Monday, February 19, 2007

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

This is interesting: plans for the world's first purpose-built "eco-city" at Dongtan at the mouth of the Yangtze river in China. A model for future urban design and development, using the latest environmentally sound techniques for waste management, energy generation, transport, agriculture, etc. etc. All highly commendable, but could it happen here? You think about that for no more than a second or two before quite literally soiling yourself laughing.

The absurd debate over road traffic charging in this country highlights the nature of the problem: no-one is in any doubt over the need for our behaviour patterns to change to combat global warming, but no-one wants to be the one to have to make the sacrifice in terms of their own lifestyle. This is where a brave and principled government could step in and decide to impose legislation on a potentially unwilling population, i.e to say: this is what needs to be done, it's for your own good, you'll thank me for this when we're not all huddled around the last tree in existence in Antarctica in 70 years time. The trouble with this is twofold: firstly the timescale for seeing concrete evidence of any benefits from such a scheme is far greater than the period a government is elected for, and secondly the unwilling population you're imposing this enlightened and planet-saving legislation on also constitutes your electorate. So even if you could use your majority to force something like this through into law, you'd be more than likely to find yourself out on your ear at the next election. This is why, or so it could be argued (and to quote Kent Brockman), democracy simply doesn't work. Far-sighted and radical reform is difficult, if not impossible, when your short-term objective is always keeping the electorate happy enough not to vote you out in 4 or 5 years time. So maybe enlightened dictatorship is the answer. But who gets to choose who gets in? And what happens when they flip and start eating small children?

Then again if the electorate had a direct line to the government policy machine we'd have certain laws in place that I'd be mildly uncomfortable with: capital punishment would be back, as well as public stonings and burnings for suspected (or just alleged by the News Of The World) paedophiles, as well as pediatricians, podiatrists, people from Peterborough....for that reason I'm not sure the radical approach to policy formulation taken by French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal is a development to be welcomed, as it basically seems to be starting with a blank sheet of paper, corralling a few people into focus groups and getting them to fill in a few multiple choice forms, and then using the results to concoct an entire set of policies for the election campaign. Call me old-fashioned, but there was something quite reassuring about candidates who had some sort of definitely formed set of policies before the campaign started, rather than just airily waving their hands around and promising to wing it as they went along.

For all that (and the Royal campaign looks to be going through a bit of a rocky patch at the moment) we could be in a situation in a year or two where the leaders of three of the major nations of the world could be women: Ségolène Royal in France, Hillary Clinton in the USA and Angela Merkel in Germany. I personally suspect it won't happen (well, Angela Merkel is in already) as I strongly suspect that the Americans in particular won't be able to bring themselves to do it. I do think it would be an unequivocal Good Thing if it happened, though, just to shake up the status quo a bit. In particular if Hillary Clinton managed to get enough of the intellectual liberal vote out to get in it would be highly amusing to see the swathe of deaths in bible-belt middle America as people's heads imploded.

16 comments:

The Black Rabbit said...

"This is interesting".(quote)
We'll be the judge of that, chubby-chops!
As it happens, you were right, your entire post was interesting. Very interesting, and quite intelligently put. (For yoooooouz).

All until your third paragraph, when the vast girth, sorry, length, (ooh nooo matron, etc) of the first sentence therein, meant my brain had imploded before I reached it's end.

Oh well. I'm on the phone to Noris now, to see if you'll be a Guinness world record holder next year, for the longest sentence EHVVARR...

Me? Pedantic?
I think you mean picky....

electrichalibut said...

Hmmm. I see what you mean. That could probably have been three or four sentences. Trouble is, when you start a new sentence you've got to reach across and hit the Shift key to start it with a capital letter, and who's got the time to do that? I'm a busy man, you know...

Nicola in Frog Land said...

the two previous comments are rubbish. I actually have some interesting news on the Ségolène Royal front, as I'm on the front line being surrounded by the frogs and the whole electoral campaign tra la la la la.. She is being beaten down by all the other candidates just due to the fact that she is a woman, and I'll eat my hat if this chauvinistic country lets a woman run the place. There was a nice programme on frog tv last night showing her consoling some crippled guy in a wheelchair.. You know, kind of "Queen Of Hearts" Diana styleee campaigning pop pickers.
By the way, cats? sheets? oh no, just ignore I wrote that last bit...

electrichalibut said...

Well, as per the last paragraph of the original post (ignore the insane ramblings in the comments): yadda yadda yadda Good Thing yadda yadda yadda.

So I'm on her side. Especially as I suspect Sarkozy of being some sort of closet Nazi who'll be herding Algerian immigrants out of the banlieues into the gas chambers before you can say Jacques Robinson.

The Black Rabbit said...

"Rubbish"?
RUBBISH?!
I'll tell you what's rubbish!
CLOWNS!
That's what!
Clowns are RUBBISH!
Ooh look... a bucket of water!
Oh no, silly me, it's just TINSEL!
BLOODY RUBBISH!

The Black Rabbit said...

Sis.
Nice commment.

Though I am somewhat amused by your line:
"I am on the front line being surrounded by the frogs..."

(Front line in association with the French?!)
Heh heh heh!
"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys".

Anonymous said...

