Thursday 31 May 2007

Green conundrum

I must admit I'm very two-faced about the idea of a looming global crisis. I see all the terrifying headlines about the imminent collapse of the planet, and I just don't take them as seriously as I'm supposed to.

I tell myself the scientists know what they're talking about, and I'm keen to do my bit to prevent catastrophe, but at the same time I want to continue the same comfortable lifestyle I'm used to.

I know flying is highly polluting, but it doesn't stop me jumping on planes. I find a dozen ways of justifying it, from the futility of personal boycotts to the much worse pollution of deforestation or farting cows.

Do I leave my equally toxic car to rust away in the garage? Of course not. I can't possibly rely on the vagaries of public transport to get me where I need to go. And I've frozen to death at bus stops once too often.

Much as I agree with slashing energy use, I'm not quite prepared to shiver through the winter or dump all my household appliances to stop the odd Arctic glacier melting.

I suppose deep down my problem is this - if the environmental crisis is so colossal and so desperate, then it can only be averted by lifestyle changes on a scale far exceeding the petty tweaks and gestures of well-meaning individuals.

However much I'm told that every little bit helps, we all have to pull together, it's a joint effort blah blah, I can't help feeling that everything I'm doing is a mere drop in the ocean that counts for little.

At the end of the day, a threat this big has to be confronted by national governments. Relying on individual goodwill is a bit like rearranging the deckchairs as the Titanic heads for the iceberg. Or fighting Hitler with Dad's Army. There's just too much at stake.


  1. You do what you can and live your life. "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" was a big campaign in the U.S. and I try to think of it in those terms. You're right, the big stuff like regulating industries has to be led by governments. Canada is trying to broker a North American policy for global warming and get the U.S. and Mexico to join.

  2. At this point I am contractually obliged to mention that I the other day I reviewed George Monbiot's excellent book Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning on my blog.

    Anyway, Bush has finally realised that unless he follows, federally and internationally, the lead that many US states are already taking, he really will go down in history as not only the worst President in the history of the US, but probably the worst human mistake in the history of mankind.

  3. Medbh - well I certainly reduce, reuse, recycle wherever I can, and of course being a vegetarian is one of the best things you can do for the planet. But the world's governments are really dragging their feet.

    John - sorry, haven't seen your Monbiot piece yet as broadband connection still not restored (BT incompetence). Would like to think Bush is serious but it could be just another devious spoiler. Still, fingers crossed.

  4. The fact is that global warming data is shaky at best.
    The founder of the weather channel had this to say

    "I can't find a single link between any warming that may have occurred and the activities of mankind."
    - John Coleman, KUSI

    He also calls global warming a hoax, forwarded by those with political agendas.

    "British court has determined that Al Gore's schlockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth" contains at least eleven material falsehoods"

    See the full article at this website, among countless others on the net:

  5. Matt, I think the jury's still out on this one. Both sides strenuously defend their own case so it's hard to know who's right. The court's criticism of Al Gore's film has in turn been criticised as erroneous. I guess we'll only know the truth when we're all being fried to death!