We wanted to do something special for Christmas. You know, something that would cheer us all up, like faking a picture of Jeremy Clarkson in a Santa suit eating Jade Goody, preferably roast with potatoes, chestnut stuffing, sprouts and those little sausages with bacon round …
But after much cogitation we've decided to stick to what we do best - we've elected to appoint a set of special festive Wankers. Let's face it, there's no shortage of candidates even at this time of year - a government that appears set on just giving in to 165,000 foreign freeloaders and criminals who've decided to grace us with their company because it can't be arsed to find them, arrest them and turf them into the Straights of Dover, and that's happy to invest millions of pounds and the lives of many soldiers in an invasion of Iraq, only to pull out now with its tail between its legs and the job not half done, so Arab loonies can celebrate by killing women in the street because they don't like the colour of their clothes or something.
We have a police force that's almost totally ineffective, of which only 2.5% is actually doing any policing most of the time, a force that's so demoralised that it's seriously considering strike action, that when it does manage to get any work done is so hidebound by targets and quotas that it would sooner let the really hard cases run free and concentrate on easy targets like pensioners, children and victims who make the mistake of trying to defend themselves, that in an emergency can usually be relied on to let members of the public drown rather risk a single officer getting his feet wet ...
We have a railway system that sees nothing wrong in suspending services at the drop of a hat and replacing trains with buses, but refuses to recognise that (a) passengers have paid to go by train because that's how they wanted to travel, and (b) bus travel is cheaper than train travel so passengers are entitled to a refund.
We have an education system that … oh, b*ll*x, don't get me started …
But as this is a special occasion, we thought we'd spread our net as wide as it would go. Our Merry Yuletide Wankers are … well, almost all of us, actually.
Let's start with a website, IbuyEco. They sell car insurance, but this is nice, green, cuddly, right-on environmentally-friendly car insurance designed to swaddle the smug motorist in a cloud of cosy self-righteousness because he's "offset his carbon", whatever that means.
Among the little gems on this website …
"Cars are one of the main producers of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) contributing to climate change. The average family car can produce over 2 tonnes per year."
One of the main producers? Really? Only 0.039% of the atmosphere is CO2. According to the IPCC, 3.4% of that is the result of man-made emissions. DEFRA tell us that the UK contributes 2% of that, and that 16% of the 2% is from cars.
So according to our Grumpy Calculator, that means cars in the UK contribute 0.0000042432% of the Earth's CO2. Not really a "main producer", then.
"For every 1kg of CO2 produced by your car each year you pay for 1kg to be saved by a climate friendly project somewhere else in the world - one balancing the other to make your driving carbon neutral."
But the fact is, my car is still producing 1kg of CO2. If CO2 is such a dangerous poison, surely I ought to be encouraged to stop producing it, shouldn't I? But instead, aren't they just encouraging me to keep doing it?
"Reduce your speed - 100 tonnes of CO2 would be saved per year if 5,000 drivers drove at 60mph instead of 70mph."
Yes, and you'd make exactly the same saving by catching just 50 unlicensed, untaxed, uninsured drivers. Wouldn't that be a better way? I mean, there'd be some fringe benefits, like making the roads safer …
"amazingly … if we took just one commuter car off the road for a year we'd save 1 tonne of CO2."
So how does that work, if the average car produces over 2 tonnes? I filled in the online form and got an insurance quote. It told me that I didn't have to pay any extra to offset my carbon, but "Your car's estimated annual CO2 emissions is" (sic) "3.3 tonnes". How likely is that, for a Renault Clio diesel that does almost 65mpg and is so efficient it's taxed at only £35 a year?
No, whichever way you look at it, and even if one believed in man-made global warming (which, of course, we don't), this is garbage. Offsetting carbon is just a 20th Century version of the medieval pardoners, who would sell you an "indulgence" to offset your sins so you could carry on cheating your neighbours and interfering with the servant girls. If a profound alteration in human behaviour is what the planet needs (it doesn't, but just go with the flow here …) just paying for a little "atonement" and then carrying on as usual isn't really going to cut it, is it?
As Tim Robbins wrote in the Guardian last year, "It's so easy. You buy your bargain flights for £20 and set off for your city break in Spain. Global warming? Not a problem - just click on the web and pay a couple of quid to cancel out the evil effects of the flight. Trees will be planted, or energy-saving light-bulbs installed somewhere in a far off land. Your guilt is assuaged. You can have your cake and eat it."
For a grander discussion of this topic you may care to read this.
IbuyEco is part of a company called The Carbon Neutral Company. Back in 2004 it was called "Future Forests" and was accused of cheating the public, as this article from the Guardian explains:
"But the Guardian has learned that the company is being accused by other green campaigners of being less eco-friendly than it claims. Trading standards officers in London are investigating a formal complaint which accuses Future Forests of investing too little of the money it raises in planting trees.
The complaint, from the charity Trees for Cities, points out that fans on the Rolling Stones website are encouraged to pay £8.50 to plant a tree but notes that Future Forests does not itself plant any trees at all. Instead, the charity claims, it relies on landowners who do the planting on the company's behalf, yet are paid only a fraction of the donated money.
Trees for Cities says the public is given the impression that donations lead directly to the planting of new saplings when what often occurs is the purchase of "carbon sequestration" rights - a payment related to the future carbon storing potential of the trees.
The charity alleges that in some cases the trees have already been planted or were funded from other sources, such as the Forestry Commission, and would probably have existed without the intervention of Future Forests and its high-profile clients."
The company's solution was to change its name to "The Carbon Neutral Company" and diversify away from just planting trees - or not planting them, as the case may be. It's still quite a mysterious organisation, though. Its web page "Who we are" seems to have disappeared from the net, but we managed to learn that it is now owned by Zouk Ventures and the Triodos Bank, while only 20% of the shares are with the company's founders and employees.
Both Zouk and Triodos are "environmental" companies, trading on people's fear of climate change. In fact, investors can't wait to give these people their money: in 2006 the clean-tech sector was absorbing 11% of all venture capital in North America and Europe. Richard Kaufman, CEO of the international sustainable investment company Good Energies, says "There is just a wall of money out there now."
And why? How do these people make a profit? Well, the clue lies in the news that just one company, Radio Taxi, paid £120,000 to a carbon offset company in 2006 so that it could declare itself "carbon neutral". Environmental alarmism is very big business indeed.
So everyone's a Wanker, really - these companies who are just ripping off the rest of us by preying on our fears, the scientists who got us scared in the first place, the media hacks who helped 'em, bloody Al Gore who has made £50 million already from his campaign of doom, gloom and hysteria and who is a partner in at least one carbon-neutral venture capital company, and us, the gullible public who suck it all up and then keep coming back for more.
We want our heads examined, frankly. But while you're waiting for the shrink to come, go to this government website where you can calculate your "carbon footprint", and it'll kindly tell you what to do to save the planet and salve your conscience.
And I hope it makes you feel better.
Merry Christmas, suckers!
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2007 The GOS
This site created and maintained by PlainSite