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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, Drunk Brits abroad. Photo: Virgin Media 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.

Category: Air Quality, | Tags: brits, booze, cheap flights, yvo de boer, dr rajendra pachauri, sex, sunburn,


Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 13th December 2009:

Eamonn, I advice you to contemplate the role of puritanism in the birth of capitalism and democracy… how comes that the most puritan christians gve birth to the most innovative and thrifty cultures? The formost example being the US, but the netherlands, the UK, Switzerland are also relevant.

Likwise - religious puritanism turned the nordic countries from being a poor corner of Europe to one of the richest areas in the world.

So if you don’t like puritanism, you sholdn’t like capitalism.

Eamonn Fitzgerald on 13th December 2009:

Daniel, I like my capitalism alright, but I have an enormous dislike of hypocrites and killjoys. If the green puritans spent more time with Adam Smith and less with Karl Marx, I’d be much happier. As it is, I see them as as a mix of Calvin and Lenin. A horrid mixture, the very worst, in my eyes.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 13th December 2009:

How much time did you spend with Karl Marx? What sense does it make to bring him up in a discussion about puritanism? I would guess that Smith was more of a puritan than Marx.

The good things about puritans, is that the usually get rid of the hypocrisy that normal people live with. Maybe this is what makes puritanism such a powerful force throughout history? The bad things about puritanism I think we can agree upon - the single-mindedness and dificulty to live and let live.

Who, by the way are the green puritans?

Paul Montariol on 14th December 2009:

Thank you Eamon for this humour.
I read much about Saint Augustin.
I do not love much this great man.
Today I am opposed to the “theology” of the punishment.
The reduction of the emissions wedges the negotiations.
They seek which must pay!
Everyone wants to receive.
Thus I think that the development of new energies is the right track.
Truths skeptics are those which believe that new energies cannot replace oil.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 14th December 2009:

@Paul “Truths skeptics are those which believe that new energies cannot replace oil. ” I couldn’t agree more. smile

Paul Montariol on 14th December 2009:

I work on it every day!
I am not alone on that way.

Federico Pistono on 14th December 2009:

“Truths skeptics are those which believe that new energies cannot replace oil. ”
... and who seem to forget that almost all the governments of the world subsidise oil in some way…

Paul Montariol on 14th December 2009:

It is a political question and not a technology matter.
It is the same thing with the nuclear power in France.
We funded for 2 billion Euros a nuclear accident and for 500 million Euros by gigawatt the dismantling of the power stations at the end of the lifetime.
One would need a minimum of 100 billion Euros for an accident and 4 billion Euros by gigawatt for dismantling!
The awake will be painful for French!

Federico Pistono on 14th December 2009:

Actually, it’s a technical problem. However you put it, it not convenient nor intelligent to build power plants.

Paul Montariol on 14th December 2009:

The history will say it.
I cannot convince you and I am quite sad!

Paul Montariol on 14th December 2009:

We are going in a wrong issue.
I try to convince you that new energies are able to replace oil!
With nuclear:
I have a friend who has spend all his life to promote nuclear energy.
At the end of his life he wanted to develop new energies.
A cancer make him die in december 2007!
In 1977 I began with new energies and a lot of people said that it was impossible they emerge!
Today with the next wind mills of 15 MW of power the energy density is multiplied by 4 against 2 MW wind mills.
The next solar panel in a few years make 60 - 80% of conversion of solar energy.
There a other solutions.

Federico Pistono on 14th December 2009:

I’m sorry Paul, I must have misunderstood.

Looks like we are on the same track. :D

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