United States

HASHI (Chopsticks) – Aspects of Japan’s Fascinating Culture (I)

2013-02-20:   Japan … so far from Western Europe … is at a critical juncture in its history.  Soon to be overshadowed by a very large neighbour, China … it is still occupied by the United States of America (a fading imperialistic entity), which is quietly insisting that it become a nuclear power in the region … a story without a happy ending !

However … ‘Real’ Japan is a complete culture shock … both interesting and fascinating at the same time.

This is a bluffer’s guide to Japanese ChopsticksHASHI, in Japanese …

Proper Size of, and Grip to be used with, Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi)

Colour image showing the proper size for Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi), which is related to the size of the user’s hand … and the Grip to be used with Chopsticks … which should be firm, but gentle and flexible. Click to enlarge.

Array of Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi), with Accessories

Colour photograph showing an array of Japanese Chopsticks (Hashi), with Accessories. A simple way to differentiate between Japanese Chopsticks and Chinese Chopsticks … Japanese Chopsticks have pointed tips. Click to enlarge.

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Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 art, design, social environment, sustainability, travel No Comments

‘Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’ – New CIB W14 Document

2012-04-16:  Following the 9-11 World Trade Center Extreme Fire Event, in New York City …

The National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), in the USA, recommended that Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse be particularly considered in the case of …

  • High-Rise Buildings ;
  • Iconic Buildings ;
  • Buildings Having a Critical Function ;
  • Buildings of Innovative Design.

However, as recently discussed … in order to avoid the wide confusion which the term ‘Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse’ is continuing to cause at international level … the preferred term should now be Fire-Induced Progressive Damage.

AND … CIB Working Commission 14: ‘Fire Safety’ – Research Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’ … would strongly caution that Fire-Induced Progressive Damage and Disproportionate Damage are fundamental concepts to be applied in the design of all building types.

[ A height threshold of 5 Storeys for the consideration of Disproportionate Damage, in the Building Codes/Regulations of many jurisdictions, including Ireland, is entirely arbitrary.]

So … what is Fire-Induced Progressive Damage ?   And what is the relationship between this structural concept … and Disproportionate Damage ?

Leaving aside all of the crazy conspiracy theories about the collapse of World Trade Center Building No. 7 … is it possible for Conventional Fire Engineering to directly confront what actually happened ?   Unfortunately … the reaction still, even today, is to bury the head, ostrich-like, in the sand … and ignore WTC 7 and the 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations (Final Report NCSTAR 1A) !

Colour photograph showing World Trade Center Building No. 7 in ruins, after 9-11 in New York City ... when Fire-Induced Progressive Damage led to Disproportionate Damage, and finally to total building failure ... a Collapse Level Event (CLE) which is entirely unacceptable to the general population of any community or society. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing World Trade Center Building No. 7 in ruins, after 9-11 in New York City ... when Fire-Induced Progressive Damage led to Disproportionate Damage, and finally to total building failure ... a Collapse Level Event (CLE) which is entirely unacceptable to the general population of any community or society. Click to enlarge.

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Yesterday, on an adjoining page here … I uploaded a New CIB W14 International Reflection Document on ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’, with 2 Appendices.  Scroll down to the section headed ‘April 2012’.

This is a Reflection Document issued by CIB W14 Research Working Group IV: ‘Structural Reliability & Fire-Induced Progressive Damage’;  its purpose is to examine the ‘hot form’ structural concept of Fire-Induced Progressive Damage, and to propose a critical update to fire engineering design practice.  It is also intended to encourage a wider discussion about some of fire engineering’s fundamental tenets, and the future direction of our profession in a rapidly evolving trans-disciplinary approach to the design, construction and operation of a Safe and Sustainable Built Environment.

The Document is written in a simple, generic language which is accessible to design disciplines outside the International Fire Science and Engineering Community.  The next phase of this CIB W14 Innovation & Research Project will certainly require the use of a more technical language, complex calculations, computer modelling, etc … and much closer liaison with CIB W14’s other Research Working Groups on Connections, Design Fires & Design Fire Scenarios, and Performance Criteria.

I wish to sincerely thank those individuals and organizations who have contributed to the work of our Research Working Group IV.

Finally, the myth surrounding NIST’s 9-11 WTC Recommendations, i.e. that they are only applicable in the case of Very Tall Buildings during rarely occurring extreme events … must be completely demolished, and obliterated from the face of the earth !

Climate Change Adaptation is already demanding a much higher level of building resilience.

