River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Notes from a newcomer

December 2006

Marion examines the "Green" arguments being force fed to us all.

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Or a green one? Let me explain.

Earlier today, as we passed each other in the lane, trundling our respective wheelbarrows, I told my neighbour that I had no idea what to write in this month's Pump and she said, "How about the carbon footprint?"

It took me a minute to catch on to what she meant but it set me thinking. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that although - like most people - I'd like to do my bit towards saving the planet, I am thoroughly confused about the best way to go about it.

I guess the first thing is not be put off doing anything at all by the doom mongers who say it is already too late to prevent the effects of global warming. Then there are other experts, only slightly less pessimistic, who conclude that only world powers the size of America or China can possibly make an impact - the puny efforts of smaller nations, let alone individuals, are pointless. But we all like to think that we can make a difference by simple acts such as recycling paper carrier bags, growing our own vegetables or buying long-life light bulbs. And, thankfully, more and more people now regard being green as normal, not the hobby horse of a cranky minority.

If only the issues were straightforward, I'm sure we'd all do more to reduce the carbon footprint we leave behind but, as it is, it's something of a puzzle. No sooner have I trained myself to turn off the TV standby than I hear an expert on the Today programme saying that this saves so little electricity it is hardly worth the bother. Half a dozen e-mails from listeners are read out - all offering conflicting advice and opinions. No help there. Then there's the matter of food and air miles. Only this week I heard the prime minister of New Zealand arguing persuasively that we have been too hasty in boycotting items that have been grown on the other side of the world to be sold in our supermarkets. Yes, well, she would, wouldn't she?At one time, I was led to believe that running your car on diesel rather than petrol was kinder to the planet because you needed less fuel, but now I learn that diesel is more of a pollutant.

If the scientists can't agree, what chance have we of deciding on the best course of action? Perhaps 'waste not, want not' is the simplest solution - although this is not easy when Christmas, the season of conspicuous consumption, is upon us.

However, hard on the heels of this annual orgy of over-indulgence comes the sobering New Year. The ideal time to resolve that in 2007 we will be greener because, even if we don't fully understand all the issues, we know it makes sense.

Marion Clarke

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