Friday, November 09, 2007

Tread Schizo

At the time of writing, The Guardian's Treadlightly site boasts that "3,712 readers have pledged to save a total of 5.33 tonnes of CO2". The Treadlightly home page also carries an ad for "South Africa: unforgettable scenery at Table Bay".

A return flight to Cape Town (12,021 Miles) for one person accounts for 2.82 tonnes (according to one popular carbon calculator). So if just two people among the 3,172 who have so far pledged to "tread lightly" with The Guardian reward themselves with a holiday (a success rate for the advertisers of just over 0.063%), all the emissions saved by the other 3,170 and then some, will be cancelled out.

The front page of this morning's Guardian print edition prominently displayed news of a BEMA award to the newspaper for, among other things, "inspir[ing] readers to alter their lifestyles".


George Marshall said...

Thank you Caspar- very interesting.

Of course they have only been given two pledges so far- standby and lightbulbs, which are low carbon items anyway so it might go higher with heating.

The problem is that these are still very very modest reductions and there is no reason to suppose that these are actual new reductions - surely someone on this course would be doing these things anyway.

And there is the whole bizarre psychology of this small steps to save the planet stuff- why can't it go for BIG steps of people transforming their lives


Paul Kingsnorth said...

Probably because they know that people don't actually want to transform their lives. There's the rub. You can only find so many people who are prepared to do anything at all, unless forced. And you can only find so many politicians prepared to suggest forcing them in a democracy, and so many eocnomists prepared to even think about alternatives to consumer-fuelled economic growth.

As evidence I submit all the environmentalists still buzzing about on planes, driving cars and using dishwashers, amongst which number I include myself (apart from the dishwasher) and probably everyone else on this list. And undoubtedly all the staff at the Guardian. Voluntary frugality don't work. Eco dictatorship, anyone?

Charlie Kronick said...

Personal transformation? Why in the world are we talking about making personal choices in the context of Government making major infrastructure decisions that will render your individual hair-shirting largely irrelevant (go on Paul, save those dishpan hands and get a
dishwasher...) - coal, airport expansion, new nukes yadda yadda.

By all means let's have personal engagement/empowerment. Let's just not make it meaningless. But definitely let's challenge macro-economic growth, but in the sense of intervening (intelligently) in what are likely to be some very stupid decisions.