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Rinse and repeat.

Sometimes – like today – despair is the only option.

The news that Boris Johnson’s COP26 spokeswoman has issued suggestions of such mind-dribbling inanity as “freezing left-over bread” and other “micro-steps” leaves me almost disabled by a feeling of unease and profound despair.

I thought there were only two options in assessing Allegra Stratton’s statements ahead of COP26 in Glasgow:  either they are gaslighting us with cynicism or the people working at the highest level of government are so stupid it’s unimaginable. But it’s arguably worse than that. The government – and much of our society – is so immersed in the idea of the market the corporate and the private – that they are essentially taking sponsorship deals for the COP from companies to use the opportunity as a chance to sell their product. Here Stratton writes: “Could you go One Step Greener? Did you know according to COP26 principle partner Reckitt, who make Finish, you don’t really need to rinse your dishes before they go into the dishwasher?”

This is a new form of greenwashing, this is privately-sponsored government climate-disinformation.

The Independent reports: “In recent weeks, “biblical” floods across Europe, China and the Middle East have killed and displaced thousands, “heat domes” over Canada and the US have sparked wildfires so big they are creating their own destructive weather patterns, and alarming research has revealed that the Amazon is no longer a carbon sink, but a source. It is against this backdrop of death and destruction that governments must take decisive action to rid us of the fossil fuels driving global climate breakdown, and put in place legislation that must have far-reaching implications for energy, industry, transport, agriculture, and impact how people live their lives.”

The British governments response? Stratton: “Could not rinsing dishes b4 the dishwasher be your #onestepgreener ahead of Cop26? If that’s too hard a habit to kick, pick something else.”

Allegra Stratton is married to James Forsyth, political editor of The Spectator magazine and is Rishi Sunak’s children’s God Mother.

Apart from the moral negligence of such messaging and the prostitution of a global opportunity to corporate interests it is also a convenient and well-worn handing over of responsibility from state to individual, the essential meme of green capitalism, the consumer path to salvation.

 

Comments (49)

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  1. Mark Bevis says:

    I take comfort in the fact that it is the stupidest people like these that will get eaten first after COGIC. Afterall, why go after a skinny starving savvy peasant when an overbloated ignorant politician is easier to catch……

  2. Michael says:

    “It is against this backdrop of death and destruction that governments must take decisive action to rid us of the fossil fuels driving global climate breakdown, and put in place legislation that must have far-reaching implications for energy, industry, transport, agriculture, and impact how people live their lives.”

    This is like imploring the psychopaths in charge to please be a little bit kinder to their victims. I other words, it implies that the writer has no understanding of the actual situation that we are in.

    You’ve got to love liberal intellectual’s religious faith in instructional hierarchy! The establishment’s useful idiots.

    1. Chris Connolly* says:

      You seem to have deliberately misunderstood the point here in order to make a spurious comment intended to insult the writer. Since we can’t stop climate change by making tiny individual changes like the ones mentioned we have no choice but to put pressure on governments to take the necessary action on our behalf, unless you have a better solution you’d like to share with us. If you have any ideas please share them, because climate change is a very serious problem indeed.

      Glad to see that your rejection of hierarchies extends to deliberately ignoring society’s rules on grammar and punctuation. Well done, you.

      1. Mark Bevis says:

        I thought that at first and then re-read Michael’s post – I have since thought that he was deriding the author of the Independent’s article quoted, not Mike himself, and calling the newspaper the establishment’s useful idiot – of which there are plenty it has to be said. Quotation marks make a lot of difference 🙂

        However I can see how his post can be interpreted both ways, the limitations of a flat screen and the internet with no body language or oratory style to give nuance to what is being said.

        1. Chris Connolly* says:

          That’s a kind and thoughtful interpretation, Mark, although I must say that when people blame “liberal intellectuals” for things that are really the fault of the extremely rich and powerful I start gnashing my teeth. There’s nothing wrong with being liberal, as opposed to being conservative, while hatred of & contempt for intellectuals has been a staple of totalitarian regimes for centuries. It was the reason that Socrates was forced to drink hemlock, back in 399 BC.

    2. Axel P Kulit says:

      Not Liberal, NEOliberal, in my opinion a syonym, today, for (economic?) neonazi.

