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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

You couldn't make this stuff up 

Until about 10 minutes ago I had apparently lost the will to blog. But thankfully the venerable New Zealand Herald has reinvigorated me. When pausing to refill my coffee cup in the lunch room I noticed the following two lift out sections in today's edition:

Carbonwise (Byline - Part 3 of 5: Transport)
Super Wheels (Byline - Speeding Up)

I think Homer Simpson said it best when he once asked: "Do I know what irony means?"

The first of these lift outs (over which I have spilled my coffee in an accidental but strangely satisfying manner) is in large part an advertorial, but it does at least include mention of such things as a supposedly forthcoming 660cc i-Car from Mitsubishi. The second is in even larger part an advertorial, promoting such dubious pleasures as a supercharger kit for your Holden V8, so you too can join the "Fast and the Furious" (actual headline - what happened to the first "the"?)

Do two sections of completely opposed intent constitute balance? I am reminded on an ongoing gripe of George Monbiot. This is what he had to say back in October:
The BBC drops Planet Relief for fear of breaching its impartiality guidelines: heaven forbid that it should come out against mass death. But it broadcasts a programme - Top Gear - that puts a match to its guidelines every week, and now looks about as pertinent as the Black and White Minstrel Show. The schedules are crammed with shows urging us to travel further, drive faster, build bigger, buy more, yet none of them are deemed to offend the rules, which really means that they don’t offend the interests of business or the pampered sensibilities of the Aga class. The media, driven by fear and advertising, is hopelessly biased towards the consumer economy and against the biosphere.
More recently, on the topic of speed cameras, he took another (deserved) swipe:
Nowhere is more nonsense spoken about this issue than on the BBC. Its Top Gear series has become a sort of looking-glass Crimewatch, in which the presenters enlist the public to help criminals foil the police. There are tips on how to avoid prosecution and endless suggestions that speed cameras are useless or counter-productive. The tone was set in 2002, when the team demonstrated that you could beat the cameras by driving past them at 170mph(5).
As an aside, should I feel bad about agreeing with Monbiot, but still really enjoying Top Gear? Nah. Will I watch Top Gear on Prime tonight? Probably. If I do, will I find it to a great laugh? Ahh, yes.

Anyway, back to the august Herald, about which I've taken a few swipes lately, along with many of my disposition. A quick browse of Carbonwise revealed at least one howler. On page 12, under "Trends to Watch" it reports that "Oil is here to stay" and that we should "Forget peak oil - the world is not about to run out of the stuff." Which displays a spectacular absence of understanding of what peak oil is about. Running out of "the stuff" is called ... well, "running out of the stuff", or perhaps something like "resource exhaustion". Peak Oil is the point at which oil extraction reaches its maximum rate, after which supply falls, and it becomes progressively more difficult and more expensive to extract oil from the ground.

Anyway, I'm just back from Australia. Tropical North Queensland to be precise. The night before my second boat trip out to the Reef I saw the following headline on the evening news: "Great Barrier Reef may be gone in 10 years: report." In one sense it affirmed my intention to spend a small fortune visiting it the next day. On the other, I couldn't help wonder about another irony: will the carbon emissions associated with my return flight (Auckland-Cairns), my ground transport (including 4 days behind the wheel of a rented Hyundai Getz with spectacularly bad wheel alignment), and my boat trips, contribute to the Reef's demise?

It wasn't helped the next day when a crew member on board the boat proudly announced we would be burning 1000 litres of diesel to get out to the Reef and back to Port Douglas again.

Fuck irony, I say. Port Douglas is a great town though, and reef snorkelling well worth it. I found Nemo, and a large number of his relatives, for example.

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