Climate Criminals to the Naughty Step

by | Feb 5, 2009

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.


  1. geoff chambers

    Nothing to disagree with. What’s more the article is funny, and even us Eeyores* like to chuckle now and then. But I can’t help feeling you’ve made the same wood-for-the trees-error as the environmentalists when they blather on about carbon footprints. The problem with these wankers is not that they’re stupid or hypocritical, but simply that they’re too rich for their own good. When this happened to 19th century railway magnates, they’d found a university or an art gallery or an orphanage. Their modern equivalents simply change brands.

    Why can’t those green hysterico-obsessives not see that their carbon footprints are directly proportional to their income? If they’re worried about their excessive contribution to global warming, no need to castrate themselves or strangle their infants; just give the stuff away (preferably to me). The greens will jump through the most convoluted pseudo-scientific hoops to justify their left / third world leanings, but never come out with the obvious solution; take the money off the filthy rich and give it to the filthy poor. Let’s go back to the golden age of egalitarianism we knew under that arch-socialist Edward Heath, when the top rate of income tax was 80%, and bankers were only a hundred times richer than the rest of us, instead of ten thousand.

    (*Alex Cull and I have both come out as Eeyores. I’d prefer to be known as a Cassandra, except that the warmists have monopolised that title. And then look what happened to her; she got stripped naked and raped by some Ancient Greek Tigger. I think I prefer to sulk in the corner of my field and lament my lost tail…)

  2. Alex Cull

    I’ve only seen the first episode of this, but it seems to be progressing much as expected. Regarding the jokeyness of the whole thing, I think it was perhaps unavoidable. There would, to my mind, have been only two other ways to go about it: 1) present these particular green measures as things that anyone could carry out or afford, which is clearly not the case, or 2) have a completely different programme instead, about green measures which people generally would be able to take (so that we can all live on our WWF-allotted one planet – or even less!), which would probably read like a depressingly long list of Don’ts. Don’t fly, Don’t drive, Don’t eat meat, Don’t consume energy, Don’t go abroad on holiday, Don’t switch on your lights, Don’t go out in the evening, or otherwise do anything much that involves motor vehicles, food miles, fossil fuels or electricity (I may be exaggerating just a bit.) Re option 2) they’d probably do better to forget the green angle and repackage the programme as a “Survive the Credit Crunch by Making Do with Less” sort of guide, as I think people might relate to that more. (Although if these were meant to be permanent measures, the programme would basically be selling poverty, not an easy proposition: how many BBC viewers actually aspire to be poor?)

    Well, that’s my comment for the day; I will now trudge back to my own little corner of the Hundred Acre Wood and sit there to ponder “Why?”, “Wherefore?” and “Inasmuch as which?”… :o)

  3. filthy

    No fisking of James Lovelock’s mad article in The Sunday Times? I was really looking forward to it.

  4. geoff chambers

    To filthy
    Thanks for drawing my attention to this load of burbling insanity. I imagine most Sunday Times readers prefer to read Jeremy Clarkson, but like to know there’s a bit of morally uplifting garbage at hand, like some sermon from a Victorian bishop.
    The good news is that it only provoked ten comments, whereas Monbiot’s bitchier, more activist stuff in the Guardian has produced 400+. The bad news is that our serious press is proudly publishing stuff which, if you saw it printed on a placard carried by some poor bloke with his trousers held up with string, would make you cross the road for fear of catching something.

  5. Alex Cull

    To filthy & Geoff: Re the ST article, I tried to leave a comment in the Have Your Say box yesterday, but it isn’t showing – maybe they cap the number of comments after a certain number, or after a few days have passed? Or perhaps they filter out the kookier comments – I didn’t think mine was too rabid, but… :o)

    As an interesting contrast to the prophetic visions of Prof. Lovelock, here’s the Met Office in sensible mode:

  6. Alex Cull

    Correction – I just re-read the above comment and realised I should have written “filter out the relatively sane comments”, given that Prof. Lovelock’s article is itself quite bonkers, LOL.


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