Over the past weeks we’ve been looking at a number of improbable ideas for environment-related think pieces. In the process, we ended up managing to find fault with just about every country, treaty and activist. This got us thinking. As much as we weren’t being entirely serious or fair, we were still falling into the inevitable trap – believing that climate change is somehow somebody else’s fault.
Everyone does it. All of us talk about “what’s wrong with the world” in terms of “them” or “they”. More sophisticated versions of the same line of thinking include blaming things on “society” or even “modern society”.
There are some things we really can’t fix individually. We wouldn’t suggest for a moment that nuclear proliferation, for example, is in any way related to the actions of the average man. For this, he can blame “the modern world” as much as he wants. Climate change however is not one of these issues. It is an issue that requires the cooperation of every single individual. “Oh, what difference does it make what I do?” is all too tempting. The fact remains however that the world is made up of people, each of whom add their own little bit.
Copenhagen will, with luck and no small amount of hard work, commit the governments of all the major nations to some attempt to reduce emissions. In each of these nations however, individuals will still bemoan their inability to do anything of note, undermining much of what the governments seek to achieve through simple laziness.
We therefore propose, in the latest of Baby’s radical and slightly impractical solutions, the ultimate green tax. Every single item thrown away by an individual should be counted, and the individual charged £10 per recyclable item. The organisation required would be enormous, but it would no doubt pay for itself. We’d love to put a further tax on the attitude behind it; anyone heard uttering anything along the lines of “what difference does it make?” would be given a £500 on-the-spot fine. We’re just not quite sure how to enforce that one. The purpose here is simply to illustrate the idea that it does matter what each individual does, perhaps even more than it matters what the Governments say at Copenhagen…