My sister has recently been jollying in Thailand, and sent me this quote she found whilst reading Tolkien’s The Two Towers. The ancient Treebeard muses on Saruman’s corrupted mind:
‘I think I now understand what he is up to. He is plotting to become a Power. He has a mind of metal and wheels; he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment.’
It’s a startlingly relevant quote this Monday, with only one hundred days to go until the General Election. This morning, a letter was leaked revealing George Osborne’s plans to help Cuadrilla drill for shale gas in Lancashire, even if the application is rejected by Lancashire County Council. This comes after countless protests and petitions, and after David Cameron said that local councils and committees should have the final say on the development of shale gas wells. Amazingly, Osborne’s new-fangled ideas on ‘democracy’ came to light just as a group of MPs have called to ban fracking completely. The Environmental Audit Committee, consisting of 16 MPs from across the political spectrum, have called for a moratorium on the shale gas industry, on the grounds that it could derail efforts to combat climate change.
You don’t have to read the news much to understand a couple of things: firstly, the vast majority of fossil fuels need to remain buried if we’re to stand any chance of averting the horrific consequences of climate change. Secondly, the poor structure of our electoral system means that those currently in power can only see five years ahead, and rarely care for what follows.
This morning’s fracking revelation is merely the latest in a number of incidents where the health of our landscape, wildlife and natural ecosystems is consistently undermined in favour of profit, privilege and ‘progress’. Hen Harriers now face extinction in the UK after numerous attacks by gamekeepers, employed to protect the red grouse populations that will later be shot by idiots like Ian Botham. Proposals have been put forward to expand Heathrow and Gatwick, uprooting acres of irreplaceable ancient woodland just to put more carbon-pumping planes into the air. These aren’t just problems for tree-huggers and displaced hedgehogs; if we don’t keep our ecosystems diverse and healthy, we are facing food shortages and increasing disease rates. It isn’t a battle between us and the natural world, it is a shared problem – and we will fall the furthest.
Treebeard’s reflections on Saruman could be applied to a wide number of politicians today, all of whom declare their love for our green and pleasant land. David Cameron once famously said he would no more put our Green Belts at risk than his own family, yet, interestingly, he has now decided that building on the Belt is better for our children as – wait for it – it helps them get on the property ladder! Such splendid priorities…
I’m rather excited for the next 100 days, to see what delightful tricks each party will play to manipulate the peasants they rule over. More housing! Less tax! More NHS funding! I have personally lost all faith in the Frankenstein’s monster that is the Labour-Tories (aren’t they the same now?), and the Lib Dems are about as useful as soft cheese in August.
I will be voting Green, because speedy flights to Hong Kong aren’t worth much when there’s nothing to eat.