Dave,

Well its easy to call the debate 'absurd' when you don't own a car!!

I've got an idea for a road tax that is completely fair, cheap to implement, doesn't invade privacy and even takes account of engine size - put a massive tax on fuel! Oh wait a minute....

As for 'Global Warming' (TM), don't get me started. I'll just refer you to one of the few intelligent articles on the subject:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/04/09/do0907.xml

If you want an insight into how the 'scientific' consensus on GW (tm) was reached consider this - you are a struggling scientist, overworked and underpaid, you are applying for funding to pay the bills for the next few years. Pop quiz: which of the following pitches will get the EU throwing money at you and which will leave you on the bread line:

A) Detailed and unbiased investigation of the premise that while ice sheets are receeding in some areas they are growing in others and actually getting thicker in the middle (there is some evidence for this already).

B) If we don't all go back to the stone age NOW there will be no more cute fluffy penguins, and the also the quite lovable Polar Bears will be unhappy too!

Scentific 'consenses', like most things, tend to follow the money.

It seams to me that (man made) global warming has many of the same features as organised religion. Lots of blind faith, no proof, and cries of 'burn the non-believer' when people disagree with the 'accepted' view.

Flame on tree-huggers...

Andy

Nicola In Frog Land said...

To add some more serious comments about the Sego Sarko fight:
Most sane frogs (and there aren't that many) don't want Sarko as President cos he looks a kind of frightening Neo-Nazi, calling the people in the suburbs: the "scum".
And maybe I'll be marched to Calais if he gets in.
Most sane frogs don't want another Le Pen in the 2nd round scenario, and I'll definitely get marched to Calais if he is the President.
Most sane frogs might vote for this guy called BAYROU (sort of sitting on the fence right wing) who has said that if he doesn't get through to the 2nd round, he'll vote SEGO. His strategy is quite good, and has scared all the political journalists as now they're worried that if BAYROU gets through to the 2nd round and SEGO is sidelined, all the LEFTIES will vote BAYROU, and he'll most likely become PRESIDENT. And I don't know if you've seen this guy, but he is a CLOWN (to come back to my brothers delirious comment)..

electrichalibut said...

Re. "Andy"'s comments, if that really is your name - I have some fairly robust opinions on the Japanese whaling industry as well, despite not owning any whales. The notion that I would hold a different opinion if I did, or that I would hold a different opinion about the car/road charging debate if I owned a car, is, to re-use a word from the original post (and your comment) absurd.

As for the global warming vs. completely coincidental desertification/ice-cap melting/rising sea levels argument: oh, I'm suddenly very weary and depressed. "One of the few intelligent articles" - well, that's a viewpoint. Mine is different. None of which is much consolation to Mr. and Mrs. Citizen of Tuvalu as their home disappears beneath the waves.

The Black Rabbit said...

Andy. ('The Silver Fox'?)
Since when has the Daily Telegraph given anybody "intelligent articles"?

Hang on. I'm wrong. Paul Ackford's rugby column (in the telegraph) wasn't bad I suppose.

Also, quite amazing how the original post has turned into a quite unrelated rant against religion by you. It "SEAMS" (your word - not mine) to me that maybe you should consider having a long lie down?!
ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Sis. Is BAYROU the geez who is holding a (sort of) 'ballot' to decide his actual policies, or am I getting him confused with someone else?

electrichalibut said...

Not forgetting José Bové and his comedy moustache. This is the man who supposedly once travelled to the USA with thirty kilogrammes of Roqeufort cheese in his luggage, just to prove a point. Not sure what point, though.

The Black Rabbit said...

Hadn't the USA limited the import of such cheeses as Roquefort as a 'tit for tat' policy of some sort? I guess the 'Bovemeister' was just making the point that he got in with 30 tonnes (or whatever)of cheese, so the Americans were , er... crap.

electrichalibut said...

Yes, I presume that was the idea. Only a Frenchman could get away with that without someone complaining about the smell, though.

I reckon he could have probably got another 20 kilos through in his 'tache, as well.

everlands said...

A couple of points ... firstly to point out that "Andy" above is not me and secondly to add my own '4 point plan' for congestion busting.

1 Stop this ridiculous idea of parents being able to choose a school for their kids. There are people who live in our street [which has two excellent primary schools in it] who choose to send the little darlings to the next village. In cars.

2 Do something to encourage and promote Home Working. Maybe a couple of government backed studies investigating the increased productivity and morale of staff that work from home a day or two a week.

3 A proper public transport initiative. Something like TFL but for the whole of the UK. Something with teeth that can keep the poxy private bus and train companies in check, and produce a joined-up solution.

4 Road charging. Like it or not, some congestion hot spots will need extra 'encouragement'. But this only works after 3 has been achieved, otherwise it's just stealth taxation.

The Black Rabbit said...

I didnt think so Andy, or at least I didn't believe so.
I'm relieved!
For the 'other' Andy is most clearly one sandwich short of a pic-a-nic.
Yes indeed Boo Boo.

Anonymous said...

Yep, obviously I'm completely barking. Fortunately I'm not alone:

Channel4 tonight: The Great Global Warming Swindle.

http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/G/great_global_warming_swindle/index.html

Andy