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Mon, 27 Jan 2020 06:27 GMT

The Carbon Footprint Royal Debacle


Tony Broadbent

Fri, 30 Aug 2019 15:10 GMT

I am Spartacus! 

I am the guilty one! Nail me. Not him. Not her. Not them. 

For I’m as bad a carbon polluter as any Royal and, wittingly or unwittingly, have been for most all the days of my life.  

I have burned coal, oil, paraffin, and natural gas to help keep me and mine warm and to heat our food. And used single-use plastic bags and straws and thrown them away far too many times to count; all done without a second thought. 

I have eaten meat. Of all colours: red, white, and, aye, chicken, too. And consumed countless fish from the seas and potatoes from the field and needlessly trashed reams of potentially recyclable, single use newsprint by dousing everything in salt and vinegar. As a conscientious environmentalist, I’ve been a complete failure and have had my chips in more ways than one.  

But, alas, my ‘Carbon Footprint’ sinning doesn’t stop there. I’ve also driven a gas-guzzling Range Rover; and many other automobiles, besides; for far more years than is good for the planet. And in that, too, I’m guilty as charged.  

I’m also guilty of having flown on private and commercial aircraft, within country, and across seas, both small and vast. When I could have walked or cycled or sailed. More than ready to exhaust any and all negative complaints with the flimsiest of excuses: that I couldn’t walk on water or navigate across deserts or climb mountain ranges, without great personal cost to life and discomfort to limb. 

Yet, as befits any prodigal son who’s seen the error of his ways and returns home, there is promised salvation, even redemption. And you can now count me part of the Extinction Rebellion. Put an ‘X’ or, better yet, an ‘XR’ by my name or over my head; whatever best serves as a beacon of change to others as the icecaps and glaciers continue to melt and the seas to rise. 

  It’s no longer just about reducing meat consumption, avoiding plastic, or trying to reduce one’s ‘Carbon Footprint’, it’s about confronting the none so blind as those who will not see that the environmental crisis confronting us is not only all too real, but the greatest existential threat of our time. No, make that, of all time.  

Which makes particularly troubling the malicious outpourings that immediately engulf anyone who dares draw attention to the impending ecological crisis. No social media platform ever let go to waste. Especially when you also start to notice the similarities of the abuse and that, all too often, it’s far too well orchestrated not to be deliberate.  

But what else is there for entirely self-regarding political and corporate special interests to do, when faced with such a determined outcry from climate activists, but resort to the age-old ploy: If you don’t like the message, slay the messenger. 

The first thuggish response always to destroy the good name and/or character of any and all of those, however rich and/or famous and/or gifted and/or wise and/or young and/or of different generation or gender, country or culture, who try to raise awareness about the continued political inaction and corporate inertia regarding the climate and ecological emergency. 

The preternaturally gifted, 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, whose simple message: “Together, we can put pressure on people with powers, so that they will have to change something,” has done so much to put ‘Climate Change’ at the top of the political world’s agenda, is a prime target for character assassination. For as well as receiving threats almost daily, on social media, she’s also very recently had to contend with concerted vitriolic attacks from the far-right press and right-wing political circles in France, the UK, and the US.

“We are told that we are brainwashed,” responds Greta, calmly. “We cannot think for ourselves. We are being used. They see me as an apocalyptic guru who just says: 'We are all going to die.' But what I say is just please listen to the scientists.”

By which she means the world’s scientists and their: “97% consensus agreement that global warming is human-caused.”

It’s much the same for any would-be environmental campaigner who happens to be famous for being famous. Attacking a person’s fame and wealth is a time-honoured tactic used by public relations firms, political lobby groups, and tabloid newspapers the world over. A cynical ploy with but one aim; to obscure whatever pressing political and/or social issue, environmental or otherwise, should be being addressed, but isn’t. “Don’t look here: look over there.”

Case in point, the ‘cause celebre’ created entirely by British tabloids regarding the “hypocritical”, “let ‘em eat dirt”, “reprehensible ‘Carbon Footprint’ behaviour” of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. This, after Harry and Meghan, together with their barely 4-months old son, Prince Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, had the gall to fly to the South of France in a private jet. A £15-million Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign, no less. Not that the private jet was theirs, nothing so profligate; it’s owned by none other than the ‘King of Pop ‘n’ Rock’, himself, Sir Elton John. The Sussexes, apparently, then adding further insult to the people’s injury, by actually enjoying themselves hugely at ‘Rocketman’s secluded super luxury French villa.  

