A year of cycling
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Should you feel guilt for not being green enough?

Just getting it off my chest again as usual. you can quit about half way down, if you bother reading it at all.

Yet another campaign has started: 1010. Reduce your carbon use by 10% by the end of 2010. Lots of companies are joining in and stuff. Rah.

The 1010 people commissioned a study to go with the launch, to try and gee people up and get us all going. The headline, subhead and first sentence of the piece written up in The Guardian, the biggest media sponsor for 1010 are as follows:

"Britain admits it's not green enough, reveals poll"
-Ok, so without the last two words, you'd think that might be Miliband 'fessing up, right? Wrong.

"The poll shows majority support for individual action, including fitting low energy lightbulbs or turning down heating"
-My heart is sinking already.

"Britain has become a nation of guilty greens – people who admit they do not do enough to fight climate change – according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. While almost everyone claims to have made some effort to live environmentally-friendly lives, almost two-thirds also say they could do more"
-Ok, I cheated. Two sentences.

If you take the time to re-read the quote from the man who is now President of the US (he wasn't at the time) that pretty much sums up how I feel these days. Making individuals scared, guilt ridden and powerless is one of the stupidest blind alleys we are pursuing as a society. A few people will fit lower energy bulbs? Woo hoo! Do you know why they will? Because older, energy intensive bulbs have been phased out through legislation. It took Govt action to force retailers to only stock lower energy bulbs.

Why do people now recycle their fridges, and their gadgets? Because there has been legislation enabling them to do so efficiently. Why are people recycling more? Because local councils are forcing people in to a position where they have to. Does anyone genuinely believe that the businesses which make these objects would do this voluntarily? Do you think it might be in big business's interest to deflect peoples' attention from the legislative process and focus on almost emasculated individual guilt and fear?

The upshot of 1010 is, because it's not centrally funded, and it has nothing to do with any legislative programme, the converted are made to feel that they must do more (despite for example, being vegetarian, biking to work, buying second hand, giving unused stuff to charity shops, switching off at switches at night, etc, etc, etc) and making the non-converted do bugger all, because if they haven't done anything so far, they're not going to unless they are forced. It's not as if the media has been silent on the global warming issue of late. If people choose to, they can understand fairly quickly what's going on, internet or no internet.

What the converted have got to do is stand together, and fuck negative, guilt inducing polls. We've got to get out on the streets in December, and before. We are running out of time. Individual guilt is a ridiculous distraction.

My second point here is obvious. It's unfortunate but true. A year ago we had a global financial crisis, which showed in glaring clarity the gross shortcomings of capitalism. A year later, and we seem to have forgotten this. The changes that must be made, on a global scale, can not be left to markets. They have to come via legislation. Strict, stringent, swingeing, lifestyle changing and SWIFT, please. To paraphrase the President, me putting up some insulating blinds is great, and assuages one person's conscience. Whoopdedoo. Well done me. Next week, I'll be purchasing my hair shirt, and be flagellating daily on behalf of mankind. Because my individual effort will make every difference. I promise!

Ack. This is a rubbish post. I get too angry about this phoney war. "Bio-engineering might work" says the Royal Society. What? Are you insane? Giant mirrors in space! That will solve everything won't it! Hey, I know, let's, er, open more coal mines, and using something called "technology", we'll suck all the carbon dioxide from powerstations underground, where it will all just, you know... 'stay' because we can, you know, we can develop it, so it works, and it's tested and everything all in 6 months. Sorry! I've never heard a bigger crock of shit in my life. CCC is the desperate plea of an industry that is going to be forced to die because it *has* to.

Just quit making individuals feel guilty, and start focusing your attention on big business and government. This is why I support Greenpeace, and continue to do so. Raise the price of petrol, force legislation through. We have to be forced to change. I'm not really interested in the "Buts". I'm raising my hand and saying that obviously I've joined 1010, to have that extra number on their books, in case it does make any impact but I have no intention in trying actively to reduce my carbon output by 10% by next year, because I have bugger all idea how the hell I could do it. The only way I could would be to purchase more products and throw out old ones, which would *increase* my carbon output, not decrease it. Either that, or I'd have to spend large amounts of cash that I don't actually have, because solutions have been left purely to market demand thus far, which means they're way too expensive. Still.

My least favourite blog read, Climate Progress, uses a frog in boiling water as its image when it's trying to make the point that things need to speed up, or that they've gone too far already, and we've ceased noticing.

Can you feel it boiling yet?