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Your Comments on this CIB W14 Reflection Document should be e-mailed to: fireox@sustainable-design.ie

C.J. Walsh, FireOx International – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.

Chair – CIB W14 Research WG IV.

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Update 2012-04-20 …

In response to a discourteous and unprofessional comment about the above CIB W14 WG IV Reflection Document, posted by Mr. Morgan Hurley (Technical Director at the Society of Fire Protection Engineers in the USA) on the LinkedIn SFPE Group WebPage … I wrote, as follows, this morning …

Good Man Morgan !

Relax … there is no need to become defensive quite yet.  WG IV’s Reflection Document is simply intended to raise issues … ask questions … and solicit comments from within and, more importantly, from outside the International Fire Science and Engineering Community.

Perhaps of more direct relevance to the SFPE Membership, in the USA, might be the following …

NIST Report: ‘Best Practices for Reducing the Potential for Progressive Collapse in Buildings’ (NISTIR 7396 – February 2007) … is a good document on ‘disproportionate damage’, but it has nothing to say about ‘fire-induced progressive damage’.  These two structural concepts are related, but they are not the same.

When discussing Multi-Storey Steel Frame Buildings, on pages 18 and 19, of NIST Report: ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Structural Fire Resistance Design of Concrete and Steel Buildings’ (NISTIR 7563 – February 2009) … what happened to WTC Building 7 on 9-11, and the 2008 NIST WTC Recommendations (NIST NCSTAR 1A), are conveniently and completely ignored.  Instead, there is a launch straight into the BRE Fire Tests at Cardington, and computer calculations, in order to justify a very flawed design approach.  How crazy is that ?

Hope to see you there next week … we missed you at the last CIB W14 Meeting in Paris !

C.J.

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Cuba’s ‘Miami 5’ – What on Earth is Going On Now ?

2009-06-16:  Can this really be happening ?   Or … is it just one more annoying and depressing example of American Exceptionalism ?

Below is a Declaration by the Presidency of Cuba’s National Assembly, dated 15th June 2009 …

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today, without explanation, its decision not to review the case of our Five comrades who are unjustly imprisoned in that country for struggling against anti-Cuban terrorism that is sponsored by the U.S. rulers.  The judges did what the Obama Administration requested of it.

In spite of the solid arguments made by the defence attorneys from the obvious and multiple legal violations committed during the whole trial, by ignoring the universal backing to the petition – expressed by an unprecedented number of ‘Friend of the Court’ Briefs, among them 10 Nobel Prize recipients, hundreds of parliamentarians, and numerous U.S. and international jurist organizations, of outstanding political and academic personalities – the Supreme Court rejected the case, thus ignoring the demand of Humanity and its obligation to do justice.

We see manifested once more the arbitrariness of a corrupt and hypocritical system and its brutal treatment of our Five Brothers.

Our struggle to win their freedom will not diminish for one instant.  Now is the time to step up our actions, and not leave even one space uncovered or door unopened.

We are certain that Gerardo, Antonio, Fernando, Ramón, and René will continue leading this battle, as they have during these almost 11 years.

Responding to the infamous decision, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo declared: “Based on the experience that we have had, I am not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision.  I have no confidence at all in the justice system of the United States.  There are no longer any doubts that our case has been, from the beginning, a political case, because not only did we have the necessary legal arguments for the Court to review it, we also have the growing international support as reflected in the Amicus Briefs presented to the Court in our favour.  I repeat what I said one year ago, 4 June 2008, that as long as one person remains struggling outside, we will continue resisting until there is justice.”

The struggle must be multiplied until the U.S. Government is forced to put an end to this monstrous injustice and restore freedom to Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.

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www.Recovery.gov … Pro-Active Political Accountability ?

2009-05-29:  In Ireland, we are far too accepting and comfortable with our politicians, civil and public service employees, semi-state and qwango employees guarding all information … our information … as if their lives depended on it … and transforming any of our ‘Freedom of Information’ Requests into marathon obstacle courses which require a substantial entrance fee !

 

This is abnormal behaviour … and we cannot – must not – tolerate it any more !!!

 

 

Relax, chill-out … and please compare and contrast with …

 

http://www.recovery.gov/

 

… an Official United States Government WebSite which contains up-to-date information on how the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 is working, including how funding is being distributed at federal, state, tribal and local levels … and (be sure to sit down for this !) … tools for people to hold the government accountable.

 

 

Established under Section 1526 of Division A (Appropriations Provisions), Title XV (Accountability & Transparency) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, this WebSite has a precise job to do …

 

1.   The website shall provide materials explaining what this Act means for citizens.  The materials shall be easy to understand and regularly updated.

