Anti-15 minute city protests are just the latest bump in the road to Sustainability
Twenty years ago I found myself attending a community engagement event on Teesside about renewable energy. A woman told us that she had been to Blyth, Northumberland on a fact-finding trip to see the wind-turbines on the coast there.
“Even in the town square, I could feel the whomp whomp whomp of the turbines hurting my chest. It was unbelievable!”
Other members of the group looked shocked by this and made supportive murmurs, so I thought I needed to speak up.
“I lived in Blyth for three years and never heard so much as a squeak from the turbines,” I said “Are you sure it was them?”
“Yes.” she said, fixing me with a stare.
To this day, I don’t know whether she was making the whole thing up, had heard something else, or there were some freak atmospheric conditions that day, but such anecdotes poison debates. I mean, do you think the 37+ thousand people of Blyth would put up with being constantly exposed to chest pain? Mrs K is a Blyth girl and I can assure you they don’t take things like that lying down. I suspect the woman had read some of the anti-wind power propaganda of the day, with all its talk of ‘blade flicker’ and other such nebulous health risks, and projected these fears onto some gusts of wind or the noise from a construction site.
Fast-forward about 8 years and the big public environmental debate was moving to two-weekly collections of residual waste. We received a political leaflet with a cartoon of enormous flies and other insects crawling over a bin alongside a list of diseases spread by rats (the same party later implemented two-weekly collections when they took control of the Council). A man claimed in the press to have to use a blowtorch to remove maggots from his drive – it was pointed out by others that the maggots pictured were of a non-native species bred for fishing bait. In 2010, the Secretary of State Eric Pickles claimed ‘It’s a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.’ The weekly bin collection policy was ditched by his Government the following year. And now two-weekly collections are normal – I forgot to put my bin out recently and managed to get a month’s residual waste from a family of five into the bin with the lid shut. Not a maggot in sight.
And now we have the big traffic management/globalist socialist plot debate. Kensington Council put in a cycle lane on its high street before ripping it out after complaints of congestion, but pro-cycling groups have pointed out that the ‘freed-up’ lane is now always blocked by parked cars. A rag tag group of self-publicists, anti-vaxxers/climate change deniers and right wing nutters marched through Oxford to protest a series of bus gates designed to encourage motorists to drive around the city centre rather than through it (ironically bringing traffic in the city centre to a halt). Again, we are hearing all this dystopian jargon of ‘departure fines’ and ‘climate lockdowns’, all apparently co-ordinated by the World Economic Forum or the Rothschilds (you’re never far from an anti-semitic conspiracy theory with these guys).
The lesson from all this? That any major change to lifestyle with be exploited by a small, noisy bunch of trouble makers, whose vehemence that we should stick with the status quo leads them into all kinds of dubious claims, behaviour and fellow-travellers. But the silent majority want us to move to a Sustainable society and will listen to reasoned arguments. Once change is made, people get used to ‘the new normal’ (another phrase laden with nightmarish meaning to the tin foil hat brigade) pretty quickly. Don’t be distracted by the noise – the protesters will soon move on to do battle with another imaginary enemy and the rest of us will get on with life.