Saturday, January 20, 2007

How to be politically correct, environment-wise

kill a cow.

Boris Johnson tries to atone for taking a family vacation:

Stop, stop. I can feel the guilt building up already. I can feel the self-loathing welling in my skull, the horror at my appallingly affluent consumerist lifestyle.

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I must atone! I must make a sacrifice! I must offset my emissions and appease the great irascible Sun-god as he prepares to griddle us all. I had heard somewhere that you could be "carbon-neutral" by planting trees before you fly. That's right. Shove in a few poplars, I was told, and bingo, you can feel all good about your skiing holiday or your winter break in Tunisia.

So I dialled up the eco-websites and — what's this? It turns out they have got it all wrong! ...

It now appears the scientists think the trees just make things worse. Far from soaking up your share of CO2, most trees in non-tropical areas are thought to trap heat and thereby increase global warming.

Aaaargh! Bad trees! Killer trees! But what can I do to exculpate my sin? Here I am, a caring, modern, green politician, proposing some time before the end of this year to take about six people in a plane for no better purpose than simple recreation....

So I have done my homework, and I have come up with a far more effective solution. As ever, I have consulted the ancient texts, and have been reminded that the Greeks and Romans were also convinced of the importance of making a sacrifice before any tricky voyage. You will recall that the Greek task force for Troy actually killed Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, in the hope of guaranteeing good sailing weather — with bad consequences for Agamemnon's conjugal relations.

Now we are only taking a family holiday, and I don't think Zeus or Jupiter would desire anything so extreme. A single cow would be about right. If I were an ancient Roman setting out on a family holiday, I would get some old milker and do her up as if for a party. She'd have her hair washed and combed and cut, and there would be ribbons and purple woollen fillets about her horns.

Then my chums and I would decently cover our heads and we'd drone loads of stuff in Latin and chuck some sacred meal about the place; and then one of us would hold a handful of food under the poor old girl's nose, and as she bent her head to snuffle it up we would take this — praise be! — as a sign that she had assented to her death, and at that auspicious moment she would be whopped hard on the side of the head and her throat would be cut; and then Jupiter would nod, and Olympus would tremble, and the whole family would be able to go off on holidays with a clear conscience.

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