Lord, make me chaste, but not yet!
Published 13th December 2009 - 13 comments - 2800 views -
That's what the very human Saint Augustine is supposed to have said when faced with the rigorous demands of chastity. Despite the fact that many of us now live in secular places, the quote can be applied today to our green apostles, who are preaching a new form of abstinence — from flying. Except, while they're preaching water for us, they're drinking wine themselves. By the barrel!
The most infamous case involves Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who flew 443,243 miles (713,330 kilometres) in a 19 month period while speaking about global warming. And it would be enlightening if someone could do a similar audit on Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The airports he's been to in the past few weeks include Bali, Posen, Barcelona, Bangkok and Copenhagen.
Wonder if either of these two gentlemen have heard of the artist David Cross of Cornford & Cross? Not only has he abandoned flying, he gave up his car in 1983, his TV in 1985, his motorbike in 1989, his credit card in 2000 and his mobile phone in 2007. Wonder if the many artists now in Copenhagen, who have flown in from the four corners of the earth to create art for the climate change conference have heard of Gustav Metzger? His work "Reduce Arts Flights" hit out at artists who rack up the airmiles in the name of "art". But seeing that the Pachauri and de Boer refuse to have anything to do with such idealism, and seeing that distance proved no object to Youssou n'Dour from Senegal or Shaggy from Jamaica, who were transported to Copenhagen to take part in a particularly "dull" concert in the especially dull Parken Stadium, why should any of us bother with the new Puritanism that targets flying? Specifically, the low-cost variety.
Have the new Puritans ever been in Tenerife in late January when a plane spills its cargo of pinkish, pallid, often toothless, members of the British working class from parts north such as Newcastle and Leeds onto the tarmac? Without low-cost flights their ten day of non-stop boozing, English breakfasts, haphazard sex and savage sunburn would not be possible. Who will deny them their escape from the horrors of winter in the shadow of Hadrian's Wall? Not I. Not Pachauri or de Boer either, one hopes. They may be hypocrites of the first order, but Saint Augustine would be touched by their unwillingness to give up their earthly pleasures.
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