Tuesday, 20 November 2007

How green is green?

Last night, as I sat in the dingy semi-darkness cast by my energy-saving lightbulbs, I came to a decision. Buying energy-saving lightbulbs is all very well, but if you then have to turn on extra halogen spotlights in order to be able to see well enough to read, and if you rather like reading, then you're not actually doing anything for the environment at all.

So the halogen spotlights are going, and so are the energy-saving lightbulbs - and I'll be back to switching on a single light and actually being able to see.

The government also makes much of the virtues of people who buy a new car every two or three years and choose vehicles with low emissions. I've never bought a new car in my life, and probably never will - that may mean I never have the latest, greenest model, but it also means I'll be reusing someone else's cast-off, and no factories will be belching out pollutants or using up precious resources to make a car just for little old me.

Our increasingly authoritarian government persists in trying to promote a single way of life, a single form of consumerism, and a single type of 'green' product - but on what evidence? Consumerism is wasteful, whether I'm buying a brand-new 4x4 gas guzzler or a brand-new Toyota Prius. Now they're talking about increasing rates of taxation on cars which are too old to have advertised emissions rates from the manufacturers.

How about encouraging people to make do and mend, rather than encouraging them to spend more and more in pursuit of the greenest possible technologies? Surely that would help keep rubbish out of landfills, reduce pollution from factories and from transporting raw materials and finished goods, and give repair and maintenance jobs to skilled labourers in all areas.

And how about encouraging people to use the most appropriate technology for the job at hand, rather than plugging a one-size-fits-all approach? I might well be content to sit in semi-darkness if all I ever do is vegetate in front of the television/Playstation/X-box, but reading, knitting, sewing and other activities actually require a certain level of light.

This weekend, I'll be buying a supply of good old-fashioned 60W lightbulbs - quickly, before they get banned. Let there be light, I say - and I don't think I'm the first to say that...

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