Babylonian Times

Last October, Tesco’s chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, bemoaned the “woefully low” standards in UK schools. Now the retailer’s director of corporate and legal affairs has also weighed in, lambasting UK school-leavers for what she cites as problems with basic literacy and numeracy, timekeeping and “what you might call an attitude problem.” Addressing a conference in London in March 2010, Lucy Neville-Rolfe helpfully added, “They don’t seem to understand the importance of a tidy appearance and have problems with timekeeping.” “Some seem to think that the world owes them a living,” she griped. None of the audience, it seems, found it in themselves to point out where the real attitude problem might lie.

FUEL FOR CYNICISM

BP Biofuels has been voted the 2009 Biofuels Corporation of the Year by the World Refining Association at its 4th annual Biofuels Conference. More than 350 biofuels industry players, regulators and policy makers are said to have voted for BP Biofuels to be the first recipient of the award in recognition of the corporation’s efforts in supporting the development of the biofuels industry globally

CLIMATE CHANGE PISS-TAKING

The latest innovation in the global efforts to tackle climate change was a Japanese airline asking its passengers last year to go and have a piss before boarding in order reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced by its flights. All Nippon Airways (ANA) claims that if 50 percent of its passengers went to the toilet before boarding, the reduced weight of the aircraft would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4.2 tonnes a month. Even were this accurate, the reduction would be a mere greenwash dent in emissions: a return flight from Tokyo to London emits more than 6 tonnes of CO2 per passenger alone. Thinking of profit from the boardroom, ANA also lists an e-flights (e- as in ecological) programme, under the banner “Thinking of the Earth from the Sky.”

These little absurdities take their place among other schemes of profit and plunder peddled as solutions to climate change from the boardroom. The roll call so far includes carbon trading, geo-engineering, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, biofuels, carbon offsetting, and so on and so forth.

THE MACHINES DON’T STOP

An American flying hunter-killer robot assassin, deployed in Afghanistan, rebelled against its human controllers for the first time last September, forcing a manned US fighter jet to shoot the rogue machine down before it unilaterally invaded a neighbouring country. Known as ‘The Reaper’ and used by the US and British armies in Afghanistan, the weapon is a large five-ton turboprop-powered machine capable of carrying up to 14 Hellfire missiles, each of which is capable of destroying a tank or flattening a building. Meanwhile, more disciplined unmanned spy drones are being adapted by BAE Systems to be used for police monitoring of motorists, protesters, fly-tippers and other anti-social behaviour.

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