Adopting "clean technology" doesn't have to cost the earth, whether you're a large global enterprise or a local shop, but it could ensure the long-term survival of your business.
As the population continues to grow, the demand for food, water and energy will rise by as much as 50% by 2030, says the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) in its Global Trends
2030 report. Energy costs alone are forecast to grow by 25% over the next 10 years.
Some companies, such as Houweling's Tomatoes in Camarillo, California, exemplify what a totally integrated sustainable operation can look like.
It employs five acres of photovoltaic solar panels to generate one megawatt (MW) of electricity to power its 125 acres of tomato-growing greenhouses.
The company captures and reuses rainwater and water run-off using a four-acre reservoir equipped with filtration technology, while computer-monitored drip irrigation ensures that water and fertilisers are used as efficiently as possible in the production of its hydroponically grown tomatoes. Any excess water is also treated and recycled.
The company estimates that this method of production uses about a sixth of the water and one 10th of the land typically needed to produce the same amount of product via traditional agricultural practices.
Houweling's heat-and-power co-generation unit captures heat from refrigeration units, water and CO2 for use within the greenhouse
On top of this, an 8.8MW heat-and-power co-generation unit captures heat from refrigeration units, water and CO2 for use within the greenhouse and produces enough energy to allow Houweling's Tomatoes to sell some of the electricity back to the grid. More than 90% of the company's waste is recycled.
While this $200m-plus (£130m-plus) operation serves as a "clean tech" exemplar, the Carbon Trust worries that many businesses are dangerously complacent.
In a recent survey it carried out, executives in Brazil, China, Korea, the UK and the US, were asked about their companies' approach to sustainability.
"One reason that companies are stalling on taking action on resource and sustainability appears to be that they still see this as an obligation and a cost," says Mr Delay.Saving millions
But "clean tech" costs have fallen dramatically. For example, installing photovoltaic solar panels costs half what it did three years ago, while improvements in energy-efficient lighting mean businesses can now save millions on their electricity bills.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology has been around since the 1960s, but it has advanced so far that the latest units now use less than half the wattage of the high-pressure sodium and mercury vapour bulbs traditionally used in industrial locations, while also providing brighter illumination and lasting for up to 10 years.
Dialight, a British company that specialises in LED lighting for large industry and public sector clients around the world, reckons upgrading from old-school to clean tech lighting can save businesses 50% on their lighting electricity costs and recoup the capital outlay within three years.
Geoff Smyth, head of technology and delivery for the Carbon Trust, agrees, saying: "Lighting accounts for 20% to 50% of total energy consumed in commercial buildings, and a lot of the time the lights don't even need to be on.
"With these breakthroughs in LED and lighting management technology, businesses can achieve energy savings of 70% to 80% and see a payback on their investment within two or three years."
For example, one small hotel upgrading 80 lights to LEDs spent £22,000 on the project, says Smyth, but is now achieving annual savings of £6,600 on its energy bill.
Ron Pernick, managing director of Clean Edge, a US-based clean tech research and advisory company, says: "Innovations in visualising energy efficiency, paired with big data, are already having a significant impact on energy usage. Efficiency continues to be the low-hanging fruit for most companies and governments."
As the software builds up a detailed profile of the business, it can then suggest ways energy consumption can be reduced, such as by upgrading equipment
Similarly, Wireless Energy Management Systems (WEMS), whose clients include Marks & Spencer, BT and Boots, provide a range of wireless sensors and controllers that can monitor and adjust a building's entire energy usage, reducing lighting and temperature levels if it is bright and warm outside, for example.
The entire integrated system can be monitored remotely every 30 minutes, and WEMS says it can cut energy costs for any building with an average energy bill of £7,000 or more.Getting smarter
On a much smaller scale, the latest "smart" thermostats can also save businesses and households money on their energy bills.
California-based Nest Labs, founded by two former Apple executives, produces a thermostat capable of learning user behaviour and working out when a building is occupied or not, using temperature, humidity, activity and light sensors.
It adjusts the temperature to match user habits and can be programmed remotely over wi-fi using a smartphone or laptop.
Nest claims it can save 20% on energy bills by managing heating more efficiently, and that adjusting temperature by just one degree can knock 5% off your bill. The main drawback is that it is currently only available in the US and Canada, priced $250 (£165).
Nest spokeswoman Kate Brinks, told the BBC: "We haven't provided a timeframe for entry in to the EU market yet, other than to say this year."
