ENVIRONMENT: We need some give and take

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There was a knock at the door. A council refuse collector was there, “Sorry sir,” he said, “after looking in your bin we can’t take it away.”

“Why not” I replied, “Have I got the wrong day?”

“No, it’s because you haven’t got the refuse in plastic bags.”

“But green bin waste is going to landfill. If it’s to be buried or incinerated, surely it’s a waste of plastic bags?”

“It’s council policy,” he said. “Something to do with saving the environment.”

I couldn’t get my head around that logic, but never mind, I spent the next hour fishing rubbish out of the bin and putting it into plastic bags.

I thought about environments and pollution, and the great and the good having their yearly soiree in Davos, Switzerland, with high heat inside their five star hotels, lecturing us about saving the planet. If they have to meet, can’t it be in one of our northern cities like Newcastle, Leeds or Manchester, where they could distribute their largesse in goods and services where it would have some benefit?

They say we are all in it together. That might be so, but I think the depth varies depending where you stand.

My teenage grandson burst in, earphones in, iplayer and phone ready. He settled down with Twitter, Snapchat, and all the other stuff only teenagers know how to use.

“What have you been up to at school?” I asked.

When he finally extracted himself from his technology, he said: “You’re a bit of a dinosaur you know, and you’ve got a large carbon footprint. The teacher said we should all be driving electric cars and be vegetarians. You’re destroying the environment, you’ve got a diesel car, you eat meat, all the things you shouldn’t be doing.”

“Did the teacher mention anything about electricity generation?,” I asked.

“Although electricity is a clean energy source, it has to be generated, which has an effect on the environment, whether it be coal, oil, gas or nuclear. Renewables are clean, but a seven day a week, 24 hours a day economy cannot rely on windmills that have to be switched off if it gets too windy or don’t work if there’s no wind.

“I think there has to be a certain amount of give and take on environmental pollution.

“You mention going vegetarian. I think a balanced diet is the answer. Your teeth include incisors for cutting meat and others for chewing, but a ruminant has no incisors.”

“Well grandad,” he said, “I think I’ll be off.”

Later that afternoon I switched the television on to see what was happening in the world. It informed me that experts had decided that toast, roast potatoes and barbecue meat were probably carcinogen, and don’t mention red wine.

I give up.

Tom Cape,