Tuesday, March 13, 2007

If I weren't an optimist, I'd be tempted to despair.

The annual excitement that is the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival began today, so the blue sky of spring was full of the helicopters of the affluent, delivering beautiful people to the racecourse for a day of (mildly) risky excitement, smoked salmon and champagne. It was also full of advertising planes, towing banners - and it was these that irritated a group of gentlemen with whom I was working this afternoon. Looking up, they grumbled and berated not the pilots, nor the firms that were sponsoring the adverts but the green lobby for even thinking that increasing the cost of commercial flights, flights for ordinary people, might be a helpful measure against climate change.
The gist of the conversation was broadly this
In the UK, we're only responsible for 2% of the damage to the world, - if there's really any damage at all. What's that in the grand scheme of things? If I never went on another holiday, it wouldn't help anyone else. And anyway, scientists say that it's possibly not a manmade problem at all. We're just moving naturally into another ice age, that's all. It'll be good when the millionaires houses on the Thames are so close to the flood line that they're being sold off dirt cheap. You could make a killing then...And people like visiting Venice, so if a few more places are under water that will be good for their tourist industries, won't it.
Anyway, until they stop people like those from flying, we don't think its fair if we have to spend more to take our holidays. Global warming just isn't the fault of ordinary people.

This after a winter of such un-natural weather that the crocuses in the garden came into bloom just before Christmas, and the flood plains around Burford have been under water since October at least...
It would not have been helpful for me to start sharing my beliefs fully at that point but I did point out that I knew young people who were seriously proposing not to have children themselves, because they felt the world would not be around to sustain them. That silenced them for a second or two...but they quickly recovered.
It's official.
If you live in Cheltenham, global warming is not your fault - unless you've invited friends to the Festival.


Caroline said...

wellllll, i'm sorry, but i'm with them as far as the planes go....personally i think the 'i'm not flying overseas on holiday because it would contribute to global warming' is in many cases mere posturing and affectation. (but i can say that because i'm unlikely to have the opportunity to fly overseas on holiday in the forseeable future). To me it ranks with the little notes people sent out at christmas before the era of 'charity gifts' that said 'you're not getting a christmas card because i'm uberholy and have given my money to charity instead'. It is self absorbed and pretentious. the fact that current publicity IS targeting 'holidays' rather than unnecessary business miles, corporate entertaining, and commercial flights is simply passing the corporate guilt trip onto the little guy. Holidays are necessary, informative, usually deserved and well earned. Which of the people who are angst ridden about children would genuinley benefit from never being able to actually visit the countries they are concerned about destroying because to do so is 'destructive'. Little people need to concenrate on cars, light bulbs, power resources, changed practices in their workplace, ethical farming and trading - not beat themselves up over 2 weeks in benidorm. Urgh, i think i nearly agree with Mr Brown. that IS scarey.

sorry. rant over. god i need a holiday.

Kathryn said...

Mmmn...I'm absolutely with you re corporate guilt, but I don't think that in itself gives us permission to dodge the issue of our smaller scale contribution. (Not that you were saying that it did)
The real killer with these guys, to my mind, was that they were utterly convinced that NOTHING they did was in any way responsible for climate changeor (which in any case might not,according to one of them, be happening at all) or any other woe in the world...Everything was aparently someone else's fault.
But yes, a holiday for Caroline would be a Really Good Idea.
Any chance? xx

Lorna said...

It's not just Cheltenham. Jedburgh ought to have been the location for league of gentlemen...

However, if you go into any pub in the UK you're likely to get exactly the same conversation: "hang em all, flog em all, and get out the common market" - them being shorthand for anyone not at least 50-generations British, or white, which they count as the same thing.

Has anyone ever pointed out, re global warming, that if most of the change *isn't* man-made, then we're really going to have to move fast, and cut even more stringently, to avoid the disaster.

Holidays don't need to be taken overseas to be rewarding, relaxing etc. Try the Peak District in autumn - we did and it was wonderful - Upper Gate Farm self catering with a hot-tub and swimming pool!

Sorry about the rambling - feeling a little cynical today.