Inefficient buildings account for 43% of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions, says the Department of Energy & Climate Change, and UK industry could save up to £32bn over the next four decades by reducing carbon emissions and energy usage.
So whether you run a corner shop or an industrial complex, energy cost savings are there for the taking. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also be making your business more resilient in the face of future energy and resource shortages.
Beef and veal prices have risen by more than 45% across Europe over the past five years, according to the European Commission, while the global auction price for beef has topped $5,300 (£3,500) a tonne. Horsemeat, by contrast, currently costs about $1,200 a tonne.
"It is clear that rising beef prices and the relative cheapness of horsemeat have led some people to see the potential for making big profits through fraud," says Peter Hardwick, head of trade development at Eblex, the English beef and sheep industry body.
Mr Hardwick believes the financial pressure on meat producers, who operate at profit margins of 5% and below compared with double-digit margins for retailers, may have also contributed to the problem.
"There isn't cheap beef to be found anywhere," he says. "But we still believe that ready meals can be made as cheaply as they always have been."
Despite soaring beef prices, ready meals containing beef mince have not risen in price accordingly, even though the meat is their most expensive ingredient.
For example, the average chilled ready meal costs £2.31, up just 4% over the past three years, roughly in line with food inflation, according to research from retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel.
Meanwhile, our love affair with the ready meal continues apace. Almost nine out of 10 UK households now buy them, despite a study published in the British Medical Journal in December finding that not one of 100 meals tested fully complied with World Health Organisation nutritional guidelines.
The cheapness and convenience of chilled ready meals in particular has led to sales growing almost 10% per year over the past three years, with spending rising from £2.1bn to £2.5bn.
Frozen meals are a bit less popular, but spending on these has also risen, from £655m to £710m over the same period.
To put this into context, we now spend £74bn a year on food, yet spending on food and non-alcoholic drinks as a proportion of household expenditure has fallen dramatically from 24% in 1963 to just 9% in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics.
How can we explain this apparent paradox?
"Food is cheaper in real terms than it has ever been," says Richard Dodd, spokesman for the British Retail Consortium (BRC). "But it has become so affordable because we've become much more efficient in agriculture, production and and retailing.
"Yes, we spend much less of our disposable income on food these days, but this is related to rising incomes and the increased affordability of food."
Intense supermarket competition has educated the British shopper to expect cheap food, says Richard Stevenson, technical manager of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, the body representing most High Street butchers.
More than 90% of British consumers still consider price an important factor when shopping for food, according to Kantar Worldpanel, compared with 73% who take health into consideration.
Just 32% of shoppers consider whether the product has been sourced through fair trade and only 22% care whether or not it is organic.
Yet, the Food Standards Agency says more than 99% of 3,634 tests carried on processed minced beef products contained no horse DNA at or above the 1% level. The 13 products that did have already been withdrawn from sale.
The BRC says that its member retailers have completed more than 90% of their tests, and that out of 1,500 completed since 20 January, only six proved positive.
"I'm encouraged by these updated results which confirm how few products have been involved and that any that were have already been removed," says BRC director general Helen Dickinson.
New DNA testing regimes notwithstanding, the intense financial pressure on the meat and food processing industries is expected to only increase while shoppers continue to expect cheap, convenient processed foods made from raw ingredients whose prices continue to rise in the global marketplace.
"I am the bullet in the chamber" ran the strapline for the Nike advert featuring Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius.
As the South African athlete faced charges of "premeditated murder" in a Pretoria courtroom following the shooting dead of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, his sponsors went into crisis-management mode.
Nike swiftly pulled the unfortunately-worded ads last week, as the perils of celebrity brand endorsement were brought sharply into focus once again.
Mr Pistorius, who has strongly rejected the murder charge, is thought to have earned several million pounds from sponsorships with Nike, BT, Thierry Mugler, Oakley, and Ossur, the Icelandic firm that makes the prosthetic carbon fibre blades he wears for races.
But in the brutal world of sports sponsorship, the "Blade Runner" stands to lose everything, even presuming his innocence.
On Thursday 21 February, Nike suspended its contact with the athlete, thought to be worth about $2m, saying: "We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely".
Fashion house Thierry Mugler, which chose Mr Pistorius as the face of its A*Men fragrance in 2011, also withdrew all its campaigns featuring the athlete on Wednesday.
