Birmingham is starting the fight against climate change

I attended the Birmingham Strategic Partnership consultation event last night at Think Tank on the Birmingham Climate Change Action Plan.

Whilst I was there I hooked up with Birmingham Friends of the Earth and volunteered and also shamelessly plugged Birmingham Freecycle to anyone who would stand still for long enough – and a few of those that wouldn’t….

The event itself was OK; the council thought seem to be still working under the assumption that they can reduce emissions by less than 90% and still carry on much the same…. this is a bit shocking for anyone else who has read any of the excellent George Monbiot’s work. Go there and read it now and prepare to be seriously scared; he shows how we need to URGENTLY cut emmissions by 90% or we will face a tipping point at which climate change enters a cycle of positive feedback and becomes self-reinforcing and runaway.

But what I have to rail against is crimes against usability again. The external moderator was from a company called BMG; she seemed to be seeing the presentation for the first time as she had no idea where each section finished and the next started and EVERY SINGLE TIME she overshot and had to fiddle with the PC on the podium to sort it out. Also it was glaringly obvious that she had never done the presentation in front of a real audience; it was “interactive” to the point where we could vote using a traffic lights metaphor – and each question was put on screen with the text and JUST the text in the appropriate colour on a strong blue background.

No thought was given to colour blind people; this probably violated the Disability Discrimination Act, and even people like me without colour blindness and with my glasses on found it almost impossible to read. No one had thought “you know – if we used huge blobs of colour on this we could make it easy to read”. It had clearly been slapped together by one of this power-suited busy executives minions without any thought to the final audience or any oversight by the person doing the presentation.

And it’s not as if it was a trivial message – you know the kind of stuff these market researchers usually do – “do you prefer cat food tin label A or B?” – no, this was about how we in Birmingham cope with and reduce the effects of climate change, probably the most important issue for the entire next century, and far too important to be left to losers like those last night. If anyone from the City Council ever reads this – you really should sack these people and emply someone who knows what they are doing; this issue is too important to be mishandled so badly.

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