01/27/2011

Psst: want to buy a gold ring?

Last Monday, around lunch time, I met three people. Two were committed environmentalists worried about the future. The third was a street trickster.


I had arranged to meet for lunch with two people from the environmental asociation Noé21. I had already had contacts with one of them, Jérôme Strobel, after he wrote to the Tribune de Genève on 27 January 2010. His letter, the letter of that day, was entitled

Les avions restent de gros pollueurs

and was a response to the eulogies after the visit of the Airbus A380. His argument was based upon the annual quantity of jet fuel put into aircraft at Geneva airport (an amount which would produce about a million tons of carbon dioxide, i.e. one third of the total annual emissions of Geneva Canton): this amount is increasing. OK, this does not directly affect Geneva, since the aircraft fly elsewhere, but one should remember that the radiative forcing effects of burning fuel at high altitudes is estimated to double the environmental impact.

By an unlikely coincidence, the Tribune de Genève actually had a photograph of Jérôme that same day, together with an article explaining how his Association had uncovered a way in which some industrial factories were manufacturing, then destroying, a highly toxic gas (HFC-23) in order to claim a remuneration. I did not understand all of the article, but other people certainly will have understood.

We met in a very nice little restaurant just off the rue de Carouge. Over lunch we had a very interesting chat. He was very keen to find out the environmental impact, both noise and gaseous emissions, of any aircraft that could be identified by the ARAG Geneva Airport Movement Enquiry system (GAME). I told him that if he say an entry for which runway an aircraft had used, he could click that entry and get redirected to the site in Germany that showed all of these values. For instance, THIS and THIS!

We exchanged so much interesting information that we forgot about the time, so that we were the last clients to leave there: the staff there were having their meal. Anyway, we said goodbye in the expectation of continuing our collaboration, and I headed off down the rue de Carouge towards the tram stop.

On the way down, a man stopped me, showed me a gold-coloured ring and asked me if I had lost it. I just said no, telling him he could keep it, and continued walking. Just a few seconds later, I remembered that this is an old con-man trick, whereby some unsuspecting victim might say yes, be told that it was a real gold ring and be convinced to pay something like 50 Francs for it. I have seen reports of this, so now I can tell you that it is still going on! I did think of going back to photograph the person, but figured that he might not have reacted kindly to such an attempt.

So, in one day, two people denouncing fraudsters on a big scale, plus one small-scale fraudster trying to catch me with an old scam. That means that I, and you, have to beware of real scams as well as ones on our computers!

 

10:26 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (0) | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

The comments are closed.