We’re no longer in any doubt that the world faces disaster if we don’t construct a more sustainable Scotland. But The List’s Eat & Drink editor thinks we’re just paying lip service to the problem. It’s time to get serious about going green.
e need to come out of the slumber of inertia that delays action to reduce carbon emission and climate change gases. We are
all now seemingly conversant in the language of
‘carbon footprints.‘ ‘tipping points‘ and ‘sustainable development'.
But knowing the jargon is not good enough. It‘s tiresomer amusing (and irritating) to see how most Scottish politicians (at least those in the four traditional parties). big business. and their mostly useful idiots in the mainstream media and the press give lip service to the environmental calamity that confronts us. Sure. they say we must act on climate change. Meanwhile they all collude with the climate change sceptics to avoid immediate actions that could help cut (‘()3 emissions.
What do I mean‘.’ Well. for a start there is the £500 million. five-mile M74 northern extension across Glasgow. We are meant to accept that this ‘missing link‘ is essential for the economy. although evidence suggests it is less than necessary. It will. however. increase the (702 emissions in the region by nearly (3%. That's one of the reasons why the proposed motorway failed its public inquiry.
Surely transport decisions should be flunked if they don't contribute to cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Instead the policy across Scotland is full of roadway expansion. There are much better ways to spend the M74's half billion pounds by directing it towards improved. clean transport across Scotland‘s largest city.
How about a congestion charge in Iidinburgh‘.’ Put to the populist test. it failed. Yet. can we afford to allow a mistaken majority to vet specific proposals to improve our environment'.’ We live in participatory democracy: let‘s let the people we elect take the actions. defend their positions before the electorate and then permit elections to dictate. Iixperience shows that referenda are too open to abuse.
Then there are the plans for increases in flying: first by predicting increases in commercial aviation use and duly providing more runways. and. secondly. by assisting fliers with new railway spurs to our airports. Oh. how the airline (and tourism) industry wants us to believe that our cheap flights are again boosting the economy -— here and abroad.
Let‘s stop kidding ourselves. Analysis of flights in and out of Scotland shows a net loss to the economy — that is because more people fly out than fly in. The other night. an executive from cheapflights.co.uk was arguing on television that tourism was saving the economy of Sri Lanka. I‘m sure that when sea levels rise as predicted and freak storms wash-over that
10 TI'IE LIST Iii-~30 Nov 2006
OF FLIGHTS IN AND OUT OF SCOTLAND SHOWS A NET LOSS
TO THE ECONOMY
exposed island nation. the good folk of Sri Lanka will be thanking all those pale folk who visit fora fortnight. getting hammered at the resort bars and sleeping off their hangovers on the beach.
Let’s get real. There is a lot we can do. Here are just three urgent steps that we might take to address the problem here in Scotland:
.All public works and business deals should be immediately evaluated for their carbon emissions. Government contracts should weigh the harm caused and all efforts should be made to reduce emissions. .All car and airline advertisements should be required to indicate how much pollution is generated by using the specific vehicles and flights advertised. Similarly to cigarettes. health warnings should be added — we might even consider banning all those slick motorcar and airline TV adverts. .All homes should receive free audits on energy efficiency. Those that have problems should receive generous grants to insulate and move towards micro-generation of energy.
These steps could be taken quickly.
People who moan. ‘What‘s the point when India. (‘hina and the US continue apace‘." are looking for an excuse. You might as well object to a minimum wage by arguing that the rest of the world doesn‘t bother. Or perhaps question the value of our abolishing the death penalty because almost everyone else uses it.
We need to take responsibility for our actions on the environment. not throw up pretexts to be lax. We must measure carbon emissions on a local. regional and national level. looking at what is contributing to the problem — whether it is transport in an urban setting or dirty industries elsewhere.
Only by rousing ourselves and fighting on all fronts can we begin to make a difference and prevent the catastrophe that an ever-growing consensus of scientists predict we‘re now heading for.
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PIUCKING FRUITS FROM THE CUIIURAI BUSH
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“first: I s’ A .....‘“ l Odd couples certainly make for entertaining viewing (whether in the arts or in life) but does a pairing get any stranger than Robert De Niro and 50 Cent? Very unlikely. Talks are ongoing for them to appear as cops in New Orleans. in which Bobby thinks his partner has died in Hurricane Katrina, only to discover he was actually murdered. Fiddy plays the part of his new sidekick . . . Kirsten Dunst has agreed to star in A Jealous Ghost based on the thriller novel by AN Wilson. As well as helping to produce the movie. she will play a young woman studying in London
who starts seeing demons after beginning a relationship with one of her professors . . . Rod Stewart will start limbering up for a stadium tour next summer which stops off at Hampden Park at the beginning of July . . . Fellow rock totems Genesis are set to reform (minus Peter Gabriel of course) for a European t0ur but for those so inclined. Manchester is the nearest venue . . . Some marginally less embarrassing comeback news is that Inspiral Carpets will play Glasgow‘s ABC next March . . . Ewan McGregor has signed up to appear in Franklyn. a British movie whose story is split between contemporary London and a future metropolis ruled by religious fervour . . . Ugly Betty looks like being the My Name
is Earl for 2007: ie an American comedy to save Channel 4's Friday night ass. Extras’ Scottish lady Ashley Jensen is in the show about a hard-working but not especially attractive secretary at a fashion magazine.