When I'm Prime Minister
Ten ideas for a Greener World

see copyright notice. Page created 17-Jul-2005 updated 30-Apr-2019. Use the button groups above to navigate quickly around the site.


I didn't stand as a candidate in the General Election of 2005, but nonetheless I wrote this "manifesto". And, with tongue still firmly in cheek, I went on to design a personal logo. Inspired by the Tories' late "flaming torch", I replaced their [presumably] fossil-fuelled light source with something greener - a wind-up generator driving a Compact Fluorescent Lamp (remember those?).

Replace Power Stations with Industrial-scale Gyms

The sheer waste of available energy in your average gym (sorry, "Fitness Studio") is criminal. People flock to them in their thousands, to "work out" on exercise bikes, rowing machines etc., and what happens to all that energy? It's dissipated as heat in friction brakes. Which heats up the gym, requiring still more energy to run the air conditioning plant.

It wouldn't be difficult to equip each machine with an electric generator which, e.g. on a bike, might produce up to 200W power output. Add them all up and you have a useful resource, surely enough to run the lighting and some of the environmental services of the building, and ultimately with sufficient surplus to feed into the Grid.

In days of yore, purpose-bred animals were used as food-driven power sources. No doubt such practices would now be regarded as demeaning to animals, or some such twaddle. But with so many bored, car-bound humans actually paying to expend energy in these places, surely there's no reason not to harness that energy? Don't tell me, it would be demeaning to humans...

Ban Patio Heaters

These things are literally Global Warming on a Stick. In 50 years' time, I think using them will rank (alongside going on holiday in a jet plane) amongst the worst instances of reckless pollution committed by primitive peoples at the turn of the millennium.

If you're too cold outdoors then you should put more clothes on. If you're still too cold then you shouldn't be outdoors.

Impose a Demolition Tax

Walk down any street in my home town and you'll see builders at work. They might be ruining a well-proportioned house by adding a side extension, or a neat bungalow by cramming another storey into the roof. Or they might be demolishing a comfortably-sized house and garden, to be replaced by two executive rabbit-hutches, each with its pathetic strip of sterile turf on which to plonk the kids' plastic slide.

Some say all this building and re-building is a sign of prosperity. I say it's a sign of restlessness and greed. But I can't deny it provides employment, and, to some, any "creation of jobs" is a good thing per se, no matter how unnecessary or wasteful of resources. In my darker moments I wonder whether this epidemic of house-building all over south-east England is really nothing more than a Government ploy to keep the unemployed numbers down.

The argument that more houses are needed to accommodate an expanding population can be dismissed by pointing out that the population won't expand if there's nowhere for it to live - those without family ties (of which there are plenty) will shrug their shoulders and go elsewhere. As for all the surplus builders and their labourers, I'm sure they could be better employed as farmers and their labourers in a revival of proper food production.

The worst crime in the building world is the demolition of perfectly good buildings, because they are unfashionable, or there's money to be made, or people simply can't think of a better way to occupy their little lives. So, I'd put a stop to much of this wanton playing-with-bricks by imposing a tax of, say, £1 per kg of material removed from site.

Bring back Stocks and Ducking Stools

The combination of humiliation and discomfort afforded by these community punishments would beat ASBOs hands-down!

Introduce Noise Licences

The use of pneumatic drills, and those ghastly machines that chew up and spit out whole branches of trees, should be conditional upon three days' advance warning being given, in writing, to all households within a 500m radius.

Measures with a comparable deterrent effect should apply to all non-emergency helicopter flights, and to dogs left unattended in their owners' gardens to drive the neighbourhood insane with their barking.

Ban the Import of In-season Foods

One September, when the English apple season was in full swing, I went to the supermarket to buy some organic ones (no other local shop sold these). Wonderful - there was an unprecedented choice of 4 varieties. But guess what - they'd all come from New Zealand. New Zealand! Shouldn't it have been spring over there? The same supermarket sold a product coded UKNZ LAMB STK - I've seen meat from these two sources side-by-side on the shelf at the same price. That just can't be right.

I've heard that shipping produce from New Zealand to the UK creates its own weight of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; that's a price that I for one am not willing to pay.

Reinstate Farmland and Wilderness

Whatever would we have done without The Community Forest? For those who haven't encountered this invention, I should explain: The Community Forest People want to turn farmland and established scrubland into a sort of countryside theme park. Having acquired an area of land, they ask people what sort of trees they want to see (the vegetation that naturally grows there is not an option) and proceed to plant them. Along with grotesque wood carvings, seats and picnic tables (to be converted by the local youth, in due course, into more grotesque wood carvings), and wide, gritted, winding paths - frustrating if you want to get from A to B but perfect as a race track for kids on power bikes. After a year or two, dazed-looking saplings begin to peep out from the tops of a matrix of plastic tubes; if I were one of them I'd give up there and then and go back inside. They've been chosen, of course, to appeal to humans or to support the kind of "wildlife" that humans are perceived to want to see. It's like a Country Park, only worse.

The more you try to impose a human plan on nature, the more input you'll have to provide over time to maintain it. And I'll bet this plan won't last more than a few years. After that, unless another anthropocentric masterplan takes its place, let us hope the land will be allowed to revert to wilderness and serene stability. Or the production of wholesome local food.

Regulate Competition Prizes

It should be illegal to offer climate-changing prizes, such as foreign holidays and fossil-powered cars, in competitions. People must be eased away from regarding these things as desirable, and instead offered incentives to enjoy themselves without burning oil.

Divert Military Budget into Repair Shops

I'd work out how much was being spent on non-defence operations, such as invading countries to impose alien ideologies or gain control of their resources. That money would be diverted to subsidise a repair centre in every high street, where any item from a watch to a washing machine could be repaired quickly and at such a cost that throwing it "away" (no such place!) and buying a new one would be unthinkable. If there was still some money left, I'd further subsidise the return of the butchers, greengrocers, ironmongers and fishmongers that are closing down in their droves because of prohibitive running costs.

Stage the Olympic Games in a TV Studio

Few events can be more wasteful of energy and materials than the Olympic Games in their present form. If humans really must have a worldwide sports competition every 4 years (why?), then it should take place in existing facilities at a location which minimises the total travelling distance of the competitors. And global TV coverage renders it quite unnecessary to burn tonnes of oil moving thousands of people there to watch it in person.

On second thoughts, maybe that one will have to wait until I'm World Leader :)

Footnote: Anthropowhat?

Ãnthropo- comb. form. human, mankind, as: ~ce'ntric a., ~ce'ntrism n., regarding man as central fact of universe [Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1984].

No doubt I've annoyed lots of people by over-using these words lately. But they encapsulate perfectly the attitude of most humans to most situations. Some examples:

If you can't see what's wrong with these, just read them again from the perspective of, respectively, a fish, a rare orchid (or any other pickable plant), and a hibernating mouse. And everyone, please, stop using terms like "our world" and "our environment". These things are not in any sense in human ownership.

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