back to article Prince Charles, Stephen Fry and IBM to save the planet

IBM UK yesterday proudly unveiled plans to host an invitation-only "Summit" on environmental sustainability later this year for "business and industry thought leaders". The plan is a cooperative venture between IBM and the Prince of Wales' "Start" sustainability initiative. The summit will see IBM closeted with major players …


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  1. lglethal Silver badge

    WWF just keeps getting crazier and crazier...

    WWF used to be a well respected environmental agency.

    How things have changed...

    "prosperity without [economic] growth"? So WWF will be happy so long as 3/4 of the worlds population continue to live in relative (and often real) poverty? Dont they realise that the only countries and people in the world who give a damn about the environment are those economically advanced enough not to be worried about where there next meal is coming from?

    Can we please get a new environmental agency who are not nuts??

  2. Bill P. Godfrey

    Prince Charles...

    He's the one that thinks water has memory?

  3. scatter

    Prospeity without growth

    Iglethal, posperity without growth is not about keeping "3/4 of the worlds population continue to live in relative (and often real) poverty", although it's frequently and wrongly characterised as such.

    Here's what Tim Jackson, one of the leading proponents of the concept has to say about it:

    "For millions in developing countries, growth is clearly still vital to deliver basic standards of living and well-being. But, in developed countries including the UK, far from increasing prosperity, our debt-driven consumption has created an unstable system which has put jobs and livelihoods at risk, as well as damaging us psychologically and socially."

    Check out the graphs from p41 of this publication:

    After a certain point, increased GDP does next to nothing to improve life.

    Alternatively, read Jackson's book of the same title (minus the '?')

    1. Luther Blissett

      Prosperity w/o growth = troughing for the few?

      Who would call a country "developed" when it does not have full employment?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Utter bollocks, I'm afraid


      " unstable system which has put jobs and livelihoods at risk, as well as damaging us psychologically and socially"

      We are now healthier, better off, and have more leisure time, meaning life is less tedious than it was 20 years ago, let alone 100 years ago.

      Which is good.

      And which we quite like.

      The fact you don't like it - and bring in red herrings like stability and some psychobabble - is too bad really. Perhaps you can try and persuade your fellow citizens of the merits of argument at the ballot box. You could start your own party.

      Somehow I can't see you giving up the benefits of modern living and scientific and technological advances, because you (like the rest of us) like them too.

      You sound like a closet fascist case who has jumped on the "sustainability" bandwaggon because your arguments aren't very good.


      1. scatter

        Wow! What a bitter and very personal post

        "You sound like a closet fascist case who has jumped on the "sustainability" bandwaggon because your arguments aren't very good"

        I hope that the mods will forgive me if I call you a fucking twat (if not I'll happily repost in a bit without this sentance).

        Anyway. You'll note that I was quoting Tim Jackson but I agree with his sentiments.

        I love it how you characterise economic stability as a "red herrng"! Look at where debt-fuelled growth has got us.

        The point of the work behind proserity without growth is that we move away from using GDP as a measure of success and move towards metrics such as health, well being, leisure time, non-tediousness of life etc, which you are intested in and put a value on those - they define the success.

        The main point is that GDP growth <> increased wellbeing. More plasma TVs, yes but not increased wellbeing. Most studies find no correlation between happiness and GDP after GDP has reached a certain point.

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Wow! What a bitter and very personal post

          I'll let it through, but if you could refrain from calling each other fucking twats that would be lovely. Only I may call you fucking twats.

          1. scatter

            I will from now on

            Thanks! :-)

  4. Identity

    Faulty assumptions lead to bad results

    "Economic stability requires growth," stated Taylor.

    —Only if the whole economy is a Ponzi scheme!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      No. The FAIL is all yours

      Because sooner or later we run out of .. what? Whaleblubber? Or tin?

      1. Identity

        Think first

        What is growth? As we think of it today, growth is either increased productivity or profit. Using up a resource and replacing it with another is not growth. In aggregate, it more resembles Agent Smith's assessment of humans:

        "Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment. But you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area.

        "There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus."

        On the other hand, stability refers to more of a steady-state phenomenon — where society is not rocked economic vagaries. The search for growth (in terms of profits) has led in no uncertain terms to the current economic debacle.

        There is no reason why we can't have sustainable prosperity, with invention and discovery, but without profiteering.

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  6. skeptical i

    Some comments

    * How is a 'summit' != a 'conference' (or a 'round table' for that matter)? 'Summit' sounds a lot more high- falutin, but in the end ain't it a bunch of suits around a table swapping presentations?

    * Isn't Asda the UK version of Wal-Mart? If so, they could consider sourcing more of their product from in-country to cut down on the emissions required to cargo-ship stuff from overseas (where environmental regulations tend to be less robust -- great 2 for 1 deal, no?) while also creating more jobs at home (economic stability).

    * Too many "environmental" groups seem to have been 0wn3d by corporate polluters (see for some examples), so they might not be the great counterbalance one expects.