2.   The website shall provide accountability information, including findings from audits, inspectors general, and the Government Accountability Office.

3.   The website shall provide data on relevant economic, financial, grant, and contract information in user-friendly visual presentations to enhance public awareness of the use of covered funds.

4.   The website shall provide detailed data on contracts awarded by the Federal Government that expend covered funds, including information about the competitiveness of the contracting process, information about the process that was used for the award of contracts, and for contracts over $500,000 a summary of the contract.

5.   The website shall include printable reports on covered funds obligated by month to each State and congressional district.

6.   The website shall provide a means for the public to give feedback on the performance of contracts that expend covered funds.

7.   The website shall include detailed information on Federal Government contracts and grants that expend covered funds, to include the data elements required to comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–282), allowing aggregate reporting on awards below $25,000 or to individuals, as prescribed by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

8.   The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

9.   The website shall provide a link to information about announcements of grant competitions and solicitations for contracts to be awarded.

10. The website shall include appropriate links to other government websites with information concerning covered funds, including Federal agency and State websites.

11. The website shall include a plan from each Federal agency for using funds made available in this Act to the agency.

12. The website shall provide information on Federal allocations of formula grants and awards of competitive grants using covered funds.

13. The website shall provide information on Federal allocations of mandatory and other entitlement programs by State, county, or other appropriate geographical unit.

14. To the extent practical, the website shall provide, organized by the location of the job opportunities involved, links to and information about how to access job opportunities, including, if possible, links to or information about local employment agencies, job banks operated by State workforce agencies, the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, State, local and other public agencies receiving Federal funding, and private firms contracted to perform work with Federal funding, in order to direct job seekers to job opportunities created by this Act.

15. The website shall be enhanced and updated as necessary to carry out the purposes of this subtitle.

 

 

On-line … the following boxed (and linked) texts can be viewed on every Page …

 

Accountability & Transparency

This is your money.  You have a right to know where it’s going and how it’s being spent.  Learn what steps we’re taking to conduct oversight of funds distributed under this law in order to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.

 

Fraud, Waste & Abuse

Large amounts of cash can attract fraud.  Learn how to report any suspected waste and misuse of the recovery money.

 

Importantly … there also is a specific Page dealing with the Whistleblower Protection provided by Section 1553 of Division A (Appropriations Provisions), Title XV (Accountability & Transparency) of the ARRA.  There is even information included about making a Whistleblower Reprisal Complaint !

 

 

 

Does this blow your mind … or does this blow your mind ?!?!

 

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PEEPS – Fundamentally Flawed & Discriminatory ?

2009-05-13:  The other day, I thought it might be interesting to google ‘PEEPS’.  The surprising results … page after page about the marshmallow candies (in English: sweets) which are sold in Canada and the USA.  I have learned something new !

 

What I was trying to find, however, was information relating to Personal Emergency Egress PlanS (PEEPS) for building users with disabilities.  PEEPS is widely referenced in British literature … and because certain people (who should know better) believe that the sun, moon and stars rise over London … it has also seeped into the Irish literature by some process of ‘preverted’ osmosis.  Most regrettable !

 

 

Yesterday, I discussed the inadequacy of developing Fire Safety Management Procedures … or, in fact, designing buildings … with the sole concern being people with disabilities.

 

Taking account of all the relevant, and different, types of European and National Legislation … the Rule of Thumb should always be People with Activity Limitations and Accessibility for All.

 

 

While fully understanding the need for a catchy acronym … ‘PEEPS’ does not respond well to internet searches on Google.

 

The next unfortunate feature of Personal Emergency Egress PlanS is the misguided use of Fire Engineering Terminology in English …

 

 

Evacuation from a Fire Building

To withdraw, or cause to withdraw, all users from a fire building in planned and orderly phased movements to a Place of Safety remote from the building.

 

Egress

Independent emergence of user(s) from a building, under normal ambient conditions, and removal from its immediate vicinity.

 

Escape

Avoidance of injury or harm which is threatened by imminent danger.

 

 

Instrumental Aggression

Aggression which is a means to another end, e.g. pushing someone aside to escape from danger.

 

 

Whenever, therefore, the terms ‘evacuation’, ‘egress’ and ‘escape’ are used interchangeably … on the same occasion … and without apparent rhyme or reason … it is time to call a halt to proceedings … and to scream “bullshit – moráns at work” !   Furthermore … the word ‘escape’ should never be used in connection with fire evacuation from a building.  BSI, CEN and ISO … please take careful note !!!

