Thursday, 22 January 2009

One Man

A lot of commentators have pointed out the dangers of pinning all our hopes on Barack Obama. "He's just one man" they chime. "What can one man do?", "One man can't change the world", and so on...

Now perhaps I missed something over the last eight years, but George W. Bush is one man, and held the same office as Obama now occupies. Does anyone deny that George W. Bush has changed the world?

I'm not totally naive regarding Obama's capactity to change things, but if one man can make such massively regressive steps, push science back decades and create a global climate of fear and instability as George Bush, then just maybe one other man can do the exact opposite! Let's at least afford him the opportunity.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Lack of sustainability conference?

The 5th International conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability is a conference which holds no truck with irony or any of its close relations. Picking one of the least accessible countries on the planet, the organisers clearly felt holding the conference in Mauritius would send out a strong message on their attitude towards sustainability in general. And they were right. After all, what's a measly 15-hour flight and a carbon footprint an SUV-driving Sasquatch would be proud of when you can be smug for 3 days at an international sustainability conference?

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Not really in the club

A nicely tongue-in-cheek piece of art has been unveiled outside the European Council building in Brussels. In the sculpture (which can be seen here on the BBC website), each EU country is represented from a stereotyped perspective. For example, the large lump that represents France simply has a banner draped over it with the word "Grève", meaning "strike". Germany is represented by a series of large motorways that looks alarmingly like a swastika.

However, the most insulting/apt/incisive representation (depending on your political leanings) is that of Britain, which is simply represented by its absence. I know the phrase is usually "a picture speaks a thousand words", but in this case the lack of a picture speaks even louder.

If Britain needed any further evidence of how it's participation in the EU (or lack thereof) is viewed by its neighbours it need look no further. Since Thatcher's reign, Britain's commitment-phobic approach to the EU angered, aggravated, delayed and annoyed many in the EU. Sooner or later Britain is going to have to make an actual decision on this - is she in or is she out?