    * "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." -- Edward Abbey. Clearly, some growth will be needed to bring developing nations to levels of self- sufficiency, but I am concerned that any money thrown in this direction will be for wheel- spinning and handing out of fish instead of education, infrastructure, and other long-term "deep" foundations needed for residents to fish for themselves.

  7. poeg

    Wasn't baseless? Yer kidding...

    Sure what's the difference in theories and guesstimates of linear losses taking glaciers to 0 in 25 years or 350 if they're heading the same way right? Give your head a shake. The whole movement took a major beating when these singular egos took over and the word "green" became punctuated with a $. The fallout of this is understandably distrust from the general public. That they've caught on is very much the fault of Al Gore's (snicker) Internet. You can't ever lay claim to high percentage projections from models whose code you then guard like KFC does their breading recipe or toss out that the raw data was scrubbed decades ago to make space for... the modified data?

    I myself am what is termed a "luke-warmer" and of course universally disdained by both extremes. Not at all bad though as I'd rather reading discussion by Roger Pielke Sr and discussing with Roger Pielke Jr than baseless alarmism or blind denial any day.

    Oh and if we're redistributing the Rockefeller fortune to the poor let's also make sure Al Gore's $125 million makes it into the pot. Can't call one if you're not going to call them all even if he did get a Nobel popularity prize (a Nebula would make more sense) all the while maintaining his claim to having spawned the internet.

    Never excuse dishonesty on either side of any issue no matter your personal politics. Ever.

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Raising the Bar and Moving On with Novel Style and Olde Worlde Panache

    "Pressed on this subsequently by The Reg, she said: "If someone, say a client, insisted that someone else be there, then fine. But in general I'm not sure why we'd spend a lot of money giving them the time.""

    Give IBM marketing veep Ms Caroline Taylor, eleven out of ten for that refreshingly honest and direct reply, and so reasonable as to be perfectly correct if even politically incorrect.

    And Bravo, Prince Charles, strutting his stuff like an Enlightened and Enlightening Monarch indeed. And I'm sorely tempted to add like a Sun King in Deed, too, although a typical Right Royal Reserve and False Modesty would probably play down any such Personalising Magnificence for Significance in such Future Thought Eventing.

    And yes, I do realise that the story doesn't mention much in the way of princely input other than "throwing open his gardens at Clarence House for festivities accompanying the summit in September,.." but one would not expect to know more than one needs to know about sensitive save the planet matters, would one, whenever there is far too much to know which which can all too easily presently overload and overlode Inadequate and Inequitable Operating Systems.

  9. JohnG

    Green Goddess

    Taylor has named herself after a 1950s Bedford fire engine.

  10. Chief sub

    Doing the boogie-woogie twitter


    "The point of the work behind proserity without growth is that we move away from using GDP as a measure of success and move towards metrics such as health, well being, leisure time, non-tediousness of life etc,"

    Um, GDP is just a measurement of something that can actually be measured, and as such gives a useful indication of a country's growing or declining prosperity - that is, its material wealth. While it's true that money ≠ happiness, let alone "success" (whatever you may mean by that), it's hard to think of of any measurement that would measure happiness/success, not forgetting "well being" or "non-tediousness of life".

    Also don't forget, those countries with the highest GDPs, by happy coincidence, happen to be the ones with the prosperity to make the scientific and technological advances to counter the impending ecopalypse relentlessly pedalled by the World Wildlife Fraud, Prince Big-Ears, your hero Tim Jackson and such.

    What Jackson doesn't seem to get is that if prosperity (as measured by GDP) is the enjoyment and use of wealth - which I think is as good a definition as any - and there isn't sufficient wealth to go around at present, preventing economic growth is hardly the best remedy. I don't think the oppressed coolies of Bugandazawleland or wherever will thank you if they haven't got a hospital with a consistent power supply but their non-tediousness of life index is doing mighty fine.

    But who cares about that when you can attend a swanky beano to hear Jools do a boogie-woogie on "sustainability" while Stephen bloody Fry twitters all and sundry about it.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Information revolution and Smart?-grids ??

    Smart grids are a euphamism for rationing.

    Rationing by somebody/some-machine that determines that it should load-shed by turning off your toaster, airconditioning or electric heater because "you're using too much".

    And all because Britain's "Government" refuses to facilitate the building of power stations that can provide the electricity necessary for modern, civilised life.

    The underlying "smart-meter" technology is being challenged in Germany because their Basic Law (Constitution) protects the sanctity of the home. Smart meters give an observer the ability to look at private aspects inside the home without the occupant's knowledge or permission. [And they provide invaluable information for unscrupulous types for e.g. determining the best time to burgle.]

    The "information revolution" is supposed to substitute for the exercise of common sense.

    You know; like "safety cameras" have (not) reduced road trauma.

  12. James Pickett

    Dearie me

    "sessions will be held under Chatham House rules"

    Isn't that just a fancy way of saying 'in secret'?

    I'm surprised at Steven Fry - I thought he was brighter than that.

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