Global warning

February 3, 2007

I had a strange dream last night. I suppose all dreams are strange in their way, so in that respect it wasn’t especially strange, but it was certainly strangely normal.

I was in an office of some sort, with some colleagues that I recognised from work, and we’d been pulled in somehow to a demonstration of a revolutionary new pencil. (I know it’s mundane, but it’s the meaning of dreams that’s significant, not the imagery, remember.) Anyway, we were all given conventional pencils first so we could try them out and, presumably, mock their rudimentary, old-fashioned nature. Wood and graphite: how quaint, how rustic! Then came the unveiling of the new model only, as it was in a plastic blister pack and no-one seemed interesting in getting it out, we were just shown it and expected to be bowled over. It appeared to consist of about a dozen parts, including bottles of some liquid stuff which was presumably what did the writing. In short, hugely over-complicated; technological overkill.

Now, I felt quite incensed over this. The gall of these people, trying to oust the humble wooden pencil with this hideously complex gizmo. Full of disposable bits of plastic future landfill! Blister-packed! Bound to malfunction! The energy! The oil! And they wouldn’t even take it out of the packet so we could try it! Really, very very cross indeed.

I put these feelings down to two things. First, watching programmes about global warming late at night. Apparently it is now 90% certain that global warming is a “fact” and is caused by human activity. Replacing wooden pencils with plastic ones being symbolic. Second, I recently wanted to buy some wallpaper to replace a bit we had to rip off because of a bit of damp in the corner of the living room. The paper is embossed with a fleur-de-lys-like pattern (apparently called “flame”), but I digress. The point is that one cannot buy this any longer as a simple embossed paper; now it is blown-vinyl, flat-backed and easy-peelable. The pattern matches, but how much more energy and how many undesirable materials are required for its manufacture compared to simply squishing a pattern into a bit of wet paper? What’s more I actually bought it. I am a sheep.

Hence no doubt the dream of fulminating impotently about the plastification of the pencil. I get this feeling more and more these days when I buy stuff. I get it home and think “Doh, it’s packed in polystyrene! Doh, it’s wrapped in polythene! Doh, they put it in a plastic carrier bag! Doh, the tomatoes are in a plastic tray!” Always something like that.

It’s high time to think about getting involved in some action to reduce the impact of Bish Towers on the environment. Or is that just what they want me to think? Whatever, I’ve added a link in the “interests” section on the right to the Transition Towns web site that my mate Steve was telling me about recently. Seems like a good idea.

PS. I have a pencil here somewhere that is actually made of plastic. Apparently it was recycled from plastic cups, and it is of conventional design; no liquids required.

PPS. I’m 43 today! Happy birthday dear me! Thanks everyone for the cards and pressies.


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