17 May 2013
Clearly, one of the coolest aspects of TV's Mad Men is the way the razor-sharp suited adverting execs can saunter into their offices and pour a cocktail from their own well-stocked drinks cabinet.
So the fuss HR kicked up when The Tank tried to shake up highballs at our desk came as quite as a surprise. "But it's for team morale!" we cried, before reminding the burly security staff escorting us from the premises that they were our "beshst mate" and that, while we don't say it much, we "honestly love you man". Well, that was until they snatched the vermouth we'd stashed by the tea caddy.
Fortunately, the guys at outdoor advertising company Clear Channel International are at bit more sophisticated at mixing work and drinking: they've built a billboard that's generated 15,000 litres of water from humidity in the air since it was installed at a Peruvian village six months ago.
The $32,600 billboard at Bujama was developed with academics and other media agencies. It uses a panel that traps and extracts water vapour from the air using a condenser, storing the water in tanks before it is filtered and flows down a pipe to a tap at the bottom of the structure. It provides an average of 96 litres of drinking water each day to Bujama residents, many of whom do not have access to a clean water supply, and also helps tackle the issue of plastic waste from bottled water.
"This campaign showcases the true potential of outdoor advertising," said Aris de Juan, regional president of Clear Channel Latin America, who earlier that day had gone to work on an egg, bought a Mars bar to help him work, rest and play, and taught a gorilla to play the drums.
"Through exceptional creativity and use of technology, Clear Channel Peru and its partners have achieved an extraordinary social outcome," he added to a snap of burgundy braces.
Yet despite this success story, The Tank's suggestion to set up a similar device at a nearby distillery to capture whisky fumes was strangely rejected. Still, The Man can't stand in the way of progress –or drinking in the afternoon – forever.
07 May 2013
Now we've all come up with lame excuses not to do things: "I'm too tired to go to the gym"; "I'm letting the lawn turn into a wildflower meadow"; or: "Of course I can't shave today, the bigfoot talent show is just months away."
This lackadaisical attitude also goes some way to explaining why the Tank is coveting a shirt that doesn't need washing or ironing for 100 days – although our own PB is at least twice that.
But perhaps the weirdest excuse to postpone climate action comes in the June issue of the Political Research Quarterly journal. It seems that, in the US, belief in a Second Coming of Christ, and hence the end of the world, is a good enough reason not to tackle soaring greenhouse gas emissions, runaway climate change and Donald Trump.
A study by David C Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H Bearce of the University of Colorado found belief in the Second Coming of Jesus reduced the probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 per cent. More astonishingly, The Raw Story website reports that when the effects of party affiliation, political ideology and media distrust were removed from the analysis, the belief in the Second Coming increased this effect by almost 20 per cent.
"The fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 per cent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them," Barker and Bearce wrote in their study.
"It stands to reason that most non-believers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised," they add, playing pretty fast and loose with the word "rationally".
The Tank isn't at all sure how to deal with people who actually welcome a climate apocalypse, given that sadly we all have to share said catastrophe.
We could mention Pope Francis, who has advocated protecting the environment and reducing energy use, and took his name after animal-loving St Francis of Assisi. We could even point out the heart-breaking futility of spending hours on hold to our broadband provider as proof there can be no higher being.
But then again, what with global financial unrest, a reported increase in demand for exorcists and UKIP rising in the polls, perhaps these truly are the end days.
A month has passed since Red Nose Day and like many of you, the Tank is still feeling bruised by the raw power of David Brent's anthemic "Equality Street". Shaken, rattled and rolled. How One Direction landed the official charity single gig over that clarion call for multiculturalism is frankly beyond us.
So all credit to Sainsbury's, which has clearly done a better job than the Tank of getting on with things and ploughed ahead with the business of making Red Nose Day that little bit greener.
The supermarket has recycled almost 1.5 million of the red noses returned to its stores into a carpet underlays for homes and, er, cruise ships, marking a significant improvement on the one million noses recycled last year.
The Tank had thought rubber chickens, clown shoes, or even a toupée for Jessie J would have been a more appropriate end product for the recycled noses, but our suggestions were shouted down and carpet underlay got the gig.
"The noses will be processed in our state of the art factory where they will be chipped, bonded and rejuvenated to attain the quality necessary for our carpet underlay," parped Ann Shaw, sales director at recycling company Ball & Young, presumably speaking from a bath of fund-raising baked beans.
"The enthusiasm from customers and employees has been tremendous and we're pleased to continue our work with Comic Relief and Sainsbury's."
Apparently, it takes just a day to turn the PU Foam Red Noses into underlay in which the red flecks can still easily be spotted. And to the Tank's mind, this fact alone makes it funnier material than anything Lenny Henry's come up with in the last five years. Boom boom!
01 Apr 2013
Now we all know there's a new Pope in town and that the world's estimated 1.2 billion Catholics have but one question on their lips – is Pope Francis going to keep his predecessor's fleet of electric cars?
Well, like for those many other thorny religious questions, frankly the Tank doesn't have an answer, other than to say that that would be an ecumenical matter.
But what we can tell you is Pope Francis is not only fond of taking the bus, as was widely reported, but will also soon take charge of the first ever pedal-powered Popemobile.
Of course this is not one of those tuk-tuks most famous for bothering tourists in London's West End. No, this is a £175,000 armour-plated, pedal-powered limousine, albeit one that boasts a range of green features.
Solar panels on the roof power the air conditioning and charge a 1.5kW electric motor, while low-voltage spotlights in the floor and roof compartment illuminate Pope Francis for his adoring public.
The Popemobile has an operating speed of around 6mph – similar to the pontiff's current Mercedes – but according to the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), which was originally commissioned to build the vehicle by Pope Benedict, it is capable of whisking His Holiness away from any trouble at up to 40mph.
Should the designs be approved today by the Pope's private secretary, Comte Lapin du Pâques, the new Popemobile should be delivered this summer.
"Cycling is the great leveller – a means of transport as serene as it is practical and an entirely appropriate way for a Pope to travel," genuflected designer Yannick Read.
"The green credentials of the vehicle dovetail perfectly with Pope Francis' image as the people's pontiff."
And we have to applaud this most low-carbon of transport methods, even if we are struggling to shake images of the Flintstones from our minds.
So today is the day of reckoning. No, it's not the day when we find out if Justin Bieber really will go into rehab, or if a flying saucer crashed into Roswell after all.
No, today is the day we find out if Europe's Environment Commissioner will write and perform his own song in front of 1,000 people to celebrate WWF's Earth Hour.
The sparky Slovenian commissioner, Janez Potocnik, turned down the offer to dye his hair green in support of the 'I will if you will' energy-saving initiative, and instead chose to flex his creative and vocal muscles.
There's only one way to find out if Potocnik can carry a tune. If 1,000 people promise to stop using their cars for a week, he'll write them a ditty and perform it at a charity gig in Brussels.
But time is running out. The last day for votes is today, and, at the time of writing, he'd only accrued 360 pledges, even with the Tank's humble support. But we don't even have a car, so we're going to head next door to find someone else's wheels to let the tyres down on (this is a joke – it wasn't us guv'nor).
So now the question remains: what will the commissioner do if he fails to hit 1,000 signatures? One option is to give up his own car for a week – or he could always provide us with a rendition of the Australian Federal Minister's charming carbon tax song. Who knows, it might even help prop up the bloc's ailing carbon markets.
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The Sceptic Tank blog provides a unique take on all the latest weird, wonderful, and downright infuriating green stories from around the world