Having it up to here – there's an expression the Tank uses a lot. Not least when we accidentally took a child's sleeping bag to a well-known music festival and almost lost our shoulders to frostbite.
But we've got nothing on Chinese environmental protestor Zhou Haijue, who painstakingly restored marginal land on the outskirts of his village by planting more than 4,000 trees.
The 62 year old from from Shiliu, in Guangdong province, refused builders permission to develop the land, and probably thought that was that. But he hadn't reckoned on said developers clearly being fans of The Simpsons and taking matters further in not the right way, nor even the wrong way, but the Max Power way.
"Overnight every single tree was cut down and my 30 years of planting and caring were ruined," said a heartbroken Zhou.
But, quicker than a team of writers could come up with Homer falling off a cliff again (and certainly quicker than anyone who's been writing the show in the last 10 years), Zhou settled on the highly sensible move of burying himself up to the neck in the woodland and declaring he wouldn't leave until the land was recognised as his.
Fortunately, after wallowing in his own ... let's say, fertiliser ... everything suddenly came up roses for Zhou.
"Officials in the government said they recognised my claim so I didn't have to be there for weeks," he said, removing a sprouting fern from his shoes, before thundering: "But I am ready to go back if I need to!"
While we salute Zhou's righteous intransigence, the Tank can't help wondering if he wouldn't have been better served by adopting the principle that once allowed the British Empire to cover a third of the world – planting a flag and telling everyone else to get lost.
The Tank is no stranger to hyperbole. In fact, we're probably the greatest exponent for exaggeration ever to have walked the planet since the author of The NeverEnding Story. Now there's a gip, kids.
But even we were taken aback by the scale of some companies' environmental claims.
Take, for example, Italian utility Enel, which in 2009 happily reported it had emitted 122 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. As Ty Lee of WHEB Asset Management points out in an excellent blog, this is approximately four times the entire planet's production of the greenhouse gas.
But Enel is by no means alone. Swiss firm ABB managed to overstate its SOx emissions by a factor of 1,000 for seven years in a row – during which time, incidentally, it won numerous reporting awards – while in 2006 Ford managed the neat trick of simultaneously halving and doubling its water consumption.
Lee points out that sustainability reporting was still in its infancy when these glaring errors were made and the more worrying aspect is that years went by without anyone spotting them.
Clearly the lesson here is to scrutinise environmental data as closely as we do, say, financial reports. It'd be terrible if we took our eye off the ball and the whole economy came crashing down around our ears!
"What will they think of next?" dull people with no imagination say when they see a camera that connects to the web, say, or a spoon with prongs. They'll probably follow that up with some reference to Arthur C. Clarke and how advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, before slapping on the latest James Morrison record, uncorking a 2010 Merlot, and tucking into Sainsbury's finest medium cheddar.
Should you find yourself faced with one of these people - at a Wetherspoon's curry night, perhaps - here are three and a bit words that'll blow their tiny little minds: robotic, pollution-eating fish.
Once you've wiped their exploded frontal lobes off your trousers, you might even want to explain to the rest of the pub, who by now are staring, rapt, while their lamb bhunas go cold.
The Spanish port of Gijon, you continue, is trialling the £20,000 yellow fish, which despite looking more at home in a bathtub actually track down spills and feed information back to shore.
To draw them in further, you could even add the 1.5 metre long prototypes have been equipped with cutting edge artiFISHal intelligence - acknowledging the pun with a wry smile - that means they can map where they need to go, avoid obstacles, and even talk to the rest of the shoal.
"The idea is that we want to have real-time monitoring of pollution, so that if someone is dumping chemicals or something is leaking, we can get to it straight away, find out what is causing the problem and put a stop to it," Luke Speller, a senior scientist at the research division of developers BMT Group, told the BBC, before presumably pulling a shiny 10 pence piece from behind the interviewer's ear.
Currently the fish are powered by electricity and need to be charged every eight hours. But Speller is confident that once the kinks are worked out, nothing can stand in the way of an army of cyber-fish bent on world domination. Sorry, we mean the pollution-busting heroes.