 

 

A Personal Emergency Egress Plan (PEEP) is fundamentally flawed and discriminatory because it is …

 

         person-specific ;  and

         location-specific.

 

 

Would any able-bodied building user tolerate being told that a document would have to be prepared before he/she could enter and use a building … and that this document would discuss only his/her use of the building … and that use only in specified parts of the building ???   No way !   Are you serious !!   What a joke !!!

 

The relevant, and different, types of European and Irish National Legislation require that buildings be accessible … covering approach to, entry, use, egress (under normal conditions), evacuation (in the event of a fire emergency) and removal from their immediate vicinity.

 

Within this legal environment … PEEPS is fundamentally flawed.  And … because building use is limited for specified individuals to specified areas only … PEEPS is also discriminatory.

 

 

If there is to be recourse to PEEPS, it should be in very exceptional circumstances only !   And, I can certainly think of one possible situation … existing buildings of historical, architectural and cultural importance … where anything more than moderate interference with the building fabric is both ill-advised and restricted … and everyone’s use of the building must be curtailed to some extent.

 

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Abu Dhabi as ‘Sustainable City’ – A New Language Required ?

2009-03-03:  Recent international attention has been drawn, in a morbid sort of way, to the current economic condition of two contrasting cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Abu Dhabi and Dubayy (Dubai).

 

In the month of October, 2008, I was very pleased to travel to both of these cities for the first time … with the purpose of introducing the subject of Sustainable Fire Engineering at a Building Seminar in the World Trade Centre, Dubayy.  My host was, and is more so now, convinced that this innovative approach to fire engineering offers a key to future commercial success in the Gulf Region.

 

Before making my presentation, however, I had spent some essential days wandering around Abu Dhabi … soaking up the local atmosphere and culture.

 

Arriving later in Dubayy, I was ‘shocked and stunned’ – a vivid Dublin expression –  to see that Billions of Dirhams (the local currency) had been spent on re-creating the Nightmare that is the 20th Century American City … where, if you want to just scratch your nose, you must get into your car – or one of them at least – to do so.

 

It was tragic to see how the local authorities were trying to ‘shoehorn’ an Urban Rail System into the existing City Fabric … ducking, and weaving in and out, between road overpasses and spaghetti junctions which had only been built in the last 10 years.

 

Sightings of UMO’s (Unidentified Moving Objects) … pedestrians and cyclists … are extremely rare !   The local summer, by the way, is the only season when it is definitely unhealthy to engage in either activity … temperatures can regularly reach into the low 50s oC.

 

People are much smarter in Abu Dhabi – so I was told.  They have seen the mistakes which have been made up the road, and they are determined to take a different path with their future development.

 

“How long will it take to transform and re-shape Abu Dhabi into a Sustainable City ?”, I was asked.

 

 

In order to answer that question, a new language is required.  Let me introduce you to some of its Technical Terms … which, even after many years of sweat and toil in SDI, are still being regularly reviewed, revised and updated:

 

 

Human Environment …

Anywhere there is, or has been, an intrusion by a human being in the natural environment. 

 

The Human Environment comprises, and must be taken together as a unified, complex whole:

 

Social Environment …

The complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.

 

The Social Environment shapes, binds together, and directs the future development of, the Built (including Virtual) Environment.

 

Built Environment …

Anywhere there is, or has been, a man-made or wrought (worked) intervention by humans in the natural environment, e.g. cities, towns, villages, rural settlements, services, transport systems, roads, bridges, tunnels, and cultivated lands, lakes, rivers, coasts, seas, etc.

 

Virtual Environment …

A designed environment, electronically-generated from within the Built Environment, which may have the appearance, form, functionality and impact – to the person perceiving and actually experiencing it – of a real, imagined and/or utopian world.

 

 

Long before the present seismic upheavals and sordid revelations … the intuition of many people around the world had been informed that ‘economics’ inhabited its own closed environment … and operated to entirely different ‘rules’ from the rest of us – mere peasants – which are anything but open and transparent.  The ‘actors’ in this Economic Environment are not accountable.  Well … not yet, anyway !

 

Economic Environment …

The intricate web of real and virtual human commercial activity – operating at micro and macro-economic levels – which facilitates, supports, but sometimes hampers or disrupts, human interaction in the Social Environment.

 

 

And, still under development … the Institutional Environment.