  3. Margaret McNeil says:

    Not rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher? This will save the planet? Tell this to the millions who don’t have water, far less a dishwasher.
    However, as one fortunate enough to have a dishwasher AND water, I’d like to inform our COP26 spokesperson a short rinse before you put dishes in the machine enables you to wait until the dishwasher is completely full and then run it on the shortest, most economic cycle.

    1. Thanks Margaret, its gibberish.

      Meanwhile the products of just 100 private and state-owned fossil fuel companies were linked to 71% of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a 2017 report … plus an investigation in 2019 found 20 fossil fuel companies, including Chevron and ExxonMobil, were responsible for more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1965 – but you know …freeze your leftover bread …

      1. Jamie MacDonald says:

        Publish the report and all the companies names then please!! Feed the birds with YOUR leftover bread .. With a half reply like that.. You are sticking it in the freezer!!!!

  4. Daniel Raphael says:

    Decades ago, in a land and time less aware of our burgeoning climate holocaust, then-President Ronald Reagan suggested using more sunblock as a solution to greater UV exposure caused by earth’s thinning ozone layer. There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

  5. Tom Ultuous says:

    No surprise it’s put forward as a serious proposal in climate-change denying Murdoch’s Telegraph. I remember Camilla Tominey (Telegraph associate editor) saying on Politics Live that if you don’t earn enough to pay tax then you’re not contributing to the economy. If I remember correctly the comment followed a discussion about Brexit and immigration the implication being that most immigrants weren’t contributing to the economy.. It was right at the death of the programme so she wasn’t challenged on the statement although the fact I never heard as much as a “rubbish” suggests maybe she wouldn’t have been.

    Consider the imbecility of this statement. It implies the slave trade never contributed to Britain’s wealth because the slaves weren’t earning enough to be on PAYE. Employers make profit from their workers labour and (maybe) pay tax on those profits. They, and their employees (whether paying PAYE or not) pay tax on every purchase they make (VAT). The same goes for the store the purchase was made from and the manufacturer of the product. And so on. The optimum situation for the exchequer would be a low paid worker living under a bridge, getting food from food banks and spending all their wages on cigarettes and booze as they are highly taxed products. Were this not so a war would be started to cull the council estates. Tominey is a multi-millionaire.

  6. Tom Ultuous says:

    Stratton’s suggestions are on a par with “Duck and cover”.

  7. SleepingDog says:

    Who sets the tone for this evil? Queen secretly lobbied Scottish ministers for climate law exemption:
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jul/28/queen-secretly-lobbied-scottish-ministers-climate-law-exemption

  8. Richard Easson says:

    Are Finnish tablets not packed with enzymes? So good for the environment.

  9. Richard Easson says:

    Are Finish tablets not packed with enzymes? So good for the environment.

  10. Niemand says:

    Don’t use a dishwasher at all. The energy use compared to washing in the sink is off the scale. People are lazy. No-one used have them at all and they are totally unnecessary.

    1. Mouse says:

      Depending on the electricity source, dishwashers don’t have to create greenhouse gas much more than the fabrication of a sink.

      1. Colin Robinson says:

        I hear they also use less water.

  11. Mouse says:

    The principal means of actually making a difference would be for everyone to pay through the nose for their CO2 emissions the same as we pay for sewage disposal. But I have my doubts that that would be at all popular. Other unpopular changes that would make a difference would be tripling the cost of petrol, and tripling the cost of car-parking. Honestly, who on earth actually needs a car in Edinburgh?

    The political will isn’t there because the public will isn’t there.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Precisely!

  12. Mouse says:

    The principal means of actually making a difference would be for everyone to pay through the nose for their CO2 emissions the same as we pay for sewage disposal. But I have my doubts that that would be at all popular. Other unpopular changes that would make a difference would be tripling the cost of petrol, and tripling the cost of car-parking. Honestly, who on earth actually needs a car in Edinburgh?

    The political will isn’t there because the public will isn’t there.

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      They could triple the cost of animal products instead of rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

      1. Colin Robinson says:

        That would lead to revolution in the streets.

        1. Tom Ultuous says:

          It would be phased in over a few years. The French would probably riot. The British would say “Oh, the price of meat these days is nobodies business” with their teeth out. The floods would impair their movement in any case.

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            Also, anyone who protested should have their children taken into care as they clearly don’t care about them.

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            Right enough. Marx often described the Lumpenproletariat as ‘toothless’. Should be safe enough.

