Monday, August 06, 2007

The Bigger Picture

I’ve read several newspaper articles recently about people not thinking
about the bigger picture. There was one in the Technology Guardian last
week about people downloading the latest Harry Potter book off the
internet, thinking that they were saving some money in the process
possibly. The author, Charles Arthur made the point that in addition to
the cost of the paper, there would be additional costs in buying your
computer (or the depreciation on it possibly?), maintaining it, buying
protection against viruses, etc., and the cost of the printing ink.
This is the bigger picture of the actual costs involved. Publishers are
offloading their printing costs onto the gullible public.

Today, Mrs C and I got chatting about an article she’d read about
comparative carbon footprints of using paper bags versus poly bags for
putting your fruit and veg in. The author of this article said that you
should also take into account the higher storage costs of the paper bags,
when working out the carbon footprints... paper bags take up more room
than plastic ones -- well, that's an amazing fact, don't you think?

I get the impression that there’s a lot of rubbish written in the press
about carbon footprints (CF). I recall an article in The Guardian where
they asked various agencies to work out the CF value of transporting
something from A to B by the same plane. Their answers varied a lot,
possibly as they’d used differing assessments of things like wind
resistance & weight of the aircraft – how full it was, etc.. Did they
also take into account other factors such as maintenance and repairs of
the aircraft, etc.? There are so many variables, as to make me feel
sceptical about the comparative CF values of this and that. I reckon
people are jumping on the CF bandwagon to make some money out of the
business .. the words Emperor’s and clothes spring to my mind.

This also reminds me of some neighbours of ours, a retired couple,
who are both very careful about saving a few pennies -- buying their
milk from Lidl instead of the Co-op shop a bit higher up Mansfield
Road (and being disgusted at how much more the Co-op charges for
their milk and other items). Contrast that with the bigger picture
of their owning and using 3 cars between them – two of them are
classic cars, a Rolls Royce and a Mercedes, both in pristine
condition.

I too am fairly careful about how I spend my money. Well, I’ve got
my reputation as being a tight-arsed bastard to live up to. But then
I sometimes think, well I’ve only got the one life to live (I’ll be
a long time dead), so why not enjoy myself a bit more, and treat
myself a bit more.

“One life to live, and a long time dead” – that’s the bigger picture.

4 Comments:

Anonymous edt said...

I agree about the biased carbon footprint & food miles reporting Justin. There have been attacks made on NZ dairy/meat imports to the UK where the comparisons aren't particularly rational.Exported foodstuffs produced here outdoors as opposed to your animals wintered indoors and the energy that entails and exported in the thousands of tons via container ship have quite a low carbon footprint vers the produce say grown in Spain or Portugal, flown or ferried, trucked, wharehoused, trucked again to supermarkets and carted home in the family car in the UK.

2:54 AM  
Anonymous edt said...

Here's the story I couldn't find initially that speaks more rationally to the subject than some of the UK journalistic rhetoric.

3:02 AM  
Blogger angel said...

very nice post dude... makes me think of the millions of south africans who whine about crime and then ignore road laws and don't bat an eyelid at buying pirated DVDs!
bigger picture indeed... they should teach a class in that in schools i think!

10:36 AM  
Blogger justin said...

Edt:Thanks for your comments and the very interesting article on the NZ website. I'm all in favour of producing food at minimal energy cost, and promoting the use of renewable energy resources.
Angel: Yes, there are a lot of people here who bleat on about the same, and then fiddle their tax returns, etc.. ... double standards.

9:42 PM  

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