Climate Criminals to the Naughty Step

It’s not easy watching It’s Not Easy Being Green, BBC2’s show about how easy it is being green – if you are a professional environmentalist.

After the first episode of the new series, we mentioned that edgy yet ethical rock chick Lauren Laverne had been trying to chivvy along the upper classes’ pitiful attempts to save the planet by showing how to build your own eco-swimming pool for £100k.

In the second episode, her task was to decorate the home of some well-heeled eco-spivs with overpriced recycled furniture. It was her own home. In her own words:

This is like punk-rock antiquing!

(And in the words of Harry Enfield: ‘There’s quite a market for this particular type of wank round here.’)

Episode three sees Lauren answering a series of questions about her lifestyle to find out how many planets we would need to sustain us if we all lived like that. She scores 2.73 planets, a close second behind green-guru presenter Dick Strawbridge’s own 2.4 planets, which he says is only so high because the quiz takes into account that he eats meat but not that they’re his own pigs. (Neither does it include the planets exploited by the BBC infrastructure that tracks – and pays for – his every eco-improvement.)

In episode 4, Strawbridge heads up to London to put actor Julian Rhind-Tutt through the eco-guest lifestyle challenge quiz thing. He scores 3.84 planets. Oh how they laugh. Before he travels back to Cornwall by carrier pigeon, Strawbridge provides another justification for his own (and Rhind-Tutt’s) planet-hungry ways:

Travel comes with work and the sort of things we have to do, and, you know, to be fair, you’ve got to look at how many people you make happy when you’re off doing all these things

Yeah, look at all those bastards going off travelling and not making anyone else happy or even feeling guilty about it. (Spiked have put it rather nicely recently, here.)

To episode 5… Lauren checks out designer low-carbon-fair-trade-recycled fashion. At the bottom end of the market, T-shirts – quite literally a snip – start at £80. Lauren is too embarrassed to show the price-tag of the skirt she takes a fancy to. And for the rest of us?

Strawbridge: Let’s not forget, Lauren, you don’t have to stick to the highstreet. You can buy clothes from car boots and charity shops, too. Great clothes don’t have to cost the Earth.

Patronising twaddle aside, this whole climate-change-is-a-fun-sort-of-disaster theme is not only to be found on desperate tv shows for people with spare cash and time on their hands. We are reminded of an exhibition called Burning Issue: Climate Change. Though held at London’s Science Museum, it was about anything but science. The finale there was another computer game that ‘measured’ the environmental impact of our lifestyle choices.

Such was the confusion of the nation’s premier science museum’s computer that it couldn’t actually bring itself to recommend any of its own recommendations. Try to do the right thing and skip your annual holiday for the sake of future generations and it told you that:

Even eco-warriors need to get away sometimes! Relax a little

Take a coach tour of the highlands – the lowest carbon option available – however, and it accused you of triggering environmental ‘meltdown’.

Similarly, we’ve been quoting UK energy minister Ed Miliband’s comments about the airport protests rather a lot recently:

When you think about all the big historic movements, from the suffragettes, to anti-apartheid, to sexual equality in the 1960s, all the big political movements had popular mobilization. Maybe it’s an odd thing for someone in government to say, but I just think there’s a real opportunity and a need here.

One of the many problems with orthodoxies that exist only because nobody can come up with anything better is that they are just a bit of a laugh for everyone concerned. They are not really meant to be taken too seriously or anything. These lifestyle quizzes/comedy confessions are meant to make the participants feel a little bit guilty, but not too guilty. Miliband likes to see a bit of an environmental protest by people dressed up as Suffragettes, just so long as it is only a bit of one. No one really believes this stuff. Apart from Lieutenant Colonel Dick Strawbridge maybe. But only because he doesn’t have any time to sit down and think about it, what with having to run round all the time milking lentils and fleecing the BBC.

Saving the planet is just a way to pass the time.