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Eco Gongs

Philip Stott points out the wonderful timing of the Guardian's Eco Gongs 2003

John Vidal and Paul Brown
Wednesday December 17, 2003
The Guardian

International Contrarian Award goes to Sceptical Environmentalist author Bjorn Lomborg, who this year was accused by a Danish scientific committee of gross negligence and "not comprehending science". It said: "Objectively speaking, the publication of the work under consideration is deemed to fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty."

- Ha Ha Ha, do we get an apology tomorrow!

The rest of the awards are as stupid:

Unsustainable Development Award goes to the transport secretary, Alistair Darling. This year, he continued to preside over a crumbling public transport system, while increasing fares, protecting the motorist and reinstating the roads programme. To cap it all, Darling came up with an expansionist aviation white paper, with its new runways and ludicrous forecasts for ever-increasing air travel and the prosperity this will bring to Britain.

- Diddums, why ludicrous? What protection for the motorist?

Brass Neck Award goes to Thames Water, which has the leakiest mains in the country, with an astonishing 50%-plus wastage rate in north London - more than Leeds uses in a year. Unrepentant, the company revived plans for a giant new reservoir next to the Thames, near Oxford.

- May be not everyone in London wants to be a smelly unwashed Hippy, and presumably the leaked water is recycled through the aquifer or is it lost for ever?

Bjorn Lomborg Contrarian Award goes to Senator James Inhofe, of Oklahoma, who went to the climate talks in Milan and announced that global warming was "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated". As chairman of the US Senate environment committee, he will have been aware of the recent World Health Organisation report that stated that climate change was already killing 160,000 people a year - a figure that is soon expected to double.

Sounds like he is talking sense - note the difference between "Global warming" code for human caused change and "Climate Change" a natural process. And if for one moment we accept the 160,000 figure, that is not many people on a global scale, when the money spent on Kyoto could save millions if applied to supplying drinking water for instance.

Senator Inhofe Services to British Contrarianism Award goes to Claire Fox, panelist on the Moral Maze BBC Radio 4 programme and director of the Institute of Ideas. Fox and her erstwhile Living Marxism (LM) chums have had a shrill year trying to undermine the "precautionary principle", organic food and Kyoto, which they say are against progress.

Hey sounds like these "Living Marxists" talk sense, and I always thought Marxists didn't - what is going on?

Newcomer Contrarian Award goes to Ceri Dingle, also part of the LM network, whose slogan is: "Let's forget about Kyoto. We want the poor driving Ferraris!"

Abso-bloody-lutely, are you sure you are a Marxist?

Stuffed Shirt Award for Reintroduction goes to the landowners, and others with vested interests, who have resisted so stubbornly the reintroduction of the beaver in Scotland, an important and fun addition to Britain's wildlife.

Now I like a bit of beaver as much as the next man, but why "important"? Beavers do illegal damming of streams and cut down trees without permits, they are not just fun cuddly creatures. And for a balance we would need at least one large carnivore introduced as well to control their numbers as I doubt trapping will be allowed.

Red Kite Award for Reintroduction goes to the Great Bustard Consortium, a coalition of amateur enthusiasts and scientists, chaired by a former policeman and set up only in 1998, which will reintroduce the birds to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire next year.

Amateurs indeed, it has been tried before a couple of times, I hope it works this time but it has nothing to do with real wildlife management. - Do you think they will be fat enough fopr next Christmas?

Jonah Bad News Award goes to the International Energy Agency, which predicts that China's increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2030 will almost equal that of the rest of the industrial world put together.

As they move from smokey wood fires to electric cookers

Chico Mendes International Protester Award goes to Lee Kyung, the Korean farmers' leader who committed ritual suicide at the World Trade Organisation talks in Cancun to draw attention to the tragic effects of unfair trade rules. Runners-up are the 150 Mexican farmworkers who stripped naked and invaded their parliament. The British award goes to Martin Forwood, who chained himself to a railway line at Barrow in protest against the import of Italian spent nuclear fuel and was fined 250.

Ken Livingstone Local Politician Award goes to Ken Livingstone, for successfully introducing the congestion charge - but the judges stipulate that the London mayor may be stripped of the accolade if he persists in backing a 500m road bridge over the Thames that will add to pollution in some of London's poorest areas.

The Happy Mule Award for GM goes to the British government for its stubborn persistence against all scientific evidence, public opinion, and opposition from supermarkets in voting for the import of GM sweetcorn. It was agreed this month to get in before regulations protecting the consumer.

"all scientific evidence"; my arse!

Houdini Political Escapism Award goes to former environment minister Michael Meacher, for the GM farm-scale trials. Designed to get the government off the hook in its first term, the four years of scientific trials into whether GM was good for the environment turned up firm results. Having insisted that science should be paramount, the government seems to have no alternative but to say no to GM oil seed rape and beet.

Get someone who understands long words to explain to you what the trials proved - it was nothing against GM, but showed the effects of different herbicide policies.

Goof Award goes to Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, for her plan to abolish English Nature as part of sweeping reforms of how services to rural Britain are delivered, and failing to recognising the crucial role it has in defending sites of special scientific interest against crass development.

Oh great, they have got rid of a QUANGO - do you really believe that after this reshuffle there will be LESS bureaucrats protecting us?

Most Bizarre British Month Award is shared between seven this year. January had the warmest day since records began; February was the second sunniest in 42 years; March was the sunniest ever; Britain had its warmest April in more than 50 years; June was the warmest since 1976; August saw the highest temperature ever recorded - at Faversham, Kent; and September was the sunniest in more than 40 years.

And December has the most 2003 Christmases in it of any month - meaningless stats.

Local Environment Group Award is shared between Impact, the small Teesside group that opposed the entry of the "ghost ships" from the US, and Ban Waste, for its long campaign against an incinerator in Newcastle upon Tyne. A runners-up award goes to TCC, a coalition of community groups in Wrexham, north Wales, that has fought against the building of a giant incinerator and forced the company to modify its plans.

Any chance you can round all these "community" groups up into one big hall for a "special" prize giving - now that would be useful!

Missed Target Award goes to English Nature, the government's statutory advisory body on nature, which is responsible for the upkeep of Britain's 4,112 sites of special scientific interest. Last week, it was revealed that more than 40% are in a ropey condition - the target stipulates that 95% must be in favourable condition by 2010. At this rate, it may get there by 2022. Runner-up was the British government for increasing carbon emissions through burning too much coal.

Ropey being a precise scientific term that I obviously missed when I studied. I think it translates as 40% of site managers want more money to put up signs and gates.


January had the warmest day since records began?

I thought August was rather toasty but I must have been mistaken!

International Contrarian Award

Hehehe, pure class. Their timing couldn't be more spot on.

I think what they meant was that January had the warmest day for January since the records began.

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