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Shame on you

Horace Camp | Published:

GOOD NEWS, people of Guernsey – our drinking water is officially practically perfect in every way.

(Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

There is no need for a single bottle of water to be imported. This will save us not only the problem of plastic bottles but also the plastic packaging around the bulk packs. I say again, there is no need for any bottled water to be imported here.

There is no need, but there are a lot of people who want to imbibe bottled water with no consideration of the impact of the bottles and packaging on the oceans of the world.

The problem with tackling climate change is not dispensing with things we need but with things we want.

Now, I’m an easygoing sort of chap but one thing that gets my dander up (there are others) is people who pay lip service to saving our planet but really just virtue signal from their comfortable seats in high-flying international jets as they make a point of refusing a plastic stirrer for their gin and tonic.

I am today in this column calling for an eco-warrior-shaming campaign. My aim is to be the new Greta Thunberg.

We all know at least one eco-warrior. They are easy to spot, especially on social media. Photos of them and their smiling children on multi-thousand-pound electric bikes with panniers large enough for a tuba and seats for at least two children as well as one for the securely helmeted parent.

Or they will be posting links to well-crafted, foldable hallmarked silver drinking straws or bags for life made from the fibre extracted from llama hair recovered from thorn hedges high in the Andes by small children working for scraps of food.

They will of course now be much easier to identify with their sincere outpourings of praise for the previously mentioned Saint Greta.

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Once you have identified your targets, you must now look out for any signs of environmental hypocrisy. Here are a few things to look out for: bottles of imported water in their hands as they complete 5ks or half-marathons; any photo of them behind the wheel of a vehicle with ocean-polluting tyres (all tyres produce plastic particulates which end up in the oceans); any sign that they have been off island skiing, diving, sunbathing or in fact doing anything off island for selfish leisure purposes only; any sign that they regularly wash their clothes or themselves using plastic polluting lotions and mixtures probably misleadingly labelled as being made out of fruit and vegetables. And a sure sign of an eco-warrior to shame is one who defends his or her use of electricity to power a vast range of white goods, including US-size fridges and freezers, because the power we receive from France is good electricity.

Let me explain that one. About 20% of France’s electricity is renewable. Much of the rest is nuclear. Our eco-warriors charging their electric cars (with ocean-polluting tyres and battery components mined by small children in Africa) obviously convince themselves that the French only sell us the renewable stuff, somehow ring-fencing our share of the power from their national grid to ensure only the good stuff comes our way through a cable that must have quite a carbon footprint of its own.

We need a modern alternative to the white feather in an envelope which we can subtly deliver to our chosen eco-warriors. Possibly a colour-coded item to highlight exactly the reason for the shaming – white for water shaming, blue for flight shaming and green for exotic vegan food shaming?

The problem is what to make it out of. Plastic is a definite no-no, but although paper or cardboard does not have the same impact as plastic on oceans, it is more environmentally unfriendly when it comes to emissions. Perhaps beach pebbles? Although that may undermine our coastal defences.

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If the new millennial fun craze of Extinction Rebellion manages to convince our politicians to declare a climate emergency, then our shaming revolution will have to shift into top gear and Project Amish will be launched.

If we really believe in a climate emergency, then drastic action has to be taken.

Firstly, let’s stop any work on improving infrastructure that encourages travel on or off the island. I suspect the airport will only be retained for the mail plane, medical emergencies and essential travel by politicians. I’m not sure how to dispose of the Aurigny fleet but one could be retained for use by Deputy St Pier. Although Aurigny One would be better if it was a blimp with hydrogen-powered engines.

Tourism both in and out will be taxed heavily to discourage such wilful behaviour in our last days before the environmental apocalypse.

The harbour will be retained for essential freight supplies but we will need to sell our fuel tankers for sail or electric-powered ships. There may be need for greater warehousing here because in the days of sail it wasn’t unknown for the passage from England to take more than a week if the weather was unkind.

Of course, an immediate ban will be required on all new electronic devices, both to eventually cut down the energy usage and the mining for rare and exotic metals. Anyone with a smartphone less than five years old will be required to wear a shaming hat.

And I’m afraid enforced veganism is a must. Perhaps we can send all the cows to Sark? I was recently shamed for my participation in planet-destroying dairy farming and I hereby apologise for my youthful misadventures.

If these necessary measures are carried out effectively, I predict a total meltdown of our economy and mass emigration. If we can achieve a depopulation target of 50% or more, we will likely halve Guernsey’s greenhouse gas emissions.

I realise it will make no difference if half the population leaves and continues to drive, fly and consume but that’s not the point. As the eco-warriors keep telling us, if every community of 30,000 didn’t do its bit then we couldn’t hold up our heads in global society.

Of course I don’t really want to shame anyone, but I’m completely fed up of being shamed myself by holier than thou, hypocritical environmentalists. We are all in this together and sorting your rubbish into multiple bags and buying endless numbers of bags for life while still driving, flying and consuming does not make you any better than the rest of us.

And if the members of this lacklustre States impose a climate emergency upon us, then let it be known that I expect more than lip service to be paid to it and I will order my Amish hat the day the proposal is passed.

Helen Hubert

By Helen Hubert
Features editor

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