 

 

 

Social Wellbeing …

A general condition – in a community, society or culture – of health, happiness, creativity, responsible fulfilment, and sustainable development.

 

Individual Welfare …

A person’s general feeling of health, happiness and fulfilment.

 

 

 

And finally for now:

 

The City …

 

A geographical region, with open and flexible boundaries, consisting of:

(a)  An interwoven, densely constructed core (built environment) ;

(b)  A large resident population of more than 500,000 people (social environment) ;

(c)  A supporting hinterland of lands, waters and other natural resources (cultivated landscape) ;

 

together functioning as …

(i)   a complex living system (analogous to, yet different from, other living systems such as ecosystems and organisms) ;   and

(ii)  a synergetic community capable of providing a high level of individual welfare and social wellbeing for all of its inhabitants.

 

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U.S. Disability Statistics – Practical Application in Europe ?

2009-02-25:  Back in 2003 … remember the European Year of People with Disabilities ? … or maybe you don’t, as there is a European Year for everything now ! … I belonged to a small group of people – the European Union Expert Group on Accessibility.  The Report issued at the end of our term included the usual statistic of 10% of people in Europe having a disability.  That figure, which always seemed a bit out of date and wide of the mark to me, continues to re-appear here, there and everywhere.  It is not reliable.  But … please read on.

 

As far as bureaucrats are concerned … if there are no statistics, a problem does not exist … and if there is no problem, there is no need to spend money.

 

But, that approach leaves policy makers who take their responsibilities seriously, NGO’s, people who design buildings and teachers, for example, in a vacuum.  No wonder awareness among the General Public is so low, and that there are so many participation restrictions and barriers in our Built Environment.

 

Questions relating to ‘disability’ in Irish Census Forms merely scratch the surface of this issue.

 

 

A recent Report, issued by the United States Census Bureau on 18th December 2008, may provide some useful information to guide front line policy and design implementation in Europe.  Please handle with caution, as these are NOT European statistics.

 

About one in five residents of the USA – 19% – reported some level of disability in 2005, according to the Report.  These 54.4 million people are roughly equal to the combined total populations of California and Florida.

 

Both the number and percentage of people with disabilities were higher than in 2002, the last time the Census Bureau collected such information.  At that time, 51.2 million, or 18%, reported a disability.

 

Among those with a disability, 35 million, or 12% of the population, were classified as having a severe disability.

 

Nearly half (46%) of people aged 21 to 64 with a disability were employed, compared with 84% of people in this age group without a disability.  Among those with disabilities, 31% with severe disabilities and 75% with non-severe disabilities were employed.  People with difficulty hearing were more likely to be employed than those with difficulty seeing (59% compared with 41%).

 

A portion of people with disabilities – 11 million aged 6 and older – needed personal assistance with everyday activities.  These activities included such tasks as getting around inside the home, taking a bath or shower, preparing meals and performing light housework.

 

Other Important U.S. Findings:

 

         Among people 15 years of age and older, 7.8 million (3%) had difficulty hearing a normal conversation, including 1 million being unable to hear at all.  Although not part of the definition of disability used in the Report, 4.3 million people reported using a hearing aid.

 

         Roughly 3.3 million people, or 1%, aged 15 and older used a wheelchair or similar device, with 10.2 million, or 4%, using a cane, crutches or walker.

 

         Nearly 7.8 million people aged 15 and older had difficulty seeing words or letters in ordinary newspaper print, including 1.8 million being completely unable to see.

 

         More than 16 million people had difficulty with cognitive, mental or emotional functioning.  This included 8.4 million with one or more problems that interfered with daily activities, such as frequently being depressed or anxious, trouble getting along with others, trouble concentrating and trouble coping with stress.

 

         The chances of having a disability increase with age: 18.1 million people 65 years of age and older, or 52%, had a disability.  Of this number, 12.9 million, or 37%, had a severe disability.  For people 80 years of age and older, the disability rate was 71%, with 56% having a severe disability.

 

         Among people 16 to 64 years of age, 13.3 million, or 7%, reported difficulty finding a job or remaining employed because of a health-related condition.

 

         Among people 25 to 64 years of age with a severe disability, 27% were in poverty, compared with 12% for people with a non-severe disability and 9% for those without a disability.

 

         Median monthly earnings were $1,458 for people with a severe disability, $2,250 for people with a non-severe disability and $2,539 for those with no disability.

 

         Parents reported that 228,000 children under age 3, or 2%, had a disability.  Specifically, they either had a developmental delay or difficulty moving their arms or legs.  In addition, there were 475,000 children 3 to 5 years of age, or 4%, with a disability, which meant they had either a developmental delay or difficulty walking, running or playing.

