POSITIVE POLITICS 5: THE GREEN PARTY

flickr photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink http://flickr.com/photos/marthaenpiet/2080338469 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

flickr photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink http://flickr.com/photos/marthaenpiet/2080338469 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

If you wanted someone to agree with a voter for the Green Party then here’s where you’d start.

  • Global warming is real.
  • The effects it will have on the planet if we don’t change our behaviour as individuals, as a nation and as a species will be apocalyptic.
  • We are all doing things that are causing it.
  • Fossil fuels are running out.

With me so far? Let me know if I say something that isn’t abundantly true.

Now time for some even less convenient truths (see what I did there).

  • Most of us need lots of energy to enjoy the lives we currently have and will need lots of energy to enjoy the lives we want to have in the future.
  • As fossil fuels become scarcer the price of energy will go up.
  • If our national energy policy reduces the ability of British companies to compete with those in other countries then our economy won’t grow.
  • If the economy stops growing it will be harder for people to get jobs, earn money and afford the same quality of life.
  • Tax revenues will be lower, public services will be harder to pay for, national debt and interest payments will be higher and even less money will be available for the government to spend.
  • We don’t currently have a quick fix or short-term solution to any of the above.

And most strikingly:

  • Even though finding solutions that balance these two sets of truths is what the survival of all life on this planet will ultimately depend on, we have scarcely heard a word spoken about it in this election.

Even where we have, the conversation has been dragged down into the mire by ideology, pettiness, selfish interests and the clumsiness of crazy ideas where the numbers don’t add up.

So, having an iPad or saving the world? Pounds coins or the planet?

The questions are false ones and everyone knows it. The real question is: can we find a way of having both?

Well, economic growth occurs because we make more efficient use of the natural resources we use to make energy. If technology can achieve the same aims by using less energy then it is cheaper to make, cheaper to buy and cheaper to use. Homes that are better insulated are cheaper to heat. Cars with more efficient engines are cheaper to run. All these products need people to design, build, market and sell them. Green should mean opportunity, green should mean jobs, green should mean growth.

If you can produce that energy in ways that cause little or no damage to the planet then there’s also this lovely side effect of saving us all from extinction. And here’s the kicker: if you can get more of that energy from local, sustainable, renewable sources then your dependence on and need to control other countries is reduced.

Think about the irony, just for a second, that for most of our economic stability as a nation we rely on how stable our relationship with Eastern Europe and the Middle East is; those well-known centres of peace and ordered tranquillity.

Not convinced yet? Maybe you’d prefer to think about the completely predictable and safe future that the Falklands faces or what didn’t happen in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago.

And even though there’s a gap that renewable energy won’t be able to fill, between how we get our energy now and the cleaner way we’d like to get our energy in the future (one that coal, oil, gas and, yes folks, nuclear will be needed for in the meantime), it doesn’t change the fact that there’s a lot that we could be doing to move in that direction.

But the real truth is a lot bigger than that. If we aren’t prepared to support a government that wants to invest huge sums of money in changing the infrastructure of our country in a fundamental way then private industry will never make it happen.

I, like many others, have been pained by the woolliness of those who try to make the point, not because I don’t care, but exactly because it matters so much.

So it’s hard not to spare a thought for the voters of a party that is taken less seriously than ones that blame gays for the rain and immigration for the traffic. The issues that they care about are by far the most serious of all.

Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett

Penguins minus the ice. Photo courtesy of Brian Burnett.

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