A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

This mad, mad world - a brief foray.....

Here's a roundup of some of the more bizarre aspects of our modern environmental sensibilities:-

(a) Sunday 'Supplement' PC froth ("You couldn't make it up - could you?") -

'Natural Notes'

A reader (Ms Sky Lovelace, 27, Little Birdlip-on-Wye) writes: "I'm weally worried about all the chlorine and chemicals and things that are in the tap water we put into our bird baths. Surely it does all sorts of horrible things to our feathered friends?"

Our Green Guru (Minty Petaldown) replies: "Deep thinking, Sky. You are right-on. Horrid, nasty tap water should never be used in bird baths. I always choose a pH-balanced natural spring water bottled on location in the south of France, with just the right amount of minerals. Of course, this costs a smidgen more, but that is caring for our wildlife - and you know they're worth it. Also, remember never to buy fizzy water because of those dreadful 'greenhouse gases', like carbon dioxide. If you can't find natural spring water, then filtered water will have to do. But always think - 'Pure Water, Pure Wildlife'";

(b) Panda porn -

'Sex films help panda get pregnant' (BBC Online Asia-Pacific News, June 17): "A Chinese project to screen videos of pandas mating to captive animals seems to be bearing fruit, with news that a four-year-old panda is pregnant. Hua Mei, who was born in the US but moved to China in February, was shown the videos as preparation for a series of 'blind date'....."

Filmed in black-and-white, of course, 'Pand(a)monium' bamboozles its audiences into a pandemic of 'Pandects of Sex'. But watch out for the panda cars..... "Mr. Ailuropoda melanoleuca of 6, The Bamboo Thicket, China, you have been found guilty of the possession of ....."

[See also for more panda frolics: 'China's pandas have sex education lessons' (BBC Online Asia-Pacific News, June 27, 2002)].

More seriously, who is this all for? Humans, or the pandas? Is this really treating animals with dignity?

(c) A great waste of effort..... -

Our waste mountain is getting on top of us, as the 'Greens' love recycling but won't allow waste disposal: 'UK citizens "face waste mountain"' (BBC Online UK News, June 15):

"Britain is facing a 'looming disaster' because of a lack of facilities to deal with growing mountains of rubbish, according to a new report.

The Institution of Civil Engineers says ill-informed public protests and poor government leadership are blocking the building of waste treatment plants.

The report says more than 2,000 new plants - including recycling centres - will be needed in the next 20 years."

So let's all sing together.....

'Culpable Cullet' (On exports to South America)

"Ten green bottles
No one wants to use;
Ten green bottles
Recycled, but for what?
If ten green bottles
Are driven to the skip,
Then it's ten green bottles
Sent on a worldwide trip!"

Just think of the traffic and the emissions! Smashing idea! Fizzy water all round?

Philip, losing the will to live! Natural spring water? Caffeine mate!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Further gloom at The Gloomiad.....

Much to the chagrin of the odd Guardian correspondent, on the 6th June (below), I chronicled the declining sales of The Guardian, year-on-year (April-to-April) and for one month (April-on-March, 2004).

The latest statistics from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) are now available - and the gloom seems to be deepening. Total daily sales have fallen yet further to a mere 362,638, a decline of -4.94% year-on-year, the largest single fall for any national daily paper, quality or otherwise. Both The Times and The Independent are, by contrast, up. Moreover, the darkness appears to be gathering ever more thickly, the December 2003-to-May 2004 sales figure collapsing by a massive -7.72% on the December 2002-to-May 2003 figure - this again is the poorest performance of any national daily newspaer.

In my previous blog, I tried to analyse the causes for this decline. Clearly, the introduction of the tabloid editions of The Independent and of The Times have played a part, but I remain convinced that the increasingly right-on preachiness of so many Guardian commentators has really got up a lot of people's noses, mine included. As one long-time Guardian reader said to me only this morning, commentary has become so predictable and so boring on everything from Europe to Iraq and the environment.

There also seems to be an increasing problem in trying to separate out neutral reportage from personal comment. This is perfectly illustrated today by the placing of Polly Toynbee's somewhat tear-stained comment on the European elections on the front page which normally carries reported news (see The Guardian's June 14 Front Page here).

Philip, off to enjoy a bit of shopping therapy at the lovely Bluewater (much better than all the metro snobs will allow). Coffee and cake too.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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