 

         There were 4.7 million children 6 to 14 years of age, or 13%, with a disability.  The most prevalent type was difficulty doing regular schoolwork (2.5 million, or 7 percent).

 

 

A Practical and Reasonable Application, therefore, of the above information in International & European Fire Engineering Practice is as follows:

 

Equivalent to the concept of ‘maximum credible fire scenario’, which was introduced by the Recommendations contained in the 2005 NIST Report on the WTC 9-11 Incident … the Fire Engineer (or other suitably qualified and experienced person) should develop his/her ‘real’ fire engineering strategy on the basis of a ‘maximum credible user scenario’, i.e. building user conditions which are also severe, but reasonable to anticipate …

         the number of people using a building may increase, on occasions which cannot be specified, to 120% of calculated maximum building capacity ;   and

         10% of people using the building (occupants, visitors and other users) may have an impairment (visual or hearing, physical function, mental, cognitive or psychological, with some impairments not being identifiable, e.g. in the case of anosognosia).

 

If more than token consideration is to be given to Fire Evacuation for All … these guidelines indicate, for example, how much space should be allocated to an ‘area of rescue assistance’ which adjoins – on every floor except ground level – a vertical fire evacuation staircase in a building.

 

Fire Evacuation Routes at ground level should be ‘accessible’ and lead directly to the exterior.

 

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Ireland’s Recycled Waste Statistics – Rubbish ?

2009-01-30:  On Wednesday last, 28th January 2009, Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the ‘National Waste Report 2007’.  As usual, a Press Release accompanied the launch … and the contents of this Release are still beginning to appear in our national media.

 

You may also have caught some interesting waste-related newspaper articles just after Christmas.  It was those which really started my mental wheels turning.  Congratulations to Ms. Sylvia Thompson in The Irish Times (2008-12-30) !

 

 

 

Between 2001 and 2007, the total amount of waste (in tonnes) produced by this country – all of us together – under each of the ‘selected’ four categories shown in Appendix A – Indicators on Page 33 of the recent EPA Report, i.e. municipal, household, commercial and packaging … has increased dramatically.  Not only are we dirty, messy creatures on this beautiful island, but it is also clear that a much heavier, and more effective, regulatory hand is required to get to grips with this increasing problem.  We suffer from too many national marketing campaigns and too many national voluntary schemes … which “don’t amount to a hill of beans”, as John Wayne grunted many years ago.

 

But, just how ‘useful’ are the numbers we were presented with on 28th January ?

 

–  It took 13 Months to produce the National Waste Report for 2007.  Having had a brief conversation with a key person in the EPA (who shall remain nameless), I know that there are all sorts of reasons why this continues to happen year after year.  But, the time lag is ridiculous, and unacceptable.  To be ‘useful’, we need Reliable Waste Data and Statistics far, far sooner.  For example, if this Report had been ready for mid-September 2008 … National/Local Waste Policies and Budgets could have been adjusted in time for the start of 2009.  Does that make sense ?

 

–  In 2007, we did not recycle 36.5% of household and commercial waste.  We recovered this percentage of waste.  If, however, you were then to apply the following criterion … how much of this waste was actually processed for recycling within the island of Ireland and in a location no farther than 75 Km from the point of recovery … how quickly do you think the figure of 36.5% would nosedive into the ground ???  To be ‘useful’, we need a more developed Waste Indicator Set which will reveal the complete picture on national performance.

 

–  With Tables 5 & 6, on Page 7, firmly in the back of your minds … how ‘sustainable’ is it to be exporting our waste to countries as distant as China, India and the USA ?  This forces me to ask a strongly-linked question … does anybody within the EPA, or at the higher levels of any of our National Institutions, really understand the word ‘sustainable’ ?  Looking at the Environmental Aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development, alone, is a pointless exercise.  In the long-term, it is actually counterproductive.  To be ‘useful’, we need Waste-related Environmental Indicators which are properly integrated into a Multi-Dimensional Matrix which also contains Waste-related Social, Economic, Institutional, Political and Legal Indicators.

 

 

Put very simply … our Aim should be to use as close to ‘real time’ Performance Indicators as practicable, with Benchmarking at Year 1990 … to target ‘real’ improvements in Ireland’s Sustainability, verify Target Attainment, and to continually re-adjust those targets at appropriate intervals thereafter.

 

 

 

Have a nice weekend !

 

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