MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saving the Planet, or Taxing the Poor?

Martin Clarke has posted 10 ways to save our planet, on his blog. There are a couple on there which probably wouldn't make much difference at all and I have a couple of suggestions myself, too. On of them would be the 'China factor'; it has to be remembered that this is a country where numerous Coal fired power stations are added every week. And western companies' factories are allowed to pursue environmental practices which would not be tolerated in the US/EU. Nonetheless, there are some excellent points raised:

1) Streetlights, why do we need a street light every 10 yards? Take the roundabout at East Street Sittingbourne, it has a multitude of lights on the central reservation, lights around the outside and then the footpaths have yet another set of lights. Do we really need the streets to be lit up like daylight? For those who argue (wrongly I might suggest) that they are there for safety reasons, why are the streets still lit up at 2,3,4,5 in the morning? How much electricity this would save? The problem is the government would lose VAT.
2) Why do we import Fruit and Vegetables into the UK when some are grown in abundance locally, think of the environmental damage caused by shipping apples etc form South Africa, Australia
3) Why do we need plastic bags in Supermarkets surely paper would and what about encouraging shoppers to bring their own, this was the norm 30 years ago
4) Why so much packaging. Instead of polystyrene why not use paper or cardboard which can be rotted down.
5) Why not use vegetable oil as fuel instead of Petroleum oil?
6) If the government want us preserve the environment they should give us Solar Panels but then again how much tax would they lose electric sale.
7) Instead of importing so much food why not encourages the public to eat seasonally i.e. only eat fruit when it is cropped.
8) Surely the jaunts MP’s and ministers who travel all over the World can be curtailed look at the damage there travelling does to the environment. Most of there work can be done via the Internet and conference calls.
9) The European Union apart from being the most corrupt and inefficient organisation in the world, there Parliament causes a great deal of pollution for example once a year the whole EU parliament moves from Brussels to Strasbourg how much pollution does that create?
10) Why not give us grants to sink large tanks into the ground for those of us who have gardens, rain and wastewater could be collected. With this we could flush our toilets, water our garden etc, with a filter system we could even wash our car?

Numbers 2 & 7 are related, and in fact are probably also related to the 'China factor' I was talking about previously. The solution is blindingly obvious - an environmental tariff. The environmental cost of this is massive and yet rarely discussed. For instance, it always makes me cringe when I hear people pontificating about the environment and low-cost airlines, I work at an airport and see people cramming onto a A320 or 737, then I look over at the cargo section and see huge 747's bringing food and Chinese goods into Britain. It's obvious which of the two is the most damaging.

Number 5 is a bit more complicated. But, what I will say is that simply changing from Petrol to Diesel engines, would be a huge step in the right direction. That's not to say that we should dismiss Biofuels, infact I am a huge fan of Biomass technology as I believe it will help the agricultural sector of this country. Of course, this is still a developing sector, but we are only a few years away from seeing biofuels at the pump.

What I think you can gather from this post, and many similar ones is that all in all the debate is moving in the right direction. It's just politicians who are stuck in a rut. The Lib Dems can only think of Taxes, New Labour taxes and Nuclear Power and as for the Conservatives, well, nothing of any note so far, but I would expect taxes to involved somewhere. In my experience people willl take on environmental issues and they will change certain aspects of their lifestyles. The current thinking of we the Politicians, will deal with the environment alone, is at the heart of why there will be plenty of talk but no action on the environment.


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