Costs and benefits, costs and benefits


I think we'd all like to have a little more evidence based policy, no? Fewer courses of action based upon the spoutings of ideologues, yes? Which means that I get to return, boringly as ever, to my pet subject of cost benefit analysis studies.

A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive" stance towards its conclusions.

The thing is though, there's no point is us just doing the research into what is the correct course of action, we also need to communicate our results. If it turns out that using real nappies simply boils Gaia then we need to tell the hippie dippies that they should get with the program and start throwing things into landfills. If they start complaining that this is simply burying resources we can point out that while this is true, it takes 100 years or more for a nappy to disintegrate and carbon sequestration is something we're all in favour of.

Still, now that we've got our result, that disposable nappies are better, what should we do with it? Banning real nappies would be most illiberal, as would insisting upon the use of none at all. (Weirdly, there is a really hippie dippy movement to use no nappies at all. Seriously, there is.) The best thing to do would be perhaps to just push the information out there and let people decide for themselves.

Oh, one other thing, we can stop paying for Real Nappy Officers, which would be a blessing for the taxpayer in these hard pressed times. Hmm, perhaps the report was suppressed because the real nappy officers are in fact the Illuminati?