23 March 2007

Cars used to be the chief villain of the environmental religion; now it’s planes. The Independent for 17 March 2007 had an article, ‘The battle of Newquay’ by Jonathan Brown and Ian Herbert, which reported an argument by some greens that BA should not go ahead with its daily return air service between London Gatwick and Newquay, due to begin on 20 March, because there is already a London Stansted/Newquay service and that trains and cars are less polluting and the price is similar enough for all three.

I don’t see this persuading many people. The air journey is faster, even adding on the time getting from the airport into London, and physically and emotionally pleasanter, much less of a strain. I’d like to see Newquay airport develop with more flights not fewer as this airport helps the Cornwall economy and thus people in Cornwall.

However, as Greenpeace offered to exchange air tickets for the Newquay flights for train tickets, we can see, can’t we, how green people are. The Western Morning News reported on 21 March that when the first flight took off from Newquay nobody took up the offer. It didn’t help that first one would have to catch a bus from Newquay to Par as the train line was out of action at present for engineering work.

On 17 March, too, there was a positive article in the Guardian, ‘£25 fridge gadget that could slash greenhouse emissions ‘ by David Adam. This is about a black wax device that reacts to the temperature of the food not the air in the fridge and thus the fridge uses less energy. If it was fitted to all fridges and freezers in Britain it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by two million tonnes a year.

Now this I do see people and manufacturers taking up.

It seems to me that people are willing to be green, to cut back on damage to the Earth, but to an extent. It is going to be hard to persuade people, including me, to adopt less polluting forms of travel – and there’s a dispute about which pollutes more and less per head – and only hefty financial penalties and incentives are likely to persuade. But things like the black wax, and energy-saving light bulbs, are more accessible and less costly of time and money and comfort and thus more likely to be taken up.