One chum restricts himself to 10 units of booze this month, another has joined a gym. I have cut down my nights out significantly and will be gyming again once some work deadlines are seen off. No, Dr, honestly.
Golly I didn’t half eat well over the festive season. Some people say we miss the true meaning of Christmas these days, usually so as to remind us about that Jesus fella who was born on 25 December 0000 in a snow-strewn stable in Bethlehem to a blonde and blue-eyed mum while robins and holly looked on. Oh, hang on…
Christmas is, of course, a pagan festival co-opted by the Christians – who have a thing for nicking parties. Even Santa Claus as we know him today owes more to anglo-germanic traditions of the green man than he does to the real St. Nicholas of Myra. We celebrate with trees, the threat of punishment to naughty children and enchantment from mistletoe.
In more primitive times, it was good to have a knees-up around the shortest day of the year, when the world seemed at its bleakest. I wonder if Celtic man would follow the feasting with a vow to lose his new porkage, making a virtue of the lack of thrilling food for the remainder of the winter.
Anyway. This made me think about the Prime Minister’s recent interview with Sky News, where he,
“admitted he would be reluctant to pressure people to stop taking overseas holidays – or indeed to stop flying himself. He explained:
‘I personally think these things are a bit impractical to expect people to do. I think that what we need to do is to look at how you make air travel more energy efficient, how you develop the fuels that will allow us to burn less energy and emit less.’”
Number 10: “Tackling climate change begins at home” – PM, 9 January 2007.This answer was described as “muddle-headed” by Jonathon Porritt, chair of the Sustainable Development Commission (oddly not capitalised in the BBC News account), and came up again at the Prime Minister’s press briefing:
“Put to him that the Prime Minister therefore believed that the threat of global warming [...] could be dealt with without consumers really affecting their lifestyles, the PMOS [said that we had to] find more effective, energy efficient ways of doing what we do. Hence the investments that were already being made in energy efficient measures and hence our overall energy review, and the emphasis placed on both renewable and cleaner forms of energy such as nuclear. What should not be done was to address climate change by harming the world economy.”
Number 10: Morning press briefing from 9 January 2007.The argument seems to be that we can’t expect people to give up their fun stuff for the sake of not breaking the weather. And anyway, Science has come up with some pretty neat tricks which will sort things out.
This thinking depends on two very wrong assumptions:
- That Science will continue to come up with innovations as and when they’re needed
- That the stuff Science comes up with can be implemented almost immediately
People are not merely consumers, as some would have us believe. A “consumer” is just a mouth, and to concentrate on just the part of the process implies, wrongly, that there’s no consequence to stuffing our faces.
The mouth is just the start of the process, which leads through digestion to excretion. I guess in this model digestion could be seen as “value” – measured by the ratio of what it is being eaten to the benefit to the body doing the eating. As a consequence of that equation, the less that’s pooed out the other end the better. It is more elegant that way.
A rich and varied diet means lots of fibre and roughage to help clear out the system, because just eating cakes and sweets and Breakfast 3s from the local greasy spoon ends up clogging up the system until it drops down dead. This ends the consuming process once and for all: a bad thing.
That’s not to say we must never eat cakes, but there needs to be some balance. Ideally, we feast only sparingly, and match the excesses with leaner periods. Say, for example, following Christmas with a diet and the gym.
Likewise, when our lifestyles affect the weather, we do damage to ourselves. If the floods and thunderstorms don’t kill us, they at least damage the economy because of the excessive insurance claims, breaks in supply chains and general ensuring misery. The evidence seems to suggest that we either curb our eating habits voluntarily, or Nature (aka cause and effect) will have to do it for us.
TB’s view of consumption (dyswidt?) seems to be that people can’t be expected to mend their ways. But he’s also campaigning against obesity, and Government policy has targeted drink, drink-driving and smoking with considerable success. So sorry, but that’s bollocks.
There’s an argument that we cannot be forced or coerced into behaving less like walking cancer. But I also know a fair few smokers who are glad of the forthcoming English ban on smoking because it gives them the last resolve to quit. They knew they ought to, they had even given it a go, but the new rules make it easier by removing the temptation.
This is how I feel about air travel – which I haven’t half exploited in the last couple of years. There’s offsetting programmes, and the justification that it’s for work to some degree, but it would a lot easier if the flights weren’t quite so doable, and more of luxury.
Back in the mists of time when this post began, I said I’d stuffed too much recently. This gorging included a sizeable volume of Brussel sprouts, which are rather yummy. (They’re best when they’re cooked to not-too-sulphurous softness, and you can also serve them with bacon. Mmm.)
Though I like them a great deal, they don’t half carry a penalty. The Dr and I have held wars of attrition, attempting to asphyxiate one another. Which is why I’m only allowed sprouts in the festive season. It would be too dangerous any more often.
To finally get to the point, flights are like sprouts. Our actions have consequences, and you ignore the ensuing noxious emissions at your peril.