On Sustainability, there’s always a (stupid) excuse to do nothing
Today there are two big environmental stories in the UK news.
The first is the suggestion that the Government will relax the ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules on new housebuilding which prevent any housing development which will add to the nutrient load in our overloaded waterways. The housebuilding representative I heard interviewed in the press made the argument that nutrients from housing developments were minor compared to those from farming. Effectively saying they should be able to cause more damage because someone else is worse – should we not be making the situation better?
The other is the extension of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London. I’ve seen arguments against it saying the current ULEZ only cut vehicle pollution by 3% and the extension may only cut pollution in the area concerned by 1%. Now the only way of improving on those low percentages would be to make the ULEZ much stricter and bring more motorists under its remit – is that what the anti-ULEZ campaigners really want?
Neither of these arguments bears much scrutiny from a logical point of view. But they do illustrate that some people will always make an excuse to do nothing. We’ve seen similar in the past about wind farms (remember “blade flicker”?), two weekly bin collections (the maggots seem to have evaporated) and low energy lightbulbs (I’ve forgotten what the case against was, to be honest). Today it’s cycle lanes, road charging, heat pumps, electric vehicles and protecting waterways. Tomorrow it will be another step towards Sustainability that’s going to bring down civilisation – before being promptly forgotten.
There is an art to addressing people’s genuine concerns, but don’t let stupid arguments deflect you from your purpose.