Peter M Howard ::

Green is a Status Symbol

13July2007 [myth]
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In which I refuse to be distracted by the dallyings of the idle rich.

Global warming is the indie band only you used to listen to. You’d go to a show and there’d be this beautifully eclectic group of hippies, students, anarchists. You never really fit in, but it never mattered, because everyone there was a little bit different. Now you go to their shows and you’re surrounded by yuppies or teenyboppers.

It scares me now. Now that we’re paying attention to it. Because I’ve this horrible feeling that we’re not paying attention to the actual problem. Like it’s just a distraction. Something for the idle rich. The west is finally comfortable enough that we can talk about environmental problems without being bad capitalists. It’s no coincidence that we’re being sold “solutions”. We don’t have to give up our lifestyle, we’ve just got to spend a little money to plant a tree somewhere. When we build our suburban mansion, there’s one more expert to consult — we spend a little money and make the place “sustainable”.

But what are the poor supposed to do? There’s this enormous mass of people ramping up their industrialisation programs, and all that work depends on coal and oil. If we don’t find a way to clean up the industrialisation process (without just giving China, India et al massive “carbon loans” with exorbitant interest rates), the pollution that’s going to happen in the next couple decades will be worse than anything the planet’s felt so far.

In Australia, there are a few things we still have to do. High-density housing, public transport infrastructure that’s good enough we can do away with most of our cars. But worldwide, we’ve got to come up with clean energy solutions, and we have to all but give the technologies away to countries on the cusp of industrialisation.

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