Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hunting, nuking and swishing: a guide to saving the planet

Here's irony for you. I watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth on a plane to the US. That's life though, messy and uncomfortable. Which is why I hadn't thought to say anything about the Heathrow climate camp: I thought it a pointless exercise which was more about massaging the egos of the participants, making BAA look like twats (a pleasing side effect, I concede) and likely to have no effect whatsoever in terms of getting people to fly less and lead more environmentally friendly lives. (This argument is well made by the Jura Watchmaker here). In fact, I'd add that implying that ordinary people are stupid and evil and guilty of destroying the planet by flying off on their hols is probably the worst possible way to get people to change their behaviour. (Bribery would work better for me if any rich and/or attractive protesters are reading this).

Anyhow, whilst it is both easy and appropriate to carp and sneer at such people (and at the arguments of those who seem to believe that this passive-aggressive hectoring is the best way to start a debate, despite the fact that the climate camp did their damnedest to ensure that the media sources the vast majority of the country relies upon couldn't properly report the thing) it's not enough. So here are some practical hints on how you can do your bit to save the planet.

1. Sleep more, do less. If you're flat out with the lights, TV and so on turned off, you can't do anything harmful or consume any resources. Those of you with significant others might be able to amuse yourselves in the dark, thereby cutting back on your electricity bills. I mean talking and that, obviously, anything that carries the risk of bringing more kids into the world would be disastrous.

Work less too and have a long lie in every morning – you won't be using electric equipment, there will be no polluting journey to work etc. You will expend less energy, therefore reducing the need for food to be transported to your neighbourhood. Best of all, a few months of this regime will leave you with less money so you will not be able to take flights abroad or buy things that might contribute to environmental harm. In the hours of daylight one might be permitted a little light flanerie, or to read. (A hardcore environmentalist might decide to retrain as a bard in order reduce the literary world's reliance on paper).

2. Be less indulgent towards children. They're the ones who'll suffer if the planet goes tits up, after all, so it's for their own good. If children are used to being treated like the most important people on the planet, it's little wonder that they'll demand more and more things like toys and sweets and what not. The toys will invariably be produced in China, which is now the world's worst polluter, and the demand for more outputs from factories will only increase emissions further. Most kids will happily amuse themselves with everyday household objects such as scissors, empty wine bottles, matches or the contents of the bin.

An additional bonus is that if kids grow up with low expectations they will demand less in future thereby easing the strain on the planet's resources. And though I've said it before, I'll say it again: treadmills for fat kids, hooked up to the national grid.

3. Buy vintage clothes. Less demand for cotton, fewer heavily polluting sweat shops in the Far East. Old stuff also looks better and lends one a certain old world charm. It's the only way I get to wear Savile Row stuff, anyhow. This solution also offsets - ha - the financial problems caused by suggestion number 1.

4. Hunting, shooting and fishing. This is not to say we should all live in the country, obviously. All that mud and inbreeding is off-putting, while nothing is quite so annoying as the Goldsmith school of environmentalism. You know, the sort that advocates we all live on several acres of land and grow our own food and keep chickens: indulgence that would have made Marie Antoinette blush.

You're better off living in towns or cities – any environmentalist who does otherwise will end up skewered by their own sanctimony as George Monbiot was when he decided he really did need to buy a car because he wanted to live in the country and still go to events to flog books. (The obvious solutions: stay in a city, get by on fewer royalties or accept that lots of people need cars and stop hectoring them didn't seem to occur to him.)

That said, there are aspects of traditional country live that city dwellers might usefully adopt.
You know beef is really bad for the planet, don't you? And, since soya is blamed for destroying the rainforests, tofu munchers have nothing be proud of either. (Unless the soya used for tofu is somehow magically different from that used to feed cattle.) The best way round this is to eat more wild things. If you can afford to buy game, do so. If you can afford to head up to northern Britain to shoot birds and deer, do so. Take up fly fishing and wear more tweed. Take up fox hunting and agitate for the law to allow the sport to resume more organic killing methods (ie dogs). The sport helps cut down on wasteful farming practices by keeping sheep and chickens alive and it ensures the countryside is given an economic boost, thereby ensuring the unfortunates who have to live there can afford to keep it in decent trim. The Facebook group Vegetarians for Fox Hunting is the ultimate expression of this ideal.

If you can't afford any of these, poaching is a traditional and fun solution. I think we should take a lead from those enterprising Poles one reads about who are catching ducks and carp from parks and canals.

5. Annoy environmental campaigners. Not by telling them to get a job or wash, but by forcefully advocating the merits of nuclear power and GM foods. (As an aside I would also urge you to mock readers of the Independent newspaper in the same fashion you would those of its right-wing twin the Daily Mail. Snort with derision whenever you are in a newsagents and it does another "Climate Change: Bush is poisoning us all" front pages. It's just porn for the politically solipsistic).

However large sections of the green campaigning movement treat GM and nuclear power as absolute no-nos. This despite the fact that, as things, stand nuclear power is the only sure way to meet our power needs without relying on oil. I do get the point about the dangerous of nuclear waste (until scientists manage to crack nuclear fusion, anyway) and poor safety standards at power plants – and yes, I know the construction of the power plants is not going to be carbon neutral – but these are things that might happen, whereas the only other way to generate enough power is to keep on burning oil and coal. And we know what the consequences of that are

That said I would certainly like to see more investment in developing alternative technologies – in fact, if any of you have some spare cash to invest, do so in companies which specialise in that sort of thing, thereby enraging the anti-capitalist crew further.

GM, on the other hand, has the potential to feed millions. Aside from reducing the sum total of human misery in the the here and now, it could also potentially reduce the environmental degradation caused by intensive farming techniques. There is a quite reasonable objection to how large companies might exploit this technology but this is akin to objections about how drug companies exploit their patents. It's not enough reason to dismiss in a most superstitious fashion the technology itself for being somehow unnatural, prevent any scientific study of what impact it has on the environment, seek to protect your organic brand identity or witter on about health risks without providing any credible reason why they should be bad for one's health.

As defenders of the Climate Campers said: we need to debate these issues. And some things are too important to be left to self-righteous hippies.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

I'd like this article even more if it were accompanied by a pic of Monbiot topping himself by connecting a hose to his exhaust pipe and posting it through his car window.

10:23 pm  
Blogger dominic said...

Fantastic. Another addition to my list of derisory terms to refer to the Independent.

12:18 pm  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Under the think veil of derisory cynicism, I refer you to my comment on the post below. You care, Bill; definitely a softie.

Puss

12:43 pm  

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