Day 12 – Environment

13 02 2010

Can rules save the day?

When I started this project I knew that there were some key areas where rules and guidelines seemed to flourish. Health was one, transport another and environment the third.

It’s probably worth setting the tone here. I think climate change through anthropogenic warming is happening and I think it will take coordinated action by people, organisations and government to try and counter the problem and its effects. I’m obviously slightly wary of the efficacy of setting rules and guidelines to achieve a desired effect so this one presented an interesting challenge.

I guess the difficulty is that, as opposed to something like transport where most people are pretty much staying within the rules most of the time, environment is an area where the government isn’t just trying to control behaviour, it’s needs to change it in a big way. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are plenty of people who don’t think the government is going anywhere near far enough in effecting that change.

I found a really interesting comparison between the health and safety stuff from the other day and the government approach to the climate change action. First off, most of the government advice was clear and in one place. Secondly and I think most importantly, it was really positive. It focused on the benefits and achievable steps rather than trying to terrify into submission. I used a tool on the Act on CO2 website that calculated my carbon emissions through a long series of questions and then gave me a set of possible actions. I could drag these into a personal plan that I could then store or print out (in theory, not practice as that didn’t work) I was actually thoroughly impressed. I think I’m pretty environmentally aware but I learnt some things and felt genuinely positive about making changes. I really think this was done right. It also had a really useful feature that showed me how I compared with the average for the UK and how I compared with ‘people like me’ – could be some dangerous investigations into how they worked that out.

My carbon footprint was 4.82 tonnes per year, the majority from air travel. That put me a smidgen over average for the UK but well below average for ‘people like me.’ Take that Islington dinner party guests. In terms of taking on board these new rules I was actually able to order the different tasks by things like ‘easiest to do’ and ‘most impact’. I’ve ranted plenty about the government and rule setting but hats off, this was a genuinely well executed piece of communication. Not one you could complete in one go without breaking the screen time guidelines but excellent nonetheless.


Weight 14st 0lb

Body fat 18.5%

Frustration – 3

Infractions – 6.5 (2 suspended) – That’s nearly a whole week without infractions.

Wellbeing – 8

New rules today:

  • Replace remaining regular bulbs with energy saving ones
  • Get an electricity monitor
  • Use government approved carbon offsetting
  • Switch to a green energy tariff
  • Switch off digital radio at plug

By the way, I’m aware the last couple of posts have been a bit polemic and try hard. I’m also aware that I’m likely covering ground people like Thaler and Sunstein did properly in Nudge. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to suffering as much as possible soon!




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