But having gone around the world a few times, himself, and being no stranger to potential PR debacles, Sir Elton, quietly, made a contribution to a ‘Carbon Offsets Fund’ to help balance out whatever carbon pollution the Royal couple’s visit had caused. And somewhat prudent on his part, as it happens, as Harry and Meghan had all too recently been blithely banging on about people needing to do their bit to help save the planet. Hell’s bells. What were they thinking? 

What’s more, the overly privileged Royals even had the effrontery to quote the anti-apartheid, human rights activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to make their ‘woke-ness’ clear to one and all: “Do YOUR little bit of GOOD where YOU ARE; it’s THOSE LITTLE BITS of good put TOGETHER that OVERWHELM the WORLD.” 

You wouldn't believe the tsunami of online bile that Tutu titbit caused: How dare the Sussexes urge others to put limits on their ‘First World’ lifestyle, when the two Royals; and “spares” at that; enjoy such manifold privileges, paid for all or in part by the public purse. The collective wisdom of the crowd: It’s high time to ban the monarchy; to bring on the crowd-sourced tumbrils; have them work for a living; demand that Royals fly commercial like everyone else…etcetera…etcetera. 

Don’t people understand that if you’re going to drop names, you should only ever drop big ones? Or why else bother? Its only purpose is to attract attention. And in the very best of circumstances, get people to support whatever good cause it is you want to champion. The very same reason the Sussexes promote the causes they do. The Duke, with his superb ‘Invictus Games’ among others; and the Duchess, by conferring Her Royal Patronage on a growing number of arts, education access, women’s support, and animal welfare organisations. 

Personally, I’m impressed they even bother. I mean it’s not as if all Royals, the world over, always do such a thing. And I salute them, as I do all, highborn or low, who seek to do good for others. 

In the face of which, what other choice is there for any self-respecting ‘Climate Change’ denier to do, but continue to fiddle while Rome burns. Or, as seems to be the preferred action of the tabloids: just burn down the house. Or even a palace or two. I mean with the planet already on fire, who on earth would notice? 

Second case in point: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; William and Kate and their kids Princess Charlotte, Prince George, and Prince Louis, together with ever attendant nannies and Police Protection Officers; made world news by taking a commercial flight; from Norwich, in England, to Aberdeen, in Scotland; via budget air carrier FlyBe. All so the devoted Royal couple could spend a few days holiday with the Queen and Prince Philip, at Balmoral Castle, Her Majesty’s secluded country estate in the Scottish Highlands.  

The Daily Mail, helpfully providing precise details as to distance flown (In terms of flight miles: 340.35 miles or 547.73 kilometres) and the price of the tickets (starting from £73 depending when booked). The event deemed newsworthy enough even to be reported in full, complete with close-up photographs and map, by ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’, right down to the newspaper helpfully supplying the FlyBe airfare’s current conversion rate to Australian dollars. Obviously: no raging political or bush fires waiting to be put out ‘down-under’ then. 

The British tabloids quick off the mark to posit the all-important questions: Was it all a cleverly stage-managed PR response to the fast growing ‘Carbon Footprint’ scandal? No need for the heir to the throne to add fuel to those flames. Or had William deliberately chosen to fly commercial, solely, to upstage his brother Harry? And if so, was that yet more proof of “the growing feud and increasing distance” between the two, once devoted, all but inseparable, loving sons of the dearly departed “People’s Princess” Diana…etcetera…etcetera. 

The mendacity, sheer tawdriness, of it all beggars belief. With edition after edition, whether digital or print, chock-a-block with ever more titillating contrivances; with attendant tiny details masquerading as facts; for the madding crowd to continually Tweet over or remark upon. Be it “toned abs” or “flaunted curves”, “sexy shenanigans” or “shameful divorces”, “fabled feuds between dukes” or “aspersions cast at once delightful duchesses” it’s all just grist for the tabloid mill.  

And me, suddenly, realising that these parlous times, truly call for a new kind of hero, nay, heroine, and that instead of me yelling: “I am Spartacus!” I should have loudly proclaimed: “I am Greta!” Much more appropriate: given the world’s continuing climate crisis. And would there were more like Greta Thunberg, for all our sakes. 

Meanwhile, the Amazon forest continues to burn and the planet turns to ashes before our very eyes. And the rest of us up to our eyeballs in it: with little or no help in sight from the powers that be.  

And no ‘Planet B’. 

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7Dnews.