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The need for a green stimulus package

banknotesedited8As governments struggle to combat the effects of the economic crisis around the world, there have been calls for stimulus packages to combine tackling the worsening global economy with the ever urgent need to combat climate change. Rather than seeing the recession as a hindrance or obstacle to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it can be viewed as an opportunity. A green stimulus package would be a step towards a sustainable future. A report released by Sir Nicholas Stern and colleagues argues that a green stimulus package could:

provide an effective boost to the economy, increasing labour demand in a timely fashion, while at the same time building the foundations for sound, sustainable and strong growth in the future” — An outline of the case for a ‘green’ stimulus

It appears advice of this nature is being taken to heart by governments around world. The stimulus packages of the United States, Australia, and England have all included spending of various degrees on green projects, including energy efficiency measures that address the opportunity that retrofitting and improvement of housing stock and government buildings presents. Barack Obama has stressed the need to create thousands of  “green collar jobs” to offset the rising number of unemployed across America. These packages recognize that insulation (or weatherization as it is called in the US) and improvement of buildings provides a unique opportunity for investment that has a huge long term benefit.

Ralph Chapman at Victoria University has shown that the benefits (in terms of lower energy consumption, reduced emissions, better health of occupants etc) of insulating houses outweighed the cost by a factor of two to one. It is clear why insulation should be an integral part of any stimulus package.

In the face of such seeming consensus that improvement of housing is a good idea, why does the stimulus package prepared by the New Zealand government only contain NZ$124.5 million of spending on housing? Also, why was one of the first items on the new government’s agenda scrapping the planned NZ$1 billion -revenue neutral- household insulation fund? A decision that is now proving to be an embarrassment in the face of international initiatives and a lost opportunity to tackle climate change.  Lets hope the NZ government recognises spending lots of money on new roads is not the most worthwhile investment and that insulating houses and energy efficiency measures will ultimately provide a greater long term benefit.

Image credit: The.Comedian on flickr.

Edited September 2014

New Year’s Resolutions

music-taste-good
A graphical representation of the music I listen to

I know I’m a little slow posting this up, more than a month has passed since new years (this year is going by outrageously fast) , but these indistinct thoughts have been floating around in my head for quite some time. My new year’s  resolution this year: I’m going to ignore what other people think of my taste in music. I’m still going to listen to peoples suggestions as to what I might like, but I’m not going to take head of unconstructive criticism of my taste.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much other peoples opinions have shaped what I listen to. How I feel the instinctive need for my taste to be “different”, to not listen to pop and only listen to bands that come from off the beaten track. Every so often I guiltily indulge in popular music, and can’t help but feel a little dirty afterward. I cringe when I scroll through my music library on the computer and see a band I love classified as “pop”. So from now on I’m going to try and listen to whatever music sounds good to me, and try not to take heed of preconceptions I have about what is cool. I’m also going to go out of my way not to judge other people for listening to music that they like either.

I tried to think why I feel such a need for my taste to be different, and I think it is because I want to be leader rather than a follower, to feel like I was the person who decided that a band was worth listening to.  I want to be the person who finds the diamond in the rough and not be guided by the ever changing  fashion of the moment.

Just a little side note: I found this really cool website which makes graphical representations of the music you listen to (using data from last.fm). Also this mainstream-o-meter (which wasn’t working when I tried) which measures how mainstream your taste in music is – which of course I won’t be taking any notice of this year ^_^.

Technology

When television became accessible to normal families my grandparents would have been in middle age, and my parents would have been about ten. I’ve never know anything else. In the space of just a few years technology has rapidly saturated our lives, but the ability of different age groups to use it is markedly different.

One thing I have been thinking about recently is whether I will become like my parents when using new technology in the future.  My parents (in their late 50s) use computers and cell phones etc pretty well, but they don’t have the same instinctive knowledge of how to do things. They often need to consult manuals to operate things whereas I don’t, and when they get stuck I often know what to do. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – it’s probably this same situation in families across the developed world, which isn’t to say there aren’t any exceptions. I guess it’s the difference between growing up with television, computers, and cell phones and having to adopt them later in life. For the young people of today the operation of anything electronic comes naturally because it’s all we’ve ever known.

But what I’ve been thinking about is – will I be the same? Or will the skills that I have aquired in my early years help me to grapple with the new things that the future has to offer? I’m just hoping that I can remain tech-savie for the rest of my life. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

Watchmen

I have to admit, I am very excited about the Watchmen movie, scheduled for release some time in 2009. The graphic novel is amazing, if not slightly strange (the ending wtf?),  and the movie looks like it is really going to live up to my exceedingly high expectations. Not that I’m getting swept away in a flood of hype! Watchmen is directed by the “visionary” (I love how they talk them selves up haha) director of 300 –  Zack Snyder, and it looks like they’re using some pretty cool film techniques to make the movie feel like a comic. Here’s my favorite trailer, the combination of awesome Smashing Pumpkins music and tantalizing footage makes it delectable viewing:

Unfortunately it appears the song isn’t actually going to appear in the final movie -_- The guy over at phojus.me seems to have a lot of good posts on the movie and also there is a treasure trove of behind the scenes videos and teasers over at the Watchmen blog as well, which I highly recommend checking out if you are at all interested. I can’t wait ^_^

Jake And Amir

If you haven’t already seen Jake And Amir you should check them out. It’s never ending laughs about BFFs (as Amir likes to say) in the College Humour offices. Jake is the serious guy, and Amir is completely out of touch with the world and does nothing but speak in a really high voice and eat chicken nuggets from McDonalds. You can read more about them on Wikipedia if you are interested, and you can check out the “best” videos here. These are my favorite episodes I think :

“What! You don’t know how hungry I am, it’s a fucking emergency!” haha

Temporary spurt of blogging

I’m curious. How many of you people have started a blog of your own, whether it be about cooking, drawing, flash games whatever, only to give up and lose interest when no-one reads it? I know I certainly have 😉

I actually just want to see what how easy this poll maker thingie is ^_^ But hey! Hopefully someone submits an answer but me! Haha