Thursday, June 28, 2007

One week later

One week ago I was at the local authority conference mentioned in the previous post. Friday I noticed the first symptoms of a stomach upset I rapidly associated with the preceding day’s buffet, and it has taken a week to really shake off the effects.

I am told appropriate survival techniques include ‘don’t touch meat/ham sandwiches’ and ‘prefer fruit’ which should be washed first. Hot food (provided it hasn’t been cooling for ages) is also a better bet. I had an opportunity at apply these techniques at a BT internal event at the Grange Holborn hotel on Tuesday which included a finger buffet. Not a sandwich made it anywhere near my plate!

The last time I was in the Grange Holborn was back in 2003, the dog days of Cable & Wireless Global. I was still employed in the North American organisation but about to be made redundant as the organisation slowly toppled into bankruptcy. While Clare remained to sell our house in Virginia, I was in London ostensibly to help the product management organisation in those final days, but I think also as a favour, to help me secure further employment over here.

At the time, I was still studying the T’ai Chi form (the long sequence of rather slow martial art moves) and my hotel room was too small. I used to practice in the large ballroom in the basement first thing in the morning. As I was moving through the sequence, sometimes hotel staff would pass by. It was, as Iain Banks would say, an ‘outside context problem’. They had no idea what I was doing, why I was doing it or even who I was. The simplest thing was to mentally delete me from the scene and ignore me completely, which is what they did. I found it rather embarrassing.


My contract with BT officially expires tomorrow. I’ve been told unofficially that it will be renewed as part of a new work-stream. It’s all been signed off, apparently, but of course, it’s not real until my agency confirms they’ve received the contract. As of this moment, I’m still waiting. One consequence of the BT work continuing is that my plan to write a book on ‘The Mobile Internet’ will be put on hold - you can read the proposal here (PDF).


Just a final observation on global climate change. I don’t subscribe to the Jeremy Clarkson comic view that Global Warming is the best thing which ever happened to England and we should welcome it! Any change in mean temperature, warmer or colder, inevitably creates transition effects (new crop opportunities and failures; new tourism opportunities and flood/drought damage) with the global costs typically outweighing the global benefits, at least in the short to medium term. This is because our current arrangements are, of course, optimised around the current climate. I do agree, however, that the UK and Canada are likely to disproportionately see the benefits.

Historical records show that climate is not a constant but a variable, and it’s pointless to pretend that the status quo of today is sustainable. Industrial greenhouse gas production is surely having some effect, although it’s debatable the extent to which it is the sole, or even main driver of the changes we’re currently seeing.

While in general it may not be a good idea to gratuitously heat the planet, the alternatives cost. Stopping development costs; buying pollution-abatement equipment costs; closing polluting capital plant costs. It can be more cost-effective to alleviate some of the consequences of transitioning to a warmer world rather then spending on too-drastic alleviation of greenhouse gas production which probably won’t even address all of the underlying drivers. Always remember, we’re currently in a non-stable interglacial period!

One of the nice things about the quasi-religious ecology movement is that their material (TV programmes particularly) are routinely and conspicuously sign-posted with the words ‘save’ and ‘planet’. Since we all know the planet has no need to be saved for at least the next five to eight billion years, we can easily avoid such tendentious material without a qualm.