Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Navel gazing

If I have one main wish for the future, and the future of my family, it is that we see the current crop of messengers swept away so we can really set about addressing some critical issues: This time it's personal

Why? Well not because 'there is a disconnect between awareness of climate change and the lifestyle changes necessary to combat it', but because many proponents of that view seem unable to accept that they don’t understand what's going on in most average folks' minds well enough to even dream of setting about effecting any change of behaviour that may stand some chance of succeeding. And unless you are prepared to dig up some statesperson of dubious provenance from earlier ages, and shut down pretty much every democratic institution (especially a free press), you are in for a bumpy ride.

And I have to ruefully glance at one (of many) groups who truly stand out for their astounding ability to see no irony in preaching from pedestals about the evils of pedestals. And that is our now very self-serving free press. If there’s a rating in the offing, editorial will publish whatever gets the eyeballs, and sod the consequences.

At the end of a year that started with Stern and ended with Bali, with our race standing at a precipice, what do I see in the New Year round-ups? A few ecoshrews figuring that getting their air-flown tofu in paper instead of plastic bags has just about sorted it all, and deification of some guy who has so far avoided being accorded the title Typhoid Trevor by advocating all share in his vision of composting bogs in Streatham. 6 billion and counting means some eco-ideals are no longer, well, that ideal.

Britain may or may not be en route to some nifty targets, but I have near zero faith that these will mean anything much save as ways for ever more box-tickers to score a bonus or a lobbyist to rack up an even better commission. The system seems totally corrupted by having little to do with any tangible enviROI, and a lot more to do with profit or career enhancements.

And this situation is all at the door of a mainly self-created green elite who are great at saying but self-evidently so far pretty darn woeful at much in the way of doing by example. In fact, the most effort seems so far to be in areas of why, well, y'know, it's not really practical for 'them' to cut back, as such.

Lead, and if the story makes sense and the leader sharing the vision credible, then we will follow. If the story stinks and those spouting it seen to be playing a less than straight game, and you're on a non-starter.

By heavens it's not going to be easy. The whole thing is so vast, and complex and interconnected it's hard to know where to start, but it isn’t with some numptie MEP claiming their use of EurosStar and giving festive goats rather than X-box games qualifies them to join a fact-finding committee to study the impact of climate change in Lapland at Christmas (with the family) in mid-shuttle between Brussels and Strasbourg. It is just so much laughable hot air.

As is bottled water campaigns by Yummier-than-thou-mummies who write a column for a bleeding heart eco-quality, with both having really tricky ethical issues on the big stuff, such as what’s the best eco-lodge for the Easter break. Not perhaps notions top of mind or even shared at all by the majority of readers of, say, the News of the World. That would be a publication with some several times more readers, too. Go figure.

So where are these lifestyle choices to be made to have any impact, and who is going to make them... and persuaded by whom?

If you are going to be interventionist you better be whiter than white, otherwise there is a wall ready and waiting when the revolution comes.

I for one would advocate giving persuasion a much better chance. But first that needs the current crop of woeful 'leadership', in authority, activism and especially the media, being given the order of the Royal boot. Then get in some folk who genuinely care, understand the audience and can shine as those who can and will lead by example. Sadly, with the current system now embedded as firmly as leech’s teeth can be, that is a sadly dim possibility, and fading with each conference season and target setting consultation.

Yet we are both in agreement on the value of the carrot. And I can also see that there also needs to be some stick. Only not the kind wielded so far, and certainly not in the hands of those who to date think they are qualified or entitled to wield them.

I contend that most people are not that lazy. And even if they are then that's just a fact you work around to achieve your goal. Breaking my own rule (I find it arrogance in the extreme when a medium or politician claims to speak for me when they clearly do not), but for writing simplicity may I claim that 'we' are simply not ... so far... very well informed about the threats posed by probable man -worsened climate change (see, I have a different notion of what we face to offer up to you 'global warming' orthodoxy). And for sure none of the discussions, much less solutions I’ve had presented so far seem to me very well argued to date. In fact most seem to have been totally hijacked by extremes, with careers and fees and profits all very much front of mind well before any actual doing what's right for our kids.

I'd suggest some priorities need to be established. Pronto. Especially the putting houses in order variety. I for one can't take many politicians seriously when Bali in Winter managed to swell in delegateship tenfold, yet still with no obvious result at all. Or any finger-wave in these pages for instance, so long as there are ads for skiing trips or luxury cars in the sidebar.

Which might explain that low rate of behaviour change. Ya think?

I shudder that the conclusion seems to have arrived at the ‘solutions’ of ‘Consciousness-raising and green taxes’, especially with the laughable caveat of 'even if carefully thought out and organised'. Checked the competence card lately?

Too right they 'may have only marginal effects'. Just think what could have been done with the hundreds of millions already p*ssed away on scores of overlapping quangos and their bloated, self-serving (how you can get a bonus based on awareness results created by spending public money on ad campaigns seems truly astounding, if not a downright conflict of interest) comms budgets. So this voter at least will be... 'resisting' if they figure this is a nifty way to get more on the public sector payroll to then fund their pay and pensions with 'green taxes’.

Yes, many changes are needed. and urgently. But I’d suggest a bit more doing, and in a very different direction, than any more sodding thinking. None I have read or seen so far has seemed to offer one whit of an actual difference. We need something new.

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