            So, by all means, hike the price and make meat consumption once more exclusive to the rich. Let the watchword be ‘Nae gammon for the Gammons!’ Let them eat offal and other scraps from the abattoir.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            It wasn’t my solution. It was a counterbid to Mouse’s suggestion we should make people pay through the nose for their own CO2 emissions. I doubt that would bother the rich either. CO2 emissions are a drop in the ocean compared to the damage done by killing other species for food.

          4. Colin Robinson says:

            But I do think Mouse’s point about the public will and lack thereof is sound though. There’s no popular appetite for the kinds and scale of change we’re told we need to make if we’re going to be saved. The global demand for meat, for instance, shows little sign of abating; quite the contrary, in fact.

          5. There was very little “popular appetite” for defeating Nazism at times – or a hundred social ills and issues. You don’t just shrug and say “oh well”. The future of human existence – or omnicide – isn’t just some other issue like so many. Of course a public trained to be obedient consumers find it difficult to conceive of a different path. Challenging this inevitability seems urgent and a moral imperative, no?

          6. Colin Robinson says:

            Yes, you can choose to be a voice crying in the wilderness if that’s what rocks your boat. We’re being told that the end is nigh, that the behavioural changes we need to make if we’re going to be saved need to be made now (if not yesterday) and on a global scale. Given the scale of the crisis and the public’s laziness and recalcitrance, those behavioural changes aren’t going to happen within the time scale required. So, the meta-narrative is that we’re f*ck*d; so, why bother? Like Zarathustra’s madman, you might as well dash your lantern to the ground.

            On the other hand, as capitalism deconstructs and our current relations of production break down, we might – just ‘might’ – of necessity emerge from its ruins as communists.

          7. Mark Bevis says:

            Colin wrote:

            “On the other hand, as capitalism deconstructs and our current relations of production break down, we might – just ‘might’ – of necessity emerge from its ruins as communists.”

            Here, I corrected it for you:
            On the other hand, as capitalism deconstructs and our current relations of production break down, we might – just ‘might’ – of necessity emerge from its ruins as anarchists.

            🙂
            It is true though, collapse of empire shows that ‘control’ devolves to a more local level as overshoot degrades the complex infrastructure of oppression. Civilisation will simplify at the very minimum. This is only considered a bad thing by those that get to write the history, hence the so-called Dark Ages after the Romans left – yeah, it was bad for the ruling elites, as their world crumbled and they fled or were marginalised or killed, but for the none-writing poorer classes, they probably got a period of relief from onerous overlords for a time, until new overlords appeared.
            There are some that think it’s better that collapse comes sooner rather than later – the longer we prolong attempted growth, the more harm there will be. And as Dr Sid Smith says, why keep something anyway that causes so much unhappiness?
            https://youtu.be/5WPB2u8EzL8
            https://youtu.be/EEcxVDRYZqk

          8. “We’re being told that the end is nigh”

          9. Mark Bevis says:

            That’s actually a misinterpretation of the data.
            Change is a coming.
            This civilisation is over.
            The planet will be fine, it doesn’t need humans to save it. The changes we have wrought will last over 100,000 years, but that is a mere blink of an eye for a 4.5 billion year old planet.
            The end is nigh only for those that believe in and rely on perpetual economic growth on a finite planet. Which is, admittedly, pretty much all of us being reliant on it. But of those, some might adapt to living without the trappings of the current civilisation. Some are already due to poverty. Perhaps 750,000,000 will make it world wide through the bottleneck – a few of them might actually live in the geographical collective currently called the British isles. Will it be me, or you, or any other readers of this blog? Highly unlikely, but you never know.

          10. SleepingDog says:

            Leaving the speciesist narrative aside for a moment, the end has already come for a great many species, and many more are imperilled, in this age of humanity-caused mass extinction. Which we can choose to reign in by collective action.
            https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/12/change-is-coming-un-sets-out-paris-style-plan-to-cut-extinction-rate-tenfold

          11. Colin Robinson says:

            Nice thought, SD. But the point is that there’s no realistic likelihood of such collective action happening, and no amount of old-fashioned moral exhortation or protest will change this.

            Only the collapse of our current economy under the weight of the inherent contradictions that have produced its global crises, and the emergence of new relations of production from the wreckage, will resolve those crises. That’s the nature of revolution; contra bourgeois idealism, it’s not something that can be engineered.

