Monday, March 17, 2008

Alternative views

The Indy Letters page is always a worthy scope: 'Fuel cards' to fight climate change

Often good suggestions, pithily posed (for some reason they never print mine - even when i try a do pithy)

Take the one on fuel cards. Soul of reason. What's not to like?

Thing is, I stumble with the pure 'tax fuel' notion because it doesn't seem to take into account those who live and work where a car is needed a lot more than places where it is not.

It's a complex interaction, from manufacture through purchase to use and duration to disposal that cannot be reduced so simplistically. And then there are the related issues of alternatives. You simply can't equate an Islingtonista with a Prius for the weekend jaunt to Devon, with a Midlander who has a Fiesta for the daily 100 mile round trip to the factory.

Meanwhile, as I read on to the issue of watercress (next ban?)...

... watercress has been sourced from the US for more than 20 years, many of the farms being British owned. The watercress is air-freighted on passenger-scheduled airlines, so as to reduce carbon emissions.

Try as I might, I can't see how air-freighting something reduces carbon emissions. At least without some qualifier to explain the possible alternatives.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Not too sure about the fuel card idea, it sounds a little too much like a form of rationing, based upon the consumption of your vehicle. And if you genuinely need a 4x4 (e.g. a remote farmer dozens of miles from the nearest town), and you over utilise your allocation, simply because you live miles from anywhere, then are there not some potentially serious consequences?

Oddly enough, I briefly watched a spot on BBC this morning with a reporter outside the high court in the middle of London. The traffic seemed unusually light, but in the minute she was speaking what traveled past behind her? About four taxi-cabs, two cyclist, one small VW, one van, three range-rovers, a couple of other large 4x4's, two 7 series beamers, and what I think was a new model jag. As the high court sits well within the Con Zone, it seems that this is a neat example demonstrating that those that have the 'readies' will happily pay whatever form of taxation, or rationing, is brought in; whilst those that cannot afford to pay, will suffer.

The watercress example typifies the type of 'environmentally friendly' claims that seem to be becoming all pervading at the mo.

Between the lines they are actually saying that they freight it on scheduled passenger flights (that are going to fly anyway whether or not the watercress is on board), rather than on commercial freight flights, a lot of which are not scheduled, but are arranged only when a suitable (i.e. profitable) payload has been booked.

It's a classic example of what I've decided to term 'environmental cognitive dissonance', which, after reading the article on the Dilbert blog, you do now understand, and under which we could classify all forms of green-cloaking, green-shadowing, green-washing and all other forms of false 'green' claims.