Plane Stupid – Gordon Goes Ga Ga and Lizzie Loses the PlotWednesday, 09 April 2008
The great British public have been asking tough questions about the opening of the new Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport. Oh yes! Unfortunately they’ve been questions like, “can I buy Celebrity Gossip Hell in WH Smith?”, “do you think that Muslim over there is a terrorist?”, “should we forget this lark and take the train?” and “I’m going to New York so why are my bags going to Cape Town?” Still, they’re tougher questions than those being asked by the Queen and the Prime Minister. “Can I wear my red hat?” and “Is CO2 a mobile phone company?”
In August last year, I made some tentatively positive noises about Gordon Brown’s first few weeks in office*. Fortunately I covered myself by writing that there was “no point rushing into needless optimism” and, eight months later, the honeymoon is definitely over. The government appears to be continuing down the route set out by President Blair, getting cosy with big business, trampling on civil rights, waging wars in faraway lands and pretending to be green. The opening of T5 is just one of the high profile environmental issues which the mainstream media are ignoring. Unless someone’s Louis Vuitton ends up on the wrong carousel. And, to be honest, that’s hardly a threat to the world’s low-lying regions......
MORONS, MONARCHS & MONTY PYTHON
The Daily Mail has been leading the Charge of the Middle-Class Green Brigade with its campaign on plastic bags** but, like the rest of the media, has remained strangely muted over the environmental impact of T5. There have been plenty of column miles used up huffing and puffing about the teething problems at the new terminal but hardly a question about how T5 fits with a government policy supposedly aimed at radically reducing CO2 emissions.
You might think that Gordon is a moron but what about that sensible if somewhat dull monarch of ours? Well, sadly we have to report that Loopy Lizzie seems to have finally lost the plot. Queen Elizabeth II declared T5 open while wearing a bright red hat modelled on the Great British post box, possibly as a subtle protest against her government’s plans to rob communities of another local service by closing hundreds of Post Offices. The hat might be a matter of taste but what she said came straight out of a Monty Python script. On second thoughts, I take that back. Monty Python is funny.
Her brief speech included the amazing words below:-
“[T5] provides an encouraging illustration of what can be achieved through working in partnership and it says a good deal about how the essential considerations of passenger comfort, effective security and quality of service can be combined with the evermore important requirement of environmental responsibility.”
There may be arguments about the extent to which aviation contributes to global warming (airlines appoint expensive PR company shock etc.) but when the vast majority of scientists are stressing the need to drastically reduce our emissions (80% by 2050)***, where does the expression “environmental responsibility” fit in with this huge expansion of airport capacity? She described the opening as a time of “special celebration”. Hmm. We’ve heard of some pretty screwy celebrations in our time and attended a few as well - but a party to celebrate a £4.3 billion contribution to global warming? Nice one, your majesty! The really crazy thing is that the press ignored her comments but paints Prince Charles out to be the mad royal because he, er, sells organic produce.
We’ve heard of some pretty screwy celebrations in our time and attended a few as well - but a party to celebrate a £4.3 billion contribution to global warming? Nice one, your majesty!
The Queen also labelled T5 as a “21st century gateway to the world”. Roll up! Roll up! Pass through the magic portal and marvel at the new wonders of the world. Tsunami victims. People without clean drinking water. Melting glaciers. Endangered species. Millions sweating over rising sea levels. Billions hungry because increasingly freak weather conditions are ruining harvests. Roll up! Roll up! To the dual purpose T5 – it helps create the carnage and then provides a gateway for up close and personal observation. Bonus!
The seemingly unrestrained and relentless growth in aviation is depressing but there is hope as long as people make their voices heard. People like the campaigners with Plane Stupid who want to bring “the aviation industry back down to earth”. There’s a link to their website at the foot of the page. Currently the home page features a story about a bumbling attempt by the aviation industry to infiltrate Plane Stupid. Funny but sinister at the same time. BAA = Bastards Against Activists??
JOHN HUTTON’S COKE ADDICTION
While the media focus has been on celebrity divorce settlements and lost luggage, few people have been made aware of the government’s plans to commission a new generation of seven coal-fired power stations around the UK, starting with Kingsnorth in Kent. If it goes ahead, Kingsnorth alone will release more CO₂ each year than Ghana and will not be using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. An official spokesperson has denied reports that the Queen is being lined up for the opening ceremony, blacked up like an old-fashioned coal delivery merchant and singing ‘Old King Cole Was A Merry Old Soul’. She might, however, describe it as “environmentally responsible”. Bless!
The decision, if ratified, would make a mockery of the UK’s claim to take the protection of the environment seriously. Unlike the opening of T5, there’s still time to take action on this one. Just check out some of the links below and let your voice be heard by people like John Hutton, Minister for (Dirty) Business. There’s a great briefing note from our friends at the World Development Movement and loads of information and links on their Stop Kingsnorth site.
This article was prepared to the sound of the Courteeners’ debut album St. Jude.