Thursday, October 27, 2005

A token thought.

Like HRH the Prince of Wales, I have more than a passing interest in the environment. Unlike him (apparently), I do not have a Toyota Prius, nor do I intend to wear mine with pride.

The reasons are varied. For one, I have a perfectly good car (two in fact, for altogether justifiable reasons I won't go into here), though I do confess they squeak out a few more atmospheric nasties as they do their bit, despite my best efforts on regular servicing, etc. And as my wallet is a potent force in my decision processes, I am looking at converting them to LPG, though there are certain issues yet to resolve before that happens. Like money. Which brings me to reason number two. In fact that is reason number two: I can't afford one, much as I may like to. I say may, and will stop the whole 'reason trail' here and now, by also still needing to get to grips with a few facts that keep cropping up in the, possibly, more cynical zones of the motoring press. Like the fact that it may actually not be any better on the kind of run we do from our country retreat. But as the first two make the whole thing academic, we'll leave me out of it. For now, and the foreseeable future, we are not getting one. 

But a lot of fine folk are. And telling us. Like HRH. And half of Hollywood. Which is all tickedy-boo. Now, as we at hate to wag a finger, and anything is better than nothing, I'd just like to let that eyebrow twitch again and wonder why these much-trumpeted purchases seem to be in addition to the Astons, Range Rovers, Humvees, etc. And even if these fine fellows do no more than sit in the air-conditioned garage block, they did consume a fair old few resources and generate a few gases in the making, no? New stuff does. Even Priusess (what is the plural?).

Hence I remain a little concerned about the messages going out, which remain, at best, mixed. I've got a bee in my bonnet about this whole issue, which I just know is going to sting me on the rear when our TV needs replacing with a digital thingie and (if I can afford it) I get a wall-mounted LCD/plasma (though I believe there are enviro reason for one vs. the other we're looking at soon, so maybe my e-conscience may end up clear) effort. But we tend not to trumpet our, limited, efforts. We just do what we can, want, and afford to.

It all started with a letter I wrote to a Sunday Times architectural journalist in response to a small debate stirrer he'd lobbed out into the public domain, which was something about getting rid of planners and building wherever we fancy. At the risk of coming over all Nimby, I'd erred in favour of some kind of 'protection' (though whether our planners and their political masters provide this function is open to another debate), if only because of one, simple, inescapable set of... colliding... facts: there is finite space on this planet (especially that devoted to sustaining us), and an ever-increasing number of us trying to occupy and live off it. 

So my bee is/was that we should pretty quick-smart devote a fair amount of our creative energies to making the most of what we have and not encroaching any further on nature. Stuff needs making to be sure to keep economies afloat and innovation alive, but I'd simply advocate focussing more on making more of things than making more things.

For sure a Prius is better, environmentally at least, instead of an Aston when you're going from A to B. But I do question whether the required example is being made when it is as well as