Global Cool…but not in school

Steve Bridger heralds the arrival of Global-Cool over on his nfp2.0 blog. I’m not sure how to describe it really. The website is kind of celebrity offsets meets change-the-world-in-simple-ways meets ecotainment. Or something. Here’s the (very well-designed) site for you to make up your own mind. It’s a pretty clear and good addition to what’s out there already, although nothing groundbreaking as far as I can make out. There may be those who want the Scissor Sisters to tell them to turn their lights off, and if it reaches more people in a clear and entertaining way, then all power to them. Of course, there may also be those who question why, from a £20 donation, £3 goes to Global Cool Productions Ltd and £1 on administration. That’s 20% of your donation not going to alternative energy/energy-reducing projects…..(the admin’s fair enough, and the production company will "put on more carbon-neutral shows and make more programmes to create a bigger noise to turn more people into planet-savers").

[Incidentally, it’s founded by the guy who founded Future Forests as it was then called….]

I’m not going to bang on about whether it’s ethical to offset or not; you can read plenty of stuff about that in every paper under the sun. But it also seems to me to be connected to something else Steve mentions in his article: that the UK government are going to distribute a copy of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth documentary to every school in the country. Now, of course it is important that children are educated about the challenge of global warming and climate change; and of course it is important that this is communicated in effective ways. But is this really necessary? Aren’t kids, in fact, the one group of society that DO fully understand, having had it drilled into them consistently at school in geography, science etc….? Several articles recently have detailed how children have started campaigning at home, prompting one parent to write in to a school saying, "Can you please inform Paul that it is allowed to have the light on to read at home?" Does that child really need to watch Al Gore?

The fact is that sending out DVDs is just information provision; but the point has already tipped: you can’t move for environmental debate, recycling schemes, offsetting of flights, healthy organic food, and so on. It’s not information and promotion of the cause that is needed, surely; it is action and, probably, legislation. How about ministers committing to a set (collective) number of flights per year? How about taxing companies who won’t match M&S zero carbon initiative? What about the Global Cool people giving £19 of the £20 to carbon reduction, instead of more publicity and programmes? What a better example it might set for them to walk the walk, rather than talk the talk. The point is that it is not easy (we have these debates in this organisation as well), but has to be addressed. David Miliband is strong in the department, communicates and debates well, and has a lot of good ideas (individual carbon quotas etc.) but it would be great to see some of them, challenging as they are, put into action.

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2 thoughts on “Global Cool…but not in school

  1. “How about ministers committing to a set (collective) number of flights per year? How about taxing companies who won’t match M&S zero carbon initiative? What about the Global Cool people giving £19 of the £20 to carbon reduction, instead of more publicity and programmes? What a better example it might set for them to walk the walk, rather than talk the talk.”
    I couldn’t agree more – for me it comes down to the same old “cash vs. awareness raising” argument. I’m slightly concerned that some of the newer initiatives we’re seeing sometimes offer a way of feeling like you’re contributing to society but don’t actually result in any impact on the ground. That’s a big generalisation I know, I’m just getting a bit tired of people patting each other on the back when they could actually be doing a lot more.

  2. Thanks Sam. I’m not pretending it’s easy. For example, what’s best for my organisation/our wider social mission? Me to spend two days getting to Belfast (or Edinburgh) and back on train/ferry more expensively, or to fly and save a day and money? Ok, so we’ve got carbon offsetting in our travel budget, and have a Green Mark from the London Environment Centre (http://www.green-mark.co.uk/), and campaigned for our building to get big new recycle everything bins etc…but is that enough?
    I just think, like you, that awareness raising is probably the least effective place to put money at the moment…