"In the future, what I'd also like to see is not just a single task robot, but robots that can multitask," Speller added, while pulling a bouquet from his sleeve. "Robots that can do search and rescue, monitoring for underwater divers, at the same time as tracking pollution."
Which of course the Tank is all for - as long as it doesn't put those lovely Baywatch ladies out of a job.
10 May 2012
Now we all know exotic animals like giraffes and lemurs are massive fans of wind turbines - and here are the photos to prove it.
But what about the common or garden horse? The literature is frustratingly scant on details. Nowhere in Black Beauty is the old boy startled by a sudden swoosh of a blade as the wind picks up, while films National Velvet and Seabiscuit are equally unilluminating on the topic, instead concentrating on all or nothing races against terrible odds. Like that's a new angle.
Fortunately, people have thought about this crucial issue, because it turns out wind farms are great places to go for a gallop if you're into that kind of thing. And own a horse; or can at least get a loan of one from a friendly newspaper editor.
Whitelee wind farm, Europe's largest, apparently offers 90 kilometres of tracks for riding, cycling, or walking for anyone happy to put up with Scotland's intermittent bouts of driving rain and clouds of voracious midgies.
"Wind farm projects like Whitelee have opened up hundreds of kilometres of tracks for equestrians that may never have been accessible before the projects were constructed," Simon Christian, UK MD of ScottishPower Renewables, murmured into the ear of a frightened young colt, causing housewives across the country to glance at their husbands and wonder why they'd settled for this when they could have found a real man - one who knew the land, with bronzed skin of the softest leather, and arms like solid English oak.
With a piercing glance of his blue eyes, Christian removed the straw from his mouth and added: "We have seen first-hand that with appropriate training and familiarisation some horses and riders can safely use wind farm tracks for hacking and we welcome the British Horse Society's efforts to highlight the great resources that renewable energy projects have made available to riders."
ScottishPower has even released a little video about familiarising your horse with the turbines, and to the Tank's astonishment the process doesn't involve charging at them in any form. Now, that gives us an idea for a novel...
So there the Tank was, watching Fox's baseball coverage, surrounded by peanuts and foot-long hot dogs, while quietly humming "take me out to the ball game".
Dropping our Statistics for Dummies manual that provides the only means of keeping up with the bewildering array of figures flickering across the screen, we lurched for the record button in order to capture this historic moment, only to find the hard drive clogged with back episodes of Beverly Hills 90210. No, we don't care what you say – it's better than ever.
Fortunately, however, the Daily Mail was alive to the situation and captured the moment for posterity, when commentator Tim McCarver wondered aloud whether climate change was causing more home runs.
"It has not been proven, but I think it ultimately will be proven, that the air is thinner now. There have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that's one reason why balls are carrying much better now than I remember," he mused, pausing only to pump out a few bars of Baby Elephant Walk on a nearby Hammond organ.
"You know, the ball that Ramirez hit out and the ball Freese hit out – I didn't think either was going to be a home run, yet they made it."
Now, not only is this an employee of the Fox network acknowledging climate change on national TV, but according to one scientist McCarver's theory may not be the curveball it seems.
Robert Adair, a retired physics professor from Yale University and author of The Physics of Baseball, calculated a two-degree temperature rise would add one foot to a 400-foot home run, increasing the odds of clearing the fence by just under two per cent.
However, spoilsport Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann said increased amounts of emissions in the atmosphere would actually slow the rate of home runs, which is probably the argument most likely to convince Republicans to do something about greenhouse gases. Forget the hockey stick graph, this is the curve-ball theory.
All of which has rather interesting implications for the game closest to the Tank's heart – the game that baseball so badly apes, namely cricket. Is it any wonder so many sixes are clearing the ropes in the IPL's polluted arenas, for example? What if T20's runaway popularity prompts county grounds to become prime spots for heavy industry?
In the interests of cricket fans everywhere, the Tank, for one, will thank McCarver to keep his climatic theories to himself.
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