The Plastic Hippo

December 15, 2015

How Green Was My Valley

Filed under: Environment,Media,Politics,Science,World — theplastichippo @ 4:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,


The uncanny ability displayed by politicians to deflect any suggestion of responsibility or accountability when something goes horribly wrong is matched only by an inevitable clamour for praise when something accidentally goes well. Even when nothing happens at all, it is immediately redefined as being profoundly splendid and our leaders take every opportunity to remind us of their wisdom and selfless sacrifice.

One particularly fine example of this double talk came at the weekend with the conclusion of COP21 Paris Agreement on a global approach to reducing carbon emissions. Emerging bleary eyed after being up all night, the delegates from 195 nations at the Conference of the Parties indulged in an orgy of backslapping and self-congratulation not witnessed since FIFA awarded the World Cup to Qatar. There was much talk of an “astonishing achievement” and a “triumph” for the people of the planet. Obama spoke of a “turning point” and even the Chinese enthused about “marching historical steps forward”. Endless talking heads of heads of government pledged their commitment to the accord and basked in the outpouring of love and gratitude from the endangered species at the top of the food chain.

Sadly, the agreement is utterly meaningless as it contains the same vague promises, prevarications and get-out clauses that have been broken and fudged since Kyoto in 1997.

The key points of this latest “something must be done” reaction includes a desire to see greenhouse gas emissions “peak” as soon as possible in order for them to be reduced. Some might recall that about this time last year before the UK General Election, Ed Miliband offered a three year price freeze on domestic energy bills. The very next day, the big six private energy providers hiked their tariffs up to the projected profit levels expected in 2018. Now, sit back and watch as governments, corporate entities, fossil fuel extraction companies and anyone else interested in making money, incinerate anything and everything vaguely flammable in order to ensure the biggest “peak” possible.

The document “aims” to keep global temperature increase to “well below” 2C and “pursue efforts” to keep it down to 1.5C. The key words here are “aims” and “well below” as no definition of these terms is being offered. Imagine William Tell being interviewed after the crossbow incident involving his son. “Well, I was aiming for the little sod`s head but aimed high, missed and shot the apple instead.”

It seems that targets will be set and “progress” will be reviewed every five years. The UK government might be keen on removing subsidies and investment from renewable energy projects to divert the dosh towards extracting carbon, but somebody needs to tell George Osborne that he has missed every single target he has set himself since he became Chancellor in 2010.

COP21 has also identified 100 billion dollars every year in “climate finance” for developing countries to offset the cost of not destroying the planet. In this case, developing countries include India and China who are relatively new to digging stuff up and then burning it in the name of economic growth. They, understandably, take exception to being lectured by the developed nations who have been burning stuff for centuries and realising the stuff is running out are now desperate to buy nuclear power plants from China.

The agreement is not legally binding, is not under any statute of international law and will not be applied until 2020 in the hope of reducing carbon emissions by 2050. By then, most of the people who signed this fiction will have died wealthy or be enjoying an affluent senility as billions of others flee the rising waters and expanding deserts. If the international community cannot cope with refugees from Syria, consider the repercussions of ocean rims flooding and the interiors of continents drying up. Digging stuff up and then burning it is not about economic growth and development. It has more to do with making a small number of people wealthy and powerful and prepared to send other people to war in order to protect that wealth and power.

Two months after the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbour bringing America into the Second World War, the Academy Awards Ceremony saw John Ford`s “How Green Was My Valley” win the 1941 Oscar for best picture and best director. Although overly sentimental and melodramatic, this rather good film tells the story of a Welsh valley churned up by coal mining and the struggle of noble men working underground and stoical women waiting above. Ignoring the outrageous Hollywood Welsh accents and the simplistic portrayal of greedy mine owners, the film is probably John Ford`s best even taking into account “The Grapes of Wrath” which won the Oscar the previous year. Predictably, both films were criticised in America for glorifying Communism.

Interestingly, Ford`s film depicting the grim reality of digging stuff out of the ground was up against “Citizen Kane”, the first feature film directed by and starring Orson Welles. Long before he advertised Sherry and probably the best lager in the world, “Citizen Kane” and the earlier “War of the Worlds” radio dramatisation established Welles as something of a genius. The movie is a thinly veiled critique of Randolph Hearst, a newspaper tycoon with political ambition noted for his ruthless lust for wealth, power and influence. If any of this sounds familiar then it is entirely coincidental. Welles incurred the wrath of Hearst and had to settle for the best screenplay Oscar.

“How Green Was My Valley” might be the best film of 1941, but “Citizen Kane” is the best film of all time…probably. They really do not need remaking.

1 Comment »

  1. Its all a chimera.

    Look on the bright side.

    At least the human gasbag that is now known as Lord Prescott will no longer struggle with an explanation of the Kyoto Agreement, its enforcibility and its pronunciation.

    Even better, he will no longer have bragging rights as the Man who, single-handedly, almost pulled the planet back from the brink of certain destruction.

    Small comfort to most, but to me, a blessed relief.

    Comment by The Realist — December 15, 2015 @ 11:15 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: