Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Ask What Your Government Can Green For You

A culture of environmental blame and guilt is putting the onus on every one of we wanton wastrels of Earth's precious resources to mend our ways. And yes of course, the vast majority of us have 'oil on our hands' and need to do a great deal more than we're currently doing to neutralise our big ugly carbon bootprints.
However turn the issue around and consider what a handy smokescreen this is to distract us from enquiring too closely what our own government is doing about the environment, yes, that august body we look to for leadership and which was elected (albeit by the narrowest whisker), to lead, and let's ask our 'Brownfield site' the following key questions;-

  • Where is the Buy British campaign (sod the EU restrictions, this is important) to reduce food miles and encourage home grown organic farmers?
  • Where is the re-nationalised train service run on the same efficient lines as the Swiss and not designed to price us off because it cannot cope with demand? Why is freight traffic not being re-patriated to the railways and off the roads?
  • Where is the rejection of out-of-town retail parks to encourage customers to walk and prevent town centres turning into ghost towns?
  • Where is the 4 x 4 taxing of 4 x 4's and PCV's for those with fewer than four children?
  • Why do developers have to pay VAT to restore old buildings, but not to build new ones?
  • Why are new buildings not erected to last at least 100 years and compulsory eco-builds? (new buildings appear to be following in the wake of the rest of our throwaway society with an average shelf life of only 40 years).
  • Why are throwaway fashion shops not severely taxed?
  • Can we dump all our old analogue tellies and radios outside No. 10 for re-cycling?
  • Why de-regulate junk mail? The government should be banning all junk mail and newspaper/magazine inserts if we much-maligned householders are supposed to be reducing our waste.
  • Where is the reduction in food packaging?
  • Why is there no campaign against built-in obsolescence (and we all know they can make a a torch bulb last longer than 2 years!)
  • Why is there no campaign against the throwaway society and consumerism for the sake of it?
  • Why have the council started leaving my lovingly washed glass items on the driveway instead of taking them away, and spurning my conscientious shreddings (also advised to prevent ID theft)?
  • Why does my paper re-cycling bin have no lid so that if it rains they will not collect it and if I put it in my own bin (with a lid) they won't collect it either?
  • Why are food leftovers not accepted as pig swill any more. Is pig swill any less safe for pigs than mechanically recovered meat, ash and assorted hormones and additives?
  • Why are they charging us for re-cycling?
  • When is the free school bus going to be reinstated, so the majority of children can be transported to school in safety?
  • Can we 'infrequent flyers' have an incentive to stay grounded? £50 a year at Christmas perhaps?
  • Can someone please tell all local governments and utility companies to please STOP deluging us with leaflets and newsletters telling us how much paper they're saving and how the latest nuisance water shut-off or road closure is doing us a favour really!
  • What is each MP and Minister individually doing as a shining example to us all?
  • Can I have a free bicycle?

I don't support 'pay as you throw' incidentally. It is just an excuse to separate charges so that councils can cash in. I remember what happened to my grandparents' bills some years ago. The moment 'water' became a separate cost to be paid to a private water company and not part of the all-inclusive local council 'rates' charge, it started becoming an exhorbitant charge in its own right and my grandparents never got a penny back in rebate either, now the 'rates' no longer paid for water. To further confuse and confound taxpayers from protesting, councils countrywide started re-branding 'rates' council tax, notwithstanding a costly and disastrous flirtation with 'poll tax' in between.

UPDATE 30/08/07: Friends of the Earth have just contacted me to mention their campaign to put pressure on the British Government to do more (hurrah!). It's called The Big Ask

*Posting photo by me!


Steve said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Brilliant post. You need to run for Parliament. Or something!

Totally agree with everything. It all makes perfect sense... so why aren't they doing it...?

Money money money. As always its the one and only motivation and the most short sighted.

Everybody in this country needs access to a garden or an allotment and be given incentive for growing their own veg. No packaging, less traffic on the roads and loads of homemade organic compost for next year's crop. Ok. Not very practical on the face of it but I suspect it's only that way because it's not "cost effective". How I hate that phrase.

But not as much as I hate "runaway greenhouse effect".

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Yes I deplore environmental hysteria whether pro, or in complete denial about the importance of greening up, when most of the steps that need taking are actually more about common sense and looking at the big picture, rather than nit picking.

Plus there's no point in any of us buying low-wattage bulbs if we STILL proceed to leave them on all the time! Greenness is not just about a new sort of consumerism one-upmanship, but changing habits, or using what one has (the greenest option of all) sensibly until it naturally wears out and can then warrant replacing with something AAA efficiency-graded.

I don't claim to be a paragon of greenness, but a few things I do are try and buy clothes that last at least five years, not buy food I won't eat, not leave anything switched on unnecessarily, not take more than 2 flights max per year. Just commonsense stuff really.