      2. Mark Bevis says:

        Adjusting the prices of commodities to create scarcity or remove some toxicity is still re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

        The entire concept of markets, money, profit and loss, heirarchy, oligarchy, religeon, dictatorship and pseudo-democracy IS the Titanic, and the iceberg is the ecological limits of the planet.

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          You’re not wrong there, Mark. The current ecological crisis is a crisis of capitalism. And…?

          1. Mark Bevis says:

            If you’ve read your William Catton, you’ll also know that the current ecological crises is a feature of evolution – all species go through periods of growth-overshoot-collapse (and then sometimes extinction). All species, given the opportunity, will expand to the limits of their environment, degrade that environment until it no longer has carrying capacity, then collapses and readjusts to the new environment, or goes extinct trying.

            It is a feature, not a bug, of the evolutionary process. Normally we don’t see it because each species is interacting with their surrounding other species such that overshoots are kept at bay by predatation, disease and weather variations. However the human animal has taken overshoot the extremes of the whole planet, something that will take down most other species with us.

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            I haven’t read William Catton, but that sounds about right. Capitalism, by abolishing scarcity, has enabled us to ‘overshoot’ on a global scale.

            Still can’t see us changing our ways, however. Sure, there’s increasing anxiety, which both political and business entrepreneurs can exploit as a marketing opportunity, and demand for governments to ‘do something’, but very little popular appetite for the sorts of policies that we’re told that governments need to implement, like… yesterday.

            So, what’s to be done? Declare a state of emergency, suspend democracy, and impose the necessary measures by fiat? Or do we just let evolution take its course?

          3. Mark Bevis says:

            Overshoot, the ecological basis of revolutionary change by William Catton, written in 1980 but could have been written yesterday, one of the most important books of the late 20th century:
            https://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/title/overshoot/author/william-catton/

            “Still can’t see us changing our ways, however. Sure, there’s increasing anxiety, which both political and business entrepreneurs can exploit as a marketing opportunity, and demand for governments to ‘do something’, but very little popular appetite for the sorts of policies that we’re told that governments need to implement, like… yesterday.”

            Agreed, although ‘will exploit and are exploiting’ is more correct as far as I can see – Green New Deal anyone?

            “So, what’s to be done? Declare a state of emergency, suspend democracy, and impose the necessary measures by fiat? Or do we just let evolution take its course?”

            The 7.9 billion dollar question. Jem Bendell looks into this in his Deep Adaption paper. My personal thought is that rather than suspend democracy, we increase it, by devolving decision making to as low level as possible, County at the highest, and let each region determine it’s 3Rs – resources, resilience and recovery and do a managed degrowth to avoid the worst of oblivions. For example, has anyone worked out how much better/worse off a county would be if it kept all it’s VAT and PAYE, business rates and corporate taxes within the county, rather than them being sent to central government?

            The only (inter)national decision to make is to relinquish that central authority, and dismantle all the 450 nuclear reactors worldwide immediately and spend what little surplus resources we have ensuring the save storage of all the nuclear waste. Otherwise after COGIC (collapse of global industrial civilisation) the uncontrollable reactors* and the existing waste storage will sterilise the bulk of the planet even if humans don’t make it through the bottleneck.

            *When the electric fails, the diesel generators kick in to keep the cooling going, but when they run out of diesel…. (this ignores that fact that most are on the coast and will go underwater at some point)

            Tom Ultuous wrote:
            “OK, but as Colin says “And …”. Your reply to him seems to be a bit “take deep breaths” and accept.”

            Afraid so, down in the doomosphere we talk about the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief but applied to climate change – once you get to the acceptance stage, it is a bit like take deep breaths and accept as you say.
            That’s not a pit of despair and inaction, it’s what some are now calling ‘post-doom’. Not prepping as stocking a bunker and 5 years worth of food and ammo, but preparing psychologically. And starting to set up the systems you would like to see after COGIC – in my case, working on community gardens (Incredible Edible) and my own allotment, networking with other collapse-aware people; working as little as possible in day job. I haven’t earned enough to pay tax in a decade, but my set of circumstances means I can get by pleasantly on what I do earn as a writer and painter and occasional gardener. I’ve just learnt to use a scythe for example. I do vote Green, and am a member, but I don’t expect any of our politicians to save us. In the end, communities will have to save themselves – in the interim having lots of local Green councillors might make a difference. We have 5 now which for a 85,000 population town is not bad at all.
            And even then, I work on the assumption that it’s not necessarily going to work, but do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do.