John Taylor, director of a sports sponsorship company and a veteran of the industry, told the BBC: "Even if Pistorius is found innocent, he is damaged goods. Brands need to act quickly and distance themselves from him; they cannot afford to wait until the case is heard.
"It's not like rats deserting a sinking ship, it's just the sensible thing to do."
Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing agency Brand Rapport, agrees, saying: "This is very different to the Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong cases; this is life and death. There's no coming back from this."
Telecommunications group BT, which was recently shortlisted in the Best Sponsorship of a Sport Team or Individual category of the Sport Industry Awards 2013 for its campaign featuring Mr Pistorius, said: "Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy. Given the ongoing legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."
Ossur said it was "highly premature" to make any decisions regarding its relationship with him.
Even his South African management agency was saying little on Friday last week. Peet van Zyl, joint managing director of In-Site Athlete Management, told the BBC: "Oscar has been my client for six years. It's my business to know how much he earns in sponsorships, but we're not in any position to give you any comment at the moment given the sensitivity of the situation."
The global sponsorship industry is worth an estimated $50bn (£32.2bn; 36.4bn euros) a year, according to consultancy IEG, with more than 80% of that being spent on sports.
Nike, which makes annual revenues of over $24bn, spends tens of millions of dollars on sports sponsorships a year. For example, its recent sponsorship deal with Rory McIlroy, the Northern Irish golfer, will reportedly cost the company $100m to $125m (£62m to £77m) over five years.
When its previous brand ambassador, golf titan Tiger Woods, was exposed as a philanderer in 2009, Nike stuck by him even though many other brands cast him adrift.
"Nike's whole golf proposition was built around him. They had spent millions of dollars and simply couldn't afford to drop him", says Alan Ferguson, managing director of The Sports Business, a sports marketing consultancy.
Nike chooses sports stars that seem to embody and reinforce its high-energy brand. "My body is my weapon. This is how I fight," says one video featuring Mr Pistorius and other South African athletes. Its 2012 annual report contained a headline: "We are on the offense. Always."
As Oscar Pistorius demonstrated values of tenacity, valour and triumph over adversity, it made him an obvious fit with the sportswear giant.
But in the light of recent events, Mr Ferguson warns: "I think many brands will be taking stock and re-evaluating their celebrity endorsements now. At the very least they will be doing more detailed background checks on their sports stars."
Tattooed on Oscar Pistorius' back is a quotation from St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (9: 26-27): "Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
In the unforgiving, hard cash world of sports sponsorship, Mr Pistorius could find himself being disqualified, whether innocent or guilty.
Drones - or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) - could soon be whizzing across our airspace on all sorts of civil and commercial missions.
Rapid advances in camera, sensing, aeronautics, battery and autopilot navigation technologies have helped make UAVs affordable, easy-to-operate and increasingly reliable for individuals, civil authorities and businesses alike.
Small, vertical take-off or landing (VTOL) multi-propeller helicopters equipped with hi-tech equipment are already saving big business millions of pounds.
John Moreland, spokesman for the UAV Systems Association, the UK's main industry body, with about 140 members, told the BBC: "Hundreds of these UAVs are being used commercially these days, typically flying below 400ft (120m) and with a range of about 500m (0.3 miles).
"Most are engaged in aerial photography and 3D surveying, but applications are expanding all the time."
For example, UAVs are being used to carry out aerial inspections of oil refinery flare stacks, fuel tanks, power lines and pipelines.
With their ability to access difficult and dangerous areas, they can provide high-definition video, infrared and still images in live situations without the need for shutting down plants and erecting expensive scaffolding. This saves time and money.
Livingston-based Cyberhawk, a company that specialises in aerial inspections for companies such as Shell, Total, Statoil and ExxonMobil, saved one of its clients £4.6m last year after its UAVs were able to inspect a drilling derrick while it was still operational.
The inspection cut the amount of time the plant had to be closed for painting and reduced the overall amount of work needing to be done, winning Cyberhawk an industry award for business efficiency.
Philip Buchan, Cyberhawk's commercial manager, told the BBC: "We also carry out a lot of live flare-stack inspections for our clients. Not having to shut down the whole processing plant can save them millions of pounds.
In another example, French firm EDF Energy is planning to build two new nuclear power stations at its Hinkley Point site in Somerset in south-west England. Preliminary ground works have already begun and EDF is using "a photogrammetric unmanned aerial system" (UAS) - a fixed-wing craft with built-in digital camera and autopilot system - to take measurements and assess progress
against the plans.
