Two separate news stories caught my eye today which highlighted the ‘not in my backyard’ mentality of relatively wealthy individuals living in democratic societies.
The first was the big story of the morning – the impending release of the government’s energy review, widely reckoned to be supportive of an increase in nuclear power generation – see the BBC’s take here.
The second was the news from Greenpeace that China leads the world in their willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly IT kit – see ZDNet’s story here.
What does this have to do with ‘not in my backyard’?
It’s simply that here we are, relatively speaking a rich country, with individuals earning much more than our Chinese counterparts, and we are unwilling to pay extra for green IT products – and hey, to top it all the very not green waste gets shipped to China for the much much poorer folks to deal with there.
As for the nuclear debate, there is an inherent distrust of nuclear embedded in our nation, and a very real fear of the effects of living near nuclear power plants – after all, we’ve enough wind and water to generate enough energy for half the world, surely? ; but in fact, we object to the positioning of wind farms, on the basis that they’re ugly, for heaven’s sake!
Are we so rich that we can continue to ignore our individual responsibilities to the very planet that nurtures us, despite the abuse we hurl upon it every waking second? As supposedly free individuals in a democratic society, are we content to ship our hazardous waste to developing countries? Has the cheap flights ethos permeated every aspect of our society, when we expect to get everything we want for as cheap as possible, and hang the consequences? As free individuals, do we really need the government to force us to reduce our energy consumption?
A rhetorical question, I guess. If you’re reading this at all, I imagine that you probably take steps to address some of these issues yourself. More soon on practical lessons learned from our French experience.
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