Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Top Five Climate Change Hypocrites

So what's worse?

Being an out and out Climate Change denier?

Or being a complete and utter hypocrite?

Well, I think we all know the answer to that one. I don't even need to point out that it wasn't climate change denying Exxon who's oil rig polluted the Gulf of Mexico, but 'Beyond Petroleum' BP. Or that it's Channing Corporate Citizen award winner Shell that is leading the charge to exploit both Arctic Oil and Canadian Tar Sands.

Still, better a sinner repented and all that? Well no. I'd rather a sinner unrepentant but at least not sinning.

Nor do I care much for the "we're all sinners" line. George Monbiot may say "show me an environmentalist an I'll show you a hypocrite, but I don't buy it.

Yes, I drive a car, I live in a house, and I don't live on lentils I've grown boo-dynamically in the back garden. I'm ordinary, no better than that, but also no worse. I believe people like me need to do more to reduce their carbon footprint. I also believe people like me should pay more taxes for better public services, but nobody calls me a hypocrite for not sending a cheque to George Osborne.

Anyway, on with the list.

5. Larry Page and Sergey Brin

You may not have heard of them, but as founders of Google they are two of the most powerful people in the world.

Google itself as a reasonable environmental record. It encourages it staff to walk and cycle to work and is aiming to become carbon neutral in its operations.

However the same could not be said for its founders.

They decided to buy a $60 million wide body Boeing 767 and deck it out as a Party Plane, a just for weekends away. And then they fall out over what type of bed to install!

4. Richard Branson

Virgin Galactic; if you need a bigger carbon footprint
So Richard Branson thinks climate change is real, humans are the cause, and we have to act.

Great, except that as I haven't been on a plane for twelve years and he owns a major airline, I'd be interested to know where the "we" comes in here.

I suppose he does also own a train company, but that's a bit like claiming you're green because as well as a Hummer you also own a 2CV.

Not that the rest of the article is that bad. It is, after all, quite true that "Everybody out there needs to reduce their own personal impact, and that includes yours truly"?

Well yes, except that someone who lives in tax exile in the Caribbean has just told me I need to reduce my carbon footprint!!!?!

Okay, he claims he just likes the weather, but either way it's going to be a bit tricky getting to Virgin headquarters in London by public transport, isn't it Richard?

The whole sorry business reminds me of the wise words in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy "Veet Voojagig was finally sent into tax exile, which is the usual fate reserved for those who are determined to make a fool of themselves in public."

3. Prince Charles

Someone else who has a rather laid back attitude to tax is the current heir to the throne.

I suppose I should be more generous to someone who has done a lot for organic farming and who is regular commentator for Resurgence magazine.

However when you embark on a 16,000 miles ecological odyssey to South Africa in a private jet, run a company which ships bottled water to Dubai, and have a household carbon footprint of 2718 tons of CO2 (the UK average is 13 tons) what other word can you use except hypocrite?

2. Trudie Styler

Alas Sting didn't make this list. His crimes, tax dodging and playing a gig in the world's most corrupt country, don't really involve Climate Change. However I will include the other half of the world's most famous Tantric sex act.

I will quite gratuitously drop in that she was once a guest editor of The Big Issue despite owning six homes, and that she had to pay record damages to a chef she sacked whilst pregnant, before I come to the main point. Here is another jet setting celebrity who likes to tell the rest of us to reduce our carbon footprint.

Best of all she once flew eighty miles in her own helicopter to visit Ecologist editor Zac Goldsmith in order to discuss......Climate Change!!

Don't Judge Me? No chance!

1. David Cameron

Cameron used to be Green,
On a glacier he was once seen.
Now he denies with deniers,
Builds runways for fliers,
And on, fracking he is quite keen.

I suppose I could let Cameron off. He is a politician after all, so if anyone actually believes anything he says they really do need their head examining.

However his pitch as the Greener alternative to Tony Blair wasn't just a quick sound bite. He flew all the way to Norway to pose on that glacier. And that phrase 'Greenest government ever' wasn't thought up in a five minute break between meeting City lobbyists.

Plus, this hasn't just been another government that doesn't give a sh*t about the environment, they have actively been sh*tting on it. They include "global lukewarmist" Peter Lilley and "global warming can have a positive side" Owen Patterson. They are funded by the City, including the man who bankrolls the Global Warming Policy Foundation and who likes to pop round for tea at number 10. 

Zac Goldsmith; you're in the wrong party (but I think he knows that).

In Conclusion: It's Not About Apathy

So what do we learn from this venomous little list?

Well, that tax is clearly something for the little people, for one thing.

But secondly that it is not apathy that is stopping the world dealing with climate change. These people are many things, but they are not apathetic.

What is stopping us is a minority of people who have done very well out of the carbon age and are willing to pose and posture, to pat themselves on the back for the insignificant changes they have made, and to tell the likes of you and me what we need to do to save the world, but who are not prepared to leave the comfortable world of the 1% themselves.

The Credit Crunch did not happen because people were too stupid to see it coming. It happened because people were too greedy not to stop playing the Casino and because we designed systems to  
which rewarded their greed.

We will not avoid the Climate Crunch just by spouting waffle about "we all have to change". We will avoid Climate Change by actually changing. We need those who have made their pot out of coal and oil to disappear. We should not celebrate those who millionaires and big corporations which acknowledge their carbon footprints or which pat themselves on the back for reducing their CO2 emissions by a few percent.

Instead we need to design systems that reward genuine innovation, that can actually be considered sustainable and which can provide the step changes that we need to survive.

No doubt people like me will then continue to complain about the inequities of the wind power millionaires, the solar panel billionaires and the recycling oligarchs. But that's another battle. Equality is great, but we need a planet to live on first.

1 comment:

Peter Allen said...

Great stuff ( think you need to add an is after stopping us)