It flies over the 150-hectare (0.5-sq-mile) site each week, taking hundreds of photos and following a predetermined pattern, operated and monitored on the ground via a tablet computer. The data is used to create 3D maps of the terrain.
Explaining the system's advantages, EDF spokesman Gordon Bell told the BBC: "Compared with a traditional land surveyor equipped with a GPS antenna, the UAS system can cover 1.2 sq km [0.5-sq-mile] in one flight and produce a points cloud composed of millions of points, where a land surveyor can take only hundreds of points at the most per day."
Other advantages included being able to fly below cloud level and at short notice, he added, but the system could be slightly less accurate than man-made surveys and had a shorter range than manned surveillance aircraft.
Many countries around the world have authorised the use of fixed-wing and rotary UAVs for civil purposes, such as border control, police surveillance, fire-fighting, search-and-rescue, land management and topographical surveys.
In Brazil, for example, UAVs have been mapping the Amazonian rainforest for the past two years, while in Japan they are used extensively for crop spraying.
Prof James Scanlan, of Southampton University's department of engineering and environment, is developing larger UAVs containing low-cost nylon parts produced by a 3D printer.
His team is about to safety-test a fixed-wing reconnaissance UAV for a consortium of clients including the police, coastguards, the lifeboat service and Dutch port authorities, to help them carry out maritime surveillance more efficiently.
"Our unique selling point is [the] low cost," he told the BBC.
"We can now build a reliable, durable UAV system for £20,000 or less, when a low-flying helicopter can cost £6,000 an hour to run.
"The potential is massive if we can solve the problem of flying in non-segregated airspace."
'Sense and avoid'
Most civil aviation authorities will only allow larger, longer-range UAVs into civilian "non-segregated" airspace once they have demonstrated "detect and avoid" capabilities that make collisions almost impossible.
But we may already be closer to achieving this than many think.
Engineers at the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (Grasp) Laboratory at Pennsylvania University have developed ways to make small quadrotor robots fly in formation, co-operate and map their surroundings without global positioning systems (GPS) .
This video illustrates how close we are to achieving "sense and avoid" capabilities that could satisfy aviation authorities around the world, if only for smaller UAVs at this stage.
Grasp Lab team leader, Dr Vijay Kumar, believes such autonomous, self-learning UAVs could be used to search buildings for signs of life after natural disasters, for example, or check for chemical or radiation leaks.
Programmable UAVs that cost less than £300 are now accessible even to hobbyists.
The latest iteration of Parrot's AR.Drone quadcopter includes a 4GB GPS recorder that can store flight data, photos and video for users to share online. Pilots can operate the drone via smartphone or tablet computer and watch live video streamed from the on-board camera.
When operated in conjunction with Q Ground Control software, pilots can set up flight plans on a map that the AR.Drone will then complete automatically, directed by the software.
With a wi-fi connection range of about 55m, this UAV - marketed primarily as a toy - could easily have commercial applications for estate agents, surveyors and roofing contractors, to name but a few.
In time, automated drones could be used as city couriers delivering letters and packets around congested cities or over difficult terrain.
"The civilian and commercial potential of UAVs is being realised more and more now", says Tony Dodd, of the Institute of Engineering and Technology. "The market is potentially worth billions."
But low-cost UAVs could also become the voyeur's tool of choice.
A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office, the body responsible for policing the Data Protection Act, told the BBC: "It would become a major concern for us if organisations were using these things to record people without giving notice. It's definitely an issue of growing concern."
In the UK, organisations wanting to use small UAVs - 20kg (3st 2lb) or less - for surveillance, data collection, and commercial purposes, have to get permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
This requirement covers UAVs flying within 150m "of any congested area" or within 50m "of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under control of the pilot".
Pilots of these small UAVs also have to keep them in sight.
Larger UAVs with extended ranges can only be flown in segregated airspace known as "Danger Areas", says the CAA.
They will only be allowed into normal airspace once they have demonstrated an ability to "detect and avoid" other manned aircraft.
Nearly 200 companies and organisations have been granted permission to use small UAVs in British airspace, ranging from big corporations such as the National Grid, the BBC and BAE Systems, to small aerial photography firms and county fire and rescue services.
New services that enable consumers and small businesses to record telephone calls, store them to "the cloud" and then read transcripts or carry out key-word searches of the audio database, are potentially revolutionising the way we treat the spoken word.
