Friday, April 08, 2011

Don't blame us

Even if we do as much as we can to save the planet, be it recycling, turning off lights and taps, not having TVs or computers on standby, cycling rather than driving, the combined effect of all these measures is a mere drop in the ocean compared to what big businesses and governments could be doing to save the planet. Even if every individual on the planet lives as green as they can, it would still only combat global warming and climate change by less than a quarter – the rest is down to governments, big business and multinationals who, quite frankly, don't give a shit.

But the government and various agencies tell us not to waste food – okay, but stop doing two for ones and stop designing bags of salad to go off as soon as they're opened. They tell us to recycle more – okay, but stop supermarkets and other shops from producing so much packaging. They tell us not to leave TVs on standby – okay, stop making TVs with standby on them. They tell us not to wash laundry above 30 degrees – okay, stop making washing machines that wash above 30 degrees… you get the idea.

At the end of the day the government needs to be aware that people are stupid and selfish and the only way to encourage…. is to enforce. And to enforce businesses and multinationals to make changes too.

In this so called environmentally aware age (or was that the 1990s?), TVs are bigger and use more energy, digital TV and radio uses far more energy than analogue, offices stay lit up at night, adverts on the underground are now digital, supermarkets use more packaging than ever, carrier bags still haven't been banned… the list is endless.

Carbon offsetting is a joke for guilty-feeling middle classes, businesses and government. The concept behind offsetting is nothing new – people have always deluded themselves into thinking that doing one bad thing can be atoned for by doing one good thing. We go to the gym for a few hours then think that earns us the right to eat junk food for the next week and to take the bus or tube rather than walk or cycle. Me, I offset my smoking by eating organic food. It just doesn't work that way.

Likewise, planting a tree doesn't really offset you driving your car every day for thirty years and flying to Spain twice a year. It just offsets your guilt. Not to mention the fact that when trees die they release all their carbon back into the atmosphere.

As I think I've mentioned before (probably more than once) the key to saving the planet is to do nothing. Literally. That is, stop working, stop travelling, stop consuming, stop watching TV… etc. But more realistically, to find a proper, safe and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.


Mel said...

Ah - the voice of truth and reason. If only the government and big businesses actually gave a damn.

james said...

As with so may things, while politicans bicker and procratstinate, the rest of us will get there sooner. In the west at least, use of recycled materials and commercial and domestin renewable energy generation are growing strongly without government help. Gradually everyone will realise 'they' won't save us. By the time 'they' get their arses in gear, it will too late. There are many great examples of non-government initiated green innovation all around the world if you look.

Barnaby said...

I admire your optimism.