Monday, 18 December 2006

A thought for Christmas

Fair Trade is now firmly established in the supermarkets. But as always caveat emptor. Fair to whom? I see fair trade honey from all over the world, but none from English producers. This is hardly fair on all the English bee-keepers. And what about all the transportation costs of Guatemalan or Mexican honey? The same applies to organic foods, of course. It's great that the supermarkets are stacked with organic foods, but not so great that many of them come with airmiles attached.

I am of course well-known for my cynicism concerning many aspects of the green economy. Bio fuels, vegetarianism, soya beans, dolphin-friendly tuna and many other issues -- which at first sight seem A GOOD THING -- all have their down side. The issue which never seems to be addressed is that we all want too much. Too much food, too much travel, too much stuff. And the free market economy needs to sell us more and more, and needs an increasing population to sell it to. Malthus got it right, but some of the timescales have been wrongly calculated.

A few nights ago, I watched an old Sci-Fi Classic: Soylent Green. Although made back in 1973, and some of the visions of life in the 2020s seem a little naive, there is a lot of very thought provoking content to it. A world being destroyed by overpopulation and global warming.

Unfortunately population and economics are not fields in which I have expertise, and don't feel competent to be involved with campaigning. Saving bits of land is what the WLT is good at, but the human population explosion and its demands on resources has to be the single biggest threat to the future of the planet. If we really care, I believe we should all do something that we feel competent in doing, and we should all lobby for the human population crisis to be taken more seriously. If not fair trade, organic food, carbon balancing, and all these gestures will be just that: gestures.

As the ship went down, the band played on.

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