And Apple's iTunes store features an app, CallRec.me by MotionApps, allowing iPhone and iPad users to record and transcribe their phone conversations.
But one award-winning UK startup, Calltrunk, is attracting particular attention for enabling its customers to record phone conversations made from any phone, anywhere, and make keyword searches of the audio database stored on its servers.
Calltrunk hopes its ARGOsearch software will do for voice calls what Google did for text and image search.
The company has won three technology awards for the way its search engine indexes time-stamped keywords from audio files, then adds meta-data to create a richer search experience.
Cindy Provost, 46, from Leominster, Massachusetts, a US Air Force professor of aerospace studies and commander of reserve officer training at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, uses Calltrunk on her iPhone and computer to replay messages and conversations with her nephews.
"We move around a lot because we're in the military, so I don't get to see my family as often as I would like," she says.
"Conversations with my nephews are really important to me. In fact, being able to listen to them again really helped me get through a recent bout of breast cancer treatment."
Cindy also has two grandmothers, one aged 100 and the other turning 100 soon.
"I've already taken to recording their oral history when I see them in person," she says, "but as they're three hours' drive away, I'm going to start recording their telephone conversations as well using the voice recording service."
Calltrunk can record and store conversations made via any phone - fixed line or mobile - and has currently amassed more than 20,000 customers worldwide after just over a year of operation.
Skype customers can record all their calls for $5 (£3.13) a month, otherwise calls routed via its service cost about 13 cents a minute.
The search engine software shows users how often chosen keywords appear in a conversation and where in the timeline.
Of course, there is nothing new about voice recording per se - call centres and helplines have been recording customer conversations for years "for training purposes", and financial institutions now have to record mobile phone calls as well for compliance reasons.
The two biggest players in the US are Nice Systems and Verint Systems, both specialising in the collection and analysis of voice, video and text for surveillance purposes.
Most of their clients are big businesses, however, and as disruptive technologies like Calltrunk's come along there is increasing pressure to reduce costs.
This could be one reason why the two companies are reportedly in merger talks
- a deal that could have antitrust regulators crawling all over it.
But while big business is well served, there has been little around for consumers and small businesses.
Richard Newton, Calltrunk's marketing director, says: "Companies record us, so why shouldn't we record them? If there's a dispute, they hold all the cards. We wanted to put power back into the hands of the consumer".
But he argues the appeal of the service is much broader than a mere rebalancing of power for the purposes of dispute resolution. Livescribe pens let you create digital versions of your handwritten notes, as well as recording audio
These days, wearable sensors, such as Fitbit and Nike fuel bands, record our movements and sleep patterns; digital photos uploaded to social networking sites record key moments in our lives; Livescribe pens translate our handwriting into digital text; and closed-circuit television cameras monitor us on the streets.
"We see recording spoken conversations as just the next part of this journey," Mr Newton says.
"ARGOsearch will help people turn hundreds of thousands of hours of unstructured conversational data into something useful and valuable."
"There are clear applications for this technology in certain industries, particularly financial services, but it stretches the imagination as to how useful this may be for consumers at large.
"Mobile phone call minutes actually dropped 2% in the final quarter of 2012, as people are communicating more by email, text, Twitter and Facebook these days.
"But I'm heartened that there is innovation going on in this sector given that voice technology has largely stood still over the last ten years."
Erik Snider, director of corporate communications at NICE Systems, says the company is not currently considering extending their recording and analysis services to consumers.
"We're all in favour of empowering the consumer, but at the moment they can already demand to have any recorded phone call played back to them, so the question is what would be the business case of offering a consumer call-recording service?" he says.
"The regulations in the area of consumer protection are always changing and complex, so one of our focuses remains on providing solutions to enterprises which help them remain compliant with these regulations."
Calltrunk certainly isn't focusing on the consumer market alone, and has a few global investment banks among its clients as well.
One of the reasons it recently secured nearly £2m in investment funding was the potential to outsource the ARGOsearch programme to big corporates.Is it legal?
Another potential issue is consumer concern or confusion over the legality of recording voice calls.
Calltrunk maintains that when recording conversations for private purposes - as long as that recording is not shared with a third party - only one person needs to be aware of, and consent to, the recording.
Anthony Lee, data protection and privacy expert at law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, agrees, but only up to a point.
