Thursday, April 12, 2007

A toast to Ethical Man? Or Ethical man is toast?

Wednesday, 11 April, 2007

So Gavin introduces our hero as 'Ex-Ethical Man'. Following the one year 'experiment' in 'individual' behaviour, he who would carry the burden of our sins is 'dead'. How very topical, considering the time of year. Does becoming ex-ethical mean one reverts to being UNethical?

I tuned in rather hoping, indeed expecting, answers to the questions that could get posed to the Green E(for eco)-lite (pronounced 'leet', naturally) in reply to yesterday's call on these pages, but came away a tad disappointed.

The preamble was interesting, as much for what was not said as was. Cars are fully 20% responsible for our household footprints. Wow! At least, being London-based, this burden is immediately removed by the simple (so long as you live in a city with decent urban transport) expedient of getting rid of the family car. Well, so long as there is one on standby for 6 weeks in the year. And the option of others on tap for rental purposes. I'm assuming the aspects of manufacture, storage, maintenance and operating were factored in before being struck off this guilt-free list.

Then there was the mea culpa on population, though one might think dragging Larry Lebensraum into a creche full of very prolific yummier mummies was a tad trivial and unfair - ' so... which blonde, blue-eyed little munchkin gets the chop, eh?'. I rather think he held his ground quite well against such a Guido Fawksian set-up, and have to admire his guts.

As I did the pols who actually managed to answer at least one question, on population, towards the end of the discussion and, surprisingly given Gavin's directness, in the affirmative. Hailing from Singapore, where I spent a large chunk of my life, I well remember the 'stop at two' campaigns. Though as was rather darkly muttered, it was a 'difficult' subject, which is code for 'one that will be dropped asap'. Rather gets into dodgy waters, rather quickly, if debated too deeply or at length. One presumes Mr. Lomborg is in favour of such expansion, as it is hard to imagine what else directing vast resources into dealing with AIDS, malaria and water deprivation is going to result in around various continents.

Anyway, to the questions or, as far as I could tell, question. And that was why the government was spouting all this guff about Stern, IPCC, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all, yet was still pretty much on the side of getting as many folk up and at 'em on RyanAir as soon as possible.

And Mr. Miliband's answer? Well, he didn't seem to have one. Again.

What we got... again... was an awesome display of factual recall, as he reeled out a bunch of stats on what 'we' were doing and how awful it all was (so 'we're 3 x worse than a German'? What does that actually mean? Is that a Fiesta driving district nurse in Cumbria vs. a Frankfurt Airbus salesman with a Prius as well as a Merc?). As a swot analysis it was great, only without the strengths or opportunities.

We were then directed to forget about this trivial 5% that may need be addressed but with no indication how, and look at the bigger, 95% picture, with equal lack of anything tangible here either. Hence still not addressing the question. But we did then come straight back to air travel, only this time to learn that its cost 'needs to be recognised', presumably by the application of passenger duties... that help, how exactly?

Only the Green party lady seemed prepared to stick to her guns and advocate a total ban on domestic air travel, before we got embroiled in a rather dodgy bit of claim and counter claim on the costs (rightly highlighted as a pretty important factor by the Tory representative) of rail vs. air. Mr. Miliband stated a clear fact that rail is cheaper, and it was left at that. Is it? Really? I know of almost no eco-friendly trip I can take, locally, regionally or internationally, that has a comparable financial balance to support the envROI. Pretending otherwise is either daft, duplicitous or simply another result of having a London-based, job and pension-insulated elite who have no conception of what is required to run a business or sustain a family in this country these days. No wonder the road pricing 'sell' went down so well.

It was in conclusion posed that the environmentalists have 'won 'the' argument'. What argument? There are hundreds of issues and thousands of arguments swirling all around them. Is the media so self-absorbed now that it really thinks something this complex can be summed up in a soundbite? Here's one: NOT ALL THAT IS GREEN CAN BE VIEWED ONLY IN BLACK AND WHITE.

At least there were a few, minor nuggets I plucked out that I could nod along to:

Good e-practice can't be sold by pain and punishment, or stick over carrot.

We need to inspire folk with simple things that save them money.

We need to encourage carbon free ways of doing what we enjoy doing.

Well, here's a non-standby plug for something that does all that - a FREE website promoting re:use ideas of stuff made from junk that you'd normally throw away:

I just can't figure out why, when its existence has been made clearly known to almost all major media, government, funders and political parties that the spirit of re:duction, re:use and re:pair espoused here, and elsewhere, does not get more support.

Maybe it's because the only target is DOING something in the home, as an individual.

And that seems a slightly better legacy than the message of a guy who shrugs and says he is 'going back to flying', with a 5-person long haul flight for starters (how much did the solo jaunt to Jamaica offset the total annual 'good' achieved elsewhere?), but is at least intending to pee on his grave to make up.

Pity. It could have been so much more. But simply ended up as so much... compost.

Indy - Jeffrey Sachs is wrong once again: rising population isn't going to destroy the planet

Er... what she said

Janet Street-Porter: A song by Madonna won't save the world

I am guessing Ms. Street-Porter is not gunning for a VIP slot in the Green Room with the rest of the self-appointed Green 'E(for eco)-lite' (pronounced 'leet').

Took guts. Don't envy her chances with the canapes at the next London luvvie-fest she lobs up to, mind. When I first heard of this e-vent I felt like the potted plant in Hitchhikers Guide.

There are a few too many 'celebs' and media remoras with a vested interest in making this seem a lot more than what it is, and hence I have to question how it will serve to benefit my kids' future enviROI (stuff that gets actually DONE that lowers carbon emissions).

I even have to wonder whether the awareness aspect will actually outweigh the potential negatives that are already, and with some reason, being brought to bear. Here's hoping the protagonists have done their sums, hired the right guys who can be on message... and stay there. Remember, a planet is for life, and not just for a quick temporary ratings boost.

And so, I join her (if slightly lower and behind) on the parapet.

Letters - Nothing so far, but a great letter by a guy on the topic of dumping gulit on the kids to sort this mess out

Letters - Looks like they didn't like mine. Surprise

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One does wonder what the technology correspndent talks to the environment correspondent about at the Christmas party.

The value of irony perhaps?