Token Gesture

One of my pet hates are token gestures that appear to have good intentions but do nothing other than raise publicity for corporate entities and make absolutely no impact in the broader scheme of things. An example of this is the recent media campaign and event “Lights Out London“. Essentially it went like this:


The reason this winds me up, is that if politicians are serious about wanting to encourage people to make things better they need to take the lead and set some concrete and permanent changes in place as examples.

Is there really any need to have lighting on motorways when cars have headlights? It might be argued that motorway lights save lives. I’m not sure about that statement. It’s like saying guns kill people. Clearly we all know that gun’s don’t kill people, rappers do. Anyway there a bit of a discussion about motorway lighting here.

Another point is do we really need to illuminate landmark buildings so we can see what they look like at night? You can see them perfectly well enough in day light and it could be argued that lighting them at night just feeds local egos. After a bit of a discussion on the topic Bez suggested that:

Motorway lights are for people who are too stupid to manage without them. Lighting up buildings is good for people who have an interest in culture or aesthetics. France has much less motorway lighting than us, but many more landmarks visible from the road at night. Besides, if lots more people die in motorway accidents, there will be a reduced demand for electricity. And you get a car taken out into the bargain. It’s a very environmentally sound policy.

Things need to change. The alternative, just finding new ways to generate more power, don’t solve the underlying issue of inefficient use of electricity and inappropriate policies. Unless someone perfects perpetual motion, it’s also not sustainable.

Clearly change will affect people , particularly those who manufacture and sell light bulbs, produce electricity, profit from tourism, etc. They are unlikely to be keen on any suggestions that are going to leave them out of pocket. It’s fairly widerly accepted now that if you want to make a difference and become more environmentally sensitive – i.e. reducing your environmental footprint, some sacrifices are going to be necessary.

Some changes are going to be inconvenient. Others will actually have side effects such as making the providers of particular services and equipment less money, because people will be consuming less. The challenge for them is to not only anticipate this, but to have worked out how they can still profit from the change.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

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