            But it all starts, the acceptance that is, and can only start in my opinion, once you accept your own mortality. Learn that death is a part of life, and a normal part of life, and not be afraid of it. Those who have had a near-death experience – eg suicide attempt, car crash, heart attack, been shot at – whatever are more likely to get it.

            And learn that humans are a part of nature as well. The worst aspects of our western culture is that we’ve avoided the subject, in our hubris and arrogance we’ve granted ourselves a sort of immortality (which is handy for capitalism – “consume until you’re nearly dead, then we’ll take your money and try to fix you, and then we’ll make money out of your corpse!”) and assumed dominance over nature as if we are somehow a separate part from it. That latter mistake is going to be most lethal for us as a species.

            There is an entertaining paper people might like to read:**
            ‘Our hunter-gatherer future: Climate change, agriculture and uncivilization’
            https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328719303507
            Pay particular attention to chapter six, which puts actual numbers on how our brain sizes have decreased, and shows at elevated levels of CO2 our cognitive function decreases. In other words, as well as cooking the planet and committing genocide on all other species on the planet, we are slowly making ourselves more stupid as a species. Which kinda explains a lot of what’s happened in the last 270 years….

            ** I say entertaining, because it’s by an economist who expects collapse to happen. And there is a couple of good one-liners in there too. But misses the point that if humans lose habitat that threatens their existence, then so surely will all the plants and animals that we might in future forage on. But the important take away, often overlooked even in the doomosphere, is that once we traverse from the Holocene to the Anthropocene, agriculture will go away.

          4. Colin Robinson says:

            I’m very sympathetic to your idea of devolving decision-making from its current industrial scale to something like the old manorial principle of social organisation; that is, to corporate communities of neighbours for whose sustenance, rather than profitability and growth, the community is maintained; a ‘return’ to what Marx called ‘the idiosyncrasy of rural life’. It has a certain religious appeal that speaks to my existential longing for Heimat.

            And this might well be what happens if and when capitalism – our current relations of production – deconstructs. Who knows? But it’s not going to happen ‘voluntarily’, as it were, before then, except among survivalist communities.

          5. Tom Ultuous says:

            What we need is for some lab to come up with a virus that’s fatal to humans but easily passed between and harmlessly carried by animals.

        2. Tom Ultuous says:

          OK, but as Colin says “And …”. Your reply to him seems to be a bit “take deep breaths” and accept.

  13. Wul says:

    I think we can now see why original COP 26 President Claire Perry O’Neil was sacked; she wasn’t prepared to use COP 26 to sell washing powder.

    From Planet Radio; Feb. 2020.

    ” Former clean growth minister Claire Perry O’Neill spoke out as the PM prepared to outline new measures, including a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles being brought forward to 2035.
    In a letter to Mr Johnson published by the Financial Times, Ms O’Neill told him: “You promised to ‘lead from the front’ and asked me what was needed: ‘Money, people, just tell us!’ Sadly these promises are not close to being met.”
    She added: “This isn’t a pretty place to be and we owe the world a lot better.”
    She said the PM had not convened the Cabinet subcommittee on climate change that he had promised, adding that the Government was “miles off track” in setting a positive agenda for the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November, and that promises of action “are not close to being met”.

  14. Colin Robinson says:

    Of course, there’s no need to rinse dishes before you wash them. Lick them instead.

  15. Mouse says:

    Allegra is almost as amusing as the shampoo marketing con. If you want shiney, flouncy hair, a bar of soap works better. You can tell you are in a ‘developing country’ because you get seriously bombarded by adverts for: 1) Shampoo, and 2) Cement.

    But best not to get the two products confused. It could explain much in India – buildings collapse because the breeze-blocks were stuck together with shampoo, and there are naked men wandering about who have washed their hair with cement…

  16. Tim Hoy says:

    Despair is right. The normalisation of the HLBA (High Level Bullshit Alarm) going off every 10 minutes is extremely painful.

    Apparently they’re not lies in parliament though (how dare you Dawn Butler). Just bullshit, fibbing, economies with the truth, stories as misleading as a big box of misleading things and anything that follows the opening words of “As part of our commitment to…”

    Yes – I do despair.

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