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And another thing: Politicians need to get a grip and defend people and planet

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You have to wonder the depth of corporate scandal we need to plummet to, before politicians finally get a grip and protect the people they really work for and the planet we live on. From the Medici Bank in 1494 to Banco Espirito Santo in 2014, corporate scandals, corruption, speculation and collapse have always been with us. Banking and finance is a persistent offender. In a new series of Friday soapboxes, Blue & Green writes.

The UK has been embarrassed by the South Sea Company, Overend Gurney & Co, Polly Peck, BCCI, Barings, Equitable Life, MG Rover, Northern Rock and RBS collapses. BAE systems, BP, Compass Group, HSBC, Shell, Standard Chartered and Tesco have all been involved in their own little scandals. Payment Protection miss-selling, Libor rate-fixing, money laundering and insider-trading have blighted our reputation as jolly good chaps.

Across the pond AIG, Arthur Anderson, Bear Stearns, Enron, Lehman Brothers and Worldcom have all provided their own bursts of economic and corporate excitement. Not forgetting Standard Oil’s monopolistic activities at the other end of the 20th century. Even our friends in Ireland gave us Allied Irish Bank, ABN-AMRO from the Dutch and the saintly Norwegians had their own Nordbanken – another trio of bankers if you hadn’t guessed.

Even our most prestigious educational establishments and rating agencies colluded with big finance before the 2008 crash to turn sub-prime junk into triple-A rated gold. Did they have a philosopher’s stone?

Big banks, big oil, big pharma, big retail, big defence and big advertising, aided and abetted by the subtle propaganda of big media, have done everything they can to game the economic system in favour of a small group, and against the people. All the time, they are consuming corporate welfare, evading tax, funding dishonest think tanks, while nationalising market failure and privatising any profit.

Governments and regulators across the developed world seem wilfully blind and utterly impotent in the face of corporate skulduggery and degradations. Our professional, well-fed politicians create sophisticated legislation, ever more complex regulations with new regulators and task forces, but do nothing to halt the tsunami of mismanagement, corruption and failure, most recently represented by Volkswagen and dieselgate. With VW it seems that no action was taking by any government anywhere even after it was known that there was a systemic problem.

Markets are supposed to be a free and creatively-destructive servant of prosperity. Innovation equals growth. Sustainable innovation equals sustainable growth. Corporate-sponsored politicians, vested-interest business leaders and the paid-for, captive media are determined to prevent innovation that threatens their narrow interests, and will scream foul should any constraint on the market even be suggested. Meanwhile a few organisations have created a cartel, of power and wealth, which acts against the free working of the very market they claim to be defenders of.

As Mark Carney pointed out on Tuesday at Lloyd’s of London, current and future threats to our way of life are no longer just economic but ecological and even more catastrophic.

Lord Drayson (former UK Government minister): diesel cars are “killing people.”

When will politicians get a grip and defend people and planet? Set climate change aside for a moment. Pollution kills people – globally, seven million every year. Volkswagen didn’t care about lying about its emissions, thus it did not care about causing more deaths than were already tragically seen as a price worth paying to drive cars. VW has lost its social ‘license to operate’, should be dismembered and constituent brands given to companies that commit to honouring and improving on current emission regulations. Why not gift it to Elon Musk of Tesla fame? What could he do with those facilities, those engineers and designers, its distribution network and that brand muscle?

What does Blue and Green think about a free market? We think it would be a very good idea. But if politicians can’t give us a free market that works for everyone, we’d rather try something else.

Image: Speakers’ Corner via Flickr by www.CGPGrey.com

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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