By being the only political party that backs a 3rd runway at Heathrow Labour stands out with a special kind of stupid. The rational for inflicting this fresh monstrous wound on our once green and pleasant land is ‘the economy’. Yet again, our politicians, the flabby-faced fluffers of industry, are uttering monotonously, like the grinding of skulls, the vile mantra: ‘must grow the economy, must grow the economy…’
Edward Abbey pointed out many years ago that ‘growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell’. Of course he was right. It is also the ideology of viruses, the morbidly obese and New Labour. All require health warnings.
It is time for the political classes to catch up with the rest of humanity. They should stick on the wall a scribbled note to remind them ‘it’s not just the economy stupid!’ Of course we can grow the economy by strengthening our position as the bus depot of Europe. We could also grow the economy by being the depository for all the worlds’ nuclear waste. However, unless you like your children with 6 eyes and tentacles the nuclear waste option hasn’t got any (workable) legs. The benefits of growing the economy depend on how you are growing the economy.
Smug idiots like Richard Branson say that if we don’t have a 3rd runway we will lose out to another country that will become Europe’s airline hub. But for everyone in the UK who doesn’t own an airline this is a good thing. London already suffers from appalling air quality and mind jangling noise pollution in part as a result of the proximity of the world’s busiest airport. We would have to be collectively madder (or sicker) than whoever appointed Blair as a ‘middle east peace envoy’ to want to increase this traffic.
If you were going to choose a country to be the air hub for Europe you might be inclined to pick a country that has some space left. It may have escaped the attention of the frothy mouthed politicians who feverishly court the business elite that we live on a tiny overcrowded island. Once completely forested we have now removed 90% of the forest cover and have built on 14% of the once wild land. You are hard pressed to get anywhere where you can’t see a road or hear a machine.
We don’t have to sit back and let politicians lead us inexorably towards the industrial dystopias of films like Blade Runner or the Terminator. As 90% of Britains agree this is not the time to be bulldozing villages and laying new runways. If you want to build, do it on brown field sites and build upwards. The appalling sprawl into nature must be stopped, and then reversed.
The quixotic, desperate clammer for never ending economic growth on a small island on a shrinking planet is sad in the same way that anti-aging cosmetic surgery is sad. We have to get old so why not do it with dignity. Instead of running around like a 20 year old trying to get laid all the time why not start a vegetable patch and listen to Terry Wogan? So too our economies must mature. A relentless pioneer economy will scorch the earth and leave us more high and dry then the Easter Islanders were before they finally starved to death. Did the last citizen have a flash of insight into the stupidity of their idol worship as the final tear of drool rolled out of his famished mouth?
What will it take politicians to realize that our future will not resemble our past? Our economies must change and evolve to reflect the fact that population continues to soar and resources are increasingly constrained. The government should support this by diversifying and future-proofing our economies. This can be done by backing efficient green technologies, resilient agriculture, urban (eco) redevelopment, science and education, youth programs and the creative arts. If you want to know how to fund this you can start with taxing aviation fuel and the banks and then scrapping Trident. Unregulated markets, like war, are sooo last century. It’s time for the power hungry brown-nosers in Westminster to get with the program.