few pounds now to meet the build budget, stores up problems for the future when the building rapidly becomes unfit for purpose. We know what will happen, but leave Future Self to deal with it.
A plumber leaves out an 80p isolating valve and a few years later his successor has to spend three hours trying to isolate the water supply in order to change the washer on a dripping tap. Everything we do now has consequences in the future and those consequences are increasingly frightening.

Germany has announced it will abandon nuclear power and go all out for renewables…but in the meantime that is bound to lead to a significant increase in gas consumption. The UK is decommissioning its nuclear capacity, but nimbyism means every proposed wind or solar farm gets held up by planning red tape.

If you don’t want nuclear; or wind; or to pay more; and you don’t want the hassle…what do you want? You can’t leave everything to Future You and expect to keep the lights on.

David Frise is head of sustainability at the HVCA whose members are committed to delivering high quality, responsible and sustainable building services solutions. dfrise@hvca.org.uk

Read more at www.hvca.org.uk

Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfordshire_church_photos/413456228/sizes/s/in/photostream/

Have you joined us on Facebook yet?

Posted July 5th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

TheEnvironmentSite.org is growing and we are growing on all fronts.

Today I wanted to let you know that we are on Facebook as well. Why not check out the latest jobs and other interesting discussions.

This is the link to our Facebook page:


It’s not about The Environment, stupid

Posted June 27th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

As I’ve mentioned before, a significant part of my childhood was spent watching black and white silent comedies on BBC2.  Oddly enough though, I never really liked Charlie Chaplin.  This is probably because he’s alot deeper than justa slapstick merchant: the emotion and pathos is all his work is truly amazing.

Recently I came across Charlie Chaplin’s “Look up” speech from the end of The Great Dictator.  I’ve never seen the movie let alone this climax before and it really struck a chord.  Here’s one passage:

Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

(My thanks to The Clown Ministry for the transcript)

The Great Dictator, released in 1940, is a very thinly veiled condemnation of Nazism.  Yet there is little if anything in this speech which is not relevant today.  This set me thinking about comparative history.

Rewind a century ago or so and all the main European countries were engaged in military struggles with one another around the world.  Militarism, the philosophy of protecting your nation’s interests through armed conflict, was fashionable and all sides kept and maintained huge standing armies.

The idea that we’re now in an era of economic imperialism is nothing new but when you compare the old idea of a military industrial complex with today’s financial services structures, you realise we haven’t really come that far in the last 50 to 100 years.

So while we all stomp around doing our bits for environmentalism, CSR, sustainability and whatever gets you going, let’s just remember that it’s not *really* about that.  This is all about man learning to actually treat himself and his neighbours with respect and compassion, and not letting anything get in the way of that.

Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/slightlyterrific/5348053748/

The Demand for Business Development and Sales Professionals in the Waste Industry

Posted June 16th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

Our visit to Sustainability Live in May confirmed our views that an increase demand for Waste Sales and Business Development professionals exists.  Having spoken to several exhibitors at the event, including leading Waste Companies, we found the waste industry to be nicely adjusting from the recession.  In line with this, the UK government is focussing attention on the development of the waste to energy sector, specifically within anaerobic digestion; which could generate up to seven per cent of the renewable energy required in the UK by 2020.

The waste industry is keen to attract people with a Sales and Business Development background in order to sell more; with the expanding markets of EfW, Recycling and Confidential Waste – there is also an increasing opportunity to sell more; more sales staff are required to capitalise on these opportunities according to Irfan Lohiya, Waste Recruitment Specialist at Allen & York.  These roles not only exist within Europe, as turnkey projects begin to unfold, such as Europe’s largest ever PFI recycling and waste project in Greater Manchester,  but this same trend is also occurring in the Middle East.  Rapid economic and industrial growth and an expanding population have been the major forces driving up the amount of waste generated by Gulf states.  Countries in the region produced over 22.2 million tons of municipal solid waste and 4.6 million tons of industrial solid waste in 2009, reflecting the need for more efficient waste management strategies.


By Vicky Kenrick at Allen & York

Top Tips for a Green Valentine’s day

Posted February 11th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

1. Flowers:
Don’t just buy any flowers or bouquets that look nice! Go to your local florist and ask what the most eco-friendly option would be. If you don’t have a florist around you just look around for organic flowers. It should be pretty easy to find some in the big supermarkets. Actually, I think I spotted some in Waitrose last week.

2. Cards:
You surely must have heard how bad paper is for the environment. If you want to wish something to your loved one why don’t just say it? If you are a bit more creative and you want to write a poem why not sing it? If you are too shy and you want to stick with a card that is still fine. Just make sure it is made out of recycled paper or you can even create it yourself from used magazines.

3. Champagne and Chocolates:
Everyone loves champagne but the problem is that it comes with a bottle and that can’t be good. Do a bit of research before buying a bottle of champagne or wine and find out which is the one with the most eco-friendly packaging. Make sure you recycle the bottle afterwards. Chocolates shouldn’t cause you too much trouble. Just grab an organic chocolate bar from your local store. There are plenty of them and they taste just as good as regular chocolate bars, if not better.

4. Hand Made Gifts:
There are plenty of products in the shops that your partner might like but what about a little creativity coming from you? Very often during a house clearance, and especially during an office clearance, I come across things that could make the perfect gift. Just be a bit creative with your old stuff in the house and I guarantee you that the end result will be much more appreciated! After all it’s the thought that counts.

5. Going out
Go for a romantic walk in the park. If you want to go to a specific location that is a bit further, use your bike. If the place is too far for a bike ride and you need to get on a plane you can catch a green flight! There are a lot of airlines that are already considered to be eco-friendly and others that are still testing the technology.

Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/humayunnapeerzaada/542663397

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