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

Friday, 28 September 2012

Isles of Wonders

So the Olympics have been and gone. Both of them.

Depending on your point of view they were either a much needed boost to the spirits of a depressed nation, or £9 billion we’ll never see again.

The sport was all right, especially the wheelchair rugby, which may actually be more violent than Gaelic Football, but in my opinion though the Gold medals should have gone to the opening and closing ceremonies.

Danny Boyle’s opener saw Glastonbury Tor standing majestic as the Industrial Revolution rolled away the green fields of England, Lord Voldemort menaced the NHS, Mr Bean played the keyboards and the Queen dropped in by parachute.

Seven weeks later the Paralympics ended with a steampunk Fire Festival featuring an invocation of the four seasons taken from The British Druid Order Gorsedd ritual. This means 750 million TV viewers heard Lance Corporal Rory Mackenzie speak a dozen or so lines written by Bobcat and Greywolf. How cool is that?

But whilst the spirits were being called and the ancestors awoken, how about the legacy of the games for our planet and our descendants? What about the claim that these were to be the ‘greenest games ever’?

Like claims about ‘greenest governments ever’, such statements are usually swiftly made in the hope that they will be at length forgotten. Previous games have been so spectacularly un-green that London could probably have made good its boast just by recycling the empties. A major let down was expected, especially when it was announced the corporate sponsors would include junk food manufacturers, dodgy mining firms and the company the Indian government is still after for gassing Bhopal.

But this didn’t happen. They organisers aimed high, set themselves ambitious targets and even installed an independent watchdog to give them an end of term report. And whilst they didn’t get the top grade, it was a comfortable pass. 

The US Basketball team on the tube
Less than half the promised renewable power materialised, the torches weren’t as eco-friendly as had been planned and the ethics of the clothing manufacturers in Southeast Asia proved as impenetrable as many warned. But the recycling is going well, with all those hospital beds heading off to Tunisia soon, and it really was the public transport games, with over 95% of spectators arriving by bus, train or tube. 

Alas the Critical Mass cyclists who tried to make their way to the opening ceremony via the new cycle lane that had appeared were stopped by some fairly robust policing, but the Games still showed you really don’t need a car in London. 

So all told they were probably the greenest, and the most pagan, games for a few millenia.

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