Peeled potatoes

In our world of doing it all easy, the latest labour saving option in the kitchen is pre-peeled potatoes.

What an outstanding idea. No need to whip out the peeler and waste time or get mud on your fingers. No more peels to get rid of and litres of water are saved from not having to clean off the grubby bits.

What, you are kidding!

How lazy can we get? It takes no effort at all to peel a potato or two. This has to be consumerism gone mad. ABC radio host Richard Glover thought so and created a funny skit to point out the craziness.

Only there are a couple of things.

First thing. An inevitable consequence of a market mechanism is that new products will emerge. Whatever people will buy, whether they really need it or not, the market will provide. The market will also provide things that they hope people will buy, often well before customers recognize that they might have a need for it. In the end, if a product works for even a few of us then it may be worth manufacturing. Witness, ‘peeled spuds in nitrogen’.

Second thing. There is always an opportunity for more efficiency in they system. If the supplier of the potatoes also recycled the peels into compost, this would be useful second product from the potatoes. Very few of the customers would do this and even if they did there would be no scale benefit.

We are at the stage where every nutrient and kilo of organic material that goes back into our agricultural soils is worth the effort given that fossil fuel based fertilizers are rapidly becoming another of our limited resources.

Our system of resource use is so bloated that there are efficiencies that will help our sustainability just about everywhere. All we have to do is look. One of these efficiencies, conversion of organic waste into fertilizer, will become commonplace. As will novel ways of doing it.

The idea that the recycling happens before the product reaches the kitchen might just be one of the better ones.

Investment in energy research

In the US Federal research funding into energy is $3 billion. This figure includes investment into oil, coal and gas as well as solar and other alternative energies.

Then there is a further $5 billion invested by the private sector for a total of $8 billion in an industry worth $1 trillion a year; making investment in R&D only 0.8% of revenues.

Apparently $8 billion pays for about 9 days of military involvement in Iraq – pretty scary and perhaps something they might look at when considering reducing budget deficit, but I digress.

The point here is that 0.8% is woeful. Any company that spent less than 1% of revenue on R&D would not last long. Given that energy is so critical to economic performance and given that we have reached peak oil and will eventually run out of coal and gas too, 0.8% seems irresponsible.

And then there is a huge global movement that believes we must tackle climate change by reducing emissions from greenhouse gases.

What should the investment be? In successful economies upwards of 3% of GDP is allocated to R&D, which is roughly $430 billion. This amount must cover many sectors but energy security should be worth at least 5% of the available budget or an order of magnitude more than the current allocation.

We are kidding ourselves if we think that energy security can be achieved when we invest peanuts.


Green has moved on – it’s no longer about the environment

A flowerFed up and frustrated Green has ended her long-term relationship with environment  and moved on.

We have all seen how Green used to jump out of bed and dance along on the promise of great things. There was a spring in her step and a focus on what needed to be done to better her man.

Green could look at Environment with that sense of knowing born of a lover’s pride.

But for some time now it seems that the buzz had gone. The relationship had clearly lost its spark and begun to disintegrate. The rumour is that it is all because Environment has let himself go. He has been binging to excess, giving in to his mining and agricultural mates, and failing miserably to be romantic.

Insiders say the whole relationship has become quite spiteful.

No longer able to tolerate the angry arguments over resource use and pollution, beaten down by endless rhetoric and false promises, tired of the need to put everything on the line, it’s ended. Yesterday, Green walked out.

Not one to linger, Green hit the clubs and was seen with her Mercedes owning nemesis we know as Economics. That slick Rick famed for drive, determination and dirt. Whilst there are numerous paparazzi photos that suggests they were more than chummy in wee hours, it seems that Green’s new beau is actually the trend setting global bachelor Climate.

This reporter has tried to get an interview with the happy couple without success, but sources close to Climate claim that it was his new-found warmth that has made him more attractive. More likely it is his inevitable breakup with live-in partner Change that tipped things in his favour. Whatever the reason, Green is smiling again and we wish her well.

Environment did not take our calls.