Saturday, 18 June 2011

For evil to prevail...

Although it hasn't actually been formally established, Thomas Paine is thought to have said "The only thing required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."


There is quite a common legal principle around the world which holds an accomplice to a crime as guilty as the perpetrator of the crime. In view of the above, I suppose you could say an accomplice is a good person that did nothing to stop evil.


Agreed so far? Think carefully before you respond, then answer truthfully, even of only to yourself.


The next point I'm raising is more uncomfortable: the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the shortage of landfill space, the current economic slump, and climate change overall. 


What about them? Well, that's easy to answer: you are an accomplice in all these events, plus more. Yes, you are to blame, at least in part. Are you proud of that fact?


Now before you go and get all huffy-puffy on me, allow me to point out that I'm just as guilty.


YOU  are responsible for the oil disaster, because of your life's thirst for oil-based products. From the obvious, such as petrol or diesel, to various plastics and more. If you used less of these products, the demand will be lower, and BP may never have drilled where they did.


YOU throw away so much stuff - far too much (but you knew this already!) yet you're not changing your behaviour. Why not? Why buy things you don't absolutely need? Why buy things that are over-packaged? Why buy things that cannot be recycled? You are the demand, and as long as there is a demand, there will be a supply.


Britain is struggling economically (as are many other countries). The UK has not been self-sufficient in its energy needs for a long time now. Instead, we need to import energy, be that as gas, oil or refined petrol. Importing goods means money is leaving the country, at a time we can least afford for it to do so.
And what have you done? You drive as much as ever, as fast as ever. Instead of putting on slightly warmer clothes, you turn on the central heating.  As long as you use up energy at such a rate, you are responsible for money draining out of the country, before we even start looking at increased pollution and traffic congestion.


You're not stupid at all, yet you seem unable to change - why is that? 


The world is running out of oil - we're using it all up. While there is less oil to be pumped out, China's and India's economies are growing fast, and their thirst for oil, already huge, is growing massively quick, with no end in sight. That simply means that less oil would need to be divided between more oil users. Economics 101 tells us that where demand outstrips supply, prices will rise.


So what can you do?


Start small: leave your car behind and walk, or cycle. Cycling is seriously good fun, and in congested cities is way quicker than driving. It is also hugely cheaper, and seriously healthy! You'd be healthier than you are now, able to concentrate better, and feel happier. You'll probably live far longer, too! Yes, cycling can deliver all of these.


By not driving if you can at all avoid it, you're creating far less pollution, which is good for everybody. At the same time, you'd be relieving congestion on the roads. 
On this topic, when you do drive, don't make the mistake of getting annoyed at cyclists: they are subsiding your road usage, and are alleviating congestion, so you get to where you're going slightly faster. Yes, even if sometimes you get caught behind a cyclist for a little while, all these benefits still apply!


Economically, by cycling you'd be helping the country, too: Your increased health will reduce the load on, and cost to the NHS, while allowing the country to import less oil. Finally, bicycles don't damage the road, so roads will last longer simply because you chose to cycle.


When you do drive, drive slower! It saves money, both in fuel and maintenance, and greatly reduces the risk to people's lives. 


Stop buying so much stuff!!! You don't  need it! Don't buy things that are designed to be disposable if you can at all ovoid doing so. Remember, there is no such place as "away". You cannot ever really throw anything "away" - it still has to go somewhere!


Campaign your local council to implement 20mph as the default speed limit. Research shows car journey times aren't significantly increased by this move, but it makes our towns and cities more liveable. 


While you're campaigning, get alternative modes of transport, such as buses, trains and bicycles prioritised above cars, trucks and vans.


Get somebody else to change their ways. If each of us can influence just two other people, we can turn this thing around.


If you do this right, you will discover a far better quality of life awaits you, and more importantly, your children and their children. But make no mistake - it must begin with you.


And if you refuse to change, when will you be admitting to your children, or grandchildren, that you weren't strong enough to make the changes that could have saved their future?


Don't be an accomplice - be strong! Stand up for you know is right!