If there’s a knock on your front door when you’re back from work tomorrow, don’t ignore it. It might be an “adviser” from the government to talk to you about sustainable travel. As The Independent reports:
Have you had a call from a personal travel adviser yet? In some parts of the country, they are knocking on doors and offering tips on responsible travel. It is a government initiative, financed by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and its aim is to encourage more of us to leave the car at home when we shop, or go to work.
I don’t know about you, but any government official coming round to visit me to “encourage” me to leave my car at home when I go to work is going to get a few choice words about the state of the railways before being unceremoniously shown the door.
Isn’t this just typical of the whole approach to global warming though? Rather than actually deal with the state of the roads and rail, the Government’s solution is to send out officials to lecture us (you don’t really believe that “advice” line do you?) on how we can be more “sustainable”. Like government initiatives on tobacco, alcohol, and food, it will start with “advice” and “tips” before the inevitable calls come for legislation to help people make the right choices. Already, at this early stage you can see the way it will go, as the Daily Mail notes, the “advisers” are already coming back to check on whether their “advice” is being followed or not:
In Hereford, the 74,282 homes in the city will be visited twice, once for advisers to give information on public transport and cycling, and three months later to check whether the advice is being followed.
The article quotes the Transport Minister as claiming that the program of government officials knocking on your door in the evening to offer advice, followed by a check-up on you a couple of months later will “support authorities in delivering local economic growth while cutting carbon emissions from transport”. Again, isn’t this just a perfect example of global warming double-speak? The only possible way that this program delivers real economic growth is in the wages of those employed to go around giving advice.
Therefore, the real reason is cutting carbon emissions. Let’s leave aside the pointlessness of this for one moment. This scheme is costing hundreds of millions of pounds, would that money not be better spent on new train carriages then? Or improved public transport? Or even (horrors!) improving road junctions to speed up the flow of traffic.
Of course it would be. But here’s the thing, I believe, to remember: this scheme is setting a precedent. Because of their commitments on reducing carbon emissions, the government has a right to ask you about your way of living and “advise” you on how you could live in a more sustainable way. As I say, this will inevitably follow other government initiatives on health and lifestyle – they will start by protesting its only advice and pooh-poohing any suggestion of coercion. Then, when the concept is generally accepted, think-tanks and supposedly grass-roots groups (funded by the government, natch) will start calling for changes in the law to “help people make the right choice”.