Being Constructive about Climate and Environment

I’ve been pretty clear that I reject a lot of what Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion do with their environmental climate emergency agendas. And I’m not coy about the fact a large part of my working life has been in or related to fossil-fuel and plastics businesses – my Dad worked for ICI too. But, I also have to be clear, I have no “interest” in perpetuating these, and indeed for most of the last 2, 3 or even 4 decades all work has been towards efficiencies, reductions, remediations and alternatives.

So I want to say, this is a brilliant video created by Greenpeace. It grabs attention for a massive problem in a stunningly visual way. Various versions being shared all over social media. It’s brilliant. Shines a light on a real problem with a credibly-real idea of scale (even though I’ve not done the calcs). Well done.

What’s not brilliant about it is its anti-establishment, anti-UK-government agenda. And I say that as someone who’s no time for Boris nor ever voted tory. The knee-jerk of archetype lefty-lib-tards is to blame a tory or more generally blame them, the government, the establishment. A world with no establishment? Careful what you wish for.

At least in the UK (and much of Europe) we do massively support separation and recycling of waste. Sad to see those in comment threads attached to the video questioning whether to continue such commitment. Certainly amongst our family, friends, colleagues and wider community, the idea of littering or discarding anything not immediately bio-degradable food waste – even the smallest sweet wrapper –  has been anathema all our post-war lives.

But I know from travel (and indeed living) around the world, UK, Europe, US, South America, Mid-East, South and East Asia, Asia-Pacific and Australasia in those decades that it’s an even bigger problem. There are huge communities and cultures where simply discarding disposable plastic has been the norm, long before any thought of collecting for recycle and the risk of poor arrangements for such recycling. I’ve seen so many rivers, bays and dead-end dry-land spaces simply choked with years of discarded plastic for many decades. This is cultural education, closer to home too. The amount of fast-food and beverage bottle and can discards is a cultural disgrace close to home.

Anyway, in or out of the EU, plastic production and use as well as disposal and processing will be at least partly international business for all the reasons any business involves global trade. It depends on shared standards (which is the common thread of my day-job, but I digress).

I happen to support localism, and I fully support proper economic accounting for environmental “externalities” – but with a global environment, this is yet more shared standards for global trade. It can’t just be box-ticking of offsets.

“We” have to own this as opposed to blaming “them” and looking for accounting loopholes. We are they.

Personally, apart from obviously seeking realistic alternatives to reduce disposable plastic use in the first place, I believe the right solution is to incinerate in properly regulated waste-to-energy plants, where there are no high-value recycled-product markets. And this is true whether these be at the eastern margins of Europe, say in Turkey, or in the far-east. Since we need alternative energy plants locally and we tend to be more compliant with regulations locally, and it’s easier to see locally when they’re not compliant, such waste-to-energy plants should and could quite practically be as local as possible.

If it weren’t for all the ER and Greenpeace nimby’s preventing them being built locally, that is. Attention-grabbing – even through civil disobedience protest – is fine, as well as catchy videos, but take responsibility for doing something about it.

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