"This does not apply if you want to use a third party, such as a cloud service-provider, to store recordings, particularly if sensitive personal data is involved, or if the recording is to be stored on servers which are located outside of the European Economic Area," he says.
"The informed consent and, sometimes, the explicit consent of the individual or individuals concerned, will typically be required. It will be interesting to see the practice which emerges here."
Calltrunk disagrees and believes the law is analogous to that covering email, which, technically speaking, requires the consent of the sender before you can forward it. Practically no-one does this.
What is certain is that the law differs considerably from country to country. In the UK, Canada, and some states in the US, this so-called 'one party consent' is adequate (but businesses in the UK
must tell people that calls are being recorded).
In other words, before recording anything it is important to check what the legal situation is where you live.
Voice recognition and phones have had a troubled relationship over the years.
The technology can struggle to cope with background noise and some regional accents, resulting in accuracy rates too low to make services acceptable to a mass audience.
Apple's Siri voice recognition application, powered by Nuance, has certainly taken things to the next level, but there is still a long way to go. Calltrunk's word indexation accuracy is around 80%.
So a personalised Google for voice calls may still be a little way off, but there is no doubt new technologies could make us think differently about our phone conversations.
Next stop a Wikipedia for the spoken word?
On Wednesday, the IDF began live-tweeting and blogging about its current military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, head of Hamas' military wing, was killed in the initial air strike.
The IDF uploaded a video of the attack and an "eliminated" poster on Twitter.
Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, responded: "Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)".
In a thinly-veiled threat, the IDF warned: "We recommend no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead."
Meanwhile, over the last 20 hours, Hamas has been giving a running commentary on its mortar and rocket attacks on various Israeli targets, including what it said were military bases.
On Thursday, it posted a YouTube video purportedly showing the launch of a Fajr 5 missile towards Tel Aviv for the first time.
In its turn, the IDF tweeted a link to a video purportedly showing an Israeli air force attack on a "rocket warehouse in #Gaza", on day two of its "Pillar of Defense" operation.
The use of social media to announce and comment on military operations, almost in real time, is a significant departure for the social networking platform.
And it potentially brings the warring parties into conflict with Twitter's own rules, which state:
"Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others."
Benedict Evans, analyst at media research company Enders Analysis, told the BBC: "This clearly puts Twitter in a difficult position. They want to preserve their position as a carrier service that doesn't editorialise.
"On the other hand, they have terms and conditions that must be adhered to.
"This is not a decision a couple of hundred engineers in North California want to be making."
It remains to be seen whether Twitter intervenes in the online warfare and bans either or both of the combatants.
More prosaically, we might say the debt-burdened country is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
To qualify for the next 31.5bn-euro (£26.6bn) tranche of its 130bn-euro bailout it needs to deepen its already drastic austerity measures.
With this aim, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras have finalised their debt reduction package worth 11.5bn euros, with another 2bn euros expected to come from tax revenue.
But even they admit this is unlikely to be enough. Now they just need to get the plan past the fractious coalition government on Wednesday, not to mention the troika of inspectors from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Central Bank (ECB).
Meanwhile the people are rebelling, with the latest 48-hour general strike just the most recent in a long series of protests against the strong medicine being imposed by the eurozone authorities.
How much more pain can the people take?
If the troika does not approve the plan and agree that Greece is making sufficient progress reforming its finances, it means no more eurozone bailout funds.
And without bailout funds the country faces likely bankruptcy, ejection from the euro and social chaos.Emergency funding
Worryingly for Greece, troika approval is by no means guaranteed, with reports suggesting that the IMF will not agree to the debt reduction plan unless the government commits to reducing the country's debt level to 120% of gross domestic product by 2020.
Greece has already asked for a two-year extension to the terms of its bailout. But funding this extension could cost an extra 15bn euros, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told Reuters.
Who would plug the extra funding gap and how?
In the game of pass the debt parcel, no-one wants to be left holding the package when the music stops.
The IMF is reportedly worried about becoming stuck as a long-term funder of the country, when its primary remit is to provide short-term, emergency funding.
IMF head Christine Lagarde has suggested that eurozone countries may have to take a haircut on loans they have made to Greece, agreeing to write off part of what they are owed.
In addition, the ECB might also have to take losses on the estimated 40bn-euro worth of Greek bonds it owns.
"The Greek debt will have to be addressed," she said.
Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets, agrees: "Either the eurozone lenders, the IMF and the ECB take a haircut on their Greek debts or they have to let Greece leave the euro - it's a straight binary choice," he told the BBC.State financing
Greece had certainly been hoping the ECB would help ease the pain by extending the maturity of its Greek bonds. But the ECB could be unwilling to take the hit and Germany in particular is opposed to giving any more financial aid to Greece.
ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen, told German newspaper Die Welt: "The ECB would not be able to take part in any such restructuring because this would constitute state financing, which is forbidden."
If Mr Asmussen reflects the view of the ECB board as a whole, his response is a slap in the face to Greece and a rebuff to the IMF as well.
So if the ECB won't budge and eurozone countries are unwilling to cough up, how else will Greece plug the gap?
Mr Stournaras has said his country could raise short-term debt or negotiate lower interest rates on its borrowings. But how realistic are these options?
Megan Greene, director of European research at Roubini Global Economics, is pessimistic: "Greece could raise short-term funds selling Treasury bills, but this is high risk, expensive and doesn't solve the problem.
"If the troika aren't prepared to make concessions, I think this Greek government is likely to fall and the country will have to leave the euro in a negotiated exit next year."Austerity measures
But some analysts believe there is still hope for Greece.
Dr Vassilis Monastiriotis, senior lecturer at the European Institute of the London School of Economics, told the BBC: "If Greece convinces the authorities it is on track with its debt reduction measures, the decision to allow the two-year extension is easy - and by implication - the 15bn-euro funding that goes with it."
Dr Monastiriotis argues that, despite Mr Asmussen's assertion, the ECB will agree to help fund the extension by delaying the repayment of its Greek bonds.
"If the extension is agreed it means the austerity measures can be less drastic and this will stimulate the economy, leading to higher tax revenues, thereby reducing the cost of the extension to the eurozone.
"I remain convinced that Greece will stay in the euro."
Yet again, the future of Greece hangs in the balance, as the Greek people wonder how much more pain they will be asked to endure and for how long.
By Matthew Wall
Business reporter, BBC News
There are strong arguments in favour of remote or teleworking. Time saved not having to commute into a central office can translate into higher productivity, better quality of life, and give people with families more flexibility over how they organise their time.
High-speed broadband and secure virtual private networks now make teleworking feasible without posing a threat to corporate security, while more remote workers and flexible hours mean smaller offices and lower overheads for businesses.
Most importantly, workers seem to like it.
In August 2012, UK mobile phone operator Vodafone said most workers in London and the Home Counties now wanted to work more flexibly after having tried it during the London Olympics.
Of people surveyed, 24% said they had changed their normal working arrangements over the period, either working from home or another location, to avoid the expected travel restrictions. Productivity had increased as a result, they said, principally because of the time saved not having to commute.
And research by Mitel, published in July, indicated 81% of UK workers, and 87% of younger employees, wanted to escape the nine-to-five culture.
Vodafone says most employers already offer flexible working or are now more open to the idea.
Need to be seen
But what are the downsides? Humans are gregarious creatures. We like face-to-face contact. Will the increased adoption of flexible working lead to isolation and a drop in creative collaboration?
In a work culture still dominated by "presenteeism" - the need to be seen around the office - do teleworkers risk being overlooked when it comes to promotion or new project opportunities?
And as the boundaries between work and family life become increasingly blurred in the "always-on" era of digital communications, what psychological pressure does this put on us and our relationships with partners and families?
A study by the US not-for-profit organisation WorldatWork indicated the number of people working from home or another remote location for an entire day at least once a month fell from 33.7 million in 2008 to 26.2 million in 2010.
When the job market is tough, it seems workers fear out of sight really does mean out of mind. The issue particularly affects younger, less established workers.
And a study by the University of Toronto, published in the US Journal of Health and Social Behavior last year, asked participants how often they had been contacted outside the workplace by phone, email, or text about work-related matters.
It indicated women who were contacted frequently by supervisors, co-workers, or clients reported higher levels of psychological distress, principally because they felt guilty. Men were less affected.
Report author Paul Glavin said: "Women are able to juggle their work and family lives just as well as men, but they feel more guilty as a result of being contacted. This guilt seems to be at the heart of their distress."
In a major study into the wellbeing of mobile workers conducted for iPass, a network provider, Dr Carolyn Axtell, senior lecturer at Sheffield University's Institute of Work Psychology and Management, found more than a quarter of respondents said they worked 15 to 20 hours extra a week, largely because technology enabled them to do so, a trend "likely to have significant repercussions for work-life balance and employee well-being".
