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Recognise anyone’s environmental policy?

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In a world where everything has to always be so ‘together’ – environmental policy is the seeming Cinderella? I posted up on social media a rather short, pithy attack this morning on the destruction of 500 year old ancient forest on Mount Gariwang in preparation for the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympic games. A huge swathe of trees cut down for a downhill ski event that will last … three days. I wonder what would happen if you proposed to demolish St Paul’s Cathederal as it was in the way of the new route for the next London Marathon?

Bill Clinton once remarked “it’s the economy stupid”. Wrong – it’s the environment stupid. IT’S THE ENVIRONMENT STUPID!

OK – caps lock off (along with the safety catch) – brace yourselves. ‘Green’ has become one of those rather amorphous, blobby words – like “spiritual” and “diversity”. It creates the illusion that someone, somewhere – actually cares about something we all know is important but if we were pinned against the wall by an angry Jack Nicholson character in ‘The Last Detail’ could we define them correctly if he threatened to bite off our ear if we didn’t?

Unlikely – because it’s a nice comfortable term that’s become a little like resting your weary befuddled little head on a blancmange – wobbling up and down in creamy dreamy land. Green has become relegated to a sticker, a label, a gesture, a zeitgeist. Don’t worry everyone – it’s all ‘green’. But is it? The rapacious ground clearance programs at various winter Olympic sites started in anger in the late 1990’s at Nagano, and has continued ever since. Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver and Sochi have used the word ‘green’ in the same way politicians use might use ‘austerity’ to mean “it’s not your fault little people, but it’s still going to hurt – a lot”.

Is this problem exclusively confined to large events and major construction projects? NO! That is why we need to revisit, redefine and reenergise green and environmental policy. There are millions of pages of well-researched studies telling us that our natural environment is under sustained threat – and that this simple fact remains one of the largest challenges we face in the history of humanity. Yet, in a frightening number of situations – it remains as futile as attempting to tell your most rebellious adolescent off-spring an excess of recreational drugs, drink and a dearth of prophylactics won’t end in a bad place.

And in workplaces, small spaces, large spaces, the wider public domain – ‘green’ is not in many cases – widely understood. Green is as complex as any ‘smart’ technological device. It’s as complex and multi-faceted as any world-wide trade or peace agreement. And, it’s all of those things because it took longer to evolve than the almighty machinery we call humanity.

My message is simple as the subject is complex. Don’t make environmental action or your environmental policy a token gesture, a by-product of some other intent. There is no gold medal in Olympic history – won by someone 99.999% of the population couldn’t name three days after the event – that is worth ripping up a 500 year old forest. There is little short term gain environmentally around anything actually – unless you put up an ivy screen around a building site in summer to suppress dust.

Make environment the same priority as sales or accounts, your car or your home entertainment system. When you have finished laughing – I’ll tell you why if you want to make contact with us. This is coming. You can either open up yourself to it or have it foisted on you (eventually) by force. I’ll let you get back to the Olympics…..

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