Monday, 28 March 2011

Why greens make me often see red, and a question: did Gandhi bat for the other side?

There is something very odd about the following: the West is 'concerned' about global warming and the EU sets targets to cut the emission of carbon dioxide (also known as 'devil gas' in parts of Islington and Stoke Newington, both boroughs in London). As cars are reckoned to be some of the worst offenders, there is a rush to develop 'biofuels' made from 'renewable' sources. One of those renewable sources is jatropha, whose seeds yield an oil which (according to the various net sites I have just been scavening, he said honestly) can be used as a high-quality fuel for cars. So far, so green. But these past few days, several environmental groups have claimed that jatropha creates six times as much carbon dioxide as standard petrol and diesel. Quite how, I don't know, but then that isn't my objection.
(I'm not particlarly green. I dislike waste and think it is scandalous how the West wastes an enormous amount of food while elsewhere people go hungry. But the zealotry of the whole green thing gets up my nose. There is rather too much about it of 'the latest cause'. I ask myself, for example, what happened to the campaign for nuclear disarmament. In its heyday in the Fifties and Sixities only about five nations around the world had nuclear weapons. Now everyone and his bloody aunt has got a stash of A bombs tucked aways somewhere, but CND and similar bodies seem to be dormant. Why? I'll tell you why: because a newer, sexier cause has arrived - bloody global warming.)
My objection is quite simple: in countries such as Kenya people are in real danger of being evicted wholesale so that jatropha plantations can be established. So there we have it: to 'save the planet', people who have no means of fighting back - try finding a straight politician in Kenya to fight your corner - are being shat upon. Does that not also strike you as rather odd? Who exactly are we 'saving the planet' for? Then there's the question of cultivating land and growing jatropha so that cars in the Western world can drive on 'green' fuel instead of growing food on that land for people who have precious little of it. If that isn't utterly daft, I don't know what is.

. . .

A new book, of which I have, however, only read a review printed in the Wall Street Journal, rather dents the 'demi-God' status of Mahatma Gandhi. The book, by a former New York Times executive, has only just come out and I have no idea (at least no idea until I search the net) how it has gone down in India. But the review in the WSJ is by the British historian Andrew Roberts and is not in the slightest sensationalist, despite the many claims made by the author. Roberts notes that, in fact the author goes to some lengths to excuse Gandhi for the failings he lists. Roberts describes the book as well-researched and well-written, so when I remark that one of the many claims made about Gandhi is that he had a gay love affair with a German-Jewish bodybuilder, it is crucial that the book is accepted to be not at all sensationalist. Other claims made are that the great man was politically inept, did not practice what he preached, was in many ways a hindrance to Indian independence rather than a help, upset the leaders of other groups unnecessarily (which is given as one reason why Indian independence was delayed) and was sometimes quite a racist himself - it seemed that once when arrested by the South African authorities, he objected to being put in the same cell as 'kaffirs'. Mind stripping the gilt of ours heroes is popular pastime. Who next, I wonder?

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