A third of these workaholics said they had logged on even while on holiday and that this was expected of them by managers and colleagues, leading to greater stress and poorer quality sleep. In turn, this was having a negative impact on family relationships.
Dr Maire Kerrin, of Work Psychology Group, a UK occupational psychology consultancy, says: "Working from home isn't always easy and not everyone adapts to it well. Some find it impossible to switch off the BlackBerry while others switch everything off at a set time every day. One of our clients would lock himself in the bathroom to check his emails because the rest of his family got
so annoyed with him checking them all the time."
Good managers will implement protocols to help teleworkers manage their time effectively and "switch off", she says.
Vodafone's survey found 24% of respondents felt they had become less productive working from home, saying they were easily distracted and interrupted.
And Dr Axtell's work suggests productivity actually levels off among those working the longest hours, and even drops over time, as tiredness and stress eventually impair performance.
She says: "There is a fine balance between reaping the benefits of greater flexibility and control over when and where a person works versus working longer hours that may encroach detrimentally on personal life.
"However, when the balance is struck well - mobile workers can achieve a better work-life balance, feel a greater sense of control and well-being, and be more efficient and productive."
Now switch off the smartphone and close down the computer.
Abraham Otoide supervises around 20 cleaners in the Peter Jones store in Sloane Square, London. They are employed by outsourced services company ICM on the UK's minimum wage of £6.08 an hour.
This is how Abraham, originally from Nigeria and a law graduate, described his colleagues' lives: "Some of the cleaners cannot put food on the table, or buy books for their kids. Sometimes we have to lend them the money for a bus pass just so they can get to work."
It was a shocking insight into the lives of London's working poor.
The 3,000 cleaners who keep all the John Lewis, Waitrose and Peter Jones stores clean and tidy throughout the UK are not partners in the much-praised, mutually-owned company. They do not share in the famous annual bonus - £194.5m, or 18% of salary, for 2011, based on group pre-tax profits of £367.9m.
Though they work in the same buildings as the partners, they are not treated as equals. They do not receive a pension, holiday pay, sick pay or partner discounts. All because they are not directly employed by John Lewis. Cleaning was outsourced in the 1990s.
You simply cannot live in London on £6.08 an hour with any decency or dignity, particularly if you have a family. As a result, cleaners often have to get two or three jobs just to make ends meet. This means they see their families less. Their relationships are strained. Their choices and opportunities are restricted. Their health suffers.
Yet it was John Spedan Lewis, son of the retailer's founder, who described the concept of a "living wage" back in 1957 in a radio speech called Dear To My Heart. He was deeply concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor, describing it as a "a perversion of capitalism."
It is clear to most fair-minded people reading this speech that the laudable values upon which the John Lewis Partnership was originally founded are not consonant with the current reality: thousands of cleaners - and even some lower-paid partners - working for a profitable company on poverty wages.
Chairman Charlie Mayfield, meanwhile, received a pay and pension package in 2011 worth £1,093,000 and can retire at 60 on an annual pension of £214,000.
"It is all wrong to have millionaires before you have ceased to have slums," said Spedan Lewis. "Differences of reward must be large enough to induce people to do their best, but the present differences are far too great."
Since the 1950s the gap between the richest and the poorest has grown even wider.
This Autumn, John Lewis partners have their annual meeting at which, we understand, they will discuss the merits of bringing their cleaners back in-house and making them partners.
While such a move is unlikely to result in an instant pay-rise for the cleaners to the current London Living Wage level of £8.30 an hour, it would nevertheless confer significant benefits and transform lives.
It would be a radical and brave decision to make. And a just one. Abraham and his fellow cleaners are fervently hoping the partners have the courage to do it.
The material benefits of partnership will be life-changing, but, as Abraham poignantly put it: "Most of all, it will mean being treated as equals.
"We want to be part of the John Lewis family."
Other speakers at the London Citizens "Celebration of the John Lewis Model of Partnership" event, held at the Quaker Meeting House in St. Martin's Lane, London, on Tuesday 11 September, included Polly Toynbee, Guardian journalist; Lord Glasman, Labour life peer; Professor Jane Wills, Queen Mary University; Amelia Hartog, John Lewis partner at Peter Jones; and Peter Cox, retired John Lewis partner and author of 'Spedan's Partnership'.