Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ethical People

As part of the Climate Watch season, Ethical Man sees BBC reporter Justin Rowlatt and his family, who are based in London, taking up the challenge to 'go green' for an entire year to see by how much they can cut their carbon footprint.

Rowlatt and his family really were put through their paces.Trying to cut back their consumption of water, electricity, eat in an sustainable ecological way and, never left unsaid, cut down on their production of green house gases.

A family of four, two adults and two toddlers, it looked like a real chore. They had used 160 liters of water a day before. Thirty percent of it was flushed away everyday in the lavatory. So, they captured rain water in buckets in the garden. They installed a device in the lav to limit flushed water. They gave up the car. Bathed with economic sense.Ate vegetarian. And they travelled by train as often as they could. Air travel being the largest contributor to green house gases.

They also discovered a personalised carbon tax. Almost like penance in theory. Forgive me father for I have sinned. Here the penalties paid to Eco projects in the developing world thus offseting the eco vice committed in the developed one.

The last idea
was appealing if it could be direct like that, person to project, and not lost in a big shuffle and pocketed by a third party along the way.

At the end of the year they were presented with their achievements. I somehow suspect they had weathered the storm and were probably looking forward to lapse again into some of their old ways, but not all of them, so some progress was made.

In a similar vein Sheryl Crow is getting flack for suggesting that people in the West use less toilet paper. The idea is inconceivable in the West. How can you live that way?

How could people get by not driving or flying? Travel by trains and scooters. Bathe with a single bucket of water. Live on a more or less
vegetarian diet. And not use toilet paper.
Kipling's overused line about East and West never meeting is worth recycling here in E.M Forster's extended riff from Passage to India.

"But the horses didn't want it-they swerved apart; the earth didn't want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single file; the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, that came into view as they issued from the gap and saw Mau beneath: they didn't want it, they said in their hundred voices, 'No, not yet,' and the sky said, 'No, not there.'"

Trouble is the horses, the earth, the rocks and the sky, all of them want it now but not in the way Kipling certainly, and Forster perhaps, had imagined. West coming to the East. Who would have thought it?

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