Tuesday, 6 February 2007

A Cold Turkey

In a previous era our masters were keen on conspicuous displays of anti-racism, or charity work (who like Smashie and Nicey, affect an attitude of not liking to talk about it), so it is nowadays with environmental issues in general and climate change in particular. And then, just when you thought bourgeois greenery had reached saturation point, along comes yet another establishment-friendly initiative: Global Cool.

Launched simultaneously in London and LA, this ‘down with the yoof’ campaign has an ambitious objective: if a billion people reduced their carbon emissions by one ton, then that would be, erm, one billion tons not going into the atmosphere. This laudable aim is supported by the likes of KT Tunstall, The Killers, Dandy Warhols, Orlando Bloom, and practically every other young(ish), mildly progressive artist and actor out there.

Cynics may think celebrities endorsing a good cause such as this may have their eyes on an entirely different kind of green. Yet Global Cool assures us no one is backing this for careerist reasons. They write,
Global Cool is very aware of how tiresome a bunch of rock stars and movie actors can appear when trying to tell the public how to run their lives. The initiative also realises that autocue delivered statements and spoon-fed statistics do not a credible or successful campaign make. Therefore all talent invited to engage in the Global Cool cause have either been on the carbon reduction journey for some time or have recently, and actively, begun this process. All supporters Global Cool will have access to the vast knowledge of our highly skilled Carbon Coaches to monitor and maintain their carbon reduction journeys.
Everybody involved in the running of Global Cool, famous or not, will be making pledges and commitments to change their own carbon lifestyles.
Great stuff! Unfortunately one problem is inadvertently highlighted by KT Tunstall in her “Cooltube” contribution. She says on average each of us emit six tons of carbon a year. She pauses for a moment before admitting production of her records has actually released 620 tons, and that’s before all the flying, TV appearances, press work etc. have been considered! Gievn the sheer quantity she's indirectly responsible for, one imagines it's so much easier to reduce her inflated carbon footprint by one ton than it is for a pensioner. I’m not blaming Tunstall personally, it’s just the insidious manner Global Cool goes about presenting its case that is the issue. When averages are used to present a political case, you can guarantee something is being hidden behind the figures.

Anyone expecting data on the vast amounts of carbon released by the worlds biggest corporations will be disappointed. Amazingly, corporate actors are only mentioned as positive examples of emissions reduction. Bugger the fact business is fundamentally anti-democratic and are accountable only to a tiny band of large share holders. No, Global Cool is blind to the obvious conclusion that it is a relatively small number of industry captains, business leaders and assorted "entrepreneurs" who are the environmental vandals. That there isn't even a nod in this direction is nothing short of scandalous.

This politics-free greenery is reinforced by the content under Be Cool. It suggests we turn our heating down, don't fly, never leave anything on standby, don’t boil too much water, turn out lights, take showers, switch to greener energy, don’t drive, and use better bulbs. The 'science bit' is marginally more ambitious - it says more wind and solar power is needed, and here it comes dangerously close to a little bit of politics. It radically suggests regulation of the economy may be required as high prices are not sufficient to combat the threat. I'm afraid that's as far as it goes as we're informed immediately afterwards this must go hand in hand with the right market framework.

Another intensely irritating feature is the DIY section. You would imagine the long term goal of creating "carbon-neutral citizens" means anyone can get involved and do something constructive. After all, doesn't 'citizen' and citizenship imply active engagement with one's polity? Not for our Global Cool friends it seems. It rather cryptically says it will help support the development of "toolkits", but that's your lot.

Okay, to be fair to Global Cool it doesn't pretend to be anything more than a Noddy's guise to a greener consumerism. But that is not enough. Even if the aim of getting a billion people to reduce their footprint is achieved, capitalism's tendency to undermine the natural basis on which all social systems - including itself - ultimately rest, means at best the Global Cool initiative is glitzy window dressing. To use a well-worn phrase, it is simply not fit for purpose.

1 comment:

Red Cynic said...

They just don't get it do they? That you have to be red to be green.
Fucking middle class tossers.