The Big Green Elephant

The label “eco-warrior” is not in vogue. It’s alternative to the point of “we’re students and any global warming, battery hens-fair trade rant is uncomfortable. Relax, let’s have a drink and watch Spurs annihilate.” It’s not always trendy to care about the environment whilst at uni. In fact, it can be pretty tricky.
Likewise in the general election, ‘Climate Change’ only resurfaced as a live issue when the leaders debated. Some see this as the big green elephant in the room – caring claims about the climate, yet why haven’t we heard much?

We have, however, been politely requested not to “throw away our vote”. I worry that the Greens are under attack. The Guardian jests that their Achilles heel could be “leaflets get recycled before house members have read their contents”. Are they being taken seriously?

Nouse recently reported YUSU’s success in achieving a Bronze NUS Sound Impact award. “Yay,” commented Jason L, “some good news!” But really? When our Roses rivals beat us to the Silver Award post with their Green Lancaster scheme? And the NUS encourage us: “The real winner is the environment.” Why does this make me feel a little queasy? It’s a patronising pat on the back. Do students need to be cajoled by brownie points into taking steps to look after our planet? 

Apparently, bright marketing sparks are deemed necessary to make students take notice of ecological issues in the hope that we can win awards. This is an overall mentality that grates on me. 

So to science and the media. We are hearing exciting reports of scientists at the University of York developing key pro-environment projects. New adhesives to minimise carpet tile waste, you say? Oh yes, and biofuel, that tricky little microwave adopting process called pyrolysis that can supposedly turn our apple cores into engine fuel.

Unfortunately, journalists talking about science bring Rita Skeeter to mind, searching for the scoop, fluffing up press releases and really not having a clue. Perhaps naïve journalists are too susceptible to ‘interesting’ press releases, regardless of scientific weight. At least the Science Media Centre’s Director wants better training for scientific correspondents, moving towards paying the subject due respect.

If a project to fund biofuel developments is worth £1.5 million, then surely it’s worthy of our attention. YUSU’s Environmental Officer, David Clarke, reminds us: “Climate change is not a leftist issue.” It concerns us all a great deal, as seen by YUSU’s positive 10:10 campaign.

I’ve got my ticket for Sir John Beddington’s lecture on 27 May. I hope it’s a good turnout.

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