Tag Archives: Climate emergency

Mindless (and wholly hypocritical) climate tokenism

Frances Corner is Warden of Goldsmiths College of the University of London. The College currently languishes as 99th in the Guardian rankings of UK Universities, and Grumpy might have thought that the Warden would be putting all her energies to improve that near to the bottom position rather than indulging in pointless token climate exercises which can have no practical impact other than as a PR project.

She has instigated an initiative in which Goldsmiths are (amongst other things) banning beefburgers (and all other beef products) and putting a 10p levy on bottled water on campus. [The College press release doesn’t state whether this applies to all bottles, including glass reusable ones, or just plastic bottles.]

Goldsmiths have jumped on the bandwagon of declaring a ‘climate emergency’, a meaningless term on which Grumpy has previously written much (see, for example) http://grumpy.eastover.org.uk/climate-impotence/extinction-rebels-2/ .

What makes Goldsmiths stand out is that the driver behind this is the new Warden. Corner has spent more or less her whole life associated with the fashion industry (and has penned a book, ‘Why fashion matters’). However, as the United Nations Environment Programme points out, the fashion industry “produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally”. Her background in this Goliath polluting machine hardly makes her a poster girl for saving the planet.

Although the fashion giants’ PR machines issue butt covering statements on ‘sustainability initiatives’, the simple and undeniable fact remains that the very business model of many, if not most, of the multi billion dollar retain chains is based on high velocity turnover of essentially disposable clothing to drive constant repeat sales. As the UN also points out, “Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.” Further, the low wage basis of the associated production systems condemns countless thousand foreign workers to a survival level existence.

Corner’s pathetic response to “take urgent action to cut carbon use” is to ban Big Macs. As the link above to a prior post notes, anything they do is pointless in in the sheer scale of its insignificance, and hence the accusation of hypocrisy. She would have far more effect on CO2 emissions if she banned wearing of all fast fashion (rather than fast food) on campus and insisted on a Chinese style uniform of unisex dungarees for all students on campus. This would have the benefit of finding out if students were really prepared to takes steps rather than just paying lip service to climate change and having a spider plant in their flats.

Wining ‘green gown’ awards http://francescorner.com/sustainability/ means nothing if you are still prepared to take Amancio Ortega’s shilling and support the fast fashion business model.

Climate impotence

Grumpy should state outright that he is not a ‘climate change denier’ (although he is a ‘climate emergency’ – silly term – denier; see below). Nor would he feel in any way competent to question peer reviewed research on the topic undertaken at reputable establishments. However, he has cause to increasingly question the balance and veracity of public pronouncements on the issue, whether issued by the ‘climate emergency’ or ‘climate hoax’ end of the spectrum.

Further, there are initiatives and actions seeking to mitigate climate change which are well meaning, but fundamentally pointless, unless one subscribes to the edict of Mahatma Ghandhi that “whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” The comments in this section will also highlight the worst excesses of these public money wasting token vanity projects.

Their are many examples in this blog of misleading, hysterical or factual misrepresentations of climate change data, or about initiatives ranging from the well-meaning but pointless to the plain stupid, generally instantiated in the public sector by amateur politicians seeking to burnish their climate credentials.

Top of the list of misleading terms is ‘climate emergency’. The reason for the climate movement’s conflating the words ‘climate’ and ’emergency’ is that is has some much more emotional weight then the more neutral word, ‘change’. Along with ‘extinction’ it brings with it the image of global and imminent threat to human life itself , and hence gains more traction in the noise of media communications. However, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines ’emergency’ as “A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action “; ‘unexpected’ is defined by OED as “Not expected or regarded as likely to happen “, and ‘immediate’ as “instant”.

But climate change is not unexpected, and the outcomes from any actions to address it cannot be in anyway correlated to whether those outcomes are delayed by 10 seconds or 10 minutes. So the word ’emergency’ is being used not to aid understanding or for precise communication, but to trigger emotive reactions. The expression is simply nonsense, by any objective analysis of the English language.

In addition, the climate lobby seems to now also embrace other ‘environmental’ issues; one current band wagon is about the use of plastics. In fact, their are inherent conflicts of the plastics campaign with the climate movement, in that (for example) one time plastic bags have a much lower overall CO2 equivalent impact that one time paper ones.